Although postoperative spinal epidural hematoma (SEH) is not uncommon, hematomas that require surgery are rare. Cauda equina syndrome (CES) may be associated with postoperative SEH. In these cases, early recognition and emergency decompression can prevent further damage and better neurologic recovery.
A 41-year-old man underwent two-level discectomy with insertion of an interspinous spacer at L3-4 and L4-5 because of low back pain and radiculopathy. Eight hours after the operation, the patient developed CES. MRI revealed SEH compressing posteriorly at the L3-4 level. On emergency decompression and hematoma evacuation, the interspinous spacer had obstructed the laminotomy site at L3-4 completely, blocking drainage to the drain. The patient experienced complete neurologic recovery by 2 months followup.
Many studies report risk factors for SEH. However, postoperative SEH can also be encountered in patients without these risks. One study reported a critical ratio (preoperative versus postoperative cross-sectional area) correlated with postoperative symptoms, especially in those with CES. The propensity to develop CES is likely dependent on a number of patient-specific factors.
Surgeons should be aware that patients without risk factors may develop acute CES. Wider laminotomy (larger than half of the device size) may help to prevent this complication when one uses the compressible type of device, especially in patients with relatively small lamina.
Epidural bleeding as a complication of catheterization or epidural catheter removal is often associated with perioperative thromboprophylaxis especially in adult reconstructive surgery.
We report on a case of a 19 years old male athlete that underwent anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, receiving low molecular weight heparin for thromboprophylaxis and developed an epidural hematoma and subsequent cauda equina syndrome two days after removal of the epidural catheter. An urgent magnetic resonance imaging scan revealed an epidural hematoma from the level of L3 to L4. Emergent decompression and hematoma evacuation resulted in patient's significant neurological improvement immediately postoperatively.
A high index of clinical suspicion and surgical intervention are necessary to prevent such potentially disabling complications especially after procedures on a day-case basis and early patient's discharge.
We describe a case of acute lumbar epidural hematoma at the L2-3 level complicated by paraplegia, which occurred after coagulation disorder because of massive bleeding intraoperatively in cesarean section. The preoperative coagulation laboratory finding was in normal range and so we tried combined spinal epidural anesthesia. Uterine atony occurred in the operation, and there was persistant bleeding during and after the operation. After the operation, she complained of paresthesia on her both legs and was diagnosed with epidural hematoma (EDH) by radiologic examination. Emergency laminectomy on lumbar spine was carried out for hematoma evacuation and decompression of the epidural space at once. In our experience, massive bleeding during surgery may potentially increase the risk of EDH postoperatively.
Blood coagulation disorder; Cesarean section; Epidural anesthesia; Epidural hematoma; Postpartum hemorrhage; Spinal anesthesia
We report a series of epidural hematomas which cause neurologic deterioration after spinal surgery, and have taken risk factors and prognostic factors into consideration. We retrospectively reviewed the database of 3720 cases of spine operation in a single institute over 7 years (1998 April-2005 July). Nine patients who demonstrated neurologic deterioration after surgery and required surgical decompression were identified. Factors postulated to increase the postoperative epidural hematoma and to improve neurologic outcome were investigated. The incidence of postoperative epidural hematoma was 0.24%. Operation sites were cervical 3 cases, thoracic 2 cases, and lumbar 4 cases. Their original diagnoses were tumor 3 cases, cervical stenosis 2 cases, lumbar stenosis 3 cases and herniated lumbar disc 1case. The symptoms of epidural hematomas were neurologic deterioration and pain. After decompression, clinical outcome revealed complete recovery in 3 cases (33.3%), incomplete recovery in 5 cases (55.6%) and no change in 1 case (11.1%). Factors increasing the risk of postoperative epidural hematoma were coagulopathy from medical illness or anticoagulation therapy (4 cases, 44.4%) and highly vascularized tumor (3 cases, 33.3%). The time interval to evacuation of complete recovery group (29.3 hours) was shorter than incomplete recovery group (66.3 hours). Patients with coagulopathy and highly vascularized tumor were more vulnerable to spinal epidural hematoma. The postoperative outcome was related to the preoperative neurological deficit and the time interval to the decompression.
Clinical outcome; risk factor; postoperative; spinal epidural hematoma; spine surgery
Spinal epidural hematomas (SEHs) are rare complications following spine surgery, especially for single level lumbar discectomies. The appropriate surgical management for such cases remains to be investigated. We report a case of an extensive spinal epidural hematoma from T11-L5 following a L3-L4 discectomy. The patient underwent a single level L4. A complete evacuation of the SEH resulted in the patient's full recovery. When presenting symptoms limited to the initial surgical site reveal an extensive postoperative SEH, we propose: to tailor the surgical exposure individually based on preoperative findings of the SEH; and to begin the surgical exposure with a limited laminectomy focused on the symptomatic levels that may allow an efficient evacuation of the SEH instead of a systematic extensive laminectomy based on imaging.
Epidural; Hematoma; Spine; Surgery; Management; Emergency; Postoperative
We present a rare case of delayed onset of epidural hematoma after lumbar surgery whose only presenting symptom was vesicorectal disturbance. A 68-year-old man with degenerative spinal stenosis underwent lumbar decompression and instrumented posterolateral spine fusion. The day after his discharge following an unremarkable postoperative course, he presented to the emergency room complaining of difficulty in urination. An MRI revealed an epidural fluid collection causing compression of the thecal sac. The fluid was evacuated, revealing a postoperative hematoma. After removal of the hematoma, his symptoms disappeared immediately, and his urinary function completely recovered. Most reports have characterized postoperative epidural hematoma as occurring early after operation and accompanied with neurological deficits. But it can happen even two weeks after spinal surgery with no pain. Surgeons thus may need to follow up patients for at least a few weeks because some complications, such as epidural hematomas, could take that long to manifest themselves.
A 67-year-old man with degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis and a medical history significant for coronary artery disease underwent routine lumbar surgical decompression. The objective of this study was to report a case of postoperative epidural hematoma associated with the use of emergent anticoagulation, including the dangers associated with spinal decompression and early postoperative anticoagulation.
After anticoagulation therapy for postoperative myocardial ischemia, the patient developed paresis with ascending abdominal paraesthesias. Immediate decompression of the surgical wound was carried out at the bedside. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a massive spinal epidural hematoma extending from the middle of the cervical spine to the sacrum. Emergent cervical, thoracic, and revision lumbar laminectomy without fusion was performed to decompress the spinal canal and evacuate the hematoma.
Motor and sensory function returned to normal by 14 days postoperatively, but bowel and bladder function continued to be impaired. Postoperative radiographs showed that coronal and sagittal spinal alignment did not change significantly after extensive laminectomy.
Full anticoagulation should be avoided in the early postoperative period. In cases requiring early vigorous anticoagulation, patients should be closely monitored for changes in neurologic status. Combined cervical, thoracic, and lumbar laminectomy, without instrumentation or fusion, is an acceptable treatment option.
Spinal stenosis, lumbar; Spinal decompression; Anticoagulation; Epidural hematoma; Laminectomy
Spinal epidural hematoma is a rare complication associated with pain control procedures such as facet block, acupuncture, epidural injection, etc. Although it is an uncommon cause of acute myelopathy, and it may require surgical evacuation. We report four patients with epidural hematoma developed after pain control procedures. Two procedures were facet joint blocks and the others were epidural blocks. Pain was the predominant initial symptom in these patients while two patients presented with post-procedural neurological deficits. Surgical evacuation of the hematoma was performed in two patients while in remaining two patients, surgery was initially recommended but not performed since symptoms were progressively improved. Three patients showed near complete recovery except for one patient who recovered with residual deficits. Although, spinal epidural hematoma is a rare condition, it can lead to serious complications like spinal cord compression. Therefore, it is important to be cautious while performing spinal pain control procedure to avoid such complications. Surgical treatment is an effective option to resolve the spinal epidural hematoma.
Spinal epidural hematoma; Pain control procedure; Surgical evacuation
Neurological deficits following epidural or spinal anesthesia are extremely rare. Transient paraplegia following epidural anesthesia in a patient with thoracic disc herniation has been presented. A 44-year-old woman developed paraplegia during the operation for vascular surgery of her legs under epidural anesthesia. Epidural hematoma or spinal cord ischemia was ruled out by magnetic resonance imaging of the thoracic and lumbar spine in which protruded disc at T11-12 level compressing the spinal cord has been verified. Patient responded well to steroid treatment and rehabilitation interventions. Physicians should be aware of preceding disc protrusions, which may have detrimental effects on spinal cord perfusion, as a cause of persistent or transient paraplegia before epidural anesthesia procedure. MRI is a valuable imaging option to rule out epidural anesthesia complications and coexisting pathologies like disc herniations.
Closed-suction drainage is commonly used for prevention of postoperative hematoma and associated neurologic compromise after lumbar decompression, but it remains unclear whether suction drainage reduces postoperative complications.
We evaluated the efficacy of closed-suction drainage in single-level lumbar decompression surgery.
Patients and Methods
We retrospectively reviewed 560 patients who underwent single-level lumbar decompression or discectomy. We routinely used closed-suction drainage in all spinal surgeries until July 2003, and thereafter, we did not use drains in single-level lumbar decompression surgery. These two groups (298 patients in the group that received drains, 262 in the group that did not receive drains) were compared for rates of wound infection and epidural hematoma.
Mean operating time (55 versus 56 minutes) and intraoperative blood loss (64 versus 57 mL) were not different between the two groups. None of 560 patients had a wound infection requiring surgical intervention. The rate of postoperative hematoma was 0.7% in the group that received drains (two of 298 patients) and 0% in the group that did not receive drains (zero of 262 patients).
In this study, the risk of wound infection and hematomas in single-level lumbar decompression surgery was not influenced by use of a drain. The use of postoperative wound drainage in patients with potential risk for epidural bleeding in situations such as multiple-level decompression, instrumentation surgery, anticoagulant therapy, trauma, and tumors or metastases needs additional study.
Level of Evidence
Level III, prognostic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
We report here on a case of a 23-year-old male who received en block spondylectomy for a vertebral Ewing's sarcoma at our hospital. Nine days after surgery, he presented with severe back pain and motor weakness of the lower extremities. Based on the physical examination and the computed tomography scan, he was diagnosed with acute cauda equina syndrome that was caused by compression from an epidural hematoma. His neurological functions recovered after emergency evacuation of the hematoma. This case showed that extensive surgery for a malignant vertebral tumor has a potential risk of delayed epidural hematoma and acute cauda equina syndrome and this should be treated with emergency evacuation.
Epidural hematoma; Ewing's sarcoma; Spine; En block spondylectomy
Spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH), typically presents with orthostatic headache, low pressure on lumbar tapping, and diffuse pachymeningeal enhancement on magnetic resonance imaging. SIH is often accompanied by subdural fluid collections, which in most cases responds to conservative treatment or spinal epidural blood patch. Several authors advocate that large subdural hematoma with acute deterioration merits surgical drainage; however, few have reported complications following craniotomy. We describe a complicated case of SIH, which was initially diagnosed as acute subarachnoid hemorrhage with bilateral chronic subdural hematoma (SDH), due to unusual presentation. Burr hole drainage of subdural hematoma was performed due to progressive decrease of consciousness, which then resulted in a huge postoperative epidural hematoma collection. Prompt hematoma evacuation did not restore the patient's consciousness but aggravated downward brain herniation. Trendelenburg position and spinal epidural blood patch achieved a rapid improvement in patient's consciousness. This case indicates that the surgical drainage for chronic SDH in SIH can lead to serious complications and it should be cautiously considered.
Chronic subdural hematoma; craniotomy; spontaneous intracranial hypotension; subarachnoid hemorrhage
Deep venous thrombosis (DVT) is a significant health care problem; a variety of factors place spinal surgery patients at high risk for DVT. Our aim is to define the incidence of DVT occurrence in spite of prophylactic measures (mechanical and chemoprophylaxis), and the development of spinal epidural hematoma as a complication of chemoprophylaxis. In a single-center prospective study, 158 patients who underwent spinal surgical procedures were evaluated by clinical evaluation and lower limb Doppler ultrasonography imaging. Only one patient (0.6%) developed DVT; this patient was treated successfully without thrombus progression, with full recanalization. Three patients (1.8%) developed spinal epidural hematoma, but only one required surgical evacuation, and none sustained neurologic deficit. Careful evaluation for DVT risk on an individual basis and good prophylaxis helps to minimize the risk of DVT. The neurosurgeon is thus left to weigh the risks of postoperative hematoma formation against the benefits of protecting against DVT.
Deep venous thrombosis; Pulmonary embolism; Spinal surgery; DVT prophylaxis; Low molecular weight heparin; Doppler ultrasonography
Spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma is a relatively rare but potentially disabling disease. Prompt timely surgical management may promote recovery even in severe cases.
We report a 34-year-old man with a 2-hour history of sudden severe back pain, followed by weakness and numbness over the bilateral lower limbs, progressing to intense paraparesis and anesthesia. A spinal magnetic resonance imaging scan was performed and revealed an anterior epidural hematoma of the thoracic spine. He underwent an emergency decompression laminectomy of the thoracic spine and hematoma evacuation. Just after surgery, his lower extremity movements improved. After 1 week, there was no residual weakness and ambulation without assistance was resumed, with residual paresthesia on the plantar face of both feet. After 5 months, no residual symptoms persisted.
The diagnosis of spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma must be kept in mind in cases of sudden back pain with symptoms of spinal cord compression. Early recognition, accurate diagnosis and prompt surgical treatment may result in significant improvement even in severe cases.
Early postoperative MRI after spinal surgery is difficult to interpret because of confounding postoperative mass effects and frequent occurrence of epidural hematomas. Purpose of this prospective study is to evaluate prevalence, extent and significance of hematoma in the first postoperative week in asymptomatic patients after decompression for lumbar stenosis and to determine the degree of clinically significant dura compression by comparing with the patients with postoperative symptoms. MRI was performed in 30 asymptomatic patients (47 levels) in the first week after lumbar spine decompression for degenerative stenosis. Eleven patients requiring surgical revision (16 levels) for symptomatic early postoperative hematoma were used for comparison. In both groups the cross-sectional area of the maximum dural compression (bony stenosis and dural sac expansion) was measured preoperatively and postoperatively by an experienced radiologist. Epidural hematoma was seen in 42.5% in asymptomatic patients (20/47 levels). The median area of postoperative hematoma at the operated level was 176 mm2 in asymptomatic patients and 365 mm2 in symptomatic patients. The median cross-sectional area of the dural sac at the operated level was 128.5 and 0 mm2 in asymptomatic and symptomatic patients, respectively, at the site of maximal compression. In the symptomatic group 75% of the patients had a maximal postoperative dural sac area of 58.5 mm2 or less, whereas in the asymptomatic group 75% of patients with epidural hematoma had an area of 75 mm2 or more. The size of hematoma and the degree of dural sac compression were significantly larger in patients with symptoms needing surgical revision. Dural sac area of less than 75 mm2 in early postoperative MRI was found to be the threshold for clinical significance.
Epidural hematoma; Early postoperative MRI; Spinal stenosis; Neural compression
There are no reports of a 7-day delay in the onset of neurological deterioration because of a spinal epidural hematoma (SEH) after a spinal fracture. A hematoma was detected from the T12 to L2 area in a 36-year-old male patient with a T12 burst fracture. On the same day, the patient underwent in situ posterior pedicle instrumentation on T10-L3 with no additional laminectomy. On the seventh postoperative day, the patient suddenly developed weakness and sensory changes in both extremities, together with a sharp pain. A MRI showed that the hematoma had definitely increased in size. A partial laminectomy was performed 12 hours after the onset of symptoms. Two days after surgery, recovery of neurological function was noted. This case shows that spinal surgeons need to be aware of the possible occurrence of a delayed aggravated SEH and neurological deterioration after a spinal fracture.
Spinal epidural hematoma; Spine fracture; Neurology
The purpose of this study was to report a case with post-traumatic spinal epidural hematomas with abnormal neurologic findings, which is uncommon. A 40-year-old man presented at our clinic after a blunt trauma caused by a traffic accident in which he was a pedestrian. After admission, abnormal neurologic symptoms developed including loss of sensation and motor function in his left lower extremity. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated a spinal epidural hematoma with 40% canal stenosis at the L5-S1 level. Decompression including hematoma evacuation was done. Symptoms started to be reduced 18 days after operation. He was treated conservatively with medications and all symptoms resolved completely during admission and there were no further neurologic sequelae. Post-traumatic lumbar spinal epidural hematoma with abnormal neurologic findings is an uncommon condition that may present belatedly after trauma with significant neurologic compromise.
Lumbar spine; Epidural hematoma; Neurology
Intracranial hemorrhage is a serious but rare complication of spinal surgery, which can occur in the intracerebral, cerebellar, epidural, or subdural compartment.
To describe patients with intracranial hemorrhage after lumbar spinal surgery and present clinical and diagnostic imaging findings.
In this retrospective study, medical records of 1,077 patients who underwent lumbar spinal surgery in our tertiary referral neurosurgery center between January 2003 and September 2010 were studied. The original presentations of the patients before the surgical intervention were herniated lumbar disc, spinal canal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, lumbar spinal trauma, and lumbar spine and epidural tumor. The operations performed consisted of discectomy, multiple level laminectomy, stabilization and fusion, lumbar instrumentation, and lumbar spinal and epidural tumor resection.
Four cases developed intracranial hemorrhage including acute subdural hematoma (one case), epidural hematoma (one case), and remote cerebellar hemorrhage (two cases). The clinical and diagnostic imaging characteristics along with treatments performed and outcomes of these four patients are described and the pertinent literature regarding post-lumbar spinal surgery intracranial hemorrhages is reviewed.
Though rare, intracranial hemorrhage can occur following lumbar spinal surgery. This complication may be asymptomatic or manifest with intense headache at early stages any time during the first week after surgery. Dural tear, bloody CSF leakage, focal neurologic symptoms, and headache are indicators of potential intracranial hemorrhage, which should be considered during or following surgery and necessitate diagnostic imaging.
Intracranial hemorrhage; Lumbar spine surgery; Remote cerebellar hemorrhage; Subdural hematoma; Epidural hematoma
Although the most common aetiology of cauda equina lesions is lumbar intervertebral disc herniation, iatrogenic lesions may also be the cause. The aim of this study was to identify and present patients in whom cauda equina lesions occurred after spinal surgery. From the author’s series of patients with cauda equina lesions, those with the appearance of sacral symptoms after spinal surgery were identified. To demonstrate lesions more objectively, electrodiagnostic studies were performed in addition to history and clinical examination. Imaging studies were also reviewed. Of 69 patients from the series, 11 patients in whom a cauda equina lesion developed after spinal surgery were identified. The aetiology comprised surgery for herniated intervertebral disc in 5 (4 performed by a single surgeon), spinal stenosis surgery in 4, and postoperative lumbar epidural haematoma in 2 patients (each performed by a different surgeon). Proportion of spinal surgeries with this complication varied from 0 to 6.6‰ in different centres. Patients with iatrogenic cauda equina lesion were significantly older (p < 0.001), and reported more severe urinary, but similar bowel and sexual symptoms compared to other patients in the series. In conclusion the study identified spinal surgery as the cause of approximately 15% of cauda equina lesions. More than a third of lesions developed after procedures performed by a single surgeon. Most of the remaining lesions could probably be avoided by better surgical technique (e.g. the use of a high-speed drill instead of a Kerrison rongeur in patients with severe spinal stenosis), or prevented by closer postoperative monitoring (e.g. in patients with postoperative lumbar epidural haematoma).
Cauda equina; Disc herniation; Spinal stenosis; Spinal surgery; Sacral
Bilateral extradural hematomas have only rarely been reported in the literature. Even rarer are cases where the hematomas develop sequentially, one after removal of the other. Among 187 cases of operated epidural hematomas during past 4 years in our hospital, we found one case of sequentially developed bilateral epidural hematoma.
An 18-year-old conscious male worker was admitted to our hospital after a fall. After deterioration of his consciousness, an emergency brain CT scan showed a right temporoparietal epidural hematoma. The hematoma was evacuated, but the patient did not improve afterwards. Another CT scan showed contralateral epidural hematoma and the patient was reoperated. Postoperatively, the patient recovered completely.
This case underlines the need for monitoring after an operation for an epidural hematoma and the need for repeat brain CT scans if the patient does not recover quickly after removal of the hematoma, especially if the first CT scan has been done less than 6 hours after the trauma. Intraoperative brain swelling can be considered as a clue for the development of contralateral hematoma.
bialteral; epidual; hematoma
Spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma is an uncommon cause of cord compression in children, especially in infants. An 8-month-old infant was admitted to our hospital for a 40-day history of paraparesis in the lower extremities. This rapidly progressed to paraparesis with an inability to move the lower extremities. MRI of the cervicothoracic spine revealed an epidural mass with compression of the spinal cord. The infant underwent C7-T3 total laminectomies. The pathology and postoperative MRI confirmed spinal epidural hematoma from a vascular malformation. We present the case to highlight the significance of recognizing this chronic spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma and discuss the diagnosis, treatment options and prognosis.
Spinal epidural angiolipoma is a rare benign tumor containing vascular and mature adipose elements. A slow progressive clinical course was mostly presented and rarely a fluctuating course during pregnancy. The authors report the original case of spontaneous spinal epidural bleeding resulting from thoracic epidural angiolipoma who presented with hyperacute onset of paraplegia, simulating an extradural hematoma. The patient was admitted with sudden non-traumatic hyperacute paraplegia during a prolonged walk. Neurologic examination showed sensory loss below T6 and bladder disturbances. Spinal MRI revealed a non-enhanced heterogeneous thoracic epidural lesion, extending from T2 to T3. A bilateral T2–T4 laminectomy was performed to achieve resection of a lipomatous tumor containing area of spontaneous hemorrhage. The postoperative course was uneventful with complete neurologic recovery. Histologic examination revealed the tumor as an angiolipoma. Because the prognosis after rapid surgical management of this lesion is favorable, the diagnosis of spinal angiolipoma with bleeding should be considered in the differential diagnosis of hyperacute spinal cord compression.
Angiolipoma; Epidural spinal tumor; Spinal cord compression; Spinal epidural hematoma
We report three cases of spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma (SSEH) with hemiparesis. The first patient was a 73-year-old woman who presented with left hemiparesis, neck pain, and left shoulder pain. A cervical MRI scan revealed a left posterolateral epidural hematoma at the C3–C6 level. The condition of the patient improved after laminectomy and evacuation of the epidural hematoma. The second patient was a 62-year-old man who presented with right hemiparesis and neck pain. A cervical MRI scan revealed a right posterolateral dominant epidural hematoma at the C6-T1 level. The condition of the patient improved after laminectomy and evacuation of the epidural hematoma. The third patient was a 60-year-old woman who presented with left hemiparesis and neck pain. A cervical MRI scan revealed a left posterolateral epidural hematoma at the C2–C4 level. The condition of the patient improved with conservative treatment. The classical clinical presentation of SSEH is acute onset of severe irradiating back pain followed by progression to paralysis, whereas SSEH with hemiparesis is less common. Our cases suggest that acute cervical spinal epidural hematoma should be considered as a differential diagnosis in patients presenting with clinical symptoms of sudden neck pain and radicular pain with progression to hemiparesis.
The purpose of this case report is to describe a rare case of a cervicothoracic spinal epidural hematoma (SEH) after anterior cervical spine surgery. A 60-year-old man complained of severe neck and arm pain 4 hours after anterior cervical discectomy and fusion at the C5-6 level. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a postoperative SEH extending from C1 to T4. Direct hemostasis and drainage of loculated hematoma at the C5-6 level completely improved the patient's condition. When a patient complains of severe neck and/or arm pain after anterior cervical spinal surgery, though rare, the possibility of a postoperative SEH extending to non-decompressed, adjacent levels should be considered as with our case.
Cervical spine; Complication; Hematoma
Spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma (SSEH) is a relatively rare but significant spinal condition. Urgent surgical evacuation of a hematoma is generally indicated to prevent serious permanent neurological deficits. We encountered three cases of spontaneous spinal epidural hematomas associated with motor weakness that were treated successfully by surgical intervention.
Spinal epidural hematana; Laminectomy