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.
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
Postoperative epidural hematoma (EDH) usually present with neurological deficit. Massive EDH presenting with only severe pain without neurological deficit are rare. Atypical presentations of postoperative EDHs may lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment. We present three such cases after posterior cervical spine surgery. Three patients presented with severe neck pain and spasms without motor deficits several days after posterior cervical decompressive procedures. Imaging studies identified compressive EDHs at the surgical site with severe compression of the spinal cord. All were treated with emergent decompression, with resulting improvement of symptoms and pain relief without further neurological sequelae. In conclusion, postoperative EDHs after posterior cervical spine surgery may result in minimal neurological deficit. Our report reminds surgeons to keep this possibility in mind when patients complain of unusually severe neck pain and spasms after posterior cervical spine surgery.
Cervical spine; Epidural hematoma; Postoperative complication
Many studies have reported spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma (SSEH). Although most cases are idiopathic, several are associated with thrombolytic therapy or anticoagulants. We report a case of SSEH coincident with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), which caused serious neurological deficits. A 56 year old man presented with chest pain accompanied with back and neck pain, which was regarded as an atypical symptom of AMI. He was treated with nitroglycerin, aspirin, low molecular weight heparin, and clopidogrel. A spinal magnetic resonance image taken after paraplegia developed 3 days after the initial symptoms revealed an epidural hematoma at the cervical and thoracolumbar spine. Despite emergent decompressive surgery, paraplegia has not improved 7 months after surgery. A SSEH should be considered when patients complain of abrupt, strong, and non-traumatic back and neck pain, particularly if they have no spinal pain history.
Acute myocardial infarction; Hematoma, epidural, spinal; Paraplegia; Thrombolytic therapy; Anticoagulants
Spinal epidural hematoma (SEH) causing acute myelopathy is rare. The usual clinical presentation of a SEH is sudden severe neck or back pain that progresses toward paraparesis or quadriparesis, depending on the level of the lesion. Recent studies have shown that early decompressive surgery is very important for patient's recovery. We experienced five patients of cervico-thoracic epidural hematomas associated with neurologic deficits that were treated successfully with surgical intervention.
Intraspinal; Epidural; Hematoma; Laminectomy
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.
Spinal epidural hematoma is a well known complication of spinal surgery. Clinically insignificant small epidural hematomas develop in most spinal surgeries following laminectomy. However, the incidence of clinically significant postoperative spinal epidural hematomas that result in neurological deficits is extremely rare. In this report, we present a 33-year-old female patient whose spinal surgery resulted in postoperative spinal epidural hematoma. She was diagnosed with lumbar disc disease and underwent hemipartial lumbar laminectomy and discectomy. After twelve hours postoperation, her neurologic status deteriorated and cauda equina syndrome with acute spinal epidural hematoma was identified. She was immediately treated with surgical decompression and evacuation of the hematoma. The incidence of epidural hematoma after spinal surgery is rare, but very serious complication. Spinal epidural hematomas can cause significant spinal cord and cauda equina compression, requiring surgical intervention. Once diagnosed, the patient should immediately undergo emergency surgical exploration and evacuation of the hematoma.
A 65-year-old man who had lateral cervical disc herniation underwent cervical posterior laminoforaminotomy at C5-6 and C6-7 level right side. During the operation, there was no serious surgical bleeding event. After operation, he complained persistent right shoulder pain and neck pain. Repeated magnetic resonance image (MRI) showed diffuse cervical epidural hematoma (EDH) extending from C5 to T1 level right side and spinal cord compression at C5-6-7 level. He underwent exploration. There was active bleeding at muscular layer. Muscular active bleeding was controlled and intramuscular hematoma was removed. The patient's symptom was reduced after second operation. Symptomatic postoperative spinal EDH requiring reoperation is rare. Meticulous bleeding control is important before wound closure. In addition, if patient presents persistent or aggravated pain after operation, rapid evaluation using MRI and second look operation is needed as soon as possible.
Cervical epidural hematoma; Posterior laminoforaminotomy; Cervical disc herniation; Postoperative bleeding; Reoperation
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.
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
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
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.
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
An 80-year-old white male suffered a stroke, fell to the floor, and suffered acute right hemiparesis and facial palsy. After an intravenous alteplase infusion 2.5 h later, the patient first complained of numbness in his right arm, then neck pain, followed by left leg numbness and slowly progressing paraparesis. MRI of the spine demonstrated an acute spinal dorsal epidural hematoma extending from the C6 to the T6 level; 12 h later, he underwent hematoma evacuation and laminectomy. Three months after surgery, the patient was paraplegic with moderate sensory loss below mamillary level. Acute ischemic stroke is often associated with a sudden fall, which, after thrombolysis, may result in unusual hemorrhagic complications.
Cerebral infarction; Thrombolysis; Spinal epidural hematoma
Spinal epidural hematoma (SEH) represents the most frequent entity of acute or chronic spinal bleeding. Based upon pathogenesis, SEH can be classified as idiopathic, spontaneous, and secondary. The idiopathic forms are considered not to be attributed to any specific risk factors. Spontaneous SEH, accounting for 0.3–0.9% of all spinal epidural space occupying lesions, instead is associated with risk factors (such as substantial soft trauma or coagulation abnormalities). The chronic form, as our literature review revealed, is the rarest and its most frequent location is the lumbar spine. The pathophysiology of spontaneous and idiopathic SEH is still under debate: There are only a few reports in literature of chronically evolving SEH with progressively increasing pain and neurological impairment. Magnetic resonance imaging may be inconclusive for differential diagnosis. Here, we present two cases of lumbar chronic SEH with slow, progressive, and persistent lumbar radicular impairment. The first patient reported a minor trauma with slight back contusion and thus was classified as spontaneous SEH. In the second case not even a minor trauma was involved, so we considered it to be idiopathic SEH. In both cases preoperative blood and coagulation tests were normal and we did not find any other or co-factors in the patients’ clinical histories. MR imaging showed uncertain spinal canal obstructing lesions at L3 and L4 level in both cases. Surgical treatment allowed a correct diagnosis and resulted in full clinical and neuroradiological recovery after 1 year follow-up. Our aim is to discuss pathogenesis, clinical and radiological features, differential diagnosis and treatment options, on the background of relevant literature review.
Spontaneous; Idiopathic; Chronic; Hematoma; Epidural; Spinal
We report an extremely rare case of traumatic cervical spinal subdural hematoma not related to intracranial injury. There has been no report on traumatic cervical spinal subdrual hematoma not related to intracranial injury. A 27-year-old female patient was admitted to our emergency room due to severe neck pain and right arm motor weakness after car collision. On admission, she presented with complete monoplegia and hypoesthesia of right arm. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed subdural hematoma compressing spinal cord. Lumbar cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis revealed 210,000 red blood cells/mm3. She was managed conservatively by administrations of steroid pulse therapy and CSF drainage. Her muscle power of right arm improved to a Grade III 16 days after admission. Follow-up MRI taken 16th days after admission revealed almost complete resolution of the hematoma. Here, the authors report a traumatic cervical spinal SDH not associated with intracranial injury.
Spinal subdural hematoma; Cervical spine; Monoplegia
Posterior migration of spinal cord is a common complication of posterior cervical decompression, whereas anterior migration of spinal cord after anterior cervical decompression has not been reported previously. This report presents a case of anterior migration of spinal cord after cervical corpectomy. A 65-year-old male underwent a cervical corpectomy of the C4 and C5 for cervical spondylotic myelopathy. The postoperative MRI showed that spinal cord was decompressed. However, at 12 months postoperatively, the patient complained that improved gait aggravated again, and the MRI showed an anterior migration of the spinal cord at the level of the C4 and C5, and a compression of spinal cord at the level of caudal endplate of C3. Secondary surgery, laminaplasty of C3 and C4 was conducted. The postoperative MRI showed that the spinal canal increased at the C3 and C4 levels, and the spinal cord went through smoothly without sharp turning.
Corpectomy; Complication; Spinal cord migration; Cervical spondylotic myelopathy
The addition of thoracic epidural anesthesia to general anesthesia during cardiac surgery may have a beneficial effect on clinical outcome. However, epidural catheter insertion in a patient anticoagulated with heparin may increase the risk of epidural hematoma. We report a case of epidural hematoma in a 55-year-old male patient who had a thoracic epidural placed under general anesthesia preceding uneventful mitral valve replacement and tricuspid valve annular plasty. During the immediate postoperative period and first postoperative day, prothrombin time (PT) and activate partial thromboplastin time (aPTT) were mildly prolonged. On the first postoperative day, he complained of motor weakness of the lower limbs and back pain. An immediate MRI of the spine was performed and it revealed an epidural hematoma at the T5-6 level. Rapid surgical decompression resulted in a recovery of his neurological abnormalities to near normal levels. Management and preventing strategies of epidural hematoma are discussed.
Analgesia; Epidural; Hematoma; Postoperative complications; Spinal
Spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma (SSEH) is rare in children, especially in infants, in whom only 12 cases have been reported. Because of the nonspecificity of presenting symptoms in children, the diagnosis may be delayed. We report herein a case of SSEH in a 20-month-old girl who initially presented with neck pain, and developed lower extremity motor weakness and symptoms of neurogenic bladder 2 weeks prior to admission. The magnetic resonance imaging showed an epidural mass lesion extending from C7 to T4, and the spinal cord was severely compressed by the mass. After emergency decompressive surgery the neurologic function was improved immediately. Two months after surgery, the neurological status was normal with achievement of spontaneous voiding. We suggest that surgical intervention can provide excellent prognosis in case of SSEH in infants, even if surgery delayed.
Spontaneous; Spinal epidural hematoma; Infant; Laminotomy
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.
Chronic spinal epidural hematoma related to Kummell's disease is extremely rare. An 82-year-old woman who had been managed conservatively for seven weeks with the diagnosis of a multi-level osteoporotic compression fracture was transferred to our institute. Lumbar spine magnetic resonance images revealed vertebral body collapse with the formation of a cavitary lesion at L1, and a chronic spinal epidural hematoma extending from L1 to L3. Because of intractable back pain, a percutaneous vertebroplasty was performed. The pain improved dramatically and follow-up magnetic resonance imaging obtained three days after the procedure showed a nearly complete resolution of the hematoma. Here, we present the rare case of a chronic spinal epidural hematoma associated with Kummell's disease and discuss the possible mechanism.
Spinal epidural hematoma; Kummell's disease; Percutaneous vertebroplasty
The postoperative infectious spondylitis has been reported to occur among every 1% to 12%. It is difficult to early diagnose in some cases. If the diagnosis is delayed, it can be a life-threatening condition. We report a 32-year-old male patient with postoperative infectious spondylitis. He had surgical treatments for traumatic intervertebral disc herniations in L3-4 and L4-5. Three weeks after surgery, he complained for fever and paraplegia. Cervicothoracic magnetic resonance imaging showed the collapsed T2 and T3 vertebral body with changes of bone marrow signal intensity. Moreover, it showed anterior and posterior epidural masses causing spinal cord compressions which suggested infectious spondylitis. After the use of antibiotics and surgical decompressions T2-T3, his general conditions were improved and muscle power of lower extremities began to be gradually restored. However, we could not identify the exact organisms that may be the cause of infectious spondylitis. It could be important that the infectious spondylitis, which is presented away from the primary operative level, should be observed in patients with fevers of unknown origin and paraplegia.
Spondylitis; Intervertebral disc displacement; Spinal cord compression
Sacral epidural abscesses are rare infections, often managed with open surgery, especially in the presence of acute neurological symptoms. We report a novel approach for minimally invasive drainage of sacral epidural abscesses.
A 51-year-old man presented to the emergency department complaining of low back pain, generalized muscle pain, pain across several large joints, low-grade fever, and weakness of both legs for ten days. MRI of the patient's lumbosacral spine showed osteomyelitis involving his L5, S1 vertebrae, L5-S1 discitis, as well as anterior and posterior epidural abscesses extending from L5-S1 disc space to the S2 vertebral level. Under CT fluoroscopic guidance a 20-gauge spinal needle was inserted into the sacral hiatus, parallel to the pelvic surface of the sacral canal, and directed cranially. A 0.18-gauge microwire was then advanced through the 20-gauge needle. The 20-gauge needle was exchanged over the guidewire for an 18-gauge blunt tipped needle which was curved to approximate the contours of the sacral canal. The curved needle was inserted through the sacral hiatus with its concavity initially facing upwards, and then rotated 180° to gain access to epidural abscess.
Once anatomic access was established 5cc of thick purulent material was evacuated. The patient tolerated the procedure well, and no focal nerve root symptoms were noted following the procedure.
Image guided aspiration of sacral epidural abscesses can be carried out in a safe and effective manner using CT fluoroscopy. Aspiration of these abscesses combined with intravenous antibiotics may be an alternative to open surgery in select patients.
sacral abscess, osteomielitis, spine, percutaneous drainage
Varicella-zoster virus and herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 are neurotropic viruses that can be reactivated after a surgical or stressful intervention. Although such cases are uncommon, consequences can be debilitating, and variable treatment responses merit consideration. We describe a 41-year-old male with a history of varicella-mediated skin eruptions, who presented with continuing right arm pain, burning, and numbness in a C6 dermatomal distribution following a C5-6 anterior cervical discectomy and fusion and epidural steroid injections. The operative course was uncomplicated and he was discharged home on postoperative day 1. Approximately ten days after surgery, the patient presented to the emergency department complaining of severe pain in his right upper extremity and a vesicular rash from his elbow to his second digit. He was started on Acyclovir and discharged home. On outpatient follow-up, his rash had resolved though his pain continued. The patient was started on a neuromodulating agent for chronic pain. This case adds to the limited literature regarding this rare complication, brings attention to the symptoms for proper diagnosis and treatment, and emphasizes the importance of prompt antiviral therapy. We suggest adding a neuromodulating agent to prevent long-term sequelae and resolve acute symptoms.