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1.  Spontaneous and idiopathic chronic spinal epidural hematoma: two case reports and review of the literature 
European Spine Journal  2009;18(11):1555-1561.
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.
doi:10.1007/s00586-009-1175-6
PMCID: PMC2899401  PMID: 19859747
Spontaneous; Idiopathic; Chronic; Hematoma; Epidural; Spinal
2.  Postoperative spinal epidural hematoma resulting in cauda equina syndrome: a case report and review of the literature 
Cases Journal  2009;2:8584.
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.
doi:10.4076/1757-1626-2-8584
PMCID: PMC2740261  PMID: 19830087
3.  Case Report: Cauda Equina Syndrome Associated With an Interspinous Device 
Background
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.
Case Description
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.
Literature Review
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.
Clinical Relevance
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.
doi:10.1007/s11999-011-2031-7
PMCID: PMC3348300  PMID: 21870210
4.  Intracranial hemorrhage following lumbar spine surgery 
European Spine Journal  2012;21(10):2091-2096.
Background
Intracranial hemorrhage is a serious but rare complication of spinal surgery, which can occur in the intracerebral, cerebellar, epidural, or subdural compartment.
Purpose
To describe patients with intracranial hemorrhage after lumbar spinal surgery and present clinical and diagnostic imaging findings.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1007/s00586-012-2187-1
PMCID: PMC3463703  PMID: 22349967
Intracranial hemorrhage; Lumbar spine surgery; Remote cerebellar hemorrhage; Subdural hematoma; Epidural hematoma
5.  Clinical Features and Treatments of Upper Lumbar Disc Herniations 
Objective
Disc herniations at the L1-L2 and L2-L3 levels are different from those at lower levels of the lumbar spine with regard to clinical characteristics and surgical outcome. Spinal canals are narrower than those of lower levels, which may compromise multiple spinal nerve roots or conus medullaris. The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical features and surgical outcomes of upper lumbar disc herniations.
Methods
We retrospectively reviewed the clinical features of 41 patients who had undergone surgery for single disc herniations at the L1-L2 and L2-3 levels from 1998 to 2007. The affected levels were L1-L2 in 14 patients and L2-L3 in 27 patients. Presenting symptoms and signs, patient characteristics, radiologic findings, operative methods, and surgical outcomes were investigated.
Results
The mean age of patients with upper lumbar disc was 55.5 years (ranged 31 to 78). The mean follow-up period was 16.6 months. Most patients complained of back and buttock pain (38 patients, 92%), and radiating pain in areas such as the anterior or anterolateral aspect of the thigh (32 patients, 78%). Weakness of lower extremities was observed in 16 patients (39%) and sensory disturbance was presented in 19 patients (46%). Only 6 patients (14%) had undergone previous lumbar disc surgery. Discectomy was performed using three methods : unilateral laminectomy in 27 cases, bilateral laminectomy in 3 cases, and the transdural approach in 11 cases, which were performed through total laminectomy in 10 cases and unilateral laminectomy in 1 case. With regard to surgical outcomes, preoperative symptoms improved significantly in 33 patients (80.5%), partially in 7 patients (17%), and were aggravated in 1 patient (2.5%).
Conclusion
Clinical features of disc herniations at the L1-L2 and L2-L3 levels were variable, and localized sensory change or pain was rarely demonstrated. In most cases, the discectomy was performed successfully by conventional posterior laminectomy. On the other hand, in large central broad based disc herniation, when the neural elements are severely compromised, the posterior transdural approach could be an alternative.
doi:10.3340/jkns.2010.48.2.119
PMCID: PMC2941853  PMID: 20856659
Clinical feature; Disc herniation; Transdural; Upper lumbar
6.  Postoperative Spinal Epidural Hematoma: Risk Factor and Clinical Outcome 
Yonsei Medical Journal  2006;47(3):326-332.
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.
doi:10.3349/ymj.2006.47.3.326
PMCID: PMC2688151  PMID: 16807981
Clinical outcome; risk factor; postoperative; spinal epidural hematoma; spine surgery
7.  Cervicothoracic Spinal Epidural Hematoma after Anterior Cervical Spinal Surgery 
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.
doi:10.3340/jkns.2010.48.6.541
PMCID: PMC3053552  PMID: 21430984
Cervical spine; Complication; Hematoma
8.  Extensive Postoperative Epidural Hematoma After Full Anticoagulation: Case Report and Review of the Literature 
Background/Objective:
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.
Methods:
Case report.
Findings:
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.
Results:
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.
Conclusions:
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.
PMCID: PMC2031966  PMID: 17684896
Spinal stenosis, lumbar; Spinal decompression; Anticoagulation; Epidural hematoma; Laminectomy
9.  Epidural hematoma occurred by massive bleeding intraoperatively in cesarean section after combined spinal epidural anesthesia -A case report- 
Korean Journal of Anesthesiology  2011;61(4):336-340.
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.
doi:10.4097/kjae.2011.61.4.336
PMCID: PMC3219782  PMID: 22110889
Blood coagulation disorder; Cesarean section; Epidural anesthesia; Epidural hematoma; Postpartum hemorrhage; Spinal anesthesia
10.  Complete motor recovery after acute paraparesis caused by spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma: case report 
Background
Spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma is a relatively rare but potentially disabling disease. Prompt timely surgical management may promote recovery even in severe cases.
Case presentation
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-227X-11-10
PMCID: PMC3160384  PMID: 21794133
11.  Acute spinal subdural hematoma complicating lumbar decompressive surgery 
Study design: A case report.
Objective: To report a rare case of acute spinal subdural hematoma (SSH) complicating lumbar spine surgery, its characteristic presenting symptoms, diagnostic imaging, possible cause, and pitfall in management.
Methods: A 59-year-old woman with lumbar spinal instability and stenosis underwent laminectomy and decompression at L3–L5 with instrumentation and fusion from L3–S1.
Results: Immediately following surgery, the patient presented with incapacitating pain of both lower extremities from the mid-thigh downward, which was not relieved by narcotic analgesia and was disproportional to surgical trauma. Left ankle and great toes weakness was detected at postoperative day 2 and deteriorated on day 6. Magnetic resonance imaging was performed urgently and revealed a characteristic SSH with thecal sac compression at the level of L2, proximal to the laminectomy. Emergency decompression and evacuation of the hematoma was performed. The patient had partial recovery 6 weeks postoperatively.
Conclusion: Acute SSH is a rare complication of lumbar spine surgery. This diagnosis must be considered when severe leg pain, unresolved with analgesia and disproportional to surgical trauma, with neurological deterioration occurring after lumbar spine surgery. Magnetic resonance imaging is the imaging modality of choice to assist in the differential diagnosis of an SSH. Early surgical decompression is necessary for optimal neurological recovery.
doi:10.1055/s-0031-1298602
PMCID: PMC3503516  PMID: 23236307
12.  Hemiparesis Caused by Cervical Spontaneous Spinal Epidural Hematoma: A Report of 3 Cases 
Advances in Orthopedics  2011;2011:516382.
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.
doi:10.4061/2011/516382
PMCID: PMC3170783  PMID: 21991415
13.  Analysis of Factors Contributing to Postoperative Spinal Instability after Lumbar Decompression for Spinal Stenosis 
Korean Journal of Spine  2013;10(3):149-154.
Objective
Decompressive laminectomy is one of the most commonly used surgical methods for the treatment of spinal stenosis. We retrospectively examined the risk factors that induce spinal instability, including slippage (spondylolisthesis) and/or segmental angulation after decompressive laminectomy on the lumbar spine.
Methods
From January 1, 2006 to June 30, 2010, 94 consecutive patients underwent first-time single level decompressive laminectomy without fusion and discectomy. Of these 94 patients, 42 with a follow-up period of at least 2 years were selected. We measured the segmental angulation and slippage in flexion and extension dynamic lumbar radiographs. We analyzed the following contributing factors to spinal instability: age/sex, smoking history, disc space narrowing, body mass index (kg/m2), facet joint tropism, effect of the lordotic angle on lumbar spine, asymmetrical paraspinal muscle volume, and surgical method and level.
Results
Female patients, normal lordotic angle, and asymmetrical paraspinal muscle volume were factors more significantly associated with spondylolisthesis (p-value=0.026, 0.015, <0.01). Statistical results indicated that patients with facet tropism were more likely to have segmental angulation (p-value=0.046). Facet tropism and asymmetry of paraspinal muscle volume were predisposing factors to spinal instability (p-value=0.012, <0.01).
Conclusion
Facet joint tropism and asymmetry of paraspinal muscle volume are the most important factors associated with spinal instability; therefore, careful follow-up after decompressive laminectomy in affected patients is necessary.
doi:10.14245/kjs.2013.10.3.149
PMCID: PMC3941765  PMID: 24757477
Spinal stenosis; Facet tropism; Paraspinal muscle; Instability
14.  Radicular Compression by Intraspinal Epidural Gas Bubble Occurred in Distant Two Levels after Lumbar Microdiscectomy 
The authors report a case of symptomatic epidural gas accumulation 2 weeks after the multi-level lumbar surgery, causing postoperative recurrent radiculopathy. The accumulation of epidural gas compressing the dural sac and nerve root was demonstrated by CT and MRI at the distant two levels, L3-4 and L5-S1, where vacuum in disc space was observed preoperatively and both laminectomy and discectomy had been done. However, postoperative air was not identified at L4-5 level where only laminectomy had been done in same surgical field, which suggested the relationship between postoperative epidural gas and the manipulation of disc structure. Conservative treatment and needle aspiration was performed, but not effective to relieve patient's symptoms. The patient underwent revision surgery to remove the gaseous cyst. Her leg pain was improved after the second operation.
doi:10.3340/jkns.2014.56.6.521
PMCID: PMC4303732  PMID: 25628816
Epidural gas; Vacuum phenomenon; Lumbar spine; Recurrent radiculopathy; Spinal surgery
15.  Delayed Onset Neurological Deterioration due to a Spinal Epidural Hematoma after a Spine Fracture 
Asian Spine Journal  2007;1(2):98-101.
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.
doi:10.4184/asj.2007.1.2.98
PMCID: PMC2857477  PMID: 20411132
Spinal epidural hematoma; Spine fracture; Neurology
16.  Surgical treatment of spontaneous intracranial hypotension secondary to degenerative cervical spine pathology: a case report and literature review 
European Spine Journal  2011;21(Suppl 4):422-427.
Objective and importance
A rare cause of intracranial hypotension is leakage of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) through a dural breach from degenerative cervical spine pathology. To our knowledge there have been only four cases described in the English literature. Treatment is challenging and varies from case to case, with complete symptom resolution reported for only one patient. Herein we review the literature and describe our surgical management of a 46-year-old woman with symptomatic intracranial hypotension from the penetration of the cervical thecal sac.
Clinical presentation
The patient presented with a 3-month history of progressive orthostatic headaches. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated bilateral subdural hematomas and pachymeningeal gadolinium enhancement. An anterior epidural CSF collection commencing at a C4–5 calcified disc protrusion and osteophyte was evident on a computed tomography spinal myelogram.
Intervention
After three unsuccessful lumbar blood patches, we elected to attempt surgical removal of the causative pathology with exposure and primary closure of the dural defect by anterior cervical discectomy as described previously. After resection of the disc–osteophyte complex and dural exposure, immediate high volume egression of CSF mixed with blood at the surgical site. The dural defect was not visible but CSF egression promptly ceased. Cervical corpectomy for greater exposure and primary repair of the defect has been described, but we considered this unwarranted and felt the intraoperative blood collection formed a local blood patch. A collagen dural substitute membrane was inserted through the discectomy space for reinforcement.
Conclusion
Two months after this novel surgical blood patch procedure the patient was asymptomatic and follow-up imaging demonstrated complete resolution.
doi:10.1007/s00586-011-1979-z
PMCID: PMC3369066  PMID: 21874294
Spontaneous intracranial hypotension; Cerebrospinal fluid leak; Degenerative spine pathology; Cervical spine
17.  Early postoperative MRI in detecting hematoma and dural compression after lumbar spinal decompression: prospective study of asymptomatic patients in comparison to patients requiring surgical revision 
European Spine Journal  2010;19(12):2216-2222.
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.
doi:10.1007/s00586-010-1483-x
PMCID: PMC2997206  PMID: 20556438
Epidural hematoma; Early postoperative MRI; Spinal stenosis; Neural compression
18.  United States Trends and Regional Variations in Lumbar Spine Surgery: 1992–2003 
Spine  2006;31(23):2707-2714.
Study Design
Repeated cross-sectional analysis using national Medicare data from the Dartmouth Atlas Project.
Objectives
To describe recent trends and geographic variation in population-based rates of lumbar fusion spine surgery.
Summary of Background Data
Lumbar fusion rates have increased dramatically during the 80s and even more so in the 90s. The most rapid increase appeared to follow the approval of a new surgical implant device.
Methods
Medicare claims and enrollment data were used to calculate age-, sex- and race-adjusted rates of lumbar laminectomy/discectomy and lumbar fusion for fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries over age 65 in each of the 306 U.S. Hospital Referral Regions between 1992 and 2003.
Results
Lumbar fusion rates have increased steadily since 1992 (0.3 per 1000 enrollees in 1992 to 1.1 per 1000 enrollees in 2003). Regional rates of lumbar discectomy, laminectomy, and fusion in 1992–1993 were highly correlated to rates of discectomy, laminectomy (R2=0.44) and fusion (R2=0.28) in 2002–2003. There was a nearly 8-fold variation in regional rates of lumbar discectomy and laminectomy between 2002 and 2003. In the case of lumbar fusion there was nearly a 20-fold range in rates among Medicare enrollees between 2002–2003. This represents the largest coefficient of variation seen with any surgical procedure. Medicare spending for inpatient back surgery more than doubled over the decade. Spending for lumbar fusion increased more than 500%, from $75 million to $482 million. In 1992, lumbar fusion represented 14% of total spending for back surgery; by 2003, lumbar fusion accounted for 47% of spending.
Conclusions
The rate of specific procedures within a region or “surgical signature” is remarkably stable over time. However, there has been a marked increase in rates of fusion and a coincident shift and increase in cost. Rates of back surgery were not correlated with the per-capita supply of orthopaedic and neurosurgeons.
doi:10.1097/01.brs.0000248132.15231.fe
PMCID: PMC2913862  PMID: 17077740
lumbar surgery rates; trends; spine fusion; cost
19.  Full-endoscopic interlaminar removal of chronic lumbar epidural hematoma after spinal manipulation 
Background:
Spinal manipulation is widely used for low back pain treatments. Complications associated with spinal manipulation are seen. Lumbar epidural hematoma (EDH) is one of the complications reported in the literature. If lumbar chronic EDH symptoms are present, which are similar to those of a herniated nucleus pulposus, surgery may be considered if medical treatment fails. Percutaneous endoscopic discectomy utilizing an interlaminar approach can be successfully applied to those with herniated nucleus pulposus. We use the same technique to remove the lumbar chronic EDH, which is the first documented report in the related literature.
Methods:
We present a case with chronic lumbar EDH associated with spinal manipulation. Neurologic deficits were noted on physical examination. We arranged for a full-endoscopic interlaminar approach to remove the hematoma for the patient with the rigid endoscopy (Vertebris system; Richard Wolf, Knittlingen, Germany).
Results:
After surgery, the patient's radiculopathy immediately began to disappear. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) follow-up 10 days after the surgery revealed no residual hematoma. No complications were noted during the outpatient department follow up.
Conclusions:
Lumbar EDH is a possible complication of spinal manipulation. Patient experiencing rapidly progressive neurologic deficit require early surgical evacuation, while conservative treatment may only be applied to those with mild symptoms. A percutaneous full-endoscopic interlaminar approach may be a viable alternative for the treatment of those with chronic EDH with progressive neurologic deficits.
doi:10.4103/2152-7806.131106
PMCID: PMC4033759  PMID: 24872917
Chronic epidural hematoma; endoscopic; interlaminar; lumbar; spinal manipulation
20.  Endoscopic discectomy of L5-S1 disc herniation via an interlaminar approach: Prospective controlled study under local and general anesthesia 
Background:
Open discectomy remains the standard method for treatment of lumbar disc herniation, but can traumatize spinal structure and leaves symptomatic epidural scarring in more than 10% of cases. The usual transforaminal approach may be associated with difficulty reaching the epidural space due to anatomical peculiarities at the L5–S1 level. The endoscopic interlaminar approach can provide a direct pathway for decompression of disc herniation at the L5–S1 level. This study aimed to evaluate the clinical results of endoscopic interlaminar lumbar discectomy at the L5–S1 level and compare the technique feasibility, safety, and efficacy under local and general anesthesia (LA and GA, respectively).
Methods:
One hundred twenty-three patients with L5–S1 disc herniation underwent endoscopic interlaminar lumbar discectomy from October 2006 to June 2009 by two spine surgeons using different anesthesia preferences in two medical centers. Visual analog scale (VAS) scores for back pain and leg pain and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) sores were recorded preoperatively, and at 3, 6, and 12 months postoperatively. Results were compared to evaluate the technique feasibility, safety, and efficacy under LA and GA.
Results:
VAS scores for back pain and leg pain and ODI revealed statistically significant improvement when they were compared with preoperative values. Mean hospital stay was statistically shorter in the LA group. Complications included one case of dural tear with rootlet injury and three cases of recurrence within 1 month who subsequently required open surgery or endoscopic interlaminar lumbar discectomy. There were no medical or infectious complications in either group.
Conclusion:
Disc herniation at the L5–S1 level can be adequately treated endoscopically with an interlaminar approach. GA and LA are both effective for this procedure. However, LA is better than GA in our opinion.
doi:10.4103/2152-7806.82570
PMCID: PMC3130490  PMID: 21748045
General anesthesia; interlaminar approach; local anesthesia; lumbar disc herniation; percutaneous endoscopic discectomy
21.  Minimally invasive surgical procedures for the treatment of lumbar disc herniation 
Introduction
In up to 30% of patients undergoing lumbar disc surgery for herniated or protruded discs outcomes are judged unfavourable. Over the last decades this problem has stimulated the development of a number of minimally-invasive operative procedures. The aim is to relieve pressure from compromised nerve roots by mechanically removing, dissolving or evaporating disc material while leaving bony structures and surrounding tissues as intact as possible. In Germany, there is hardly any utilisation data for these new procedures – data files from the statutory health insurances demonstrate that about 5% of all lumbar disc surgeries are performed using minimally-invasive techniques. Their real proportion is thought to be much higher because many procedures are offered by private hospitals and surgeries and are paid by private health insurers or patients themselves. So far no comprehensive assessment comparing efficacy, safety, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of minimally-invasive lumbar disc surgery to standard procedures (microdiscectomy, open discectomy) which could serve as a basis for coverage decisions, has been published in Germany.
Objective
Against this background the aim of the following assessment is:
Based on published scientific literature assess safety, efficacy and effectiveness of minimally-invasive lumbar disc surgery compared to standard procedures. To identify and critically appraise studies comparing costs and cost-effectiveness of minimally-invasive procedures to that of standard procedures. If necessary identify research and evaluation needs and point out regulative needs within the German health care system. The assessment focusses on procedures that are used in elective lumbar disc surgery as alternative treatment options to microdiscectomy or open discectomy. Chemonucleolysis, percutaneous manual discectomy, automated percutaneous lumbar discectomy, laserdiscectomy and endoscopic procedures accessing the disc by a posterolateral or posterior approach are included.
Methods
In order to assess safety, efficacy and effectiveness of minimally-invasive procedures as well as their economic implications systematic reviews of the literature are performed. A comprehensive search strategy is composed to search 23 electronic databases, among them MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library. Methodological quality of systematic reviews, HTA reports and primary research is assessed using checklists of the German Scientific Working Group for Health Technology Assessment. Quality and transparency of cost analyses are documented using the quality and transparency catalogues of the working group. Study results are summarised in a qualitative manner. Due to the limited number and the low methodological quality of the studies it is not possible to conduct metaanalyses. In addition to the results of controlled trials results of recent case series are introduced and discussed.
Results
The evidence-base to assess safety, efficacy and effectiveness of minimally-invasive lumbar disc surgery procedures is rather limited:
Percutaneous manual discectomy: Six case series (four after 1998)Automated percutaneous lumbar discectomy: Two RCT (one discontinued), twelve case series (one after 1998)Chemonucleolysis: Five RCT, five non-randomised controlled trials, eleven case seriesPercutaneous laserdiscectomy: One non-randomised controlled trial, 13 case series (eight after 1998)Endoscopic procedures: Three RCT, 21 case series (17 after 1998)
There are two economic analyses each retrieved for chemonucleolysis and automated percutaneous discectomy as well as one cost-minimisation analysis comparing costs of an endoscopic procedure to costs for open discectomy.
Among all minimally-invasive procedures chemonucleolysis is the only of which efficacy may be judged on the basis of results from high quality randomised controlled trials (RCT). Study results suggest that the procedure maybe (cost)effectively used as an intermediate therapeutical option between conservative and operative management of small lumbar disc herniations or protrusions causing sciatica. Two RCT comparing transforaminal endoscopic procedures with microdiscectomy in patients with sciatica and small non-sequestered disc herniations show comparable short and medium term overall success rates. Concerning speed of recovery and return to work a trend towards more favourable results for the endoscopic procedures is noted. It is doubtful though, whether these results from the eleven and five years old studies are still valid for the more advanced procedures used today. The only RCT comparing the results of automated percutaneous lumbar discectomy to those of microdiscectomy showed clearly superior results of microdiscectomy. Furthermore, success rates of automated percutaneous lumbar discectomy reported in the RCT (29%) differ extremely from success rates reported in case series (between 56% and 92%).
The literature search retrieves no controlled trials to assess efficacy and/or effectiveness of laser-discectomy, percutaneous manual discectomy or endoscopic procedures using a posterior approach in comparison to the standard procedures. Results from recent case series permit no assessment of efficacy, especially not in comparison to standard procedures. Due to highly selected patients, modi-fications of operative procedures, highly specialised surgical units and poorly standardised outcome assessment results of case series are highly variable, their generalisability is low.
The results of the five economical analyses are, due to conceptual and methodological problems, of no value for decision-making in the context of the German health care system.
Discussion
Aside from low methodological study quality three conceptual problems complicate the interpretation of results.
Continuous further development of technologies leads to a diversity of procedures in use which prohibits generalisation of study results. However, diversity is noted not only for minimally-invasive procedures but also for the standard techniques against which the new developments are to be compared. The second problem refers to the heterogeneity of study populations. For most studies one common inclusion criterion was "persisting sciatica after a course of conservative treatment of variable duration". Differences among study populations are noted concerning results of imaging studies. Even within every group of minimally-invasive procedure, studies define their own in- and exclusion criteria which differ concerning degree of dislocation and sequestration of disc material. There is the non-standardised assessment of outcomes which are performed postoperatively after variable periods of time. Most studies report results in a dichotomous way as success or failure while the classification of a result is performed using a variety of different assessment instruments or procedures. Very often the global subjective judgement of results by patients or surgeons is reported. There are no scientific discussions whether these judgements are generalisable or comparable, especially among studies that are conducted under differing socio-cultural conditions. Taking into account the weak evidence-base for efficacy and effectiveness of minimally-invasive procedures it is not surprising that so far there are no dependable economic analyses.
Conclusions
Conclusions that can be drawn from the results of the present assessment refer in detail to the specified minimally-invasive procedures of lumbar disc surgery but they may also be considered exemplary for other fields where optimisation of results is attempted by technological development and widening of indications (e.g. total hip replacement).
Compared to standard technologies (open discectomy, microdiscectomy) and with the exception of chemonucleolysis, the developmental status of all other minimally-invasive procedures assessed must be termed experimental. To date there is no dependable evidence-base to recommend their use in routine clinical practice. To create such a dependable evidence-base further research in two directions is needed: a) The studies need to include adequate patient populations, use realistic controls (e.g. standard operative procedures or continued conservative care) and use standardised measurements of meaningful outcomes after adequate periods of time. b) Studies that are able to report effectiveness of the procedures under everyday practice conditions and furthermore have the potential to detect rare adverse effects are needed. In Sweden this type of data is yielded by national quality registries. On the one hand their data are used for quality improvement measures and on the other hand they allow comprehensive scientific evaluations. Since the year of 2000 a continuous rise in utilisation of minimally-invasive lumbar disc surgery is observed among statutory health insurers. Examples from other areas of innovative surgical technologies (e.g. robot assisted total hip replacement) indicate that the rise will probably continue - especially because there are no legal barriers to hinder introduction of innovative treatments into routine hospital care. Upon request by payers or providers the "Gemeinsamer Bundesausschuss" may assess a treatments benefit, its necessity and cost-effectiveness as a prerequisite for coverage by the statutory health insurance. In the case of minimally-invasive disc surgery it would be advisable to examine the legal framework for covering procedures only if they are provided under evaluation conditions. While in Germany coverage under evaluation conditions is established practice in ambulatory health care only (“Modellvorhaben") examples from other European countries (Great Britain, Switzerland) demonstrate that it is also feasible for hospital based interventions. In order to assure patient protection and at the same time not hinder the further development of new and promising technologies provision under evaluation conditions could also be realised in the private health care market - although in this sector coverage is not by law linked to benefit, necessity and cost-effectiveness of an intervention.
PMCID: PMC3011322  PMID: 21289928
22.  Failed back surgery syndrome: the role of symptomatic segmental single-level instability after lumbar microdiscectomy 
European Spine Journal  2004;13(3):193-198.
Segmental instability represents one of several different factors that may cause or contribute to the failed back surgery syndrome after lumbar microdiscectomy. As segmental lumbar instability poses diagnostic problems by lack of clear radiological and clinical criteria, only little is known about the occurrence of this phenomenon following primary microdiscectomy. Retrospectively, the records of 2,353 patients were reviewed according to postoperative symptomatic segmental single-level instability after lumbar microdiscectomy between 1989 and 1997. Progressive neurological deficits increased (mean of 24 months; SD: 12, range 1–70) after the initial surgical procedure in 12 patients. The mean age of the four men and eight women was 43 years (SD: 6, range 40–77). The main symptoms and signs of secondary neurological deterioration were radicular pain in 9 of 12 patients, increased motor weakness in 6 of 12 patients and sensory deficits in 4 of 12 patients. All 12 symptomatic patients had radiological evidence of segmental changes correlating with the clinical symptoms and signs. All but one patient showed a decrease in the disc height greater than 30% at the time of posterior spondylodesis compared with the preoperative images before lumbar microdiscectomy. All patients underwent secondary laminectomy and posterior lumbar sponylodesis. Postoperatively, pain improved in 8 of 9 patients, motor weakness in 3 of 6 patients, and sensory deficits in 2 of 4 patients. During the follow-up period of 72±7 months, one patient required a third operation to alleviate spinal stenosis at the upper end of the laminectomy. Patients with secondary segmental instability following microdiscectomy were mainly in their 40s. Postoperative narrowing of the intervertebral space following lumbar microdiscectomy is correlated to the degree of intervertebral disc resection. It can therefore be concluded that (1) patients in their 40s are prone to postoperative narrowing of the intervertebral disc space and hence subsequent intervertebral instability and (2) that a small extent of intervertebral disc resection and preservation of the “segmental frame” may be beneficial in those patients. The present study demonstrated for the first time that the degree of extensive operative techniques in microdiscectomy increased the risk of subsequent segmental instability. In addition, narrowing of the intervertebral space of more than 30% represents a clear radiological sign of segmental instability.
doi:10.1007/s00586-003-0632-x
PMCID: PMC3468142  PMID: 14752624
Microdiscectomy; Disc herniation; Segmental instability; Failed back surgery syndrome; Discectomy; Lumbar spine; Spinal instrumentation
23.  Endoscopic Foraminal Decompression for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome under local Anesthesia 
Background
The most common causes of failed back surgery are residual or recurrent herniation, foraminal fibrosis and foraminal stenosis that is ignored, untreated, or undertreated. Residual back ache may also be from facetal causes or denervation and scarring of the paraspinal muscles.1–6 The original surgeon may advise his patient that nothing more can be done on the basis of his opinion that the nerve was visually decompressed by the original surgery, supported by improved post-op imaging and follow-up studies such as EMG and conduction velocity studies. Post-op imaging or electrophysiological assessment may be inadequate to explain all the reasons for residual or recurrent symptoms. Treatment of Failed back surgery by repeat traditional open revision surgery usually incorporates more extensive decompression causing increased instability and back pain, therefore necessitating fusion. The authors, having limited their practice to endoscopic MIS surgery over the last 15-20 years, report on their experience gained during that period to relieve pain by endoscopically visualizing and treating unrecognized causative patho-anatomy in FBSS.7
Methods
Thirty consecutive patients with FBSS presenting with back and leg pain that had supporting imaging diagnosis of lateral stenosis and /or residual / recurrent disc herniation, or whose pain complaint was supported by relief from diagnostic and therapeutic injections (Figure 1), were offered percutaneous transforaminal endoscopic discectomy and foraminoplasty over a repeat open procedure. Each patient sought consultation following a transient successful, partially successful or unsuccessful open translaminar surgical treatment for disc herniation or spinal stenosis. Endoscopic foraminoplasty was also performed to either decompress the bony foramen for foraminal stenosis, or foraminoplasty to allow for endoscopic visual examination of the affected traversing and exiting nerve roots in the axilla, also known as the “hidden zone” of Macnab (Figure 2).8, 9 The average follow up time was, average 40 months, minimum 12 months. Outcome data at each visit included Macnab, VAS and ODI.
A diagnostic and therapeutic epidural gram may help identify unrecognized lateral recess stenosis underestimated by MRI. An excellent result from a therapeutic block lends excellent prognosis for a more lasting and “permanent” result from transforaminal endoscopic lateral recess decompression.
Kambin's Triangle provides access to the “hidden zone” of Macnab by foraminoplasty. The foramen and lateral recess is decompressed by removing the ventral aspect and tip of the superior articular process to gain access to the axilla between the traversing and exiting nerve. FBSS contains patho-anatomy in the axilla between the traversing and exiting nerve that hides the pain generators of FBSS.
Results
The average pre-operative VAS improved from 7.2 to 4.0, and ODI 48% to 31%. While temporary dysesthesia occurred in 4 patients in the early post-operative period, all were happy, as all received additional relief of their pre-op symptoms. They were also relieved to be able to avoid “open” decompression or fusion surgery.
Conclusions / Level of Evidence 3
The transforaminal endoscopic approach is effective for FBSS due to residual/recurrent HNP and lateral stenosis. Failed initial index surgery may involve failure to recognize patho-anatomy in the axilla of the foramen housing the traversing and the exiting nerve, including the DRG, which is located cephalad and near the tip of SAP.10 The transforaminal endoscopic approach effectively decompresses the foramen and does not further destabilize the spine needing stabilization.11 It also avoids going through the previous surgical site.
Clinical Relevance
Disc narrowing as a consequence of translaminar discectomy and progressive degenerative narrowing and spondylolisthesis (Figure 3) as a natural history of degenerative disc disease can lead to central and lateral stenosis. The MRI may underestimate the degree of stenosis from a bulging or a foraminal disc protrusion and residual lateral recess stenosis. Pain can be diagnosed and confirmed by evocative discography and by clinical response to transforaminal diagnostic and therapeutic steroid injections.12 Foraminal endoscopic decompression of the lateral recess is a MIS technique that does not “burn bridges” for a more conventional approach and it adds to the surgical armamentarium of FBSS.
Cadaver Illustration of Foraminal Stenosis (courtesy of Wolfgang Rauschning). As the disc narrows, the superior articular process impinges on the exiting nerve and DRG, creating lateral recess stenosis, lumbar spondylosis, and facet arthrosis.
doi:10.14444/1022
PMCID: PMC4325507
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome(FBSS); Hidden zone; Foraminal decompression; Recurrent herniation; Lateral stenosis; Foraminal osteophyte
24.  Is Closed-suction Drainage Necessary for Single-level Lumbar Decompression?: Review of 560 Cases 
Background
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.
Questions/purposes
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.
Results
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).
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1007/s11999-010-1235-6
PMCID: PMC3049608  PMID: 20091386
25.  Clinical Experience and Management of Cervico-Thoracic Epidural Hematoma 
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.
doi:10.3340/jkns.2010.47.5.381
PMCID: PMC2883060  PMID: 20539799
Intraspinal; Epidural; Hematoma; Laminectomy

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