Perioperative complications in revision anterior lumbar spine surgery: Incidence and risk factors

James D. Schwender, Michael T. Casnellie, Joseph H. Perra, Ensor E. Transfeldt, Manuel R. Pinto, Francis Denis, Timothy A. Garvey, David W. Polly, Amir A. Mehbod, Daryll C. Dykes, Robert B. Winter, Jill M. Wroblewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


STUDY DESIGN.: This is a retrospective review of 129 consecutive anterior lumbar revision surgeries in 108 patients. It is a single-center, multi-surgeon study. OBJECTIVE.: To determine occurrence rates and risk factors for perioperative complications in revision anterior lumbar fusion surgery. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA.: Although complication rates from large series of primary anterior fusion procedures have been reported, reports of complication rates for revision anterior fusion procedures are relatively rare. Concern exists chiefly about the risk to vascular and visceral structures because of scar tissue formation from the original anterior exposure. METHODS.: This was a retrospective review of 129 consecutive anterior revision lumbar surgeries in 108 patients operated between 1998 and 2003. There were 40 men and 68 women. The age of patients ranged from 25 to 83 (average 50.6 years). Patients were excluded if surgery was for tumor or infection. Patients were divided into 2 groups; those with revision surgery at the same level and those with revision surgery at an adjacent level. Outcome measures included all perioperative complications. Statistical analysis included Student t test and nonparametric sign-rank. RESULTS.: The number of surgical levels treated for revision was similar between the 2 groups (1 level 69%; 2 levels 19%; 3 or more levels 12%). Revision cases at the same operative level had a higher overall complication rate (42%) compared with extensions (20%; P = 0.007). This difference was primarily because of vein lacerations (23.7% vs. 3.6%, P = 0.002). There were 2 ureteral problems, both successfully salvaged. There were no arterial injuries or deaths. CONCLUSION.: Complication rates for revision lumbar surgery in this series were 3 to 5 times higher than reported for primary lumbar exposures. Complication rates were significantly higher for revision anterior lumbar fusions at the same segment, which were typically in the lower lumbar spine, compared with cases involving extensions, which were typically in the upper lumbar spine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-90
Number of pages4
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Complications
  • Retrograde ejaculation
  • Revision anterior fusion surgery
  • Ureteral injury
  • Vein laceration


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