Background Context: Postoperative spinal epidural hematomas are known complications of spinal surgery. However, to our knowledge, there are no known cases of postoperative spinal epidural hematoma that occurred distant from the portion of the procedure that breached the spinal canal. Purpose: To report a case and review the literature on the development of postoperative spinal epidural hematoma at a site distant from the portion of the surgical procedure that breached the spinal canal. Study Design: Case report and review of the literature. Methods: One patient at our institution developed a hematoma at a site distant from the surgical procedure that breached the spinal canal. We retrospectively reviewed the patient's clinical charts, radiographs, and computed tomography scans. Results: A 57-year-old woman with adult scoliosis and junctional kyphosis underwent a pedicle subtraction osteotomy and long spinal fusion from T3 to the sacrum. Three hours postoperatively, she developed paraplegia with a neurologic deficit at a level distant from the site at which the spinal canal was surgically breached. A computed tomography myelogram revealed a spinal epidural hematoma that was causing compression of the spinal cord in the upper thoracic spine. The patient was returned to the operating room emergently and underwent laminectomy and hematoma evacuation. She had near-complete recovery 5 months after surgery. Conclusion: Spinal epidural hematomas are rare but dangerous complications that can result in severe neurologic deficits. A neurologic examination should always be conducted in the operating room immediately after surgery; if it is abnormal, spinal epidural hematoma should be suspected. If the examination indicates a deficit at a site distant from the original surgery, then diagnostic reimaging (magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography myelogram) is indicated.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Author disclosures: KMK (consulting; speaking/teaching arrangements, K2M, Stryker Spine, Depuy Spine; fellowship support, Depuy Spine).
Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
- Postoperative complication
- Spinal epidural hematoma
- Spinal fusion