Lumbar disk herniation during pregnancy: a review on general management and timing of surgery

Acta Neurochir (2018) 160:1361–1370

Objective Provide an overview of existing management strategies to suggest a guideline for surgical management of lumbar disk herniation in pregnant women based on time of presentation.

Methods We performed a narrative review on the topic using the PubMed database. A total of 63 relevant articles published after 1992 were identified, of which 17 fulfilled selection criteria.

Results A total of 22 published cases of spine surgery for disk herniation during pregnancy were found in 17 studies on the topic. Prone positioning was reported in the majority of cases during the first and early second trimester. C-sections were performed prior to spine surgery in the prone position for the majority of patients operated during the third trimester. The left lateral position with continued pregnancy was preferred during the latter half of the second trimester when delivery of the fetus cannot yet be performed but surgery is indicated.

Conclusion Spine surgery during pregnancy is a rare scenario but can be performed safely when needed if providers adhere to general guidelines. Surgical approaches and overall management are influenced by the stage of pregnancy.