Early mobilization versus bed rest for incidental durotomy

J Neurosurg Spine 37:460–465, 2022

The aim of this study was to assess whether flat bed rest for > 24 hours after an incidental durotomy improves patient outcome or is a risk factor for medical and wound complications and longer hospital stay.

METHODS Medical records of consecutive patients undergoing thoracic and lumbar decompression procedures from 2010 to 2020 were reviewed. Operative notes and progress notes were reviewed and searched to identify patients in whom incidental durotomies occurred. The need for revision surgery related to CSF leak or wound infection was recorded. The duration of bed rest, length of hospital stay, and complications (pulmonary, gastrointestinal, urinary, and wound) were recorded. The rates of complications were compared with regard to the duration of bed rest (≤ 24 hours vs > 24 hours).

RESULTS A total of 420 incidental durotomies were identified, indicating a rate of 6.7% in the patient population. Of the 420 patients, 361 underwent primary repair of the dura; 254 patients were prescribed bed rest ≤ 24 hours, and 107 patients were prescribed bed rest > 24 hours. There was no statistically significant difference in the need for revision surgery (7.87% vs 8.41%, p = 0.86) between the two groups, but wound complications were increased in the prolonged bed rest group (8.66% vs 15.89%, p = 0.043). The average length of stay for patients with bed rest ≤ 24 hours was 4.47 ± 3.64 days versus 7.24 ± 4.23 days for patients with bed rest > 24 hours (p < 0.0001). There was a statistically significant increase in the frequency of ileus, urinary retention, urinary tract infections, pulmonary issues, and altered mental status in the group with prolonged bed rest after an incidental durotomy. The relative risk of complications in the group with bed rest ≤ 24 hours was 50% less than the group with > 24 hours of bed rest (RR 0.5, 95% CI 0.39–0.62; p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS In this retrospective study, the rate of revision surgery was not higher in patients with durotomy who underwent immediate mobilization, and medical complications were significantly decreased. Flat bed rest > 24 hours following incidental durotomy was associated with increased length of stay and increased rate of medical complications. After primary repair of an incidental durotomy, flat bed rest may not be necessary and appears to be associated with higher costs and complications.


Incidental durotomy after spinal surgery: a prospective study in an academic institution

J Neurosurg Spine 17:30–36, 2012

Incidental durotomies (IDs) are an unfortunate but anticipated potential complication of spinal surgery. The authors surveyed the frequency of IDs for a single spine surgeon and analyzed the major risk factors as well as the impact on long-term patient outcomes.

Methods. The authors conducted a prospective review of elective spinal surgeries performed over a 15-year period. Any surgery involving peripheral nerve only, intradural procedures, or dural tears due to trauma were excluded from analysis. The incidence of ID was categorized by surgery type including primary surgery, revision surgery, and so forth. Incidence of ID was also examined in the context of years of physician experience and training. Furthermore, the incidence and types of sequelae were examined in patients with an ID.

Results. Among 3000 elective spinal surgery cases, 3.5% (104) had an ID. The incidence of ID during minimally invasive procedures (3.3%) was similar, but no patients experienced long-term sequelae. The incidence of ID during revision surgery (6.5%) was higher. There was a marked difference in incidence between cervical (1.3%) and thoracolumbar (5.1%) cases. The incidence was lower for cases involving instrumentation (2.4%). When physician training was examined, residents were responsible for 49% of all IDs, whereas fellows were responsible for 26% and the attending for 25%. Among all of the cases that involved an ID, 7.7% of patients went on to experience a neurological deficit as compared with 1.5% of those without an ID. The overall failure rate of dural repair was 6.9%, and failure was almost 3 times higher (13%) in revision surgery as compared with a primary procedure (5%).

Conclusions. The authors established a reliable baseline incidence for durotomy after spine surgery: 3.5%. They also identified risk factors that can increase the likelihood of a durotomy, including location of the spinal procedure, type of procedure performed, and the implementation of a new procedure. The years of physician training or resident experience did not appear to be a major risk for ID.