Iatrogenic vertebral artery injury during anterior cervical spine surgery

The Spine Journal : Official Journal of the North American Spine Society
James P BurkeWilliam C Welch


Iatrogenic injury to the vertebral artery during an anterior cervical decompression is a rarely mentioned but potentially catastrophic complication. This study was designed to examine the incidence and management of iatrogenic vertebral artery injury (IVAI) in a large database. This was a retrospective study performed at a large teaching institution over a 7-year period (1994-2001). All anterior cervical spinal procedures performed for herniated or degenerative disc disease, or cervical spondylosis were identified, as were incidences of IVAI. Anterior cervical procedures performed for trauma, neoplasia, or infection were excluded from this study. Neurological and associated morbidity as well as mortality were recorded. Data were accessed through an institution-wide electronic medical record search through the operative reports of 10 spine surgeons. Hospital and clinical charts of IVAI cases were subsequently reviewed. Demographic data and intraoperative strategies for repair were recorded. A total of 1,976 patients underwent anterior cervical spinal procedures in the review period. Six cases of IVAI were identified. In three of the six patients, arterial bleeding was controlled with hemostatic agents. Of these three, two suffer...Continue Reading


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