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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1999 Feb 1;24(3):299-301.

Postoperative gas bubble foot drop. A case report.

Author information

1
St. Vincent's Hospital, New York, NY, USA. rbr5@aol.com

Abstract

STUDY DESIGN:

An unusual case of foot drop occurring 10 days after disc surgery is reported. Imaging studies identified a gas bubble compressing the nerve root.

OBJECTIVE:

To describe the origin and management of a radiculopathy caused by an intraspinal gas bubble.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA:

A recurrent lumbar disc herniation was diagnosed by clinical and imaging studies. A vacuum disc also was noted at the same level. These are common and not considered to be of pathologic significance.

METHODS:

The patient underwent a microdiscectomy for a lumbar disc extrusion. The postoperative course was excellent, with relief of symptoms and no neurologic deficit. Ten days later, the awoke with a foot drop and pain in the leg. Imaging studies showed a 4-mm gas bubble compressing the nerve root. Oral steroids were given for 10 days.

RESULTS:

Progressive improvement occurred, and the patient was asymptomatic 6 weeks later. Although in some instances it may be necessary to evacuate intraspinal gas, an initial period of observation is warranted, because the gas and its resulting symptoms may disappear spontaneously.

CONCLUSION:

Intradiscal gas accumulation, better known as vacuum disc, is considered to be a benign indication of degenerative disc disease. On occasion it can be a cause of symptoms. A case is reported in which gas leaked after surgery into the spinal canal, causing a foot drop. The symptoms and gas disappeared spontaneously without further treatment.

PMID:
10025027
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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