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J Vasc Surg. 2002 Apr;35(4):631-9.

Cerebrospinal fluid drainage reduces paraplegia after thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm repair: results of a randomized clinical trial.

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Baylor College of Medicine/Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas, USA.



Despite the use of various strategies for the prevention of spinal cord ischemia, paraplegia and paraparesis continue to occur after thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm (TAAA) repair. Although cerebrospinal fluid drainage (CSFD) is often used as an adjunct for spinal cord protection, its benefit remains unproven. The purpose of this randomized clinical trial was to evaluate the impact of CSFD on the incidence of spinal cord injury after extensive TAAA repair.


After randomization, 145 patients underwent extent I or II TAAA repairs with a consistent strategy of moderate heparinization, permissive mild hypothermia, left heart bypass, and reattachment of patent critical intercostal arteries. The repairs were performed with CSFD (n = 76) or without CSFD (n = 69). In the former group, CSFD was initiated during the operation and continued for 48 hours after surgery. The target CSF pressure was 10 mm Hg or less.


The two groups had similar risk factors for paraplegia. Aortic clamp time, left heart bypass time, and number of reattached intercostal arteries were also similar in both groups. Thirty-day mortality rates were 5.3% (four patients) and 2.9% (two patients) for CSFD and control groups, respectively (P =.68). Nine patients (13.0%) in the control group had paraplegia or paraparesis develop. In contrast, only two patients in the CSFD group (2.6%) had deficits develop (P =.03). No patients with CSFD had immediate paraplegia. Overall, CSFD resulted in an 80% reduction in the relative risk of postoperative deficits.


Perioperative CSFD reduces the rate of paraplegia after repair of extent I and II TAAAs.

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