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Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2002 Sep;24(3):189-95.

Vascular injury complicating lumbar disc surgery. A systematic review.

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Department of Surgery, Vascular Surgery Unit, University Hospital of Patras, Patras, Greece.



to review the literature concerning the early and late vascular complications of lumbar disc surgery.


using the MEDLINE database, we reviewed all reports of vascular complications associated with surgical excision of a prolapsed disc via a posterior approach reported in the English literature since 1965.


we identified 98 cases of vascular complications for an incidence of 1-5 in 10000 disc operations. Early presentation is shock due to rupture of a large retroperitoneal vessel. Late complications include development of pseudoaneurysms and arteriovenous fistulas. Treatment of a vascular tear consisted mainly of primary suturing of the injured vessel. The preferred method for arteriovenous fistula and pseudoaneurysm repair was suturing from within the arterial lumen along with interposition grafting. Recently, endovascular techniques have been recommended, lowering the high morbidity and mortality related to conventional repair.


iatrogenic vascular injury during lumbar disc surgery, although rare, should be suspected if signs of circulatory instability are noted or if lumbar pain, leg oedema or high output cardiac failure develop months to years following such surgical procedures. However, these symptoms may arise during or immediately after surgery, requiring immediate intervention.

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