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Surg Neurol. 2006 Apr;65(4):410-4, discussion 414-5.

Prolonged Jackson-Pratt drainage in the management of lumbar cerebrospinal fluid leaks.

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Division of Neurosurgery, San Diego Medical Center, University of California-San Diego, CA 92103-8893, USA.



Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak is a complication of spinal surgery. Intraoperative or postoperative identification of a CSF leak often results in wound healing complications, lumbar drain placement, and/or reoperation. These complications usually extend a patient's hospital stay, can be painful, and have their own associated risks. The authors describe a technique that may improve on traditional interventions by managing postoperative CSF leaks after lumbar instrumentation without an additional procedure or extended hospitalization.


A retrospective review of lumbar instrumentation cases performed by 5 attending surgeons from the Division of Neurosurgery, University of California at San Diego, was performed. In all, 184 charts were reviewed, spanning a 3-year period. There were 16 cases in which a dural tear and repair were carried out and subsequently treated with subfascial Jackson-Pratt (JP) drainage. Of those 16 cases, 8 patients were managed with prolonged JP drainage using the intraoperatively placed subfascial drain. Patients were discharged home on oral antibiotics according to the customary criteria with the JP drain in place and were instructed regarding proper drain maintenance. Jackson-Pratt drains were removed in clinic in a delayed fashion, approximately 10 to 17 days postoperatively. Patients were subsequently reevaluated at regular intervals for any persistent CSF leak.


In the 8 cases reviewed, all patients were discharged in a time frame comparable to that of patients undergoing similar instrumentation in which no CSF leak was identified, or in whom a CSF leak was identified and repaired intraoperatively. No patients suffered complications arising from prolonged drain presence. No patients suffered from persistent CSF leak after drains were removed.


Our study suggests that routine intraoperative subfascial JP drain placement aids in the early diagnosis of postoperative lumbar CSF leak. Primary closure of dural tear remains the standard of care. Furthermore, in select cases, prolonged JP drainage in the setting of postoperative CSF leak may be a useful technique for the treatment of these leaks.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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