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Patient Saf Surg. 2012 Jun 19;6(1):14. doi: 10.1186/1754-9493-6-14.

The 'nightmare' of wrong level in spine surgery: a critical appraisal.

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Dept of Neurosurgery, Hospital IGEA, Via Marcona 69, Milan, 20129, Italy.


The recent article published in the Journal by Lindley and colleagues (Patient Saf. Surg. 2011, 5:33) reported the successful surgical treatment of a persistent thoracic pain following a T7-8 microdiscectomy, truly performed at the 'level immediately above'. The wrong level in spine surgery is a multi-factorial matter and several strategies have been designed and adopted to try decreasing its occurrence. We think that three of these factors are crucial: global strategy, attention, precision in level identification; and the actors we identified are the surgeon, the assistant nurse and the (neuro)radiologist respectively. Basing upon our experience, the role of the radiologist pre- and intraoperatively and the importance of the assistant nurse are briefly described.

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