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Ann Thorac Surg. 2013 Jun;95(6):1968-74; discussion 1974-5. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2013.03.016. Epub 2013 Apr 28.

Results with selective preoperative lumbar drain placement for thoracic endovascular aortic repair.

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Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA.



The optimal use of lumbar cerebrospinal fluid drainage for the prevention of spinal cord ischemia (SCI) with thoracic endovascular aortic repair (TEVAR) remains unclear. Here, we report our experience with selective preoperative lumbar drain placement with TEVAR.


Between May 2002 and January 12, 381 TEVAR procedures were performed at a single referral institution. Preoperative lumbar drains were placed selectively in patients considered high-risk for SCI due to planned long-segment aortic coverage with a history of prior aortic intervention or planned hybrid Crawford extent I to III thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm repair.


Preoperative lumbar drains were placed in 81 patients (21%); of these, drain placement in 38 (47%) was for procedures involving long-segment descending thoracic aortic coverage in the setting of prior descending thoracic or infrarenal aortic repair, and in 43 (53%) was for hybrid thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm repair. SCI occurred in 12 patients (14.8%) who received a preoperative lumbar drain, transient in 6 (7.4%) and permanent in 6 (7.4%), whereas SCI occurred in 13 patients (4.3%) who did not receive a preoperative lumbar drain, 12 transient (4.0%) and 1 permanent (0.3%). A lumbar drain complication occurred in 9 drain patients (11.1%), although none resulted in permanent disability. Age, postoperative hypotension, and the number of endografts implanted were independently associated with SCI. Preoperative lumbar drain placement was not associated with reduced SCI.


Restricted use of preoperative lumbar drains for patients at high-risk of SCI undergoing TEVAR appears safe and leads to low rates of SCI in nondrained patients. However, the utility of preoperative lumbar drains in preventing SCI with TEVAR remains questionable and should be weighed against the risk of drain complications.

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