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Anesth Pain Med. 2014 Apr 6;4(2):e7291. doi: 10.5812/aapm.7291. eCollection 2014 May.

Human erythropoietin effect in postoperative visual loss following spine surgery: a case report.

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Minimally Invasive Surgery Research Center, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran ; Department of Anesthesiology, Rasoul Akram Medical Center, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
Department of Anesthesiology, Rasoul Akram Medical Center, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
Physiology Research Center (PRC), Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
Department of Neurosurgery, Pars General Hospital, Tehran, Iran.
Department of Ophthalmology, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.



Postoperative visual loss (POVL) has become the focus of attention for anesthesiologists as a hallmark of perioperative management in spine surgery. A number of Intraoperative and postoperative factors has been documented but the exact etiology is still unclear. Nowadays, perioperative management and also complete curing of POLV is a big question of ophthalmologists and anesthesiologists. The purpose of this case report is to present a unique experience of complete curing the POLV.


Our patient was a 61-year-old man, with 75 kg weight and 180 cm height. The patient had no history of visual impairment except mild cataract in his right eye. The patient had a history of diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH). The patient had undergone lumbar surgery in prone position. The operation time was about 6 hours. About 30 minutes after transferring to postanesthesia care unit (PACU), patient was awake and complained of losing his eyesight. There was no vision and light perception in his right eye on primary examination. Urgent ophthalmologist consultation was requested. In ophthalmology examinations, the pupil reflex to light was absent in the right eye. After obtaining patients and his family informed consent, four hours after the operation, 40000 I.U. of recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) was administered for patient in PACU (IV infusion, in 30 min). An ophthalmologist visited him every 6 hours after administration of rhEPO. The patient was transferred to intensive care unit (ICU) one hour later with total visual loss in the right eye. Ophthalmologic examination after the second dose of rhEPO, 30 hours after the operation, reported pupil reflex enhancement and light perception in his right eye. Finally the third dose of rhEPO (40000 I.U., IV infusion) was administered on the third day. Ophthalmologic examination after the third dose of rhEPO, 60 hours after the operation, reported normal pupillary light reflex of the right eye and visual acuity improvement to 20/20. The patient was discharged from hospital after six days, with normal visual acuity and without any new complications except surgical site pain.


Our case report showed the therapeutic effect of rhEPO in complete curing of POVL. Regarding the side effects of EPO such as thrombogenic effects or mild hemodynamic changes like transient sinus tachycardia during infusion, it seems that beneficial effects of EPO is more than its disadvantages and expenses, for patients with POVL.


Complications; Optic Neuropathy, Ischemic; Postoperative; Postoperative Period; Spinal Cord Ischemia; Vision Disorders

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