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Surg Neurol Int. 2014 Apr 16;5(Suppl 3):S62-5. doi: 10.4103/2152-7806.130669. eCollection 2014.

Thoracic and lumbar spinal surgery under local anesthesia for patients with multiple comorbidities: A consecutive case series.

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Section of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery, Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan.



Although some patients with symptomatic spinal disease may benefit greatly from surgery, their multiple attendant comorbidities may make general anesthesia risky or contraindicated. However, there is scarce literature describing the efficacy and safety of local anesthesia to perform these operations. Here we report seven patients who successfully underwent spinal surgery utilizing local anesthesia to limit the risks and complications of general anesthesia.


Seven patients for whom general anesthesia was contraindicated were prospectively followed for a minimum of 3 months following spinal surgery performed under local anesthesia. Pain and functional improvement were assessed utilizing the Visual Analog Scores (VAS) and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores.


Five patients had interlaminar decompressions for stenosis alone, while two patients had laminectomies for debulking of tumors. The mean duration of surgery was 79.8 ± 16.6 min, the mean estimated blood loss was 157.1 ± 53.4 ml, the mean dose of local anesthetic was 1.9 ± 0.7 mg/kg, and the mean length of hospital stay after surgery was 3.2 ± 1.2 days. There were no intraoperative complications. The surgery resulted in improved VAS and ODI scores consistent with significant improvement in pain (P = 0.017) and functionality (P = 0.011).


Performing spinal surgery under local anesthesia is a safe and effective alternative when patient's major comorbidities preclude a general anesthetic. For all the seven patients studied, spinal surgery, performed under a local anesthetic, resulted in a statistically significant reduction in pain and improvement in function.


Debulking; interlaminar decompression; local anesthesia; lumbar; multiple comorbidities; spinal surgery; thoracic

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