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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 1993 May;75(3):410-5.

Vertebral artery injury during anterior decompression of the cervical spine. A retrospective review of ten patients.

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Minnesota Spine Centre, Minneapolis 55454.


Ten patients who suffered iatrogenic injury to a vertebral artery during anterior cervical decompression were reviewed to assess the mechanisms of injury, their operative management, and the subsequent outcome. All had been undergoing a partial vertebral body resection for spondylitic radiculopathy or myelopathy (4), tumour (2), ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (1), nonunion of a fracture (2), or osteomyelitis (1). The use of an air drill had been responsible for most injuries. The final control of haemorrhage had been by tamponade (3), direct exposure and electrocoagulation (1), transosseous suture (2), open suture (1), or open placement of a haemostatic clip (3). Five patients had postoperative neurological deficits, but most of them resolved. We found direct arterial exposure and control to be safe, quick and reliable. Careful use of the air drill, particularly in pathologically weakened bone, as in infection or tumour, is essential. Arterial injury is best avoided by a thorough knowledge of the anatomical relationships of the artery, the spinal canal, and the vertebral body.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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