Cervical spinal cord infarction after cervical spine decompressive surgery

Samuel Kalb, Saeed Fakhran, Bruce Dean, Jeffrey Ross, Randall W. Porter, Udaya K. Kakarla, Paul Ruggieri, Nicholas Theodore

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: To report five patients who underwent cervical decompressive surgeries and developed persistent postoperative neurologic deficits compatible with spinal cord infarctions and evaluate causes for these rare complications. Methods: The clinical courses and imaging studies of five patients were retrospectively analyzed. Imaging findings, types of surgeries, vascular compromise or risk factors, hypotensive episodes, intraoperative somatosensory evoked potentials, concomitant brain infarctions, and clinical degree and radiographic extent of spinal cord infarction were studied. The presence of spinal cord infarction was determined by clinical course and imaging evaluation. Results: All five patients had antecedent cervical cord region vascular compromise or generalized vascular risk factors. Four patients developed hypotensive episodes, two intraoperatively and two postoperatively. None of the four patients with hypotensive episodes had imaging or clinical evidence of concomitant brain infarctions. Conclusions: Neuroimaging evaluation of spinal cord infarction after decompressive surgery is done to exclude spinal cord compression, to ensure adequate surgical decompression, and to confirm infarction by imaging. Antecedent, unrecognized preoperative vascular compromise may be a significant contributor to spinal cord infarction by itself or in combination with hypotension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)810-817
Number of pages8
JournalWorld neurosurgery
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Cervical
  • Decompression surgery
  • Hypotension
  • Imaging
  • Infarction
  • Spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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