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Iatrogenic Vertebral Artery Injury During Anterior Cervical Spine Surgery: A Systematic Review



Iatrogenic Vertebral Artery Injury During Anterior Cervical Spine Surgery: A Systematic Review



World Neurosurgery 106: 715-722



Iatrogenic vertebral artery injury (VAI) during anterior cervical surgery is rare but potentially catastrophic. Causes, presentation, diagnosis, management, prognosis, and prevention of VAI were reviewed following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. English language studies and case reports published from 1980 to 2017 were retrieved. Data on diagnosis, surgical procedures and approach, site and cause of VAI, management, outcomes, and vertebral artery (VA) status were extracted. In 25 articles including 54 patients, VAI was diagnosed during or after surgery commonly indicated for cervical degenerative diseases (64%), tumors (14%), and trauma (9%). The incidence of VAI for each side was similar regardless of approach. Common presentations were unexpected copious surgical bleeding, delayed hemorrhage of pseudoaneurysm with neck swelling, dyspnea, hypotension, and cervical bruits caused by arteriovenous fistula. Causes included drilling (61%), instrumentation (16%), and soft tissue retraction (8%). Direct exposure or angiography confirmed VAI. Ten patients had VA anomalies; collateral status was verified in 9 before definitive treatment. Tamponade was adopted for urgent hemostasis in most cases but with a high incidence of pseudoaneurysm (48%). Unknown VA status increased occlusion risk and neurologic sequelae (41%). VA repair and stent placement had excellent outcomes. Extensive lateral decompression, loss of landmarks, and anatomic variations or pathologic status of VA increased VAI risk. Evaluation of collateral vessels before definitive treatment helped determine appropriate management and avoid neurologic sequelae. Tamponade was not recommended as definitive treatment. Meticulous preoperative evaluation, cautious intraoperative manipulation, and real-time radiographic guidance reduced VAI risk.

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Accession: 059820984

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PMID: 28712898

DOI: 10.1016/j.wneu.2017.07.027


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