Vascular injury during lumbar discectomy: risk factors, diagnosis, methods of surgical correction, features of anaesthetic management and intensive care




vascular injury, lumbar discectomy, risk factors, massive bleeding, surgical correction, permissive arterial hypotension, massive transfusion protocol, whole blood, anaesthetic management, intensive care


One of the priority tasks in neurosurgery is to reduce the frequency of postoperative complications and mortality. Lumbar discectomy is the most frequently performed intervention in spinal neurosurgery and it is a fairly safe procedure. One of the possible intraoperative surgical complications, that threatens the patient’s life is vascular injury.

The first clinical case of damage to the large vessels during discectomy was described in 1945. It is believed that the frequency of this complication is 1‒5 cases per 10,000 surgical interventions, but the literature notes that these figures may be significantly underestimated. Some authors indicate that the frequency of this complication, despite the development of surgical techniques over the past 50 years, has not significantly decreased, so it is important for surgeons to be informed and alert about the possibility of such a problem. Among the factors that significantly increase the risk of vascular damage congenital, acquired and technical are determined.

Variability of clinical symptoms of damage to lagre vessels is due to different localization of injury, type (arterial, venous or combined) and scale of vascular disaster. For each level of surgical intervention, the "most typical" vessel damage is identified. Vascular injury during discectomy can occur according to three clinical and pathomorphological scenarios: manifestation of vessel rupture symptoms, arteriovenous fistula or a pseudoaneurysm formation. According to different authors, the frequency of these findings varies significantly. This review examines the symptoms of possible variants of vascular damage development during discectomy and describes the characteristics of surgical correction methods. Along with clarifying the location and variant of vascular damage, the critical thing is assessing the amount of blood loss and the rate of ongoing bleeding. In the case of suspected massive bleeding, the paramount importance is the involvement of additional medical personnel for the surgical haemostasis and providing sufficient blood for haemotransfusions.

In case of a vascular accident, the key requirement for adequate anaesthetic management is the maintenance of permissive arterial hypotension until the moment of surgical haemostasis. Targeted treatment of haemorrhagic shock in case of damage to large vessels consists of rapid haemostatic resuscitation including blood components and products in a balanced 1:1:1 ratio, such as plasma, red blood cells, fresh frozen plasma, platelets, and coagulation factors. In Ukraine, obtaining a sufficient amount of blood components and products (according to the protocol of massive haemotransfusion) in case of unpredicted blood loss is a difficult task, therefore, in the absence of certain components or blood products, whole blood can be used as an alternative. The number and severity of complications and outcomes primarily depend on the efficiency and timeliness of blood transfusions, along with the speed of surgical arrest of bleeding. This publication describes in detail the main points of management of patients with massive bleeding according to modern international standards and Ukraine regulatory documents.


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How to Cite

Nekhlopochyn, O. S., Pylypenko, M. M., & Dubrov, S. O. (2023). Vascular injury during lumbar discectomy: risk factors, diagnosis, methods of surgical correction, features of anaesthetic management and intensive care. Ukrainian Neurosurgical Journal, 29(3), 3–18.



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