The aim of this study was to assess whether flat bed rest for > 24 hours after an incidental durotomy improves patient outcome or is a risk factor for medical and wound complications and longer hospital stay.
Medical records of consecutive patients undergoing thoracic and lumbar decompression procedures from 2010 to 2020 were reviewed. Operative notes and progress notes were reviewed and searched to identify patients in whom incidental durotomies occurred. The need for revision surgery related to CSF leak or wound infection was recorded. The duration of bed rest, length of hospital stay, and complications (pulmonary, gastrointestinal, urinary, and wound) were recorded. The rates of complications were compared with regard to the duration of bed rest (≤ 24 hours vs > 24 hours).
A total of 420 incidental durotomies were identified, indicating a rate of 6.7% in the patient population. Of the 420 patients, 361 underwent primary repair of the dura; 254 patients were prescribed bed rest ≤ 24 hours, and 107 patients were prescribed bed rest > 24 hours. There was no statistically significant difference in the need for revision surgery (7.87% vs 8.41%, p = 0.86) between the two groups, but wound complications were increased in the prolonged bed rest group (8.66% vs 15.89%, p = 0.043). The average length of stay for patients with bed rest ≤ 24 hours was 4.47 ± 3.64 days versus 7.24 ± 4.23 days for patients with bed rest > 24 hours (p < 0.0001). There was a statistically significant increase in the frequency of ileus, urinary retention, urinary tract infections, pulmonary issues, and altered mental status in the group with prolonged bed rest after an incidental durotomy. The relative risk of complications in the group with bed rest ≤ 24 hours was 50% less than the group with > 24 hours of bed rest (RR 0.5, 95% CI 0.39–0.62; p < 0.0001).
In this retrospective study, the rate of revision surgery was not higher in patients with durotomy who underwent immediate mobilization, and medical complications were significantly decreased. Flat bed rest > 24 hours following incidental durotomy was associated with increased length of stay and increased rate of medical complications. After primary repair of an incidental durotomy, flat bed rest may not be necessary and appears to be associated with higher costs and complications.