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Kenneth C. Foxx, Addisu Mesfin and Robert Molinari

There is a paucity of literature describing the management of recurrent symptomatic postoperative epidural hematoma or uncontrollable intraoperative hemorrhage in posterior spine surgery. Traditional management with hematoma evacuation and wound closure over suction drains may not be effective in certain cases, and it can lead to recurrence and neurological injury. The authors report 3 cases of recurrent symptomatic postoperative epidural hematoma successfully managed with novel open-wound negative-pressure dressing therapy (NPDT), as well as 1 case of uncontrollable intraoperative hemorrhage that was primarily managed with the same technique.

The 3 patients who developed a postoperative epidural hematoma became symptomatic 2–17 days after the initial operation. All 3 patients underwent at least 1 hematoma evacuation and wound closure over suction drains prior to recurrence with severe neurological deficit and definitive management with NPDT. One patient was managed primarily with NPDT for uncontrollable intraoperative hemorrhage during posterior cervical laminectomy.

All 4 patients had significant risk factors for postoperative epidural hematoma. NPDT for 3–9 days with delayed wound closure was successful in all patients. The 3 patients with recurrent symptomatic postoperative epidural hematoma had significant improvement in their severe neurological deficit. None of the patients developed a postoperative wound infection, and none of the patients required transfusion due to NPDT.

NPDT with delayed wound closure may be an option in certain patients, when wound closure over suction drains is unlikely to prevent further neurological injury.

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Addisu Mesfin, Mostafa H. El Dafrawy, Amit Jain, Hamid Hassanzadeh, John P. Kostuik, Mesfin A. Lemma and Khaled M. Kebaish


In this study, the authors compared outcomes and complications in patients with and without rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who underwent surgery for spinal deformity.


The authors searched the Johns Hopkins University database for patients with RA (Group RA) and without RA (Group NoRA) who underwent long spinal fusion for scoliosis by 3 surgeons at 1 institution from 2000 through 2012. Groups RA and NoRA each had 14 patients who were well matched with regard to sex (13 women/1 man and 12 women/2 men, respectively), age (mean 66.3 years [range 40.5–81.9 years] and 67.6 years [range 51–81 years]), follow-up duration (mean 35.4 months [range 1–87 months] and 44 months [range 24–51 months]), and number of primary (8 and 8) and revision (6 and 6) surgeries. Surgical outcomes, invasiveness scores, and complications were compared between the groups using the nonpaired Student t-test (p < 0.05).


For Groups RA and NoRA, there were no significant differences in the average number of levels fused (10.6 [range 9–17] vs 10.3 [range 7–17], respectively; p = 0.4), the average estimated blood loss (2892 ml [range 1300–5000 ml] vs 3100 ml [range 1700–5200 ml]; p = 0.73), or the average invasiveness score (35.5 [range 21–51] vs 34.5 [range 23–58]; p = 0.8). However, in Group RA, the number of major complications was significantly higher (23 vs 11; p < 0.001), the number of secondary procedures was significantly higher (14 vs 6; p < 0.001), and the number of minor complications was significantly lower (4 vs 12; p < 0.001) than those in Group NoRA.


Long spinal fusion in patients with RA is associated with higher rates of major complications and secondary procedures than in patients without RA.