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Amir Ahmadian, Naomi Abel and Juan S. Uribe

The minimally invasive lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas approach is a popular fusion technique. However, potential complications include injury to the lumbar plexus nerves, bowel, and vasculature, the most common of which are injuries to the lumbar plexus. The femoral nerve is particularly vulnerable because of its size and location; injury to the femoral nerve has significant clinical implications because of its extensive sensory and motor innervation of the lower extremities. The authors present an interesting case of a 49-year-old male patient in whom femoral and obturator nerve functional recovery unexpectedly occurred 364 days after the nerves had been injured during lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas surgery. Chronological video and electrodiagnostic findings demonstrate evidence of recovery. Classification and mechanisms of nerve injury and nerve regeneration are discussed.

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Amir Ahmadian, Armen R. Deukmedjian, Naomi Abel, Elias Dakwar and Juan S. Uribe

Object

The minimally invasive lateral transpsoas approach has become an increasingly popular means of fusion. The most frequent complication is related to lumbar plexus nerve injuries; these can be diagnosed based on distribution of neurological deficit following the motor and/or sensory nerve injury. However, the literature has failed to provide a clinically relevant description of these complications. With accurate clinical diagnosis, spine practitioners can provide more precise prognostic and management recommendations to include observation, nerve blocks, neurodestructive procedures, medications, or surgical repair strategies. The purpose of this study was to standardize the clinical findings of lumbar plexopathies and nerve injuries associated with minimally invasive lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas lumbar fusion.

Methods

A thorough literature search of the MEDLINE database up to June 2012 was performed to identify studies that reported lumbar plexus and nerve injuries after the minimally invasive lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas approach. Included studies were assessed for described neurological deficits postoperatively. Studies that did attempt to describe nerve-related complications clinically were excluded. A clinically relevant assessment of lumbar plexus nerve injury was derived to standardize early diagnosis and outline prognostic implications.

Results

A total of 18 studies were selected with a total of 2310 patients; 304 patients were reported to have possible plexus-related complications. The incidence of documented nerve and/or root injury and abdominal paresis ranged from 0% to 3.4% and 4.2%, respectively. Motor weakness ranged from 0.7% to 33.6%. Sensory complications ranged from 0% to 75%. A lack of consistency in the descriptions of the lumbar plexopathies and/or nerve injuries as well as a lack of diagnostic paradigms was noted across studies reviewed. Sensory dermal zones were established and a standardized approach was proposed.

Conclusions

There is underreporting of postoperative lumbar plexus nerve injury and a lack of standardization of clinical findings of neural complications related to the minimally invasive lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas approach. The authors provide a diagnostic paradigm that allows for an efficient and accurate classification of postoperative lumbar plexopathies and nerve injuries.

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Juan S. Uribe, Jaya Kolla, Hesham Omar, Elias Dakwar, Naomi Abel, Devanand Mangar and Enrico Camporesi

Object

In the present study, the authors identified the etiology, precipitating factors, and outcomes of perioperative brachial plexus injuries following spine surgery.

Methods

We reviewed all the available literature regarding postoperative/perioperative brachial plexus injuries, with special concern for the patient's position during surgery, duration of surgery, the procedure performed, neurological outcome, and prognosis. We also reviewed the utility of intraoperative electrophysiological monitoring for prevention of these complications.

Results

Patient malpositioning during surgery is the main determining factor for the development of postoperative brachial plexus injury. Recovery occurs in the majority of cases but may require weeks to months of therapy after initial presentation.

Conclusion

Brachial plexus injuries are an increasingly recognized complication following spinal surgery. Proper attention to patient positioning with the use of intraoperative electrophysiological monitoring techniques could minimize injury.