Subarachnoid hemorrhage due to retained lumbar drain

Case report

Kern H. Guppy M.D., Ph.D., James W. Silverthorn D.O., and Paul T. Akins M.D., Ph.D.
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  • Department of Neurological Surgery, The Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, Sacramento; and University of California, San Francisco, California
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Intrathecal spinal catheters (lumbar drains) are indicated for several medical and surgical conditions. In neurosurgical procedures, they are used to reduce intracranial and intrathecal pressures by diverting CSF. They have also been placed for therapeutic access to administer drugs, and more recently, vascular surgeons have used them to improve spinal cord perfusion during the treatment of thoracic aortic aneurysms. Insertion of these lumbar drains is not without attendant complications. One complication is the shearing of the distal end of the catheter with a resultant retained fragment. The authors report the case of a 65-year-old man who presented with a subarachnoid hemorrhage due to the migration of a retained lumbar drain that sheared off during its removal. To the best of the authors' knowledge, this is the first case of rostral migration of a retained intrathecal catheter causing subarachnoid hemorrhage. The authors review the literature on retained intrathecal spinal catheters, and their findings support either early removal of easily accessible catheters or close monitoring with serial imaging.

Abbreviation used in this paper:

SAH = subarachnoid hemorrhage.

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