The Incidence of Complications in Endoscopic Anterior Thoracolumbar Spinal Reconstructive Surgery: A Prospective Multicenter Study Comprising the First 100 Consecutive Cases

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Study Design

A prospective multicenter study on 100 consecutive surgical procedures.


A prospective multicenter study was performed to evaluate the early perioperative complications in 100 endoscopic spinal procedures-78 videoassisted thoracic surgical procedures and 22 laparoscopic lumbar instrumentation and fusion procedures.

Summary of Background Data

Endoscopic procedures have been widely applied in general surgery for appendectomy, cholecystectomy, liver resection, Nissen fundoplication, colon resection, and hernia repairs. Video-assisted thoracic surgery is widely used for pleural biopsy, lung resection, and sympathectomy. This is the first large series to date investigating the safety and potential complications using endoscopic surgery for anterior decompression or fusion of the thoracolumbar spine.


Video-assisted thoracic surgical procedures included multilevel anterior thoracic releases for deformity, 27 patients; anterior thoracic discectomies with spinal canal decompression, 41 patients; pyogenic vertebral osteomyelitis decompression, 2 patients; and vertebral corpectomy for neurologic decompression, 8 patients. Mean operative time was 2 hours, 34 minutes (range, 45 minutes to 6 hours), and mean length of stay was 4.97 days (range, 2–21 days).


Anterior laparoscopic interbody stabilization and fusion at L4–5 or L5-S1 was performed in 22 patients. The mean operative time was 4 hours, 17 minutes (range, 2 hours, 40 minutes to 9 hours), and the mean length of stay was 5.6 days (range, 1–23 days).


The most common video-assisted thoracic surgical complications were transient intercostal neuralgia (six patients) and atelectasis (five patients). The most common laparoscopic complication was bone graft donor site infection (two patients). There were two endoscopic cases that were converted to open procedures, one for extensive pleural adhesions and one for a common illac vein laceration.


The endoscopic spinal approaches proved to be safe operative procedures in 100 consecutive cases. There were no permanent latrogenic neurologic injuries and no deep spinal infections.

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