Soft-Tissue Reconstruction of Large Spinal Defects: A 12-Year Institutional Experience

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Abstract

Background:

Spinal resections can lead to defects requiring soft-tissue reconstruction. The purpose of this study was to review the authors’ institutional experience with reconstruction of spinal defects and identify risk factors predictive of wound complications, focusing on timing of reconstruction with ablative surgery.

Methods:

The authors retrospectively reviewed patients who underwent spinal resection and required soft-tissue reconstruction from 2002 to 2014. Logistic regression was performed to identify risk factors for complications.

Results:

Of 289 reconstructions performed in 259 patients, 64 cases (22.1 percent) had major wound complications requiring reoperation. Lumbosacral defects were the most common location (43.6 percent) and paraspinous muscle flaps were the preferred reconstructive method used for all defect regions. A total of 224 reconstructions (77.5 percent) were performed immediately at the time of spinal surgery, and 65 (22.5 percent) were performed in delayed fashion as a result of wound complications from previous spinal surgery. Patients undergoing immediate reconstruction had significantly lower rates of instrumentation removal (0.9 percent versus 4.6 percent; p = 0.043), unplanned reoperations (0.5 versus 1.3; p < 0.001), and mortality (0.9 percent versus 9.2 percent; p < 0.001) compared with those undergoing delayed reconstruction. On logistic regression analysis, presence of instrumentation (OR, 3.2; p = 0.012), requirement for a free flap (OR, 9.0; p = 0.016), and spinal cord exposure (OR, 2.6; p = 0.036) were associated with increased odds of a major wound complication.

Conclusion:

Spinal resections carry significant surgical-site morbidity, and selection of high-risk patients for immediate reconstruction with locoregional muscle flaps may be beneficial for improving wound-related outcomes.

CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Therapeutic, III.

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