Visual Loss Following Spine Surgery: What Have We Seen Within the Scoliosis Research Society Morbidity and Mortality Database?

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Study Design.A retrospective review of the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) morbidity and mortality (M&M) database.Objective.The aim of this study was to investigate visual related complications in spinal deformity patients undergoing spine surgery.Summary of Background Data.The SRS compiles surgeon-reported complications into an M&M database, tracking postoperative complications including visual loss, neurological deficits, infections, and death. Limited literature exists on postoperative visual complications, a rare but devastating complication following spine surgery.Methods.We utilized the SRS M&M database to determine demographics, perioperative risk factors, and prognosis for visual related complications in spinal deformity patients undergoing corrective spine surgery from 2009 to 2012.Results.A total of 167,972 spinal deformity patients from 2009 to 2012 were identified with a visual acuity complication (VAC) rate of 0.01%, or 12.5 per 100,000 patients. VAC rates for patients with kyphosis were significantly higher than patients with scoliosis (0.049% vs. 0.010%, P = 0.002) and spondylolisthesis (0.049% vs. 0.005%, P = 0.001). Postoperative visual loss rates significantly decreased from 2010 to 2012 (0.022% vs. 0.004%, P = 0.029). Twenty-one patients identified with VACs had a mean age of 34.8 ± 24.3 years. Two (9.5%) patients had preoperative vision changes, two (9.5%) were diabetic, two (9.5%) had vascular disease, one (4.8%) had a history of thromboembolic disease, and five (23.8%) had hypertension. Extent of VAC was bilateral-partial in four (19.0%), bilateral-total in five (23.8%), unilateral-partial in eight (38.1%), and unilateral-total in three (14.3%) patients. Four (19.0%) patients developed anterior ischemic optic neuropathy, four (19.0%) had posterior ischemic optic neuropathy (PION), five (23.8%) had central retinal artery occlusion, and five (23.8%) developed cortical blindness (CB). Greater than 50% of the VACs occurred on, or before, the first postoperative day. Ten (47.6%) patients recovered complete vision and four (19.0%) improved. All patients with CB and 50% with posterior ischemic optic neuropathy experienced complete resolution.Conclusion.VACs occur in approximately 12.5 per 100,000 deformity patients, with a rate five times higher in patients with kyphosis. More than 50% of these complications occur within 24 hours postoperatively. Nearly half of these complications resolve completely, and another 19% improve postoperatively.Level of Evidence: 4

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