Background: Previous studies have demonstrated the benefit of releasing symptomatic tethered cords; however, complications such as seroma, cerebrospinal fluid leak, and infection continue to plague these patients. We propose that composite tissue closure of tethered cord repairs yields superior outcomes and that a collaborative effort between neurosurgery and plastic surgery may result in enhanced structural and functional results.
Methods: This is a retrospective study comprised of consecutive patients with tethered cord syndrome by 2 neurosurgeons and 2 plastic surgeons between 1994 and 2008 at a single institution. All consecutive patients who underwent tethered cord release by neurosurgery and subsequent composite tissue closure with fascial and musculofascial flaps by plastic surgery were included. Data were collected by retrospective chart review and analyzed using parametric methods.
Results: A total of 86 consecutive patients were included in this study, with follow-up ranged from 12 to 144 months (average follow-up, 29 months). There were no statistical differences in follow-up time, comorbidities, or surgeon when comparing hospital readmission or reoperation. There was no statistical difference in complications when comparing the different flap closures. We had a 1.2% infection rate, a 4.7% readmission rate, and a 3.5% reoperation rate.
Conclusion: We believe that local soft tissue rearrangement improves the closure by providing an additional layer of vascularized tissue between the skin and the spinal cord. We believe our series represents a significant sample size compared with those previously reported for an experience that achieves multilayered soft tissue closure after tethered cord repair. Our results support the idea that neurosurgeons should consider consultation of plastic surgeons when treating patients with tethered cord syndrome surgically.