Cerebrospinal-fluid drain-related complications in patients undergoing open and endovascular repairs of thoracic and thoraco-abdominal aortic pathologies: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Br J Anaesth. 2018 May;120(5):904-913. doi: 10.1016/j.bja.2017.12.045. Epub 2018 Mar 27.


Background: Cerebrospinal-fluid (CSF) drainage is recommended by current guidelines for spinal protection during open and endovascular repairs of thoracic and thoraco-abdominal aortic aneurysms. In the published literature, great variability exists in the rate of CSF-related complications and morbidity. Herein, we perform a systematic review and meta-analysis on the incidence of CSF drainage-related complications, and compare the complication rates between open and endovascular repairs.

Methods: The systematic review was conducted according to the Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies in Epidemiology guidelines. Thirty-four studies (4714 patients) were included in the quantitative analysis. The CSF drainage-related complications were categorised as mild, moderate, and severe. Pooled event rates for each complication category were estimated using a random-effect model. Random-effect uni- and multivariable meta-regression analyses were used to assess the effect of aortic-repair approach (open vs endovascular) and the CSF drainage criteria on CSF drainage-related complications.

Results: The pooled event rates were 6.5% [95% confidence interval (CI): 4.3-9.8%] for overall complications, 2% (95% CI: 1.1-3.4%) for minor complications, 3.7% (95% CI: 2.5-5.6%) for moderate complications, and 2.5% (95% CI: 1.6-3.8%) for severe complications. The drainage-related-mortality pooled event rate was 0.9% (95% CI: 0.6-1.4%). The uni- and multivariable meta-regression analyses showed no difference in complication rates between the open and endovascular approaches, or between the different CSF drainage protocols.

Conclusion: The complication rate for CSF drainage is not negligible. Our results help define a more accurate risk-benefit ratio for CSF drain placement at the time of repair of thoracic and thoraco-abdominal aneurysms.

Keywords: CSF drainage; aortic aneurysm; complications; thoracic; thoraco-abdominal.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aorta, Thoracic / surgery
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Thoracic / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Thoracic / surgery*
  • Drainage / methods*
  • Endovascular Procedures / methods*
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Complications / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Treatment Outcome