Management of Vascular Complications during Anterior Lumbar Spinal Surgery Using Mini-Open Retroperitoneal Approach

Ann Vasc Surg. 2021 Jul:74:475-488. doi: 10.1016/j.avsg.2021.01.077. Epub 2021 Feb 4.


Background: Anterior retroperitoneal spine exposure has become increasingly performed for the surgical treatment of various spinal disorders. Despite its advantages, the procedure is not riskless and can expose to potentially life-threatening vascular lesions. The aim of this review is to report the vascular lesions that can happen during anterior lumbar spinal surgery using mini-open retroperitoneal approach and to describe their management.

Methods: A systematic literature search was performed according to PRISMA to identify studies published in English between January 1980 and December 2019 reporting vascular complications during anterior lumbar spinal surgery with mini-open retroperitoneal approach. Three authors independently conducted the literature search on PubMed/Medline database using a combination of the following terms: "spinal surgery", "anterior lumbar surgery (ALS)", "anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF)", "lumbar total disc replacement", "artificial disc replacement", "vascular complications", "vascular injuries". Vascular complications were defined as any peri-operative or post-operative lesions related to an arterial or venous vessel. The management of the vascular injury was extracted.

Results: Fifteen studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Venous injuries were observed in 13 studies. Lacerations and deep venous thrombosis ranged from 0.8% to 4.3% of cases. Arterial lesions were observed in 4 studies and ranged from 0.4% to 4.3% of cases. It included arterial thrombosis, lacerations or vasospasms. The estimated blood loss was reported in 10 studies and ranged from 50 mL up to 3000 mL. Vascular complications were identified as a cause of abortion of the procedure in 2 studies, representing respectively 0.3% of patients who underwent ALS and 0.5% of patients who underwent ALIF.

Conclusion: Imaging pre-operative planning is of utmost importance to evaluate risk factors and the presence of anatomic variations in order to prevent and limit vascular complications. Cautions should be taken during the intervention when manipulating major vessels and routine monitoring of the limb oxygen saturation should be systematically performed for an early detection of arterial thrombosis. The training of the surgeon access remains a key-point to prevent and manage vascular complications during anterior lumbar spinal surgery with mini-open retroperitoneal.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Loss, Surgical
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Planning Techniques
  • Preoperative Care
  • Retroperitoneal Space / surgery
  • Risk Factors
  • Spinal Fusion / adverse effects*
  • Total Disc Replacement / adverse effects*
  • Vascular System Injuries / etiology*
  • Venous Thrombosis / etiology