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Water Jet Dissection in Neurosurgery: An Update After 208 Procedures With Special Reference to Surgical Technique and Complications

Keiner, Doerthe MD1; Gaab, Michael R MD, PhD2; Backhaus, Vanessa2; Piek, Juergen MD, PhD3; Oertel, Joachim MD, PhD1

doi: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e3181f743bb
Surgical Anatomy and Technique

BACKGROUND: Water jet dissection represents a promising technique for precise brain tissue dissection with preservation of blood vessels. In the past, the water jet dissector has been used for various pathologies. A detailed report of the surgical technique is lacking.

OBJECTIVE: The authors present their results after 208 procedures with a special focus on surgical technique, intraoperative suitability, advantages, and disadvantages.

METHODS: Between March 1997 and April 2009, 208 patients with various intracranial neurosurgical pathologies were operated on with the water jet dissector. Handling of the device and its usefulness and extent of application were assessed. The pressures encountered, potential risks, and complications were documented. The patients were followed 1 to 24 months postoperatively.

RESULTS: A detailed presentation of the surgical technique is given. Differences and limitations of the water jet dissection device in the various pathologies were evaluated. The water jet dissector was intensively used in 127 procedures (61.1%), intermittently used in 56 procedures (26.9%), and scarcely used in 25 procedures (12%). The device was considered to be very helpful in 166 procedures (79.8%) and helpful to some extent in 33 procedures (15.9%). In 8 (3.8%) procedures, it was not helpful, and in 1 procedure (0.5%), the usefulness was not documented by the surgeon.

CONCLUSION: The water jet dissector can be applied easily and very safely. Precise tissue dissection with preservation of blood vessels and no greater risk of complications are possible. However, the clinical consequences of the described qualities need to be demonstrated in a randomized clinical trial.

1Department of Neurosurgery, Johannes-Gutenberg-University, Mainz, Germany

2Department of Neurosurgery, Hannover Nordstadt Hospital, Affiliated Hospital Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany

3Department of Neurosurgery, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany

Received, June 9, 2009.

Accepted, April 5, 2010.

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Reprint requests: Joachim Oertel, MD, PhD, Neurochirurgische Klinik und Poliklinik, Universitätsmedizin, Johannes-Gutenberg-Universität, Langenbeckstrasse 1, 55131 Mainz, Germany. E-mail:

Copyright © by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons