BACKGROUND: Iatrogenic vertebral artery (VA) injury is a rare but potentially devastating complication associated with cervical and craniocervical surgery.
OBJECTIVE: To retrospectively evaluate treatment modalities and outcomes associated with iatrogenic VA injury.
METHODS: Our institutional surgical database was queried for patients who underwent cervical or craniocervical surgery from January 1997 to August 2012.
RESULTS: During this time period, 8213 patients underwent cervical or craniocervical surgery, and 17 (0.2%) cases of VA injury were identified. Eight (47%) of these injuries occurred during C1-2 instrumentation procedures. Primary microsurgical repair of the VA was performed in 5 patients. Other cases were managed by either surgical or endovascular VA occlusion. Of the 17 patients, 15 underwent immediate angiography, 9 of whom were ultimately treated by the use of endovascular techniques.
CONCLUSION: VA injury is an uncommon complication of cervical and/or skull base surgery. Standardized management recommendations may help reduce complications associated with these rare but potentially devastating injuries.
ABBREVIATIONS: ACDFP, anterior cervical discectomy with fusion and plating
CTA, computed tomography angiography
PICA, posterior inferior cerebellar artery
POD, postoperative day
SAH, subarachnoid hemorrhage
VA, vertebral artery
Division of Neurological Surgery, Barrow Neurological Institute, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, Arizona
Correspondence: Nicholas Theodore, MD, FACS, c/o Neuroscience Publications, Barrow Neurological Institute, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, 350 W Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85013, E-mail: Neuropub@dignityhealth.org
Received November 28, 2012
Accepted April 23, 2013