5 years ago

Delayed post-operative tension pneumocephalus and pneumorrhachis



The incidence of pneumocephalus and pneumorrhachis after spinal surgery is unknown, with a paucity of literature on this complication.

Materials and methods

We present the first published case of delayed onset tension pneumocephalus and pneumorrhachis associated with spinal surgery.


This complication occurred from a cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF) leak after posterior instrumentation removal and was successfully treated with emergent wound debridement and the formation of a CSF fistula.


This case illustrates that delayed post-operative tension pneumocephalus and pneumorrhachis can occur after spinal surgery in a patient with a CSF leak. It also illustrates that pneumocephalus and pneumorrhachis can be easily diagnosed with cross-sectional CT imaging. Furthermore, in a patient with rapid deterioration emergent surgical debridement may be necessary. Lastly, if the dural tear cannot be identified intra-operatively, the formalization of a CSF fistula should be considered.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00586-017-5268-3

DOI: 10.1007/s00586-017-5268-3

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