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Poor Outcome with Dural Tears From Spinal Surgery

Tears of the dural sac called a durotomy are common during spinal surgery. The back half of the vertebrae form a protective circle around the spinal cord. There's a covering around the spinal cord called the dural sac. This sac can get torn causing problems with headaches, low back pain, or leg pain.

In this study researchers report on the long-term results of durotomy in 41 patients compared to 41 normal (control) patients. They measured patients' activity levels and ability to work. They also made note of anyone who needed more surgery.

The authors report a poorer outcome after durotomy when the tear isn't repaired right away. Patients were unable to perform their usual activities. They were unable to work. Many had to change jobs or retire. Some had to have another operation.


Guido Saxler, MD, et al. The Long-Term Clinical Sequelae of Incidental Durotomy in Lumbar Disc Surgery. In Spine. October 15, 2005. Vol. 30. No. 20. Pp. 2298-2302.

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