Soft-tissue defects after spinal instrumentation in 5 children: Risk factors, management strategies, and outcomes

Christina Sayama, Sudhakar Vadivelu, Andrew Livingston, Allen Ho, Shayan A. Izaddoost, Valentina Briceño, Thomas G. Luerssen, Andrew Jea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Object. Wound-related complications following complex posterior spine procedures in children may result in the need for serial debridements and may place spinal instrumentation at risk. In this study, the authors review their experience with the management of soft-tissue defects from spinal instrumentation in 5 high-risk pediatric patients. The use of various rotational and transpositional flaps in the management of these complicated cases is discussed, as well as their outcomes. Methods. The authors retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 5 patients who returned to the Neuro-Spine service at Texas Children's Hospital for erosion of spinal instrumentation through the skin between September 1, 2007, and October 31, 2012. Patient demographics and clinical and operative data were recorded. Results. Risk factors such as young age (1 case), poor nutritional status (1 case), multiple previous surgeries (3 cases), severe neurological deficits (2 cases), and history of radiation therapy for malignancy (2 cases) were noted in the 5 patients. The paraspinous flap (4 cases) was the mainstay of the treatment. Follow-up ranged from 7.5 to 17.5 months (mean 11 ± 4.2 months). One of the patients required more than 1 procedure for revision of the wound. Cultures were positive in 2 of the 5 cases. Spinal instrumentation was removed in 3 of the 5 cases; however, in all 3 of the cases there was evidence of delayed instability that developed after the removal of spinal instrumentation. Conclusions. The use of local tissue flaps is safe and efficacious for treatment of posterior wound complications due to spinal instrumentation in children. Removal of spinal instrumentation should be avoided due to the development of delayed instability. Highly vascularized tissue is used to speed healing, clear bacteria, and eliminate dead space, obviating the need to remove contaminated spinal instrumentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)644-653
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Erosion
  • Pediatric spine
  • Spinal instrumentation
  • Wound infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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