Comparison of symptomatic cerebral spinal fluid leak between patients undergoing minimally invasive versus open lumbar foraminotomy, discectomy, or laminectomy

Albert P. Wong, Patrick Shih, Timothy R. Smith, Nicholas P. Slimack, Nader S. Dahdaleh, Salah G. Aoun, Tarek Y. El Ahmadieh, Zachary A. Smith, Justin K. Scheer, Tyler R. Koski, John C. Liu, Richard G. Fessler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

20 Scopus citations


Objective Minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) techniques have similar long-term outcomes compared to open surgery for patients undergoing 1- or 2-level discectomy, foraminotomy, or laminectomy. However, the rate of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks with both techniques has not been well established in the literature. This study sought to compare the rate and clinical impact of CSF leak in open lumbar foraminotomy, discectomy, or laminectomy with comparable MISS approaches. Methods A total of 863 patients undergoing 1- or 2-level discectomy, foraminotomy, or laminectomy by either MISS an open technique were evaluated for CSF leaks. Variables assessed included operative time, blood loss, CSF leaks, hospital stay, days with lumbar drain, days of postoperative flat bed rest, and postoperative intervention. Statistical analyses include univariate analysis (Student t test, analysis of variance, odds ratio, χ2) and bivariate analysis (logistic regression). Results In the MISS group there were 15 CSF leaks (4.7%), and 49 CSF leaks (9.0%) in the open group. Eight patients in the open group required lumbar drainage, compared to zero patients in the MISS group. Twelve patients required reoperation for persistent CSF leak in the open group, compared to zero patients in the MISS group. Patients undergoing open spine surgery were 2 times more likely to have a CSF leak (odds ratio = 2.3, 95% confidence interval = 1.2 to 3.7, P =.01). Patients undergoing MISS had significantly lower reoperation rates for CSF leak repairs (open = 25% of open CSF leak cases, MISS = 0%, P <.01). Conclusions In this study, there was a statistically significant decreased rate of CSF leak between an MISS approach and an open surgical approach. Furthermore, CSF leaks in open surgery have a higher probability of requiring lumbar drainage or reoperation to repair the durotomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)634-640
Number of pages7
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes



  • Cerebral spinal fluid leak
  • CSF leak
  • Discectomy
  • Durotomy
  • Laminectomy
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Spine surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

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