Cerebrospinal fluid drainage complications during first stage and completion fenestrated-branched endovascular aortic repair

Jussi M. Kärkkäinen, Nolan C. Cirillo-Penn, Indrani Sen, Emanuel R. Tenorio, William J. Mauermann, George D. Gilkey, Timothy J. Kaufmann, Gustavo S. Oderich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the rates and risk factors of complications related to cerebrospinal fluid drainage (CSFD) during first stage and completion fenestrated-branched endovascular aortic repair (F-BEVAR) of pararenal and thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms. Methods: We reviewed the outcomes of 293 consecutive patients enrolled in a prospective, nonrandomized study to investigate outcomes of F-BEVAR between 2013 and 2018. Patients who received CSFD during first-stage thoracic endovascular aortic repair, index F-BEVAR, or completion of temporary aneurysm sac perfusion procedures were included in the analysis. CSFD complications were graded as severe or moderate if they were life threatening, escalated the level of care, or prolonged the hospital stay. Presence of substantial degenerative lumbar disease (DLD) was identified based on review of preoperative computed tomography. End points included technical difficulties during CSFD placement and CSFD-related complications. Results: A total of 187 patients (mean age, 73 ± 8 years; 70% male) treated for 20 pararenal and 167 thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms received CSFD in 240 procedures, including 51 first-stage thoracic endovascular aortic repairs, 184 index F-BEVARs, and 5 completion temporary aneurysm sac perfusion procedures. Nineteen patients (10%) had 22 CSFD-related complications after 21 aortic procedures (9%). Complications were graded as severe to moderate in 17 patients (9%). There were 12 patients (6%) with intracranial hypotension, including three (2%) who had intracranial hemorrhage and nine (5%) with post dural puncture headache requiring blood patches in six. Another six patients (3%) developed spinal hematomas resulting in paraplegia in two (1%) and transient paraparesis in two (1%). One patient had CSF leakage from the puncture site (no intervention required). Four patients had bleeding during attempted drain placement, which required postponement of F-BEVAR. Technical difficulties were experienced in 57 drain insertions (24%), more often in patients with DLD than in those without DLD (35/113 [31%] vs 22/121 [18%]; P = .03). Fluoroscopic guidance was used in 44 drain placements (18%) with a lower rate of technical difficulties compared with the blind approach (9% vs 28%; P = .01). There was a statistically nonsignificant trend toward more complications in patients with technical challenges (14% vs 7%; P = .10). Of 13 study patients who developed spinal cord injuries during aortic procedures, 4 (31%) were attributed to CSFD. Conclusions: Although CSFD is widely used to prevent ischemic spinal cord injury during complex aortic repair, the risk of major CSFD-related complications is not negligible and should be carefully weighed against its potential benefits. One-third of spinal cord injuries were caused by CSF drain placement. The use of fluoroscopic guidance may decrease the risk of CSFD-related complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1109-1118.e2
JournalJournal of vascular surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Branched
  • Cerebrospinal fluid drainage
  • Endovascular aortic repair
  • Fenestrated
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Spinal drain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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