A prospective study of the incidence and outcomes of incidental dural tears in microendoscopic lumbar decompressive surgery

T. Tsutsumimoto, M. Yui, M. Uehara, H. Ohta, H. Kosaku, H. Misawa


Little information is available about the incidence and outcome of incidental dural tears associated with microendoscopic lumbar decompressive surgery. We prospectively examined the incidence of dural tears and their influence on the outcome six months post-operatively in 555 consecutive patients (mean age 47.4 years (13 to 89)) who underwent this form of surgery. The incidence of dural tears was 5.05% (28/555). The risk factors were the age of the patient and the procedure of bilateral decompression via a unilateral approach. The rate of recovery of the Japanese Orthopaedic Association score in patients with dural tears was significantly lower than that in those without a tear (77.7% vs 87.6%; p < 0.02), although there were no significant differences in the improvement of the Oswestry Disability Index between the two groups. Most dural tears were small, managed by taking adequate care of symptoms of low cerebrospinal fluid pressure, and did not require direct dural repair. Routine MRI scans were undertaken six months post-operatively; four patients with a dural tear had recurrent or residual disc herniation and two had further stenosis, possibly because the dural tear prevented adequate decompression and removal of the fragments of disc during surgery; as yet, none of these patients have undergone further surgery.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2014;96-B:641–5.


  • No benefits in any form have been received or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.

    This article was primary edited by S. Hughes and first proof edited by J. Scott.

  • Received August 12, 2013.
  • Accepted December 31, 2013.
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