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Tension pneumothorax as a complication of video-assisted thorascopic surgery for anterior correction of idiopathic scoliosis in an adolescent female.

Spine 2001 Februrary 16
STUDY DESIGN: This case report illustrates the occurrence of intraoperative tension pneumothorax, a previously unreported complication occurring during anterior instrumentation for correction of scoliosis by video-assisted surgery.

OBJECTIVES: To demonstrate a consequence of overadvancement of a Steinmann pin (guide wire).

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Although intraoperative tension pneumothorax is admitted to be a theoretical complication of video-assisted surgery for anterior correction of idiopathic scoliosis, there has yet to be a case reported in the literature. This report presents the first case of this complication.

METHODS: A 13-year-old girl who had right thoracic scoliosis with a curve measuring 54 degrees underwent video-assisted surgery discectomy and anterior spinal fusion with instrumentation of T5 through T11. Single-lung ventilation had been achieved with a double-lumen tube and the right lung was deflated. After approximately 4.5 hours of complication-free surgery, intraoperative fluoroscopy showed an approximately 2-cm overadvancement of a guide wire into the opposite hemithorax. Approximately 5 minutes after the overadvancement was corrected, the patient experienced a gradual increase in heart rate and a corresponding gradual decrease in oxygen saturation and both systolic and diastolic blood pressures. Approximately 35 minutes later, it was determined that the patient had sustained a tension pneumothorax of the left hemithorax.

RESULTS: The patient underwent urgent partial reinflation of the right lung and a tube thoracostomy of the left thoracic cavity. Vital signs quickly returned to stable levels, and the left lung easily reinflated with the chest tube suction. The patient remained stable after the procedure was resumed (by right lung deflation). The remainder of the surgery and the postoperative course were uneventful.

CONCLUSIONS: Although video-assisted surgery continues to gain popularity in the management of spinal deformities, the surgical team must be certain to pay meticulous attention to detail throughout the procedure. The early detection and treatment of complications can be life-preserving.

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