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This article is the author’s final published version in Asian Spine Journal, Volume 17, Issue 4, May 2023, Pages 647-655.

The published version is available at Copyright © 2023 by Korean Society of Spine Surgery.


STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.

PURPOSE: The primary objective of this study was to determine the incidence and risk factors for incidental durotomies during lumbar decompression surgeries. In addition, we aimed to determine the changes in patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) based on incidental durotomy status.

OVERVIEW OF LITERATURE: There is limited literature investigating the affect of incidental durotomy on patient reported outcome measures. While the majority of research does not suggest differences in complications, readmission, or revision rates, many studies rely on public databases, and their sensitivity and specificity for identifying incidental durotomies is unknown.

METHODS: Patients undergoing lumbar decompression with or without fusion at a single tertiary care center were grouped based on the presence of a durotomy. Multivariate analysis was performed for length of stay (LOS), hospital readmissions, and changes in PROMs. To identify surgical risk factors for durotomy, 3:1 propensity matching was performed using stepwise logistic regression. The sensitivity and specificity of the International Classification of Disease, 10th revision (ICD-10) codes (G96.11 and G97.41) were also assessed.

RESULTS: Of the 3,684 consecutive patients who underwent lumbar decompressions, 533 (14.5%) had durotomies, and a complete set of PROMs (preoperative and 1-year postoperative) were available for 737 patients (20.0%). Incidental durotomy was an independent predictor of increased LOS but not hospital readmission or worse PROMs. The durotomy repair method was not associated with hospital readmission or LOS. However, repair with collagen graft and suture predicted reduced improvement in Visual Analog Scale back (β =2.56, p=0.004). Independent risk factors for incidental durotomies included revisions (odds ratio [OR], 1.73; p

CONCLUSIONS: The durotomy rate for lumbar decompressions was 14.5%. No differences in outcomes were detected except for increased LOS. Database studies relying on ICD codes should be interpreted with caution due to the limited sensitivity in identifying incidental durotomies.

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