Diagnosis and therapy of intrathecal bleeding.

M. Nolli, M. Crispino, F. Nicosia, B. Borghi, N. Montone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


AIM: Define pathophysiology, epidemiology, diagnosis and therapy in case of spinal bleeding after central neural blockade (CNB). METHODS: Spinal epidural hematoma (SEH) following CNB may occur due to vascular trauma from needle/catheter placement and can occur in subdural and epidural spaces. Epidural artery bleeding seems the source of SEH: the damage mechanism depends on compression and neural vascular ischemia of cord, nerve roots, ganglion and toxicity from blood cell lysis products. Incidence varies (1:150.000 - 1:500.000) but SEH may be asymptomatic. CONCLUSIONS: SEH starts with acute severe low back and/or radicular pain and neurologic signs that may progress to paraparesis, sensory loss and sphincter disturbances. After CNB, the only sign of SEH may be an unusually prolonged motor and sensory block. Symptoms may start even 96 hours after CNB and/or removal of the epidural catheter. Neurological recovery is related to severity and speed of preoperative deficits development and surgical decompression. MR imaging features (diagnostic tool of choice), including degree of cord compression, are useful to establish or confirm the diagnosis of SEH but do not influence the management or predict outcome. Hematoma resolution and severity of neurologic impairment has the greatest impact on management and outcome. Preoperative MRI information and intraoperative evidence of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) and CSF leakage is important: SAH worsens outcome for its negative effect on spinal cord and cauda equina. Conservative therapy may be successful in cases with minimal neurologic deficits, despite cord compression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-91
Number of pages10
JournalMinerva Anestesiologica
Issue number9 Suppl 1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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