The 'nightmare' of wrong level in spine surgery: a critical appraisal

Claudio Irace, Susanna Usai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The recent article published in the Journal by Lindley and colleagues (Patient Saf. Surg. 2011, 5:33) reported the successful surgical treatment of a persistent thoracic pain following a T7-8 microdiscectomy, truly performed at the 'level immediately above'. The wrong level in spine surgery is a multi-factorial matter and several strategies have been designed and adopted to try decreasing its occurrence. We think that three of these factors are crucial: global strategy, attention, precision in level identification; and the actors we identified are the surgeon, the assistant nurse and the (neuro)radiologist respectively. Basing upon our experience, the role of the radiologist pre- and intraoperatively and the importance of the assistant nurse are briefly described.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14
JournalPatient Safety in Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 19 2012


  • Discectomy
  • Incorrect site surgery
  • Interspinous device
  • IRACE method
  • Wrong level
  • Wrong level spine surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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