Pediatric tethered cord release: an epidemiological and postoperative complication analysis

Abhiraj D. Bhimani, Ashley N. Selner, Jay B. Patel, Jonathan G. Hobbs, Darian R. Esfahani, Mandana Behbahani, Zaid Zayyad, Demetrios Nikas, Ankit I. Mehta


Background: Tethered cord release (TCR) is a common procedure in pediatric neurosurgery. Despite a reputation for being relatively safe, the risk factors for postoperative complications are poorly understood.
Methods: In this study, the American College of Surgeons-National Surgical Quality Improvement Program Pediatric Database (ACS-NSQIP-P) was reviewed to identify the demographics, risk factors, and 30-day postoperative complications for tethered cord release using univariate and multivariate analysis. A detailed analysis of reasons for readmission and reoperation was also performed.
Results: Three thousand and six hundred eighty-two pediatric patients were studied. Males undergoing TCR were younger (5.6 vs. 6.1 years) and had a higher rate of pre-operative comorbidities but lower 30-day complication rate versus females. Patients who later developed complications were more likely to require a microscope intraoperatively, had longer operative times, and worse preoperative American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) class.
Conclusions: Despite being a relatively safe procedure, TCR in the pediatric population carries a finite risk of complications. In this large, international database study, males were found to have a greater number of risk factors prior to TCR, while females exhibit a higher risk of developing postoperative complications. This paper provides a large sample size of multi institutional pediatric patients undergoing TCR and may serve as a contemporary “snapshot” for future studies.