Reconstructive spine surgery in pediatric patients with major loss in vital capacity

Bernard A. Rawlins, Robert B. Winter, John E. Lonstein, Francis Denis, Paul T. Kubic, William B. Wheeler, Andrew L. Ozolins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Thirty-two pediatric patients with severe restrictive lung disease identified with vital capacities <40 of predicted, who had undergone major reconstructive spine surgery, were reviewed. There were 18 boys and 14 girls, the mean age was 13 years (range, 7-17), and the mean vital capacity was 31% of predicted (range, 16-39%). Fifty-four procedures were performed 13 posterior only, one of which was singed, and 19 anterior and posterior procedures, of which 15 were staged and four were sequential. The incidence of pulmonary complications (pneumonia, reintubation, pneumothorax, respiratory arrest, or the need for (tracheostomy) was 19% (six patients), and only three patients required tracheostomy. The surgical and perioperative mortality rate waszero. Patients who had a thoracotomy or a thoracoabdominal approach had a significantly higher number of pulmonary complications. The use of preoperative decreased vital capacity as a measure of inoperability excludes the young patient most in need of surgical intervention. With improved preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative techniques, careful monitoring, and the cooperation of pediatric pulmonologists and intensivists, reconstructive spine surgery can be performed in the pediatric patient with severe decreased vital capacity with very acceptable morbidity and mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-292
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996


  • Pediatric spine surgery
  • Pulmonary complications
  • Vital capacity

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