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Epidural Hematomas After Removal of Percutaneous Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial Leads: Two Case Reports
  1. Curren E. Giberson*,
  2. Judith Barbosa*,
  3. Elizabeth S. Brooks, PhD*,
  4. Gail L. McGlothlen, APRN-BC, MS, CNS,
  5. Eric J. Grigsby, MD,
  6. James J. Kohut, MD,
  7. Linda L. Wolbers, MD, MPH* and
  8. Lawrence R. Poree, MD, MPH, PhD*,§
  1. *Pain Clinic of Monterey Bay, Aptos
  2. Napa Pain Institute, CA
  3. Neurosurgery Department, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Santa Cruz
  4. §Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
  1. Address correspondence to: Lawrence R. Poree, MD, MPH, PhD, Pain Clinic of Monterey Bay, 9057C Soquel Dr, Suite A, Aptos, CA 95003 (e-mail: info{at}


Objective We report 2 cases of spinal epidural hematoma formation after the removal of percutaneous spinal cord stimulator trial leads and discuss the possible etiologies of these complications.

Case Report Two patients developed spinal epidural hematomas shortly after removal of their percutaneous trial leads and required multilevel laminectomies for evacuation of the hematoma. Patient 1 reported taking aspirin the morning that his leads were pulled, whereas patient 2 had not taken aspirin in the 7 days before commencing his trial. There were 2 days between identification and evacuation of patient 1’s hematoma, and he did not fully recover from the injury to his spinal cord. Patient 2 underwent surgery immediately with complete resolution of his symptoms.

Conclusions Currently, the neuromodulation community ascribes to the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine guidelines, which state that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs do not significantly increase the risk for epidural hematoma with neuraxial anesthesia and, therefore, there is no need to discontinue these drugs before epidural or spinal anesthesia. We suggest that these guidelines may not be appropriate for neuromodulatory techniques that likely subject the surrounding vasculature to more trauma than neuraxial anesthesia. We recommend discontinuing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, particularly aspirin, before neuromodulation procedures. Further investigation will establish a timeframe for holding these drugs to optimize patient safety.

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  • The authors declare no conflict of interest.

    The case of patient 2 was presented as a poster at the 16th Annual Meeting of the North American Neuromodulation Society, December 6–9, 2012, in Las Vegas, NV.

    Curren E. Giberson and Judith Barbosa contributed equally to this work.