Operative management of idiopathic spinal cord herniation: Case series and novel technique for repair of recurrent herniation

Randall J. Hlubek, David S. Xu, Celene B. Mulholland, Jourdan Gilson, Nicholas Theodore, Jay D. Turner, U. Kumar Kakarla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Idiopathic spinal cord herniation (ISCH) is a rare pathology of the spine defined by herniation of the spinal cord through a dural defect. OBJECTIVE: To highlight the operative management of ISCH and the surgical nuances of ISCH repairs conducted at our institution. METHODS: This retrospective review examines consecutive patients with ISCH who were treated surgically between January 1, 2010, and July 31, 2017, at Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona. RESULTS: Four patients with ISCH presented with thoracic myelopathy and lower extremity weakness during the study period. Treatment consisted of reduction of the herniated spinal cord and filling of the dural defect with a collagen-based dural regeneration matrix. In 3 patients the dural edges were covered with a collagen-matrix intradural sling, and in 1 patient they were repaired primarily with interrupted sutures. Three of the 4 patients experienced improvement in myelopathic symptoms; the fourth patient suffered neurological decline in the immediate postoperative period. CONCLUSION: ISCH is a complex pathological condition likely to result in progressive myelopathy. Surgery offers patients the possibility of stabilizing the progression of the spinal cord dysfunction and perhaps restoring neurological function. However, extreme care must be taken during surgery to minimize manipulation of the fragile herniated cord.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-423
Number of pages9
JournalOperative Neurosurgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Dural defect
  • Idiopathic spinal cord herniation
  • Thoracic spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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