Acute respiratory failure from Surgifoam expansion after anterior cervical surgery

Branko Skovrlj, Justin R. Mascitelli, Martin B. Camins, Amish H. Doshi, Sheeraz A. Qureshi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


A 65-year-old woman underwent an uneventful C3-4 anterior cervical discectomy and fusion for a large, symptomatic disc herniation. On postoperative Day 1 the patient suffered a sudden, acute respiratory compromise. Emergency fiberoptic intubation revealed significant anterior neck swelling with concern for physical obstruction of the airway. Computed tomography of the neck did not demonstrate an expanding hematoma. The patient was managed with surgical wound exploration and washout. Examination of the anterior neck after incision of the prior surgical site revealed a large volume of Surgifoam under high pressure, which was greater than the amount used during the initial surgery. Thorough washout of the surgical site did not reveal any swelling of the prevertebral soft tissues or hematoma, and the Hemovac drain did not appear to be occluded. The patient was extubated on the 2nd postoperative day and is symptom free 12 months after surgery. To the authors' knowledge, this report represents the first reported complication of acute respiratory failure from Surgifoam overexpansion after anterior cervical surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)428-430
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • ACDF
  • Acute respiratory failure
  • Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion
  • Cervical spine
  • Complication
  • Surgifoam

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Surgery


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