The Potentially Fatal Ogilvie's Syndrome in Lateral Transpsoas Access Surgery: A Multi-Institutional Experience with 2930 Patients.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

World Neurosurg


Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Cecum; Cholinesterase Inhibitors; Colonic Pseudo-Obstruction; Female; Humans; Ileostomy; Intestinal Perforation; Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction; Laparotomy; Male; Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures; Neostigmine; Organ Size; Postoperative Complications; Radiography, Abdominal; Retrospective Studies; Spinal Fusion; Tomography, X-Ray Computed


BACKGROUND: Ogilvie's syndrome (OS) is a relatively uncommon pathology characterized by significant colonic dilation in the absence of mechanical obstruction. If unrecognized and untreated, cecal perforation resulting in a mortality rate of 25%-71% may occur. It is a potentially underdiagnosed condition in the lateral transpsoas approach population because of its uncommon nature and imitation of other well-known pathologies.

METHODS: Two thousand nine hundred and thirty patients from 6 separate institutions were retrospectively reviewed since 2007 and screened for OS. All patients underwent a minimum of single-level lateral transpsoas fusion. Diagnostic criteria included signs of a postoperative paralytic ileus combined with abdominal computed tomography showing a cecal diameter greater than 9 cm. Treatment modalities and outcomes were recorded.

RESULTS: Eight cases (0.22%) of OS were diagnosed at 6 separate institutions. Most institutions recorded more than 350 lateral access procedures. Four cases were initially diagnosed as a routine postoperative ileus; however, they failed conservative therapy and underwent abdominal CT imaging. Neostigmine treatment was required for 1 patient in the intensive care unit setting, and 3 patients were managed conservatively without complications. Four other patients demonstrated bowel perforation at least 48 hours after surgery and required laparotomy with diversion ileostomy.

CONCLUSION: Ogilvie's syndrome is a rare but potentially fatal complication that can mimic a postoperative ileus. It is likely underdiagnosed in the lateral transpsoas approach population because of its uncommon nature and a high index of suspicion should remain. Neostigmine can be administered safely under close observation with immediate and successful outcomes. Patients with perforation require urgent laparotomy and primary repair.

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)