Treatment of a retroperitoneal lymphocele after lumbar fusion surgery with intralesional povidone iodine: Technical case report

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OBJECTIVE AND IMPORTANCE: This case report illustrates an uncommon complication from the retroperitoneal exposure of the lumbar spine. The diagnosis and management of a retroperitoneal lymphocele is presented. The lymphocele was treated with intralesional povidone iodine (Betadine; Purdue- Frederick, Norwalk, CT), which eradicated the lesion and provided symptomatic relief to the patient. CLINICAL PRESENTATION: A young woman developed an iatrogenic, rapidly progressive spondylolisthesis after having undergone three previous lumbar surgeries for radiculopathy at the L5-S1 level. INTERVENTION: A back-front-back approach was used for operative reduction and fusion of the spondylolisthesis. The patient's postoperative course was complicated by a retroperitoneal lymphocele. She presented with symptoms of urinary urgency and incontinence. The lymphocele was successfully treated with repeated drainage and sclerosis with povidone iodine. The patient ultimately developed a solid fusion, and her pain resolved. CONCLUSION: A retroperitoneal lymphocele is an uncommon complication caused by the surgical exposure of the lumbar spine when a ventral approach is used. In this case, it was diagnosed and treated without further surgical intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)658-661
Number of pages4
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 1999



  • Iatrogenic
  • Lymphocele
  • Spondylolisthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery

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