Persistent iliac crest donor site pain: Independent outcome assessment

Robert F. Heary, Richard P. Schlenk, Theresa A. Sacchieri, Dean Barone, Cristian Brotea, Richard G. Fessler, Volker K.H. Sonntag, John Ratliff, Paul R. Cooper, Michael Kaiser, Paul C. McCormick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

246 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: This study objectively defines the incidence of donor site pain in an independent outcome analysis. In addition, this study identifies the significant discrepancies that are observed when independent outcome assessment results are compared with the incidences determined by review of the operating surgeon's documented findings. METHODS: A review of patients who underwent iliac bone graft harvesting by a single neurosurgeon was conducted. The presence of iliac crest donor site pain, at a time remote from surgery, as determined by specific questioning and recorded in the neurosurgeon's written evaluation was compared with independent assessment findings obtained in structured telephone questionnaire interviews. During a 4-year period, 105 patients met the inclusion criteria. Both the operating surgeon's and independent interviewer's follow-up evaluations were completed for all study patients. Pain was classified into three categories, i.e., no pain, acceptable pain, or unacceptable pain. Patients were also asked to assess the severity of their donor site pain by using a visual analog scale. Statistical analyses comparing the incidences of iliac crest donor site pain in the operating surgeon's evaluations and the independent assessments were performed. RESULTS: When evaluated at a time remote from surgery, the true incidence of iliac crest donor site pain after graft harvest procedures (34%) was significantly greater than previously appreciated by the neurosurgeon (8%). Although occasional or mild pain was observed for 31% of patients, only 3% of all patients experienced unacceptable pain. CONCLUSION: Independent outcome assessment values should be provided to patients in preoperative discussions regarding donor site morbidity. Objective outcome analysis, based on independent observations, is crucial for the most accurate interpretation of perceptions of iliac crest donor site pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-517
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


  • Iliac crest
  • Independent outcome
  • Morbidity

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