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George M. Ghobrial, Thana Theofanis, Bruce V. Darden, Paul Arnold, Michael G. Fehlings, and James S. Harrop


Unintended durotomy is a common occurrence during lumbar spinal surgery, particularly in surgery for degenerative spinal conditions, with the reported incidence rate ranging from 0.3% to 35%. The authors performed a systematic literature review on unintended lumbar spine durotomy, specifically aiming to identify the incidence of durotomy during spinal surgery for lumbar degenerative conditions. In addition, the authors analyzed the incidence of durotomy when minimally invasive surgical approaches were used as compared with that following a traditional midline open approach.


A MEDLINE search using the term “lumbar durotomy” (under the 2015 medical subject heading [MeSH] “cerebrospinal fluid leak”) was conducted on May 13, 2015, for English-language medical literature published in the period from January 1, 2005, to May 13, 2015. The resulting papers were categorized into 3 groups: 1) those that evaluated unintended durotomy rates during open-approach lumbar spinal surgery, 2) those that evaluated unintended durotomy rates during minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS), and 3) those that evaluated durotomy rates in comparable cohorts undergoing MISS versus open-approach lumbar procedures for similar lumbar pathology.


The MEDLINE search yielded 116 results. A review of titles produced 22 potentially relevant studies that described open surgical procedures. After a thorough review of individual papers, 19 studies (comprising 15,965 patients) pertaining to durotomy rates during open-approach lumbar surgery were included for analysis. Using the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) ranking criteria, there were 7 Level 3 prospective studies and 12 Level 4 retrospective studies. In addition, the authors also included 6 studies (with a total of 1334 patients) that detailed rates of durotomy during minimally invasive surgery for lumbar degenerative disease. In the MISS analysis, there were 2 prospective and 4 retrospective studies. Finally, the authors included 5 studies (with a total of 1364 patients) that directly compared durotomy rates during open-approach versus minimally invasive procedures. Studies of open-approach surgery for lumbar degenerative disease reported a total of 1031 durotomies across all procedures, for an overall durotomy rate of 8.11% (range 2%–20%). Prospectively designed studies reported a higher rate of durotomy than retrospective studies (9.57% vs 4.32%, p = 0.05). Selected MISS studies reported a total of 93 durotomies for a combined durotomy rate of 6.78%. In studies of matched cohorts comparing open-approach surgery with MISS, the durotomy rates were 7.20% (34 durotomies) and 7.02% (68), respectively, which were not significantly different.


Spinal surgery for lumbar degenerative disease carries a significant rate of unintended durotomy, regardless of the surgical approach selected by the surgeon. Interpretation of unintended durotomy rates for lumbar surgery is limited by a lack of prospective and cohort-matched controlled studies.

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Shawn B. Frost, Maria Iliakova, Caleb Dunham, Scott Barbay, Paul Arnold, and Randolph J. Nudo


The purpose of the present study was to determine the feasibility of using a common laboratory rat strain for reliably locating cortical motor representations of the hindlimb.


Intracortical microstimulation techniques were used to derive detailed maps of the hindlimb motor representations in 6 adult Fischer-344 rats.


The organization of the hindlimb movement representation, while variable across individual rats in topographic detail, displayed several commonalities. The hindlimb representation was positioned posterior to the forelimb motor representation and posterolateral to the motor trunk representation. The areal extent of the hindlimb representation across the cortical surface averaged 2.00 ± 0.50 mm2. Superimposing individual maps revealed an overlapping area measuring 0.35 mm2, indicating that the location of the hindlimb representation can be predicted reliably based on stereotactic coordinates. Across the sample of rats, the hindlimb representation was found 1.25–3.75 mm posterior to the bregma, with an average center location approximately 2.6 mm posterior to the bregma. Likewise, the hindlimb representation was found 1–3.25 mm lateral to the midline, with an average center location approximately 2 mm lateral to the midline.


The location of the cortical hindlimb motor representation in Fischer-344 rats can be reliably located based on its stereotactic position posterior to the bregma and lateral to the longitudinal skull suture at midline. The ability to accurately predict the cortical localization of functional hindlimb territories in a rodent model is important, as such animal models are being increasingly used in the development of brain-computer interfaces for restoration of function after spinal cord injury.

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Christina L. Stephan, John J. Kepes, Paul Arnold, K. Douglas Green, and Fran Chamberlin

✓ A case of a neurocytoma involving a nerve root of the cauda equina in a 46-year-old woman is reported. The patient presented with a 2-month history of progressive left lower-extremity weakness and pain and decreased ability to walk, as well as complaints of incomplete voiding. A magnetic resonance image revealed a 7-mm oval mass that was located intrathecally and extended from T-12 to L-1 and was adjacent to a nerve root. No lesions were identified at higher vertebral levels. The mass was excised. On histological examination it was found to have classical features of a neurocytoma. To the best of the authors' knowledge, this is the first report of a neurocytoma occurring in that region. A detailed histological description of this case and review of the pertinent literature are provided.