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Open access

Microvascular decompression of a vertebral artery loop causing cervical radiculopathy: illustrative case

Alexa Semonche, Lorenzo Rinaldo, Young Lee, Todd Dubnicoff, Harlan Matles, Dean Chou, Adib Abla, and Edward F Chang

BACKGROUND

Vertebral artery loops are a rare cause of cervical radiculopathy. Surgical options for nerve root decompression include an anterior or posterior approach, with or without additional microvascular decompression.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors describe a case of a 49-year-old man with a long-standing history of left-sided neck pain and migraines, who was found to have a vertebral artery loop in the left C3–4 neural foramen compressing the left C4 nerve root. The patient underwent a posterior cervical decompression with instrumented fusion and macrovascular decompression of the left C4 nerve root via Teflon felt insertion. In a literature review, we identified 20 similar cases that had also been managed surgically.

LESSONS

Although the anterior approach is more frequently described in the literature, a posterior approach for nerve compression by a vertebral artery loop is also a safe and effective treatment. The authors report the third case of this surgical approach with a good outcome.

Open access

Intradural view of the spinal cord and dura after three-column osteotomy: illustrative case

Zirun Zhao, Saman Shabani, Nitin Agarwal, Praveen V. Mummaneni, and Dean Chou

BACKGROUND

A three-column osteotomy results in dural buckling, which may appear concerning upon intraoperative visualization because it may appear that the neural elements may also be buckled. The authors presented an intraoperative view after intentional durotomy of the neural elements and the relaxed state of the dura after three-column osteotomy.

OBSERVATIONS

A 52-year-old woman with adult tethered cord syndrome and previous untethering presented with worsening leg pain and stiffness, urinary incontinence, and unbalanced gait. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated an arachnoid web at T6 and spinal cord tethering. Spinal column shortening via three-column osteotomy was performed with concomitant intradural excision of the arachnoid web. Dural buckling was observed intraoperatively after spinal column shortening. After the durotomy, the spinal cord was visualized without kinking or buckling.

LESSONS

Dural buckling after spinal column shortening of 15 mm via three-column osteotomy at T6 did not result in concomitant buckling of the underlying neural elements.

Open access

Symptomatic contralateral osteophyte fracture with migration causing lumbar plexopathy during oblique lumbar interbody fusion: illustrative case

Brenton Pennicooke, Jeremy Guinn, and Dean Chou

BACKGROUND

While performing lateral lumbar interbody fusion surgery, one of the surgical goals is to release the contralateral side with a Cobb elevator, allowing distraction of the interbody space. Many times, there are large osteophytes on the contralateral side, and the osteophytes can be split open with the Cobb or blunt instrument. It is extremely rare for the actual osteophyte to break off from the vertebral body into the contralateral psoas muscle and lumbar plexus.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors report a case of symptomatic lumbar plexopathy caused by an osteophyte fracture after an oblique lumbar interbody fusion requiring a right-sided anterior approach to excise the bony fragment. They illustrate the case with imaging that the radiologist did not comment on, and they also show a video of the surgical excision of the osteophyte through a right-sided anterior lumbar retroperitoneal approach. The authors also show how the patient had spontaneous right-sided electromyography (EMG) firing before excision of the osteophyte and how the EMG firing resolved after excision.

LESSONS

Although the literature is plentiful with regard to ipsilateral approach–related complications, the authors discuss the literature with regard to contralateral complications after minimally invasive lateral lumbar interbody fusion.