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Matthew J. McGirt, Frank J. Attenello, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Jean-Paul Wolinsky

✓ Pediatric basilar invagination and cranial settling have traditionally been approached through a transoral–transpharyngeal route with or without extended maxillotomy or mandibulotomy for resection of the anterior portion of C-1 and the odontoid. The authors hypothesize that application of a recently described endoscopic transcervical odontoidectomy (ETO) technique would allow an alternative approach for the treatment of ventral pathological entities at the craniocervical junction in pediatric patients.

The authors performed ETO in a consecutive series of pediatric patients presenting with myelopathy or bulbar dysfunction resulting from basilar invagination or cranial settling. All clinical, radiographic, surgical, and follow-up data were prospectively collected. The initial experience with ETO in the pediatric population is analyzed and outcomes are reported. Three patients required ETO for basilar invagination and 1 required ETO with anterior C-1 arch and distal clivus resection for cranial settling. All patients presented with myelopathy. One patient was wheelchair bound with severe quadriparesis. The mean age was 14 ± 3 years (mean ± standard deviation [SD]) in the 2 male and 2 female patients. The ETO and posterior fusion were performed as a 2-stage procedure in 2 (50%) and as a single-stage procedure in 2 (50%) cases. Prolonged intubation or postoperative placement of a gastrostomy tube was not needed in any case. The postoperative hospitalization lasted 9 ± 4 days (mean ± SD). At last follow-up (mean 5 months), head and neck pain had resolved and motor strength had improved or stabilized in all cases. All 4 children were independently functioning and ambulatory at the last follow-up.

In the authors' initial experience, ETO has allowed ventral brainstem decompression without the need for prolonged intubation, worsening dysphagia requiring enteral tube feeding, or prolonged hospitalization, and has resulted in cosmetically appealing results. The ETO technique allows an alternative approach for the treatment of ventral pathological entities at the craniocervical junction in pediatric patients.

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Gregory S. McLoughlin, Jed G. Nuchtern, Robert C. Dauser, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Jean-Paul Wolinsky

✓ Lymphangiomas are benign collections of blind-ended lymphatic and vascular channels. Lesions typically occur in the soft tissues of the head and neck, although any region of the body can be affected. Involvement of the spine is very rare. A complete resection is generally curative. On rare occasions, these tumors are complicated by infection or hemorrhage. The authors present an unusual case of a hemorrhagic lymphangioma in a 1-year-old male child. The lesion originated in the mediastinum and extended into the cervicothoracic epidural space via a neural foramen. This resulted in an acute epidural hematoma and quadriparesis. Emergency decompression resulted in full neurological recovery. This may be the first report of a lymphangioma resulting in an acute epidural hematoma and quadriparesis.

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Ralph T. W. M. Thomeer, J. Marc C. van Dijk, and Wilco C. Peul

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Camilo Molina, Daniel M. Sciubba, Christopher Chaput, P. Justin Tortolani, George I. Jallo, and Ryan M. Kretzer


Translaminar screws (TLSs) were originally described as a safer alternative to pedicle and transarticular screw placement at C-2 in adult patients. More recently, TLSs have been used in both the cervical and thoracic spine of pediatric patients as a primary fixation technique and as a bailout procedure when dysplastic pedicle morphology prohibits safe pedicle screw placement. Although authors have reported the anatomical characteristics of the cervical and thoracic lamina in adults as well as those of the cervical lamina in pediatric patients, no such data exist to guide safe TLS placement in the thoracic spine of the pediatric population. The goal of this study was to report the anatomical feasibility of TLS placement in the thoracic spine of pediatric patients.


Fifty-two patients (26 males and 26 females), with an average age of 9.5 ± 4.8 years, were selected by retrospective review of a trauma registry database after institutional review board approval. Study inclusion criteria were an age from 2 to 16 years, standardized axial bone-window CT images of the thoracic spine, and the absence of spinal trauma. For each thoracic lamina the following anatomical features were measured using eFilm Lite software: laminar width (outer cortical and cancellous), laminar height (LH), maximal screw length, and optimal screw trajectory. Patients were stratified by age (an age < 8 versus ≥ 8 years) and sex.


Collected data demonstrate the following general trends as one descends the thoracic spine from T-1 to T-12: 1) increasing laminar width to T-4 followed by a steady decrease to T-12, 2) increasing LH, 3) decreasing maximal screw length, and 4) increasing ideal screw trajectory angle. When stratified by age and sex, male patients older than 8 years of age had significantly larger laminae in terms of both width and height and allowed significantly longer screw placement at all thoracic levels compared with their female counterparts. Importantly, it was found that 78% of individual thoracic laminae, regardless of age or sex, could accept a 4.0-mm screw with 1.0 mm of clearance. As expected, when stratifying by age and sex, it was found that older male patients had the highest acceptance rates.


Data in the present study provide information regarding optimal TLS length, diameter, and trajectory for each thoracic spinal level in pediatric patients. Importantly, the data collected demonstrate no anatomical limitations within the pediatric thoracic spine to TLS instrumentation, although acceptance rates are lower for younger (< 8 years old) and/or female patients. Lastly, given the anatomical variation found in this study, CT scanning can be useful in the preoperative setting when planning TLS use in the thoracic spine of pediatric patients.

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Rafael De la Garza Ramos, C. Rory Goodwin, Nancy Abu-Bonsrah, Amit Jain, Emily K. Miller, Nicole Huang, Khaled M. Kebaish, Paul D. Sponseller, and Daniel M. Sciubba


The aim of this study was to investigate the incidence of and factors associated with complications following idiopathic scoliosis surgery in adolescents.


The Nationwide Inpatient Sample database was used to identify patients 10–18 years of age who had undergone spinal fusion for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) from 2002 to 2011. Twenty-three unique in-hospital postoperative complications, including death, were examined. A series of logistic regressions was used to determine if any demographic, comorbid, or surgical parameter was associated with complication development. Results of multiple logistic regression analyses were reported as odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals. All analyses were performed after the application of discharge weights to produce national estimates.


A total of 36,335 patients met the study inclusion criteria, 7.6% of whom (95% CI 6.3%–8.9%) developed at least one in-hospital complication. The 3 most common complications were respiratory failure (3.47%), reintubation (1.27%), and implant related (1.14%). Major complications such as death, pancreatitis, disseminated intravascular coagulation, visual loss, spinal cord injury, cardiac arrest, sepsis, nerve root injury, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, shock, malignant hyperthermia, myocardial infarction, and iatrogenic stroke each had an incidence ≤ 0.2%. On multiple logistic regression analysis, an increasing age (OR 0.80) was associated with significantly lower odds of complication development; patients who were male (OR 1.80) or who had anemia (OR 2.10), hypertension (OR 2.51), or hypothyroidism (OR 2.27) or underwent revision procedures (OR 5.55) were at a significantly increased risk for complication development. The rates of postoperative complications for posterior, anterior, and combined approaches were 6.7%, 10.0%, and 19.8%, respectively (p < 0.001). Length of fusion (< 8 vs ≥ 8 levels) was not associated with complication development (p = 0.311).


Analysis of 36,335 patients who had undergone surgery for AIS revealed that younger patients, male patients, patients with a history of anemia, hypertension, or hypothyroidism, as well as those undergoing revision or anterior or combined approaches may have higher rates of postoperative complications. However, the overall complication rate was low (7.6%), and major complications had a rate ≤ 0.2% for each event. These findings suggest that surgery for AIS remains relatively safe, and future prospective investigations may further help to decrease the postoperative morbidity rate.