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Daniel M. Sciubba, Gaurav G. Mavinkurve, Philippe Gailloud, Ira M. Garonzik, Pablo F. Recinos, Matthew J. McGirt, Graeme F. Woodworth, Timothy Witham, Yevgeniv Khavkin, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Jean-Paul Wolinsky

✓ Angiography is often performed to identify the vascular supply of hemangioblastomas prior to resection. Conventional two-dimensional (2D) digital subtraction (DS) angiography and three-dimensional (3D) DS angiography provides high-resolution images of the vascular structures associated with these lesions. However, such 3D DS angiography often does not provide reliable anatomical information about nearby osseous structures, or when it does, resolution of vascular anatomy in the immediate vicinity of bone is sacrificed. A novel angiographic reconstruction algorithm was recently developed at The Johns Hopkins University to overcome these inadequacies. By combining two separate sequences of images of bone and blood vessels in a single 3D representation, 3D fusion DS (FDS) angiography provides precise topographic information about vascular lesions in relation to the osseous environment, without a loss of resolution.

In this paper, the authors present the cases of two patients with cervical spine hemangioblastomas who underwent preoperative evaluation with FDS angiography and then successful gross-total resection of their tumors. In both cases, FDS angiography provided high-resolution 3D images of the hemangioblastoma anatomy, including each tumor’s topographic relationship with adjacent osseous structures and the location and size of feeding arteries and draining veins. These cases provide evidence that FDS angiography represents a useful adjunct to magnetic resonance imaging and 2D DS angiography in the preoperative evaluation and surgical planning of patients with vascular lesions in an osseous environment, such as hemangioblastomas in the spinal cord.

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Ryan M. Kretzer, Daniel M. Sciubba, Carlos A. Bagley, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Ira M. Garonzik

Object

The use of pedicle screws (PSs) for instrument-assisted fusion in the cervical and thoracic spine has increased in recent years, allowing smaller constructs with improved biomechanical stability and repositioning possibilities. In the smaller pedicles of the upper thoracic spine, the placement of PSs can be challenging and may increase the risk of damage to neural structures. As an alternative to PSs, translaminar screws can provide spinal stability, and they may be used when pedicular anatomy precludes successful placement of PSs. The authors describe the technique of translaminar screw placement in the T-1 and T-2 vertebrae.

Methods

Seven patients underwent cervicothoracic fusion to treat trauma, neoplasm, or degenerative disease. Nineteen translaminar screws were placed, 13 at T-1 and six at T-2. A single asymptomatic T-2 screw violated the ventral laminar cortex and was removed.

The mean clinical and radiographic follow up exceeded 14 months, at which time there were no cases of screw pull-out, screw fracture, or progressive kyphotic deformity.

Conclusions

Rigid fixation with translaminar screws offers an attractive alternative to PS fixation, allowing the creation of sound spinal constructs and minimizing potential neurological morbidity. Their use requires intact posterior elements, and care should be taken to avoid violation of the ventral laminar wall.

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Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ian Suk, and Ziya L. Gokaslan

✓Symptomatic irreducible basilar invagination has traditionally been approached through a transoral–transpharyngeal route with resection of the anterior portion of C-1 and the odontoid. Modification of this exposure with either a Le Fort osteotomy or a transmandibular osteotomy and circumglossal approach has increased the access to pathological conditions in this region. These traditional routes all require traversing the oral cavity and accepting the associated potential complications. The authors have developed a novel surgical approach, an endoscopic transcervical odontoidectomy, which allows access for resection of the odontoid and for brainstem and spinal cord decompression without traversing the oral cavity. In this paper they describe the technique and its advantages and present three cases in which patients underwent the endoscopic transcervical odontoidectomy for basilar invagination.

Three consecutive patients (age range 42–74 years) who had irreducible basilar invagination underwent the endoscopic transcervical odontoidectomy. All were symptomatic and had neck pain and myelopathy. All were evaluated preoperatively and postoperatively with computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. In all cases the procedure resulted in complete decompression. There were no serious complications. No patient required prolonged intubation, tracheostomy, or enteral tube feeding. One patient had an intraoperative cerebrospinal fluid leak, which had no postoperative sequelae.

The authors present an alternative surgical approach for treating ventral compression of the brainstem and spinal cord. The technique is safe and effective for decompression and provides a surgical route that can be added to the armamentarium of treatments for pathological conditions in this region.

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Gary L. Gallia, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ali Bydon, Ian Suk, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Timothy F. Witham

✓The authors describe a technique for total L-5 spondylectomy and reconstruction of the lumbosacral junction. The technique, which involves separately staged posterior and anterior procedures, is reported in two patients harboring neoplasms that involved the L-5 level. The first stage consisted of a posterior approach with removal of all posterior bone elements of L-5 and radical L4–5 and L5–S1 discectomies. Lumbosacral and lumbopelvic instrumentation included pedicle screws as well as iliac screws or a transiliac rod. The second stage consisted of an anterior approach with mobilization of vascular structures, completion of L4–5 and L5–S1 discectomies, and removal of the L-5 vertebral body. Anterior lumbosacral reconstruction included placement of a distractable cage and tension band between L-4 and S-1. Allograft bone was used for fusion in both stages. No significant complications were encountered. At more than 1 year of follow-up, both patients were independently ambulatory, without evidence of recurrent or metastatic disease, and adequate lumbosacral alignment was maintained. The authors conclude that this technique can be safely performed in appropriately selected patients with neoplasms involving L-5.

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Daniel M. Sciubba, Michael J. Dorsi, Ryan Kretzer, and Allan J. Belzberg

✓Use of computed tomography (CT) imaging for evaluation of the cervical spine following blunt trauma is both an efficient and reliable method for detecting injury. As a result, many trauma centers and emergency departments rely exclusively on CT scans to acutely clear the cervical spine of injury. Although quite sensitive for detecting bone injury, CT may be associated with a low sensitivity for detecting herniated discs, injured soft tissue or ligaments, and dynamic instability. In addition, CT-generated artifact may obscure pathological findings. In this case report, we describe the course of a patient whose CT scan harbored CT-generated artifact that suggested traumatic subluxation of the cervical spine. Clinicians should be aware of such artifact and how to recognize it when basing clinical management on such studies.

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Daniel M. Sciubba, Joseph C. Noggle, Ananth K. Vellimana, James E. Conway, Ryan M. Kretzer, Donlin M. Long, and Ira M. Garonzik

Object

Laminar fixation of the axis with crossing bilateral screws has been shown to provide rigid fixation with a theoretically decreased risk of vertebral artery damage compared with C1–2 transarticular screw fixation and C-2 pedicle screw fixation. Some studies, however, have shown restricted rigidity of such screws compared with C-2 pedicle screws, and others note that anatomical variability exists within the posterior elements of the axis that may have an impact on successful placement. To elucidate the clinical impact of such screws, the authors report their experience in placing C-2 laminar screws in adult patients over a 2-year period, with emphasis on clinical outcome and technical placement.

Methods

Sixteen adult patients with cervical instability underwent posterior cervical and cervicothoracic fusion procedures at our institution with constructs involving C-2 laminar screws. Eleven patients were men and 5 were women, and they ranged in age from 28 to 84 years (mean 57 years). The reasons for fusion were degenerative disease (9 patients) and treatment of trauma (7 patients). In 14 patients (87.5%) standard translaminar screws were placed, and in 2 (12.5%) an ipsilateral trajectory was used. All patients underwent preoperative radiological evaluation of the cervical spine, including computed tomography scanning with multiplanar reconstruction to assess the posterior anatomy of C-2. Anatomical restrictions for placement of standard translaminar screws included a deeply furrowed spinous process and/or an underdeveloped midline posterior ring of the axis. In these cases, screws were placed into the corresponding lamina from the ipsilateral side, allowing bilateral screws to be oriented in a more parallel, as opposed to perpendicular, plane. All patients were followed for > 2 years to record rates of fusion, instrumentation failure, and other complications.

Results

Thirty-two screws were placed without neurological or vascular complications. The mean follow-up duration was 27.3 months. Complications included 2 revisions, one for pseudarthrosis and the other for screw pullout, and 3 postoperative infections.

Conclusions

Placement of laminar screws into the axis from the standard crossing approach or via an ipsilateral trajectory may allow a safe, effective, and durable means of including the axis in posterior cervical and cervicothoracic fusion procedures.

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Daniel M. Sciubba, Kaisorn L. Chaichana, Graeme F. Woodworth, Matthew J. McGirt, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and George I. Jallo

Object

The indications remain unclear for fusion at the time of cervical laminectomy for intradural tumor resection. To identify patients who may benefit from initial fusion, the authors assessed clinical, radiological/imaging, and operative factors associated with subsequent symptomatic cervical instability requiring fusion after cervical laminectomy for intradural tumor resection.

Methods

The authors reviewed 10 years of data obtained in patients who underwent cervical laminectomy without fusion for intradural tumor resection and who had normal spinal stability and alignment preoperatively. The association of pre- and intraoperative variables with the subsequent need for fusion for progressive symptomatic cervical instability was assessed using logistic regression analysis, and percentages were compared using Fisher exact tests when appropriate.

Results

Thirty-two patients (mean age 41 ± 17 years) underwent cervical laminectomy without fusion for resection of an intradural tumor (18 intramedullary and 14 extramedullary). Each increasing number of laminectomies performed was associated with a 3.1-fold increase in the likelihood of subsequent vertebral instability (odds ratio 3.114, 95% confidence interval 1.207–8.034, p = 0.02). At a mean follow-up interval of 25.2 months, 33% (4 of 12) of the patients who had undergone a ≥ 3-level laminectomy required subsequent fusion compared with 5% (1 of 20) who had undergone a ≤ 2-level laminectomy (p = 0.03). Four (36%) of 11 patients initially presenting with myelopathic motor disturbance required subsequent fusion compared with 1 (5%) of 21 presenting initially with myelopathic sensory or radicular symptoms (p = 0.02). Age, the presence of a syrinx, intramedullary tumor, C-2 laminectomy, C-7 laminectomy, and laminoplasty were not associated with subsequent symptomatic instability requiring fusion.

Conclusions

In the authors' experience with intradural cervical tumor resection, patients presenting with myelopathic motor symptoms or those undergoing a ≥ 3-level cervical laminectomy had an increased likelihood of developing subsequent symptomatic instability requiring fusion. A ≥ 3-level laminectomy with myelopathic motor symptoms may herald patients most likely to benefit from cervical fusion at the time of tumor resection.

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Beril Gok, Daniel M. Sciubba, Gregory S. McLoughlin, Matthew McGirt, Selim Ayhan, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ali Bydon, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Timothy F. Witham

Object

In patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM), ventral disease and loss of cervical lordosis are considered to be relative indications for anterior surgery. However, anterior decompression and fusion operations may be associated with an increased risk of swallowing difficulty and an increased risk of nonunion when extensive decompression is performed. The authors reviewed cases involving patients with CSM treated via an anterior approach, paying special attention to neurological outcome, fusion rates, and complications.

Methods

Retrospectively, 67 cases involving consecutive patients with CSM requiring an anterior decompression were reviewed: 46 patients underwent anterior surgery only (1-to3-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion [ACDF] or 1-level corpectomy), and 21 patients who required > 3-level ACDF or ≥ 2-level corpectomy underwent anterior surgery supplemented by a posterior instrumented fusion procedure.

Results

Postoperative improvement in Nurick grade was seen in 43 (93%) of 46 patients undergoing anterior decompression and fusion alone (p < 0.001) and in 17 (81%) of 21 patients undergoing anterior decompression and fusion with supplemental posterior fusion (p = 0.0015). The overall complication rate for this series was 25.4%. Interestingly, the overall complication rate was similar for both the lone anterior surgery and combined anterior-posterior groups, but the incidence of adjacent-segment disease was greater in the lone anterior surgery group.

Conclusions

Significant improvement in Nurick grade can be achieved in patients who undergo anterior surgery for cervical myelopathy for primarily ventral disease or loss of cervical lordosis. In selected high-risk patients who undergo multilevel ventral decompression, supplemental posterior fixation and arthrodesis allows for low rates of construct failure with acceptable added morbidity.

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Gregory S. McLoughlin, Daniel M. Sciubba, S. Kaiser Ali, Justin G. Weinkauf, and Daryl R. Fourney

The authors describe a patient who underwent orthotopic cardiac transplantation after an undifferentiated cardiac sarcoma was diagnosed. While receiving immunosuppressive therapy, the patient developed spinal column metastases and cauda equina syndrome requiring surgical decompression and stabilization. This occurred despite an exhaustive search for metastatic disease prior to the transplantation. To the authors' knowledge, this represents the first reported case of an undifferentiated cardiac sarcoma metastasis to the spine.

This previously healthy 18-year-old woman presented with a myocardial infarction. Investigations revealed a left atrial tumor, which was resected. Following local recurrence, the patient underwent extensive studies to rule out systemic disease. Orthotopic heart–lung transplantation was then performed. While receiving postoperative immunosuppressive therapy the patient presented with cauda equina syndrome secondary to metastatic tumor compression at the L-5 level.

Despite a comprehensive screening process to exclude metastatic disease prior to transplantation, spinal metastases occurred while this patient was receiving immunosuppressive therapy. This represents a previously unreported and clinically significant complication for undifferentiated cardiac sarcoma.

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Risheng Xu, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Ali Bydon

Abnormal ossification of spinal ligaments is a well-known cause of myelopathy in East Asian populations, with ossification of the ligamentum flavum (OLF) and the posterior longitudinal ligament being the most prevalent. In Caucasian populations, OLF is rare, and there has been only 1 documented case of the disease affecting more than 5 spinal levels. In this report, the authors describe the clinical presentation, imaging characteristics, and management of the second published case of a Caucasian man with OLF affecting almost the entire thoracic spine. The literature is then reviewed with regard to OLF epidemiology, pathogenesis, presentation, and treatment.