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Christopher I. Shaffrey and Justin S. Smith

Lower back pain and pain involving the area of the posterior iliac spine are extremely common. Degeneration of the sacroiliac joint (SIJ) is one potential cause for lower back pain and pain radiating into the groin or buttocks. Degenerative changes to the lumbar spine and sacroiliac joints are common. A recent study evaluating SIJ abnormalities in a primary low back pain population demonstrated 31.7% of patients demonstrated SI joint abnormalities. As is the case for the evaluation and management of isolated lower back pain, the evaluation, management, and role for surgical intervention in SIJ pain is very controversial.

Many patients have degenerative changes of the disc, facet joints, and SIJs. A recent systematic review performed to determine the diagnostic accuracy of tests available to clinicians to identify the disc, facet joint, or SIJ as the source of low back pain concluded that tests do exist that change the probability of the disc or SIJ (but not the facet joint) as the source of low back pain. It was also concluded that the usefulness of these tests in clinical practice, particularly for guiding treatment selection, remains unclear.

Although there is general agreement that SIJ pathological changes are a potential cause of pain, there is far less agreement about the optimal management of these conditions. A variety of conditions can cause SIJ dysfunction including degenerative and inflammatory arthritis, trauma, prior lumbosacral fusion, hip arthritis, limb length inequality, infections, and neoplasia. There is increasing evidence that image intensifier-guided single periarticular injection can correctly localize pain to the SIJ but the optimal management strategy remains controversial. Recent publications have compared surgical versus injection treatments and fusion versus denervation procedures., A systematic review found improvement regardless of the treatment, with most studies reporting over 40% improvement in pain as measured by VAS or NRS scores. It cautioned that one of the studies reported 17.6% of patients experiencing mild/no pain compared with 82.4% experiencing marked/severe pain at 39 months after SIJ fusion procedures., This systematic review also noted that despite improvements in reported pain, less than half of patients who had work status reported as returning to work.

Because of the functional and socioeconomic consequences of chronic lower back pain, numerous surgical treatments to improve this condition have been attempted by spinal surgeons through the years. Arthrodesis of the SIJ is a surgical procedure with a long history dating to the beginnings of spinal surgery. Poor results, high complication rates and the need for additional surgical procedures have generally diminished the enthusiasm for this procedure until recently.

A variety of “minimally invasive” procedures have been recently introduced that have rekindled enthusiasm for the surgical management of SIJ pathology. The technique demonstrated in the “Stabilization of the SIJ with SI-Bone” is one of these new techniques. There has been a recent publication detailing the very short term clinical outcomes with this technique that reported encouraging results. In this series of 50 patients, quality of life questionnaires were available for 49 patients preoperatively, 41 patients at 3 months, 40 at 6 months and only 27 at 12 months, complicating the ability to accurately assess true outcomes.

Although the focus of this video by Geisler is on the surgical technique, there should have been more information provided on the expected surgical outcomes and potential complications of SIJ fusion. The video only gives minimal information on how to appropriately select patients with potential SIJ pathology for surgical intervention. There are insufficient recommendations on the clinical and radiographic follow-up needed for this procedure. A concern with this implant is whether the porous plasma spray coating on the implant actually results in bone growth across the SIJ or only serves as a stabilizer. If true fusion does not result, deterioration in the clinical result could occur over time.

This video nicely demonstrates the surgical technique of stabilization of the SIJ with SI-Bone product. There are numerous unanswered questions regarding patient selection for SIJ fusion or stabilization. There are an increasing number of surgical techniques for treating SIJ pathology and it is not clear which method may provide the best outcomes. Without prospective trials with nonconflicted surgeons and standardized selection criteria, the true role for SIJ fusion procedures in the management of chronic lower back pain will remain murky. The consequences of the unsupported enthusiasm for the surgical management of discogenic back pain still negatively impacts the public perception of spinal surgeons. Much more high quality information is needed regarding the surgical management of SIJ pathology before widespread use of this technique should be adopted.

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D. Kojo Hamilton, Justin S. Smith, Tanya Nguyen, Vincent Arlet, Manish K. Kasliwal, and Christopher I. Shaffrey

Object

Sexual function is an often-overlooked aspect of health-related quality of life among older adults treated for spinal deformity. The authors' objective was to assess sexual function among older adults following thoracolumbar fusion with pelvic fixation for spinal deformity.

Methods

This was a retrospective review of consecutive older adults (≥50 years) treated with posterior thoracolumbar instrumentation (including pelvic fixation) for spinal deformity and with a minimum 18-month follow-up. Patients completed the Changes in Sexual Function Questionnaire-14 (CSFQ-14), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-12).

Results

Sixty-two patients (45 women and 17 men) with a mean age of 70 years (range 50–83 years) met the inclusion criteria. Eight women did not complete all questionnaires and were excluded from the subanalysis. The mean number of instrumented levels was 9.8 (range 6–18), and the mean follow-up was 36 months (range 19–69 months). Based on the CSFQ-14, 13 patients (24%) had normal sexual function, and 8 (15%), 10 (19%), and 23 (42%) had mild, moderate, and severe dysfunction, respectively. Thirty-nine percent of patients reporting severe sexual dysfunction did not have available partners—23% because of a partner's death and 16% because of a partner's illness)—or had significant medical comorbidities of their own (48%). Thirty-nine percent of assessed patients had either no or only mild sexual dysfunction. Patients with minimal or mild disability tended to have no or mild sexual dysfunction.

Conclusions

The authors of this study assessed sexual function in older adults following surgical correction of spinal deformity that included posterior instrumented fusion and iliac bolts. Nearly 40% of assessed patients had either no or only mild sexual dysfunction, suggesting that despite an older age and extensive spinopelvic instrumentation, it remains very possible to maintain or achieve satisfactory sexual function.

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Justin K. Scheer, Jessica A. Tang, Justin S. Smith, Frank L. Acosta Jr., Themistocles S. Protopsaltis, Benjamin Blondel, Shay Bess, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Vedat Deviren, Virginie Lafage, Frank Schwab, Christopher P. Ames, and the International Spine Study Group

This paper is a narrative review of normal cervical alignment, methods for quantifying alignment, and how alignment is associated with cervical deformity, myelopathy, and adjacent-segment disease (ASD), with discussions of health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Popular methods currently used to quantify cervical alignment are discussed including cervical lordosis, sagittal vertical axis, and horizontal gaze with the chin-brow to vertical angle. Cervical deformity is examined in detail as deformities localized to the cervical spine affect, and are affected by, other parameters of the spine in preserving global sagittal alignment. An evolving trend is defining cervical sagittal alignment. Evidence from a few recent studies suggests correlations between radiographic parameters in the cervical spine and HRQOL. Analysis of the cervical regional alignment with respect to overall spinal pelvic alignment is critical. The article details mechanisms by which cervical kyphotic deformity potentially leads to ASD and discusses previous studies that suggest how postoperative sagittal malalignment may promote ASD. Further clinical studies are needed to explore the relationship of cervical malalignment and the development of ASD. Sagittal alignment of the cervical spine may play a substantial role in the development of cervical myelopathy as cervical deformity can lead to spinal cord compression and cord tension. Surgical correction of cervical myelopathy should always take into consideration cervical sagittal alignment, as decompression alone may not decrease cord tension induced by kyphosis. Awareness of the development of postlaminectomy kyphosis is critical as it relates to cervical myelopathy. The future direction of cervical deformity correction should include a comprehensive approach in assessing global cervicalpelvic relationships. Just as understanding pelvic incidence as it relates to lumbar lordosis was crucial in building our knowledge of thoracolumbar deformities, T-1 incidence and cervical sagittal balance can further our understanding of cervical deformities. Other important parameters that account for the cervical-pelvic relationship are surveyed in detail, and it is recognized that all such parameters need to be validated in studies that correlate HRQOL outcomes following cervical deformity correction.

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Ching-Jen Chen, Dwight Saulle, Kai-Ming Fu, Justin S. Smith, and Christopher I. Shaffrey

Object

This study was undertaken to evaluate the incidence of and risk factors associated with the development of dysphagia following same-day combined anterior-posterior cervical spine surgeries.

Methods

The records of 30 consecutive patients who underwent same-day combined anterior-posterior cervical spine surgery were reviewed. The presence of dysphagia was assessed by a formalized screening protocol using history/clinical presentation and a bedside swallowing test, followed by formal evaluation by speech and language pathologists and/or fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing/modified barium swallow when necessary. Age, sex, previous cervical surgeries, diagnoses, duration of procedure, specific vertebral levels and number of levels operated on, degree of sagittal curve correction, use of anterior plate, estimated blood loss, use of recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2 (rhBMP-2), and length of hospital stay following procedures were analyzed.

Results

In the immediate postoperative period, 13 patients (43.3%) developed dysphagia. Outpatient follow-up data were available for 11 patients with dysphagia, and within this subset, all cases of dysphagia resolved subjectively within 12 months following surgery. The mean numbers of anterior levels surgically treated in patients with and without dysphagia were 5.1 and 4.0, respectively (p = 0.004). All patients (100%) with dysphagia had an anterior procedure that extended above C-4, compared with 58.8% of patients without dysphagia (p = 0.010). Patients with dysphagia had significantly greater mean correction of C2–7 lordosis than patients without dysphagia (p = 0.020). The postoperative sagittal occiput–C2 angle and the change in this angle were not significantly associated with the occurrence of dysphagia (p = 0.530 and p = 0.711, respectively). Patients with postoperative dysphagia had significantly longer hospital stays than those who did not develop dysphagia (p = 0.004). No other significant difference between the dysphagia and no-dysphagia groups was identified; differences with respect to history of previous anterior cervical surgery (p = 0.141), use of an anterior plate (p = 0.613), and mean length of anterior cervical operative time (p = 0.541) were not significant.

Conclusions

The incidence of dysphagia following combined anterior-posterior cervical surgery in this study was comparable to that of previous reports. The risk factors for dysphagia that were identified in this study were increased number of anterior levels exposed, anterior surgery that extended above C-4, and increased surgical correction of C2–7 lordosis.

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Christopher P. Ames, Justin S. Smith, Justin K. Scheer, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Virginie Lafage, Vedat Deviren, Bertrand Moal, Themistocles Protopsaltis, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Gregory M. Mundis Jr., Richard Hostin, Eric Klineberg, Douglas C. Burton, Robert Hart, Shay Bess, Frank J. Schwab, and the International Spine Study Group

Object

Cervical spine osteotomies are powerful techniques to correct rigid cervical spine deformity. Many variations exist, however, and there is no current standardized system with which to describe and classify cervical osteotomies. This complicates the ability to compare outcomes across procedures and studies. The authors' objective was to establish a universal nomenclature for cervical spine osteotomies to provide a common language among spine surgeons.

Methods

A proposed nomenclature with 7 anatomical grades of increasing extent of bone/soft tissue resection and destabilization was designed. The highest grade of resection is termed the major osteotomy, and an approach modifier is used to denote the surgical approach(es), including anterior (A), posterior (P), anterior-posterior (AP), posterior-anterior (PA), anterior-posterior-anterior (APA), and posterior-anterior-posterior (PAP). For cases in which multiple grades of osteotomies were performed, the highest grade is termed the major osteotomy, and lower-grade osteotomies are termed minor osteotomies. The nomenclature was evaluated by 11 reviewers through 25 different radiographic clinical cases. The review was performed twice, separated by a minimum 1-week interval. Reliability was assessed using Fleiss kappa coefficients.

Results

The average intrarater reliability was classified as “almost perfect agreement” for the major osteotomy (0.89 [range 0.60–1.00]) and approach modifier (0.99 [0.95–1.00]); it was classified as “moderate agreement” for the minor osteotomy (0.73 [range 0.41–1.00]). The average interrater reliability for the 2 readings was the following: major osteotomy, 0.87 (“almost perfect agreement”); approach modifier, 0.99 (“almost perfect agreement”); and minor osteotomy, 0.55 (“moderate agreement”). Analysis of only major osteotomy plus approach modifier yielded a classification that was “almost perfect” with an average intrarater reliability of 0.90 (0.63–1.00) and an interrater reliability of 0.88 and 0.86 for the two reviews.

Conclusions

The proposed cervical spine osteotomy nomenclature provides the surgeon with a simple, standard description of the various cervical osteotomies. The reliability analysis demonstrated that this system is consistent and directly applicable. Future work will evaluate the relationship between this system and health-related quality of life metrics.

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Woojin Cho, Jonathan R. Mason, Justin S. Smith, Adam L. Shimer, Adam S. Wilson, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Francis H. Shen, Wendy M. Novicoff, Kai-Ming G. Fu, Joshua E. Heller, and Vincent Arlet

Object

Lumbopelvic fixation provides biomechanical support to the base of the long constructs used for adult spinal deformity. However, the failure rate of the lumbopelvic fixation and its risk factors are not well known. The authors' objective was to report the failure rate and risk factors for lumbopelvic fixation in long instrumented spinal fusion constructs performed for adult spinal deformity.

Methods

This retrospective review included 190 patients with adult spinal deformity who had long construct instrumentation (> 6 levels) with iliac screws. Patients' clinical and radiographic data were analyzed. The patients were divided into 2 groups: a failure group and a nonfailure group. A minimum 2-year follow-up was required for inclusion in the nonfailure group. In the failure group, all patients were included in the study regardless of whether the failure occurred before or after 2 years. In both groups, the patients who needed a revision for causes other than lumbopelvic fixation (for example, proximal junctional kyphosis) were also excluded. Failures were defined as major and minor. Major failures included rod breakage between L-4 and S-1, failure of S-1 screws (breakage, halo formation, or pullout), and prominent iliac screws requiring removal. Minor failures included rod breakage between S-1 and iliac screws and failure of iliac screws. Minor failures did not require revision surgery. Multiple clinical and radiographic values were compared between major failures and nonfailures.

Results

Of 190 patients, 67 patients met inclusion criteria and were enrolled in the study. The overall failure rate was 34.3%; 8 patients had major failure (11.9%) and 15 had minor failure (22.4%). Major failure occurred at a statistically significant greater rate in patients who had undergone previous lumbar surgery, had greater pelvic incidence, and had poor restoration of lumbar lordosis and/or sagittal balance (that is, undercorrection). Patients with a greater number of comorbidities and preoperative coronal imbalance showed trends toward an increase in major failures, although these trends did not reach statistical significance. Age, sex, body mass index, smoking history, number of fusion segments, fusion grade, and several other radiographic values were not shown to be associated with an increased risk of major failure. Seventy percent of patients in the major failure group had anterior column support (anterior lumbar interbody fusion or transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion) while 80% of the nonfailure group had anterior column support.

Conclusions

The incidence of overall failure was 34.3%, and the incidence of clinically significant major failure of lumbopelvic fixation after long construct fusion for adult spinal deformity was 11.9%. Risk factors for major failures are a large pelvic incidence, revision surgery, and failure to restore lumbar lordosis and sagittal balance. Surgeons treating adult spinal deformity who use lumbopelvic fixation should pay special attention to restoring optimal sagittal alignment to prevent lumbopelvic fixation failure.

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Justin K. Scheer, Jessica A. Tang, Justin S. Smith, Eric Klineberg, Robert A. Hart, Gregory M. Mundis Jr., Douglas C. Burton, Richard Hostin, Michael F. O'Brien, Shay Bess, Khaled M. Kebaish, Vedat Deviren, Virginie Lafage, Frank Schwab, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Christopher P. Ames, and the International Spine Study Group

Object

Complications and reoperation for surgery to correct adult spinal deformity are not infrequent, and many studies have analyzed the rates and factors that influence the likelihood of reoperation. However, there is a need for more comprehensive analyses of reoperation in adult spinal deformity surgery from a global standpoint, particularly focusing on the 1st year following operation and considering radiographic parameters and the effects of reoperation on health-related quality of life (HRQOL). This study attempts to determine the prevalence of reoperation following surgery for adult spinal deformity, assess the indications for these reoperations, evaluate for a relation between specific radiographic parameters and the need for reoperation, and determine the potential impact of reoperation on HRQOL measures.

Methods

A retrospective review was conducted of a prospective, multicenter, adult spinal deformity database collected through the International Spine Study Group. Data collected included age, body mass index, sex, date of surgery, information regarding complications, reoperation dates, length of stay, and operation time. The radiographic parameters assessed were total number of levels instrumented, total number of interbody fusions, C-7 sagittal vertical axis, uppermost instrumented vertebra (UIV) location, and presence of 3-column osteotomies. The HRQOL assessment included Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), 36-Item Short Form Health Survey physical component and mental component summary, and SRS-22 scores. Smoking history, Charlson Comorbidity Index scores, and American Society of Anesthesiologists Physical Status classification grades were also collected and assessed for correlation with risk of early reoperation. Various statistical tests were performed for evaluation of specific factors listed above, and the level of significance was set at p < 0.05.

Results

Fifty-nine (17%) of a total of 352 patients required reoperation. Forty-four (12.5%) of the reoperations occurred within 1 year after the initial surgery, including 17 reoperations (5%) within 30 days.

Two hundred sixty-eight patients had a minimum of 1 year of follow-up. Fifty-three (20%) of these patients had a 3-column osteotomy, and 10 (19%) of these 53 required reoperation within 1 year of the initial procedure. However, 3-column osteotomy was not predictive of reoperation within 1 year, p = 0.5476). There were no significant differences between groups with regard to the distribution of UIV, and UIV did not have a significant effect on reoperation rates. Patients needing reoperation within 1 year had worse ODI and SRS-22 scores measured at 1-year follow-up than patients not requiring operation.

Conclusions

Analysis of data from a large multicenter adult spinal deformity database shows an overall 17% reoperation rate, with a 19% reoperation rate for patients treated with 3-column osteotomy and a 16% reoperation rate for patients not treated with 3-column osteotomy. The most common indications for reoperation included instrumentation complications and radiographic failure. Reoperation significantly affected HRQOL outcomes at 1-year follow-up. The need for reoperation may be minimized by carefully considering spinal alignment, termination of fixation, and type of surgical procedure (presence of osteotomy). Precautions should be taken to avoid malposition or instrumentation (rod) failure.

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Myles Luszczyk, Justin S. Smith, Jeffrey S. Fischgrund, Steven C. Ludwig, Rick C. Sasso, Christopher I. Shaffrey, and Alexander R. Vaccaro

Object

Although smoking has been shown to negatively affect fusion rates in patients undergoing multilevel fusions of the cervical and lumbar spine, the effect of smoking on fusion rates in patients undergoing single-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) with allograft and plate fixation has yet to be thoroughly investigated. The objective of the present study was to address the effect of smoking on fusion rates in patients undergoing a 1-level ACDF with allograft and a locked anterior cervical plate.

Methods

This study is composed of patients from the control groups of 5 separate studies evaluating the use of an anterior cervical disc replacement to treat cervical radiculopathy. For each of the 5 studies the control group consisted of patients who underwent a 1-level ACDF with allograft and a locked cervical plate. The authors of the present study reviewed data obtained in a total of 573 patients; 156 patients were smokers and 417 were nonsmokers. A minimum follow-up period of 24 months was required for inclusion in this study. Fusion status was assessed by independent observers using lateral, neutral, and flexion/extension radiographs.

Results

An overall fusion rate of 91.4% was achieved in all 573 patients. A solid fusion was shown in 382 patients (91.6%) who were nonsmokers. Among patients who were smokers, 142 (91.0%) had radiographic evidence of a solid fusion. A 2-tailed Fisher exact test revealed a p value of 0.867, indicating no difference in the union rates between smokers and nonsmokers.

Conclusions

The authors found no statistically significant difference in fusion status between smokers and nonsmokers who underwent a single-level ACDF with allograft and a locked anterior cervical plate. Although the authors do not promote tobacco use, it appears that the use of allograft with a locked cervical plate in single-level ACDF among smokers produces similar fusion rates as it does in their nonsmoking counterparts.