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Christopher I. Shaffrey and Justin S. Smith

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Michael Y. Wang

Object

The treatment of adult spinal deformity (ASD) remains a challenge for the spine surgeon. While minimally invasive surgery (MIS) has many favorable attributes that would be of great benefit for the ASD population, improvements in lordosis and sagittal balance have remained elusive in cases involving the MIS approach. This report describes the evolution of an MIS method for treating ASD with attention to sagittal correction.

Methods

Over an 18-month period 25 patients with thoracolumbar scoliosis were treated surgically. The mean patient age was 72 years, and 68% of the population was female. Patients were treated with multilevel facet osteotomies and interbody fusion in which expandable cages (mean 3.2 levels) were placed and percutaneous screw fixation (mean 5.3 levels) was performed. Seven patients underwent supplemental percutaneous iliac fixation.

Results

All patients underwent MIS without conversion to a traditional open procedure. The mean operative time was 273 mins and the mean blood loss was 416 ml. There were no intraoperative complications. The Cobb angle over the scoliotic deformity improved from a mean of 29.2° to that of 9.0° (p < 0.001). Lumbar lordosis between L-1 and S-1 improved from a mean of 27.8° to one of 42.6° (p < 0.001). Sagittal vertical axis improved from 7.4 cm to 4.3 cm (p = 0.001). Numeric pain scale scores improved as well, an average of 3.3 and 4.2 for the leg and back, respectively. A mean improvement of 20.8 points on the Oswestry Disability Index was seen at 12 months. Complications included: two cases requiring hardware repositioning, one case of screw pullout, one asymptomatic pedicle screw breach, prolonged hospitalization from constipation, and one acute coronary syndrome developing 3 days after surgery without myocardial damage.

Conclusions

An expanding body of evidence suggests that sagittal balance remains a keystone for good outcomes after ASD surgery. Minimally invasive surgery that involves a combination of osteotomies, interbody height restoration, and advanced fixation techniques may achieve this goal in patients with less severe deformities. While feasibility will have to be proven with larger series and improved surgical methods, the present technique holds promise as a means of reducing the significant morbidity associated with surgery in the ASD population.

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Alexander A. Khalessi, Gabriel Zada, Michael Y. Wang, and James Forrest Calland

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Kevin S. Cahill, Joseph L. Martinez, Michael Y. Wang, Steven Vanni, and Allan D. Levi

Object

The aim of this study was to determine the incidence of motor nerve injuries during the minimally invasive lateral interbody fusion procedure at a single academic medical center.

Methods

A retrospective chart review of 118 patients who had undergone lateral interbody fusion was performed. Both inpatient and outpatient records were examined to identify any new postoperative motor weakness in the lower extremities and abdominal wall musculature that was attributable to the operative procedure.

Results

In the period from 2007 to 2011 the lateral interbody fusion procedure was attempted on 201 lumbar intervertebral disc levels. No femoral nerve injuries occurred at any disc level other than the L4–5 disc space. Among procedures involving the L4–5 level there were 2 femoral nerve injuries, corresponding to a 4.8% injury risk at this level as compared with a 0% injury risk at other lumbar spine levels. Five patients (4.2%) had postoperative abdominal flank bulge attributable to injury to the abdominal wall motor innervation.

Conclusions

The overall incidence of femoral nerve injury after the lateral transpsoas approach was 1.7%; however, the level-specific incidence was 4.8% for procedures performed at the L4–5 disc space. Approximately 4% of patients had postoperative abdominal flank bulge. Surgeons will be able to minimize these motor nerve injuries through judicious use of the procedure at the L4–5 level and careful attention to the T-11 and T-12 motor nerves during exposure and closure of the abdominal wall.

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Jocelyn Cheng, D. Ethan Kahn, and Michael Y. Wang

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is the eponym used to describe acute inflammatory polyradiculoneuropathies, which manifest with weakness and diminished reflexes. Although the classic form of GBS is considered to be an ascending demyelinating polyneuropathy, several variants have been described in the literature, including the Miller-Fisher syndrome, acute panautonomic neuropathy, acute motor axonal neuropathy, and acute motor-sensory axonal neuropathy (AMSAN). Few cases of postoperative GBS have been documented, particularly for the AMSAN variant. The authors describe the case of a patient who developed AMSAN after thoracic spine surgery and highlight the importance of investigating new-onset weakness in the postoperative period.

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Matthew D. Cummock, Steven Vanni, Allan D. Levi, Yong Yu, and Michael Y. Wang

Object

The minimally invasive transpsoas interbody fusion technique requires dissection through the psoas muscle, which contains the nerves of the lumbosacral plexus posteriorly and genitofemoral nerve anteriorly. Retraction of the psoas is becoming recognized as a cause of transient postoperative thigh pain, numbness, paresthesias, and weakness. However, few reports have described the nature of thigh symptoms after this procedure.

Methods

The authors performed a review of patients who underwent the transpsoas technique for lumbar spondylotic disease, disc degeneration, and spondylolisthesis treated at a single academic medical center. A review of patient charts, including the use of detailed patient-driven pain diagrams performed at equal preoperative and follow-up intervals, investigated the survival of postoperative thigh pain, numbness, paresthesias, and weakness of the iliopsoas and quadriceps muscles in the follow-up period on the ipsilateral side of the surgical approach.

Results

Over a 3.2-year period, 59 patients underwent transpsoas interbody fusion surgery. Of these, 62.7% had thigh symptoms postoperatively. New thigh symptoms at first follow-up visit included the following: burning, aching, stabbing, or other pain (39.0%); numbness (42.4%); paresthesias (11.9%); and weakness (23.7%). At 3 months postoperatively, these percentages decreased to 15.5%, 24.1%, 5.6%, and 11.3%, respectively. Within the patient sample, 44% underwent a 1-level, 41% a 2-level, and 15% a 3-level transpsoas operation. While not statistically significant, thigh pain, numbness, and weakness were most prevalent after L4–5 transpsoas interbody fusion at the first postoperative follow-up. The number of lumbar levels that were surgically treated had no clear association with thigh symptoms but did correlate directly with surgical time, intraoperative blood loss, and length of hospital stay.

Conclusions

Transpsoas interbody fusion is associated with high rates of immediate postoperative thigh symptoms. While larger, prospective studies are necessary to validate these findings, the authors found that half of the patients had symptom resolution at approximately 3 months postoperatively and more than 90% by 1 year.

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Ricardo B. V. Fontes and Vincent C. Traynelis

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Matthew J. McGirt, Scott L. Parker, Jason Lerner, Luella Engelhart, Tyler Knight, and Michael Y. Wang

Object

Surgical site infection (SSI) after lumbar fusion results in significant patient morbidity and associated medical resource utilization. Minimally invasive (MI) techniques for posterior/transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (P/TLIF) were introduced with the goals of smaller wounds, less tissue trauma, reduced blood loss, and quicker postoperative recovery, while maintaining comparable surgical results. Studies with sufficient power to directly compare the incidence of SSI following MI versus open P/TLIF procedures have been lacking. Furthermore, the direct medical cost associated with the treatment of SSI following the P/TLIF procedure is poorly understood and has not been adequately assessed. Thus, the aim in the present study was to determine the incidence of perioperative SSI in patients undergoing MI versus open P/TLIF and the direct hospital cost associated with the diagnosis and management of SSI after P/TLIF as reported in a large administrative database.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed hospital discharge and billing records from the Premier Perspective Database for 2003 to 2009 to identify patients undergoing 1- or 2-level MI or open P/TLIF for lumbar spondylotic disease, disc degeneration, or spondylolisthesis. The ICD-9-CM procedure codes were used to identify patients undergoing P/TLIF and those experiencing SSI. Infection-related costs were obtained from the total costs incurred by the hospital for SSI-related care provided during inpatient or hospital outpatient encounters.

Results

Five thousand one hundred seventy patients undergoing P/TLIF were identified. Demographic profiles, including the Charlson Comorbidity Index, were similar between MI and open cohorts. Overall, 292 patients (5.6%) experienced an SSI with a mean direct cost of $15,817 per SSI. For 1-level MI versus open P/TLIF, the incidence of SSI (38 [4.5%] vs 77 [4.8%], p = 0.77) and the mean SSI-associated cost per P/TLIF ($684 vs $724, p = 0.680) were similar. For 2-level MI versus open P/TLIF, the incidence of SSI (27 [4.6%] vs 150 [7.0%], p = 0.037) and mean SSI-associated cost per P/TLIF ($756 vs $1140, p = 0.030) were both significantly lower among MI-treated patients. In a multivariate model that accounted for differences in demographics and patient severity, open fusion was associated with a strong trend of increased incidence of SSI as compared with MI fusion (OR 1.469, 95% CI 0.959–2.250).

Conclusions

In this multihospital study, the MI technique was associated with a decreased incidence of perioperative SSI and a direct cost savings of $38,400 per 100 P/TLIF procedure when used in 2-level fusion. There was no significant difference in the incidence of SSIs between the open and MI cohorts for 1-level fusion procedures. The results of this study provide further evidence of the reduced patient morbidity and health care costs associated with MI P/TLIF.

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Michael Y. Wang and Spencer Block

As surgical techniques evolve, new intraoperative complications are prone to occur. With percutaneous spinal fixation, the control of implants and instruments can be a challenge when compared with open surgery, particularly if unintended instruments are retained or difficult to retrieve. In this report, the authors describe a case in which Jamshidi needle fragments broke within the vertebral body. Extraction of the fragments was accomplished using a small pedicle screw tap to first engage the retained metal and then to loosen the surrounding bone to allow retrieval and preservation of the anatomical structures needed to complete the intended operation. This technique may prove useful for the retrieval of deformable, cannulated metal pieces in minimally invasive surgery.

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Patrick C. Hsieh and Michael Y. Wang