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Rachel Sarabia-Estrada, Alejandro Ruiz-Valls, Sagar R. Shah, A. Karim Ahmed, Alvaro A. Ordonez, Fausto J. Rodriguez, Hugo Guerrero-Cazares, Ismael Jimenez-Estrada, Esteban Velarde, Betty Tyler, Yuxin Li, Neil A. Phillips, C. Rory Goodwin, Rory J. Petteys, Sanjay K. Jain, Gary L. Gallia, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Chordoma is a slow-growing, locally aggressive cancer that is minimally responsive to conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy and has high local recurrence rates after resection. Currently, there are no rodent models of spinal chordoma. In the present study, the authors sought to develop and characterize an orthotopic model of human chordoma in an immunocompromised rat.

METHODS

Thirty-four immunocompromised rats were randomly allocated to 4 study groups; 22 of the 34 rats were engrafted in the lumbar spine with human chordoma. The groups were as follows: UCH1 tumor–engrafted (n = 11), JHC7 tumor–engrafted (n = 11), sham surgery (n = 6), and intact control (n = 6) rats. Neurological impairment of rats due to tumor growth was evaluated using open field and locomotion gait analysis; pain response was evaluated using mechanical or thermal paw stimulation. Cone beam CT (CBCT), MRI, and nanoScan PET/CT were performed to evaluate bony changes due to tumor growth. On Day 550, rats were killed and spines were processed for H & E–based histological examination and immunohistochemistry for brachyury, S100β, and cytokeratin.

RESULTS

The spine tumors displayed typical chordoma morphology, that is, physaliferous cells filled with vacuolated cytoplasm of mucoid matrix. Brachyury immunoreactivity was confirmed by immunostaining, in which samples from tumor-engrafted rats showed a strong nuclear signal. Sclerotic lesions in the vertebral body of rats in the UCH1 and JHC7 groups were observed on CBCT. Tumor growth was confirmed using contrast-enhanced MRI. In UCH1 rats, large tumors were observed growing from the vertebral body. JHC7 chordoma–engrafted rats showed smaller tumors confined to the bone periphery compared with UCH1 chordoma–engrafted rats. Locomotion analysis showed a disruption in the normal gait pattern, with an increase in the step length and duration of the gait in tumor-engrafted rats. The distance traveled and the speed of rats in the open field test was significantly reduced in the UCH1 and JHC7 tumor–engrafted rats compared with controls. Nociceptive response to a mechanical stimulus showed a significant (p < 0.001) increase in the paw withdrawal threshold (mechanical hypalgesia). In contrast, the paw withdrawal response to a thermal stimulus decreased significantly (p < 0.05) in tumor-engrafted rats.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors developed an orthotopic human chordoma model in rats. Rats were followed for 550 days using imaging techniques, including MRI, CBCT, and nanoScan PET/CT, to evaluate lesion progression and bony integrity. Nociceptive evaluations and locomotion analysis were performed during follow-up. This model reproduces cardinal signs, such as locomotor and sensory deficits, similar to those observed clinically in human patients. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first spine rodent model of human chordoma. Its use and further study will be essential for pathophysiology research and the development of new therapeutic strategies.

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Hannah M. Carl, A. Karim Ahmed, Nancy Abu-Bonsrah, Rafael De la Garza Ramos, Eric W. Sankey, Zachary Pennington, Ali Bydon, Timothy F. Witham, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Justin M. Sacks, C. Rory Goodwin, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Resection of metastatic spine tumors can improve patients’ quality of life by addressing pain or neurological compromise. However, resections are often complicated by wound dehiscence, infection, instrumentation failures, and the need for reoperation. Moreover, when reoperations are needed, the most common indication is surgical site infection and wound breakdown. In turn, wound reoperations increase morbidity as well as the length and cost of hospitalization. The aim of this study was to examine perioperative risk factors associated with increased rate of wound reoperations after metastatic spine tumor resection.

METHODS

A retrospective study of patients at a single institution who underwent metastatic spine tumor resection between 2003 and 2013 was conducted. Factors with a p value < 0.200 in a univariate analysis were included in the multivariate model.

RESULTS

A total of 159 patients were included in this study. Karnofsky Performance Scale score > 70, smoking status, hypertension, thromboembolic events, hyperlipidemia, increasing number of vertebral levels, and posterior approach were included in the multivariate analysis. Thromboembolic events (95% CI 1.19–48.5, p = 0.032) and number of levels involved were independently associated with increased wound reoperation rates in the multivariate model. For each additional spinal level involved, the risk for wound reoperations increased by 21% (95% CI 1.03–1.43, p = 0.018).

CONCLUSIONS

Although wound complications and subsequent reoperations are potential risks for all patients with metastatic spine tumor, due to adjuvant radiotherapy and other medical comorbidities, this study identified patients with thromboembolic events or those requiring a larger incision as being at the highest risk. Measures intended to decrease the occurrence of perioperative venous thromboembolism and to improve wound care, especially for long incisions, may decrease wound-related revision surgeries in this vulnerable group of patients.

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A. Karim Ahmed, Zachary Pennington, Camilo A. Molina, Yuanxuan Xia, C. Rory Goodwin, and Daniel M. Sciubba

Effective en bloc resection of primary spinal tumors necessitates careful consideration of adjacent anatomical structures in order to achieve negative margins and reduce surgical morbidity. This can be particularly challenging in the cervical spine, where vital neurovascular and connective tissues are present in the region. Early multidisciplinary surgical planning that includes clinicians and engineers can both optimize surgical planning and enable a more feasible resection with oncological margins. The aim of the current work was to demonstrate two cases that involved multidisciplinary surgical planning for en bloc resection of primary cervical spine tumors, successfully utilizing 3D-printed patient models and neoadjuvant therapies.

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Camilo A. Molina, Nicholas Theodore, A. Karim Ahmed, Erick M. Westbroek, Yigal Mirovsky, Ran Harel, Emanuele Orru’, Majid Khan, Timothy Witham, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Augmented reality (AR) is a novel technology that has the potential to increase the technical feasibility, accuracy, and safety of conventional manual and robotic computer-navigated pedicle insertion methods. Visual data are directly projected to the operator’s retina and overlaid onto the surgical field, thereby removing the requirement to shift attention to a remote display. The objective of this study was to assess the comparative accuracy of AR-assisted pedicle screw insertion in comparison to conventional pedicle screw insertion methods.

METHODS

Five cadaveric male torsos were instrumented bilaterally from T6 to L5 for a total of 120 inserted pedicle screws. Postprocedural CT scans were obtained, and screw insertion accuracy was graded by 2 independent neuroradiologists using both the Gertzbein scale (GS) and a combination of that scale and the Heary classification, referred to in this paper as the Heary-Gertzbein scale (HGS). Non-inferiority analysis was performed, comparing the accuracy to freehand, manual computer-navigated, and robotics-assisted computer-navigated insertion accuracy rates reported in the literature. User experience analysis was conducted via a user experience questionnaire filled out by operators after the procedures.

RESULTS

The overall screw placement accuracy achieved with the AR system was 96.7% based on the HGS and 94.6% based on the GS. Insertion accuracy was non-inferior to accuracy reported for manual computer-navigated pedicle insertion based on both the GS and the HGS scores. When compared to accuracy reported for robotics-assisted computer-navigated insertion, accuracy achieved with the AR system was found to be non-inferior when assessed with the GS, but superior when assessed with the HGS. Last, accuracy results achieved with the AR system were found to be superior to results obtained with freehand insertion based on both the HGS and the GS scores. Accuracy results were not found to be inferior in any comparison. User experience analysis yielded “excellent” usability classification.

CONCLUSIONS

AR-assisted pedicle screw insertion is a technically feasible and accurate insertion method.

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Paraspinal muscle size as an independent risk factor for proximal junctional kyphosis in patients undergoing thoracolumbar fusion

Presented at the 2019 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Zach Pennington, Ethan Cottrill, A. Karim Ahmed, Peter Passias, Themistocles Protopsaltis, Brian Neuman, Khaled M. Kebaish, Jeff Ehresman, Erick M. Westbroek, Matthew L. Goodwin, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) is a structural complication of spinal fusion in 5%–61% of patients treated for adult spinal deformity. In nearly one-third of these cases, PJK is progressive and requires costly surgical revision. Previous studies have suggested that patient body habitus may predict risk for PJK. Here, the authors sought to investigate abdominal girth and paraspinal muscle size as risk factors for PJK.

METHODS

All patients undergoing thoracolumbosacral fusion greater than 2 levels at a single institution over a 5-year period with ≥ 6 months of radiographic follow-up were considered for inclusion. PJK was defined as kyphosis ≥ 20° between the upper instrumented vertebra (UIV) and two supra-adjacent vertebrae. Operative and radiographic parameters were recorded, including pre- and postoperative sagittal vertical axis (SVA), sacral slope (SS), lumbar lordosis (LL), pelvic tilt, pelvic incidence (PI), and absolute value of the pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis mismatch (|PI-LL|), as well as changes in LL, |PI-LL|, and SVA. The authors also considered relative abdominal girth and the size of the paraspinal muscles at the UIV.

RESULTS

One hundred sixty-nine patients met inclusion criteria. On univariate analysis, PJK was associated with a larger preoperative SVA (p < 0.001) and |PI-LL| (p = 0.01), and smaller SS (p = 0.004) and LL (p = 0.001). PJK was also associated with more positive postoperative SVA (p = 0.01), ΔSVA (p = 0.01), Δ|PI-LL| (p < 0.001), and ΔLL (p < 0.001); longer construct length (p = 0.005); larger abdominal girth–to-muscle ratio (p = 0.007); and smaller paraspinal muscles at the UIV (p < 0.001). Higher postoperative SVA (OR 1.1 per cm), smaller paraspinal muscles at the UIV (OR 2.11), and more aggressive reduction in |PI-LL| (OR 1.03) were independent predictors of radiographic PJK on multivariate logistic regression.

CONCLUSIONS

A more positive postoperative global sagittal alignment and smaller paraspinal musculature at the UIV most strongly predicted PJK following thoracolumbosacral fusion.

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Surgical management of giant presacral schwannoma: systematic review of published cases and meta-analysis

Presented at the 2019 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Zach Pennington, Erick M. Westbroek, A. Karim Ahmed, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel Lubelski, Matthew L. Goodwin, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Giant presacral schwannomas are rare sacral tumors found in less than 1 of every 40,000 hospitalizations. Current management of these tumors is based solely upon case reports and small case series. In this paper the authors report the results of a systematic review of the available English literature on presacral schwannoma, focused on identifying the influence of tumor size, tumor morphology, surgical approach, and extent of resection (EOR) on recurrence-free survival and postoperative complications.

METHODS

The medical literature (PubMed and EMBASE) was queried for reports of surgically managed sacral schwannoma, either involving 2 or more contiguous vertebral levels or with a diameter ≥ 5 cm. Tumor size and morphology, surgical approach, EOR, intraoperative and postoperative complications, and survival data were recorded.

RESULTS

Seventy-six articles were included, covering 123 unique patients (mean age 44.1 ± 1.4 years, 50.4% male). The most common presenting symptoms were leg pain (28.7%), lower back pain (21.3%), and constipation (15.7%). Most surgeries used an open anterior-only (40.0%) or posterior-only (30%) approach. Postoperative complications occurred in 25.6% of patients and local recurrence was noted in 5.4%. En bloc resection significantly improved progression-free survival relative to subtotal resection (p = 0.03). No difference existed between en bloc and gross-total resection (GTR; p = 0.25) or among the surgical approaches (p = 0.66). Postoperative complications were more common following anterior versus posterior approaches (p = 0.04). Surgical blood loss was significantly correlated with operative duration and tumor volume on multiple linear regression (both p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Presacral schwannoma can reasonably be treated with either en bloc or piecemeal GTR. The approach should be dictated by lesion morphology, and recurrence is infrequent. Anterior approaches may increase the risk of postoperative complications.

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Zach Pennington, Daniel Lubelski, Erick M. Westbroek, A. Karim Ahmed, Jeff Ehresman, Matthew L. Goodwin, Sheng-Fu Lo, Timothy F. Witham, Ali Bydon, Nicholas Theodore, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Postoperative C5 palsy affects 7%–12% of patients who undergo posterior cervical decompression for degenerative cervical spine pathologies. Minimal evidence exists regarding the natural history of expected recovery and variables that affect palsy recovery. The authors investigated pre- and postoperative variables that predict recovery and recovery time among patients with postoperative C5 palsy.

METHODS

The authors included patients who underwent posterior cervical decompression at a tertiary referral center between 2004 and 2018 and who experienced postoperative C5 palsy. All patients had preoperative MR images and full records, including operative note, postoperative course, and clinical presentation. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was used to evaluate both times to complete recovery and to new neurological baseline—defined by deltoid strength on manual motor testing of the affected side—as a function of clinical symptoms, surgical maneuvers, and the severity of postoperative deficits.

RESULTS

Seventy-seven patients were included, with an average age of 64 years. The mean follow-up period was 17.7 months. The mean postoperative C5 strength was grade 2.7/5, and the mean time to first motor examination with documented C5 palsy was 3.5 days. Sixteen patients (21%) had bilateral deficits, and 9 (12%) had new-onset biceps weakness; 36% of patients had undergone C4–5 foraminotomy of the affected root, and 17% had presented with radicular pain in the dermatome of the affected root. On univariable analysis, patients’ reporting of numbness or tingling (p = 0.02) and a baseline deficit (p < 0.001) were the only predictors of time to recovery. Patients with grade 4+/5 weakness had significantly shorter times to recovery than patients with grade 4/5 weakness (p = 0.001) or ≤ grade 3/5 weakness (p < 0.001). There was no difference between those with grade 4/5 weakness and those with ≤ grade 3/5 weakness. Patients with postoperative strength < grade 3/5 had a < 50% chance of achieving complete recovery.

CONCLUSIONS

The timing and odds of recovery following C5 palsy were best predicted by the magnitude of the postoperative deficit. The use of C4–5 foraminotomy did not predict the time to or likelihood of recovery.

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Sakibul Huq, Jeffrey Ehresman, Ethan Cottrill, A. Karim Ahmed, Zach Pennington, Erick M. Westbroek, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Scheuermann kyphosis (SK) is an idiopathic kyphosis characterized by anterior wedging of ≥ 5° at 3 contiguous vertebrae managed with either nonoperative or operative treatment. Nonoperative treatment typically employs bracing, while operative treatment is performed with either a combined anterior-posterior fusion or posterior-only approach. Current evidence for these approaches has largely been derived from retrospective case series or focused reviews. Consequently, no consensus exists regarding optimal management strategies for patients afflicted with this condition. In this study, the authors systematically review the literature on SK with respect to indications for treatment, complications of treatment, differences in correction and loss of correction, and changes in treatment over time.

METHODS

Using PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Library, all full-text publications on the operative and nonoperative treatment for SK in the peer-reviewed English-language literature between 1950 and 2017 were screened. Inclusion criteria involved fully published, peer-reviewed, retrospective or prospective studies of the primary medical literature. Studies were excluded if they did not provide clinical outcomes and statistics specific to SK, described fewer than 2 patients, or discussed results in nonhuman models. Variables extracted included treatment indications and methodology, maximum pretreatment kyphosis, immediate posttreatment kyphosis, kyphosis at last follow-up, year of treatment, and complications of treatment.

RESULTS

Of 659 unique studies, 45 met our inclusion criteria, covering 1829 unique patients. Indications for intervention were pain, deformity, failure of nonoperative treatment, and neural impairment. Among operatively treated patients, the most common complications were hardware failure and proximal or distal junctional kyphosis. Combined anterior-posterior procedures were additionally associated with neural, pulmonary, and cardiovascular complications. Posterior-only approaches offered superior correction compared to combined anterior-posterior fusion; both groups provided greater correction than bracing. Loss of correction was similar across operative approaches, and all were superior to bracing. Cross-sectional analysis suggested that surgeons have shifted from anterior-posterior to posterior-only approaches over the past two decades.

CONCLUSIONS

The data indicate that for patients with SK, surgery affords superior correction and maintenance of correction relative to bracing. Posterior-only fusion may provide greater correction and similar loss of correction compared to anterior-posterior approaches along with a smaller complication profile. This posterior-only approach has concomitantly gained popularity over the combined anterior-posterior approach in recent years.

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Readmission after spinal epidural abscess management in urban populations: a bi-institutional study

Presented at the 2019 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Michael Longo, Zach Pennington, Yaroslav Gelfand, Rafael De la Garza Ramos, Murray Echt, A. Karim Ahmed, Vijay Yanamadala, Daniel M. Sciubba, and Reza Yassari

OBJECTIVE

The incidence of spinal epidural abscess (SEA) is rising, yet there are few reports discussing readmission rates or predisposing factors for readmission after treatment. The aims of the present study were to determine the rate of 90-day readmission following medical or surgical treatment of SEA in an urban population, identify patients at increased risk for readmission, and delineate the principal causes of readmission.

METHODS

Neurosurgery records from two large urban institutions were reviewed to identify patients who were treated for SEA. Patients who died during admission or were discharged to hospice were excluded. Univariate analysis was performed using chi-square and Student t-tests to identify potential predictors of readmission. A multivariate logistic regression model, controlled for age, body mass index, sex, and institution, was used to determine significant predictors of readmission.

RESULTS

Of 103 patients with identified SEA, 97 met the inclusion criteria. Their mean age was 57.1 years, and 56 patients (57.7%) were male. The all-cause 90-day readmission rate was 37.1%. Infection (sepsis, osteomyelitis, persistent abscess, bacteremia) was the most common cause of readmission, accounting for 36.1% of all readmissions. Neither pretreatment neurological deficit (p = 0.16) nor use of surgical versus medical management (p = 0.33) was significantly associated with readmission. Multivariate analysis identified immunocompromised status (p = 0.036; OR 3.5, 95% CI 1.1–11.5) and hepatic disease (chronic hepatitis or alcohol abuse) (p = 0.033; OR 2.9, 95% CI 1.1–7.7) as positive predictors of 90-day readmission.

CONCLUSIONS

The most common indication for readmission was persistent infection. Readmission was unrelated to baseline neurological status or management strategy. However, both hepatic disease and baseline immunosuppression significantly increased the odds of 90-day readmission after SEA treatment. Patients with these conditions may require closer follow-up upon discharge to reduce overall morbidity and hospital costs associated with SEA.