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Kaisorn L. Chaichana, Mohamad Bydon, David R. Santiago-Dieppa, Lee Hwang, Gregory McLoughlin, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ali Bydon, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Timothy Witham

Object

Posterior lumbar spinal fusion for degenerative spine disease is a common procedure, and its use is increasing annually. The rate of infection, as well as the factors associated with an increased risk of infection, remains unclear for this patient population. A better understanding of these features may help guide treatment strategies aimed at minimizing infection for this relatively common procedure. The authors' goals were therefore to ascertain the incidence of postoperative spinal infections and identify factors associated with postoperative spinal infections.

Methods

Data obtained in adult patients who underwent instrumented posterior lumbar fusion for degenerative spine disease between 1993 and 2010 were retrospectively reviewed. Stepwise multivariate proportional hazards regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with infection. Variables with p < 0.05 were considered statistically significant.

Results

During the study period, 817 consecutive patients underwent lumbar fusion for degenerative spine disease, and 37 patients (4.5%) developed postoperative spine infection at a median of 0.6 months (IQR 0.3–0.9). The factors independently associated with an increased risk of infection were increasing age (RR 1.004 [95% CI 1.001–1.009], p = 0.049), diabetes (RR 5.583 [95% CI 1.322–19.737], p = 0.02), obesity (RR 6.216 [95% CI 1.832–9.338], p = 0.005), previous spine surgery (RR 2.994 [95% CI 1.263–9.346], p = 0.009), and increasing duration of hospital stay (RR 1.155 [95% CI 1.076–1.230], p = 0.003). Of the 37 patients in whom infection developed, 21 (57%) required operative intervention but only 3 (8%) required instrumentation removal as part of their infection management.

Conclusions

This study identifies that several factors—older age, diabetes, obesity, prior spine surgery, and length of hospital stay—were each independently associated with an increased risk of developing infection among patients undergoing instrumented lumbar fusion for degenerative spine disease. The overwhelming majority of these patients were treated effectively without hardware removal.

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Oral Presentations

2010 AANS Annual Meeting Philadelphia, Pennsylvania May 1–5, 2010

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Editorial

Metastatic spinal cord tumors

Mark N. Hadley

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Kaisorn L. Chaichana, Courtney Pendleton, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, and Ziya L. Gokaslan

Object

Metastatic epidural spinal cord compression (MESCC) is a relatively common and debilitating complication of metastatic disease that often results in neurological deficits. Recent studies have supported decompressive surgery over radiation therapy for patients who present with MESCC. These studies, however, have grouped all patients with different histological types of metastatic disease into the same study population. The differential outcomes for patients with different histological types of metastatic disease therefore remain unknown.

Methods

An institutional database of patients undergoing decompressive surgery for MESCC at an academic tertiary-care institution between 1996 and 2006 was retrospectively reviewed. Patients with primary lung, breast, prostate, kidney, or gastrointestinal (GI) cancer or melanoma were identified. Fisher exact and log-rank analyses were used to compare pre-, peri-, and postoperative variables and survival for patients with these different types of primary cancers.

Results

Twenty-seven patients with primary lung cancer, 26 with breast cancer, 20 with prostate cancer, 21 with kidney cancer, 13 with GI cancer, and 7 with melanoma were identified and categorized. All of these patients were followed up for a mean ± SD of 10.8 ± 3.8 months following surgery. Patients with primary lung and prostate cancers were typically older than patients with other types of primary cancers. Patients with prostate cancer had the shortest duration of symptoms and more commonly presented with motor deficits, while patients with breast cancer more commonly had cervical spine involvement and compression fractures. For all histological types, > 90% of patients retained the ability to ambulate following surgery. However, the group with the highest percentage of patients who regained ambulatory function after decompressive surgery was the lung cancer group. Patients with breast or kidney cancer and those with melanoma had the highest median duration of survival following decompressive surgery.

Conclusions

The present study identifies differences in presenting symptoms, operative course, perioperative complications, long-term ambulatory outcomes, and duration of survival for patients with lung, breast, prostate, kidney, and GI cancers and melanoma. This understanding may allow better risk stratification for patients with MESCC.

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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.