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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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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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Daniel M. Sciubba, Clarke Nelson, Beryl Gok, Matthew J. McGirt, Gregory S. McLoughlin, Joseph C. Noggle, Jean Paul Wolinsky, Timothy F. Witham, Ali Bydon, and Ziya L. Gokaslan

Object

Resection of sacral tumors has been shown to improve survival, since the oncological prognosis is commonly correlated with the extent of local tumor control. However, extensive soft-tissue resection in close proximity to the rectum may predispose patients to wound complications and infection. To identify potential risk factors, a review of clinical outcomes for sacral tumor resections over the past 5 years at a single institution was completed, paying special attention to procedure-related complications.

Methods

Between 2002 and 2007, 46 patients with sacral tumors were treated with surgery. Demographic data, details of surgery, type of tumor, and patient characteristics associated with surgical site infections (SSIs) were collected; these data included presence of the following variables: diabetes, obesity, smoking, steroid use, previous surgery, previous radiation, cerebrospinal fluid leak, number of spinal levels exposed, instrumentation, number of surgeons scrubbed in to the procedure, serum albumin level, and combined anterior-posterior approach. Logistic regression analysis was implemented to find an association of such variables with the presence of SSI.

Results

A total of 46 patients were treated for sacral tumor resections; 20 were male (43%) and 26 were female (57%), with an average age of 46 years (range 11–83 years). Histopathological findings included the following: chordoma in 19 (41%), ependymoma in 5 (11%), rectal adenocarcinoma in 5 (11%), giant cell tumor in 4 (9%), and other in 13 (28%). There were 18 cases of wound infection (39%), and 2 cases of repeat surgery for tumor recurrence (1 chordoma and 1 giant cell tumor). Factors associated with increased likelihood of infection included previous lumbosacral surgery (p = 0.0184; odds ratio [OR] 7.955) and number of surgeons scrubbed in to the operation (p = 0.0332; OR 4.018). Increasing age (p = 0.0864; OR 1.031), presence of complex soft-tissue reconstruction (p = 0.118; OR 3.789), and bowel and bladder dysfunction (p = 0.119; OR 2.667) demonstrated a trend toward increased risk of SSI.

Conclusions

Patients undergoing sacral tumor surgery may be at greater risk for developing wound complications due to the extensive soft-tissue resections often required, especially with the increased potential for contamination from the neighboring rectum. In this study, it appears that previous lumbosacral surgery, number of surgeons scrubbed in, patient age, bowel and bladder dysfunction, and complex tissue reconstruction may predict those patients more prone to developing postoperative SSIs.

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Daniel M. Sciubba, Rory J. Petteys, Giannina L. Garces-Ambrossi, Joseph C. Noggle, Matthew J. McGirt, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Timothy F. Witham, and Ziya L. Gokaslan

Sacral tumors pose significant challenges to the managing physician from diagnostic and therapeutic perspectives. Although these tumors are often diagnosed at an advanced stage, patients may benefit from good clinical outcomes if an aggressive multidisciplinary approach is used. In this review, the epidemiology, clinical presentation, imaging characteristics, treatment options, and published outcomes are discussed. Special attention is given to the specific anatomical constraints that make tumors in this region of the spine more difficult to effectively manage than those in the mobile portions of the spine.

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Risheng Xu, Giannina L. Garcés-Ambrossi, Matthew J. McGirt, Timothy F. Witham, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ali Bydon, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Daniel M. Sciubba

Object

Adequate decompression of the thoracic spinal cord often requires a complete vertebrectomy. Such procedures can be performed from an anterior/transthoracic, posterior, or combined approach. In this study, the authors sought to compare the clinical outcomes of patients with spinal metastatic tumors undergoing anterior, posterior, and combined thoracic vertebrectomies to determine the efficacy and operative morbidity of such approaches.

Methods

A retrospective review was conducted of all patients undergoing thoracic vertebrectomies at a single institution over the past 7 years. Characteristics of patients and operative procedures were documented. Neurological status, perioperative variables, and complications were assessed and associations with each approach were analyzed.

Results

Ninety-one patients (mean age 55.5 ± 13.7 years) underwent vertebrectomies via an anterior (22 patients, 24.2%), posterior (45 patients, 49.4%), or combined anterior-posterior approach (24 patients, 26.4%) for metastatic spinal tumors. The patients did not differ significantly preoperatively in terms of neurological assessments on the Nurick and American Spinal Injury Association Impairment scales, ambulatory ability, or other comorbidities. Anterior approaches were associated with less blood loss than posterior approaches (1172 ± 1984 vs 2486 ± 1645 ml, respectively; p = 0.03) or combined approaches (1172 ± 1984 vs 2826 ± 2703 ml, respectively; p = 0.05) but were associated with a similar length of stay compared with the other treatment cohorts (11.5 ± 9.3 [anterior] vs 11.3 ± 8.6 [posterior] vs 14.3 ± 6.7 [combined] days; p = 0.35). The posterior approach was associated with a higher incidence of wound infection compared with the anterior approach cohort (26.7 vs 4.5%, respectively; p = 0.03), and patients in the posterior approach group experienced the highest rates of deep vein thrombosis (15.6% [posterior] vs 0% [other 2 groups]; p = 0.02). However, the posterior approach demonstrated the lowest incidence of pneumothorax (4.4%; p < 0.0001) compared with the other 2 cohorts. Duration of chest tube use was greater in the combined patient group compared with the anterior approach cohort (8.8 ± 6.2 vs 4.7 ± 2.3 days, respectively; p = 0.01), and the combined group also experienced the highest rates of radiographic pleural effusion (83.3%; p = 0.01). Postoperatively, all groups improved neurologically, although functional outcome in patients undergoing the combined approach improved the most compared with the other 2 groups on both the Nurick (p = 0.04) and American Spinal Injury Association Impairment scales (p = 0.03).

Conclusions

Decisions regarding the approach to thoracic vertebrectomy may be complex. This study found that although anterior approaches to the thoracic vertebrae have been historically associated with significant pulmonary complications, in our experience these rates are nevertheless quite comparable to that encountered via a posterior or combined approach. In fact, the posterior approach was found to be associated with a higher risk for some perioperative complications such as wound infection and deep vein thromboses. Finally, the combined anteriorposterior approach may provide greater ambulatory and neurological improvements in properly selected patients.

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Giannina L. Garcés-Ambrossi, Matthew J. McGirt, Vivek A. Mehta, Daniel M. Sciubba, Timothy F. Witham, Ali Bydon, Jean-Paul Wolinksy, George I. Jallo, and Ziya L. Gokaslan

Object

With the introduction of electrophysiological spinal cord monitoring, surgeons have been able to perform radical resection of intramedullary spinal cord tumors (IMSCTs). However, factors associated with tumor resectability, tumor recurrence, and long-term neurological outcome are poorly understood.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed 101 consecutive cases of IMSCT resection in adults and children at a single institution. Neurological function and MR images were evaluated preoperatively, at discharge, 1 month after surgery, and every 6 months thereafter. Factors associated with gross-total resection (GTR), progression-free survival (PFS), and long-term neurological improvement were assessed using multivariate regression analysis.

Results

The mean age of the patients was 41 ± 18 years and 17 (17%) of the patients were pediatric. Pathological type included ependymoma in 51 cases, hemangioblastoma in 15, pilocytic astrocytoma in 16, WHO Grade II astrocytoma in 10, and malignant astrocytoma in 9. A GTR was achieved in 60 cases (59%). Independent of histological tumor type, an intraoperatively identifiable tumor plane (OR 25.3, p < 0.0001) and decreasing tumor size (OR 1.2, p = 0.05) were associated with GTR. Thirty-four patients (34%) experienced acute neurological decline after surgery (associated with increasing age [OR 1.04, p = 0.02] and with intraoperative change in motor evoked potentials [OR 7.4, p = 0.003]); in 14 (41%) of these patients the change returned to preoperative baseline within 1 month. In 31 patients (31%) tumor progression developed by last follow-up (mean 19 months). Tumor histology (p < 0.0001) and the presence of an intraoperatively identified tumor plane (hazard ratio [HR] 0.44, p = 0.027) correlated with improved PFS. A GTR resulted in improved PFS for hemangioblastoma (HR 0.004, p = 0.04) and ependymoma (HR 0.2, p = 0.02), but not astrocytoma. Fifty-five patients (55%) maintained overall neurological improvement by last follow-up. The presence of an identifiable tumor plane (HR 3.1, p = 0.0004) and improvement in neurological symptoms before discharge (HR 2.3, p = 0.004) were associated with overall neurological improvement by last follow-up (mean 19 months).

Conclusions

Gross-total resection can be safely achieved in the vast majority of IMSCTs when an intraoperative plane is identified, independent of pathological type. The incidence of acute perioperative neurological decline increases with patient age but will improve to baseline in nearly half of patients within 1 month. Long-term improvement in motor, sensory, and bladder dysfunction may be achieved in a slight majority of patients and occurs more frequently in patients in whom a surgical plane can be identified. A GTR should be attempted for ependymoma and hemangioblastoma, but it may not affect PFS for astrocytoma. For all tumors, the intraoperative finding of a clear tumor plane of resection carries positive prognostic significance across all pathological types.

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Oral Presentations

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

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Risheng Xu, Matthew J. McGirt, Edward G. Sutter, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Timothy F. Witham, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Ali Bydon

Object

The aim of this study was to conduct the first in vitro biomechanical comparison of immediate and postcyclical rigidities of C-7 lateral mass versus C-7 pedicle screws in posterior C4–7 constructs.

Methods

Ten human cadaveric spines were treated with C4–6 lateral mass screw and C-7 lateral mass (5 specimens) versus pedicle (5 specimens) screw fixation. Spines were potted in polymethylmethacrylate bone cement and placed on a materials testing machine. Rotation about the axis of bending was measured using passive retroreflective markers and infrared motion capture cameras. The motion of C-4 relative to C-7 in flexion-extension and lateral bending was assessed uninstrumented, immediately after instrumentation, and following 40,000 cycles of 4 Nm of flexion-extension and lateral bending moments at 1 Hz. The effect of instrumentation and cyclical loading on rotational motion across C4–7 was analyzed for significance.

Results

Preinstrumented spines for the 2 cohorts were comparable in bone mineral density and range of motion in both flexion-extension (p = 0.33) and lateral bending (p = 0.16). Lateral mass and pedicle screw constructs significantly reduced motion during flexion-extension (11.3°–0.26° for lateral mass screws, p = 0.002; 10.51°–0.30° for pedicle screws, p = 0.008) and lateral bending (7.38°–0.27° for lateral mass screws, p = 0.003; 11.65°–0.49° for pedicle screws, p = 0.03). After cyclical loading in both cohorts, rotational motion over C4–7 was increased during flexion-extension (0.26°–0.68° for lateral mass screws; 0.30°–1.31° for pedicle screws) and lateral bending (0.27°–0.39° and 0.49°–0.80°, respectively), although the increase was not statistically significant (p > 0.05). There was no statistical difference in postcyclical flexion-extension (p = 0.20) and lateral bending (0.10) between lateral mass and pedicle screws.

Conclusions

Both C-7 lateral mass and C-7 pedicle screws allow equally rigid fixation of subaxial lateral mass constructs ending at C-7. Immediately and within a simulated 6-week postfixation period, C-7 lateral mass screws may be as effective as C-7 pedicle screws in biomechanically stabilizing long subaxial lateral mass constructs.

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Scott L. Parker, Anubhav G. Amin, S. Harrison Farber, Matthew J. McGirt, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ali Bydon, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Timothy F. Witham

Object

Pedicle screws provide efficient stabilization along all 3 columns of the spine, but they can be technically demanding to place, with malposition rates ranging from 5% to 10%. Intraoperative electromyographic (EMG) monitoring has the capacity to objectively identify a screw breaching the medial pedicle cortex that is in proximity to a nerve root. The purpose of this study is to describe and evaluate the authors' 7-year institutional experience with intraoperative EMG monitoring during placement of lumbar pedicle screws and to determine the clinical utility of intraoperative EMG monitoring.

Methods

The authors retrospectively studied 2450 consecutive lumbar pedicle screws placed in 418 patients from June 2002 through June 2009. All screws were inserted using a free-hand technique and anatomical landmarks, stimulated at 10.0 mA, and evaluated with CT scanning within 48 hours postoperatively. Medial pedicle screw breach was defined as having greater than 25% of the screw diameter extend outside of the pedicle, as confirmed on CT scanning or intraoperatively by a positive EMG response indicating a medial breach. The sensitivity and specificity of intraoperative EMG monitoring in detecting the presence of a medial screw breach was evaluated based on the following definitions: 1) true positive (a positive response to EMG stimulation confirmed as a breach intraoperatively or on postoperative CT scans); 2) false positive (positive response to EMG stimulation confirmed as a correctly positioned screw on postoperative CT scans); 3) true negative (no response to EMG stimulation confirmed as a correctly positioned screw on postoperative CT scans); or 4) false negative (no response to EMG stimulation but confirmed as a breach on postoperative CT scans).

Results

One hundred fifteen pedicle screws (4.7%) showed positive stimulation during intraoperative EMG monitoring. At stimulation thresholds less than 5.0, 5.0–8.0, and > 8.0 mA, the specificity of a positive response was 99.9%, 97.9%, and 95.9%, respectively. The sensitivity of a positive response at these thresholds was only 43.4%, 69.6%, and 69.6%, respectively. At a threshold less than 5.0 mA, 91% of screws with a positive EMG response were confirmed as true medial breaches. However, at thresholds of 5.0–8.0 mA or greater than 8.0 mA, a positive EMG response was associated with 89% and 100% false positives (no breaches), respectively.

Conclusions

When using intraoperative EMG monitoring, a positive response at screw stimulation thresholds less than 5.0 mA was highly specific for a medial pedicle screw breach but was poorly sensitive. A positive response to stimulation thresholds greater 5.0 mA was associated with a very high rate of false positives. The authors' experience suggests that pedicle screws showing positive stimulation below 5.0 mA warrants intraoperative investigation for malpositioning while responses at higher thresholds are less reliable at accurately representing a medial breach.