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Daniel M. Sciubba, Gaurav G. Mavinkurve, Philippe Gailloud, Ira M. Garonzik, Pablo F. Recinos, Matthew J. McGirt, Graeme F. Woodworth, Timothy Witham, Yevgeniv Khavkin, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Jean-Paul Wolinsky

✓ Angiography is often performed to identify the vascular supply of hemangioblastomas prior to resection. Conventional two-dimensional (2D) digital subtraction (DS) angiography and three-dimensional (3D) DS angiography provides high-resolution images of the vascular structures associated with these lesions. However, such 3D DS angiography often does not provide reliable anatomical information about nearby osseous structures, or when it does, resolution of vascular anatomy in the immediate vicinity of bone is sacrificed. A novel angiographic reconstruction algorithm was recently developed at The Johns Hopkins University to overcome these inadequacies. By combining two separate sequences of images of bone and blood vessels in a single 3D representation, 3D fusion DS (FDS) angiography provides precise topographic information about vascular lesions in relation to the osseous environment, without a loss of resolution.

In this paper, the authors present the cases of two patients with cervical spine hemangioblastomas who underwent preoperative evaluation with FDS angiography and then successful gross-total resection of their tumors. In both cases, FDS angiography provided high-resolution 3D images of the hemangioblastoma anatomy, including each tumor’s topographic relationship with adjacent osseous structures and the location and size of feeding arteries and draining veins. These cases provide evidence that FDS angiography represents a useful adjunct to magnetic resonance imaging and 2D DS angiography in the preoperative evaluation and surgical planning of patients with vascular lesions in an osseous environment, such as hemangioblastomas in the spinal cord.

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Ryan M. Kretzer, Daniel M. Sciubba, Carlos A. Bagley, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Ira M. Garonzik

Object

The use of pedicle screws (PSs) for instrument-assisted fusion in the cervical and thoracic spine has increased in recent years, allowing smaller constructs with improved biomechanical stability and repositioning possibilities. In the smaller pedicles of the upper thoracic spine, the placement of PSs can be challenging and may increase the risk of damage to neural structures. As an alternative to PSs, translaminar screws can provide spinal stability, and they may be used when pedicular anatomy precludes successful placement of PSs. The authors describe the technique of translaminar screw placement in the T-1 and T-2 vertebrae.

Methods

Seven patients underwent cervicothoracic fusion to treat trauma, neoplasm, or degenerative disease. Nineteen translaminar screws were placed, 13 at T-1 and six at T-2. A single asymptomatic T-2 screw violated the ventral laminar cortex and was removed.

The mean clinical and radiographic follow up exceeded 14 months, at which time there were no cases of screw pull-out, screw fracture, or progressive kyphotic deformity.

Conclusions

Rigid fixation with translaminar screws offers an attractive alternative to PS fixation, allowing the creation of sound spinal constructs and minimizing potential neurological morbidity. Their use requires intact posterior elements, and care should be taken to avoid violation of the ventral laminar wall.

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Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ian Suk, and Ziya L. Gokaslan

✓Symptomatic irreducible basilar invagination has traditionally been approached through a transoral–transpharyngeal route with resection of the anterior portion of C-1 and the odontoid. Modification of this exposure with either a Le Fort osteotomy or a transmandibular osteotomy and circumglossal approach has increased the access to pathological conditions in this region. These traditional routes all require traversing the oral cavity and accepting the associated potential complications. The authors have developed a novel surgical approach, an endoscopic transcervical odontoidectomy, which allows access for resection of the odontoid and for brainstem and spinal cord decompression without traversing the oral cavity. In this paper they describe the technique and its advantages and present three cases in which patients underwent the endoscopic transcervical odontoidectomy for basilar invagination.

Three consecutive patients (age range 42–74 years) who had irreducible basilar invagination underwent the endoscopic transcervical odontoidectomy. All were symptomatic and had neck pain and myelopathy. All were evaluated preoperatively and postoperatively with computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. In all cases the procedure resulted in complete decompression. There were no serious complications. No patient required prolonged intubation, tracheostomy, or enteral tube feeding. One patient had an intraoperative cerebrospinal fluid leak, which had no postoperative sequelae.

The authors present an alternative surgical approach for treating ventral compression of the brainstem and spinal cord. The technique is safe and effective for decompression and provides a surgical route that can be added to the armamentarium of treatments for pathological conditions in this region.

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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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Matthew J. McGirt, Frank J. Attenello, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Jean-Paul Wolinsky

✓ Pediatric basilar invagination and cranial settling have traditionally been approached through a transoral–transpharyngeal route with or without extended maxillotomy or mandibulotomy for resection of the anterior portion of C-1 and the odontoid. The authors hypothesize that application of a recently described endoscopic transcervical odontoidectomy (ETO) technique would allow an alternative approach for the treatment of ventral pathological entities at the craniocervical junction in pediatric patients.

The authors performed ETO in a consecutive series of pediatric patients presenting with myelopathy or bulbar dysfunction resulting from basilar invagination or cranial settling. All clinical, radiographic, surgical, and follow-up data were prospectively collected. The initial experience with ETO in the pediatric population is analyzed and outcomes are reported. Three patients required ETO for basilar invagination and 1 required ETO with anterior C-1 arch and distal clivus resection for cranial settling. All patients presented with myelopathy. One patient was wheelchair bound with severe quadriparesis. The mean age was 14 ± 3 years (mean ± standard deviation [SD]) in the 2 male and 2 female patients. The ETO and posterior fusion were performed as a 2-stage procedure in 2 (50%) and as a single-stage procedure in 2 (50%) cases. Prolonged intubation or postoperative placement of a gastrostomy tube was not needed in any case. The postoperative hospitalization lasted 9 ± 4 days (mean ± SD). At last follow-up (mean 5 months), head and neck pain had resolved and motor strength had improved or stabilized in all cases. All 4 children were independently functioning and ambulatory at the last follow-up.

In the authors' initial experience, ETO has allowed ventral brainstem decompression without the need for prolonged intubation, worsening dysphagia requiring enteral tube feeding, or prolonged hospitalization, and has resulted in cosmetically appealing results. The ETO technique allows an alternative approach for the treatment of ventral pathological entities at the craniocervical junction in pediatric patients.

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Gregory S. McLoughlin, Jed G. Nuchtern, Robert C. Dauser, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Jean-Paul Wolinsky

✓ Lymphangiomas are benign collections of blind-ended lymphatic and vascular channels. Lesions typically occur in the soft tissues of the head and neck, although any region of the body can be affected. Involvement of the spine is very rare. A complete resection is generally curative. On rare occasions, these tumors are complicated by infection or hemorrhage. The authors present an unusual case of a hemorrhagic lymphangioma in a 1-year-old male child. The lesion originated in the mediastinum and extended into the cervicothoracic epidural space via a neural foramen. This resulted in an acute epidural hematoma and quadriparesis. Emergency decompression resulted in full neurological recovery. This may be the first report of a lymphangioma resulting in an acute epidural hematoma and quadriparesis.

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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, 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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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, Joseph C. Noggle, Ananth K. Vellimana, Hassan Alosh, Matthew J. McGirt, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Jean-Paul Wolinsky

Object

Stabilization of the cervical spine can be challenging when instrumentation involves the axis. Fixation with C1–2 transarticular screws combined with posterior wiring and bone graft placement has yielded excellent fusion rates, but the technique is technically demanding and places the vertebral arteries (VAs) at risk. Placement of screws in the pars interarticularis of C-2 as described by Harms and Melcher has allowed rigid fixation with greater ease and theoretically decreases the risk to the VA. However, fluoroscopy is suggested to avoid penetration laterally, medially, and superiorly to avoid damage to the VA, spinal cord, and C1–2 joint, respectively. The authors describe how, after meticulous dissection of the C-2 pars interarticularis, such screws can be placed accurately and safely without the use of fluoroscopy.

Methods

Prospective follow-up was performed in 55 consecutive patients who underwent instrumented fusion of C-2 by a single surgeon. The causes of spinal instability and type and extent of instrumentation were documented. All patients underwent preoperative CT or MR imaging scans to determine the suitability of C-2 screw placement. Intraoperatively, screws were placed following dissection of the posterior pars interarticularis. Postoperative CT scans were performed to determine the extent of cortical breach. Patients underwent clinical follow-up, and complications were recorded as vascular or neurological. A CT-based grading system was created to characterize such breaches objectively by location and magnitude via percentage of screw diameter beyond the cortical edge (0 = none; I = < 25% of screw diameter; II = 26–50%; III = 51–75%; IV = 76–100%).

Results

One-hundred consecutive screws were placed in the pedicle of the axis by a single surgeon using external landmarks only. In 10 cases, only 1 screw was placed because of a preexisting VA anatomy or bone abnormality noted preoperatively. In no case was screw placement aborted because of complications noted during drilling. Early complications occurred in 2 patients and were limited to 1 wound infection and 1 transient C-2 radiculopathy. There were 15 total breaches (15%), 2 of which occurred in the same patient. Twelve breaches were lateral (80%), and 3 were superior (20%). There were no medial breaches. The magnitude of the breach was classified as I in 10 cases (66.7% of breaches), II in 3 cases (20% of breaches), III in 1 case (6.7%), and IV in 1 case (6.7%).

Conclusions

Free-hand placement of screws in the C-2 pedicle can be done safely and effectively without the use of intraoperative fluoroscopy or navigation when the pars interarticularis/pedicle is assessed preoperatively with CT or MR imaging and found to be suitable for screw placement. When breaches do occur, they are overwhelmingly lateral in location, breach < 50% of the screw diameter, and in the authors' experience, are not clinically significant.