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Open access

Successful management of delayed traumatic cervical spondyloptosis with neurological deficit: illustrative case

Ibrahim Dao, Salifou Napon, Ousmane Ouattara, Abdoulaye Sanou, Elie Nassoum, Sylvain Delwendé Zabsonré, and Abel Kabré

BACKGROUND

Cervical spondyloptosis is a serious condition scarcely encountered by spine surgeons. Few cases have been reported in the literature. There are no general guidelines for their management, especially in delayed cases. The authors describe their surgical technique for the management of cervical spondyloptosis 45 days after the trauma.

OBSERVATIONS

A 28-year-old patient was admitted 45 days after head and cervical trauma leading to quadriplegia with muscular strength at the C5 level. Cervical computed tomography scanning and magnetic resonance imaging revealed C6–7 spondyloptosis with complete slippage of the C6 vertebral body in front of C7. Posterior and anterior cervical spine approaches during the same surgery allowed decompression and stabilization, leading to a dramatic improvement in the neurological deficit. The patient was able to walk 18 months later with near normal balance.

LESSONS

Traumatic cervical spondyloptosis requires early management to increase the possibility of decompression through anatomical realignment and stabilization. In delayed cases, a combined anterior and posterior cervical spine approach according to our technique allows decompression and stabilization with a good postoperative outcome possible.

Open access

Cervical spinal cord compression from subdural hematoma caused by traumatic nerve root avulsion: illustrative case

Alexander T Yahanda, Michelle R Connor, Rupen Desai, David A Giles, Vivek P Gupta, Wilson Z Ray, and Magalie Cadieux

BACKGROUND

Posttraumatic intradural hematomas of the cervical spine are rare findings that may yield significant neurological deficits if they compress the spinal cord. These compressive hematomas require prompt surgical evacuation. In certain instances, intradural hematomas may form from avulsion of cervical nerve roots.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors present the case of a 29-year-old male who presented with right upper-extremity weakness in the setting of polytrauma after a motor vehicle accident. He had no cervical fractures but subsequently developed right lower-extremity weakness. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) demonstrated a compressive hematoma of the cervical spine that was initially read as an epidural hematoma. However, intraoperatively, it was found to be a subdural hematoma, eccentric to the right, stemming from an avulsion of the right C6 nerve root.

LESSONS

Posttraumatic cervical subdural hematomas require rapid surgical evacuation if neurological deficits are present. The source of the hematoma may be an avulsed nerve root, and the associated deficits may be unilateral if the hematoma is eccentric to one side. Surgeons should be prepared for the possibility of an intradural hematoma even in instances in which MRI appears consistent with an epidural hematoma.

Open access

Upper cervical intramedullary schwannoma of the spinal cord presenting with myelopathy: illustrative case

Shyam Duvuru, Vivek Sanker, Naureen Syed, Shubham Mishra, Sayantika Ghosh, and Tirth Dave

BACKGROUND

Intramedullary schwannomas account for 1.1% of all spinal schwannomas. Preoperative diagnosis is best accomplished by thoroughly evaluating clinical and radiological characteristics, accompanied by a high index of suspicion. The authors report a case of C2–3 intramedullary schwannoma in a young male who presented with neck pain and vertigo. The current literature is also reviewed.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors reviewed the data of a young male with a 2-month history of neck pain and vertigo. Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain and cervical spine showed an intramedullary mass at C2–3 with a syrinx extending into the cervicomedullary junction. Laminectomy, myelotomy, and microsurgical excision of the mass under intraoperative neurological monitoring (IONM) were done. Postoperative pathology reported the specimen as a schwannoma.

LESSONS

Gross-total resection of a schwannoma using IONM is the treatment of choice because of the lesion’s benign nature, a better prognosis, and defined cleavage plane. Schwannomas should be included in the differential diagnosis of intramedullary spinal tumors. Because of its progressive nature, early surgery is recommended in symptomatic patients.

Open access

Pedicle subtraction metallectomy with complex posterior reconstruction for fixed cervicothoracic kyphosis: illustrative case

Harman Chopra, José Manuel Orenday-Barraza, Alexander E. Braley, Alfredo Guiroy, Olivia E. Gilbert, and Michael A. Galgano

BACKGROUND

Iatrogenic cervical deformity is a devastating complication that can result from a well-intended operation but a poor understanding of the individual biomechanics of a patient’s spine. Patient factors, such as bone fragility, high T1 slope, and undiagnosed myopathies often play a role in perpetuating a deformity despite an otherwise successful surgery. This imbalance can lead to significant morbidity and a decreased quality of life.

OBSERVATIONS

A 55-year-old male presented to the authors’ clinic with a chin-to-chest deformity and cervical myelopathy. He previously had an anterior C2–T2 fixation and a posterior C1–T6 instrumented fusion. He subsequently developed screw pullout at multiple levels, so the original surgeon removed all of the posterior hardware. The T1 cage (original corpectomy) severely subsided into the body of T2, generating an angular kyphosis that eventually developed a rigid osseous circumferential union at the cervicothoracic junction with severe cord compression. An anterior approach was not feasible; therefore, a 3-column osteotomy/fusion in the upper thoracic spine was planned whereby 1 of the T2 screws would need to be removed from a posterior approach for the reduction to take place.

LESSONS

This case highlights the devastating effect of a hardware complication leading to a fixed cervical spine deformity and the complex decision making involved to safely correct the challenging deformity and restore function.

Open access

Management of perinatal cervical spine injury using custom-fabricated external orthoses: design considerations, narrative literature review, and experience from the Hospital for Sick Children. Illustrative cases

Vishwathsen Karthikeyan, Sara C. Breitbart, Armaan K. Malhotra, Andrea Fung, Erin Short, Ann Schmitz, David E. Lebel, and George M. Ibrahim

BACKGROUND

Cervical spine injuries in neonates are rare and no guidelines are available to inform management. The most common etiology of neonatal cervical injury is birth-related trauma. Management strategies that are routine in older children and adults are not feasible due to the unique anatomy of neonates.

OBSERVATIONS

Here, the authors present 3 cases of neonatal cervical spinal injury due to confirmed or suspected birth trauma, 2 of whom presented immediately after birth, while the other was diagnosed at 7 weeks of age. One child presented with neurological deficits due to spinal cord injury, while another had an underlying predisposition to bony injury, infantile malignant osteopetrosis. The children were treated with a custom-designed and manufactured full-body external orthoses with good clinical and radiographic outcomes. A narrative literature review further supplements this case series and highlights risk factors and the spectrum of birth-related spinal injuries reported to date.

LESSONS

The current report highlights the importance of recognizing the rare occurrence of cervical spinal injury in newborns and provides pragmatic recommendations for management of these injuries. Custom orthoses provide an alternate option for neonates who cannot be fitted in halo vests and who would outgrow traditional casts.

Open access

Traumatic cervical spine subarachnoid hemorrhage with hematoma and cord compression presenting as Brown-Séqüard syndrome: illustrative case

Bernardo de Andrada Pereira, Benjamen M. Meyer, Angelica Alvarez Reyes, Jose Manuel Orenday-Barraza, Leonardo B. Brasiliense, and R. John Hurlbert

BACKGROUND

Spinal hematomas are a rare entity with broad etiologies, which stem from idiopathic, tumor-related, and vascular malformation etiologies. Less common causes include traumatic blunt nonpenetrating spinal hematomas with very few cases being reported. In the present manuscript presents a case report and review of the literature of a rare traumatic entity of a cervical subarachnoid hematoma in association with Brown-Séquard syndrome in a patient on anticoagulants. Searches were performed on PubMed and Embase for specific terms related.

OBSERVATIONS

A well-documented case of an 83-year-old female taking anticoagulants with traumatic cervical subarachnoid hematoma presenting as Brown-Séquard syndrome was reported. Six similar cases were identified, scrutinized, and analyzed in the literature review.

LESSONS

Traumatic blunt nonpenetrating cervical spine subarachnoid hematomas are a rare entity that can happen more specifically in anticoagulant users and in patients with arthritic changes and stenosis of the spinal canal. Rapid neurological deterioration and severe disability warrant early aggressive surgical treatment. This report has the intention to record this case in the medical literature for registry purposes.

Open access

Systemic sclerosis-associated compressive cervical calcinosis: intersection of degenerative spine instability, lesional spinal cord compression, and traumatic spinal cord injury. Illustrative case

Thu Lan Pham, Jingya Miao, Harminder Singh, Marco B. Lee, and Tene A. Cage

BACKGROUND

Tumoral calcinosis, mass-like calcium deposition into the soft tissues, is an uncommon manifestation of the systemic sclerosis subtype of scleroderma. When this process affects the spinal epidural space, it can cause canal narrowing and place the spinal cord at significant risk of injury.

OBSERVATIONS

Here a 62-year-old female with systemic sclerosis and no previous evidence of spinal cord compromise who developed acute spinal cord injury and quadriparesis after a mechanical fall is described. She was found to have a large dorsal epidural calcified mass compressing her cervical spinal cord. She underwent medical management for acute spinal cord compression as well as surgical management for acute spinal cord injury and degenerative spine disease. Her case illustrates a rare etiology of simultaneous degenerative spine instability and lesional spinal cord compression with acute spinal cord injury.

LESSONS

Tumor calcinosis leading to acute spinal cord injury in the setting of systemic sclerosis is an uncommon but critical entity to recognize in patients with scleroderma and may require the physician to use a combination of medical and surgical management strategies from each of these categories of spine pathology.

Open access

Nerve transfers in a patient with asymmetrical neurological deficit following traumatic cervical spinal cord injury: simultaneous bilateral restoration of pinch grip and elbow extension. Illustrative case

Alexander A. Gatskiy, Ihor B. Tretyak, Vitaliy I. Tsymbaliuk, and Yaroslav V. Tsymbaliuk

BACKGROUND

Cervical spinal cord injury (CSCI) causes severe motor deficit in upper extremities. The mixed segmental CSCI pattern is reflected in the combination of time-sensitive (TS) and non-TS myotomes in the upper extremities. Nerve transfers (NTs) restore upper extremity function yet remain TS procedures. A combination of neurological, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and electromyography (EMG) studies allows the identification of TS and non-TS myotomes in the upper extremities.

OBSERVATIONS

Nineteen months after NTs, flexor pollicis longus (FPL) and deep flexor of the index finger (FDP2) recovered to M4 (right UE), FPL recovered to M3 and FDP2 to M2 (left EU). The long head of the triceps brachii muscle recovered to M4 bilaterally. The Capabilities of Upper Extremity Questionnaire (CUE-Q) score for unilateral arm functionality increased by 44% (right) and 112.5% (left) and for bilateral arm functionality by 400%; the CUE-Q score for unilateral hand and finger function increased by 283% (right) and 166% (left).

LESSONS

The combination of neurological, MRI, and EMG studies before surgery and data obtained during surgery provides reliable information on the CSCI pattern, specifically the availability of motor donor nerves. Simultaneous bilateral restoration is required in the event of CSCI and significantly improves the unilateral and bilateral function of the UEs.

Open access

Tentorial dural arteriovenous fistula with perimedullary venous drainage–associated cervical myelopathy: illustrative case

Sergi Cobos Codina, Luis Miguel Bernal García, José Antonio Rodríguez Sánchez, Tania Gavilán Iglesias, and Luis Fernández de Alarcón

BACKGROUND

Tentorial dural arteriovenous fistulas (DAVFs) with perimedullary venous drainage causing cervical myelopathy are very uncommon conditions with an extremely aggressive behavior. When the characteristic radiological clues are missing, the unspecific clinical picture may cause delay and make the diagnosis challenging.

OBSERVATIONS

Here the authors report a case of a 58-year-old man who developed progressive spastic tetraparesis and dyspnea with an extensive mild enhancing cervical cord lesion initially oriented as a neurosyphilis-associated transverse myelitis. Acute worsening after steroid administration redirected the diagnosis, and a tentorial Cognard type V DAVF was elicited. The microsurgical disconnection process is described, and previously documented cases in the literature are reviewed.

LESSONS

If a DAVF is highly suspected, it is important to consider the possibility of its intracranial origin, and spinal as well as cerebral arteriography must be performed.

Open access

Delayed-onset white cord syndrome after anterior and posterior cervical decompression surgery for symptomatic ossification of spinal ligaments: illustrative cases

Ranjit D. Singh, Mark P. Arts, and Godard C. W. de Ruiter

BACKGROUND

White cord syndrome is an extremely rare complication of cervical decompressive surgery, characterized by serious postoperative neurological deficits in the absence of apparent surgical complications. It is named after the characteristic ischemic-edematous intramedullary T2-hyperintense signal on postoperative magnetic resonance imaging and is believed to be caused by ischemic-reperfusion injury. Neurological deficits typically manifest immediately after surgery, and delayed occurrence has been reported only once.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors presented two cases of delayed white cord syndrome after anterior and posterior cervical decompression surgery for symptomatic ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament and ligamentum flavum, respectively. Neurological deficits manifested on postoperative day 2 (case 1) and day 8 (case 2). The patients’ conditions were managed with high-dose corticosteroids, mean arterial pressure augmentation, and early physical therapy, after which they showed partial neurological recovery at discharge, which improved further by the 3-month follow-up visit.

LESSONS

The authors’ aim was to raise awareness among spine surgeons about this rare but severe complication of cervical decompressive surgery and to emphasize the mainstays of treatment based on current best evidence: high-dose corticosteroids, mean arterial pressure augmentation, and early physical therapy.