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Cervical disc arthroplasty for magnetic resonance–evident cervical spondylotic myelopathy: comparison with anterior cervical discectomy and fusion

Tsai-Tzu Ko, Ching-Lan Wu, Hsuan-Kan Chang, Chih-Chang Chang, Yi-Hsuan Kuo, Mei-Yin Yeh, Chao-Hung Kuo, Chin-Chu Ko, Li-Yu Fay, Tsung-Hsi Tu, Wen-Cheng Huang, and Jau-Ching Wu

OBJECTIVE

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a standard surgical approach for cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) caused by disc herniations. Although cervical disc arthroplasty (CDA) has become, in the past decade, a viable alternative to ACDF in selected patients, the differences among patients with CSM treated with CDA and ACDF remain elusive. The effectiveness of motion preservation devices in CSM is also unclear.

METHODS

Adult patients who underwent 1- or 2-level CDA or ACDF between 2007 and 2021 were retrospectively reviewed. Patients whose preoperative T2-weighted MRI demonstrated increased intramedullary signal intensity (IISI) were included and analyzed for the following: comparison of the length of IISI on pre- and postoperative MR images as well as range of motion (ROM) at the indexed levels between the CDA and ACDF groups. Measurement for clinical outcomes included the visual analog scale (VAS) of the arm and neck, the Neck Disability Index, and modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association scores. Perioperative clinical data were also compared between the two groups.

RESULTS

A total of 122 patients were allocated to the CDA group and 108 to the ACDF group, with mean follow-ups of 46.6 and 39.0 months, respectively. Patients in the CDA group were younger than those in the ACDF group (47.64 ± 12.40 vs 61.73 ± 12.25 years, p < 0.001) (mean ± SD). The ACDF group had more 2-level surgery compared to the CDA group (p = 0.002). Both groups had significant regression of IISI on postoperative MRI compared to that of preoperative imaging (CDA: 1.23 ± 0.84 to 0.28 ± 0.39 cm; ACDF: 1.07 ± 0.60 to 0.37 ± 0.42 cm; both p < 0.001). The decrease in the length of IISI was similar between the two groups (p = 0.058). The postoperative ROM was well preserved in the CDA group (superior to ACDF, which yielded minimal ROM postoperatively). Both the CDA and ACDF groups demonstrated improvement in Neck Disability Index and modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association scores at 24 months postoperatively. The CDA group had significant improvements on VAS scores, whereas the improvement did not reach significance for the ACDF group at 24 months postoperatively.

CONCLUSIONS

Significant shortening of IISI on T2-weighted MRI was demonstrated after both CDA and ACDF. At 24 months postoperatively, all clinical outcomes demonstrated improvement after both strategies, except that the VAS score was not significantly improved for ACDF. Therefore, CDA is a safe and effective option for patients with MR-evident CSM.

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Does hinge sidedness influence laterality of C5 palsy after expansile open-door cervical laminoplasty?

David J. Levi, G. Damian Brusko, Allan D. Levi, and Michael Y. Wang

OBJECTIVE

Cervical expansile open-door laminoplasties (EOLPs) have an open side and a hinge side, with the open side being bridged by grafts or miniplates. The authors explored the possibility that the open-door side might have a greater incidence of C5 palsy due to a greater stretch of the ipsilateral C5 nerve root.

METHODS

This study was a retrospective review of prospectively collected data over a period of 25 years specifically assessing surgical complications. Included were patients who underwent EOLP for myelopathy, radiculopathy, or mild central cord injuries (American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale [AIS] grade D). Exclusion criteria included preexisting C5 weakness; patients with AIS grade A, B, or C injury; and added instrumentation or additional surgical procedures. Patients were monitored postoperatively for C5 palsy or any other complications. A comparison group included patients who underwent cervical laminectomy and fusion (CLF).

RESULTS

A total of 327 laminoplasties were collected, and 31 patients were excluded because of severe spinal cord injury (AIS grades A–C), 3 for preoperative C5 weakness, and 21 for instrumentation or additional surgical procedures. Thus, 272 patients were analyzed with a mean age of 59.9 years (range 22–88 years). Diagnoses at presentation were cervical myelopathy (84.1%), central cord syndrome (7.2%), cervical myeloradiculopathy (3.4%), ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (1.9%), and other (3.4%). The most common complications were C5 palsy (n = 7, 2.6%) and wound infection (n = 7, 2.6%). Of the 7 cases of postoperative C5 palsies in this study, 6 occurred on the side of the open door. Of the C5 palsies, 2 were mild, 3 were moderate, and 2 were severe. Two of the 7 C5 palsies had a delayed (> 24 hours) onset. The C5 palsy incidence after CLF was 2.7% with no side preference.

CONCLUSIONS

C5 palsy after cervical decompression for myelopathy is a known occurrence, with a rate of 2.6% in the current study. The authors found that C5 palsies more commonly occur on the open side of the laminoplasty. This could be due to a greater manipulation of the nerve root on the side of the open door or greater stretch of the C5 root on the open-door side. If clinical symptoms and anatomical stenosis are symmetric, the authors recommend creating the laminoplasty hinge on the patient’s dominant side to minimize potential loss of dominant proximal arm function.

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Does the presence of cervical deformity in patients with baseline mild myelopathy increase operative urgency in adult cervical spinal surgery? A retrospective analysis

Peter S. Tretiakov, Emmanuel Budis, Pooja Dave, Jamshaid Mir, Matthew Galetta, Nathan Lorentz, M. Burhan Janjua, Pawel P. Jankowski, and Peter G. Passias

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to assess whether delaying surgical management of cervical deformity (CD) in patients with concomitant mild myelopathy increases the risk of suboptimal outcomes.

METHODS

Patients aged ≥ 18 years who had a baseline diagnosis of mild myelopathy with baseline and up to 2 years of postoperative data were assessed. Patients were categorized as having CD (CD+) or not (CD−) at baseline. Patients with symptoms of myelopathy for more than 1 year after the initial visit prior to surgery were considered delayed. Clinical and radiographic data were assessed using means comparison analyses. Multivariate regression analysis assessed correlations between increasing time to surgery and peri- and postoperative outcomes adjusted for baseline age and frailty score. Backstep logistic regression analysis assessed the risk of complications or reoperation, while controlling for baseline T1 slope minus cervical lordosis (TS-CL).

RESULTS

One hundred six patients were included (mean age 58.11 ± 11.97 years, 48% female, mean BMI 29.13 ± 6.89). Of the patients with baseline mild myelopathy, 22 (20.8%) were CD− while 84 (79.2%) were CD+. Overall, 9.5% of patients were considered to have delayed surgery. Linear regression revealed that both CD− and CD+ patients were more likely to require reoperation when there was more time between the initial visit and surgical admission (p < 0.001). Additionally, an adjusted logistic regression indicated that CD+ patients who had a greater length of time to surgery had a higher likelihood for major complications (p < 0.001). Conversely, CD+ patients who were operated on within 30 days of the initial visit had a significantly lower risk for a major complication (OR 0.901, 95% CI 0.889–1.105, p = 0.043), and a lower risk for reoperation (OR 0.954, 95% CI 0.877–1.090, p = 0.043), while controlling for the severity of deformity based on baseline TS-CL.

CONCLUSIONS

The findings of this study demonstrate that a delay in surgery after the initial visit significantly increases the risk for major complications and reoperation in patients with CD with associated mild baseline myelopathy. Early operative treatment in this patient population may lower the risk of postoperative complications.

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Editorial. Four-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion: a cautionary tale

Mohamad Bydon, Erica F. Bisson, Andrew K. Chan, and Praveen V. Mummaneni

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The effect of myelopathic symptoms on hospital costs, length of stay, and discharge location in anterior cervical discectomy and fusion

Ken Porche, Sasha Vaziri, Alan Stein, Omar Awan, Paul S. Kubilis, Paul Lipori, Daniel J. Hoh, Adam Polifka, and W. Christopher Fox

OBJECTIVE

Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is a common clinical degenerative disease treated with anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), which seriously impacts quality of life and causes severe disability. The objective of the study was to determine the effect of different characteristics of the neurological deficit found in myelopathic patients undergoing ACDFs on hospital cost, length of stay (LOS), and discharge location.

METHODS

This is a retrospective review of ACDF cases performed at a single institution by multiple surgeons from 2011 to 2017. Patient symptomatology, complications, comorbidities, demographics, surgical time, LOS, and discharge location were collected. Patients with readmissions or reoperations were excluded. Symptoms evaluated were based on clinical diagnosis, Japanese Orthopaedic Association classification, Ranawat grade, and Cooper scales. Symptoms were further grouped using principal component analysis. Cost was defined as surgical episode hospital stay costs plus outpatient clinic costs plus discharge disposition cost. Multivariate linear regression models were created to evaluate correlations with outcomes. The primary outcome was total 90-day hospital costs. Secondary outcomes were discharge location and LOS.

RESULTS

A total of 250 patients were included in the analyses. Discharge location, neuromonitoring use, number of surgical vertebral levels, cage use, LOS, surgical time, having a complication, and sex were all found to be predictive of total 90-day costs. Myelopathic symptomatology was not found to be associated with increased 90-day costs (p ≥ 0.131) when correcting for these other factors. Lower-extremity functionality was found to be associated with increased LOS (p < 0.0001). Upper-extremity myelopathy was found to be associated with increased discharge location needs (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

Cervical myelopathy was not found to be predictive of total 90-day costs using symptomatology based on multiple myelopathy grading systems. Lower-extremity functionality was, however, found to predict LOS, while upper-extremity myelopathy was found to predict increased discharge location needs. This implies that preoperative deficits from myelopathy should not be considered in a bundled payment system; however, certain myelopathic symptoms should be considered when determining the cost of care.

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Feasibility of postoperative diffusion-weighted imaging to assess representations of spinal cord microstructure in cervical spondylotic myelopathy

Justin K. Zhang, Saad Javeed, Jacob K. Greenberg, Kathleen S. Botterbush, Braeden Benedict, Jacob Blum, Christopher F. Dibble, Peng Sun, Sheng-Kwei Song, and Wilson Z. Ray

OBJECTIVE

Diffusion basis spectrum imaging (DBSI) has shown promise in evaluating cervical spinal cord structural changes in patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM). DBSI may also be valuable in the postoperative setting by serially tracking spinal cord microstructural changes following decompressive cervical spine surgery. Currently, there is a paucity of studies investigating this topic, likely because of challenges in resolving signal distortions from spinal instrumentation. Therefore, the objective of this study was to assess the feasibility of DBSI metrics extracted from the C3 spinal level to evaluate CSM patients postoperatively.

METHODS

Fifty CSM patients and 20 healthy controls were enrolled in a single-center prospective study between 2018 and 2020. All patients and healthy controls underwent preoperative and postoperative diffusion-weighted MRI (dMRI) at a 2-year follow-up. All CSM patients underwent decompressive cervical surgery. The modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (mJOA) score was used to categorize CSM patients as having mild, moderate, or severe myelopathy. DBSI metrics were extracted from the C3 spinal cord level to minimize image artifact and reduce partial volume effects. DBSI anisotropic tensors evaluated white matter tracts through fractional anisotropy, axial diffusivity, radial diffusivity, and fiber fraction. DBSI isotropic tensors assessed extra-axonal pathology through restricted and nonrestricted fractions.

RESULTS

Of the 50 CSM patients, both baseline and postoperative dMR images with sufficient quality for analysis were obtained in 27 patients. These included 15 patients with mild CSM (mJOA scores 15–17), 7 with moderate CSM (scores 12–14), and 5 with severe CSM (scores 0–11), who were followed up for a mean of 23.5 (SD 4.1, range 11–31) months. All preoperative C3-level DBSI measures were significantly different between CSM patients and healthy controls (p < 0.05), except DBSI fractional anisotropy (p = 0.31). At the 2-year follow-up, the same significance pattern was found between CSM patients and healthy controls, except DBSI radial diffusivity was no longer statistically significant (p = 0.75). When assessing change (i.e., postoperative − preoperative values) in C3-level DBSI measures, CSM patients exhibited significant decreases in DBSI radial diffusivity (p = 0.02), suggesting improvement in myelin integrity (i.e., remyelination) at the 2-year follow-up. Among healthy controls, there was no significant difference in DBSI metrics over time.

CONCLUSIONS

DBSI metrics derived from dMRI at the C3 spinal level can be used to provide meaningful insights into representations of the spinal cord microstructure of CSM patients at baseline and 2-year follow-up. DBSI may have the potential to characterize white matter tract recovery and inform outcomes following decompressive cervical surgery for CSM.

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Introduction. Toward a contemporaneous understanding of cervical spondylotic myelopathy

Andrew K. Chan, Erica F. Bisson, Mohamad Bydon, and Praveen V. Mummaneni

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Letter to the Editor. Machine learning–based prediction models in neurosurgery

Karl J. Habashy, Víctor A. Arrieta, and James Feghali

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Pseudarthrosis after four-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion without posterior fixation

Michael D. White, S. Harrison Farber, Mark A. Pacult, Corey T. Walker, James J. Zhou, Juan S. Uribe, Steve Chang, Udaya K. Kakarla, and Jay D. Turner

OBJECTIVE

Fusion rates and long-term outcomes are well established for anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) of 3 levels or fewer, but there is a paucity of similar data on 4-level fusions. The authors evaluated long-term fusion rates and clinical outcomes after 4-level ACDF without supplemental posterior instrumentation.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed patients who underwent 4-level ACDF at a single institution with at least 1-year of radiological follow-up. Fusion was determined by measuring change in interspinous distance at each segment on dynamic radiographs or by the presence of bridging bone on CT scans at minimum 1-year follow-up. Clinical outcomes were assessed using Neck Disability Index and Short Form-36.

RESULTS

A total of 63 patients (252 levels) met the inclusion criteria for the study, with a mean follow-up of 2.6 years. Complete radiographic fusion at all 4 levels was observed in 26 patients (41.3%). Of the 37 patients (58.7%) with radiographic pseudarthrosis, there was a mean of 1.35 nonfused levels. The fusion rate per level, however, was 80.2% (202/252 levels). The most common level demonstrating nonunion was the distal segment (C6–7), showing pseudarthrosis in 29 patients (46.8%), followed by the most proximal segment (C3–4) demonstrating nonunion in 9 patients (14.5%). The mean improvement in Neck Disability Index and Short Form-36 was 15.7 (p < 0.01) and 5.8 (p = 0.14), respectively, with improvement in both scores surpassing the minimum clinically important difference. One patient (1.6%) required revision surgery for symptomatic pseudarthrosis, and 5 patients (7.9%) underwent revision for symptomatic adjacent-segment disease. Patient-reported outcomes results are limited by the low rate of 1-year follow-up (50.8%), whereas reoperation data were available for all 63 patients.

CONCLUSIONS

More than half of patients undergoing 4-level ACDF without posterior fixation demonstrated pseudarthrosis of at least 1 level—most commonly the distal C6–7 level. One patient required revision for symptomatic pseudarthrosis. Patient-reported outcomes showed significant improvements at 1-year follow-up, but clinical follow-up was limited. This is the largest series to date to evaluate fusion outcomes in 4-level ACDF.

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Surgical strategies for the treatment of deformity-associated cervical spondylotic stretch myelopathy: a case series with technically nuanced illustrative operative videos

Wilson A. M. Fisher, Olivia E. Gilbert, Cheerag Upadhyaya, and Michael Galgano

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was to elucidate the vital role of anterior-only osteotomies for rigid cervical kyphosis causing stretch myelopathy by using illustrative cases and high-definition intraoperative videos.

METHODS

The authors describe 4 select patients who underwent anterior-only osteotomies within a 2-year time frame and demonstrate the nuances of each case with unique operative videos.

RESULTS

Outcomes for each of the cases demonstrated marked improvement in cervical spine alignment relative to preoperative conditions. Postoperative CT scans and upright radiographs for case 1 at 8 months demonstrated complete reduction of the kyphotic deformity and restoration of the C2 slope. In case 2, the 2-year postoperative radiographs showed significant realignment of the cervical spine, and the patient made significant neurological improvement since the operation, specifically in hand dexterity, balance, neck pain, and the ability to comfortably achieve and maintain a horizontal gaze. For case 3, postoperative upright radiographs revealed marked improvement in the patient’s cervical sagittal alignment. The 4-month follow-up was also notable for substantial improvement in postural neck pain, bilateral upper extremity strength, and continued improvements in dexterity. Case 4 also demonstrated an excellent outcome with unkinking of the patient’s spinal cord and correction of her sagittal plane deformity, as shown on her 5-month postoperative upright radiographs.

CONCLUSIONS

Deformity-associated cervical spondylotic stretch myelopathy often leads to devastating neurological decline and can significantly decrease quality of life. Carefully selected cases of circumferentially rigid cervical kyphosis can be successfully corrected with anterior-only osteotomies followed by posterior fixation while avoiding back-front-back operations.