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S. Harrison Farber, Soumya Sagar, Jakub Godzik, James J. Zhou, Corey T. Walker, Kaveh Khajavi, Jay D. Turner, and Juan S. Uribe

OBJECTIVE

Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) used at the lumbosacral junction provides arthrodesis for several indications. The anterior approach allows restoration of lumbar lordosis, an important goal of surgery. With hyperlordotic ALIF implants, several options may be employed to obtain the desired amount of lordosis. In this study, the authors compared the degree of radiographic lordosis achieved with lordotic and hyperlordotic ALIF implants at the L5–S1 segment.

METHODS

All patients undergoing L5–S1 ALIF from 2 institutions over a 4-year interval were included. Patients < 18 years of age or those with any posterior decompression or osteotomy were excluded. ALIF implants in the lordotic group had 8° or 12° of inherent lordosis, whereas implants in the hyperlordotic group had 20° or 30° of lordosis. Upright standing radiographs were used to determine all radiographic parameters, including lumbar lordosis, segmental lordosis, disc space lordosis, and disc space height. Separate analyses were performed for patients who underwent single-segment fixation at L5–S1 and for the overall cohort.

RESULTS

A total of 204 patients were included (hyperlordotic group, 93 [45.6%]; lordotic group, 111 [54.4%]). Single-segment ALIF at L5–S1 was performed in 74 patients (hyperlordotic group, 27 [36.5%]; lordotic group, 47 [63.5%]). The overall mean ± SD age was 61.9 ± 12.3 years; 58.3% of patients (n = 119) were women. The mean number of total segments fused was 3.2 ± 2.6. Overall, 66.7% (n = 136) of patients had supine surgery and 33.3% (n = 68) had lateral surgery. Supine positioning was significantly more common in the hyperlordotic group than in the lordotic group (83.9% [78/93] vs 52.3% [58/111], p < 0.001). After adjusting for differences in surgical positioning, the change in lumbar lordosis was significantly greater for hyperlordotic versus lordotic implants (3.6° ± 7.5° vs 0.4° ± 7.5°, p = 0.048) in patients with single-level fusion. For patients receiving hyperlordotic versus lordotic implants, changes were also significantly greater for segmental lordosis (12.4° ± 7.5° vs 8.4° ± 4.9°, p = 0.03) and disc space lordosis (15.3° ± 5.4° vs 9.3° ± 5.8°, p < 0.001) after single-level fusion at L5–S1. The change in disc space height was similar for these 2 groups (p = 0.23).

CONCLUSIONS

Hyperlordotic implants provided a greater degree of overall lumbar lordosis restoration as well as L5–S1 segmental and disc space lordosis restoration than lordotic implants. The change in disc space height was similar. Differences in lateral and supine positioning did not affect these parameters.

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Toshiaki Hayashi, Tomomi Kimiwada, Reizo Shirane, and Teiji Tominaga

OBJECTIVE

Lipoma of the conus medullaris (LCM) causes neurological symptoms known as tethered cord syndrome (TCS). The symptoms can be seen at diagnosis and during long-term follow-up. In this report, pediatric patients with LCMs who underwent untethering surgery, under the policy of performing surgery if diagnosed regardless of symptoms, were retrospectively reviewed to evaluate long-term surgical outcomes. Possible risk factors for retethered cord syndrome (ReTCS) were evaluated in the long-term follow-up period.

METHODS

A total of 51 consecutive pediatric patients with LCMs who underwent a first untethering surgery and were followed for > 100 months were retrospectively analyzed. The surgery was performed with the partial removal technique. Pre- and postoperative clinical and radiological data were reviewed to analyze the outcomes of surgery and identify potential risk factors for ReTCS.

RESULTS

During follow-up, 12 patients experienced neurological deterioration due to ReTCS. The overall 10-year and 15-year progression-free survival rates were 82.3% and 75.1%, respectively. On univariate analysis, a lipoma type of lipomyelomeningocele (OR 11, 95% CI 2.50–48.4; p = 0.0014), patient age at the time of surgery (OR 0.41, 95% CI 0.14–1.18; p = 0.0070), and the mean patient growth rate after surgery (OR 2.00, 95% CI 1.12–3.41; p = 0.0040) were significant factors associated with ReTCS. Cox proportional hazard models showed that a lipoma type of lipomyelomeningocele (HR 5.16, 95% CI 1.54–20.1; p = 0.010) and the mean growth rate after surgery (HR 1.88, 95% CI 1.00–3.50; p = 0.040) were significantly associated with the occurrence of ReTCS.

CONCLUSIONS

More complex lesions and a high patient growth rate after surgery seemed to indicate increased risk of ReTCS. Larger prospective studies and registries are needed to define the risks of ReTCS more adequately.

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Conor P. Lynch, Elliot D. K. Cha, Shruthi Mohan, Cara E. Geoghegan, Caroline N. Jadczak, and Kern Singh

OBJECTIVE

The Physical Component Score of the Veterans RAND 12 Item Health Survey (VR-12 PCS) has been assessed for use at short-term and intermediate-term time points for lumbar fusion populations. This study assesses the long-term validity and establishes minimal clinically important difference (MCID) values of VR-12 PCS in patients undergoing minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS TLIF).

METHODS

A surgical registry was retrospectively reviewed for primary, elective, single-level MIS TLIF procedures with posterior instrumentation. Patients missing preoperative and 2-year postoperative VR-12 PCS survey data were excluded. VR-12 PCS, SF-12 Health Survey Physical Component Summary (SF-12 PCS), Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Physical Function (PROMIS PF), and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) were recorded preoperatively and postoperatively. Responsiveness of the VR-12 measure was assessed in two ways. First, the mean postoperative PROM scores were compared with preoperative baseline values using a paired Student t-test. Second, MCID values were calculated using both distribution-based and anchor-based methods and used to assess improvement in VR-12 score at the 2-year time point. Discriminant validity of the VR-12 was assessed using cross-sectional and longitudinal anchors. Convergent validity of the VR-12 measure was assessed using Pearson’s correlation coefficient and partial time-independent correlation. Floor and ceiling effects were assessed.

RESULTS

A total of 74 patients who underwent MIS TLIF were included. The VR-12 PCS demonstrated significant improvements at all time points from 12 weeks to 2 years (p < 0.001 for all). VR-12 PCSs were significantly different for patients classified using cross-sectional anchors (p < 0.001) and longitudinal anchors (p ≤ 0.005). Calculated MCID values ranged from 4.1 to 8.5, and 4.1 was selected as the optimal MCID, which 87.8% of patients achieved. Strong, significant correlations of the VR-12 PCS with SF-12 PCS and PROMIS PF were demonstrated at all time points (p < 0.001 for all). No significant floor or ceiling effects were detected.

CONCLUSIONS

The VR-12 PCS demonstrated excellent responsiveness, discriminant and convergent validity, and no significant floor or ceiling effects up to 2 years after MIS TLIF. Therefore, VR-12 PCS may serve as a valid measure of long-term physical function.

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Brian F. Saway, Mohammed Alshareef, Orgest Lajthia, Coby Cunningham, Chelsea Shope, Jaime L. Martinez, and Stephen P. Kalhorn

OBJECTIVE

Thoracic disc herniations (TDHs) are a challenging pathology. A variety of surgical techniques have been used to achieve spinal cord decompression. This series elucidates the versatility, efficacy, and safety of the partial transpedicular approach with the use of intraoperative ultrasound and ultrasonic aspiration for resection of TDHs of various sizes, locations, and consistencies. This technique can be deployed to safely remove all TDHs.

METHODS

A retrospective review was performed of patients who underwent a thoracic discectomy via the partial transpedicular approach between January 2014 and December 2020 by a single surgeon. Variables reviewed included demographics, perioperative imaging, and functional outcome scores.

RESULTS

A total of 43 patients (53.5% female) underwent 54 discectomies. The most common presenting symptoms were myelopathy (86%), motor weakness (72%), and sensory deficit (65%) with a symptom duration of 10.4 ± 11.6 months. A total of 21 (38.9%) discs were fully calcified on imaging and 15 (27.8%) were partially calcified. A total of 36 (66.7%) were giant TDHs (> 40% canal compromise). The average operative time was 197.2 ± 77.1 minutes with an average blood loss of 238.8 ± 250 ml. Six patients required ICU stays. Hospital length of stay was 4.40 ± 3.4 days. Of patients with follow-up MRI, 38 of 40 (95%) disc levels demonstrated < 20% residual disc. Postoperative Frankel scores (> 3 months) were maintained or improved for all patients, with 28 (65.1%) patients having an increase of 1 grade or more on their Frankel score. Six (14%) patients required repeat surgery, 2 of which were due to reherniation, 2 were from adjacent-level herniation, and 2 others were from wound problems. Patients with calcified TDHs had similar improvement in Frankel grade compared to patients without calcified TDH. Additionally, improvement in intraoperative neuromonitoring was associated with a greater improvement in Frankel grade.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors demonstrate a minimally disruptive, posterior approach that uses intraoperative ultrasound and ultrasonic aspiration with excellent outcomes and a complication profile similar to or better than other reported case series. This posterior approach is a valuable complement to the spine surgeon’s arsenal for the confident tackling of all TDHs.

Open access

Faraz Behzadi, Edvin Telemi, Tarek R. Mansour, Thomas M. Zervos, Muwaffak M. Abdulhak, and Ellen L. Air

BACKGROUND

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) uses unique electric stimulation parameters to selectively treat specific regions of chronic or refractory back pain. Changing these parameters can lead to spreading paresthesia and/or pain beyond the desired region.

OBSERVATIONS

A patient with a history of stable, successful SCS treatment presented with acute development of paresthesias that were relieved by reduction of stimulation parameters. The patient required paradoxically lower SCS settings for control of chronic back pain. This presentation prompted further investigation, which revealed a new disc protrusion and cord compression at the level of the paddle lead.

LESSONS

In patients with SCS, a new onset of back pain accompanied by acute paresthesia that is reversible by reducing the SCS amplitude warrants investigation for new spine pathology.

Open access

Donny Argie, Christopher Lauren, and Elric B. Malelak

BACKGROUND

Xanthoma is a granulomatous lesion that develops from leakage of circulating serum lipoprotein into the surrounding tissue. An isolated intracranial xanthoma is rarely reported and usually misdiagnosed. Intracranial xanthoma is also rarely found in patients with hyperlipidemia. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, no previous studies and literature have reported bilateral involvement of intracranial xanthoma in the frontal lobe.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors reported an unusual case of bilateral involvement of intracranial xanthoma in the frontal lobe with associated type II hyperlipidemia in a 42-year-old woman. Macroscopically, the tumor had an appearance of greyish-yellow color with a brittle, solid consistency. Histopathological examination revealed numerous lipid-laden macrophages surrounded by a cystic, necrotic, partially hemorrhagic area, with some parts consisting of hemosiderophages and proliferative capillary blood vessels. The histopathological findings indicated the characteristics of xanthoma.

LESSONS

Bilateral frontal intracranial xanthoma with associated type II hyperlipidemia is an unusual finding. Despite its rarity and wide variety of radiological presentations, it should be considered one of the differential diagnoses of lesions that develop intracranially and intraaxially. Confirmation with histopathological examination is needed to exclude from other differential diagnoses.

Open access

Kasper S. Jacobsen, Rico F. Schou, Frantz R. Poulsen, and Christian B. Pedersen

BACKGROUND

Surgery at the cervicomedullary junction carries a risk of damaging vital brainstem functions. Because the nucleus of the solitary tract (NS) is involved in the baroreceptor reflex, damage to its integrity may lead to orthostatic hypotension.

OBSERVATIONS

A 56-year-old man with a medical history of hypertension, von Hippel-Lindau disease, and previous bilateral adrenalectomy due to pheochromocytoma was referred with symptoms of dysphagia and paralysis of the left vocal cord. Paralysis of the left vagus nerve was suspected. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a contrast-enhancing cystic process in the cervicomedullary junction. Twenty-three years earlier, the patient had undergone surgical treatment for a hemangioblastoma in the same region. After repeated surgery, the patient temporarily developed orthostatic hypotension. At discharge, the patient no longer needed antihypertensive medication.

LESSONS

Surgery near the cervicomedullary junction can affect the NS, leading to disruption of the baroreceptor response that regulates blood pressure.

Open access

Melanie Lang-Orsini, Julian Wu, Carl B. Heilman, Alina Kravtsova, Gene Weinstein, Neel Madan, and Knarik Arkun

BACKGROUND

Primary meningeal melanocytic neoplasms are exceedingly rare tumors, representing only 0.06% to 0.1% of all primary brain tumors and ranging in spectrum from benign localized tumors to highly aggressive malignant lesions. The diagnosis of these tumors is often challenging from clinical, radiological, and pathologic standpoints. Equally challenging is the distinction between primary meningeal melanocytic neoplasm and metastatic melanoma.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors reported the case of a 41-year-old man with imaging findings diagnostic of neurofibromatosis type 2: bilateral internal auditory canal lesions (most consistent with bilateral vestibular schwannomas), two dura-based lesions presumed to be meningiomas, multiple spinal lesions consistent with peripheral nerve sheath tumors, and one intramedullary spinal lesion consistent with an ependymoma. Biopsy of these lesions revealed melanocytic neoplasms with mild to moderate atypia and a mildly elevated proliferation index, which made the distinction between benign and malignant challenging. In addition, the disseminated nature of these tumors made it difficult to determinate whether they arose from the meninges or represented metastases from an occult primary melanoma.

LESSONS

This case illustrated the challenges presented by the diagnosis of meningeal melanocytic neoplasms and highlighted the importance of integrating the clinical and radiographic findings with histologic appearance and molecular studies.

Open access

Hanna House, Jacob Archer, and Jamie Bradbury

BACKGROUND

Primary spinal melanoma is extremely rare, accounting for ∼1% of all primary melanomas. Typically presenting insidiously in the thoracic spinal cord, primary spinal melanomas can have an acute presentation due to their propensity to hemorrhage.

OBSERVATIONS

Despite its rarity, primary spinal melanoma should be included in the differential diagnosis when a hemorrhagic pattern of T1 and T2 intensities is seen on magnetic resonance imaging. Furthermore, the complete diagnosis is crucial because the prognosis of a primary spinal melanoma is considerably more favorable than that of a primary cutaneous melanoma with metastatic spread.

LESSONS

Resection is the treatment of choice, with some authors advocating for postoperative chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and/or radiation. We describe a case of acute quadriplegia from hemorrhagic primary spinal melanoma requiring resection.

Open access

Sushil Patkar

BACKGROUND

Displaced odontoid fractures that are irreducible with traction and have cervicomedullary compression by the displaced distal fracture fragment or deformity caused by facetal malalignment require early realignment and stabilization. Realignment with ultimate solid fracture fusion and atlantoaxial joint fusion, in some situations, are the aims of surgery. Fifteen such patients were treated with direct anterior extrapharyngeal open reduction and realignment of displaced fracture fragments with realignment of the atlantoaxial facets, followed by a variable screw placement (VSP) plate in compression mode across the fracture or anterior atlantoaxial fixation (transarticular screws or atlantoaxial plate screw construct) or both.

OBSERVATIONS

Anatomical realignment with rigid fixation was achieved in all patients. Fracture fusion without implant failure was observed in 100% of the patients at 6 months, with 1 unrelated mortality. Minimum follow-up has been 6 months in 14 patients and a maximum of 3 years in 4 patients, with 1 unrelated mortality.

LESSONS

Most irreducible unstable odontoid fractures can be anatomically realigned by anterior extrapharyngeal approach by facet joint manipulation. Plate (VSP) and screws permit rigid fixation in compression mode with 100% fusion. Any associated atlantoaxial instability can be treated from the same exposure.