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Open access

Cryptogenic cervical intramedullary abscess with rapidly progressive myelopathy: illustrative case

Nebras M. Warsi, Ann Wilson, Armaan K. Malhotra, Jerry C. Ku, Ahmed A. Najjar, Esther Bui, Michael Baker, Eric Bartlett, and Mojgan Hodaie

BACKGROUND

The purpose of the present case report is to highlight the presentation, workup, clinical decision making, and operative intervention for a 68-year-old woman who developed rapidly progressive myelopathy secondary to idiopathic cervical intramedullary abscess.

OBSERVATIONS

The patient underwent laminectomy and aspiration/biopsy of the lesion. Intraoperatively, division of the posterior median sulcus released a large volume of purulent material growing the oral pathogens Eikenella corrodens and Gemella morbillorum. Broad-spectrum antibiotics were initiated postoperatively. At the 6-month follow-up, the patient had almost completely recovered with some persistent hand dysesthesia. Complete infectious workup, including full dental assessment and an echocardiogram, failed to reveal the source of her infection.

LESSONS

The authors report the first case of cryptogenic spinal intramedullary abscess secondary to Eikenella spp. and Gemella spp. coinfection. Intramedullary abscesses are exceptionally rare and most commonly develop in children with dermal sinus malformations or in the context of immunosuppression. In adults without risk factors, they can readily be mistaken for more common pathologies in this age group, such as intramedullary neoplasms or demyelinating disease. Prompt diagnosis and management based on rapidly progressive myelopathy, assessment of infectious risk factors and/or symptoms, and targeted imaging are critical to avoid potentially devastating neurological sequelae.

Open access

Management of a cervical spine neurenteric cyst via an anterior surgical approach: illustrative case

Arsalaan Salehani, Sasha Howell, and Daniel Harmon

BACKGROUND

Central nervous system neurenteric cysts (NCs) represent a rare entity thought to arise from failure of the separation of endodermal and neuroectodermal elements during week 3 of embryogenesis. They account for 0.7–1.3% of all spinal cord lesions and are typically intradural extramedullary lesions located near the cervicothoracic junction. Most NCs are associated with multisystem malformation disorders, making a solitary extramedullary NC a rare entity.

OBSERVATIONS

A 45-year-old man presented with progressive right lower-extremity weakness and an inability to walk. Cervical spine magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated an approximately 1.6 × 1.1 × 2.7–cm, T2 hyperintense, nonenhancing, intradural, extramedullary cystic lesion at the level of C6–7 eccentric to the right with atrophy of the spinal cord. An anterior surgical approach was used for resection of the cyst in totality with C6–7 corpectomies and anterior plating and fixation from C5 to T1. Postoperatively at 1 month, the patient denied any significant neck or arm pain and demonstrated improving right lower-extremity strength, allowing some funcitonal independence.

LESSONS

A solitary, extramedullary cervical NC is a rare entity, with a posterior surgical approach for resection primarily described in the literature. The authors present anterior corpectomy and plating with fixation as a viable surgical approach for this rare pathology.

Open access

A modern multidisciplinary approach to a large cervicothoracic chordoma using staged en bloc resection with intraoperative image-guided navigation and 3D-printed modeling: illustrative case

Nathan J. Pertsch, Owen P. Leary, Joaquin Q. Camara-Quintana, David D. Liu, Tianyi Niu, Albert S. Woo, Thomas T. Ng, Adetokunbo A. Oyelese, Jared S. Fridley, and Ziya L. Gokaslan

BACKGROUND

Cervicothoracic junction chordomas are uncommon primary spinal tumors optimally treated with en bloc resection. Although en bloc resection is the gold standard for treatment of mobile spinal chordoma, tumor location, size, and extent of involvement frequently complicate the achievement of negative margins. In particular, chordoma involving the thoracic region can require a challenging anterior access, and en bloc resection can lead to a highly destabilized spine.

OBSERVATIONS

Modern technological advances make en bloc resection more technically feasible than ever before. In this case, the successful en bloc resection of a particularly complex cervicothoracic junction chordoma was facilitated by a multidisciplinary surgical approach that maximized the use of intraoperative computed tomography–guided spinal navigation and patient-specific three-dimensional–printed modeling.

LESSONS

The authors review the surgical planning and specific techniques that facilitated the successful en bloc resection of this right-sided chordoma via image-guided parasagittal osteotomy across 2 stages. The integration of emerging visualization technologies into complex spinal column tumor management may help to provide optimal oncological care for patients with challenging primary tumors of the mobile spine.

Open access

Large prevertebral hematoma and carotid pseudoaneurysm following percutaneous anterior cervical discectomy: illustrative case

Gregory W. Basil, Annelise C. Sprau, Robert M. Starke, Allan D. Levi, and Michael Y. Wang

BACKGROUND

The percutaneous, endoscope-assisted anterior cervical discectomy is a relatively new procedure, and because of its novelty, complications are minimal and pertinent literature is scarce. This approach relies on a sufficient anatomical understanding of the vital neurovascular structures in the operating workspace. Although complications are rare, they can be significant.

OBSERVATIONS

The patient presented with difficulty breathing following an anterior percutaneous cervical discectomy performed at an outpatient surgical center. Imaging revealed a prevertebral hematoma and multiple carotid pseudoaneurysms. Given the large prevertebral hematoma and concern for imminent airway collapse, the authors proceeded with emergent intubation and surgical evacuation of the clot.

LESSONS

The authors propose managing complications in a fashion similar to those for comparable injuries after classic anterior approaches. Definitive management of our patient’s carotid injury would require stenting and, therefore, dual antiplatelet agents. Thus, the authors proceeded with the hematoma evacuation first. Additionally, careful dissection was needed to decrease further carotid damage. Thus, the authors made a more rostral incision to maintain the given stability of the carotid insult before the angiographic intervention to follow. It is the authors’ hope that the technical pearls from this two-staged open hematoma evacuation and endovascular stenting may guide future presurgical and intraoperative planning and management of complications, should they arise.

Open access

Person-in-the-barrel syndrome following cervical spine surgery: illustrative case

Lisa B. E. Shields, Vasudeva G. Iyer, Yi Ping Zhang, and Christopher B. Shields

BACKGROUND

Person-in-the-barrel syndrome is characterized by bilateral brachial diplegia, intact cranial nerves, and preserved lower-extremity strength. Most cases are due to bilateral supratentorial brain lesions at the border zone of the anterior and middle cerebral artery vascular territories. This condition has been observed with spinal pathology, primarily involving vascular dissection and thromboembolism.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors’ case is the first in the literature to highlight person-in-the-barrel syndrome immediately following cervical spine surgery. Weakness of the deltoids, biceps, infraspinatus, and brachioradialis was observed bilaterally postoperatively. Electromyograph (EMG)-nerve conduction velocity (NCV) studies revealed a cervical radiculopathy involving C5 and C6 bilaterally with denervation of the deltoids, biceps, and brachioradialis. Within 8 months of cervical spine surgery, the patient regained improvement of the bilateral brachial diplegia.

LESSONS

EMG/NCV studies play a valuable role in detecting cervical radiculopathy after cervical spine surgery in patients with bilateral brachial diplegia. The authors postulate that this condition may have occurred following neck hyperextension during cervical cage placement, increasing the foraminal stenosis at C4–5 and C5–6 and worsening the C5 and C6 radiculopathy. Spinal surgeons should be cognizant of person-in-the-barrel syndrome that may ensue following cervical spine surgery and promptly identify and treat this condition to offer the best prognosis for a favorable patient outcome.

Open access

Large intramedullary bronchogenic cyst of the cervical spine: illustrative case

Adela Wu, Mahesh Patel, Dawn Darbonne, and Harminder Singh

BACKGROUND

Spinal bronchogenic cysts are rare entities arising from errors in embryogenesis and consisting of respiratory epithelial cells. To date, there are three other published accounts of intramedullary cysts, which were partially resected and thereby warrant close follow-up and monitoring. The authors present an illustrative case of a patient presenting with Klippel-Feil anomaly and a large intramedullary bronchogenic cyst in the upper cervical spine.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors noted fusion of the C5–6 laminae as they performed the C2–6 laminectomy. After dural opening, an intramedullary lesion with a smooth, fibrous component emerging from the dorsal spinal cord was immediately observed. The dorsal spinal columns were not involved with this cyst wall or the other smaller cysts, which all contained gray fluid. The cyst walls were partially resected and sent for pathological examination.

LESSONS

Spinal developmental cysts are associated with other anatomical anomalies, such as Klippel-Feil anomaly, arising from errors in embryogenesis. For intramedullary lesions such as this patient’s bronchogenic cyst, partial resection and decompression are the goals of surgery because aggressive debulking may lead to neurological compromise. Close imaging follow-up is warranted.

Open access

Superficial siderosis of the central nervous system with epilepsy originating from traumatic cervical injury: illustrative case

Liqing Xu, Changwei Yuan, Yingjin Wang, Shengli Shen, and Hongzhou Duan

BACKGROUND

Superficial siderosis of the central nervous system (SSCNS) is a rare condition that results from hemosiderin deposition in the brain, brainstem, cerebellum, and spinal cord as a result of chronic, repeated, and recurrent subarachnoid hemorrhage. SSCNS that originates in the spinal cord is rarely reported, and epilepsy as a manifestation of such a case has not been reported before.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors reported a rare case of SSCNS with epilepsy originating from traumatic cervical injury and presented a literature review of all reported SSCNS cases that originated in the spine. The patient was a 29-year-old man with a 16-year history of progressive headache accompanied by seizures, ataxia, and sensorineural hearing loss. He had experienced a traumatic cervical injury at age 7. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a characteristic hypointense rim around the pons and cervical spinal cord on susceptibility-weighted imaging scans. Cerebrospinal fluid examination during a headache episode confirmed subarachnoid hemorrhage and increased intracranial pressure. Surgical exploration revealed a C6 dural defect with bone spurs inserted into the dura mater. After the patient underwent dura mater repair and shunt implantation, his symptoms disappeared completely except for hearing loss.

LESSONS

This rare case indicated that symptomatic epilepsy followed by SSCNS can be eliminated by complete repair of the cervical dura mater.

Open access

Anterior cervical transvertebral approach for resection of an intraspinal ventral lesion: illustrative case

Dongao Zhang, Tao Fan, Wayne Fan, and Xingang Zhao

BACKGROUND

The anterior cervical corpectomy and fusion approach has been reported for the removal of ventral cervical tumors. However, the normal cervical vertebral body and the adjacent intervertebral discs have to be sacrificed. In this paper, the authors describe a novel anterior cervical transvertebral approach for the resection of cervical intraspinal ventral lesions.

OBSERVATIONS

A patient presented with an anteriorly placed extramedullary cyst. An anterior cervical transvertebral open-window and close-window approach was designed and applied to resect an intraspinal ventral enterogenous cyst. With this novel technique, a square was cut through the whole vertebral body at the four sides. After the cyst resection, the bone block was restored and fixed with a titanium miniplate. The lesion was totally resected, and the compression of the spinal cord was relieved. The physiological function of the cervical spine was kept intact after the operation. There was no postsurgical complication. The cervical alignment was normal at the 1-year postoperative follow-up.

LESSONS

The anterior cervical transvertebral open-window and close-window approach was developed and confirmed to be effective for the resection of cervical intraspinal lesions. The cervical physiological structure and function can be restored with this new technique.

Open access

First reported use of real-time intraoperative computed tomography angiography image registration using the Machine-vision Image Guided Surgery system: illustrative case

Harsh Wadhwa, Karen Malacon, Zachary A. Medress, Christopher Leung, Matthew Sklar, and Corinna C. Zygourakis

BACKGROUND

Vertebral artery injury is a devastating potential complication of C1–2 posterior fusion. Intraoperative navigation can reduce the risk of neurovascular complications and improve screw placement accuracy. However, the use of intraoperative computed tomography (CT) increases radiation exposure and operative time, and it is unable to image vascular structures. The Machine-vision Image Guided Surgery (MvIGS) system uses optical topographic imaging and machine vision software to rapidly register using preoperative imaging. The authors presented the first report of intraoperative navigation with MvIGS registered using a preoperative CT angiogram (CTA) during C1–2 posterior fusion.

OBSERVATIONS

MvIGS can register in seconds, minimizing operative time with no additional radiation exposure. Furthermore, surgeons can better adjust for abnormal vertebral artery anatomy and increase procedure safety.

LESSONS

CTA-guided navigation generated a three-dimensional reconstruction of cervical spine anatomy that assisted surgeons during the procedure. Although further study is needed, the use of intraoperative MvIGS may reduce the risk of vertebral artery injury during C1–2 posterior fusion.

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.