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Open access

Posterior communicating artery injury and symptomatic vasospasm after high-energy blunt head injury: illustrative case

Nidal B. Omar, Gustavo Chagoya, Dario Marotta, Galal Elsayed, and Mark R. Harrigan

BACKGROUND

Most of the published literature pertaining to blunt traumatic cerebrovascular injury (BCVI) is focused on extracranial arterial injury. Studies of intracranial arterial injury are relatively uncommon.

OBSERVATIONS

The clinical course of a patient who sustained an injury to the right posterior communicating artery followed by infarction due to vasospasm after severe traumatic brain injury is presented, along with a focused literature review.

LESSONS

Intracranial BCVI is uncommon, and this report may serve to raise awareness of BCVI management and the importance of recognizing symptomatic vasospasm due to BCVI.

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

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.

Open access

Surgical removal of a migrating intraspinal bullet: illustrative case

Daniel de los Cobos, Alexa Powers, Jonathan P. Behrens, Tobias A. Mattei, and Pooria Salari

BACKGROUND

Management of gunshot wounds to the spine with subsequent spinal cord injury is a controversial topic among spine surgeons. Possible complications of retained intradural bullets include delayed neurological deficits, spinal instability, and lead toxicity. The authors’ purpose is to review the potential complications of retained intraspinal bullets and the surgical indications for intraspinal bullet removal.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors describe a case of a patient who developed cauda equina symptoms following a gunshot wound to the lumbar spine with a migrating retained intraspinal bullet. Because of neurological changes, the patient underwent surgical removal of the bullet. At the postoperative clinic visit 2 weeks following bullet removal, the patient reported resolution of her symptoms.

LESSONS

Gunshot wounds to the spine are challenging cases. The decision to proceed with surgical management in the event of retained bullet fragments is multifactorial and relies heavily on the patient’s neurological status. A current review of the literature suggests that, in cases of cauda equina injuries and the development of neurological deficits in patients with retained intraspinal fragments, there is benefit from surgical decompression and bullet removal. Careful preoperative planning is required, and consideration of spinal alignment with positional changes is crucial.

Open access

Secondary parkinsonism caused by chronic subdural hematomas owing to compressed cortex and a disturbed cortico–basal ganglia–thalamocortical circuit: illustrative case

Masao Fukumura, Sho Murase, Yuzo Kuroda, Kazutomo Nakazawa, and Yasufumi Gon

BACKGROUND

Chronic subdural hematoma (CSDH) is a commonly encountered condition in neurological and neurosurgical practice, but the presence of concomitant parkinsonism is extremely rare. Basal ganglia disturbance is a well-known underlying mechanism; however, few cases present with cerebral cortex compression as the cause of symptoms.

OBSERVATIONS

A 52-year-old man was referred to the authors’ hospital with a 5-week history of gait disturbance and suspected Parkinson’s disease. Neurological examination revealed a mask-like face, stooped posture, left-predominant rigidity, and postural instability. The authors initiated dopamine agonist administration, and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was scheduled. One week later, MRI showed bilateral CSDHs. The hematomas markedly compressed the bilateral cerebral cortex, whereas the midbrain and basal ganglia structures were intact. The patient underwent burr hole drainage and was discharged after 9 days without sequelae.

LESSONS

CSDH can cause parkinsonism by compressing the cerebral cortex, which is a part of the cortico–basal ganglia–thalamocortical circuit. Surgery leads to positive outcomes, as illustrated by this case, in which cerebral cortex compression caused parkinsonism.

Open access

An unusual injury mechanism of atlantoaxial dislocation: illustrative case

Yakubu Ibrahim, Yiwei Zhao, Wubo Liu, Suomao Yuan, Yonghao Tian, Lianlei Wang, and Xinyu Liu

BACKGROUND

Atlantoaxial dislocation (AAD) is a rare and potentially life-threatening condition. Various underlying mechanisms of injury are described in the literature. Here, the authors report an unusual nontraumatic injury mechanism of AAD in a 12-year-old patient.

OBSERVATIONS

A 12-year-old boy presented with intolerable neck pain and numbness in both upper limbs. The patient’s symptoms had started 2 months after the initiation of online classes during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic without a history of trauma. He used a computer for personal study and online classes for prolonged hours with no respite. On physical and radiological evaluation, he was diagnosed with AAD. Before surgery, skull traction was applied to reduce the dislocation and posterior C1 lateral mass screw and C2 pedicle screw fixation was performed. An optimal clinical outcome was achieved with no postoperative complications. A preoperative visual analog scale score of 8.0 was reduced to 0 postoperatively.

LESSONS

A prolonged fixed neck posture is an unusual underlying cause of AAD. Posterior C1 lateral mass and C2 pedicle screw fixation results in an optimal clinical outcome.

Open access

Decision-making for decompressive craniectomy in traumatic brain injury aided by multimodality monitoring: illustrative case

Myranda B. Robinson, Peter Shin, Robert Alunday, Chad Cole, Michel T. Torbey, and Andrew P. Carlson

BACKGROUND

Severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) requires individualized, physiology-based management to avoid secondary brain injury. Recent improvements in quantitative assessments of metabolism, oxygenation, and subtle examination changes may potentially allow for more targeted, rational approaches beyond simple intracranial pressure (ICP)-based management. The authors present a case in which multimodality monitoring assisted in decision-making for decompressive craniectomy.

OBSERVATIONS

This patient sustained a severe TBI without mass lesion and was monitored with a multimodality approach. Although imaging did not seem grossly worrisome, ICP, pressure reactivity, brain tissue oxygenation, and pupillary response all began worsening, pushing toward decompressive craniectomy. All parameters normalized after decompression, and the patient had a satisfactory clinical outcome.

LESSONS

Given recent conflicting randomized trials on the utility of decompressive craniectomy in severe TBI, precision, physiology-based approaches may offer an improved strategy to determine who is most likely to benefit from aggressive treatment. Trials are underway to test components of these strategies.

Open access

Management of thoracic spinal cord injury in a professional American football athlete: illustrative case

Joseph C. Maroon, Andrew Faramand, Nitin Agarwal, Amanda L. Harrington, Vikas Agarwal, John Norwig, and David O. Okonkwo

BACKGROUND

A case of catastrophic thoracic spinal cord injury (SCI) sustained by a professional American football player with severe scoliosis is presented.

OBSERVATIONS

A 25-year-old professional football player sustained an axial loading injury while tackling. Examination revealed a T8 American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale grade A complete SCI. Methylprednisolone and hypothermia protocols were initiated. Computed tomography scan of the thoracic spine demonstrated T8 and T9 facet fractures on the left at the apex of a 42° idiopathic scoliotic deformity. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) demonstrated T2 spinal cord hyperintensity at T9. He regained trace movement of his right lower extremity over 12 hours, which was absent on posttrauma day 2. Repeat MRI revealed interval cord compression and worsening of T2 signal change at T7-T8 secondary to hematoma. Urgent decompression and fusion from T8 to T10 were performed. Additional treatment included high-dose omega-3 fatty acids and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. A 2-month inpatient spinal cord rehabilitation program was followed by prolonged outpatient physical therapy. He currently can run and jump with minimal residual distal left lower limb spasticity.

LESSONS

This is the first known football-related thoracic SCI with idiopathic scoliosis. Aggressive medical and surgical intervention with intensive rehabilitation formed the treatment protocol, with a favorable outcome achieved.

Open access

Sinking skin flap syndrome in a patient with bone resorption after cranioplasty and ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement: illustrative case

Camryn R. Rohringer, Taryn J. Rohringer, Sumit Jhas, and Mehdi Shahideh

BACKGROUND

Sinking skin flap syndrome (SSFS) is an uncommon complication that can follow decompressive craniectomy. Even less common is the development of SSFS following bone resorption after cranioplasty with exacerbation by a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt.

OBSERVATIONS

A 56-year-old male sustained a severe traumatic brain injury and subsequently underwent an emergent decompressive craniectomy. After craniectomy, a cranioplasty was performed, and a VP shunt was placed. The patient returned to the emergency department 5 years later with left-sided hemiplegia and seizures. His clinical presentation was attributed to complete bone flap resorption (BFR) complicated by SSFS likely exacerbated by his VP shunt and the resultant mass effect on the underlying brain parenchyma. The patient underwent surgical intervention via synthetic bone flap replacement. Within 6 days, he recovered to his baseline neurological status.

LESSONS

SSFS after complete BFR is a rare complication following cranioplasty. To the authors’ knowledge, having a VP shunt in situ to exacerbate the clinical picture has yet to be reported in the literature. In addition to presenting the case, the authors also describe an effective treatment strategy of decompressing the brain and elevating the scalp flap while addressing the redundant tissue, then using a synthetic mesh to reconstruct the calvarial defect while keeping the shunt in situ.