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Open access

Compressive myelopathy from diffuse spinal dural calcifications in a patient with end-stage renal disease: illustrative case

Alexis Malecki, Jacob Pawloski, Anthony Anzalone, Kelly Shaftel, Hassan Ali Fadel, and Ian Lee

BACKGROUND

Diffuse spinal dural calcification is a rare disorder associated with hyperparathyroidism, including the secondary forms associated with renal failure, osteodystrophy, and chronic hypocalcemia. Here, the authors report a rare case of diffuse dural calcification causing spinal cord compression with myelopathy, requiring decompressive surgery with duraplasty to achieve adequate decompression.

OBSERVATIONS

A 46-year-old male with a history of renal failure on dialysis presented with 2 months of progressive neuropathic pain, lower-extremity weakness, and nonsustained clonus. Spine imaging showed severe renal osteodystrophy with multilevel compression fractures and diffuse dural calcifications with areas of invagination causing severe spinal cord compression. Decompressive surgery was recommended. In surgery, a thickened and calcified dura was encountered with areas of buckling causing spinal cord compression. The invaginated area of the dura was resected and reconstructed with patch duraplasty. The patient’s neurological status remained unchanged postoperatively, and at the 6-month follow-up, the patient reported significant improvement in pain and muscle spasms.

LESSONS

Diffuse dural calcifications are a rare complication of prolonged dialysis and secondary hyperparathyroidism. When there is resultant spinal cord compression, this condition requires an intradural approach that addresses the thickened, calcified dura directly to obtain adequate spinal cord decompression.

Open access

Minimally invasive resection of a prominent transverse process in neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome: new application for a primarily spinal approach. Illustrative case

Marc Hohenhaus, Johann Lambeck, Nico Kremers, Jürgen Beck, Christoph Scholz, and Ulrich Hubbe

BACKGROUND

The optimal surgical approach to treat neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome (nTOS) depends on the individual patient’s anatomy as well as the surgeon’s experience. The authors present a minimally invasive posterior approach for the resection of a prominent transverse process to reduce local muscular trauma.

OBSERVATIONS

A 19-year-old female presented with painful sensations in the right arm and severe fine-motor skill dysfunction in the right hand, each of which had been present for several years. Further examination confirmed affected C8 and T1 areas, and imaging showed an elongated C7 transverse process displacing the lower trunk of the brachial plexus. Decompression of the plexus structures by resection of the C7 transverse process was indicated, owing to persistent neurological effects. Surgery was performed using a minimally invasive posterior approach in which the nuchal soft tissue was bluntly dissected by dilatators and resection of the transverse process was done microscopically through a tubular retractor. The postoperative course showed a sufficient reduction of pain and paresthesia.

LESSONS

The authors describe a minimally invasive posterior approach for the treatment of nTOS with the aim of providing indirect relief of strain on brachial plexus structures. The advantages of this technique include a small skin incision and minor soft tissue damage.

Open access

Long-term survival after cordectomy in a case of spinal cord diffuse midline glioma, H3K27-altered: illustrative case

Daisuke Sato, Hirokazu Takami, Shota Tanaka, Shunsaku Takayanagi, Masako Ikemura, and Nobuhito Saito

BACKGROUND

Spinal cord diffuse midline glioma, H3K27-altered, is an extremely rare entity with a poor prognosis. However, its optimal treatment remains poorly defined. Although cordectomy was introduced in the early 20th century, its efficacy has been questioned and shrouded behind the scenes.

OBSERVATIONS

A 76-year-old male with recent-onset paraparesis of the lower extremities and paresthesia presented to our outpatient clinic. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed an intra-axial spinal cord tumor extending from T12 to L2. The patient underwent laminectomy and partial tumor resection, and the surgical specimen was histologically diagnosed as a diffuse midline glioma, H3K27-altered. Although standard chemoradiotherapy was implemented, the patient experienced local tumor recurrence 2 years later and underwent cordectomy at T9. The patient was alive at the 4-year follow-up after cordectomy without tumor recurrence. According to the literature, patients with lesions in the lower thoracic cord below T8 achieved a longer survival than those with lesions in the upper thoracic cord above T5.

LESSONS

Cordectomy benefits selected cases of high-grade spinal cord gliomas. Maximal prevention of cerebrospinal fluid dissemination by tumor cells is indisputably important, and tumors located below the lower thoracic spine may be the key to success in establishing a long-term prognosis after cordectomy.

Open access

Combined endoscopic and microsurgical approach for the drainage of a multisegmental thoracolumbar epidural abscess: illustrative case

Vincent Hagel, Felix Dymel, Stephan Werle, Vera Barrera, and Mazda Farshad

BACKGROUND

Spinal epidural abscess is a rare but serious infectious disease that can rapidly develop into a life-threatening condition. Therefore, the appropriate treatment is indispensable. Although conservative treatment is justifiable in certain cases, surgical treatment needs to be considered as an alternative early on because of complications such as (progressive) neurological deficits or sepsis. However, traditional surgical techniques usually include destructive approaches up to (multilevel) laminectomies. Such excessive approaches do have biomechanical effects potentially affecting the long-term outcomes. Therefore, minimally invasive approaches have been described as alternative strategies, including endoscopic approaches.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors describe a surgical technique involving a combination of two minimally invasive approaches (endoscopic and microsurgical) to drain a multisegmental (thoracolumbar) abscess using the physical phenomenon of continuous pressure difference to minimize collateral tissue damage.

LESSONS

The combination of minimally invasive approaches, including the endoscopic technique, may be an alternative in draining selected epidural abscesses while achieving a similar amount of abscess removal and causing less collateral approach damage in comparison with more traditional techniques.

Open access

Surgical management of metastatic Hürthle cell carcinoma to the skull base, cortex, and spine: illustrative case

N. U. Farrukh Hameed, Meagan M Hoppe, Ahmed Habib, Jeffrey Head, Regan Shanahan, Bradley A Gross, Sandra Narayanan, Georgios Zenonos, and Pascal Zinn

BACKGROUND

Hürthle cell carcinoma (HCC) is an unusual and aggressive variant of the follicular type of differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC), accounting for less than 3% of DTCs but posing the highest risk of metastasis. Brain metastases are uncommonly reported in the literature but pose a poor prognosis. The low rate of brain metastases from HCC coupled with ambiguous treatment protocols for the extracranial disease complicate successful disease management and definitive treatment strategy. The authors present the case of a patient with HCC metastasis to the skull base, cortex, and spine with recent tibial metastasis.

OBSERVATIONS

Despite the presence of metastasis to the cortex, skull base, and spine, the patient responded very well to radiation therapy, sellar mass resection, and cervical spine decompression and fixation and has made a remarkable recovery.

LESSONS

The authors’ multidisciplinary approach to the patient’s care, including a diverse team of specialists from oncology, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, radiology, endocrinology, and collaboration with clinical trial researchers, was fundamental to her successful outcome, demonstrating the utility of intersecting specialties in successful outcomes in neuro-oncological patient care.

Open access

Thoracic pediculectomy for acute spinal cord decompression in high-risk spinal deformity correction: illustrative case

J. Manuel Sarmiento, Christina Rymond, Alondra Concepcion-Gonzalez, Chris Mikhail, Fthimnir M Hassan, and Lawrence G Lenke

BACKGROUND

Neurological complications are higher in patients with severe spinal deformities (Cobb angle >100°). The authors highlight a known technique for thoracic concave apical pedicle resection that is useful for spinal cord decompression in patients with high-risk spinal deformities in the setting of intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM) changes.

OBSERVATIONS

A 14-year-old female with progressive idiopathic scoliosis presented for evaluation of her clinical deformity. Scoliosis radiographs showed a double major curve pattern comprising a 107° right main thoracic curve and a compensatory 88° left thoracolumbar curve. She underwent 2 weeks of halo-gravity traction that reduced her major thoracic curve to 72°. During thoracic posterior column osteotomies, the authors were alerted to decreases in IONM signals that were not responsive to increases in mean arterial pressure, traction weight reduction, and convex compression maneuvers. The dural surface was tightly draped over the two thoracic apical pedicles of T7 and T8, so emergent pediculectomies were performed at both levels for spinal cord decompression. IONM signals gradually improved and eventually became even better than baseline. The patient woke up without any neurological deficits.

LESSONS

Pediculectomy of the concave apical pedicle(s) should be considered for spinal cord decompression if there are IONM changes during high-risk spinal deformity surgery.

Open access

Intravascular ultrasound to aid in the diagnosis and revision of an intra-aortic pedicle screw: illustrative case

Landon D. Ehlers, Patrick J. Opperman, Jack E. Mordeson, Jonathan R. Thompson, and Daniel L. Surdell

BACKGROUND

Pedicle screw impingement on vessel walls has the potential for complications due to pulsatile effects and wall erosion. Artifacts from spinal instrumentation create difficulty in accurately evaluating this interface. The authors present the first case of intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) used to characterize a pedicle screw breach into the aortic lumen.

OBSERVATIONS

A 21-year-old female with surgically corrected scoliosis underwent computed tomography angiography (CTA) 3 years postoperatively, which revealed a pedicle screw within the thoracic aorta lumen. Metal artifact distorted the CTA images, which prompted the decision to use intraoperative IVUS. The IVUS confirmed the noninvasive imaging findings and guided final decisions regarding aortic endograft size and location during spine hardware revision.

LESSONS

For asymptomatic patients presenting with pedicle screws malpositioned in or near the aorta, treatment decisions revolve around the extent of vessel wall penetration. Intraluminal depth can be obscured by artifact on computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging or inadequately evaluated by a transesophageal echocardiogram. In our intraoperative experience, IVUS confirmed the depth of vessel lumen violation by a single pedicle screw and no wall penetration by two additional screws of concern. This was useful in deciding on thoracic endovascular aortic repair graft size and landing zone and facilitated safe spinal instrumentation removal and revision.

Open access

Open surgical ligation of a thoracic spinal epidural arteriovenous fistula causing thoracic myelopathy: illustrative case

Brandon R. W. Laing, Benjamin Best, John D. Nerva, and Aditya Vedantam

BACKGROUND

Spinal epidural arteriovenous fistulas (eAVFs) are rare spinal vascular malformations characterized by an abnormal connection from the paraspinal and paravertebral system to the epidural venous plexus. This contrasts with the more frequently seen spinal dural AVF, where the fistula is entirely intradural. Although endovascular repair is commonly performed for spinal eAVF, few cases require open surgical ligation.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors present a case of a 74-year-old male with progressive thoracic myelopathy secondary to a spinal eAVF. Thoracic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed intramedullary T2 signal hyperintensity from T8 to T12. Spinal angiography revealed a primary arterial supply from the right T11 segmental artery and minor supply from the left T11 branches with drainage into the ventral epidural space. The patient underwent T11–12 laminectomy and complete right T11–12 facetectomy for ligation of the fistula with T11–L1 fusion. A postoperative spinal angiogram showed resolution of the fistula. Postoperatively, the patient’s myelopathy improved, and MRI showed a decrease in T2 cord intensity.

LESSONS

Spinal eAVFs are rare lesions that differ from the more commonly seen intradural dural AVF in that the abnormal connection is in the epidural space, and they are often associated with a dilated epidural venous pouch. Treatment involves endovascular, open surgical, or combined approaches.

Open access

Spinal dural arteriovenous fistula masquerading as a herniated disc: illustrative case

Moustafa A. Mansour, Dyana F. Khalil, Soliman El-Sokkary, Mostafa A. Mostafa, and Ahmad A. Ayad

BACKGROUND

Spinal dural arteriovenous fistula (SDAVF) is a rare disorder with an unknown etiology. Often, the clinical presentation and imaging findings are misleading, causing this condition to be mistaken for other entities, such as demyelinating or degenerative spinal lesions.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors report a challenging case of SDAVF in which the patient’s symptoms were initially thought to be attributable to a herniated disc based on his imaging studies at another institution. He sought the authors for a second opinion, which yielded a confirmed diagnosis of SDAVF. Due to his rapidly progressive neurological manifestations, he underwent a surgical division of the fistula using intraoperative video angiography via indocyanine green injections. His symptoms progressively improved over a 3-month period. He regained full sphincter control by 4 months, which gave him a better recovery than seen in other patients with SDAVFs, who do not generally fully regain sphincter control.

LESSONS

SDAVF is a critical spinal vascular pathology that should not be overlooked in the differential diagnosis of any patient presenting with signs of progressive myelopathy. Despite its associated vague initial clinical symptoms, SDAVF typically, but not always, demonstrates a characteristic imaging appearance on magnetic resonance (MR) imaging studies; therefore, MR angiography is still required for definitive diagnosis. Surgical treatment for SDAVF is almost always definitive and curative.

Open access

Combined exploratory laparotomy, transpsoas, and thoracic approach to resection of a giant spinal ganglioneuroma: illustrative case

Hansen Deng, Ahmed Habib, Edward G. Andrews, Xiaoran Zhang, David J. McCarthy, Zhishuo Wei, Rajeev Dhupar, M. Haroon Choudry, and Pascal O. Zinn

BACKGROUND

Ganglioneuromas are rare peripheral nervous system tumors of neural crest origin. Most are often asymptomatic and incidentally found, but large tumors can cause mass effect. Herein, the authors report a case of a giant ganglioneuroma that arose from the lumbar foramina into the retroperitoneal and thoracic cavities.

OBSERVATIONS

A 62-year-old female presented with low back pain, left lower extremity swelling, and increased sensation of an abdominal mass. Surgical treatment options were reviewed with the patient and coordinated care was planned by surgical oncological specialists. The patient opted for multistage exploratory laparotomy for abdominal mobilization, diaphragm resection, and en bloc resection with neuromonitoring. After surgery, the patient experienced significant improvement in symptoms.

LESSONS

A combined surgical exposure involving gastrointestinal, thoracic, and neurological surgeons can be important in the safe resection of ganglioneuromas that span multiple body cavities. Hence, a thorough preoperative assessment could help plan surgery accordingly.