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Open access

Cervicothoracic ventral-dorsal rhizotomy for bilateral upper-extremity hypertonia in cerebral palsy: illustrative case

Ryan Kelly, Hanna R Kemeny, Sunny Abdelmageed, Robin Trierweiler, Tim Krater, Melissa A LoPresti, and Jeffrey S Raskin

BACKGROUND

Management of medically refractory limb-specific hypertonia is challenging. Neurosurgical options include deep brain stimulation, intrathecal baclofen, thalamotomy, pallidotomy, or rhizotomy. Cervical dorsal rhizotomy has been successful in the treatment of upper-extremity spasticity. Cervical ventral and cervical ventral-dorsal rhizotomy (VDR) has been used in the treatment or torticollis and traumatic hypertonia; however, the use of cervicothoracic VDR for the treatment of upper-extremity mixed hypertonia is not well described.

OBSERVATIONS

A 9-year-old girl with severe quadriplegic mixed hypertonia secondary to cerebral palsy (CP) underwent cervicothoracic VDR. Modified Ashworth Scale scores, provision of caregiving, and examination improved. Treatment was well tolerated.

LESSONS

Cervicothoracic VDR can afford symptomatic and quality of life improvement in patients with medically refractory limb hypertonia. Intraoperative positioning and nuances in surgical techniques are particularly important based on spinal cord position as modified by scoliosis. Here, the first successful use of cervicothoracic VDR for the treatment of medically refractory upper-limb hypertonia in a pediatric patient with CP is described.

Open access

Isolated unilateral alar ligamentous injury: illustrative cases

Benjamin C Reeves, Marcus Valcarce-Aspegren, Stephanie M Robert, Aladine A Elsamadicy, Alexander M Tucker, Phillip B Storm, Michael L DiLuna, and Adam J Kundishora

BACKGROUND

Isolated unilateral alar ligament injury (IUALI) is a rare and likely underreported occurrence after upper cervical trauma, with only 16 cases documented in the literature to date. Patients generally present with neck pain, and definitive diagnosis is typically made by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Unfortunately, likely due in part to its rarity, there are no formal guidelines for the treatment of an IUALI. Furthermore, there is a limited understanding of the long-term consequences associated with its inadequate treatment.

OBSERVATIONS

Here, the authors report on three pediatric patients, each found to have an IUALI after significant trauma. All patients presented with neck tenderness, and two of the three had associated pain-limited range of neck motion. Imaging revealed either a laterally deviated odontoid process on cervical radiographs and/or MRI evidence of ligamentous strain or discontinuity. Each patient was placed in a hard cervical collar for 1 to 2 months with excellent resolution of symptoms. A comprehensive review of the literature showed that all patients with IUALI who had undergone external immobilization with either rigid cervical collar or halo fixation had favorable outcomes at follow-up.

LESSONS

For patients with IUALI, a moderate course of nonsurgical management with rigid external immobilization appears to be an adequate first-line treatment.

Open access

Multiple three-column osteotomies successfully correcting cervicothoracic kyphosis in the setting of ankylosing spondylitis: illustrative case

Luke Mugge, Paul Gorka, Cristie Brewer, and Brian McHugh

BACKGROUND

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is an autoimmune spondylarthritis often associated with rigid kyphoscoliosis. The authors describe a surgical approach that employs multilevel three-column osteotomies for the restoration of normal global alignment.

OBSERVATIONS

A 48-year-old male with a past medical history of AS presented to the clinic with a stooped-over posture: his chin-brow vertical angle (CBVA) was 58.0°; T1 slope (T1S), 97.8°; thoracic kyphosis (TK; T1–12), 94.2°; proximal TK (T1–5), 50.8°; distal TK (T5–12), 43.5°; and sagittal vertical axis (SVA), 22.6 cm. A two-stage procedure was planned. During stage 1, instrumentation was placed from C5 to T10, followed by a T3 vertebral column resection. During stage 2, bilateral pedicle screws were placed from T11 to the pelvis. An L3 pedicle subtraction osteotomy (PSO) was completed and was followed by a T7 PSO. Postoperatively, the patient had significant postural improvement: CBVA was 29.3°; T1S, 57.8°; TK, 77.3°; proximal TK, 33.5°; distal TK, 43.8°; and SVA, 15 cm. At 6 years postoperatively, the patient continued to do well and was without evidence of construct breakdown.

LESSONS

The authors propose that multilevel three-column osteotomies, if optimally located, successfully correct spinal malalignment associated with AS.

Open access

Intraspinal cervicothoracic junction chondrosarcoma: illustrative case

Matthew T Carr, Margaret Pain, Kevin Kay, and John K Houten

BACKGROUND

Chondrosarcoma is an uncommon spinal tumor that can present as an extraskeletal mass. Rarely, these tumors present as dumbbell tumors through the neural foramina, mimicking schwannomas or neurofibromas.

OBSERVATIONS

A 46-year-old female presented with 2 years of worsening right-arm radiculopathy. Magnetic resonance imaging of the thoracic spine revealed a peripherally enhancing extramedullary mass through the right T1 foramen and compressing the spinal cord. Computed tomography showed the mass to be partially calcified. She underwent C7–T2 laminectomy and C6–T3 posterior instrumented fusion with gross-total resection of an extradural mass. Pathology revealed a grade I chondrosarcoma. Her symptoms improved postoperatively, with some residual right-arm radicular pain.

LESSONS

Intraspinal extradural dumbbell conventional chondrosarcoma is rare, with only 9 cases, including ours, reported. Patient ages range from 16 to 72 years old, and male sex is more common in these cases. The most common location is the thoracic spine, and our case is the only reported one in the cervicothoracic junction. These tumors often mimic schwannomas on imaging, but chondrosarcoma should remain in the differential diagnosis, because management of these tumors differs. Chondrosarcoma may benefit from more aggressive resection, including en bloc resection, and may require adjuvant radiotherapy.

Open access

Treatment of an anterior cervicothoracic myelomeningocele together with spine deformity correction in a child: illustrative case

Hudin N Jackson, Nealen Laxpati, and David F Bauer

BACKGROUND

Anterior cervicothoracic myelomeningoceles are a rare pathology. In reported cases, treatment has included shunting, isolated resection and repair without deformity correction, or isolated deformity correction without meningocele repair. The authors describe a pediatric patient with an anterior cervicothoracic myelomeningocele presenting with progressive neurological decline, who underwent simultaneous treatment of the myelomeningocele to detether the spinal cord and achieve major correction of the scoliotic deformity.

OBSERVATIONS

A 15-year-old girl was born with C7-T1-T2 hemivertebrae and anterior cervical myelomeningocele at C7–T1. She developed progressive cervical thoracic scoliosis, left hemiparesis initially, and additional right hemiparesis eventually. She underwent surgical repair via C7, T1, and T2 corpectomies with intradural detethering of the spinal cord. The scoliosis was treated with C7–T2 Ponte osteotomies and C2–T5 posterior fixation, followed by anterior reconstruction with a titanium cage and anterior plate from C6 to T3. The myelomeningocele was adequately treated with good correction of the patient’s deformity. The patient had postoperative improvement in her strength and solid arthrodesis on postoperative imaging.

LESSONS

The authors describe the successful treatment of an anterior cervicothoracic myelomeningocele and associated scoliosis in a child. This is a unique report of a combined strategy to achieve both deformity correction and detethering of the spinal cord.

Open access

Microvascular decompression of a vertebral artery loop causing cervical radiculopathy: illustrative case

Alexa Semonche, Lorenzo Rinaldo, Young Lee, Todd Dubnicoff, Harlan Matles, Dean Chou, Adib Abla, and Edward F Chang

BACKGROUND

Vertebral artery loops are a rare cause of cervical radiculopathy. Surgical options for nerve root decompression include an anterior or posterior approach, with or without additional microvascular decompression.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors describe a case of a 49-year-old man with a long-standing history of left-sided neck pain and migraines, who was found to have a vertebral artery loop in the left C3–4 neural foramen compressing the left C4 nerve root. The patient underwent a posterior cervical decompression with instrumented fusion and macrovascular decompression of the left C4 nerve root via Teflon felt insertion. In a literature review, we identified 20 similar cases that had also been managed surgically.

LESSONS

Although the anterior approach is more frequently described in the literature, a posterior approach for nerve compression by a vertebral artery loop is also a safe and effective treatment. The authors report the third case of this surgical approach with a good outcome.

Open access

Retrograde thrombectomy of acute common carotid artery occlusion with mobile thrombus: illustrative cases

Yukiya Okune, Hitoshi Fukuda, Toshiki Matsuoka, Yo Nishimoto, Keita Matsuoka, Naoki Fukui, 1 PhD, Satoru Hayashi, Tetsuya Ueba, and 1 PhD

BACKGROUND

Acute embolic occlusion of the common carotid artery (CCA) alone is rare. However, once it occurs, recanalization is challenging due to the large volume of the clot, larger diameter of the CCA, and risk of procedure-related distal embolism into the intracranial arteries.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors report two cases of acute embolic occlusion of CCA alone, caused by a cardiac embolus trapped at the proximal end of a preexisting atherosclerotic plaque at the cervical carotid bifurcation. In both cases, the CCA was successfully recanalized using retrograde thrombectomy in a hybrid operating room. In case 1, a 78-year-old male with acute right CCA occlusion underwent retrograde thrombectomy, where the cervical carotid bifurcation was exposed and incised, and the entire embolus was retrieved with forceps. Despite successful revascularization, massive bleeding from the CCA just after the retrieval remained a concern. In case 2, a 79-year-old female with acute right CCA occlusion underwent retrograde thrombectomy in the same manner. Because manual retrieval failed, a Fogarty balloon catheter inserted from the arteriotomy successfully retrieved the entire thrombus with minimal blood loss.

LESSONS

Retrograde thrombectomy through the arteriotomy of the cervical carotid bifurcation safely and effectively recanalizes acute embolic occlusion of the CCA alone.

Open access

Significance of upper cervical epidural venous engorgement on head computed tomography in the initial diagnosis of spontaneous intracranial hypotension: patient series

Toshihide Takahashi, Kiyoyuki Yanaka, Hitoshi Aiyama, Minami Saura, Michihide Kajita, Nobuyuki Takahashi, Kuniyuki Onuma, and Eiichi Ishikawa

BACKGROUND

Spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH) is a rare condition characterized by positional headache, for which contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the preferred diagnostic method. Although MRI reveals characteristic findings, head computed tomography (CT) is usually the first diagnostic step, but identifying features of SIH on CT is often difficult. This study was specifically designed to evaluate the utility of head CT in detecting upper cervical epidural venous engorgement as a sign of SIH.

OBSERVATIONS

Of 24 patients with SIH diagnosed between March 2011 and May 2023, 10 did not undergo upper cervical CT. In the remaining 14 patients, engorgement of the upper cervical epidural venous plexus was observed. CT detection rates were consistent with MRI for spinal fluid accumulation or dural thickening. After treatment, in 92.9% of patients, the thickness of the epidural venous plexus decreased statistically significantly from 4.8 ± 1.3 mm to 3.6 ± 1.2 mm.

LESSONS

This study suggests that upper cervical spine CT focused on epidural venous engorgement may be helpful in the initial diagnosis of SIH and may complement conventional MRI evaluation. Extending CT imaging to the upper cervical spine will improve the diagnostic accuracy of patients with positional headaches suspected to be SIH.

Open access

Atypical cervical radiculopathy presenting with brachioradial pruritus: illustrative cases

Kareem Khalifeh, Janneinne Le, Basel Musmar, Joseph Maroon, Adam S Kanter, and Burak Ozgur

BACKGROUND

Brachioradial pruritus (BRP) is a rare form of chronic dysesthesia characterized by persistent itching, burning, or tingling commonly involving the dorsolateral upper extremities. Although the exact pathophysiology remains unclear, the condition may be a manifestation of atypical cervical radiculopathy.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors describe two patients with BRP, a 44-year-old female and a 51-year-old male, both of whom benefited from surgical intervention for atypical cervical radiculopathy, while also highlighting their presentation, diagnostic testing, treatment, and outcomes.

LESSONS

The cases demonstrate the potential relationship between cervical spondylosis and BRP while examining the role of surgical intervention as a treatment option.

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.