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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

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

Foraminal stenosis and radiculopathy secondary to tophaceous gout: illustrative case

Patrick Chang, Brandon C Rogowski, Khaled Abdel Aziz, Rosh Bharthi, Lance Valls, Nathan Esplin, and Richard W Williamson

BACKGROUND

Tophaceous gout is a severe form of gout that results in the formation of large nodules, or tophi, in the affected joints and surrounding tissues. Gouty tophi in the spine have a constellation of presentations that often mimic other pathologies and may not be easily discernable from more common pathologic processes.

OBSERVATIONS

A 47-year-old female with a history of chronic renal disease, obesity, gout, inflammatory polyarthritis, and multiple sclerosis presented with 6 months of low-back pain and lumbar radiculopathy affecting the right lower extremity. A lumbar magnetic resonance imaging study revealed right foraminal stenosis and spondylolisthesis at levels L4–5. An intraspinal extradural mass was noted adjacent to the traversing right L5 and exiting right L4 nerve roots. A bilateral decompressive laminectomy, facetectomy, and foraminotomy of L4–5 was performed. A calcific, chalky-white mass was discovered in the foramen, and pathology determined the specimen to be a gout tophus. Postoperatively, the patient endorsed the resolution of her preoperative symptoms, which have not returned on follow-up.

LESSONS

Reports of gouty depositions compressing the spinal cord in the current literature are relatively rare. Although the diagnosis of gouty tophi can only be confirmed histologically, patient history may serve as a helpful diagnostic tool.

Open access

Spinal cord stimulation for chronic pain treatment following sacral chordoma resection: illustrative case

Khaled M Taghlabi, Taimur Hassan, Isuru A Somawardana, Sibi Rajendran, Ahmed Doomi, Lokeshwar S Bhenderu, Jesus G Cruz-Garza, and Amir H Faraji

BACKGROUND

Cancer-related or postoperative pain can occur following sacral chordoma resection. Despite a lack of current recommendations for cancer pain treatment, spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has demonstrated effectiveness in addressing cancer-related pain.

OBSERVATIONS

A 76-year-old female with a sacral chordoma underwent anterior osteotomies and partial en bloc sacrectomy. She subsequently presented with chronic pain affecting both buttocks and posterior thighs and legs, significantly impeding her daily activities. She underwent a staged epidural SCS paddle trial and permanent system placement using intraoperative neuromonitoring. The utilization of percutaneous leads was not viable because of her history of spinal fluid leakage, multiple lumbosacral surgeries, and previous complex plastic surgery closure. The patient reported a 62.5% improvement in her lower-extremity pain per the modified Quadruple Visual Analog Scale and a 50% improvement in the modified Pain and Sleep Questionnaire 3-item index during the SCS trial. Following permanent SCS system placement and removal of her externalized lead extenders, she had an uncomplicated postoperative course and reported notable improvements in her pain symptoms.

LESSONS

This case provides a compelling illustration of the successful treatment of chronic pain using SCS following radical sacral chordoma resection. Surgeons may consider this treatment approach in patients presenting with refractory pain following spinal tumor resection.

Open access

Techniques for restoring optimal spinal biomechanics to alleviate symptoms in Bertolotti syndrome: illustrative case

Nolan J Brown, Zach Pennington, Hania Shahin, Oanh T Nguyen, and Martin H Pham

BACKGROUND

Lumbosacral transitional vertebrae (LSTVs) are congenital anomalies that occur in the spinal segments of L5–S1. These vertebrae result from sacralization of the lowermost lumbar segment or lumbarization of the uppermost sacral segment. When the lowest lumbar vertebra fuses or forms a false joint with the sacrum (pseudoarticulation), it can cause pain and manifest clinically as Bertolotti syndrome.

OBSERVATIONS

A 36-year-old female presented with severe right-sided low-back pain. Computed tomography was unremarkable except for a right-sided Castellvi type IIA LSTV. The pain proved refractory to physical therapy and lumbar epidural spinal injections, but targeted steroid and bupivacaine injection of the pseudoarticulation led to 2 weeks of complete pain relief. She subsequently underwent minimally invasive resection of the pseudoarticulation, with immediate improvement in her low-back pain. The patient continued to be pain free at the 3-year follow-up.

LESSONS

LSTVs alter the biomechanics of the lumbosacral spine, which can lead to medically refractory mechanical pain requiring surgical intervention. Select patients with Bertolotti syndrome can benefit from operative management, including resection, fusion, or decompression of the pathologic joint.

Open access

“Winged” Eagle’s syndrome: neurophysiological findings in a rare cause of spinal accessory nerve palsy. Illustrative cases

Eric C Mitchell, Kitty Y Wu, Fawaz Siddiqi, John Yoo, Pavlo Ohorodnyk, Douglas Ross, and Thomas A Miller

BACKGROUND

Eagle’s syndrome (ES) classically describes dysphagia, globus sensation, and otalgia from an elongated and calcified styloid process or stylohyoid ligament. Compression of the spinal accessory nerve (SAN) has not been reported as an associated feature of ES or related variants.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors describe two cases of an atypical “winged” variant with SAN palsy resulting from compression by a posteriorly angulated or calcified styloid process. Both patients exhibited lateral scapular winging and atrophy of the trapezius and sternocleidomastoid muscles. Electrophysiological studies demonstrated motor unit preservation; therefore, surgical exploration, styloidectomy, and SAN decompression were performed through a transcervical approach. Postoperatively, both patients had improvements in pain and shoulder mobility, the return of muscle strength, and electrophysiological evidence of trapezius reinnervation.

LESSONS

Compression of the SAN, which can be identified both clinically and on electrodiagnostic testing, is an atypical finding that can result from a posteriorly angulated or calcified styloid process. This winged variant of ES should be included in the differential for SAN palsy, and a multidisciplinary approach is recommended for assessment and management.

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

Management of rare atlantoaxial synovial cyst case with extension to the cerebellopontine angle: illustrative case

Shawn D’Souza, Vikram Seshadri, Harsh P Shah, Jan T Hachmann, and R. Scott Graham

BACKGROUND

Synovial cysts are a common finding in degenerative spine disease, most frequently involving the facet joints of the lumbar spine. Synovial cysts are less common in the cervical spine and rarely involve the atlantoaxial junction.

OBSERVATIONS

In this case report, the authors detail a unique presentation of a left atlantoaxial synovial cyst with large intracranial extension into the cerebellopontine angle causing progressive cranial nerve palsies resulting in tinnitus, vertigo, diminished hearing, gait imbalance, left trigeminal hypesthesia, left facial weakness, and dysarthria. The patient underwent a retromastoid craniectomy for resection of the synovial cyst, resulting in improvement and resolution of symptoms. Follow-up occurred at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 5 months postoperatively without recurrence on imaging.

LESSONS

The authors describe acute and long-term management of a unique presentation of an atlantoaxial synovial cyst including retromastoid craniectomy, intervals for follow-up for recurrence, and possible treatment options in cases of recurrence. A systematic literature review was also performed to explore all reported cases of craniocervical junction synovial cysts and subsequent surgical management.

Open access

Interlaminar endoscopic uniportal approach for implantation of a paddle lead larger than 10 mm for spinal cord stimulation: illustrative case

Gustavo V Lages, Ramon G Barbosa, Hugo S Souto, Natally M Santiago, José Oswaldo O Júnior, Marcus V. F. B. V. F Serra, Leandro F Batista, Camille L Silva, and Maria Fernanda A. V Toledo

BACKGROUND

The authors aim to describe a new technique for implantation of a spinal cord stimulation paddle lead sized over 10 mm through an endoscopic uniportal approach. A new endoscopic cannula was developed for the passage of a paddle lead width between 10 and 13 mm. The distal portion of the cannula was designed with a larger opening, providing better visibility of the anterior portion of the adjacent structures, thus allowing a panoramic view of the electrode passage. An electrode was implanted in an 11-mm paddle.

OBSERVATIONS

After searching PubMed, Cochrane, and Lilacs databases, the authors found no mention of the implantation of a paddle electrode with a width greater than 10 mm. The implantation of a paddle electrode less than 10 mm wide is possible via endoscopic access using 10-mm working channels. However, for electrodes with a width greater than 10 mm, access via endoscopy is impossible, since the working channel is only 10 mm.

LESSONS

The authors concluded that it is possible to pass electrodes safely and effectively with a paddle width between 10 and 13 mm using spinal endoscopy via uniportal interlaminar access. However, it is necessary to expand studies to elucidate this technique of endoscopic implantation of electrodes for neurostimulation.

Open access

Hemorrhagic cervical juxta-facet cyst presenting with Brown-Séquard syndrome: illustrative case

Shigeyoshi Shimura, Ryu Saito, Takashi Yagi, Hideyuki Yoshioka, and Hiroyuki Kinouchi

BACKGROUND

Intraspinal juxta-facet cysts of the spine are known to predominate at the lumbar level and is relatively rare at the cervical level. Most cervical spinal lesions are found incidentally, but they sometimes cause myelopathy or radiculopathy in a chronic course.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors present a rare case of hemorrhagic cervical juxta-facet cyst presenting with Brown-Séquard syndrome. An 86-year-old woman presented with acute-onset right hemiparesis following neck pain and was admitted to the local hospital. She was started on antithrombotic therapy with a suspected diagnosis of cerebral infarction, but quadriplegia progressed 2 days later. Cervical magnetic resonance imaging revealed an intraspinal mass at the C4–5 level and she was referred to the authors’ hospital. Her neurological findings on admission revealed right Brown-Séquard syndrome. In emergency surgery, the mass was resected with a posterior approach. Pathological findings showed hemosiderin deposition and fibroblast proliferation, consistent with a juxta-facet cyst with intracystic hemorrhage. The patient recovered well and returned to an independent daily life.

LESSONS

Rarely, juxta-facet cyst of the cervical spine can cause acute Brown-Séquard syndrome due to intraspinal hemorrhage. In a case of hemiparesis that develops following neck pain, hemorrhagic cervical juxta-facet cyst should be taken into consideration as a differentiation.