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Development and validation of an artificial intelligence model to accurately predict spinopelvic parameters

Edward S. Harake, Joseph R. Linzey, Cheng Jiang, Rushikesh S. Joshi, Mark M. Zaki, Jaes C. Jones, Siri Sahib S. Khalsa, John H. Lee, Zachary Wilseck, Jacob R. Joseph, Todd C. Hollon, and Paul Park

OBJECTIVE

Achieving appropriate spinopelvic alignment has been shown to be associated with improved clinical symptoms. However, measurement of spinopelvic radiographic parameters is time-intensive and interobserver reliability is a concern. Automated measurement tools have the promise of rapid and consistent measurements, but existing tools are still limited to some degree by manual user-entry requirements. This study presents a novel artificial intelligence (AI) tool called SpinePose that automatically predicts spinopelvic parameters with high accuracy without the need for manual entry.

METHODS

SpinePose was trained and validated on 761 sagittal whole-spine radiographs to predict the sagittal vertical axis (SVA), pelvic tilt (PT), pelvic incidence (PI), sacral slope (SS), lumbar lordosis (LL), T1 pelvic angle (T1PA), and L1 pelvic angle (L1PA). A separate test set of 40 radiographs was labeled by four reviewers, including fellowship-trained spine surgeons and a fellowship-trained radiologist with neuroradiology subspecialty certification. Median errors relative to the most senior reviewer were calculated to determine model accuracy on test images. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were used to assess interrater reliability.

RESULTS

SpinePose exhibited the following median (interquartile range) parameter errors: SVA 2.2 mm (2.3 mm) (p = 0.93), PT 1.3° (1.2°) (p = 0.48), SS 1.7° (2.2°) (p = 0.64), PI 2.2° (2.1°) (p = 0.24), LL 2.6° (4.0°) (p = 0.89), T1PA 1.1° (0.9°) (p = 0.42), and L1PA 1.4° (1.6°) (p = 0.49). Model predictions also exhibited excellent reliability at all parameters (ICC 0.91–1.0).

CONCLUSIONS

SpinePose accurately predicted spinopelvic parameters with excellent reliability comparable to that of fellowship-trained spine surgeons and neuroradiologists. Utilization of predictive AI tools in spinal imaging can substantially aid in patient selection and surgical planning.

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Effect of high disease activity on spinal sagittal malalignment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Shintaro Honda, Koichi Murata, Shunsuke Fujibayashi, Bungo Otsuki, Takayoshi Shimizu, Takayuki Fujii, Yaichiro Okuzu, Toshiyuki Kawai, Yutaka Kuroda, Akira Onishi, Kosaku Murakami, Hideo Onizawa, Masao Tanaka, Akio Morinobu, and Shuichi Matsuda

OBJECTIVE

Atlantoaxial subluxation is a well-known serious complication encountered in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, it is unknown whether RA affects global spinal alignment. The aim of this study was to investigate whether high disease activity in patients with RA exacerbates spinal sagittal malalignment.

METHODS

The authors included 197 patients with RA who were followed up for > 2 years; standing spinal radiographs were obtained in all patients. Patients were divided into persistent moderate disease activity/high disease activity (pMDA/HDA; n = 64) and non-pMDA/HDA (n = 133) groups based on the disease activity at follow-up visits. Radiographic parameters assessed included pelvic incidence, pelvic tilt (PT), lumbar lordosis (LL), thoracic kyphosis (TK), and C7 sagittal vertical axis (SVA).

RESULTS

Over an average 5-year follow-up, increases in SVA, PT, and TK and a decrease in LL were observed. The pMDA/HDA group had a larger increase in PT and a higher incidence of vertebral fractures than the non-pMDA/HDA group. After adjusting variables using propensity score matching, the authors still found a higher rate of increase in PT (0.79°/year vs 0.01°/year, p = 0.001) in the pMDA/HDA group than in the non-pMDA/HDA group. This trend remained consistent even when patients who developed vertebral fractures were excluded.

CONCLUSIONS

Spinal sagittal alignment deteriorates over time in patients with RA. High disease activity in RA exacerbates spinal deformity.

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Impact of occupational characteristics on return to work for employed patients after elective cervical spine surgery

Hani Chanbour, Jacquelyn S. Pennings, Claudia Davidson, Andrew J. Croft, Jeffrey W. Chen, Wilson E. Vaughan, Inamullah Khan, Kristin R. Archer, Raymond J. Gardocki, Amir M. Abtahi, Byron F. Stephens, and Scott L. Zuckerman

OBJECTIVE

In a cohort of employed patients undergoing elective cervical spine surgery with an uncomplicated postoperative course, the authors sought to determine the demographic, functional, and occupational characteristics associated with return to work (RTW) following surgery.

METHODS

A retrospective cohort study of prospectively collected data was undertaken of patients undergoing elective cervical spine surgery for degenerative disease in the Quality Outcomes Database. Study inclusion criteria were: 1) employed prior to surgery and planned to RTW, 2) no unplanned readmissions, 3) achieved 30% improvement on the Neck Disability Index (NDI), and 4) were satisfied with the surgical outcome at 3 or 12 months postoperatively. A multivariable Cox regression model was built using demographic, functional, operative, and occupational characteristic to predict time to RTW.

RESULTS

Of 5110 included patients, 4788 (93.7%) returned to work within 12 months, with a median time of 35 (IQR 19–60) days. Patients who did RTW were significantly younger (51.3 ± 9.4 vs 55.8 ± 9.6 years, p < 0.001), more often underwent an anterior approach (85.8% vs 80.7%, p = 0.009), were significantly more privately insured (82.1% vs 64.0%, p < 0.001), and were less likely to have workers’ disability insurance (6.7% vs 14.6%, p < 0.001) compared with patients who did not RTW. On multivariable Cox regression, demographic factors associated with a longer RTW were older age (hazard ratio [HR] 0.99, 95% CI 0.99–1.00, p < 0.001) and Black race (HR 0.71, 95% CI 0.62–0.81, p < 0.001). Male sex was associated with a shorter RTW time (HR 1.19, 95% CI 1.11–1.26, p < 0.001). Regarding baseline functional status, worse preoperative NDI (HR 0.99, 95% CI 0.99–0.99, p < 0.001) was associated with a longer RTW, whereas the absence of myelopathy was associated with a shorter RTW (HR 1.17, 95% CI 1.09–1.25, p < 0.001). Having a sedentary (HR 1.81, 95% CI 1.65–1.99, p < 0.001), light-intensity (HR 1.60, 95% CI 1.45–1.76, p < 0.001), and medium-intensity (HR 1.11, 95% CI 1.01–1.22, p = 0.037) occupation was associated with a shorter RTW time compared with a heavy-intensity occupation at any time point. Heavy-intensity occupations were independently the strongest predictor of longer RTW. Similar predictors of shorter RTW were found in a subanalysis of occupation intensity and among operative approaches used.

CONCLUSIONS

Among patients undergoing elective degenerative cervical spine surgery who had favorable surgical outcomes and planned to RTW before surgery, 94% had a successful RTW. Age was the strongest predictor of lower odds of RTW. Regarding time to RTW, having a sedentary, light-intensity, or medium-intensity occupation was associated with a shorter RTW time compared with a heavy-intensity occupation. These findings highlight the importance of considering the demographic and occupational characteristics when predicting postoperative RTW in patients with satisfactory surgical outcomes.

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Treatment of conus medullaris arteriovenous malformation: the role of microsurgical treatment

Jong Min Lee, Jin Hoon Park, Jung Cheol Park, Jae Sung Ahn, and Wonhyoung Park

OBJECTIVE

Conus medullaris arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is rare and challenging to treat. To better define the presentation, prognosis, and optimal treatment of these lesions, the authors present their treatment experiences for conus medullaris AVM.

METHODS

Eleven patients with AVM of the conus medullaris were identified between March 2013 and December 2021. Among these patients, 7 who underwent microsurgical treatment were included. Patient data, including age, sex, symptoms at presentation, neurological status, radiological findings, nidus depth (mainly pial lesion vs intramedullary lesion), type of treatment, and recurrence at follow-up, were collected. Postoperative angiography was performed in all patients. Spinal cord function was evaluated using the Frankel grade at the time of admission and 1 year after surgery.

RESULTS

All 7 patients presenting with myeloradiculopathy were treated surgically. Four patients (57.1%) underwent endovascular embolization, followed by resection. The other 3 patients underwent microsurgery only. Complete occlusion was confirmed with postoperative angiography in all patients. Of the 3 patients who were nonambulatory before surgery (Frankel grade C), 2 were able to walk after surgery (Frankel grade D) and 1 remained nonambulatory (Frankel grade C) at 1-year follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS

Based on the authors’ clinical experiences, the results of multimodal treatment for conus medullaris AVM are good, with microsurgical treatment playing an important role. The microsurgical strategy can differ depending on the location of the nidus, and when possible, good results can be expected through microsurgical resection.

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Exploring disparities in surgical recommendations for patients with primary intramedullary spinal cord tumors: an analysis of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database from 2000 to 2019

Megan Parker, Melanie A. Horowitz, Sachiv Chakravarti, Jiaqi Liu, Cathleen C. Kuo, Julian Gendreau, Daniel Lubelski, Jordina Rincon-Torroella, Chetan Bettegowda, and Debraj Mukherjee

OBJECTIVE

Factors that may drive recommendations for operative intervention for patients with intramedullary spinal cord tumors (ISCTs) have yet to be extensively studied. The authors investigated racial and socioeconomic disparities in the management of patients with primary spinal cord ependymomas and nonependymal gliomas, with the aim of determining the associations between socioeconomic patient characteristics, survival, and recommendations for the resection of primary ISCTs.

METHODS

The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registry was queried to identify all patients > 18 years of age with ISCTs diagnosed between 2000 and 2019. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to calculate odds ratios for variables associated with receiving a surgical recommendation. Log-rank tests and multivariable Cox proportional hazards models were used to investigate overall survival (OS) and disease-specific survival (DSS).

RESULTS

The authors identified 2325 patients (mean age 49 [SD 16] years; 48.8% female; 67.4% non-Hispanic White, 7.8% non-Hispanic Black, 16.2% Hispanic, 6.5% Asian/Pacific Islander, 0.6% Native American; 56.7% married; 64.4% with household income < $75,000; 73.8% with spinal ependymoma; and 26.2% with nonependymal spinal glioma). Eighty-seven percent of patients received a surgical recommendation. In multivariable models, marriage was associated with higher odds of receiving a surgical recommendation for ependymomas (OR 1.80, p = 0.005). In multivariable models for nonependymal spinal gliomas, older age (OR 0.98, p = 0.001) and increased number of tumors (OR 0.62, p = 0.015) were associated with decreased odds of receiving surgical recommendations. Among ependymomas, marriage (HR 0.59, p = 0.001), younger age (HR 0.93, p < 0.001), female sex (HR 0.43, p = 0.006), and decreased number of tumors (HR 0.56, p < 0.001) were associated with improved OS. Among nonependymal spinal gliomas, median household income ≥ $75,000 (HR 0.69, p = 0.020) and younger age (HR 0.98, p < 0.001) were associated with improved DSS, while Black race (HR 4.65, p = 0.027) and older age (HR 1.05, p < 0.001) were associated with worse OS.

CONCLUSIONS

In patients with spinal ependymomas and nonependymal spinal gliomas, recommendations for surgery appear to be unaffected by patient sex, race, or income. Survival disparities appear to exist among unmarried, male, Black, and lower-income cohorts. Continued initiatives to identify drivers of disparities while improving health equity in this patient population are needed.

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Exploring tribology and material contact science in spine surgery: implications for implant design

Gabrielle Scariano, Seth Meade, Assem Sultan, Michael Shost, Edward C. Benzel, Ajit Krishnaney, Thomas Mroz, Michael P. Steinmetz, and Ghaith Habboub

Tribology, an interdisciplinary field concerned with the science of interactions between surfaces in contact and their relative motion, plays a well-established role in the design of orthopedic implants, such as knee and hip replacements. However, its applications in spine surgery have received comparatively less attention in the literature. Understanding tribology is pivotal in elucidating the intricate interactions between metal, polymer, and ceramic components, as well as their interplay with the native human bone. Numerous studies have demonstrated that optimizing tribological factors is key to enhancing the longevity of joints and implants while simultaneously reducing complications and the need for revision surgeries in both arthroplasty and spinal fusion procedures. With an ever-growing and diverse array of spinal implant devices hitting the market for static and dynamic stabilization of the spine, it is important to consider how each of these devices optimizes these parameters and what factors may be inadequately addressed by currently available technology and methods. In this comprehensive review, the authors’ objectives were twofold: 1) delineate the unique challenges encountered in spine surgery that could be addressed through optimization of tribological parameters; and 2) summarize current innovations and products within spine surgery that look to optimize tribological parameters and highlight new avenues for implant design and research.

Open access

Incidence and risk factors of heterotopic ossification after cervical Baguera C disc arthroplasty

Kai-Chen Chung, Chih-Wei Huang, Wen-Hsien Chen, Hsi-Kai Tsou, Chung-Yuh Tzeng, Ting-Hsien Kao, Ruei-Hong Lin, and Tse-Yu Chen

OBJECTIVE

This retrospective study was designed to evaluate the incidence and predisposing factors of heterotopic ossification (HO) after cervical disc arthroplasty (CDA) with a specific implant at 1 and 2 levels, and to investigate the biomechanical effects related to HO. The study goal was to identify ways to reduce the likelihood of HO formation after surgery.

METHODS

The study included patients who underwent only 1- or 2-level CDA with the Baguera C disc between November 2014 and December 2021 at a single medical center. All patients were operated on by the same neurosurgeon. The surgical indication included 1-level or 2-level disc herniation between C3 and C7 with radiculopathy, myelopathy, or both, with minimal spondylosis. The various factors were assessed by evaluating plain radiographs and cervical CT scans. The presence of HO was evaluated at different intervals postsurgery, and HO severity was graded using the McAfee classification.

RESULTS

Of 107 patients who underwent CDA, 47 (43.9%) had HO at 63 of 171 levels (36.8%). Most cases with HO were grade 1, and no grade 4 was observed. Statistically significant risk factors for HO were the length of endplate coverage ratio and inferior anterior residual exposed endplate (AREE); sex, age, implant height and width, shell angle, and pre- and postoperative functional spinal unit (FSU) angle were not significant. More AREE and greater kyphotic postoperative FSU angle in the flexion position were significant factors differentiating HO grades 0 and 1 from grades 2 and 3. Furthermore, the non-HO group showed a trend of higher range of motion at any postoperative time compared to the HO group, especially at 1 month after surgery.

CONCLUSIONS

The HO incidence after CDA was correlated with the residual length of endplate coverage and inferior AREE. Additionally, the AREE and kyphotic postoperative FSU angle in the flexion position were associated with HO grade progression. Patients with HO also showed a trend of lower range of motion at 1 month after surgery. Using an adequately sized implant and encouraging neck motion may help prevent HO development and progression.

Open access

Clinical criteria for filum terminale resection in occult tethered cord syndrome

Petra M. Klinge, Owen P. Leary, Philip A. Allen, Konstantina Svokos, Patricia Sullivan, Thomas Brinker, and Ziya L. Gokaslan

OBJECTIVE

Tethered cord syndrome (TCS) comprises three symptom categories: back/leg pain, bowel/bladder, and neurological complaints. MRI typically reveals a low-lying conus medullaris, filum terminale (FT) pathology, or lumbosacral abnormalities. FT resection is established in TCS but not in radiologically occult TCS (OTCS). This study aims to identify patients with OTCS who are likely to benefit from FT resection.

METHODS

The authors recruited 149 patients with OTCS (31 pediatric, 118 adult) treated with FT resection—including only cases with progressive TCS, negative spine MRI, and no concurrent neurological/urological conditions. A comprehensive questionnaire collected patient self-reported symptoms and clinical findings at the preoperative and at 3- and 12-month follow-up examinations. Based on questionnaire data, the authors extracted a 15-item symptoms and findings scale to represent the three TCS symptom categories, assigning 1 point for each item present.

RESULTS

OTCS presents without radicular/segmental sensorimotor findings, but with leg/back pain and conus dysfunction, in addition to leg fatigue and spasticity; the latter indicating an upper motoneuron pathology. The 15-item scale showed clinical improvement in 89% of patients at the 3-month follow-up and 68% at the 12-month follow-up. Multivariate analysis of the scale revealed that it accurately predicts outcome of FT resection in 82% of cases. Patients with a preoperative score exceeding 6 points are most likely to benefit from surgery.

CONCLUSIONS

By applying the study’s inclusion criteria and incorporating the novel 15-item scale, surgeons can effectively select candidates for FT resection in patients with OTCS. The observed outcomes in these selected patients are comparable to those achieved in degenerative spine surgery.

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Comparison of multilevel low-grade techniques versus three-column osteotomies in adult spinal deformity surgery: does harmonious correction matter?

Peter G. Passias, Tyler K. Williamson, Jamshaid M. Mir, Jordan A. Lebovic, Pooja Dave, Peter S. Tretiakov, Rachel Joujon-Roche, Bailey Imbo, Oscar Krol, Stephane Owusu-Sarpong, Shaleen Vira, Andrew J. Schoenfeld, Alan H. Daniels, Bassel G. Diebo, Renaud Lafage, and Virginie Lafage

OBJECTIVE

Recent debate has arisen between whether to use a three-column osteotomy (3CO) or multilevel low-grade (MLG) techniques to treat severe sagittal malalignment in adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery. The goal of this study was to compare the outcomes of 3CO and MLG techniques performed in corrective surgeries for ASD.

METHODS

ASD patients who had a baseline PI-LL > 30° and 2-year follow-up data were included. Patients underwent either 3CO or MLG (thoracolumbar posterior column osteotomies at ≥ 3 levels or anterior lumbar interbody fusion at ≥ 3 levels with no 3CO). The segmental utility ratio was used to assess relative segmental correction (segmental correction divided by overall correction in lordosis divided by the number of thoracolumbar interventions [interbody fusion, thoracolumbar posterior column osteotomies, and 3CO]). The paired t-test was used to assess lordotic distribution by differences in lordosis between adjacent lumbar disc spaces (e.g., L1–2 to L2–3). Multivariate analysis, controlling for age, sex, BMI, osteoporosis, baseline pelvic incidence, and T1 pelvic angle, was used to evaluate the complication rates and radiographic and patient-reported outcomes between the groups.

RESULTS

A total of 93 patients were included, 53% of whom underwent MLG and 47% of whom underwent 3CO. The MLG group had a lower BMI (p < 0.05). MLG patients received fewer previous fusions than 3CO patients (31% vs 80%, p < 0.001). MLG patients had 24% less blood loss but a 22% longer operative time (565 vs 419 minutes, p = 0.008). Using adjusted analysis, the 3CO group had greater segmental and relative correction at each level (segmental utility ratio mean 69% for 3CO vs 23% for MLG, p < 0.001). However, the 3CO group had lordotic differences between two adjacent lumbar disc pairs (range −0.5° to 9.0°, p = 0.009), while MLG was more harmonious (range 2.2°–6.5°, p > 0.4). MLG patients were more likely to undergo realignment to age-adjusted standards (OR 5.6, 95% CI 1.2–46.4; p = 0.033). MLG patients were less likely to develop neurological complications or undergo reoperation (OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.1–0.9; p = 0.041). Adjusted analysis revealed that MLG patients more often met a substantial clinical benefit in the Oswestry Disability Index score (OR 5.3, 95% CI 1.1–26.8; p = 0.043).

CONCLUSIONS

MLG techniques showed better utility in lumbar distribution and age-adjusted global correction while minimizing neurological complications and reoperation rates by 2 years postoperatively. In selected instances, these techniques may offer the spine deformity surgeon a safer alternative when correcting severe adult spinal deformity.

Free access

Erratum. The potential of proximal junctional kyphosis prevention using a novel tether pedicle screw construct: an in silico study comparing the influence of standard and dynamic techniques on adjacent-level range of motion and load pattern

Sebastian Decker