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Abstracts of the 2017 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves Las Vegas, Nevada • March 8–11, 2017

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Treatment of isolated cervical facet fractures: a systematic review

Christopher K. Kepler, Alexander R. Vaccaro, Eric Chen, Alpesh A. Patel, Henry Ahn, Ahmad Nassr, Christopher I. Shaffrey, James Harrop, Gregory D. Schroeder, Amit Agarwala, Marcel F. Dvorak, Daryl R. Fourney, Kirkham B. Wood, Vincent C. Traynelis, S. Tim Yoon, Michael G. Fehlings, and Bizhan Aarabi


In this clinically based systematic review of cervical facet fractures, the authors’ aim was to determine the optimal clinical care for patients with isolated fractures of the cervical facets through a systematic review.


A systematic review of nonoperative and operative treatment methods of cervical facet fractures was performed. Reduction and stabilization treatments were compared, and analysis of postoperative outcomes was performed. MEDLINE and Scopus databases were used. This work was supported through support received from the Association for Collaborative Spine Research and AOSpine North America.


Eleven studies with 368 patients met the inclusion criteria. Forty-six patients had bilateral isolated cervical facet fractures and 322 had unilateral isolated cervical facet fractures. Closed reduction was successful in 56.4% (39 patients) and 63.8% (94 patients) of patients using a halo vest and Gardner-Wells tongs, respectively. Comparatively, open reduction was successful in 94.9% of patients (successful reduction of open to closed reduction OR 12.8 [95% CI 6.1–26.9], p < 0.0001); 183 patients underwent internal fixation, with an 87.2% success rate in maintaining anatomical alignment. When comparing the success of patients who underwent anterior versus posterior procedures, anterior approaches showed a 90.5% rate of maintenance of reduction, compared with a 75.6% rate for the posterior approach (anterior vs posterior OR 3.1 [95% CI 1.0–9.4], p = 0.05).


In comparison with nonoperative treatments, operative treatments provided a more successful outcome in terms of failure of treatment to maintain reduction for patients with cervical facet fractures. Operative treatment appears to provide superior results to the nonoperative treatments assessed.

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Dynamics of subdural hygroma following decompressive craniectomy: a comparative study

Bizhan Aarabi, David Chesler, Christopher Maulucci, Tiffany Blacklock, and Melvin Alexander


This retrospective comparative cohort study was aimed at discovering the risk factors associated with subdural hygroma (SDG) following decompressive craniectomy (DC) to relieve intracranial hypertension in severe head injury.


Sixty-eight of 104 patients who had undergone DC during a 48-month period and survived > 30 days were eligible for this study. To assess the dynamics of subdural fluid collections, the authors compared CT scanning data from and the characteristics of 39 patients who had SDGs with the data in 29 patients who did not have hygromas. Variables significant in the appearance, evolution, and resolution of this complication were analyzed in a 36-week longitudinal study.


The earliest imaging evidence of SDG was seen during the 1st week after DC. The SDG volume peaked between Weeks 3 and 4 post-DC and was gradually resolved by the 17th week. Among the mechanisms of injury, motor vehicle accidents were most often linked to the development of an SDG after DC (p < 0.0007), and falls were least often associated (p < 0.005). Moreover, patients with diffuse brain injury were more prone to this complication (p < 0.0299) than those with an evacuated mass (p < 0.0001). There were no statistically significant differences between patients with and without hygromas in terms of age, sex, Glasgow Coma Scale score, intraventricular and subarachnoid hemorrhage, levels of intracranial pressure and cerebral perfusion pressure, timing of decompression, and the need for CSF diversion. More than 90% of the SDGs were ipsilateral to the side of the craniectomy, and 3 (8%) of 39 SDGs showed evidence of internal bleeding at ~ 8 weeks postinjury. Surgical evacuation was needed in 4 patients with SDGs.


High dynamic accidents and patients with diffuse injury were more prone to SDGs. Close to 8% of SDGs converted themselves into subdural hematomas at ~ 2 months postinjury. Although SDGs developed in 39 (~ 60%) of 68 post-DC patients, surgical evacuation was needed in only 4.

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Hyperextension cervical spine injuries and traumatic central cord syndrome

Bizhan Aarabi, Michael Koltz, and David Ibrahimi

Traumatic central cord syndrome (TCCS), regardless of its biomechanics, is the most frequently encountered incomplete spinal cord injury. Patients with TCCS present with disproportionate weakness of the upper extremities, and variable sensory loss and bladder dysfunction. Fractures and/or subluxations, forced hyperextension, and herniated nucleus pulposus are the main pathogenetic mechanisms of TCCS. Nearly 50% of patients with TCCS suffer from congenital or degenerative spinal stenosis and sustained their injuries during hyperextension as originally described by Schneider in 1954. Immunohistochemical and imaging studies indicate mild to moderate insult to axons and their ensheathing myelin in the lateral funiculi culminating in cytoskeletal injury and impaired conduction. More than one-half of these patients enjoy spontaneous recovery of motor weakness; however, as time goes on, lack of manual dexterity, neuropathic pain, spasticity, bladder dysfunction, and imbalance of gait render their activities of daily living nearly impossible. Based on the current level of evidence, there is no clear indication of the timing of decompression for relief of sustained spinal cord compression in hyperextension injuries. Future research, taking advantage of validated digital imaging data such as maximum canal compromise, maximum spinal cord compression, and lesion length on the CT and MR images, as well as more sensitive measures of bladder and hand function, spasticity, and neuropathic pain may help tailor surgery for a specific group of these patients.

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Prognostic factors in the occurrence of posttraumatic epilepsy after penetrating head injury suffered during military service

Bizhan Aarabi, Musa Taghipour, Ali Haghnegahdar, Majidreza Farokhi, and Lloyd Mobley

In this retrospective study, the authors evaluated confounding risk factors, which are allegedly influential in causing unprovoked posttraumatic epilepsy, in 489 patients from the frontlines of the Iran–Iraq War.

Four hundred eighty-nine patients were followed for 6 to154 months (mean 39.4 months, median 23 months), and important factors precipitating posttraumatic epilepsy were evaluated using uni- and multivariate regression analysis.

One hundred fifty-seven (32%) of 489 patients became epileptic during the study period. The results of univariate analysis indicated a significant relationship between epilepsy and Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) score (X2 = 76.49, p < 0.0001, df = 2), Glasgow Coma Scale score at admission (X2 = 19.48, p < 0.0001, df = 3), motor deficit (X2 = 11.79, p < 0.001, df = 1), mode of injury (X2 = 10.731, p < 0.05), transventricular injury (X2 = 6.9, p < 0.008, df = 1), dysphasia (X2 = 5.3, p < 0.02), central nervous system infections (X2 = 5.3, p < 0.02), and early-onset seizures (X2 = 4.1, p < 0.04, df = 1). The results of multivariate analysis, on the other hand, indicated that the GOS score and motor deficit were of greater statistical importance (X2 = 35.24, p < 0.0001; and X2 = 7.1, p < 0.07, respectively). Factors that did have much statistically significant bearing on posttraumatic epilepsy were the projectile type, site of injury on the skull, patient age, number of affected lobes, related hemorrhagic complications, and retained metallic or bone fragments.

Glasgow Outcome Scale score and focal motor neurological deficit are of particular importance in predicting posttraumatic epilepsy after missile head injury.