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Rafael De la Garza-Ramos, Risheng Xu, Seba Ramhmdani, Thomas Kosztowski, Mohamad Bydon, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Timothy F. Witham, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Ali Bydon

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study was to report the long-term clinical outcomes following 3- and 4-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).

METHODS

A retrospective review of all adult neurosurgical patients undergoing elective ACDF for degenerative disease at a single institution between 1996 and 2013 was performed. Patients who underwent first-time 3- or 4-level ACDF were included; patients with previous cervical spine surgery, those undergoing anterior/posterior approaches, and those with corpectomy were excluded. Outcome measures included perioperative complication rates, fusion rates, need for revision surgery, Nurick Scores, Odom's criteria, symptom resolution, neck visual analog scale (VAS) pain score, and persistent narcotics usage.

RESULTS

Seventy-one patients who underwent 3-level ACDF and 26 patients who underwent 4-level ACDF were identified and followed for an average of 7.6 ± 4.2 years. There was 1 case (3.9%) of deep wound infection in the 4-level group and 1 case in the 3-level group (1.4%; p = 0.454). Postoperatively, 31% of patients in the 4-level group complained of dysphagia, compared with 12.7% in the 3-level group (p = 0.038). The fusion rate was 84.6% after 4-level ACDF and 94.4% after 3-level ACDF (p = 0.122). At last follow-up, a significantly higher proportion of patients in the 4-level group continued to have axial neck pain (53.8%) than in the 3-level group (31%; p = 0.039); the daily oral morphine equivalent dose was significantly higher in the 4-level group (143 ± 97 mg/day) than in the 3-level group (25 ± 10 mg/day; p = 0.030). Outcomes based on Odom's criteria were also different between cohorts (p = 0.044), with a significantly lower proportion of patients in the 4-level ACDF group experiencing an excellent/good outcome.

CONCLUSIONS

In this study, patients who underwent 4-level ACDF had significantly higher rates of dysphagia, postoperative neck pain, and postoperative narcotic usage when compared with patients who underwent 3-level ACDF. Pseudarthrosis and deep wound infection rates were also higher in the 4-level group, although this did not reach statistical significance. Additionally, a smaller proportion of patients achieved a good/excellent outcome in the 4-level group than in the 3-level group. These findings suggest a significant increase of perioperative morbidity and worsened outcomes for patients who undergo 4- versus 3-level ACDF.

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Mohamad Bydon, Mohamed Macki, Rafael De la Garza-Ramos, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Timothy F. Witham and Ali Bydon

OBJECT

This study aimed to identify the factors predicting an increased risk for reoperation in patients who had undergone a lumbar laminectomy.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the electronic medical records of all patients who had undergone firsttime, bilateral laminectomy at 1, 2, or 3 levels for lumbar spondylosis at the authors' institution. Patients who underwent fusion, laminotomy, discectomy, or complete facetectomy were excluded. The patients' preoperative symptoms and comorbidities were also obtained from their medical records.

RESULTS

Over an average follow-up period of 46.8 months, of 500 patients who had undergone laminectomy at 1, 2, or 3 levels, 81 patients (16.2%) developed subsequent spinal disorders that required a reoperation. A multiple logistic regression analysis identified smoking as an independent predictor of reoperation (OR 2.15, p = 0.01). Smoking was also an independent predictor of reoperation after a single-level laminectomy (OR 11.3, p = 0.02) and after a multilevel (that is, involving 2 or 3 levels) laminectomy (OR 1.98, p = 0.05). For 72 patients undergoing reoperation only for spinal degeneration, smoking remained an independent, statistically significant predictor of reoperation (OR 2.06, p = 0.04). Nine patients underwent reoperation for nondegenerative conditions (hematoma, wound infection, or wound dehiscence), and in these patients, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was the only statistically significant predictor of reoperation (OR 8.92, p = 0.03).

CONCLUSIONS

Smoking was the strongest predictor of reoperation in patients who had undergone single-level laminectomy, multilevel laminectomy, or reoperation for progression of spinal degeneration. These findings suggest that smokers have worse outcomes of lumbar decompression than nonsmokers.

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Mohamad Bydon, Joseph A. Lin, Rafael de la Garza-Ramos, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jean Paul Wolinsky, Timothy F. Witham, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Ali Bydon

Object

This study was undertaken to compare surgical outcomes between patients with atlantoaxial versus subaxial cervical synovial cysts (CSCs) and to compare outcomes between patients who underwent decompression alone versus decompression and fusion for the treatment of CSCs.

Methods

The authors present a series of 17 cases involving patients treated at their institution and report the surgical outcomes. Due to the rarity of CSCs, a meta-analysis was conducted, and results of the literature search were combined with the case series to enhance the power of the study.

Results

Seventeen patients underwent surgical treatment for CSCs at our institution: 3 patients (17.6%) had atlantoaxial cysts and 14 (82.3%) had subaxial cysts. Of the 17 patients, 16 underwent a decompression and fusion; most patients experienced symptom resolution at last follow-up, and there were no cyst recurrences. A total of 54 articles (including the current series) and 101 patients were included in the meta-analysis. The mean age at presentation was 64 ± 13.9 years, and the most common symptoms were motor and sensory deficits. Forty-one patients (40.6%) presented with atlantoaxial cysts, and 60 (59.4%) with subaxial cysts. There were no significant differences between groups in terms of presenting symptoms, Nurick scores, surgical treatment, or surgical outcomes. Fifty-two patients (51.4%) underwent surgical decompression without fusion, while 49 patients (48.6%) underwent fusion. The preoperative Nurick scores were significantly lower in the fused group (p = 0.001), with an average score of 1.32 compared with 2.75 in the nonfused group. After a mean follow-up of 16.5 months, a difference of means analysis between final and preoperative Nurick scores revealed that patients who received a decompression alone improved on average 1.66 points (95% CI 1.03–2.29) compared with 0.8 points (95% CI 0.23–1.39) in the fused group (p = 0.004). However, there was no statistically significant difference in symptom resolution between the groups, and the rate of cyst recurrence was found to be 0%.

Conclusions

In this study, patients with CSCs had similar outcomes regardless of cyst location and regardless of whether they underwent decompression only or fusion. In the authors' institutional experience, 16 of 17 patients underwent fusion due to underlying spinal instability. While there were no reports of cyst recurrence in their series or in the literature in patients who only received decompression, this is likely due to the limited follow-up time available for the study population. Longer follow-up and prospective and biomechanical studies are needed to corroborate these findings.

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Mohamad Bydon, Dimitrios Mathios, Mohamed Macki, Rafael de la Garza-Ramos, Daniel M. Sciubba, Timothy F. Witham, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Ali Bydon

Object

The authors conducted a study to investigate the rate and timing of reoperation due to symptom recurrence after unilateral posterior cervical foraminotomy (PCF).

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed demographic, surgical, and clinical data from 151 patients who underwent unilateral PCF at their institution with an average follow-up of 4.15 years. The main outcome variables were reoperation rate, time to reoperation, and short- and long-term radiculopathy improvement rates. Kaplan-Meier analyses were conducted to assess risk of reoperation and recurrence of radiculopathy over time.

Results

After index PCF in 151 patients, the overall reoperation rate was 9.9% (15 patients). The average time until reoperation was 2.4 years, and the average last follow-up examination was 4.15 years after the first surgery. Patients who presented with preoperative neck pain in addition to radiculopathy had a higher risk for reoperation and a shorter time to reoperation. The majority of patients who underwent a reoperation had an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (80%). A smaller number of patients had reoperation that included a repeat PCF (6.7%) or laminectomy with posterior cervical fusion (13.3%). The rate of same-level reoperation (6.6%, 10 patients) was significantly higher (p = 0.05) when compared with adjacent-segment (1.3%, 2 patients) or distant-segment (1.9%, 3 patients) reoperation. At last follow-up, the overall rate of improvement in radiculopathy was 85%, with the majority of patients (91.4%) experiencing resolution as early as 1 month after index surgery. Following the subgroup that experienced initial symptom improvement, 16.1% of these patients experienced radiculopathy recurrence an average of 7.3 years after the initial operation. While the reoperation rate for the overall cohort in this series was 9.9%, patients with follow-up periods longer than 2 years had a reoperation rate of 18.3%. Moreover, patients with more than 10 years of follow-up had a reoperation rate of 24.3%.

Conclusions

PCF is a procedure performed to address nerve root compression in the cervical spine. The authors evaluated 151 patients who underwent unilateral PCF and found a reoperation rate of 9.9% at an average of 2.4 years after the initial surgery (6.6% at same level, 3.3% elsewhere). The reoperation rates reached 18.3% and 24.3% in patients with follow-up periods longer than 2 and 10 years, respectively. The authors' analysis revealed that patients with no preoperative neck pain had the lowest rates of revision surgery after PCF.

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Mohamad Bydon, Risheng Xu, Anubhav G. Amin, Mohamed Macki, Paul Kaloostian, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ali Bydon, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Timothy F. Witham

Object

A number of imaging techniques have been introduced to minimize the risk of pedicle screw placement. Intraoperative CT has been recently introduced to assist in spinal instrumentation. The aim of this study was to study the effectiveness of intraoperative CT in enhancing the safety and accuracy of pedicle screw placement.

Methods

The authors included all cases from December 2009 through July 2012 in which intraoperative CT scanning was used to confirm pedicle screw placement.

Results

A total of 203 patients met the inclusion criteria. Of 1148 screws, 103 screws (8.97%) were revised intraoperatively in 72 patients (35.5%): 14 (18.42%) were revised in the cervical spine (C-2 or C-7), 25 (7.25%) in the thoracic spine, and 64 (8.80%) in the lumbar spine. Compared with screws in the thoracic and lumbar regions, pedicle screws placed in the cervical region were statistically more likely to be revised (p = 0.0061). Two patients (0.99%) required reoperations due to undetected misplacement of pedicle screws.

Conclusions

The authors describe one of the first North American experiences using intraoperative CT scanning to confirm the placement of pedicle screws. Compared with a similar cohort of patients from their institution who had pedicle screws inserted via the free-hand technique with postoperative CT, the authors found that the intraoperative CT lowers the threshold for pedicle screw revision, resulting in a statistically higher rate of screw revision in the thoracic and lumbar spine (p < 0.0001). During their 2.5-year experience with the intraoperative CT, the authors did not find a reduction in rates of reoperation for misplaced pedicle screws.

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Mohamad Bydon, Risheng Xu, David Santiago-Dieppa, Mohamed Macki, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ali Bydon, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Timothy F. Witham

Object

The aim of this study was to study the long-term outcomes of patients undergoing instrumented posterior fusion of the lumbar spine.

Methods

The authors present 511 patients who underwent instrumented arthrodesis for lumbar degenerative disease over a 23-year period at a single institution. Patients underwent follow-up for an average of 39.73 ± 46.52 months (± SD) after the index lumbar arthrodesis procedure.

Results

The average patient age was 59.45 ± 13.48 years. Of the 511 patients, 502 (98.24%) presented with back pain, 379 (74.17%) with radiculopathy, 76 (14.87%) with motor weakness, and 32 (6.26%) with preoperative bowel/bladder dysfunction. An average of 2.04 ± 1.03 spinal levels were fused. Postoperatively, patients experienced a significant improvement in back pain (p < 0.0001) and radiculopathy (p < 0.0001). Patients with fusions excluding the sacrum (floating fusions) were statistically more likely to develop adjacent-segment disease (ASD) than those with fusion constructs ending at S-1 distally (p = 0.030) but were less likely to develop postoperative radiculopathy (p = 0.030). In the floating fusion cohort, 31 (12.11%) of 256 patients had cephalad ASD, whereas 39 (15.29%) of 255 patients in the lumbosacral cohort had cephalad ASD development; this was not statistically different (p = 0.295). This suggests that caudad ASD development in the floating fusion cohort is due to the added risk of an unfused L5–S1 vertebral level. Because of the elevated risk of symptomatic radiculopathy but lower risk of ASD, patients in the lumbosacral fusion cohort had a reoperation rate similar to those undergoing floating fusions (p = 0.769).

Conclusions

In this paper, the authors present one of the largest cohorts in the Western literature of patients undergoing instrumented fusion for degenerative lumbar spine disease. Patients who had floating lumbar fusions were statistically more likely to develop ASD over time than those who had lumbosacral fusions incorporating the S-1 spinal segment, but were less likely to experience postoperative radicular symptoms. Additional prospective studies may more clearly delineate the long-term risks of instrumented posterolateral fusions of the lumbar spine.

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Kaisorn L. Chaichana, Mohamad Bydon, David R. Santiago-Dieppa, Lee Hwang, Gregory McLoughlin, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ali Bydon, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Timothy Witham

Object

Posterior lumbar spinal fusion for degenerative spine disease is a common procedure, and its use is increasing annually. The rate of infection, as well as the factors associated with an increased risk of infection, remains unclear for this patient population. A better understanding of these features may help guide treatment strategies aimed at minimizing infection for this relatively common procedure. The authors' goals were therefore to ascertain the incidence of postoperative spinal infections and identify factors associated with postoperative spinal infections.

Methods

Data obtained in adult patients who underwent instrumented posterior lumbar fusion for degenerative spine disease between 1993 and 2010 were retrospectively reviewed. Stepwise multivariate proportional hazards regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with infection. Variables with p < 0.05 were considered statistically significant.

Results

During the study period, 817 consecutive patients underwent lumbar fusion for degenerative spine disease, and 37 patients (4.5%) developed postoperative spine infection at a median of 0.6 months (IQR 0.3–0.9). The factors independently associated with an increased risk of infection were increasing age (RR 1.004 [95% CI 1.001–1.009], p = 0.049), diabetes (RR 5.583 [95% CI 1.322–19.737], p = 0.02), obesity (RR 6.216 [95% CI 1.832–9.338], p = 0.005), previous spine surgery (RR 2.994 [95% CI 1.263–9.346], p = 0.009), and increasing duration of hospital stay (RR 1.155 [95% CI 1.076–1.230], p = 0.003). Of the 37 patients in whom infection developed, 21 (57%) required operative intervention but only 3 (8%) required instrumentation removal as part of their infection management.

Conclusions

This study identifies that several factors—older age, diabetes, obesity, prior spine surgery, and length of hospital stay—were each independently associated with an increased risk of developing infection among patients undergoing instrumented lumbar fusion for degenerative spine disease. The overwhelming majority of these patients were treated effectively without hardware removal.