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Michael Y. Wang and Barth A. Green

Object

Cervical stenotic myelopathy can be treated via anterior or posterior approaches. In anterior cervical decompression and fusion (ACDF), because the risks and likelihood of pseudarthrosis increase with the number of treated segments, attempts are typically made to limit the number of treated levels. Thus, postoperative recurrence of myelopathy following ACDF may occur because stenotic levels were not treated or because adjacent segments have degenerated. Revision decompressive surgery via an anterior approach is one solution; however, if the stenosis involves multiple levels a posterior decompressive laminoplasty can be performed as an alternative.

Methods

Twenty-four cases treated over an 8-year period were identified and data were retrospectively reviewed. In 15 cases posterior decompressive surgery was necessary because of progressive spinal degeneration and stenosis (five cases following initial treatment for radiculopathy, seven after initial treatment for spondylotic myelopathy, and three due to spreading of an ossified posterior longitudinal ligament). In nine cases revision surgery was undertaken because the initial decompression was inadequate.

The mean follow-up period after the second surgery was 16 months. Improvements in myelopathy were seen in 83% of patients (mean improvement of 1.25 points on the Nurick Scale). Preoperative severe gait disorders were associated with poor recovery. Complications included two cases of transient C-5 nerve root palsy and two cases of new persistent axial neck pain.

Conclusions

Laminoplasty is a straightforward and effective treatment for failed ACDF due to inadequate decompression or progressive degeneration of the spinal column, avoiding reentry through scar tissue. In terms of myeolpathic pain, the recovery rate is comparable with that related to revision ACDF.

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Michael Y. Wang, Barth A. Green, Sachin Shah, D.O. Steven Vanni and Allan D. O. Levi

Object

An aging population will require that surgeons increasingly consider operative intervention in elderly patients. To perform this surgery safely will require an understanding of the factors that predict successful outcomes as well as complications.

Methods

Records of patients older than the age of 75 years who underwent lumbar spinal stenosis surgery were retrospectively reviewed. Preexisting medical illnesses were analyzed using the Charlson Weighted Comorbidity Index. Ambulatory function was rated on a four-point scale. Statistical analysis was performed using a one-tailed t-test with unpaired variance.

Eighty-eight patients treated between 1994 and 2001 were identified. Forty-five percent were women and 52 patients underwent spinal fusion. The follow-up period averaged 21 months. Back pain was present preoperatively in 89%; after surgery 43% experienced complete relief and 33% partial improvement. Leg pain was present preoperatively in 98%; after surgery 43% experienced complete relief and 42% partial improvement. Of the 33 patients with preoperative gait disturbances, 61% improved at least one point on the ambulatory scale. Wound complications and systemic complications were demonstrated in 24 and 16 patients, respectively. There were no deaths. Age (p = 0.322), number of fused levels (p = 0.371), and the number of laminectomy levels (p = 0.254) were not predictive of complications. Length of operative time (p = 0.003) and the CharlsonWeighted Comorbidity Index score (p = 0.088) were associated with both systemic and wound complications.

Conclusions

Surgery in patients older than age 75 years can be conducted safely and with similar outcome rates as in younger patients. The CharlsonWeighted Comorbidity Index score and operative time were predictive of the risk of complications.

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K. Anthony Kim, Michael Y. Wang, Pamela M. Griffith, Susan Summers and Michael L. Levy

The authors conducted a study to describe the incidence and types of fall-related head injury observed at a pediatric trauma center.

We performed a retrospective analysis of all patients under 15 years of age treated for fall-related trauma between 1992 and 1998. Falls were classified as low (< 15 feet) and high level (≥ 15 feet).

Seven hundred twenty-nine cases were identified with a mortality rate of 1.7%. A fall of greater than 15 feet (high-level fall) was associated with a higher mortality rate than low-level falls (2.4% compared with 1.0%, respectively). Ninety-eight patients had sustained a calvarial fracture and 93 experienced a basal skull fracture. Twenty-six patients had suffered a cerebral contusion, 25 a sub-arachnoid hemorrhage, 22 a subdural hematoma, and 12 had an epidural hematoma. Forty-nine patients required surgery for traumatic injuries; of these, 10 underwent craniotomy for evacuation of a blood clot. Height was not predictive of the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score. In all four deaths resulting from a low-level fall there was an admission GCS score of 3, and abnormal findings were demonstrated on computerized tomography scanning. Death from high-level falls was attributable to either intracranial injuries (50%) or severe extracranial injuries (50%).

Intracranial injury is the major source of fall-related death in children and, unlike extracranial insults, brain injuries are sustained with equal frequency from low- and high-level falls in this population. The only cause of mortality from low-level falls was intracranial injury. Trauma triage criteria must account for these differences in the pediatric population.