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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, 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.