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Dimitrios Mathios, Paul Edward Kaloostian, Ali Bydon, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jean Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Timothy F. Witham

Reconstruction of the lumbosacral junction is a considerable challenge for spinal surgeons due to the unique anatomical constraints of this region as well as the vectors of force that are applied focally in this area. The standard cages, both expandable and nonexpendable, often fail to reconstitute the appropriate anatomical alignment of the lumbosacral junction. This inadequate reconstruction may predispose the patient to continued back pain and neurological symptoms as well as possible pseudarthrosis and instrumentation failure. The authors describe their preoperative planning and the technical characteristics of their novel reconstruction technique at the lumbosacral junction using a cage with adjustable caps. Based precisely on preoperative measurements that maintain the appropriate Cobb angle, they performed reconstruction of the lumbosacral junction in a series of 3 patients. All 3 patients had excellent installation of the cages used for reconstruction. Postoperative CT scans were used to radiographically confirm the appropriate reconstruction of the lumbosacral junction. All patients had a significant reduction in pain, had neurological improvement, and experienced no instrumentation failure at the time of latest follow-up. Taking into account the inherent morphology of the lumbosacral junction and carefully planning the technical characteristics of the cage installation preoperatively and intraoperatively, the authors achieved favorable clinical and radiographic outcomes in all 3 cases. Based on this small case series, this technique for reconstruction of the lumbosacral junction appears to be a safe and appropriate method of reconstruction of the anterior spinal column in this technically challenging region of the 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.

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Daniel M. Sciubba, Clarke Nelson, Patrick Hsieh, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Steve Ondra and Ali Bydon

✓ Patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) who present with spinal lesions are at an increased risk for developing perioperative complications. Due to the rigid yet brittle nature of the ankylosed spines commonly occurring with severe spinal deformity, patients are more prone to developing neurological deficits. Such risks are potentially increased not only during surgical manipulation or deformity correction, but also during image acquisition, positioning within the operating room, and intubation. In this review the complications of AS are reviewed, and recommendations are provided to avoid problems during each stage of patient management.