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Roberto Gazzeri, Konstantinos Panagiotopoulos, Marcelo Galarza, Andrea Bolognini and Giorgio Callovini

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to compare the clinical and radiological outcomes between fenestrated pedicle screws augmented with cement and expandable pedicle screws in percutaneous vertebral fixation surgical procedures for the treatment of degenerative and traumatic spinal diseases in aging patients with osteoporosis.

METHODS

This was a prospective, single-center study. Twenty patients each in the expandable and cement-augmented screw groups were recruited. Clinical outcomes included visual analog scale (VAS), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and satisfaction rates. Radiographic outcomes comprised radiological measurements on the vertebral motion segment of the treated levels. Intraoperative data including complications were collected. All patients completed the clinical and radiological outcomes. Outcomes were compared preoperatively and postoperatively.

RESULTS

An average shorter operative time was found in procedures in which expandable screws were used versus those in which cement-augmented screws were used (p < 0.001). No differences resulted in perioperative blood loss between the 2 groups. VAS and ODI scores were significantly improved in both groups after surgery. There was no significant difference between the 2 groups with respect to baseline VAS or ODI scores. The satisfaction rate of both groups was more than 85%. Radiographic outcomes also showed no significant difference in segment stability between the 2 groups. No major complications after surgery were seen. There were 4 cases (20%) of approach-related complications, all in fenestrated screw procedures in which asymptomatic cement extravasations were observed. In 1 case the authors detected a radiologically evident osteolysis around a cement-augmented screw 36 months after surgery. In another case they identified a minor loosening of an expandable screw causing local back discomfort at the 3-year follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS

Expandable pedicle screws and polymethylmethacrylate augmentation of fenestrated screws are both safe and effective techniques to increase the pullout strength of screws placed in osteoporotic spine. In this series, clinical and radiological outcomes were equivalent between the 2 groups. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first report comparing the cement augmentation technique versus expandable screws in the treatment of aging patients with osteoporosis.

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Jeffery D. St. Jeor, Taylor J. Jackson, Ashley E. Xiong, Aamir Kadri, Brett A. Freedman, Arjun S. Sebastian, Bradford L. Currier, Ahmad Nassr, Jeremy L. Fogelson, Kurt A. Kennel, Paul A. Anderson and Benjamin D. Elder

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to compare different recognized definitions of osteoporosis in patients with degenerative lumbar spine pathology undergoing elective spinal fusion surgery to determine which patient population should be considered for preoperative optimization.

METHODS

A retrospective review of patients in whom lumbar spine surgery was planned at 2 academic medical centers was performed, and the rate of osteoporosis was compared based on different recognized definitions. Assessments were made based on dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), CT Hounsfield units (HU), trabecular bone score (TBS), and fracture risk assessment tool (FRAX). The rate of osteoporosis was compared based on different definitions: 1) the WHO definition (T-score ≤ −2.5) at total hip or spine; 2) CT HU of < 110; 3) National Bone Health Alliance (NBHA) guidelines; and 4) “expanded spine” criteria, which includes patients meeting NBHA criteria and/or HU < 110, and/or “degraded” TBS in the setting of an osteopenic T-score. Inclusion criteria were adult patients with a DXA scan of the total hip and/or spine performed within 1 year and a lumbar spine CT scan within 6 months of the physician visit.

RESULTS

Two hundred forty-four patients were included. The mean age was 68.3 years, with 70.5% female, 96.7% Caucasian, and the mean BMI was 28.8. Fracture history was reported in 53.8% of patients. The proportion of patients identified with osteoporosis on DXA, HUs, NBHA guidelines, and the authors’ proposed “expanded spine” criteria was 25.4%, 36.5%, 75%, and 81.9%, respectively. Of the patients not identified with osteoporosis on DXA, 31.3% had osteoporosis based on HU, 55.1% had osteoporosis with NBHA, and 70.4% had osteoporosis with expanded spine criteria (p < 0.05), with poor correlations among the different assessment tools.

CONCLUSIONS

Limitations in the use of DXA T-scores alone to diagnose osteoporosis in patients with lumbar spondylosis has prompted interest in additional methods of evaluating bone health in the spine, such as CT HU, TBS, and FRAX, to inform guidelines that aim to reduce fracture risk. However, no current osteoporosis assessment was developed with a focus on improving outcomes in spinal surgery. Therefore, the authors propose an expanded spine definition for osteoporosis to identify a more comprehensive cohort of patients with potential poor bone health who could be considered for preoperative optimization, although further study is needed to validate these results in terms of clinical outcomes.

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Paul A. Anderson, Aamir Kadri, Kristyn J. Hare and Neil Binkley

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this investigation was to characterize the bone health in preoperative spine surgery patients. This information will provide a framework to understand the needs and methods for providing bone health optimization in elective spine surgery patients.

METHODS

A retrospective study of 104 patients undergoing bone health optimization was performed. Patients were selected based on risk factors identified by the surgeon and suspected compromised bone health. Evaluation included history and examination, laboratory investigations, and bone mineral density (BMD) at 3 sites (femoral neck, lumbar spine, and radius). Patients’ bone status was classified using WHO criteria and expanded criteria recommended by the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF). The 10-year Fracture Risk Assessment Tool (FRAX) scores of the hip and major osteoporotic fracture (MOF) were calculated with and without femoral neck BMD, with spine BMD, and with the trabecular bone score (TBS). Antiresorptive and anabolic agents were provided in accordance with meeting NOF criteria for treatment of osteoporosis.

RESULTS

The mean patient age was 69.0 years, and 81% of patients were female. The mean historical height loss was 5.6 cm, and 54% of patients had a history of fracture. Secondary osteoporosis due to chronic renal failure, inflammatory arthritis, diabetes, and steroid use was common (51%). The mean 25-hydroxy vitamin D was 42.4 ng/ml and was normal in 81% of patients, with only 4 patients being deficient. The mean T-scores were −2.09 (SD 0.71) of the femoral neck, −0.54 (1.71) of the lumbar spine, and −1.65 (1.38) of the distal radius. These were significantly different. The 10-year FRAX MOF score was 20.7%, and that for hip fracture was 6.9% using the femoral neck BMD and was not significantly different without the use of BMD. The FRAX risk-adjusted score using the lumbar spine BMD and TBS was significantly lower than that for the hip. Osteoporosis was present in 32.1% according to WHO criteria compared with 81.6% according to NOF criteria. Antiresorptive medications were recommended in 31 patients and anabolic medications in 44 patients.

CONCLUSIONS

Surgeons can reliably identify patients with poor bone health by using simple criteria, including historical height loss, history of fracture, comorbidities associated with osteoporosis, analysis of available imaging, and calculation of FRAX score without BMD. High-risk patients should have BMD testing and bone health assessment. In patients with osteoporosis, a comprehensive preoperative bone health assessment is recommended and, if warranted, pharmacological treatment should be started.

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Brandon B. Carlson, Stephan N. Salzmann, Toshiyuki Shirahata, Courtney Ortiz Miller, John A. Carrino, Jingyan Yang, Marie-Jacqueline Reisener, Andrew A. Sama, Frank P. Cammisa, Federico P. Girardi and Alexander P. Hughes

OBJECTIVE

Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disease that increases the risk for fragility fractures. Screening and diagnosis can be achieved by measuring bone mineral density (BMD) using quantitative CT tomography (QCT) in the lumbar spine. QCT-derived BMD measurements can be used to diagnose osteopenia or osteoporosis based on American College of Radiology (ACR) thresholds. Many reports exist regarding the disease prevalence in asymptomatic and disease-specific populations; however, osteoporosis/osteopenia prevalence rates in lumbar spine fusion patients without fracture have not been reported. The purpose of this study was to define osteoporosis and osteopenia prevalence in lumbar fusion patients using QCT.

METHODS

A retrospective review of prospective data was performed. All patients undergoing lumbar fusion surgery who had preoperative fine-cut CT scans were eligible. QCT-derived BMD measurements were performed at L1 and L2. The L1–2 average BMD was used to classify patients as having normal findings, osteopenia, or osteoporosis based on ACR criteria. Disease prevalence was calculated. Subgroup analyses based on age, sex, ethnicity, and history of abnormal BMD were performed. Differences between categorical groups were calculated with Fisher’s exact test.

RESULTS

Overall, 296 consecutive patients (55.4% female) were studied. The mean age was 63 years (range 21–89 years). There were 248 (83.8%) patients with ages ≥ 50 years. No previous clinical history of abnormal BMD was seen in 212 (71.6%) patients. Osteopenia was present in 129 (43.6%) patients and osteoporosis in 44 (14.9%). There were no prevalence differences between sex or race. Patients ≥ 50 years of age had a significantly higher frequency of osteopenia/osteoporosis than those who were < 50 years of age.

CONCLUSIONS

In 296 consecutive patients undergoing lumbar fusion surgery, the prevalence of osteoporosis was 14.9% and that for osteopenia was 43.6% diagnosed by QCT. This is the first report of osteoporosis disease prevalence in lumbar fusion patients without vertebral fragility fractures diagnosed by QCT.

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Patrick M. Flanigan, Anthony L. Mikula, Pierce A. Peters, Soliman Oushy, Jeremy L. Fogelson, Mohamad Bydon, Brett A. Freedman, Arjun S. Sebastian, Bradford L. Currier, Ahmad Nassr, Kurt A. Kennel, Paul A. Anderson, David W. Polly and Benjamin D. Elder

OBJECTIVE

Opportunistic Hounsfield unit (HU) determination from CT imaging has been increasingly used to estimate bone mineral density (BMD) in conjunction with assessments from dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). The authors sought to compare the effect of teriparatide on HUs across different regions in the pelvis, sacrum, and lumbar spine, as a surrogate measure for the effects of teriparatide on lumbosacropelvic instrumentation.

METHODS

A single-institution retrospective review of patients who had been treated with at least 6 months of teriparatide was performed. All patients had at least baseline DXA as well as pre- and post-teriparatide CT imaging. HUs were measured in the pedicle, lamina, and vertebral body of the lumbar spine, in the sciatic notch, and at the S1 and S2 levels at three different points (ilium, sacral body, and sacral ala).

RESULTS

Forty patients with an average age of 67 years underwent a mean of 20 months of teriparatide therapy. Mean HUs of the lumbar lamina, pedicles, and vertebral body were significantly different from each other before teriparatide treatment: 343 ± 114, 219 ± 89.2, and 111 ± 48.1, respectively (p < 0.001). Mean HUs at the S1 level for the ilium, sacral ala, and sacral body were also significantly different from each other: 124 ± 90.1, −10.7 ± 61.9, and 99.1 ± 72.1, respectively (p < 0.001). The mean HUs at the S2 level for the ilium and sacral body were not significantly different from each other, although the mean HU at the sacral ala (−11.9 ± 52.6) was significantly lower than those at the ilium and sacral body (p = 0.003 and 0.006, respectively). HU improvement occurred in most regions following teriparatide treatment. In the lumbar spine, the mean lamina HU increased from 343 to 400 (p < 0.001), the mean pedicle HU increased from 219 to 242 (p = 0.04), and the mean vertebral body HU increased from 111 to 134 (p < 0.001). There were also significant increases in the S1 sacral body (99.1 to 130, p < 0.05), S1 ilium (124 vs 165, p = 0.01), S1 sacral ala (−10.7 vs 3.68, p = 0.04), and S2 sacral body (168 vs 189, p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

There was significant regional variation in lumbar and sacropelvic HUs, with most regions significantly increasing following teriparatide treatment. The sacropelvic area had lower HU values than the lumbar spine, more regional variation, and a higher degree of correlation with BMD as measured on DXA. While teriparatide treatment resulted in HUs > 110 in the majority of the lumbosacral spine, the HUs in the sacral ala remained suggestive of severe osteoporosis, which may limit the effectiveness of fixation in this region.

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Michael B. Keough, Albert M. Isaacs, Geberth Urbaneja, Jarred Dronyk, Andrew P. Lapointe and Mark G. Hamilton

OBJECTIVE

Acute low-pressure hydrocephalus (ALPH) is characterized by clinical manifestations of an apparent raised intracranial pressure (ICP) and ventriculomegaly despite measured ICP that is below the expected range (i.e., typically ≤ 5 cm H2O). ALPH is often refractory to standard hydrocephalus intervention protocols and the ICP paradox commonly leads to delayed diagnosis. The aim of this study was to characterize ALPH and develop an algorithm to facilitate diagnosis and management for patients with ALPH.

METHODS

EMBASE, MEDLINE, and Google Scholar databases were searched for ALPH cases from its first description in 1994 until 2019. Cases that met inclusion criteria were pooled with cases managed at the authors’ institution. Patient characteristics, presenting signs/symptoms, precipitating factors, temporizing interventions, definitive treatment, and patient outcomes were recorded.

RESULTS

There were 195 patients identified, with 42 local and 153 from the literature review (53 pediatric patients and 142 adults). Decreased level of consciousness was the predominant clinical sign. The most common etiologies of hydrocephalus were neoplasm and hemorrhage. While the majority of ALPH occurred spontaneously, 39% of pediatric patients had previously undergone a lumbar puncture. Prior to ALPH diagnosis, 92% of pediatric and 39% of adult patients had a ventricular shunt in situ. The most common temporizing intervention was subatmospheric CSF drainage. The majority of patients underwent a shunt insertion/revision or endoscopic third ventriculostomy as definitive ALPH treatment. Although the mortality rate was 11%, 83% of pediatric and 49% of adult patients returned to their pre-ALPH neurological functional status after definitive treatment. Outcomes were related to both the severity of the underlying neurosurgical disease causing the hydrocephalus and the efficacy of ALPH treatment.

CONCLUSIONS

ALPH is an underrecognized variant phenotype of hydrocephalus that is associated with multiple etiologies and can be challenging to treat as it frequently does not initially respond to standard strategies of CSF shunting. With early recognition, ALPH can be effectively managed. A management algorithm is provided as a guide for this purpose.

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Robert Lesko, Barbora Benova, Petr Jezdik, Petr Liby, Alena Jahodova, Martin Kudr, Michal Tichy, Josef Zamecnik and Pavel Krsek

OBJECTIVE

In this study, the authors aimed to determine 1) whether the use of intraoperative electrocorticography (ECoG) affects outcomes and complication rates of children undergoing resective epilepsy surgery; 2) which patient- and epilepsy-related variables might influence ECoG-based surgical strategy; and 3) what the predictors of epilepsy surgery outcomes are.

METHODS

Over a period of 12 years, data were collected on pediatric patients who underwent tailored brain resections in the Motol Epilepsy Center. In patients in whom an abnormal ECoG pattern (e.g., spiking, suppression burst, or recruiting rhythm) was not observed beyond presurgically planned resection margins, the authors did not modify the surgical plan (group A). In those with significant abnormal ECoG findings beyond resection margins, the authors either did (group B) or did not (group C) modify the surgical plan, depending on the proximity of the eloquent cortex or potential extent of resection. Using Fisher’s exact test and the chi-square test, the 3 groups were compared in relation to epilepsy surgery outcomes and complication rate. Next, multivariate models were constructed to identify variables associated with each of the groups and with epilepsy surgery outcomes.

RESULTS

Patients in group C achieved significantly lower rates of seizure freedom compared to groups A (OR 30.3, p < 0.001) and B (OR 35.2, p < 0.001); groups A and B did not significantly differ (p = 0.78). Patients in whom the surgical plan was modified suffered from more frequent complications (B vs A+C, OR 3.8, p = 0.01), but these were mostly minor (duration < 3 months; B vs A+C, p = 0.008). In all cases, tissue samples from extended resections were positive for the presence of the original pathology. Patients with intended modification of the surgical plan (groups B+C) suffered more often from daily seizures, had a higher age at first seizure, had intellectual disability, and were regarded as MR-negative (p < 0.001). Unfavorable surgical outcome (Engel class II–IV) was associated with focal cortical dysplasia, incomplete resection based on MRI and/or ECoG findings, negative MRI finding, and inability to modify the surgical plan when indicated.

CONCLUSIONS

Intraoperative ECoG serves as a reliable tool to guide resection and may inform the prognosis for seizure freedom in pediatric patients undergoing epilepsy surgery. ECoG-based modification of the surgical plan is associated with a higher rate of minor complications. Children in whom ECoG-based modification of the surgical plan is indicated but not feasible achieve significantly worse surgical outcomes.

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Anujan Poologaindran, Stephen R. Lowe and Michael E. Sughrue

Connectomics is the production and study of detailed “connection” maps within the nervous system. With unprecedented advances in imaging and high-performance computing, the construction of individualized connectomes for routine neurosurgical use is on the horizon. Multiple projects, including the Human Connectome Project (HCP), have unraveled new and exciting data describing the functional and structural connectivity of the brain. However, the abstraction from much of these data to clinical relevance remains elusive. In the context of preserving neurological function after supratentorial surgery, abstracting surgically salient points from the vast computational data in connectomics is of paramount importance. Herein, the authors discuss four interesting observations from the HCP data that have surgical relevance, with an emphasis on the cortical organization of language: 1) the existence of a motor speech area outside of Broca’s area, 2) the eloquence of the frontal aslant tract, 3) the explanation of the medial frontal cognitive control networks, and 4) the establishment of the second ventral stream of language processing. From these connectome observations, the authors discuss the anatomical basis of their insights as well as relevant clinical applications. Together, these observations provide a firm platform for neurosurgeons to advance their knowledge of the cortical networks involved in language and to ultimately improve surgical outcomes. It is hoped that this report encourages neurosurgeons to explore new vistas in connectome-based neurosurgery.

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Daniel García-Pérez, Irene Panero-Pérez, Carla Eiriz Fernández, Luis Miguel Moreno-Gomez, Olga Esteban-Sinovas, Blanca Navarro-Main, Pedro A. Gómez López, Ana M. Castaño-León and Alfonso Lagares

OBJECTIVE

Acute subdural hematoma (ASDH) is a major cause of mortality and morbidity after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Surgical evacuation is the mainstay of treatment in patients with altered neurological status or significant mass effect. Nevertheless, concerns regarding surgical indication still persist. Given that clinicians often make therapeutic decisions on the basis of their prognosis assessment, to accurately evaluate the prognosis is of great significance. Unfortunately, there is a lack of specific and reliable prognostic models. In addition, the interdependence of certain well-known predictive variables usually employed to guide surgical decision-making in ASDH has been proven. Because gray matter and white matter are highly susceptible to secondary insults during the early phase after TBI, the authors aimed to assess the extent of these secondary insults with a brain parenchyma densitometric quantitative CT analysis and to evaluate its prognostic capacity.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective analysis among their prospectively collected cohort of patients with moderate to severe TBI. Patients with surgically evacuated, isolated, unilateral ASDH admitted between 2010 and 2017 were selected. Thirty-nine patients were included. For each patient, brain parenchyma density in Hounsfield units (HUs) was measured in 10 selected slices from the supratentorial region. In each slice, different regions of interest (ROIs), including and excluding the cortical parenchyma, were defined. The injured hemisphere, the contralateral hemisphere, and the absolute differences between them were analyzed. The outcome was evaluated using the Glasgow Outcome Scale–Extended at 1 year after TBI.

RESULTS

Fifteen patients (38.5%) had a favorable outcome. Collected demographic, clinical, and radiographic data did not show significant differences between favorable and unfavorable outcomes. In contrast, the densitometric analysis demonstrated that greater absolute differences between both hemispheres were associated with poor outcome. These differences were detected along the supratentorial region, but were greater at the high convexity level. Moreover, these HU differences were far more marked at the cortical parenchyma. It was also detected that these differences were more prone to ischemic and/or edematous insults than to hyperemic changes. Age was significantly correlated with the side-to-side HU differences in patients with unfavorable outcome.

CONCLUSIONS

The densitometric analysis is a promising prognostic tool in patients diagnosed with ASDH. The supplementary prognostic information provided by the densitometric analysis should be evaluated in future studies.

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Robert J. Dambrino IV, Scott L. Zuckerman, Bradley S. Guidry, Henry J. Domenico, Reid C. Thompson, Mitchell B. Galloway, James W. Pichert and William O. Cooper

OBJECTIVE

The number of unsolicited patient complaints (UPCs) about surgeons correlates with surgical complications and malpractice claims. Using a large, national patient complaint database, the authors sought to do the following: 1) compare the rates of UPCs for neurosurgeons to those for other physicians, 2) analyze the risk of UPCs with individual neurosurgeon characteristics, and 3) describe the types of UPCs made about neurosurgeons.

METHODS

Patient and family complaint reports among 36,265 physicians, including 423 neurosurgeons, 8292 other surgeons, and 27,550 nonsurgeons who practiced at 33 medical centers (22 academic and 11 regional) from January 1, 2014, to December 31, 2017, were coded with a previously validated Patient Advocacy Reporting System (PARS) algorithm.

RESULTS

Among 423 neurosurgeons, 93% were male, and most (71%) practiced in academic medical centers. Neurosurgical subspecialties included general practice (25%), spine (25%), tumor (16%), vascular (13%), functional (10%), and pediatrics (10%). Neurosurgeons had more average total UPCs per physician (8.68; 95% CI 7.68–9.67) than nonsurgeons (3.40; 95% CI 3.33–3.47) and other surgeons (5.01; 95% CI 4.85–5.17; p < 0.001). In addition, a significantly higher percentage of neurosurgeons received at least one UPC (71.6%; 95% CI 67.3%–75.9%) than did nonsurgeons (50.2%; 95% CI 49.6%–50.8%) and other surgeons (58.2%; 95% CI 57.1%–59.3%; p < 0.001). Factors most associated with increased average UPCs were younger age, measured as median medical school graduation year (1990.5 in the 0-UPC group vs 1993 in the 14+-UPC group, p = 0.009) and spine subspecialty (13.4 mean UPCs in spine vs 7.9 mean UPCs in other specialties, 95% CI 2.3–8.5, p < 0.001). No difference in complaints was seen in those who graduated from non-US versus US medical schools (p = 0.605). The most common complaint types were related to issues surrounding care and treatment, communication, and accessibility, each of which was significantly more common for neurosurgeons than other surgical specialties (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Neurosurgeons were more likely to generate UPCs than other surgical specialties, and almost 3 out of 4 neurosurgeons (71.6%) had at least one UPC during the study period. Prior studies have shown that feedback to physicians about behavior can result in fewer UPCs. These results suggest that neurosurgeons have opportunities to reduce complaints and potentially improve the overall quality of care delivered.