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Open access

Index-level fusion and adjacent segment disease following dynamic stabilization for lumbar degenerative disc disease: illustrative case

Kathleen R Ran, Tej D Azad, Bhavya Pahwa, Lydia J Bernhardt, and Ali Bydon

BACKGROUND

Dynesys dynamic stabilization (DDS) is an alternative to surgical fusion for the operative management of degenerative lumbar spondylosis. Compared to rigid instrumentation and fusion, DDS is purported to preserve a higher degree of spinal range of motion and reduce the risk of developing adjacent segment disease (ASD).

OBSERVATIONS

A 60-year-old female presented with severe back pain and bilateral leg pain, which had progressed over the prior 4 years. Nine years earlier, she had undergone DDS system implantation at L5–S1 for lumbar stenosis and spondylosis. Repeat imaging revealed an unintended fusion at the index level (L5–S1) and ASD causing severe lateral recess stenosis at L4–5. She underwent DDS system removal, decompression at L4–5, and extension of the fusion to L4.

LESSONS

Although DDS has been marketed as a motion-preserving system that avoids fusion and reduces the risk of ASD, unintended index-level fusion and ASD can still occur after DDS system surgery. These potential complications should be assessed when determining the optimal primary surgical treatment for patients with lumbar degenerative disc disease.

https://thejns.org/doi/10.3171/CASE24179

Open access

Splenic rupture following prone lateral discectomy and arthrodesis: illustrative case

Alexandra Echevarria, Benjamin Hershfeld, Emily Arciero, and Rohit Verma

BACKGROUND

The prone lateral approach to lumbar spine surgery is known to have a multitude of potential complications, including damage to neurovascular structures, surrounding viscera, and intra-abdominal structures near the surgical site. However, iatrogenic injury to the spleen following prone lateral lumbar discectomy and arthrodesis as a potential complication has not yet been described in the literature.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors present the case of a 71-year-old female with a history of L3–S1 laminectomy and L3–5 arthrodesis who underwent a prone lateral discectomy of L2–3 with arthrodesis of the endplates for chronic lower-back pain. On postoperative day 1, the patient developed hypotension unresponsive to pressor medications, significant abdominal pain, and anemia requiring 2 transfusions. Bedside ultrasound revealed free fluid in the abdomen. She then underwent an exploratory laparotomy for splenic injury.

LESSONS

Although rare, splenic rupture should be considered as part of the differential diagnosis for patients with hemodynamic instability after lateral surgical approaches to the lumbar spine. Any patient with evidence of hypotension, anemia, and/or abdominal pain following lumbar surgery should be evaluated for splenic injury with an abdominal computed tomography scan and considered for surgical intervention.

https://thejns.org/doi/10.3171/CASE23639

Open access

Spontaneous resolution of traumatic cervical epidural hematoma: illustrative case

Grace R Fassina, Sherwin A Tavakol, Caple A Spence, and Christopher S Graffeo

BACKGROUND

Cervical epidural hematomas are rare and can arise for many reasons. Patients typically present with pain and/or symptoms of spinal cord compression. Prompt surgical decompression is typically pursued when deficits are present in an effort to improve long-term neurological outcomes. However, the authors report the case of a patient with a traumatic dorsal cervical epidural hematoma with spontaneous resolution within 16 hours.

OBSERVATIONS

A 49-year-old male with a history of C5–6 anterior cervical fusion 3 years prior presented with neck pain after blunt force trauma. The exam revealed only tenderness in the cervical spine. Initial computed tomography revealed fractures of C1 and C4. Urgent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) demonstrated a dorsal cervical epidural hematoma causing compression of the spinal cord from the occiput to C5. An operation was scheduled for the following morning; however, after he reported new symptoms, repeat MRI was performed, which confirmed no evidence of a cervical epidural hematoma.

LESSONS

This case demonstrates that a traumatic cervical epidural hematoma can resolve spontaneously within a short time frame. Close monitoring of these patients is vital, and it is important to reimage patients if new signs and/or symptoms arise to potentially change the timing and/or nature of the proposed surgery.

https://thejns.org/doi/10.3171/CASE24167

Open access

Enlarging neurenteric cyst at the craniocervical junction with a fluid-fluid level on magnetic resonance imaging: illustrative case

Toshihide Takahashi, Kiyoyuki Yanaka, Hitoshi Aiyama, Minami Saura, Michihide Kajita, Nobuyuki Takahashi, Kuniyuki Onuma, and Eiichi Ishikawa

BACKGROUND

Neurenteric cysts are relatively rare benign congenital intracranial cystic lesions that enlarge rarely and very slowly. The authors present a case of an enlarging neurenteric cyst at the craniocervical junction with a fluid-fluid level on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

OBSERVATIONS

A 34-year-old man with no significant medical history underwent head MRI to investigate mild headaches. An incidental cystic lesion, approximately 8 mm in diameter, was revealed at the craniocervical junction. Serial follow-up MRI showed cyst enlargement with a fluid-fluid level. Four years later, the cyst reached a size of 15 mm and was surgically removed. The cyst contained cloudy fluid with a high protein concentration, without any bleeding or tissue fragments. Pathological examination confirmed the diagnosis of a neurenteric cyst. The patient recovered well, was discharged home, and has remained recurrence free for 2 years.

LESSONS

The growth dynamics of the relatively rapidly expanding neurenteric cyst at the craniocervical junction were monitored over time using MRI. This cyst exhibited the distinctive feature of a fluid-fluid level as it enlarged. Investigating the mechanisms underlying fluid-fluid level formation may offer novel insights into the pathogenesis of cyst enlargement.

https://thejns.org/doi/10.3171/CASE24180

Open access

Spinal extramedullary hematopoiesis mimicking an epidural tumor in a patient with high-risk polycythemia vera: illustrative case

Ashlee N Hawkins, Jeffrey M Breton, Akrita Bhatnagar, Nitika Paudel, and Jean-Marc Voyadzis

BACKGROUND

Here the authors present the case of a 43-year-old male with a history of T-cell lymphoma, which was treated with azacitidine plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone and autologous hematopoietic cell transplant, and high-risk polycythemia vera (PCV) presenting with severe lower-back pain radiating to the bilateral legs with associated lower-extremity weakness and splenomegaly.

OBSERVATIONS

T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging revealed multilevel epidural lesions involving T1–10 and S1–2. Because of severe spinal canal stenosis, the patient underwent surgical decompression of T5–7, with immediate postoperative alleviation of the lower-extremity pain and complete resolution of the lower-leg weakness. Biopsy results revealed extramedullary hematopoiesis (EMH) mimicking a spinal epidural tumor. EMH is radiosensitive and displays a rapid response to low dosages, so the patient was further treated with palliative radiation therapy for residual tumors and symptom alleviation, as well as hydroxyurea and corticosteroids as indicated for cytoreduction.

LESSONS

EMH associated with PCV or myeloproliferative conditions occurring within the spine is a rare phenomenon without a standard treatment approach.

https://thejns.org/doi/10.3171/CASE23659

Open access

Surgical treatment of torticollis secondary to the presence of a congenital paracondylar process: illustrative case

Grace Hey, Otavio De Toledo, Salvador Gutierrez-Aguirre, Steven Andreoli, Pushpak Patel, Alyssa Tamasi, Asmaa Hatem, and Philipp Aldana

BACKGROUND

A paracondylar process is an abnormal bony exostosis arising from the skull base lateral to the occipital condyle and extending inferiorly toward the transverse process of the atlas. Paracondylar processes are typically identified incidentally and vary in size from a small protuberance to an elongated process.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors present the first pediatric case of torticollis secondary to a congenital paracondylar process successfully treated with resection of the paracondylar process and sternocleidomastoid release.

LESSONS

Cadaveric dissection, three-dimensional models, intraoperative imaging guidance, and multidisciplinary collaboration were paramount to a successful surgical outcome.

https://thejns.org/doi/10.3171/CASE2447

Open access

Successful detection of multiple communicating holes in multiple spinal extradural arachnoid cysts by using time-spatial labeling inversion pulse magnetic resonance imaging: illustrative case

Yusuke Kagei, Tatsuya Ishibe, Yusuke Kanba, and Masashi Tanaka

BACKGROUND

Spinal extradural arachnoid cysts (SEACs) communicate with the subarachnoid space through small communicating dural holes. The precise preoperative detection of all communicating holes, followed by minimally invasive dural closure, is the ideal treatment to prevent postoperative spinal deformities, especially in cases of multiple SEACs. However, standard imaging methods often fail to detect communicating hole locations. Although a few cases of successful single-hole detection via cinematic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have been reported, this modality’s ability to detect multiple holes has not been demonstrated.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors describe the case of a 14-year-old male with myelopathy due to multiple SEACs at T5–8 and T8–12. Myelography revealed a complete block at the T8 level; no cephalic cyst or communicating holes were identified. Time-spatial labeling inversion pulse (T-SLIP) MRI revealed cerebrospinal fluid flow into the cyst at T10 and T7. A limited laminectomy or hemilaminectomy was performed at T7 and T10, and two dural holes were closed without a total cystectomy. The patient’s gait disturbance and rectal disorder disappeared. The cysts were confirmed to have completely disappeared on conventional MRI at 1 year postoperatively.

LESSONS

T-SLIP MRI, a cinematic MRI, is useful for detecting multiple communicating holes in SEACs.

Open access

Cartilage within lipomyelomeningocele and ulnar longitudinal deficiency syndrome as VACTERL association, alliance in SHH/GLI3, and Wnt pathway: illustrative case

Mikael Aseged Shimekit, Ermias Fikru Yesuf, Simon Mulugeta Teferi, and Mahlet Getachew Lemma

BACKGROUND

Lipomyelomeningocele associated with an ulnar club hand in the spectrum of VACTERL association ([costo-]vertebral abnormalities; anal atresia; cardiac defects; tracheal-esophageal abnomalities, including atresia, stenosis, and fistula; renal and radial abnormalities; limb abnormalities; single umbilical artery) is a very rare and infrequently reported phenomenon. Within the fat mass of the lipoma, it is not common to find a well-defined cartilaginous mass with no attachments to the surrounding tissue.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors present the case of a 3-month-old male with low-back swelling that was off-center to the left, accompanied by a left short forearm displaying outward bowing. Echocardiography showed an atrial septal defect. This rare VACTERL association comprises lipomyelomeningocele, atrial septal defect, and ulnar longitudinal deficiency syndrome. During surgical intervention for the lipoma, a well-defined cartilaginous mass was discovered within the adipose tissue.

LESSONS

The manifestation of VACTERL association can be partially explained by the Shh/Gli and Wnt pathway defects. It is prudent to screen children with neural tube defects to be aware of any associated syndromes. This case is very rare, and the literature has contained no prior report on the VACTERL association of lipomyelomeningocele, atrial septal defect, and ulnar longitudinal deficiency.

Open access

Incidental durotomy resulting in a postoperative lumbosacral nerve root with eventration into the adjacent facet joint: illustrative cases

Michael J Kelly, Franziska C. S Altorfer, Marco D Burkhard, Russel C Huang, Frank P Cammisa Jr., and J. Levi Chazen

BACKGROUND

Radicular pain after lumbar decompression surgery can result from epidural hematoma/seroma, recurrent disc herniation, incomplete decompression, or other rare complications. A less recognized complication is postoperative nerve root herniation, resulting from an initially unrecognized intraoperative or, more commonly, a spontaneous postoperative durotomy. Rarely, this nerve root herniation can become entrapped within local structures, including the facet joint. The aim of this study was to illustrate our experience with three cases of lumbosacral nerve root eventration into an adjacent facet joint and to describe our diagnostic and surgical approach to this rare complication.

OBSERVATIONS

Three patients who had undergone lumbar decompression surgery with or without fusion experienced postoperative radiculopathy. Exploratory revision surgery revealed all three had a durotomy with nerve root eventration into the facet joint. Significant symptom improvement was achieved in all patients following liberation of the neural elements from the facet joints.

LESSONS

Entrapment of herniated nerve roots into the facet joint may be a previously underappreciated complication and remains quite challenging to diagnose even with the highest-quality advanced imaging. Thus, clinicians must have a high index of suspicion to diagnose this issue and a low threshold for surgical exploration.

Open access

Epidural lipomatosis with foci of hemorrhage and acute compression of the spinal cord in a child with CLOVES syndrome: illustrative case

Dmytro Ishchenko, Iryna Benzar, and Andrii Holoborodko

BACKGROUND

Congenital lipomatous overgrowth, vascular malformations, epidermal nevi, spinal/skeletal anomalies, and/or scoliosis (CLOVES) syndrome is the most recently described combined vascular anomaly characterized by congenital excessive growth of adipose tissue, vascular malformations, epidermal nevi, and skeletal deformities. This condition exhibits a significant variability in clinical manifestations and a tendency for rapid progression and affects extensive anatomical regions. Information regarding the association of epidural lipomatosis with low-flow venous lymphatic malformations is rare, with few reports in the literature.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors present a case of a 6-year-old girl who was admitted to the emergency department complaining of rapidly progressing weakness in her lower extremities and partial loss of sensation in the inguinal area. Radiologically, an extradural mass was identified at the T2–6 level, causing acute spinal cord compression. Urgent decompression and partial resection of the mass were performed. Despite satisfactory intraoperative hemo- and lymphostasis, postoperative lymphorrhea/seroma leakage was encountered as a delayed complication and was managed conservatively.

LESSONS

CLOVES syndrome is characterized by the combination of various clinical symptoms, not all of which are included in the abbreviation, as well as a progressively deteriorating course, the emergence of new symptoms, and complications throughout the patient’s life. This necessitates ongoing monitoring of such patients.