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Eduardo A. Iunes, Enrico A. Barletta, Telmo A. B. Belsuzarri, Franz J. Onishi, André Y. Aihara, Sergio Cavalheiro, and Andrei F. Joaquim

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to evaluate the incidence of pseudarthrosis after the treatment of cervical degenerative disc disease (CDDD) with anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) in which self-locking, stand-alone intervertebral cages filled with hydroxyapatite were used.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective cohort study of 49 patients who underwent 1- to 3-level ACDF with self-locking, stand-alone intervertebral cages without plates, with a minimum 2 years of follow-up. The following data were extracted from radiological and clinical charts: age, sex, time and type of pre- and postoperative signs and symptoms, pain status (visual analog scale [VAS]), functional status (Neck Disability Index [NDI]), history of smoking, bone quality (bone densitometry), and complications. Pseudarthrosis was diagnosed by a blinded neuroradiologist using CT scans. Clinical improvement was assessed using pre- and postoperative comparison of VAS and NDI scores. The Wilcoxon test for paired tests was used to evaluate statistical significance using a p value of < 0.05.

RESULTS

Three patients (6%) developed symptomatic pseudarthrosis requiring reoperation, with only 1 patient showing clinical worsening due to pseudarthrosis, while the other 2 with pseudarthrosis had associated disc disease at an adjacent level. The rate of symptomatic pseudarthrosis according to the number of operated levels was 0% for 1 level, 8.7% (2/23 patients) for 2 levels, and 7.7% (1/13 patients) for 3 levels. The total pseudarthrosis rate (including both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients) was 16.4%. Considering the clinical outcomes, there was a significant improvement of 75.6% in neck pain and 95.7% in arm pain, as well as a 64.9% improvement in NDI scores. Complications were observed in 18.4% of patients, with adjacent-level degenerative disease being the most prevalent at 14.3%.

CONCLUSIONS

ACDF with self-locking, stand-alone cages filled with a hydroxyapatite graft can be used for the surgical treatment of 1- to 3-level CDDD with clinical and radiological outcomes significantly improved after a minimum 2-year follow-up period. Comparative studies are necessary.

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Luis Rafael Moscote-Salazar, Andrei F. Joaquim, and Amit Agrawal

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Luis Rafael Moscote-Salazar, Andrei F. Joaquim, and Amit Agrawal

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Cleiton Formentin, Erion Junior de Andrade, Leo Gordiano Matias, Andrei F. Joaquim, Helder Tedeschi, Cássio Eduardo Raposo-Amaral, and Enrico Ghizoni

OBJECTIVE

Many repair techniques have been proposed to treat large myelomeningocele (MMC), and although effective in many cases, some of these techniques can be complex and time consuming, with complications such as cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leakage, flap loss, tip necrosis, and wound dehiscence. The purpose of this study was to analyze cases of large skin defects and the methods applied and to report the outcomes of the keystone design perforator island flap (KDPIF) technique for large MMC closure.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective review of all neonatal patients who had undergone KDPIF for MMC closure in the period from 2013 to 2018. All patients had a diagnosis of lumbosacral MMC based on obstetric ultrasound. The neurosurgeons and plastic surgeons had selected the cases after concluding that primary closure would be unlikely. The design of the flap is based on the randomly located vascular perforators, creating two identical opposing flaps to fashion a double keystone flap. During wound closure, V-Y advancement of each end of the double flap in the longitudinal axis creates redundancy in the central portion of the flap and reduces the horizontal tension. After discharge, both the neurosurgery and plastic surgery teams followed up all patients, tracking the results with photography.

RESULTS

No skin flap dehiscence or necrosis, infection, or CSF leakage was detected, proving the reliability of the flap. One of the patients required further surgery for the large skin defects after insufficient intrauterine closure of the MMC and successfully underwent KDPIF treatment. Another patient (14.3%) had severe neonatal sepsis, which ultimately led to death. A ventriculoperitoneal shunt was required after the skin defect repair in 5 (83.3%) of the 6 surviving patients. Exceptional aesthetic results were achieved for all patients during the follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS

The KDPIF technique is based on well-known vascular perforators of the intercostal, lumbar, and gluteal regions. Wound tension is widely distributed by the flap and, as a consequence, relevant tissue bulk, reliable vascularity, and important geometrical versatility are provided. In addition, most of the muscles and fascia are preserved, which is another advantage in terms of minimizing secondary morbidity to local tissue rearrangement. The use of KDPIF closure was successfully shown to be a viable alternative for more complex MMCs that present with large skin defects.

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Andrei F. Joaquim and K. Daniel Riew

OBJECTIVE

Cervical disc arthroplasty (CDA) has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment modality for single-level cervical radiculopathy or myelopathy. Its advantages over an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) include motion preservation and decreased reoperations at the index and adjacent segments up to 7 years postoperatively. Considering the fact that many patients have multilevel cervical disc degeneration (CDD), the authors performed a systematic review of the clinical studies evaluating patients who underwent multilevel CDA (2 or more levels).

METHODS

A systematic review in the MEDLINE database was performed. Clinical studies including patients who had multilevel CDA were selected and included. Case reports and literature reviews were excluded. Articles were then grouped according to their main study objective: 1) studies comparing multilevel CDA versus ACDF; 2) studies comparing single-level CDA versus multilevel CDA; and 3) multilevel CDA after a previous cervical spine surgery.

RESULTS

Fourteen articles met all inclusion criteria. The general conclusions were that multilevel CDA was at least as safe and effective as ACDF, with preservation of cervical motion when compared with ACDF and potentially with fewer reoperations expected in most of the studies. Multilevel CDAs are clinically effective as single-level surgeries, with good clinical and radiological outcomes. Some studies reported a higher incidence of heterotopic ossification in multilevel CDA when compared with single-level procedures, but without clinical relevance during the follow-up period. A CDA may be indicated even after a previous cervical surgery in selected cases.

CONCLUSIONS

The current literature supports the use of multilevel CDA. Caution is necessary regarding the more restrictive indications for CDA when compared with ACDF. Further prospective, controlled, multicenter, and randomized studies not sponsored by the device manufactures are desirable to prove the superiority of CDA surgery over ACDF as the treatment of choice for CDD in selected cases.

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Andrei F. Joaquim, Wellington K. Hsu, and Alpesh A. Patel

Cervical surgery is one of the most common surgical spinal procedures performed around the world. The authors performed a systematic review of the literature reporting the outcomes of cervical spine surgery in high-level athletes in order to better understand the nuances of cervical spine pathology in this population.

A search of the MEDLINE database using the search terms “cervical spine” AND “surgery” AND “athletes” yielded 54 abstracts. After exclusion of publications that did not meet the criteria for inclusion, a total of 8 papers reporting the outcome of cervical spine surgery in professional or elite athletes treated for symptoms secondary to cervical spine pathology (focusing in degenerative conditions) remained for analysis. Five of these involved the management of cervical disc herniation, 3 were specifically about traumatic neurapraxia.

The majority of the patients included in this review were American football players. Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) was commonly performed in high-level athletes for the treatment of cervical disc herniation. Most of the studies suggested that return to play is safe for athletes who are asymptomatic after ACDF for cervical radiculopathy due to disc herniation. Surgical treatment may provide a higher rate of return to play for these athletes than nonsurgical treatment. Return to play after cervical spinal cord contusion may be possible in asymptomatic patients. Cervical cord signal changes on MRI may not be an absolute contraindication for return to play in neurologically intact patients, according to some authors. Cervical contusions secondary to cervical stenosis may be associated with a worse outcome and a higher recurrence rate than those those secondary to disc herniation. The evidence is low (Level IV) and individualized treatment must be recommended.

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Andrei F. Joaquim, Enrico Ghizoni, Marcos Juliano dos Santos, Marcelo Gomes C. Valadares, Felipe Soares da Silva, and Helder Tedeschi

OBJECT

Hemangioblastomas are rare, benign, highly vascularized tumors that can be found throughout the neuraxis but are mainly located in the cerebellum and in the spinal cord. Spinal hemangioblastomas can present with motor and sensory deficits, whose severity varies according to the size and location of the tumor. Resection is the best treatment option to avoid neurological deterioration. The authors report surgical results in the treatment of intramedullary hemangioblastomas and discuss the technical nuances important to achieving total resection without adding new deficits.

METHODS

A consecutive series of patients with intramedullary hemangioblastomas operated on between 2000 and 2014 by the senior author (H.T.) is presented. The functional scale proposed by McCormick was used to evaluate the patients' neurological status before and after surgery.

RESULTS

Sixteen patients were included in the study and underwent 17 surgeries. Follow-up was at least 6 months. Age at presentation varied from 13 to 58 years (mean 33.8 years). Ten patients (62.5%) were males and 6 patients (37.5%) were females. Seven (43.75%) of the 16 patients had associated von Hippel—Lindau syndrome, with hemangioblastomas also presenting in other locations. Three patients had multiple tumors in the same segment in the spinal cord, and 10 patients (62.5%) presented with cysts. According to the site of presentation, 11 tumors (68.75%) were localized at the cervical region (including the cervicomedullary junction) and 5 tumors (31.25%) at the thoracic level. Total resection was achieved in all cases, evidenced by postoperative MRI. Four patients had some functional worsening immediately after surgery. After 6 months, 1 patient had functional worsening compared with preoperative status, and 2 patients had clinical improvement. The majority of the patients remained clinically stable postoperatively.

CONCLUSIONS

Adequate knowledge of anatomy and the correct use of microsurgical techniques allowed total resection of these tumors, with minimal morbidity and maximum functional recovery. Outcome seems to be directly related to the neurological status before surgery.

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Andrei F. Joaquim and K. Daniel Riew

Management of intradural spinal tumors requires posterior decompressive techniques. Cervical spine deformity secondary to sagittal and/or coronal imbalance after a laminectomy may result in significant cervical pain and functional deterioration, as well as neurological deficits in the most severe cases. In this paper, the authors discuss the management of cervical spine deformity after intradural tumor resection, with emphasis on the surgical strategies required to reestablish acceptable cervical spine alignment and to correct postoperative deformity. In general, after an oncological evaluation, assessing the alignment, extent, and flexibility of the deformity is mandatory before surgical planning. Rigid deformities require an osteotomy and, most often, combined approaches to restore cervical alignment. Flexible deformities can often be treated with a single approach, although a circumferential approach has its advantages.

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Ulysses C. Batista, Andrei F. Joaquim, Yvens B. Fernandes, Roger N. Mathias, Enrico Ghizoni, and Helder Tedeschi

OBJECT

Most of the craniometric relationships of the normal craniocervical junction (CCJ), especially those related to angular craniometry, are still poorly studied and based on measurements taken from simple plain radiographs. In this study, the authors performed a craniometric evaluation of the CCJ in a population without known CCJ anomalies. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the normal CCJ craniometry based on measurements obtained from CT scans.

METHOD

The authors analyzed 100 consecutive CCJ CT scans obtained in adult patients who were admitted at their tertiary hospital for treatment of non-CCJ conditions between 2010 and 2012. A total of 17 craniometrical measurements were performed, including the relation of the odontoid with the cranial base, the atlantodental interval (ADI), the clivus length, the clivus-canal angle (CCA)—the angle formed by the clivus and the upper cervical spine, and the basal angle.

RESULTS

The mean age of the 100 patients was 50.6 years, and the group included 52 men (52%) and 48 women (48%). In 5 patients (5%), the tip of the odontoid process was more than 2 mm above the Chamberlain line, and in one of these 5 patients (1% of the study group). it was more than 5 mm above it. One patient had a Grabb-Oakes measurement above 9 mm (suggesting ventral cervicomedullary encroachment). The mean ADI value was 1.1 mm. The thickness of the external occipital protuberance ranged from 7.42 to 22.36 mm. The mean clivus length was 44.74 mm, the mean CCA was 153.68° (range 132.32°–173.95°), and the mean basal angle was 113.73° (ranging from 97.06°–133.26°).

CONCLUSIONS

The data obtained in this study can be useful for evaluating anomalies of the CCJ in comparison with normal parameters, potentially improving the diagnostic criteria of these anomalies. When evaluating CCJ malformations, one should take into account the normal ranges based on CT scans, with more precise bone landmarks, instead of those obtained from simple plain radiographs.