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Ashok R. Asthagiri, Gautam U. Mehta, John A. Butman, Martin Baggenstos, Edward H. Oldfield, and Russell R. Lonser

Object

Despite the frequent multiplicity and development of new spinal cord hemangioblastomas that require multiple resections in patients with von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease, the long-term effects of spinal surgery on spinal column stability in this neoplasia disorder are not known. To determine the effect of multilevel cervical laminectomy for spinal cord tumor resection in VHL, the authors analyzed long-term clinical and radiographic outcomes.

Methods

The authors included consecutive patients enrolled in a prospective VHL disease natural history study who underwent cervical laminectomy(s) for spinal cord hemangioblastoma resection. Serial clinical examinations, neck disability indices, and radiographs (static and dynamic), as well as operative records, were analyzed.

Results

Twenty-five adult patients (16 female, 9 male) with VHL disease underwent 34 operations (mean 1.4 ± 0.7 [± SD]/patient) for the resection of cervical spinal cord hemangioblastomas (mean number of lamina removed/surgery 3.0 ± 1.3). The mean age at surgery was 33.9 ± 11.9 years (range 18–61 years), and the mean follow-up duration was 9.1 ± 5.6 years. At last follow-up, radiographic criteria indicated that 9 patients (36%) had spinal column instability, 13 patients (52%) developed a cervical spinal deformity, 4 patients (16%) developed moderate to severe neck disability, and 3 patients (12%) met the criteria for clinical instability. Removal of the C-2 lamina was associated with the development of clinical instability (p = 0.02, Fisher exact test); older age at surgery was associated with the development of cervical deformity (p = 0.05, logistic regression); and a greater number of operations (suboccipital–T4) were associated with increased neck disability indices (p = 0.01, linear regression).

Conclusions

Whereas patients with VHL disease will often require multiple laminectomies for cervical spinal cord hemangioblastoma resection, a limited number of patients (12%) will develop clinical instability. Because prophylactic cervical instrumentation confers limited benefit at the time of spinal cord tumor resection for most patients, and because these patients need life-long MR imaging of the spinal cord, the quality of which may be affected by instrumentation, longitudinal clinical and radiological evaluation may be used to determine which patients will require stabilization.

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Gautam U. Mehta, Ashok R. Asthagiri, Kamran D. Bakhtian, Sungyoung Auh, Edward H. Oldfield, and Russell R. Lonser

Object

Spinal cord hemangioblastomas are a common protean manifestation of von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease and can be associated with significant morbidity. To better define expected outcome and optimal management of these tumors in the context of this neoplasia syndrome, the authors analyzed the findings from patients with VHL disease who underwent resection of spinal cord hemangioblastomas.

Methods

Consecutive patients with VHL disease who underwent surgery for spinal cord hemangioblastomas with > 6 months follow-up were included in the study. Serial clinical examinations, functional scores, imaging findings, and operative records were analyzed.

Results

One hundred eight patients (57 male, 51 female) underwent 156 operations for resection of 218 spinal cord hemangioblastomas. One hundred forty-six operations (94%) were performed for symptom-producing tumors. The most common presenting symptoms included hypesthesia (64% of resections), hyperreflexia (57%), dysesthesia (43%), and weakness (36%). Mean follow-up was 7.0 ± 5.0 years (range 0.5–20.9 years). Complete resection was achieved for 217 tumors (99.5%). At 6-months follow-up, patients were stable or improved after 149 operations (96%) and worse after 7 operations (4%). Ventral tumors (OR 15.66, 95% CI 2.54–96.45; p = 0.003) or completely intramedullary tumors (OR 10.74, 95% CI 2.07–55.66; p = 0.005) were associated with an increased risk of postoperative worsening. The proportion of patients remaining functionally stable at 2, 5, 10, and 15 years' follow-up was 93, 86, 78, and 78%. Long-term functional decline was caused by extensive VHL-associated CNS disease (6 patients), VHL-associated visceral disease (1 patient), or non-VHL disease (2 patients).

Conclusions

Resection of symptomatic spinal cord hemangioblastomas is a safe and effective means of preserving neurological function in patients with VHL disease. Tumor location (ventral or completely intramedullary) can be used to assess functional risk associated with surgery. Long-term decline in neurological function is usually caused by VHL-associated disease progression.

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Russell R. Lonser, John A. Butman, and Edward H. Oldfield

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Gabriel C. Tender, John A. Butman, Edward H. Oldfield, and Russell R. Lonser

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Russell R. Lonser, Scott D. Wait, John A. Butman, Alexander O. Vortmeyer, McClellan M. Walther, Lance S. Governale, and Edward H. Oldfield

Object

Hemangioblastomas in the lumbosacral region are rare, and the authors of prior reports have not defined the surgical management, histopathological features, or outcome in a group of patients after resection of these tumors. To identify features that will help guide the operative and clinical management of these lesions, the authors reviewed data obtained in a series of patients with von Hippel—Lindau syndrome who underwent resection of lumbosacral nerve root hemangioblastomas.

Methods

Six consecutive patients (three men and three women; mean age at surgery 39 years [range 31–48 years]) who underwent operations for resection of lumbosacral nerve root hemangioblastomas were included in this study. The mean follow-up period was 23 months (range 6–45 months). Data derived from examination, hospital charts, operative findings, histopathological analysis, and magnetic resonance imaging were used to analyze surgical management and clinical outcome. The resected tumors were located in the lumbar (five cases) or sacral (one case) regions; the mean tumor size was 2728 mm3 (range 80–15,022 mm3). Consistent with central nervous system (CNS) regional variation of space available to accommodate the neural compressive effect of the hemangioblastoma size, the mean tumor volume (2728 mm3) of these symptomatic lesions was much larger than that of symptomatic hemangioblastomas resected in the other regions of the CNS. Histopathological examination showed infiltration of the associated nerve root by the hemangioblastoma in each case. In five of the six patients complete resection was achieved, and in one patient intradural exploration of two hemangioblastomas was performed, but resection was not achieved because of motor root involvement. In all cases involving complete resections the patients experienced symptomatic improvement.

Conclusions

Lumbosacral nerve root hemangioblastomas can be safely removed in most patients with von Hippel—Lindau syndrome. Generally, hemangioblastomas of the lumbosacral nerve roots should be resected when they become symptomatic. Because these neoplasms appear to originate from the nerve root, it is necessary to sacrifice the nerve root from which the hemangioblastoma originates to achieve complete resection.

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Ronald I. Apfelbaum, Russell R. Lonser, Robert Veres, and Adrian Casey

Object. The management of odontoid fractures remains controversial. Only direct anterior screw fixation provides immediate stabilization of the spine and may preserve normal C1–2 motion. To determine the indications, optimum timing, and results for direct anterior screw fixation of odontoid fractures, the authors reviewed the surgery-related outcome of patients who underwent this procedure at two institutions.

Methods. One hundred forty-seven consecutive patients (98 males and 49 females) who underwent direct anterior screw fixation for recent (≤ 6 months postinjury [129 patients]) or remote (≥ 18 months postinjury [18 patients]) Type II (138 cases) or III (nine cases) odontoid fractures at the University of Utah (94 patients) and National Institute of Traumatology in Budapest, Hungary (53 patients) between 1986 and 1998 are included in this study (mean follow up 18.2 months). Data obtained from clinical examination, review of hospital charts, operative findings, and imaging studies were used to analyze the surgery-related results in these patients.

In patients with recent fractures there was an overall bone fusion rate of 88%. The rate of anatomical bone fusion of recent fractures was significantly (p ≤ 0.05) higher in fractures oriented in the horizontal and posterior oblique direction (compared with anterior oblique), but this finding was independent (p ≥ 0.05) of age, sex, number of screws placed (one or two), and the degree or the direction of odontoid displacement. In patients with remote fractures there was a significantly lower rate of bone fusion (25%). Overall, complications related to hardware failure occurred in 14 patients (10%) and those unrelated to hardware in three patients (2%). There was one death (1%) related to surgery.

Conclusions. Direct anterior screw fixation is an effective and safe method for treating recent odontoid fractures (< 6 months postinjury). It confers immediate stability, preserves C1–2 rotatory motion, and achieves a fusion rate that compares favorably with alternative treatment methods. In contradistinction, in patients with remote fractures (≥ 18 months postinjury) a significantly lower rate of fusion is found when using this technique, and these patients are believed to be poor candidates for this procedure.

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J. David Wood, Russell R. Lonser, Nitin Gogate, Paul F. Morrison, and Edward H. Oldfield

Object. Many macromolecules have the potential to enhance recovery after injury and other lesions of the spinal cord, but because of the limited penetration of these compounds across the blood—spinal cord barrier, they cannot be used effectively. To determine if convective delivery could be used in a common animal model to investigate potential therapeutic macromolecules and to examine the effects of trauma on convective delivery in that model, the authors examined the distribution of a macromolecule in naive and traumatized rat spinal cords.

Methods. Using convection, various infusion volumes ([Vi]; 1, 2, and 4 µl) of 14C-albumin were infused into the dorsal columns of 13 naive and five traumatized rat spinal cords. Volume of distribution (Vd), homogeneity, percentage of recovery, and anatomical location were determined using quantitative autoradiography, scintillation analysis, calculation of kurtosis (K) value, and histological analysis. In the nontraumatized group, Vd was linearly proportional (R2 = 0.98) to Vi (Vd/Vi, 4.3 ± 0.6; mean ± standard deviation), with increases in Vd resulting from linear expansion (R2 = 0.94) primarily in the craniocaudal dimension. In the traumatized spinal cords, the Vd/Vi ratio (3.7 ± 0.5) was smaller (p < 0.02) and distributions were less confined to the craniocaudal dimension, with significantly larger cross-sectional distributions in the region of injury (p < 0.02) compared to the noninjured spinal cords. Histological analysis revealed that after infusion into the dorsal columns, albumin distribution in naive cords was limited to the dorsal white matter, but in the traumatized cords there was penetration into the central gray matter. The distribution of the infusate was homogeneous in the nontraumatized (K = −1.1) and traumatized (K = −1.1) spinal cords. Recovery of radioactivity was not significantly different (p > 0.05) between the nontraumatized (84.8 ± 6.8%) and traumatized (79.7 ± 12.1%) groups.

Conclusions. Direct convective delivery of infusate can be used to distribute macromolecules in a predictable, homogeneous manner over significant volumes of naive and traumatized rat spinal cord. These characteristics make it a valuable tool to investigate the therapeutic potential of various compounds for the treatment of injury and spinal cord disease.