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Kyle P. O’Connor, Adam D. Smitherman, Ali H. Palejwala, Greg A. Krempl, and Michael D. Martin

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is the most common surgical procedure utilized for degenerative diseases of the cervical spine. The authors present the case of a 64-year-old man who underwent an ACDF for degenerative changes causing cervical stenosis with myelopathy. The patient’s symptoms consisted of pain and weakness of the bilateral upper extremities that slowly progressed over 1.5 years. During the procedure, the superior horn of the thyroid cartilage impeded proper retraction, preventing adequate visualization due to its prominent size. At this point, otorhinolaryngology was consulted, which allowed for safe resection of this portion of the thyroid cartilage while preserving nearby critical structures. With the frequent usage of this surgical approach for various etiologies, the importance of proper recognition and consultation is paramount. Encountering prominent thyroid cartilage resulting in surgical obstruction has not been described in the literature and this report represents a paradigm for the proper course of action.

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Andrew K. Conner, Kar-Ming Fung, Jo Elle G. Peterson, Chad A. Glenn, and Michael D. Martin

Macroscopic ectopic or heterotopic ganglionic tissue within the cauda equina is a very rare pathological finding and is usually associated with spinal dysraphism. However, it may mimic genuine neoplasms of the cauda equina. The authors describe a 29-year-old woman with a history of back pain, right leg pain, and urinary incontinence in whom imaging demonstrated an enhancing mass located in the cauda equina at the L1–2 interspace. The patient subsequently underwent biopsy and was found to have a focus of ectopic ganglionic tissue that was 1.3 cm in greatest dimension.

To the authors' knowledge, ectopic or heterotopic ganglionic tissue within the cauda equina in a patient without evidence of spinal dysraphism has never been reported. This patient presented with imaging and clinical findings suggestive of a neoplasm, and an open biopsy proved the lesion to be ectopic ganglionic tissue. The authors suggest that ectopic ganglionic tissue be added to the list of differential diagnoses of a space-occupying lesion arising from the cauda equina.

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Michael D. Martin, Christopher M. Boxell, and David G. Malone

Lumbar disc degeneration occurs because of a variety of factors and results in a multitude of conditions. Alterations in the vertebral endplate cause loss of disc nutrition and disc degeneration. Aging, apoptosis, abnormalities in collagen, vascular ingrowth, loads placed on the disc, and abnormal proteoglycan all contribute to disc degeneration. Some forms of disc degeneration lead to loss of height of the motion segment with concomitant changes in biomechanics of the segment. Disc herniation with radiculopathy and chronic discogenic pain are the result of this degenerative process.