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Ryan M. Kretzer, Christopher Chaput, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ira M. Garonzik, George I. Jallo, Paul C. McAfee, Bryan W. Cunningham, and P. Justin Tortolani

Object

The objective of this study was to establish normative data for thoracic pedicle anatomy in the US adult population. To this end, CT scans chosen at random from an adult database were evaluated to determine the ideal pedicle screw (PS) length, diameter, trajectory, and starting point in the thoracic spine. The role of patient sex and side of screw placement were also assessed. The authors postulated that this information would be of value in guiding safe implant size and placement for surgeons in training.

Methods

One hundred patients (50 males and 50 females) were selected via retrospective review of a hospital trauma registry database over a 6-month period. Patients included in the study were older than 18 years of age, had axial bone-window CT images of the thoracic spine, and had no evidence of spinal trauma. For each pedicle, the pedicle width, pedicle-rib width, estimated screw length, trajectory, and ideal entry point were measured using eFilm Lite software. Statistical analysis was performed using the Student t-test.

Results

The shortest mean estimated PS length was at T-1 (33.9 ± 3.3 mm), and the longest was at T-9 (44.9 ± 4.4 mm). Pedicle screw length was significantly affected by patient sex; men could accommodate a PS from T1–12 a mean of 4.0 ± 1.0 mm longer than in women (p < 0.001). Pedicle width showed marked variation by spinal level, with T-4 (4.4 ± 1.1 mm) having the narrowest width and T-12 (8.3 ± 1.7 mm) having the widest. Pedicle width had an obvious affect on potential screw diameter; 65% of patients had a least 1 pedicle at T-4 that was < 5 mm in diameter and therefore would not accept a 4.0-mm screw with 1.0 mm of clearance, as compared with only 2% of patients with a similar status at T-12. Sex variation was also apparent, as thoracic pedicles from T-1 to T-12 were a mean of 1.4 ± 0.2 mm wider in men than in women (p < 0.001). The PS trajectory in the axial plane was measured, showing a marked decrease from T-1 to T-4, stabilization from T-5 to T-10, followed by a decrease at T11–12. When screw trajectory was stratified by side of placement, a mean of 1.7° ± 0.5° of increased medialization was required for ideal pedicle cannulation from T-3 to T-12 on the left as compared with the right side, presumably because of developmental changes in the vertebral body caused by the aorta (p < 0.05 for T3–12, except for T-5, where p = 0.051). The junction of the superior articular process, lamina, and the superior ridge of the transverse process was shown to be a conserved surface landmark for PS placement.

Conclusions

Preoperative CT evaluation is important in choosing PS length, diameter, trajectory, and entry point due to variation based on spinal level, patient sex, and side of placement. These data are valuable for resident and fellow training to guide the safe use of thoracic PSs.

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Ryan M. Kretzer, Christopher Chaput, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ira M. Garonzik, George I. Jallo, Paul C. McAfee, Bryan W. Cunningham, and P. Justin Tortolani

Object

Translaminar screws (TLSs) offer an alternative to pedicle screw (PS) fixation in the upper thoracic spine. Although cadaveric studies have described the anatomy of the laminae and pedicles at T1–2, CT imaging is the modality of choice for presurgical planning. In this study, the goal was to determine the diameter, maximal screw length, and optimal screw trajectory for TLS placement at T1–2, and to compare this information to PS placement in the upper thoracic spine as determined by CT evaluation.

Methods

One hundred patients (50 men and 50 women), whose average age was 41.7 ± 19.6 years, were selected by retrospective review of a trauma registry database over a 6-month period. Patients were included in the study if they were over the age of 18, had standardized axial bone-window CT imaging at T1–2, and had no evidence of spinal trauma. For each lamina and pedicle, width (outer cortical and cancellous), maximal screw length, and optimal screw trajectory were measured using eFilm Lite software. Statistical analysis was performed using the Student t-test.

Results

The T-1 lamina was estimated to accommodate, on average, a 5.8-mm longer screw than the T-2 lamina (p < 0.001). At T-1, the maximal TLS length was similar to PS length (TLS: 33.4 ± 3.6 mm, PS: 33.9 ± 3.3 mm [p = 0.148]), whereas at T-2, the maximal PS length was significantly greater than the TLS length (TLS: 27.6 ± 3.1 mm, PS: 35.3 ± 3.5 mm [p < 0.001]). When the lamina outer cortical and cancellous width was compared between T-1 and T-2, the lamina at T-2 was, on average, 0.3 mm wider than at T-1 (p = 0.007 and p = 0.003, respectively). In comparison with the corresponding pedicle, the mean outer cortical pedicle width at T-1 was wider than the lamina by an average of 1.0 mm (lamina: 6.6 ± 1.1 mm, pedicle: 7.6 ± 1.3 mm [p < 0.001]). At T-2, however, outer cortical lamina width was wider than the corresponding pedicle by an average of 0.6 mm (lamina: 6.9 ± 1.1 mm, pedicle: 6.3 ± 1.2 mm [p < 0.001]). At T-1, 97.5% of laminae measured could accept a 4.0-mm screw with 1.0 mm of clearance, compared with 99.5% of T-1 pedicles; whereas at T-2, 99% of laminae met this requirement, compared with 94.5% of pedicles. The ideal screw trajectory was also measured (T-1: 49.2 ± 3.7° for TLS and 32.8 ± 3.8° for PS; T-2: 51.1 ± 3.5° for TLS and 20.5 ± 4.4° for PS).

Conclusions

Based on CT evaluation, there are no anatomical limitations to the placement of TLSs compared with PSs at T1–2. Differences were noted, however, in lamina length and width between T-1 and T-2 that must be considered when placing TLS at these levels.

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Daniel M. Sciubba, Joseph C. Noggle, Ananth K. Vellimana, James E. Conway, Ryan M. Kretzer, Donlin M. Long, and Ira M. Garonzik

Object

Laminar fixation of the axis with crossing bilateral screws has been shown to provide rigid fixation with a theoretically decreased risk of vertebral artery damage compared with C1–2 transarticular screw fixation and C-2 pedicle screw fixation. Some studies, however, have shown restricted rigidity of such screws compared with C-2 pedicle screws, and others note that anatomical variability exists within the posterior elements of the axis that may have an impact on successful placement. To elucidate the clinical impact of such screws, the authors report their experience in placing C-2 laminar screws in adult patients over a 2-year period, with emphasis on clinical outcome and technical placement.

Methods

Sixteen adult patients with cervical instability underwent posterior cervical and cervicothoracic fusion procedures at our institution with constructs involving C-2 laminar screws. Eleven patients were men and 5 were women, and they ranged in age from 28 to 84 years (mean 57 years). The reasons for fusion were degenerative disease (9 patients) and treatment of trauma (7 patients). In 14 patients (87.5%) standard translaminar screws were placed, and in 2 (12.5%) an ipsilateral trajectory was used. All patients underwent preoperative radiological evaluation of the cervical spine, including computed tomography scanning with multiplanar reconstruction to assess the posterior anatomy of C-2. Anatomical restrictions for placement of standard translaminar screws included a deeply furrowed spinous process and/or an underdeveloped midline posterior ring of the axis. In these cases, screws were placed into the corresponding lamina from the ipsilateral side, allowing bilateral screws to be oriented in a more parallel, as opposed to perpendicular, plane. All patients were followed for > 2 years to record rates of fusion, instrumentation failure, and other complications.

Results

Thirty-two screws were placed without neurological or vascular complications. The mean follow-up duration was 27.3 months. Complications included 2 revisions, one for pseudarthrosis and the other for screw pullout, and 3 postoperative infections.

Conclusions

Placement of laminar screws into the axis from the standard crossing approach or via an ipsilateral trajectory may allow a safe, effective, and durable means of including the axis in posterior cervical and cervicothoracic fusion procedures.

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Ryan M. Kretzer, Daniel M. Sciubba, Carlos A. Bagley, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Ira M. Garonzik

Object

The use of pedicle screws (PSs) for instrument-assisted fusion in the cervical and thoracic spine has increased in recent years, allowing smaller constructs with improved biomechanical stability and repositioning possibilities. In the smaller pedicles of the upper thoracic spine, the placement of PSs can be challenging and may increase the risk of damage to neural structures. As an alternative to PSs, translaminar screws can provide spinal stability, and they may be used when pedicular anatomy precludes successful placement of PSs. The authors describe the technique of translaminar screw placement in the T-1 and T-2 vertebrae.

Methods

Seven patients underwent cervicothoracic fusion to treat trauma, neoplasm, or degenerative disease. Nineteen translaminar screws were placed, 13 at T-1 and six at T-2. A single asymptomatic T-2 screw violated the ventral laminar cortex and was removed.

The mean clinical and radiographic follow up exceeded 14 months, at which time there were no cases of screw pull-out, screw fracture, or progressive kyphotic deformity.

Conclusions

Rigid fixation with translaminar screws offers an attractive alternative to PS fixation, allowing the creation of sound spinal constructs and minimizing potential neurological morbidity. Their use requires intact posterior elements, and care should be taken to avoid violation of the ventral laminar wall.

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Daniel M. Sciubba, Gary L. Gallia, Pablo Recinos, Ira M. Garonzik, and Richard E. Clatterbuck

✓ Ionizing radiation therapy is associated with pathological vascular changes in intracranial vessels, most commonly in the form of vessel thrombosis and occlusion. The development of an intracranial aneurysm following such therapy, however, is far less common. In this report the authors describe a 24-year-old man in whom a distal middle cerebral artery aneurysm developed 15 years after radiotherapy, which was given as adjuvant treatment following resection of a medulloblastoma. The patient underwent a craniotomy for microsurgical trapping of the aneurysm and was discharged without any neurological deficit. This case serves to remind clinicians of the possibility, albeit rare, that intracranial aneurysms may form following cranial radiotherapy.

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Daniel M. Sciubba, Gaurav G. Mavinkurve, Philippe Gailloud, Ira M. Garonzik, Pablo F. Recinos, Matthew J. McGirt, Graeme F. Woodworth, Timothy Witham, Yevgeniv Khavkin, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Jean-Paul Wolinsky

✓ Angiography is often performed to identify the vascular supply of hemangioblastomas prior to resection. Conventional two-dimensional (2D) digital subtraction (DS) angiography and three-dimensional (3D) DS angiography provides high-resolution images of the vascular structures associated with these lesions. However, such 3D DS angiography often does not provide reliable anatomical information about nearby osseous structures, or when it does, resolution of vascular anatomy in the immediate vicinity of bone is sacrificed. A novel angiographic reconstruction algorithm was recently developed at The Johns Hopkins University to overcome these inadequacies. By combining two separate sequences of images of bone and blood vessels in a single 3D representation, 3D fusion DS (FDS) angiography provides precise topographic information about vascular lesions in relation to the osseous environment, without a loss of resolution.

In this paper, the authors present the cases of two patients with cervical spine hemangioblastomas who underwent preoperative evaluation with FDS angiography and then successful gross-total resection of their tumors. In both cases, FDS angiography provided high-resolution 3D images of the hemangioblastoma anatomy, including each tumor’s topographic relationship with adjacent osseous structures and the location and size of feeding arteries and draining veins. These cases provide evidence that FDS angiography represents a useful adjunct to magnetic resonance imaging and 2D DS angiography in the preoperative evaluation and surgical planning of patients with vascular lesions in an osseous environment, such as hemangioblastomas in the spinal cord.