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James M. Schuster, Anthony M. Avellino, Frederick A. Mann, Allain A. Girouard, M. Sean Grady, David W. Newell, H. Richard Winn, Jens R. Chapman, and Sohail K. Mirza

Object. The use of structural allografts in spinal osteomyelitis remains controversial because of the perceived risk of persistent infection related to a devitalized graft and spinal hardware. The authors have identified 47 patients over the last 3.5 years who underwent a surgical decompression and stabilization procedure in which fresh-frozen allografts were used after aggressive removal of infected and devitalized tissue. The patients subsequently underwent 6 weeks of postoperative antibiotic therapy (12 months for those with tuberculosis [TB]).

Methods. Follow-up data included results of serial clinical examinations, radiography, laboratory analysis (erythrocyte sedimentation rate and white blood cell count), and clinical outcome questionnaires. Of the original 47 patients (14 women and 33 men, aged 14–83 years), 39 were available for follow up. The average follow-up period at the time this article was submitted was 17 ± 9 months (median 14 months, range 6–45 months). In the majority of cases (57%), a Staphylococcus species was the infectious organism. Predisposing risk factors included intravenous drug abuse (IVDA), previous surgery, diabetes, TB, and concurrent infections. During the follow-up period only two patients suffered recurrent infection at a contiguous level; both had a history of IVDA and one also had a chronic excoriating skin condition. No other recurrent infections have been identified, and no patient has required reoperation for persistent infection or allograft/hardware failure.

Conclusions. It is the authors' opinion that the use of structural allografts in combination with aggressive tissue debridement and adjuvant antibiotic therapy provide a safe and effective therapy in cases of spinal osteomyelitis requiring surgery.

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Alan M. Haltiner, David W. Newell, Nancy R. Temkin, Sureyya S. Dikmen, and H. Richard Winn

Object. The goals of this study were to determine if the use of phenytoin to prevent early posttraumatic seizures following head injury was associated with significant adverse side effects and also to determine if the reduction in early posttraumatic seizures after phenytoin administration was associated with a change in mortality rates in head-injured patients.

Methods. The authors performed a secondary analysis of the data obtained in a prospective double-blind placebo-controlled study of 404 patients who were randomly assigned to receive phenytoin or placebo for the prevention of early and late posttraumatic seizures. The incidence of adverse drug effects during the first 2 weeks of treatment, however, was low and not significantly different between the treated and placebo groups. Hypersensitivity reactions occurred in 0.6% of the patients in the phenytoin-treated group compared with 0% in the placebo group (p = 1.0) during week 1, and in 2.5% of phenytoin-treated compared with 0% of placebo-treated patients (p = 0.12) for the first 2 weeks of treatment. Mortality rates were also similar in both groups. Although the mortality rate was higher in patients who developed seizures, this increase was related to the greater severity of the injuries sustained by these patients at the time of the original trauma.

Conclusions. The results of this study indicate that the incidence of early posttraumatic seizure can be effectively reduced by prophylactic administration of phenytoin for 1 or 2 weeks without a significant increase in drug-related side effects. Reduction in posttraumatic seizure during the 1st week, however, was not associated with a reduction in the mortality rate.

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Nancy R. Temkin, Sureyya S. Dikmen, Gail D. Anderson, Alan J. Wilensky, Mark D. Holmes, Wendy Cohen, David W. Newell, Pamela Nelson, Asaad Awan, and H. Richard Winn

Object. Seizures frequently accompany moderate to severe traumatic brain injury. Phenytoin and carbamazepine are effective in preventing early, but not late, posttraumatic seizures. In this study the authors compare the safety and effectiveness of valproate with those of short-term phenytoin for prevention of seizures following traumatic brain injury.

Methods. The study was a randomized, double-blind, single-center, parallel-group clinical trial. Treatment began within 24 hours of injury. One hundred thirty-two patients at high risk for seizures were assigned to receive a 1-week course of phenytoin, 120 were assigned to receive a 1-month course of valproate, and 127 were assigned to receive a 6-month course of valproate. The cases were followed for up to 2 years.

The rates of early seizures were low and similar when using either valproate or phenytoin (1.5% in the phenytoin treatment group and 4.5% in the valproate arms of the study; p = 0.14, relative risk [RR] = 2.9, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.7–13.3). The rates of late seizures did not differ among treatment groups (15% in patients receiving the 1-week course of phenytoin, 16% in patients receiving the 1-month course of valproate, and 24% in those receiving the 6-month course of valproate; p = 0.19, RR = 1.4, 95% CI 0.8–2.4). The rates of mortality were not significantly different between treatment groups, but there was a trend toward a higher mortality rate in patients treated with valproate (7.2% in patients receiving phenytoin and 13.4% in those receiving valproate; p = 0.07, RR = 2.0, 95% CI 0.9–4.1). The incidence of serious adverse events, including coagulation problems and liver abnormalities, was similar in phenytoin- and valproate-treated patients.

Conclusions. Valproate therapy shows no benefit over short-term phenytoin therapy for prevention of early seizures and neither treatment prevents late seizures. There was a trend toward a higher mortality rate among valproate-treated patients. The lack of additional benefit and the potentially higher mortality rate suggest that valproate should not be routinely used for the prevention of posttraumatic seizures.

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Joseph M. Eskridge, Joon K. Song, J. Paul Elliott, David W. Newell, M. Sean Grady, and H. Richard Winn

✓ The authors describe a new endovascular technique that improves catheterization and balloon angioplasty of the A1 segment of the anterior cerebral artery after it has been narrowed by vasospasm. The technical results of using this method in seven patients are presented.

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Gerald A. Grant, Sohail K. Mirza, Jens R. Chapman, H. Richard Winn, David W. Newell, Dolors T. Jones, and M. Sean Grady

Object. The authors retrospectively reviewed 121 patients with traumatic cervical spine injuries to determine the risk of neurological deterioration following early closed reduction.

Methods. After excluding minor fractures and injuries without subluxation, the medical records and imaging studies (computerized tomography and magnetic resonance [MR] images) of 82 patients with bilateral and unilateral locked facet dislocations, burst fractures, extension injuries, or miscellaneous cervical fractures with subluxation were reviewed. Disc injury was defined on MR imaging as the presence of herniation or disruption: a herniation was described as deforming the thecal sac or nerve roots, and a disruption was defined as a disc with high T2-weighted signal characteristics in a widened disc space. Fifty-eight percent of patients presented with complete or incomplete spinal cord injuries. Thirteen percent of patients presented with a cervical radiculopathy, 22% were intact, and 9% had only transient neurological deficits in the field.

Early, rapid closed reduction, using serial plain radiographs or fluoroscopy and Gardner—Wells craniocervical traction, was achieved in 97.6% of patients. In two patients (2.4%) closed reduction failed and they underwent emergency open surgical reduction. The average time to achieve closed reduction was 2.1 ± 0.24 hours (standard error of the mean).

The incidence of disc herniation and disruption in the 80 patients who underwent postreduction MR imaging was 22% and 24%, respectively. However, the presence of disc herniation or disruption did not affect the degree of neurological recovery, as measured by American Spinal Injury Association motor score and the Frankel scale following early closed reduction. Only one (1.3%) of 80 patients deteriorated, but that occurred more than 6 hours following closed reduction.

Conclusions. Although disc herniation and disruption can occur following all types of traumatic cervical fracture subluxations, the incidence of neurological deterioration following closed reduction in these patients is rare. The authors recommend early closed reduction in patients presenting with significant motor deficits without prior MR imaging.

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J. Paul Elliott, David W. Newell, Derek J. Lam, Joseph M. Eskridge, Colleen M. Douville, Peter D. Le Roux, David H. Lewis, Marc R. Mayberg, M. Sean Grady, and H. Richard Winn

Object. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that balloon angioplasty is superior to papaverine infusion for the treatment of proximal anterior circulation arterial vasospasm following subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Between 1989 and 1995, 125 vasospastic distal internal carotid artery or proximal middle cerebral artery vessel segments were treated in 52 patients.

Methods. Blood flow velocities of the involved vessels were assessed by using transcranial Doppler (TCD) monitoring in relation to the day of treatment with balloon angioplasty or papaverine infusion. Balloon angioplasty and papaverine infusion cohorts were compared based on mean pre- and posttreatment velocity at 24 and 48 hours using the one-tailed, paired-samples t-test. Balloon angioplasty alone was performed in 101 vessel segments (81%) in 39 patients (75%), whereas papaverine infusion alone was used in 24 vessel segments (19%) in 13 patients (25%). Although repeated treatment after balloon angioplasty was needed in only one vessel segment, repeated treatment following papaverine infusion was required in 10 vessel segments (42%) in six patients because of recurrent vasospasm (p < 0.001). Seven vessel segments (29%) with recurrent spasm following papaverine infusion were treated with balloon angioplasty. Although vessel segments treated with papaverine demonstrated a 20% mean decrease in blood flow velocity (p < 0.009) on posttreatment Day 1, velocities were not significantly lower than pretreatment levels by posttreatment Day 2 (p = 0.133). Balloon angioplasty resulted in a 45% mean decrease in velocity to a normal level following treatment (p < 0.001), a decrease that was sustained.

Conclusions. Balloon angioplasty is superior to papaverine infusion for the permanent treatment of proximal anterior circulation vasospasm following aneurysmal SAH.

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J. Paul Elliott, David W. Newell, Derek J. Lam, Joseph M. Eskridge, Colleen M. Douville, Peter D. LeRoux, David H. Lewis, Marc R. Mayberg, M. Sean Grady, and H. Richard Winn

The authors used daily transcranial Doppler (TCD) evaluation to test the hypothesis that balloon angioplasty is superior to papaverine infusion for the treatment of proximal anterior circulation arterial vasospasm following subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Between 1989 and 1995, 125 vasospastic distal internal carotid artery or proximal middle cerebral artery vessel segments were treated in 52 patients. Blood flow velocities of the involved vessels were assessed using TCD monitoring in relation to the day of treatment with balloon angioplasty or papaverine infusion. Balloon angioplasty and papavarine infusion cohorts were compared based on mean pretreatment velocity and mean posttreatment velocity at 24 and 48 hours using the one-tailed, paired-samples t-test. Balloon angioplasty alone was performed in 101 vessel segments (81%) in 39 patients (75%), whereas papaverine infusion alone was used in 24 vessel segments (19%) in 13 patients (25%). Although repeated treatment following balloon angioplasty was needed in only one vessel segment, repeated treatment following papaverine infusion was required in 10 vessel segments (42%) in six patients because of recurrent vasospasm (p < 0.001). Seven vessel segments (29%) with recurrent spasm following papaverine infusion were treated with balloon angioplasty. Although vessel segments treated with papaverine demonstrated a 20% mean decrease in blood flow velocity (p < 0.009) on posttreatment Day 1, velocities were not significantly lower than pretreatment levels by posttreatment Day 2 (p = 0.133). Balloon angioplasty resulted in a 45% mean decrease in velocity to a normal level following treatment (p < 0.001), which was sustained. The authors conclude that balloon angioplasty is superior to papaverine infusion for the permanent treatment of proximal anterior circulation vasospasm following aneurysmal SAH.

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Peter D. Le Roux, David W. Newell, Arthur M. Lam, M. Sean Grady, and H. Richard Winn

✓ Jugular bulb oxygen monitoring can be used to estimate the adequacy of cerebral blood flow to support cerebral metabolism after severe head injury. In the present study, the authors studied the cerebral arteriovenous oxygen difference (AVDO2) before and after treatment in 32 head-injured patients (Glasgow Coma Scale scores ≤ 8) to examine the relationships among AVDO2 and cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP), delayed cerebral infarction, and outcome. Fifteen patients (Group A) underwent craniotomy for hematoma evacuation and 17 (Group B) received mannitol for sustained intracranial hypertension (intracranial pressure > 20 mm Hg, > 10 minutes). Radiographic evidence of delayed cerebral infarction was observed in 14 patients. Overall, 17 patients died or were severely disabled. Cerebral AVDO2 was elevated before craniotomy or mannitol administration; the mean AVDO2 for all patients before treatment was 8.6 ± 1.8 vol%. Following craniotomy or mannitol administration, the AVDO2 decreased in 27 patients and increased in five patients (mean AVDO2 6.2 ± 2.1 vol% in all patients; 6 ± 1.9 vol% in Group A; and 6.4 ± 2.4 vol% in Group B). The mean CPP was 75 ± 9.8 mm Hg and no relationship with AVDO2 was demonstrated. Before treatment, the AVDO2 was not associated with delayed cerebral infarction or outcome. By contrast, a limited improvement in elevated AVDO2 after craniotomy or mannitol administration was significantly associated with delayed cerebral infarction (Group A: p < 0.001; Group B: p < 0.01). Similarly, a limited improvement in elevated AVDO2 after treatment was significantly associated with an unfavorable outcome (Group A: p < 0.01; Group B: p < 0.001). In conclusion, these findings strongly indicate that, despite adequate cerebral perfusion, limited improvement in elevated cerebral AVDO2 after treatment consisting of either craniotomy or mannitol administration may be used to help predict delayed cerebral infarction and poor outcome after traumatic brain injury.

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Peter D. Le Roux, David W. Newell, Arthur M. Lam, M. Sean Grady, and H. Richard Winn

Jugular bulb oxygen monitoring can be used to estimate the adequacy of cerebral blood flow to support cerebral metabolism after severe head injury. In the present study, the authors studied the cerebral arteriovenous oxygen difference (AVDO2) before and after treatment in 32 head-injured patients (Glasgow Coma Scale scores ¾ 8) to examine the relationships among AVDO2 and cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP), delayed cerebral infarction, and outcome. Fifteen patients (Group A) underwent craniotomy for hematoma evacuation and 17 (Group B) received mannitol for sustained intracranial hypertension (intracranial pressure > 20 mm Hg, > 10 minutes). Radiographic evidence of delayed cerebral infarction was observed in 14 patients. Overall, 17 patients died or were severely disabled. Cerebral AVDO2 was elevated before craniotomy or mannitol administration; the mean AVDO2 for all patients before treatment was 8.6 ± 1.8 vol%. Following craniotomy or mannitol administration, the AVDO2 decreased in 27 patients and increased in five patients (mean AVDO2 6.2 ± 2.1 vol% in all patients; 6 ± 1.9 vol% in Group A; and 6.4 ± 2.4 vol% in Group B). The mean CPP was 75 ± 9.8 mm Hg and no relationship with AVDO2 was demonstrated. Before treatment, the AVDO2 was not associated with delayed cerebral infarction or outcome. By contrast, a limited improvement in elevated AVDO2 after craniotomy or mannitol administration was significantly associated with delayed cerebral infarction (Group A: p < 0.001; Group B: p < 0.01). Similarly, a limited improvement in elevated AVDO2 after treatment was significantly associated with an unfavorable outcome (Group A: p < 0.01; Group B: p < 0.001). In conclusion, these findings strongly indicate that, despite adequate cerebral perfusion, limited improvement in elevated cerebral AVDO2 after treatment consisting of either craniotomy or mannitol administration may be used to help predict delayed cerebral infarction and poor outcome after traumatic brain injury.