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Albert P. Wong, Rishi R. Lall, Nader S. Dahdaleh, Cort D. Lawton, Zachary A. Smith, Ricky H. Wong, Michael J. Harvey, Sandi Lam, Tyler R. Koski and Richard G. Fessler

OBJECT

Patients with symptomatic intradural-extramedullary (ID-EM) tumors may be successfully treated with resection of the lesion and decompression of associated neural structures. Studies of patients undergoing open resection of these tumors have reported high rates of gross-total resection (GTR) with minimal long-term neurological deficit. Case reports and small case series have suggested that these patients may be successfully treated with minimally invasive surgery (MIS). These studies have been limited by small patient populations. Moreover, there are no studies directly comparing perioperative outcomes between patients treated with open resection and MIS. The objective of this study was to compare perioperative outcomes in patients with ID-EM tumors treated using open resection or MIS.

METHODS

A retrospective review was performed using data collected from 45 consecutive patients treated by open resection or MIS for ID-EM spine tumors. These patients were treated over a 9-year period between April 2003 and October 2012 at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. Statistical analysis was performed to compare perioperative outcomes between the two groups.

RESULTS

Of the 45 patients in the study, 27 were treated with the MIS approach and 18 were treated with the open approach. Operative time was similar between the two groups: 256.3 minutes in the MIS group versus 241.1 minutes in the open group (p = 0.55). Estimated blood loss was significantly lower in the MIS group (133.7 ml) compared with the open group (558.8 ml) (p < 0.01). A GTR was achieved in 94.4% of the open cases and 92.6% of the MIS cases (p = 0.81).

The mean hospital stay was significantly shorter in the MIS group (3.9 days) compared with the open group (6.1 days) (p < 0.01). There was no significant difference between the complication rates (p = 0.32) and reoperation rates (p = 0.33) between the two groups. Multivariate analysis demonstrated an increased rate of complications in cervical spine tumors (OR 15, p = 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

Thoracolumbar ID-EM tumors may be safely and effectively treated with either the open approach or an MIS approach, with an equivalent rate of GTR, perioperative complication rate, and operative time. Patients treated with an MIS approach may benefit from a decrease in operative blood loss and shorter hospital stays.

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Alejandro J. Lopez, Justin K. Scheer, Kayla E. Leibl, Zachary A. Smith, Brian J. Dlouhy and Nader S. Dahdaleh

The craniovertebral junction (CVJ) has unique anatomical structures that separate it from the subaxial cervical spine. In addition to housing vital neural and vascular structures, the majority of cranial flexion, extension, and axial rotation is accomplished at the CVJ. A complex combination of osseous and ligamentous supports allow for stability despite a large degree of motion. An understanding of anatomy and biomechanics is essential to effectively evaluate and address the various pathological processes that may affect this region. Therefore, the authors present an up-to-date narrative review of CVJ anatomy, normal and pathological biomechanics, and fixation techniques.

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Brian J. Dlouhy, Nader S. Dahdaleh, Arnold H. Menezes and MD

The craniovertebral junction (CVJ), or the craniocervical junction (CCJ) as it is otherwise known, houses the crossroads of the CNS and is composed of the occipital bone that surrounds the foramen magnum, the atlas vertebrae, the axis vertebrae, and their associated ligaments and musculature. The musculoskeletal organization of the CVJ is unique and complex, resulting in a wide range of congenital, developmental, and acquired pathology. The refinements of the transoral approach to the CVJ by the senior author (A.H.M.) in the late 1970s revolutionized the treatment of CVJ pathology. At the same time, a physiological approach to CVJ management was adopted at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in 1977 based on the stability and motion dynamics of the CVJ and the site of encroachment, incorporating the transoral approach for irreducible ventral CVJ pathology. Since then, approaches and techniques to treat ventral CVJ lesions have evolved. In the last 40 years at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, multiple approaches to the CVJ have evolved and a better understanding of CVJ pathology has been established. In addition, new reduction strategies that have diminished the need to perform ventral decompressive approaches have been developed and implemented.

In this era of surgical subspecialization, to properly treat complex CVJ pathology, the CVJ specialist must be trained in skull base transoral and endoscopic endonasal approaches, pediatric and adult CVJ spine surgery, and must understand and be able to treat the complex CSF dynamics present in CVJ pathology to provide the appropriate, optimal, and tailored treatment strategy for each individual patient, both child and adult. This is a comprehensive review of the history and evolution of the transoral approaches, extended transoral approaches, endoscopie assisted transoral approaches, endoscopie endonasal approaches, and CVJ reduction strategies. Incorporating these advancements, the authors update the initial algorithm for the treatment of CVJ abnormalities first published in 1980 by the senior author.

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Joshua Bakhsheshian, Nader S. Dahdaleh, Shayan Fakurnejad, Justin K. Scheer and Zachary A. Smith

Object

The overall evidence for nonoperative management of patients with traumatic thoracolumbar burst fractures is unknown. There is no agreement on the optimal method of conservative treatment. Recent randomized controlled trials that have compared nonoperative to operative treatment of thoracolumbar burst fractures without neurological deficits yielded conflicting results. By assessing the level of evidence on conservative management through validated methodologies, clinicians can assess the availability of critically appraised literature. The purpose of this study was to examine the level of evidence for the use of conservative management in traumatic thoracolumbar burst fractures.

Methods

A comprehensive search of the English literature over the past 20 years was conducted using PubMed (MEDLINE). The inclusion criteria consisted of burst fractures resulting from a traumatic mechanism, and fractures of the thoracic or lumbar spine. The exclusion criteria consisted of osteoporotic burst fractures, pathological burst fractures, and fractures located in the cervical spine. Of the studies meeting the inclusion/exclusion criteria, any study in which nonoperative treatment was used was included in this review.

Results

One thousand ninety-eight abstracts were reviewed and 447 papers met inclusion/exclusion criteria, of which 45 were included in this review. In total, there were 2 Level-I, 7 Level-II, 9 Level-III, 25 Level-IV, and 2 Level-V studies. Of the 45 studies, 16 investigated conservative management techniques, 20 studies compared operative to nonoperative treatments, and 9 papers investigated the prognosis of conservative management.

Conclusions

There are 9 high-level studies (Levels I–II) that have investigated the conservative management of traumatic thoracolumbar burst fractures. In neurologically intact patients, there is no superior conservative management technique over another as supported by a high level of evidence. The conservative technique can be based on patient and surgeon preference, comfort, and access to resources. A high level of evidence demonstrated similar functional outcomes with conservative management when compared with open surgical operative management in patients who were neurologically intact. The presence of a neurological deficit is not an absolute contraindication for conservative treatment as supported by a high level of evidence. However, the majority of the literature excluded patients with neurological deficits. More evidence is needed to further classify the appropriate burst fractures for conservative management to decrease variables that may impact the prognosis.

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Andrew J. Grossbach, Nader S. Dahdaleh, Taylor J. Abel, Gregory D. Woods, Brian J. Dlouhy and Patrick W. Hitchon

Object

Flexion-distraction injuries occur due to distractive forces causing disruption of the posterior and middle spinal columns. These fractures classically consist of a fracture line through the posterior bony elements; involvement of the posterior ligamentous complex is, however, common. Surgical treatment is often required for these unstable injuries to avoid neurological deterioration and posttraumatic kyphosis, and the surgery traditionally consists of an open posterior approach with instrumented fusion. Percutaneous pedicle screw fixation for these injuries, with the goal of minimal tissue disruption and preservation of normal anatomy while achieving adequate stabilization, has recently been reported in the literature, but to date, a direct comparative study comparing open and percutaneous fixation has not been reported. The authors report their experience treating these fractures with both techniques and review the available literature.

Methods

Patients with flexion-distraction injury who were treated between May 2003 and March 2013 were prospectively followed. American Spinal Injury Association scores and degree of kyphotic angulation were recorded at admission, discharge, and follow-up. Data regarding intraoperative blood loss and operative time were obtained from a chart review. Patients treated with open versus minimally invasive procedures were compared.

Results

The authors identified 39 patients who suffered flexion-distraction injuries and were treated at their institution during the specified period; one of these patients declined surgery. All had injury to the posterior ligamentous complex. Open surgical procedures with pedicle screw fixation and posterolateral fusion were performed in 27 patients, while 11 patients underwent minimally invasive pedicle screw placement. Overall, there was improvement in kyphotic angulation at the time of discharge as well as most recent follow-up in both the open surgery and minimally invasive surgery (MIS) groups. The authors found no significant difference in American Spinal Injury Association score or the degree of kyphotic angulation between the MIS and open surgery groups. There was a trend toward shorter operative time for the MIS group, and patients who underwent minimally invasive procedures had significantly less blood loss.

Conclusions

Minimally invasive percutaneous pedicle screw fixation appears to have similar efficacy in the treatment of flexion-distraction injuries and it allows for reduced blood loss and tissue damage compared with open surgical techniques. Therefore it should be considered as an option for the treatment of this type of injury.

Free access

Nader S. Dahdaleh, Alexander T. Nixon, Cort D. Lawton, Albert P. Wong, Zachary A. Smith and Richard G. Fessler

Object

Minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS-TLIF) is used to treat a wide variety of lumbar degenerative disorders. Although there are some reports showing efficacy of unilateral instrumentation during MIS-TLIF, a controlled randomized prospective study has not been done.

Methods

Forty-one patients were randomly assigned to receive either bilateral or unilateral instrumentation following 1-level unilateral MIS-TLIF. Four patients were lost to follow-up in the unilateral group and 1 patient was lost to follow-up in the bilateral group. Preoperative and postoperative scores on a visual analog scale (VAS) for back pain and leg pain (VAS-BP and VAS-LP, respectively), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and 36-Item Short Form Healthy Survey version 2 (SF-36v2) were collected. Additionally, preoperative and postoperative segmental Cobb angles and radiographic evidence of fusion were analyzed.

Results

There was no statistically significant difference in baseline demographic characteristics between the 2 groups. The VAS-BP, VAS-LP, ODI, and SF-36v2 physical component scores improved significantly after surgery in both groups (p < 0.05); there was no statistically significant between-groups difference in the degree of improvement. Blood loss was significantly higher in the bilateral instrumentation group and hospital stay was longer in the unilateral instrumentation group. There was no statistically significant between-groups difference with respect to change in segmental lordosis or fusion rate. The average duration of follow-up was 12.4 months for the bilateral instrumentation group and 11.4 months for the unilateral instrumentation group.

Conclusions

Clinical and radiographic outcomes of unilateral and bilateral instrumentation for unilateral MISTLIF are similar 1 year after surgery.

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Nader S. Dahdaleh, Cort D. Lawton, Tarek Y. El Ahmadieh, Alexander T. Nixon, Najib E. El Tecle, Sanders Oh, Richard G. Fessler and Zachary A. Smith

Object

Evidence-based medicine is used to examine the current treatment options, timing of surgical intervention, and prognostic factors in the management of patients with traumatic central cord syndrome (TCCS).

Methods

A computerized literature search of the National Library of Medicine database, Cochrane database, and Google Scholar was performed for published material between January 1966 and February 2013 using key words and Medical Subject Headings. Abstracts were reviewed and selected, with the articles segregated into 3 main categories: surgical versus conservative management, timing of surgery, and prognostic factors. Evidentiary tables were then assembled, summarizing data and quality of evidence (Classes I–III) for papers included in this review.

Results

The authors compiled 3 evidentiary tables summarizing 16 studies, all of which were retrospective in design. Regarding surgical intervention versus conservative management, there was Class III evidence to support the superiority of surgery for patients presenting with TCCS. In regards to timing of surgery, most Class III evidence demonstrated no difference in early versus late surgical management. Most Class III studies agreed that older age, especially age greater than 60–70 years, correlated with worse outcomes.

Conclusions

No Class I or Class II evidence was available to determine the efficacy of surgery, timing of surgical intervention, or prognostic factors in patients managed for TCCS. Hence, there is a need to perform well-controlled prospective studies and randomized controlled clinical trials to further investigate the optimal management (surgical vs conservative) and timing of surgical intervention in patients suffering from TCCS.