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Faris Shweikeh, Lutfi Al-Khouja, Miriam Nuño, J. Patrick Johnson, Doniel Drazin and Matthew A. Adamo

OBJECT

Tethered cord syndrome (TCS) is a common spinal abnormality. In this study, the authors analyzed demographics, complications, and outcomes in children and adolescents who underwent surgery for TCS.

METHODS

Using the national Kids' Inpatient Database (KID), the authors retrospectively identified patients with a primary diagnosis of TCS who were treated with spinal laminectomy and discharged in 2000, 2003, 2006, and 2009. Descriptive analysis was provided for patient- and hospital-level characteristics. Mortality, complications, non-routine discharges, in-hospital length of stay (LOS), and total charges were documented for the entire cohort and age-specific cohorts (0–5, 6–10, 11–15, and 16–20 years). Comparisons by complications and age groups were conducted.

RESULTS

A total of 7397 children and adolescents met the criteria in the 4 studied years. The mean age was 5.7 years; 55.3% of patients were younger than 5 years, 21.5% were 6–10 years, and 16.2% were 11–15 years. Most surgeries were performed in patients who were female (55.0%) and white (64.4%) and were performed at large (49.8%), teaching (94.2%), and urban (99.1%) children's (89.3%) hospitals. The trend showed an increase in prevalence from 2000 (19.9%) to 2009 (29.6%). Common comorbidities included anomalies in spinal curvature (16.7%), urinary or bladder dysfunction (14.3%), and spinal stenosis/spondylosis (1.4%). Non-routine discharges (3.3%) were significantly higher with advancing age, increasing from 2.2% in those younger than 5 years to 9.0% in those older than 15 years (p < 0.0001). There was a similar increasing trend for complications (6.8% to 13.9%, respectively, p < 0.0001) and average LOS (3.5 to 5.1 days, respectively, p < 0.0001). Hospital charges increased with age from an average of $28,521 in those younger than 5 years to $36,855 in those older than 15 years (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

There was a steady trend of increasing operative treatment for TCS over the more recent years. The nationwide analysis was also indicative of an existing disparity, based on age, in complications, outcomes, and charges following TCS surgical correction. Older children tended to have more complications, longer LOS, more non-routine discharges, and higher hospital costs. The results are highly supportive of surgery at a younger age for this condition. Future research should investigate this correlation, especially considering the efforts to control and reduce health care costs.

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Faris Shweikeh, Kashif Saeed, Laura Bukavina, Stephanie Zyck, Doniel Drazin and Michael P. Steinmetz

Object

Over the past decade, the incidence of bacterial spinal epidural abscess (SEA) has been increasing. In recent years, studies on this condition have been rampant in the literature. The authors present an 11-year institutional experience with SEA patients. Additionally, through an analysis of the contemporary literature, they provide an update on the challenging and controversial nature of this increasingly encountered condition.

Methods

An electronic medical record database was used to retrospectively analyze patients admitted with SEA from January 2001 through February 2012. Presenting symptoms, concurrent conditions, microorganisms, diagnostic modalities, treatments, and outcomes were examined. For the literature search, PubMed was used as the search engine. Studies published from January 1, 2000, through December 31, 2013, were critically reviewed. Data from articles on methodology, demographics, treatments, and outcomes were recorded.

Results

A total of 106 patients with bacterial SEA were identified. The mean ± SD age of patients was 63.3 ± 13.7 years, and 65.1% of patients were male. Common presenting signs and symptoms were back pain (47.1%) and focal neurological deficits (47.1%). Over 75% of SEAs were in the thoracolumbar spine, and over 50% were ventral. Approximately 34% had an infectious origin. Concurrent conditions included diabetes mellitus (35.8%), vascular conditions (31.3%), and renal insufficiency/dialysis (30.2%). The most commonly isolated organism was Staphylococcus aureus (70.7%), followed by Streptococcus spp. (6.6%). Surgery along with antibiotics was the treatment for 63 (59.4%) patients. Surgery involved spinal fusion for 19 (30.2%), discectomy for 14 (22.2%), and corpectomy for 9 (14.3%). Outcomes were reported objectively; at a mean ± SD follow-up time of 8.4 ± 26 weeks (range 0–192 weeks), outcome was good for 60.7% of patients and poor for 39.3%. The literature search yielded 40 articles, and the authors discuss the result of these studies.

Conclusions

Bacterial SEA is an ominous condition that calls for early recognition. Neurological status at the time of presentation is a key factor in decision making and patient outcome. In recent years, surgical treatment has been advocated for patients with neurological deficits and failed response to medical therapy. Surgery should be performed immediately and before 36–72 hours from onset of neurological sequelae. However, the decision between medical or surgical intervention entails individual patient considerations including age, concurrent conditions, and objective findings. An evidence-based algorithm for diagnosis and treatment is suggested.

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Lutfi T. Al-Khouja, Eli M. Baron, J. Patrick Johnson, Terrence T. Kim and Doniel Drazin

Object

Medical care has been evolving with the increased influence of a value-based health care system. As a result, more emphasis is being placed on ensuring cost-effectiveness and utility in the services provided to patients. This study looks at this development in respect to minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) costs.

Methods

A literature review using PubMed, the Cost-Effectiveness Analysis (CEA) Registry, and the National Health Service Economic Evaluation Database (NHS EED) was performed. Papers were included in the study if they reported costs associated with minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS). If there was no mention of cost, CEA, cost-utility analysis (CUA), quality-adjusted life year (QALY), quality, or outcomes mentioned, then the article was excluded.

Results

Fourteen studies reporting costs associated with MISS in 12,425 patients (3675 undergoing minimally invasive procedures and 8750 undergoing open procedures) were identified through PubMed, the CEA Registry, and NHS EED. The percent cost difference between minimally invasive and open approaches ranged from 2.54% to 33.68%—all indicating cost saving with a minimally invasive surgical approach. Average length of stay (LOS) for minimally invasive surgery ranged from 0.93 days to 5.1 days compared with 1.53 days to 12 days for an open approach. All studies reporting EBL reported lower volume loss in an MISS approach (range 10–392.5 ml) than in an open approach (range 55–535.5 ml).

Conclusions

There are currently an insufficient number of studies published reporting the costs of MISS. Of the studies published, none have followed a standardized method of reporting and analyzing cost data. Preliminary findings analyzing the 14 studies showed both cost saving and better outcomes in MISS compared with an open approach. However, more Level I CEA/CUA studies including cost/QALY evaluations with specifics of the techniques utilized need to be reported in a standardized manner to make more accurate conclusions on the cost effectiveness of minimally invasive spine surgery.

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Joseph C. Hsieh, Doniel Drazin, Alexander O. Firempong, Robert Pashman, J. Patrick Johnson and Terrence T. Kim

Object

Revision spine surgery, which is challenging due to disrupted anatomy, poor fluoroscopic imaging, and altered tactile feedback, may benefit from CT image-guided surgery (CT-IGS). This study evaluates accuracy of CT-IGS–navigated screws in primary versus revision spine surgery.

Methods

Pedicle and pelvic screws placed with the O-arm in 28 primary (313 screws) and 33 revision (429 screws) cases in which institutional postoperative CT scans were available were retrospectively reviewed for placement accuracy. Screw accuracy was categorized as 1) good (< 1-mm pedicle breach in any direction or “in-out-in” thoracic screws through the lateral thoracic pedicle wall and in the costovertebral joint); 2) fair (1- to 3-mm breach); or 3) poor (> 3-mm breach).

Results

Use of CT-IGS resulted in high rates of good or fair screws for both primary (98.7%) and revision (98.6%) cases. Rates of good or fair screws were comparable for the following regions: C7–T3 at 100% (good or fair) in primary versus 100% (good or fair) in revision; T4–9 at 96.8% versus 100%; T10–L2 at 98.2% versus 99.3%; L3–5 at 100% versus 99.2%; and pelvis at 98.7% versus 98.6%, respectively. On the other hand, revision sacral screws had statistically significantly lower rates of good placement compared with primary (100% primary vs 80.6% revision, p = 0.027). Of these revision sacral screws, 11.1% had poor placement, with bicortical screws extending > 3 mm beyond the anterior cortex. Revision pelvic screws demonstrated the highest rate of fair placement (28%), with the mode of medial breach in all cases directed into the sacral-iliac joint.

Conclusions

In the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine, CT-IGS demonstrated comparable accuracy rates for both primary and revision spine surgery. Use of 3D imaging of the bony pedicle anatomy appears to be sufficient for the spine surgeon to overcome the difficulties associated with instrumentation in revision cases. Although the bony structures of sacral pedicles and pelvis are relatively larger, the complexity of local anatomy was not overcome with CT-IGS, and an increased trend toward inaccurate screw placement was demonstrated.

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Terrence T. Kim, Doniel Drazin, Faris Shweikeh, Robert Pashman and J. Patrick Johnson

Object

Intraoperative CT image–guided navigation (IGN) has been increasingly incorporated into minimally invasive spine surgery (MIS). The vast improvement in image resolution and virtual real-time images with CT-IGN has proven superiority over traditional fluoroscopic techniques. The authors describe their perioperative MIS technique using the O-arm with navigation, and they report their postoperative experience, accuracy results, and technical aspects.

Methods

A retrospective review of 48 consecutive adult patients undergoing minimally invasive percutaneous posterior spinal fusion with intraoperative CT-IGN between July 2010 and August 2013 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center was performed. Two surgeons assessed 290 screws in a blinded fashion on intraoperative O-arm images and postoperative CT scans for bony pedicle wall breach. Grade 1 breach was defined to be < 2 mm, Grade 2 breach to be between 2 and 4 mm, and a Grade 3 breach to be > 4 mm. Additionally, anterior vertebral body breach was recorded.

Results

Of 290 pedicle screws placed, 280 (96.6%) were in an acceptable position without cortical wall or anterior breach. Of the 10 breaches (3.4%) 5 were lateral (50%), 4 were medial, and 1 was anterior; 90% of breaches were Grade 1–2 and all medial breaches were Grade 1. The one Grade 3 breach was lateral. No vascular or neurological complications were observed intraoperatively, and no significant postoperative complications were noted. The mean clinical follow-up period was 18 months (range 3–39 months). The overall clinical outcomes, measured using the visual analog scale (back pain scores), were improved significantly postoperatively at 3 months compared with preoperatively (visual analog score 6.35 vs 3.57; p < 0.0001). No revision surgery was performed for screw misplacement or neurological deterioration.

Conclusions

New CT-IGN with the mobile O-arm scanner has increased the accuracy of pedicle screw/instrumentation placement using MIS techniques. The authors' high (96.6%) accuracy rate in MIS compares favorably with historical published accuracy rates for fluoroscopy-based techniques. Additional advantages of CT-IGN over fluoroscopic imaging methods are lower occupational radiation exposure for the surgical team, reduced need for postoperative imaging, and decreased rates of revision surgery. For now, the authors simply conclude that use of intraoperative CT-IGN is safe and accurate.

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J. Patrick Johnson, Doniel Drazin, Wesley A. King and Terrence T. Kim

Object

Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) has evolved for treatment of a variety of spinal disorders. Early incorporation with image-guided surgery (IGS) was challenged due to reproducibility and adaptability, limiting the procedure's acceptance. In the present study, the authors report their experience with second-generation IGS and VATS technologies for anterior thoracic minimally invasive spinal (MIS) procedures.

Methods

The surgical procedure is described in detail including operating room set-up, patient positioning (a lateral decubitus position), placement of the spinal reference frame and portal, radiographic localization, registration, surgical instruments, and the image-guided thoracoscopic discectomy.

Results

Combined IGS and VATS procedures were successfully performed and assisted in anatomical localization in 14 patients. The mean patient age was 59 years (range 32–73 years). Disc herniation pathology represented the most common indication for surgery (n = 8 patients); intrathoracic spinal tumors were present in 4 patients and the remaining patients had infection and ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament. All patients required chest tube drainage postoperatively, and all but 1 patient had drainage discontinued the following day. The only complication was a seroma that was presumed to be due to steroid therapy for postoperative weakness. At the final follow-up, 11 of the patients were improved neurologically, 2 patients had baseline neurological status, and the 1 patient with postoperative weakness was able to ambulate, albeit with an assistive device.

The evolution of thoracoscopic surgical procedures occurring over 20 years is presented, including their limitations. The combination of VATS and IGS technologies is discussed including their safety and the importance of 3D imaging. In cases of large open thoracotomy procedures, surgeries require difficult, extensive, and invasive access through the chest cavity; using a MIS procedure can potentially eliminate many of the complications and morbidities associated with large open procedures. The authors report their experience with thoracic spinal surgeries that involved MIS procedures and the new technologies.

Conclusions

The most significant advance in IGS procedures has resulted from intraoperative CT scanning and automatic registration with the IGS workstation. Image guidance can be used in conjunction with VATS techniques for thoracic discectomy, spinal tumors, infection, and ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament. The authors' initial experience has revealed this technique to be useful and potentially applicable to other MIS procedures.

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Sunil Jeswani, Doniel Drazin, Joseph C. Hsieh, Faris Shweikeh, Eric Friedman, Robert Pashman, J. Patrick Johnson and Terrence T. Kim

Object

Traditionally, instrumentation of thoracic pedicles has been more difficult because of their relatively smaller size. Thoracic pedicles are at risk for violation during surgical instrumentation, as is commonly seen in patients with scoliosis and in women. The laterally based “in-out-in” approach, which technically results in a lateral breach, is sometimes used in small pedicles to decrease the comparative risk of a medial breach with neurological involvement. In this study the authors evaluated the role of CT image–guided surgery in navigating screws in small thoracic pedicles.

Methods

Thoracic (T1–12) pedicle screw placements using the O-arm imaging system (Medtronic Inc.) were evaluated for accuracy with preoperative and postoperative CT. “Small” pedicles were defined as those ≤ 3 mm in the narrowest diameter orthogonal to the long axis of the pedicle on a trajectory entering the vertebral body on preinstrumentation CT. A subset of “very small” pedicles (≤ 2 mm in the narrowest diameter, 13 pedicles) was also analyzed. Screw accuracy was categorized as good (< 1 mm of pedicle breach in any direction or in-out-in screws), fair (1–3 mm of breach), or poor (> 3 mm of breach).

Results

Twenty-one consecutive patients (age range 32–71 years) had large (45 screws) and small (52 screws) thoracic pedicles. The median pedicle diameter was 2.5 mm (range 0.9–3 mm) for small and 3.9 mm (3.1–6.7 mm) for large pedicles. Computed tomography–guided surgical navigation led to accurate screw placement in both small (good 100%, fair 0%, poor 0%) and large (good 96.6%, fair 0%, poor 3.4%) pedicles. Good screw placement in very small or small pedicles occurred with an in-out-in trajectory more often than in large pedicles (large 6.8% vs small 36.5%, p < 0.0005; vs very small 69.2%, p < 0.0001). There were no medial breaches even though 75 of the 97 screws were placed in postmenopausal women, traditionally at higher risk for osteoporosis.

Conclusions

Computed tomography–guided surgical navigation allows for safe, effective, and accurate instrumentation of small (≤ 3 mm) to very small (≤ 2 mm) thoracic pedicles.

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Doniel Drazin, Terrence T. Kim, David W. Polly Jr and J. Patrick Johnson

Image-guided surgery (IGS) has been evolving since the early 1990s and is now used on a daily basis in the operating theater for spine surgery at many institutions. In the last 5 years, spinal IGS has greatly benefitted from important enhancements including portable intraoperative CT (iCT) coupled with high-speed computerized stereotactic navigation systems and optical-based camera tracking technology.