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The effect of vancomycin powder on human dural fibroblast culture and its implications for dural repair during spine surgery

Presented at the 2016 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Ezequiel Goldschmidt, Jorge Rasmussen, Joseph D. Chabot, Gurpreet Gandhoke, Emilia Luzzi, Lina Merlotti, Romina Proni, Mónica Loresi, D. Kojo Hamilton, David O. Okonkwo, Adam S. Kanter and Peter C. Gerszten


Surgical site infections (SSIs) are a major source of morbidity after spinal surgery. Several recent studies have described the finding that applying vancomycin powder to the surgical bed may reduce the incidence of SSI. However, applying vancomycin in high concentrations has been shown in vitro to inhibit osteoblast proliferation and to induce cell death. Vancomycin may have a deleterious effect on dural healing after repair of an intentional or unintentional durotomy. This study was therefore undertaken to assess the effect of different concentrations of vancomycin on a human dura mater cell culture.


Human dura intended for disposal after decompressive craniectomy was harvested. Explant primary cultures and subcultures were subsequently performed. Cells were characterized through common staining and immunohistochemistry. A growth curve was performed to assess the effect of different concentrations of vancomycin (40, 400, and 4000 μg/ml) on cell count. The effect of vancomycin on cellular shape, intercellular arrangement, and viability was also evaluated.


All dural tissue samples successfully developed into fusiform cells, demonstrating pseudopod projections and spindle formation. The cells demonstrated vimentin positivity and also had typical features of fibroblasts. When applied to the cultures, the highest dose of vancomycin induced generalized cell death within 24 hours. The mean (± SD) cell counts for control, 40, 400, and 4000 μg/ml were 38.72 ± 15.93, 36.28 ± 22.87, 19.48 ± 6.53, and 4.07 ± 9.66, respectively (p < 0.0001, ANOVA). Compared with controls, vancomycin-exposed cells histologically demonstrated a smaller cytoplasm and decreased pseudopodia formation resulting in the inhibition of normal spindle intercellular arrangement.


When vancomycin powder is applied locally, dural cells are exposed to a concentration several times greater than when delivered systemically. In this in vitro model, vancomycin induced dural cell death, inhibited growth, and altered cellular morphology in a concentration-dependent fashion. Defining a safe vancomycin concentration that is both bactericidal and also does not inhibit normal dural healing is necessary.

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Gurpreet Gandhoke, Jau-Ching Wu, Nathan C. Rowland, Scott A. Meyer, Camilla Gupta and Praveen V. Mummaneni


Both anterior cervical corpectomy and fusion (ACCF) and laminoplasty are effective treatments for selected cases of cervical stenosis. Postoperative C-5 palsies may occur with either anterior or posterior decompressive procedures; however, a direct comparison of C-5 palsy rates between the 2 approaches is not present in the literature. The authors sought to compare the C-5 palsy rate of ACCF versus laminoplasty.


The authors conducted a retrospective review of 31 ACCF (at C-4 or C-5) and 31 instrumented laminoplasty cases performed to treat cervical stenosis. The demographics of the groups were similar except for age (ACCF group mean age 53 years vs laminoplasty group mean age 62 years, p = 0.002). The mean number of levels treated was greater in the laminoplasty cohort (3.87 levels) than in the ACCF cohort (2.74 levels, p < 0.001). The mean preoperative Nurick grade of the laminoplasty cohort (2.61) was higher than the mean preoperative Nurick grade of the ACCF cohort (1.10, p < 0.001).


The overall clinical follow-up rate was 100%. The mean overall clinical follow-up was 15 months. There were no significant differences in the estimated blood loss or length of stay between the 2 groups (p > 0.05). There was no statistical difference between the complication or reoperation rates between the 2 groups (p = 0.184 and p = 0.238). There were 2 C-5 nerve root pareses in each group. Three of the 4 patients recovered full deltoid function, and the fourth patient recovered nearly full deltoid function at final follow-up. There was no statistical difference in the rate of deltoid paresis (6.5%) between the 2 groups (p = 1).


Both ACCF and laminoplasty are effective treatments for patients with cervical stenosis. The authors found no difference in the rate of deltoid paresis between ACCF and laminoplasty to treat cervical stenosis.