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MirHojjat Khorasanizadeh, Mahmoud Yousefifard, Mahsa Eskian, Yi Lu, Maryam Chalangari, James S. Harrop, Seyed Behnam Jazayeri, Simin Seyedpour, Behzad Khodaei, Mostafa Hosseini and Vafa Rahimi-Movaghar

OBJECTIVE

Predicting neurological recovery following traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI) is a complex task considering the heterogeneous nature of injury and the inconsistency of individual studies. This study aims to summarize the current evidence on neurological recovery following TSCI by use of a meta-analytical approach, and to identify injury, treatment, and study variables with prognostic significance.

METHODS

A literature search in MEDLINE and EMBASE was performed, and studies reporting follow-up changes in American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale (AIS) or Frankel or ASIA motor score (AMS) scales were included in the meta-analysis. The proportion of patients with at least 1 grade of AIS/Frankel improvement, and point changes in AMS were calculated using random pooled effect analysis. The potential effect of severity, level and mechanism of injury, type of treatment, time and country of study, and follow-up duration were evaluated using meta-regression analysis.

RESULTS

A total of 114 studies were included, reporting AIS/Frankel changes in 19,913 patients and AMS changes in 6920 patients. Overall, the quality of evidence was poor. The AIS/Frankel conversion rate was 19.3% (95% CI 16.2–22.6) for patients with grade A, 73.8% (95% CI 69.0–78.4) for those with grade B, 87.3% (95% CI 77.9–94.8) for those with grade C, and 46.5% (95% CI 38.2–54.9) for those with grade D. Neurological recovery was significantly different between all grades of SCI severity in the following order: C > B > D > A. Level of injury was a significant predictor of recovery; recovery rates followed this pattern: lumbar > cervical and thoracolumbar > thoracic. Thoracic SCI and penetrating SCI were significantly more likely to result in complete injury. Penetrating TSCI had a significantly lower recovery rate compared to blunt injury (OR 0.76, 95% CI 0.62–0.92; p = 0.006). Recovery rate was positively correlated with longer follow-up duration (p = 0.001). Studies with follow-up durations of approximately 6 months or less reported significantly lower recovery rates for incomplete SCI compared to studies with long-term (3–5 years) follow-ups.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors’ meta-analysis provides an overall quantitative description of neurological outcomes associated with TSCI. Moreover, they demonstrated how neurological recovery after TSCI is significantly dependent on injury factors (i.e., severity, level, and mechanism of injury), but is not associated with type of treatment or country of origin. Based on these results, a minimum follow-up of 12 months is recommended for TSCI studies that include patients with neurologically incomplete injury.

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Jeffery R. Head, George N. Rymarczuk, Kevin D. He and James S. Harrop

Lateral approaches to the spine are becoming increasingly popular methods for decompression, restoration of alignment, and arthrodesis. Although individual cases of intraoperative injuries to the renal vasculature and the ureters have been documented as rare complications of lateral approaches to the spine, the authors report the first known case of postoperative renal injury due to the delayed extrusion of the screw of a lateral plate/screw construct directly into the renal parenchyma. The migration of the screw from the L1 vertebra into the superior pole of the left kidney occurred nearly 5 years after the index procedure, and presented as painless hematuria. A traditional left-sided retroperitoneal approach had been used at the time of the initial surgery, and the same exposure was used to remove the hardware, which was done in conjunction with general surgery and urology.

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Lorenzo Nigro, Pasquale Donnarumma, Roberto Tarantino, Marika Rullo, Antonio Santoro and Roberto Delfini

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Matthew J. Viereck, George M. Ghobrial, Sara Beygi and James S. Harrop

OBJECTIVE

Resection significantly improves the clinical symptoms and functional outcomes of patients with intradural extramedullary tumors. However, patient quality of life following resection has not been adequately investigated. The aim in this retrospective analysis of prospectively collected quality of life outcomes is to analyze the efficacy of resection of intradural extramedullary spinal tumors in terms of quality of life markers.

METHODS

A retrospective review of a single institutional neurosurgical administrative database was conducted to analyze clinical data. The Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), visual analog scale (VAS) for pain, and the EQ-5D-3 L descriptive system were used to analyze quality of life preoperatively, less than 1 month postoperatively, 1–3 months postoperatively, 3–12 months postoperatively, and more than 12 months postoperatively.

RESULTS

The ODI scores increased perioperatively at the < 1-month follow-up from 36 preoperatively to 47. Relative to preoperative values, the ODI score decreased significantly at 1–3, 3–12, and > 12 months to 23, 17, and 20, respectively. VAS scores significantly decreased from 6.1 to 3.5, 2.4, 2.0, and 2.9 at the < 1-month, 1- to 3-, 3- to 12-, and > 12-month follow-ups, respectively. EQ-5D mobility significantly worsened at the < 1-month follow-up but improved at the 3- to 12-and > 12-month follow-ups. EQ-5D self-care significantly worsened at the < 1-month follow-up but significantly improved by the 3- to 12-month follow-up. EQ-5D usual activities improved at the 1- to 3-, 3- to 12-, and > 12-month follow-ups. EQ-5D pain and discomfort significantly improved at all follow-up points. EQ-5D anxiety and depression significantly improved at 1- to 3-month and 3- to 12-month follow-ups.

CONCLUSIONS

Resection of intradural extramedullary spine tumors appears to significantly improve patient quality of life by decreasing patient disability and pain and by improving each of the EQ-5D domains.

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Paul M. Arnold, James S. Harrop and Alan R. Reeves

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Sanjay Yadla, George M. Ghobrial, Peter G. Campbell, Mitchell G. Maltenfort, James S. Harrop, John K. Ratliff and Ashwini D. Sharan

OBJECT

Complications after spine surgery have an impact on overall outcome and health care expenditures. The increased cost of complications is due in part to associated prolonged hospital stays. The authors propose that certain complications have a greater impact on length of stay (LOS) than others and that those complications should be the focus of future targeted prevention efforts. They conducted a retrospective analysis of a prospectively maintained database to identify complications with the greatest impact on LOS as well as the predictive value of these complications with respect to 90-day readmission rates.

METHODS

Data on 249 patients undergoing spine surgery at Thomas Jefferson University from May to December 2008 were collected by a study auditor. Any complications occurring within 30 days of surgery were recorded as was overall LOS for each patient. Stepwise regression analysis was performed to determine whether specific complications had a statistically significant effect on LOS. For correlation, all readmissions within 90 days were recorded and organized by complication for comparison with those complications affecting LOS.

RESULTS

The mean LOS for patients without postoperative complications was 6.9 days. Patients who developed pulmonary complications had an associated increase in LOS of 11.1 days (p < 0.005). The development of a urinary tract infection (UTI) was associated with an increase in LOS of 3.4 days (p = 0.002). A new neurological deficit was associated with an increase in LOS of 8.2 days (p = 0.004). Complications requiring return to the operating room (OR) showed a trend toward an increase in LOS of 4.7 days (p = 0.09), as did deep wound infections (3.3 days, p = 0.08). The most common reason for readmission was for wound drainage (n = 21; surgical drainage was required in 10 [4.01%] of these 21 cases). The most common diagnoses for readmission, in decreasing order of incidence, were categorized as hardware malpositioning (n = 4), fever (n = 4), pulmonary (n = 2), UTI (n = 2), and neurological deficit (n = 1). Complications affecting LOS were not found to be predictive of readmission (p = 0.029).

CONCLUSIONS

Postoperative complications in patients who have undergone spine surgery are not uncommon and are associated with prolonged hospital stays. In the current cohort, the occurrence of pulmonary complications, UTI, and new neurological deficit had the greatest effect on overall LOS. Further study is required to determine the causative factors affecting readmission. These specific complications may be high-yield targets for cost reduction and/or prevention efforts.

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George M. Ghobrial, David W. Cadotte, Kim Williams Jr., Michael G. Fehlings and James S. Harrop

OBJECT

The use of intrawound vancomycin is rapidly being adopted for the prevention of surgical site infection (SSI) in spinal surgery. At operative closure, the placement of vancomycin powder in the wound bed—in addition to standard infection prophylaxis—can provide high concentrations of antibiotics with minimal systemic absorption. However, despite its popularity, to date the majority of studies on intrawound vancomycin are retrospective, and there are no prior reports highlighting the risks of routine treatment.

METHODS

A MEDLINE search for pertinent literature was conducted for studies published between 1966 and May 2015 using the following MeSH search terms: “intrawound vancomycin,” “operative lumbar spine complications,” and “nonoperative lumbar spine complications.” This was supplemented with references and known literature on the topic.

RESULTS

An advanced MEDLINE search conducted on May 6, 2015, using the search string “intrawound vancomycin” found 22 results. After a review of all abstracts for relevance to intrawound vancomycin use in spinal surgery, 10 studies were reviewed in detail. Three meta-analyses were evaluated from the initial search, and 2 clinical studies were identified. After an analysis of all of the identified manuscripts, 3 additional studies were included for a total of 16 studies. Fourteen retrospective studies and 2 prospective studies were identified, resulting in a total of 9721 patients. A total of 6701 (68.9%) patients underwent treatment with intrawound vancomycin. The mean SSI rate among the control and vancomycin-treated patients was 7.47% and 1.36%, respectively. There were a total of 23 adverse events: nephropathy (1 patient), ototoxicity resulting in transient hearing loss (2 patients), systemic absorption resulting in supratherapeutic vancomycin exposure (1 patient), and culture-negative seroma formation (19 patients). The overall adverse event rate for the total number of treated patients was 0.3%.

CONCLUSIONS

Intrawound vancomycin use appears to be safe and effective for reducing postoperative SSIs with a low rate of morbidity. Study disparities and limitations in size, patient populations, designs, and outcomes measures contribute significant bias that could not be fully rectified by this systematic review. Moreover, care should be exercised in the use of intrawound vancomycin due to the lack of well-designed, prospective studies that evaluate the efficacy of vancomycin and include the appropriate systems to capture drug-related complications.

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George M. Ghobrial, Thana Theofanis, Bruce V. Darden, Paul Arnold, Michael G. Fehlings and James S. Harrop

OBJECT

Unintended durotomy is a common occurrence during lumbar spinal surgery, particularly in surgery for degenerative spinal conditions, with the reported incidence rate ranging from 0.3% to 35%. The authors performed a systematic literature review on unintended lumbar spine durotomy, specifically aiming to identify the incidence of durotomy during spinal surgery for lumbar degenerative conditions. In addition, the authors analyzed the incidence of durotomy when minimally invasive surgical approaches were used as compared with that following a traditional midline open approach.

METHODS

A MEDLINE search using the term “lumbar durotomy” (under the 2015 medical subject heading [MeSH] “cerebrospinal fluid leak”) was conducted on May 13, 2015, for English-language medical literature published in the period from January 1, 2005, to May 13, 2015. The resulting papers were categorized into 3 groups: 1) those that evaluated unintended durotomy rates during open-approach lumbar spinal surgery, 2) those that evaluated unintended durotomy rates during minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS), and 3) those that evaluated durotomy rates in comparable cohorts undergoing MISS versus open-approach lumbar procedures for similar lumbar pathology.

RESULTS

The MEDLINE search yielded 116 results. A review of titles produced 22 potentially relevant studies that described open surgical procedures. After a thorough review of individual papers, 19 studies (comprising 15,965 patients) pertaining to durotomy rates during open-approach lumbar surgery were included for analysis. Using the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) ranking criteria, there were 7 Level 3 prospective studies and 12 Level 4 retrospective studies. In addition, the authors also included 6 studies (with a total of 1334 patients) that detailed rates of durotomy during minimally invasive surgery for lumbar degenerative disease. In the MISS analysis, there were 2 prospective and 4 retrospective studies. Finally, the authors included 5 studies (with a total of 1364 patients) that directly compared durotomy rates during open-approach versus minimally invasive procedures. Studies of open-approach surgery for lumbar degenerative disease reported a total of 1031 durotomies across all procedures, for an overall durotomy rate of 8.11% (range 2%–20%). Prospectively designed studies reported a higher rate of durotomy than retrospective studies (9.57% vs 4.32%, p = 0.05). Selected MISS studies reported a total of 93 durotomies for a combined durotomy rate of 6.78%. In studies of matched cohorts comparing open-approach surgery with MISS, the durotomy rates were 7.20% (34 durotomies) and 7.02% (68), respectively, which were not significantly different.

CONCLUSIONS

Spinal surgery for lumbar degenerative disease carries a significant rate of unintended durotomy, regardless of the surgical approach selected by the surgeon. Interpretation of unintended durotomy rates for lumbar surgery is limited by a lack of prospective and cohort-matched controlled studies.

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George M. Ghobrial, Sara Beygi, Matthew J. Viereck, Joshua E. Heller, Ashwini Sharan, Jack Jallo, James S. Harrop and Srinivas Prasad

Syringomyelia is a potentially debilitating disease that involves abnormal CSF flow mechanics; its incidence after traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) is approximately 15%. Treatment consists of restoration of CSF flow, typically via arachnoidolysis and syrinx decompression. The authors present a case of pronounced syringomyelia in a patient with concomitant severe cervical myelomalacia to demonstrate unilateral C-5 palsy as a potential complication of aggressive syrinx decompression at a remote level.

A 56-year-old man with a remote history of SCI at T-11 (ASIA [American Spinal Injury Association] Grade A) presented with complaints of ascending motor and sensory weakness into the bilateral upper extremities that had progressed over 1 year. MRI demonstrated severe distortion of the spinal cord at the prior injury level of T10–11, where an old anterior column injury and prior hook-rod construct was visualized. Of note, the patient had a holocord syrinx with demonstrable myelomalacia. To restore CSF flow and decompress the spinal cord, T-2 and T-3 laminectomies, followed by arachnoidolysis and syringopleural shunt placement, were performed. Postoperatively on Day 1, with the exception of a unilateral deltoid palsy, the patient had immediate improvement in upper-extremity strength and myelopathy. He was discharged from the hospital on postoperative Day 5; however, at his 2-week follow-up visit, a persistent unilateral deltoid palsy was noted. MRI demonstrated a significant reduction in the holocord syrinx, no neural foraminal stenosis, and a significant positional shift of the ventral spinal cord. Further motor recovery was noted at the 8-month follow-up.

Syringomyelia is a debilitating disease arising most often as a result of traumatic SCI. In the setting of myelomalacia with a pronounced syrinx, C-5 palsy is a potential complication of syrinx decompression.