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  • Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine x
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Nickalus R. Khan, Clinton J. Thompson, Michael DeCuypere, Jonathan M. Angotti, Erick Kalobwe, Michael S. Muhlbauer, Francis X. Camillo and Paul Klimo Jr.

Object

Surgical site infection (SSI) is a serious and costly complication of spinal surgery. There have been several conflicting reports on the use of intrawound vancomycin powder in decreasing SSI in spine surgery. The purpose of this study is to answer the question: “Does intrawound vancomycin powder reduce the rate of SSIs in spine surgery?”

Methods

A comprehensive search of multiple electronic databases and bibliographies was conducted to identify clinical studies that evaluated the rates of SSI with and without the use of intrawound vancomycin powder in spine surgery. Independent reviewers extracted data and graded the quality of each paper that met inclusion criteria. A random effects meta-analysis was then performed.

Results

The search identified 9 retrospective cohort studies (Level III evidence) and 1 randomized controlled trial (Level II evidence). There were 2574 cases and 106 infections in the control group (4.1%) and 2518 cases and 33 infections (1.3%) in the treatment group, yielding a pooled absolute risk reduction and relative risk reduction of 2.8% and 68%, respectively. The meta-analysis revealed the use of vancomycin powder to be protective in preventing SSI (relative risk = 0.34, 95% confidence interval 0.17–0.66, p = 0.021). The number needed to treat to prevent 1 SSI was 36. A subgroup analysis found that patients who had implants had a reduced risk of SSI with vancomycin powder (p = 0.023), compared with those who had noninstrumented spinal operations (p = 0.226).

Conclusions

This meta-analysis suggests that the use of vancomycin powder may be protective against SSI in open spinal surgery; however, the exact population in which it should be used is not clear. This benefit may be most appreciated in higher-risk populations or in facilities with a high baseline rate of infection.

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Paul Klimo Jr., Peter Kan, Ganesh Rao, Ronald Apfelbaum and Douglas Brockmeyer

Object

The most contentious issue in the management of os odontoideum surrounds the decision to attempt atlantoaxial fusion in patients with asymptomatic lesions. The authors examined the clinical presentation and outcome in patients with os odontoideum who underwent surgical stabilization, with an emphasis on 3 patients who initially received conservative treatment and suffered delayed neurological injury.

Methods

Seventy-eight patients (mean age 20.5 years; median 15 years) were identified in a 17-year retrospective review. The median follow-up period was 14 months (range 1–115 months). Neck pain was the most common symptom (64%), and 56% of patients presented after traumatic injury. Eighteen patients had neurological signs or symptoms at presentation, and an additional 15 had a history of intermittent or prior neurological symptoms. Fifteen patients had undergone ≥ 1 attempt at atlantoaxial fusion elsewhere.

Results

Seventy-seven patients underwent posterior fusion and rigid screw fixation combined with a graft/wire construct: 75 had C1–2 fusion and 2 had occipitocervical fusion. One patient had an odontoid screw placed. Fusion was achieved in all patients at a median of 4.8 months (range 2–17 months). Approximately 90% of patients had resolution or improvement of their neck pain or neurological symptoms.

Conclusions

The authors believe that patients with os odontoideum are at risk for future spinal cord compromise. Forty-four percent of our patients had myelopathic symptoms at referral, and 3 had significant neurological deterioration when a known os odontoideum was left untreated. This risk of late neurological deterioration should be considered when counseling patients. Stabilization using internal screw fixation techniques resulted in 100% fusion, whereas 15% of patients had previously undergone unsuccessful wire and external bracing attempts.