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  • Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine x
  • By Author: Luerssen, Thomas G. x
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Sohum K. Desai, Alison Brayton, Valerie B. Chua, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

Spinal arthrodesis was the first successful treatment for scoliosis, performed by Dr. Russell A. Hibbs in 1911 and later by Dr. Fred H. Albee for tuberculosis. In 1914, Dr. H.P.H. Galloway and Dr. Hibbs began using the method to treat neuromuscular scoliosis in patients with poliomyelitis. However, this treatment approach was plagued by loss of deformity correction over time and high pseudarthrosis rates. The turning point in the operative management of spinal deformities began in 1947 with Dr. Paul Randall Harrington when he started a decade-long process to revolutionize surgical treatment of spinal deformities culminating in the advent of the Harrington Rod, the first successful implantable spinal instrumentation system. During the epoch that he was in practice, Dr. Harrington's achievement influenced the technology and art of spine surgery for his contemporaries and the coming generations of spine surgeons. The purpose of this article is to review the life of Dr. Harrington, and how he has arguably come to be known as “Father of the Modern Treatment of Scoliosis.”

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Jonathan G. Thomas, Steven W. Hwang, Todd J. Blumberg, William E. Whitehead, Daniel J. Curry, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

Object

Over 85% of patients with myelomeningoceles require placement of a ventriculoperitoneal shunt for hydrocephalus, and between 25% and 85% of these patients develop scoliosis. Although most patients undergo repeated shunt series radiography to evaluate for device malfunction, scoliosis radiographs are less consistently obtained. The authors sought to determine if a correlation exists between these 2 radiographic techniques for a given patient, as shunt series are obtained with the patient supine, whereas scoliosis radiographs are acquired with the patient standing upright. The authors also endeavored to study if shunt series radiographs can reliably detect significant scoliosis.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed a single institution's series of 593 patients with myelomeningoceles and identified all patients in whom a shunt series and scoliosis radiographs were obtained within a 6-month period. They reviewed the medical records and radiographs of these patients for demographic and radiographic parameters. They then applied a linear regression model and determined shunt series curve cutoffs to detect scoliotic curves greater than 20° and 50°.

Results

Of the 593 patients identified, 116 did not have radiographs available for interpretation. Of the remaining 477 patients, 201 had radiographic evidence of scoliosis (42%), and 66 had both a shunt series and a scoliosis radiographs acquired within a 6-month interval. In 4 patients, both end vertebrae of the scoliotic curve could not be visualized on a single radiograph. The mean age of the remaining cohort was 10.6 ± 5.2 years and the mean curve magnitude was 58° ± 37°. Using identical end vertebrae, the mean shunt series curve magnitude was 49° ± 35°. The mean interval between both radiographs was 2.3 ± 3.3 months. The regression model showed a strong linear association between shunt series and scoliosis series curves. A curve greater than 19° on shunt series radiographs would detect significant curves of greater than 20° on scoliosis series with 91% sensitivity and 78% specificity. A shunt series curve greater than 37° had 100% sensitivity and 93% specificity in identifying significant scoliotic curves greater than 50°.

Conclusions

Although shunt series radiographs may not precisely depict scoliotic curve magnitude because the impact of gravity is negated, they may be useful in helping to confirm clinical suspicion of scoliosis. The authors' results suggest a strong correlation between both types of radiographs.

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Steven W. Hwang, Loyola V. Gressot, Leonardo Rangel-Castilla, William E. Whitehead, Daniel J. Curry, Robert J. Bollo, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

Object

The most common cause of cervical spine arthrodesis in the pediatric population is instability related to congenital or traumatic pathology. Instrumenting the cervical spine can be challenging given smaller anatomical structures, less ossified bone, and future growth potential and development. Studies in adult patients have suggested that using screw constructs results in improved outcomes with lower rates of instrumentation failure. However, the pediatric literature is limited to small retrospective series. Based on a review of the literature and their own patient series, the authors report that instrumenting the pediatric cervical spine with screw constructs may be safer and more effective than using wiring techniques.

Methods

The authors reviewed the existing pediatric cervical spine arthrodesis literature and contributed 31 of their own cases from September 1, 2007, to January 1, 2011. They reviewed 204 abstracts from January 1, 1966, to December 31, 2010, and 80 manuscripts with 883 total patients were included in the review. They recorded demographic, radiographic, and outcomes data—as well as surgical details—with a focus on fusion rates and complications.

Patients were then grouped into categories based upon the procedure performed: 1) patients who underwent fusions bridging the occipitocervical junction and 2) patients who underwent fusion of the cervical spine that did not include the occiput, thus including atlantoaxial and subaxial fusions. Patients were further subdivided according to the type of instrumentation used—some had posterior cervical fusion with wiring (with or without rod implantation); others had posterior cervical fusion with screws.

Results

The entire series comprised 914 patients with a mean age of 8.30 years. Congenital abnormalities were encountered most often (in 55% of cases), and patients had a mean follow-up of 32.5 months. From the entire cohort, 242 patients (26%) experienced postsurgical complications, and 50 patients (5%) had multiple complications. The overall fusion rate was 94.4%.

For occipitocervical fusions (N = 285), both screw and wiring groups had very high fusion rates (99% and 95%, respectively, p = 0.08). However, wiring was associated with a higher complication rate. From a sample of 252 patients, 14% of those treated with screw instrumentation had complications, compared with 50% of patients treated with wiring (p < 0.05).

In cervical fusions not involving the occipitocervical junction (N = 181), screw constructs had a 99% fusion rate, whereas wire instrumentation only had an 83% fusion rate (p < 0.05). Similarly, patients who underwent screw fixation had a lower complication profile (15%) when compared with those treated with wiring constructs (54%, p < 0.05).

Conclusions

The results of this study are limited by variations in construct design, use of orthoses, follow-up duration, and newer adjuvant products promoting fusions. However, a literature review and the authors' own series of pediatric cases suggest that instrumentation of the cervical spine in children may be safer and more efficacious using screw constructs rather than wiring techniques.