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Laura A. Snyder, Jennifer N. Lehrman, Ram Kumar Menon, Jakub Godzik, Anna G. U. S. Newcomb and Brian P. Kelly

OBJECTIVE

Minimally invasive transforaminal interbody fusion techniques vary among surgeons. One decision point is whether to perform a unilateral facetectomy (UF), a unilateral facetectomy plus partial contralateral facetectomy (UF/PF), or a complete bilateral facetectomy (CBF). The authors therefore compared the biomechanical benefits of all 3 types of facetectomies to determine which approach produces improved biomechanical outcomes.

METHODS

Seven human cadaveric specimens (L3–S1) were potted and prepped for UF, with full facet removal, hemilaminectomy, discectomy, and pedicle screw placement. After distraction, a fixed interbody spacer was placed, and compression was performed. A final fixation configuration was performed by locking the rods across the screws posteriorly with bilateral compression. Final lordosis angle and change and foraminal height were measured, and standard nondestructive flexibility tests were performed to assess intervertebral range of motion (ROM) and compressive stiffness. The same procedure was followed for UF/PF and CBF in all 7 specimens.

RESULTS

All 3 conditions demonstrated similar ROM and compressive stiffness. No statistically significant differences occurred with distraction, but CBF demonstrated significantly greater change than UF in mean foraminal height after bilateral posterior compression (1.90 ± 0.62 vs 1.00 ± 0.45 mm, respectively, p = 0.04). With compression, the CBF demonstrated significantly greater mean ROM than the UF (2.82° ± 0.83° vs 2.170° ± 1.10°, p = 0.007). The final lordosis angle was greatest with CBF (3.74° ± 0.70°) and lowest with UF (2.68° ± 1.28°). This finding was statistically significant across all 3 conditions (p ≤ 0.04).

CONCLUSIONS

Although UF/PF and CBF may require slightly more time and effort and incur more risk than UF, the potential improvement in sagittal balance may be worthwhile for select patients.

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Jakub Godzik, Jennifer N. Lehrman, Anna G. U. S. Newcomb, Ram Kumar Menon, Alexander C. Whiting, Brian P. Kelly and Laura A. Snyder

OBJECTIVE

Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) is commonly used for lumbar fusion, such as for foraminal decompression, stabilization, and improving segmental lordosis. Although many options exist, surgical success is contingent on matching design strengths with surgical goals. The goal in the present study was to investigate the effects of an expandable interbody spacer and 2 traditional static spacer designs in terms of stability, compressive stiffness, foraminal height, and segmental lordosis.

METHODS

Standard nondestructive flexibility tests (7.5 N⋅m) were performed on 8 cadaveric lumbar specimens (L3–S1) to assess intervertebral stability of 3 types of TLIF spacers at L4–5 with bilateral posterior screw-rod (PSR) fixation. Stability was determined as range of motion (ROM) in flexion-extension (FE), lateral bending (LB), and axial rotation (AR). Compressive stiffness was determined with axial compressive loading (300 N). Foraminal height, disc height, and segmental lordosis were evaluated using radiographic analysis after controlled PSR compression (170 N). Four conditions were tested in random order: 1) intact, 2) expandable interbody cage with PSR fixation (EC+PSR), 3) static ovoid cage with PSR fixation (SOC+PSR), and 4) static rectangular cage with PSR fixation (SRC+PSR).

RESULTS

All constructs demonstrated greater stability than the intact condition (p < 0.001). No significant differences existed among constructs in ROM (FE, AR, and LB) or compressive stiffness (p ≥ 0.66). The EC+PSR demonstrated significantly greater foraminal height at L4–5 than SRC+PSR (21.1 ± 2.6 mm vs 18.6 ± 1.7 mm, p = 0.009). EC+PSR demonstrated higher anterior disc height than SOC+PSR (14.9 ± 1.9 mm vs 13.6 ± 2.2 mm, p = 0.04) and higher posterior disc height than the intact condition (9.4 ± 1.5 mm vs 7.1 ± 1.0 mm, p = 0.002), SOC+PSR (6.5 ± 1.8 mm, p < 0.001), and SRC+PSR (7.2 ± 1.2 mm, p < 0.001). There were no significant differences in segmental lordosis among SOC+PSR (10.1° ± 2.2°), EC+PSR (8.1° ± 0.5°), and SRC+PSR (11.1° ± 3.0°) (p ≥ 0.06).

CONCLUSIONS

An expandable interbody spacer provided stability, stiffness, and segmental lordosis comparable to those of traditional nonexpandable spacers of different shapes, with increased foraminal height and greater disc height. These results may help inform decisions about which interbody implants will best achieve surgical goals.

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Marco T. Reis, Phillip M. Reyes, BSE, Idris Altun, Anna G. U. S. Newcomb, Vaneet Singh, Steve W. Chang, Brian P. Kelly and Neil R. Crawford

OBJECTIVE

Lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) has emerged as a popular method for lumbar fusion. In this study the authors aimed to quantify the biomechanical stability of an interbody implant inserted using the LLIF approach with and without various supplemental fixation methods, including an interspinous plate (IP).

METHODS

Seven human cadaveric L2–5 specimens were tested intact and in 6 instrumented conditions. The interbody implant was intended to be used with supplemental fixation. In this study, however, the interbody was also tested without supplemental fixation for a relative comparison of these conditions. The instrumented conditions were as follows: 1) interbody implant without supplemental fixation (LLIF construct); and interbody implant with supplemental fixation performed using 2) unilateral pedicle screws (UPS) and rod (LLIF + UPS construct); 3) bilateral pedicle screws (BPS) and rods (LLIF + BPS construct); 4) lateral screws and lateral plate (LP) (LLIF + LP construct); 5) interbody LP and IP (LLIF + LP + IP construct); and 6) IP (LLIF + IP construct). Nondestructive, nonconstraining torque (7.5 Nm maximum) induced flexion, extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation, whereas 3D specimen range of motion (ROM) was determined optoelectronically.

RESULTS

The LLIF construct reduced ROM by 67% in flexion, 52% in extension, 51% in lateral bending, and 44% in axial rotation relative to intact specimens (p < 0.001). Adding BPS to the LLIF construct caused ROM to decrease by 91% in flexion, 82% in extension and lateral bending, and 74% in axial rotation compared with intact specimens (p < 0.001), providing the greatest stability among the constructs. Adding UPS to the LLIF construct imparted approximately one-half the stability provided by LLIF + BPS constructs, demonstrating significantly smaller ROM than the LLIF construct in all directions (flexion, p = 0.037; extension, p < 0.001; lateral bending, p = 0.012) except axial rotation (p = 0.07). Compared with the LLIF construct, the LLIF + LP had a significant reduction in lateral bending (p = 0.012), a moderate reduction in axial rotation (p = 0.18), and almost no benefit to stability in flexion-extension (p = 0.86). The LLIF + LP + IP construct provided stability comparable to that of the LLIF + BPS. The LLIF + IP construct provided a significant decrease in ROM compared with that of the LLIF construct alone in flexion and extension (p = 0.002), but not in lateral bending (p = 0.80) and axial rotation (p = 0.24). No significant difference was seen in flexion, extension, or axial rotation between LLIF + BPS and LLIF + IP constructs.

CONCLUSIONS

The LLIF construct that was tested significantly decreased ROM in all directions of loading, which indicated a measure of inherent stability. The LP significantly improved the stability of the LLIF construct in lateral bending only. Adding an IP device to the LLIF construct significantly improves stability in sagittal plane rotation. The LLIF + LP + IP construct demonstrated stability comparable to that of the gold standard 360° fixation (LLIF + BPS).

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Eduardo Martinez-del-Campo, Jay D. Turner, Hector Soriano-Baron, Anna G. U. S. Newcomb, Samuel Kalb and Nicholas Theodore

OBJECTIVE

The authors assessed the rate of vertebral growth, curvature, and alignment for multilevel constructs in the cervical spine after occipitocervical fixation (OCF) in pediatric patients and compared these results with those in published reports of growth in normal children.

METHODS

The authors assessed cervical spine radiographs and CT images of 18 patients who underwent occipitocervical arthrodesis. Measurements were made using postoperative and follow-up images available for 16 patients to determine cervical alignment (cervical spine alignment [CSA], C1–7 sagittal vertical axis [SVA], and C2–7 SVA) and curvature (cervical spine curvature [CSC] and C2–7 lordosis angle). Seventeen patients had postoperative and follow-up images available with which to measure vertebral body height (VBH), vertebral body width (VBW), and vertical growth percentage (VG%—that is, percentage change from postoperative to follow-up). Results for cervical spine growth were compared with normal parameters of 456 patients previously reported on in 2 studies.

RESULTS

Ten patients were girls and 8 were boys; their mean age was 6.7 ± 3.2 years. Constructs spanned occiput (Oc)–C2 (n = 2), Oc–C3 (n = 7), and Oc–C4 (n = 9). The mean duration of follow-up was 44.4 months (range 24–101 months). Comparison of postoperative to follow-up measures showed that the mean CSA increased by 1.8 ± 2.9 mm (p < 0.01); the mean C2–7 SVA and C1–7 SVA increased by 2.3 mm and 2.7 mm, respectively (p = 0.3); the mean CSC changed by −8.7° (p < 0.01) and the mean C2–7 lordosis angle changed by 2.6° (p = 0.5); and the cumulative mean VG% of the instrumented levels (C2–4) provided 51.5% of the total cervical growth (C2–7). The annual vertical growth rate was 4.4 mm/year. The VBW growth from C2–4 ranged from 13.9% to 16.6% (p < 0.001). The VBW of C-2 in instrumented patients appeared to be of a smaller diameter than that of normal patients, especially among those aged 5 to < 10 years and 10–15 years, with an increased diameter at the immediately inferior vertebral bodies compensating for the decreased width. No cervical deformation, malalignment, or detrimental clinical status was evident in any patient.

CONCLUSIONS

The craniovertebral junction and the upper cervical spine continue to present normal growth, curvature, and alignment parameters in children with OCF constructs spanning a distance as long as Oc–C4.

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Nestor G. Rodriguez-Martinez, Amey Savardekar, Eric W. Nottmeier, Stephen Pirris, Phillip M. Reyes, Anna G. U. S. Newcomb, George A. C. Mendes, Samuel Kalb, Nicholas Theodore and Neil R. Crawford

OBJECTIVE

Transvertebral screws provide stability in thoracic spinal fixation surgeries, with their use mainly limited to patients who require a pedicle screw salvage technique. However, the biomechanical impact of transvertebral screws alone, when they are inserted across 2 vertebral bodies, has not been studied. In this study, the authors assessed the stability offered by a transvertebral screw construct for posterior instrumentation and compared its biomechanical performance to that of standard bilateral pedicle screw and rod (PSR) fixation.

METHODS

Fourteen fresh human cadaveric thoracic spine segments from T-6 to T-11 were divided into 2 groups with similar ages and bone quality. Group 1 received transvertebral screws across 2 levels without rods and subsequently with interconnecting bilateral rods at 3 levels (T8–10). Group 2 received bilateral PSR fixation and were sequentially tested with interconnecting rods at T7–8 and T9–10, at T8–9, and at T8–10. Flexibility tests were performed on intact and instrumented specimens in both groups. Presurgical and postsurgical O-arm 3D images were obtained to verify screw placement.

RESULTS

The mean range of motion (ROM) per motion segment with transvertebral screws spanning 2 levels compared with the intact condition was 66% of the mean intact ROM during flexion-extension (p = 0.013), 69% during lateral bending (p = 0.015), and 47% during axial rotation (p < 0.001). The mean ROM per motion segment with PSR spanning 2 levels compared with the intact condition was 38% of the mean intact ROM during flexion-extension (p < 0.001), 57% during lateral bending (p = 0.007), and 27% during axial rotation (p < 0.001). Adding bilateral rods to the 3 levels with transvertebral screws decreased the mean ROM per motion segment to 28% of intact ROM during flexion-extension (p < 0.001), 37% during lateral bending (p < 0.001), and 30% during axial rotation (p < 0.001). The mean ROM per motion segment for PSR spanning 3 levels was 21% of intact ROM during flexion-extension (p < 0.001), 33% during lateral bending (p < 0.001), and 22% during axial rotation (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Biomechanically, fixation with a novel technique in the thoracic spine involving transvertebral screws showed restoration of stability to well within the stability provided by PSR fixation.

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Luis Perez-Orribo, Laura A. Snyder, Samuel Kalb, Ali M. Elhadi, Forrest Hsu, Anna G. U. S. Newcomb, Devika Malhotra, Neil R. Crawford and Nicholas Theodore

OBJECTIVE

Craniovertebral junction (CVJ) injuries complicated by transverse atlantal ligament (TAL) disruption often require surgical stabilization. Measurements based on the atlantodental interval (ADI), atlas lateral diameter (ALD1), and axis lateral diameter (ALD2) may help clinicians identify TAL disruption. This study used CT scanning to evaluate the reliability of these measurements and other variants in the clinical setting.

METHODS

Patients with CVJ injuries treated at the authors' institution between 2004 and 2011 were evaluated retrospectively for demographics, mechanism and location of CVJ injury, classification of injury, treatment, and modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association score at the time of injury and follow-up. The integrity of the TAL was evaluated using MRI. The ADI, ALD1, and ALD2 were measured on CT to identify TAL disruption indirectly.

RESULTS

Among the 125 patients identified, 40 (32%) had atlas fractures, 59 (47.2%) odontoid fractures, 31 (24.8%) axis fractures, and 4 (3.2%) occipital condyle fractures. TAL disruption was documented on MRI in 11 cases (8.8%). The average ADI for TAL injury was 1.8 mm (range 0.9–3.9 mm). Nine (81.8%) of the 11 patients with TAL injury had an ADI of less than 3 mm. In 10 patients (90.9%) with TAL injury, overhang of the C-1 lateral masses on C-2 was less than 7 mm. ADI, ALD1, ALD2, ALD1 – ALD2, and ALD1/ALD2 did not correlate with the integrity of the TAL.

CONCLUSIONS

No current measurement method using CT, including the ADI, ALD1, and ALD2 or their differences or ratios, consistently indicates the integrity of the TAL. A more reliable CT-based criterion is needed to diagnose TAL disruption when MRI is unavailable.

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Luis Perez-Orribo, Samuel Kalb, Laura A. Snyder, Forrest Hsu, Devika Malhotra, Richard D. Lefevre, Ali M. Elhadi, Anna G. U. S. Newcomb, Nicholas Theodore and Neil R. Crawford

OBJECTIVE

The rule of Spence is inaccurate for assessing integrity of the transverse atlantal ligament (TAL). Because CT is quick and easy to perform at most trauma centers, the authors propose a novel sequence of obtaining 2 CT scans to improve the diagnosis of TAL impairment. The sensitivity of a new CT-based method for diagnosing a TAL injury in a cadaveric model was assessed.

METHODS

Ten human cadaveric occipitocervical specimens were mounted horizontally in a supine posture with wooden inserts attached to the back of the skull to maintain a neutral or flexed (10°) posture. Specimens were scanned in neutral and flexed postures in a total of 4 conditions (3 conditions in each specimen): 1) intact (n = 10); either 2A) after a simulated Jefferson fracture with an intact TAL (n = 5) or 2B) after a TAL disruption with no Jefferson fracture (n = 5); and 3) after TAL disruption and a simulated Jefferson fracture (n = 10). The atlantodental interval (ADI) and cross-sectional canal area were measured.

RESULTS

From the neutral to the flexed posture, ADI increased an average of 2.5% in intact spines, 6.25% after a Jefferson fracture without TAL disruption, 34% after a TAL disruption without fracture, and 25% after TAL disruption with fracture. The increase in ADI was significant with both TAL disruption and TAL disruption and fracture (p < 0.005) but not in the other 2 conditions (p > 0.6). Changes in spinal canal area were not significant (p > 0.70).

CONCLUSIONS

This novel method was more sensitive than the rule of Spence for evaluating the integrity of the TAL on CT and does not increase the risk of further neurological damage.

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Chandan Das, Anna G. U. S. Newcomb, Daniel P. Gaudin and Neil R. Crawford

OBJECTIVE

Atlantooccipital fixation is an important technique in the treatment of upper cervical spine instability. Important considerations for implant devices are obtrusiveness and propagation of torque through the device caused by cervical rotation. The authors evaluated the feasibility of 3 regions of the occiput as sites for occipitocervical fixation by examining bone mineral density at these locations.

METHODS

Unembalmed occiputs of 9 male and 4 female cadavers were used (mean age at time of death was 61.6 years, range 36–68 years). Studies were undertaken using caliper measurements and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry of the superior nuchal line (SNL), the external occipital protuberance (EOP), and the inferior nuchal line (INL).

RESULTS

Data indicate that the bone at the INL has a similar volumetric bone density as the bone at the SNL, despite having half the thickness. Also, the volumetric bone density increases laterally along the nuchal lines.

CONCLUSIONS

Most hardware fixation is centered on stabilization at the EOP and the SNL. On the basis of these radiological results, the INL shows promise as a potential alternative site for screw placement in occipitocervical fixation.

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Nestor G. Rodriguez-Martinez, Luis Perez-Orribo, Samuel Kalb, Phillip M. Reyes, Anna G. U. S. Newcomb, Jeremy Hughes, Nicholas Theodore and Neil R. Crawford

OBJECT

The effects of obesity on lumbar biomechanics are not fully understood. The aims of this study were to analyze the biomechanical differences between cadaveric L4–5 lumbar spine segments from a large group of nonobese (body mass index [BMI] < 30 kg/m2) and obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) donors and to determine if there were any radiological differences between spines from nonobese and obese donors using MR imaging.

METHODS

A total of 168 intact L4–5 spinal segments (87 males and 81 females) were tested using pure-moment loading, simulating flexion-extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation. Axial compression tests were performed on 38 of the specimens. Sex, age, and BMI were analyzed with biomechanical parameters using 1-way ANOVA, Pearson correlation, and multiple regression analyses. MR images were obtained in 12 specimens (8 from obese and 4 from nonobese donors) using a 3-T MR scanner.

RESULTS

The segments from the obese male group allowed significantly greater range of motion (ROM) than those from the nonobese male group during axial rotation (p = 0.018), while there was no difference between segments from obese and nonobese females (p = 0.687). There were no differences in ROM between spines from obese and nonobese donors during flexion-extension or lateral bending for either sex. In the nonobese population, the ROM during axial rotation was significantly greater for females than for males (p = 0.009). There was no significant difference between sexes in the obese population (p = 0.892). Axial compressive stiffness was significantly greater for the obese than the nonobese population for both the female-only group and the entire study group (p < 0.01); however, the difference was nonsignificant in the male population (p = 0.304). Correlation analysis confirmed a significant negative correlation between BMI and resistance to deformation during axial compression in the female group (R = −0.65, p = 0.004), with no relationship in the male group (R = 0.03, p = 0.9). There was also a significant negative correlation between ROM during flexion-extension and BMI for the female group (R = −0.38, p = 0.001), with no relationship for the male group (R = 0.06, p = 0.58). Qualitative analysis using MR imaging indicated greater facet degeneration and a greater incidence of disc herniations in the obese group than in the control group.

CONCLUSIONS

Based on flexibility and compression tests, lumbar spinal segments from obese versus nonobese donors seem to behave differently, biomechanically, during axial rotation and compression. The differences are more pronounced in women. MR imaging suggests that these differences may be due to greater facet degeneration and an increased amount of disc herniation in the spines from obese individuals.