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Thomas J. Buell, Ching-Jen Chen, James H. Nguyen, Peter A. Christiansen, Saikiran G. Murthy, Avery L. Buchholz, Chun-Po Yen, Mark E. Shaffrey, Christopher I. Shaffrey and Justin S. Smith

OBJECTIVE

Prior reports have demonstrated the efficacy of surgical correction for adult lumbar scoliosis. Many of these reports focused on mild to moderate scoliosis. The authors’ objective was to report their experience and to assess outcomes and complications after deformity correction for severe adult scoliosis.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively analyzed consecutive adult scoliosis patients with major thoracolumbar/lumbar (TL/L) curves ≥ 75° who underwent deformity correction at their institution. Those eligible with a minimum 2 years of follow-up were included. Demographic, surgical, coronal and sagittal plane radiographic measurements, and health-related quality of life (HRQL) scores were analyzed.

RESULTS

Among 26 potentially eligible patients, 22 (85%) had a minimum 2 years of follow-up (range 24–89 months) and were included in the study (mean age 57 ± 11 years; 91% women). The cohort comprised 16 (73%), 4 (18%), and 2 (9%) patients with adult idiopathic scoliosis, de novo degenerative scoliosis, and iatrogenic scoliosis, respectively. The surgical approach was posterior-only and multistage anterior-posterior in 18 (82%) and 4 (18%) patients, respectively. Three-column osteotomy was performed in 5 (23%) patients. Transforaminal and anterior lumbar interbody fusion were performed in 14 (64%) and 4 (18%) patients, respectively. All patients had sacropelvic fixation with uppermost instrumented vertebra in the lower thoracic spine (46% [10/22]) versus upper thoracic spine (55% [12/22]). The mean fusion length was 14 ± 3 levels. Preoperative major TL/L and lumbosacral fractional (L4–S1) curves were corrected from 83° ± 8° to 28° ± 13° (p < 0.001) and 34° ± 8° to 13° ± 6° (p < 0.001), respectively. Global coronal and sagittal balance significantly improved from 5 ± 4 cm to 1 ± 1 cm (p = 0.001) and 9 ± 8 cm to 2 ± 3 cm (p < 0.001), respectively. Pelvic tilt significantly improved from 33° ± 9° to 23° ± 10° (p < 0.001). Significant improvement in HRQL measures included the following: Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) pain score (p = 0.009), SRS appearance score (p = 0.004), and SF-12/SF-36 physical component summary (PCS) score (p = 0.026). Transient and persistent neurological deficits occurred in 8 (36%) and 2 (9%) patients, respectively. Rod fracture/pseudarthrosis occurred in 6 (27%) patients (supplemental rods were utilized more recently in 23%). Revisions were performed in 7 (32%) patients.

CONCLUSIONS

In this single-center surgical series for severe adult scoliosis (major curves ≥ 75°), a posterior-only or multistage anterior-posterior approach provided major curve correction of 66% and significant improvements in global coronal and sagittal spinopelvic alignment. Significant improvements were also demonstrated in HRQL measures (SRS pain, SRS appearance, and SF-12/SF-36 PCS). Complications and revisions were comparable to those of other reports involving less severe scoliosis. The results of this study warrant future prospective multicenter studies to further delineate outcomes and complication risks for severe adult scoliosis correction.

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Darryl Lau, Cecilia L. Dalle Ore, Patrick Reid, Michael M. Safaee, Vedat Deviren, Justin S. Smith, Christopher I. Shaffrey and Christopher P. Ames

OBJECTIVE

The benefits and utility of routine neuromonitoring with motor and somatosensory evoked potentials during lumbar spine surgery remain unclear. This study assesses measures of performance and utility of transcranial motor evoked potentials (MEPs) during lumbar pedicle subtraction osteotomy (PSO).

METHODS

This is a retrospective study of a single-surgeon cohort of consecutive adult spinal deformity (ASD) patients who underwent lumbar PSO from 2006 to 2016. A blinded neurophysiologist reviewed individual cases for MEP changes. Multivariate analysis was performed to determine whether changes correlated with neurological deficits. Measures of performance were calculated.

RESULTS

A total of 242 lumbar PSO cases were included. MEP changes occurred in 38 (15.7%) cases; the changes were transient in 21 cases (55.3%) and permanent in 17 (44.7%). Of the patients with permanent changes, 9 (52.9%) had no recovery and 8 (47.1%) had partial recovery of MEP signals. Changes occurred at a mean time of 8.8 minutes following PSO closure (range: during closure to 55 minutes after closure). The mean percentage of MEP signal loss was 72.9%. The overall complication rate was 25.2%, and the incidence of new neurological deficits was 4.1%. On multivariate analysis, MEP signal loss of at least 50% was not associated with complication (p = 0.495) or able to predict postoperative neurological deficits (p = 0.429). Of the 38 cases in which MEP changes were observed, the observation represented a true-positive finding in only 3 cases. Postoperative neurological deficits without MEP changes occurred in 7 cases. Calculated measures of performance were as follows: sensitivity 30.0%, specificity 84.9%, positive predictive value 7.9%, and negative predictive value 96.6%. Regarding the specific characteristics of the MEP changes, only a signal loss of 80% or greater was significantly associated with a higher rate of neurological deficit (23.0% vs 0.0% for loss of less than 80%, p = 0.021); changes of less than 80% were not associated with postoperative deficits.

CONCLUSIONS

Neuromonitoring has a low positive predictive value and low sensitivity for detecting new neurological deficits. Even when neuromonitoring is unchanged, patients can still have new neurological deficits. The utility of transcranial MEP monitoring for lumbar PSO remains unclear but there may be advantages to its use.

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Andrew K. Chan, Erica F. Bisson, Mohamad Bydon, Steven D. Glassman, Kevin T. Foley, Eric A. Potts, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Mark E. Shaffrey, Domagoj Coric, John J. Knightly, Paul Park, Michael Y. Wang, Kai-Ming Fu, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Anthony L. Asher, Michael S. Virk, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Mohammed Ali Alvi, Jian Guan, Regis W. Haid and Praveen V. Mummaneni

OBJECTIVE

The optimal minimally invasive surgery (MIS) approach for grade 1 lumbar spondylolisthesis is not clearly elucidated. In this study, the authors compared the 24-month patient-reported outcomes (PROs) after MIS transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) and MIS decompression for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

A total of 608 patients from 12 high-enrolling sites participating in the Quality Outcomes Database (QOD) lumbar spondylolisthesis module underwent single-level surgery for degenerative grade 1 lumbar spondylolisthesis, of whom 143 underwent MIS (72 MIS TLIF [50.3%] and 71 MIS decompression [49.7%]). Surgeries were classified as MIS if there was utilization of percutaneous screw fixation and placement of a Wiltse plane MIS intervertebral body graft (MIS TLIF) or if there was a tubular decompression (MIS decompression). Parameters obtained at baseline through at least 24 months of follow-up were collected. PROs included the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), numeric rating scale (NRS) for back pain, NRS for leg pain, EuroQol-5D (EQ-5D) questionnaire, and North American Spine Society (NASS) satisfaction questionnaire. Multivariate models were constructed to adjust for patient characteristics, surgical variables, and baseline PRO values.

RESULTS

The mean age of the MIS cohort was 67.1 ± 11.3 years (MIS TLIF 62.1 years vs MIS decompression 72.3 years) and consisted of 79 (55.2%) women (MIS TLIF 55.6% vs MIS decompression 54.9%). The proportion in each cohort reaching the 24-month follow-up did not differ significantly between the cohorts (MIS TLIF 83.3% and MIS decompression 84.5%, p = 0.85). MIS TLIF was associated with greater blood loss (mean 108.8 vs 33.0 ml, p < 0.001), longer operative time (mean 228.2 vs 101.8 minutes, p < 0.001), and longer length of hospitalization (mean 2.9 vs 0.7 days, p < 0.001). MIS TLIF was associated with a significantly lower reoperation rate (14.1% vs 1.4%, p = 0.004). Both cohorts demonstrated significant improvements in ODI, NRS back pain, NRS leg pain, and EQ-5D at 24 months (p < 0.001, all comparisons relative to baseline). In multivariate analyses, MIS TLIF—as opposed to MIS decompression alone—was associated with superior ODI change (β = −7.59, 95% CI −14.96 to −0.23; p = 0.04), NRS back pain change (β = −1.54, 95% CI −2.78 to −0.30; p = 0.02), and NASS satisfaction (OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.12–0.82; p = 0.02).

CONCLUSIONS

For symptomatic, single-level degenerative spondylolisthesis, MIS TLIF was associated with a lower reoperation rate and superior outcomes for disability, back pain, and patient satisfaction compared with posterior MIS decompression alone. This finding may aid surgical decision-making when considering MIS for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis.

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Praveen V. Mummaneni, Mohamad Bydon, Mohammed Ali Alvi, Andrew K. Chan, Steven D. Glassman, Kevin T. Foley, Eric A. Potts, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Mark E. Shaffrey, Domagoj Coric, John J. Knightly, Paul Park, Michael Y. Wang, Kai-Ming Fu, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Anthony L. Asher, Michael S. Virk, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Jian Guan, Regis W. Haid and Erica F. Bisson

OBJECTIVE

Since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, providers and hospitals have increasingly prioritized patient-centered outcomes such as patient satisfaction in an effort to adapt the “value”-based healthcare model. In the current study, the authors queried a prospectively maintained multiinstitutional spine registry to construct a predictive model for long-term patient satisfaction among patients undergoing surgery for Meyerding grade I lumbar spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

The authors queried the Quality Outcomes Database for patients undergoing surgery for grade I lumbar spondylolisthesis between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2016. The primary outcome of interest for the current study was patient satisfaction as measured by the North American Spine Surgery patient satisfaction index, which is measured on a scale of 1–4, with 1 indicating most satisfied and 4 indicating least satisfied. In order to identify predictors of higher satisfaction, the authors fitted a multivariable proportional odds logistic regression model for ≥ 2 years of patient satisfaction after adjusting for an array of clinical and patient-specific factors. The absolute importance of each covariate in the model was computed using an importance metric defined as Wald chi-square penalized by the predictor degrees of freedom.

RESULTS

A total of 502 patients, out of a cohort of 608 patients (82.5%) with grade I lumbar spondylolisthesis, undergoing either 1- or 2-level decompression (22.5%, n = 113) or 1-level decompression and fusion (77.5%, n = 389), met the inclusion criteria; of these, 82.1% (n = 412) were satisfied after 2 years. On univariate analysis, satisfied patients were more likely to be employed and working (41.7%, n = 172, vs 24.4%, n = 22; overall p = 0.001), more likely to present with predominant leg pain (23.1%, n = 95, vs 11.1%, n = 10; overall p = 0.02) but more likely to present with lower Numeric Rating Scale score for leg pain (median and IQR score: 7 [5–9] vs 8 [6–9]; p = 0.05). Multivariable proportional odds logistic regression revealed that older age (OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.09–2.76; p = 0.009), preoperative active employment (OR 2.06, 95% CI 1.27–3.67; p = 0.015), and fusion surgery (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.30–4.06; p = 0.002) were the most important predictors of achieving satisfaction with surgical outcome.

CONCLUSIONS

Current findings from a large multiinstitutional study indicate that most patients undergoing surgery for grade I lumbar spondylolisthesis achieved long-term satisfaction. Moreover, the authors found that older age, preoperative active employment, and fusion surgery are associated with higher odds of achieving satisfaction.

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Justin S. Smith, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Christopher P. Ames and Lawrence G. Lenke

Care of the patient with adult spinal deformity (ASD) has evolved from being primarily supportive to now having the ability to directly treat and correct the spinal pathology. The focus of this narrative literature review is to briefly summarize the history of ASD treatment, discuss the current state of the art of ASD care with focus on surgical treatment and current challenges, and conclude with a discussion of potential developments related to ASD surgery.

In the past, care for ASD was primarily based on supportive measures, including braces and assistive devices, with few options for surgical treatments that were often deemed high risk and reserved for rare situations. Advances in anesthetic and critical care, surgical techniques, and instrumentation now enable almost routine surgery for many patients with ASD. Despite the advances, there are many remaining challenges currently impacting the care of ASD patients, including increasing numbers of elderly patients with greater comorbidities, high complication and reoperation rates, and high procedure cost without clearly demonstrated cost-effectiveness based on standard criteria. In addition, there remains considerable variability across multiple aspects of ASD surgery. For example, there is currently very limited ability to provide preoperative individualized counseling regarding optimal treatment approaches (e.g., operative vs nonoperative), complication risks with surgery, durability of surgery, and likelihood of achieving individualized patient goals and satisfaction. Despite the challenges associated with the current state-of-the-art ASD treatment, surgery continues to be a primary option, as multiple reports have demonstrated the potential for surgery to significantly improve pain and disability. The future of ASD care will likely include techniques and technologies to markedly reduce complication rates, including greater use of navigation and robotics, and a shift toward individualized medicine that enables improved counseling, preoperative planning, procedure safety, and patient satisfaction.

Advances in the care of ASD patients have been remarkable over the past few decades. The current state of the art enables almost routine surgical treatment for many types of ASD that have the potential to significantly improve pain and disability. However, significant challenges remain, including high complication rates, lack of demonstrated cost-effectiveness, and limited ability to meaningfully counsel patients preoperatively on an individual basis. The future of ASD surgery will require continued improvement of predictability, safety, and sustainability.

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Thomas J. Buell, Davis G. Taylor, Ching-Jen Chen, Lauren K. Dunn, Jeffrey P. Mullin, Marcus D. Mazur, Chun-Po Yen, Mark E. Shaffrey, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Justin S. Smith and Bhiken I. Naik

OBJECTIVE

Significant blood loss and coagulopathy are often encountered during adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery, and the optimal intraoperative transfusion algorithm is debatable. Rotational thromboelastometry (ROTEM), a functional viscoelastometric method for real-time hemostasis testing, may allow early identification of coagulopathy and improve transfusion practices. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of ROTEM-guided blood product management on perioperative blood loss and transfusion requirements in ASD patients undergoing correction with pedicle subtraction osteotomy (PSO).

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed patients with ASD who underwent single-level lumbar PSO at the University of Virginia Health System. All patients who received ROTEM-guided blood product transfusion between 2015 and 2017 were matched in a 1:1 ratio to a historical cohort treated using conventional laboratory testing (control group). Co-primary outcomes were intraoperative estimated blood loss (EBL) and total blood product transfusion volume. Secondary outcomes were perioperative transfusion requirements and postoperative subfascial drain output.

RESULTS

The matched groups (ROTEM and control) comprised 17 patients each. Comparison of matched group baseline characteristics demonstrated differences in female sex and total intraoperative dose of intravenous tranexamic acid (TXA). Although EBL was comparable between ROTEM versus control (3200.00 ± 2106.24 ml vs 3874.12 ± 2224.22 ml, p = 0.36), there was a small to medium effect size (Cohen’s d = 0.31) on EBL reduction with ROTEM. The ROTEM group had less total blood product transfusion volume (1624.18 ± 1774.79 ml vs 2810.88 ± 1847.46 ml, p = 0.02), and the effect size was medium to large (Cohen’s d = 0.66). This difference was no longer significant after adjusting for TXA (β = −0.18, 95% confidence interval [CI] −1995.78 to 671.64, p = 0.32). More cryoprecipitate and less fresh frozen plasma (FFP) were transfused in the ROTEM group patients (cryoprecipitate units: 1.24 ± 1.20 vs 0.53 ± 1.01, p = 0.03; FFP volume: 119.76 ± 230.82 ml vs 673.06 ± 627.08 ml, p < 0.01), and this remained significant after adjusting for TXA (cryoprecipitate units: β = 0.39, 95% CI 0.05 to 1.73, p = 0.04; FFP volume: β = −0.41, 95% CI −772.55 to −76.30, p = 0.02). Drain output was lower in the ROTEM group and remained significant after adjusting for TXA.

CONCLUSIONS

For ASD patients treated using lumbar PSO, more cryoprecipitate and less FFP were transfused in the ROTEM group compared to the control group. These preliminary findings suggest ROTEM-guided therapy may allow early identification of hypofibrinogenemia, and aggressive management of this may reduce blood loss and total blood product transfusion volume. Additional prospective studies of larger cohorts are warranted to identify the appropriate subset of ASD patients who may benefit from intraoperative ROTEM analysis.

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Michael P. Kelly, Michael A. Kallen, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Justin S. Smith, Douglas C. Burton, Christopher P. Ames, Virginie Lafage, Frank J. Schwab, Han Jo Kim, Eric O. Klineberg, Shay Bess and the International Spine Study Group

OBJECTIVE

After using PROsetta Stone crosswalk tables to calculate Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Physical Function (PF) and Pain Interference (PI) scores, the authors sought to examine 1) correlations with Scoliosis Research Society–22r (SRS-22r) scores, 2) responsiveness to change, and 3) the relationship between baseline scores and 2-year follow-up scores in adult spinal deformity (ASD).

METHODS

PROsetta Stone crosswalk tables were used to converted SF-36 scores to PROMIS scores for pain and physical function in a cohort of ASD patients with 2-year follow-up. Spearman correlations were used to evaluate the relationship of PROMIS scores with SRS-22r scores. Effect size (ES) and adjusted standardized response mean (aSRM) were used to assess responsiveness to change. Linear regression was used to evaluate the association between baseline scores and 2-year follow-up scores.

RESULTS

In total, 425 (425/625, 68%) patients met inclusion criteria. Strong correlations (all |r| > 0.7, p < 0.001) were found between baseline and 2-year PROMIS values and corresponding SRS-22r domain scores. PROMIS-PI showed a large ES (1.09) and aSRM (0.88), indicating good responsiveness to change. PROMIS-PF showed a moderate ES (0.52) and moderate aSRM (0.69), indicating a moderate responsiveness to change. Patients with greater baseline pain complaints were associated with greater pain improvement at 2 years for both SRS-22r Pain (B = 0.39, p < 0.001) and PROMIS-PI (B = 0.45, p < 0.001). Higher functional scores at baseline were associated with greater average improvements in both SRS-22r Activity (B = 0.62, p < 0.001) and PROMIS-PF (B = 0.40, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found strong correlations between the SRS-22r Pain and Activity domains with corresponding PROMIS-PI and -PF scores. Pain measurements showed similar and strong ES and aSRM while the function measurements showed similar, moderate ES and aSRM at 2-year follow-up. These data support further exploration of the use of PROMIS–computer adaptive test instruments in ASD.

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Thomas J. Buell, Shay Bess, Ming Xu, Frank J. Schwab, Virginie Lafage, Christopher P. Ames, Christopher I. Shaffrey and Justin S. Smith

OBJECTIVE

Proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) is, in part, due to altered segmental biomechanics at the junction of rigid instrumented spine and relatively hypermobile non-instrumented adjacent segments. Proper application of posteriorly anchored polyethylene tethers (i.e., optimal configuration and tension) may mitigate adjacent-segment stress and help prevent PJK. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of different tether configurations and tensioning (preloading) on junctional range-of-motion (ROM) and other biomechanical indices for PJK in long instrumented spine constructs.

METHODS

Using a validated finite element model of a T7–L5 spine segment, testing was performed on intact spine, a multilevel posterior screw-rod construct (PS construct; T11–L5) without tether, and 15 PS constructs with different tether configurations that varied according to 1) proximal tether fixation of upper instrumented vertebra +1 (UIV+1) and/or UIV+2; 2) distal tether fixation to UIV, to UIV−1, or to rods; and 3) use of a loop (single proximal fixation) or weave (UIV and/or UIV+1 fixation in addition to UIV+1 and/or UIV+2 proximal attachment) of the tether. Segmental ROM, intradiscal pressure (IDP), inter- and supraspinous ligament (ISL/SSL) forces, and screw loads were assessed under variable tether preload.

RESULTS

PS construct junctional ROM increased abruptly from 10% (T11–12) to 99% (T10–11) of baseline. After tethers were grouped by most cranial proximal fixation (UIV+1 vs UIV+2) and use of loop versus weave, UIV+2 Loop and/or Weave most effectively dampened junctional ROM and adjacent-segment stress. Different distal fixation and use of loop versus weave had minimal effect. The mean segmental ROM at T11–12, T10–11, and T9–10, respectively, was 6%, 40%, and 99% for UIV+1 Loop; 6%, 44%, and 99% for UIV+1 Weave; 5%, 23%, and 26% for UIV+2 Loop; and 5%, 24%, and 31% for UIV+2 Weave.

Tethers shared loads with posterior ligaments; consequently, increasing tether preload tension reduced ISL/SSL forces, but screw loads increased. Further attenuation of junctional ROM and IDP reversed above approximately 100 N tether preload, suggesting diminished benefit for biomechanical PJK prophylaxis at higher preload tensioning.

CONCLUSIONS

In this study, finite element analysis demonstrated UIV+2 Loop and/or Weave tether configurations most effectively mitigated adjacent-segment stress in long instrumented spine constructs. Tether preload dampened ligament forces at the expense of screw loads, and an inflection point (approximately 100 N) was demonstrated above which junctional ROM and IDP worsened (i.e., avoid over-tightening tethers). Results suggest tether configuration and tension influence PJK biomechanics and further clinical research is warranted.

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James H. Nguyen, Thomas J. Buell, Tony R. Wang, Jeffrey P. Mullin, Marcus D. Mazur, Juanita Garces, Davis G. Taylor, Chun-Po Yen, Christopher I. Shaffrey and Justin S. Smith

OBJECTIVE

Recent literature describing complications associated with spinopelvic fixation with iliac screws in adult patients has been limited but has suggested high complication rates. The authors’ objective was to report their experience with iliac screw fixation in a large series of patients with a 2-year minimum follow-up.

METHODS

Of 327 adult patients undergoing spinopelvic fixation with iliac screws at the authors’ institution between 2010 and 2015, 260 met the study inclusion criteria (age ≥ 18 years, first-time iliac screw placement, and 2-year minimum follow-up). Patients with active spinal infection were excluded. All iliac screws were placed via a posterior midline approach using fluoroscopic guidance. Iliac screw heads were deeply recessed into the posterior superior iliac spine. Clinical and radiographic data were obtained and analyzed.

RESULTS

Twenty patients (7.7%) had iliac screw–related complication, which included fracture (12, 4.6%) and/or screw loosening (9, 3.5%). No patients had iliac screw head prominence that required revision surgery or resulted in pain, wound dehiscence, or poor cosmesis. Eleven patients (4.2%) had rod or connector fracture below S1. Overall, 23 patients (8.8%) had L5–S1 pseudarthrosis. Four patients (1.5%) had fracture of the S1 screw. Seven patients (2.7%) had wound dehiscence (unrelated to the iliac screw head) or infection. The rate of reoperation (excluding proximal junctional kyphosis) was 17.7%. On univariate analysis, an iliac screw–related complication rate was significantly associated with revision fusion (70.0% vs 41.2%, p = 0.013), a greater number of instrumented vertebrae (mean 12.6 vs 10.3, p = 0.014), and greater postoperative pelvic tilt (mean 27.7° vs 23.2°, p = 0.04). Lumbosacral junction–related complications were associated with a greater mean number of instrumented vertebrae (12.6 vs 10.3, p = 0.014). Reoperation was associated with a younger mean age at surgery (61.8 vs 65.8 years, p = 0.014), a greater mean number of instrumented vertebrae (12.2 vs 10.2, p = 0.001), and longer clinical and radiological mean follow-up duration (55.8 vs 44.5 months, p < 0.001; 55.8 vs 44.6 months, p < 0.001, respectively). On multivariate analysis, reoperation was associated with longer clinical follow-up (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Previous studies on iliac screw fixation have reported very high rates of complications and reoperation (as high as 53.6%). In this large, single-center series of adult patients, iliac screws were an effective method of spinopelvic fixation that had high rates of lumbosacral fusion and far lower complication rates than previously reported. Collectively, these findings argue that iliac screw fixation should remain a favored technique for spinopelvic fixation.

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Bhargav D. Desai, Davis G. Taylor, Ching-Jen Chen, Thomas J. Buell, Jeffrey P. Mullin, Bhiken I. Naik, Justin S. Smith and Christopher I. Shaffrey

Tranexamic acid (TXA) is an antifibrinolytic agent with demonstrated efficacy in reducing blood loss when administered systemically. However, in patients with contraindications to systemic or intravenous TXA, topical TXA (tTXA) has been shown to reduce perioperative blood loss, with some studies suggesting equivalence compared to systemic TXA. However, these studies have been conducted in healthy cohorts without contraindications to systemic TXA. In the surgical management of adult spinal deformity (ASD), comorbid disease is commonly encountered and may preclude use of systemic TXA. In this subset of patients with ASD who have contraindications for systemic TXA, use of tTXA has not been reported.

The primary objective of this study was to conduct a systematic review on the use of tTXA in spine surgery and to present the authors’ initial experience with tTXA as a novel hemostatic technique for 2 patients with medically complex ASD. Both patients had contraindications to systemic TXA use and underwent high-risk, long-segment fusion operations for correction of ASD. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were used to obtain studies related to spine surgery and tTXA from the National Institutes of Health PubMed (www.pubmed.gov) database. Criteria for final selection included a demonstration of quantitative data regarding operative or postoperative blood loss with the use of tTXA, and selection criteria were met by 6 articles.

Topical TXA may offer a potential therapeutic role in reducing intra- and postoperative blood loss following long-segment spinal fusion surgeries, particularly for medically complex patients with contraindications to systemic TXA. It is reasonable to consider the use of tTXA as a salvage technique in complex high-risk patients with contraindications to systemic TXA, although further research is needed to delineate safety, magnitude of benefit, and optimization of dosing.