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  • By Author: Theodore, Nicholas x
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Corey T. Walker, M. Yashar S. Kalani, Mark E. Oppenlander, Jakub Godzik, Nikolay L. Martirosyan, Robert J. Standerfer and Nicholas Theodore


The authors report a novel paradigm for resection of the disc or dural complex to treat giant calcified transdural herniated thoracic discs, and they describe a technique for the repair of dural defects. These herniated thoracic discs are uncommon, complicated lesions that often require a multidisciplinary team for effective treatment. The intradural component must be removed to effectively decompress the spinal cord. The opening of the friable dura mater, which frequently adheres to the extradural component of the disc, can result in large defects and difficult-to-manage CSF leaks.


The authors performed a retrospective study of the technique and outcomes in patients with a transdural herniated disc treated at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center within a 4-year period between 2012 and 2015.


During the study period, 7 patients (mean age 56.1 years) presented to the department of neurosurgery with clinical symptoms consistent with myeloradiculopathy. In all cases, 2-level corpectomies of the involved levels were combined with circumferential resection of the dura and complete decompression of the spinal cord. The dural defect was repaired with an onlay dural patch, and a large piece of AlloDerm (LifeCell Corp) graft was sewn to close the pleural defect. Every patient had a perioperative lumbar drain placed for CSF diversion. No patient suffered neurological decline related to the surgery, and 3 patients experienced clinically significant improvement in function. Two patients developed an early postoperative CSF leak that required operative revision to oversew the defects.


This novel technique for decompression of the spinal cord by dural resection for the removal of giant calcified transdural herniated thoracic discs is safe and results in excellent decompression of the spinal cord. The technique becomes necessary when primary repair of the dura is not possible, and it can be used in cases in which the resection of pathology includes the dura.

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Nikolay L. Martirosyan, M. Yashar S. Kalani, G. Michael Lemole Jr., Robert F. Spetzler, Mark C. Preul and Nicholas Theodore


The arterial basket of the conus medullaris (ABCM) consists of 1 or 2 arteries arising from the anterior spinal artery (ASA) and circumferentially connecting the ASA and the posterior spinal arteries (PSAs). The arterial basket can be involved in arteriovenous fistulas and arteriovenous malformations of the conus. In this article, the authors describe the microsurgical anatomy of the ABCM with emphasis on its morphometric parameters and important role in the intrinsic blood supply of the conus medullaris.


The authors performed microsurgical dissections on 16 formalin-fixed human spinal cords harvested within 24 hours of death. The course, diameter, and branching angles of the arteries comprising the ABCM were then identified and measured. In addition, histological sections were obtained to identify perforating vessels arising from the ABCM.


The ASA tapers as it nears the conus medullaris (mean preconus diameter 0.7 ± 0.12 mm vs mean conus diameter 0.38 ± 0.08 mm). The ASA forms an anastomotic basket with the posterior spinal artery (PSA) via anastomotic branches. In most of the specimens (n= 13, 81.3%), bilateral arteries formed connections between the ASA and PSA. However, in the remaining specimens (n= 3, 18.7%), a unilateral right-sided anastomotic artery was identified. The mean diameter of the right ABCM branch was 0.49 ± 0.13 mm, and the mean diameter of the left branch was 0.53 ± 0.14 mm. The mean branching angles of the arteries forming the anastomotic basket were 95.9° ± 36.6° and 90° ± 34.3° for the right- and left-sided arteries, respectively. In cases of bilateral arterial anastomoses between the ASA and PSA, the mean distance between the origins of the arteries was 4.5 ± 3.3 mm. Histological analysis revealed numerous perforating vessels supplying tissue of the conus medullaris.


The ABCM is a critical anastomotic connection between the ASA and PSA, which play an important role in the intrinsic blood supply of the conus medullaris. The ABCM provides an important compensatory function in the blood supply of the spinal cord. Its involvement in conus medullaris vascular malformations makes it a critical anatomical structure.

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M. Yashar S. Kalani, Nikolay L. Martirosyan, Andrew S. Little, Udaya K. Kakarla and Nicholas Theodore

The authors describe a rare case of tumoral calcinosis (TC) of the thoracic spine in a 13-year-old boy with thoracic scoliosis. The patient presented with a 2-year history of back pain. He had no personal or family history of bone disease, deformity, or malignancy. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a heterogeneously enhancing mass involving the T-7 vertebral body and the left pedicle. Computed tomography findings suggested that the mass was calcified and that this had resulted in scalloping of the vertebral body. The lesion was resected completely by using a left T-7 costotransversectomy and corpectomy. The deformity was corrected with placement of a vertebral body cage and pedicle screw fixation from T-5 to T-9. Pathological analysis of the mass demonstrated dystrophic calcification with marked hypercellularity and immunostaining consistent with TC. This represents the third reported case of vertebral TC in the pediatric population. Pediatric neurosurgeons should be familiar with lesions such as TC, which may be encountered in the elderly and in hemodialysis-dependent populations, and may not always require aggressive resection.

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Samuel Kalb, Nikolay L. Martirosyan, Luis Perez-Orribo, M. Yashar S. Kalani and Nicholas Theodore


Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) is a rare disease that results in progressive myeloradiculopathy related to pathological ossification of the ligament from unknown causes. Although it has long been considered a disease of Asian origin, this disorder is increasingly being recognized in European and North American populations. Herein the authors present demographic, radiographic, and comorbidity data from white patients with diagnosed OPLL as well as the outcomes of surgically treated patients.


Between 1999 and 2010, OPLL was diagnosed in 36 white patients at Barrow Neurological Institute. Patients were divided into 2 groups: a group of 33 patients with cervical OPLL and a group of 3 patients with thoracic or lumbar OPLL. Fifteen of these patients who had received operative treatment were analyzed separately. Imaging analysis focused on signal changes in the spinal cord, mass occupying ratio, signs of dural penetration, spinal levels involved, and subtype of OPLL. Surgical techniques included anterior cervical decompression and fusion with corpectomy, posterior laminectomy with fusion, posterior open-door laminoplasty, and anterior corpectomy combined with posterior laminectomy and fusion. Comorbidities, cigarette smoking, and previous spine surgeries were considered. Neurological function was assessed using a modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association Scale (mJOAS).


A high-intensity signal on T2-weighted MR imaging and a history of cervical spine surgery correlated with worse mJOAS scores. Furthermore, mJOAS scores decreased as the occupying rate of the OPLL mass in the spinal canal increased. On radiographic analysis, the proportion of signs of dural penetration correlated with the OPLL subtype. A high mass occupying ratio of the OPLL was directly associated with the presence of dural penetration and high-intensity signal. In the surgical group, the rate of neurological improvement associated with an anterior approach was 58% compared with 31% for a posterior laminectomy. No complications were associated with any of the 4 types of surgical procedures. In 3 cases, symptoms had worsened at the last follow-up, with only a single case of disease progression. Laminoplasty was the only technique associated with a worse clinical outcome. There were no statistical differences (p > 0.05) between the type of surgical procedure or radiographic presentation and postoperative outcome. There was also no difference between the choice of surgical procedure performed and the number of spinal levels involved with OPLL.


Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament can no longer be viewed as a disease of the Asian population exclusively. Since OPLL among white populations is being diagnosed more frequently, surgeons must be aware of the most appropriate surgical option. The outcomes of the various surgical treatments among the different populations with OPLL appear similar. Compared with other procedures, however, anterior decompression led to the best neurological outcomes.