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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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Eduardo Martinez-del-Campo, Jay D. Turner, Leonardo Rangel-Castilla, Hector Soriano-Baron, Samuel Kalb and Nicholas Theodore

OBJECTIVE

If left untreated, occipitocervical (OC) instability may lead to serious neurological injury or death. Open internal fixation is often necessary to protect the neurovascular elements. This study reviews the etiologies for pediatric OC instability, analyzes the radiographic criteria for surgical intervention, discusses surgical fixation techniques, and evaluates long-term postoperative outcomes based on a single surgeon's experience.

METHODS

The charts of all patients < 18 years old who underwent internal OC fixation conducted by the senior author were retrospectively reviewed. Forty consecutive patients were identified for analysis. Patient demographic data, OC junction pathology, radiological diagnostic tools, surgical indications, and outcomes are reported.

RESULTS

The study population consisted of 20 boys and 20 girls, with a mean age of 7.3 years. Trauma (45% [n = 18]) was the most common cause of instability, followed by congenital etiologies (37.5% [n = 15]). The condyle-C1 interval had a diagnostic sensitivity of 100% for atlantooccipital dislocation. The median number of fixated segments was 5 (occiput–C4). Structural bone grafts were used in all patients. Postsurgical neurological improvement was seen in 88.2% (15/17) of patients with chronic myelopathy and in 25% (1/4) of patients with acute myelopathy. Preoperatively, 42.5% (17/40) of patients were neurologically intact and remained unchanged at last follow-up, 42.5% (17/40) had neurological improvement, 12.5% (5/40) remained unchanged, and 2.5% (1/40) deteriorated. All patients had successful fusion at 1-year follow-up. The complication rate was 7.5% (3/40), including 1 case of vertebral artery injury.

CONCLUSIONS

Occipitocervical fixation is safe in children and provides immediate immobilization, with excellent survival and arthrodesis rates. Of the radiographic tools evaluated, the condyle-C1 interval was the most predictive of atlantooccipital dislocation.

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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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Sam Safavi-Abbasi, Noritaka Komune, Jacob B. Archer, Hai Sun, Nicholas Theodore, Jeffrey James, Andrew S. Little, Peter Nakaji, Michael E. Sughrue, Albert L. Rhoton and Robert F. Spetzler

OBJECT

The objective of this study was to describe the surgical anatomy and technical nuances of various vascularized tissue flaps.

METHODS

The surgical anatomy of various tissue flaps and their vascular pedicles was studied in 5 colored silicone-injected anatomical specimens. Medical records were reviewed of 11 consecutive patients who underwent repair of extensive skull base defects with a combination of various vascularized flaps.

RESULTS

The supraorbital, supratrochlear, superficial temporal, greater auricular, and occipital arteries contribute to the vascular supply of the pericranium. The pericranial flap can be designed based on an axial blood supply. Laterally, various flaps are supplied by the deep or superficial temporal arteries. The nasoseptal flap is a vascular pedicled flap based on the nasoseptal artery. Patients with extensive skull base defects can undergo effective repair with dual flaps or triple flaps using these pedicled vascularized flaps.

CONCLUSIONS

Multiple pedicled flaps are available for reconstitution of the skull base. Knowledge of the surgical anatomy of these flaps is crucial for the skull base surgeon. These vascularized tissue flaps can be used effectively as single or combination flaps. Multilayered closure of cranial base defects with vascularized tissue can be used safely and may lead to excellent repair outcomes.

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Sam Safavi-Abbasi, Timothy B. Mapstone, Jacob B. Archer, Christopher Wilson, Nicholas Theodore, Robert F. Spetzler and Mark C. Preul

An understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of tethered cord syndrome (TCS) and modern management strategies have only developed within the past few decades. Current understanding of this entity first began with the understanding and management of spina bifida; this later led to the gradual recognition of spina bifida occulta and the symptoms associated with tethering of the filum terminale. In the 17th century, Dutch anatomists provided the first descriptions and initiated surgical management efforts for spina bifida. In the 19th century, the term “spina bifida occulta” was coined and various presentations of spinal dysraphism were appreciated. The association of urinary, cutaneous, and skeletal abnormalities with spinal dysraphism was recognized in the 20th century. Early in the 20th century, some physicians began to suspect that traction on the conus medullaris caused myelodysplasia-related symptoms and that prophylactic surgical management could prevent the occurrence of clinical manifestations. It was not, however, until later in the 20th century that the term “tethered spinal cord” and the modern management of TCS were introduced. This gradual advancement in understanding at a time before the development of modern imaging modalities illustrates how, over the centuries, anatomists, pathologists, neurologists, and surgeons used clinical examination, a high level of suspicion, and interest in the subtle and overt clinical appearances of spinal dysraphism and TCS to advance understanding of pathophysiology, clinical appearance, and treatment of this entity. With the availability of modern imaging, spinal dysraphism can now be diagnosed and treated as early as the intrauterine stage.

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Sergiy V. Kushchayev, Morgan B. Giers, Doris Hom Eng, Nikolay L. Martirosyan, Jennifer M. Eschbacher, Martin M. Mortazavi, Nicholas Theodore, Alyssa Panitch and Mark C. Preul

OBJECTIVE

Spinal cord injury occurs in 2 phases. The initial trauma is followed by inflammation that leads to fibrous scar tissue, glial scarring, and cavity formation. Scarring causes further axon death around and above the injury. A reduction in secondary injury could lead to functional improvement. In this study, hyaluronic acid (HA) hydrogels were implanted into the gap formed in the hemisected spinal cord of Sprague-Dawley rats in an attempt to attenuate damage and regenerate tissue.

METHODS

A T-10 hemisection spinal cord injury was created in adult male Sprague-Dawley rats; the rats were assigned to a sham, control (phosphate-buffered saline), or HA hydrogel–treated group. One cohort of 23 animals was followed for 12 weeks and underwent weekly behavioral assessments. At 12 weeks, retrograde tracing was performed by injecting Fluoro-Gold in the left L-2 gray matter. At 14 weeks, the animals were killed. The volume of the lesion and the number of cells labeled from retrograde tracing were calculated. Animals in a separate cohort were killed at 8 or 16 weeks and perfused for immunohistochemical analysis and transmission electron microscopy. Samples were stained using H & E, neurofilament stain (neurons and axons), silver stain (disrupted axons), glial fibrillary acidic protein stain (astrocytes), and Iba1 stain (mononuclear cells).

RESULTS

The lesions were significantly smaller in size and there were more retrograde-labeled cells in the red nuclei of the HA hydrogel–treated rats than in those of the controls; however, the behavioral assessments revealed no differences between the groups. The immunohistochemical analyses revealed decreased fibrous scarring and increased retention of organized intact axonal tissue in the HA hydrogel–treated group. There was a decreased presence of inflammatory cells in the HA hydrogel–treated group. No axonal or neuronal regeneration was observed.

CONCLUSIONS

The results of these experiments show that HA hydrogel had a neuroprotective effect on the spinal cord by decreasing the magnitude of secondary injury after a lacerating spinal cord injury. Although regeneration and behavioral improvement were not observed, the reduction in disorganized scar tissue and the retention of neurons near and above the lesion are important for future regenerative efforts. In addition, this gel would be useful as the base substrate in the development of a more complex scaffold.

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Evgenii Belykh, Kashif Malik, Isabelle Simoneau, Kaan Yagmurlu, Ting Lei, Daniel D. Cavalcanti, Vadim A. Byvaltsev, Nicholas Theodore and Mark C. Preul

André Feil (1884–1955) was a French physician best recognized for his description, coauthored with Maurice Klippel, of patients with congenital fusion of cervical vertebrae, a condition currently known as Klippel-Feil syndrome. However, little is known about his background aside from the fact that he was a student of Klippel and a physician who took a keen interest in describing congenital anomalies. Despite the relative lack of information on Feil, his contributions to the fields of spinal disease and teratology extended far beyond science to play an integral role in changing the misguided perception shrouding patients with disfigurements, defects, deformities, and so-called monstrous births. In particular, Feil's 1919 medical school thesis on cervical abnormalities was a critical publication in defying long-held theory and opinion that human “monstrosities,” anomalies, developmental abnormalities, and altered congenital physicality were a consequence of sinful behavior or a reversion to a primitive state. Indeed, his thesis on a spinal deformity centering on his patient, L. Joseph, was at the vanguard for a new view of a patient as nothing less than fully human, no matter his or her physicality or appearance.

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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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Eduardo Martinez-del-Campo, Samuel Kalb, Hector Soriano-Baron, Jay D. Turner, Matthew T. Neal, Timothy Uschold and Nicholas Theodore

OBJECT

Atlantooccipital dislocation (AOD) in adults cannot be diagnosed with adequate specificity and sensitivity using only CT or plain radiography, and the spine literature offers no guidelines. In children, the most sensitive and specific radiographic measurement for the diagnosis of AOD is the CT-based occipital condyle–C1 interval (CCI). The goal of the current study was to identify the normal CCI in healthy adults and compare it with the CCI in adults with AOD to establish a highly sensitive and specific cutoff value for the neuroimaging diagnosis of AOD.

METHODS

A total of 81 patients, 59 without AOD and 22 with AOD, were included in this study. Measurements obtained from thin-slice CT scans of the craniovertebral joint to assess atlantooccipital dislocation included the CCI, condylar sum, the Wholey and Harris intervals, Powers and Sun ratios, Wackenheim line, and Lee X-lines.

RESULTS

The group of patients without AOD included 30 men (50.8%) and 29 women (49.2%) with a mean age of 42.4 ± 16 years (range 19–87 years). The group of patients with AOD included 10 men (45.5%) and 12 women (54.5%) with a mean age of 38.2 ± 9.7 years (range 20–56 years). Interrater reliabilities within a 95% CI were all greater than 0.98 for CCI measurements. A total of 1296 measurements of the CCI were made in 81 patients. The mean CCI for non-AOD patients was 0.89 ± 0.12 mm, the single largest CCI measurement was 1.4 mm, and the largest mean for either right or left CCI was 1.2 mm. The mean condylar sum was 1.8 ± 0.2 mm, and the largest condylar sum value was 2.2 mm. Linear regression with age predicted an increase in CCI of 0.001 mm/year (p < 0.05). The mean CCI in AOD patients was 3.35 ± 0.18 mm (range 1.5 mm–6.4 mm). The shortest single CCI measurements in the AOD patients were 1.1 mm and 1.2 mm. The mean condylar sum for all 22 AOD patients was 6.7 ± 2.7 mm and the shortest condylar sums were 3.0 mm. Cutoff values for AOD were set at 1.5 mm for the CCI and 3.0 mm for the condylar sum, both with a sensitivity of 1 and false-negative rate of 0. Sensitivity for the Powers, Wholey, Harris, Sun, Wackenheim, and Lee criteria were determined to be 0.55, 0.46, 0.27, 0.23, 0.41, and 0.41, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

The CCI is shorter in adult patients as opposed to the pediatric population. The revised CCI (1.5 mm) and condylar sum (3.0 mm) cutoff values have the highest sensitivity and specificity for the diagnosis of AOD in the adult population.