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Angela Mae Richardson, Joanna Elizabeth Gernsback, John Paul G. Kolcun and Steven Vanni

The authors report on the first surgical treatment for traumatic interspinous ligament calcification, with significant radiographic and symptomatic improvements at long-term follow-up. Heterotopic ossification occurs following traumatic injury but does not typically affect the interspinous ligaments. While these ligaments can calcify with age, this is rarely seen in patients younger than 50 years of age. The authors present the unusual case of a 31-year-old man who suffered traumatic fractures of thoracic and lumbar spinous processes. He developed progressive low-back pain that failed to respond to conservative treatments. At presentation, he was neurologically intact. CT scanning demonstrated partial calcification of the interspinous ligaments at L2–3, L3–4, and L4–5 with significant hypertrophy of the spinous processes at those levels. He did not have significant disc pathology, and his symptoms were attributed to the limited range of motion caused by the enlarged spinous processes. Partial resection of the spinous processes and calcified interspinous ligaments was performed to remove the heterotopic bone. The patient was seen in follow-up at 5 months postoperatively for imaging, and he was interviewed at 1 and 2 years postoperatively. He is doing well with significant pain relief and an improved range of motion. His Oswestry Disability Index improved from 25 preoperatively to 18 at 2 years postoperatively.

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George M. Ghobrial, Michael Y. Wang, Barth A. Green, Howard B. Levene, Glen Manzano, Steven Vanni, Robert M. Starke, George Jimsheleishvili, Kenneth M. Crandall, Marina Dididze and Allan D. Levi

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was to determine the efficacy of 2 common preoperative surgical skin antiseptic agents, ChloraPrep and Betadine, in the reduction of postoperative surgical site infection (SSI) in spinal surgery procedures.

METHODS

Two preoperative surgical skin antiseptic agents—ChloraPrep (2% chlorhexidine gluconate and 70% isopropyl alcohol) and Betadine (7.5% povidone-iodine solution)—were prospectively compared across 2 consecutive time periods for all consecutive adult neurosurgical spine patients. The primary end point was the incidence of SSI.

RESULTS

A total of 6959 consecutive spinal surgery patients were identified from July 1, 2011, through August 31, 2015, with 4495 (64.6%) and 2464 (35.4%) patients treated at facilities 1 and 2, respectively. Sixty-nine (0.992%) SSIs were observed. There was no significant difference in the incidence of infection between patients prepared with Betadine (33 [1.036%] of 3185) and those prepared with ChloraPrep (36 [0.954%] of 3774; p = 0.728). Neither was there a significant difference in the incidence of infection in the patients treated at facility 1 (52 [1.157%] of 4495) versus facility 2 (17 [0.690%] of 2464; p = 0.06). Among the patients with SSI, the most common indication was degenerative disease (48 [69.6%] of 69). Fifty-one (74%) patients with SSI had undergone instrumented fusions in the index operation, and 38 (55%) patients with SSI had undergone revision surgeries. The incidence of SSI for minimally invasive and open surgery was 0.226% (2 of 885 cases) and 1.103% (67 of 6074 cases), respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

The choice of either ChloraPrep or Betadine for preoperative skin antisepsis in spinal surgery had no significant impact on the incidence of postoperative SSI.

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Carlos M. Alvarez, Timur M. Urakov and Steven Vanni

Pseudomeningocele is a rare but well-known complication of lumbar spine surgery, which arises in 0.068%–0.1% of individuals in large series of patients undergoing laminectomy and in up to 2% of patients with postlaminectomy symptoms. In symptomatic pseudomeningoceles, surgical reexploration and repair of the dural defect are typically necessary. Whereas the goals of pseudomeningocele repair, which are extirpation of the pseudomeningocele cavity and elimination of extradural dead space, can typically be achieved by primary closure performed using nonabsorbable sutures, giant pseudomeningoceles (> 8 cm) can require more elaborate repair in which fibrin glues, dural substitute, myofascial flaps, or all of the above are used. The authors present 2 cases of postsurgical symptomatic giant pseudomeningoceles that were repaired using a fast-resorbing polymer mesh–supported reconstruction technique, which is described here for the first time.

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Lee Onn Chieng, Karthik Madhavan and Steven Vanni

OBJECT

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the most debilitating autoimmune diseases affecting the craniovertebral junction (CVJ). Patients predominantly present with myelopathic symptoms and intractable neck pain. The surgical approach traditionally has been either a combined anterior and posterior approach or a posterior-only approach. In this article, the authors review pooled data from the literature and discuss the benefits of the two types of approaches.

METHODS

A search of the PubMed database was conducted using key words that describe spine deformities in RA and specific spinal interventions. The authors evaluated the neurological outcomes based on the Ranawat scale in both the groups through chi-square analysis. Multiple logistic regression was carried out to further examine for potential confounders. Any adverse sequalae resulting from either approach were also documented. Because all the procedures performed via a transoral approach in the analyzed articles also involved posterior fixation, for convenience of comparison, the combined procedures are referred to as “anterior approach” or “anterior-posterior” in the present study.

RESULTS

The search yielded 233 articles, of which 11 described anterior approaches and 14 evaluated posterior approaches. The statistical analysis showed that patients treated with a posterior approach fared better than those treated with an anterior (combined) approach. It was noted that those patients in whom the cervical subluxations were reducible on traction predominantly underwent posterior approaches.

CONCLUSIONS

CVJ instability is a serious complication of RA that requires surgical intervention. Although the anterior-posterior combined approach can provide direct decompression, it is associated with morbidity, and the analysis showed no statistically significant benefit to patients. In contrast, the posterior approach has been shown to provide statistically significant superiority with respect to stabilization and subsequent pannus reduction. Surgical approaches are undertaken based on the reducibility of subluxations with traction and the vector of compressive force. However, the choice of surgical approach should be based on the individual patient's pathology.

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Karthik Madhavan, Steven Vanni and Seth K. Williams

Object

The medical management of discitis and osteomyelitis with long-term antibiotic therapy and bracing usually results in eradicated infection. Surgical management is appropriate when medical management fails and in some cases with pyogenic deformity or neurological deficit. The success of surgery depends on adequate debridement of the necrotic infected disc and vertebral body, along with anterior column reconstruction and vertebral stabilization. Debridement is typically performed via an anterior retroperitoneal approach, which can necessitate mobilization of the great vessels for proper exposure. Mobilization can be technically difficult and lead to vascular injury. The purpose of this study was to evaluate an alternative technique for the surgical treatment of lumbar discitis and osteomyelitis using a direct lateral retroperitoneal approach, which allows for thorough debridement and anterior column reconstruction while avoiding the need to mobilize the great vessels.

Methods

A retrospective chart analysis was performed for all patients who had presented with lumbar discitis and osteomyelitis and had undergone surgical management via the direct lateral retroperitoneal approach in the period from 2006 to 2013. Collected data included surgical blood loss, perioperative complications (wound infection, vascular injury, approach-related complications, and neurological injury), need for secondary procedures, microbiological and laboratory results, and efficacy of infection eradication. Imaging studies were reviewed as well.

Results

Ten patients, 7 male and 3 female, underwent this procedure at the authors' institution in the defined period. Average blood loss was 272 ml (range 150–800 ml, with 800 ml in the only 2-level case). There were no vascular injuries. Average follow-up was 680 days, although 4 patients did not complete the follow-up beyond 6 months. Eight patients underwent immediate posterior pedicle screw instrumentation. Two patients did not undergo posterior instrumentation, and one of these developed a kyphotic deformity that required a secondary posterior procedure. Infection was eradicated in all patients according to a history, physical examination, imaging studies, and laboratory parameters (complete blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and C-reactive protein). One patient developed a painful neuroma at the iliac crest harvest site, and one patient had a retroperitoneal hematoma. Otherwise, there were no approach-related neurological injuries or complications. Neither was there any postoperative surgical site infection.

Conclusions

The direct lateral approach for the surgical treatment of lumbar discitis and osteomyelitis allows for thorough debridement and spinal reconstruction without the need to mobilize the great vessels. This technique effectively eradicated infection in all cases, with reasonable blood loss and no vascular injuries. This approach should be considered as an alternative to the open anterior approach. The authors recommend posterior instrumentation to prevent the development of kyphosis.

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Joseph R. O'Brien and William D. Smith

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Kevin S. Cahill, Joseph L. Martinez, Michael Y. Wang, Steven Vanni and Allan D. Levi

Object

The aim of this study was to determine the incidence of motor nerve injuries during the minimally invasive lateral interbody fusion procedure at a single academic medical center.

Methods

A retrospective chart review of 118 patients who had undergone lateral interbody fusion was performed. Both inpatient and outpatient records were examined to identify any new postoperative motor weakness in the lower extremities and abdominal wall musculature that was attributable to the operative procedure.

Results

In the period from 2007 to 2011 the lateral interbody fusion procedure was attempted on 201 lumbar intervertebral disc levels. No femoral nerve injuries occurred at any disc level other than the L4–5 disc space. Among procedures involving the L4–5 level there were 2 femoral nerve injuries, corresponding to a 4.8% injury risk at this level as compared with a 0% injury risk at other lumbar spine levels. Five patients (4.2%) had postoperative abdominal flank bulge attributable to injury to the abdominal wall motor innervation.

Conclusions

The overall incidence of femoral nerve injury after the lateral transpsoas approach was 1.7%; however, the level-specific incidence was 4.8% for procedures performed at the L4–5 disc space. Approximately 4% of patients had postoperative abdominal flank bulge. Surgeons will be able to minimize these motor nerve injuries through judicious use of the procedure at the L4–5 level and careful attention to the T-11 and T-12 motor nerves during exposure and closure of the abdominal wall.