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Sanjay S. Dhall, Michael Y. Wang and Praveen V. Mummaneni

Object

As minimally invasive approaches gain popularity in spine surgery, clinical outcomes and effectiveness of mini–open transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) compared with traditional open TLIF have yet to be established. The authors retrospectively compared the outcomes of patients who underwent mini–open TLIF with those who underwent open TLIF.

Methods

Between 2003 and 2006, 42 patients underwent TLIF for degenerative disc disease or spondylolisthesis; 21 patients underwent mini–open TLIF and 21 patients underwent open TLIF. The mean age in each group was 53 years, and there was no statistically significant difference in age between the groups (p = 0.98). Data were collected perioperatively. In addition, complications, length of stay (LOS), fusion rate, and modified Prolo Scale (mPS) scores were recorded at routine intervals.

Results

No patient was lost to follow-up. The mean follow-up was 24 months for the mini-open group and 34 months for the open group. The mean estimated blood loss was 194 ml for the mini-open group and 505 ml for the open group (p < 0.01). The mean LOS was 3 days for the mini-open group and 5.5 days for the open group (p < 0.01). The mean mPS score improved from 11 to 19 in the mini-open group and from 10 to 18 in the open group; there was no statistically significant difference in mPS score improvement between the groups (p = 0.19). In the mini-open group there were 2 cases of transient L-5 sensory loss, 1 case of a misplaced screw that required revision, and 1 case of cage migration that required revision. In the open group there was 1 case of radiculitis as well as 1 case of a misplaced screw that required revision. One patient in the mini-open group developed a pseudarthrosis that required reoperation, and all patients in the open group exhibited fusion.

Conclusions

Mini–open TLIF is a viable alternative to traditional open TLIF with significantly reduced estimated blood loss and LOS. However, the authors found a higher incidence of hardware-associated complications with the mini–open TLIF.

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David M. Benglis Jr., James D. Guest and Michael Y. Wang

Minimally invasive approaches to the cervical spine for lateral disc herniation or foraminal stenosis have recently been described. Lower rates of blood loss, decreased narcotic dependence, and less tissue destruction as well as shorter hospital stays are all advantages of utilizing these techniques. These observations can also be realized with a minimal access approach to cervical laminoplasty. Multiple levels of the cervical spine can be treated from a posterior approach with the potential to decrease the incidences of postoperative axial neck pain and kyphotic deformity. In this report the authors present a concise history of the open laminoplasty technique, provide data from previous cadaveric studies (6 cases) along with recent clinical experience for minimally invasive laminoplasty, and describe the advantages and challenges of this novel procedure.

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Michael Y. Wang, Steven C. Ludwig, D. Greg Anderson and Praveen V. Mummaneni

Minimally invasive spinal instrumentation techniques have evolved tremendously over the past decade. Although there have been numerous reports of lumbar instrumentation performed via a percutaneous or minimal incisional route, to date there have been no reports of minimally invasive iliac screw placement.

A method was developed for accurate placement of minimally invasive iliac screw placement based on a modification of currently available percutaneous lumbar instrumentation techniques. The method involves fluoroscopically guided insertion of a cannula-based screw system, and this technique was successful applied to treat an L-5 burst fracture with L-4 to iliac spinal stabilization via a minimally invasive approach.

This report demonstrates the feasibility of percutaneous iliac screw instrumentation. However, future studies will be needed to validate the safety and efficacy of this approach.

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Paul Khoueir, Daniel J. Hoh and Michael Y. Wang

✓Cervical kyphosis in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) can be severely disabling. Surgical treatment of this disorder is technically demanding, however, with a considerable risk of neurological and vascular injuries. The extension osteotomy is a well-described posterior treatment for this condition, but this approach presents the risk of acute subluxation and spinal column translation during the reduction. In this paper, the authors report the novel use of a hinged posterior cervical rod for controlled correction of cervical kyphosis. After sustaining a traumatic spinal fracture, a 57-year-old man with AS developed a delayed cervical flexion deformity. The patient was neurologically intact, but suffered from disabling impairment in horizontal gaze and activities of daily living, and from neck pain. The patient subsequently underwent surgical correction via a posterior cervical extension osteotomy at C7–T1 with manual extension of the neck for osteoclastic reduction of the cervical kyphosis. Controlled correction was performed by using a hinged rod affixed to posterior cervical and thoracic screws, allowing for free sagittal correction while restricting translational forces. Once the desired angle of correction was achieved, the hinge connector was locked, transforming the rod into a rigid device for permanent internal fixation. The use of hinged rods in cervical kyphosis correction provides a controlled method for reduction at the osteotomy site, decreasing the risk of neurological injury.

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Michael Y. Wang and Paul Khoueir

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Daniel J. Hoh, Paul Khoueir and Michael Y. Wang

✓ Ankylosing spondylitis can lead to severe cervical kyphosis, causing problems with forward vision, swallowing, hygiene, patient functionality, and social outlook. Evaluation of patients with cervical flexion deformity includes assessment of global sagittal balance and chin–brow angle. The primary treatment in extreme disabling cases is surgical correction involving a posterior cervical extension osteotomy, which is a technically demanding procedure with considerable risk of neurological injury. To address the potential complications with extension osteotomy, the authors of several reports have described modifications to the surgical technique. These developments incorporate recent advances in anesthesia, neuromonitoring, and spinal instrumentation. Complications associated with the procedure include subluxation at the osteotomy level, spinal cord injury, radiculopathy, dysphagia, and pseudarthrosis. Although the risks of spinal correction are considerable, extension osteotomy remains an effective treatment modality for patients with disabling cervical flexion deformity.

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Alexander A. Khalessi, Bryan C. Oh and Michael Y. Wang

✓ In the following literature review the authors consider the available evidence for the medical management of patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS), and they critically assess current treatment guidelines. Medical therapy for axial disease in AS emphasizes improvement in patients' pain and overall function. First-line treatments include individualized physical therapy and nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in conjunction with gastroprotective therapy. After an adequate trial of therapy with two NSAIDs exceeding 3 months or limited by medication toxicity, the patient may undergo tumor necrosis factor–α blockade therapy. Response should occur within 6–12 weeks, and patients must undergo tuberculosis screening. Evidence does not currently support the use of disease modifying antirheumatic drugs, corticosteroids, or radiotherapy in AS.

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Adam S. Kanter, Michael Y. Wang and Praveen V. Mummaneni

Object

Patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) who present with cervical spine fractures represent a unique challenge to spine surgeons. These injuries often result in neurological deficits that necessitate early and aggressive surgical management with posterior and/or anterior fixation. The authors introduce a clinical problem-solving algorithm to assist in the surgical management of instability and deformity in this exigent patient population.

Methods

Thirteen patients with AS and fractures of the cervical spine were radiographically evaluated to determine if spinal realignment was obtainable with cervical manipulation or traction. Seven patients had flexible deformities that were stabilized with either anterior or posterior fixation only, and 6 patients had fixed deformities and required circumferential anterior–posterior instrumentation. All patients were observed for neurological outcome, radiographic evidence of bone fusion, and complications.

Results

With the use of the authors' treatment algorithm, all patients were able to achieve satisfactory spinal realignment and bone fusion; 92% of patients achieved postoperative stability or improvement in Nurick and modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association scale scores. One patient experienced neurological deterioration following surgery, and 1 patient died at an acute rehabilitative facility following discharge.

Conclusions

Patients with AS are highly susceptible to extensive neurological injury and spinal deformity after sustaining cervical fractures from even minor traumatic forces. These injuries are uniquely complex in nature and require considerable scrutiny and aggressive surgical management to optimize spinal stability and functional outcomes. The authors' clinical problem-solving algorithm will assist spine surgeons in providing optimal care in this difficult population.

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Paul Khoueir, K. Anthony Kim and Michael Y. Wang

✓Numerous new posterior dynamic stabilization (PDS) devices have been developed for the treatment of disorders of the lumbar spine. In this report the authors provide a classification scheme for these devices and describe several clinical situations in which the instrumentation may be expected to play a role. By using this classification, the PDSs that are now available and those developed in the future can be uniformly categorized.

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K. Anthony Kim, Matthew McDonald, Justin H. T. Pik, Paul Khoueir and Michael Y. Wang

Object

To assess the safety and efficacy of the DIAM implant, the authors compared the mean 12-month outcomes in patients who underwent lumbar surgery with DIAM placement and in those who underwent lumbar surgery only.

Methods

Of 62 patients who underwent simple lumbar surgery (laminectomy and/or microdiscectomy) in a 24-month period, 31 underwent concomitant surgical placement of a DIAM interspinous process spacer (33 devices total). Radiographic imaging, pain scores, and clinical assessments were obtained postoperatively to a mean of 12 months (range 8–25 months). Patients who did not undergo implantation of an interspinous process spacer (Group C) were compared with and stratified against patients who underwent placement of a DIAM implant (Group D).

In Group D, no statistically significant differences were noted in anterior or posterior disc height when comparing patients pre- and postoperatively. Compared with Group C, a relative kyphosis of less than 2° was noted on postoperative images obtained in Group D. No statistically significant differences in visual analog scale (VAS) pain scores or MacNab outcomes were noted between Groups C and D at a mean of 12 months of follow up. Complications in Group D included three intraoperative spinous process fractures and one infection.

Conclusions

After simple lumbar surgery, the placement of a DIAM interspinous process spacer did not alter disc height or sagittal alignment at the mean 12-month follow-up interval. No adverse local or systemic reaction to the DIAM was noted. No difference in VAS or MacNab outcome scores was noted between the groups treated with or without the DIAM implants, particularly when the DIAM was used to alleviate low-back pain.