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Matthew J. McGirt, Frank J. Attenello, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Jean-Paul Wolinsky

✓ Pediatric basilar invagination and cranial settling have traditionally been approached through a transoral–transpharyngeal route with or without extended maxillotomy or mandibulotomy for resection of the anterior portion of C-1 and the odontoid. The authors hypothesize that application of a recently described endoscopic transcervical odontoidectomy (ETO) technique would allow an alternative approach for the treatment of ventral pathological entities at the craniocervical junction in pediatric patients.

The authors performed ETO in a consecutive series of pediatric patients presenting with myelopathy or bulbar dysfunction resulting from basilar invagination or cranial settling. All clinical, radiographic, surgical, and follow-up data were prospectively collected. The initial experience with ETO in the pediatric population is analyzed and outcomes are reported. Three patients required ETO for basilar invagination and 1 required ETO with anterior C-1 arch and distal clivus resection for cranial settling. All patients presented with myelopathy. One patient was wheelchair bound with severe quadriparesis. The mean age was 14 ± 3 years (mean ± standard deviation [SD]) in the 2 male and 2 female patients. The ETO and posterior fusion were performed as a 2-stage procedure in 2 (50%) and as a single-stage procedure in 2 (50%) cases. Prolonged intubation or postoperative placement of a gastrostomy tube was not needed in any case. The postoperative hospitalization lasted 9 ± 4 days (mean ± SD). At last follow-up (mean 5 months), head and neck pain had resolved and motor strength had improved or stabilized in all cases. All 4 children were independently functioning and ambulatory at the last follow-up.

In the authors' initial experience, ETO has allowed ventral brainstem decompression without the need for prolonged intubation, worsening dysphagia requiring enteral tube feeding, or prolonged hospitalization, and has resulted in cosmetically appealing results. The ETO technique allows an alternative approach for the treatment of ventral pathological entities at the craniocervical junction in pediatric patients.

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Carlos A. Bagley, Markus J. Bookland, Jonathan A. Pindrik, Tolga Ozmen, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Jean-Paul Wolinsky and Timothy F. Witham

Object

Spinal column metastatic disease affects thousands of cancer patients every year. Radiation therapy frequently represents the primary treatment for this condition. Despite the enormous clinical impact of spinal column metastatic disease, the literature currently lacks an accurate animal model for testing the efficacy of irradiation on spinal column metastases.

Methods

After anesthesia was induced, female Fischer 344 rats underwent a transabdominal approach to the ventral vertebral body (VB) of L-6. A 2- to 3-mm-diameter bur hole was drilled for the implantation of a section of CRL-1666 breast adenocarcinoma. After the animals had recovered from the surgery, they underwent fractionated, single-port radiotherapy beginning on postoperative Day 7. Each group of animals underwent five daily fractions of radiation treatment. Group I animals received a total dose of 10 Gy in 200-cGy daily fractions, Group II animals received a total dose of 20 Gy in 400-cGy daily fractions, and Group III animals received a total dose of 30 Gy in 600-cGy daily fractions. A control group of rats with implanted VB lesions did not receive radiation. To test the effects of radiation toxicity alone, additional rats without implanted tumors received radiation treatments in the same fractions as the rats with tumors. Hindlimb function in all rats was rated before and after radiation treatment using the Basso-Beattie-Bresnahan locomotor rating scale. Histological analysis of spinal cord and vertebral column sections was performed after each animal's death.

Results

Functional assessments demonstrated a statistically significant delay in the onset of paresis between the three treatment groups and the control group (tumor implanted but no radiotherapy). The rats in the three treatment groups, however, did not exhibit any significant differences related to hindlimb function. A dose-dependent relationship was found for the percentage of animals who had become paralyzed at the time of death, with all members of the control group and no members of the 30-Gy group exhibiting paralysis. The results of this study do not indicate any overall survival benefit for any level of radiation dose.

Conclusions

These findings demonstrate the efficacy of focal spinal irradiation in delaying the onset of paralysis in a rat metastatic spine tumor model, but without a clear survival benefit. Because of the dose-related toxicity observed in the rats treated with 30 Gy, this effect was most profound for the 20-Gy group. This finding parallels the observed clinical course of spinal column metastatic disease in humans and provides a basis for the future comparison of novel local and systemic treatments to augment the observed effects of focal irradiation.

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Gary L. Gallia, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ali Bydon, Ian Suk, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Timothy F. Witham

✓The authors describe a technique for total L-5 spondylectomy and reconstruction of the lumbosacral junction. The technique, which involves separately staged posterior and anterior procedures, is reported in two patients harboring neoplasms that involved the L-5 level. The first stage consisted of a posterior approach with removal of all posterior bone elements of L-5 and radical L4–5 and L5–S1 discectomies. Lumbosacral and lumbopelvic instrumentation included pedicle screws as well as iliac screws or a transiliac rod. The second stage consisted of an anterior approach with mobilization of vascular structures, completion of L4–5 and L5–S1 discectomies, and removal of the L-5 vertebral body. Anterior lumbosacral reconstruction included placement of a distractable cage and tension band between L-4 and S-1. Allograft bone was used for fusion in both stages. No significant complications were encountered. At more than 1 year of follow-up, both patients were independently ambulatory, without evidence of recurrent or metastatic disease, and adequate lumbosacral alignment was maintained. The authors conclude that this technique can be safely performed in appropriately selected patients with neoplasms involving L-5.

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Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ian Suk and Ziya L. Gokaslan

✓Symptomatic irreducible basilar invagination has traditionally been approached through a transoral–transpharyngeal route with resection of the anterior portion of C-1 and the odontoid. Modification of this exposure with either a Le Fort osteotomy or a transmandibular osteotomy and circumglossal approach has increased the access to pathological conditions in this region. These traditional routes all require traversing the oral cavity and accepting the associated potential complications. The authors have developed a novel surgical approach, an endoscopic transcervical odontoidectomy, which allows access for resection of the odontoid and for brainstem and spinal cord decompression without traversing the oral cavity. In this paper they describe the technique and its advantages and present three cases in which patients underwent the endoscopic transcervical odontoidectomy for basilar invagination.

Three consecutive patients (age range 42–74 years) who had irreducible basilar invagination underwent the endoscopic transcervical odontoidectomy. All were symptomatic and had neck pain and myelopathy. All were evaluated preoperatively and postoperatively with computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. In all cases the procedure resulted in complete decompression. There were no serious complications. No patient required prolonged intubation, tracheostomy, or enteral tube feeding. One patient had an intraoperative cerebrospinal fluid leak, which had no postoperative sequelae.

The authors present an alternative surgical approach for treating ventral compression of the brainstem and spinal cord. The technique is safe and effective for decompression and provides a surgical route that can be added to the armamentarium of treatments for pathological conditions in this region.

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Ryan M. Kretzer, Daniel M. Sciubba, Carlos A. Bagley, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Ira M. Garonzik

Object

The use of pedicle screws (PSs) for instrument-assisted fusion in the cervical and thoracic spine has increased in recent years, allowing smaller constructs with improved biomechanical stability and repositioning possibilities. In the smaller pedicles of the upper thoracic spine, the placement of PSs can be challenging and may increase the risk of damage to neural structures. As an alternative to PSs, translaminar screws can provide spinal stability, and they may be used when pedicular anatomy precludes successful placement of PSs. The authors describe the technique of translaminar screw placement in the T-1 and T-2 vertebrae.

Methods

Seven patients underwent cervicothoracic fusion to treat trauma, neoplasm, or degenerative disease. Nineteen translaminar screws were placed, 13 at T-1 and six at T-2. A single asymptomatic T-2 screw violated the ventral laminar cortex and was removed.

The mean clinical and radiographic follow up exceeded 14 months, at which time there were no cases of screw pull-out, screw fracture, or progressive kyphotic deformity.

Conclusions

Rigid fixation with translaminar screws offers an attractive alternative to PS fixation, allowing the creation of sound spinal constructs and minimizing potential neurological morbidity. Their use requires intact posterior elements, and care should be taken to avoid violation of the ventral laminar wall.

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Daniel M. Sciubba, Gaurav G. Mavinkurve, Philippe Gailloud, Ira M. Garonzik, Pablo F. Recinos, Matthew J. McGirt, Graeme F. Woodworth, Timothy Witham, Yevgeniv Khavkin, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Jean-Paul Wolinsky

✓ Angiography is often performed to identify the vascular supply of hemangioblastomas prior to resection. Conventional two-dimensional (2D) digital subtraction (DS) angiography and three-dimensional (3D) DS angiography provides high-resolution images of the vascular structures associated with these lesions. However, such 3D DS angiography often does not provide reliable anatomical information about nearby osseous structures, or when it does, resolution of vascular anatomy in the immediate vicinity of bone is sacrificed. A novel angiographic reconstruction algorithm was recently developed at The Johns Hopkins University to overcome these inadequacies. By combining two separate sequences of images of bone and blood vessels in a single 3D representation, 3D fusion DS (FDS) angiography provides precise topographic information about vascular lesions in relation to the osseous environment, without a loss of resolution.

In this paper, the authors present the cases of two patients with cervical spine hemangioblastomas who underwent preoperative evaluation with FDS angiography and then successful gross-total resection of their tumors. In both cases, FDS angiography provided high-resolution 3D images of the hemangioblastoma anatomy, including each tumor’s topographic relationship with adjacent osseous structures and the location and size of feeding arteries and draining veins. These cases provide evidence that FDS angiography represents a useful adjunct to magnetic resonance imaging and 2D DS angiography in the preoperative evaluation and surgical planning of patients with vascular lesions in an osseous environment, such as hemangioblastomas in the spinal cord.

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Ying Guo, J. Lynn Palmer, Loren Shen, Guddi Kaur, Jie Willey, Tao Zhang, Eduardo Bruera, Jean-Paul Wolinsky and Ziya L. Gokaslan

Object

Total or partial sacrectomy is a rare procedure in patients with locally invasive tumors involving the sacrum; it may be associated with functional loss, such as bowel and bladder dysfunction and gait abnormality. In this study the authors examined functional outcome following sacrectomy.

Methods

The authors reviewed the charts of 50 consecutive patients who had undergone sacrectomy between July 1993 and August 2002. There were 23 male and 27 female patients whose mean age was 46 years (range 13–86 years). Twelve patients with rectal cancer underwent a separate analysis. The patients without rectal cancer were divided into two groups: those who had undergone colostomy for bowel diversion (Group 1, six cases), and those who had not (Group 2, 32 cases).

In Group 1 patients the median hospital length of stay (LOS) was 48.5 days (the 25th% and 75th percentiles are 26 and 58, respectively), and in Group 2 patients the median LOS was 18.5 days (the 25th and 75th percentiles are 8 and 41, respectively; p = 0.14). In Group 2 (non—rectal cancer without colostomy), LOS was greater in patients in whom a myocutaneous flap was used compared with those in whom no flap was used (36 days compared with 8.5 days, respectively; p = 0.0012); in patients with bowel incontinence the median LOS was significantly longer than that in patients with bowel continence (39 days compared with 8 days, respectively; p = 0.0026). The incidence of bowel incontinence in Group 2 was closely related to the integrity of the S-3 nerve root (p = 0.05).

Conclusions

Awareness of the association between S-3 nerve root resection and bowel and bladder incontinence may help surgeons' decision-making process.

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Daryl R. Fourney, Laurence D. Rhines, Stephen J. Hentschel, John M. Skibber, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Kristin L. Weber, Dima Suki, Gary L. Gallia, Ira Garonzik and Ziya L. Gokaslan

Object

En bloc resection with adequate margins is associated with the highest probability of long-term tumor control or cure in most cases of primary sacral malignancies. The authors present their experience with a systematic approach to these lesions. They provide a novel classification of surgical techniques based on the level of nerve root sacrifice and evaluate the functional and oncological outcomes.

Methods

Seventy-eight consecutive patients underwent 94 resections of sacral neoplasms at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston between August 1993 and June 2002. The records of 29 consecutive patients who underwent en bloc resection of primary sacral tumors were retrospectively reviewed. The median follow-up period was 55 months (range 1–103 months). Chordoma was the most frequent tumor type (16 cases). Midline sacral amputation was performed in 25 patients (eight low, four middle, seven high, and five total sacrectomies; one hemicorporectomy). Lateral sacrectomy was undertaken in four patients (two unilateral excisions of the sacroiliac joint and two hemisacrectomies). The surgical margins were wide in 19 cases, marginal in nine, and contaminated in one. The type of sacrectomy correlated with characteristic outcomes with respect to bladder, bowel, and ambulatory functions. Duration of hospital stay was related to the extent of sacrectomy (p = 0.003, Wilcoxon signed-rank test). The median Kaplan—Meier disease-free survival for patients with chordoma was 68 months (95% confidence interval 46–90 months).

Conclusions

Classification of en bloc sacral resection techniques by the level of nerve root transection is useful in predicting postoperative function and the potential for morbidity. Adequate surgical margins should not be compromised to preserve function when they are necessary to affect tumor control.

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Paul J. Holman, Dima Suki, Ian McCutcheon, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Laurence D. Rhines and Ziya L. Gokaslan

Object. The surgical treatment of metastatic spinal tumors is an essential component of the comprehensive care of cancer patients. In most large series investigators have focused on the treatment of thoracic lesions because 70% of cases involve this region. The lumbar spine is less frequently involved (20% cases), and it is unclear whether its unique anatomical and biomechanical features affect surgery-related outcomes. The authors present a retrospective study of a large series of patients with lumbar metastatic lesions, assessing neurological and pain outcomes, complications, and survival.

Methods. The authors retrospectively reviewed data obtained in 139 patients who underwent 166 surgical procedures for lumbar metastatic disease between August 1994 and April 2001. The impact of operative approach on outcomes was also analyzed.

Among the wide variety of metastatic lesions, pain was the most common presenting symptom (96%), including local pain, radicular pain, and axial pain due to instability. Patients underwent anterior, posterior, and combined approaches depending on the anatomical distribution of disease. One month after surgery, complete or partial improvement in pain was demonstrated in 94% of the cases. The median survival duration for the entire population was 14.8 months.

Conclusions. The surgical treatment of metastatic lesions in the lumbar spine improved neurological and ambulatory function, significantly reducing axial spinal pain; results were comparable with those for other spinal regions. Analysis of results obtained in the present study suggests that outcomes are similar when the operative approach mirrors the anatomical distribution of disease. When lumbar vertebrectomy is necessary, however, anterior approaches minimize blood loss and wound-related complications.