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Jian Guan, Vijay M. Ravindra, Meic H. Schmidt, Andrew T. Dailey, Robert S. Hood and Erica F. Bisson


Recurrent lumbar disc herniation (RLDH) is a significant cause of morbidity in patients undergoing lumbar discectomy and has been reported to occur in up to 18% of cases. While repeat discectomy is often successful in treating these patients, concern over repeat RLDH may lead surgeons to advocate instrumented fusion even in the absence of instability. The authors' goal was to compare clinical outcomes for patients undergoing repeat discectomy versus instrumented fusion for RLDH.


The authors used the National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database (N2QOD) to assess outcomes of patients who underwent repeat discectomy versus instrumented fusion at a single institution from 2012 to 2015. Primary outcomes included Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score, visual analog scale (VAS) score, and quality-adjusted life year (QALY) measures. Secondary outcomes included hospital length of stay, discharge status, and hospital charges.


The authors identified 25 repeat discectomy and 12 instrumented fusion patients with 3- and 12-month follow-up records. The groups had similar ODI and VAS scores and QALY measurements at 3 and 12 months. Patients in the instrumented fusion group had significantly longer hospitalizations (3.7 days vs 1.0 days, p < 0.001) and operative times (229.6 minutes vs 82.7 minutes, p < 0.001). They were also more likely to be female (p = 0.020) and to be discharged to inpatient rehabilitation instead of home (p = 0.036). Hospital charges for the instrumented fusion group were also significantly higher ($54,458.29 vs $11,567.05, p < 0.001). Rates of reoperation were higher in the repeat discectomy group (12% vs 0%), but the difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.211).


Repeat discectomy and instrumented fusion result in similar clinical outcomes at short-term follow-up. Patients undergoing repeat discectomy had significantly shorter operative times and length of stay, and they incurred dramatically lower hospital charges. They were also less likely to require acute rehabilitation postoperatively. Further research is needed to compare these two management strategies.

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Jakub Godzik, Vijay M. Ravindra, Wilson Z. Ray, Meic H. Schmidt, Erica F. Bisson and Andrew T. Dailey


The authors’ objectives were to compare the rate of fusion after occipitoatlantoaxial arthrodesis using structural allograft with the fusion rate from using autograft, to evaluate correction of radiographic parameters, and to describe symptom relief with each graft technique.


The authors assessed radiological fusion at 6 and 12 months after surgery and obtained radiographic measurements of C1–2 and C2–7 lordotic angles, C2–7 sagittal vertical alignments, and posterior occipitocervical angles at preoperative, postoperative, and final follow-up examinations. Demographic data, intraoperative details, adverse events, and functional outcomes were collected from hospitalization records. Radiological fusion was defined as the presence of bone trabeculation and no movement between the graft and the occiput or C-2 on routine flexion-extension cervical radiographs. Radiographic measurements were obtained from lateral standing radiographs with patients in the neutral position.


At the University of Utah, 28 adult patients underwent occipitoatlantoaxial arthrodesis between 2003 and 2010 using bicortical allograft, and 11 patients were treated using iliac crest autograft. Mean follow-up for all patients was 20 months (range 1–108 months). Of the 27 patients with a minimum of 12 months of follow-up, 18 (95%) of 19 in the allograft group and 8 (100%) of 8 in the autograft group demonstrated evidence of bony fusion shown by imaging. Patients in both groups demonstrated minimal deterioration of sagittal vertical alignment at final follow-up. Operative times were comparable, but patients undergoing occipitocervical fusion with autograft demonstrated greater blood loss (316 ml vs 195 ml). One (9%) of 11 patients suffered a significant complication related to autograft harvesting.


The use of allograft in occipitocervical fusion allows a high rate of successful arthrodesis yet avoids the potentially significant morbidity and pain associated with autograft harvesting. The safety and effectiveness profile is comparable with previously published rates for posterior C1–2 fusion using allograft.

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Wilson Z. Ray, Vijay M. Ravindra, Gregory F. Jost, Erica F. Bisson and Meic H. Schmidt

As health care reform continues to evolve, demonstrating the cost effectiveness of spinal fusion procedures will be of critical value. Posterior subaxial cervical fusion with lateral mass screw and rod instrumentation is a well-established fixation technique. Subaxial transarticular facet fixation is a lesser known fusion technique that has been shown to be biomechanically equivalent to lateral mass screws for short constructs. Although there has not been a widespread adoption of transarticular facet screws, the screws potentially represent a cost-effective alternative to lateral mass rod and screw constructs. In this review, the authors describe an institutional experience with the use of lateral mass screws and provide a theoretical cost comparison with the use of transarticular facet screws.