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Zach Pennington, Daniel Lubelski, Erick M. Westbroek, A. Karim Ahmed, Jeff Ehresman, Matthew L. Goodwin, Sheng-Fu Lo, Timothy F. Witham, Ali Bydon, Nicholas Theodore and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Postoperative C5 palsy affects 7%–12% of patients who undergo posterior cervical decompression for degenerative cervical spine pathologies. Minimal evidence exists regarding the natural history of expected recovery and variables that affect palsy recovery. The authors investigated pre- and postoperative variables that predict recovery and recovery time among patients with postoperative C5 palsy.

METHODS

The authors included patients who underwent posterior cervical decompression at a tertiary referral center between 2004 and 2018 and who experienced postoperative C5 palsy. All patients had preoperative MR images and full records, including operative note, postoperative course, and clinical presentation. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was used to evaluate both times to complete recovery and to new neurological baseline—defined by deltoid strength on manual motor testing of the affected side—as a function of clinical symptoms, surgical maneuvers, and the severity of postoperative deficits.

RESULTS

Seventy-seven patients were included, with an average age of 64 years. The mean follow-up period was 17.7 months. The mean postoperative C5 strength was grade 2.7/5, and the mean time to first motor examination with documented C5 palsy was 3.5 days. Sixteen patients (21%) had bilateral deficits, and 9 (12%) had new-onset biceps weakness; 36% of patients had undergone C4–5 foraminotomy of the affected root, and 17% had presented with radicular pain in the dermatome of the affected root. On univariable analysis, patients’ reporting of numbness or tingling (p = 0.02) and a baseline deficit (p < 0.001) were the only predictors of time to recovery. Patients with grade 4+/5 weakness had significantly shorter times to recovery than patients with grade 4/5 weakness (p = 0.001) or ≤ grade 3/5 weakness (p < 0.001). There was no difference between those with grade 4/5 weakness and those with ≤ grade 3/5 weakness. Patients with postoperative strength < grade 3/5 had a < 50% chance of achieving complete recovery.

CONCLUSIONS

The timing and odds of recovery following C5 palsy were best predicted by the magnitude of the postoperative deficit. The use of C4–5 foraminotomy did not predict the time to or likelihood of recovery.

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Corinna C. Zygourakis, A. Karim Ahmed, Samuel Kalb, Alex M. Zhu, Ali Bydon, Neil R. Crawford and Nicholas Theodore

The Excelsius GPS (Globus Medical, Inc.) was approved by the FDA in 2017. This novel robot allows for real-time intraoperative imaging, registration, and direct screw insertion through a rigid external arm—without the need for interspinous clamps or K-wires. The authors present one of the first operative cases utilizing the Excelsius GPS robotic system in spinal surgery. A 75-year-old man presented with severe lower back pain and left leg radiculopathy. He had previously undergone 3 decompressive surgeries from L3 to L5, with evidence of instability and loss of sagittal balance. Robotic assistance was utilized to perform a revision decompression with instrumented fusion from L3 to S1. The usage of robotic assistance in spinal surgery may be an invaluable resource in minimally invasive cases, minimizing the need for fluoroscopy, or in those with abnormal anatomical landmarks.

The video can be found here: https://youtu.be/yVI-sJWf9Iw.

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Hannah M. Carl, A. Karim Ahmed, Nancy Abu-Bonsrah, Rafael De la Garza Ramos, Eric W. Sankey, Zachary Pennington, Ali Bydon, Timothy F. Witham, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Justin M. Sacks, C. Rory Goodwin and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Resection of metastatic spine tumors can improve patients’ quality of life by addressing pain or neurological compromise. However, resections are often complicated by wound dehiscence, infection, instrumentation failures, and the need for reoperation. Moreover, when reoperations are needed, the most common indication is surgical site infection and wound breakdown. In turn, wound reoperations increase morbidity as well as the length and cost of hospitalization. The aim of this study was to examine perioperative risk factors associated with increased rate of wound reoperations after metastatic spine tumor resection.

METHODS

A retrospective study of patients at a single institution who underwent metastatic spine tumor resection between 2003 and 2013 was conducted. Factors with a p value < 0.200 in a univariate analysis were included in the multivariate model.

RESULTS

A total of 159 patients were included in this study. Karnofsky Performance Scale score > 70, smoking status, hypertension, thromboembolic events, hyperlipidemia, increasing number of vertebral levels, and posterior approach were included in the multivariate analysis. Thromboembolic events (95% CI 1.19–48.5, p = 0.032) and number of levels involved were independently associated with increased wound reoperation rates in the multivariate model. For each additional spinal level involved, the risk for wound reoperations increased by 21% (95% CI 1.03–1.43, p = 0.018).

CONCLUSIONS

Although wound complications and subsequent reoperations are potential risks for all patients with metastatic spine tumor, due to adjuvant radiotherapy and other medical comorbidities, this study identified patients with thromboembolic events or those requiring a larger incision as being at the highest risk. Measures intended to decrease the occurrence of perioperative venous thromboembolism and to improve wound care, especially for long incisions, may decrease wound-related revision surgeries in this vulnerable group of patients.