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Shiveindra B. Jeyamohan, Tyler J. Kenning, Karen A. Petronis, Paul J. Feustel, Doniel Drazin and Darryl J. DiRisio

OBJECT

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is an effective procedure for the treatment of cervical radiculopathy and/or myelopathy; however, postoperative dysphagia is a significant concern. Dexamethasone, although potentially protective against perioperative dysphagia and airway compromise, could inhibit fusion, a generally proinflammatory process. The authors conducted a prospective, randomized, double-blinded, controlled study of the effects of steroids on swallowing, the airway, and arthrodesis related to multilevel anterior cervical reconstruction in patients who were undergoing ACDF at Albany Medical Center between 2008 and 2012. The objective of this study was to determine if perioperative steroid use improves perioperative dysphagia and airway edema.

METHODS

A total of 112 patients were enrolled and randomly assigned to receive saline or dexamethasone. Data gathered included demographics, functional status (including modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association myelopathy score, neck disability index, 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey score, and patient-reported visual analog scale score of axial and radiating pain), functional outcome swallowing scale score, interval postoperative imaging, fusion status, and complications/reoperations. Follow-up was performed at 1, 3, 6, 12, and 24 months, and CT was performed 6, 12, and 24 months after surgery for fusion assessment.

RESULTS

Baseline demographics were not significantly different between the 2 groups, indicating adequate randomization. In terms of patient-reported functional and pain-related outcomes, there were no differences in the steroid and placebo groups. However, the severity of dysphagia in the postoperative period up to 1 month proved to be significantly lower in the steroid group than in the placebo group (p = 0.027). Furthermore, airway difficulty and a need for intubation trended toward significance in the placebo group (p = 0.057). Last, fusion rates at 6 months proved to be significantly lower in the steroid group but lost significance at 12 months (p = 0.048 and 0.57, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

Dexamethasone administered perioperatively significantly improved swallowing function and airway edema and shortened length of stay. It did not affect pain, functional outcomes, or long-term swallowing status. However, it significantly delayed fusion, but the long-term fusion rates remained unaffected.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT01065961 (clinicaltrials.gov)

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Dueng-Yuan Hueng and Che-Hung Yen

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Tyler J. Kenning, John C. Dalfino, John W. German, Doniel Drazin and Matthew A. Adamo

Object

The subdural evacuating port system (SEPS; Medtronic, Inc.) is a minimally invasive means of draining subacute or chronic subdural fluid collections. The purpose of this study was to examine a single institution's results with the SEPS.

Methods

A retrospective chart review was undertaken for all patients who underwent SEPS drainage of subdural collections. Demographic and radiographic characteristics were evaluated. Both pre- and post-SEPS CT studies were analyzed to determine the volume of subdural collection and midline shift. Hospital charts were reviewed for SEPS output, and periprocedural complications were noted. Results were classified as a success (S) or failure (F) based on the need for further subdural drainage procedures. Groups were then compared to identify factors predictive of success.

Results

Eighty-five subdural collections were treated in 74 patients (unilateral collections in 63 patients and bilateral in 11). Sixty-three collections (74%) were successfully drained. In a comparison of the success and failure groups, there were no statistically significant differences (p < 0.05) in the mean age pre-SEPS, Glasgow Coma Scale score, presenting symptoms, underlying coagulopathy or use of anticoagulation/antiplatelet agents, laterality of SDH, pre-SEPS subdural volume or midline shift, or any of the measurements used to characterize SEPS placement. There were a greater number of male patients in the success group (45 [82%] of 55 patients vs 11 [58%] of 19 patients; p = 0.04). The only statistically significant (p < 0.05) factor predictive of success was the radiographic appearance of the subdural collection. More hypodense collections were successfully treated (32 [51%] of 63 collections vs 4 [18%] of 22 collections; p = 0.005), whereas mixed density collections were more likely to fail SEPS treatment (S: 11 [17%] of 63 collections vs F: 14 [64%] of 22 collections; p < 0.00001). In the success group, the percentage of the collection drained after SEPS was greater (S: 47.1 ± 32.8% vs F: 19.8 ± 28.2%; p = 0.001) and a larger output was drained (S: 190.7 ± 221.5 ml vs F: 60.2 ± 63.3 ml; p = 0.001). In the patients with available but delayed scans (≥ 30 days since SEPS placement), the residual subdural collection following successful SEPS evacuation was nearly identical to that remaining after open surgical evacuation in the failure group. In 2 cases (2.4% of total devices used), SEPS placement caused a new acute subdural component, necessitating emergency evacuation in 1 patient.

Conclusions

The SEPS is a safe and effective treatment option for draining subacute and chronic SDHs. The system can be used quickly with local anesthesia only, making it ideal in elderly or sick patients who might not tolerate the physiological stress of a craniotomy under general anesthesia. Computed tomography is useful in predicting which subdural collections are most amenable to SEPS drainage. Specifically, hypodense subdural collections drain more effectively through an SEPS than do mixed density collections. Although significant bleeding after SEPS insertion was uncommon, 1 patient in the series required urgent surgical hematoma evacuation due to iatrogenic injury.