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Darryl Lau, Dominic H. Moon, Paul Park, Shawn Hervey-Jumper, Paul E. McKeever and Daniel A. Orringer

Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) are rare, affecting only a small portion of the general population. In many cases, MPNSTs occur in association with neurofibromatosis Type 1 and at times arise secondary to previous radiation therapy (RT). These tumors can be found essentially anywhere a peripheral nerve is present, but they rarely originate primarily from the spinal nerve or cauda equina and cause leptomeningeal spread. This report describes the treatment course of a 43-year-old man with a history of testicular seminoma treated with RT a decade before, who was found to have a large sacral MPNST. The patient underwent complete sacrectomy for gross-total resection. Despite this effort, he was eventually found to have metastatic lesions throughout the spine and brain, ultimately resulting in acute hydrocephalus and death. Biopsy results of these metastatic lesions proved to be characteristic of his original MPNST. The literature is also reviewed and the diagnostic modalities, management strategies, and prognosis of MPNST are discussed.

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Samuel W. Terman, Timothy J. Yee, Darryl Lau, Adam A. Khan, Frank La Marca and Paul Park

Object

Minimally invasive (MI) transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) has been demonstrated in previous studies to offer improvement in pain and function comparable to those provided by the open surgical approach. However, comparative studies in the obese population are scarce, and it is possible that obese patients may respond differently to these two approaches. In this study, the authors compared the clinical benefit of open and MI TLIF in obese patients.

Methods

The authors conducted a retrospective cohort study based on review of electronic medical records at a single institution. Eligible patients had a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 30 kg/m2, were ≥ 18 years of age, underwent single-level TLIF between 2007 and 2011, and outcome was assessed at a minimum 6 months postoperatively. The authors categorized patients according to surgical approach (open vs MI TLIF). Outcome measures included postoperative improvement in visual analog scale (VAS), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), estimated blood loss (EBL), and hospital length of stay (LOS).

Results

A total 74 patients (21 open and 53 MI TLIF) were studied. Groups had similar baseline characteristics. The median BMI was 34.4 kg/m2 (interquartile range 31.6–37.5 kg/m2). The mean follow-up time was 30 months (range 6.5–77 months). The mean improvement in VAS score was 2.8 (95% CI 1.9–3.8) for the open group (n = 21) and 2.4 (95% CI 1.8–3.1) for the MI group (n = 53), which did not significantly differ (unadjusted, p = 0.49; adjusted, p = 0.51). The mean improvement in ODI scores was 13 (95% CI 3–23) for the open group (n = 14) and 15 (95% CI 8–22) for the MI group (n = 45), with no significant difference according to approach (unadjusted, p = 0.82; adjusted, p = 0.68). After stratifying by BMI (< 35 kg/m2 and ≥ 35 kg/m2), there was still no difference in either VAS or ODI improvement between the approaches (both unadjusted and adjusted, p > 0.05). Complications and EBL were greater for the open group than for the MI group (p < 0.05).

Conclusions

Obese patients experienced clinically and statistically significant improvement in both pain and function after undergoing either open or MI TLIF. Patients achieved similar clinical benefit whether they underwent an open or MI approach. However, patients in the MI group experienced significantly decreased operative blood loss and complications than their counterparts in the open group.

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Darryl Lau, Adam Khan, Samuel W. Terman, Timothy Yee, Frank La Marca and Paul Park

Object

Minimally invasive (MI) transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) has proven to be effective in the treatment of spondylolisthesis and degenerative disc disease (DDD). Compared with the traditional open TLIF, the MI procedure has been associated with less blood loss, less postoperative pain, and a shorter hospital stay. However, it is uncertain whether the advantages of an MI TLIF also apply specifically to obese patients. This study was dedicated to evaluating whether obese patients reap the perioperative benefits similar to those seen in patients with normal body mass index (BMI) when undergoing MI TLIF.

Methods

Obese patients—that is, those with a BMI of at least 30 kg/m2—who had undergone single-level TLIF were retrospectively identified and categorized according to BMI: Class I obesity, BMI 30.0–34.9 kg/m2; Class II obesity, BMI 35.0–39.9 kg/m2; or Class III obesity, BMI ≥ 40.0 kg/m2. In each obesity class, patients were stratified by TLIF approach, that is, open versus MI. Perioperative outcomes, including intraoperative estimated blood loss (EBL), complications (overall, intraoperative, and 30-day postoperative), and hospital length of stay (LOS), were compared. The chi-square test, Fisher exact test, or 2-tailed Student t-test were used when appropriate.

Results

One hundred twenty-seven patients were included in the final analysis; 49 underwent open TLIF and 78 underwent MI TLIF. Sixty-one patients had Class I obesity (23 open and 38 MI TLIF); 45 patients, Class II (19 open and 26 MI); and 21 patients, Class III (7 open and 14 MI). Overall, mean EBL was 397.2 ml and mean hospital LOS was 3.7 days. Minimally invasive TLIF was associated with significantly less EBL and a shorter hospital stay than open TLIF when all patients were evaluated as a single cohort and within individual obesity classes. Overall, the complication rate was 18.1%. Minimally invasive TLIF was associated with a significantly lower total complication rate (11.5% MI vs 28.6% open) and intraoperative complication rate (3.8% MI vs 16.3% open) as compared with open TLIF. When stratified by obesity class, MI TLIF was still associated with lower rates of total and intraoperative complications. This effect was most profound and statistically significant in patients with Class III obesity (42.9% open vs 7.1% MI).

Conclusions

Minimally invasive TLIF offers obese patients perioperative benefits similar to those seen in patients with normal BMI who undergo the same procedure. These benefits include less EBL, a shorter hospital stay, and potentially fewer complications compared with open TLIF. Additional large retrospective studies and randomized prospective studies are needed to verify these findings.

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Darryl Lau, Samuel W. Terman, Rakesh Patel, Frank La Marca and Paul Park

Object

A reported risk factor for adjacent-segment disease is injury to the superior facet joint from pedicle screw placement. Given that the facet joint is not typically visualized during percutaneous pedicle screw insertion, there is a concern for increased facet violation (FV) in minimally invasive fusion procedures. The purpose of this study was to analyze and compare the incidence of FV among patients undergoing minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MITLIF) and open transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF). The impact of O-arm navigation compared with traditional fluoroscopy on FV in MITLIF is also assessed, as are risk factors for FV.

Methods

The authors identified a consecutive population of patients who underwent MITLIF with percutaneous pedicle screw placement, as well as a matched cohort of patients who underwent open TLIF. Postoperative CT imaging was assessed to determine intraarticular FV due to pedicle screw placement. Patients were stratified into minimally invasive and open TLIF groups. Within the MITLIF group, the authors performed a subanalysis of image guidance methods used in cases of FV. Two-tailed Student t-test, ANOVA, chi-square testing, and logistic regression were used for statistical analysis.

Results

A total of 282 patients were identified, with a total of 564 superior pedicle screw placements. The MITLIF group consisted of 142 patients with 284 screw insertions. The open TLIF group consisted of 140 patients with 280 screw insertions. Overall, 21 (7.4%) of 282 patients experienced FV. A total of 21 screws violated a facet joint for a screw-based FV rate of 3.7% (21 of 564 screws). There were no significant differences between the MITLIF and open TLIF groups in the percentage of patients with FV (6.3% vs 8.6%) and or the percentage of screws with FV (3.2% vs 4.3%) (p = 0.475 and p = 0.484, respectively). Further stratifying the MI group into O-arm navigation and fluoroscopic guidance subgroups, the patient-based rates of FV were 10.8% (4 of 37 patients) and 4.8% (5 of 105 patients), respectively, and the screw-based rates of FV were 5.4% (4 of 74 screws) and 2.4% (5 of 210 screws), respectively. There was no significant difference between the subgroups with respect to patient-based or screw-based FV rates (p = 0.375 and p = 0.442, respectively). The O-arm group had a significantly higher body mass index (BMI) (p = 0.021). BMI greater than 29.9 was independently associated with higher FV (OR 2.36, 95% CI 1.65–8.53, p = 0.039).

Conclusions

The findings suggest that minimally invasive pedicle screw placement is not associated with higher rates of FV. Overall violation rates were similar in MITLIF and open TLIF. Higher BMI, however, was a risk factor for increased FV. The use of O-arm fluoroscopy with computer-assisted guidance did not significantly decrease the rate of FV.

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Darryl Lau, Matthew R. Leach, Frank La Marca and Paul Park

Object

Surgery for spinal metastasis is considered palliative, and postoperative survival is often less than a year. Recurrence of metastatic lesions is quite common, and it remains unclear whether repeat surgery is effective. In this study, the authors assessed independent predictors for survival at 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years after surgery, and examined whether repeat surgery for recurrence of spinal metastasis influenced survival rates.

Methods

Retrospective review of the electronic medical records was performed to identify a consecutive population of adult patients who underwent surgery for spinal metastasis during the period 2005–2011. Utilizing a Cox proportional hazard regression model, the authors assessed independent predictors and risk factors for survival at 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years after surgery. In addition, the impact of repeat surgery on survival was specifically assessed via multivariable analysis.

Results

A total of 99 patients were included in the final analysis. The overall mean postoperative duration of survival was 9.6 months. In addition to previously identified predictors of survival (preoperative ambulation, Karnofsky Performance Status [KPS], radiotherapy, primary cancer type, presence of extraspinal metastasis, and number of spinal segments with metastasis), pain on presentation and body mass index (BMI) of 25–30 were both independently associated with survival. Patients with recurrence who underwent repeat surgery had longer mean survival times than patients with recurrence who did not undergo repeat surgery (19.6 months vs 12.8 months, respectively). Repeat surgery was also independently associated with higher survival rates on multivariate analysis. Follow-up KPS was significantly higher in patients who underwent repeat surgery as well.

Conclusions

In addition to confirming previously identified predictors of survival following surgery for spinal metastasis, the authors identified BMI and pain on presentation as independent predictors of survival. They also found that repeat surgery may be a viable option in patients with metastatic recurrence and may offer prolonged survival, likely due to improved functionality, mitigating complications associated with immobility.

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John E. Ziewacz, Darryl Lau, Frank La Marca and Paul Park

Object

Leiomyosarcoma is a smooth-muscle sarcoma that rarely metastasizes to the spine. Its clinical course is variable, although patients with metastatic leiomyosarcoma can experience prolonged survival as compared with patients with more aggressive metastatic tumors. The authors report their single-institution experience in the surgical treatment of patients with leiomyosarcoma metastatic to the spine.

Methods

A retrospective review of the electronic medical records was performed to obtain details on clinical management and outcomes for patients who had undergone surgical intervention for metastatic leiomyosarcoma of the spine. The few articles available in the current literature on this topic were also analyzed.

Results

Eight patients with metastatic leiomyosarcoma of the spine underwent surgical management between 2005 and 2011. Six patients (75%) had improvement in their Nurick grade. Patients who had presented with pain as a primary symptom experienced significant relief. Five patients (63%) had lesion recurrence, and 4 underwent repeat surgery at a mean of 10.2 months after their initial surgery. The mean duration of survival was 11.7 months (range 3.3–23.0 months).

Conclusions

Leiomyosarcoma rarely metastasizes to the spine. However, surgical intervention can relieve pain and improve neurological function. Given the potential for prolonged survival, aggressive management should be considered in well-selected patients.