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  • By Author: Luerssen, Thomas G. x
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Steven W. Hwang, Loyola V. Gressot, Leonardo Rangel-Castilla, William E. Whitehead, Daniel J. Curry, Robert J. Bollo, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

Object

The most common cause of cervical spine arthrodesis in the pediatric population is instability related to congenital or traumatic pathology. Instrumenting the cervical spine can be challenging given smaller anatomical structures, less ossified bone, and future growth potential and development. Studies in adult patients have suggested that using screw constructs results in improved outcomes with lower rates of instrumentation failure. However, the pediatric literature is limited to small retrospective series. Based on a review of the literature and their own patient series, the authors report that instrumenting the pediatric cervical spine with screw constructs may be safer and more effective than using wiring techniques.

Methods

The authors reviewed the existing pediatric cervical spine arthrodesis literature and contributed 31 of their own cases from September 1, 2007, to January 1, 2011. They reviewed 204 abstracts from January 1, 1966, to December 31, 2010, and 80 manuscripts with 883 total patients were included in the review. They recorded demographic, radiographic, and outcomes data—as well as surgical details—with a focus on fusion rates and complications.

Patients were then grouped into categories based upon the procedure performed: 1) patients who underwent fusions bridging the occipitocervical junction and 2) patients who underwent fusion of the cervical spine that did not include the occiput, thus including atlantoaxial and subaxial fusions. Patients were further subdivided according to the type of instrumentation used—some had posterior cervical fusion with wiring (with or without rod implantation); others had posterior cervical fusion with screws.

Results

The entire series comprised 914 patients with a mean age of 8.30 years. Congenital abnormalities were encountered most often (in 55% of cases), and patients had a mean follow-up of 32.5 months. From the entire cohort, 242 patients (26%) experienced postsurgical complications, and 50 patients (5%) had multiple complications. The overall fusion rate was 94.4%.

For occipitocervical fusions (N = 285), both screw and wiring groups had very high fusion rates (99% and 95%, respectively, p = 0.08). However, wiring was associated with a higher complication rate. From a sample of 252 patients, 14% of those treated with screw instrumentation had complications, compared with 50% of patients treated with wiring (p < 0.05).

In cervical fusions not involving the occipitocervical junction (N = 181), screw constructs had a 99% fusion rate, whereas wire instrumentation only had an 83% fusion rate (p < 0.05). Similarly, patients who underwent screw fixation had a lower complication profile (15%) when compared with those treated with wiring constructs (54%, p < 0.05).

Conclusions

The results of this study are limited by variations in construct design, use of orthoses, follow-up duration, and newer adjuvant products promoting fusions. However, a literature review and the authors' own series of pediatric cases suggest that instrumentation of the cervical spine in children may be safer and more efficacious using screw constructs rather than wiring techniques.

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Leonardo Rangel-Castilla, Steven W. Hwang, William E. Whitehead, Daniel J. Curry, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

Tuberculosis (TB) is a common disease worldwide that is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis of the spine, also called Pott disease, is the most common site of bony dissemination. Although children are disproportionately affected, spinal TB is nonetheless rare in very young children. Cases involving infants requiring surgical intervention have been previously reported, and they are often associated with greater management challenges given the technical difficulty with instrumentation in very young children.

This case involved a 3-year-old girl with TB centered at T-6, who presented with myelopathy from spinal cord compression and a severe kyphotic deformity (> 60°). She underwent a single-stage costotransversectomy for vertebral column resection, followed by reconstruction with an anterior expandable titanium cage and posterior pedicle screw instrumentation. At last follow-up, the patient was clinically and radiographically stable.

The authors report on the youngest patient with spinal TB treated surgically with this strategy and review the literature regarding prior cases involving young children. Although limited by the paucity of cases in the literature, surgical debridement and spinal fusion appear to provide a safe alternative to prolonged bed rest or casting and may offer additional benefits of a faster recovery and ambulation.

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Leonardo Rangel-Castilla, Steven W. Hwang, Andrew Jea, William E. Whitehead, Daniel J. Curry, Thomas G. Luerssen and Robert C. Dauser

Multiple-suture synostosis is typically associated with syndromic craniosynostosis but has been occasionally reported in large series of nonsyndromic children. The diagnosis of multiple fused sutures usually occurs at the same time, but rarely has the chronological development of a secondary suture synostosis been noted. The development of secondary bicoronal suture synostosis requiring surgical intervention has only been reported, to date, after surgical intervention and is hypothesized to arise from a disruption of inhibitory factors from the dura. The disinhibition of these factors permits the sutures to then fuse at an early stage. The authors report on a patient who developed secondary unilateral coronal synostosis after the diagnosis of an isolated sagittal synostosis. The secondary synostosis was identified at the time of the initial surgical intervention and ultimately required a second procedure of a frontoorbital advancement.

The clinical appearance of this phenomenon may be subtle, and surgeons should monitor for the presence of secondary synostosis during surgery as it may require intervention. Failure to identify the secondary synostosis may necessitate another surgery or result in a poor cosmetic outcome. The authors recommend close clinical follow-up for the short term in patients with isolated sagittal synostosis.