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Wesley Hsu, Thomas A. Kosztowski, Hasan A. Zaidi, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Jean-Paul Wolinsky

Chordomas are rare tumors that arise from the sacrum, spine, and skull base. Surgical management of these tumors can be difficult, given their locally destructive behavior and predilection for growing near delicate and critical structures. En bloc resection with negative margins can be difficult to perform without damaging adjacent structures and causing significant clinical morbidity. For chordomas of the upper cervical spine, surgical options traditionally involve transoral or submandibular approaches. The authors report the use of the image-guided, endoscopic, transcervical approach to the upper cervical spine as an alternative to traditional techniques for addressing upper cervical spine tumors, particularly for tumors where gross-total resection is not feasible.

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Nasir A. Quraishi, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ali Bydon, Timothy Witham and Ziya L. Gokaslan

Myxopapillary ependymomas rarely present as a primary intrasacral lesion, and extensive sacral osteolysis is unusual. The authors report a case series of 6 patients with these complex tumors causing extensive sacral destruction, who underwent resection, lumbopelvic reconstruction, and fusion. The operative procedure, complications, and outcome are summarized after a mean follow-up of 3.55 years (range 18–80 months).

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Daniel M. Sciubba, Rory J. Petteys, Sophia F. Shakur, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Edward F. McCarthy, Michael T. Collins, Matthew J. McGirt, Patrick C. Hsieh, Clarke S. Nelson and Jean-Paul Wolinsky

En bloc spondylectomy represents a radical resection of a spinal segment most often reserved for patients presenting with a primary extradural spine tumor or a solitary metastasis in the setting of an indolent, well-controlled systemic malignancy. The authors report a case in which en bloc spondylectomy was conducted to control a metabolically active spine tumor. A 56-year-old woman, who suffered from severe tumor-induced osteomalacia, was found to have a fibroblast growth factor-23–secreting phosphaturic mesenchymal tumor in the T-8 vertebral body. En bloc resection was conducted, leading to resolution of her tumor-induced osteomalacia. This case suggests that radical spondylectomy may be beneficial in the management of metabolically or endocrinologically active tumors of the spine.

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Risheng Xu, Mohamad Bydon, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Timothy F. Witham and Ali Bydon

Epidural steroid injections are relatively safe procedures, although the risk of hemorrhagic complications in patients undergoing long-term anticoagulation therapy is higher. The American Society for Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine has specific guidelines for treatment of these patients when they undergo neuraxial anesthetic procedures. In this paper, the authors present a case in which the current American Society for Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine guidelines were strictly followed with respect to withholding and reintroducing warfarin and enoxaparin after an epidural steroid injection, but the patient nevertheless developed a spinal epidural hematoma requiring emergency surgical evacuation. The authors compare the case with the 8 other published cases of postinjection epidural hematomas in patients with coagulopathy, and the specific risk factors that may have contributed to the hemorrhagic complication in this patient is analyzed.

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Risheng Xu, Giannina L. Garcés-Ambrossi, Matthew J. McGirt, Timothy F. Witham, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ali Bydon, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Daniel M. Sciubba

Object

Adequate decompression of the thoracic spinal cord often requires a complete vertebrectomy. Such procedures can be performed from an anterior/transthoracic, posterior, or combined approach. In this study, the authors sought to compare the clinical outcomes of patients with spinal metastatic tumors undergoing anterior, posterior, and combined thoracic vertebrectomies to determine the efficacy and operative morbidity of such approaches.

Methods

A retrospective review was conducted of all patients undergoing thoracic vertebrectomies at a single institution over the past 7 years. Characteristics of patients and operative procedures were documented. Neurological status, perioperative variables, and complications were assessed and associations with each approach were analyzed.

Results

Ninety-one patients (mean age 55.5 ± 13.7 years) underwent vertebrectomies via an anterior (22 patients, 24.2%), posterior (45 patients, 49.4%), or combined anterior-posterior approach (24 patients, 26.4%) for metastatic spinal tumors. The patients did not differ significantly preoperatively in terms of neurological assessments on the Nurick and American Spinal Injury Association Impairment scales, ambulatory ability, or other comorbidities. Anterior approaches were associated with less blood loss than posterior approaches (1172 ± 1984 vs 2486 ± 1645 ml, respectively; p = 0.03) or combined approaches (1172 ± 1984 vs 2826 ± 2703 ml, respectively; p = 0.05) but were associated with a similar length of stay compared with the other treatment cohorts (11.5 ± 9.3 [anterior] vs 11.3 ± 8.6 [posterior] vs 14.3 ± 6.7 [combined] days; p = 0.35). The posterior approach was associated with a higher incidence of wound infection compared with the anterior approach cohort (26.7 vs 4.5%, respectively; p = 0.03), and patients in the posterior approach group experienced the highest rates of deep vein thrombosis (15.6% [posterior] vs 0% [other 2 groups]; p = 0.02). However, the posterior approach demonstrated the lowest incidence of pneumothorax (4.4%; p < 0.0001) compared with the other 2 cohorts. Duration of chest tube use was greater in the combined patient group compared with the anterior approach cohort (8.8 ± 6.2 vs 4.7 ± 2.3 days, respectively; p = 0.01), and the combined group also experienced the highest rates of radiographic pleural effusion (83.3%; p = 0.01). Postoperatively, all groups improved neurologically, although functional outcome in patients undergoing the combined approach improved the most compared with the other 2 groups on both the Nurick (p = 0.04) and American Spinal Injury Association Impairment scales (p = 0.03).

Conclusions

Decisions regarding the approach to thoracic vertebrectomy may be complex. This study found that although anterior approaches to the thoracic vertebrae have been historically associated with significant pulmonary complications, in our experience these rates are nevertheless quite comparable to that encountered via a posterior or combined approach. In fact, the posterior approach was found to be associated with a higher risk for some perioperative complications such as wound infection and deep vein thromboses. Finally, the combined anteriorposterior approach may provide greater ambulatory and neurological improvements in properly selected patients.

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Kaisorn L. Chaichana, Courtney Pendleton, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jean-Paul Wolinsky and Ziya L. Gokaslan

Object

Metastatic epidural spinal cord compression (MESCC) is a relatively common and debilitating complication of metastatic disease that often results in neurological deficits. Recent studies have supported decompressive surgery over radiation therapy for patients who present with MESCC. These studies, however, have grouped all patients with different histological types of metastatic disease into the same study population. The differential outcomes for patients with different histological types of metastatic disease therefore remain unknown.

Methods

An institutional database of patients undergoing decompressive surgery for MESCC at an academic tertiary-care institution between 1996 and 2006 was retrospectively reviewed. Patients with primary lung, breast, prostate, kidney, or gastrointestinal (GI) cancer or melanoma were identified. Fisher exact and log-rank analyses were used to compare pre-, peri-, and postoperative variables and survival for patients with these different types of primary cancers.

Results

Twenty-seven patients with primary lung cancer, 26 with breast cancer, 20 with prostate cancer, 21 with kidney cancer, 13 with GI cancer, and 7 with melanoma were identified and categorized. All of these patients were followed up for a mean ± SD of 10.8 ± 3.8 months following surgery. Patients with primary lung and prostate cancers were typically older than patients with other types of primary cancers. Patients with prostate cancer had the shortest duration of symptoms and more commonly presented with motor deficits, while patients with breast cancer more commonly had cervical spine involvement and compression fractures. For all histological types, > 90% of patients retained the ability to ambulate following surgery. However, the group with the highest percentage of patients who regained ambulatory function after decompressive surgery was the lung cancer group. Patients with breast or kidney cancer and those with melanoma had the highest median duration of survival following decompressive surgery.

Conclusions

The present study identifies differences in presenting symptoms, operative course, perioperative complications, long-term ambulatory outcomes, and duration of survival for patients with lung, breast, prostate, kidney, and GI cancers and melanoma. This understanding may allow better risk stratification for patients with MESCC.

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Daniel M. Sciubba, Joseph C. Noggle, Ananth K. Vellimana, Hassan Alosh, Matthew J. McGirt, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Jean-Paul Wolinsky

Object

Stabilization of the cervical spine can be challenging when instrumentation involves the axis. Fixation with C1–2 transarticular screws combined with posterior wiring and bone graft placement has yielded excellent fusion rates, but the technique is technically demanding and places the vertebral arteries (VAs) at risk. Placement of screws in the pars interarticularis of C-2 as described by Harms and Melcher has allowed rigid fixation with greater ease and theoretically decreases the risk to the VA. However, fluoroscopy is suggested to avoid penetration laterally, medially, and superiorly to avoid damage to the VA, spinal cord, and C1–2 joint, respectively. The authors describe how, after meticulous dissection of the C-2 pars interarticularis, such screws can be placed accurately and safely without the use of fluoroscopy.

Methods

Prospective follow-up was performed in 55 consecutive patients who underwent instrumented fusion of C-2 by a single surgeon. The causes of spinal instability and type and extent of instrumentation were documented. All patients underwent preoperative CT or MR imaging scans to determine the suitability of C-2 screw placement. Intraoperatively, screws were placed following dissection of the posterior pars interarticularis. Postoperative CT scans were performed to determine the extent of cortical breach. Patients underwent clinical follow-up, and complications were recorded as vascular or neurological. A CT-based grading system was created to characterize such breaches objectively by location and magnitude via percentage of screw diameter beyond the cortical edge (0 = none; I = < 25% of screw diameter; II = 26–50%; III = 51–75%; IV = 76–100%).

Results

One-hundred consecutive screws were placed in the pedicle of the axis by a single surgeon using external landmarks only. In 10 cases, only 1 screw was placed because of a preexisting VA anatomy or bone abnormality noted preoperatively. In no case was screw placement aborted because of complications noted during drilling. Early complications occurred in 2 patients and were limited to 1 wound infection and 1 transient C-2 radiculopathy. There were 15 total breaches (15%), 2 of which occurred in the same patient. Twelve breaches were lateral (80%), and 3 were superior (20%). There were no medial breaches. The magnitude of the breach was classified as I in 10 cases (66.7% of breaches), II in 3 cases (20% of breaches), III in 1 case (6.7%), and IV in 1 case (6.7%).

Conclusions

Free-hand placement of screws in the C-2 pedicle can be done safely and effectively without the use of intraoperative fluoroscopy or navigation when the pars interarticularis/pedicle is assessed preoperatively with CT or MR imaging and found to be suitable for screw placement. When breaches do occur, they are overwhelmingly lateral in location, breach < 50% of the screw diameter, and in the authors' experience, are not clinically significant.

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Daniel M. Sciubba, Rory J. Petteys, Giannina L. Garces-Ambrossi, Joseph C. Noggle, Matthew J. McGirt, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Timothy F. Witham and Ziya L. Gokaslan

Sacral tumors pose significant challenges to the managing physician from diagnostic and therapeutic perspectives. Although these tumors are often diagnosed at an advanced stage, patients may benefit from good clinical outcomes if an aggressive multidisciplinary approach is used. In this review, the epidemiology, clinical presentation, imaging characteristics, treatment options, and published outcomes are discussed. Special attention is given to the specific anatomical constraints that make tumors in this region of the spine more difficult to effectively manage than those in the mobile portions of the spine.

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Beril Gok, Daniel M. Sciubba, Gregory S. McLoughlin, Matthew McGirt, Selim Ayhan, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ali Bydon, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Timothy F. Witham

Object

In patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM), ventral disease and loss of cervical lordosis are considered to be relative indications for anterior surgery. However, anterior decompression and fusion operations may be associated with an increased risk of swallowing difficulty and an increased risk of nonunion when extensive decompression is performed. The authors reviewed cases involving patients with CSM treated via an anterior approach, paying special attention to neurological outcome, fusion rates, and complications.

Methods

Retrospectively, 67 cases involving consecutive patients with CSM requiring an anterior decompression were reviewed: 46 patients underwent anterior surgery only (1-to3-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion [ACDF] or 1-level corpectomy), and 21 patients who required > 3-level ACDF or ≥ 2-level corpectomy underwent anterior surgery supplemented by a posterior instrumented fusion procedure.

Results

Postoperative improvement in Nurick grade was seen in 43 (93%) of 46 patients undergoing anterior decompression and fusion alone (p < 0.001) and in 17 (81%) of 21 patients undergoing anterior decompression and fusion with supplemental posterior fusion (p = 0.0015). The overall complication rate for this series was 25.4%. Interestingly, the overall complication rate was similar for both the lone anterior surgery and combined anterior-posterior groups, but the incidence of adjacent-segment disease was greater in the lone anterior surgery group.

Conclusions

Significant improvement in Nurick grade can be achieved in patients who undergo anterior surgery for cervical myelopathy for primarily ventral disease or loss of cervical lordosis. In selected high-risk patients who undergo multilevel ventral decompression, supplemental posterior fixation and arthrodesis allows for low rates of construct failure with acceptable added morbidity.

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Gregory S. McLoughlin, Jed G. Nuchtern, Robert C. Dauser, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Jean-Paul Wolinsky

✓ Lymphangiomas are benign collections of blind-ended lymphatic and vascular channels. Lesions typically occur in the soft tissues of the head and neck, although any region of the body can be affected. Involvement of the spine is very rare. A complete resection is generally curative. On rare occasions, these tumors are complicated by infection or hemorrhage. The authors present an unusual case of a hemorrhagic lymphangioma in a 1-year-old male child. The lesion originated in the mediastinum and extended into the cervicothoracic epidural space via a neural foramen. This resulted in an acute epidural hematoma and quadriparesis. Emergency decompression resulted in full neurological recovery. This may be the first report of a lymphangioma resulting in an acute epidural hematoma and quadriparesis.