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  • Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine x
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Zin Z. Khaing, Lindsay N. Cates, Dane M. DeWees, Alexander Hannah, Pierre Mourad, Matthew Bruce and Christoph P. Hofstetter

OBJECTIVE

Traumatic spinal cord injury (tSCI) causes an almost complete loss of blood flow at the site of injury (primary injury) as well as significant hypoperfusion in the penumbra of the injury. Hypoperfusion in the penumbra progresses after injury to the spinal cord and is likely to be a major contributor to progressive cell death of spinal cord tissue that was initially viable (secondary injury). Neuroprotective treatment strategies seek to limit secondary injury. Clinical monitoring of the temporal and spatial patterns of blood flow within the contused spinal cord is currently not feasible. The purpose of the current study was to determine whether ultrafast contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) Doppler allows for detection of local hemodynamic changes within an injured rodent spinal cord in real time.

METHODS

A novel ultrafast CEUS Doppler technique was developed utilizing a research ultrasound platform combined with a 15-MHz linear array transducer. Ultrafast plane-wave acquisitions enabled the separation of higher-velocity blood flow in macrocirculation from low-velocity flow within the microcirculation (tissue perfusion). An FDA-approved contrast agent (microbubbles) was used for visualization of local blood flow in real time. CEUS Doppler acquisition protocols were developed to characterize tissue perfusion both during contrast inflow and during the steady-state plateau. A compression injury of the thoracic spinal cord of adult rats was induced using iris forceps.

RESULTS

High-frequency ultrasound enabled visualization of spinal cord vessels such as anterior spinal arteries as well as central arteries (mean diameter [± SEM] 145.8 ± 10.0 µm; 76.2 ± 4.5 µm, respectively). In the intact spinal cord, ultrafast CEUS Doppler confirmed higher perfusion of the gray matter compared to white matter. Immediately after compression injury of the thoracic rodent spinal cord, spinal cord vessels were disrupted in an area of 1.93 ± 1.14 mm2. Ultrafast CEUS Doppler revealed a topographical map of local tissue hypoperfusion with remarkable spatial resolution. Critical loss of perfusion, defined as less than 40% perfusion compared to the surrounding spared tissue, was seen within an area of 2.21 ± 0.6 mm2.

CONCLUSIONS

In our current report, we introduce ultrafast CEUS Doppler for monitoring of spinal vascular structure and function in real time. Development and clinical implementation of this type of imaging could have a significant impact on the care of patients with tSCI.

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Scott L. Parker, Ahilan Sivaganesan, Silky Chotai, Matthew J. McGirt, Anthony L. Asher and Clinton J. Devin

OBJECTIVE

Hospital readmissions lead to a significant increase in the total cost of care in patients undergoing elective spine surgery. Understanding factors associated with an increased risk of postoperative readmission could facilitate a reduction in such occurrences. The aims of this study were to develop and validate a predictive model for 90-day hospital readmission following elective spine surgery.

METHODS

All patients undergoing elective spine surgery for degenerative disease were enrolled in a prospective longitudinal registry. All 90-day readmissions were prospectively recorded. For predictive modeling, all covariates were selected by choosing those variables that were significantly associated with readmission and by incorporating other relevant variables based on clinical intuition and the Akaike information criterion. Eighty percent of the sample was randomly selected for model development and 20% for model validation. Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed with Bayesian model averaging (BMA) to model the odds of 90-day readmission. Goodness of fit was assessed via the C-statistic, that is, the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), using the training data set. Discrimination (predictive performance) was assessed using the C-statistic, as applied to the 20% validation data set.

RESULTS

A total of 2803 consecutive patients were enrolled in the registry, and their data were analyzed for this study. Of this cohort, 227 (8.1%) patients were readmitted to the hospital (for any cause) within 90 days postoperatively. Variables significantly associated with an increased risk of readmission were as follows (OR [95% CI]): lumbar surgery 1.8 [1.1–2.8], government-issued insurance 2.0 [1.4–3.0], hypertension 2.1 [1.4–3.3], prior myocardial infarction 2.2 [1.2–3.8], diabetes 2.5 [1.7–3.7], and coagulation disorder 3.1 [1.6–5.8]. These variables, in addition to others determined a priori to be clinically relevant, comprised 32 inputs in the predictive model constructed using BMA. The AUC value for the training data set was 0.77 for model development and 0.76 for model validation.

CONCLUSIONS

Identification of high-risk patients is feasible with the novel predictive model presented herein. Appropriate allocation of resources to reduce the postoperative incidence of readmission may reduce the readmission rate and the associated health care costs.

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Martin H. Pham, Joshua Bakhsheshian, Patrick C. Reid, Ian A. Buchanan, Vance L. Fredrickson and John C. Liu

OBJECTIVE

Freehand placement of C2 instrumentation is technically challenging and has a learning curve due the unique anatomy of the region. This study evaluated the accuracy of C2 pedicle screws placed via the freehand technique by neurosurgical resident trainees.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed all patients treated at the LAC+USC Medical Center undergoing C2 pedicle screw placement in which the freehand technique was used over a 1-year period, from June 2016 to June 2017; all procedures were performed by neurosurgical residents. Measurements of C2 were obtained from preoperative CT scans, and breach rates were determined from coronal reconstructions on postoperative scans. Severity of breaches reflected the percentage of screw diameter beyond the cortical edge (I = < 25%; II = 26%–50%; III = 51%–75%; IV = 76%–100%).

RESULTS

Neurosurgical residents placed 40 C2 pedicle screws in 24 consecutively treated patients. All screws were placed by or under the guidance of Pham, who is a postgraduate year 7 (PGY-7) neurosurgical resident with attending staff privileges, with a PGY-2 to PGY-4 resident assistant. The authors found an average axial pedicle diameter of 5.8 mm, axial angle of 43.1°, sagittal angle of 23.0°, spinal canal diameter of 25.1 mm, and axial transverse foramen diameter of 5.9 mm. There were 17 screws placed by PGY-2 residents, 7 screws placed by PGY-4 residents, and 16 screws placed by the PGY-7 resident. The average screw length was 26.0 mm, with a screw diameter of 3.5 mm or 4.0 mm. There were 7 total breaches (17.5%), of which 4 were superior (10.0%) and 3 were lateral (7.5%). There were no medial breaches. The breaches were classified as grade I in 3 cases (42.9%), II in 3 cases (42.9%), III in 1 case (14.3%), and IV in no cases. There were 3 breaches that occurred via placement by a PGY-2 resident, 3 breaches by a PGY-4 resident, and 1 breach by the PGY-7 resident. There were no clinical sequelae due to these breaches.

CONCLUSIONS

Freehand placement of C2 pedicle screws can be done safely by neurosurgical residents in early training. When breaches occurred, they tended to be superior in location and related to screw length choice, and no breaches were found to be clinically significant. Controlled exposure to this unique anatomy is especially pertinent in the era of work-hour restrictions.

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Mayur Sharma, Beatrice Ugiliweneza, Zaid Aljuboori, Miriam A. Nuño, Doniel Drazin and Maxwell Boakye

OBJECTIVE

The opioid crisis is identified as a national emergency and epidemic in the United States. The aim of this study was to identify risk factors associated with opioid dependence in patients undergoing surgery for degenerative spondylolisthesis (DS).

METHODS

The authors queried MarketScan databases to investigate the factors affecting postsurgery opioid use in patients with DS between 2000 and 2012. The outcome of interest was opioid dependence, which was defined as continued opioid use, > 10 opioid prescriptions, or diagnosis of or prescription for opioid dependence disorder in the period of 1 year before or 3–15 months after the procedure. Comparisons of outcomes were performed using nonparametric 2-group tests and generalized regression models.

RESULTS

A cohort of 10,708 patients was identified from the database. The median patient age was 61 years (interquartile range 54–69 years), and 65.1% were female (n = 6975). A majority of patients had decompression with fusion (n = 10,068; 94%) and underwent multilevel procedures (n = 8123; 75.9%). Of 10,708 patients, 14.85% (n = 1591) were identified as having opioid dependence within 12 months prior to the index surgical procedure and 9.90% (n = 1060) were identified as having opioid dependence within 3–15 months after the procedure. Of all the variables, prior opioid dependence (OR 16.29, 95% CI 14.10–18.81, p < 0.001) and younger age (1-year increase in age: OR 0.972, 95% CI 0.963–0.980, p < 0.001) were independent predictors of opioid dependence following surgery for DS. The use of fusion was not associated with opioid dependence following the procedure (p = 0.8396). Following surgery for DS, patients were more likely to become opioid independent than they were to become opioid dependent (8.54% vs 3.58%, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

The majority of patients underwent fusion for DS. Surgical decompression with fusion was not associated with increased risk of postsurgery opioid dependence in patients with DS. Overall, opioid dependence was reduced by 4.96% after surgery for DS. Prior opioid dependence is associated with increased risk and increasing age is associated with decreased risk of opioid dependence following surgery for DS.

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Sergey Mlyavykh, Steven C. Ludwig, Christopher K. Kepler and D. Greg Anderson

OBJECTIVE

Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) is a common condition that leads to significant disability, particularly in the elderly. Current therapeutic options have certain drawbacks. This study evaluates the 5-year clinical and radiographic results of a minimally invasive pedicle-lengthening osteotomy (PLO) for symptomatic LSS.

METHODS

A prospective, single-arm, clinical pilot study was conducted involving 20 patients (mean age 61.7 years) with symptomatic LSS treated by a PLO procedure at 1 or 2 lumbar levels. All patients had symptoms of neurogenic claudication or radiculopathy secondary to LSS, and had not improved after a minimum 6-month course of nonoperative treatment. Eleven patients had a Meyerding grade I degenerative spondylolisthesis in addition to LSS. Clinical outcomes were measured using the Oswestry Disability Index, Zürich Claudication Questionnaire, 12-Item Short Form Health Survey, and a visual analog scale for back and leg pain. Procedural variables, neurological outcomes, adverse events, and radiological imaging (plain radiographs and CT scans) were collected at the 1.5-, 3-, 6-, 9-, 12-, 24-, and 60-month time points.

RESULTS

The PLOs were performed through percutaneous incisions, with minimal blood loss in all cases. There were no operative complications. Four adverse events occurred during the follow-up period. Statistically significant improvement was observed in each of the outcome instruments and maintained over the 5-year follow-up period. Imaging studies, reviewed by an independent radiologist, showed no evidence of device subsidence, migration, breakage, or heterotopic ossification. Thin-slice CT scans documented healing of the osteotomy site in all patients at the 6-month time point and an increase of 115% in the mean cross-sectional area of the spinal canal.

CONCLUSIONS

Treatment of patients with symptomatic LSS with a PLO procedure provided substantial enlargement of the area of the spinal canal and favorable clinical results for both disease-specific and non–disease-specific outcome measures at all follow-up time points out to 5 years. Future research is needed to compare this technique to alternative therapies for LSS.

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Nicolas W. Villelli, David M. Lewis, Thomas J. Leipzig, Andrew J. DeNardo, Troy D. Payner and Charles G. Kulwin

OBJECTIVE

Intraoperative angiography can be a valuable tool in the surgical management of vascular disorders in the CNS. This is typically accomplished via femoral artery puncture; however, this can be technically difficult in patients in the prone position. The authors describe the feasibility of intraoperative angiography via the popliteal artery in the prone patient.

METHODS

Three patients underwent intraoperative spinal angiography in the prone position via vascular access through the popliteal artery. Standard angiography techniques were used, along with ultrasound and a micropuncture needle for initial vascular access. Two patients underwent intraoperative angiography to confirm the obliteration of dural arteriovenous fistulas. The third patient required unexpected intraoperative angiography when a tumor was concerning for a vascular malformation in the cervical spine.

RESULTS

All 3 patients tolerated the procedure without complication. The popliteal artery was easily accessed without any adaptation to typical patient positioning for these prone-position cases. This proved particularly beneficial when angiography was not part of the preoperative plan.

CONCLUSIONS

Intraoperative angiography via the popliteal artery is feasible and well tolerated. It presents significant benefit when obtaining imaging studies in patients in a prone position, with the added benefit of easy access, familiar anatomy, and low concern for catheter thrombosis or kinking.

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Sanjeev Ariyandath Sreenivasan, Kanwaljeet Garg, Manmohan Singh and Poodipedi Sarat Chandra

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Carlo Brembilla, Luigi Andrea Lanterna, Emanuele Costi and Claudio Bernucci

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Randall B. Graham, Mathew Cotton, Antoun Koht and Tyler R. Koski

Various complications of prone positioning in spine surgery have been described in the literature. Patients in the prone position for extended periods are subject to neurological deficits and/or loss of intraoperative signals due to compression neuropathies, but positioning-related spinal deficits are rare in the thoracolumbar deformity population. The authors present a case of severe kyphoscoliotic deformity with critical thoracolumbar stenosis in which, during the use of a hinged open frame in the prone position, complete loss of intraoperative neural monitoring signals occurred while the frame was flexed into kyphosis to facilitate exposure and instrumentation placement. When the frame was reset to a neutral position, evoked potentials returned to baseline and the operation proceeded without complications. This case represents, to the authors’ knowledge, the first report of loss of evoked potentials due to an alteration of prone positioning on a hinged open frame. When positioning patients in such a manner, careful attention should be directed to intraoperative signals in patients with critical stenosis and kyphotic deformity.