# Best of 2017

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## John F. Kennedy’s back: chronic pain, failed surgeries, and the story of its effects on his life and death

The 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy (JFK), experienced chronic back pain beginning in his early 20s. He underwent a total of 4 back operations, including a discectomy, an instrumentation and fusion, and 2 relatively minor surgeries that failed to significantly improve his pain. The authors examined the nature and etiology of JFK’s back pain and performed a detailed investigation into the former president’s numerous medical evaluations and treatment modalities. This information may lead to a better understanding of the profound effects that JFK’s chronic back pain and its treatment had on his life and presidency, and even his death.

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## Tubular microdiscectomy: techniques, complication avoidance, and review of the literature

### OBJECTIVE

Microendoscopic discectomy is a minimally invasive surgery technique that was initially described in 1997. It allows surgeons to work with 2 hands through a small-diameter, operating table–mounted tubular retractor, and to apply standard microsurgical techniques in which a small skin incision and minimal muscle dissection are used. Whether the surgeon chooses to use an endoscope or a microscope for visualization, the technique uses the same type of retractor and is thus called tubular microdiscectomy. The goal in this study was to review the current literature, examine the level of evidence supporting tubular microdiscectomy, and describe surgical techniques for complication avoidance.

### METHODS

The authors performed a systematic PubMed review using the terms “microdiscectomy trial,” “tubular and open microdiscectomy,” “microendoscopic open discectomy,” and “minimally invasive open microdiscectomy OR microdiskectomy.” Of 317 references, 10 manuscripts were included for analysis based on study design, relevance, and appropriate comparison of open to tubular discectomy.

### RESULTS

Similar and very favorable clinical outcomes can be expected from tubular and standard microdiscectomy. Studies have demonstrated equivalent operating times for both procedures, with lower blood loss and shorter hospital stays associated with tubular microdiscectomy. Furthermore, postoperative analgesic usage has been shown to be significantly lower after tubular microdiscectomy. Overall rates of complications are no different for tubular and standard microdiscectomy.

### CONCLUSIONS

Prospective randomized trials have been used to evaluate outcomes of common minimally invasive lumbar spine procedures. For lumbar discectomy, Level I evidence supports equivalently good outcomes for tubular microdiscectomy compared with standard microdiscectomy. Likewise, Level I data indicate similar safety profiles and may indicate lower blood loss for tubular microdiscectomy. Future studies should examine the comparative value of these procedures.

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## Long-term clinical and radiographic outcomes of the Prestige LP artificial cervical disc replacement at 2 levels: results from a prospective randomized controlled clinical trial

### OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was to assess long-term clinical safety and effectiveness in patients undergoing anterior cervical surgery using the Prestige LP artificial disc replacement (ADR) prosthesis to treat degenerative cervical spine disease at 2 adjacent levels compared with anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).

### METHODS

A prospective, randomized, controlled, multicenter FDA-approved clinical trial was conducted at 30 US centers, comparing the low-profile titanium ceramic composite-based Prestige LP ADR (n = 209) at 2 levels with ACDF (n = 188). Clinical and radiographic evaluations were completed preoperatively, intraoperatively, and at regular postoperative intervals to 84 months. The primary end point was overall success, a composite variable that included key safety and efficacy considerations.

### RESULTS

At 84 months, the Prestige LP ADR demonstrated statistical superiority over fusion for overall success (observed rate 78.6% vs 62.7%; posterior probability of superiority [PPS] = 99.8%), Neck Disability Index success (87.0% vs 75.6%; PPS = 99.3%), and neurological success (91.6% vs 82.1%; PPS = 99.0%). All other study effectiveness measures were at least noninferior for ADR compared with ACDF. There was no statistically significant difference in the overall rate of implant-related or implant/surgical procedure–related adverse events up to 84 months (26.6% and 27.7%, respectively). However, the Prestige LP group had fewer serious (Grade 3 or 4) implant- or implant/surgical procedure–related adverse events (3.2% vs 7.2%, log hazard ratio [LHR] and 95% Bayesian credible interval [95% BCI] −1.19 [−2.29 to −0.15]). Patients in the Prestige LP group also underwent statistically significantly fewer second surgical procedures at the index levels (4.2%) than the fusion group (14.7%) (LHR −1.29 [95% BCI −2.12 to −0.46]). Angular range of motion at superior- and inferior-treated levels on average was maintained in the Prestige LP ADR group to 84 months.

### CONCLUSIONS

The low-profile artificial cervical disc in this study, Prestige LP, implanted at 2 adjacent levels, maintains improved clinical outcomes and segmental motion 84 months after surgery and is a safe and effective alternative to fusion.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT00637156 (clinicaltrials.gov)

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## Update on flow diverters for the endovascular management of cerebral aneurysms

Flow diversion has become a well-accepted option for the treatment of cerebral aneurysms. Given the significant treatment effect of flow diverters, numerous options have emerged since the initial Pipeline embolization device studies. In this review, the authors describe the available flow diverters, both endoluminal and intrasaccular, addressing nuances of device design and function and presenting data on complications and outcomes, where available. They also discuss possible future directions of flow diversion.

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## The utility of 3D printing for surgical planning and patient-specific implant design for complex spinal pathologies: case report

### OBJECTIVE

There has been a recent renewed interest in the use and potential applications of 3D printing in the assistance of surgical planning and the development of personalized prostheses. There have been few reports on the use of 3D printing for implants designed to be used in complex spinal surgery.

### METHODS

The authors report 2 cases in which 3D printing was used for surgical planning as a preoperative mold, and for a custom-designed titanium prosthesis: one patient with a C-1/C-2 chordoma who underwent tumor resection and vertebral reconstruction, and another patient with a custom-designed titanium anterior fusion cage for an unusual congenital spinal deformity.

### RESULTS

In both presented cases, the custom-designed and custom-built implants were easily slotted into position, which facilitated the surgery and shortened the procedure time, avoiding further complex reconstruction such as harvesting rib or fibular grafts and fashioning these grafts intraoperatively to fit the defect. Radiological follow-up for both cases demonstrated successful fusion at 9 and 12 months, respectively.

### CONCLUSIONS

These cases demonstrate the feasibility of the use of 3D modeling and printing to develop personalized prostheses and can ease the difficulty of complex spinal surgery. Possible future directions of research include the combination of 3D-printed implants and biologics, as well as the development of bioceramic composites and custom implants for load-bearing purposes.

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## Initial experience with endoscopic ultrasonic aspirator in purely neuroendoscopic removal of intraventricular tumors

### OBJECTIVE

Neuroendoscopic removal of intraventricular tumors is difficult and time consuming because of the lack of an effective decompression system that can be used through the working channel of the endoscope. The authors report on the utilization of an endoscopic ultrasonic aspirator in the resection of intraventricular tumors.

### METHODS

Twelve pediatric patients (10 male, 2 female), ages 1–15 years old, underwent surgery via a purely endoscopic approach using a Gaab rigid endoscope and endoscopic ultrasonic aspirator. Two patients presented with intraventricular metastases from high-grade tumors (medulloblastoma, atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor), 2 with subependymal giant cell astrocytomas (associated with tuberous sclerosis), 2 with low-grade intraparaventricular tumors, 4 with suprasellar tumors (2 craniopharyngiomas and 2 optic pathway gliomas), and 2 with pineal tumors (1 immature teratoma, 1 pineal anlage tumor). Hydrocephalus was present in 5 cases. In all patients, the endoscopic trajectory and ventricular access were guided by electromagnetic neuronavigation. Nine patients underwent surgery via a precoronal bur hole while supine. In 2 cases, surgery was performed through a frontal bur hole at the level of the hairline. One patient underwent surgery via a posterior parietal approach to the trigone while in a lateral position. The endoscopic technique consisted of visualization of the tumor, ventricular washing to dilate the ventricles and to control bleeding, obtaining a tumor specimen with biopsy forceps, and ultrasonic aspiration of the tumor. Bleeding was controlled with irrigation, monopolar coagulation, and a thulium laser.

### RESULTS

In 7 cases, the resection was total or near total (more than 90% of lesion removed). In 5 cases, the resection was partial. Histological evaluation of the collected material (withdrawn using biopsy forceps and aspirated with an ultrasonic aspirator) was diagnostic in all cases. The duration of surgery ranged from 30 to 120 minutes. One case was complicated by subdural hygroma requiring a subduro-peritoneal shunt implant.

### CONCLUSIONS

In this preliminary series, endoscopic ultrasonic aspiration proved to be a safe and reliable method for achieving extensive decompression or complete removal in the management of intra- and/or paraventricular lesions in pediatric patients.

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## The white matter tracts of the cerebrum in ventricular surgery and hydrocephalus

### OBJECTIVE

The relationship of the white matter tracts to the lateral ventricles is important when planning surgical approaches to the ventricles and in understanding the symptoms of hydrocephalus. The authors' aim was to explore the relationship of the white matter tracts of the cerebrum to the lateral ventricles using fiber dissection technique and MR tractography and to discuss these findings in relation to approaches to ventricular lesions.

### METHODS

Forty adult human formalin-fixed cadaveric hemispheres (20 brains) and 3 whole heads were examined using fiber dissection technique. The dissections were performed from lateral to medial, medial to lateral, superior to inferior, and inferior to superior. MR tractography showing the lateral ventricles aided in the understanding of the 3D relationships of the white matter tracts with the lateral ventricles.

### RESULTS

The relationship between the lateral ventricles and the superior longitudinal I, II, and III, arcuate, vertical occipital, middle longitudinal, inferior longitudinal, inferior frontooccipital, uncinate, sledge runner, and lingular amygdaloidal fasciculi; and the anterior commissure fibers, optic radiations, internal capsule, corona radiata, thalamic radiations, cingulum, corpus callosum, fornix, caudate nucleus, thalamus, stria terminalis, and stria medullaris thalami were defined anatomically and radiologically. These fibers and structures have a consistent relationship to the lateral ventricles.

### CONCLUSIONS

Knowledge of the relationship of the white matter tracts of the cerebrum to the lateral ventricles should aid in planning more accurate surgery for lesions within the lateral ventricles.

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## Ventricular catheter entry site and not catheter tip location predicts shunt survival: a secondary analysis of 3 large pediatric hydrocephalus studies

### OBJECTIVE

Accurate placement of ventricular catheters may result in prolonged shunt survival, but the best target for the hole-bearing segment of the catheter has not been rigorously defined. The goal of the study was to define a target within the ventricle with the lowest risk of shunt failure.

### METHODS

Five catheter placement variables (ventricular catheter tip location, ventricular catheter tip environment, relationship to choroid plexus, catheter tip holes within ventricle, and crosses midline) were defined, assessed for interobserver agreement, and evaluated for their effect on shunt survival in univariate and multivariate analyses. De-identified subjects from the Shunt Design Trial, the Endoscopic Shunt Insertion Trial, and a Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network study on ultrasound-guided catheter placement were combined (n = 858 subjects, all first-time shunt insertions, all patients < 18 years old). The first postoperative brain imaging study was used to determine ventricular catheter placement for each of the catheter placement variables.

### RESULTS

Ventricular catheter tip location, environment, catheter tip holes within the ventricle, and crosses midline all achieved sufficient interobserver agreement (κ > 0.60). In the univariate survival analysis, however, only ventricular catheter tip location was useful in distinguishing a target within the ventricle with a survival advantage (frontal horn; log-rank, p = 0.0015). None of the other catheter placement variables yielded a significant survival advantage unless they were compared with catheter tips completely not in the ventricle. Cox regression analysis was performed, examining ventricular catheter tip location with age, etiology, surgeon, decade of surgery, and catheter entry site (anterior vs posterior). Only age (p < 0.001) and entry site (p = 0.005) were associated with shunt survival; ventricular catheter tip location was not (p = 0.37). Anterior entry site lowered the risk of shunt failure compared with posterior entry site by approximately one-third (HR 0.65, 95% CI 0.51–0.83).

### CONCLUSIONS

This analysis failed to identify an ideal target within the ventricle for the ventricular catheter tip. Unexpectedly, the choice of an anterior versus posterior catheter entry site was more important in determining shunt survival than the location of the ventricular catheter tip within the ventricle. Entry site may represent a modifiable risk factor for shunt failure, but, due to inherent limitations in study design and previous clinical research on entry site, a randomized controlled trial is necessary before treatment recommendations can be made.

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## A randomized controlled trial comparing autologous cranioplasty with custom-made titanium cranioplasty

### OBJECTIVE

Autologous bone is usually used to reconstruct skull defects following decompressive surgery. However, it is associated with a high failure rate due to infection and resorption. The aim of this study was to see whether it would be cost-effective to use titanium as a primary reconstructive material.

### METHODS

Sixty-four patients were enrolled and randomized to receive either their own bone or a primary titanium cranioplasty. All surgical procedures were performed by the senior surgeon. Primary and secondary outcome measures were assessed at 1 year after cranioplasty.

### RESULTS

There were no primary infections in either arm of the trial. There was one secondary infection of a titanium cranioplasty that had replaced a resorbed autologous cranioplasty. In the titanium group, no patient was considered to have partial or complete cranioplasty failure at 12 months of follow-up (p = 0.002) and none needed revision (p = 0.053). There were 2 deaths unrelated to the cranioplasty, one in each arm of the trial. Among the 31 patients who had an autologous cranioplasty, 7 patients (22%) had complete resorption of the autologous bone such that it was deemed a complete failure. Partial or complete autologous bone resorption appeared to be more common among young patients than older patients (32 vs 45 years old, p = 0.013). The total cumulative cost between the 2 groups was not significantly different (mean difference A$3281, 95% CI$−9869 to \$3308; p = 0.327).

### CONCLUSIONS

Primary titanium cranioplasty should be seriously considered for young patients who require reconstruction of the skull vault following decompressive craniectomy.

Clinical trial registration no.: ACTRN12612000353897 (anzctr.org.au)