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Michael L. Levy, Thomas C. Chen, and Martin H. Weiss

✓ A case report of monostotic fibrous dysplasia of the clivus in a postadolescent woman is described. Although fibrous dysplasia of craniofacial structures is well documented, involvement of the clivus has not been reported. Diagnosis by clinical, radiographic, and histopathological features is detailed. Implications for the role of surgery and management are discussed.

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Charles B. Stillerman, Thomas C. Chen, J. Diaz Day, William T. Couldwell, and Martin H. Weiss

A number of operative techniques have been described for the treatment of herniated thoracic discs. The transfacet pedicle-sparing approach allows for complete disc removal with limited spinal column disruption and soft-tissue dissection. Fifteen cadaveric spinal columns were used for evaluation of exposure, development of thoracic microdiscectomy instrumentation, and establishment of morphometric measurements. This approach was used to remove eight thoracic discs in six patients. Levels of herniation ranged from T-7 through T-11. Preoperatively, all patients had moderate to severe axial pain, and three (50%) of the six had radicular pain. Myelopathy was present in four (67%) of the six patients. Through a 4-cm opening, the ipsilateral paraspinal muscles were reflected, and a partial facetectomy was performed. The disc was then removed using specially designed microscopic instrumentation. Postoperatively, the radiculopathy resolved in all patients. Axial pain and myelopathy were completely resolved or significantly improved in all patients.

The minimal amount of bone resection and muscle dissection involved in the operation allows for: 1) decreased operative time and blood loss; 2) diminished perioperative pain; 3) shorter hospitalization time and faster return to premorbid activity; 4) avoidance of closed chest tube drainage; and 5) preservation of the integrity of the facet-pedicle complex, with potential for improvement in outcome related to axial pain. This technique appears best suited for the removal of all centrolateral discs, although it has been used successfully for treating a disc occupying nearly the entire ventral canal. The initial experience suggests that this approach may be used to safely remove appropriately selected thoracic disc herniations with good results.

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William T. Couldwell, Thomas C. Chen, Martin H. Weiss, Takanori Fukushima, and William Dougherty

✓ The authors describe the use of a porous polyethylene Flexblock implant for cosmetic cranioplasty. The implant may be used to cover any small- or medium-sized (< 8 cm) cranial defect, offering similar cosmetic results to standard alloplast cranioplasty while decreasing operation time. The porous implant design permits ingrowth of soft tissue and bone to increase implant strength and decrease the risk of infection. The Flexblock alloplast has been utilized in 25 cases with excellent cosmetic results and no implant-related complications.

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Charles B. Stillerman, Thomas C. Chen, J. Diaz Day, William T. Couldwell, and Martin H. Weiss

✓ A number of operative techniques have been described for the treatment of herniated thoracic discs. The transfacet pedicle-sparing approach allows for complete disc removal with limited spinal column disruption and soft-tissue dissection. Fifteen cadaveric spinal columns were used for evaluation of exposure, development of thoracic microdiscectomy instrumentation, and establishment of morphometric measurements. This approach was used to remove eight thoracic discs in six patients. Levels of herniation ranged from T-7 through T-11. Preoperatively, all patients had moderate to severe axial pain, and three (50%) of the six had radicular pain. Myelopathy was present in four (67%) of the six patients. Through a 4-cm opening, the ipsilateral paraspinal muscles were reflected, and a partial facetectomy was performed. The disc was then removed using specially designed microscopic instrumentation. Postoperatively, the radiculopathy resolved in all patients. Axial pain and myelopathy were completely resolved or significantly improved in all patients.

The minimal amount of bone resection and muscle dissection involved in the operation allows for: 1) decreased operative time and blood loss; 2) diminished perioperative pain; 3) shorter hospitalization time and faster return to premorbid activity; 4) avoidance of closed chest tube drainage; and 5) preservation of the integrity of the facet—pedicle complex, with potential for improvement in outcome related to axial pain. This technique appears best suited for the removal of all centrolateral discs, although it has been used successfully for treating a disc occupying nearly the entire ventral canal. The initial experience suggests that this approach may be used to safely remove appropriately selected thoracic disc herniations with good results.

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Charles B. Stillerman, Thomas C. Chen, William T. Couldwell, Wei Zhang, and Martin H. Weiss

Object

The authors aimed to develop management strategies for the treatment of herniated thoracic discs and to define indications for selection of surgical approaches. Symptomatic thoracic discs requiring surgery are rare. Between 1971 and 1995, 71 patients with 82 herniated thoracic discs were surgically treated by the authors. The treated group included 34 men and 37 women whose ages ranged from 19 to 75 years, with a mean age of 48 years. The most common sites of disc herniation requiring surgery were from T-8 to T-11. Evidence of antecedent trauma was present in 37% of the patients. Preoperative symptoms included pain (localized, axial, or radicular) in 54 (76%) of the 71 patients, evidence of myelopathy that is, motor impairment in 43 (61%), hyperreflexia and spasticity in 41 (58%), sensory impairment 43 (61%), and bladder dysfunction in 17 (24%).

Methods

Radiological diagnosis for the patients in this series was accomplished by means of myelography, computerized tomography myelography, or magnetic resonance imaging. Classification of the disc location into two groups reveals that 94% were centrolateral and 6% were lateral. Evidence of calcification was present in 65% of patients, and in 7% intradural extension was noted at surgery. Ten patients (14%) were found to have multiple herniations. Four surgical approaches were used for the removal of these 82 disc herniations: transthoracic in 49 (60%), transfacet pedicle-sparing in 23 (28%), lateral extracavitary in eight (10%), and transpedicular in two (2%). Postoperative evaluation revealed improvement or resolution of pain in 47 (87%) of 54, hyperreflexia and spasticity in 39 (95%) of 41, sensory changes in 36 (84%) of 43, bowel/bladder dysfunction in 13 (76%) of 17, and motor impairment in 25 (58%) of 43. Complications occurred in a total of 12 (14.6%) of 82 discs treated surgically. Major complications were seen in three patients and included perioperative death from cardiopulmonary compromise, instability requiring further surgery, and an increase in the severity of a preoperative paraparesis.

Conclusions

Review of this series, with the attendant complications, together with evaluation of several contemporary thoracic disc series, has facilitated the authors' decision-making process when considering the comprehensive management of these patients, including the selection of a surgical approach.

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Charles B. Stillerman, Thomas C. Chen, William T. Couldwell, Wei Zhang, and Martin H. Weiss

Object. The authors aimed to develop management strategies for the treatment of herniated thoracic discs and to define indications for selection of surgical approaches. Symptomatic thoracic discs requiring surgery are rare. Between 1971 and 1995, 71 patients with 82 herniated thoracic discs were surgically treated by the authors. The treated group included 34 men and 37 women whose ages ranged from 19 to 75 years, with a mean age of 48 years. The most common sites of disc herniation requiring surgery were from T-8 to T-11. Evidence of antecedent trauma was present in 37% of the patients. Preoperative symptoms included pain (localized, axial, or radicular) in 54 (76%) of the 71 patients, evidence of myelopathy, that is, motor impairment in 43 (61%), hyperreflexia and spasticity in 41 (58%), sensory impairment in 43 (61%), and bladder dysfunction in 17 (24%).

Methods. Radiological diagnosis for the patients in this series was accomplished by means of myelography, computerized tomography myelography, or magnetic resonance imaging. Classification of the disc location into two groups reveals that 94% were centrolateral and 6% were lateral. Evidence of calcification was present in 65% of patients, and in 7% intradural extension was noted at surgery. Ten patients (14%) were found to have multiple herniations. Four surgical approaches were used for the removal of these 82 disc herniations: transthoracic in 49 (60%), transfacet pedicle-sparing in 23 (28%), lateral extracavitary in eight (10%), and transpedicular in two (2%). Postoperative evaluation revealed improvement or resolution of pain in 47 (87%) of 54, hyperreflexia and spasticity in 39 (95%) of 41, sensory changes in 36 (84%) of 43, bowel/bladder dysfunction in 13 (76%) of 17, and motor impairment in 25 (58%) of 43. Complications occurred in a total of 12 (14.6%) of 82 discs treated surgically. Major complications were seen in three patients and included perioperative death from cardiopulmonary compromise, instability requiring further surgery, and an increase in the severity of a preoperative paraparesis.

Conclusions. Review of this series, with the attendant complications, together with evaluation of several contemporary thoracic disc series, has facilitated the authors' decision-making process when considering the comprehensive management of these patients, including the selection of a surgical approach.

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