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Letter to the Editor. Propionibacterium acnes and aseptic bone graft resorption

Luis Rafael Moscote-Salazar, Andrei F. Joaquim, and Amit Agrawal

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Letter to the Editor. Ultrasonography of the optic nerve sheath and decompressive craniectomy

Luis Rafael Moscote-Salazar, Andrei F. Joaquim, and Amit Agrawal

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Letters to the editor: Validating the Thoracolumbar Injury Classification and Severity Score

Zachary A. Smith and Nader S. Dahdaleh

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Letters to the editor: Burst fractures

Andrei F. Joaquim and Alpesh A. Patel

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Clinical results of patients with thoracolumbar spine trauma treated according to the Thoracolumbar Injury Classification and Severity Score

Clinical article

Andrei F. Joaquim, Enrico Ghizoni, Helder Tedeschi, Ulysses Caus Batista, and Alpesh A. Patel

Object

The Thoracolumbar Injury Classification and Severity Score (TLICS) was developed to improve injury classification and guide surgical decision making, yet validation remains necessary. This study evaluates the neurological outcome of patients with thoracolumbar spine trauma (TLST) treated according to the TLICS.

Methods

The TLICS was prospectively applied to a consecutive series of patients treated for TLST between 2009 and 2012. Patients with a TLICS of 4 points or more were surgically treated, whereas patients with a TLICS of 3 points or fewer were conservatively managed. The primary outcome was the American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS).

Results

A total of 65 patients were treated. In 37 patients, the TLICS was 3 points or fewer and the patients were treated nonsurgically (Group 1). The remaining 28 patients with a TLICS of 4 or more points underwent surgical treatment (Group 2). In Group 1, 28 patients underwent some follow-up at the authors' institution; all of these patients were neurologically intact with compression or burst fractures (TLICS of 1 or 2 points; median 2). The average age in this group was 44.5 years, and follow-up ranged from 1 to 36 months (mean 6.7 months, median 3 months). Two patients (both with a TLICS of 2 points) underwent late surgery for axial back pain and mild focal kyphosis, without significant clinical improvement. In Group 2, follow-up ranged from 1 to 18 months (mean 4.4 months, median 3 months) and the TLICS ranged from 4 to 10 points (median 7 points). In this group, preoperatively, 9 (32%) patients had AIS Grade E injuries, 6 (21%) had AIS Grade C, 1 (4%) had AIS Grade B, and 12 (43%) had AIS Grade A injuries. At the final follow-up, the AIS grade was E in 11 patients (39%), D in 5 (18%), and A in 12 (43%). No patient had neurological worsening during the follow-up.

Conclusions

The TLICS can be used to guide treatment that is safe with regard to the neurological status of patients treated for TLST.

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Man-in-the-barrel syndrome after thoracoilium fusion

Case Report

Andrei F. Joaquim, Catherine C. Shaffrey, Charles A. Sansur, and Christopher I. Shaffrey

The authors report a case of man-in-the-barrel (MIB) syndrome occurring after an extensive revision involving thoracoilium instrumentation and fusion for iatrogenic and degenerative scoliosis, progressive kyphosis, and sagittal imbalance. Isolated brachial diplegia is a rare neurological finding often attributed to cerebral ischemia. It has not been previously reported in patients undergoing complex spine surgery. This 70-year-old woman, who had previously undergone T11–S1 fusion for lumbar stenosis and scoliosis, presented with increased difficulty walking and with back pain. She had junctional kyphosis and L5–S1 pseudarthrosis and required revision fusion extending from T-3 to the ilium. In the early postoperative period, she experienced a 30-minute episode of substantial hypotension. She developed delirium and isolated brachial diplegia, consistent with MIB syndrome. Multiple studies were performed to assess the origin of this brachial diplegia. There was no definitive radiological evidence of any causative lesion. After a few days, her cognitive function returned to normal and she regained the ability to move her arms. After several weeks of rehabilitation, she recovered completely. Man-in-the-barrel syndrome is a rare neurological entity. It can result from various mechanisms but most commonly seems to be related to ischemia and is potentially reversible.

Free access

Intramedullary hemangioblastomas: surgical results in 16 patients

Andrei F. Joaquim, Enrico Ghizoni, Marcos Juliano dos Santos, Marcelo Gomes C. Valadares, Felipe Soares da Silva, and Helder Tedeschi

OBJECT

Hemangioblastomas are rare, benign, highly vascularized tumors that can be found throughout the neuraxis but are mainly located in the cerebellum and in the spinal cord. Spinal hemangioblastomas can present with motor and sensory deficits, whose severity varies according to the size and location of the tumor. Resection is the best treatment option to avoid neurological deterioration. The authors report surgical results in the treatment of intramedullary hemangioblastomas and discuss the technical nuances important to achieving total resection without adding new deficits.

METHODS

A consecutive series of patients with intramedullary hemangioblastomas operated on between 2000 and 2014 by the senior author (H.T.) is presented. The functional scale proposed by McCormick was used to evaluate the patients' neurological status before and after surgery.

RESULTS

Sixteen patients were included in the study and underwent 17 surgeries. Follow-up was at least 6 months. Age at presentation varied from 13 to 58 years (mean 33.8 years). Ten patients (62.5%) were males and 6 patients (37.5%) were females. Seven (43.75%) of the 16 patients had associated von Hippel—Lindau syndrome, with hemangioblastomas also presenting in other locations. Three patients had multiple tumors in the same segment in the spinal cord, and 10 patients (62.5%) presented with cysts. According to the site of presentation, 11 tumors (68.75%) were localized at the cervical region (including the cervicomedullary junction) and 5 tumors (31.25%) at the thoracic level. Total resection was achieved in all cases, evidenced by postoperative MRI. Four patients had some functional worsening immediately after surgery. After 6 months, 1 patient had functional worsening compared with preoperative status, and 2 patients had clinical improvement. The majority of the patients remained clinically stable postoperatively.

CONCLUSIONS

Adequate knowledge of anatomy and the correct use of microsurgical techniques allowed total resection of these tumors, with minimal morbidity and maximum functional recovery. Outcome seems to be directly related to the neurological status before surgery.

Free access

Using the keystone design perforator island flap in large myelomeningocele closure

Cleiton Formentin, Erion Junior de Andrade, Leo Gordiano Matias, Andrei F. Joaquim, Helder Tedeschi, Cássio Eduardo Raposo-Amaral, and Enrico Ghizoni

OBJECTIVE

Many repair techniques have been proposed to treat large myelomeningocele (MMC), and although effective in many cases, some of these techniques can be complex and time consuming, with complications such as cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leakage, flap loss, tip necrosis, and wound dehiscence. The purpose of this study was to analyze cases of large skin defects and the methods applied and to report the outcomes of the keystone design perforator island flap (KDPIF) technique for large MMC closure.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective review of all neonatal patients who had undergone KDPIF for MMC closure in the period from 2013 to 2018. All patients had a diagnosis of lumbosacral MMC based on obstetric ultrasound. The neurosurgeons and plastic surgeons had selected the cases after concluding that primary closure would be unlikely. The design of the flap is based on the randomly located vascular perforators, creating two identical opposing flaps to fashion a double keystone flap. During wound closure, V-Y advancement of each end of the double flap in the longitudinal axis creates redundancy in the central portion of the flap and reduces the horizontal tension. After discharge, both the neurosurgery and plastic surgery teams followed up all patients, tracking the results with photography.

RESULTS

No skin flap dehiscence or necrosis, infection, or CSF leakage was detected, proving the reliability of the flap. One of the patients required further surgery for the large skin defects after insufficient intrauterine closure of the MMC and successfully underwent KDPIF treatment. Another patient (14.3%) had severe neonatal sepsis, which ultimately led to death. A ventriculoperitoneal shunt was required after the skin defect repair in 5 (83.3%) of the 6 surviving patients. Exceptional aesthetic results were achieved for all patients during the follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS

The KDPIF technique is based on well-known vascular perforators of the intercostal, lumbar, and gluteal regions. Wound tension is widely distributed by the flap and, as a consequence, relevant tissue bulk, reliable vascularity, and important geometrical versatility are provided. In addition, most of the muscles and fascia are preserved, which is another advantage in terms of minimizing secondary morbidity to local tissue rearrangement. The use of KDPIF closure was successfully shown to be a viable alternative for more complex MMCs that present with large skin defects.

Free access

Pseudarthrosis in anterior cervical discectomy and fusion with a self-locking, stand-alone cage filled with hydroxyapatite: a retrospective study with clinical and radiological outcomes of 98 levels with a minimum 2-year follow-up

Eduardo A. Iunes, Enrico A. Barletta, Telmo A. B. Belsuzarri, Franz J. Onishi, André Y. Aihara, Sergio Cavalheiro, and Andrei F. Joaquim

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to evaluate the incidence of pseudarthrosis after the treatment of cervical degenerative disc disease (CDDD) with anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) in which self-locking, stand-alone intervertebral cages filled with hydroxyapatite were used.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective cohort study of 49 patients who underwent 1- to 3-level ACDF with self-locking, stand-alone intervertebral cages without plates, with a minimum 2 years of follow-up. The following data were extracted from radiological and clinical charts: age, sex, time and type of pre- and postoperative signs and symptoms, pain status (visual analog scale [VAS]), functional status (Neck Disability Index [NDI]), history of smoking, bone quality (bone densitometry), and complications. Pseudarthrosis was diagnosed by a blinded neuroradiologist using CT scans. Clinical improvement was assessed using pre- and postoperative comparison of VAS and NDI scores. The Wilcoxon test for paired tests was used to evaluate statistical significance using a p value of < 0.05.

RESULTS

Three patients (6%) developed symptomatic pseudarthrosis requiring reoperation, with only 1 patient showing clinical worsening due to pseudarthrosis, while the other 2 with pseudarthrosis had associated disc disease at an adjacent level. The rate of symptomatic pseudarthrosis according to the number of operated levels was 0% for 1 level, 8.7% (2/23 patients) for 2 levels, and 7.7% (1/13 patients) for 3 levels. The total pseudarthrosis rate (including both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients) was 16.4%. Considering the clinical outcomes, there was a significant improvement of 75.6% in neck pain and 95.7% in arm pain, as well as a 64.9% improvement in NDI scores. Complications were observed in 18.4% of patients, with adjacent-level degenerative disease being the most prevalent at 14.3%.

CONCLUSIONS

ACDF with self-locking, stand-alone cages filled with a hydroxyapatite graft can be used for the surgical treatment of 1- to 3-level CDDD with clinical and radiological outcomes significantly improved after a minimum 2-year follow-up period. Comparative studies are necessary.

Open access

Effect of surgical experience and spine subspecialty on the reliability of the AO Spine Upper Cervical Injury Classification System

Mark J. Lambrechts, Gregory D. Schroeder, Brian A. Karamian, Jose A. Canseco, F. Cumhur Oner, Lorin M. Benneker, Richard J. Bransford, Frank Kandziora, Shanmuganathan Rajasekaran, Mohammad El-Sharkawi, Rishi Kanna, Andrei Fernandes Joaquim, Klaus Schnake, Christopher K. Kepler, Alexander R. Vaccaro, and the AO Spine Upper Cervical Injury Classification International Members

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this paper was to determine the interobserver reliability and intraobserver reproducibility of the AO Spine Upper Cervical Injury Classification System based on surgeon experience (< 5 years, 5–10 years, 10–20 years, and > 20 years) and surgical subspecialty (orthopedic spine surgery, neurosurgery, and "other" surgery).

METHODS

A total of 11,601 assessments of upper cervical spine injuries were evaluated based on the AO Spine Upper Cervical Injury Classification System. Reliability and reproducibility scores were obtained twice, with a 3-week time interval. Descriptive statistics were utilized to examine the percentage of accurately classified injuries, and Pearson’s chi-square or Fisher’s exact test was used to screen for potentially relevant differences between study participants. Kappa coefficients (κ) determined the interobserver reliability and intraobserver reproducibility.

RESULTS

The intraobserver reproducibility was substantial for surgeon experience level (< 5 years: 0.74 vs 5–10 years: 0.69 vs 10–20 years: 0.69 vs > 20 years: 0.70) and surgical subspecialty (orthopedic spine: 0.71 vs neurosurgery: 0.69 vs other: 0.68). Furthermore, the interobserver reliability was substantial for all surgical experience groups on assessment 1 (< 5 years: 0.67 vs 5–10 years: 0.62 vs 10–20 years: 0.61 vs > 20 years: 0.62), and only surgeons with > 20 years of experience did not have substantial reliability on assessment 2 (< 5 years: 0.62 vs 5–10 years: 0.61 vs 10–20 years: 0.61 vs > 20 years: 0.59). Orthopedic spine surgeons and neurosurgeons had substantial intraobserver reproducibility on both assessment 1 (0.64 vs 0.63) and assessment 2 (0.62 vs 0.63), while other surgeons had moderate reliability on assessment 1 (0.43) and fair reliability on assessment 2 (0.36).

CONCLUSIONS

The international reliability and reproducibility scores for the AO Spine Upper Cervical Injury Classification System demonstrated substantial intraobserver reproducibility and interobserver reliability regardless of surgical experience and spine subspecialty. These results support the global application of this classification system.