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Editorial: C-2 neurectomy

Vincent C. Traynelis

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Cervical decompression and reconstruction without intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring

Clinical article

Vincent C. Traynelis, Kingsley O. Abode-Iyamah, Katie M. Leick, Sarah M. Bender, and Jeremy D. W. Greenlee

Object

The primary goal of this study was to review the immediate postoperative neurological function in patients surgically treated for symptomatic cervical spine disease without intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring. The secondary goal was to assess the economic impact of intraoperative monitoring (IOM) in this patient population.

Methods

This study is a retrospective review of 720 consecutively treated patients who underwent cervical spine procedures. The patients were identified and the data were collected by individuals who were not involved in their care.

Results

A total of 1534 cervical spine levels were treated in 720 patients using anterior, posterior, and combined (360°) approaches. Myelopathy was present preoperatively in 308 patients. There were 185 patients with increased signal intensity within the spinal cord on preoperative T2-weighted MR images, of whom 43 patients had no clinical evidence of myelopathy. Three patients (0.4%) exhibited a new neurological deficit postoperatively. Of these patients, 1 had a preoperative diagnosis of radiculopathy, while the other 2 were treated for myelopathy. The new postoperative deficits completely resolved in all 3 patients and did not require additional treatment. The Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes for IOM during cervical decompression include 95925 and 95926 for somatosensory evoked potential monitoring of the upper and lower extremities, respectively, as well as 95928 and 95929 for motor evoked potential monitoring of the upper and lower extremities. In addition to the charge for the baseline [monitoring] study, patients are charged hourly for ongoing electrophysiology testing and monitoring using the CPT code 95920. Based on these codes and assuming an average of 4 hours of monitoring time per surgical case, the savings realized in this group of patients was estimated to be $1,024,754.

Conclusions

With the continuing increase in health care costs, it is our responsibility as providers to minimize expenses when possible. This should be accomplished without compromising the quality of care to patients. This study demonstrates that decompression and reconstruction for symptomatic cervical spine disease without IOM may reduce the cost of treatment without adversely impacting patient safety.

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Editorial: Load-sharing score

Vincent C. Traynelis and Hussein Alahmadi

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Editorial. Cervical kyphotic deformity

Vincent C. Traynelis

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Clinical and radiographic analysis of cervical disc arthroplasty compared with allograft fusion: a randomized controlled clinical trial

Praveen V. Mummaneni, J. Kenneth Burkus, Regis W. Haid, Vincent C. Traynelis, and Thomas A. Zdeblick

Object

The authors report the results of a prospective randomized multicenter study in which the results of cervical disc arthroplasty were compared with anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) in patients treated for symptomatic single-level cervical degenerative disc disease (DDD).

Methods

Five hundred forty-one patients with single-level cervical DDD and radiculopathy were enrolled at 32 sites and randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups: 276 patients in the investigational group underwent anterior cervical discectomy and decompression and arthroplasty with the PRESTIGE ST Cervical Disc System (Medtronic Sofamor Danek); 265 patients in the control group underwent decompressive ACDF. Eighty percent of the arthroplasty-treated patients (223 of 276) and 75% of the control patients (198 of 265) completed clinical and radiographic follow-up examinations at routine intervals for 2 years after surgery.

Analysis of all currently available postoperative 12- and 24-month data indicated a two-point greater improvement in the neck disability index score in the investigational group than the control group. The arthroplasty group also had a statistically significant higher rate of neurological success (p = 0.005) as well as a lower rate of secondary revision surgeries (p = 0.0277) and supplemental fixation (p = 0.0031). The mean improvement in the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey Physical Component Summary scores was greater in the investigational group at 12 and 24 months, as was relief of neck pain. The patients in the investigational group returned to work 16 days sooner than those in the control group, and the rate of adjacent-segment reoperation was significantly lower in the investigational group as well (p = 0.0492, log-rank test). The cervical disc implant maintained segmental sagittal angular motion averaging more than 7°. In the investigational group, there were no cases of implant failure or migration.

Conclusions

The PRESTIGE ST Cervical Disc System maintained physiological segmental motion at 24 months after implantation and was associated with improved neurological success, improved clinical outcomes, and a reduced rate of secondary surgeries compared with ACDF.

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Perioperative complications with multilevel anterior and posterior cervical decompression and fusion

Joshua T. Wewel, Bledi C. Brahimaj, Manish K. Kasliwal, and Vincent C. Traynelis

OBJECTIVE

Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is a progressive degenerative pathology that frequently affects older individuals and causes spinal cord compression with symptoms of neck pain, radiculopathy, and weakness. Anterior decompression and fusion is the primary intervention to prevent neurological deterioration; however, in severe cases, circumferential decompression and fusion is necessary. Published data regarding perioperative morbidity associated with these complex operations are scarce. In this study, the authors sought to add to this important body of literature by documenting a large single-surgeon experience of single-session circumferential cervical decompression and fusion.

METHODS

A retrospective analysis was performed to identify intended single-stage anterior-posterior or posterior-anterior-posterior cervical spine decompression and fusion surgeries performed by the primary surgeon (V.C.T.) at Rush University Medical Center between 2009 and 2016. Cases in which true anterior-posterior cervical decompression and fusion was not performed (i.e., those involving anterior-only, posterior-only, or delayed circumferential fusion) were excluded from analysis. Data including standard patient demographic information, comorbidities, previous surgeries, and intraoperative course, along with postoperative outcomes and complications, were collected and analyzed. Perioperative morbidity was recorded during the 90 days following surgery.

RESULTS

Seventy-two patients (29 male and 43 female, mean age 57.6 years) were included in the study. Fourteen patients (19.4%) were active smokers, and 56.9% had hypertension, the most common comorbidity. The most common clinical presentation was neck pain in 57 patients (79.2%). Twenty-three patients (31.9%) had myelopathy, and 32 patients (44.4%) had undergone prior cervical spine surgery. Average blood loss was 613 ml. Injury to the vertebral artery was encountered in 1 patient (1.4%). Recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy was observed in 2 patients (2.8%). Two patients (2.8%) had transient unilateral hand grip weakness. There were no permanent neurological deficits. Dysphagia was encountered in 45 patients (62.5%) postoperatively, with 23 (32%) requiring nasogastric parenteral nutrition and 9 (12.5%) patients ultimately undergoing percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) placement. Nine of the 72 patients required a tracheostomy. The incidence of pneumonia was 6.9% (5 patients) overall, and 2 of these patients were in the tracheostomy group. Superficial wound infections occurred in 4 patients (5.6%). Perioperative death occurred in 1 patient. Reoperation was necessary in 10 patients (13.9%). Major perioperative complications (permanent neurological deficit, vascular injury, tracheostomy, PEG tube, stroke, or death) occurred in 30.6% of patients. The risk of minor perioperative complications (temporary deficit, dysphagia, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, urinary tract infection, pneumonia, or wound infection) was 80.6%.

CONCLUSIONS

Single-session anterior-posterior cervical decompression and fusion is an inherently morbid operation required in select patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy. In this large single-surgeon series, there was a major perioperative complication risk of 30.6% and minor perioperative complication risk of 80.6%. This overall elevated risk for postoperative complications must be carefully considered and discussed with the patient preoperatively. In some situations, shared decision making may lead to the conclusion that a procedure of lesser magnitude may be more appropriate.

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Posterior fusion for fragility type 2 odontoid fractures

Vincent C. Traynelis, Ricardo B. V. Fontes, Kingsley O. Abode-Iyamah, Efrem M. Cox, and Jeremy D. Greenlee

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the outcomes of elderly patients with type 2 odontoid fractures treated with an instrumented posterior fusion.

METHODS

Ninety-three consecutive patients older than 65 years of age in whom a type 2 odontoid fracture had been treated with a variety of C1–2 posterior screw fixation techniques were retrospectively reviewed.

RESULTS

The average age was 78 years (range 65–95 years). Thirty-seven patients had an additional fracture, 30 of which involved C1. Three patients had cervical spinal cord dysfunction due to their injury. All patients had comorbidities. The average total hospitalization was 9.6 days (range 2–37 days). There were 3 deaths and 19 major complications, the most common of which was pneumonia. No patient suffered a vertebral artery injury. Imaging studies were obtained in 64 patients at least 12 months postsurgery (mean 19 months). Fusion was assessed by dynamic radiographs in all cases and with a CT scan in 80% of the cases. Four of the 64 patients did not achieve fusion (6.25% overall). All patients in whom fusion failed had undergone C1 lateral mass fixation and C2 pars (1/29, 3.4%) or laminar (3/9, 33.3%) fixation.

CONCLUSIONS

Instrumented posterior cervical fusions may be performed in elderly patients with acceptable morbidity and mortality. The fusion rate is excellent except when bilateral C2 translaminar screws are used for axis fixation.

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Chymopapain-induced reduction of proinflammatory phospholipase A2 activity and amelioration of neuropathic behavioral changes in an in vivo model of acute sciatica

Paul D. Sawin, Vincent C. Traynelis, Gretchen Rich, Bruce A. Smith, Timothy J. Maves, Kenneth A. Follett, and Steven A. Moore

✓ The mechanism of action underlying chymopapain (Chymodiactin) chemonucleolysis remains obscure. Radiographic studies suggest that chymopapain does not alter disc fragment size acutely; nonetheless, patients often report symptom resolution within a few days, even hours, of treatment. The authors postulate that, in addition to its chemonucleolytic action, chymopapain may possess antiinflammatory properties. To test this hypothesis, the authors assessed the ability of chymopapain to modulate the activity of the proinflammatory enzyme phospholipase A2 (PLA2) and to ameliorate behavioral changes associated with inflammatory neuropathy in an in vivo model of sciatica.

Thirty-nine male Fischer rats were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: 1) saline, 2) betamethasone, or 3) chymopapain. All of the rats underwent unilateral sciatic nerve ligation with loose chromic gut suture to induce inflammatory mononeuropathy. The animals were tested for thermal and mechanical hyperalgesia on Days 0 (preoperation), 7 (pretreatment), and 14 (prior to death). Three animals were killed on Day 0 to determine the baseline PLA2 activity within unmanipulated rat sciatic nerves. On Day 7, three animals from each group were killed to assess PLA2 activity prior to treatment. The remainder were given a single infusion of saline, betamethasone (0.3 mg/kg), or chymopapain (100 pKat U) around the inflamed nerve. On Day 14, the remaining animals were killed and their sciatic nerves were removed. The tissue was homogenized and the PLA2 activity was determined using [14C]arachidonate—labeled Escherichia coli phospholipid membrane as a substrate. Lipids were extracted and separated by thin-layer chromatography.

All animals developed behavioral changes consistent with inflammatory mononeuropathy 24 to 72 hours postoperatively; these included gait disturbance, flexion deformity, and hyperalgesia of the involved hindlimb. The degree of mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia was comparable between groups at Day 7. By Day 14, the thermal hyperalgesia had resolved; the mechanical hyperalgesia was less evident in the betamethasone- and chymopapain-treated groups than in the saline-treated controls (p = 0.003; saline- vs. chymopapain-treated groups p = 0.004; saline- vs. betamethasone-treated groups p = 0.008). The mean PLA2 activity at baseline (Day 0) was 11.6 ± 4.9 nmol phospholipid hydrolyzed per minute per milligram of protein. The PLA2 activity at Day 7 was 74.4 ± 18.2 (ligated side) and 21.2 ± 11.7 (nonligated side). At Day 14, PLA2 activity was reduced in the chymopapain- (47.8 ± 12.3) and betamethasone- (39.7 ± 9.5) treated groups compared with the saline control group (62.3 ± 11.2), (saline- vs. chymopapain-treated groups p < 0.05; saline- vs. betamethasone-treated groups p < 0.01). The PLA2 activity in nonligated specimens was 18.6 ± 10.1.

These data indicate that chymopapain exhibits antiinflammatory properties in vivo, reducing PLA2 activity and ameliorating mechanical hyperalgesia in this model of inflammatory sciatic neuropathy.

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Ultrasonographic guidance for spinal extracranial radiosurgery: technique and application for metastatic spinal lesions

Timothy C. Ryken, Sanford L. Meeks, Vincent Traynelis, John Haller, Lionel G. Bouchet, Francis J. Bova, Edward C. Pennington, and John M. Buatti

Object

The relatively stationary anatomy of the intracranial compartment has allowed the development of stereotactic radiosurgery as an effective treatment option for many intracranial lesions. Difficulty in accurately tracking extracranial targets has limited its development in the treatment of these lesions. The ability to track extracranial structures in real time with ultrasound images allows a system to upgrade and interface pretreatment volumetric images for extracranial applications. In this report the authors describe this technique as applied to the treatment of localized metastatic spinal disease.

Methods

The extracranial stereotactic system consists of an optically tracked ultrasonography unit that can be registered to a linear accelerator coordinate system. Stereotactic ultrasound images are acquired following patient positioning, based on a pretreatment computerized tomography (CT) simulation. The soft-tissue shifts between the virtual CT-based treatment plan and the actual treatment are determined. The degree of patient offset is tracked and used to correct the treatment plan.

The ultrasonography-based stereotactic navigation system is accurate to within an approximate means of 1.5 mm based on testing with an absolute coordinate phantom. A radiosurgical treatment was delivered using the system for localization of a metastatic spinal lesion. Compared with the virtual CT simulation, the actual treatment plan isocenter was shifted 12.2 mm based on the stereotactic ultrasound image. The patient was treated using noncoplanar beams to a dose of 15.0 Gy to the 80% isodose shell in a single fraction.

Conclusions

A system for high-precision radiosurgical treatment of metastatic spinal tumors has been developed, tested, and applied clinically. Optical tracking of the ultrasonography probe provides real-time tracking of the patient anatomy and allows computation of the target displacement prior to treatment delivery. The results reported here suggest the feasibility and safety of the technique.

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Posterior cervical fixation using a new polyaxial screw and rod system: technique and surgical results

Praveen V. Mummaneni, Regis W. Haid, Vincent C. Traynelis, Rick C. Sasso, Brian R. Subach, Amory J. Fiore, and Gerald E. Rodts

Object

Standard lateral mass plate and screw systems are of limited use in patients with abnormal cervical anatomy and do not easily allow for extension to either the occipit or the thoracic spine. The objective of this study was to demonstrate the safety, surgical efficacy, and advantages of a new cervical polyaxial screw and rod system for posterior occipitocervicothoracic arthrodesis.

Methods

The authors reviewed a multicenter series of patients who underwent surgery in which they used a new posterior cervical polyaxial screw and rod system. The system was implanted in 32 (20 women and 12 men) adult patients (mean age 56.9 years, range 23–84 years). Twentythree of the patients were treated for spondylostenosis; four for cervical fracture/dislocations; four for kyphosis; and one patient was treated for pseudarthrosis that developed after prior surgery.

The system was successfully implanted in all patients despite the presence of anatomical lateral mass anomalies in the majority of cases. The mean number of levels fused was 3.9 (range one–eight levels). This dynamic system allowed for screw placement into the occiput, C-1 lateral masses, C-2 pars, C3–7 lateral masses, and low cervical as well as upper thoracic pedicles. Selective application of compressive or distractive forces was possible in adjacent segments. Surgery-related complications included one dural tear and one malpositioned screw. There were two cases of wound infection.

Conclusions

Unlike standard lateral mass plate and screw systems, the new cervical polyaxial screw and rod system easily accommodates severe degenerative cervical spondylosis and curvatures. This instrumentation system allows for polyaxial screw placement with subsequent multiplanar rod contouring and offset attachment. The authors have used this system successfully, and without significant complications, to achieve posterior cervical arthrodesis.