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Nishit Mummareddy, Michael C. Dewan, Michael R. Mercier, Robert P. Naftel, John C. Wellons III and Christopher M. Bonfield

OBJECTIVE

The authors aimed to provide an updated and consolidated report on the epidemiology, management, and functional outcome of cases of myelomeningocele (MMC) in patients with scoliosis.

METHODS

A comprehensive literature search was performed using MEDLINE, Embase, Google Scholar, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews on cases of MMC in patients with scoliosis between 1980 and 2016. The initial search yielded 670 reports. After removing duplicates and applying inclusion criteria, we included 32 full-text original articles in this study.

RESULTS

Pooled statistical analysis of the included articles revealed the prevalence of scoliosis in MMC patients to be 53% (95% CI 0.42–0.64). Slightly more females (56%) are affected with both MMC and scoliosis than males. Motor level appears to be a significant predictor of prevalence, but not severity, of scoliosis in MMC patients. Treatment options for these patients include tethered cord release (TCR) and fusion surgeries. Curvature improvement and stabilization after TCR may be limited to patients with milder (< 50°) curves. Meanwhile, more aggressive fusion procedures such as a combined anterior-posterior approach may result in more favorable long-term scoliosis correction, albeit with greater complication rates. Quality of life metrics including ambulatory status and sitting stability are influenced by motor level of the lesion as well as the degree of the scoliosis curvature.

CONCLUSIONS

Scoliosis is among the most common and challenging comorbidities from which patients with MMC suffer. Although important epidemiological and management trends are evident, larger, prospective studies are needed to discover ways to more accurately counsel and more optimally treat these patients.

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Arjun S. Chandran, Michael Bynevelt and Christopher R. P. Lind

The subthalamic nucleus (STN) is one of the most important stereotactic targets in neurosurgery, and its accurate imaging is crucial. With improving MRI sequences there is impetus for direct targeting of the STN. High-quality, distortion-free images are paramount. Image reconstruction techniques appear to show the greatest promise in balancing the issue of geometrical distortion and STN edge detection. Existing spin echo- and susceptibility-based MRI sequences are compared with new image reconstruction methods. Quantitative susceptibility mapping is the most promising technique for stereotactic imaging of the STN.

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Christopher E. Mandigo, Prakash Sampath and Michael G. Kaiser

✓Posterior dynamic stabilization in the lumbar spine is performed in an attempt to reduce loading across the intervertebral disc for the purpose of relieving pain and limiting degeneration while preserving motion. The AccuFlex rod system (Globus Medical, Inc.), a first-generation device, achieves this by changing the properties of the rod within the Protex pedicle screw–based rigid rod system. Helical cuts that have been created in the standard 6.5-mm rod allow for a limited range of motion while providing a posterior tension band that relieves a significant amount of disc loading. The AccuFlex rod system has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for single-level fusion when used in conjunction with an interbody graft. In a study involving 170 patients who underwent fusion surgery for back pain, the 54 who received the AccuFlex construct had statistically similar fusion rates and outcomes (as assessed by visual analog scale and Short Form-16 scores) when compared with 116 patients treated with rigid rod fixation after 1 year of follow up. Future clinical studies will examine and provide information regarding the impact of AccuFlex on the incidence of adjacent-level disease. Information gained through the clinical experience with AccuFlex will serve as a foundation for the development of a stand-alone dynamic construct.

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Alex J. Koefman, Melissa Licari, Michael Bynevelt and Christopher R. P. Lind

OBJECTIVE

An objective biomarker for pain is yet to be established. Functional MRI (fMRI) is a promising neuroimaging technique that may reveal an objective radiological biomarker. The purpose of this study was to evaluate fMRI technology in the setting of lumbosacral radiculopathy and discuss its application in revealing a biomarker for pain in the future.

METHODS

A prospective, within-participant control study was conducted. Twenty participants with painful lumbosacral radiculopathy from intervertebral disc pathology were recruited. Functional imaging of the brain was performed during a randomly generated series of nonprovocative and provocative straight leg raise maneuvers.

RESULTS

With a statistical threshold set at p < 0.000001, 3 areas showed significant blood oxygen level–dependent (BOLD) signal change: right superior frontal gyrus (x = 2, y = 13, z = 48, k = 29, Brodmann area 6 [BA6]), left supramarginal cortex (x = −37, y = −44, z = 33, k = 1084, BA40), and left parietal cortex (x = −19, y = −41, z = 63, k = 354, BA5). With a statistical threshold set at p < 0.0002, 2 structures showed significant BOLD signal change: right putamen (x = 29, y = −11, z = 6, k = 72) and bilateral thalami (right: x = 23, y = −11, z = 21, k = 29; x = 8, y = −11, z = 9, k = 274; and left: x = −28, y = −32, z = 6, k = 21).

CONCLUSIONS

The results in this study compare with those in previous studies and suggest that fMRI technology can provide an objective assessment of the pain experience.

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Michael D. Martin, Christopher M. Boxell and David G. Malone

Lumbar disc degeneration occurs because of a variety of factors and results in a multitude of conditions. Alterations in the vertebral endplate cause loss of disc nutrition and disc degeneration. Aging, apoptosis, abnormalities in collagen, vascular ingrowth, loads placed on the disc, and abnormal proteoglycan all contribute to disc degeneration. Some forms of disc degeneration lead to loss of height of the motion segment with concomitant changes in biomechanics of the segment. Disc herniation with radiculopathy and chronic discogenic pain are the result of this degenerative process.

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Michael Garcia, Christopher Daugherty, Bertha Ben Khallouq and Todd Maugans

OBJECTIVE

The Internet is used frequently by patients and family members to acquire information about pediatric neurosurgical conditions. The sources, nature, accuracy, and usefulness of this information have not been examined recently. The authors analyzed the results from searches of 10 common pediatric neurosurgical terms using a novel scoring test to assess the value of the educational information obtained.

METHODS

Google and Bing searches were performed for 10 common pediatric neurosurgical topics (concussion, craniosynostosis, hydrocephalus, pediatric brain tumor, pediatric Chiari malformation, pediatric epilepsy surgery, pediatric neurosurgery, plagiocephaly, spina bifida, and tethered spinal cord). The first 10 “hits” obtained with each search engine were analyzed using the Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose (CRAAP) test, which assigns a numerical score in each of 5 domains. Agreement between results was assessed for 1) concurrent searches with Google and Bing; 2) Google searches over time (6 months apart); 3) Google searches using mobile and PC platforms concurrently; and 4) searches using privacy settings. Readability was assessed with an online analytical tool.

RESULTS

Google and Bing searches yielded information with similar CRAAP scores (mean 72% and 75%, respectively), but with frequently differing results (58% concordance/matching results). There was a high level of agreement (72% concordance) over time for Google searches and also between searches using general and privacy settings (92% concordance). Government sources scored the best in both CRAAP score and readability. Hospitals and universities were the most prevalent sources, but these sources had the lowest CRAAP scores, due in part to an abundance of self-marketing. The CRAAP scores for mobile and desktop platforms did not differ significantly (p = 0.49).

CONCLUSIONS

Google and Bing searches yielded useful educational information, using either mobile or PC platforms. Most information was relevant and accurate; however, the depth and breadth of information was variable. Search results over a 6-month period were moderately stable. Pediatric neurosurgery practices and neurosurgical professional organization websites were inferior (less current, less accurate, less authoritative, and less purposeful) to governmental and encyclopedia-type resources such as Wikipedia. This presents an opportunity for pediatric neurosurgeons to participate in the creation of better online patient/parent educational material.

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Christopher I. Shaffrey and Justin S. Smith

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Thomas J. Buell, Davis G. Taylor, Ching-Jen Chen, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Justin S. Smith and Shay Bess

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Gregory D. Schroeder, Nik Hjelm, Alexander R. Vaccaro, Michael S. Weinstein and Christopher K. Kepler

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this paper was to compare the severity of the initial neurological injury as well as the early changes in the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) motor score (AMS) between central cord syndrome (CCS) patients with and without an increased T2 signal intensity in their spinal cord.

METHODS

Patients with CCS were identified and stratified based on the presence of increased T2 signal intensity in their spinal cord. The severity of the initial neurological injury and the progression of the neurological injury over the 1st week were measured according to the patient's AMS. The effect of age, sex, congenital stenosis, surgery within 24 hours, and surgery in the initial hospitalization on the change in AMS was determined using an analysis of variance.

RESULTS

Patients with increased signal intensity had a more severe initial neurological injury (AMS 57.6 vs 75.3, respectively, p = 0.01). However, the change in AMS over the 1st week was less severe in patients with an increase in T2 signal intensity (−0.85 vs −4.3, p = 0.07). Analysis of variance did not find that age, sex, Injury Severity Score, congenital stenosis, surgery within 24 hours, or surgery during the initial hospitalization affected the change in AMS.

CONCLUSIONS

The neurological injury is different between patients with and without an increased T2 signal intensity. Patients with an increased T2 signal intensity are likely to have a more severe initial neurological deficit but will have relatively minimal early neurological deterioration. Comparatively, patients without an increase in the T2 signal intensity will likely have a less severe initial injury but can expect to have a slight decline in neurological function in the 1st week.

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Time is spine: a review of translational advances in spinal cord injury

JNSPG 75th Anniversary Invited Review Article

Jetan H. Badhiwala, Christopher S. Ahuja and Michael G. Fehlings

Acute traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating event with far-reaching physical, emotional, and economic consequences for patients, families, and society at large. Timely delivery of specialized care has reduced mortality; however, long-term neurological recovery continues to be limited. In recent years, a number of exciting neuroprotective and regenerative strategies have emerged and have come under active investigation in clinical trials, and several more are coming down the translational pipeline. Among ongoing trials are RISCIS (riluzole), INSPIRE (Neuro-Spinal Scaffold), MASC (minocycline), and SPRING (VX-210). Microstructural MRI techniques have improved our ability to image the injured spinal cord at high resolution. This innovation, combined with serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis, holds the promise of providing a quantitative biomarker readout of spinal cord neural tissue injury, which may improve prognostication and facilitate stratification of patients for enrollment into clinical trials. Given evidence of the effectiveness of early surgical decompression and growing recognition of the concept that “time is spine,” infrastructural changes at a systems level are being implemented in many regions around the world to provide a streamlined process for transfer of patients with acute SCI to a specialized unit. With the continued aging of the population, central cord syndrome is soon expected to become the most common form of acute traumatic SCI; characterization of the pathophysiology, natural history, and optimal treatment of these injuries is hence a key public health priority. Collaborative international efforts have led to the development of clinical practice guidelines for traumatic SCI based on robust evaluation of current evidence. The current article provides an in-depth review of progress in SCI, covering the above areas.