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Sameer H. Halani, Griffin R. Baum, Jonathan P. Riley, Gustavo Pradilla, Daniel Refai, Gerald E. Rodts Jr and Faiz U. Ahmad

OBJECTIVE

Esophageal perforation is a rare but well-known complication of anterior cervical spine surgery. The authors performed a systematic review of the literature to evaluate symptomatology, direct causes, repair methods, and associated complications of esophageal injury.

METHODS

A PubMed search that adhered to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines included relevant clinical studies and case reports (articles written in the English language that included humans as subjects) that reported patients who underwent anterior spinal surgery and sustained some form of esophageal perforation. Available data on clinical presentation, the surgical procedure performed, outcome measures, and other individual variables were abstracted from 1980 through 2015.

RESULTS

The PubMed search yielded 65 articles with 153 patients (mean age 44.7 years; range 14–85 years) who underwent anterior spinal surgery and sustained esophageal perforation, either during surgery or in a delayed fashion. The most common indications for initial anterior cervical spine surgery in these cases were vertebral fracture/dislocation (n = 77), spondylotic myelopathy (n = 15), and nucleus pulposus herniation (n = 10). The most commonly involved spinal levels were C5–6 (n = 51) and C6–7 (n = 39). The most common presenting symptoms included dysphagia (n =63), fever (n = 24), neck swelling (n = 23), and wound leakage (n = 18). The etiology of esophageal perforation included hardware failure (n = 31), hardware erosion (n = 23), and intraoperative injury (n = 14). The imaging modalities used to identify the esophageal perforations included modified contrast dye swallow studies, CT, endoscopy, plain radiography, and MRI. Esophageal repair was most commonly achieved using a modified muscle flap, as well as with primary closure. Outcomes measured in the literature were often defined by the time to oral intake following esophageal repair. Complications included pneumonia (n = 6), mediastinitis (n = 4), osteomyelitis (n = 3), sepsis (n = 3), acute respiratory distress syndrome (n = 2), and recurrent laryngeal nerve damage (n = 1). The mortality rate of esophageal perforation in the analysis was 3.92% (6 of 153 reported patients).

CONCLUSIONS

Esophageal perforation after anterior cervical spine surgery is a rare complication. This systematic review demonstrates that these perforations can be stratified into 3 categories based on the timing of symptomatic onset: intraoperative, early postoperative (within 30 days of anterior spinal surgery), and delayed. The most common source of esophageal injury is hardware erosion or migration, each of which may vary in their time to symptomatic manifestation.

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Gregory J. Zipfel, Manish N. Shah, Daniel Refai, Ralph G. Dacey Jr. and Colin P. Derdeyn

This article presents a modification to the existing classification scales of intracranial dural arteriovenous fistulas based on newly published research regarding the relationship of clinical symptoms and outcome. The 2 commonly used scales, the Borden-Shucart and Cognard scales, rely entirely on angiographic features for categorization. The most critical anatomical feature is the identification of cortical venous drainage (CVD; Borden-Shucart Types II and III and Cognard Types IIb, IIa + b, III, IV, and V), as this feature identifies lesions at high risk for future hemorrhage or ischemic neurological injury. Yet recent data has emerged indicating that within these high-risk groups, most of the risk for future injury is in the subgroup presenting with intracerebral hemorrhage or nonhemorrhagic neurological deficits. The authors have defined this subgroup as symptomatic CVD. Patients who present incidentally or with symptoms of pulsatile tinnitus or ophthalmological phenomena have a less aggressive clinical course. The authors have defined this subgroup as asymptomatic CVD. Based on recent data the annual rate of intracerebral hemorrhage is 7.4–7.6% for patients with symptomatic CVD compared with 1.4–1.5% for those with asymptomatic CVD. The addition of asymptomatic CVD or symptomatic CVD as modifiers to the Borden-Shucart and Cognard systems improves their accuracy for risk stratification of patients with high-grade dural arteriovenous fistulas.