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Marjan Alimi, Christoph P. Hofstetter, Se Young Pyo, Danika Paulo and Roger Härtl

OBJECT

Surgical decompression is the intervention of choice for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) when nonoperative treatment has failed. Standard open laminectomy is an effective procedure, but minimally invasive laminectomy through tubular retractors is an alternative. The aim of this retrospective case series was to evaluate the clinical and radiographic outcomes of this procedure in patients who underwent LSS and to compare outcomes in patients with and without preoperative spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

Patients with LSS without spondylolisthesis and with stable Grade I spondylolisthesis who had undergone minimally invasive tubular laminectomy between 2004 and 2011 were included in this analysis. Demographic, perioperative, and radiographic data were collected. Clinical outcome was evaluated using the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and visual analog scale (VAS) scores, as well as Macnab's criteria.

RESULTS

Among 110 patients, preoperative spondylolisthesis at the level of spinal stenosis was present in 52.5%. At a mean follow-up of 28.8 months, scoring revealed a median improvement of 16% on the ODI, 2.75 on the VAS back, and 3 on the VAS leg, compared with the preoperative baseline (p < 0.0001). The reoperation rate requiring fusion at the same level was 3.5%. Patients with and without preoperative spondylolisthesis had no significant differences in their clinical outcome or reoperation rate.

CONCLUSIONS

Minimally invasive laminectomy is an effective procedure for the treatment of LSS. Reoperation rates for instability are lower than those reported after open laminectomy. Functional improvement is similar in patients with and without preoperative spondylolisthesis. This procedure can be an alternative to open laminectomy. Routine fusion may not be indicated in all patients with LSS and spondylolisthesis.

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Karishma Parikh, Andre Tomasino, Jared Knopman, John Boockvar and Roger Härtl

Object

The authors present their clinical results and the learning curve associated with the use of tubular retractors for 1- and 2-level lumbar microscope-assisted discectomies and laminectomies.

Methods

The study involves a retrospective and prospective analysis of 230 patients who underwent noninstrumented minimally invasive procedures for degenerative lumbar spinal disease between 2004 and 2007. Data on patient demographic characteristics and operative results, including length of stay, blood loss, operative times, and surgical complications were collected. Clinical outcomes were assessed based on pre- and postoperative Visual Analog Scale scores, Oswestry Disability Index values, and the Macnab outcome scale scores.

Results

The results showed characteristic differences in blood loss and operating times between 1- and 2-level procedures and between discectomies and laminectomies. A significant learning curve was seen by a decrease in operating time for 1- level discectomies and 2-level laminectomies. Major complications were not observed.

Conclusions

The use of tubular retractors for microsurgical decompression of degenerative spinal disease is a safe and effective treatment modality. As with other techniques, minimally invasive procedures are associated with a significant learning curve. As surgeons become more comfortable with the procedure, its applications can be expanded to include, for example, spinal instrumentation and deformity correction.

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Linda M. Gerber, Ya-Lin Chiu, Nancy Carney, Roger Härtl and Jamshid Ghajar

Object

In spite of evidence that use of the Brain Trauma Foundation Guidelines for the Management of Severe Traumatic Brain Injury (Guidelines) would dramatically reduce morbidity and mortality, adherence to these Guidelines remains variable across trauma centers. The authors analyzed 2-week mortality due to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) from 2001 through 2009 in New York State and examined the trends in adherence to the Guidelines.

Methods

The authors calculated trends in adherence to the Guidelines and age-adjusted 2-week mortality rates between January 1, 2001, and December 31, 2009. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to evaluate the effect of time period on case-fatality. Intracranial pressure (ICP) monitor insertion was modeled in a 2-level hierarchical model using generalized linear mixed effects to allow for clustering by different centers.

Results

From 2001 to 2009, the case-fatality rate decreased from 22% to 13% (p < 0.0001), a change that remained significant after adjusting for factors that independently predict mortality (adjusted OR 0.52, 95% CI 0.39–0.70; p < 0.0001). Guidelines adherence increased, with the percentage of patients with ICP monitoring increasing from 56% to 75% (p < 0.0001). Adherence to cerebral perfusion pressure treatment thresholds increased from 15% to 48% (p < 0.0001). The proportion of patients having an ICP elevation greater than 25 mm Hg dropped from 42% to 29% (p = 0.0001).

Conclusions

There was a significant reduction in TBI mortality between 2001 and 2009 in New York State. Increase in Guidelines adherence occurred at the same time as the pronounced decrease in 2-week mortality and decreased rate of intracranial hypertension, suggesting a causal relationship between Guidelines adherence and improved outcomes. Our findings warrant future investigation to identify methods for increasing and sustaining adherence to evidence-based Guidelines recommendations.

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Christoph P. Hofstetter, Andrew R. James and Roger Härtl

Object

Paracoccygeal transsacral fixation is a novel percutaneous technique for arthrodesis of L5–S1 and L4–5 (Axial Lumbar Interbody Fusion [AxiaLIF]). There are no reports on feasible revision strategies. The goal of this paper is to analyze the surgical details of failed AxiaLIF constructs and to describe revision strategies.

Methods

The medical charts, operative records, and imaging studies of 5 patients with failed multisegment instrumentation using the AxiaLIF device were reviewed.

Results

AxiaLIF constructs were revised in 5 patients with a mean age of 58.4 years. All AxiaLIF devices were part of multisegment fusion constructs for revision surgery and were revised an average of 15 months after implantation. Two AxiaLIF devices were percutaneously retrieved; one because of excessive bone resorption around the AxiaLIF screw, and the other because of chronic hardware infection. In these 2 patients, the anterior column was subsequently stabilized via anterior lumbar interbody fusion. In the other 3 patients, the AxiaLIF device was left in situ. In 2 of these patients the anterior column was stabilized with bilateral L5–S1 posterior lumbar interbody fusion, and in the remaining patient with L4–5 instability the posterior instrumentation only was revised. Revision surgeries were well tolerated. One patient suffered from a wound dehiscence of the back wound.

Conclusions

AxiaLIF devices are safely retrieved using percutaneous technique. Both anterior and posterior revision strategies may be used to achieve anterior column fixation.

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Halinder S. Mangat, Ya-Lin Chiu, Linda M. Gerber, Marjan Alimi, Jamshid Ghajar and Roger Härtl

OBJECT

Increased intracranial pressure (ICP) in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) is associated with a higher mortality rate and poor outcome. Mannitol and hypertonic saline (HTS) have both been used to treat high ICP, but it is unclear which one is more effective. Here, the authors compare the effect of mannitol versus HTS on lowering the cumulative and daily ICP burdens after severe TBI.

METHODS

The Brain Trauma Foundation TBI-trac New York State database was used for this retrospective study. Patients with severe TBI and intracranial hypertension who received only 1 type of hyperosmotic agent, mannitol or HTS, were included. Patients in the 2 groups were individually matched for Glasgow Coma Scale score (GCS), pupillary reactivity, craniotomy, occurrence of hypotension on Day 1, and the day of ICP monitor insertion. Patients with missing or erroneous data were excluded. Cumulative and daily ICP burdens were used as primary outcome measures. The cumulative ICP burden was defined as the total number of days with an ICP of > 25 mm Hg, expressed as a percentage of the total number of days of ICP monitoring. The daily ICP burden was calculated as the mean daily duration of an ICP of > 25 mm Hg, expressed as the number of hours per day. The numbers of intensive care unit (ICU) days, numbers of days with ICP monitoring, and 2-week mortality rates were also compared between the groups. A 2-sample t-test or chi-square test was used to compare independent samples. The Wilcoxon signed-rank or Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel test was used for comparing matched samples.

RESULTS

A total of 35 patients who received only HTS and 477 who received only mannitol after severe TBI were identified. Eight patients in the HTS group were excluded because of erroneous or missing data, and 2 other patients did not have matches in the mannitol group. The remaining 25 patients were matched 1:1. Twenty-four patients received 3% HTS, and 1 received 23.4% HTS as bolus therapy. All 25 patients in the mannitol group received 20% mannitol. The mean cumulative ICP burden (15.52% [HTS] vs 36.5% [mannitol]; p = 0.003) and the mean (± SD) daily ICP burden (0.3 ± 0.6 hours/day [HTS] vs 1.3 ± 1.3 hours/day [mannitol]; p = 0.001) were significantly lower in the HTS group. The mean (± SD) number of ICU days was significantly lower in the HTS group than in the mannitol group (8.5 ± 2.1 vs 9.8 ± 0.6, respectively; p = 0.004), whereas there was no difference in the numbers of days of ICP monitoring (p = 0.09). There were no significant differences between the cumulative median doses of HTS and mannitol (p = 0.19). The 2-week mortality rate was lower in the HTS group, but the difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.56).

CONCLUSIONS

HTS given as bolus therapy was more effective than mannitol in lowering the cumulative and daily ICP burdens after severe TBI. Patients in the HTS group had significantly lower number of ICU days. The 2-week mortality rates were not statistically different between the 2 groups.

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Arash Farahvar, Linda M. Gerber, Ya-Lin Chiu, Nancy Carney, Roger Härtl and Jamshid Ghajar

Object

Evidence-based guidelines recommend intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring for patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), but there is limited evidence that monitoring and treating intracranial hypertension reduces mortality. This study uses a large, prospectively collected database to examine the effect on 2-week mortality of ICP reduction therapies administered to patients with severe TBI treated either with or without an ICP monitor.

Methods

From a population of 2134 patients with severe TBI (Glasgow Coma Scale [GCS] Score <9), 1446 patients were treated with ICP-lowering therapies. Of those, 1202 had an ICP monitor inserted and 244 were treated without monitoring. Patients were admitted to one of 20 Level I and two Level II trauma centers, part of a New York State quality improvement program administered by the Brain Trauma Foundation between 2000 and 2009. This database also contains information on known independent early prognostic indicators of mortality, including age, admission GCS score, pupillary status, CT scanning findings, and hypotension.

Results

Age, initial GCS score, hypotension, and CT scan findings were associated with 2-week mortality. In addition, patients of all ages treated with an ICP monitor in place had lower mortality at 2 weeks (p = 0.02) than those treated without an ICP monitor, after adjusting for parameters that independently affect mortality.

Conclusions

In patients with severe TBI treated for intracranial hypertension, the use of an ICP monitor is associated with significantly lower mortality when compared with patients treated without an ICP monitor. Based on these findings, the authors conclude that ICP-directed therapy in patients with severe TBI should be guided by ICP monitoring.

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Maria M. Santos, Derick K. Rubagumya, Imani Dominic, Amos Brighton, Soledad Colombe, Philip O’Donnell, Micaella R. Zubkov and Roger Härtl

OBJECTIVE

Infant hydrocephalus is estimated to affect more than 100,000 new infants each year in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Bugando Medical Centre (BMC), a government-funded and patient cost-shared referral center, serves over 13 million people in the Lake and Western regions of Tanzania. The goals of this study were to characterize the infant population affected by hydrocephalus who presented to BMC and were treated with a ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS) to determine the rate of early complications associated with this surgical procedure and to assess its potential risk factors.

METHODS

Data were prospectively collected from all patients less than 1 year of age who, over a period of 7 months, were diagnosed with hydrocephalus and admitted to BMC for insertion of a primary VPS. Demographic data, maternal history, preoperative studies, surgical procedure, and surgical complications developing by the time of the first follow-up visit were analyzed. Risk factors associated with the surgical complications were determined.

RESULTS

During the 7-month study period, 125 infants eligible for the study were included in the analysis. Overall, 75% were younger than 6 months of age, and 56% were males. Only 7% of mothers had a gestational ultrasound, 98% did not receive preconception folic acid, and 25% delivered their child at home. In most patients with hydrocephalus the etiology was uncertain (56%), and other patients had postinfectious (22.4%) or myelomeningocele-associated (16%) hydrocephalus. Patients’ mean head circumference on admission was 51.4 ± 6.3 cm. Their median age at shunt surgery was 137 days, and 22.4% of the patients were operated on without having undergone radiological assessment. The majority of shunts were placed in a right parietooccipital location. Thirteen patients had undergone a previous intraventricular endoscopic procedure. Overall, at least one surgical complication was found in 33.6% of patients up to the first follow-up assessment (median follow-up time of 70 days); shunt infection was the most common complication. The postoperative mortality rate was 9%. The risk factors associated with early surgical complications were tumor-related etiology, larger head circumference, and postoperative hospital stays of greater duration.

CONCLUSIONS

In a region of the continent where most infant hydrocephalus cases had an uncertain etiology, most patients presented to the hospital in a late stage, with no prenatal diagnosis and with large head circumferences. Standard preoperative investigations were not uniformly performed, and the surgical complications, led by VPS infection, were disturbingly high. Younger patient age, previous endoscopic procedure, surgeon involved, and cranial location of the VPS had no statistical relation to the surgical complications.

This study shows that the positive results previously reported by SSA mission hospitals, subspecialized in pediatric neurosurgery, are still not generalizable to every hospital in East Africa. To improve maternal and neonatal care in the Lake region of Tanzania, the development of a fluxogram to determine hydrocephalus etiology, a strict perioperative protocol for VPS insertion, and an increase in the number of endoscopic procedures are recommended to BMC.

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Emanuele La Corte, Philipp R. Aldana, Paolo Ferroli, Jeffrey P. Greenfield, Roger Härtl, Vijay K. Anand and Theodore H. Schwartz

OBJECT

The endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) provides a minimally invasive corridor through which the cervicomedullary junction can be decompressed with reduced morbidity rates compared to those with the classic transoral approaches. The limit of the EEA is its inferior extent, and preoperative estimation of its reach is vital for determining its suitability. The aim of this study was to evaluate the actual inferior limit of the EEA in a surgical series of patients and develop an accurate and reliable predictor that can be used in planning endonasal odontoidectomies.

METHODS

The actual inferior extent of surgery was determined in a series of 6 patients with adequate preoperative and postoperative imaging who underwent endoscopie endonasal odontoidectomy. The medians of the differences between several previously described predictive lines, namely the nasopalatine line (NPL) and nasoaxial line (NAxL), were compared with the actual surgical limit and the hard-palate line by using nonparametric statistics. A novel line, called the rhinopalatine line (RPL), was established and corresponded best with the actual limit of the surgery.

RESULTS

There were 4 adult and 2 pediatric patients included in this study. The NPL overestimated the inferior extent of the surgery by an average (± SD) of 21.9 ± 8.1 mm (range 14.7-32.5 mm). The NAxL and RPL overestimated the inferior limit of surgery by averages of 6.9 ± 3.8 mm (range 3.7-13.3 mm) and 1.7 ± 3.7 mm (range −2.8 to 8.3 mm), respectively. The medians of the differences between the NPL and NAxL and the actual surgery were statistically different (both p = 0.0313). In contrast, there was no statistically significant difference between the RPL and the inferior limit of surgery (p = 0.4375).

CONCLUSIONS

The RPL predicted the inferior limit of the EEA to the craniovertebral junction more accurately than previously described lines. The use of the RPL may help surgeons in choosing suitable candidates for the EEA and in selecting those for whom surgery through the oropharynx or the facial bones is the better approach.

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William D. Tobler, Miguel A. Melgar, Thomas J. Raley, W. Daniel Bradley, Larry E. Miller and Richard J. Nasca