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Sebastian Siller, Rami Kasem, Thomas-Nikolaus Witt, Joerg-Christian Tonn, and Stefan Zausinger

OBJECTIVE

Various neurological diseases are known to cause progressive painless paresis of the upper limbs. In this study the authors describe the previously unspecified syndrome of compression-induced painless cervical radiculopathy with predominant motor deficit and muscular atrophy, and highlight the clinical and radiological characteristics and outcomes after surgery for this rare syndrome, along with its neurological differential diagnoses.

METHODS

Medical records of 788 patients undergoing surgical decompression due to degenerative cervical spine diseases between 2005 and 2014 were assessed. Among those patients, 31 (3.9%, male to female ratio 4.8 to 1, mean age 60 years) presented with painless compressive cervical motor radiculopathy due to neuroforaminal stenosis without signs of myelopathy; long-term evaluation was available in 23 patients with 49 symptomatic foraminal stenoses. Clinical, imaging, and operative findings as well as the long-term course of paresis and quality of life were analyzed.

RESULTS

Presenting symptoms (mean duration 13.3 months) included a defining progressive flaccid radicular paresis (median grade 3/5) without any history of radiating pain (100%) and a concomitant muscular atrophy (78%); 83% of the patients were smokers and 17% patients had diabetes. Imaging revealed a predominantly anterior nerve root compression at the neuroforaminal entrance in 98% of stenoses. Thirty stenoses (11 patients) were initially decompressed via an anterior surgical approach and 19 stenoses (12 patients) via a posterior surgical approach. Overall reoperation rate due to new or recurrent stenoses was 22%, with time to reoperation shorter in smokers (p = 0.033). Independently of the surgical procedure chosen, long-term follow-up (mean 3.9 years) revealed a stable or improved paresis in 87% of the patients (median grade 4/5) and an excellent general performance and quality of life.

CONCLUSIONS

Painless cervical motor radiculopathy predominantly occurs due to focal compression of the anterior nerve root at the neuroforaminal entrance. Surgical decompression is effective in stabilizing or improving motor function with a resulting favorable long-term outcome.

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Sebastian Siller, Caroline Zoellner, Manuel Fuetsch, Raimund Trabold, Joerg-Christian Tonn, and Stefan Zausinger

OBJECTIVE

Since the 1970s, the operating microscope (OM) has been a standard for visualization and illumination of the surgical field in spinal microsurgery. However, due to its limitations (e.g., size, costliness, and the limited movability of the binocular lenses, in addition to discomfort experienced by surgeons due to the posture required), there are efforts to replace the OM with exoscopic video telescopes. The authors evaluated the feasibility of a new 3D exoscope as an alternative to the OM in spine surgeries.

METHODS

Patients with degenerative pathologies scheduled for single-level lumbar or cervical spinal surgery with use of a high-definition 3D exoscope were enrolled in a prospective cohort study between January 2019 and September 2019. Age-, sex-, body mass index–, and procedure-matched patients surgically treated with the assistance of the OM served as the control group. Operative baseline and postoperative outcome parameters were assessed. Periprocedural handling, visualization, and illumination by the exoscope, as well as surgeons’ comfort level in terms of posture, were scored using a questionnaire.

RESULTS

A 3D exoscope was used in 40 patients undergoing lumbar posterior decompression (LPD) and 20 patients undergoing anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF); an equal number of controls in whom an OM was used were studied. Compared with controls, there were no significant differences for mean operative time (ACDF: 132 vs 116 minutes; LPD: 112 vs 113 minutes) and blood loss (ACDF: 97 vs 93 ml; LPD: 109 vs 55 ml) as well as postoperative improvement of symptoms (ACDF/Neck Disability Index: p = 0.43; LPD/Oswestry Disability Index: p = 0.76). No intraoperative complications occurred in either group. According to the attending surgeon, the intraoperative handling of instruments was rated to be comparable to that of the OM, while the comfort level of the surgeon’s posture intraoperatively (especially during “undercutting” procedures) was rated as superior. In cases of ACDF procedures and long approaches, depth perception, image quality, and illumination were rated as inferior when compared with the OM. By contrast, for operating room nursing staff participating in 3D exoscope procedures, the visualization of intraoperative process flow and surgical situs was rated to be superior to the OM, especially for ACDF procedures.

CONCLUSIONS

A 3D exoscope seems to be a safe alternative for common spinal procedures with the unique advantage of excellent comfort for the surgical team, but the drawback is the still slightly inferior visualization/illumination quality compared with the OM.