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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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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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Marjan Alimi, Christoph P. Hofstetter, Guang-Ting Cong, Apostolos John Tsiouris, Andrew R. James, Danika Paulo, Eric Elowitz and Roger Härtl

Object

Extreme lateral interbody fusion (ELIF) is a popular technique for anterior fixation of the thoracolumbar spine. Clinical and radiological outcome studies are required to assess safety and efficacy. The aim of this study was to describe the functional and radiological impact of ELIF in a degenerative disc disease population with a longer follow-up and to assess the durability of this procedure.

Methods

Demographic and perioperative data for all patients who had undergone ELIF for degenerative lumbar disorders between 2007 and 2011 were collected. Trauma and tumor cases were excluded. For radiological outcome, the preoperative, immediate postoperative, and latest follow-up coronal Cobb angle, lumbar sagittal lordosis, bilateral foraminal heights, and disc heights were measured. Pelvic incidence (PI) and PI–lumbar lordosis (PI-LL) mismatch were assessed in scoliotic patients. Clinical outcome was evaluated using the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and visual analog scale (VAS), as well as the Macnab criteria.

Results

One hundred forty-five vertebral levels were surgically treated in 90 patients. Pedicle screw and rod constructs and lateral plates were used to stabilize fixation in 77% and 13% of cases, respectively. Ten percent of cases involved stand-alone cages. At an average radiological follow-up of 12.6 months, the coronal Cobb angle was 10.6° compared with 23.8° preoperatively (p < 0.0001). Lumbar sagittal lordosis increased by 5.3° postoperatively (p < 0.0001) and by 2.9° at the latest follow-up (p = 0.014). Foraminal height and disc height increased by 4 mm (p < 0.0001) and 3.3 mm (p < 0.0001), respectively, immediately after surgery and remained significantly improved at the last follow-up. Separate evaluation of scoliotic patients showed no statistically significant improvement in PI and PI-LL mismatch either immediately postoperatively or at the latest follow-up. Clinical evaluation at an average follow-up of 17.6 months revealed an improvement in the ODI and the VAS scores for back, buttock, and leg pain by 21.1% and 3.7, 3.6, and 3.7 points, respectively (p < 0.0001). According to the Macnab criteria, 84.8% of patients had an excellent, good, or fair functional outcome. New postoperative thigh numbness and weakness was detected in 4.4% and 2.2% of the patients, respectively, which resolved within the first 3 months after surgery in all but 1 case.

Conclusions

This study provides what is to the authors' knowledge the most comprehensive set of radiological and clinical outcomes of ELIF in a fairly large population at a midterm follow-up. Extreme lateral interbody fusion showed good clinical outcomes with a low complication rate. The procedure allows for at least midterm clinically effective restoration of disc and foraminal heights. Improvement in coronal deformity and a small but significant increase in sagittal lordosis were observed. Nonetheless, no significant improvement in the PI-LL mismatch was achieved in scoliotic patients.

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Innocent Njoku Jr., Marjan Alimi, Lewis Z. Leng, Benjamin J. Shin, Andrew R. James, Sandeep Bhangoo, Apostolos John Tsiouris and Roger Härtl

Object

Anterior cervical plating decreases the risk of pseudarthrosis following anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). Dysphagia is a common complication of ACDF, with the anterior plate implicated as a potential contributor. A zero-profile, stand-alone polyetheretherketone (PEEK) interbody spacer has been postulated to minimize soft-tissue irritation and postoperative dysphagia, but studies are limited. The object of the present study was to determine the clinical and radiological outcomes for patients who underwent ACDF using a zero-profile integrated plate and spacer device, with a focus on the course of postoperative prevertebral soft-tissue thickness and the incidence of dysphagia.

Methods

Using a surgical database, the authors conducted a retrospective analysis of all patients who had undergone ACDF between August 2008 and October 2011. All patients received a Zero-P implant (DePuy Synthes Spine). The Neck Disability Index (NDI) and visual analog scale (VAS) scores for arm and neck pain were documented. Dysphagia was determined using the Bazaz criteria. Prevertebral soft-tissue thickness, spinal alignment, and subsidence were assessed as well.

Results

Twenty-two male and 19 female consecutive patients, with a mean age of 58.4 ± 14.68, underwent ACDF (66 total operated levels) in the defined study period. The mean clinical follow-up in 36 patients was 18.6 ± 9.93 months. Radiological outcome in 37 patients was assessed at a mean follow-up of 9.76 months (range 7.2–19.7 months). There were significant improvements in neck and arm VAS scores and the NDI following surgery. The neck VAS score improved from a median of 6 (range 0–10) to 0 (range 0–8; p < 0.001). The arm VAS score improved from a median of 2 (range 0–10) to 0 (range 0–7; p = 0.006). Immediate postoperative dysphagia was experienced by 58.4% of all patients. Complete resolution was demonstrated in 87.8% of affected patients at the latest follow-up. The overall median Bazaz score decreased from 1 (range 0–3) immediately postoperatively to 0 (range 0–2; p < 0.001) at the latest follow-up. Prevertebral soft-tissue thickness significantly decreased across all levels from a mean of 15.8 ± 4.38 mm to 10.1 ± 2.93 mm. Postoperative lordosis was maintained at the latest follow-up. Mean subsidence from the immediate postoperative to the latest follow-up was 4.1 ± 4.7 mm (p < 0.001). Radiographic fusion was achieved in 92.6% of implants. No correlation was found between prevertebral soft-tissue thickness and Bazaz dysphagia score.

Conclusions

A zero-profile integrated plate and spacer device for ACDF surgery produces clinical and radiological outcomes that are comparable to those for nonintegrated plate and spacer constructs. Chronic dysphagia rates are comparable to or better than those for previously published case series.

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Peter Grunert, Harry H. Gebhard, Robby D. Bowles, Andrew R. James, Hollis G. Potter, Michael Macielak, Katherine D. Hudson, Marjan Alimi, Douglas J. Ballon, Eric Aronowitz, Apostolos John Tsiouris, Lawrence J. Bonassar and Roger Härtl

Object

Tissue-engineered intervertebral discs (TE-IVDs) represent a new experimental approach for the treatment of degenerative disc disease. Compared with mechanical implants, TE-IVDs may better mimic the properties of native discs. The authors conducted a study to evaluate the outcome of TE-IVDs implanted into the rat-tail spine using radiological parameters and histology.

Methods

Tissue-engineered intervertebral discs consist of a distinct nucleus pulposus (NP) and anulus fibrosus (AF) that are engineered in vitro from sheep IVD chondrocytes. In 10 athymic rats a discectomy in the caudal spine was performed. The discs were replaced with TE-IVDs. Animals were kept alive for 8 months and were killed for histological evaluation. At 1, 5, and 8 months, MR images were obtained; T1-weighted sequences were used for disc height measurements, and T2-weighted sequences were used for morphological analysis. Quantitative T2 relaxation time analysis was used to assess the water content and T1ρ-relaxation time to assess the proteoglycan content of TE-IVDs.

Results

Disc height of the transplanted segments remained constant between 68% and 74% of healthy discs. Examination of TE-IVDs on MR images revealed morphology similar to that of native discs. T2-relaxation time did not differ between implanted and healthy discs, indicating similar water content of the NP tissue. The size of the NP decreased in TE-IVDs. Proteoglycan content in the NP was lower than it was in control discs. Ossification of the implanted segment was not observed. Histological examination revealed an AF consisting of an organized parallel-aligned fiber structure. The NP matrix appeared amorphous and contained cells that resembled chondrocytes.

Conclusions

The TE-IVDs remained viable over 8 months in vivo and maintained a structure similar to that of native discs. Tissue-engineered intervertebral discs should be explored further as an option for the potential treatment of degenerative disc disease.