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Alan T. Villavicencio, E. Lee Nelson, Vinod Kantha and Sigita Burneikiene

OBJECTIVE

Opioid analgesics have become some of the most prescribed drugs in the world, despite the lack of long-term studies evaluating the benefits of opioid medications versus their risks associated with chronic use. In addition, long-term opioid use may be associated with worse long-term clinical outcomes. The primary objective of this study was to evaluate whether preoperative opioid use predicted inferior clinical outcomes among patients undergoing transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) for symptomatic lumbar degenerative disc disease.

METHODS

The authors of this observational study prospectively enrolled 93 patients who underwent 1-level to 2-level TLIFs in 2011–2014; the patient cohort was divided into 2 groups according to preoperative opioid use or no such use. Visual analog scale (VAS) scores for low-back pain and leg pain, Oswestry Disability Index scores, and the scores of the mental component summary (MCS) and physical component summary (PCS) on the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey were used to assess pain, disability, and health-related quality of life outcomes, respectively. The clinical scores for the 2 groups were determined preoperatively and at a 12-month follow-up examination.

RESULTS

In total, 60 (64.5%) patients took prescribed opioid medications preoperatively. Compared with those not taking opioids preoperatively, these patients had significantly higher VAS scores for low-back pain (p = 0.016), greater disability (p = 0.013), and lower PCS scores (p = 0.03) at the 12-month follow-up. The postoperative MCS scores were also significantly lower (p = 0.035) in the opioid-use group, but these lower scores were due to significantly lower baseline MCS scores in this group. A linear regression analysis did not detect opioid dose–related effects on leg and back pain, disability, and MCS and PCS scores, suggesting that poorer outcomes are not significantly correlated with higher opioid doses taken by the patients.

CONCLUSIONS

The use of opioid medications to control pain before patients underwent lumbar fusion for degenerative lumbar conditions was associated with less favorable clinical outcomes postoperatively. This is the first study that has demonstrated this association in a homogeneous cohort of patients undergoing TLIF; this association should be studied further to evaluate the conclusions of the present study.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT01406405 (clinicaltrials.gov)

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Alexander Mason, Renee Paulsen, Jason M. Babuska, Sharad Rajpal, Sigita Burneikiene, E. Lee Nelson and Alan T. Villavicencio

Object

Several retrospective studies have demonstrated higher accuracy rates and increased safety for navigated pedicle screw placement than for free-hand techniques; however, the accuracy differences between navigation systems has not been extensively studied. In some instances, 3D fluoroscopic navigation methods have been reported to not be more accurate than 2D navigation methods for pedicle screw placement. The authors of this study endeavored to identify if 3D fluoroscopic navigation methods resulted in a higher placement accuracy of pedicle screws.

Methods

A systematic analysis was conducted to examine pedicle screw insertion accuracy based on the use of 2D, 3D, and conventional fluoroscopic image guidance systems. A PubMed and MEDLINE database search was conducted to review the published literature that focused on the accuracy of pedicle screw placement using intraoperative, real-time fluoroscopic image guidance in spine fusion surgeries. The pedicle screw accuracy rates were segregated according to spinal level because each spinal region has individual anatomical and morphological variations. Descriptive statistics were used to compare the pedicle screw insertion accuracy rate differences among the navigation methods.

Results

A total of 30 studies were included in the analysis. The data were abstracted and analyzed for the following groups: 12 data sets that used conventional fluoroscopy, 8 data sets that used 2D fluoroscopic navigation, and 20 data sets that used 3D fluoroscopic navigation. These studies included 1973 patients in whom 9310 pedicle screws were inserted. With conventional fluoroscopy, 2532 of 3719 screws were inserted accurately (68.1% accuracy); with 2D fluoroscopic navigation, 1031 of 1223 screws were inserted accurately (84.3% accuracy); and with 3D fluoroscopic navigation, 4170 of 4368 screws were inserted accurately (95.5% accuracy). The accuracy rates when 3D was compared with 2D fluoroscopic navigation were also consistently higher throughout all individual spinal levels.

Conclusions

Three-dimensional fluoroscopic image guidance systems demonstrated a significantly higher pedicle screw placement accuracy than conventional fluoroscopy or 2D fluoroscopic image guidance methods.

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Frances A. Carr, Kyle M. Healy, Alan T. Villavicencio, E. Lee Nelson, Alexander Mason, Sigita Burneikiene and Theresa D. Hernández

Object

The primary purpose of this study was to analyze what effect preoperative patient expectations and 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) Mental Component Summary (MCS) scores have on clinical outcomes. To the authors' knowledge, there are no prospective studies that have examined the effects of both preoperative pain expectations and SF-36 MCS scores on clinical outcomes and satisfaction with results following anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).

Methods

This study analyzed 79 patients (38 men, 41 women) undergoing 1- to 3-level ACDF surgery. Preoperatively, patients were divided into 2 groups for the expectation analyses: patients who expected complete resolution of pain postoperatively (44 total) and those who expected some residual pain (35 total) postoperatively. Preoperative SF-36 MCS scores were used to test the possible effects of mental health on clinical outcomes and satisfaction. Clinical outcomes were evaluated using visual analog scales (VASs) for neck/arm pain, Neck Disability Index (NDI), SF-36 Physical Component Summary (PCS)/MCS, and patient satisfaction with results scales. The mean follow-up duration was 38.8 months (range 7–59 months).

Results

All postoperative measures depicted significant improvement overall. Patients who expected no pain reported lower postoperative neck/arm pain scores (p < 0.02), higher SF-36 MCS scores (p = 0.04), and higher satisfaction with results scores (p = 0.01) compared with patients who expected some pain, after controlling for their respective preoperative scores. Higher preoperative SF-36 MCS scores predicted significantly lower postoperative neck pain (p = 0.003) and NDI (p = 0.004) scores, as well as higher postoperative SF-36 PCS (p = 0.002), SF-36 MCS (p = 0.001), and satisfaction (p = 0.03) scores, after controlling for their respective preoperative scores.

Conclusions

Patients who expected no pain postoperatively reported better scores on the nonstandardized outcome measure scales (VAS arm/neck, satisfaction with results), and higher SF-36 MCS scores. Higher preoperative MCS scores were related to better overall (standardized and nonstandardized) clinical outcomes (VAS neck, NDI, SF-36 PCS/MCS, and satisfaction with results). The results suggest that optimism in patients' expectations as well as mental well-being are related to improved clinical outcomes and higher patient satisfaction.

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Alan T. Villavicencio, Theresa D. Hernández, Sigita Burneikiene and Jeff Thramann

Object

The sport of triathlon is very physically demanding and has experienced rapid growth in recent years. The number of triathletes seen for spine disorders at neurosurgery clinics is increasing. Neck pain and overuse injuries have not been adequately studied in multisport athletes. The authors undertook an epidemiological study to establish the lifetime incidence of neck pain and the prevalence of possible discogenic pain, and to identify risk factors among triathletes in the Boulder, Colorado area.

Methods

An online questionnaire was developed to collect information about physical characteristics, training habits, athletic status, number of races completed, and neck pain among triathletes. The incidence of possible cervical discogenic pain was defined according to the duration of symptoms for the most recent pain episode.

Results

One hundred and sixty-four athletes responded to the questionnaire. The lifetime incidence of neck pain was 47.6% (78 athletes), with 15.4% possibly being of discogenic origin based on the duration of symptoms. Approximately 64% of responding athletes reported that their neck pain was sports related. Although the number of previous triathlons was not predictive of neck pain, total years in the sport (p = 0.029) and number of previous sports-related injuries (p < 0.0001) were.

Conclusions

Two major risk factors for long-term spinal problems in triathletes are sports-related injuries and overuse. This report is one of the first comprehensive studies of neck pain and overuse injury in multisport athletes.

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Tomislav Smoljanovic, Slobodan Vukicevic and Marko Pecina

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Alan T. Villavicencio, Sigita Burneikiene, E. Lee Nelson, Ketan R. Bulsara, Mark Favors and Jeffrey Thramann

Object. Recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein—2 (rhBMP-2) is being increasingly used for spinal fusion. There are few data regarding its clinical safety, effectiveness, and clinical outcome when applied on an absorbable collagen sponge (ACS) in conjunction with allograft for transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF).

Methods. Seventy-four consecutive patients undergoing TLIF for degenerative disc disease were divided into five groups depending on whether the patient underwent a minimally invasive or open approach, as well as the number of spinal levels surgically treated. Surgery-related data, fusion results, complications, and clinical outcome were evaluated. The mean follow-up duration was 20.6 months (range 14–28 months). The radiographic fusion rate was 100% at 12 and 24 months after the surgery. No bone overgrowth or other complications related to BMP use were demonstrated.

Conclusions. Analysis of the results demonstrated that TLIF combined with a BMP-2—soaked ACS is a feasible, effective, and safe method to promote lumbar fusion. There were no significant intergroup differences in clinical outcome between patients who underwent open compared with minimally invasive procedures. Patient satisfaction rates, however, were higher in the minimally invasive procedure group. The efficacy of BMP-2 was not dependent on which approach was used or the number of spinal levels that were treated.

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Michael Lim, Alan T. Villavicencio, Sigita Burneikiene, Steven D. Chang, Pantaleo Romanelli, Lee McNeely, Melinda McIntyre, Jeffrey J. Thramann and John R. Adler

Object

Gamma knife surgery is an accepted treatment option for trigeminal neuralgia (TN). The safety and efficacy of CyberKnife radiosurgery as a treatment option for TN, however, has not been established.

Methods

Forty-one patients were treated between May 2002 and September 2004 for idiopathic TN at Stanford University and the Rocky Mountain CyberKnife Center. Patients with atypical pain, multiple sclerosis, or previous radiosurgical treatment or a follow-up duration of less than 6 months were excluded. Patients were evaluated for the level of pain control, response rate, time to pain relief, occurrence of hypesthesia, and time to pain recurrence with respect to the length of the nerve treated and the maximum and the minimum dose to the nerve margin.

Thirty-eight patients (92.7%) experienced initial pain relief at a median of 7 days after treatment (range < 24 hours–4 months). Pain control was ranked as excellent in 36 patients (87.8%), moderate in two (4.9%), and three (7.3%) reported no change. Six (15.8%) of the 38 patients with initial relief experienced a recurrence of pain at a median of 6 months (range 2–8 months). Long-term response after a mean follow-up time of 11 months was found in 32 (78%) of 41. Twenty-one patients (51.2%) experienced numbness after treatment.

Conclusions

CyberKnife radiosurgery for TN has high rates of initial pain control and short latency to pain relief compared with those reported for other radiosurgery systems. The doses used for treatment were safe and effective. Higher prescribed doses were not associated with improvement in pain relief or recurrence rate. The hypesthesia rate was related to the length of the trigeminal nerve treated.