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  • Author or Editor: Jau-Ching Wu x
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Jau-Ching Wu, Wen-Cheng Huang, Yun-An Tsai, Yu-Chun Chen and Henrich Cheng

Object

The aim of this study was to assess functional outcomes of nerve repair using acidic fibroblast growth factor (FGF) in patients with cervical spinal cord injury (SCI).

Methods

Nine patients who had cervical SCI for longer than 5 months were included in pre- and postoperative assessments of their neurological function. The assessments included evaluating activities of daily living, associated functional ability, and degree of spasticity, motor power, sensation, and pain perception. After the first set of assessments, the authors repaired the injured segment of the spinal cord using a total laminectomy followed by the application of fibrin glue containing acidic FGF. Clinical evaluations were conducted 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 months after the surgery. Preoperative versus postoperative differences in injury severity and grading of key muscle power and sensory points were calculated using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test.

Results

The preoperative degree of injury severity, as measured using the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) scoring system, showed that preoperative motor (52.4 ± 25.9 vs 68.6 ± 21.5), pinprick (61.0 ± 34.9 vs 71.6 ± 31.0), and light touch scores (57.3 ± 33.9 vs 71.9 ± 30.2) were significantly lower than the respective postoperative scores measured 6 months after surgery (p = 0.005, 0.012, and 0.008, respectively).

Conclusions

Based on the significant difference in ASIA motor and sensory scale scores between the preoperative status and the 6-month postoperative follow-up, this novel nerve repair strategy of using acidic FGF may have a role in the repair of human cervical SCI. Modest nerve regeneration occurred in all 9 patients after this procedure without any observed adverse effects. This repair strategy thus deserves further investigation, clinical consideration, and refinement.

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Jau-Ching Wu, Wen-Cheng Huang, Ming-Chao Huang, Yun-An Tsai, Yu-Chun Chen, Yang-Hsin Shih and Henrich Cheng

Object

In this study, the authors evaluated the efficacy of a new surgical strategy for reconnecting the injured brachial plexus with the spinal cord using fibrin glue containing acidic fibroblast growth factor as an adhesive and neurotrophic agent.

Methods

Eighteen patients with preganglionic brachial plexus injuries, each with varying degrees of upper limb dysfunction, underwent cervical laminectomy with or without sural nerve grafting. The treatment of each avulsed root varied according to the severity of the injury. Some patients also underwent a second-stage operation involving supraclavicular brachial plexus exploration for reconnection with the corresponding segment of cervical spinal cord at the trunk level. Muscle strength was graded both pre- and postoperatively with the British Medical Research Council scale, and the results were analyzed with the Friedman and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests.

Results

Muscle strength improvements were observed in 16 of the 18 patients after 24 months of follow-up. Significant improvements in mean muscle strength were observed in patients from all repair method groups at 12 and 24 months postoperatively (p < 0.05). Statistical significance was not reached in the groups with insufficient numbers of cases.

Conclusions

The authors' new surgical strategy yielded clinical improvement in muscle strength after preganglionic brachial plexus injury, such that nerve regeneration may have taken place. Reconnection of the brachial plexus to the cervical spinal cord is possible. Functional motor recovery, observed through increases in Medical Research Council–rated muscle strength in the affected arm, is likewise possible.

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Chin-Chu Ko, Hsiao-Wen Tsai, Wen-Cheng Huang, Jau-Ching Wu, Yu-Chun Chen, Yang-Hsin Shih, Hung-Chieh Chen, Ching-Lan Wu and Henrich Cheng

Object

Dynamic stabilization systems are used to stabilize degenerative lumbar spondylosis. Loosening of the pedicle screws in such nonfusion implants is predictable. This retrospective study evaluated the incidence of screw loosening and its effect on clinical outcomes.

Methods

Charts, radiographic films, and medical records of 71 consecutive patients who underwent decompression using Dynesys dynamic stabilization for 1- or 2-level lumbar spondylosis were reviewed. Radiographic films were evaluated and compared to detect screw loosening. A visual analog scale (VAS) for back pain and the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) were used for measuring clinical outcome. Statistical analysis was conducted using the chisquare test and Student t-test.

Results

The 71 patients in the study sample had a mean age of 59.2 ± 11.65 years (range 23–80 years), with slight female predominance (39 women, 32 men). The mean follow-up duration was 16.6 months (range 8–29 months). There were loose screws in 14 of 71 patients (19.7%), for a rate of 4.6% per screw (17 of 368 screws). Most screw loosening occurred in patients ≥ 55 years old (13 of 14 patients) although age and sex had no effect on screw loosening (p = 0.233 and 0.109, respectively). Both the loose screw and solid screw groups experienced significant improvement after the surgery in VAS and ODI scores. On the VAS, scores improved from 5.9 ± 2.99 to 2.1 ± 2.14 in the loose screw group (p = 0.003), and from 5.7 ± 3.45 to 2.9 ± 2.68 in the solid screw group (p < 0.001). For the ODI scale, scores improved from 43.5 ± 16.78% to 28.0 ± 18.18% (p = 0.006) in the loose screw group, and from 52.1 ± 20.92% to 24.6 ± 19.78% (p < 0.001) in the solid screw group. There were no significant differences between the 2 groups (p = 0.334 for VAS, p = 0.567 for ODI).

Conclusions

The preliminary study of this pedicle-based dynamic stabilization device for 1- and 2-level lumbar spondylosis shows radiographic evidence of screw loosening in 19.7% of patients and 4.6% of screws. Nonetheless, the loosening of screws has no adverse effect on clinical improvement.

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Jau-Ching Wu, Laura Liu, Yu-Chun Chen, Wen-Cheng Huang, Tzeng-Ji Chen and Henrich Cheng

Object

This study aimed to calculate the incidence and prevalence of ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) in the cervical spine with its comorbid disability.

Methods

Using an 11-year nationwide database in Taiwan (National Health Insurance Research Database), this retrospective study cohort analyzed the incidences of cervical OPLL causing hospitalization. All patients admitted for the diagnosis of OPLL, regardless of surgery, were identified. Age- and sex-specific incidences, Poisson regression, and multivariate logistic regression analysis were conducted.

Results

Between 1997 and 2007 covering 241,800,725.8 person-years, 1651 patients were admitted for OPLL. The overall incidence of OPLL-related admission was 6.1 per 1 million person-years. Specifically, male sex and older age were associated with higher OPLL incidences (both p < 0.001). Among the 1651 OPLL patients, 542 (32.8%) received conservative management, 612 (37.1%) had anterior only surgery, 353 (21.4%) had posterior only surgery, and 144 (8.7%) had anterior and posterior surgery. Eighty-five patients were moderately to severely disabled (5.2% cumulative incidence rate). The incidences of disability varied by age, in a decreasing trend, except for the 60- to 69-year-old age group (p = 0.05). Patients who received posterior-only surgery were more likely to have disability.

Conclusions

In a large cohort of the Chinese population, the incidence of cervical OPLL-related admission is 6.1 per 1 million person-years, and the prevalence rate is 7.7 per 100,000 person-years. Higher incidences are observed in elderly and male patients, which implies the disease's degenerative nature. After adjustments for demographics, the incidences and trends of OPLL-related comorbid disability are associated with age and surgical approaches.

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Jau-Ching Wu, Wen-Cheng Huang, Yu-Chun Chen, Tsung-Hsi Tu, Yun-An Tsai, Shih-Fong Huang, Hsueh-Chen Huang and Henrich Cheng

Object

The study aimed to verify the safety and feasibility of applying acidic fibroblast growth factor (aFGF) with fibrin glue in combination with surgical neurolysis for nonacute spinal cord injury.

Methods

This open-label, prospective, uncontrolled human clinical trial recruited 60 patients with spinal cord injuries (30 cervical and 30 thoracolumbar). The mean patient age was 36.5 ± 15.33 (mean ± SD) years, and the male/female ratio was 3:1. The mean time from injury to treatment was 25.7 ± 26.58 months, and the cause of injury included motor vehicle accident (26 patients [43.3%]), fall from a height (17 patients [28.3%]), sports (4 patients [6.7%]), and other (13 patients [21.7%]). Application of aFGF with fibrin glue and duraplasty was performed via laminectomy, and an adjuvant booster of combined aFGF and fibrin glue (2 ml) was given at 3 and 6 months postsurgery via lumbar puncture. Outcome measurements included the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) motor scores, sensory scores, impairment scales, and neurological levels. Examination of functional independence measures, visual analog scale, MR imaging, electrophysiological and urodynamic studies, hematology and biochemistry tests, tumor markers, and serum inflammatory cytokines were all conducted. All adverse events were monitored and reported. Exclusions were based on refusal, unrelated adverse events, or failure to participate in the planned rehabilitation.

Results

Forty-nine patients (26 with cervical and 23 with thoracolumbar injuries) completed the 24-month trial. Compared with preoperative conditions, the 24-month postoperative ASIA motor scores improved significantly in the cervical group (from 27.6 ± 15.55 to 37.0 ± 19.93, p < 0.001) and thoracolumbar group (from 56.8 ± 9.21 to 60.7 ± 10.10, p < 0.001). The ASIA sensory scores also demonstrated significant improvement in light touch and pinprick in both groups: from 55.8 ± 24.89 to 59.8 ± 26.47 (p = 0.049) and 56.3 ± 23.36 to 62.3 ± 24.87 (p = 0.003), respectively, in the cervical group and from 75.7 ± 15.65 to 79.2 ± 15.81 (p < 0.001) and 78.2 ± 14.72 to 82.7 ± 16.60 (p < 0.001), respectively, in the thoracolumbar group. At 24-month follow-up, the ASIA impairment scale improved significantly in both groups (30% cervical [p = 0.011] and 30% thoracolumbar [p = 0.003]). There was also significant improvement in neurological level in the cervical (from 5.17 ± 1.60 to 6.27 ± 3.27, p = 0.022) and thoracolumbar (from 18.03 ± 4.19 to 18.67 ± 3.96, p = 0.001) groups. The average sum of motor items in functional independence measure also had significant improvement in both groups (p < 0.05). The walking/wheelchair locomotion subscale showed increased percentages of patients who were ambulatory (from 3.4% to 13.8% and from 17.9% to 35.7% in the cervical and thoracolumbar groups, respectively). There were no related adverse events.

Conclusions

The use of aFGF for spinal cord injury was safe and feasible in the present trial. There were significant improvements in ASIA motor and sensory scale scores, ASIA impairment scales, neurological levels, and functional independence measure at 24 months after treatment. Further large-scale, randomized, and controlled investigations are warranted to evaluate the efficacy and long-term results.

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Michael G. Fehlings and Jefferson R. Wilson

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Jau-Ching Wu, Chin-Chu Ko, Yu-Shu Yen, Wen-Cheng Huang, Yu-Chun Chen, Laura Liu, Tsung-Hsi Tu, Su-Shun Lo and Henrich Cheng

Object

This study aimed to determine the age- and sex-specific incidence of cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) and its associated risk of causing subsequent spinal cord injury (SCI).

Methods

Using the National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD), a 12-year nationwide database in Taiwan, this retrospective cohort study analyzed the incidence of hospitalization caused by CSM. All patients diagnosed with and admitted for CSM were identified during the study period. The CSM patients were divided into 2 groups, a control group and an operated group. An incidence density method was used to estimate age- and sex-specific incidence rates of CSM. The Kaplan-Meier method and Cox regression analyses were performed to compare the risk of SCI between the 2 groups.

Results

From 1998 to 2009, covering 349.5 million person-years, 14,140 patients were hospitalized for CSM. The overall incidence of CSM-related hospitalization was 4.04 per 100,000 person-years. Specifically, males and older persons had a higher incidence rate of CSM. During the follow-up of these patients for 13,461 person-years, a total of 166 patients were diagnosed with SCI. The incidence of SCI was higher in the control group than the operated group (13.9 vs 9.4 per 1000 person-years, respectively). During the follow-up, SCI was more likely to occur in CSM patients who were treated conservatively (crude HR 1.48, p = 0.023; adjusted HR 1.57, p = 0.011) than in those who underwent surgery for CSM.

Conclusions

In a national cohort of eastern Asia, the incidence of CSM-caused hospitalization was 4.04 per 100,000 person-years, with higher incidences observed in older and male patients. Subsequent SCI was more likely to develop in patients who received nonoperative management than in those who underwent surgery. Therefore, patients with CSM managed without surgery should be cautioned about SCI. However, further investigations are still required to clarify the risks and complications associated with surgery for CSM.

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Li-Fu Chen, Tsung-Hsi Tu, Yu-Chun Chen, Jau-Ching Wu, Peng-Yuan Chang, Laura Liu, Wen-Cheng Huang, Su-Shun Lo and Henrich Cheng

OBJECTIVE

This study aimed to estimate the risk of spinal cord injury (SCI) in patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) with and without ossification of posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL). Also, the study compared the incidence rates of SCI in patients who were managed surgically and conservatively.

METHODS

This retrospective cohort study covering 15 years analyzed the incidence of SCI in patients with CSM. All patients, identified from the National Health Insurance Research Database, were hospitalized with the diagnosis of CSM and followed up during the study period. These patients with CSM were categorized into 4 groups according to whether they had OPLL or not and whether they received surgery or not: 1) surgically managed CSM without OPLL; 2) conservatively managed CSM without OPLL; 3) surgically managed CSM with OPLL; and 4) conservatively managed CSM with OPLL. The incidence rates of subsequent SCI in each group during follow-up were then compared. Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression analyses were performed to compare the risk of SCI between the groups.

RESULTS

Between January 1, 1999, and December 31, 2013, there were 17,258 patients with CSM who were followed up for 89,003.78 person-years. The overall incidence of SCI in these patients with CSM was 2.022 per 1000 person-years. Patients who had CSM with OPLL and were conservatively managed had the highest incidence of SCI, at 4.11 per 1000 person-years. Patients who had CSM with OPLL and were surgically managed had a lower incidence of SCI, at 3.69 per 1000 person-years. Patients who had CSM without OPLL and were conservatively managed had an even lower incidence of SCI, at 2.41 per 1000 person-years. Patients who had CSM without OPLL and were surgically managed had the lowest incidence of SCI, at 1.31 per 1000 person-years. The Cox regression model demonstrated that SCIs are significantly more likely to happen in male patients and in those with OPLL (HR 2.00 and 2.24, p < 0.001 and p = 0.007, respectively). Surgery could significantly lower the risk for approximately 50% of patients (HR 0.52, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with CSM had an overall incidence rate of SCI at approximately 0.2% per year. Male sex, the coexistence of OPLL, and conservative management are twice as likely to be associated with subsequent SCI. Surgery is therefore suggested for male patients with CSM who also have OPLL.

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Yu-Chun Chen, Chao-Hung Kuo, Chieh-Ming Cheng and Jau-Ching Wu

OBJECTIVE

Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) has become a prevalent cause of spinal cord dysfunction among the aging population worldwide. Although great strides have been made in spine surgery in past decades, the optimal timing and surgical strategy to treat CSM have remained controversial. In this article the authors aimed to analyze the current trends in studies of CSM and to summarize the recent advances of surgical techniques in its treatment.

METHODS

The PubMed database was searched using the keywords pertaining to CSM in human studies that were published between 1975 and 2018. Analyses of both the bibliometrics and contents, including the types of papers, authors, affiliations and countries, number of patients, and the surgical approaches were conducted. A systematic review of the literature was also performed with emphasis on the diagnosis and treatment of mild CSM.

RESULTS

A total of 1008 papers published during the span of 44 years were analyzed. These CSM studies mainly focused on the natural history, diagnosis, and treatment, and only a few prospective randomized trials were reported. For the authors and affiliations, there was a shift of clustering of papers toward Asian countries in the past decades. Regarding the treatment for CSM, there was an exponential growth of surgical series published, and there was a trend toward slightly more anterior than posterior approaches through the past decade. Patients with CSM had increased risks of neurological deterioration or spinal cord injury with nonoperative management. Because surgery might reduce the risks, and early surgery was likely to be correlated with better outcomes, there was a trend toward attention to mildly symptomatic CSM.

CONCLUSIONS

There is emerging enthusiasm for research on CSM worldwide, with more publications originating in Asian countries over the past few decades. The surgical management of CSM is evolving continuously toward early and anterior approaches. More prospective investigations on the optimal timing and choices of surgery are therefore needed.