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Marc Moisi, Christian Fisahn, Lara Tkachenko, Shiveindra Jeyamohan, Stephen Reintjes, Peter Grunert, Daniel C. Norvell, R. Shane Tubbs, Jeni Page, David W. Newell, Peter Nora, Rod J. Oskouian and Jens Chapman


Posterior atlantoaxial stabilization and fusion using C-1 lateral mass screw fixation has become commonly used in the treatment of instability and for reconstructive indications since its introduction by Goel and Laheri in 1994 and modification by Harms in 2001. Placement of such lateral mass screws can be challenging because of the proximity to the spinal cord, vertebral artery, an extensive venous plexus, and the C-2 nerve root, which overlies the designated starting point on the posterior center of the lateral mass. An alternative posterior access point starting on the posterior arch of C-1 could provide a C-2 nerve root–sparing starting point for screw placement, with the potential benefit of greater directional control and simpler trajectory. The authors present a cadaveric study comparing an alternative strategy (i.e., a C-1 screw with a posterior arch starting point) to the conventional strategy (i.e., using the lower lateral mass entry site), specifically assessing the safety of screw placement to preserve the C-2 nerve root.


Five US-trained spine fellows instrumented 17 fresh human cadaveric heads using the Goel/Harms C-1 lateral mass (GHLM) technique on the left and the posterior arch lateral mass (PALM) technique on the right, under fluoroscopic guidance. After screw placement, a CT scan was obtained on each specimen to assess for radiographic screw placement accuracy. Four faculty spine surgeons, blinded to the surgeon who instrumented the cadaver, independently graded the quality of screw placement using a modified Upendra classification.


Of the 17 specimens, the C-2 nerve root was anatomically impinged in 13 (76.5%) of the specimens. The GHLM technique was graded Type 1 or 2, which is considered “acceptable,” in 12 specimens (70.6%), and graded Type 3 or 4 (“unacceptable”) in 5 specimens (29.4%). In contrast, the PALM technique had 17 (100%) of 17 graded Type 1 or 2 (p = 0.015). There were no vertebral artery injuries found in either technique. All screw violations occurred in the medial direction.


The PALM technique showed statistically fewer medial penetrations than the GHLM technique in this study. The reason for this is not clear, but may stem from a more angulated ”up-and-in” screw direction necessary with a lower starting point.

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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


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.


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.


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.


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.

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Peter Grunert, Michael R. Gaab, Dieter Hellwig and Joachim M. K. Oertel

Endoscopy plays an important part in current minimally invasive neurosurgery. The concepts, indications, and standards of current neuroendoscopy were developed in the beginning of the 1990s by several groups of neurosurgeons. Several factors contributed to its success and acceptance, including technical development, influence of other disciplines, and adaptation to neurosurgical requirements. This historical survey focuses on the period when this technique initially emerged, including the scientific discussions of each group as well as the arguments and reasons that led to present intraventricular neuroendoscopy. Interestingly, despite the almost independent development of neuroendoscopic systems and techniques, the available systems and techniques applied these days grossly correspond. Rigid rod-lens endoscopes are generally accepted as the best option among the various available instrument sets. Nevertheless, frameless as well as frame-based stereotactic endoscopy and flexible steerable endoscopes might have their applications as well.

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Jens Conrad, Stefan Welschehold, Patra Charalampaki, Erik van Lindert, Peter Grunert and Axel Perneczky


Primary intracranial ependymal cysts are extremely rare. Similar to congenital intraparenchymal cysts in the mesencephalon they usually occur with symptoms of an occlusive hydrocephalus or symptoms like Parinaud syndrome, dizziness, or gait disturbance. The objective of this study was to evaluate the surgical methods for the treatment of these cysts and the clinical outcome of the patients.


The authors present the clinical records of 8 patients who were treated in their department for symptomatic mesencephalic ependymal cysts in the past 10 years. The patient age ranged from 22 to 60 years with a mean age of 44 years. In 4 cases the authors performed a suboccipital infratentorial supracerebellar approach by using endoscope-assisted microsurgery. The other 4 patients underwent a pure endoscopic procedure over a frontal bur hole trepanation.


Four patients became symptom free, and the remaining 4 improved significantly after a mean follow-up duration of 38.5 months (range 5–119 months). One patient underwent 2 operations: first a ventriculocystostomy and 4 months later endoscopic third ventriculostomy because of recurrent hydrocephalus. In 1 case a second surgery was necessary because of a wound infection. In all of the patients an adequate fenestration of the cyst was achieved.


A symptomatic mesencephalic ependymal cyst is an indication for neurosurgical intervention. These cysts can be treated successfully and most likely definitively by a pure endoscopic or endoscope-assisted keyhole neurosurgical technique. There were no morbid conditions or death due to the procedures in this group of 8 patients. Therefore, the authors regard these surgical procedures to be good alternatives to treatments such as shunt placement or stereotactic aspiration of the cysts.