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Mubarak Al-Ghatany, Mubarak Al-Shraim, Allan D. O. Levi and Rajiv Midha

✓ Subacute posttraumatic ascending myelopathy (SPAM) is a rare disorder that may gradually emerge in the first 1 to 3 weeks after a spinal cord injury and is unrelated to syrinx formation or mechanical instability. In addition to several theories that have been put forth to explain the origin of this syndrome, the authors propose a possible role for apoptosis in the causation and the progression of SPAM. They discuss the various theories that have been proposed thus far, to place the role of apoptosis in perspective and use their case as an illustration.

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Michael Y. Wang, Barth A. Green, Sachin Shah, D.O. Steven Vanni and Allan D. O. Levi

Object

An aging population will require that surgeons increasingly consider operative intervention in elderly patients. To perform this surgery safely will require an understanding of the factors that predict successful outcomes as well as complications.

Methods

Records of patients older than the age of 75 years who underwent lumbar spinal stenosis surgery were retrospectively reviewed. Preexisting medical illnesses were analyzed using the Charlson Weighted Comorbidity Index. Ambulatory function was rated on a four-point scale. Statistical analysis was performed using a one-tailed t-test with unpaired variance.

Eighty-eight patients treated between 1994 and 2001 were identified. Forty-five percent were women and 52 patients underwent spinal fusion. The follow-up period averaged 21 months. Back pain was present preoperatively in 89%; after surgery 43% experienced complete relief and 33% partial improvement. Leg pain was present preoperatively in 98%; after surgery 43% experienced complete relief and 42% partial improvement. Of the 33 patients with preoperative gait disturbances, 61% improved at least one point on the ambulatory scale. Wound complications and systemic complications were demonstrated in 24 and 16 patients, respectively. There were no deaths. Age (p = 0.322), number of fused levels (p = 0.371), and the number of laminectomy levels (p = 0.254) were not predictive of complications. Length of operative time (p = 0.003) and the CharlsonWeighted Comorbidity Index score (p = 0.088) were associated with both systemic and wound complications.

Conclusions

Surgery in patients older than age 75 years can be conducted safely and with similar outcome rates as in younger patients. The CharlsonWeighted Comorbidity Index score and operative time were predictive of the risk of complications.

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Allan D. O. Levi, Hector Dancausse, Xiuming Li, Suzanne Duncan, Laura Horkey and Maria Oliviera

Object. Partial restoration of hindlimb function in adult rats following spinal cord injury (SCI) has been demonstrated using a variety of transplantation techniques. The purpose of the present study was twofold: 1) to determine whether strategies designed to promote regeneration in the rat can yield similar results in the primate; and 2) to establish whether central nervous system (CNS) regeneration will influence voluntary grasping and locomotor function in the nonhuman primate.

Methods. Ten cynomologus monkeys underwent T-11 laminectomy and resection of a 1-cm length of hemispinal cord. Five monkeys received six intercostal nerve autografts and fibrin glue containing acidic fibroblast growth factor (2.1 µg/ml) whereas controls underwent the identical laminectomy procedure but did not receive the nerve grafts. At 4 months postgrafting, the spinal cord—graft site was sectioned and immunostained for peripheral myelin proteins, biotinylated dextran amine, and tyrosine hydroxylase, whereas the midpoint of the graft was analyzed histologically for the total number of myelinated axons within and around the grafts. The animals underwent pre- and postoperative testing for changes in voluntary hindlimb grasping and gait.

Conclusions. 1) A reproducible model of SCI in the primate was developed. 2) Spontaneous recovery of the ipsilateral hindlimb function occurred in both graft- and nongraft—treated monkeys over time without evidence of recovering the ability for voluntary tasks. 3) Regeneration of the CNS from proximal spinal axons into the peripheral nerve grafts was observed; however, the grafts did not promote regeneration beyond the lesion site. 4) The grafts significantly enhanced (p < 0.0001) the regeneration of myelinated axons into the region of the hemisected spinal cord compared with the nongrafted animals.

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Michael Y Wang and Allan D. O. Levi

Occipital neuralgia is a result of neuropathic pain transmission in the distribution of the greater occipital nerve. Because it is well anatomically localized, occipital neuralgia has been the focus of various surgical treatments. Ablation, decompression, and modulation of the C-2 nerve have all been described as effective treatments. The C-2 dorsal root ganglionectomy provides effective treatment for this disorder with a low incidence of unpleasant side effects. In this review the authors summarize the current treatment of occipital neuralgia.

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Eric Belanger, Claude Picard, Daniel Lacerte, Pierre Lavallee and Allan D. O. Levi

✓ Subacute posttraumatic ascending myelopathy is a rare disorder, unrelated to syrinx formation or mechanical instability, that may gradually emerge within the first 1 to 2 weeks after a spinal cord injury. The authors describe three patients with this syndrome and discuss its possible causes as well as its clinical presentation, imaging characteristics, treatment, and patient prognosis.

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Evelyne Emery, Philipp Aldana, Mary Bartlett Bunge, William Puckett, Anu Srinivasan, Robert W. Keane, John Bethea and Allan D. O. Levi

Apoptosis is a form of programmed cell death seen in a variety of developmental and disease states, including traumatic injuries. The main objective of this study was to determine whether apoptosis is observed after human spinal cord injury (SCI). The spatial and temporal expression of apoptotic cells as well as the nature of the cells involved in programmed cell death were also investigated.

The authors examined the spinal cords of 15 patients who died between 3 hours and 2 months after a traumatic SCI. Apoptotic cells were found at the edges of the lesion epicenter and in the adjacent white matter, particularly in the ascending tracts, by using histological (cresyl violet, hematoxylin and eosin) and nuclear staining (Hoechst 33342). The presence of apoptotic cells was supported by staining with the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridinetriphosphate nick-end labeling technique and confirmed by immunostaining for the processed form of caspase-3 (CPP-32), a member of the interleukin-1-beta-converting enzyme/Caenorhabditis elegans D 3 (ICE/CED-3) family of proteases that plays an essential role in programmed cell death. Apoptosis in this series of human SCIs was a prominent pathological finding in 14 of the 15 spinal cords examined when compared with five uninjured control spinal cords. To determine the type of cells undergoing apoptosis, the authors immunostained specimens with a variety of antibodies, including glial fibrillary acidic protein, 2',3'-cyclic nucleotide 3'-phosphohydrolase (CNPase), and CD45/68. Oligodendrocytes stained with CNPase and a number of apoptotic nuclei colocalized with positive staining for this antibody.

These results support the hypothesis that apoptosis occurs in human SCIs and is accompanied by the activation of caspase-3 of the cysteine protease family. This mechanism of cell death contributes to the secondary injury processes seen after human SCI and may have important clinical implications for the further development of protease inhibitors to prevent programmed cell death.

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Evelyne Emery, Philipp Aldana, Mary Bartlett Bunge, William Puckett, Anu Srinivasan, Robert W. Keane, John Bethea and Allan D. O. Levi

Object. Apoptosis is a form of programmed cell death seen in a variety of developmental and disease states, including traumatic injuries. The main objective of this study was to determine whether apoptosis is observed after human spinal cord injury (SCI). The spatial and temporal expression of apoptotic cells as well as the nature of the cells involved in programmed cell death were also investigated.

Methods. The authors examined the spinal cords of 15 patients who died between 3 hours and 2 months after a traumatic SCI. Apoptotic cells were found at the edges of the lesion epicenter and in the adjacent white matter, particularly in the ascending tracts, by using histological (cresyl violet, hematoxylin and eosin) and nuclear staining (Hoechst 33342). The presence of apoptotic cells was supported by staining with the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridinetriphosphate nick-end labeling technique and confirmed by immunostaining for the processed form of caspase-3 (CPP-32), a member of the interleukin-1β-converting enzyme/Caenorhabditis elegans D 3 (ICE/CED-3) family of proteases that plays an essential role in programmed cell death. Apoptosis in this series of human SCIs was a prominent pathological finding in 14 of the 15 spinal cords examined when compared with five uninjured control spinal cords. To determine the type of cells undergoing apoptosis, the authors immunostained specimens with a variety of antibodies, including glial fibrillary acidic protein, 2′,3′-cyclic nucleotide 3′-phosphohydrolase (CNPase), and CD45/68. Oligodendrocytes stained with CNPase and a number of apoptotic nuclei colocalized with positive staining for this antibody.

Conclusions. These results support the hypothesis that apoptosis occurs in human SCIs and is accompanied by the activation of caspase-3 of the cysteine protease family. This mechanism of cell death contributes to the secondary injury processes seen after human SCI and may have important clinical implications for the further development of protease inhibitors to prevent programmed cell death.

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Evelyne Emery, Philipp Aldana, Mary Bartlett Bunge, William Puckett, Anu Srinivasan, Robert W. Keane, John Bethea and Allan D. O. Levi

Object

Apoptosis is a form of programmed cell death seen in a variety of developmental and disease states, including traumatic injuries. The main objective of this study was to determine whether apoptosis is observed after human spinal cord injury (SCI). The spatial and temporal expression of apoptotic cells as well as the nature of the cells involved in programmed cell death were also investigated.

Methods

The authors examined the spinal cords of 15 patients who died between 3 hours and 2 months after a traumatic SCI. Apoptotic cells were found at the edges of the lesion epicenter and in the adjacent white matter, particularly in the ascending tracts, by using histological (cresyl violet, hematoxylin and eosin) and nuclear staining (Hoechst 33342). The suspected presence of apoptotic cells was supported by staining with the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated biotinylated-deoxyuridinetriphosphate nick-end labeling technique and confirmed by immunostaining for the processed form of caspase-3 (CPP-32), a member of the interleukin-1-beta-converting enzyme/Caenorhabditis elegans D 3 family of proteases that plays an essential role in programmed cell death. Apoptosis in this series of human SCIs was a prominent pathological finding in 14 of the 15 spinal cords examined when compared with five uninjured control spinal cords. To determine the type of cells undergoing apoptosis, the authors immunostained specimens with a variety of antibodies, including glial fibrillary acidic protein, 2,′3′-cyclic nucleotide 3′-phosphohydrolase (CNPase), and CD45/68. Oligodendrocytes stained with CNPase and a number of apoptotic nuclei colocalized with positive staining for this antibody.

Conclusions

These results support the hypothesis that apoptosis occurs in human SCIs and is accompanied by the activation of CPP-32 of the cysteine protease family. This mechanism of cell death contributes to the secondary injury processes seen after human SCI and may have important clinical implications for the further development of protease inhibitors to prevent programmed cell death.

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Allan D. O. Levi, Curtis A. Dickman and Volker K. H. Sonntag

✓ The authors retrospectively reviewed 452 consecutively treated patients who underwent a spinal instrumentation procedure at a single institution to establish which patients and which surgical approaches might be associated with an increased risk of developing deep wound infections and to determine the efficacy with which the institution's current treatment strategy eradicates these infections. Wound infections occurred in 17 patients (10 men and seven women) with spinal instrumentation (incidence 3.8%). All infections occurred after posterior spinal instrumentation procedures (7.2%); there were no infections after anterior instrumentation procedures regardless of the level. Each patient was assigned an infection risk factor (RF) score depending on the number of RFs identified in an individual patient preoperatively. The mean RF score of patients who developed infections was 2.18, whereas the mean RF score for a procedure-matched, infection-free control group was 0.71. The mean number of days from surgery to clinical presentation was 27.6 days (range 4–120 days), and the mean increase in hospitalization time for the subset of patients who developed infections was 16.6 days. The most common organism isolated from wound cultures was Staphylococcus aureus (nine of 17 cases). Of the 17 patients, five had infections involving multiple organisms. All patients were infection free at a minimum of 8 months follow-up review. The current treatment regimen advocated at this institution consists of operative debridement of the infected wound, a course of intravenous followed by oral antibiotic medications, insertion of an antibiotic-containing irrigation—suction system for a mean of 5 days, and maintenance of the instrumentation system within the infected wound.

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Allan D. O. Levi, Curtis A. Dickman and Volker K. H. Sonntag

The authors retrospectively reviewed 452 consecutively treated patients who underwent a spinal instrumentation procedure at a single institution to establish which patients and which surgical approaches might be associated with an increased risk of developing deep wound infections and to determine the efficacy with which the institution's current treatment strategy eradicates these infections. Wound infections occurred in 17 patients (10 men and seven women) with spinal instrumentation (incidence 3.8%). All infections occurred after posterior spinal instrumentation procedures (7.2%); there were no infections after anterior instrumentation procedures regardless of the level. Each patient was assigned an infection risk factor (RF) score depending on the number of RFs identified in an individual patient preoperatively. The mean RF score of patients who developed infections was 2.18, whereas the mean RF score for a procedure-matched, infection-free control group was 0.71. The mean number of days from surgery to clinical presentation was 27.6 days (range 4-120 days), and the mean increase in hospitalization time for the subset of patients who developed infections was 16.6 days. The most common organism isolated from wound cultures was Staphylococcus aureus (nine of 17 cases). Of the 17 patients, five had infections involving multiple organisms. All patients were infection free at a minimum of 8 months follow-up review. The current treatment regimen advocated at this institution consists of operative debridement of the infected wound, a course of intravenous followed by oral antibiotic medications, insertion of an antibiotic-containing irrigation-suction system for a mean of 5 days, and maintenance of the instrumentation system within the infected wound.