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Massimo Miscusi, Maurizio Domenicucci, Filippo Maria Polli, Stefano Forcato, Fabio De Giorgio and Antonino Raco


The authors' aim was to conduct a surgical anatomy and feasibility study on the use of an extended posterolateral approach to the cervicothoracic junction (Fessler approach) in cadavers to facilitate en bloc removal of the second thoracic vertebra using the Tomita technique. To apply this technique, it is mandatory to approach both sides of the vertebra. But such a maneuver is very difficult in the region of the cervicothoracic junction because the scapula and its muscles represent an anatomical barrier to the paravertebral compartment and lateral aspects of the vertebrae.


To study the extended posterolateral Fessler approach to the cervicothoracic junction and the possible application of the Tomita technique on the second thoracic vertebra, 3 fresh-frozen cadavers were used in the Laboratory of Human Anatomy at the University of Nantes.


The proposed approach allows exposure of both the posterior arch and the body of the second thoracic vertebra without any significant resection or traction of the superficial and deep posterior thoracic muscles, enabling application of the Tomita technique and facilitating intraoperative spinal fixation.


The proposed surgical technique is technically feasible. Nevertheless, it should be an option reserved for selected patients for whom the surgical complexity can be justified by the characteristics of their malignancy and expected curative outcome.

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Andrea Pietrantonio, Sokol Trungu, Isabella Famà, Stefano Forcato, Massimo Miscusi and Antonino Raco


Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) is the most common spinal disease in the geriatric population, and is characterized by a compression of the lumbosacral neural roots from a narrowing of the lumbar spinal canal. LSS can result in symptomatic compression of the neural elements, requiring surgical treatment if conservative management fails. Different surgical techniques with or without fusion are currently treatment options. The purpose of this study was to provide a description of the long-term clinical outcomes of patients who underwent bilateral laminotomy compared with total laminectomy for LSS.


The authors retrospectively reviewed all the patients treated surgically by the senior author for LSS with total laminectomy and bilateral laminotomy with a minimum of 10 years of follow-up. Patients were divided into 2 treatment groups (total laminectomy, group 1; and bilateral laminotomy, group 2) according to the type of surgical decompression. Clinical outcomes measures included the visual analog scale (VAS), the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) scores, and the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI). In addition, surgical parameters, reoperation rate, and complications were evaluated in both groups.


Two hundred fourteen patients met the inclusion and exclusion criteria (105 and 109 patients in groups 1 and 2, respectively). The mean age at surgery was 69.5 years (range 58–77 years). Comparing pre- and postoperative values, both groups showed improvement in ODI and SF-36 scores; at final follow-up, a slightly better improvement was noted in the laminotomy group (mean ODI value 22.8, mean SF-36 value 70.2), considering the worse preoperative scores in this group (mean ODI value 70, mean SF-36 value 38.4) with respect to the laminectomy group (mean ODI 68.7 vs mean SF-36 value 36.3), but there were no statistically significant differences between the 2 groups. Significantly, in group 2 there was a lower incidence of reoperations (15.2% vs 3.7%, p = 0.0075).


Bilateral laminotomy allows adequate and safe decompression of the spinal canal in patients with LSS; this technique ensures a significant improvement in patients’ symptoms, disability, and quality of life. Clinical outcomes are similar in both groups, but a lower incidence of complications and iatrogenic instability has been shown in the long term in the bilateral laminotomy group.

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Massimo Miscusi, Filippo Maria Polli, Stefano Forcato, Luca Ricciardi, Alessandro Frati, Marco Cimatti, Luca De Martino, Alessandro Ramieri and Antonino Raco


Spinal metastasis is common in patients with cancer. About 70% of symptomatic lesions are found in the thoracic region of the spine, and cord compression presents as the initial symptom in 5%–10% of patients. Minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) has recently been advocated as a useful approach for spinal metastases, with the aim of decreasing the morbidity associated with more traditional open spine surgery; furthermore, the recovery time is reduced after MISS, such that postoperative chemotherapy and radiotherapy can begin sooner.


Two series of oncological patients, who presented with acute myelopathy due to vertebral thoracic metastases, were compared in this study. Patients with complete paraplegia for more than 24 hours and with a modified Bauer score greater than 2 were excluded from the study. The first group (n = 23) comprised patients who were prospectively enrolled from May 2010 to September 2013, and who were treated with minimally invasive laminotomy/laminectomy and percutaneous stabilization. The second group (n = 19) comprised patients from whom data were retrospectively collected before May 2010, and who had been treated with laminectomy and stabilization with traditional open surgery. Patient groups were similar regarding general characteristics and neurological impairment. Results were analyzed in terms of neurological recovery (American Spinal Injury Association grade), complications, pain relief (visual analog scale), and quality of life (European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer [EORTC] QLQ-C30 and EORTC QLQ-BM22 scales) at the 30-day follow-up. Operation time, postoperative duration of bed rest, duration of hospitalization, intraoperative blood loss, and the need and length of postoperative opioid administration were also evaluated.


There were no significant differences between the 2 groups in terms of neurological recovery and complications. Nevertheless, the MISS group showed a clear and significant improvement in terms of blood loss, operation time, and bed rest length, which is associated with a more rapid functional recovery and discharge from the hospital. Postoperative pain and the need for opioid administration were also significantly less pronounced in the MISS group. Results from the EORTC QLQ-C30 and QLQ-BM22 scales showed a more pronounced improvement in quality of life at follow-up in the MISS group.


In the authors' opinion, MISS techniques should be considered the first choice for the treatment for patients with spinal metastasis and myelopathy. MISS is as safe and effective for spinal cord decompression and spine fixation as traditional surgery, and it also reduces the impact of surgery in critical patients. However, further studies are needed to confirm these findings.