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  • Author or Editor: Charles A. Sansur x
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D. Kojo Hamilton, Justin S. Smith, Charles A. Sansur, Aaron S. Dumont and Christopher I. Shaffrey

Object

The originally described technique of atlantoaxial stabilization using C-1 lateral mass and C-2 pars screws includes a C-2 neurectomy to provide adequate hemostasis and visualization for screw placement, enable adequate joint decortication and arthrodesis, and prevent new-onset postoperative C-2 neuralgia. However, inclusion of a C-2 neurectomy for this procedure remains controversial, likely due in part to a lack of studies that have specifically addressed whether it affects patient outcome. The authors' objective was to assess the surgical and clinical impact of routine C-2 neurectomy performed with C1–2 segmental instrumented arthrodesis in a consecutive series of elderly patients with C1–2 instability.

Methods

Forty-four consecutive patients (mean age 71 years) underwent C1–2 instrumented fusion, including C-1 lateral mass screw insertion. Bilateral C-2 neurectomies were performed. Standardized clinical assessments were performed both pre- and postoperatively. Numbness or discomfort in a C-2 distribution was documented at follow-up. Fusion was assessed using the Lenke fusion grade.

Results

Among all 44 patients, mean blood loss was 200 ml (range 100–350 ml) and mean operative time was 129 minutes (range 87–240 minutes). There were no intraoperative complications, and no patients reported new postoperative onset or worsening of C-2 neuralgia postoperatively. Outcomes for the 30 patients with a minimum 13-month follow-up (range 13–72 months) were assessed. At a mean follow-up of 36 months, Nurick grade and pain numeric rating scale scores improved from 3.7 to 1.0 (p < 0.001) and 9.4 to 0.6 (p < 0.001), respectively. The mean postoperative Neck Disability Index score was 7.3%. The fusion rate was 97%, and the patient satisfaction rate was 93%. All 24 patients with preoperative occipital neuralgia reported relief. Seventeen patients noticed C-2 distribution numbness only during examination in the clinic, and 2 patients reported C-2 numbness, but it did not affect their daily function.

Conclusions

In this series of C1–2 instrumented arthrodesis in elderly patients, excellent fusion rates were achieved, and patient satisfaction was not negatively affected by C-2 neurectomy. In the authors' experience, C-2 neurectomy enhanced surgical exposure of the C1–2 joint, thereby facilitating hemostasis, placement of instrumentation, and decortication of the joint space for arthrodesis. Importantly, with C-2 neurectomy in the present series, no cases of new onset postoperative C-2 neuralgia occurred, in contrast to a growing number of reports in the literature documenting new-onset C-2 neuralgia without C-2 neurectomy. On the contrary, 80% of patients in the present series had preoperative occipital neuralgia and in all of these patients this neuralgia was relieved following C1–2 instrumented arthrodesis with C-2 neurectomy.

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Editorial

Surgical complications in adult spondylolisthesis

Michael G. Fehlings and Doron Rabin

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Charles A. Sansur, Davis L. Reames, Justin S. Smith, D. Kojo Hamilton, Sigurd H. Berven, Paul A. Broadstone, Theodore J. Choma, Michael James Goytan, Hilali H. Noordeen, Dennis Raymond Knapp Jr., Robert A. Hart, Reinhard D. Zeller, William F. Donaldson III, David W. Polly Jr., Joseph H. Perra, Oheneba Boachie-Adjei and Christopher I. Shaffrey

Object

This is a retrospective review of 10,242 adults with degenerative spondylolisthesis (DS) and isthmic spondylolisthesis (IS) from the morbidity and mortality (M&M) index of the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS). This database was reviewed to assess complication incidence, and to identify factors that were associated with increased complication rates.

Methods

The SRS M&M database was queried to identify cases of DS and IS treated between 2004 and 2007. Complications were identified and analyzed based on age, surgical approach, spondylolisthesis type/grade, and history of previous surgery. Age was stratified into 2 categories: > 65 years and ≤ 65 years. Surgical approach was stratified into the following categories: decompression without fusion, anterior, anterior/posterior, posterior without instrumentation, posterior with instrumentation, and interbody fusion. Spondylolisthesis grades were divided into low-grade (Meyerding I and II) versus high-grade (Meyerding III, IV, and V) groups. Both univariate and multivariate analyses were performed.

Results

In the 10,242 cases of DS and IS reported, there were 945 complications (9.2%) in 813 patients (7.9%). The most common complications were dural tears, wound infections, implant complications, and neurological complications (range 0.7%–2.1%). The mortality rate was 0.1%. Diagnosis of DS had a significantly higher complication rate (8.5%) when compared with IS (6.6%; p = 0.002). High-grade spondylolisthesis correlated strongly with a higher complication rate (22.9% vs 8.3%, p < 0.0001). Age > 65 years was associated with a significantly higher complication rate (p = 0.02). History of previous surgery and surgical approach were not significantly associated with higher complication rates. On multivariate analysis, only the grade of spondylolisthesis (low vs high) was in the final best-fit model of factors associated with the occurrence of complications (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions

The rate of total complications for treatment of DS and IS in this series was 9.2%. The total percentage of patients with complications was 7.9%. On univariate analysis, the complication rate was significantly higher in patients with high-grade spondylolisthesis, a diagnosis of DS, and in older patients. Surgical approach and history of previous surgery were not significantly correlated with increased complication rates. On multivariate analysis, only the grade of spondylolisthesis was significantly associated with the occurrence of complications.

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Kai-Ming G. Fu, Justin S. Smith, David W. Polly Jr., Joseph H. Perra, Charles A. Sansur, Sigurd H. Berven, Paul A. Broadstone, Theodore J. Choma, Michael J. Goytan, Hilali H. Noordeen, D. Raymond Knapp Jr., Robert A. Hart, Reinhard D. Zeller, William F. Donaldson III, Oheneba Boachie-Adjei and Christopher I. Shaffrey

Object

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prospectively collected Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) database to assess the incidences of morbidity and mortality (M&M) in the operative treatment of degenerative lumbar stenosis, one of the most common procedures performed by spine surgeons.

Methods

All patients who underwent surgical treatment for degenerative lumbar stenosis between 2004 and 2007 were identified from the SRS M&M database. Inclusion criteria for analysis included an age ≥ 21 years and no history of lumbar surgery. Patients were treated with either decompression alone or decompression with concomitant fusion. Statistical comparisons were performed using a 2-sided Fisher exact test.

Results

Of the 10,329 patients who met the inclusion criteria, 6609 (64%) were treated with decompression alone, and 3720 (36%) were treated with decompression and fusion. Among those who underwent fusion, instrumentation was placed in 3377 (91%). The overall mean patient age was 63 ± 13 years (range 21–96 years). Seven hundred nineteen complications (7.0%), including 13 deaths (0.1%), were identified. New neurological deficits were reported in 0.6% of patients. Deaths were related to cardiac (4 cases), respiratory (5 cases), pulmonary embolus (2 cases), and sepsis (1 case) etiologies, and a perforated gastric ulcer (1 case). Complication rates did not differ based on patient age or whether fusion was performed. Minimally invasive procedures were associated with fewer complications and fewer new neurological deficits (p = 0.01 and 0.03, respectively).

Conclusions

The results from this analysis of the SRS M&M database provide surgeons with useful information for preoperative counseling of patients contemplating surgical intervention for symptomatic degenerative lumbar stenosis.