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Jennifer S. McDonald, Michelle J. Clarke, Gregory A. Helm and David F. Kallmes

Object

The presence of a “July effect,” where the influx of new residents and fellows at teaching hospitals every July may negatively affect patient care and outcomes, is widely debated. The authors used the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) to identify all cases of spinal surgery and examine outcomes among patients who underwent surgery in July compared with those who underwent surgery in other months.

Methods

Spinal surgery hospitalizations from 2001 to 2008 were identified in the NIS by extracting relevant ICD-9 codes. Rates of in-hospital mortality, discharge to a long-term care facility, and postoperative complications were compared between admission months and between teaching and nonteaching hospitals using the Wilcoxon rank-sum test, Fisher exact test, and multivariate regression analysis.

Results

Compared with patients admitted in other months, patients who were admitted to teaching hospitals in July for spinal surgery showed a similar likelihood of in-hospital mortality (OR 0.94 [95% CI 0.78–1.11], p = 0.46), reaction to implanted device/instrumentation (OR 0.88 [95% CI 0.77–1.02], p = 0.09), and postoperative wound dehiscence (OR 1.12 [95% CI 0.94–1.33], p = 0.25). A significantly higher likelihood of discharge to a long-term care facility (OR 1.03 [95% CI 1.00–1.07], p = 0.0467) and postoperative infection (OR 1.11 [95% CI 1.05–1.17], p = 0.0341) was observed in teaching hospitals in July compared with other months; however, incidence rates were similar regardless of admission month. Higher-risk patients (Charlson score ≥ 2) admitted to teaching hospitals in July had a similar likelihood of all outcomes regardless of admission month.

Conclusions

This study of nationwide hospitalizations demonstrates that the influx of new residents and fellows in July has a negligible effect on periprocedural outcomes following spinal surgery.

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Michelle J. Clarke, James Guzzo, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya Gokaslan and James H. Black III

Iatrogenic aortic injuries are a potentially devastating complication of spine surgery. In instrumented cases, injuries may occur in the perioperative period due to iatrogenic vessel injury, or they may occur years later as prominent implants erode or penetrate major vessels. The authors present a case of a 71-year-old man in whom a thoracic pedicle screw was found perforating the thoracic aorta during routine follow-up 6 months after surgery. Due to the risk of future complications, the screw was removed while simultaneously delivering an endovascular aortic stent to gain vascular control. Surgical considerations and potential technical limitations are discussed.

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T. David Luo, Michelle J. Clarke, Amy K. Zimmerman, Michael Quinn, David J. Daniels and Amy L. McIntosh

OBJECT

Action motorsports, including motocross, have been gaining popularity among children and adolescents, raising concerns for increased risk of concussions in participating youth. The authors undertook this study to test the following hypotheses: 1) that there is a high rate of concussion symptoms associated with a number of preventable or adjustable risk factors, and 2) that a high percentage of these symptoms are not be reported to adults and medical personnel.

METHODS

The authors identified all motocross riders under the age of 18 at a regional racetrack during the riding season between May and October 2010. The participants completed questionnaires pertaining to demographic characteristics and variables associated with motocross. The questionnaire results were compared with the incidence of self-reported concussion symptoms.

RESULTS

Two hundred two riders were identified who met the criteria for participation in the study, and 139 of them completed the study questionnaire. Of these 139 riders, 67 (48%) reported at least 1 concussion symptom during the season. The majority of riders (98%) reported “always” wearing a helmet, and 72% received professional help with fitting of their helmets. Proper helmet fitting was associated with a 41% decreased risk of concussion symptoms (RR 0.59, 95% CI 0.44–0.81, p < 0.01). Sixty-six riders (47%) reported having received sponsor support for motocross participation. Sponsor support conferred a relative risk for concussion symptoms of 1.48 (95% CI 1.05–2.08, p = 0.02).

CONCLUSIONS

Nearly half of all motocross competitors under the age of 18 reported concussion symptoms. Preventive measures are necessary to limit the negative impact from concussions. The risk of concussive injury can be decreased for pediatric motocross riders if they receive professional help with proper helmet fitting and through implementation of stricter guidelines regarding sponsorship.

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David J. Daniels, Michelle J. Clarke, Ross Puffer, T. David Luo, Amy L. McIntosh and Nicolas M. Wetjen

OBJECT

Off-road motorcycling is a very popular sport practiced by countless people worldwide. Despite its popularity, not much has been published on the severity and distribution of central nervous system–related injuries associated with this activity in the pediatric population. The purpose of this study was to confirm, characterize, and document the rate of head and spine injuries associated with off-road motorcycling in this population.

METHODS

All patients aged 18 years or less who were treated for a motorbike injury at the authors' institution (a Level 1 regional trauma center) between 2000 and 2007 were identified through in-house surgical and trauma registries. Type, mechanism, and severity of CNS-related injuries were assessed, including: incidence of traumatic brain injury (TBI), loss of consciousness (LOC), Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, head CT findings, neurological deficits, spinal fractures, cervical strain, and use of protective gear, including helmets.

RESULTS

During the 8-year period of study, 298 accidents were evaluated in 248 patients. The patients' mean age at the time of injury was 14.2 ± 2.7 years. Head injury or TBI was identified in 60 (20.1%) of 298 cases (involving 58 of 248 patients). Fifty-seven cases were associated with LOC, and abnormalities were identified on head CT in 10 patients; these abnormalities included skull fractures and epidural, subdural, subarachnoid, and intraparenchymal hemorrhages. The GCS score was abnormal in 11 cases and ranged from 3 to 15, with an overall mean of 14.5. No patients required cranial surgery. Helmet use was confirmed in 43 (71.6%) of the cases involving TBI. Spine fractures were identified in 13 patients (4.3%) and 5 required surgical fixation for their injury.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found a high occurrence of head injuries following pediatric off-road motorcycle riding or motocross accidents despite the use of helmets. Additionally, this study severely underestimates the rate of mild TBIs in this patient population. Our data indicate that motocross is a high-risk sport despite the use of protective gear. Riders and parents should be counseled accordingly about the risks prior to participation.

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David J. Daniels, T. David Luo, Ross Puffer, Amy L. McIntosh, A. Noelle Larson, Nicholas M. Wetjen and Michelle J. Clarke

OBJECT

Motocross racing is a popular sport; however, its impact on the growing/developing pediatric spine is unknown. Using a retrospective cohort model, the authors compared the degree of advanced degenerative findings in young motocross racers with findings in age-matched controls.

METHODS

Patients who had been treated for motocross-related injury at the authors' institution between 2000 and 2007 and had been under 18 years of age at the time of injury and had undergone plain radiographic or CT examination of any spinal region were eligible for inclusion. Imaging was reviewed in a blinded fashion by 3 physicians for degenerative findings, including endplate abnormalities, loss of vertebral body height, wedging, and malalignment. Acute pathological segments were excluded. Spine radiographs from age-matched controls were similarly reviewed and the findings were compared.

RESULTS

The motocross cohort consisted of 29 riders (mean age 14.7 years; 82% male); the control cohort consisted of 45 adolescents (mean age 14.3 years; 71% male). In the cervical spine, the motocross cohort had 55 abnormalities in 203 segments (average 1.90 abnormalities/patient) compared with 20 abnormalities in 213 segments in the controls (average 0.65/patient) (p = 0.006, Student t-test). In the thoracic spine, the motocross riders had 51 abnormalities in 292 segments (average 2.04 abnormalities/patient) compared with 25 abnormalities in 299 segments in the controls (average 1.00/patient) (p = 0.045). In the lumbar spine, the motocross cohort had 11 abnormalities in 123 segments (average 0.44 abnormalities/patient) compared with 15 abnormalities in 150 segments in the controls (average 0.50/patient) (p = 0.197).

CONCLUSIONS

Increased degenerative changes in the cervical and thoracic spine were identified in adolescent motocross racers compared with age-matched controls. The long-term consequences of these changes are unknown; however, athletes and parents should be counseled accordingly about participation in motocross activities.

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Wilson P. Daugherty, Michelle J. Clarke, Harry J. Cloft and Giuseppe L. Lanzino

Intracranial aneurysms in the pediatric population are relatively rare entities. Immunocompromised patients (often from HIV/AIDS or pharmacological immunosuppression) represent a significant fraction of children with cerebral aneurysms. One proposed mechanism of aneurysm formation in these patients is from direct infection of the affected arteries. In this study, the authors report on a case of a 14-year-old girl with common variable immunodeficiency with T-cell dysfunction and a CSF polymerase chain reaction test positive for varicella-zoster virus who underwent evaluation for carotid and basilar artery fusiform aneurysms.

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Michelle J. Clarke, Patricia L. Zadnik, Mari L. Groves, Daniel M. Sciubba, Timothy F. Witham, Ali Bydon, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Jean-Paul Wolinsky

OBJECT

Recently, aggressive surgical techniques and a push toward en bloc resections of certain tumors have resulted in a need for creative spinal column reconstruction. Iatrogenic instability following these resections requires a thoughtful approach to adequately transfer load-bearing forces from the skull and upper cervical spine to the subaxial spine.

METHODS

The authors present a series of 7 cases in which lateral mass reconstruction with a cage or fibular strut graft was used to provide load-bearing support, including 1 case of bilateral cage placement.

RESULTS

The authors discuss the surgical nuances of en bloc resection of high cervical tumors and explain their technique for lateral mass cage placement. Additionally, they provide their rationale for the use of these constructs throughout the craniocervical junction and subaxial spine.

CONCLUSIONS

Lateral mass reconstruction provides a potential alternative or adjuvant method of restoring the load-bearing capabilities of the cervical spine.

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Michelle J. Clarke, Robert D. Ecker, William E. Krauss, Robyn L. McClelland and Mark B. Dekutoski

Object

The cervical foraminotomy was pioneered in the 1940s to address radicular symptoms via a posterior approach, but the long-term outcome has not been adequately studied.

Methods

The authors retrospectively analyzed data obtained from 303 patients (188 male and 115 female, mean age 49.2 years) who had consecutively undergone a single-level posterior foraminotomy for cervical radiculopathy between 1972 and 1992. The median follow-up duration was 7.1 years. The major end point studied was the development of symptomatic adjacent- or same-segment disease. Incidence rates per 1000 person-years were calculated, and the natural history of the disease was predicted using Kaplan–Meier survivorship analysis.

In 15 (4.9%) of 303 patients, symptomatic adjacent-segment disease developed, yielding a rate of 6.4/1000 person-years at risk. This included nine (2.9%) of 303 patients requiring reoperation, yielding a rate of 3.8/1000 person-years. Kaplan–Meier survivorship analysis suggested a relatively stable annual 0.7% rate for developing adjacent-segment disease, with a 10-year rate of 6.7%. Ten patients developed same-segment disease, yielding a risk rate of 3.9/1000 person-years.

Kaplan–Meier survivorship analysis demonstrated a 5- and 10-year risk rate of developing same-segment disease of 3.2 and 5.0%, respectively.

Conclusions

Although additional study is needed, analysis of the present data suggests that posterior foraminotomy is associated with a low rate of same- and adjacent-segment disease.

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Michelle J. Clarke, Todd A. Patrick, J. Bradley White, Harry J. Cloft, William E. Krauss, E. P. Lindell and David G. Piepgras

Object

Although nontraumatic spinal arteriovenous malformations and fistulas (AVMs and AVFs) restricted to the epidural space are rare, they can lead to significant neurological morbidity. Careful diagnostic imaging is essential to their detection and the delineation of the pathological anatomy. Aggressive endovascular and open operative treatment can provide arrest and reversal of neurological deficits.

Methods

The authors report on 6 cases of extradural AVMs/AVFs causing progressive myelopathy. Clinical findings, diagnostic evaluation, treatment, and outcome are discussed. Special consideration is given to the anatomy of the lesions and the operative techniques used to treat them. A review of the literature concerning extradural vascular malformations is also presented.

Results

All 6 cases of extradural AVMs had an extradural fistulous location with intradural medullary venous drainage. These cases illustrate progressive myelopathy through cord venous congestion (hypertension) that can be caused by an extradural nidus or fistula. In 4 cases, a large epidural lake was identified on angiography. At surgery, the epidural lake was obliterated and medullary drainage interrupted. All patients had stabilization of their neurological deficits and successful obliteration of the AVM/AVF was obtained.

Conclusions

Extradural AVMs and AVFs are a poorly described entity with published clinical experience limited to sporadic case reports and small series. Although these lesions have a purely extradural location of arteriovenous shunting and early venous drainage, they can be responsible for acute and progressive neurological symptoms similar to those caused by their dural-based intradural counterparts. With careful imaging recognition of the pathological anatomy, surgical and endovascular techniques can be used for the treatment of extradural AVMs affording effective and durable obliteration with stabilization or reversal of neurological symptoms. Venous drainage directly correlates the pathologic mechanisms of presentation. Specific attention must be paid intraoperatively to the epidural lake common to both variants so that recurrence is avoided.