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Christopher S. Eddleman, Michael C. Hurley, Bernard R. Bendok and H. Hunt Batjer

Most cavernous carotid aneurysms (CCAs) are considered benign lesions, most often asymptomatic, and to have a natural history with a low risk of life-threatening complications. However, several conditions may exist in which treatment of these aneurysms should be considered. Several options are currently available regarding the management of CCAs with resultant good outcomes, namely expectant management, luminal preservation strategies with or without addressing the aneurysm directly, and Hunterian strategies with or without revascularization procedures. In this article, we discuss the sometimes difficult decision regarding whether to treat CCAs. We consider the natural history of several types of CCAs, the clinical presentation, the current modalities of CCA management and their outcomes to aid in the management of this heterogeneous group of cerebral aneurysms.

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Daniel J. Blizzard, Michael A. Gallizzi, Robert E. Isaacs and Christopher R. Brown

Lateral interbody fusion (LIF) via the retroperitoneal transpsoas approach is an increasingly popular, minimally invasive technique for interbody fusion in the thoracolumbar spine that avoids many of the complications of traditional anterior and transforaminal approaches. Renal vascular injury has been cited as a potential risk in LIF, but little has been documented in the literature regarding the etiology of this injury. The authors discuss a case of an intraoperative complication of renal artery injury during LIF. A 42-year-old woman underwent staged T12–L5 LIF in the left lateral decubitus position, and L5–S1 anterior lumbar interbody fusion, followed 3 days later by T12–S1 posterior instrumentation for idiopathic scoliosis with radiculopathy refractory to conservative management. After placement of the T12–L1 cage, the retractor was released and significant bleeding was encountered during its removal. Immediate consultation with the vascular team was obtained, and hemostasis was achieved with vascular clips. The patient was stabilized, and the remainder of the procedure was performed without complication. On postoperative CT imaging, the patient was found to have a supernumerary left renal artery with complete occlusion of the superior left renal artery, causing infarction of approximately 75% of the kidney. There was no increase in creatinine level immediately postoperatively or at the 3-month follow-up. Renal visceral and vascular injuries are known risks with LIF, with potentially devastating consequences. The retroperitoneal transpsoas approach for LIF in the superior lumbar spine requires a thorough knowledge of renal visceral and vascular anatomy. Supernumerary renal arteries occur in 25%–40% of the population and occur most frequently on the left and superior to the usual renal artery trunk. These arteries can vary in number, position, and course from the aorta and position relative to the usual renal artery trunk. Understanding of renal anatomy and the potential variability of the renal vasculature is essential to prevent iatrogenic injury.

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Gregory D. Schroeder, Nik Hjelm, Alexander R. Vaccaro, Michael S. Weinstein and Christopher K. Kepler

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this paper was to compare the severity of the initial neurological injury as well as the early changes in the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) motor score (AMS) between central cord syndrome (CCS) patients with and without an increased T2 signal intensity in their spinal cord.

METHODS

Patients with CCS were identified and stratified based on the presence of increased T2 signal intensity in their spinal cord. The severity of the initial neurological injury and the progression of the neurological injury over the 1st week were measured according to the patient's AMS. The effect of age, sex, congenital stenosis, surgery within 24 hours, and surgery in the initial hospitalization on the change in AMS was determined using an analysis of variance.

RESULTS

Patients with increased signal intensity had a more severe initial neurological injury (AMS 57.6 vs 75.3, respectively, p = 0.01). However, the change in AMS over the 1st week was less severe in patients with an increase in T2 signal intensity (−0.85 vs −4.3, p = 0.07). Analysis of variance did not find that age, sex, Injury Severity Score, congenital stenosis, surgery within 24 hours, or surgery during the initial hospitalization affected the change in AMS.

CONCLUSIONS

The neurological injury is different between patients with and without an increased T2 signal intensity. Patients with an increased T2 signal intensity are likely to have a more severe initial neurological deficit but will have relatively minimal early neurological deterioration. Comparatively, patients without an increase in the T2 signal intensity will likely have a less severe initial injury but can expect to have a slight decline in neurological function in the 1st week.

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David E. Gwinn, Christopher A. Iannotti, Edward C. Benzel and Michael P. Steinmetz

Object

Analysis of cervical sagittal deformity in patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) requires a thorough clinical and radiographic evaluation to select the most appropriate surgical approach. Angular radiographic measurements, which are commonly used to define sagittal deformity, may not be the most appropriate to use for surgical planning. The authors present a simple straight-line method to measure effective spinal canal lordosis and analyze its reliability. Furthermore, comparisons of this measurement to traditional angular measurements of sagittal cervical alignment are made in regards to surgical planning in patients with CSM.

Methods

Twenty preoperative lateral cervical digital radiographs of patients with CSM were analyzed by 3 independent observers on 3 separate occasions using a software measurement program. Sagittal measurements included C2–7 angles utilizing the Cobb and posterior tangent methods, as well as a straight-line method to measure effective spinal canal lordosis from the dorsal-caudal aspect of the C2–7 vertebral bodies. Analysis of variance for repeated measures or Cohen 3-way (kappa) correlation coefficient analysis was performed as appropriate to calculate the intra- and interobserver reliability for each parameter. Discrepancies in angular and effective lordosis measurements were analyzed.

Results

Intra- and interobserver reliability was excellent (intraclass coefficient > 0.75, kappa > 0.90) utilizing all 3 techniques. Four discrepancies between angular and effective lordotic measurements occurred in which images with a lordotic angular measurement did not have lordosis within the ventral spinal canal. These discrepancies were caused by either spondylolisthesis or dorsally projecting osteophytes in all cases.

Conclusions

Although they are reliable, traditional methods used to make angular measurements of sagittal cervical spine alignment do not take into account ventral obstructions to the spinal cord. The effective lordosis measurement method provides a simple and reliable means of determining clinically significant lordosis because it accounts for both overall alignment of the cervical spine as well as impinging structures ventral to the spinal cord. This method should be considered for use in the treatment of patients with CSM.

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C. Michael Honey, Zurab Ivanishvili, Christopher R. Honey and Manraj K. S. Heran

OBJECTIVE

The location of the human spinothalamic tract (STT) in the anterolateral spinal cord has been known for more than a century. The exact nature of the neuronal fiber lamination within the STT, however, remains controversial. After correlating in vivo macrostimulation-induced pain/temperature sensation during percutaneous cervical cordotomy with simultaneous CT imaging of the electrode tip location, the authors present a modern description of the somatotopy of the human cervical STT.

METHODS

Twenty patients underwent CT-guided percutaneous cervical cordotomy to alleviate contralateral medication-refractory cancer pain. Patient responses to electrical stimulation (0.01–0.1 V, 50 Hz, 1 msec) were recorded and the electrode location for each response was documented with a contemporaneous CT scan. In a post hoc analysis of the data, the location for each patient’s response(s) was measured and drawn on a diagram of their cord. Positive responses were represented only when the lowest possible voltage (≤ 0.02 V) elicited a response. Negative responses were recorded if there was no clinical response at 0.1 V.

RESULTS

Clinically, patients did well with an average reduction in opiates of 75% at 1 week, and 67% were able to leave the palliative care unit. The size of the cervical cord varied between patients, with an average lateral extent (width) of 11 mm and a height of 9 mm. Responses from the lower limb were represented superficially (lateral) and posteriorly within the anterolateral cord. The area with responses from the upper limb was larger and surrounded those with responses from the lower limb primarily anteriorly and medially, but also posteriorly.

CONCLUSIONS

In this study, the somatotopic organization of the human STT was elucidated for the first time using in vivo macrostimulation and contemporaneous CT imaging during cordotomy. In this cohort of patients, the STT from the lower-limb region was located superficially and posteriorly in the anterolateral quadrant of the cervical cord, with the STT from the upper-limb region surrounding it primarily anteriorly and medially (deep) but also posteriorly. The authors discuss how the previous methods of cordotomy may have biased the earlier versions of STT lamination. They suggest that an ideal spinal cord entry site for cordotomy of either the upper- or lower-limb pain fibers is halfway between the equator and anterior pole of the cord.

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Time is spine: a review of translational advances in spinal cord injury

JNSPG 75th Anniversary Invited Review Article

Jetan H. Badhiwala, Christopher S. Ahuja and Michael G. Fehlings

Acute traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating event with far-reaching physical, emotional, and economic consequences for patients, families, and society at large. Timely delivery of specialized care has reduced mortality; however, long-term neurological recovery continues to be limited. In recent years, a number of exciting neuroprotective and regenerative strategies have emerged and have come under active investigation in clinical trials, and several more are coming down the translational pipeline. Among ongoing trials are RISCIS (riluzole), INSPIRE (Neuro-Spinal Scaffold), MASC (minocycline), and SPRING (VX-210). Microstructural MRI techniques have improved our ability to image the injured spinal cord at high resolution. This innovation, combined with serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis, holds the promise of providing a quantitative biomarker readout of spinal cord neural tissue injury, which may improve prognostication and facilitate stratification of patients for enrollment into clinical trials. Given evidence of the effectiveness of early surgical decompression and growing recognition of the concept that “time is spine,” infrastructural changes at a systems level are being implemented in many regions around the world to provide a streamlined process for transfer of patients with acute SCI to a specialized unit. With the continued aging of the population, central cord syndrome is soon expected to become the most common form of acute traumatic SCI; characterization of the pathophysiology, natural history, and optimal treatment of these injuries is hence a key public health priority. Collaborative international efforts have led to the development of clinical practice guidelines for traumatic SCI based on robust evaluation of current evidence. The current article provides an in-depth review of progress in SCI, covering the above areas.

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Michael M. Safaee, Cecilia L. Dalle Ore, Corinna C. Zygourakis, Vedat Deviren and Christopher P. Ames

OBJECTIVE

Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) is associated with reduced rates of pseudarthrosis and has the potential to decrease the need for revision surgery. There are limited data evaluating the cost-benefit of BMP for pseudarthrosis-related prevention surgery in adult spinal deformity.

METHODS

The authors performed a single-center retrospective review of 200 consecutive patients with adult spinal deformity. Demographic data and costs of BMP, primary surgery, and revision surgery for pseudarthrosis were collected. Patients with less than 12 months of follow-up or with infection, tumor, or neuromuscular disease were excluded.

RESULTS

One hundred fifty-one patients (107 [71%] women) with a mean age of 65 years met the inclusion criteria. The mean number of levels fused was 10; BMP was used in 98 cases (65%), and the mean follow-up was 23 months. Fifteen patients (10%) underwent surgical revision for pseudarthrosis; BMP use was associated with an 11% absolute risk reduction in the rate of reoperation (17% vs 6%, p = 0.033), with a number needed to treat of 9.2. There were no significant differences in age, sex, upper instrumented vertebra, or number of levels fused in patients who received BMP. In a multivariate model including age, sex, number of levels fused, and the upper instrumented vertebra, only BMP (OR 0.250, 95% CI 0.078–0.797; p = 0.019) was associated with revision surgery for pseudarthrosis. The mean direct cost of primary surgery was $87,653 ± $19,879, and the mean direct cost of BMP was $10,444 ± $4607. The mean direct cost of revision surgery was $52,153 ± $26,985. The authors independently varied the efficacy of BMP, cost of BMP, and cost of reoperation by ± 50%; only reductions in the cost of BMP resulted in a cost savings per 100 patients. Using these data, the authors estimated a price point of $5663 in order for BMP to be cost-neutral.

CONCLUSIONS

Use of BMP was associated with a significant reduction in the rates of revision surgery for pseudarthrosis. At its current price, the direct in-hospital costs for BMP exceed the costs associated with revision surgery; however, this likely underestimates the true value of BMP when considering the savings associated with reductions in rehabilitation, therapy, medication, and additional outpatient costs.

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William B. Feldman, Aaron J. Clark, Michael Safaee, Christopher P. Ames and Andrew T. Parsa

Object

Myxopapillary ependymomas (MPEs) are rare WHO Grade I tumors found in the conus medullaris, cauda equina, and filum terminale. Treatment generally consists of resection with or without adjuvant radiotherapy. Evidence-based guidelines for surgical management are lacking due to the rarity of this tumor.

Methods

An English-language PubMed search was performed using the key words “myxopapillary” and “ependymoma.” Reports describing fewer than 3 patients or those lacking data on the extent of resection or radiotherapy were excluded. A total of 28 articles describing 475 patients met the authors' inclusion criteria. Patients were grouped by extent of resection and whether or not they underwent adjuvant radiotherapy. Differences in recurrence rates were assessed by chi-square test.

Results

The overall recurrence rate was 15.5% in patients treated by gross-total resection (GTR) and 32.6% in patients treated by subtotal resection (STR), irrespective of whether they underwent adjuvant therapy (p < 0.001). Regardless of the extent of resection, adjuvant radiotherapy was not associated with a decrease in recurrence rates. The overall recurrence rate was 15.6% in patients who underwent GTR and radiotherapy compared with 15.9% in patients who underwent GTR alone (p = 0.58), and it was 29.3% in patients who underwent STR and radiotherapy compared with 35.1% in those who underwent STR alone (p = 0.53). The difference between recurrence rates for patients who underwent GTR alone versus STR and radiotherapy was statistically significant (p = 0.02). Subgroup analysis demonstrated significantly higher recurrence rates in pediatric patients compared with adults (40.5% vs 23.4%, respectively; p = 0.02). Even in the setting of GTR alone, recurrence rates were higher in pediatric patients (65% vs 7.6%; p < 0.001).

Conclusions

Gross-total resection alone is associated with decreased recurrence rates compared with STR with or without radiotherapy. The authors' results suggest that treatment goals should include attempted GTR whenever possible. The observation that children benefitted from radiation therapy to a greater extent than did adults suggests that biological differences between tumors in these patient populations warrants more rigorous scientific studies.

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Gregory C. Wiggins, Michael J. Rauzzino, Henry M. Bartkowski, Russ P. Nockels and Christopher I. Shaffrey

Object. The authors sought to analyze prospectively the outcome of surgery for complex spinal deformity in the pediatric and young adult populations.

Methods. The authors evaluate all pediatric and adolescent patients undergoing operative correction of complex spinal deformity from December 1997 through July 1999. No patient was lost to follow-up review (average 21.1 months). There were 27 consecutive pediatric and adolescent patients (3–20 years of age) who underwent 32 operations. Diagnoses included scoliosis (18 idiopathic, five nonidiopathic) and four severe kyphoscoliosis. Operative correction and arthrodesis were achieved via 21 posterior approaches (Cotrel-Dubousset-Horizon), seven anterior approaches (Isola or Kaneda Scoliosis System), and two combined approaches. Operative time averaged 358 minutes (range 115–620 minutes). Blood loss averaged 807 ml (range 100–2000 ml). Levels treated averaged 9.1 (range three–16 levels). There was a 54% average Cobb angle correction (range 6–82%). No case was complicated by the patient's neurological deterioration, loss of somatosensory evoked potential monitoring, cardiopulmonary disease, donor-site complication, or wound breakdown. There was one case of hook failure and one progression of deformity beyond the site of surgical instrumentation that required reoperation. There were 10 minor complications that did not significantly affect patient outcome. No patient received undirected banked blood products. There was a significant improvement in cosmesis, and no patient experienced continued pain postoperatively. All patients have been able to return to their preoperative activities.

Conclusions. Compared with other major neurosurgical operations, segmental instrumentation for pediatric and adolescent spinal deformity is a safe procedure with minimal morbidity and there is a low risk of needing to use allogeneic blood products.

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G. Edward Vates, Kevin C. Wang, David Bonovich, Christopher F. Dowd and Michael T. Lawton

✓ Bow hunter stroke, which is characterized by transient vertebrobasilar ischemia brought on by head turning, is an unusual condition usually caused by structural abnormalities at the craniocervical junction. The authors present a case in which compression of the left vertebral artery (VA) at the C4–5 level was caused by a laterally herniated intervertebral disc. A 56-year-old man presented with a 6-month history of dizziness and syncope when he turned his head 45° or more to the left. Transcranial Doppler (TCD) ultrasonography demonstrated decreased blood flow through the left VA, and angiography revealed an occlusion of the left VA at the C4–5 level, both when the patient turned his head to the left. Via an anterior cervical approach, the VA canal was unroofed through the transverse foramina to decompress the left VA at C4–5; intraoperatively, the left VA was found to be compressed by a laterally herniated cervical disc fragment. To the best of the authors' knowledge this is the first report of a laterally herniated cervical disc causing bow hunter stroke. The use of TCD may be of value in the diagnosis and management of the disorder, and herniated cervical disc must be included in the roster of potential causes for this rare disease.