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Nitin Agarwal, Robert F. Heary and Prateek Agarwal

OBJECTIVE

Pedicle screw fixation is a technique widely used to treat conditions ranging from spine deformity to fracture stabilization. Pedicle screws have been used traditionally in the lumbar spine; however, they are now being used with increasing frequency in the thoracic spine as a more favorable alternative to hooks, wires, or cables. Although safety concerns, such as the incidence of adjacent-segment disease (ASD) after cervical and lumbar fusions, have been reported, such issues in the thoracic spine have yet to be addressed thoroughly. Here, the authors review the literature on ASD after thoracic pedicle screw fixation and report their own experience specifically involving the use of pedicle screws in the thoracic spine.

METHODS

Select references from online databases, such as PubMed (provided by the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health), were used to survey the literature concerning ASD after thoracic pedicle screw fixation. To include the authors’ experience at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, a retrospective review of a prospectively maintained database was performed to determine the incidence of complications over a 13-year period in 123 consecutive adult patients who underwent thoracic pedicle screw fixation. Children, pregnant or lactating women, and prisoners were excluded from the review. By comparing preoperative and postoperative radiographic images, the occurrence of thoracic ASD and disease within the surgical construct was determined.

RESULTS

Definitive radiographic fusion was detected in 115 (93.5%) patients. Seven incidences of instrumentation failure and 8 lucencies surrounding the screws were observed. One patient was observed to have ASD of the thoracic spine. The mean follow-up duration was 50 months.

CONCLUSIONS

This long-term radiographic evaluation revealed the use of pedicle screws for thoracic fixation to be an effective stabilization modality. In particular, ASD seems to be less of a problem in the relatively immobile thoracic spine than in the more mobile cervical and lumbar spines.

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Mohammed F. Shamji, Harrison J. Westwick and Robert F. Heary

OBJECT

Structural spinal surgery yields improvement in pain and disability for selected patients with spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, or a herniated intervertebral disc. A significant fraction of patients exhibit persistent postoperative neuropathic pain (PPNP) despite technically appropriate intervention, and such patients can benefit from spinal cord stimulation (SCS) to alleviate suffering. The complication profile of this therapy has not been systematically assessed and, thus, was the goal of this review.

METHODS

A comprehensive literature search was performed to identify prospective cohorts of patients who had PPNP following structurally corrective lumbar spinal surgery and who underwent SCS device implantation. Data about study design, technique of SCS lead introduction, and complications encountered were collected and analyzed. Comparisons of complication incidence were performed between percutaneously and surgically implanted systems, with the level of significance set at 0.05.

RESULTS

Review of 11 studies involving 542 patients formed the basis of this work: 2 randomized controlled trials and 9 prospective cohorts. Percutaneous implants were used in 4 studies and surgical implants were used in 4 studies; in the remainder, the types were undefined. Lead migration occurred in 12% of cases, pain at the site of the implantable pulse generator occurred in 9% of cases, and wound-related complications occurred in 5% of cases; the latter 2 occurred more frequently among surgically implanted devices.

CONCLUSIONS

Spinal cord stimulation can provide for improved pain and suffering and for decreased narcotic medication use among patients with PPNP after lumbar spinal surgery. This study reviewed the prospective studies forming the evidence base for this therapy, to summarize the complications encountered and, thus, best inform patients and clinicians considering its use. There is a significant rate of minor complications, many of which require further surgical intervention to manage, including lead migration or implant infection, although such complications do not directly threaten patient life or function.

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Rachid Assina, Neil J. Majmundar, Yehuda Herschman and Robert F. Heary

Extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF) has gained popularity among spine surgeons for treating multiple conditions of the lumbar spine. In contrast to the anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) approach, the minimally invasive XLIF approach affords wide access to the lumbar disc space without an access surgeon and causes minimal tissue disruption. The XLIF approach offers many advantages over other lumbar spine approaches, with a reportedly low complication profile. The authors describe the first fatality reported in the literature following an XLIF approach. They describe the case of a 50-year-old woman who suffered a fatal intraoperative injury to the great vessels during a lateral transpsoas approach to the L4–5 disc space.

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Paul A. Anderson, Paul M. Arnold and Robert F. Heary

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Robert F. Heary, Ira M. Goldstein, Katarzyna M. Getto and Nitin Agarwal

Cervical disc arthroplasty (CDA) has been gaining popularity as a surgical alternative to anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. Spontaneous fusion following a CDA is uncommon. A few anecdotal reports of heterotrophic ossification around the implant sites have been noted for the BRYAN, ProDisc-C, Mobi-C, PRESTIGE, and PCM devices. All CDA fusions reported to date have been in devices that are semiconstrained.

The authors reported the case of a 56-year-old man who presented with left C-7 radiculopathy and neck pain for 10 weeks after an assault injury. There was evidence of disc herniation at the C6–7 level. He was otherwise healthy with functional scores on the visual analog scale (VAS, 4.2); neck disability index (NDI, 16); and the 36-item short form health survey (SF-36; physical component summary [PSC] score 43 and mental component summary [MCS] score 47). The patient underwent total disc replacement in which the DISCOVER Artificial Cervical Disc (DePuy Spine, Inc.) was used. The patient was seen at regular follow-up visits up to 60 months. At his 60-month follow-up visit, he had complete radiographic fusion at the C6–7 level with bridging trabecular bone and no motion at the index site on dynamic imaging. He was pain free, with a VAS score of 0, NDI score of 0, and SF-36 PCS and MCS scores of 61 and 55, respectively.

Conclusions

This is the first case report that identifies the phenomenon of fusion around a nonconstrained cervical prosthesis. Despite this unwanted radiographic outcome, the patient's clinical outcome was excellent.

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Robert F. Heary, Allen H. Maniker, Abbott J. Krieger and Hreday N. Sapru

✓ The object of this study was to investigate the role of the ventrolateral medullary pressor area in mediating the cardiovascular responses to experimentally induced global cerebral ischemia, and to test if excitatory amino acids or acetylcholine are the transmitters released in this brain region during these responses. The cerebral ischemic response was elicited in pentobarbital-anesthetized, artificially ventilated male Wistar rats by bilateral ligation of vertebral arteries followed by temporary clamping of the common carotid arteries. The pressor area was identified by microinjections of L-glutamate. Inhibition of neurons in this area by microinjections of muscimol, a γ-aminobutyric acid receptor agonist, abolished the ischemic response, which demonstrated that this area is important in mediating these responses. Microinjections of a broad-spectrum excitatory amino acid receptor blocker (kynurenate), of specific antagonists for N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) and non-NMDA receptors (injected alone or in combination), and of atropine failed to block the ischemic responses. These results indicate that: 1) the ventrolateral medullary pressor area mediates pressor responses to cerebral ischemia, and 2) excitatory amino acids or acetylcholine in this area do not mediate the cardiovascular responses to cerebral ischemia.

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Neginder Saini, Mohammad Zaidi, Maureen T. Barry and Robert F. Heary

Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) is a widely performed surgical treatment for various lumbar spine pathologies. The authors present the first reports of virtually identical cases of complications with integrated screws in stand-alone interbody cages. Two patients presented with the onset of S-1 radiculopathy due to screw misplacements following an ALIF procedure. In both cases, an integrated screw from the cage penetrated the dorsal aspect of the S-1 cortical margin of the vertebra, extended into the neural foramen, and injured the traversing left S-1 nerve roots. Advanced neuroimaging findings indicated nerve root impingement by the protruding screw tip. After substantial delays, radiculopathic symptoms were treated with removal of the offending instrumentation, aggressive posterior decompression of the bony and ligamentous structures, and posterolateral fusion surgery with pedicle screw fixation. Postoperative radiographic findings demonstrated decompression of the symptomatic nerve roots via removal of the extruded screw tips from the neural foramina.

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Robert F. Heary and Praveen V. Mummaneni

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Robert F. Heary