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Julie E. York, Garrett L. Walsh, Frederick F. Lang, Joe B. Putnam, Ian E. McCutcheon, Stephen G. Swisher, Ritsuko Komaki and Ziya L Gokaslan

Traditionally, superior sulcus tumors of the lung that involve the chest wall and spinal column have been considered to be unresectable, and historically, patients harboring these tumors have been treated with local radiation therapy with, at best, modest results. The value of gross-total resection remains unclear in this patient population; however, with the recent advances in surgical technique and spinal instrumentation, procedures involving more radical removal of such tumors are now possible. At The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, the authors have developed a new technique for resecting superior sulcus tumors that invade the chest wall and spinal column. They present a technical description of this procedure and results in nine patients in whom stage IIIb superior sulcus tumors extensively invaded the vertebral column. These patients underwent gross-total tumor resection via a combined approach that included posterolateral thoracotomy, apical lobectomy, chest wall resection, laminectomy, vertebrectomy, anterior spinal column reconstruction with methylmethacrylate, and placement of spinal instrumentation. There were six men and three women, with a mean age of 55 years (range 36–72 years). Histological examination revealed squamous cell carcinoma (three patients), adenocarcinoma (four patients), and large cell carcinoma (two patients). The mean postoperative follow-up period was 16 months. All patients are currently ambulatory or remained ambulatory until they died. Pain related to tumor invasion improved in four patients and remained unchanged in five. In three patients instrumentation failed and required revision. There was one case of cerebrospinal leak that was treated with lumbar drainage and one case of wound breakdown that required revision. Two patients experienced local tumor recurrence, and one patient developed a second primary lung tumor. The authors conclude that in selected patients, combined radical resection of superior sulcus tumors of the lung that involve the chest wall and spinal column may represent an acceptable treatment modality that can offer a potential cure while preserving neurological function and providing pain control.

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Gregory S. McLoughlin, Jed G. Nuchtern, Robert C. Dauser, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Jean-Paul Wolinsky

✓ Lymphangiomas are benign collections of blind-ended lymphatic and vascular channels. Lesions typically occur in the soft tissues of the head and neck, although any region of the body can be affected. Involvement of the spine is very rare. A complete resection is generally curative. On rare occasions, these tumors are complicated by infection or hemorrhage. The authors present an unusual case of a hemorrhagic lymphangioma in a 1-year-old male child. The lesion originated in the mediastinum and extended into the cervicothoracic epidural space via a neural foramen. This resulted in an acute epidural hematoma and quadriparesis. Emergency decompression resulted in full neurological recovery. This may be the first report of a lymphangioma resulting in an acute epidural hematoma and quadriparesis.

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Paul E. Kaloostian, Jennifer E. Kim, Ali Bydon, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Timothy F. Witham

Object

The authors describe the largest case series of 8 patients with intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) after spinal surgery and identify associated pre-, intra-, and postoperative risk factors in relation to outcome.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed the cases of 8 patients treated over 16 years at a single institution and also reviewed the existing literature and collected demographic, treatment, and outcome information from 33 unique cases of remote ICH after spinal surgery.

Results

The risk factors most correlated with ICH postoperatively were the presence of a CSF leak intraoperatively and the use of drains postoperatively with moderate hourly serosanguineous output in the early postoperative period.

Conclusions

Intracranial hemorrhage is a rare complication of spinal surgery that is associated with CSF leakage and use of drains postoperatively, with moderate serosanguinous output. These associations do not justify a complete avoidance of drains in patients with CSF leakage but may guide the treating physician to keep in mind drain output and timing of drain removal, while noting any changes in neurological examination status in the meantime. Additionally, continued and worsening neurological symptoms after spinal surgery may warrant cranial imaging to rule out intracranial hemorrhage, usually within the first 24 hours after surgery. The presence of cerebellar hemorrhage and hydrocephalus indicated a trend toward worse outcome.

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Camilo A. Molina, Rachel Sarabia-Estrada, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Timothy F. Witham, Ali Bydon, Jean-Paul Wolinsky and Daniel M. Sciubba

Object

Recombinant human bone morphogenetic proteins (rhBMPs) are FDA-approved for specific spinal fusion procedures, but their use is contraindicated in spine tumor resection beds because of an unclear interaction between tumor tissue and such growth factors. Interestingly, a number of studies have suggested that BMPs may slow the growth of adenocarcinomas in vitro, and these lesions represent the majority of bony spine tumors. In this study, the authors hypothesized that rhBMP-2 placed in an intraosseous spine tumor in the rat could suppress tumor and delay the onset of paresis in such animals.

Methods

Twenty-six female nude athymic rats were randomized into an experimental group (Group 1) or a positive control group (Group 2). Group 1 (tumor + 15 μg rhBMP-2 sponge, 13 rats) underwent transperitoneal exposure and implantation of breast adenocarcinoma (CRL-1666) into the L-6 spine segment, followed by the implantation of a bovine collagen sponge impregnated with 15 μg of rhBMP-2. Group 2 (tumor + 0.9% NaCl sponge, 13 rats) underwent transperitoneal exposure and tumor implantation in the lumbar spine but no local treatment with rhBMP-2. An additional 8 animals were randomized into 2 negative control groups (Groups 3 and 4). Group 3 (15 μg rhBMP-2 sponge, 4 rats) and Group 4 (0.9% NaCl sponge, 4 rats) underwent transperitoneal exposure of the lumbar spine along with the implantation of rhBMP-2– and saline-impregnated bovine collagen sponges, respectively. Neither of the negative control groups was implanted with tumor. The Basso-Beattie-Bresnahan (BBB) scale was used to monitor daily motor function regression and the time to paresis (BBB score ≤ 7).

Results

In comparison with the positive control animals (Group 2), the experimental animals (Group 1) had statistically significant longer mean (25.8 ± 12.2 vs 13 ± 1.4 days, p ≤ 0.001) and median (20 vs 13 days) times to paresis. In addition, the median survival time was significantly longer in the experimental animals (20 vs 13.5 days, p ≤ 0.0001). Histopathological analysis demonstrated bone growth and tumor inhibition in the experimental animals, whereas bone destruction and cord compression were observed in the positive control animals. Neither of the negative control groups (Groups 3 and 4) demonstrated any evidence of neurological deterioration, morbidity, or cord compromise on either gross or histological analysis.

Conclusions

This study shows that the local administration of rhBMP-2 (15 μg, 10 μl of 1.5-mg/ml solution) in a rat spine tumor model of breast cancer not only fails to stimulate local tumor growth, but also decreases local tumor growth and delays the onset of paresis in rats. This preclinical experiment is the first to show that the local placement of rhBMP-2 in a spine tumor bed may slow tumor progression and delay associated neurological decline.

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Gary L. Gallia, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ali Bydon, Ian Suk, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Timothy F. Witham

✓The authors describe a technique for total L-5 spondylectomy and reconstruction of the lumbosacral junction. The technique, which involves separately staged posterior and anterior procedures, is reported in two patients harboring neoplasms that involved the L-5 level. The first stage consisted of a posterior approach with removal of all posterior bone elements of L-5 and radical L4–5 and L5–S1 discectomies. Lumbosacral and lumbopelvic instrumentation included pedicle screws as well as iliac screws or a transiliac rod. The second stage consisted of an anterior approach with mobilization of vascular structures, completion of L4–5 and L5–S1 discectomies, and removal of the L-5 vertebral body. Anterior lumbosacral reconstruction included placement of a distractable cage and tension band between L-4 and S-1. Allograft bone was used for fusion in both stages. No significant complications were encountered. At more than 1 year of follow-up, both patients were independently ambulatory, without evidence of recurrent or metastatic disease, and adequate lumbosacral alignment was maintained. The authors conclude that this technique can be safely performed in appropriately selected patients with neoplasms involving L-5.

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Daniel M. Sciubba, Kaisorn L. Chaichana, Graeme F. Woodworth, Matthew J. McGirt, Ziya L. Gokaslan and George I. Jallo

Object

The indications remain unclear for fusion at the time of cervical laminectomy for intradural tumor resection. To identify patients who may benefit from initial fusion, the authors assessed clinical, radiological/imaging, and operative factors associated with subsequent symptomatic cervical instability requiring fusion after cervical laminectomy for intradural tumor resection.

Methods

The authors reviewed 10 years of data obtained in patients who underwent cervical laminectomy without fusion for intradural tumor resection and who had normal spinal stability and alignment preoperatively. The association of pre- and intraoperative variables with the subsequent need for fusion for progressive symptomatic cervical instability was assessed using logistic regression analysis, and percentages were compared using Fisher exact tests when appropriate.

Results

Thirty-two patients (mean age 41 ± 17 years) underwent cervical laminectomy without fusion for resection of an intradural tumor (18 intramedullary and 14 extramedullary). Each increasing number of laminectomies performed was associated with a 3.1-fold increase in the likelihood of subsequent vertebral instability (odds ratio 3.114, 95% confidence interval 1.207–8.034, p = 0.02). At a mean follow-up interval of 25.2 months, 33% (4 of 12) of the patients who had undergone a ≥ 3-level laminectomy required subsequent fusion compared with 5% (1 of 20) who had undergone a ≤ 2-level laminectomy (p = 0.03). Four (36%) of 11 patients initially presenting with myelopathic motor disturbance required subsequent fusion compared with 1 (5%) of 21 presenting initially with myelopathic sensory or radicular symptoms (p = 0.02). Age, the presence of a syrinx, intramedullary tumor, C-2 laminectomy, C-7 laminectomy, and laminoplasty were not associated with subsequent symptomatic instability requiring fusion.

Conclusions

In the authors' experience with intradural cervical tumor resection, patients presenting with myelopathic motor symptoms or those undergoing a ≥ 3-level cervical laminectomy had an increased likelihood of developing subsequent symptomatic instability requiring fusion. A ≥ 3-level laminectomy with myelopathic motor symptoms may herald patients most likely to benefit from cervical fusion at the time of tumor resection.

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Kyriakos Papadimitriou, Anubhav G. Amin, Ryan M. Kretzer, Christopher Chaput, P. Justin Tortolani, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Ali A. Baaj

Object

The rib head is an important landmark in the anterolateral approach to the thoracic spine. Resection of the rib head is typically the first step in gaining access to the underlying pedicle and ultimately the spinal canal. The goal of this work is to quantify the relationship of the rib head to the spinal canal and adjacent aorta at each thoracic level using CT-based morphometric measurements.

Methods

One hundred thoracic spine CT scans (obtained in 50 male and 50 female subjects) were evaluated in this study. The width and depth of each vertebra body were measured from T-1 to T-12. In addition, the distance of each rib head to the spinal canal was determined by drawing a line connecting the rib heads bilaterally and measuring the distance to this line from the most ventral aspect of the spinal canal. Finally, the distance of the left rib head to the thoracic aorta was measured at each thoracic level below the aortic arch.

Results

The vertebral body depth progressively increased in a rostral to caudal direction. The vertebral body width was at its minimum at T-4 and progressively increased to T-12. The rib head extended beyond the spinal canal maximally at T-1. This distance incrementally decreased toward the caudal levels, with the tip of the rib head lying approximately even with the ventral canal at T-11 and T-12. The distance between the aorta and the left rib head increased in a rostral to caudal direction as well.

Conclusions

The rib head is an important landmark in the anterolateral approach to the thoracic spine. At more cephalad levels, a larger portion of rib head requires resection to gain access to the spinal canal. At more caudad levels, there is a safer working distance between the rib head and aorta.

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Mohamad Bydon, Risheng Xu, Kyriakos Papademetriou, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Timothy F. Witham, Ziya L. Gokaslan, George Jallo and Ali Bydon

Object

Unintended durotomies are a common complication of spine surgery and are often correlated with increased postoperative morbidity. Recently, ultrasonic bone curettes have been introduced in spine surgery as a possible alternative to the conventional high-speed drill, offering the potential for greater bone-cutting precision and less damage to surrounding soft tissues. To date, however, few studies have investigated the safety and efficacy of the ultrasonic bone curette in reducing the rates of incidental durotomy compared with the high-speed drill.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed the records of 337 consecutive patients who underwent posterior cervical or thoracic decompression at a single institution between January 2009 and September 2011. Preoperative pathologies, the location and extent of spinal decompression, and the use of an ultrasonic bone curette versus the high-speed drill were noted. The rates of incidental durotomy, as well as hospital length of stay (LOS) and perioperative outcomes, were compared between patients who were treated using the ultrasonic bone curette and those treated using a high-speed drill.

Results

Among 88 patients who were treated using an ultrasonic bone curette and 249 who were treated using a high-speed drill, 5 (5.7%) and 9 (3.6%) patients had an unintentional durotomy, respectively. This finding was not statistically significant (p = 0.40). No patients in either cohort experienced statistically higher rates of perioperative complications, although patients treated using an ultrasonic bone curette tended to have a longer hospital LOS. This difference may be attributed to the fact that this series contained a statistically higher number of metastatic tumor cases (p < 0.0001) in the ultrasonic bone curette cohort, likely increasing the LOS for that patient population. In 13 patients, the dural defect was repaired intraoperatively. No patients who experienced an incidental durotomy had new-onset or permanent neurological deficits postoperatively.

Conclusions

The safety and efficacy of ultrasonic bone curettes in spine surgery has not been well established. This study shows that the ultrasonic bone curette has a similar safety profile compared with the high-speed drill, although both are capable of causing iatrogenic dural tears during spine surgery.

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Ziya L. Gokaslan, Marvin M. Romsdahl, Stephen S. Kroll, Garrett L. Walsh, Theresa A. Gillis, David M. Wildrick and Milam E. Leavens

✓ Although radical resection is the best treatment for malignant sacral tumors, total sacrectomy for such tumors has been performed in only a few instances. Total sacral resection requires reconstruction of the pelvic ring plus establishment of a bilateral union between the lumbar spine and iliac bone. This technique is illustrated in two patients harboring large, painful, sacral giant-cell tumors that were unresponsive to prior treatment. These patients were treated with complete en bloc resection of the sacrum and complex iliolumbar reconstruction/stabilization and fusion. Surgery was performed in two stages, the first consisting of a midline celiotomy, dissection of visceral/neural structures, and ligation of internal iliac vessels, followed by an anterior L5—S1 discectomy. The second stage consisted of mobilization of an inferiorly based myocutaneous rectus abdominis pedicle flap for wound closure, followed by an L-5 laminectomy, bilateral L-5 foraminotomy, ligation of the thecal sac, division of sacral nerve roots, and transection of the ilia lateral to the tumor and sacroiliac joints. Placement of the instrumentation required segmental fixation of the lumbar spine from L-3 down by means of pedicle screws and the establishment of a bilateral liaison between the lumbar spine and the ilia by using the Galveston L-rod technique. The pelvic ring was then reestablished by means of a threaded rod connecting left and right ilia. Both autologous (posterior iliac crest) and allograft bone were used for fusion, and a tibial allograft strut was placed between the remaining ilia. The patients were immobilized for 8 weeks postoperatively and underwent progressive rehabilitation. At the 1-year follow-up review, one patient could walk unassisted, and the other ambulated independently using a cane. Both patients controlled bowel function satisfactorily with laxatives and diet and could maintain continence but required self-catheterization for bladder emptying. The authors conclude that in selected patients, total sacrectomy represents an acceptable surgical procedure that can offer not only effective local pain control, but also a potential cure, while preserving satisfactory ambulatory capacity and neurological function.

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Christopher M. McPherson, Dima Suki, Ian E. McCutcheon, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Laurence D. Rhines and Ehud Mendel

Object.

Metastastic lesions have been reported in 5 to 40% of patients with spinal and sacrococcygeal chordoma, but few contemporary series of chordoma metastastic disease exist in the literature. Additionally, the outcome in patients with chordoma-induced metastastic neoplasms remains unclear. The authors performed a retrospective review of the neurosurgery database at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to determine the incidence of metastatic disease in a contemporary series of spinal and sacrococcygeal chordoma as well as to determine the outcomes.

Methods.

Thirty-seven patients underwent surgery for spinal and sacrococcygeal chordoma between June 1, 1993, and March 31, 2004. All records were reviewed, and appropriate statistical analyses were used to compare patient data for preoperative characteristics, treatments, and outcomes.

The authors identified seven patients (19%) in whom metastatic disease developed; in three the disease had metastasized to the lungs only, in two to the lungs and liver, and in two to distant locations in the spine. There were no significant differences in age, sex, tumor location, or history of radiation treatments between patients with and those without metastases. In cases with local recurrent tumors, metastastic disease was more likely to develop than in those without recurrence (28 compared with 0%, respectively; p = 0.07). In two (12%) of 17 patients who underwent en bloc resection, metastatic disease developed, whereas it developed in five (25%) of 20 patients treated by curettage (p = 0.42). The median time from first surgery to the appearance of metastatic disease, as calculated using the Kaplan–Meier method, was 143.4 months (95% confidence interval [CI] 66.8–219.9). The median survival duration of patients with metastatic disease after the first surgery was 106 months (95% CI 55.7–155.7), and this did not differ significantly from that in patients in whom no metastases developed (p = 0.93).

Conclusions.

Spinal chordoma metastasized to other locations in 19% of the patients in this series. In patients with local disease recurrence, metastatic lesions are more likely to develop. Metastatic lesions were shown to be aggressive in some cases. Surgery and chemotherapy can play a role in controlling metastatic disease.