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Yakov Gologorsky, Branko Skovrlj, Jeremy Steinberger, Max Moore, Marc Arginteanu, Frank Moore and Alfred Steinberger

Object

Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) with segmental pedicular instrumentation is a wellestablished procedure used to treat lumbar spondylosis with or without spondylolisthesis. Available biomechanical and clinical studies that compared unilateral and bilateral constructs have produced conflicting data regarding patient outcomes and hardware complications.

Methods

A prospective cohort study was undertaken by a group of neurosurgeons. They prospectively enrolled 80 patients into either bilateral or unilateral pedicle screw instrumentation groups (40 patients/group). Demographic data collected for each group included sex, age, body mass index, tobacco use, and Workers' Compensation/litigation status. Operative data included segments operated on, number of levels involved, estimated blood loss, length of hospital stay, and perioperative complications. Long-term outcomes (hardware malfunction, wound dehiscence, and pseudarthrosis) were recorded. For all patients, preoperative baseline and 6-month postoperative scores for Medical Outcomes 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) outcomes were recorded.

Results

Patient follow-up times ranged from 37 to 63 months (mean 52 months). No patients were lost to follow-up. The patients who underwent unilateral pedicle screw instrumentation (unilateral cohort) were slightly younger than those who underwent bilateral pedicle screw instrumentation (bilateral cohort) (mean age 42 vs 47 years, respectively; p = 0.02). No other significant differences were detected between cohorts with regard to demographic data, mean number of lumbar levels operated on, or distribution of the levels operated on. Estimated blood loss was higher for patients in the bilateral cohort, but length of stay was similar for patients in both cohorts. The incidence of pseudarthrosis was significantly higher among patients in the unilateral cohort (7 patients [17.5%]) than among those in the bilateral cohort (1 patient [2.5%]) (p = 0.02). Wound dehiscence occurred for 1 patient in the unilateral cohort. Reoperation was offered to 8 patients in the unilateral cohort and 1 patient in the bilateral cohort (p = 0.03). The physical component scores of the Medical Outcomes SF-36 outcomes improved significantly for all patients (p < 0.001).

Conclusions

Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion with either unilateral or bilateral segmental pedicular instrumentation is an effective treatment for lumbar spondylosis. Because patients with unilateral constructs were 7 times more likely to experience pseudarthrosis and require reoperation, TLIF with bilateral constructs might be the biomechanically superior technique.

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Paul S. Saphier, Marc S. Arginteanu, Frank M. Moore, Alfred A. Steinberger and Martin B. Camins

Object

In a prospective analysis the authors evaluated the clinical and radiographic outcome of 50 consecutive patients who underwent anterior cervical discectomy and fusion and fixation in which either a stress-shielding or a load-sharing plate (Orion and Premier, respectively) was placed. Data obtained in the two cohorts were analyzed to determine whether clinical or radiographic differences would emerge.

Methods

All patients underwent either one- or two-level fusion in which freeze-dried allogenic tricortical iliac crest bone graft was used. In the first cohort of 25 patients entered into the study, fixation was achieved using a stress-shielding anterior cervical plate (ACP) system, whereas in the second cohort of 25 patients a load-sharing plate system was employed. Patients were evaluated during a follow-up period that ranged from 12 to 35 months. Outcome was determined using a standard questionnaire by which the authors gauged the level of pain, disability, and satisfaction following surgery. The success of surgical fusion and the magnitude of the translation were determined by radiographic evaluation.

There was no statistically significant difference between the two cohorts with respect to age, sex, smoking rate, and postoperative complications. With regard to pain and functionality, there was a significant difference (p < 0.05) in favor of the load-sharing system. The fusion rates with the load-sharing and stress-shielding systems were 96 and 92%, respectively, and this difference was not significant. There was no significant difference between the two cohorts with regard to overall satisfaction. The magnitude of vertical translation was significantly greater in the stress-shielding ACP group (p < 0.05) for treatment at one level but not at two. Clinical and radiographic data were available in all patients.

Conclusions

Load-sharing ACP systems exhibited superior clinical results compared with stress-shielding ACPs in this series of patients. The symptomatic pseudarthrosis rate was lower in the load-sharing ACP–treated patients, although this was not statistically significant.

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Arien J. Smith, Marc Arginteanu, Frank Moore, Alfred Steinberger and Martin Camins

Object

Recent advances in the field of spinal implants have led to the development of the bioabsorbable interbody cage. Although much has been written about their advantageous characteristics, little has been reported regarding complications associated with these cages. The authors conducted this prospective cohort study to compare fusion and complication rates in patients undergoing transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) with carbon fiber cages versus biodegradable cages made from 70/30 poly(l-lactide-co-d,l-lactide) (PLDLA).

Methods

Between January 2005 and May 2006, 81 patients with various degenerative and/or structural pathologies affecting the lumbar spine underwent single- or multilevel TLIF with posterior segmental pedicle screw fixation using implants made of carbon fiber (37 patients) or 70/30 PLDLA (44 patients). Clinical and radiological follow-up was performed at 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year, and is ongoing. The incidence of nonunion, screw breakage, and cage migration were compared between the 2 groups.

Results

There was no significant difference in demographic data between the 2 groups, the mean number of lumbar levels operated, or distribution of the levels operated. There was a significantly increased incidence of nonunion (8 patients, 18.2%) and cage migrations (8 patients, 18.2%) in patients receiving the PLDLA implants compared with carbon fiber implants (no patients) (p = 0.006 and 0.007, respectively). There was no significant difference in demographic data between patients with cage migration and the rest of the patient population. Five of the 8 cases of migration occurred at the L5–S1 level while the remaining 3 occurred at the L4–5 level. The mean time to implant failure was 9.3 months.

Conclusions

This study showed an increased incidence of nonunion (18.2%) and postsurgical cage migration (18.2%) in patients undergoing TLIF with biodegradable cages versus carbon fiber implants (0%) (p = 0.006 and 0.007, respectively).

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Narayan Sundaresan, Alfred A. Steinberger, Frank Moore, Ved Parkash Sachdev, George Krol, Laura Hough and Kevin Kelliher

✓ Spinal instrumentation currently allows gross-total resection and reconstruction in cases of malignancies at all levels of the spine. The authors analyzed the results in 110 patients who underwent surgery for primary and metastatic spinal tumors over a 5-year period (1989–1993) at a single institution. Major primary sites of tumor included breast (14 cases), chordoma (14 cases), lung (12 cases), kidney (11 cases), sarcoma (13 cases), plasmacytoma (10 cases), and others (36 cases). Prior to surgery, 55 patients (50%) had received prior treatment. Forty-eight patients (44%) were nonambulatory, and severe paraparesis was present in 20 patients. Fifty-three patients (48%) underwent combined anterior—posterior resection and instrumentation, 33 (30%) underwent anterior resection with instrumentation, 18 (16%) underwent anterior or posterior resection alone, and the remaining six patients (5%) underwent posterior resection and instrumentation. Major indications for anterior—posterior resection included three-column involvement, high-grade instability, involvement of contiguous vertebral bodies, and solitary metastases. Postoperatively, 90 patients improved neurologically. The overall median survival was 16 months, with 46% of patients surviving 2 years. Fifty-three patients (48%) suffered postoperative complications. Despite the high incidence of complications, the majority of patients reported improvement in their quality of life at follow-up review. Our findings suggest that half of all patients with spinal malignancies require combined anterior—posterior surgery for adequate tumor removal and stabilization.

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Narayan Sundaresan, Alfred A. Steinberger, Frank Moore, Ved Parkash Sachdev, George Krol, Laura Hough and Kevin Kelliher

Spinal instrumentation currently allows gross-total resection and reconstruction in cases of malignancies at all levels of the spine. The authors analyzed the results in 110 patients who underwent surgery for primary and metastatic spinal tumors over a 5 year period (1989–1993) at a single institution. Major primary sites of tumor included breast (14 cases), chordoma (14 cases), lung (12 cases), kidney (11 cases), sarcoma (13 cases), plasmacytoma (10 cases), and others (36 cases). Prior to surgery, 55 patients (50%) had received prior treatment. Forty eight patients (44%) were nonambulatory, and severe paraparesis was present in 20 patients. Fifty three patients (48%) underwent combined anterior-posterior resection and instrumentation, 33 (30%) underwent anterior resection with instrumentation, 18 (16%) underwent anterior or posterior resection alone, and the remaining six patients (5%) underwent posterior resection and instrumentation. Major indications for anterior-posterior resection included three-column involvement, high-grade instability, involvement of contiguous vertebral bodies, and solitary metastases. Postoperatively, 90 patients improved neurologically. The overall median survival was 16 months, with 46% of patients surviving 2 years. Fifty-three patients (48%) suffered postoperative complications. Despite the high incidence of complications, the majority of patients reported improvement in their quality of life at follow-up review. Our findings suggest that half of all patients with spinal malignancies require combined anterior-posterior surgery for adequate tumor removal and stabilization.

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Jonathan J. Rasouli, Brooke T. Kennamer, Frank M. Moore, Alfred Steinberger, Kevin C. Yao, Omar N. Syed, Marc S. Arginteanu and Yakov Gologorsky

OBJECTIVE

The C7 vertebral body is morphometrically unique; it represents the transition from the subaxial cervical spine to the upper thoracic spine. It has larger pedicles but relatively small lateral masses compared to other levels of the subaxial cervical spine. Although the biomechanical properties of C7 pedicle screws are superior to those of lateral mass screws, they are rarely placed due to increased risk of neurological injury. Although pedicle screw stimulation has been shown to be safe and effective in determining satisfactory screw placement in the thoracolumbar spine, there are few studies determining its utility in the cervical spine. Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility, clinical reliability, and threshold characteristics of intraoperative evoked electromyographic (EMG) stimulation in determining satisfactory pedicle screw placement at C7.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed a prospectively collected data set. All adult patients who underwent posterior cervical decompression and fusion with placement of C7 pedicle screws at the authors’ institution between January 2015 and March 2019 were identified. Demographic, clinical, neurophysiological, operative, and radiographic data were gathered. All patients underwent postoperative CT scanning, and the position of C7 pedicle screws was compared to intraoperative neurophysiological data.

RESULTS

Fifty-one consecutive C7 pedicle screws were stimulated and recorded intraoperatively in 25 consecutive patients. Based on EMG findings, 1 patient underwent intraoperative repositioning of a C7 pedicle screw, and 1 underwent removal of a C7 pedicle screw. CT scans demonstrated ideal placement of the C7 pedicle screw in 40 of 43 instances in which EMG stimulation thresholds were > 15 mA. In the remaining 3 cases the trajectories were suboptimal but safe. When the screw stimulation thresholds were between 11 and 15 mA, 5 of 6 screws were suboptimal but safe, and in 1 instance was potentially dangerous. In instances in which the screw stimulated at thresholds ≤ 10 mA, all trajectories were potentially dangerous with neural compression.

CONCLUSIONS

Ideal C7 pedicle screw position strongly correlated with EMG stimulation thresholds > 15 mA. In instances, in which the screw stimulates at values between 11 and 15 mA, screw trajectory exploration is recommended. Screws with thresholds ≤ 10 mA should always be explored, and possibly repositioned or removed. In conjunction with other techniques, EMG threshold testing is a useful and safe modality in determining appropriate C7 pedicle screw placement.

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Frank J. Yuk, Jonathan J. Rasouli, Marc S. Arginteanu, Alfred A. Steinberger, Frank M. Moore, Kevin C. Yao, John M. Caridi and Yakov Gologorsky

OBJECTIVE

Rigid cervicothoracic kyphotic deformity (CTKD) remains a difficult pathology to treat, especially in the setting of prior cervical instrumentation and fusion. CTKD may result in chronic neck pain, difficulty maintaining horizontal gaze, and myelopathy. Prior studies have advocated for the use of C7 or T1 pedicle subtraction osteotomies (PSOs). However, these surgeries are fraught with danger and, most significantly, place the C7, C8, and/or T1 nerve roots at risk.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed their experience with performing T2 PSO for the correction of rigid CTKD. Demographics collected included age, sex, details of prior cervical surgery, and coexisting conditions. Perioperative variables included levels decompressed, levels instrumented, estimated blood loss, length of surgery, length of stay, complications from surgery, and length of follow-up. Radiographic measurements included C2–7 sagittal vertical axis (SVA) correction, and changes in the cervicothoracic Cobb angle, lumbar lordosis, and C2–S1 SVA.

RESULTS

Four male patients were identified (age range 55–72 years). Three patients had undergone prior posterior cervical laminectomy and instrumented fusion and developed postsurgical kyphosis. All patients underwent T2 PSO: 2 patients received instrumentation at C2–T4, and 2 patients received instrumentation at C2–T5. The median C2–7 SVA correction was 3.85 cm (range 2.9–5.3 cm). The sagittal Cobb angle correction ranged from 27.8° to 37.6°. Notably, there were no neurological complications.

CONCLUSIONS

T2 PSO is a powerful correction technique for the treatment of rigid CTKD. Compared with C7 or T1 PSO, there is decreased risk of injury to intrinsic hand muscle innervators, and there is virtually no risk of vertebral artery injury. Laminectomy may also be safer, as there is less (or no) scar tissue from prior surgeries. Correction at this distal level may allow for a greater sagittal correction. The authors are optimistic that these findings will be corroborated in larger cohorts examining this challenging clinical entity.