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Editorial

Pedicle versus lateral mass screws

Alexander R. Vaccaro

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Risheng Xu, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Ali Bydon

Abnormal ossification of spinal ligaments is a well-known cause of myelopathy in East Asian populations, with ossification of the ligamentum flavum (OLF) and the posterior longitudinal ligament being the most prevalent. In Caucasian populations, OLF is rare, and there has been only 1 documented case of the disease affecting more than 5 spinal levels. In this report, the authors describe the clinical presentation, imaging characteristics, and management of the second published case of a Caucasian man with OLF affecting almost the entire thoracic spine. The literature is then reviewed with regard to OLF epidemiology, pathogenesis, presentation, and treatment.

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Risheng Xu, Mohamad Bydon, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Timothy F. Witham and Ali Bydon

Epidural steroid injections are relatively safe procedures, although the risk of hemorrhagic complications in patients undergoing long-term anticoagulation therapy is higher. The American Society for Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine has specific guidelines for treatment of these patients when they undergo neuraxial anesthetic procedures. In this paper, the authors present a case in which the current American Society for Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine guidelines were strictly followed with respect to withholding and reintroducing warfarin and enoxaparin after an epidural steroid injection, but the patient nevertheless developed a spinal epidural hematoma requiring emergency surgical evacuation. The authors compare the case with the 8 other published cases of postinjection epidural hematomas in patients with coagulopathy, and the specific risk factors that may have contributed to the hemorrhagic complication in this patient is analyzed.

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Geoffrey P. Colby, Alexander L. Coon, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ali Bydon, Philippe Gailloud and Rafael J. Tamargo

Spinal dural arteriovenous fistulas (DAVFs) are the most common type of spinal arteriovenous malformation and are an important, underdiagnosed cause of progressive myelopathy and morbidity in patients with spine disorders. Successful microsurgical management of these lesions is dependent on the surgeon's ability to identify vessels of the fistula and to confirm its successful obliteration postintervention. Indocyanine green (ICG) fluorescent angiography is an emerging tool for delineating intraoperative vascular anatomy, and it has significant potential utility in the treatment of vascular disease in the spine.

The authors present the case of a 76-year-old man with progressive and debilitating bilateral lower-extremity weakness and numbness on exertion, in whom a left T-8 spinal DAVF was diagnosed based on results of conventional spinal angiography. Unfavorable anatomy based on angiographic findings precluded endovascular embolization of the fistula, and the patient subsequently underwent T7–9 bilateral laminectomies for microsurgical clip occlusion. Intraoperative ICG fluorescent angiography was used before clip placement to identify the arterialized veins of the fistula, and after clip placement to confirm obliteration of the fistulous connection and restoration of normal blood flow.

Intraoperative ICG angiography serves an important role in the microsurgical treatment of DAVF. It can be used to map the anatomy of the fistula in real time during surgery and to verify fistula obliteration rapidly after clip placement. This report adds to the growing body of literature demonstrating the importance of ICG angiography in vascular neurosurgery of the spine.

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Nasir A. Quraishi, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ali Bydon, Timothy Witham and Ziya L. Gokaslan

Myxopapillary ependymomas rarely present as a primary intrasacral lesion, and extensive sacral osteolysis is unusual. The authors report a case series of 6 patients with these complex tumors causing extensive sacral destruction, who underwent resection, lumbopelvic reconstruction, and fusion. The operative procedure, complications, and outcome are summarized after a mean follow-up of 3.55 years (range 18–80 months).

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Scott L. Parker, Risheng Xu, Matthew J. McGirt, Timothy F. Witham, Donlin M. Long and Ali Bydon

Object

The most common spinal procedure performed in the US is lumbar discectomy for disc herniation. Longterm disc degeneration and height loss occur in many patients after lumbar discectomy. The incidence of mechanical back pain following discectomy varies widely in the literature, and its associated health care costs are unknown. The authors set out to determine the incidence of and the health care costs associated with mechanical back pain attributed to segmental degeneration or instability at the level of a prior discectomy performed at their institution.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed the data for 111 patients who underwent primary, single-level lumbar hemilaminotomy and discectomy for radiculopathy. All diagnostic modalities, conservative therapies, and operative treatments used for the management of postdiscectomy back pain were recorded. Institutional billing and accounting records were reviewed to determine the billed costs of all diagnostic and therapeutic measures.

Results

At a mean follow-up of 37.3 months after primary discectomy, 75 patients (68%) experienced minimal to no back pain, 26 (23%) had moderate back pain requiring conservative treatment only, and 10 (9%) suffered severe back pain that required a subsequent fusion surgery at the site of the primary discectomy. The mean cost per patient for conservative treatment alone was $4696. The mean cost per patient for operative treatment was $42,554. The estimated cost of treatment for mechanical back pain associated with postoperative same-level degeneration or instability was $493,383 per 100 cases of first-time, single-level lumbar discectomy ($4934 per primary discectomy).

Conclusions

Postoperative mechanical back pain associated with same-level degeneration is not uncommon in patients undergoing single-level lumbar discectomy and is associated with substantial health care costs.

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Daniel M. Sciubba, Clarke Nelson, Patrick Hsieh, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Steve Ondra and Ali Bydon

✓ Patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) who present with spinal lesions are at an increased risk for developing perioperative complications. Due to the rigid yet brittle nature of the ankylosed spines commonly occurring with severe spinal deformity, patients are more prone to developing neurological deficits. Such risks are potentially increased not only during surgical manipulation or deformity correction, but also during image acquisition, positioning within the operating room, and intubation. In this review the complications of AS are reviewed, and recommendations are provided to avoid problems during each stage of patient management.

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Donald Seyfried, Yuxia Han, Dunyue LU, Jieli Chen, Ali Bydon and Michael Chopp

Object. Atorvastatin, a β-hydroxy-β-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitor, improves neurological functional outcome, reduces cerebral cell loss, and promotes regional cellular plasticity when administered after intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) in rats.

Methods. Autologous blood was stereotactically injected into the right striatum in rats, and atorvastatin was administered orally beginning 24 hours after ICH and continued daily for 1 week. At a dose of 2 mg/kg, atorvastatin significantly reduced the severity of neurological deficit from 2 to 4 weeks after ICH. The area of cell loss in the ipsilateral striatum was also significantly reduced in these animals. Consistent with previous study data, higher doses of atorvastatin (8 mg/kg) did not improve functional outcome or reduce the extent of injury. Histochemical stains for markers of synaptogenesis, immature neurons, and neuronal migration revealed increased labeling in the region of hemorrhage in the atorvastatin-treated rats.

Conclusions. Analysis of the data in this study indicates that atorvastatin improves neurological recovery after experimental ICH and may do so in part by increasing neuronal plasticity.

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Oren N. Gottfried, Scott L. Parker, Ibrahim Omeis, Ali Bydon, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Jean-Paul Wolinsky

Cervical spondylolysis is an uncommon disorder involving a cleft at the pars interarticularis. It is most often found at the C-6 level, and clinical presentations have included incidental radiographic findings, neck pain, and rarely neurological compromise. Although subaxial cervical spondylolysis has been described in 150 patients, defects at the C-2 pedicles are rare.

The authors present 2 new cases of C-2 spondylolysis in athletically active young persons who did not demonstrate instability or neurological deficits, were able to remain active, and are being managed conservatively with serial examinations and imaging. They also discuss the results of 22 previously reported cases of C-2 spondylolysis. Based on the literature and their own experience, the authors conclude that most patients with C-2 spondylolysis remain neurologically intact, maintain stability despite the bony defect, and can be managed conservatively. Surgery is reserved for patients who demonstrate severe instability or spinal cord compromise due to stenosis.