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Editorial

Pedicle versus lateral mass screws

Alexander R. Vaccaro

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Seba Ramhmdani and Ali Bydon

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Mohamad Bydon, Nicholas B. Abt, Rafael De la Garza-Ramos, Mohamed Macki, Timothy F. Witham, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Ali Bydon and Judy Huang

OBJECT

The authors sought to determine the impact of resident participation on overall 30-day morbidity and mortality following neurosurgical procedures.

METHODS

The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database was queried for all patients who had undergone neurosurgical procedures between 2006 and 2012. The operating surgeon(s), whether an attending only or attending plus resident, was assessed for his or her influence on morbidity and mortality. Multivariate logistic regression, was used to estimate odds ratios for 30-day postoperative morbidity and mortality outcomes for the attending-only compared with the attending plus resident cohorts (attending group and attending+resident group, respectively).

RESULTS

The study population consisted of 16,098 patients who had undergone elective or emergent neurosurgical procedures. The mean patient age was 56.8 ± 15.0 years, and 49.8% of patients were women. Overall, 15.8% of all patients had at least one postoperative complication. The attending+resident group demonstrated a complication rate of 20.12%, while patients with an attending-only surgeon had a statistically significantly lower complication rate at 11.70% (p < 0.001). In the total population, 263 patients (1.63%) died within 30 days of surgery. Stratified by operating surgeon status, 162 patients (2.07%) in the attending+resident group died versus 101 (1.22%) in the attending group, which was statistically significant (p < 0.001). Regression analyses compared patients who had resident participation to those with only attending surgeons, the referent group. Following adjustment for preoperative patient characteristics and comorbidities, multivariate regression analysis demonstrated that patients with resident participation in their surgery had the same odds of 30-day morbidity (OR = 1.05, 95% CI 0.94–1.17) and mortality (OR = 0.92, 95% CI 0.66–1.28) as their attendingonly counterparts.

CONCLUSIONS

Cases with resident participation had higher rates of mortality and morbidity; however, these cases also involved patients with more comorbidities initially. On multivariate analysis, resident participation was not an independent risk factor for postoperative 30-day morbidity or mortality following elective or emergent neurosurgical procedures.

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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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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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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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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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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.

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Seba Ramhmdani, Marc Comair, Camilo A. Molina, Daniel M. Sciubba and Ali Bydon

Interspinous process devices (IPDs) have been developed as less-invasive alternatives to spinal fusion with the goal of decompressing the spinal canal and preserving segmental motion. IPD implantation is proposed to treat symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis that improve during flexion. Recent indications of IPD include lumbar facet joint syndrome, which is seen in patients with mainly low-back pain. Long-term outcomes in this subset of patients are largely unknown. The authors present a previously unreported complication of coflex (IPD) placement: the development of a large compressive lumbar synovial cyst. A 64-year-old woman underwent IPD implantation (coflex) at L4–5 at an outside hospital for low-back pain that occasionally radiates to the right leg. Postoperatively, her back and right leg pain persisted and worsened. MRI was repeated and showed a new, large synovial cyst at the previously treated level, severely compressing the patient’s cauda equina. Four months later, she underwent removal of the interspinous process implant, bilateral laminectomy, facetectomy, synovial cyst resection, interbody fusion, and stabilization. At the 3-month follow-up, she reported significant back pain improvement with some residual leg pain. This case suggests that facet arthrosis may not be an appropriate indication for placement of coflex.