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S. Shelby Burks, David J. Levi, Seth Hayes and Allan D. Levi

Object

The object of this study was to highlight the challenge of insufficient donor graft material in peripheral nerve surgery, with a specific focus on sciatic nerve transection requiring autologous sural nerve graft.

Methods

The authors performed an anatomical analysis of cadaveric sciatic and sural nerve tissue. To complement this they also present 3 illustrative clinical cases of sciatic nerve injuries with segmental defects. In the anatomical study, the cross-sectional area (CSA), circumference, diameter, percentage of neural tissue, fat content of the sural nerves, as well as the number of fascicles, were measured from cadaveric samples. The percentage of neural tissue was defined as the CSA of fascicles lined by perineurium relative to the CSA of the sural nerve surrounded by epineurium.

Results

Sural nerve samples were obtained from 8 cadaveric specimens. Mean values and standard deviations from sural nerve measurements were as follows: CSA 2.84 ± 0.91 mm2, circumference 6.67 ± 1.60 mm, diameter 2.36 ± 0.43 mm, fat content 0.83 ± 0.91 mm2, and number of fascicles 9.88 ± 3.68. The percentage of neural tissue seen on sural nerve cross-section was 33.17% ± 4.96%. One sciatic nerve was also evaluated. It had a CSA of 37.50 mm2, with 56% of the CSA representing nerve material. The estimated length of sciatic nerve that could be repaired with a bilateral sural nerve harvest (85 cm) varied from as little as 2.5 cm to as much as 8 cm.

Conclusions

Multiple methods have been used in the past to repair sciatic nerve injury but most commonly, when a considerable gap is present, autologous nerve grafting is required, with sural nerve being the foremost source. As evidenced by the anatomical data reported in this study, a considerable degree of variability exists in the diameter of sural nerve harvests. Conversely, the percentage of neural tissue is relatively consistent across specimens. The authors recommend that the peripheral nerve surgeon take these points into consideration during nerve grafting as insufficient graft material may preclude successful recovery.

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Michael Y. Wang, Gabriel Widi and Allan D. Levi

OBJECT

The aging of the population will require that surgeons increasingly consider operating on elderly patients. Performing surgery safely in the elderly will require an understanding of the factors that predict successful outcomes and avoid complications.

METHODS

Records of patients 85 years and older undergoing elective lumbar spinal surgery were retrospectively reviewed. Microdiscectomies were excluded. Preexisting medical illnesses measured using the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI), American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Physical Status class, age, and surgical parameters were analyzed as factors potentially predictive of complications. Ambulatory function was rated on a 4-point scale.

RESULTS

During the study 26 consecutive patients (mean age 87 years) with a mean ASA class of 2.6 ± 0.65 and CCI of 1.1 ± 1.27 were enrolled. The average number of levels treated was 2.17 ± 1.23, and 73% underwent fusion. The mean follow-up was 41.9 months with a minimum of 24 months, and all patients were alive at last follow-up. Average blood loss was 142 ± 184 ml, and the operative time was 183.3 ± 80.6 minutes. The mean number of levels treated was 2.17 ± 1.13 (range 1–4). Ambulatory function improved significantly by 0.59 ± 1.0 points. Five complications (19.2%) occurred in 4 patients, 2 major and 3 minor. Four complications were temporary and 1 was permanent. Patient age, blood loss, CCI score, ASA class, the number of levels treated, and fusion surgery were not statistically associated with a complication. Operative time of longer than 180 minutes (p = 0.0134) was associated with complications.

CONCLUSIONS

Lumbar spine surgery in patients 85 years and older can be accomplished safely if careful attention is paid to preoperative selection. Prolonged operative times are associated with a higher risk of complications.

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Michael Y Wang and Allan D. O. Levi

Occipital neuralgia is a result of neuropathic pain transmission in the distribution of the greater occipital nerve. Because it is well anatomically localized, occipital neuralgia has been the focus of various surgical treatments. Ablation, decompression, and modulation of the C-2 nerve have all been described as effective treatments. The C-2 dorsal root ganglionectomy provides effective treatment for this disorder with a low incidence of unpleasant side effects. In this review the authors summarize the current treatment of occipital neuralgia.

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Laura Bloom, S. Shelby Burks and Allan D. Levi

Postoperative wound infections in spinal surgery remain an important complication to diagnose and treat successfully. In most cases of deep infection, even with instrumentation, aggressive soft-tissue debridement followed by intravenous antibiotics is sufficient. This report presents a patient who underwent L3–S1 laminectomy and pedicle screw placement including bicortical sacral screws. This patient went on to develop multiple (7) recurrent infections at the operative site over a 5-year period. Continued investigation eventually revealed a large presacral abscess, which remained the source of recurrent bacterial seeding via the remaining bone tracts of the bicortical sacral screws placed during the original lumbar surgery. Two years after drainage of this presacral collection via a retroperitoneal approach, the patient remains symptom free.

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Adam S. Rochman, Elizabeth Vitarbo and Allan D. Levi

✓ The authors report a case of traumatic femoral nerve palsy caused by a pseudoaneurysm of the iliolumbar artery and a iliacus muscle hematoma. This case report details not only the classic history and physical findings seen in patients such as this one, but also illustrates an unusual source of the hematoma and a discussion of its treatment.

A 20-year-old man was assaulted and presented to the authors's institution with a 1-week history of severe pain in the left anterior thigh and groin, weakness in the left quadriceps muscle, and numbness in the anterior thigh and medial distal leg. Imaging studies demonstrated a large, 9.4 × 6.4 × 5.2-cm iliacus hematoma as well as a pseudoaneurysm originating from the left iliolumbar artery. The patient underwent angiographic embolization of the pseudoaneurysm followed by surgical evacuation of the hematoma. The embolization was performed before surgery to prevent any possible rebleeding from the pseudoaneurysm during evacuation of the hematoma.

Femoral nerve palsy caused by traumatic iliacus hematoma is an infrequent diagnosis often missed because of its insidious presentation. In this case, embolization of the iliolumbar artery pseudoaneurysm followed by surgical evacuation of the hematoma resulted in a nearly full recovery of the femoral nerve as of the last follow-up examination.

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Stephanie Chen, Brandon Gaynor and Allan D. Levi

Pudendal nerve schwannomas are very rare, with only two cases reported in the English-language literature. The surgical approaches described in these two case reports are the transgluteal approach and the laparoscopic approach. The authors present the case of a patient with progressive pelvic pain radiating ipsilaterally into her groin, vagina, and rectum, who was subsequently found to have a pudendal schwannoma. The authors used a transischiorectal fossa approach and intraoperative electrophysiological monitoring and successfully excised the tumor. This approach has the advantage of direct access to Alcock's canal with minimal disruption of the pelvic muscles and ligaments. The patient experienced complete relief of her pelvic pain after the procedure.

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Karthik Madhavan, Lee Onn Chieng, Brandon G. Gaynor and Allan D. Levi

Retro-odontoid cysts that arise from the tectorial membrane are uncommon lesions that can occur in elderly patients. They arise secondary to degenerative changes, including calcium pyrophosphate deposition within the ligaments. Surgical treatment is indicated when these lesions result in intractable pain, instability, and/or myelopathy. Several surgical techniques to treat this condition exist, but the optimal approach in elderly patients with comorbidities remains controversial. Here, the authors present a case series of 3 patients who underwent successful resection of a retro-odontoid lesion performed through a transdural approach.

The patients were 70, 81, and 74 years old and presented with symptoms of cervical myelopathy. In consideration of their advanced age and the location of their lesion, resection via a posterior approach was considered. A 1- to 2-cm suboccipital craniectomy and C-1 and partial C-2 laminectomy were performed. These lesions could not be accessed via an extradural posterolateral approach, and so a transdural approach was performed. In the first 2 patients, a preexisting deformity prompted an instrumented fusion. In the third patient, only a lesion resection was performed. In each case, the dural opening was made using a paramedian ipsilateral-sided incision, and the lesion was resected through an incision in the anterior dura mater. Only the posterior dura was closed primarily. MR imaging evidence of excellent spinal cord decompression was evident in follow-up examinations.

Transdural resection of retro-odontoid cysts is a viable option for treating asymmetrical ventral extradural cysts. Results from this case series suggest that such an approach is safe and feasible and can provide an alternative to open or endoscopic anterior transpharyngeal approaches.

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George M. Ghobrial, Kenneth M. Crandall, Anthony Lau, Seth K. Williams and Allan D. Levi

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to describe the use of a minimally invasive surgical treatment of lumbar spondylolysis in athletes by a fluoroscopically guided direct pars screw placement with recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein–2 (rhBMP-2) and to report on clinical and radiographic outcomes.

METHODS

A retrospective review was conducted of all patients treated surgically for lumbar spondylolysis via a minimally invasive direct pars repair with cannulated screws. Demographic information, clinical features of presentation, perioperative and intraoperative radiographic imaging, and postoperative data were collected. A 1-cm midline incision was performed for the placement of bilateral pars screws utilizing biplanar fluoroscopy, followed by placement of a fully threaded 4.0-mm-diameter titanium cannulated screw. A tubular table-mounted retractor was utilized for direct pars fracture visualization and debridement through a separate incision. The now-visualized pars fracture could then be decorticated, with care taken not to damage the titanium screw when using a high-speed drill. Local bone obtained from the curettage was then placed in the defect with 1.05 mg rhBMP-2 divided equally between the bilateral pars defects.

RESULTS

Nine patients were identified (mean age 17.7 ± 3.42 years, range 14–25 years; 6 male and 3 female). All patients had bilateral pars fractures of L-4 (n = 4) or L-5 (n = 5). The mean duration of preoperative symptoms was 17.22 ± 13.2 months (range 9–48 months). The mean operative duration was 189 ± 29 minutes (range 151–228 minutes). The mean intraoperative blood loss was 17.5 ± 10 ml (range 10–30 ml). Radiographic follow-up was available in all cases; the mean length of time from surgery to the most recent imaging study was 30.8 ± 23.3 months (range 3–59 months). The mean hospital length of stay was 1.13 ± 0.35 days (range 1–2 days). There were no intraoperative complications.

CONCLUSIONS

Lumbar spondylolysis treatment with a minimally invasive direct pars repair is a safe and technically feasible option that minimizes muscle and soft-tissue dissection, which may particularly benefit adolescent patients with a desire to return to a high level of physical activity.

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David M. Benglis Jr., Steve Vanni and Allan D. Levi

Object

Minimally invasive anterolateral approaches to the lumbar spine are options for the treatment of a number of adult degenerative spinal disorders. Nerve injuries during these surgeries, although rare, can be devastating complications. With an increasing number of spine surgeons utilizing minimal access retroperitoneal surgery to treat lumbar problems, the frequency of complications associated with this approach will likely increase. The authors sought to better understand the location of the lumbar contribution of the lumbosacral plexus relative to the disc spaces encountered when performing the minimally invasive transpsoas approach, also known as extreme lateral interbody fusion or direct lateral interbody fusion.

Methods

Three fresh cadavers were placed lateral, and a total of 3 dissections of the lumbar contribution of the lumbosacral plexus were performed. Radiopaque soldering wire was then laid along the anterior margin of the nerve fibers and the exiting femoral nerve. Markers were placed at the disc spaces and lateral fluoroscopy was used to measure the location of the lumbar plexus along each respective disc space in the lumbar spine (L1–2, L2–3, L3–4, and L4–5).

Results

The lumbosacral plexus was found lying within the substance of the psoas muscle between the junction of the transverse process and vertebral body and exited along the medial edge of the psoas distally. The lumbosacral plexus was most dorsally positioned at the posterior endplate of L1–2. A general trend of progressive ventral migration of the plexus on the disc space was noted at L2–3, L3–4, and L4–5. Average ratios were calculated at each level (location of the plexus from the dorsal endplate to total disc length) and were 0 (L1–2), 0.11 (L2–3), 0.18 (L3–4), and 0.28 (L4–5).

Conclusions

This anatomical study suggests that positioning the dilator and/or retractor in a posterior position of the disc space may result in nerve injury to the lumbosacral plexus, especially at the L4–5 level. The risk of injuring inherent nerve branches directed to the psoas muscle as well as injury to the genitofemoral nerve do still exist.

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Christoph P. Hofstetter, Anna S. Hofer and Allan D. Levi

OBJECT

Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) is frequently used for spinal arthrodesis procedures in an “off-label” fashion. Whereas complications related to BMP usage are well recognized, the role of dosage is less clear. The objective of this meta-analysis was to assess dose-dependent effectiveness (i.e., bone fusion) and morbidity of BMP used in common spinal arthrodesis procedures. A quantitative exploratory meta-analysis was conducted on studies reporting fusion and complication rates following anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), posterior cervical fusion (PCF), anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF), transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF), posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF), and posterolateral lumbar fusion (PLF) supplemented with BMP.

METHODS

A literature search was performed to identify studies on BMP in spinal fusion procedures reporting fusion and/or complication rates. From the included studies, a database for each spinal fusion procedure, including patient demographic information, dose of BMP per level, and data regarding fusion rate and complication rates, was created. The incidence of fusion and complication rates was calculated and analyzed as a function of BMP dose. The methodological quality of all included studies was assessed according to the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines. Data were analyzed using a random-effects model. Event rates are shown as percentages, with a 95% CI.

RESULTS

Forty-eight articles met the inclusion criteria: ACDF (n = 7), PCF (n = 6), ALIF (n = 9), TLIF/PLIF (n = 17), and PLF (n = 9), resulting in a total of 5890 patients. In ACDF, the lowest BMP concentration analyzed (0.2–0.6 mg/level) resulted in a fusion rate similar to the highest dose (1.1–2.1 mg/level), while permitting complication rates comparable to ACDF performed without BMP. The addition of BMP to multilevel constructs significantly (p < 0.001) increased the fusion rate (98.4% [CI 95.4%–99.4%]) versus the control group fusion rate (85.8% [CI 77.4%–91.4%]). Studies on PCF were of poor quality and suggest that BMP doses of ≤ 2.1 mg/level resulted in similar fusion rates as higher doses. Use of BMP in ALIF increased fusion rates from 79.1% (CI 57.6%–91.3%) in the control cohort to 96.9% (CI 92.3%–98.8%) in the BMP-treated group (p < 0.01). The rate of complications showed a positive correlation with the BMP dose used. Use of BMP in TLIF had only a minimal impact on fusion rates (95.0% [CI 92.8%–96.5%] vs 93.0% [CI 78.1%–98.0%] in control patients). In PLF, use of ≥ 8.5 mg BMP per level led to a significant increase of fusion rate (95.2%; CI 90.1%–97.8%) compared with the control group (75.3%; CI 64.1%–84.0%, p < 0.001). BMP did not alter the rate of complications when used in PLF.

CONCLUSIONS

The BMP doses used for various spinal arthrodesis procedures differed greatly between studies. This study provides BMP dosing recommendations for the most common spine procedures.