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Jeffrey P. Blount, Amber S. Gordon, Paul M. Foreman and John H. Grant

The authors report on an infant with a bifrontal encephalocele that was associated with multisuture craniosynostosis, spasticity, and a progressively severe epilepsy. They describe the initial presentation, genetic screening results, staged multidisciplinary operative plans, clinical course, complications, and long-term surgical and developmental follow-up. To their knowledge, the comprehensive surgical management of this type of complicated congenital cranial anomaly has not been previously described.

Surgical management was staged and multidisciplinary and required careful attention to all 3 components of the condition: 1) hydrocephalus, 2) frontal meningoencephalocele, and 3) epilepsy.

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Matthew S. Erwood, Mark N. Hadley, Amber S. Gordon, William R. Carroll, Bonita S. Agee and Beverly C. Walters

OBJECTIVE

Recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) injury is one of the most frequent complications of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) procedures. The frequency of RLN is reported as 1%–11% in the literature.4,15 The rate of palsy after reoperative ACDF surgery is not well defined. This meta-analysis was performed to review the current medical evidence on RLN injury after ACDF surgery and to determine a relative rate of RLN injury after reoperative ACDF.

METHODS

MEDLINE, PubMed, and Google Scholar searches were performed using several key words and phrases related to ACDF surgery. Included studies were written in English, addressed revisionary ACDF surgery, and studied outcomes of RLN injury. Statistical analysis was then performed using a random-effects model to calculate a pooled rate of RLN injury. The heterogeneity of the studies was assessed using Cochran's Q statistic and I2 statistic, and a funnel plot was constructed to evaluate publication bias.

RESULTS

The search initially identified 345 articles on this topic. Eight clinical articles that met all inclusion criteria were included in the meta-analysis. A total of 238 patients were found to have undergone reoperative ACDF. Thirty-three of those patients experienced an RLN injury. This analysis identified a rate of RLN injury in the literature after reoperative ACDF of 14.1% (95% confidence interval [CI] 9.8%–19.1%).

CONCLUSIONS

The rate of RLN palsy of 14.1% was greater than any published rate of RLN injury after primary ACDF operations, suggesting that there is a greater risk of hoarseness and dysphagia with reoperative ACDF surgeries than with primary procedures as reported in these studies.

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Joshua J. Chern, Amber S. Gordon, Robert P. Naftel, R. Shane Tubbs, W. Jerry Oakes and John C. Wellons III

Intracranial endoscopy in the treatment of hydrocephalus, arachnoid cysts, or brain tumors has gained wide acceptance, but the use of endoscopy for intradural navigation in the pediatric spine has received much less attention. The aim of the authors' present study was to analyze their experience in using spinal endoscopy to treat various pathologies of the spinal canal.

The authors performed a retrospective review of intradural spinal endoscopic cases at their institution. They describe 4 representative cases, including an arachnoid cyst, intrinsic spinal cord tumor, holocord syrinx, and split cord malformation.

Intradural spinal endoscopy was useful in treating the aforementioned lesions. It resulted in a more limited laminectomy and myelotomy, and it assisted in identifying a residual spinal cord tumor. It was also useful in the fenestration of a multilevel arachnoid cyst and in confirming communication of fluid spaces in the setting of a complex holocord syrinx. Endoscopy aided in the visualization of the spinal cord to ensure the absence of tethering in the case of a long-length Type II split spinal cord malformation.

Conclusions

Based on their experience, the authors found intradural endoscopy to be a useful surgical adjunct and one that helped to decrease morbidity through reduced laminectomy and myelotomy. With advances in technology, the authors believe that intradural endoscopy will begin to be used by more neurosurgeons for treating diseases of this anatomical region.

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Joshua J. Chern, Amber J. Gordon, Martin M. Mortazavi, R. Shane Tubbs and W. Jerry Oakes

Object

In 1998 the authors identified 5 patients with syringomyelia and no evidence of Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I). Magnetic resonance imaging of the entire neuraxis ruled out other causes of a syrinx. Ultimately, abnormal CSF flow at the foramen magnum was the suspected cause. The label “Chiari 0” was used to categorize these unique cases with no tonsillar ectopia. All of the patients underwent posterior fossa decompression and duraplasty identical to the technique used to treat patients with CM-I. Significant syrinx and symptom resolution occurred in these patients. Herein, the authors report on a follow-up study of patients with CM-0 who were derived from over 400 operative cases of pediatric CM-I decompression.

Methods

The authors present their 12-year experience with this group of patients.

Results

Fifteen patients (3.7%) were identified. At surgery, many were found to have physical barriers to CSF flow near the foramen magnum. In most of them, the syringomyelia was greatly diminished postoperatively.

Conclusions

The authors stress that this subgroup represents a very small cohort among patients with Chiari malformations. They emphasize that careful patient selection is critical when diagnosing CM-0. Without an obvious CM-I, other etiologies of a spinal syrinx must be conclusively ruled out. Only then can one reasonably expect to ameliorate the clinical course of these patients via posterior fossa decompression.

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Matthew S. Erwood, Beverly C. Walters, Timothy M. Connolly, Amber S. Gordon, William R. Carroll, Bonita S. Agee, Bradley R. Carn and Mark N. Hadley

OBJECTIVE

Dysphagia and vocal cord palsy (VCP) are common complications after anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). The reported incidence rates for dysphagia and VCP are variable. When videolaryngostroboscopy (VLS) is performed to assess vocal cord function after ACDF procedures, the incidence of VCP is reported to be as high as 22%. The incidence of dysphagia ranges widely, with estimates up to 71%. However, to the authors’ knowledge, there are no prospective studies that demonstrate the rates of VCP and dysphagia for reoperative ACDF. This study aimed to investigate the incidence of voice and swallowing disturbances before and after reoperative ACDF using a 2-team operative approach with comprehensive pre- and postoperative assessment of swallowing, direct vocal cord visualization, and clinical neurosurgical outcomes.

METHODS

A convenience sample of sequential patients who were identified as requiring reoperative ACDF by the senior spinal neurosurgeon at the University of Alabama at Birmingham were enrolled in a prospective, nonrandomized study during the period from May 2010 until July 2014. Sixty-seven patients undergoing revision ACDF were enrolled using a 2-team approach with neurosurgery and otolaryngology. Dysphagia was assessed both preoperatively and postoperatively using the MD Anderson Dysphagia Inventory (MDADI) and fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES), whereas VCP was assessed using direct visualization with VLS.

RESULTS

Five patients (7.5%) developed a new postoperative temporary VCP after reoperative ACDF. All of these cases resolved by 2 months postoperatively. There were no new instances of permanent VCP. Twenty-five patients had a new swallowing disturbance detected on FEES compared with their baseline assessment, with most being mild and requiring no intervention. Nearly 60% of patients showed a decrease in their postoperative MDADI scores, particularly within the physical subset.

CONCLUSIONS

A 2-team approach to reoperative ACDF was safe and effective, with no new cases of VCP on postoperative VLS. Dysphagia rates as assessed through the MDADI scale and FEES were consistent with other published reports.

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Joshua J. Chern, R. Shane Tubbs, Akash J. Patel, Amber S. Gordon, S. Kathleen Bandt, Matthew D. Smyth, Andrew Jea and W. Jerry Oakes

Object

Tethered cord release for a tight filum terminale is a common pediatric operation associated with low morbidity and mortality rates. While almost all would agree that keeping patients lying flat after the operation will prevent a CSF leak, the optimal period of doing so has not been determined. In this study, the authors examined whether a longer length of stay in the hospital for the sole purpose of maintaining patients flat correlates with a decreased rate of CSF leakage.

Methods

Intraoperative and postoperative data were retrospectively collected in 222 cases of simple tethered cord release at 3 large children's hospitals. Risk factors for postoperative CSF leakage were identified.

Results

Thirty-eight patients were maintained lying flat for 24 hours, 86 for 48 hours, and 98 for 72 hours at the individual surgeon's discretion. A CSF leak occurred in 13 patients (5.9%) and pseudomeningocele developed in 9 patients (4.1%). In the univariate analysis, operating time, use of the microscope, use of dural sealant, and duration of remaining flat after surgery failed to correlate with the occurrence of complications.

Conclusions

A longer hospital stay for maintaining patients flat after a simple tethered cord release appears not to prevent CSF leakage. However, a larger patient cohort will be needed to detect small differences in complication rates.

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Amber S. Gordon, Ashly C. Westrick, Michael I. Falola, Chevis N. Shannon, Beverly C. Walters and Winfield S. Fisher

Object

This study was undertaken to assess the reliability of observations of postoperative photographs in assigning House-Brackmann scores as outcome measures for patients following resection of vestibular schwannomas.

Methods

Forty pictures of differing facial expressions typically elicited from patients for assigning House-Brackmann scores were individually evaluated by neurosurgery residents and faculty members at the University of Alabama at Birmingham; a score was assigned to each picture by the individual raters. The interrater reliability was measured using the Spearman correlation coefficient, Kendall coefficient of concordance, and kappa statistic; internal consistency was calculated using the Cronbach alpha reliability estimate.

Results

The Spearman correlation coefficients showed strong positive association among raters, with a range of values of 0.66 to 0.90. Internal consistency measured by the Cronbach alpha coefficient was excellent (α = 0.97). The Kendall coefficient of concordance for the ordinal grades suggested a substantial degree of agreement among the raters (w = 0.76, p < 0.001).

Conclusions

Static postoperative photographs are a reliable outcome measure for determining facial nerve function after vestibular schwannoma resection and may serve as a surrogate for the dynamic patient interview.