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Luke G. F. Smith, Nguyen Hoang, Ammar Shaikhouni, and Stephanus Viljoen

Pedicle and lateral mass screws are the most common means of rigid fixation in posterior cervical spine fusions. Various other techniques such as translaminar screw placement, paravertebral foramen screw fixation, sublaminar and spinous process wiring, cement augmentation, and others have been developed for primary fixation or as salvage methods. Use of these techniques can be limited by a prior history of osteotomies, poor bone density, destruction of the bone-screw interface, and unfavorable vascular and osseous anatomy.

Here, the authors report on the novel application of cervical sublaminar polyester bands as an adjunct salvage method or additional fixation point used with traditional methods in the revision of prior constructs. While sublaminar polyester bands have been used for decades in pediatric scoliosis surgery in the thoracolumbar spine, they have yet to be utilized as a method of fixation in the cervical spine. In both cases described here, sublaminar banding proved crucial for fixation points where traditional fixation techniques would have been less than ideal. Further study is required to determine the full application of sublaminar polyester bands in the cervical spine as well as its outcomes.

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Ammar Shaikhouni and E. Antonio Chiocca

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Ammar Shaikhouni and E. Antonio Chiocca

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Justin Baum, Stephanus V. Viljoen, Connor S. Gifford, Amy J. Minnema, Ammar Shaikhouni, Andrew J. Grossbach, Shahid Nimjee, and H. Francis Farhadi

OBJECTIVE

Despite the increasing incidence of spinal epidural abscess (SEA), the baseline parameters potentially predictive of treatment failure remain poorly characterized. In this study, the authors identify the relevant baseline parameters that predict multimodal treatment failure in patients with either intravenous drug use (IVDU)–associated SEA or non-IVDU–associated SEA.

METHODS

The authors reviewed the electronic medical records of a large institutional series of consecutive patients with diagnosed SEA between January 2011 and December 2017 to characterize epidemiological trends as well as the complement of baseline measures that are predictive of failure after multimodal treatment in patients with and without concomitant IVDU. The independent impact of clinical and imaging factors in detecting treatment failure was assessed by performing stepwise binary logistic regression analysis.

RESULTS

A total of 324 consecutive patients with diagnosed SEA were identified. Overall, 226 patients (69.8%) had SEA related to other causes and 98 (30.2%) had a history of recent IVDU. While non-IVDU SEA admission rates remained constant, year-over-year admissions of patients with IVDU SEA nearly tripled. At baseline, patients with IVDU SEA were distinct in many respects including younger age, greater unemployment and disability, less frequent diabetes mellitus (DM), and more frequent methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection. However, differences in length of stay, loss to follow-up, and treatment failure did not reach statistical significance between the groups. The authors constructed independent multivariate logistic regression models for treatment failure based on identified parameters in the two cohorts. For the non-IVDU cohort, the authors identified four variables as independent factors: DM, hepatitis B/C, osteomyelitis, and compression deformity severity. In contrast, for patients with IVDU, the authors identified three variables: albumin, endocarditis, and endplate destruction. Receiver operating characteristic and area under the curve (AUC) analyses were undertaken for the multivariate models predicting the likelihood of treatment failure in the two cohorts (AUC = 0.88 and 0.89, respectively), demonstrating that the derived models could adequately predict the risk of multimodal treatment failure. Treatment failure risk factor point scales were derived for the identified variables separately for both cohorts.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with IVDU SEA represent a unique population with a distinct set of baseline parameters that predict treatment failure. Identification of relevant prognosticating factors will allow for the design of tailored treatment and follow-up regimens.

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Stephanie M. Casillo, Anisha Venkatesh, Nallammai Muthiah, Nitin Agarwal, Teresa Scott, Rossana Romani, Laura L. Fernández, Sarita Aristizabal, Elizabeth E. Ginalis, Ahmad Ozair, Vivek Bhat, Arjumand Faruqi, Ankur Bajaj, Abhinav Arun Sonkar, Daniel S. Ikeda, E. Antonio Chiocca, Russell R. Lonser, Tracy E. Sutton, John M. McGregor, Gary L. Rea, Victoria A. Schunemann, Laura B. Ngwenya, Evan S. Marlin, Paul N. Porensky, Ammar Shaikhouni, Kristin Huntoon, David Dornbos III, Andrew B. Shaw, Ciarán J. Powers, Jacob M. Gluski, Lauren G. Culver, Alyssa M. Goodwin, Steven Ham, Neena I. Marupudi, Dhananjaya I. Bhat, Katherine M. Berry, Eva M. Wu, and Michael Y. Wang

We received so many biographies of women neurosurgery leaders for this issue that only a selection could be condensed here. In all of them, the essence of a leader shines through. Many are included as “first” of their country or color or other achievement. All of them are included as outstanding—in clinical, academic, and organized neurosurgery. Two defining features are tenacity and service. When faced with shocking discrimination, or numbing indifference, they ignored it or fought valiantly. When choosing their life’s work, they chose service, often of the most neglected—those with pain, trauma, and disability. These women inspire and point the way to a time when the term “women leaders” as an exception is unnecessary.

—Katharine J. Drummond, MD, on behalf of this month’s topic editors