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Gregory F. Jost and Andrew T. Dailey

Rotational occlusion of the vertebral artery (VA), or bow hunter’s syndrome, is a rare yet surgically treatable cause of vertebrobasilar insufficiency. The underlying pathology is dynamic stenosis of the VA by osteophytes, fibrous bands, or lateral disc herniation with neck rotation or extension. The authors present 2 previously unreported cases of bow hunter’s syndrome and summarize 124 cases identified in a literature review.

Both patients in the new cases were treated by VA decompression and fusion of the subaxial spine. Each had > 50% occlusion of the left VA at the point of entry into the transverse foramen with a contralateral VA that ended in the posterior inferior cerebellar artery. Analyzing data from 126 cases (the 2 new cases in addition to the previously published 124), the authors report that stenosis was noted within V1 in 4% of cases, in V2 in 58%, in V3 in 36%, and distal to C-1 in 2%. Patients presented in the 5th to 7th decade of life and were more often male than female. The stenotic area was decompressed in 85 (73%) of the 116 patients for whom the type of treatment was reported (V1, 4 [80%] of 5; V2, 52 [83%] of 63; V3/V4, 29 [60%] of 48). Less commonly, fusion or combined decompression and fusion was used (V2, 7 [11%] of 63; V3/V4, 14 [29%] of 48). Most patients reported complete resolution of symptoms.

The authors conclude that patients with bow hunter’s syndrome classically have an impaired collateral blood flow to the brainstem. This condition carries an excellent prognosis with decompression, fusion, or combined surgery, and individual patient characteristics should guide the choice of therapy.

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David W. Newell, Andrew T. Dailey and Stephen L. Skirboll

✓ The authors describe the use of a microanastomotic device to perform intracranial end-to-end vascular anastomoses. Direct end-to-end anastomosis was performed between the superficial temporal artery and branches of the middle cerebral artery (MCA) in three patients. Two patients had moyamoya disease, with severe proximal MCA disease, and one suffered an internal carotid artery occlusion with poor collateral flow. All patients reported a history of recent ischemic symptoms. Each anastomosis was accomplished in less than 15 minutes with technically satisfactory results. Postoperative angiographic studies demonstrated patency of the bypasses in all patients.

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Todd McCall, Jeroen Coppens, William Couldwell and Andrew Dailey

A paracondylar process is a bony exostosis that arises from the skull base lateral to the occipital condyle and extends inferiorly toward the transverse process of the atlas. This congenital anomaly can vary in size from a small protuberance to an elongated process articulating with an epitransverse process arising from C-1. Typically, a paracondylar process is an incidental finding described in anatomical studies. The authors report on a patient with a symptomatic paracondylar process articulating with an epitransverse process that caused occipitocervical pain. Resection of the paracondylar and epitransverse processes completely relieved the patient's pain.

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Andrew T. Dailey, Guy M. McKhann II and Mitchel S. Berger

✓ Mutism following posterior fossa tumor resection in pediatric patients has been previously recognized, although its pathophysiology remains unclear. A review of the available literature reveals 33 individuals with this condition, with only a few adults documented in the population. All of these patients had large midline posterior fossa tumors.

To better understand the incidence and anatomical substrate of this syndrome, the authors reviewed a 7-year series of 110 children who underwent a posterior fossa tumor resection. During that time, nine (8.2%) of the 110 children exhibited mutism postoperatively. They ranged from 2.5 to 20 years of age (mean 8.1 years) and became mute within 12 to 48 hours of surgery. The period of mutism lasted from 1.5 to 12 weeks after onset: all children had difficulty coordinating their oral pharyngeal musculature as manifested by postoperative drooling and inability to swallow. Further analysis of these cases revealed that all children had splitting of the entire inferior vermis at surgery, as confirmed on postoperative magnetic resonance studies. Lower cranial nerve function was intact in all nine patients.

Current concepts of cerebellar physiology emphasize the importance of the cerebellum in learning and language. The syndrome described resembles a loss of learned activities, or an apraxia, of the oral and pharyngeal musculature. To avoid the apraxia, therefore, the inferior vermis must be preserved. For large midline tumors that extend to the aqueduct, a combined approach through the fourth ventricle and a midvermis split may be used to avoid injuring the inferior vermis.

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Ganesh Rao, Darrel S. Brodke, Matthew Rondina and Andrew T. Dailey

Object. To validate computerized tomography (CT) scanning as a tool to assess the accuracy of thoracic pedicle screw placement, the authors compared its accuracy with that of direct visualization in instrumented cadaveric spine specimens.

Methods. A grading scale was devised to score the placement of the pedicle screw. The grades ranged from 0 to 3 depending on the extent to which the pedicle had been violated. One hundred fifty-five pedicles were fitted with instrumentation in eight cadaveric spines. A single observer graded the appearance of the screw based on CT scans (3-mm axial sections with 1-mm overlap) and direct visualization of the specimen. The authors arrived at a Kappa value of 0.51, which suggested only moderate agreement between the two measurement techniques. Whereas CT had a positive predictive value of 95%, it had a negative predictive value of 62%.

Conclusions. The authors thus conclude that although CT scanning is the most valid tool to assess the accuracy of thoracic pedicle screw placement, it tends to overestimate the number of misplaced screws.

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Tobias A. Mattei and Daniel R. Fassett

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Andrew T. Dailey, David Hart, Michael A. Finn, Meic H. Schmidt and Ronald I. Apfelbaum


Fractures of the odontoid process are the most common fractures of the cervical spine in patients over the age of 70 years. The incidence of fracture nonunion in this population has been estimated to be 20-fold greater than that in patients under the age of 50 years if surgical stabilization is not used. Anterior and posterior approaches have both been advocated, with excellent results reported, but surgeons should understand the drawbacks of the various techniques before employing them in clinical practice.


A retrospective review was undertaken to identify patients who had direct fixation of an odontoid fracture at a single institution from 1991 to 2006. Patients were followed up using flexion-extension radiographs, and stability was evaluated as bone union, fibrous union, or nonunion. Patients with bone or fibrous union were classified as stable. In addition, the incidence of procedure- and nonprocedure-related complications was extracted from the medical record.


Of the 57 patients over age 70 who underwent placement of an odontoid screw, 42 underwent follow-up from 3 to 62 months (mean 15 months). Stability was confirmed in 81% of these patients. In patients with fixation using 2 screws, 96% demonstrated stability on radiographs at final follow-up. Only 56% of patients with fixation using a single screw demonstrated stability on radiographs. In the immediate postoperative period, 25% of patients required a feeding tube and 19% had aspiration pneumonia that required antibiotic treatment.


Direct fixation of Type II odontoid fractures showed stability rates > 80% in this challenging population. Significantly higher stabilization rates were achieved when 2 screws were placed. The anterior approach was associated with a relatively high dysphagia rate, and patients must be counseled about this risk before surgery.

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Wilson Z. Ray, Vijay M. Ravindra, Meic H. Schmidt and Andrew T. Dailey


Pelvic fixation is a crucial adjunct to many lumbar fusions to avoid L5–S1 pseudarthrosis. It is useful for treatment of kyphoscoliosis, high-grade spondylolisthesis, L5–S1 pseudarthrosis, sacral tumors, lumbosacral dislocations, and osteomyelitis. The most popular method, iliac fixation, has drawbacks including hardware prominence, extensive muscle dissection, and the need for connection devices. S-2 alar iliac fixation provides a useful primary or salvage alternative. The authors describe their techniques for using stereotactic navigation for screw placement.


The O-arm Surgical Imaging System allowed for CT-quality multiplanar reconstructions of the pelvis, and registration to a StealthStation Treon provided intraoperative guidance. The authors describe their technique for performing computer-assisted S-2 alar iliac fixation for various indications in 18 patients during an 18-month period.


All patients underwent successful bilateral placement of screws 80–100 mm in length. All placements were confirmed with a second multiplanar reconstruction. One screw was moved because of apparent anterior breach of the ilium. There were no immediate neurological or vascular complications due to screw placement. The screw length required additional instruments including a longer pedicle finder and tap.


Stereotactic guidance to navigate the placement of distal pelvic fixation with bilateral S-2 alar iliac fixation can be safely performed in patients with a variety of pathological conditions. Crossing the sacroiliac joint, choosing trajectory, and ensuring adequate screw length can all be enhanced with 3D image guidance. Long-term outcome studies are underway, specifically evaluating the sacroiliac joint.

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Doniel Drazin, Jens R. Chapman, Andrew Dailey and John Street

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Jian Guan, Chad D. Cole, Meic H. Schmidt and Andrew T. Dailey


Blood loss during surgery for thoracolumbar scoliosis often requires blood product transfusion. Rotational thromboelastometry (ROTEM) has enabled the more targeted treatment of coagulopathy, but its use in deformity surgery has received limited study. The authors investigated whether the use of ROTEM reduces transfusion requirements in this case-control study of thoracolumbar deformity surgery.


Data were prospectively collected on all patients who received ROTEM-guided blood product management during long-segment (≥ 7 levels) posterior thoracolumbar fusion procedures at a single institution from April 2015 to February 2016. Patients were matched with a group of historical controls who did not receive ROTEM-guided therapy according to age, fusion segments, number of osteotomies, and number of interbody fusion levels. Demographic, intraoperative, and postoperative transfusion requirements were collected on all patients. Univariate analysis of ROTEM status and multiple linear regression analysis of the factors associated with total in-hospital transfusion volume were performed, with p < 0.05 considered to indicate statistical significance.


Fifteen patients who received ROTEM-guided therapy were identified and matched with 15 non-ROTEM controls. The mean number of fusion levels was 11 among all patients, with no significant differences between groups in terms of fusion levels, osteotomy levels, interbody fusion levels, or other demographic factors. Patients in the non-ROTEM group required significantly more total blood products during their hospitalization than patients in the ROTEM group (8.5 ± 4.2 units vs 3.71 ± 2.8 units; p = 0.001). Multiple linear regression analysis showed that the use of ROTEM (p = 0.016) and a lower number of fused levels (p = 0.022) were associated with lower in-hospital transfusion volumes.


ROTEM use during thoracolumbar deformity correction is associated with lower transfusion requirements. Further investigation will better define the role of ROTEM in transfusion during deformity surgery.