Heterotopic bone formation within the spinal canal is a known complication of bone morphogenetic protein–2 (BMP-2) and presents a clinical and surgical challenge. Imaging modalities are routinely used for operative planning in this setting. Here, the authors present the case of a 59-year-old woman with cauda equina syndrome following intraoperative BMP-2 administration. Plain film myelographic studies showed a region of severe stenosis that was underappreciated on CT myelography due to a heterotopic bony lesion mimicking the dorsal aspect of a circumferentially patent thecal sac. When evaluating spinal stenosis under these circumstances, it is important to carefully consider plain myelographic images in addition to postmyelography CT images as the latter may underestimate the true degree of stenosis due to the potentially similar radiographic appearances of evolving BMP-2–induced heterotopic bone and intrathecal contrast. Alternatively, comparison of sequentially acquired noncontrast CT scans with CT myelographic images may also assist in distinguishing BMP-2–induced heterotopic bony lesions from the thecal sac. Further studies are needed to elucidate the roles of the available imaging techniques in this setting and to characterize the connection between the radiographic and histological appearances of BMP-2–induced heterotopic bone.
Timothy Chryssikos, Kenneth M. Crandall, and Charles A. Sansur
W. Jeff Elias, Charles A. Sansur, and Robert C. Frysinger
The authors analyzed deep brain stimulation electrode trajectories on MR images to identify risks of cerebrovascular complications associated with the number of electrode insertions, traversal of a sulcus, and penetration of the ventricle.
Pre- and postoperative MR volumes were fused to determine the proximity of electrodes to a sulcus or ventricle and whether there were cortical, subcortical, or intraventricular complications. Complications were further classified as hemorrhagic or nonhemorrhagic and symptomatic or asymptomatic. The authors examined 258 electrode implantation for deep brain stimulation. There were 4 symptomatic events (1.6% incidence): 3 hemorrhagic and 1 nonhemorrhagic, all within the cortex. Asymptomatic events included cortical hemorrhage in 1 patient, nonhemorrhagic cortical changes in 6, pallidal hemorrhage in 1, thalamic infarction in 1, and intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) in 5 patients.
Proximity to a sulcus was a significant risk factor for hemorrhagic and nonhemorrhagic cortical complications (p = 0.001). There was a complication rate of 10.1% within the trajectories penetrating or adjacent to a sulcus, and a 0.7% rate with trajectories clearly positioned within the gyrus. Asymptomatic IVH was observed in 5% of ventricular penetrations. A history of hypertension was a risk factor for cortical hemorrhage (p = 0.019), but not for cortical ischemic/edematous events (p = 0.605). The number of electrode penetrations did not differ between patients with and without complications (p = 0.868), and the sequence of electrode insertions was not a risk factor in bilateral surgeries.
Symptomatic cortical complications occur when electrodes traverse close to a sulcus. Asymptomatic IVH occurs infrequently with ventricular penetration. Despite intraoperative efforts to avoid cortical sulci, a higher than expected incidence of electrode proximity to the sulci was identified on careful postoperative trajectory analysis. This finding emphasizes the importance of assiduously planning trajectories and reviewing cases with thorough MR analysis.
Charles A. Sansur, John D. Heiss, Hetty L. DeVroom, Eric Eskioglu, Robert Ennis, and Edward H. Oldfield
Object. The aim of this study was to evaluate the pathophysiology underlying headache associated with cough in patients with Chiari I tonsillar abnormality. The authors hypothesized that peak intrathecal pressure during coughing is higher in patients with headache aggravated by cough than in patients without or in healthy volunteers. In addition, the authors evaluated the use of intrathecal pressure during cough as a means of assessing obstruction to the free flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) at the craniocervical junction.
Methods. Twenty-six adult patients with Chiari I malformation and syringomyelia, four adult patients with Chiari I malformation without syringomyelia, and 15 healthy volunteers were prospectively studied. Testing before surgery included the following: 1) clinical evaluation for the presence of headache associated with cough; and 2) evaluation of lumbar subarachnoid pressure at rest, during three to five coughs, while performing the Valsalva maneuver, during jugular compression, and after removal of CSF. Patients underwent suboccipital craniectomy, C-1 laminectomy, and duraplasty. Testing was repeated 6 months after surgery.
Conclusions. Peak intrathecal pressures during cough and at baseline were elevated in patients with headache associated with cough compared with either patients without headache or healthy volunteers. After surgery, intrathecal pressures during cough were significantly lower than preoperative values and headache aggravated by cough was resolved partially or completely. Headache linked to coughing in patients with Chiari I malformation is associated with sudden increased intrathecal pressure caused by obstruction to the free flow of CSF in the subarachnoid space.
Andrei F. Joaquim, Catherine C. Shaffrey, Charles A. Sansur, and Christopher I. Shaffrey
The authors report a case of man-in-the-barrel (MIB) syndrome occurring after an extensive revision involving thoracoilium instrumentation and fusion for iatrogenic and degenerative scoliosis, progressive kyphosis, and sagittal imbalance. Isolated brachial diplegia is a rare neurological finding often attributed to cerebral ischemia. It has not been previously reported in patients undergoing complex spine surgery. This 70-year-old woman, who had previously undergone T11–S1 fusion for lumbar stenosis and scoliosis, presented with increased difficulty walking and with back pain. She had junctional kyphosis and L5–S1 pseudarthrosis and required revision fusion extending from T-3 to the ilium. In the early postoperative period, she experienced a 30-minute episode of substantial hypotension. She developed delirium and isolated brachial diplegia, consistent with MIB syndrome. Multiple studies were performed to assess the origin of this brachial diplegia. There was no definitive radiological evidence of any causative lesion. After a few days, her cognitive function returned to normal and she regained the ability to move her arms. After several weeks of rehabilitation, she recovered completely. Man-in-the-barrel syndrome is a rare neurological entity. It can result from various mechanisms but most commonly seems to be related to ischemia and is potentially reversible.
Akil P. Patel, Michael T. Koltz, Charles A. Sansur, Mangla Gulati, and D. Kojo Hamilton
Patients requiring neurosurgical intervention are known to be at increased risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and attendant morbidity and mortality. Pulmonary embolism (PE) is the most catastrophic sequela of DVT and is the direct cause of death in 16% of all in-hospital mortalities. Protocols for DVT screening and early detection, as well as treatment paradigms to prevent PE in the acute postoperative period, are needed in neurosurgery. The authors analyzed the effectiveness of weekly lower-extremity venous duplex ultrasonography (LEVDU) in patients requiring surgical intervention for cranial or spinal pathology for detection of DVT and prevention of PE.
Data obtained in 1277 consecutive patients admitted to a major tertiary care center requiring neurosurgical intervention were retrospectively reviewed. All patients underwent admission (within 1 week of neurosurgical intervention) LEVDU as well as weekly LEVDU surveillance if the initial study was normal. Additional LEVDU was ordered in any patient in whom DVT was suspected on daily clinical physical examination or in patients in whom chest CT angiography confirmed a pulmonary embolus. An electronic database was created and statistical analyses performed.
The overall incidence of acute DVT was 2.8% (36 patients). Of these cases of DVT, a statistically significant greater number (86%) were discovered on admission (within 1–7 days after admission) screening LEVDU (p < 0.05), whereas fewer were documented 8–14 days after admission (2.8%) or after 14 days (11.2%) postadmission. Additionally, for acute DVT detection in the present population, there were no underlying statistically significant risk factors regarding baseline physical examination, age, ambulatory status, or type of surgery.
The overall incidence of acute symptomatic PE was 0.3% and the mortality rate was 0%.
Performed within 1 week of admission in patients who will undergo neurosurgical intervention, LEVDU is effective in screening for acute DVT and initiating treatment to prevent PE, thereby decreasing the overall mortality rate. Routine LEVDU beyond this time point may not be needed to detect DVT and prevent PE unless a change in the patient's physical examination status is detected.
Charles A. Sansur, Nicholas M. Caffes, David M. Ibrahimi, Nathan L. Pratt, Evan M. Lewis, Ashley A. Murgatroyd, and Bryan W. Cunningham
Optimal strategies for fixation in the osteoporotic lumbar spine remain a clinical issue. Classic transpedicular fixation in the osteoporotic spine is frequently plagued with construct instability, often due to inadequate cortical screw–bone purchase. A cortical bone trajectory maximizes bony purchase and has been reported to provide increased screw pullout strength. The aim of the current investigation was to evaluate the biomechanical efficacy of cortical spinal fixation as a surgical alternative to transpedicular fixation in the osteoporotic lumbar spine under physiological loading.
Eight fresh-frozen human spinopelvic specimens with low mean bone mineral densities (T score less than or equal to –2.5) underwent initial destabilization, consisting of laminectomy and bilateral facetectomies (L2–3 and L4–5), followed by pedicle or cortical reconstructions randomized between levels. The surgical constructs then underwent fatigue testing followed by tensile load to failure pullout testing to quantify screw pullout force.
When stratifying the pullout data with fixation technique and operative vertebral level, cortical screw fixation exhibited a marked increase in mean load at failure in the lower vertebral segments (p = 0.188, 625.6 ± 233.4 N vs 450.7 ± 204.3 N at L-4 and p = 0.219, 640.9 ± 207.4 N vs 519.3 ± 132.1 N at L-5) while transpedicular screw fixation demonstrated higher failure loads in the superior vertebral elements (p = 0.024, 783.0 ± 516.1 N vs 338.4 ± 168.2 N at L-2 and p = 0.220, 723.0 ± 492.9 N vs 469.8 ± 252.0 N at L-3). Although smaller in diameter and length, cortical fixation resulted in failures that were not significantly different from larger pedicle screws (p > 0.05, 449.4 ± 265.3 N and 541.2 ± 135.1 N vs 616.0 ± 384.5 N and 484.0 ± 137.1 N, respectively).
Cortical screw fixation exhibits a marked increase in mean load at failure in the lower vertebral segments and may offer a viable alternative to traditional pedicle screw fixation, particularly for stabilization of lower lumbar vertebral elements with definitive osteoporosis.
Randall Schultz Jr., Andrew Steven, Aaron Wessell, Nancy Fischbein, Charles A. Sansur, Dheeraj Gandhi, David Ibrahimi, and Prashant Raghavan
Dorsal arachnoid webs (DAWs) and spinal cord herniation (SCH) are uncommon abnormalities affecting the thoracic spinal cord that can result in syringomyelia and significant neurological morbidity if left untreated. Differentiating these 2 entities on the basis of clinical presentation and radiological findings remains challenging but is of vital importance in planning a surgical approach. The authors examined the differences between DAWs and idiopathic SCH on MRI and CT myelography to improve diagnostic confidence prior to surgery.
Review of the picture archiving and communication system (PACS) database between 2005 and 2015 identified 6 patients with DAW and 5 with SCH. Clinical data including demographic information, presenting symptoms and neurological signs, and surgical reports were collected from the electronic medical records. Ten of the 11 patients underwent MRI. CT myelography was performed in 3 patients with DAW and in 1 patient with SCH. Imaging studies were analyzed by 2 board-certified neuroradiologists for the following features: 1) location of the deformity; 2) presence or absence of cord signal abnormality or syringomyelia; 3) visible arachnoid web; 4) presence of a dural defect; 5) nature of dorsal cord indentation (abrupt “scalpel sign” vs “C”-shaped); 6) focal ventral cord kink; 7) presence of the nuclear trail sign (endplate irregularity, sclerosis, and/or disc-space calcification that could suggest a migratory path of a herniated disc); and 8) visualization of a complete plane of CSF ventral to the deformity.
The scalpel sign was positive in all patients with DAW. The dorsal indentation was C-shaped in 5 of 6 patients with SCH. The ventral subarachnoid space was preserved in all patients with DAW and interrupted in cases of SCH. In no patient was a web or a dural defect identified.
DAW and SCH can be reliably distinguished on imaging by scrutinizing the nature of the dorsal indentation and the integrity of the ventral subarachnoid space at the level of the cord deformity.
Jeffrey D. Oliver, Noah L. Lessing, Harry M. Mushlin, Joshua R. Olexa, Kenneth M. Crandall, and Charles A. Sansur
The sacroiliac joint (SIJ) is an important cause of low back pain and referred leg pain (RLP). Pain from SIJ dysfunction may occur in isolation or may result from a combination with lumbosacral area–mediated pain. SIJ fusion is one treatment modality for medically refractory symptoms and may also have a role in the treatment of RLP.
The authors present a challenging case of concomitant lumbosacral degenerative disease and SIJ dysfunction in a patient with radiculopathy. They provide clinical characteristics and imaging findings and discuss difficulties in dealing with the intersection of these two distinct diagnoses. In addition, the authors offer a review of the relevant literature, elucidating the role of SIJ dysfunction in causing radicular lower extremity pain, the relationship to concomitant lumbosacral degenerative disease, and outcome data for SIJ fusion as it relates to RLP.
With increasing numbers of patients undergoing spinal instrumentation in the setting of degenerative lumbosacral arthritis, as well as randomized controlled trial data demonstrating the efficacy of SIJ fusion for medically refractory SIJ dysfunction, it is important to recognize the challenges in understanding how both of these patient groups may present with radiculopathy. Failure to do so may result in incorrect patient selection, poor outcomes, and increased morbidity for at-risk patients.
Narlin Beaty, Justin Slavin, Cara Diaz, Kyle Zeleznick, David Ibrahimi, and Charles A. Sansur
Gunshot wounds (GSWs) to the cervical spine have been examined in a limited number of case series, and operative management of this traumatic disease has been sparsely discussed. The current literature supports and the authors hypothesize that patients without neurological deficit need neither surgical fusion nor decompression. Patients with GSWs and neurological deficits, however, pose a greater management challenge. The authors have compiled the experience of the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, Maryland, over the past 12 years, creating the largest series of such injuries, with a total number of 40 civilian patients needing neurosurgical evaluation. The current analysis examines presenting bone injury, surgical indication, presenting neurological examination, and neurological outcome. In this study, the authors characterize the incidence, severity, and recovery potential of cervical GSWs. The rate of unstable fractures requiring surgical intervention is documented. A detailed discussion of surgical indications with a treatment algorithm for cervical instability is offered.
A total of 144 cervical GSWs were retrospectively reviewed. Of these injuries, 40 had documented neurological deficits. No neurosurgical consultation was requested for patients without deficit. Epidemiological and clinical information was collected on patients with neurological deficit, including age, sex, timing, indication, type of surgery, initial examination after resuscitation, follow-up examination, and imaging data.
Twenty-eight patients (70%) presented with complete neurological deficits and 12 patients (30%) presented with incomplete injuries. Fourteen (35%) of the 40 patients underwent neurosurgical intervention. Twelve patients (30%) required intervention for cervical instability. Seven patients required internal fixation involving 4 anterior fusions, 2 posterior fusions, and 1 combined approach. Five patients were managed with halo immobilization. Two patients underwent decompression alone for neurological deterioration and persistent compressive injury, both of whom experienced marked neurological recovery. Follow-up was obtained in 92% of cases. Three patients undergoing stabilization converted at least 1 American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale (AIS) grade and the remaining operative cases experienced small ASIA motor score improvement. Eighteen patients underwent inpatient MRI. No patient suffered complications or neurological deterioration related to retained metal. Three of 28 patients presenting with AIS Grade A improved to Grade B. For those 12 patients with incomplete injury, 1 improved from AIS Grade C to D, and 3 improved from Grade D to E.
Spinal cord injury from GSWs often results in severe neurological deficits. In this series, 30% of these patients with deficits required intervention for instability. This is the first series that thoroughly documents AIS improvement in this patient population. Adherence to the proposed treatment algorithm may optimize neurological outcome and spine stability.
Harry Mushlin, Daina M. Brooks, Joshua Olexa, Bryan J. Ferrick, Stephen Carbine, Gerald M. Hayward II, Brandon S. Bucklen, and Charles A. Sansur
The sacroiliac joint (SIJ) is a known source of low-back pain. Randomized clinical trials support sacroiliac fusion over conservative management for SIJ dysfunction. Clinical studies suggest that SIJ degeneration occurs in the setting of lumbosacral fusions. However, there are few biomechanical studies to provide a good understanding of the effect of lumbosacral fusion on the SIJ. In the present study, researchers performed a biomechanical investigation to discern the effect of pelvic versus SIJ fixation on the SIJ in lumbosacral fusion.
Seven fresh-frozen human cadaveric specimens were used. There was one intact specimen and six operative constructs: 1) posterior pedicle screws and rods from T10 to S1 (PS); 2) PS + bilateral iliac screw fixation (BIS); 3) PS + unilateral iliac screw fixation (UIS); 4) PS + UIS + 3 contralateral unilateral SIJ screws (UIS + 3SIJ); 5) PS + 3 unilateral SIJ screws (3SIJ); and 6) PS + 6 bilateral SIJ screws (6SIJ). A custom-built 6 degrees-of-freedom apparatus was used to simulate three bending modes: flexion-extension (FE), lateral bending (LB), and axial rotation (AR). Range of motion (ROM) was recorded at L5–S1 and the SIJ.
All six operative constructs had significantly reduced ROM at L5–S1 in all three bending modes compared to that of the intact specimen (p < 0.05). In the FE mode, the BIS construct had a significant reduction in L5–S1 ROM as compared to the other five constructs (p < 0.05). SIJ ROM was greatest in the FE mode compared to LB and AR. Although the FE mode did not show any statistically significant differences in SIJ ROM across the constructs, there were appreciable differences. The PS construct had the highest SIJ ROM. The BIS construct reduced bilateral SIJ ROM by 44% in comparison to the PS construct. The BIS and 6SIJ constructs showed reductions in SIJ ROM nearly equal to those of the PS construct. UIS and 3SIJ showed an appreciable reduction in unfused SIJ ROM compared to PS.
This investigation demonstrated the effects of various fusion constructs using pelvic and sacroiliac fixation in lumbosacral fusion. This study adds biomechanical evidence of adjacent segment stress in the SIJ in fusion constructs extending to S1. Unilateral pelvic fixation, or SIJ fusion, led to an appreciable but nonsignificant reduction in the ROM of the unfused contralateral SIJ. Bilateral pelvic fixation showed the greatest significant reduction of movement at L5–S1 and was equivalent to bilateral sacroiliac fusion in reducing SIJ motion.