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Norberto Andaluz, Mario Zuccarello and Charles Kuntz IV

Object

Few data exist regarding long-term outcomes after cervical corpectomy for spondylotic cervical myelopathy and radiculomyelopathy. In this retrospective review, long-term radiographic outcomes are reported for 130 patients after 1- or 2-level cervical corpectomy for spondylotic myelopathy or radiculomyelopathy.

Methods

Electronic medical records including clinical data and radiographic images during a 15-year period (1993–2008) were reviewed at the Cincinnati Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. All patients underwent radiographic follow-up for at least 12 months (range 12–156, mean 45 ± 39.3 months), as well as clinical follow-up performed by neurosurgery staff for a mean of 29.3 ± 39.6 months (range 4–156 months). Clinical parameters at surgery and last examination included the Chiles modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (mJOA) Myelopathy Scale. Measurements included cervical spine sagittal alignment on lateral radiographs preoperatively and postoperatively, focal Cobb angles at operated levels, and C2–7 regional alignment. Statistical analysis included the Student t-test and chi-square test. Perioperative complications and additional surgery in the cervical spine were recorded.

Results

The mJOA scores improved from a mean of 11.91 ± 2.4 preoperatively to 14.9 ± 2.33 postoperatively. The mean sagittal lordosis of the C2–7 spine increased from −16.2° ± 9.2° preoperatively to −18.5° ± 11.9° at last follow-up. Focal Cobb angles averaged a slight kyphotic angulation of 4.1° ± 2.3° at latest radiographic follow-up; of note, 7 patients (5.4%), all who had cylindrical titanium mesh cages (CTMCs), showed severe kyphotic angulation (+8.4° ± 2.4°). Patients with preoperative myelopathy showed clinical improvement at follow-up. The fusion rate was 96.2%; 3 of the 5 patients with radiographic evidence of nonfusion were smokers. Patients with postoperative kyphosis had significantly more chronic neck pain (visual analog scale score >4 lasting more than 6 months) and visits related to pain (p <0.01). Those with CTMCs had higher rates of postoperative kyphosis, chronic neck pain, and visits related to pain, irrespective of the number of levels fused (p <001). At latest follow-up, although a kyphotic increase occurred in the focal cervical sagittal Cobb angles, lordosis increased in C2–7 sagittal Gore angles. Two patients (1.5%) underwent revision of the implanted graft and/or hardware, and 5 patients (3.8%) had another procedure for adjacent-level pathologies 1–9 years later (mean 4.4 ± 2.7 years).

Conclusions

Long-term follow-up data in our veteran population support cervical corpectomy as an effective, long-lasting treatment for spondylotic myelopathy of the cervical spine. Use of CTMCs without end caps was associated with statistically significant increased postoperative kyphotic angulation and chronic pain. Despite an increase in focal kyphosis over time, regional cervical sagittal lordotic alignment had increased at the latest follow-up. Further investigation will include the association of chronic neck pain and postoperative kyphosis, and high fusion rates among a veteran population of heavy smokers.

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Charles Kuntz IV, and Tae Sung Park

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Editorial

Cervical myelopathy

Vincent C. Traynelis

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Philip V. Theodosopoulos, Andrew J. Ringer, Christopher M. McPherson, Ronald E. Warnick, Charles Kuntz IV, Mario Zuccarello and John M. Tew Jr.

Object

Health care reform debate includes discussions regarding outcomes of surgical interventions. Yet quality of medical care, when judged as a health outcome, is difficult to define because of impediments affecting accuracy in data collection, analysis, and reporting. In this prospective study, the authors report the outcomes for neurosurgical treatment based on point-of-care interactions recorded in the electronic medical record (EMR).

Methods

The authors' neurosurgery practice collected outcome data for 19 physicians and ancillary personnel using the EMR. Data were analyzed for 5361 consecutive surgical cases, either elective or emergency procedures, performed during 2009 at multiple hospitals, offices, and an ambulatory spine surgery center. Main outcomes included complications, length of stay (LOS), and discharge disposition for all patients and for certain frequently performed procedures. Physicians, nurses, and other medical staff used validated scales to record the hospital LOS, complications, disposition at discharge, and return to work.

Results

Of the 5361 surgical procedures performed, two-thirds were spinal procedures and one-third were cranial procedures. Organization-wide compliance with reporting rates of major complications improved throughout the year, from 80.7% in the first quarter to 90.3% in the fourth quarter. Auditing showed that rates of unreported complications decreased from 11% in the first quarter to 4% in the fourth quarter. Complication data were available for 4593 procedures (85.7%); of these, no complications were reported in 4367 (95.1%). Discharge dispositions reported were home in 86.2%, rehabilitation center in 8.9%, and nursing home in 2.5%. Major complications included culture-proven infection in 0.61%, CSF leak in 0.89%, reoperation within the same hospitalization in 0.38%, and new neurological deficits in 0.77%. For the commonly performed procedures, the median hospital LOS was 3 days for craniotomy for aneurysm or intraaxial tumor and less than 1 day for angiogram, anterior cervical discectomy with fusion, or lumbar discectomy.

Conclusions

With prospectively collected outcome data for more than 5000 surgeries, the authors achieved their primary end point of institution-wide compliance and data accuracy. Components of this process included staged implementation with physician pilot studies and oversight, nurse participation, point-of-service data capture, EMR form modification, data auditing, and confidential surgeon reports.

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Charles Kuntz IV, Linda S. Levin, Stephen L. Ondra, Christopher I. Shaffrey and Chad J. Morgan

Object

An increasing emphasis is being placed on the preservation or restoration of neutral upright sagittal spinal alignment in both deformity surgery and routine spinal operations. Sagittal spinal alignment is becoming recognized as an important predictor of a patient’s outcome after spinal surgery. In this literature review, the authors analyze data obtained from previously published studies conducted to evaluate neutral upright sagittal spinal alignment from the occiput to the pelvis in asymptomatic adults.

Methods

A review of the English-language literature was conducted to identify studies conducted to evaluate neutral upright sagittal spinal (occiput–pelvis) alignment in asymptomatic adult volunteers with no spinal disease. The authors identified 12 articles that met the strict primary inclusion criteria of the current study. From these articles, 23 angles and displacements were selected to depict neutral upright sagittal occiput–pelvis alignment. Pooled estimates of the mean and variance were calculated for angles and displacements that met secondary inclusion criteria. The greatest variation in the regional spinal curves occurred in the cervical spine from C-2 to C-7, whereas the greatest focal angulation in the spine occurred from L-4 to S-1. Sagittal spinal balance was maintained in a narrow range for alignment of the spine over the pelvis and femoral heads.

Conclusions

Neutral upright sagittal occiput–pelvis alignment in asymptomatic adults has been well studied regionally. Despite a wide variation in the undulating lordotic and kyphotic regional curves from the occiput to the pelvis, sagittal spinal balance is maintained in a narrower range for alignment of the spine over the pelvis and femoral heads.

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Charles Kuntz IV, Sohail K. Mirza, Abel D. Jarell, Jens R. Chapman, Christopher I. Shaffrey and David W. Newell

The optimum treatment of Type II odontoid fractures in the geriatric population remains controversial. Coexisting medical conditions encountered in the elderly patient often increase operative risk and make cervical immobilization difficult to tolerate. Previous studies have shown increased morbidity and mortality and decreased fusion rates for Type II odontoid fractures treated with cervical orthoses in the geriatric population, whereas low morbidity and mortality rates with operative management have recently been documented. To investigate the role of surgical and nonsurgical treatment, a retrospective analysis was performed of patients with Type II odontoid fractures who were at least 65 years old and were consecutively admitted to a single medical center from 1994 to 1998. Twenty patients met inclusion criteria. In 12 patients nonsurgical management with a cervical orthosis was attempted. The nonsurgical management failed early in six patients, with one associated death. Eleven patients were treated surgically with either anterior odontoid screw fixation or posterior C1–2 transarticular screw fixation and modified Gallie fusion. Postoperatively one patient required revision of the C1–2 transarticular screws, and there was one death. In conclusion Type II odontoid fractures in this elderly population were associated with early 10% morbidity and 20% mortality rates. Nonsurgical management of Type II odontoid fractures failed early in six (50%) of 12 patients, whereas surgical treatment failed early in one of 11 (9%) patients. Both the nonsurgical and surgical treatments resulted in approximately 10% morbidity and 10% mortality rates.

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David B. Pettigrew, Chad J. Morgan, R. Brian Anderson, Philip A. Wilsey and Charles Kuntz IV

Understanding regional as well as global spinal alignment is increasingly recognized as important for the spine surgeon. A novel software program for virtual preoperative measurement and surgical manipulation of sagittal spinal alignment was developed to provide a research and educational tool for spine surgeons. This first-generation software program provides tools to measure sagittal spinal alignment from the occiput to the pelvis, and to allow for virtual surgical manipulation of sagittal spinal alignment. The software was developed in conjunction with Clifton Labs, Inc.

Photographs and radiographs were imported into the software program, and a 2D virtual spine was constructed from the images. The software then measured regional and global sagittal spinal alignment from the virtual spine construct, showing the user how to perform the measurements. After measuring alignment, the program allowed for virtual surgical manipulation, simulating surgical procedures such as interbody fusion, facet osteotomy, pedicle subtraction osteotomy, and reduction of spondylolisthesis, as well as allowing for rotation of the pelvis on the hip axis. Following virtual manipulation, the program remeasured regional and global sagittal spinal alignment.

Computer software can be used to measure and manipulate sagittal spinal alignment virtually, providing a new research and educational tool. In the future, more comprehensive programs may allow for measurement and interaction in the coronal, axial, and sagittal planes.

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John S. Winestone, Chad W. Farley, Bradford A. Curt, Albert Chavanne, Neal Dollin, David B. Pettigrew and Charles Kuntz IV

Object

Previous studies have shown that cervical and thoracic kyphotic deformity increases spinal cord intramedullary pressure (IMP). Using a cadaveric model, the authors investigated whether posterior decompression can adequately decrease elevated IMP in severe cervical and thoracic kyphotic deformities.

Methods

Using an established cadaveric model, a kyphotic deformity was created in 16 fresh human cadavers (8 cervical and 8 thoracic). A single-level rostral laminotomy and durotomy were performed to place intraparenchymal pressure monitors in the spinal cord at C-2, C4–5, and C-7 in the cervical study group and at T4–5, T7–8, and T11–12 in the thoracic study group. Intramedullary pressure was recorded at maximal kyphosis. Posterior laminar, dural, and pial decompressions were performed while IMP was monitored. In 2 additional cadavers (1 cervical and 1 thoracic), a kyphotic deformity was created and then corrected.

Results

The creation of the cervical and thoracic kyphotic deformities resulted in significant increases in IMP. The mean increase in cervical and thoracic IMP (change in IMP [ΔIMP]) for all monitored levels was 37.8 ± 7.9 and 46.4 ± 6.4 mm Hg, respectively. After laminectomies were performed, the mean cervical and thoracic IMP was reduced by 22.5% and 18.5%, respectively. After midsagittal durotomies were performed, the mean cervical and thoracic IMP was reduced by 62.8% and 69.9%, respectively. After midsagittal piotomies were performed, the mean cervical and thoracic IMP was reduced by 91.3% and 105.9%, respectively. In 2 cadavers in which a kyphotic deformity was created and then corrected, the ΔIMP increased with the creation of the deformity and returned to zero at all levels when the deformity was corrected.

Conclusions

In this cadaveric study, laminar decompression reduced ΔIMP by approximately 15%–25%, while correction of the kyphotic deformity returned ΔIMP to zero. This study helps explain the pathophysiology of myelopathy in kyphotic deformity and the failure of laminectomy alone for cervical and thoracic kyphotic deformities with myelopathy. In addition, the study emphasizes the need for correction of deformity during operative treatment of kyphotic deformity, the need for maintaining adequate intraoperative blood pressure during operative treatment, and the higher risk of spinal cord injury associated with operative treatment of kyphotic deformity.

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Peter D. Angevine and Paul C. McCormick

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Charles A. Sansur, Kai-Ming G. Fu, Rod J. Oskouian Jr., Jay Jagannathan, Charles Kuntz iv and Christopher I. Shaffrey

✓ Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is an inflammatory rheumatic disease whose primary effect is on the axial skeleton, causing sagittal-plane deformity at both the thoracolumbar and cervicothoracic junctions. In the present review article the authors discuss current concepts in the preoperative planning of patients with AS. The authors also review current techniques used to treat sagittal-plane deformity, focusing on pedicle subtraction osteotomy at the thoracolumbar junction, as well as cervical extension osteotomy at the cervicothoracic junction.