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Cheng-Chih Liao and Shih-Tseng Lee

✓ The authors report a case of focal ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) behind the L-3 vertebral body. This is relatively rare among previously reported cases in the literature. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging revealed that the ossifying portion of the PLL was impinging on the left L-3 nerve root. Contrast enhancing hypertrophic PLL was also demonstrated around the ossification and along the lumbosacral PLL. Via a laminectomy and wide excision of the PLL the lesion was removed. Pathological examination revealed a nodule composed of fibrous cartilage, lamina bone, and mature fat marrow. Enchondral ossification could be identified under a microscope.

The authors believe that preoperative MR imaging evaluation is important for the detection of the relationship between an OPLL and the neural structure. Excision of the symptomatic OPLL should be performed when needed to obtain adequate nerve root decompression.

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Cheng-Chih Liao, Shih-Tseng Lee, Wen-Chin Hsu, Li-Rong Chen, Tai-Ngar Lui and Sai-Cheung Lee

Object. Spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma (SSEH) is a rare disease entity. Although many cases have been reported in the literature, controversy persists as to its origin, diagnosis, and timing of treatment. The authors conducted a study in patients treated in their hospital and report the results.

Methods. Clinical data obtained in 35 patients with SSEH were retrospectively reviewed. Age, sex, history of hypertension, and history of anticoagulation therapy were recorded, and data were analyzed to clarify the possible predisposing factors of SSEH. Neurological outcomes were reappraised using a standardized grading system and correlated with the time interval from initial ictus to surgery, duration of complete neurological deficits, and the rapidity of deterioration of paralysis. Nonparametric methods and Spearman rank-correlation coefficients were used for statistical analysis.

Conclusions. Surgery is a safe and effective procedure to treat SSEH. The disease-related mortality rate was 5.7%, the surgery-related complication rate was 2.9%, and there were no operation-related deaths. Neurological outcome after surgery is positively correlated with preoperative neurological deficits (88.9% complete recovery in patients with incomplete neurological deficits compared with 37.5% in those with complete deficits [p < 0.001]). In patients in whom the time interval from initial ictus was shorter (< 48 hours) and in whom the duration of complete neurological symptoms was also briefer (< 12 hours), there is a positive correlation with better neurological and functional recovery (p < 0.05).

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Cheng-Chih Liao, Tzu-Yung Chen, Shih-Ming Jung and Li-Rong Chen

Object. Symptomatic thoracic ossification of the ligamentum flavum (OLF) is rare, and its prognostic factors remain unclear. The authors retrospectively studied 24 patients with surgically treated thoracic OLF to delineate its prognostic factor.

Methods. The clinical manifestations, radiological studies, surgical records, and pathological findings were reviewed. Preoperative and postoperative neurological data were reappraised using the American Spinal Injury Association and modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scoring systems. Spearman rank-correlation coefficients and nonparametric tests were used to analyze the correlations between the variables of patient characteristics, preoperative duration of symptoms, preoperative neurological status, associated spinal disorder(s) other than thoracic OLF, and the final functional outcome.

Conclusions. Decompressive surgery is indicated in patients in whom symptomatic thoracic spinal cord compression is caused by intruding OLF. Magnetic resonance imaging can provide sufficient clues for the diagnosis of thoracic OLF. Higher preoperative modified JOA scores of 3 and 4 are positively correlated with better postoperative functional recovery than lower scores. Surgery should be performed as soon as possible before independent ambulatory function is impaired.

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Cheng-Chih Liao, Tai-Ngar Lui, Li-Rong Chen, Chi-Cheng Chuang and Yin-Cheng Huang

Object

Spinal cord injury without radiological abnormality (SCIWORA) was defined in the era when magnetic resonance (MR) images were not popularly used as diagnostic tools. Although it is generally accepted that MR imaging can effectively illustrate the level and severity of spinal cord injury in the acute phase of trauma, only a few reports of MR imaging studies of SCIWORA have been published. The authors retrospectively reviewed nine preschool-aged patients with SCIWORA to study the correlation between MR imaging findings and the outcomes of neurological deficits, with an elimination of the bias for age.

Methods

Clinical manifestations, radiological images, surgical records, and MR imaging studies were reviewed. The pre- and postoperative neurological statuses of the patients were reappraised using American Spinal Injury Association scores and Nurick grades. Nonparametric tests were used to analyze the correlations among the variables of patient characteristics, MR imaging appearances of the injured spinal cord, and neurological outcome.

Conclusions

Among the patients with SCIWORA younger than 8 years old, the different patterns of the injured spinal cords could be identified using MR imaging as transection, contusive hemorrhage, traumatic edema, and concussion. The MR imaging patterns of SCIWORA had significant prognostic correlations with the neurological outcomes of these patients; that is, a normal spinal cord appearance was prognostic of a complete recovery of neurological deficits, and intramedullary lesions correlated with permanent deficits with functional disability.

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Chun-Lin Liu, Po-Liang Lai, Shih-Ming Jung and Cheng-Chih Liao

✓ Although spinal meningioma is a common benign neoplasm, the ossified variant is rare. No more than 20 sporadic cases were reported in the literature between 1977 and January 2005. Recently, the authors treated a patient with a symptomatic ossified meningioma located in the posterior aspect of T-11 and an associated osteoporotic T-11 burst fracture. The tumor was completely removed by T10–11 laminectomy and transpedicular vertebroplasty was performed. The kyphotic deformity of the T-11 burst fracture was partially reduced and maintained for at least 2 months after vertebroplasty and laminectomy. The clinical presentation and management of this case are reported.

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Cheng-Chih Liao, Po-Chuan Hsieh, Tzu-Kang Lin, Chih-Lung Lin, Yang-Lan Lo and Sai-Cheung Lee

Object

Spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma (SSEH) is a rare disease. The goal of this study was to clarify the treatment results and management options in SSEH.

Methods

Patients with SSEH who were surgically treated in the authors' center between June 2003 and June 2008 were included in this study. Patients were treated as early as possible if their neurological deficits were incomplete or had been complete for 12 hours or less. The patients were assigned to 1 of 2 groups based on completeness of preoperative cord dysfunction (complete vs incomplete deficit). Surgical outcomes of the 2 groups were compared by functional performance, coded as Nurick grades at 1, 3, and 6 months after the operation. Also compared were duration of hospital stay and the number of days needed to regain the ability to function independently (defined as Nurick Grades 1 and 2) after the operation.

Results

There were 17 patients (7 female and 10 male) with pathologically confirmed SSEH. Coagulopathy, greater size (length) of SSEH, and preoperative complete spinal dysfunction were found to contribute to poor postoperative functional recovery (p < 0.05). Patients with incomplete preoperative deficits (ASIA Impairment Scale Grades B, C, and D) were able to achieve functional independent recovery within a month after surgery and had significantly better outcomes (lower Nurick grades) at 1, 3, and 6 months postoperatively than those with complete deficits (p < 0.001, p = 0.027, and p = 0.027, respectively). Median time to independent functional recovery and median length of hospital stay were significantly shorter in patients with incomplete preoperative deficits than in those with complete deficits (6 vs 110 and 9 vs 58 days, respectively; both p < 0.001).

Conclusions

Impaired preoperative hemostasis contributes to larger size of SSEH, high probability of postoperative recurrence of spinal epidural hematoma, and poor functional recovery following surgical evacuation. Incomplete spinal cord dysfunction before surgery predicts good outcome and warrants emergent evacuation of SSEH especially in the cervical and thoracic regions, where the clots are located in proximity to the spinal cord.

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Chih-Hsiang Liao, Jau-Ching Wu, Wen-Cheng Huang, Wei-Hsin Wang, Peng-Yuan Chang, Henrich Cheng and Yang-Shih

Surgical treatment of thoracic disc herniation is technically challenging from anterior, lateral or posterior approaches. Because of the deeply located thoracic discs and non-retractable thoracic thecal sac, standard anterior and lateral procedures for discectomy require extensive tissue dissection causing prolonged lengths of stay in hospital. In this video, the authors present a case of calcified disc herniation at the level of T10/11 causing paraplegia and voiding difficulty. The patient was operated on via an endoscope-assisted minimally invasive transforaminal thoracic interbody fusion (EA-TTIF). The herniated disc and calcification were removed through a 26-mm tubular retractor, under microscopes via a unilateral transpedicular approach. The endoscopes were used for direct visualization of the ventral thecal sac and confirmation of complete decompression. After the operation, the patient's neurological function completely recovered. Minimally invasive EA-TTIF is a viable and effective option for the surgical management of thoracic disc herniation. Thoracic interbody fusion can be achieved through a minimally invasive approach from the back.

The video can be found here: http://youtu.be/54rRMtvSyCM.