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Chris J. Neal and Leon E. Moores

The purpose of this review is to present a concise overview of the types of radiation, methods of dispersal, injury patterns, and treatment considerations in a scenario involving radiation-based weapons of mass destruction. Radiation-related casualties, although uncommon, are a potential threat because more nations and organizations are developing the technology for producing radioactive substances capable of being used as weapons.

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Chris J. Neal and Michael K. Rosner

Object

Minimal-access transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) has gained popularity as a method of achieving interbody fusion via a posterior-only approach with the aim of minimizing injury to adjacent tissue. While many studies have reported successful outcomes, questions remain regarding the potential learning curve for successfully completing this procedure. The goal of this study, based on a single resident's experience at the only Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education–approved neurosurgical training center in the US military, was to determine if there is in fact a significant learning curve in performing a minimal-access TLIF.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed all minimal-access TLIFs performed by a single neurosurgical resident between July 2006 and January 2008. Minimal-access TLIFs were performed using a tubular retractor inserted via a muscle-dilating exposure to limit approach-related morbidity. The accuracy of screw placement and operative times were assessed.

Results

A single resident/attending team performed 28 minimal-access TLIF procedures. In total, 65 screws were placed at L-2 (1 screw), L-3 (2 screws), L-4 (18 screws), L-5 (27 screws), and S-1 (17 screws) from the resident's perspective. Postoperative CTs were reviewed to determine the accuracy of screw placement. An accuracy of 95.4% (62 of 65) properly placed screws was noted on postoperative imaging. Two screws (at L-5 in the patient in Case 17 and at S-1 in the patient in Case 9) were lateral, and no revision was needed. One screw (at L-4 in Case 24) was 1 mm medial without symptoms or the need for revision. In evaluating the operative times, 2 deformity cases (Grade III spondylolisthesis) were excluded. The average operating time per level in the remaining 26 cases was 113.25 minutes. The average time per level for the first 13 cases was 121.2 minutes; the amount of time decreased to 105.3 minutes for the second group of 13 cases (p = 0.25).

Conclusions

In summary, minimal-access TLIF can be safely performed in a training environment without a significant complication rate due to the expected learning curve.

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Chris J. Neal, Michael K. Rosner and Timothy R. Kuklo

Object. Disc arthroplasty in the lumbar spine is an alternative to fusion when treating discogenic pain. Its theoretical benefits include preservation of the motion segment and the potential prevention of adjacent-segment degeneration. Despite the need to evaluate the benefit of preserving the adjacent segments after disc replacement, no study has been conducted to assess the ability of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to depict the adjacent segments in patients who have undergone disc replacement surgery.

Methods. Postoperative lumbar MR images were obtained in the first 10 patients in whom a metal-on-metal disc arthroplasty system was used to treat the L4–5 or L5—S1 levels. At the superior adjacent level, the superior endplate and disc space were demonstrated on 90% of the images on both T1-weighted fluid-attenuated inversion-recovery (FLAIR) and T2-weighted sequences despite the presence of artifacts. The inferior endplate at this level was documented on 70% of both T1-weighted FLAIR and T2-weighted sequences. At the level below the disc replacement in patients who underwent L4–5 surgery, the superior endplate was demonstrated on 66.7% of the T1-weighted FLAIR sequences but only 33.3% of the T2-weighted images. The disc space and inferior endplate were depicted on 66.7% of both T1-weighted FLAIR and T2-weighted sequences. Axial images revealed an artifact in every adjacent space except at the L5—S1 level.

Conclusions. Based on the results of this pilot study, it appears that sagittal MR imaging can be undertaken to evaluate the adjacent motion segment for degenerative changes following total disc arthroplasty in most patients. This imaging modality will provide an additional measure to assess the long-term efficacy of this intervention compared with other treatment modalities and the natural history of lumbar disc degeneration.

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Randy S. Bell, Chris J. Neal and Randall McCafferty

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Chris J. Neal, Jamal McClendon Jr., Ryan Halpin, Frank L. Acosta, Tyler Koski and Stephen L. Ondra

Object

Spinopelvic balance is based on the theory that adjacent segments of the spine are related and influenced by one another. By understanding the correlation between the thoracolumbar spine and the pelvis, a concept of spinopelvic balance can be applied to adult deformity. The purpose of this study was to develop a mathematical relationship between the pelvis and spine and apply it to a population of adults who had undergone spinal deformity surgery to determine whether patients in spinopelvic balance have improved health measures.

Methods

Using values published in the literature, a mathematical relationship between the spine and pelvis was derived where pelvic incidence (PI) was divided by the sum of the lumbosacral lordosis (LL; T12–S1) plus the main thoracic kyphosis (TK; T4–12). The result was termed the spinopelvic constant (r): r = PI/(LL + TK). This was performed in patients in 2 age groups previously defined in the literature as “adult” (18–60 years of age) and “geriatric” (> 60 years). The equation was then constructed to relate an individual's measured PI to his or her predicted thoracolumbar curvature (LL + TK)p based on the age-specific spinopelvic constant: (LL + TK)p = r/PI. A retrospective review was then performed using cases involving patients who had undergone spine deformity surgery and were enrolled in our spinal deformity database. Sagittal balance, PI, and the sum of the main thoracic and lumbar curves were measured. The difference between the predicted sum of the regional curves (LL + TK)p, based on the individual's measured PI and the age-specific spinopelvic constant, and the measured sum of the regional curves (LL + TK)m was then calculated to determine the degree of spinopelvic imbalance. Health status measures were then compared.

Results

Using the formula r = PI/(TK = LL) and normative values in the literature, the adult spinopelvic constant was calculated to be −2.57, and the geriatric constant −5.45. For the second portion of the study, 41 patients met inclusion criteria (13 classified as nongeriatric adults and 28 as geriatric patients). Application of these constants found a statistically significant decline in almost all outcome categories when the spinopelvic balance showed at least 10° of kyphosis more than predicted. While not statistically significant, the trend was that better outcomes were associated with a spinopelvic balance within 0 to +10° of the predicted value. The final analysis compared and separated outcomes from sagittal balance and spinopelvic balance. For patients to be considered in sagittal balance, they must be within 50 mm (± 50 mm) of neutral. For patients to be considered in spinopelvic balance, they must be within ± 10° of predicted spinopelvic balance. Patients in both sagittal and spinopelvic balance have statistically significant better outcomes than those in neither sagittal nor spinopelvic balance. Except for the mean SF-12 PCS (12-Item Short-Form Health Survey Physical Component Summary), there were no significant differences between those that were either in sagittal or spinopelvic balance, but not the other.

Conclusions

Restoring a normative relationship between the spine and the pelvis during adult deformity correction may play an important role in determining surgical outcomes in these patients independent of sagittal balance.

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Elisabeth J. Rushing, John Paul Bouffard, Chris J. Neal, Kelly Koeller, Jonathan Martin, Metin Ozdemirli, Hernando Mena and James M. Ecklund

✓ Erdheim—Chester disease (ECD) is a rare systemic histiocytic disease. The authors present a case report detailing the presentation and treatment of a 26-year-old man diagnosed with seizures and a well-circumscribed temporoparietal mass that had been demonstrated on imaging studies. Both preoperative and intraoperative diagnoses were consistent with a low-grade astrocytic neoplasm. Subsequent pathological examination indicated a histiocytic proliferation positive for CD68 and factor VIII, and negative for CD1a and S100, with Touton giant cells characteristic of ECD. This case represents the first isolated occurrence of intracranial ECD and its potential to mimic glial neoplasms.

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Charles A. Miller, Jason H. Boulter, Daniel J. Coughlin, Michael K. Rosner, Chris J. Neal and Michael S. Dirks

OBJECTIVE

Symptomatic cervical spondylosis with or without radiculopathy can ground an active-duty military pilot if left untreated. Surgically treated cervical spondylosis may be a waiverable condition and allow return to flying status, but a waiver is based on expert opinion and not on recent published data. Previous studies on rates of return to active duty status following anterior cervical spine surgery have not differentiated these rates among military specialty occupations. No studies to date have documented the successful return of US military active-duty pilots who have undergone anterior cervical spine surgery with cervical fusion, disc replacement, or a combination of the two. The aim of this study was to identify the rate of return to an active duty flight status among US military pilots who had undergone anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) or total disc replacement (TDR) for symptomatic cervical spondylosis.

METHODS

The authors performed a single-center retrospective review of all active duty pilots who had undergone either ACDF or TDR at a military hospital between January 2010 and June 2017. Descriptive statistics were calculated for both groups to evaluate demographics with specific attention to preoperative flight stats, days to recommended clearance by neurosurgery, and days to return to active duty flight status.

RESULTS

Authors identified a total of 812 cases of anterior cervical surgery performed between January 1, 2010, and June 1, 2017, among active duty, reserves, dependents, and Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs patients. There were 581 ACDFs and 231 TDRs. After screening for military occupation and active duty status, there were a total of 22 active duty pilots, among whom were 4 ACDFs, 17 TDRs, and 2 hybrid constructs. One patient required a second surgery. Six (27.3%) of the 22 pilots were nearing the end of their career and electively retired within a year of surgery. Of the remaining 16 pilots, 11 (68.8%) returned to active duty flying status. The average time to be released by the neurosurgeon was 128 days, and the time to return to flying was 287 days. The average follow-up period was 12.3 months.

CONCLUSIONS

Adhering to military service-specific waiver guidelines, military pilots may return to active duty flight status after undergoing ACDF or TDR for symptomatic cervical spondylosis.

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Chris J. Neal, Kara Mandell, Ellen Tasikas, John J. Delaney, Charles A. Miller, Cody D. Schlaff and Michael K. Rosner

OBJECTIVE

Adult spinal deformity surgery is an effective way of treating pain and disability, but little research has been done to evaluate the costs associated with changes in health outcome measures. This study determined the change in quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and the cost per QALY in patients undergoing spinal deformity surgery in the unique environment of a military healthcare system (MHS).

METHODS

Patients were enrolled between 2011 and 2017. Patients were eligible to participate if they were undergoing a thoracolumbar spinal fusion spanning more than 6 levels to treat an underlying deformity. Patients completed the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) prior to surgery and 6 and 12 months after surgery. The authors used paired t-tests to compare SF-36 Physical Component Summary (PCS) scores between baseline and postsurgery. To estimate the cost per QALY of complex spine surgery in this population, the authors extended the change in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) between baseline and follow-up over 5 years. Data on the cost of surgery were obtained from the MHS and include all facility and physician costs.

RESULTS

HRQOL and surgical data were available for 49 of 91 eligible patients. Thirty-one patients met additional criteria allowing for cost-effectiveness analysis. Over 12 months, patients demonstrated significant improvement (p < 0.01) in SF-36 PCS scores. A majority of patients met the minimum clinically important difference (MCID; 83.7%) and substantive clinical benefit threshold (SCBT; 83.7%). The average change in QALY was an increase of 0.08. Extended across 5 years, including the 3.5% discounting per year, study participants increased their QALYs by 0.39, resulting in an average cost per QALY of $181,649.20. Nineteen percent of patients met the < $100,000/QALY threshold with half of the patients meeting the < $100,000/QALY mark by 10 years. A sensitivity analysis showed that patients who scored below 60 on their preoperative SF-36 PCS had an average increase in QALYs of 0.10 per year or 0.47 over 5 years.

CONCLUSIONS

With a 5-year extended analysis, patients who receive spinal deformity surgery in the MHS increased their QALYs by 0.39, with 19% of patients meeting the $100,000/QALY threshold. The majority of patients met the threshold for MCID and SCBT at 1 year postoperatively. Consideration of preoperative functional status (SF-36 PCS score < 60) may be an important factor in determining which patients benefit the most from spinal deformity surgery.

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Frank L. Acosta Jr., Jamal McClendon Jr., Brian A. O'Shaughnessy, Heiko Koller, Chris J. Neal, Oliver Meier, Christopher P. Ames, Tyler R. Koski and Stephen L. Ondra

Object

As the population continues to age, relatively older geriatric patients will present more frequently with complex spinal deformities that may require surgical intervention. To the authors' knowledge, no study has analyzed factors predictive of complications after major spinal deformity surgery in the very elderly (75 years and older). The authors' objective was to determine the rate of minor and major complications and predictive factors in patients 75 years of age and older who underwent major spinal deformity surgery requiring a minimum 5-level arthrodesis procedure.

Methods

Twenty-one patients who were 75 years of age or older and underwent thoracic and/or lumbar fixation and arthrodesis across 5 or more levels for spinal deformity were analyzed retrospectively. The medical and surgical records were reviewed in detail. Age, diagnosis, comorbidities, operative data, hospital data, major and minor complications, and deaths were recorded. Factors predictive of perioperative complications were identified by logistic regression analysis.

Results

The mean patient age was 77 years old (range 75–83 years). There were 14 women and 7 men. The mean follow-up was 41.2 months (range 24–81 months). Fifteen patients (71%) had at least 1 comorbidity. A mean of 10.5 levels were fused (range 5–15 levels). Thirteen patients (62%) had at least 1 perioperative complication, and 8 (38%) had at least one major complication for a total of 17 complications. There were no perioperative deaths. Increasing age was predictive of any perioperative complication (p = 0.03). However, major complications were not predicted by age or comorbidities as a whole. In a subset analysis of comorbidities, only hypertension was predictive of a major complication (OR 10, 95% CI 1.3–78; p = 0.02). Long-term postoperative complications occurred in 11 patients (52%), and revision fusion surgery was necessary in 3 (14%).

Conclusions

Patients 75 years and older undergoing major spinal deformity surgery have an overall perioperative complication rate of 62%, with older age increasing the likelihood of a complication, and a long-term postoperative complication rate of 52%. Patients in this age group with a history of hypertension are 10 times more likely to incur a major perioperative complication. However, the mortality risk for these patients is not increased.