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Robert F. Heary and Christopher M. Bono

Metastatic spinal tumors are the most common type of malignant lesions of the spine. Prompt diagnosis and identification of the primary malignancy is crucial to overall treatment. Numerous factors affect outcome including the nature of the primary cancer, the number of lesions, the presence of distant nonskeletal metastases, and the presence and/or severity of spinal cord compression. Initial management consists of chemotherapy, external beam radiotherapy, and external orthoses. Surgical intervention must be carefully considered in each case. Patients expected to live longer than 12 weeks should be considered as candidates for surgery. Indications for surgery include intractable pain, spinal cord compression, and the need for stabilization of impending pathological fractures. Whereas various surgical approaches have been advocated, anterior-approach surgery is the most accepted procedure for spinal cord decompression. Posterior approaches have also been used with success, but they require longer-length fusion. To obtain a stable fixation, the placement of instrumentation, in conjunction with judicious use of polymethylmethacrylate augmentation, is crucial. Preoperative embolization should be considered in patients with extremely vascular tumors such as renal cell carcinoma. Vertebroplasty, a newly described procedure in which the metastatic spinal lesions are treated via a percutaneous approach, may be indicated in selected cases of intractable pain caused by non- or minimally fractured vertebrae.

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Robert F. Heary and Christopher M. Bono

There are many options for the surgical treatment of lumbar spondylolisthesis, including anterior and posterior techniques. Among the most versatile is a 360° fusion. In consideration of the added risk of morbidity of two procedures, circumferential fusion leads to the highest fusion rates. This is particularly useful for patients at high risk for pseudarthrosis, such as patients with diabetes, posttransplant recipients, and those in whom fusion procedures have failed. Likewise, a 360° fusion may also be useful in achieving fusion in biomechanically disadvantageous situations, such as at the L5–S1 level or with high-grade subluxation. The options for 360° fusion are many and are determined, among other factors, by surgical pathology and surgeon preference. Standard open techniques are still considered the gold standard, although newer less invasive methods of circumferential fusion are being used more frequently. The operating surgeon must have a thorough knowledge of all available maneuvers for critical and effective decision making.

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Robert F. Heary, Christopher M. Bono and Margaret Black

Object. The authors evaluated the accuracy of placement of thoracic pedicle screws by performing postoperative computerized tomography (CT) scanning. A grading system is presented by which screw placement is classified in relation to neurological, bone, and intrathoracic landmarks.

Methods. One hundred eighty-five thoracic pedicle screws were implanted in 27 patients with the assistance of computer image guidance or fluoroscopy. Postoperative CT scanning was conducted to determine a grade for each screw: Grade I, entirely contained within pedicle; Grade II, violates lateral pedicle but screw tip entirely contained within the vertebral body (VB); Grade III, tip penetrates anterior or lateral VB; Grade IV, breaches medial or inferior pedicle; and Grade V, violates pedicle or VB and endangers spinal cord, nerve root, or great vessels and requires immediate revision. Based on anatomical morphometry, the spine was subdivided into upper (T1–2), middle (T3–6), and lower (T7–12) regions. Statistical analyses were performed to compare regions. The mean follow-up period was 37.6 months.

The following postoperative CT scanning—documented grades were determined: Grade I, 160 screws (86.5%); Grade II, 15 (8.1%); Grade III, six (3.2%); Grade IV, three (1.6%); and Grade V, one (0.5%). Among cases involving screw misplacements, Grade II placement was most common, and this occurred most frequently in the middle thoracic region.

Conclusions. The authors' grading system has advantages over those previously described; however, further study to determine its reliability, reproducibility, and predictive value of clinical sequelae is warranted. Postoperative CT scanning should be considered the gold standard for evaluating thoracic pedicle screw placement.

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James S. Harrop, Alexander R. Vaccaro, R. John Hurlbert, Jared T. Wilsey, Eli M. Baron, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Charles G. Fisher, Marcel F. Dvorak, F. C. Öner, Kirkham B. Wood, Neel Anand, D. Greg Anderson, Moe R. Lim, Joon Y. Lee, Christopher M. Bono, Paul M. Arnold, Y. Raja Rampersaud, Michael G. Fehlings and The Spine Trauma Study Group

Object

A new classification and treatment algorithm for thoracolumbar injuries was recently introduced by Vaccaro and colleagues in 2005. A thoracolumbar injury severity scale (TLISS) was proposed for grading and guiding treatment for these injuries. The scale is based on the following: 1) the mechanism of injury; 2) the integrity of the posterior ligamentous complex (PLC); and 3) the patient’s neurological status. The reliability and validity of assessing injury mechanism and the integrity of the PLC was assessed.

Methods

Forty-eight spine surgeons, consisting of neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons, reviewed 56 clinical thoracolumbar injury case histories. Each was classified and scored to determine treatment recommendations according to a novel classification system. After 3 months the case histories were reordered and the physicians repeated the exercise. Validity of this classification was good among reviewers; the vast majority (> 90%) agreed with the system’s treatment recommendations. Surgeons were unclear as to a cogent description of PLC disruption and fracture mechanism.

Conclusions

The TLISS demonstrated acceptable reliability in terms of intra- and interobserver agreement on the algorithm’s treatment recommendations. Replacing injury mechanism with a description of injury morphology and better definition of PLC injury will improve inter- and intraobserver reliability of this injury classification system.

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Robert F. Heary and Christopher M. Bono

Object

Thoracolumbar fractures, treated operatively or nonoperatively, may cause painful kyphotic deformities over time. A pedicle subtraction osteotomy (PSO) is a single-stage posterior procedure designed to correct sagittal plane deformity. Although it was initially used to treat nontraumatic conditions, a PSO can be highly effective in chronic, posttraumatic fractures of the lumbar spine. In this report the authors review details obtained in the treatment of three patients with severe, posttraumatic spinal deformities. They describe the surgical technique used to correct the sagittal malalignments.

Methods

All three patients were middle aged, and good bone mineral density had been demonstrated in each case preoperatively. After PSO, a mean 51° improvement in sagittal alignment was achieved and maintained until a solid arthrodesis was documented in each case. Substantial improvements in pain relief and functional outcome were observed. A detailed, procedure-specific literature review was undertaken.

Conclusions

A PSO is a valuable tool to add to the armamentarium of neurosurgeons who treat patients suffering from painful posttraumatic deformity following fractures of the upper lumbar spine.

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Michael G. Fehlings, Justin S. Smith, Branko Kopjar, Paul M. Arnold, S. Tim Yoon, Alexander R. Vaccaro, Darrel S. Brodke, Michael E. Janssen, Jens R. Chapman, Rick C. Sasso, Eric J. Woodard, Robert J. Banco, Eric M. Massicotte, Mark B. Dekutoski, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Christopher M. Bono and Christopher I. Shaffrey

Object

Rates of complications associated with the surgical treatment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) are not clear. Appreciating these risks is important for patient counseling and quality improvement. The authors sought to assess the rates of and risk factors associated with perioperative and delayed complications associated with the surgical treatment of CSM.

Methods

Data from the AOSpine North America Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy Study, a prospective, multicenter study, were analyzed. Outcomes data, including adverse events, were collected in a standardized manner and externally monitored. Rates of perioperative complications (within 30 days of surgery) and delayed complications (31 days to 2 years following surgery) were tabulated and stratified based on clinical factors.

Results

The study enrolled 302 patients (mean age 57 years, range 29–86) years. Of 332 reported adverse events, 73 were classified as perioperative complications (25 major and 48 minor) in 47 patients (overall perioperative complication rate of 15.6%). The most common perioperative complications included minor cardiopulmonary events (3.0%), dysphagia (3.0%), and superficial wound infection (2.3%). Perioperative worsening of myelopathy was reported in 4 patients (1.3%). Based on 275 patients who completed 2 years of follow-up, there were 14 delayed complications (8 minor, 6 major) in 12 patients, for an overall delayed complication rate of 4.4%. Of patients treated with anterior-only (n = 176), posterior-only (n = 107), and combined anterior-posterior (n = 19) procedures, 11%, 19%, and 37%, respectively, had 1 or more perioperative complications. Compared with anterior-only approaches, posterior-only approaches had a higher rate of wound infection (0.6% vs 4.7%, p = 0.030). Dysphagia was more common with combined anterior-posterior procedures (21.1%) compared with anterior-only procedures (2.3%) or posterior-only procedures (0.9%) (p < 0.001). The incidence of C-5 radiculopathy was not associated with the surgical approach (p = 0.8). The occurrence of perioperative complications was associated with increased age (p = 0.006), combined anterior-posterior procedures (p = 0.016), increased operative time (p = 0.009), and increased operative blood loss (p = 0.005), but it was not associated with comorbidity score, body mass index, modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association score, smoking status, anterior-only versus posterior-only approach, or specific procedures. Multivariate analysis of factors associated with minor or major complications identified age (OR 1.029, 95% CI 1.002–1.057, p = 0.035) and operative time (OR 1.005, 95% CI 1.002–1.008, p = 0.001). Multivariate analysis of factors associated with major complications identified age (OR 1.054, 95% CI 1.015–1.094, p = 0.006) and combined anterior-posterior procedures (OR 5.297, 95% CI 1.626–17.256, p = 0.006).

Conclusions

For the surgical treatment of CSM, the vast majority of complications were treatable and without long-term impact. Multivariate factors associated with an increased risk of complications include greater age, increased operative time, and use of combined anterior-posterior procedures.

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Aditya V. Karhade, Paul Ogink, Quirina Thio, Marike Broekman, Thomas Cha, William B. Gormley, Stuart Hershman, Wilco C. Peul, Christopher M. Bono and Joseph H. Schwab

OBJECTIVE

If not anticipated and prearranged, hospital stay can be prolonged while the patient awaits placement in a rehabilitation unit or skilled nursing facility following elective spine surgery. Preoperative prediction of the likelihood of postoperative discharge to any setting other than home (i.e., nonroutine discharge) after elective inpatient spine surgery would be helpful in terms of decreasing hospital length of stay. The purpose of this study was to use machine learning algorithms to develop an open-access web application for preoperative prediction of nonroutine discharges in surgery for elective inpatient lumbar degenerative disc disorders.

METHODS

The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program was queried to identify patients who underwent elective inpatient spine surgery for lumbar disc herniation or lumbar disc degeneration between 2011 and 2016. Four machine learning algorithms were developed to predict nonroutine discharge and the best algorithm was incorporated into an open-access web application.

RESULTS

The rate of nonroutine discharge for 26,364 patients who underwent elective inpatient surgery for lumbar degenerative disc disorders was 9.28%. Predictive factors selected by random forest algorithms were age, sex, body mass index, fusion, level, functional status, extent and severity of comorbid disease (American Society of Anesthesiologists classification), diabetes, and preoperative hematocrit level. On evaluation in the testing set (n = 5273), the neural network had a c-statistic of 0.823, calibration slope of 0.935, calibration intercept of 0.026, and Brier score of 0.0713. On decision curve analysis, the algorithm showed greater net benefit for changing management over all threshold probabilities than changing management on the basis of the American Society of Anesthesiologists classification alone or for all patients or for no patients. The model can be found here: https://sorg-apps.shinyapps.io/discdisposition/.

CONCLUSIONS

Machine learning algorithms show promising results on internal validation for preoperative prediction of nonroutine discharges. If found to be externally valid, widespread use of these algorithms via the open-access web application by healthcare professionals may help preoperative risk stratification of patients undergoing elective surgery for lumbar degenerative disc disorders.