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Jawad M. Khalifeh, Christopher F. Dibble, Ammar H. Hawasli, and Wilson Z. Ray

OBJECTIVE

The Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) is an adaptive, self-reported outcomes assessment tool that utilizes item response theory and computer adaptive testing to efficiently and precisely evaluate symptoms and perceived health status. Efforts to implement and report PROMIS outcomes in spine clinical practice remain limited. The objective of this retrospective cohort study is to evaluate the performance and psychometric properties of PROMIS physical function (PF) and pain interference (PI) among patients undergoing spine surgery.

METHODS

The authors identified all patients who underwent spine surgery at their institution between 2016 and 2018, and for whom there was retrievable PROMIS data. Descriptive statistics were calculated to summarize demographics, operative characteristics, and patient-reported outcomes. Assessments were evaluated preoperatively, and postoperatively within 2 months (early), 6 months (intermediate), and up to 2 years (late). Pairwise change scores were calculated to evaluate within-subjects differences and construct responsiveness over time. Pearson’s correlation coefficients were used to evaluate the association between PROMIS PF and PI domains. Subgroup analysis was performed based on the primary diagnoses of cervical radiculopathy, cervical myelopathy, or lumbar degenerative disease.

RESULTS

A total of 2770 patients (1395 males, 50.4%) were included in the analysis. The mean age at the time of surgery was 57.3 ± 14.4 years. Mean postoperative follow-up duration was 7.6 ± 6.2 months. Preoperatively, patients scored an average 15.1 ± 7.4 points below the normative population (mean 50 ± 10 points) in PF, and 15.8 ± 6.8 points above the mean in PI. PROMIS PF required a mean of 4.1 ± 0.6 questions and median 40 seconds (interquartile range [IQR] 29–58 seconds) to be completed, which was similar to PI (median 4.3 ± 1.1 questions and 38 seconds [IQR 27–59 seconds]). Patients experienced clinically meaningful improvements in PF and PI, which were sustained throughout the postoperative course. PROMIS instruments were able to capture anticipated changes in PF and PI, although to a lesser degree in PF early postoperatively. There was a strong negative correlation between PROMIS PF and PI scores at baseline (Pearson’s r = −0.72) and during follow-up appointments (early, intermediate, and late |r| > 0.6, each). Subgroup analysis demonstrated similar results within diagnostic groups compared to the overall cohort. However, the burden of PF limitations and PI was greater within the lumbar spine disease subgroup, compared to patients with cervical radiculopathy and myelopathy.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients receiving care at a tertiary spine surgery outpatient clinic experience significant overall disability and PI, as measured by PROMIS PF and PI computer adaptive tests. PROMIS PF and PI health domains are strongly correlated, responsive to changes over time, and facilitate time-efficient evaluations of perceived health status outcomes in patients undergoing spine surgery.

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Christopher Wilson, Alan P. Yaacoub, Adewale Bakare, Na Bo, Abdul Aasar, and Nicholas M. Barbaro

OBJECTIVE

A common cause of peroneal neuropathy is compression near the fibular head. Studies demonstrate excellent outcomes after decompression but include few cases (range 15–60 patients). Consequently, attempts to define predictors of good outcomes are limited. Here, the authors combine their institutional outcomes with those in the literature to identify predictors of good outcomes after peroneal nerve decompression.

METHODS

The authors searched their institutional electronic medical records to identify all peroneal nerve decompressions performed in the period between December 1, 2012, and September 30, 2016, and created an IRB-approved database. They also conducted a MEDLINE and literature search to identify articles discussing surgical decompression. All data were combined by meta-analysis to identify the factors associated with a favorable outcome, which was defined as improvement in preoperative symptoms. Patients were analyzed in the aggregate and by presentation (pain, paresthesias, weakness, foot drop). The factors evaluated included age, sex, body mass index, diabetes, smoking status, previous knee or lumbar spine surgery, preoperative symptom duration, and etiology. A meta-analysis was completed for any factor evaluated in at least three data sets.

RESULTS

Twenty-one institutional cases had sufficient data for review. The follow-up among this group was long: median 29 months, range 12–52 months. On aggregate analysis of the data, only diabetes was significantly associated with unfavorable outcomes after decompression (p = 0.05). A trend toward worse outcomes was seen in smokers presenting with pain (p = 0.06). Outcomes were not affected by presentation.

An additional 115 cases in the literature had extractable data for meta-analysis, and other associations were seen. Preoperative symptom duration longer than 12 months was associated with unfavorable outcomes (OR 0.23, 95% CI 0.08–0.65). Patients presenting with paresthesias or hypesthesia demonstrated a trend toward more unfavorable outcomes when operated on more than 6 months after symptom onset (OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.13–1.06). Even after the meta-analysis, outcomes did not vary with an advanced age (OR 0.70, 95% CI 0.24–1.98) or with patient sex (OR 1.13, 95% CI 0.42–3.06).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors provide their institutional data in combination with published data regarding outcomes after peroneal nerve decompression. Outcomes are typically favorable and generally unaffected by the type of symptoms preoperatively, especially if the patient is nondiabetic and preoperative symptom duration is less than 12 months. Patients with paresthesias may benefit from surgery within 6 months after onset. Smoking may adversely affect surgical outcomes. Finally, an advanced age does not adversely affect outcomes, and older patients should be considered for surgery.

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Stanley L. Barnwell, Van V. Halbach, Christopher F. Dowd, Randall T. Higashida, Grant B. Hieshima, and Charles B. Wilson

✓ Dural arteriovenous (AV) fistulas are thought to be acquired lesions that form in an area of thrombosis within a sinus. If the sinus remains completely thrombosed, venous drainage from these lesions occurs through cortical veins, or, if the sinus is open, venous drainage is usually into the involved sinus. Among 105 patients with dural A V fistulas evaluated over the the past 5 years, seven had a unique type of dural AV fistula in the superior sagittal, transverse, or straight sinus in which only cortical venous drainage occurred despite a patent involved sinus; the fistula was located within the wall of a patent dural sinus, but outflow was not into the involved sinus. This variant of dural AV fistulas puts the patient at serious risk for hemorrhage or neurological dysfunction caused by venous hypertension. Three patients presented with hemorrhage, one with progressive neurological dysfunction, one with seizures, and two with bruit and headaches. A combination of surgical and endovascular techniques was used to close the fistula while preserving flow through the sinus.

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Christopher Wilson, Mariana Hoyos, Andrew Huh, Blake Priddy, Stephen Avila, Stephen Mendenhall, Miracle C. Anokwute, George J. Eckert, and David W. Stockwell

OBJECTIVE

Type II odontoid fractures may be managed operatively or nonoperatively. If managed with bracing, bony union may never occur despite stability. This phenomenon is termed fibrous union. The authors aimed to determine associations with stable fibrous union and compare the morbidity of patients managed operatively and nonoperatively.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective review of their spine trauma database for adults with type II odontoid fractures between 2015 and 2019. Two-sample t-tests and Fisher’s exact tests identified associations with follow-up stability and were used to compare operative and nonoperative outcomes. Sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values were calculated to validate initial stable upright cervical radiographs related to follow-up stability.

RESULTS

Among 88 patients, 10% received upfront surgical fixation, and 90% were managed nonoperatively, of whom 22% had fracture instability on follow-up. Associations with instability after nonoperative management include myelopathy (OR 0.04, 95% CI 0.0–0.92), cerebrovascular disease (OR 0.23, 95% CI 0.06–1.0), and dens displacement ≥ 2 mm (OR 0.29, 95% CI 0.07–1.0). Advanced age was not associated with follow-up instability. Initial stability on upright radiographs was associated with stability on follow-up (OR 4.29, 95% CI 1.0–18) with excellent sensitivity and positive predictive value (sensitivity 89%, specificity 35%, positive predictive value 83%, and negative predictive value 46%). The overall complication rate and respiratory failure requiring ventilation on individual complication analysis were more common in operatively managed patients (33% vs 3%, respectively; p = 0.007), even though they were generally younger and healthier than those managed nonoperatively. Operative or nonoperative management conferred no difference in length of hospital or ICU stay, discharge disposition, or mortality.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors delineate the validity of upright cervical radiographs on presentation in association with follow-up stability in type II odontoid fractures. In their experience, factors associated with instability included cervical myelopathy, cerebrovascular disease, and fracture displacement but not increased age. Operatively managed patients had higher complication rates than those managed without surgery. Fibrous union, which can occur with nonoperative management, provided adequate stability.

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Sam Safavi-Abbasi, Timothy B. Mapstone, Jacob B. Archer, Christopher Wilson, Nicholas Theodore, Robert F. Spetzler, and Mark C. Preul

An understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of tethered cord syndrome (TCS) and modern management strategies have only developed within the past few decades. Current understanding of this entity first began with the understanding and management of spina bifida; this later led to the gradual recognition of spina bifida occulta and the symptoms associated with tethering of the filum terminale. In the 17th century, Dutch anatomists provided the first descriptions and initiated surgical management efforts for spina bifida. In the 19th century, the term “spina bifida occulta” was coined and various presentations of spinal dysraphism were appreciated. The association of urinary, cutaneous, and skeletal abnormalities with spinal dysraphism was recognized in the 20th century. Early in the 20th century, some physicians began to suspect that traction on the conus medullaris caused myelodysplasia-related symptoms and that prophylactic surgical management could prevent the occurrence of clinical manifestations. It was not, however, until later in the 20th century that the term “tethered spinal cord” and the modern management of TCS were introduced. This gradual advancement in understanding at a time before the development of modern imaging modalities illustrates how, over the centuries, anatomists, pathologists, neurologists, and surgeons used clinical examination, a high level of suspicion, and interest in the subtle and overt clinical appearances of spinal dysraphism and TCS to advance understanding of pathophysiology, clinical appearance, and treatment of this entity. With the availability of modern imaging, spinal dysraphism can now be diagnosed and treated as early as the intrauterine stage.

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Van V. Halbach, Randall T. Higashida, Christopher F. Dowd, Kenneth W. Fraser, Tony P. Smith, George P. Teitelbaum, Charles B. Wilson, and Grant B. Hieshima

✓ Sixteen patients with dissecting aneurysms or pseudoaneurysms of the vertebral artery, 12 involving the intradural vertebral artery and four occurring in the extradural segment, were treated by endovascular occlusion of the dissection site. Patients with vertebral fistulas were excluded from this study. The dissection was caused by trauma in three patients (two iatrogenic) and in the remaining 13 no obvious etiology was disclosed. Nine patients presented with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), two of whom had severe cardiac disturbances secondary to the bleed. The nontraumatic dissections occurred in seven women and six men, with a mean age on discovery of 48 years. Fifteen patients were treated with endovascular occlusion of the parent artery at or just proximal to the dissection site. One patient had occlusion of a traumatic pseudoaneurysm with preservation of the parent artery. Four patients required transluminal angioplasty because of severe vasospasm produced by the presenting hemorrhage, and all benefited from this procedure with improved arterial flow documented by transcranial Doppler ultrasonography and arteriography.

In 15 patients angiography disclosed complete cure of the dissection. One patient with a long dissection of extracranial origin extending intracranially had proximal occlusion of the dissection site. Follow-up angiography demonstrated healing of the vertebral artery dissection but persistent filling of the artery above the balloons, which underscores the need for embolic occlusion near the dissection site. No hemorrhages recurred. One patient had a second SAH at the time of therapy which was immediately controlled with balloons and coils. This patient and one other had minor neurological worsening resulting from the procedure (mild Wallenberg syndrome in one and minor ataxia in the second).

Symptomatic vertebral artery dissections involving the intradural and extradural segments can be effectively managed by endovascular techniques. Balloon test occlusion and transluminal angioplasty can be useful adjuncts in the management of this disease.

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Tomoaki Terada, Randall T. Higashida, Van V. Halbach, Christopher F. Dowd, Mitsuharu Tsuura, Norihiko Komai, Charles B. Wilson, and Grant B. Hieshima

✓ Dural sinus thrombosis has been hypothesized as a possible cause of dural arteriovenous fistulas (AVF's). The pathogenesis and evolution from thrombosis to actual development of an AVF are still unknown. To study dural fistula formation, a surgically induced venous hypertension model in rats was created by producing an arteriovenous shunt between the carotid artery and the external jugular vein. The external jugular vein beyond the anastomosis was ligated 2 to 3 months after surgery and angiography was performed to identify any new acquired AVF's.

Forty-six male Sprague-Dawley rats, each weighing approximately 300 gm, were used for this study. In Group I, 22 rats underwent a common carotid artery anastomosis to the external jugular vein, which is the largest draining vein from the transverse sinus via the posterior facial vein, followed by proximal external jugular vein ligation. In Group II, 13 rats underwent the same surgical procedure, followed by contralateral posterior facial vein occlusion. Group III served as the control group, in which 11 rats underwent only unilateral external jugular vein occlusion with or without contralateral posterior facial vein occlusion. The shunts in Groups I and II were ligated at 2 to 3 months following surgery, and transfemoral angiography was performed immediately before and after occlusion.

New acquired AVF's had developed in three rats (13.6%) in Group I, three rats (23.1%) in Group II, and no rats (0%) in Group III. One of these newly formed fistulas was located at the dural sinus, analogous to the human dural AVF. The other five were located in the subcutaneous tissue, including the face and neck. The dural AVF in the rat was present on follow-up angiography at 1 week after the bypass occlusion. It is concluded that chronic venous hypertension of 2 to 3 months' duration, without associated venous or sinus thrombosis, can induce new AVF's affecting the dural sinuses or the subcutaneous tissue.

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M. Harrison Snyder, Leonel Ampie, Vernon J. Forrester, JoAnne C. Wilson, James H. Nguyen, Christopher I. Shaffrey, and Avery L. Buchholz

Pyoderma gangrenosum (PG) is a rare inflammatory dermatosis that is most often associated with inflammatory bowel disease, but which can occur as a pathergic reaction around surgical incisions. The authors report the case of a patient who developed postoperative PG over the course of several months after undergoing extensive spinal instrumentation between the T4 and iliac levels. This is only the second such case occurring after spine surgery to be reported. The authors additionally review the literature to characterize treatment approaches and outcomes for this condition. The case highlights a potentially severe adverse effect of surgery that can be difficult to recognize and causes delays in effective treatment. It also demonstrates the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration in the effective care of patients.

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Stanley L. Barnwell, Christopher F. Dowd, Richard L. Davis, Michael S. B. Edwards, Philip H. Gutin, and Charles B. Wilson

✓ The cases of seven patients with intramedullary, cryptic vascular malformations of the spinal cord are reported. In all patients, the clinical course was progressive; a Brown-Séquard syndrome was the most common presenting symptom complex. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging was performed in all patients. The pattern seen most often was a focus of high signal (on both T1- and T2-weighted MR images) surrounded by a larger zone of low signal (best seen on T2-weighted images), and was remarkably similar for all patients. Six patients underwent surgical exploration; removal of the lesions halted the progression of symptoms in five patients, and one patient had worsened sensory function after surgery. Motor function did not decrease postoperatively in any patient. The one patient who refused surgery has continued to decline neurologically. Histopathological examination of surgical specimens showed a cavernous malformation in one patient, a venous malformation in one, venous varices in two, and organizing hematomas in two; these findings are markedly different from those in previously reported cases of cryptic vascular malformations.