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Carl M. Brophy and Daniel J. Hoh

Cervical disc arthroplasty (CDA) has received widespread attention as an alternative to anterior fusion due to its similar neurological and functional improvement, with the advantage of preservation of segmental motion. As CDA becomes more widely implemented, the potential for unexpected device-related adverse events may be identified.

The authors report on a 48-year-old man who presented with progressive neurological deficits 3 years after 2-level CDA was performed. Imaging demonstrated periprosthetic osteolysis of the vertebral endplates at the CDA levels, with a heterogeneously enhancing ventral epidural mass compressing the spinal cord. Diagnostic workup for infectious and neoplastic processes was negative. The presumptive diagnosis was an inflammatory pannus formation secondary to abnormal motion at the CDA levels. Posterior cervical decompression and instrumented fusion was performed without removal of the arthroplasty devices or the ventral epidural mass. Postoperative imaging at 2 months demonstrated complete resolution of the compressive pannus, with associated improvement in clinical symptoms. Follow-up MRI at > 6 months showed no recurrence of the pannus. At 1 year postoperatively, CT scanning revealed improvement in periprosthetic osteolysis.

Inflammatory pannus formation may be an unexpected complication of abnormal segmental motion after CDA. This rare etiology of an epidural mass associated with an arthroplasty device should be considered, in addition to workup for other potential infectious or neoplastic mass lesions. In symptomatic individuals, compressive pannus lesions can be effectively treated with fusion across the involved segment without removal of the device.

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Kyle M. Fargen, J. Bridger Cox and Daniel J. Hoh

Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) is a disease process characterized by progressive growth and calcification resulting in spinal canal compromise and serious neurological sequelae in advanced cases. Historically, OPLL has most commonly been treated with posterior surgical decompression. Although this procedure indirectly decompresses the spinal cord, it does not address the offending pathological entity, and further growth of the lesion may result in delayed neurological deterioration. This fact is particularly relevant because a number of long-term studies have revealed both longitudinal and transverse disease progression in individuals treated both surgically and conservatively. Despite these high rates of radiographically documented progression, however, the rate of neurological decline in patients undergoing posterior surgery with laminoplasty is low. In this article, the authors review the pathophysiology of OPLL, evidence of disease progression, and outcome data addressing conservative and surgical treatments.

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J. Bridger Cox, Kristin J. Weaver, Daniel W. Neal, R. Patrick Jacob and Daniel J. Hoh

Object

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) represents a significant complication after spine surgery, with reported rates as high as 2%–4%. Published institutional practices for VTE prophylaxis are highly variable. In 2008, the authors implemented a departmental protocol for early VTE prophylaxis consisting of combined compressive devices and subcutaneous heparin initiated either preoperatively or on the same day of surgery. In this study, the authors compared the incidence of VTE in spine surgery patients before and after implementing this protocol.

Methods

An institutional review board–approved retrospective review of outcomes in patients undergoing spine surgery 2 years before protocol implementation (representing the preprotocol group) and of outcomes in patients treated 2 years thereafter (the postprotocol group) was conducted. Inclusion criteria were that patients were 18 years or older and had been admitted for 1 or more days. Before 2008 (preprotocol), VTE prophylaxis was variable and provider dependent without any uniform protocol. Since 2008 (postprotocol), a new VTE-prophylaxis protocol was administered, starting either preoperatively or on the same day of surgery and continuing throughout hospitalization. The new protocol consisted of 5000 U heparin administered subcutaneously 3 times daily, except in patients older than 75 years or weighing less than 50 kg, who received this dose twice daily. All patients also received sequential compression devices (SCDs). The incidence of VTE in the 2 protocol phases was identified by codes of the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) codes for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolus (PE). Bleeding complications arising from anticoagulation treatments were evaluated by the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code for postoperative epidural hematoma (EDH) requiring evacuation.

Results

In total, 941 patients in the preprotocol group met the inclusion criteria: 25 had DVT (2.7%), 6 had PE (0.6%), and 6 had postoperative EDH (0.6%). In the postprotocol group, 992 patients met the criteria: 10 had DVT (1.0%), 5 had PE (0.5%), and 4 had postoperative EDH (0.4%). This reduction in DVT after the protocol's implementation was statistically significant (p = 0.009). Despite early aggressive prophylaxis, the incidence of postoperative EDH did not increase and compared favorably to the published literature.

Conclusions

At a high-volume tertiary center, an aggressive protocol for early VTE prophylaxis after spine surgery decreases VTE incidence without increasing morbidity.

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Daniel J. Hoh, Paul Khoueir and Michael Y. Wang

✓ Ankylosing spondylitis can lead to severe cervical kyphosis, causing problems with forward vision, swallowing, hygiene, patient functionality, and social outlook. Evaluation of patients with cervical flexion deformity includes assessment of global sagittal balance and chin–brow angle. The primary treatment in extreme disabling cases is surgical correction involving a posterior cervical extension osteotomy, which is a technically demanding procedure with considerable risk of neurological injury. To address the potential complications with extension osteotomy, the authors of several reports have described modifications to the surgical technique. These developments incorporate recent advances in anesthesia, neuromonitoring, and spinal instrumentation. Complications associated with the procedure include subluxation at the osteotomy level, spinal cord injury, radiculopathy, dysphagia, and pseudarthrosis. Although the risks of spinal correction are considerable, extension osteotomy remains an effective treatment modality for patients with disabling cervical flexion deformity.

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Daniel J. Hoh, Charles Y. Liu and Michael Y. Wang

Object

Effective methods for fixation of the axis include C1–2 transarticular and C-2 pedicle screw placement. Both techniques pose a risk of vertebral artery (VA) injury in patients with narrow pedicles or an enlarged, high-riding VA. Pars screws at C-2 avoid the pedicle, but can cause VA injury with excessively long screws. Therefore, the authors evaluated various entry points and trajectories to determine ideal pars screw lengths that avoid breaching the transverse foramen.

Methods

Both pars were studied on 50 CT scans (100 total). Various pars lengths were assessed using 2 entry points and 3 trajectories (6 measurements). Entry point A was the superior one-fourth of the lateral mass. Entry point B was 3-mm rostral to the inferior aspect of the lateral mass. Using entry points A and B, Trajectory 1 was the minimum distance to the transverse foramen; Trajectory 2 was the maximum distance to the transverse foramen; and Trajectory 3 was the steepest angle to the pars/C-2 superior facet junction without transverse foramen breach.

Results

The mean patient age was 46 ± 17 years, and 84% of the CT scans reviewed were obtained in men. There was no significant difference in right or left measurements. Entry point B demonstrated greater pars lengths for each trajectory compared with entry point A (p < 0.0001). For both entry points, Trajectory 3 provided the greatest pars length. Using Trajectory 3 with entry point B, 84, 95, and 99% had a pars length that measured ≥ 18, 16, and 14 mm, respectively. Using Trajectory 3 with Entry point A, only 41, 64, and 87% had a pars length that measured ≥ 18, 16, and 14 mm, respectively.

Conclusions

Using an entry point 3-mm rostral to the inferior edge of the lateral mass and a trajectory directed toward the superior facet/pars junction, 99% of partes interarticularis in this study would tolerate a 14-mm screw without breach of the transverse foramen.

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Paul Khoueir, Daniel J. Hoh and Michael Y. Wang

✓Cervical kyphosis in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) can be severely disabling. Surgical treatment of this disorder is technically demanding, however, with a considerable risk of neurological and vascular injuries. The extension osteotomy is a well-described posterior treatment for this condition, but this approach presents the risk of acute subluxation and spinal column translation during the reduction. In this paper, the authors report the novel use of a hinged posterior cervical rod for controlled correction of cervical kyphosis. After sustaining a traumatic spinal fracture, a 57-year-old man with AS developed a delayed cervical flexion deformity. The patient was neurologically intact, but suffered from disabling impairment in horizontal gaze and activities of daily living, and from neck pain. The patient subsequently underwent surgical correction via a posterior cervical extension osteotomy at C7–T1 with manual extension of the neck for osteoclastic reduction of the cervical kyphosis. Controlled correction was performed by using a hinged rod affixed to posterior cervical and thoracic screws, allowing for free sagittal correction while restricting translational forces. Once the desired angle of correction was achieved, the hinge connector was locked, transforming the rod into a rigid device for permanent internal fixation. The use of hinged rods in cervical kyphosis correction provides a controlled method for reduction at the osteotomy site, decreasing the risk of neurological injury.

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Daniel J. Hoh, Marcel Maya, Alexander Jung, Skorn Ponrartana and Carl L. Lauryssen

Object

Various C1–2 instrumentation techniques have been developed to treat atlantoaxial instability. Screw fixation of C1–2 poses a risk of injury to the vertebral artery and internal carotid artery (ICA). Injury to the ICA caused by C-1 screws is extremely rare, but has been described. To characterize this risk, the authors studied the anatomical relationship of the ICA to the lateral mass of C-1.

Methods

The authors studied 100 patients who had undergone computed tomography scanning and magnetic resonance imaging of the neck to assess the position of the ICA in association with the C-1 lateral mass. Each ICA was classified into 1 of the following 4 zones: Zone 1 (medial to lateral mass), Zone 2 (medial half of lateral mass), Zone 3 (lateral half of lateral mass), and Zone 4 (lateral to lateral mass). For patients with an ICA ventral to the lateral mass, the shortest distance between the ICA and lateral mass was measured to determine the margin of error with an overpenetrated bicortical screw.

Results

Of the 100 patients, 58% had a left ICA in Zones 2 and 3 with a mean distance from the anterior cortex of 3.5 ± 1.5 mm (± standard deviation), and 74% had a right ICA in Zones 2 and 3 with a mean distance from the anterior cortex of 3.9 ± 1.6 mm. Both ICAs anterior to the lateral mass were noted in 47% of patients, and 84% had ≥ 1 ICA anterior to the lateral mass. When the ICA was anterior to the lateral mass, it was more commonly in the lateral half (left ICA in 91% and right ICA in 92%). The left ICA was in Zone 1 in 1% and Zone 4 in 41%. The right ICA was in Zone 1 in 1% and Zone 4 in 25%.

Conclusions

A high percentage of patients demonstrate an ICA directly ventral to the C-1 lateral mass, which poses a risk of ICA injury caused by an overpenetrated bicortical screw.

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Sasha Vaziri, Jacob Wilson, Joseph Abbatematteo, Paul Kubilis, Saptarshi Chakraborty, Khare Kshitij and Daniel J. Hoh

OBJECTIVE

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) universal Surgical Risk Calculator is an online decision-support tool that uses patient characteristics to estimate the risk of adverse postoperative events. Further validation of this risk calculator in the neurosurgical population is needed; therefore, the object of this study was to assess the predictive performance of the ACS NSQIP Surgical Risk Calculator in neurosurgical patients treated at a tertiary care center.

METHODS

A single-center retrospective review of 1006 neurosurgical patients treated in the period from September 2011 through December 2014 was performed. Individual patient characteristics were entered into the NSQIP calculator. Predicted complications were compared with actual occurrences identified through chart review and administrative quality coding data. Statistical models were used to assess the predictive performance of risk scores. Traditionally, an ideal risk prediction model demonstrates good calibration and strong discrimination when comparing predicted and observed events.

RESULTS

The ACS NSQIP risk calculator demonstrated good calibration between predicted and observed risks of death (p = 0.102), surgical site infection (SSI; p = 0.099), and venous thromboembolism (VTE; p = 0.164) Alternatively, the risk calculator demonstrated a statistically significant lack of calibration between predicted and observed risk of pneumonia (p = 0.044), urinary tract infection (UTI; p < 0.001), return to the operating room (p < 0.001), and discharge to a rehabilitation or nursing facility (p < 0.001). The discriminative performance of the risk calculator was assessed using the c-statistic. Death (c-statistic 0.93), UTI (0.846), and pneumonia (0.862) demonstrated strong discriminative performance. Discharge to a rehabilitation facility or nursing home (c-statistic 0.794) and VTE (0.767) showed adequate discrimination. Return to the operating room (c-statistic 0.452) and SSI (0.556) demonstrated poor discriminative performance. The risk prediction model was both well calibrated and discriminative only for 30-day mortality.

CONCLUSIONS

This study illustrates the importance of validating universal risk calculators in specialty-specific surgical populations. The ACS NSQIP Surgical Risk Calculator could be used as a decision-support tool for neurosurgical informed consent with respect to predicted mortality but was poorly predictive of other potential adverse events and clinical outcomes.

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Sasha Vaziri, Joseph M. Abbatematteo, Max S. Fleisher, Alexander B. Dru, Dennis T. Lockney, Paul S. Kubilis and Daniel J. Hoh

OBJECTIVE

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) online surgical risk calculator uses inherent patient characteristics to provide predictive risk scores for adverse postoperative events. The purpose of this study was to determine if predicted perioperative risk scores correlate with actual hospital costs.

METHODS

A single-center retrospective review of 1005 neurosurgical patients treated between September 1, 2011, and December 31, 2014, was performed. Individual patient characteristics were entered into the NSQIP calculator. Predicted risk scores were compared with actual in-hospital costs obtained from a billing database. Correlational statistics were used to determine if patients with higher risk scores were associated with increased in-hospital costs.

RESULTS

The Pearson correlation coefficient (R) was used to assess the correlation between 11 types of predicted complication risk scores and 5 types of encounter costs from 1005 health encounters involving neurosurgical procedures. Risk scores in categories such as any complication, serious complication, pneumonia, cardiac complication, surgical site infection, urinary tract infection, venous thromboembolism, renal failure, return to operating room, death, and discharge to nursing home or rehabilitation facility were obtained. Patients with higher predicted risk scores in all measures except surgical site infection were found to have a statistically significant association with increased actual in-hospital costs (p < 0.0005).

CONCLUSIONS

Previous work has demonstrated that the ACS NSQIP surgical risk calculator can accurately predict mortality after neurosurgery but is poorly predictive of other potential adverse events and clinical outcomes. However, this study demonstrates that predicted high-risk patients identified by the ACS NSQIP surgical risk calculator have a statistically significant moderate correlation to increased actual in-hospital costs. The NSQIP calculator may not accurately predict the occurrence of surgical complications (as demonstrated previously), but future iterations of the ACS universal risk calculator may be effective in predicting actual in-hospital costs, which could be advantageous in the current value-based healthcare environment.