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Paul M. Arnold

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Risheng Xu, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Ali Bydon

Abnormal ossification of spinal ligaments is a well-known cause of myelopathy in East Asian populations, with ossification of the ligamentum flavum (OLF) and the posterior longitudinal ligament being the most prevalent. In Caucasian populations, OLF is rare, and there has been only 1 documented case of the disease affecting more than 5 spinal levels. In this report, the authors describe the clinical presentation, imaging characteristics, and management of the second published case of a Caucasian man with OLF affecting almost the entire thoracic spine. The literature is then reviewed with regard to OLF epidemiology, pathogenesis, presentation, and treatment.

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Kuniaki Nakahara and Satoru Shimizu

Object

The majority of shunt infections occur within 6 months of shunt placement and chiefly result from perioperative colonization of shunt components by skin flora. Antibiotic-impregnated shunt (AIS) systems have been designed to prevent such colonization. In this study, the authors evaluate the incidence of shunt infection after introduction of an AIS system in a population of children with hydrocephalus.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed all pediatric patients who had undergone cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunt insertion at their institution over a 3-year period between April 2001 and March 2004. During the 18 months prior to October 2002, all CSF shunts included standard, nonimpregnated catheters. During the 18 months after October 2002, all CSF shunts included antibiotic-impregnated catheters. All patients were followed up for 6 months after shunt surgery, and all shunt-related complications, including shunt infection, were evaluated. The independent association of AIS catheter use with subsequent shunt infection was assessed via multivariate proportional hazards regression analysis.

A total of 211 pediatric patients underwent 353 shunt placement procedures. In the 18 months prior to October 2002, 208 (59%) shunts were placed with nonimpregnated catheters; 145 (41%) shunts were placed with AIS catheters in the 18 months after October 2002. Of patients with nonimpregnated catheters, 25 (12%) experienced shunt infection, whereas only two patients (1.4%) with antibiotic-impregnated catheters experienced shunt infection within the 6-month follow-up period (p < 0.01). Adjusting for intercohort differences via multivariate analysis, AIS catheters were independently associated with a 2.4-fold decreased likelihood of shunt infection.

Conclusions

The AIS catheter significantly reduced incidence of CSF shunt infection in children with hydrocephalus during the early postoperative period (< 6 months). The AIS system used is an effective instrument to prevent perioperative colonization of CSF shunt components.

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Camilo Molina, Daniel M. Sciubba, Christopher Chaput, P. Justin Tortolani, George I. Jallo and Ryan M. Kretzer

Object

Translaminar screws (TLSs) were originally described as a safer alternative to pedicle and transarticular screw placement at C-2 in adult patients. More recently, TLSs have been used in both the cervical and thoracic spine of pediatric patients as a primary fixation technique and as a bailout procedure when dysplastic pedicle morphology prohibits safe pedicle screw placement. Although authors have reported the anatomical characteristics of the cervical and thoracic lamina in adults as well as those of the cervical lamina in pediatric patients, no such data exist to guide safe TLS placement in the thoracic spine of the pediatric population. The goal of this study was to report the anatomical feasibility of TLS placement in the thoracic spine of pediatric patients.

Methods

Fifty-two patients (26 males and 26 females), with an average age of 9.5 ± 4.8 years, were selected by retrospective review of a trauma registry database after institutional review board approval. Study inclusion criteria were an age from 2 to 16 years, standardized axial bone-window CT images of the thoracic spine, and the absence of spinal trauma. For each thoracic lamina the following anatomical features were measured using eFilm Lite software: laminar width (outer cortical and cancellous), laminar height (LH), maximal screw length, and optimal screw trajectory. Patients were stratified by age (an age < 8 versus ≥ 8 years) and sex.

Results

Collected data demonstrate the following general trends as one descends the thoracic spine from T-1 to T-12: 1) increasing laminar width to T-4 followed by a steady decrease to T-12, 2) increasing LH, 3) decreasing maximal screw length, and 4) increasing ideal screw trajectory angle. When stratified by age and sex, male patients older than 8 years of age had significantly larger laminae in terms of both width and height and allowed significantly longer screw placement at all thoracic levels compared with their female counterparts. Importantly, it was found that 78% of individual thoracic laminae, regardless of age or sex, could accept a 4.0-mm screw with 1.0 mm of clearance. As expected, when stratifying by age and sex, it was found that older male patients had the highest acceptance rates.

Conclusions

Data in the present study provide information regarding optimal TLS length, diameter, and trajectory for each thoracic spinal level in pediatric patients. Importantly, the data collected demonstrate no anatomical limitations within the pediatric thoracic spine to TLS instrumentation, although acceptance rates are lower for younger (< 8 years old) and/or female patients. Lastly, given the anatomical variation found in this study, CT scanning can be useful in the preoperative setting when planning TLS use in the thoracic spine of pediatric patients.

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Daniel M. Sciubba, Gary L. Gallia, Pablo Recinos, Ira M. Garonzik and Richard E. Clatterbuck

✓ Ionizing radiation therapy is associated with pathological vascular changes in intracranial vessels, most commonly in the form of vessel thrombosis and occlusion. The development of an intracranial aneurysm following such therapy, however, is far less common. In this report the authors describe a 24-year-old man in whom a distal middle cerebral artery aneurysm developed 15 years after radiotherapy, which was given as adjuvant treatment following resection of a medulloblastoma. The patient underwent a craniotomy for microsurgical trapping of the aneurysm and was discharged without any neurological deficit. This case serves to remind clinicians of the possibility, albeit rare, that intracranial aneurysms may form following cranial radiotherapy.

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Taylor E. Purvis, C. Rory Goodwin, Camilo A. Molina, Steven M. Frank and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was to characterize the association between percentage change in hemoglobin (ΔHb)—i.e., the difference between preoperative Hb and in-hospital nadir Hb concentration—and perioperative adverse events among spine surgery patients.

METHODS

Patients who underwent spine surgery at the authors’ institution between December 4, 2008, and June 26, 2015, were eligible for this retrospective study. Patients who underwent the following procedures were included: atlantoaxial fusion, subaxial anterior cervical fusion, subaxial posterior cervical fusion, anterior lumbar fusion, posterior lumbar fusion, lateral lumbar fusion, excision of intervertebral disc, and excision of spinal cord lesion. Data on intraoperative transfusion were obtained from an automated, prospectively collected, anesthesia data management system. Data on postoperative hospital transfusions were obtained through an Internet-based intelligence portal. Percentage ΔHb was defined as: ([preoperative Hb − nadir Hb]/preoperative Hb) × 100. Clinical outcomes included in-hospital morbidity and length of stay associated with percentage ΔHb.

RESULTS

A total of 3949 patients who underwent spine surgery were identified. Of these, 1204 patients (30.5%) received at least 1 unit of packed red blood cells. The median nadir Hb level was 10.6 g/dl (interquartile range 8.7–12.4 g/dl), yielding a mean percentage ΔHb of 23.6% (SD 15.4%). Perioperative complications occurred in 234 patients (5.9%) and were more common in patients with a larger percentage ΔHb (p = 0.017). Hospital-related infection, which occurred in 60 patients (1.5%), was also more common in patients with greater percentage ΔHb (p = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Percentage ΔHb is independently associated with a higher risk of developing any perioperative complication and hospital-related infection. The authors’ results suggest that percentage ΔHb may be a useful measure for identifying patients at risk for adverse perioperative events.

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Seba Ramhmdani, Marc Comair, Camilo A. Molina, Daniel M. Sciubba and Ali Bydon

Interspinous process devices (IPDs) have been developed as less-invasive alternatives to spinal fusion with the goal of decompressing the spinal canal and preserving segmental motion. IPD implantation is proposed to treat symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis that improve during flexion. Recent indications of IPD include lumbar facet joint syndrome, which is seen in patients with mainly low-back pain. Long-term outcomes in this subset of patients are largely unknown. The authors present a previously unreported complication of coflex (IPD) placement: the development of a large compressive lumbar synovial cyst. A 64-year-old woman underwent IPD implantation (coflex) at L4–5 at an outside hospital for low-back pain that occasionally radiates to the right leg. Postoperatively, her back and right leg pain persisted and worsened. MRI was repeated and showed a new, large synovial cyst at the previously treated level, severely compressing the patient’s cauda equina. Four months later, she underwent removal of the interspinous process implant, bilateral laminectomy, facetectomy, synovial cyst resection, interbody fusion, and stabilization. At the 3-month follow-up, she reported significant back pain improvement with some residual leg pain. This case suggests that facet arthrosis may not be an appropriate indication for placement of coflex.

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Rafael De la Garza Ramos, Jonathan Nakhla, Daniel M. Sciubba and Reza Yassari

OBJECTIVE

In a meta-analysis, the authors sought to compare outcomes after iliac screw (IS) versus S2 alar-iliac (S2AI) screw fixation in adult patients.

METHODS

A PubMed/MEDLINE database search was performed for studies comparing IS and S2AI screw fixation techniques in adults. Levels of evidence were assigned based on the North American Spine Society guidelines. Three outcomes were examined: 1) revision surgery rate secondary to mechanical failure or wound complications, 2) surgical site infection rate, and 3) screw prominence/pain. Data were pooled and outcomes compared between techniques. Absolute risk reductions (ARRs) were also calculated for outcome measures.

RESULTS

Five retrospective cohort studies (all level III evidence) were included in our analysis. A total of 323 adult patients were included—147 in the IS group (45.5%) and 176 in the S2AI group (54.5%). Overall, revision surgery due to mechanical failure or wound complications was needed in 66 of 323 patients (revision surgery rate 20.4%)—27.9% in the IS group and 14.2% in the S2AI group (13.7% ARR; p < 0.001). Four studies reported wound infections among 278 total patients, with an infection rate of 12.6% (35/278)—25.4% in the IS group and 2.6% in the S2AI group (22.8% ARR; p < 0.001). Three studies examined development of screw prominence/pain; combined, these studies reported screw prominence/pain in 21 of 215 cases (9.8%)—18.1% in the IS group and 1.8% in the S2AI group (16.3% ARR; p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

S2AI screw fixation in adults has a significantly lower mechanical failure and complication rate than IS fixation based on the current best available evidence.

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Sean Dangelmajer, Patricia L. Zadnik, Samuel T. Rodriguez, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Daniel M. Sciubba

Object

Historically, adult degenerative lumbar scoliosis (DLS) has been treated with multilevel decompression and instrumented fusion to reduce neural compression and stabilize the spinal column. However, due to the profound morbidity associated with complex multilevel surgery, particularly in elderly patients and those with multiple medical comorbidities, minimally invasive surgical approaches have been proposed. The goal of this meta-analysis was to review the differences in patient selection for minimally invasive surgical versus open surgical procedures for adult DLS, and to compare the postoperative outcomes following minimally invasive surgery (MIS) and open surgery.

Methods

In this meta-analysis the authors analyzed the complication rates and the clinical outcomes for patients with adult DLS undergoing complex decompressive procedures with fusion versus minimally invasive surgical approaches. Minimally invasive surgical approaches included decompressive laminectomy, microscopic decompression, lateral and extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF), and percutaneous pedicle screw placement for fusion. Mean patient age, complication rates, reoperation rates, Cobb angle, and measures of sagittal balance were investigated and compared between groups.

Results

Twelve studies were identified for comparison in the MIS group, with 8 studies describing the lateral interbody fusion or XLIF and 4 studies describing decompression without fusion. In the decompression MIS group, the mean preoperative Cobb angle was 16.7° and mean postoperative Cobb angle was 18°. In the XLIF group, mean pre- and postoperative Cobb angles were 22.3° and 9.2°, respectively. The difference in postoperative Cobb angle was statistically significant between groups on 1-way ANOVA (p = 0.014). Mean preoperative Cobb angle, mean patient age, and complication rate did not differ between the XLIF and decompression groups. Thirty-five studies were identified for inclusion in the open surgery group, with 18 studies describing patients with open fusion without osteotomy and 17 papers detailing outcomes after open fusion with osteotomy. Mean preoperative curve in the open fusion without osteotomy and with osteotomy groups was 41.3° and 32°, respectively. Mean reoperation rate was significantly higher in the osteotomy group (p = 0.008). On 1-way ANOVA comparing all groups, there was a statistically significant difference in mean age (p = 0.004) and mean preoperative curve (p = 0.002). There was no statistically significant difference in complication rates between groups (p = 0.28).

Conclusions

The results of this study suggest that surgeons are offering patients open surgery or MIS depending on their age and the severity of their deformity. Greater sagittal and coronal correction was noted in the XLIF versus decompression only MIS groups. Larger Cobb angles, greater sagittal imbalance, and higher reoperation rates were found in studies reporting the use of open fusion with osteotomy. Although complication rates did not significantly differ between groups, these data are difficult to interpret given the heterogeneity in reporting complications between studies.