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Darryl Lau and Dean Chou

OBJECT

Spinal metastases most commonly affect the vertebral bodies of the spinal column, and spinal cord compression is an indication for surgery. Commonly, an open posterior approach is employed to perform a transpedicular costotransversectomy or lateral extracavitary corpectomy. Because of the short life expectancies in patients with metastatic spinal disease, decreasing the morbidity of surgical treatment and recovery time is critical. One potential approach to decreasing morbidity is utilizing minimally invasive surgery (MIS). Although significant advances have been made in MIS of the spine, data supporting the utility of MIS are still emerging. This study compared outcomes of patients who underwent mini-open versus traditional open transpedicular corpectomy for spinal metastases in the thoracic spine.

METHODS

A consecutive cohort from 2006 to 2013 of 49 adult patients who underwent thoracic transpedicular corpectomies for spinal metastases was retrospectively identified. Patients were categorized into one of 2 groups: open surgery and mini-open surgery. Mini-open transpedicular corpectomy was performed with a midline facial incision over only the corpectomy level of interest and percutaneous instrumentation above and below that level. The open procedure consisted of a traditional posterior transpedicular corpectomy. Chi-square test, 2-tailed t-test, and ANOVA models were employed to compare perioperative and follow-up outcomes between the 2 groups.

RESULTS

In the analysis, there were 21 patients who had mini-open surgery and 28 patients who had open surgery. The mean age was 57.9 years, and 59.2% were male. The tumor types encountered were lung (18.3%), renal/bladder (16.3%), breast (14.3%), hematological (14.3%), gastrointestinal tract (10.2%), prostate (8.2%), melanoma (4.1%), and other/unknown (14.3%). There were no significant intergroup differences in demographics, comorbidities, neurological status (American Spinal Injury Association [ASIA] grade), number of corpectomies performed, and number of levels instrumented. The open group had a mean operative time of 413.6 minutes, and the mini-open group had a mean operative time of 452.4 minutes (p = 0.329). Compared with the open group, the mini-open group had significantly less blood loss (917.7 ml vs 1697.3 ml, p = 0.019) and a significantly shorter hospital stay (7.4 days vs 11.4 days, p = 0.001). There was a trend toward a lower perioperative complication rate in the mini-open group (9.5%) compared with the open group (21.4%), but this was not statistically significant (p = 0.265). At follow-up, there were no significant differences in ASIA grade (p = 0.342), complication rate after the 30-day postoperative period (p = 0.999), or need for surgical revision (p = 0.803). The open approach had a higher overall infection rate of 17.9% compared with that in the mini-open approach of 9.5%, but this was not statistically significant (p = 0.409).

CONCLUSIONS

The mini-open transpedicular corpectomy is associated with less blood loss and shorter hospital stay compared with open transpedicular corpectomy. The mini-open corpectomy also trended toward lower infection and complication rates, but these did not reach statistical significance.

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Darryl Lau and Dean Chou

OBJECTIVE

During the mini-open posterior corpectomy, percutaneous instrumentation without fusion is performed above and below the corpectomy level. In this study, the authors' goal was to compare the perioperative and long-term implant failure rates of patients who underwent nonfused percutaneous instrumentation with those of patients who underwent traditional open instrumented fusion.

METHODS

Adult patients who underwent posterior thoracic corpectomies with cage reconstruction between 2009 and 2014 were identified. Patients who underwent mini-open corpectomy had percutaneous instrumentation without fusion, and patients who underwent open corpectomy had instrumented fusion above and below the corpectomy site. The authors compared perioperative outcomes and rates of implant failure requiring reoperation between the open (fused) and mini-open (unfused) groups.

RESULTS

A total of 75 patients were identified, and 53 patients (32 open and 21 mini-open) were available for followup. The mean patient age was 52.8 years, and 56.6% of patients were male. There were no significant differences in baseline variables between the 2 groups. The overall perioperative complication rate was 15.1%, and there was no significant difference between the open and mini-open groups (18.8% vs 9.5%; p = 0.359). The mean hospital stay was 10.5 days. The open group required a significantly longer stay than the mini-open group (12.8 vs 7.1 days; p < 0.001). Overall implant failure rates requiring reoperation were 1.9% at 6 months, 9.1% at 1 year, and 14.7% at 2 years. There were no significant differences in reoperation rates between the open and mini-open groups at 6 months (3.1% vs 0.0%, p = 0.413), 1 year (10.7% vs 6.2%, p = 0.620), and 2 years (18.2% vs 8.3%, p = 0.438). The overall mean follow-up was 29.2 months.

CONCLUSIONS

These findings suggest that percutaneous instrumentation without fusion in mini-open transpedicular corpectomies offers similar implant failure and reoperation rates as open instrumented fusion as far out as 2 years of follow-up.

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Darryl Lau, Dean Chou and Praveen V. Mummaneni

OBJECT

In the treatment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM), anterior cervical corpectomy and fusion (ACCF) and anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) are effective decompressive techniques. It remains to be determined whether ACCF and ACDF offer equivalent outcomes for multilevel CSM. In this study, the authors compared perioperative, radiographic, and clinical outcomes between 2-level ACCF and 3-level ACDF.

METHODS

Between 2006 and 2012, all patients at the authors' hospital who underwent 2-level ACCF or 3-level ACDF performed by 1 of 2 surgeons were identified. Primary outcomes of interest were sagittal Cobb angle, adjacent-segment disease (ASD) requiring surgery, neck pain measured by visual analog scale (VAS), and Nurick score. Secondary outcomes of interest included estimated blood loss (EBL), length of stay, perioperative complications, and radiographic pseudarthrosis rate. Chi-square tests and 2-tailed Student t-tests were used to compare the 2 groups. A subgroup analysis of patients without posterior spinal fusion (PSF) was also performed.

RESULTS

Twenty patients underwent 2-level ACCF, and 35 patients underwent 3-level ACDF during a 6-year period. Preoperative Nurick scores were higher in the ACCF group (2.1 vs 1.1, p = 0.014), and more patients underwent PSF in the 2-level ACCF group compared with patients in the 3-level ACDF group (60.0% vs 17.1%, p = 0.001). Otherwise there were no significant differences in demographics, comorbidities, and baseline clinical parameters between the 2 groups. Two-level ACCF was associated with significantly higher EBL compared with 3-level ACDF for the anterior stage of surgery (382.2 ml vs 117.9 ml, p < 0.001). Two-level ACCF was also associated with a longer hospital stay compared with 3-level ACDF (7.2 days vs 4.9 days, p = 0.048), but a subgroup comparison of patients without PSF showed no significant difference in length of stay (3.1 days vs 4.4 days for 2-level ACCF vs 3-level ACDF, respectively; p = 0.267). Similarly, there was a trend toward more complications in the 2-level ACCF group (20.0%) than the 3-level ACDF group (5.7%; p = 0.102), but a subgroup analysis that excluded those who had second-stage PSF no longer showed the same trend (2-level ACCF, 0.0% vs 3-level ACDF, 3.4%; p = 0.594). There were no significant differences between the ACCF group and the ACDF group in terms of postoperative sagittal Cobb angle (7.2° vs 12.1°, p = 0.173), operative ASD (6.3% vs 3.6%, p = 0.682), and radiographic pseudarthrosis rate (6.3% vs 7.1%, p = 0.909). Both groups had similar improvement in mean VAS neck pain scores (3.4 vs 3.2 for ACCF vs ACDF, respectively; p = 0.860) and Nurick scores (0.8 vs 0.7, p = 0.925).

CONCLUSIONS

Two-level ACCF was associated with greater EBL and longer hospital stays when patients underwent a second-stage PSF. However, the length of stay was similar when patients underwent anterior-only decompression with either 2-level ACCF or 3-level ACDF. Furthermore, perioperative complication rates were similar in the 2 groups when patients underwent anterior decompression without PSF. Both groups obtained similar postoperative cervical lordosis, operative ASD rates, radiographic pseudarthrosis rates, neurological improvement, and pain relief.

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Darryl Lau, Caleb Rutledge and Manish K. Aghi

OBJECT

Cushing's disease (CD) can lead to significant morbidity secondary to hormonal sequelae or mass effect from the pituitary tumor. A transsphenoidal approach to resection of the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)–secreting pituitary adenoma is the first-line treatment. However, in the setting in which patients are unable to undergo surgery, have acute hypercortisolism, or have recurrent disease, medical therapy can play an important role. The authors performed a systematic review to highlight the efficacy of medical treatment of CD and discuss novel molecular insights that could guide the development of future medical treatments of CD.

METHODS

A search on current medical therapies for CD was performed. After individual medical therapeutic agents for CD were identified, each agent underwent a formal systematic search. The phrase “(name of agent) and Cushing's” was used as a search term in PubMed for all years up to 2014. The abstract of each article was reviewed for studies that evaluated the efficacy of medical treatment of CD. Only studies that enrolled at least 20 patients were included in the review.

RESULTS

A total of 11 articles on 6 individual agents were included in this review. Specific medical therapies were categorized based on the level of action: pituitary directed (cabergoline and pasireotide), adrenal/steroidogenesis directed (ketoconazole, metyrapone, and mitotane), and end-tissue directed/cortisol receptors (mifepristone). The studies identified consisted of a mix of retrospective reviews and small clinical trials. Only pasireotide and mifepristone have undergone Phase III clinical trials, from which they garnered FDA approval for the treatment of patients with CD. Overall, agents targeting ACTH secretion and steroidogenesis were found to be quite effective in reducing urine free cortisol (UFC) to levels near normal. A significant reduction in UFC was observed in 45%–100% of patients and a majority of patients gained clinical improvement. Similarly, inhibition at the end-tissue level led to clinical improvement in 87% of patients. However, side-effect rates associated with these drugs are high (up to 88%). Ketoconazole has been shown to enhance tumor appearance on MRI to facilitate pituitary resection. Promising molecular targets have been identified, including epidermal growth factor receptor, retinoic acid receptors, and cyclin dependent kinases. These pathways have been linked to the regulation of pro-opiomelanocortin expression, ACTH secretion, and tumor growth.

CONCLUSIONS

Despite encouraging Phase III clinical trials leading to FDA approval of 2 agents for treatment of patients with CD, no agent has yet produced results comparable to resection. As a result, the molecular insights gained into CD pathogenesis will need to continue to be expanded until they can lead to the development of medical therapies for CD with a favorable side-effect profile and efficacy comparable to resection. Ideally these agents should also reduce tumor size, which could potentially permit their eventual discontinuation.

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Darryl Lau, Vedat Deviren and Christopher P. Ames

OBJECTIVE

Posterior-based thoracolumbar 3-column osteotomy (3CO) is a formidable surgical procedure. Surgeon experience and case volume are known factors that influence surgical complication rates, but these factors have not been studied well in cases of adult spinal deformity (ASD). This study examines how surgeon experience affects perioperative complications and operative measures following thoracolumbar 3CO in ASD.

METHODS

A retrospective study was performed of a consecutive cohort of thoracolumbar ASD patients who underwent 3CO performed by the senior authors from 2006 to 2018. Multivariate analysis was used to assess whether experience (years of experience and/or number of procedures) is associated with perioperative complications, operative duration, and blood loss.

RESULTS

A total of 362 patients underwent 66 vertebral column resections (VCRs) and 296 pedicle subtraction osteotomies (PSOs). The overall complication rate was 29.4%, and the surgical complication rate was 8.0%. The rate of postoperative neurological deficits was 6.2%. There was a trend toward lower overall complication rates with greater operative years of experience (from 44.4% to 28.0%) (p = 0.115). Years of operative experience was associated with a significantly lower rate of neurological deficits (p = 0.027); the incidence dropped from 22.2% to 4.0%. The mean operative time was 310.7 minutes overall. Both increased years of experience and higher case numbers were significantly associated with shorter operative times (p < 0.001 and p = 0.001, respectively). Only operative years of experience was independently associated with operative times (p < 0.001): 358.3 minutes from 2006 to 2008 to 275.5 minutes in 2018 (82.8 minutes shorter). Over time, there was less deviation and more consistency in operative times, despite the implementation of various interventions to promote fusion and prevent construct failure: utilization of multiple-rod constructs (standard, satellite, and nested rods), bone morphogenetic protein, vertebroplasty, and ligament augmentation. Of note, the use of tranexamic acid did not significantly lower blood loss.

CONCLUSIONS

Surgeon years of experience, rather than number of 3COs performed, was a significant factor in mitigating neurological complications and improving quality measures following thoracolumbar 3CO for ASD. The 3- to 5-year experience mark was when the senior surgeon overcame a learning curve and was able to minimize neurological complication rates. There was a continuous decrease in operative time as the surgeon’s experience increased; this was in concurrence with the implementation of additional preventative surgical interventions. Ongoing practice changes should be implemented and can be done safely, but it is imperative to self-assess the risks and benefits of those practice changes.

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Ramin A. Morshed, Seunggu J. Han, Darryl Lau and Mitchel S. Berger

Surgery guided by 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) fluorescence has become a valuable adjunct in the resection of malignant intracranial gliomas. Furthermore, the fluorescence intensity of biopsied areas of a resection cavity correlates with histological identification of tumor cells. However, in the case of lesions deep within a resection cavity, light penetration may be suboptimal, resulting in less excitation of 5-ALA metabolites, leading to decreased fluorescence emission. To address this obstacle, the authors report on the use of a 400-nm wavelength fiber-optic lighted suction instrument that can be used both during resection of a tumor and to provide direct light to deeper areas of a resection cavity. In the presented case, this wavelength-specific lighted suction instrument improved the fluorescence intensity of patches of malignant tissue within the resection cavity. This technique may further improve the utility of 5-ALA in identifying tumor-infiltrated tissue for deep-seated lesions. Additionally, this tool may have implications for scoring systems that correlate 5-ALA fluorescence intensity with histological identification of malignant cells.

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Darryl Lau, Mitchel S. Berger, Dhruv Khullar and John Maa

Cigarette smoking is a common health risk behavior among the general adult population, and is the leading preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in the US. The surgical literature shows that active tobacco smoking is a major risk factor for perioperative morbidity and complications, and that preoperative smoking cessation is an effective measure to lower these risks associated with active smoking. However, few studies have examined the effects of smoking and perioperative complications following neurosurgical procedures. The goal of this review was to highlight the scientific data that do exist regarding the impact of smoking on neurosurgical outcomes, to promote awareness of the need for further work in the specific neurosurgical context, and to suggest ways that neurosurgeons can promote smoking cessation in their patients and lead efforts nationally to emphasize the importance of preoperative smoking cessation. This review indicates that there is limited but good evidence that smoking is associated with higher rates of perioperative complications following neurosurgical intervention. Specific research is needed to understand the effects of smoking and perioperative complications. Neurosurgeons should encourage preoperative smoking cessation as part of their clinical practice to mitigate perioperative morbidity associated with active smoking.

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Darryl Lau, John E. Ziewacz, Hai Le, Rishi Wadhwa and Praveen V. Mummaneni

OBJECT

Cervical kyphosis can lead to spinal instability, spinal cord injury, and disability. The correction of cervical kyphosis is technically challenging, especially in severe cases. The authors describe the anterior sequential interbody dilation technique for the treatment of cervical kyphosis and evaluate perioperative outcomes, degree of correction, and long-term follow-up outcomes associated with the technique.

METHODS

In the period from 2006 to 2011, a consecutive cohort of adults with cervical kyphosis (Cobb angles ≥ 0°) underwent sequential interbody dilation, a technique entailing incrementally increased interbody distraction with the sequential placement of larger spacers (at least 1 mm) in the discectomy and/or corpectomy spaces. The authors retrospectively reviewed these patients, and primary outcomes of interest included kyphosis correction, blood loss, hospital stay, complications, Nurick grade, pain, reoperation, and pseudarthrosis. A subgroup analysis among patients with preoperative kyphosis of 0°–9° (mild), 10°–19° (moderate), and ≥ 20° (severe) was performed.

RESULTS

One hundred patients were included in the study: 74 with mild preoperative cervical kyphosis, 19 with moderate, and 7 with severe. The mean patient age was 53.1 years, and 54.0% of the patients were male. Mean estimated blood loss was 305.6 ml, and the mean length of hospital stay was 5.2 days. The overall complication rate was 9.0%, and there were no deaths. Sixteen percent of patients underwent supplemental posterior fusion. There was significant correction in cervical alignment (p < 0.001), and the mean overall kyphosis correction was 12.4°. Patients with severe preoperative kyphosis gained a correction of 24.7°, those with moderate kyphosis gained 17.8°, and those with mild kyphosis gained 10.1°. A mean correction of 32.0° was obtained if 5 levels were addressed. The mean follow-up was 26.8 months. The reoperation rate was 4.7%. At follow-up, there was significant improvement in visual analog scale neck pain (p = 0.020) and Nurick grade (p = 0.037). The pseudarthrosis rate was 6.3%.

CONCLUSIONS

Sequential interbody dilation is a feasible and effective method of correcting cervical kyphosis. Complications and reoperation rates are low. Similar benefits are seen among all severities of kyphosis, and greater correction can be achieved in more severe cases.

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Daniel C. Lu, Darryl Lau, Jasmine G. Lee and Dean Chou

Object

Whereas standard anterior approaches for thoracolumbar corpectomies have commonly been used, the transpedicular technique is increasingly used to perform corpectomies from a posterior approach. The authors conducted a study to analyze whether there was a difference in outcomes by comparing transpedicular corpectomies to standard anterior thoracolumbar corpectomies.

Methods

The senior author performed thoracolumbar corpectomies in 80 patients between 2004 and 2008. The authors reviewed medical records and follow-up data, consisting of clinic visits, radiographs, or telephone interviews. Neurological outcome, complications, operative times, revision surgery rates, and estimated blood loss (EBL) were evaluated.

Results

Thirty-four patients underwent transpedicular corpectomies, and 46 patients underwent anterior thoracolumbar approaches. Single-level transpedicular corpectomies appear to be comparable to anterior-only corpectomies in terms of EBL, operative time, and complication rates. There was a higher complication rate, increased EBL, and longer operative time with anterior-posterior corpectomies compared with transpedicular corpectomies. Patients undergoing transpedicular corpectomies had a greater recovery of neurological function than those in whom anterior-approach corpectomies were performed.

Conclusions

The transpedicular corpectomy appears to have a comparable morbidity rate to anterior-only corpectomies, but its morbidity rate is lower than that of anterior-posterior corpectomies.

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Ramin A. Morshed, Darryl Lau, Peter P. Sun and Lauren R. Ostling

Choroid plexus papillomas (CPPs) are typically benign tumors that can occur in any age group but are more commonly found in pediatric patients. Although these tumors are benign, there are several reports in adult patients of distant metastases present either at the time of diagnosis or occurring months to years after initial resection. Here, the authors report the case of a 14-year-old boy who presented with symptoms of elevated intracranial pressure due to obstructive hydrocephalus that was caused by a large fourth ventricular mass. Preoperative imaging included a full MRI of the spine, which revealed an intradural lesion that encased the distal sacral nerve roots at the tip of the thecal sac and was concerning for a drop metastasis. The patient underwent gross-total resection of both the fourth ventricular and sacral tumors with histology of both lesions consistent with benign CPP (WHO Grade I). In addition, the authors review prior reports of both pediatric and adult patients in whom benign CPPs have metastasized with either benign or atypical pathology found at a distant site. Taking into account this unusual case and reports in the literature, patients with even benign CPPs may warrant initial and routine follow-up imaging of the total neural axis in search of the rare, but possible, occurrence of drop metastasis.