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Posterior thoracic corpectomy with cage reconstruction for metastatic spinal tumors: comparing the mini-open approach to the open approach

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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Minimally invasive instrumentation without fusion during posterior thoracic corpectomies: a comparison of percutaneously instrumented nonfused segments with open instrumented fused segments

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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Symptomatic contralateral osteophyte fracture with migration causing lumbar plexopathy during oblique lumbar interbody fusion: illustrative case

Brenton Pennicooke, Jeremy Guinn, and Dean Chou

BACKGROUND

While performing lateral lumbar interbody fusion surgery, one of the surgical goals is to release the contralateral side with a Cobb elevator, allowing distraction of the interbody space. Many times, there are large osteophytes on the contralateral side, and the osteophytes can be split open with the Cobb or blunt instrument. It is extremely rare for the actual osteophyte to break off from the vertebral body into the contralateral psoas muscle and lumbar plexus.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors report a case of symptomatic lumbar plexopathy caused by an osteophyte fracture after an oblique lumbar interbody fusion requiring a right-sided anterior approach to excise the bony fragment. They illustrate the case with imaging that the radiologist did not comment on, and they also show a video of the surgical excision of the osteophyte through a right-sided anterior lumbar retroperitoneal approach. The authors also show how the patient had spontaneous right-sided electromyography (EMG) firing before excision of the osteophyte and how the EMG firing resolved after excision.

LESSONS

Although the literature is plentiful with regard to ipsilateral approach–related complications, the authors discuss the literature with regard to contralateral complications after minimally invasive lateral lumbar interbody fusion.

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Mini-open transpedicular corpectomies with expandable cage reconstruction

Technical note

Dean Chou and Daniel C. Lu

Transpedicular corpectomies are frequently used to perform anterior surgery from a posterior approach. Minimally invasive thoracolumbar corpectomies have been previously described, but these are performed through a unilateral approach. Bilateral access must be obtained for a circumferential decompression when using such techniques. The authors describe a technique that allows for a mini-open transpedicular corpectomy, 360° decompression, and expandable cage reconstruction through a single posterior approach. This is performed using percutaneous pedicle screws, the trap-door rib-head osteotomy, and a single midline fascial exposure. The authors describe this technique with intraoperative photos and a video demonstrating the technique.

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Trap-door rib-head osteotomies for posterior placement of expandable cages after transpedicular corpectomy: an alternative to lateral extracavitary and costotransversectomy approaches

Technical note

Dean Chou and Vincent Y. Wang

Lateral extracavitary and costotransversectomy approaches have been well described, and they are useful for posterior thoracic corpectomies. However, these approaches require pleural dissection and are associated with welldocumented morbidities, including hemothorax, pneumothorax, and pneumonia. But without removing the rib head, the window through which an expandable cage can be placed from a posterior approach is narrow. Thus, smaller nonexpandable mesh cages or methylmethacrylate constructs are commonly used for anterior column reconstruction. The authors describe a technique of using a “trap-door” rib-head osteotomy that avoids pleural dissection, yet allows a large expandable cage to be placed from an entirely posterior approach.

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Hemorrhagic vestibular schwannoma: an unusual clinical entity

Case report

Dean Chou, Prakash Sampath, and Henry Brem

Hemorrhagic vestibular schwannomas are rare entities, with only a few case reports in the literature during the last 25 years. The authors review the literature on vestibular schwannoma hemorrhage and the presenting symptoms of this entity, which include headache, nausea, vomiting, sudden cranial nerve dysfunction, and ataxia. A very unusual case is presented of a 36-year-old man, who unlike most of the patients reported in the literature, had clinically silent vestibular schwannoma hemorrhage. The authors also discuss the management issues involved in more than 1000 vestibular schwannomas treated at their institution during a 25-year period.

Free access

Introduction. Thoracolumbar anterior spine surgery: contemporary techniques and outcomes

Paul Park, Juan Uribe, Tokumi Kanemura, and Dean Chou

Free access

Two-level corpectomy versus three-level discectomy for cervical spondylotic myelopathy: a comparison of perioperative, radiographic, and clinical outcomes

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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Vulnerability of the subcostal nerve to injury during bone graft harvesting from the iliac crest

Dean Chou, Phillip B. Storm, and James N. Campbell

Object. Autologous bone graft harvesting from the iliac crest remains the gold standard for fusion surgery. One disadvantage of autologous bone harvesting is the patient's enduring postoperative pain at the donor site. Nerve injury is one of the postulated mechanisms that may account for this pain. The object of this study was to determine whether the lateral cutaneous branch of the subcostal nerve is vulnerable to injury in the process of obtaining grafts from the anterior iliac crest.

Methods. Anatomical dissections were performed on 10 cadaveric specimens to ascertain the size of the T-12 subcostal nerve and its position in relation to the iliac crest.

Conclusions. The lateral cutaneous branch of the subcostal nerve may lie as close as 6 cm from the anterior superior iliac spine. This nerve is very vulnerable to injury when harvesting bone from the anterior iliac crest. Knowledge of the anatomy may decrease the risk of injury to this nerve.

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Disc Cyst

Laurence A. G. Marshman