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Diana Ko, Daniel Blatt, Chafic Karam, Kunal Gupta and Ahmed M. Raslan

Nusinersen (Spinraza) is a US Food and Drug Administration–approved intrathecal medication for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Adult patients with SMA often undergo thoracolumbar fusion to treat neurogenic scoliosis, preventing thecal access. The authors report a laminotomy technique and the ease of intrathecal access in three SMA patients with prior thoracolumbar fusions.

Patients were positioned in the lateral decubitus position or prone. Lumbar laminotomy was performed below the conus, between the lateral longitudinal rods, to preserve mechanical stability. Fluoroscopy provided real-time identification of instruments. Hardware was contoured with a carbide drill bit to develop the surgical window. Fiducial screws were placed along the perimeter for demarcation. Sublaminar wire removal caused dural defects that were repaired with a layer of dural substitute onlay and sealant. All patients successfully received nusinersen thecal injections via lumbar puncture by an interventional radiologist. Fluoroscopy time ranged from 6 to 36 seconds. No postoperative pseudomeningoceles, cerebrospinal fluid leaks, or wound complications occurred.

For patients with SMA and posterior fusion from prior scoliosis treatment, lumbar laminotomy is an effective method for creating thecal access for the administration of nusinersen.

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Carter D. Wray, Diana L. Kraemer, Tong Yang, Sandra L. Poliachik, Andrew L. Ko, Andrew Poliakov, Adam O. Hebb, Edward J. Novotny and Jeffrey G. Ojemann

The presurgical evaluation of patients with epilepsy often requires an intracranial study in which both subdural grid electrodes and depth electrodes are needed. Performing a craniotomy for grid placement with a stereotactic frame in place can be problematic, especially in young children, leading some surgeons to consider frameless stereotaxy for such surgery. The authors report on the use of a system that uses electromagnetic impulses to track the tip of the depth electrode. Ten pediatric patients with medically refractory focal lobar epilepsy required placement of both subdural grid and intraparenchymal depth electrodes to map seizure onset. Presurgical frameless stereotaxic targeting was performed using a commercially available electromagnetic image-guided system. Freehand depth electrode placement was then performed with intraoperative guidance using an electromagnetic system that provided imaging of the tip of the electrode, something that has not been possible using visually or sonically based systems. Accuracy of placement of depth electrodes within the deep structures of interest was confirmed postoperatively using CT and CT/MR imaging fusion. Depth electrodes were appropriately placed in all patients. Electromagnetic-tracking–based stereotactic targeting improves the accuracy of freehand placement of depth electrodes in patients with medically refractory epilepsy. The ability to track the electrode tip, rather than the electrode tail, is a major feature that enhances accuracy. Additional advantages of electromagnetic frameless guidance are discussed.