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Jan-Karl Burkhardt, Ethan A. Winkler and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

Deep medial parietooccipital arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) and cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) are traditionally resected through an ipsilateral posterior interhemispheric approach (IPIA), which creates a deep, perpendicular perspective with limited access to the lateral margins of the lesion. The contralateral posterior interhemispheric approach (CPIA) flips the positioning, with the midline positioned horizontally for retraction due to gravity, but with the AVM on the upper side and the approach from the contralateral, lower side. The aim of this paper was to analyze whether the perpendicular angle of attack that is used in IPIA would convert to a parallel angle of attack with the CPIA, with less retraction, improved working angles, and no significant increase in risk.

METHODS

A retrospective review of pre- and postoperative clinical and radiographic data was performed in 8 patients who underwent a CPIA.

RESULTS

Three AVMs and 5 CCMs were resected using the CPIA, with an average nidus size of 2.3 cm and CCM diameter of 1.7 cm. All lesions were resected completely, as confirmed on postoperative catheter angiography or MRI. All patients had good neurological outcomes, with either stable or improved modified Rankin Scale scores at last follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS

The CPIA is a safe alternative approach to the IPIA for deep medial parietooccipital vascular malformations that extend 2 cm or more off the midline. Contralaterality and retraction due to gravity optimize the interhemispheric corridor, the surgical trajectory to the lesion, and the visualization of the lateral margin, without resection or retraction of adjacent normal cortex. Although the falx is a physical barrier to accessing the lesion, it stabilizes the ipsilateral hemisphere while gravity delivers the dissected lesion through the transfalcine window. Patient positioning, CSF drainage, venous preservation, and meticulous dissection of the deep margins are critical to the safety of this approach.

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Andrew K. Chan, Ethan A. Winkler and Line Jacques

OBJECTIVE

Cervical spinal cord stimulation (cSCS) is used to treat pain of the cervical region and upper extremities. Case reports and small series have shown a relatively low risk of complication after cSCS, with only a single reported case of perioperative spinal cord injury in the literature. Catastrophic cSCS-associated spinal cord injury remains a concern as a result of underreporting. To aid in preoperative counseling, it is necessary to establish a minimum rate of spinal cord injury and surgical complication following cSCS.

METHODS

The Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) is a stratified sample of 20% of all patient discharges from nonfederal hospitals in the United States. The authors identified discharges with a primary procedure code for spinal cord stimulation (ICD-9 03.93) associated with a primary diagnosis of cervical pathology from 2002 to 2011. They then analyzed short-term safety outcomes including the presence of spinal cord injury and neurological, medical, and general perioperative complications and compared outcomes using univariate analysis.

RESULTS

Between 2002 and 2011, there were 2053 discharges for cSCS. The spinal cord injury rate was 0.5%. The rates of any neurological, medical, and general perioperative complications were 1.1%, 1.4%, and 11.7%, respectively. There were no deaths.

CONCLUSIONS

In the largest series of cSCS, the risk of spinal cord injury was higher than previously reported (0.5%). Nonetheless, this procedure remains relatively safe, and physicians may use these data to corroborate the safety of cSCS in an appropriately selected patient population. This may become a key treatment option in an increasingly opioid-dependent, aging population.

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Jan-Karl Burkhardt, Ethan A. Winkler, George F. Lasker, John K. Yue and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

Compressive cranial nerve syndromes can be useful bedside clues to the diagnosis of an enlarging intracranial aneurysm and can also guide subsequent evaluation, as with an acute oculomotor nerve (cranial nerve [CN] III) palsy that is presumed to be a posterior communicating artery aneurysm and a surgical emergency until proven otherwise. The CN VI has a short cisternal segment from the pontomedullary sulcus to Dorello’s canal, remote from most PICA aneurysms but in the hemodynamic pathway of a rupturing PICA aneurysm that projects toward Dorello’s canal. The authors describe a cranial nerve syndrome for posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA) aneurysms that associates subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) and an isolated abducens nerve (CN VI) palsy.

METHODS

Clinical and radiological data from 106 surgical patients with PICA aneurysms (66 ruptured and 40 unruptured) were retrospectively reviewed. Data from a group of 174 patients with other aneurysmal SAH (aSAH) were analyzed in a similar manner to control for nonspecific effects of SAH. Univariate statistical analysis compared incidence and risk factors associated with CN VI palsy in subarachnoid hemorrhage.

RESULTS

Overall, 13 (4.6%) of 280 patients had CN VI palsy at presentation, and all of them had ruptured aneurysms (representing 13 [5.4%] of the 240 cases of ruptured aneurysms). CN VI palsies were observed in 12 patients with ruptured PICA aneurysms (12/66 [18.1%]) and 1 patient with other aSAH (1/174 [0.1%], p < 0.0001). PICA aneurysm location in ruptured aneurysms was an independent predictor for CN VI palsy on multivariate analysis (p = 0.001). PICA aneurysm size was not significantly different in patients with or without CN VI palsy (average size 4.4 mm and 5.2 mm, respectively). Within the PICA aneurysm cohort, modified Fisher grade (p = 0.011) and presence of a thick cisternal SAH (modified Fisher Grades 3 and 4) (p = 0.003) were predictors of CN VI palsy. In all patients with ruptured PICA aneurysms and CN VI palsy, dome projection and presumed direction of rupture were directed toward the ipsilateral and/or contralateral Dorello’s canal, in agreement with laterality of the CN palsy. In patients with bilateral CN VI palsies, a medial projection with extensive subarachnoid blood was observed near bilateral canals.

CONCLUSIONS

This study establishes a localizing connection between an isolated CN VI palsy, SAH, and an underlying ruptured PICA aneurysm. CN VI palsy is an important clinical sign in aSAH and when present on initial clinical presentation may be assumed to be due to ruptured PICA aneurysms until proven otherwise. The deficit may be ipsilateral, contralateral, or bilateral and is determined by the direction of the aneurysm dome projection and extent of subarachnoid bleeding toward Dorello’s canal, rather than by direct compression.

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Michael M. Safaee, Aaron J. Clark, Jan-Karl Burkhardt, Ethan A. Winkler and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

Spinal dural arteriovenous fistulas (dAVFs) are rare vascular abnormalities caused by arteriovenous shunting. They often form at the dural root sleeve between a radicular feeding artery and draining medullary vein causing venous congestion and edema, decreased perfusion, and ischemia of the spinal cord. Treatment consists of either surgical ligation of the draining vein or selective embolization via an endovascular approach. There is a paucity of data on which modality provides more durable and effective outcomes.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective review of a prospectively maintained database by the senior author to assess clinical outcomes in patients undergoing surgical treatment of spinal dAVFs. Preoperative and postoperative motor and Aminoff-Logue Scale (ALS) scores were collected.

RESULTS

A total of 41 patients with 44 spinal dAVFs were identified, with a mean patient age of 64 years. The mean symptom duration was 14 months, with weakness (82%), urinary symptoms (47%), and sensory symptoms (29%) at presentation. The fistula locations were as follows: 30 thoracic, 9 lumbar, 3 sacral, and 2 cervical. Five patients had normal motor and ALS scores at presentation. Among the remaining 36 patients with motor deficits or abnormal gait and micturition at presentation, 78% experienced an improvement while the remaining 22% continued to be stable. There was a trend toward improved outcomes in patients with shorter symptom duration; mean symptom duration among patients with clinical improvement was 13 months compared with 22 months among those without improvement. Additionally, rates of improvement were higher for lower thoracic and lumbosacral dAVFs (85% and 83%) compared with those in the upper thoracic spine (57%). No patient developed recurrent fistulas or worsening neurological deficits.

CONCLUSIONS

Surgery is associated with excellent outcomes in the treatment of spinal dAVFs. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical, with a trend toward improved outcomes. No patient in this study had fistula recurrence or worsening of symptoms. Among patients with abnormal motor or ALS scores, 78% improved after surgery. Therapeutic embolization is an option for some lesions, but for cases with unfavorable anatomy where embolization is not feasible, surgery is a safe option associated with high success.

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Darryl Lau, Ethan A. Winkler, Khoi D. Than, Dean Chou and Praveen V. Mummaneni

OBJECTIVE

Cervical curvature is an important factor when deciding between laminoplasty and laminectomy with posterior spinal fusion (LPSF) for cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM). This study compares outcomes following laminoplasty and LPSF in patients with matched postoperative cervical lordosis.

METHODS

Adults undergoing laminoplasty or LPSF for cervical CSM from 2011 to 2014 were identified. Matched cohorts were obtained by excluding LPSF patients with postoperative cervical Cobb angles outside the range of laminoplasty patients. Clinical outcomes and radiographic results were compared. A subgroup analysis of patients with and without preoperative pain was performed, and the effects of cervical curvature on pain outcomes were examined.

RESULTS

A total of 145 patients were included: 101 who underwent laminoplasty and 44 who underwent LPSF. Preoperative Nurick scale score, pain incidence, and visual analog scale (VAS) neck pain scores were similar between the two groups. Patients who underwent LPSF had significantly less preoperative cervical lordosis (5.8° vs 10.9°, p = 0.018). Preoperative and postoperative C2–7 sagittal vertical axis (SVA) and T-1 slope were similar between the two groups. Laminoplasty cases were associated with less blood loss (196.6 vs 325.0 ml, p < 0.001) and trended toward shorter hospital stays (3.5 vs 4.3 days, p = 0.054). The perioperative complication rate was 8.3%; there was no significant difference between the groups. LPSF was associated with a higher long-term complication rate (11.6% vs 2.2%, p = 0.036), with pseudarthrosis accounting for 3 of 5 complications in the LPSF group. Follow-up cervical Cobb angle was similar between the groups (8.8° vs 7.1°, p = 0.454). At final follow-up, LPSF had a significantly lower mean Nurick score (0.9 vs 1.4, p = 0.014). Among patients with preoperative neck pain, pain incidence (36.4% vs 31.3%, p = 0.629) and VAS neck pain (2.1 vs 1.8, p = 0.731) were similar between the groups. Similarly, in patients without preoperative pain, there was no significant difference in pain incidence (19.4% vs 18.2%, p = 0.926) and VAS neck pain (1.0 vs 1.1, p = 0.908). For laminoplasty, there was a significant trend for lower pain incidence (p = 0.010) and VAS neck pain (p = 0.004) with greater cervical lordosis, especially when greater than 20° (p = 0.011 and p = 0.018). Mean follow-up was 17.3 months.

CONCLUSIONS

For patients with CSM, LPSF was associated with slightly greater blood loss and a higher long-term complication rate, but offered greater neurological improvement than laminoplasty. In cohorts of matched follow-up cervical sagittal alignment, pain outcomes were similar between laminoplasty and LPSF patients. However, among laminoplasty patients, greater cervical lordosis was associated with better pain outcomes, especially for lordosis greater than 20°. Cervical curvature (lordosis) should be considered as an important factor in pain outcomes following posterior decompression for multilevel CSM.

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Ethan A. Winkler, John K. Yue, Harjus Birk, Caitlin K. Robinson, Geoffrey T. Manley, Sanjay S. Dhall and Phiroz E. Tarapore

OBJECT

Traumatic fractures of the thoracolumbar spine are common injuries, accounting for approximately 90% of all spinal trauma. Lumbar spine trauma in the elderly is a growing public health problem with relatively little evidence to guide clinical management. The authors sought to characterize the complications, morbidity, and mortality associated with surgical and nonsurgical management in elderly patients with traumatic fractures of the lumbar spine.

METHODS

Using the National Sample Program of the National Trauma Data Bank, the authors performed a retrospective analysis of patients ≥ 55 years of age who had traumatic fracture to the lumbar spine. This group was divided into middle-aged (55–69 years) and elderly (≥ 70 years) cohorts. Cohorts were subdivided into nonoperative, vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty, noninstrumented surgery, and instrumented surgery. Univariate and multivariable analyses were used to characterize and identify predictors of medical and surgical complications, mortality, hospital length of stay, ICU length of stay, number of days on ventilator, and hospital discharge in each subgroup. Adjusted odds ratios, mean differences, and associated 95% CIs were reported. Statistical significance was assessed at p < 0.05, and the Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons was applied for each outcome analysis.

RESULTS

Between 2003 and 2012, 22,835 people met the inclusion criteria, which represents 94,103 incidents nationally. Analyses revealed a similar medical and surgical complication profile between age groups. The most prevalent medical complications were pneumonia (7.0%), acute respiratory distress syndrome (3.6%), and deep venous thrombosis (3%). Surgical site infections occurred in 6.3% of cases. Instrumented surgery was associated with the highest odds of each complication (p < 0.001). The inpatient mortality rate was 6.8% for all subjects. Multivariable analyses demonstrated that age ≥ 70 years was an independent predictor of mortality (OR 3.16, 95% CI 2.77–3.60), whereas instrumented surgery (multivariable OR 0.38, 95% CI 0.28–0.52) and vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty (OR 0.27, 95% CI 0.17–0.45) were associated with decreased odds of death. In surviving patients, both older age (OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.30–0.34) and instrumented fusion (OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.33–0.41) were associated with decreased odds of discharge to home.

CONCLUSIONS

The present study confirms that lumbar surgery in the elderly is associated with increased morbidity. In particular, instrumented fusion is associated with periprocedural complications, prolonged hospitalization, and a decreased likelihood of being discharged home. However, fusion surgery is also associated with reduced mortality. Age alone should not be an exclusionary factor in identifying surgical candidates for instrumented lumbar spinal fusion. Future studies are needed to confirm these findings.

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John K. Yue, Ethan A. Winkler, Jonathan W. Rick, Hansen Deng, Carlene P. Partow, Pavan S. Upadhyayula, Harjus S. Birk, Andrew K. Chan and Sanjay S. Dhall

Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) often occurs in patients with concurrent traumatic injuries in other body systems. These patients with polytrauma pose unique challenges to clinicians. The current review evaluates existing guidelines and updates the evidence for prehospital transport, immobilization, initial resuscitation, critical care, hemodynamic stability, diagnostic imaging, surgical techniques, and timing appropriate for the patient with SCI who has multisystem trauma. Initial management should be systematic, with focus on spinal immobilization, timely transport, and optimizing perfusion to the spinal cord. There is general evidence for the maintenance of mean arterial pressure of > 85 mm Hg during immediate and acute care to optimize neurological outcome; however, the selection of vasopressor type and duration should be judicious, with considerations for level of injury and risks of increased cardiogenic complications in the elderly. Level II recommendations exist for early decompression, and additional time points of neurological assessment within the first 24 hours and during acute care are warranted to determine the temporality of benefits attributable to early surgery. Venous thromboembolism prophylaxis using low-molecular-weight heparin is recommended by current guidelines for SCI. For these patients, titration of tidal volumes is important to balance the association of earlier weaning off the ventilator, with its risk of atelectasis, against the risk for lung damage from mechanical overinflation that can occur with prolonged ventilation. Careful evaluation of infection risk is a priority following multisystem trauma for patients with relative immunosuppression or compromise. Although patients with polytrauma may experience longer rehabilitation courses, long-term neurological recovery is generally comparable to that in patients with isolated SCI after controlling for demographics. Bowel and bladder disorders are common following SCI, significantly reduce quality of life, and constitute a focus of targeted therapies. Emerging biomarkers including glial fibrillary acidic protein, S100β, and microRNAs for traumatic SCIs are presented. Systematic management approaches to minimize sources of secondary injury are discussed, and areas requiring further research, implementation, and validation are identified.

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Jan-Karl Burkhardt, George F. Lasker, Ethan A. Winkler, Helen Kim and Michael T. Lawton

As the population ages, the question of how to manage brain arteriovenous malformations in the elderly becomes increasingly relevant. Is resection a reasonable option for these patients? In this study, the authors examined the outcomes of surgical patients 60 years or older and found that favorable outcomes were achieved with careful patient selection. Preoperative grading scales were more predictive of outcomes in patients older than 65 years than in those 60–65 years of age.

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John K. Yue, Ethan A. Winkler, John F. Burke, Andrew K. Chan, Sanjay S. Dhall, Mitchel S. Berger, Geoffrey T. Manley and Phiroz E. Tarapore

OBJECTIVE

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) in children is a significant public health concern estimated to result in over 500,000 emergency department (ED) visits and more than 60,000 hospitalizations in the United States annually. Sports activities are one important mechanism leading to pediatric TBI. In this study, the authors characterize the demographics of sports-related TBI in the pediatric population and identify predictors of prolonged hospitalization and of increased morbidity and mortality rates.

METHODS

Utilizing the National Sample Program of the National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB), the authors retrospectively analyzed sports-related TBI data from children (age 0–17 years) across 5 sports categories: fall or interpersonal contact (FIC), roller sports, skiing/snowboarding, equestrian sports, and aquatic sports. Multivariable regression analysis was used to identify predictors of prolonged length of stay (LOS) in the hospital or intensive care unit (ICU), medical complications, inpatient mortality rates, and hospital discharge disposition. Statistical significance was assessed at α < 0.05, and the Bonferroni correction (set at significance threshold p = 0.01) for multiple comparisons was applied in each outcome analysis.

RESULTS

From 2003 to 2012, in total 3046 pediatric sports-related TBIs were recorded in the NTDB, and these injuries represented 11,614 incidents nationally after sample weighting. Fall or interpersonal contact events were the greatest contributors to sports-related TBI (47.4%). Mild TBI represented 87.1% of the injuries overall. Mean (± SEM) LOSs in the hospital and ICU were 2.68 ± 0.07 days and 2.73 ± 0.12 days, respectively. The overall mortality rate was 0.8%, and the prevalence of medical complications was 2.1% across all patients. Severities of head and extracranial injuries were significant predictors of prolonged hospital and ICU LOSs, medical complications, failure to discharge to home, and death. Hypotension on admission to the ED was a significant predictor of failure to discharge to home (OR 0.05, 95% CI 0.03–0.07, p < 0.001). Traumatic brain injury incurred during roller sports was independently associated with prolonged hospital LOS compared with FIC events (mean increase 0.54 ± 0.15 days, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

In pediatric sports-related TBI, the severities of head and extracranial traumas are important predictors of patients developing acute medical complications, prolonged hospital and ICU LOSs, in-hospital mortality rates, and failure to discharge to home. Acute hypotension after a TBI event decreases the probability of successful discharge to home. Increasing TBI awareness and use of head-protective gear, particularly in high-velocity sports in older age groups, is necessary to prevent pediatric sports-related TBI or to improve outcomes after a TBI.