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Daniel Felbaum, Steven Spitz and Faheem A. Sandhu

A subset of patients with Chiari Type I malformation may develop neurological dysfunction secondary to an abnormally obtuse clivoaxial angle (CXA) and clivoaxial deformity causing deformative stress injury to the neural axis. Clivoaxial deformity can occur after initial standard suboccipital craniectomy, duraplasty, and C-1 laminectomy for brainstem compression, or severe clivoaxial deformity may be present in conjunction with a Chiari malformation. Clivoaxial deformity and abnormal CXA can be treated with an occipitocervical fusion (OCF). Performing OCF in the setting of a cranial defect can be challenging with currently available instrumentation. The authors describe their recent experience and outcomes in 3 consecutive pediatric patients using the “inside-out” technique for treating clivoaxial deformity and abnormal CXA in the setting of a craniectomy defect to restore stability to the craniocervical junction, while correcting the CXA.

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Steven M. Spitz, Faheem A. Sandhu and Jean-Marc Voyadzis

OBJECT

Percutaneous pedicle screws are used to provide rigid internal fixation in minimally invasive spinal procedures and generally require the use of Kirchner wires (or K-wires) as a guide for screw insertion. K-wires can bend, break, advance, or pull out during the steps of pedicle preparation and screw insertion. This can lead to increased fluoroscopic and surgical times and potentially cause neurological, vascular, or visceral injury. The authors present their experience with a novel “K-wireless” percutaneous pedicle screw system that eliminates the inherent risks of K-wire use.

METHODS

A total of 100 screws were placed in 28 patients using the K-wireless percutaneous screw system. Postoperative dedicated spinal CT scans were performed in 25 patients to assess the accuracy of screw placement. Screw placement was graded A through D by 2 independent radiologists: A = within pedicle, B = breach < 2 mm, C = breach of 2–4 mm, and D = breach > 4 mm. Screw insertion and fluoroscopy times were also recorded in each case. Clinical complications associated with screw insertion were documented.

RESULTS

A total of 100 K-wireless percutaneous pedicle screws were placed into the lumbosacral spine in 28 patients. Postoperative CT was performed in 25 patients, thus the placement of only 90 screws was assessed. Eighty-seven screws were placed within the pedicle confines (Grade A), and 3 violated the pedicle (2 Grade B [1 lateral, 1 medial] and 1 Grade D [medial]) for an overall accuracy rate of 96.7%. One patient required reoperation for screw repositioning due to a postoperative L-5 radiculopathy secondary to a Grade D medial breach at L-5. This patient experienced improvement of the radiculopathy after reoperation. Average screw insertion and fluoroscopy times were 6.92 minutes and 22.7 seconds per screw, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this study demonstrate that the placement of K-wireless percutaneous pedicle screws is technically feasible and can be performed accurately and safely with short procedure and fluoroscopy times.

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Hasan R. Syed, Kurt Yaeger and Faheem A. Sandhu

Several studies have described the radiographic, histological, and morphological changes to the paraspinal muscle in patients with chronic low-back pain due to degenerative diseases of the spine. Gross anatomical illustrations have shown that the psoas muscle lies lateral to the L4–5 vertebrae and subsequently thins and dissociates from the vertebral body at L5–S1 in a ventrolateral course. A “rising psoas” may influence the location of the lumbar plexus and result in transient neurological injury on lateral approach to the spine. It is postulated that axial back pain may be exacerbated by anatomical changes of paraspinal musculature as a direct result of degenerative spine conditions. To their knowledge, the authors present the first reported case of a more anteriorly positioned psoas muscle and its resolution following correction of spondylolisthesis in a 62-year-old woman. This case highlights the dynamic nature of degenerative spinal disorders and illustrates that psoas muscle position can be affected by sagittal balance. Normal anatomical positioning can be restored following correction of spinal alignment.

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Hoang Le, Faheem A. Sandhu and Richard G. Fessler

Object

Experience with minimal-access surgical approaches for revision lumbar surgery has not been previously reported.

Methods

During a 7-month period, 10 consecutive patients with recurrent disc herniations underwent revision operations in which microendoscopic discectomy (MED) was performed. Perioperative data and clinical outcomes (according to Macnab criteria) were compared with those obtained in 25 consecutive patients who underwent routine single-level MED as well as with previously published data. Overall, outcome of the MED-treated revision group was excellent or good in 90% during a mean follow-up period of 18.5 months (minimum 12 months). Operative blood loss, duration, complications, and length of hospital stay were not significantly different between the revision and primary MED-treated groups.

Conclusions

Analysis of these early data suggests equivalent or superior results are obtained when performing MED compared with historical controls in which conventional surgery was conducted for recurrent disc surgery. The procedure appears to be a safe and effective alternative in cases in which recurrent lumbar disc herniation causes radiculopathy.

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Eric K. Oermann, Nicholas D. Coppa, Marc Margolis and Faheem A. Sandhu

Extramedullary hematopoiesis secondary to chronic anemia is well reported throughout the literature. A rare presentation of this condition is in the central nervous tissue reported most frequently as an epidural mass causing spinal cord compression. The authors report the case of a 51-year-old man with β-thalassemia and chronic anemia who was found to have a 4-cm paravertebral mass suggestive of a schwannoma. The patient underwent transthoracic resection of the mass. Histological examination confirmed an extramedullary hematopoietic tumor. In this article the authors propose a method to distinguish extramedullary hematopoietic tumors from schwannomas. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first reported case in the neurosurgical literature of this phenomenon.

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Jay Rhee, Amjad Nasr Anaizi, Faheem A. Sandhu and Jean-Marc Voyadzis

Synovial cysts of the lumbar spine result from degeneration of the facet capsule and often mimic symptoms commonly seen with herniated intervertebral discs. In symptomatic patients, the prevalence of synovial cysts may be as high as 10%. Although conservative management is possible, the majority of patients will require resection. Traditional procedures for lumbar synovial cyst resection use an ipsilateral approach requiring partial or complete resection of the ipsilateral facet complex, possibly leading to further destabilization. A contralateral technique using minimally invasive tubular retractors for synovial cyst resection avoids facet disruption. The authors report 2 cases of a minimally invasive synovial cyst resection via a contralateral laminotomy. In both cases, complete resection of the cyst was achieved while sparing the facet joint.

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Bryan W. Cunningham, Kyle B. Mueller, Kenneth P. Mullinix, Xiaolei Sun and Faheem A. Sandhu

OBJECTIVE

The objective of the current study was to quantify and compare the multidirectional flexibility properties of occipital anchor fixation with conventional methods of occipitocervical screw fixation using nondestructive and destructive investigative methods.

METHODS

Fourteen cadaveric occipitocervical specimens (Oc–T2) were randomized to reconstruction with occipital anchors or an occipital plate and screws. Using a 6-degree-of-freedom spine simulator with moments of ± 2.0 Nm, initial multidirectional flexibility analysis of the intact and reconstructed conditions was performed followed by fatigue loading of 25,000 cycles of flexion-extension (x-axis, ± 2.0 Nm), 15,000 cycles of lateral bending (z-axis, ± 2.0 Nm), and 10,000 cycles of axial rotation (y-axis, ± 2.0 Nm). Fluoroscopic images of the implantation sites were obtained before and after fatigue testing and placed on an x-y coordinate system to quantify positional stability of the anchors and screws used for reconstruction and effect, if any, of the fatigue component. Destructive testing included an anterior flexural load to construct failure. Quantification of implant, occipitocervical, and atlantoaxial junction range of motion is reported as absolute values, and peak flexural failure moment in Newton-meters (Nm).

RESULTS

Absolute value comparisons between the intact condition and 2 reconstruction groups demonstrated significant reductions in segmental flexion-extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation motion at the Oc–C1 and C1–2 junctions (p < 0.05). The average bone mineral density at the midline keel (1.422 g/cm3) was significantly higher compared with the lateral occipital region at 0.671 g/cm3 (p < 0.05). There were no significant differences between the occipital anchor and plate treatments in terms of angular rotation (degrees; p = 0.150) or x-axis displacement (mm; p = 0.572), but there was a statistically significant difference in y-axis displacement (p = 0.031) based on quantitative analysis of the pre- and postfatigue fluoroscopic images (p > 0.05). Under destructive anterior flexural loading, the occipital anchor group failed at 90 ± 31 Nm, and the occipital plate group failed at 79 ± 25 Nm (p > 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

Both reconstructions reduced flexion-extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation at the occipitocervical and atlantoaxial junctions, as expected. Flexural load to failure did not differ significantly between the 2 treatment groups despite occipital anchors using a compression-fit mechanism to provide fixation in less dense bone. These data suggest that an occipital anchor technique serves as a biomechanically viable clinical alternative to occipital plate fixation.

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Faheem A. Sandhu and Richard G. Fessler

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J. Alex Thomas, Trent Tredway, Richard G. Fessler and Faheem A. Sandhu

Object

Several techniques for the surgical stabilization of the atlas and the axis have been described. Placement of C-1 lateral mass screws is one of the latest technical advances, and has gained popularity due to its efficacy and biomechanical advantages. However, the technique for placement of C-1 lateral mass screws, as first described by Harms, can cause excessive bleeding or irritation of the C-2 nerve. An alternative technique is available for the placement of C-1 lateral mass screws that completely avoids the C-2 nerve/ganglion and its associated venous plexus. This new technique mitigates some of the risk associated with the Harms techniques and eliminates the need to use specialized screws (that is, smooth shanks).

Methods

Twenty-six patients underwent atlantoaxial or occipitocervical fusions incorporating the alternative technique of C-1 screw placement. Three surgeons at 3 different institutions performed the surgeries. Standard lateral fluoroscopy and fully threaded polyaxial screws were used in each case.

Results

Forty-nine screws were placed in C-1 lateral masses by using the new technique. Solid arthrodesis was achieved in all cases, with a mean follow-up period of 30 months. There were no cases of CSF leakage, new neurological deficit, injury to the C-2 ganglion, vertebral artery injury, or hardware failures.

Conclusions

The technique is a safe and effective way to fixate C-1 while avoiding the C-2 nerve/ganglion and venous plexus. The results indicate that excellent clinical and radiographic outcomes can be achieved with this new technique.

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Robert E. Isaacs, Vinod K. Podichetty, Paul Santiago, Faheem A. Sandhu, John Spears, Kevin Kelly, Laurie Rice and Richard G. Fessler

Object

The authors have developed a novel technique for percutaneous fusion in which standard microendoscopic discectomy is modified. Based on data obtained in their cadaveric studies they considered that this minimally invasive interbody fusion could be safely implemented clinically. The authors describe their initial experience with a microendoscopic transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (METLIF) technique, with regard to safety in the placement of percutaneous instrumentation, perioperative morbidity, and early postoperative results.

Methods

The METLIF procedure was performed unilaterally in 20 patients with single-level lumbar spondylolisthesis or pure mechanical back pain with endoscopic assistance, hemilaminectomy, unilateral facetectomy, and microdiscectomy. Two interbody grafts were placed via the lateral exposure of the disc space. Bilateral percutaneous pedicle screws were then inserted.

Compared with patients who had undergone single-level posterior LIF at the same institutions, intraoperative blood loss, hospital length of stay (LOS), and postoperative narcotic agent use were significantly lower in the METLIF group. The mean LOS for the percutaneous fusion group was 3.4 days (5.1 days in those who underwent PLIF; p < 0.02). There have been no procedure-related complications in this series to date.

Conclusions

The METLIF technique provided an option for percutaneous interbody fusion similar to that in open surgery while minimizing destruction to adjacent tissues. This technique was safe and exhibited a trend toward decreased intraoperative blood loss, postoperative pain, total narcotic use, and the risk of transfusion.