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Faiz U. Ahmad and Michael Y. Wang

Object

Over the past decade percutaneous pedicle screws have become popular for the minimally invasive treatment of spinal disorders. However, until the last 5 years the presence of a significant spinal deformity was regarded as a relative contraindication for percutaneous instrumentation. Recent advances in surgical technique and intraoperative technology have made percutaneous fixation in complex spinal pathologies more commonplace. The authors report their experience using a parsimonious method for uniplanar fluoroscopic targeting of pedicles in challenging cases.

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective analysis of patients with adult spinal deformity who underwent percutaneous pedicle screw instrumentation from 2008 to 2013. Cases were included if a spiral slice postoperative CT scan was obtained. All cases had a minimum of 10° of axial rotation and typically had additional accompanying anatomical abnormalities. Screws were assessed for any pedicle violations as well as any impingement of the surrounding facet joints.

Results

A total of 410 pedicle screws were placed in 36 patients with an average 6.4 levels of instrumentation per patient. The mean age was 67 years (range 44–86 years) and there were 25 females. Of the 410 screws, 29 (7.1%) had some medial or lateral pedicle violation. Of these, 15 (3.7%) were Grade 1, 6 (1.4%) were Grade 2, and 8 (2.0%) were Grade 3 violations. Of the Grade 3 violations, 2 each were at the L-4, L-5, and S-1 levels, and 1 each was at the T-10 and L-1 levels. Two of the patients had symptoms and both underwent screw repositioning, one during the same admission and the other in a delayed fashion. Both were at the L-5 and S-1 levels with anatomically highly medialized pedicles. There were no motor deficits, and both removals were for numbness. Of the 72 screws at the proximal end of the construct, there were 6 facet violations (8.3%). Four (5.6%) of these were Grade 1, 1 (1.4%) was Grade 2, and 1 (1.4%) was Grade 3.

Conclusions

The anteroposterior fluoroscopic technique can be effectively used by spinal surgeons to cannulate the pedicles in patients with rotational deformities. The complication rate in this challenging population is acceptable and is in accordance with the existing literature. However, caution should be used at L-5 and S-1 when the pedicle is narrow and highly medialized, rendering an indistinct medial wall on anteroposterior imaging.

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Faiz U. Ahmad, Charif Sidani, Roberto Fourzali and Michael Y. Wang

Object

Cobalt-chromium alloy (CoCr) rods haves some preferred biomechanical properties over titanium rods for spinal fixation. The use of CoCr rods in spinal fusion is relatively new, and there is no study in the existing world literature assessing the artifact caused by these rods in patients undergoing postoperative MRI. The purpose of this study is to compare the amount of imaging artifact caused by these implants and to assess its impact on the visualization of neighboring neural structures.

Methods

This study investigated MR images in patients who underwent implantation of thoracolumbar instrumentation using 5.5-mm-diameter CoCr rods between November 2009 and March 2011 and images obtained in a comparison group of patients who had 5.5-mm titanium rods implanted during the same time period. Axial measurements of the artifact created by the rods between the screw heads were compared between the groups. Two blinded board-certified radiologists performed the measurements independently. They scored the visualization of the spinal canal using a subjective scoring system of 1–3, with 1 representing very good visualization and 2 and 3 representing reduced (good or suboptimal, respectively) visualization as a result of rod-related artifact. All measurements and scores were independently provided for T1-weighted and T2-weighted fast spin echo sequences (1.5-T magnet, 5-mm slice thickness).

Results

A total of 40 levels from the CoCr group (6 patients) and 30 levels from the titanium group (9 patients) were included in the analysis. Visualization of the canal at all levels was rated a score of 1 (very good) by both evaluators for both the CoCr and titanium groups. The average artifact on T1-weighted images measured 11.8 ± 1.8 mm for the CoCr group and 8.5 ± 1.2 mm for the titanium group (p < 0.01). The corresponding measurements on T2-weighted images were 11.0 ± 2.3 mm and 8.3 ± 1.7 mm (p < 0.01), respectively. In a mixed regression model, the mean artifact measurement for the CoCr group was, on average, 3.5 mm larger than for the control group. There was no significant difference between the measurements of the 2 evaluators (p = 0.99).

Conclusions

The artifact caused by CoCr rods is approximately 3.5 mm larger than that caused by titanium rods on axial T1- and T2-weighted MRI. However, artifact from either CoCr or titanium was not found to interfere with the evaluation of the spinal canal and surrounding neural elements.

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Sameer H. Halani, Griffin R. Baum, Jonathan P. Riley, Gustavo Pradilla, Daniel Refai, Gerald E. Rodts Jr and Faiz U. Ahmad

OBJECTIVE

Esophageal perforation is a rare but well-known complication of anterior cervical spine surgery. The authors performed a systematic review of the literature to evaluate symptomatology, direct causes, repair methods, and associated complications of esophageal injury.

METHODS

A PubMed search that adhered to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines included relevant clinical studies and case reports (articles written in the English language that included humans as subjects) that reported patients who underwent anterior spinal surgery and sustained some form of esophageal perforation. Available data on clinical presentation, the surgical procedure performed, outcome measures, and other individual variables were abstracted from 1980 through 2015.

RESULTS

The PubMed search yielded 65 articles with 153 patients (mean age 44.7 years; range 14–85 years) who underwent anterior spinal surgery and sustained esophageal perforation, either during surgery or in a delayed fashion. The most common indications for initial anterior cervical spine surgery in these cases were vertebral fracture/dislocation (n = 77), spondylotic myelopathy (n = 15), and nucleus pulposus herniation (n = 10). The most commonly involved spinal levels were C5–6 (n = 51) and C6–7 (n = 39). The most common presenting symptoms included dysphagia (n =63), fever (n = 24), neck swelling (n = 23), and wound leakage (n = 18). The etiology of esophageal perforation included hardware failure (n = 31), hardware erosion (n = 23), and intraoperative injury (n = 14). The imaging modalities used to identify the esophageal perforations included modified contrast dye swallow studies, CT, endoscopy, plain radiography, and MRI. Esophageal repair was most commonly achieved using a modified muscle flap, as well as with primary closure. Outcomes measured in the literature were often defined by the time to oral intake following esophageal repair. Complications included pneumonia (n = 6), mediastinitis (n = 4), osteomyelitis (n = 3), sepsis (n = 3), acute respiratory distress syndrome (n = 2), and recurrent laryngeal nerve damage (n = 1). The mortality rate of esophageal perforation in the analysis was 3.92% (6 of 153 reported patients).

CONCLUSIONS

Esophageal perforation after anterior cervical spine surgery is a rare complication. This systematic review demonstrates that these perforations can be stratified into 3 categories based on the timing of symptomatic onset: intraoperative, early postoperative (within 30 days of anterior spinal surgery), and delayed. The most common source of esophageal injury is hardware erosion or migration, each of which may vary in their time to symptomatic manifestation.

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Oluwaseun O. Akinduro, Brandon A. Miller, Diogo C. Haussen, Gustavo Pradilla and Faiz U. Ahmad

OBJECT

The authors’ aim in this paper was to review the intraoperative use of epidural steroids in lumbar discectomy surgery with a focus on surgical complications.

METHODS

A comprehensive literature search was done using PubMed, MEDLINE, and the Cochrane Central Registry of Controlled Trials. Relevant papers were retrieved and analyzed. The authors performed a meta-analysis of all available data. Search terms included epidural, steroids, discectomy, lumbar disc surgery, herniated lumbar disc, methylprednisolone, and perioperative.The primary outcome was surgical complications such as wound infection or need for reoperation. Secondary outcomes were pain and postoperative narcotic usage.

RESULTS

Sixteen trials and 1 retrospective study (a total of 1933 patients) were eligible for inclusion in this study. In all studies, steroids were added epidurally over the nerve root before closure in cases, and control patients underwent discectomy alone. The mean age (42.7 years vs 42.4 years; RR 0.30 [95% CI −0.30 to 0.90], p = 0.32), overall complication rates (2.69% vs 1.18%; RR 1.94 [95% CI 0.72–5.26], p = 0.19), and infectious complication rates (0.94% vs 0.08%; RR 4.58 [95% CI 0.75–27.95], p = 0.10) were similar between the steroid group and control group, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

There is good evidence that epidural steroids can decrease pain in the short term and decrease the usage of postoperative narcotics after lumbar spinal surgery for degenerative spinal disease. The authors’ results demonstrate a trend toward increased infection with epidural steroid use, but there was not a statistically significant difference. More studies are needed to validate the long-term risk/benefit ratio of epidural steroids in lumbar discectomy.

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Anil K. Roy, , Brandon A. Miller, Christopher M. Holland, Arthur J. Fountain Jr., Gustavo Pradilla and Faiz U. Ahmad

OBJECT

The craniovertebral junction (CVJ) is unique in the spinal column regarding the degree of multiplanar mobility allowed by its bony articulations. A network of ligamentous attachments provides stability to this junction. Although ligamentous injury can be inferred on CT scans through the utilization of craniometric measurements, the disruption of these ligaments can only be visualized directly with MRI. Here, the authors review the current literature on MRI evaluation of the CVJ following trauma and present several illustrative cases to highlight the utility and limitations of craniometric measures in the context of ligamentous injury at the CVJ.

METHODS

A retrospective case review was conducted to identify patients with cervical spine trauma who underwent cervical MRI and subsequently required occipitocervical or atlantoaxial fusion. Craniometric measurements were performed on the CT images in these cases. An extensive PubMed/MEDLINE literature search was conducted to identify publications regarding the use of MRI in the evaluation of patients with CVJ trauma.

RESULTS

The authors identified 8 cases in which cervical MRI was performed prior to operative stabilization of the CVJ. Craniometric measures did not reliably rule out ligamentous injury, and there was significant heterogeneity in the reliability of different craniometric measurements. A review of the literature revealed several case series and descriptive studies addressing MRI in CVJ trauma. Three papers reported the inadequacy of the historical Traynelis system for identifying atlantooccipital dislocation and presented 3 alternative classification schemes with emphasis on MRI findings.

CONCLUSIONS

Recognition of ligamentous instability at the CVJ is critical in directing clinical decision making regarding surgical stabilization. Craniometric measures appear unreliable, and CT alone is unable to provide direct visualization of ligamentous injury. Therefore, while the decision to obtain MR images in CVJ trauma is largely based on clinical judgment with craniometric measures used as an adjunct, a high degree of suspicion is warranted in the care of these patients as a missed ligamentous injury can have devastating consequences.

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Faiz U. Ahmad and Allan D. Levi

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Aditya Gupta, M.Ch., Faiz U. Ahmad, Mehar C. Sharma, Ajay Garg and Veer S. Mehta

✓Meningeal melanocytomas are uncommon intracranial tumors and their occurrence at the cerebellopontine angle (CPA) is extremely rare. The authors describe the case of a 58-year-old woman who presented with a left CPA tumor; on the basis of histopathological studies after resection, a diagnosis of meningeal melanocytoma was reached. The relevant literature is reviewed.