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J. Manuel Sarmiento, Mitchell S. Fourman, Francis Lovecchio, Keith W. Lyons, and James C. Farmer

BACKGROUND

Synovial facet cysts can sometimes develop in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis after decompressive laminectomy. The etiology of spinal lumbar synovial cysts is still unclear, but their formation is associated with underlying spinal instability, facet joint arthropathy, and degenerative spondylolisthesis.

OBSERVATIONS

A 61-year-old-male patient presented with neurogenic claudication due to lumbar spinal stenosis. Radiographic studies showed grade I spondylolisthesis and radiological predictors of delayed spinal instability. He underwent lumbar decompression and shortly thereafter developed spinal instability and recurrent symptoms, with formation of a new spinal lumbar synovial facet cyst. He required revisional decompression, cyst excision, and posterolateral spinal fusion for definitive treatment.

LESSONS

The literature reports postoperative spinal instability in up to one-third of patients with lumbar spinal stenosis and stable degenerative spondylolisthesis who undergo decompressive laminectomy. Close radiographic monitoring and early advanced imaging may be prudent in this patient population if they develop new postoperative neurological symptoms and show radiographic predictors of instability on preoperative imaging. Posterolateral spinal fusion with instrumentation should be considered in addition to lumbar decompression in this select group of patients who demonstrate radiographic predictors of delayed spinal instability if they are medically capable of tolerating a spinal fusion procedure.

Restricted access

Francis Lovecchio, Jonathan Charles Elysee, Renaud Lafage, Jeff Varghese, Mathieu Bannwarth, Frank Schwab, Virginie Lafage, and Han Jo Kim

OBJECTIVE

Preoperative planning for adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery is essential to prepare the surgical team and consistently obtain postoperative alignment goals. Positional imaging may allow the surgeon to evaluate spinal flexibility and anticipate the need for more invasive techniques. The purpose of this study was to determine whether spine flexibility, defined by the change in alignment between supine and standing imaging, is associated with the need for an osteotomy in ASD surgery.

METHODS

A single-center, dual-surgeon retrospective analysis was performed of adult patients with ASD who underwent correction of a thoracolumbar deformity between 2014 and 2018 (pelvis to upper instrumented vertebra between L1 and T9). Patients were stratified into osteotomy (Ost) and no-osteotomy (NOst) cohorts according to whether an osteotomy was performed (Schwab grade 2 or higher). Demographic, surgical, and radiographic parameters were compared. The sagittal correction from intraoperative prone positioning alone (sagittal flexibility percentage [Sflex%]) was assessed by comparing the change in lumbar lordosis (LL) between preoperative supine to standing radiographs and preoperative to postoperative alignment.

RESULTS

Demographics and preoperative and postoperative sagittal alignment were similar between the Ost (n = 60, 65.9%) and NOst (n = 31, 34.1%) cohorts (p > 0.05). Of all Ost patients, 71.7% had a grade 2 osteotomy (mean 3 per patient), 21.7% had a grade 3 osteotomy, and 12.5% underwent both grade 3 and grade 2 osteotomies. Postoperatively, the NOst and Ost cohorts had similar pelvic incidence minus lumbar lordosis (PI-LL) mismatch (mean PI-LL 5.2° vs 1.2°; p = 0.205). Correction obtained through positioning (Sflex%) was significantly lower for in the osteotomy cohort (38.0% vs 76.3%, p = 0.004). A threshold of Sflex% < 70% predicted the need for osteotomy at a sensitivity of 78%, specificity of 56%, and positive predictive value of 77%.

CONCLUSIONS

The flexibility of the spine is quantitatively related to the use of an osteotomy. Prospective studies are needed to determine thresholds that may be used to standardize surgical decision-making in ASD surgery.

Free access

Francis Lovecchio, Jeffrey G. Stepan, Ajay Premkumar, Michael E. Steinhaus, Maria Sava, Peter Derman, Han Jo Kim, and Todd Albert

OBJECTIVE

Patients with lumbar spine pathology are at high risk for opioid misuse. Standardizing prescribing practices through an institutional intervention may reduce the overprescribing of opiates, leading to a decrease in the risk for opioid misuse and the number of pills available for diversion. Without quantitative data on the “minimum necessary quantity” of opioids appropriate for postdischarge prescriptions, the optimal method for changing existing prescribing practices is unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine whether mandatory provider education and prescribing guidelines could modify prescriber behavior and lead to a decreased amount of opioids prescribed at hospital discharge following lumbar spine surgery.

METHODS

Qualified staff were required to attend a mandatory educational conference, and a consensus method among the spine service was used to publish qualitative prescribing guidelines. Prescription data for 2479 patients who had undergone lumbar spine surgery were captured and compared based on the timing of surgery. The preintervention group consisted of 1177 patients who had undergone spine surgery in the period before prescriber education and guidelines (March 1, 2016–November 1, 2016). The postintervention group consisted of 1302 patients who had undergone spine surgery after the dissemination of the guidelines (February 1, 2017–October 1, 2017). Surgeries were classified as decompression or fusion procedures. Patients who had undergone surgeries for infection and patients on long-acting opioids were excluded.

RESULTS

For all lumbar spine surgeries (decompression and fusion), the mean amount of opioids prescribed at discharge was lower after the educational program and distribution of prescribing guidelines (629 ± 294 oral morphine equivalent [OME] preintervention vs 490 ± 245 OME postintervention, p < 0.001). The mean number of prescribed pills also decreased (81 ± 26 vs 66 ± 22, p < 0.001). Prescriptions for 81 or more tablets dropped from 65.5% to 25.5%. Tramadol was prescribed more frequently after prescriber education (9.9% vs 18.6%, p < 0.001). Refill rates within 6 weeks were higher after the institutional intervention (7.6% vs 12.4%, p < 0.07).

CONCLUSIONS

Qualitative guidelines and prescriber education are effective in reducing the amount of opioids prescribed at discharge and encouraging the use of weaker opioids. Coupling provider education with prescribing guidelines is likely synergistic in achieving larger reductions. The sustainability of these changes is yet to be determined.

Free access

Francis Lovecchio, Renaud Lafage, Jonathan Charles Elysee, Alex Huang, Bryan Ang, Mathieu Bannwarth, Han Jo Kim, Frank Schwab, and Virginie Lafage

OBJECTIVE

Supine radiographs have successfully been used for preoperative planning of lumbar deformity corrections. However, they have not been used to assess thoracic flexibility, which has recently garnered attention as a potential contributor to proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK). The purpose of this study was to compare supine to standing radiographs to assess thoracic flexibility and to determine whether thoracic flexibility is associated with PJK.

METHODS

A retrospective study was conducted of a single-institution database of patients with adult spinal deformity (ASD). Sagittal alignment parameters were compared between standing and supine and between pre- and postoperative radiographs. Thoracic flexibility was determined as the change between preoperative standing thoracic kyphosis (TK) and preoperative supine TK, and these changes were measured over the overall thoracic spine and the fused portion of the thoracic spine (i.e., TK fused). A case-control analysis was performed to compare thoracic flexibility between patients with PJK and those without (no PJK). The cohort was also stratified into three groups based on thoracic flexibility: kyphotic change (increased TK), lordotic change (decreased TK), and no change. The PJK rate was compared between the cohorts.

RESULTS

A total of 101 patients (mean 63 years old, 82.2% female, mean BMI 27.4 kg/m2) were included. Preoperative Scoliosis Research Society–Schwab ASD classification showed moderate preoperative deformity (pelvic tilt 27.7% [score ++]; pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis mismatch 44.6% [score ++]; sagittal vertical axis 42.6% [score ++]). Postoperatively, the average offset from age-adjusted alignment goals demonstrated slight overcorrection in the study sample (−8.5° ± 15.6° pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis mismatch, −29.2 ± 53.1 mm sagittal vertical axis, −5.4 ± 10.8 pelvic tilt, and −7.6 ± 11.7 T1 pelvic angle). TK decreased between standing and supine radiographs and increased postoperatively (TK fused: −25.3° vs −19.6° vs −29.9°; all p < 0.001). The overall rate of radiographic PJK was 23.8%. Comparisons between PJK and no PJK demonstrated that offsets from age-adjusted alignment goals were similar (p > 0.05 for all). There was a significant difference in the PJK rate when stratified by thoracic flexibility cohorts (kyphotic: 0.0% vs no change: 18.4% vs lordotic: 35.0%; p = 0.049). Logistic regression revealed thoracic flexibility (p = 0.045) as the only independent correlate of PJK.

CONCLUSIONS

Half of patients with ASD experienced significant changes in TK during supine positioning, a quality that may influence surgical strategy. Increased thoracic flexibility is associated with PJK, possibly secondary to fusing the patient’s spine in a flattened position intraoperatively.

Free access

Francis C. Lovecchio, Avani S. Vaishnav, Michael E. Steinhaus, Yahya A. Othman, Catherine Himo Gang, Sravisht Iyer, Steven J. McAnany, Todd J. Albert, and Sheeraz A. Qureshi

OBJECTIVE

In an effort to prevent loss of segmental lordosis (SL) with minimally invasive interbody fusions, manufacturers have increased the amount of lordosis that is built into interbody cages. However, the relationship between cage lordotic angle and actual SL achieved intraoperatively remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to determine if the lordotic angle manufactured into an interbody cage impacts the change in SL during minimally invasive surgery (MIS) for lumbar interbody fusion (LIF) done for degenerative pathology.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective review of a single-surgeon database of adult patients who underwent primary LIF between April 2017 and December 2018. Procedures were performed for 1–2-level lumbar degenerative disease using contemporary MIS techniques, including transforaminal LIF (TLIF), lateral LIF (LLIF), and anterior LIF (ALIF). Surgical levels were classified on lateral radiographs based on the cage lordotic angle (6°–8°, 10°–12°, and 15°–20°) and the position of the cage in the disc space (anterior vs posterior). Change in SL was the primary outcome of interest. Subgroup analyses of the cage lordotic angle within each surgical approach were also conducted.

RESULTS

A total of 116 surgical levels in 98 patients were included. Surgical approaches included TLIF (56.1%), LLIF (32.7%), and ALIF (11.2%). There were no differences in SL gained by cage lordotic angle (2.7° SL gain with 6°–8° cages, 1.6° with 10°–12° cages, and 3.4° with 15°–20° cages, p = 0.581). Subgroup analysis of LLIF showed increased SL with 15° cages only (p = 0.002). The change in SL was highest after ALIF (average increase 9.8° in SL vs 1.8° in TLIF vs 1.8° in LLIF, p < 0.001). Anterior position of the cage in the disc space was also associated with a significantly greater gain in SL (4.2° vs −0.3°, p = 0.001), and was the only factor independently correlated with SL gain (p = 0.016).

CONCLUSIONS

Compared with cage lordotic angle, cage position and approach play larger roles in the generation of SL in 1–2-level MIS for lumbar degenerative disease.

Restricted access

Philip K. Louie, Basel Sheikh Alshabab, Michael H. McCarthy, Sohrab Virk, James E. Dowdell, Michael E. Steinhaus, Francis Lovecchio, Andre M. Samuel, Kyle W. Morse, Frank J. Schwab, Todd J. Albert, Sheeraz A. Qureshi, Sravisht Iyer, Yoshihiro Katsuura, Russel C. Huang, Matthew E. Cunningham, Yu-Cheng Yao, Karen Weissmann, Renaud Lafage, Virginie Lafage, and Han Jo Kim

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to initially validate a recent morphological classification of cervical spine deformity pathology.

METHODS

The records of 10 patients for each of the 3 classification subgroups (flat neck, focal deformity, and cervicothoracic), as well as for 8 patients with coronal deformity only, were extracted from a prospective multicenter database of patients with cervical deformity (CD). A panel of 15 physicians of various training and professional levels (i.e., residents, fellows, and surgeons) categorized each patient into one of the 4 groups. The Fleiss kappa coefficient was utilized to evaluate intra- and interrater reliability. Accuracy, defined as properly selecting the main driver of deformity, was reported overall, by morphotype, and by reviewer experience.

RESULTS

The overall classification demonstrated a moderate to substantial agreement (round 1: interrater Fleiss kappa = 0.563, 95% CI 0.559–0.568; round 2: interrater Fleiss kappa = 0.612, 95% CI 0.606–0.619). Stratification by level of training demonstrated similar mean interrater coefficients (residents 0.547, fellows 0.600, surgeons 0.524). The mean intrarater score was 0.686 (range 0.531–0.823). A substantial agreement between rounds 1 and 2 was demonstrated in 81.8% of the raters, with a kappa score > 0.61. Stratification by level of training demonstrated similar mean intrarater coefficients (residents 0.715, fellows 0.640, surgeons 0.682). Of 570 possible questions, reviewers provided 419 correct answers (73.5%). When considering the true answer as being selected by at least one of the two main drivers of deformity, the overall accuracy increased to 86.0%.

CONCLUSIONS

This initial validation of a CD morphological classification system reiterates the importance of dynamic plain radiographs for the evaluation of patients with CD. The overall reliability of this CD morphological classification has been demonstrated. The overall accuracy of the classification system was not impacted by rater experience, demonstrating its simplicity.