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John E. Ziewacz, Darryl Lau, Frank La Marca and Paul Park

Object

Leiomyosarcoma is a smooth-muscle sarcoma that rarely metastasizes to the spine. Its clinical course is variable, although patients with metastatic leiomyosarcoma can experience prolonged survival as compared with patients with more aggressive metastatic tumors. The authors report their single-institution experience in the surgical treatment of patients with leiomyosarcoma metastatic to the spine.

Methods

A retrospective review of the electronic medical records was performed to obtain details on clinical management and outcomes for patients who had undergone surgical intervention for metastatic leiomyosarcoma of the spine. The few articles available in the current literature on this topic were also analyzed.

Results

Eight patients with metastatic leiomyosarcoma of the spine underwent surgical management between 2005 and 2011. Six patients (75%) had improvement in their Nurick grade. Patients who had presented with pain as a primary symptom experienced significant relief. Five patients (63%) had lesion recurrence, and 4 underwent repeat surgery at a mean of 10.2 months after their initial surgery. The mean duration of survival was 11.7 months (range 3.3–23.0 months).

Conclusions

Leiomyosarcoma rarely metastasizes to the spine. However, surgical intervention can relieve pain and improve neurological function. Given the potential for prolonged survival, aggressive management should be considered in well-selected patients.

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Cheerag D. Upadhyaya, Paul Park and Frank La Marca

✓ Chyloretroperitoneum is an uncommon complication following spinal surgery. The authors present the case of a patient in whom conservative treatment and initial surgical measures failed to relieve varied symptoms of postsurgical chyloretroperitoneum. Following attempts at conservative management, a peritoneal window was surgically created to divert lymphatic flow from the retroperitoneal space into the peritoneal space, where it was resorbed. This unique surgical technique provides yet another option in the treatment of refractory chyloretroperitoneum following anterior lumbar spinal surgery. The authors describe their technique and review retroperitoneal lymphatic anatomy along with similar case reports in the literature.

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Sangala Jaypal Reddy, Frank La Marca and Paul Park

Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are normal intracellular proteins that are produced in greater amounts when cells are subjected to stress or injury. These proteins have been shown to play a key role in the modulation of the secondary injury that occurs after the initial spinal cord injury (SCI). Heat shock proteins normally act as molecular chaperones and are called protein guardians because they act to repair partially damaged proteins. Normally intracellular, HSPs can also be liberated into the systemic circulation to act as important inflammatory mediators. In the setting of SCI, HSP induction has been shown to be beneficial. These proteins are liberated primarily by acutely stressed microglial, endothelial, and ependymal cells. Heat shock proteins have also been shown to assist in the protection of motor neurons and to prevent chronic inflammation after SCI. In animal models, several experimental drugs have shown neuroprotective effects in the spinal cord and appear to function by modulating HSPs.

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Frank La Marca, Geoffrey Zubay, Thomas Morrison III and Dean Karahalios

Object

The occipital condyle has never been studied as a viable structure that could permit bone purchase by fixation devices for occipitocervical fusion. The authors propose occipital condyle screw placement as a possible alternative to conventional occipitocervical fixation techniques.

Methods

Six adult cadaver heads (12 total occipital condyles) were studied, and the StealthStation image-guidance system was used for preoperative planning of occipital condyle screw placement. Morphometric studies of the occipital condyle were performed. A 3.5-mm Vertex screw was then placed in the occipital condyle with image-guided assistance in 3 specimens. Operations in the remaining 3 specimens proceeded using anatomical markers and calculated degrees of angulation for screw placement with a free-hand technique. Postoperatively the cadaver heads were rescanned and reanalyzed to determine the success of screw placement and its effect on hypoglossal canal volume.

Results

All screws were successfully placed with no sign of lateral or medial cortical breach. Two screws had bicortical purchase. There was no change in hypoglossal canal volume in any specimen.

Conclusions

Occipital condyle screw placement is a safe and viable option for occipitocervical fixation and could be a preferred procedure in selected cases. However, further biomechanical studies are required to compare its reliability to other more established techniques.

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Alexander Vaccaro

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Darryl Lau, Matthew R. Leach, Frank La Marca and Paul Park

Object

Surgery for spinal metastasis is considered palliative, and postoperative survival is often less than a year. Recurrence of metastatic lesions is quite common, and it remains unclear whether repeat surgery is effective. In this study, the authors assessed independent predictors for survival at 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years after surgery, and examined whether repeat surgery for recurrence of spinal metastasis influenced survival rates.

Methods

Retrospective review of the electronic medical records was performed to identify a consecutive population of adult patients who underwent surgery for spinal metastasis during the period 2005–2011. Utilizing a Cox proportional hazard regression model, the authors assessed independent predictors and risk factors for survival at 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years after surgery. In addition, the impact of repeat surgery on survival was specifically assessed via multivariable analysis.

Results

A total of 99 patients were included in the final analysis. The overall mean postoperative duration of survival was 9.6 months. In addition to previously identified predictors of survival (preoperative ambulation, Karnofsky Performance Status [KPS], radiotherapy, primary cancer type, presence of extraspinal metastasis, and number of spinal segments with metastasis), pain on presentation and body mass index (BMI) of 25–30 were both independently associated with survival. Patients with recurrence who underwent repeat surgery had longer mean survival times than patients with recurrence who did not undergo repeat surgery (19.6 months vs 12.8 months, respectively). Repeat surgery was also independently associated with higher survival rates on multivariate analysis. Follow-up KPS was significantly higher in patients who underwent repeat surgery as well.

Conclusions

In addition to confirming previously identified predictors of survival following surgery for spinal metastasis, the authors identified BMI and pain on presentation as independent predictors of survival. They also found that repeat surgery may be a viable option in patients with metastatic recurrence and may offer prolonged survival, likely due to improved functionality, mitigating complications associated with immobility.

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Samuel W. Terman, Timothy J. Yee, Darryl Lau, Adam A. Khan, Frank La Marca and Paul Park

Object

Minimally invasive (MI) transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) has been demonstrated in previous studies to offer improvement in pain and function comparable to those provided by the open surgical approach. However, comparative studies in the obese population are scarce, and it is possible that obese patients may respond differently to these two approaches. In this study, the authors compared the clinical benefit of open and MI TLIF in obese patients.

Methods

The authors conducted a retrospective cohort study based on review of electronic medical records at a single institution. Eligible patients had a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 30 kg/m2, were ≥ 18 years of age, underwent single-level TLIF between 2007 and 2011, and outcome was assessed at a minimum 6 months postoperatively. The authors categorized patients according to surgical approach (open vs MI TLIF). Outcome measures included postoperative improvement in visual analog scale (VAS), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), estimated blood loss (EBL), and hospital length of stay (LOS).

Results

A total 74 patients (21 open and 53 MI TLIF) were studied. Groups had similar baseline characteristics. The median BMI was 34.4 kg/m2 (interquartile range 31.6–37.5 kg/m2). The mean follow-up time was 30 months (range 6.5–77 months). The mean improvement in VAS score was 2.8 (95% CI 1.9–3.8) for the open group (n = 21) and 2.4 (95% CI 1.8–3.1) for the MI group (n = 53), which did not significantly differ (unadjusted, p = 0.49; adjusted, p = 0.51). The mean improvement in ODI scores was 13 (95% CI 3–23) for the open group (n = 14) and 15 (95% CI 8–22) for the MI group (n = 45), with no significant difference according to approach (unadjusted, p = 0.82; adjusted, p = 0.68). After stratifying by BMI (< 35 kg/m2 and ≥ 35 kg/m2), there was still no difference in either VAS or ODI improvement between the approaches (both unadjusted and adjusted, p > 0.05). Complications and EBL were greater for the open group than for the MI group (p < 0.05).

Conclusions

Obese patients experienced clinically and statistically significant improvement in both pain and function after undergoing either open or MI TLIF. Patients achieved similar clinical benefit whether they underwent an open or MI approach. However, patients in the MI group experienced significantly decreased operative blood loss and complications than their counterparts in the open group.

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Darryl Lau, Samuel W. Terman, Rakesh Patel, Frank La Marca and Paul Park

Object

A reported risk factor for adjacent-segment disease is injury to the superior facet joint from pedicle screw placement. Given that the facet joint is not typically visualized during percutaneous pedicle screw insertion, there is a concern for increased facet violation (FV) in minimally invasive fusion procedures. The purpose of this study was to analyze and compare the incidence of FV among patients undergoing minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MITLIF) and open transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF). The impact of O-arm navigation compared with traditional fluoroscopy on FV in MITLIF is also assessed, as are risk factors for FV.

Methods

The authors identified a consecutive population of patients who underwent MITLIF with percutaneous pedicle screw placement, as well as a matched cohort of patients who underwent open TLIF. Postoperative CT imaging was assessed to determine intraarticular FV due to pedicle screw placement. Patients were stratified into minimally invasive and open TLIF groups. Within the MITLIF group, the authors performed a subanalysis of image guidance methods used in cases of FV. Two-tailed Student t-test, ANOVA, chi-square testing, and logistic regression were used for statistical analysis.

Results

A total of 282 patients were identified, with a total of 564 superior pedicle screw placements. The MITLIF group consisted of 142 patients with 284 screw insertions. The open TLIF group consisted of 140 patients with 280 screw insertions. Overall, 21 (7.4%) of 282 patients experienced FV. A total of 21 screws violated a facet joint for a screw-based FV rate of 3.7% (21 of 564 screws). There were no significant differences between the MITLIF and open TLIF groups in the percentage of patients with FV (6.3% vs 8.6%) and or the percentage of screws with FV (3.2% vs 4.3%) (p = 0.475 and p = 0.484, respectively). Further stratifying the MI group into O-arm navigation and fluoroscopic guidance subgroups, the patient-based rates of FV were 10.8% (4 of 37 patients) and 4.8% (5 of 105 patients), respectively, and the screw-based rates of FV were 5.4% (4 of 74 screws) and 2.4% (5 of 210 screws), respectively. There was no significant difference between the subgroups with respect to patient-based or screw-based FV rates (p = 0.375 and p = 0.442, respectively). The O-arm group had a significantly higher body mass index (BMI) (p = 0.021). BMI greater than 29.9 was independently associated with higher FV (OR 2.36, 95% CI 1.65–8.53, p = 0.039).

Conclusions

The findings suggest that minimally invasive pedicle screw placement is not associated with higher rates of FV. Overall violation rates were similar in MITLIF and open TLIF. Higher BMI, however, was a risk factor for increased FV. The use of O-arm fluoroscopy with computer-assisted guidance did not significantly decrease the rate of FV.

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Anthony C. Wang, Khoi D. Than, Arnold B. Etame, Frank La Marca and Paul Park

Object

Transcranial motor evoked potential (TcMEP) monitoring is frequently used in complex spinal surgeries to prevent neurological injury. Anesthesia, however, can significantly affect the reliability of TcMEP monitoring. Understanding the impact of various anesthetic agents on neurophysiological monitoring is therefore essential.

Methods

A literature search of the National Library of Medicine database was conducted to identify articles pertaining to anesthesia and TcMEP monitoring during spine surgery. Twenty studies were selected and reviewed.

Results

Inhalational anesthetics and neuromuscular blockade have been shown to limit the ability of TcMEP monitoring to detect significant changes. Hypothermia can also negatively affect monitoring. Opioids, however, have little influence on TcMEPs. Total intravenous anesthesia regimens can minimize the need for inhalational anesthetics.

Conclusions

In general, selecting the appropriate anesthetic regimen with maintenance of a stable concentration of inhalational or intravenous anesthetics optimizes TcMEP monitoring.