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Graft subsidence after instrument-assisted anterior cervical fusion

Gary W. Tye, R. Scott Graham, William C. Broaddus, and Harold F. Young

Object. Bone grafts used in anterior cervical fusion (ACF) may subside postoperatively. The authors reviewed a recent series in which instrument-assisted ACF was performed to determine the degree of subsidence with respect to fusion length, use of segmental screws, and patient smoking status, age, and sex.

Methods. Charts and implant records were reviewed for all 70 patients who underwent instrument-assisted ACF during a 2-year period. The procedures, grafting materials, plate types/lengths, and patient smoking status were recorded. The immediate postoperative and follow-up lateral radiographs were analyzed. The plate lengths and lengths of the fused segments were measured in a standardized fashion.

The mean intraoperative and follow-up fusion segment lengths were 54.3 and 51.9 mm, respectively. Greater subsidence occurred in multilevel fusions than in single-level fusions. There were noticeable changes in the position of plates or screws on 14 of 70 follow-up x-ray films. No new neurological deficits related to graft subsidence occurred, and the reoperation rate was 3%. There was no statistical relation between subsidence and the following variables: segmental fixation, smoking status, sex, age, or dowel size when corrected for length of the plate. Hardware migration correlated significantly with plate length in cases of two- and three-level fusions.

Conclusions. The length of a fusion segment decreases in the immediate weeks following instrument-assisted ACF. Construct length is the most important determinant of subsidence. When designing multilevel cervical constructs, consideration of the effects of graft subsidence may help to avoid hardware-related complications.

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A model for neurosurgical humanitarian aid based on 12 years of medical trips to South and Central America

Clinical article

Rajshri Mainthia, Gary W. Tye, Jay Shapiro, Egon M. R. Doppenberg, and John D. Ward

The pediatric neurosurgical mission trips led by physicians at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health Systems began in 1996 with the formation of Medical Outreach to Children, founded by 1 of the authors (J.D.W.) after a visit to Guatemala. Since then, 19 surgical trips to 4 different countries in Central and South America have been coordinated from 1996 to 2008.

This humanitarian work serves a number of purposes. First and foremost, it provides children with access to surgical care that they would otherwise not receive, thereby significantly improving their quality of life. Second, the visiting surgical team participates in the education of local physicians, parents, and caregivers to help improve the healthcare provided to the children. Last, the team works to promote sustainable global health solutions in the countries it travels to by generating a forum for clinical and public health research discourse.

Thus far, a total of 414 children have undergone 463 operations, including 154 initial shunt surgeries, 110 myelomeningocele repairs, 39 lipoma resections, 33 tethered cord releases, 18 shunt revisions, 16 encephalocele repairs, 9 lipomyelomeningocele repairs, and 7 diastematomyelia repairs. The complication rate has been 5–8%, and the team has obtained reliable follow-up in ~ 77% of patients. A correlation was found between an increase in the number of trained neurosurgeons in the host countries and a decrease in the average age of patients treated by the visiting surgical team over time. It is also hypothesized that a decrease in the percentage of myelomeningocele repairs performed by the surgical team (as a fraction of total cases between 1996 and 2006) correlates to an increase in the number of local neurosurgeons able to treat common neural tube defects in patients of younger ages. Such analysis can be used by visiting surgical teams to assess the changing healthcare needs in a particular host country.

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Neurosurgical humanitarian aid

Benjamin C. Warf

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Minimizing transfusion requirements for children undergoing craniosynostosis repair: the CHoR protocol

Clinical article

Rafael A. Vega, Camila Lyon, Jeannette F. Kierce, Gary W. Tye, Ann M. Ritter, and Jennifer L. Rhodes


Children with craniosynostosis may require cranial vault remodeling to prevent or relieve elevated intracranial pressure and to correct the underlying craniofacial abnormalities. The procedure is typically associated with significant blood loss and high transfusion rates. The risks associated with transfusions are well documented and include transmission of infectious agents, bacterial contamination, acute hemolytic reactions, transfusion-related lung injury, and transfusion-related immune modulation. This study presents the Children's Hospital of Richmond (CHoR) protocol, which was developed to reduce the rate of blood transfusion in infants undergoing primary craniosynostosis repair.


A retrospective chart review of pediatric patients treated between January 2003 and Febuary 2012 was performed. The CHoR protocol was instituted in November 2008, with the following 3 components; 1) the use of preoperative erythropoietin and iron therapy, 2) the use of an intraoperative blood recycling device, and 3) acceptance of a lower level of hemoglobin as a trigger for transfusion (< 7 g/dl). Patients who underwent surgery prior to the protocol implementation served as controls.


A total of 60 children were included in the study, 32 of whom were treated with the CHoR protocol. The control (C) and protocol (P) groups were comparable with respect to patient age (7 vs 8.4 months, p = 0.145). Recombinant erythropoietin effectively raised the mean preoperative hemoglobin level in the P group (12 vs 9.7 g/dl, p < 0.001). Although adoption of more aggressive surgical vault remodeling in 2008 resulted in a higher estimated blood loss (212 vs 114.5 ml, p = 0.004) and length of surgery (4 vs 2.8 hours, p < 0.001), transfusion was performed in significantly fewer cases in the P group (56% vs 96%, p < 0.001). The mean length of stay in the hospital was shorter for the P group (2.6 vs 3.4 days, p < 0.001).


A protocol that includes preoperative administration of recombinant erythropoietin, intraoperative autologous blood recycling, and accepting a lower transfusion trigger significantly decreased transfusion utilization (p < 0.001). A decreased length of stay (p < 0.001) was seen, although the authors did not investigate whether composite transfusion complication reductions led to better outcomes.

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Intraventricular twin fetuses in fetu

Case report

Lauren N. Huddle, Christine Fuller, Tiffany Powell, Judith A. Hiemenga, Jia Yan, Brian Deuell, Eric M. Lyders, Joann N. Bodurtha, Peter R. Papenhausen, Colleen K. Jackson-Cook, Arti Pandya, Margie Jaworski, Gary W. Tye, and Ann M. Ritter

The authors report a rare case of multiple intracranial fetuses in fetu, fulfilling Willis' traditional criteria, which include an axial and appendicular skeleton with surrounding organized tissue. This case was ascertained from studies of a full-term female neonate who presented with ventriculomegaly. A CT scan showed intracranial calcifications that were suggestive of an axial skeleton. Her birth weight was 3.176 kg (50th–75th percentile), length was 52 cm (90th percentile), head circumference was 35 cm (50th–75th percentile), and Apgar scores were 7 and 8 at 1 and 5 minutes, respectively. Prenatal ultrasonography studies performed at 12 weeks and 5 days, and 19 weeks and 6 days revealed normal findings. A 37-week prenatal ultrasonography study showed ventriculomegaly and obstructive hydrocephalus, with a possible intracranial teratoma. Cranial imaging at birth with ultrasonography, CT and MR imaging, and MR angiography demonstrated 2 complex intraventricular masses with cystic, solid, and bony elements. A craniotomy with resection of the masses was performed at 3 months of age. The infant survived and is now 12 months old with some developmental progress. Two axial skeletons, with accompanying rib cage and extremities, including well-formed feet and toes, were noted. Both anencephalic structures had skin with hair, fat, skeletal and smooth muscle, and bony structures with bone marrow and focal areas of calcification. Multiple viscera were present and included thymus, bowel, stomach, salivary gland, kidney, adrenal gland, lung, and presumed adnexal structures. A diagnosis of fetuses in fetu was rendered. Chromosomal studies of the child and tissue from the 2 fetuses in fetu showed normal female karyotypes. A single nucleotide polymorphism array analysis from the proband infant and tissue from the 2 identified fetuses in fetu appeared to be genetically identical. These results are consistent with a monozygotic twin embryonic origin of the fetus in fetu tissue, which is a mechanism that has been suggested in previous reports in which karyotypes, blood types, and limited genetic loci have been studied. This is the first report of a rare example of intracranial intraventricular twin fetuses in fetu for which a genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism assay has confirmed their genetic identity.

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Abstracts of the 2017 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves Las Vegas, Nevada • March 8–11, 2017