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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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Gerald E. Rodts Jr., Griffin R. Baum, Fermin G. Stewart and John G. Heller

The authors report the case of a patient who suffered a Jefferson fracture during a professional football game. The C-1 (atlas) fracture was widely displaced anteriorly, but the transverse ligament was intact. In an effort to enable a return to play and avoid intersegmental (C1–2) fusion, the patient underwent a transoral approach for open reduction and internal fixation of the fracture. The associated posterior ring fracture displacement widened after this procedure, and a subsequent posterior arthrodesis and fixation of the fracture site was performed 6 months later when the fracture failed to heal with rigid collar immobilization. The approach maintained the normal range of motion at the atlantoaxial and atlantooccipital joints, which would have been sacrificed by an atlantoaxial or occipitocervical fusion, as is traditionally performed. Ultimately, the patient decided not to return to the football field, but this approach could avoid the more significant loss of motion associated with atlantoaxial or occipitocervical fusion for unstable Jefferson fractures.

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Griffin R. Baum, Nathan C. Rowland, Joshua J. Chern and Andrew Reisner

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Andrew Reisner, Laura L. Hayes, Christopher M. Holland, David M. Wrubel, Meysam A. Kebriaei, Robert J. Geller, Griffin R. Baum and Joshua J. Chern

In environments in which opioids are increasingly abused for recreation, children are becoming more at risk for both accidental and nonaccidental intoxication. In toxic doses, opioids can cause potentially lethal acute leukoencephalopathy, which has a predilection for the cerebellum in young children. The authors present the case of a 2-year-old girl who suffered an accidental opioid overdose, presenting with altered mental status requiring cardiorespiratory support. She required emergency posterior fossa decompression, partial cerebellectomy, and CSF drainage due to cerebellar edema compressing the fourth ventricle. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first report of surgical decompression used to treat cerebellar edema associated with opioid overdose in a child.

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Griffin R. Baum, Kristopher G. Hooten, Dennis T. Lockney, Kyle M. Fargen, Nefize Turan, Gustavo Pradilla, Gregory J. A. Murad, Robert E. Harbaugh, Michael Glantz and The EVD Best Practice Team

OBJECTIVE

While guidelines exist for many neurosurgical procedures, external ventricular drain (EVD) insertion has yet to be standardized. The goal of this study was to survey the neurosurgical community and determine the most frequent EVD insertion practices. The hypothesis was that there would be no standard practices identified for EVD insertion or methods to avoid EVD-associated infections.

METHODS

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons membership database was queried for all eligible neurosurgeons. A 16-question, multiple-choice format survey was created and sent to 7217 recipients. The responses were collected electronically, and the descriptive results were tabulated. Data were analyzed using the chi-square test.

RESULTS

In total, 1143 respondents (15.8%) completed the survey, and 705 respondents (61.6%) reported tracking EVD infections at their institution. The most common self-reported infection rate ranged from 1% to 3% (56.1% of participants), and 19.7% of respondents reported a 0% infection rate. In total, 451 respondents (42.7%) indicated that their institution utilizes a formal protocol for EVD placement. If a respondent's institution had a protocol, only 258 respondents (36.1%) always complied with the protocol. Protocol utilization for EVD insertion was significantly more frequent among residents, in academic/hybrid centers, in ICU settings, and if the institution tracked EVD-associated infection rates (p < 0.05). A self-reported 0% infection rate was significantly more commonly associated with a higher level of training (e.g., attending physicians), private center settings, a clinician performing 6 to 10 EVD insertions within the previous 12 months, and prophylactic continuous antibiotic utilization (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

This survey demonstrated heterogeneity in the practices for EVD insertion. No standard practices have been proposed or adopted by the neurosurgical community for EVD insertion or complication avoidance. These results highlight the need for the nationwide standardization of technique and complication prevention measures.

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Griffin R. Baum, Alex S. Ha, Meghan Cerpa, Scott L. Zuckerman, James D. Lin, Richard P. Menger, Joseph A. Osorio, Simon Morr, Eric Leung, Ronald A. Lehman Jr., Zeeshan Sardar and Lawrence G. Lenke

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to validate the Global Alignment and Proportion (GAP) score in a cohort of patients undergoing adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery. The GAP score is a novel measure that uses sagittal parameters relative to each patient’s lumbosacral anatomy to predict mechanical complications after ASD surgery. External validation is required.

METHODS

Adult ASD patients undergoing > 4 levels of posterior fusion with a minimum 2-year follow-up were included. Six-week postoperative standing radiographs were used to calculate the GAP score, classified into a spinopelvic state as proportioned (P), moderately disproportioned (MD), or severely disproportioned (SD). A chi-square analysis, receiver operating characteristic curve, and Cochran-Armitage analysis were performed to assess the relationship between the GAP score and mechanical complications.

RESULTS

Sixty-seven patients with a mean age of 52.5 years (range 18–75 years) and a mean follow-up of 2.04 years were included. Patients with < 2 years of follow-up were included only if they had an early mechanical complication. Twenty of 67 patients (29.8%) had a mechanical complication. The spinopelvic state breakdown was as follows: P group, 21/67 (31.3%); MD group, 23/67 (34.3%); and SD group, 23/67 (34.3%). Mechanical complication rates were not significantly different among all groups: P group, 19.0%; MD group, 30.3%; and SD group, 39.1% (χ2 = 1.70, p = 0.19). The rates of mechanical complications between the MD and SD groups (30.4% and 39.1%) were less than those observed in the original GAP study (MD group 36.4%–57.1% and SD group 72.7%–100%). Within the P group, the rates in this study were higher than in the original study (19.0% vs 4.0%, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found no statistically significant difference in the rate of mechanical complications between the P, MD, and SD groups. The current validation study revealed poor generalizability toward the authors’ patient population.