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Vibhu K. Viswanathan, Amy J. Minnema, Stephanus Viljoen, and H. Francis Farhadi

Sublaminar implants that encircle cortical bone are well-established adjuncts to pedicle screw-rod constructs in pediatric deformity surgery. Sublaminar bands (SLBs) in particular carry the advantage of relatively greater bone contact surface area as compared to wires and pullout loads that are independent of bone mineral density, in contrast to pedicle screws. Whereas the relevant technical considerations have been reported for pediatric deformity correction, an understanding of the relative procedural specifics of these techniques is missing for adult spinal deformity (ASD), despite several case series that have used distinct posterior tethering techniques for proximal junctional kyphosis prevention. In this paper, the authors summarize the relevant literature and describe a novel technique wherein bilateral tensioned SLBs are introduced at the nonfused proximal junctional level of long-segment ASD constructs.

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Vibhu K. Viswanathan, Sunil Kukreja, Amy J. Minnema, and H. Francis Farhadi

OBJECTIVE

Proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) can progress to proximal junctional failure (PJF), a widely recognized early and serious complication of multisegment spinal instrumentation for the treatment of adult spinal deformity (ASD). Sublaminar band placement has been suggested as a possible technique to prevent PJK and PJF but carries the theoretical possibility of a paradoxical increase in these complications as a result of the required muscle dissection and posterior ligamentous disruption. In this study, the authors prospectively assess the safety as well as the early clinical and radiological outcomes of sublaminar band insertion at the upper instrumented vertebra (UIV) plus 1 level (UIV+1).

METHODS

Between August 2015 and February 2017, 40 consecutive patients underwent either upper (T2–4) or lower (T8–10) thoracic sublaminar band placement at the UIV+1 during long-segment thoracolumbar arthrodesis surgery. Outcome measures were prospectively collected and uploaded to a web-based REDCap database specifically designed to include demographic, clinical, and radiological data. All patients underwent clinical assessment, as well as radiological assessment with anteroposterior and lateral 36-inch whole-spine standing radiographs both pre- and postoperatively.

RESULTS

Forty patients (24 women and 16 men) were included in this study. Median age at surgery was 64.0 years with an IQR of 57.7–70.0 years. Median follow-up was 12 months (IQR 6–15 months). Three procedure-related complications were noted, including 2 intraoperative cerebrospinal spinal fluid leaks and 1 transient neurological deficit. Median visual analog scale (VAS) scores for back pain significantly improved after surgery (preoperatively: 8.0, IQR 6.0–10.0; 1-year follow-up: 2.0, IQR 0.0–6.0; p = 0.001). Median Oswestry Disability Index (version 2.1a) scores also significantly improved after surgery (preoperatively: 56.0, IQR 45.0–64.0; 1-year follow-up: 46.0, IQR 22.2–54.0; p < 0.001). Sagittal vertical axis (preoperatively: 9.0 cm, IQR 5.3–11.6 cm; final follow-up: 4.7 cm, IQR 2.0–6.6 cm; p < 0.001), pelvic incidence-lumbar lordosis mismatch (24.7°, IQR 11.2°–31.2°; 7.7°, IQR −1.2° to 19.5°; p < 0.001), and pelvic tilt (28.7°, IQR 20.4°–32.6°; 17.1°, IQR 10.8°–25.2°; p < 0.001) were all improved at the final follow-up. While proximal junctional (PJ) Cobb angles increased overall at the final follow-up (preoperatively: 4.2°, IQR 1.9°–7.4°; final follow-up: 8.0°, IQR 5.8°–10.3°; p = 0.002), the significant increase was primarily noted starting at the immediate postoperative time point (7.2°, IQR 4.4°–11.8°; p = 0.001) and not beyond. Three patients (7.5%) developed radiological PJK (mean ΔPJ Cobb 15.5°), while there were no instances of PJF in this cohort.

CONCLUSIONS

Sublaminar band placement at the UIV+1 during long-segment thoracolumbar instrumented arthrodesis is relatively safe and is not associated with an increased rate of PJK. Moreover, no subjects developed PJF. Prospective large-scale and long-term analysis is needed to define the potential benefit of sublaminar bands in reducing the incidence of PJK and PJF following surgery for ASD.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT02411799 (clinicaltrials.gov)

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Michael G. Fehlings and H. Francis Farhadi

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Connor Gifford, Amy J. Minnema, Justin Baum, Michelle L. Humeidan, Daniel E. Vazquez, and H. Francis Farhadi

OBJECTIVE

Postoperative ileus (POI) is associated with abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and delayed mobilization that in turn lead to diminished patient satisfaction, increased hospital length of stay (LOS), and increased healthcare costs. In this study, the authors developed a risk assessment scale to predict the likelihood of developing POI following spinal surgery.

METHODS

The authors undertook a retrospective review of a prospectively maintained registry of consecutive patients who underwent arthrodesis/fusion surgeries between May 2013 and December 2017. They extracted clinical information, including cumulative intraoperative and postoperative opioid doses using standardized converted morphine milligram equivalent (MME) values. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed and several categorical and continuous variables were evaluated in a binary logistic regression model built with backward elimination to assess for independent predictors. A points-based prediction model was developed and validated to determine the risk of POI.

RESULTS

A total of 334 patients who underwent spinal fusion surgeries were included. Fifty-six patients (16.8%) developed POI, more frequently in those who underwent long-segment surgeries compared to short-segment surgeries (33.3% vs 10.4%; p < 0.001). POI was associated with an increased LOS when compared with patients who did not develop POI (8.0 ± 4.5 days vs 4.4 ± 2.4 days; p < 0.01). The incidences of liver disease (16% vs 3.7%; p = 0.01) and substance abuse history (12.0% vs 3.2%; p = 0.04) were higher in POI patients than non-POI patients undergoing short-segment surgeries. While the incidences of preoperative opioid intake (p = 0.23) and cumulative 24-hour (87.7 MME vs 73.2 MME; p = 0.08) and 72-hour (225.6 MME vs 221.4 MME; p = 0.87) postoperative opioid administration were not different, remifentanil (3059.3 µg vs 1821.5 µg; p < 0.01) and overall intraoperative opioid (326.7 MME vs 201.7 MME; p < 0.01) dosing were increased in the POI group. The authors derived a multivariate model based on the 5 most significant factors predictive of POI (number of surgical levels, intraoperative MME, liver disease, age, and history of substance abuse) and calculated relative POI risks using a derived 32-point system.

CONCLUSIONS

Intraoperative opioid administration, incorporated in a comprehensive risk assessment scale, represents an early and potentially modifiable predictor of POI. These data indicate that potential preventive strategies, implemented as part of enhanced recovery after surgery protocols, could be instituted in the preoperative phase of care to reduce POI incidence.

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Justin Baum, Stephanus V. Viljoen, Connor S. Gifford, Amy J. Minnema, Ammar Shaikhouni, Andrew J. Grossbach, Shahid Nimjee, and H. Francis Farhadi

OBJECTIVE

Despite the increasing incidence of spinal epidural abscess (SEA), the baseline parameters potentially predictive of treatment failure remain poorly characterized. In this study, the authors identify the relevant baseline parameters that predict multimodal treatment failure in patients with either intravenous drug use (IVDU)–associated SEA or non-IVDU–associated SEA.

METHODS

The authors reviewed the electronic medical records of a large institutional series of consecutive patients with diagnosed SEA between January 2011 and December 2017 to characterize epidemiological trends as well as the complement of baseline measures that are predictive of failure after multimodal treatment in patients with and without concomitant IVDU. The independent impact of clinical and imaging factors in detecting treatment failure was assessed by performing stepwise binary logistic regression analysis.

RESULTS

A total of 324 consecutive patients with diagnosed SEA were identified. Overall, 226 patients (69.8%) had SEA related to other causes and 98 (30.2%) had a history of recent IVDU. While non-IVDU SEA admission rates remained constant, year-over-year admissions of patients with IVDU SEA nearly tripled. At baseline, patients with IVDU SEA were distinct in many respects including younger age, greater unemployment and disability, less frequent diabetes mellitus (DM), and more frequent methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection. However, differences in length of stay, loss to follow-up, and treatment failure did not reach statistical significance between the groups. The authors constructed independent multivariate logistic regression models for treatment failure based on identified parameters in the two cohorts. For the non-IVDU cohort, the authors identified four variables as independent factors: DM, hepatitis B/C, osteomyelitis, and compression deformity severity. In contrast, for patients with IVDU, the authors identified three variables: albumin, endocarditis, and endplate destruction. Receiver operating characteristic and area under the curve (AUC) analyses were undertaken for the multivariate models predicting the likelihood of treatment failure in the two cohorts (AUC = 0.88 and 0.89, respectively), demonstrating that the derived models could adequately predict the risk of multimodal treatment failure. Treatment failure risk factor point scales were derived for the identified variables separately for both cohorts.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with IVDU SEA represent a unique population with a distinct set of baseline parameters that predict treatment failure. Identification of relevant prognosticating factors will allow for the design of tailored treatment and follow-up regimens.

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Vibhu K. Viswanathan, Ranjit Ganguly, Amy J. Minnema, Nicole A. DeVries Watson, Nicole M. Grosland, Douglas C. Fredericks, Andrew J. Grossbach, Stephanus V. Viljoen, and H. Francis Farhadi

OBJECTIVE

Proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) and failure (PJF) are potentially catastrophic complications that result from abrupt changes in stress across rigid instrumented and mobile non-fused segments of the spine (transition zone) after adult spinal deformity surgery. Recently, data have indicated that extension (widening) of the transitional zone via use of proximal junctional (PJ) semi-rigid fixation can mitigate this complication. To assess the biomechanical effectiveness of 3 semi-rigid fixation constructs (compared to pedicle screw fixation alone), the authors performed cadaveric studies that measured the extent of PJ motion and intradiscal pressure changes (ΔIDP).

METHODS

To measure flexibility and ΔIDP at the PJ segments, moments in flexion, extension, lateral bending (LB), and torsion were conducted in 13 fresh-frozen human cadaveric specimens. Five testing cycles were conducted, including intact (INT), T10–L2 pedicle screw-rod fixation alone (PSF), supplemental hybrid T9 Mersilene tape insertion (MT), hybrid T9 sublaminar band insertion (SLB1), and hybrid T8/T9 sublaminar band insertion (SLB2).

RESULTS

Compared to PSF, SLB1 significantly reduced flexibility at the level rostral to the upper-instrumented vertebral level (UIV+1) under moments in 3 directions (flexion, LB, and torsion, p ≤ 0.01). SLB2 significantly reduced motion in all directions at UIV+1 (flexion, extension, LB, torsion, p < 0.05) and at UIV+2 (LB, torsion, p ≤ 0.03). MT only reduced flexibility in extension at UIV+1 (p = 0.02). All 3 constructs revealed significant reductions in ΔIDP at UIV+1 in flexion (MT, SLB1, SLB2, p ≤ 0.02) and torsion (MT, SLB1, SLB2, p ≤ 0.05), while SLB1 and SLB2 significantly reduced ΔIDP in extension (SLB1, SLB2, p ≤ 0.02) and SLB2 reduced ΔIDP in LB (p = 0.05). At UIV+2, SLB2 similarly significantly reduced ΔIDP in extension, LB, and torsion (p ≤ 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

Compared to MT, the SLB1 and SLB2 constructs significantly reduced flexibility and ΔIDP in various directions through the application of robust anteroposterior force vectors at UIV+1 and UIV+2. These findings indicate that semi-rigid sublaminar banding can most effectively expand the transition zone and mitigate stresses at the PJ levels of long-segment thoracolumbar constructs.