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Peng-Yuan Chang, Hsuan-Kan Chang and Jau-Ching Wu

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Timur M. Urakov, Ken Hsuan-kan Chang, S. Shelby Burks and Michael Y. Wang

OBJECTIVE

Spine surgery is complex and involves various steps. Current robotic technology is mostly aimed at assisting with pedicle screw insertion. This report evaluates the feasibility of robot-assisted pedicle instrumentation in an academic environment with the involvement of residents and fellows.

METHODS

The Renaissance Guidance System was used to plan and execute pedicle screw placement in open and percutaneous consecutive cases performed in the period of December 2015 to December 2016. The database was reviewed to assess the usability of the robot by neurosurgical trainees. Outcome measures included time per screw, fluoroscopy time, breached screws, and other complications. Screw placement was assessed in patients with postoperative CT studies. The speed of screw placement and fluoroscopy time were collected at the time of surgery by personnel affiliated with the robot’s manufacturer. Complication and imaging data were reviewed retrospectively.

RESULTS

A total of 306 pedicle screws were inserted in 30 patients with robot guidance. The average time for junior residents was 4.4 min/screw and for senior residents and fellows, 4.02 min/screw (p = 0.61). Among the residents dedicated to spine surgery, the average speed was 3.84 min/screw, while nondedicated residents took 4.5 min/screw (p = 0.41). Evaluation of breached screws revealed some of the pitfalls in using the robot.

CONCLUSIONS

No significant difference regarding the speed of pedicle instrumentation was detected between the operators’ years of experience or dedication to spine surgery, although more participants are required to investigate this completely. On the other hand, there was a trend toward improved efficiency with more cases performed. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first reported academic experience with robot-assisted spine instrumentation.

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Giacomo Pacchiarotti, Michael Y. Wang, John Paul G. Kolcun, Ken Hsuan-kan Chang, Motasem Al Maaieh, Victor S. Reis and Dao M. Nguyen

Solitary paravertebral schwannomas in the thoracic spine and lacking an intraspinal component are uncommon. These benign nerve sheath tumors are typically treated using complete resection with an excellent outcome. Resection of these tumors is achieved by an anterior approach via open thoracotomy or minimally invasive thoracoscopy, by a posterior approach via laminectomy, or by a combination of both approaches. These tumors most commonly occur in the midthoracic region, for which surgical removal is usually straightforward. The authors of this report describe 2 cases of paravertebral schwannoma at extreme locations of the posterior mediastinum, one at the superior sulcus and the other at the inferior sulcus of the thoracic cavity, for which the usual surgical approaches for safe resection can be challenging. The tumors were completely resected with robot-assisted thoracoscopic surgery. This report suggests that single-stage anterior surgery for this type of tumor in extreme locations is safe and effective with this novel minimally invasive technique.

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Hsuan-Kan Chang, Chih-Chang Chang, Tsung-Hsi Tu, Jau-Ching Wu, Wen-Cheng Huang, Li-Yu Fay, Peng-Yuan Chang, Ching-Lan Wu and Henrich Cheng

OBJECTIVE

Many reports have successfully demonstrated that cervical disc arthroplasty (CDA) can preserve range of motion after 1- or 2-level discectomy. However, few studies have addressed the extent of changes in segmental mobility after CDA or their clinical correlations.

METHODS

Data from consecutive patients who underwent 1-level CDA were retrospectively reviewed. Indications for surgery were medically intractable degenerative disc disease and spondylosis. Clinical outcomes, including visual analog scale (VAS)–measured neck and arm pain, Neck Disability Index (NDI), and Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scores, were analyzed. Radiographic outcomes, including C2–7 Cobb angle, the difference between pre- and postoperative C2–7 Cobb angle (ΔC2–7 Cobb angle), sagittal vertical axis (SVA), the difference between pre- and postoperative SVA (ΔSVA), segmental range of motion (ROM), and the difference between pre- and postoperative ROM (ΔROM), were assessed for their association with clinical outcomes. All patients underwent CT scanning, by which the presence and severity of heterotopic ossification (HO) were determined during the follow-up.

RESULTS

A total of 50 patients (mean age 45.6 ± 9.33 years) underwent a 1-level CDA (Prestige LP disc) and were followed up for a mean duration of 27.7 ± 8.76 months. All clinical outcomes, including VAS, NDI, and JOA scores, improved significantly after surgery. Preoperative and postoperative ROM values were similar (mean 9.5° vs 9.0°, p > 0.05) at each indexed level. The mean changes in segmental mobility (ΔROM) were −0.5° ± 6.13°. Patients with increased segmental mobility after surgery (ΔROM > 0°) had a lower incidence of HO and HO that was less severe (p = 0.048) than those whose ΔROM was < 0°. Segmental mobility (ROM) was significantly lower in patients with higher HO grade (p = 0.012), but it did not affect the clinical outcomes. The preoperative and postoperative C2–7 Cobb angles and SVA remained similar. The postoperative C2–7 Cobb angles, SVA, ΔC2–7 Cobb angles, and ΔSVA were not correlated to clinical outcomes after CDA.

CONCLUSIONS

Segmental mobility (as reflected by the mean ROM) and overall cervical alignment (i.e., mean SVA and C2–7 Cobb angle) had no significant impact on clinical outcomes after 1-level CDA. Patients with increased segmental mobility (ΔROM > 0°) had significantly less HO and similarly improved clinical outcomes than those with decreased segmental mobility (ΔROM < 0°).

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Hsuan-Kan Chang, Huang-Chou Chang, Jau-Ching Wu, Tsung-Hsi Tu, Li-Yu Fay, Peng-Yuan Chang, Ching-Lan Wu, Wen-Cheng Huang and Henrich Cheng

OBJECT

The aim of this paper was to investigate the risk of recurrence of lumbar disc herniation (LDH) in patients with scoliosis who underwent microdiscectomy.

METHODS

A series of consecutive patients who underwent microdiscectomy for LDH was retrospectively reviewed. The inclusion criteria were young adults younger than 40 years who received microdiscectomy for symptomatic 1-level LDH. An exclusion criterion was any previous spinal surgery, including fusion or correction of scoliosis. The patients were divided into 2 groups: those with scoliosis and those without scoliosis. The demographic data in the 2 groups were similar. All medical records and clinical and radiological evaluations were reviewed.

RESULTS

A total of 58 patients who underwent 1-level microdiscectomy for LDH were analyzed. During the mean follow-up of 24.6 months, 6 patients (10.3%) experienced a recurrence of LDH with variable symptoms. The recurrence rate was significantly higher among the scoliosis group than the nonscoliosis group (33.3% vs 2.3%, p = 0.001). Furthermore, the recurrence-free interval in the scoliosis group was short.

CONCLUSIONS

Young adults (< 40 years) with uncorrected scoliosis are at higher risk of recurrent LDH after microdiscectomy.

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Hsuan-Kan Chang, Jau-Ching Wu, Diego Shih-Chieh Lin, Chih-Chang Chang, Tsung-Hsi Tu, Wen-Cheng Huang and Henrich Cheng

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Li-Yu Fay, Wen-Cheng Huang, Chih-Chang Chang, Hsuan-Kan Chang, Tzu-Yun Tsai, Tsung-Hsi Tu, Ching-Lan Wu, Henrich Cheng and Jau-Ching Wu

OBJECTIVE

The pedicle screw–based Dynesys dynamic stabilization (DDS) has reportedly become a surgical option for lumbar spondylosis and spondylolisthesis. However, it is still unclear whether the dynamic construct remains mobile or eventually fuses. The aim of this study was to investigate the incidence of unintended facet arthrodesis after DDS and its association with spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

This retrospective study was designed to review 105 consecutive patients with 1- or 2-level lumbar spondylosis who were treated with DDS surgery. The patients were then divided into 2 groups according to preexisting spondylolisthesis or not. All patients underwent laminectomies, foraminotomies, and DDS. The clinical outcomes were measured using visual analog scale (VAS) scores for back and leg pain, Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scores, and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores. All medical records, including pre- and postoperative radiographs, CT scans, and MR images, were also reviewed and compared.

RESULTS

A total of 96 patients who completed the postoperative follow-up for more than 30 months were analyzed. The mean age was 64.1 ± 12.9 years, and the mean follow-up duration was 46.3 ± 12.0 months. There were 45 patients in the spondylolisthesis group and 51 patients in the nonspondylolisthesis group. The overall prevalence rate of unintended facet fusion was 52.1% in the series of DDS. Patients with spondylolisthesis were older (67.8 vs 60.8 years, p = 0.007) and had a higher incidence rate of facet arthrodesis (75.6% vs 31.4%, p < 0.001) than patients without spondylolisthesis. Patients who had spondylolisthesis or were older than 65 years were more likely to have facet arthrodesis (OR 6.76 and 4.82, respectively). There were no significant differences in clinical outcomes, including VAS back and leg pain, ODI, and JOA scores between the 2 groups. Furthermore, regardless of whether or not unintended facet arthrodesis occurred, all patients experienced significant improvement (all p < 0.05) in the clinical evaluations.

CONCLUSIONS

During the mean follow-up of almost 4 years, the prevalence of unintended facet arthrodesis was 52.1% in patients who underwent DDS. Although the clinical outcomes were not affected, elderly patients with spondylolisthesis might have a greater chance of facet fusion. This could be a cause of the limited range of motion at the index levels long after DDS.

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Peng-Yuan Chang, Hsuan-Kan Chang, Jau-Ching Wu, Wen-Cheng Huang, Li-Yu Fay, Tsung-Hsi Tu, Ching-Lan Wu and Henrich Cheng

OBJECTIVE

Several large-scale clinical trials demonstrate the efficacy of 1- and 2-level cervical disc arthroplasty (CDA) for degenerative disc disease (DDD) in the subaxial cervical spine, while other studies reveal that during physiological neck flexion, the C4–5 and C5–6 discs account for more motion than the C3–4 level, causing more DDD. This study aimed to compare the results of CDA at different levels.

METHODS

After a review of the medical records, 94 consecutive patients who underwent single-level CDA were divided into the C3–4 and non-C3–4 CDA groups (i.e., those including C4–5, C5–6, and C6–7). Clinical outcomes were measured using the visual analog scale for neck and arm pain and by the Japanese Orthopaedic Association scores. Postoperative range of motion (ROM) and heterotopic ossification (HO) were determined by radiography and CT, respectively.

RESULTS

Eighty-eight patients (93.6%; mean age 45.62 ± 10.91 years), including 41 (46.6%) female patients, underwent a mean follow-up of 4.90 ± 1.13 years. There were 11 patients in the C3–4 CDA group and 77 in the non-C3–4 CDA group. Both groups had significantly improved clinical outcomes at each time point after the surgery. The mean preoperative (7.75° vs 7.03°; p = 0.58) and postoperative (8.18° vs 8.45°; p = 0.59) ROMs were similar in both groups. The C3–4 CDA group had significantly greater prevalence (90.9% vs 58.44%; p = 0.02) and higher severity grades (2.27 ± 0.3 vs 0.97 ± 0.99; p = 0.0001) of HO.

CONCLUSIONS

Although CDA at C3–4 was infrequent, the improved clinical outcomes of CDA were similar at C3–4 to that in the other subaxial levels of the cervical spine at the approximately 5-year follow-ups. In this Asian population, who had a propensity to have ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament, there was more HO formation in patients who received CDA at the C3–4 level than in other subaxial levels of the cervical spine. While the type of artificial discs could have confounded the issue, future studies with more patients are required to corroborate the phenomenon.

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Peng-Yuan Chang, Hsuan-Kan Chang, Jau-Ching Wu, Wen-Cheng Huang, Li-Yu Fay, Tsung-Hsi Tu, Ching-Lan Wu and Henrich Cheng

OBJECTIVE

Cervical disc arthroplasty (CDA) has been demonstrated to be as safe and effective as anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) in the management of 1- and 2-level degenerative disc disease (DDD). However, there has been a lack of data to address the fundamental discrepancy between the two surgeries (CDA vs ACDF), and preservation versus elimination of motion, in the management of cervical myelopathy associated with congenital cervical stenosis (CCS). Although younger patients tend to benefit more from motion preservation, it is uncertain if CCS caused by multilevel DDD can be treated safely with CDA.

METHODS

Consecutive patients who underwent 3-level anterior cervical discectomy were retrospectively reviewed. Inclusion criteria were age less than 50 years, CCS (Pavlov ratio ≤ 0.82), symptomatic myelopathy correlated with DDD, and stenosis limited to 3 levels of the subaxial cervical (C3–7) spine. Exclusion criteria were ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament, previous posterior decompression surgery (e.g., laminoplasty or laminectomy), osteoporosis, previous trauma, or other rheumatic diseases that might have caused the cervical myelopathy. All these patients who underwent 3-level discectomy were divided into 2 groups according to the strategies of management: preservation or elimination of motion (the hybrid-CDA group and the ACDF group). The hybrid-CDA group underwent 2-level CDA plus 1-level ACDF, whereas the ACDF group underwent 3-level ACDF. Clinical assessment was measured by the visual analog scales (VAS) for neck and arm pain, Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scores, and Nurick grades. Radiographic outcomes were measured using dynamic radiographs for evaluation of range of motion (ROM).

RESULTS

Thirty-seven patients, with a mean (± SD) age of 44.57 ± 5.10 years, were included in the final analysis. There was a male predominance in this series (78.4%, 29 male patients), and the mean follow-up duration was 2.37 ± 1.60 years. There were 20 patients in the hybrid-CDA group, and 17 in the ACDF group. Both groups demonstrated similar clinical improvement at 2 years' follow-up. These patients with 3-level stenosis experienced significant improvement after either type of surgery (hybrid-CDA and ACDF). There were no significant differences between the 2 groups at each of the follow-up visits postoperatively. The preoperative ROM over the operated subaxial levels was similar between both groups (21.9° vs 21.67°; p = 0.94). Postoperatively, the hybrid-CDA group had significantly greater ROM (10.65° vs 2.19°; p < 0.001) than the ACDF group. Complications, adverse events, and reoperations in both groups were similarly low.

CONCLUSIONS

Hybrid-CDA yielded similar clinical improvement to 3-level ACDF in patients with myelopathy caused by CCS. In this relatively young group of patients, hybrid-CDA demonstrated significantly more ROM than 3-level ACDF without adjacent-segment disease (ASD) at 2 years' follow-up. Therefore, hybrid-CDA appears to be an acceptable option in the management of CCS. The strategy of motion preservation yielded similar improvements of cervical myelopathy to motion elimination (i.e., ACDF) in patients with CCS, while the theoretical benefit of reducing ASD required further validation.

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Peng-Yuan Chang, Yu-Shu Yen, Jau-Ching Wu, Hsuan-Kan Chang, Li-Yu Fay, Tsung-Hsi Tu, Ching-Lan Wu, Wen-Cheng Huang and Henrich Cheng

OBJECT

Although anterior odontoidectomy has been widely accepted as a procedure for decompression of the craniovertebral junction (CVJ), postoperative biomechanical instability has not been well addressed. There is a paucity of data on the necessity for and choice of fixation.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of consecutively treated patients with basilar invagination who underwent anterior odontoidectomy and various types of posterior fixation. Posterior fixation included 1 of 3 kinds of constructs: occipitocervical (OC) fusion with atlantoaxial (AA) fixation, OC fusion without AA fixation, or AA-only (without OC) fixation. On the basis of the use or nonuse of AA fixation, these patients were assigned to either the AA group, in which the posterior fixation surgery involved both the atlas and axis simultaneously, regardless of whether the patient underwent OC fusion, or the non-AA group, in which the OC fusion construct spared the atlas, axis, or both. Clinical outcomes and neurological function were compared. Radiological results at each time point (i.e., before and after odontoidectomy and after fixation) were assessed by calculating the triangular area causing ventral indentation of the brainstem in the CVJ.

RESULTS

Data obtained in 14 consecutively treated patients with basilar invagination were analyzed in this series; the mean follow-up time was 5.75 years. The mean age was 53.58 years; there were 7 males and 7 females. The AA and non-AA groups consisted of 7 patients each. The demographic data of both groups were similar. Overall, there was significant improvement in neurological function after the operation (p = 0.03), and there were no differences in the postoperative Nurick grades between the 2 groups (p = 1.00). According to radiological measurements, significant decompression of the ventral brainstem was achieved stepwise in both groups by anterior odontoidectomy and posterior fixation; the mean ventral triangular area improved from 3.00 ± 0.86 cm2 to 2.08 ± 0.51 cm2 to 1.68 ± 0.59 cm2 (before and after odontoidectomy and after fixation, respectively; p < 0.05). The decompression gained by odontoidectomy (i.e., reduction of the ventral triangular area) was similar in the AA and non-AA groups (0.66 ± 0.42 cm2 vs 1.17 ± 1.42 cm2, respectively; p = 0.38). However, the decompression achieved by posterior fixation was significantly greater in the AA group than in the non-AA group (0.64 ± 0.39 cm2 vs 0.17 ± 0.16 cm2, respectively; p = 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

Anterior odontoidectomy alone provides significant decompression at the CVJ. Adjuvant posterior fixation further enhances the extent of decompression after the odontoidectomy. Moreover, posterior fixation that involves AA fixation yields significantly more decompression of the ventral brainstem than OC fusion that spares AA fixation.