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Iain H. Kalfas

The management of cervical spondylosis has evolved over the past several decades. Surgical decompressive and stabilization techniques have become more widely accepted for use in patients with intractable pain or neurological deficits. Advances in neuroimaging, surgical technique, and surgery-related technology including the operating microscope and anterior fixation devices have all contributed to the expanding role of surgery for the treatment of this condition. In this paper the author will focus on the role of corpectomy as a surgical option for managing cervical spondylosis.

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Iain H. Kalfas

Image-guided spinal navigation is an adjuvant surgical technology that has evolved over the past decade. It has been used as a replacement for conventional intraoperative imaging techniques to improve the spine surgeon's spatial orientation to nonvisualized anatomy. The author will review the principles of image-guided technology in spinal surgery and focus on its application to the management of spinal metastatic disease.

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Iain H. Kalfas

Our contemporary understanding of bone healing has evolved due to knowledge gleaned from a continuous interaction between basic laboratory investigations and clinical observations following procedures to augment healing of fractures, osseous defects, and unstable joints. The stages of bone healing parallel the early stages of bone development. The bone healing process is greatly influenced by a variety of systemic and local factors. A thorough understanding of the basic science of bone healing as well as the many factors that can affect it is critical to the management of a variety of musculoskeletal disorders. In particular, the evolving management of spinal disorders can greatly benefit from the advancement of our understanding of the principles of bone healing.

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Iain H. Kalfas

Stenosis of the thoracic spinal canal is a relatively rare disorder with numerous causes. Clinical manifestations include signs and or symptoms consistent with focal thoracic radiculopathy and/or myelopathy. Several surgical approaches for the decompression of the stenotic thoracic canal have been described. Laminectomy is typically reserved for only those cases in which dorsal compression of the neural elements is demonstrated; it is contraindicated when the epidural compression is primarily ventral in location.

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Robert F. McLain, Iain Kalfas, Gordon R. Bell, John E. Tetzlaff, Helen J. Yoon and Maunak Rana

Object. Despite a history of safety and efficacy, spinal anesthesia is rarely used in lumbar surgery. Application of regional anesthetics is widely preferred for lower-extremity surgery, but general anesthesia is used almost exclusively in spine surgery, despite evidence that spinal anesthesia is as safe and may offer some advantages.

Methods. In this case-controlled study the authors analyzed outcomes obtained in 400 patients in whom either spinal anesthesia or general anesthesia was induced to perform a lumbar decompression. Patients were matched for anesthesia-related class, preoperative diagnosis, surgical procedure, and perioperative protocols. All aspects of surgery, recovery, postanesthesia care, and pain management were uniform irrespective of the anesthetic type. Case complexity was equivalent. An independent observer performed analysis of the data. Data from the intraoperative period through hospital discharge were collected and compared.

Two hundred consecutive patients meeting inclusion criteria were included in each group. Patients were treated for either lumbar stenosis or herniated nucleus pulposus. Demographically, both groups were well matched. Anesthetic and operative times were longer for patients receiving a general anesthetic (p < 0.05), in whom more nausea and greater requirements for antiemetics and pain medication were also present during recovery (p < 0.05). Overall complication rates and, specifically, the incidences of urinary retention were significantly lower in spinal anesthesia—induced patients (p < 0.05). There were no neural injuries in either group, and the incidence of spinal headache was lower in patients receiving a spinal anesthetic (1.5% compared with 3%).

Conclusions. Spinal anesthesia was as safe and effective as general anethesia for patients undergoing lumbar laminectomy. Potential advantages of spinal anesthsia include a shorter anesthesia duration, decreased nausea, antiemetic and analgesic requirements, and fewer complications. Successful surgery can be performed using either anesthesia type.

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Kene T. Ugokwe, Iain H. Kalfas, Thomas E. Mroz and Michael P. Steinmetz

Object

Pseudarthrosis and construct failure following single-level anterior cervical discectomy, fusion, and plate placement (ACDFP) rarely occur. Routine postoperative anteroposterior and lateral radiographs may be an inconvenience to patients and expose them to additional and potentially unnecessary radiation. No standard exists to define when patients should obtain radiographs following an ACDFP. The authors hypothesize that routinely obtaining static anteroposterior and lateral radiographs in patients who recently underwent a single-level ACDFP without new axial neck pain or other neurological complaints or symptoms is unwarranted and does not alter the long-term treatment of the patient.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed the charts and radiographs of patients who underwent a single-level ACDFP between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2005. All patients underwent a single-level ACDFP and had routine cervical radiographs obtained at various intervals after surgery.

Results

Twenty-one patients underwent ACDFP at C5–6, 14 patients underwent surgery at C6–7, 11 patients at C4–5, and 7 patients at C3–4. None of the intraoperative radiographs demonstrated malposition of the graft or instrumentation. Based on subjective reporting by the patients, the vast majority (49 of 53) showed improvement in neck and arm pain, and/or neurological dysfunction following surgery. Overall, 5 patients (9%) demonstrated abnormalities on their postoperative radiographs. No patients were returned to the operating room as a result of postoperative radiographic findings. The sensitivity of plain radiographs in this patient series or the percentage of patients with new symptoms that had an abnormality related to the construct on plain radiography was 50%. The specificity of plain radiographs or the percentage of patients who were asymptomatic and had normal radiographs was 94%. The positive predictive value was 25%; that is, there was a 25% chance that patients with symptoms would have a construct abnormality on postoperative radiographs. The negative predictive value was 98%; that is, 98% of patients without symptoms will have normal radiographs.

Conclusions

Pseudarthrosis and construct failure following single-level ACDFP occur rarely, and patients with new symptoms following surgery are as likely to have normal radiographic findings as they are to have abnormalities identified on their postoperative plain radiographs. Routinely obtaining postoperative radiographs at regular intervals in asymptomatic patients following single-level ACDFP does not appear to be warranted.

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Sina Pourtaheri, Akshay Sharma, Jason Savage, Iain Kalfas, Thomas E. Mroz, Edward Benzel and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

The flexed posture of the proximal (L1–3) or distal (L4–S1) lumbar spine increases the diameter of the spinal canal and neuroforamina and can relieve symptoms of neurogenic claudication. Distal lumbar flexion can result in pelvic retroversion; therefore, in cases of flexible sagittal imbalance, pelvic retroversion may be compensatory for lumbar stenosis and not solely compensatory for the sagittal imbalance as previously thought. The authors investigate underlying causes for pelvic retroversion in patients with flexible sagittal imbalance.

METHODS

One hundred thirty-eight patients with sagittal imbalance who underwent a total of 148 fusion procedures of the thoracolumbar spine were identified from a prospective clinical database. Radiographic parameters were obtained from images preoperatively, intraoperatively, and at 6-month and 2-year follow-up. A cohort of 24 patients with flexible sagittal imbalance was identified and individually matched with a control cohort of 23 patients with fixed deformities. Flexible deformities were defined as a 10° change in lumbar lordosis between weight-bearing and non–weight-bearing images. Pelvic retroversion was quantified as the ratio of pelvic tilt (PT) to pelvic incidence (PI).

RESULTS

The average difference between lumbar lordosis on supine MR images and standing radiographs was 15° in the flexible cohort. Sixty-eight percent of the patients in the flexible cohort were diagnosed preoperatively with lumbar stenosis compared with only 22% in the fixed sagittal imbalance cohort (p = 0.0032). There was no difference between the flexible and fixed cohorts with regard to C-2 sagittal vertical axis (SVA) (p = 0.95) or C-7 SVA (p = 0.43). When assessing for postural compensation by pelvic retroversion in the stenotic patients and nonstenotic patients, the PT/PI ratio was found to be significantly greater in the patients with stenosis (p = 0.019).

CONCLUSIONS

For flexible sagittal imbalance, preoperative attention should be given to the root cause of the sagittal misalignment, which could be compensation for lumbar stenosis. Pelvic retroversion can be compensatory for both the lumbar stenosis as well as for sagittal imbalance.

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Iain H. Kalfas, Donald W. Kormos, Michael A. Murphy, Rick L. McKenzie, Gene H. Barnett, Gordon R. Bell, Charles P. Steiner, Mary Beth Trimble and Joseph P. Weisenberger

✓ Interactive frameless stereotaxy has been successfully applied to intracranial surgery. It has contributed to the improved localization of deep-seated brain lesions and has demonstrated a potential for reducing both operative time and morbidity. However, it has not been as effectively applied to spinal surgery.

The authors describe the application of frameless stereotactic techniques to spinal surgery, specifically pedicle screw fixation of the lumbosacral spine. Preoperative axial computerized tomography (CT) images of the appropriate spinal segments are obtained and loaded onto a high-speed graphics supercomputer workstation. Intraoperatively, these images can be linked to the appropriate spinal anatomy by a sonic localization digitizer device that is interfaced with the computer workstation. This permits the surgeon to place a pointing device (sonic wand) on any exposed spinal bone landmark in the operative field and obtain multiplanar reconstructed CT images projected in near-real time on the workstation screen. The images can be manipulated to assist the surgeon in determining the proper entry point for a pedicle screw as well as defining the appropriate trajectory in the axial and sagittal planes. It can also define the correct screw length and diameter for each pedicle to be instrumented.

The authors applied this device to the insertion of 150 screws into the lumbosacral spines of 30 patients. One hundred forty-nine screws were assessed to be satisfactorily placed by postoperative CT and plain film radiography. In this report the authors discuss their use of this device in the clinical setting and review their preliminary results of frameless stereotaxy applied to spinal surgery. On the basis of their findings, the authors conclude that frameless stereotactic technology can be successfully applied to spinal surgery.

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The effect of C2–3 disc angle on postoperative adverse events in cervical spondylotic myelopathy

Presented at the 2018 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Bryan S. Lee, Kevin M. Walsh, Daniel Lubelski, Konrad D. Knusel, Michael P. Steinmetz, Thomas E. Mroz, Richard P. Schlenk, Iain H. Kalfas and Edward C. Benzel

OBJECTIVE

Complete radiographic and clinical evaluations are essential in the surgical treatment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM). Prior studies have correlated cervical sagittal imbalance and kyphosis with disability and worse health-related quality of life. However, little is known about C2–3 disc angle and its correlation with postoperative outcomes. The present study is the first to consider C2–3 disc angle as an additional radiographic predictor of postoperative adverse events.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review was performed to identify patients with CSM who underwent surgeries from 2010 to 2014. Data collected included demographics, baseline presenting factors, and postoperative outcomes. Cervical sagittal alignment variables were measured using the preoperative and postoperative radiographs. Univariable logistic regression analyses were used to explore the association between dependent and independent variables, and a multivariable logistic regression model was created using stepwise variable selection.

RESULTS

The authors identified 171 patients who had complete preoperative and postoperative radiographic and outcomes data. The overall rate of postoperative adverse events was 33% (57/171), and postoperative C2–3 disc angle, C2–7 sagittal vertical axis, and C2–7 Cobb angle were found to be significantly associated with adverse events. Inclusion of postoperative C2–3 disc angle in the analysis led to the best prediction of adverse events. The mean postoperative C2–3 disc angle for patients with any postoperative adverse event was 32.3° ± 17.2°, and the mean for those without any adverse event was 22.4° ± 11.1° (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

In the present retrospective analysis of postoperative adverse events in patients with CSM, the authors found a significant association between C2–3 disc angle and postoperative adverse events. They propose that C2–3 disc angle be used as an additional parameter of cervical spinal sagittal alignment and predictor for operative outcomes.