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  • Author or Editor: Ignacio J. Barrenechea x
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Ignacio J. Barrenechea, Noel I. Perin, Aymara Triana, Jonathan Lesser, Peter Costantino and Chandranath Sen

Object

Chordomas of the cervical spine are rare tumors. Although en bloc resection has proven to be the ideal procedure in other areas, there is controversy regarding this approach in the cervical spine. The goal in this study was to determine whether piecemeal tumor resection was efficient in the management of chordomas that arise in this location.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed all 74 cases of chordoma treated by their group. Seven patients with isolated cervical chordomas who were treated between October 1992 and January 2006 were identified. There were four male and three female patients, whose ages ranged from 6 to 61 years (mean 34.4 years). Follow-up duration ranged from 7 to 169 months (median 23 months). All cases were managed using a retrocarotid approach with mobilization of the vertebral artery. When the tumor could not be completely resected via the initial anterior approach, a subsequent posterior resection was performed. Tumor resection was intralesional in all cases, and gross-total tumor resection was achieved in six cases. One patient required a second resection 4 months later. In all cases, a posterior stabilization procedure was performed. Five patients underwent anterior fusion (three with fibular allograft and two with iliac crest), whereas two underwent occipitocervical fusion. In two patients with dedifferentiated chordoma metastasis developed, and one of them died 7 months later. The other patient with metastasis died suddenly at home 26 months postsurgery, presumably from aspiration. At the time of this submission, there were no signs of recurrence in five patients.

Conclusions

The authors believe that, in most cases, en bloc resection of cervical chordoma is not feasible. This is due to the tendency of chordomas to involve multiple compartments at the time of diagnosis. In the authors' experience, intralesional radical resection remains an effective surgical approach to this disease entity.

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Ignacio J. Barrenechea, Jonathan B. Lesser, Alberto L. Gidekel, Leon Turjanski and Noel I. Perin

Object

Idiopathic spinal cord herniation (ISCH) is an uncommon clinical entity typically presenting with lower-extremity myelopathy. Despite the existence of 85 ISCH cases in the literature, misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis remain a major concern.

Methods

The authors conducted a retrospective review of patients who underwent surgery for ISCH at their institutions between 1993 and 2004. Seven patients were treated for ISCH, five in New York and two in Buenos Aires. The patients’ ages ranged from 32 to 72 years. There were three men and four women. The interval between the onset of symptoms and surgery ranged from 12 to 84 months (mean 42.1 months).

Preoperatively, spinal cord function in four patients was categorized as American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Grade D, and that in the other three patients was ASIA Grade C. In all patients a diagnosis of posterior intradural arachnoid cyst had been rendered at other institutions, and three had undergone surgery for the treatment of this entity. In all cases, the herniation was reduced and the defect repaired with a dural patch. The follow-up period ranged from 10 to 147 months (mean 49.2 months). Clinical recovery following surgery varied; however, there was no functional deterioration compared with baseline status. Syringomyelia, accompanied by neurological deterioration, developed postoperatively in two patients at 2 and 10 years, respectively.

Conclusions

Patients presenting with a diagnosis of posterior intradural arachnoid cyst should be evaluated carefully for the presence of an anterior spinal cord herniation. Based on the authors’ literature review and their own experience, they recommend offering surgery to patients even when neurological compromise is advanced.

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Daniel S. Yanni, Sedat Ulkatan, Vedran Deletis, Ignacio J. Barrenechea, Chandranath Sen and Noel I. Perin

Object

Intramedullary spinal cord tumors can displace the surrounding neural tissue, causing enlargement and distortion of the normal cord anatomy. Resection requires a midline myelotomy to avoid injury to the posterior columns. Locating the midline for myelotomy is often difficult because of the distorted anatomy. Standard anatomical landmarks may be misleading in patients with intramedullary spinal cord tumors due to cord rotation, edema, neovascularization, or local scar formation. Misplacement of the myelotomy places the posterior columns at risk of significant postoperative disability. The authors describe a technique for mapping the dorsal column to accurately locate the midline.

Methods

A group of 10 patients with cervical and thoracic intramedullary spinal cord lesions underwent dorsal column mapping in which a strip electrode was used to define the midline. After the laminectomy and durotomy, a custom-designed multielectrode grid was placed on the exposed dorsal surface of the spinal cord. The electrode is made up of 8 parallel Teflon-coated stainless-steel wires (76-μm diameter, spaced 1 mm apart) embedded in silastic with each of the wires stripped of its insulating coating along a length of 2 mm. This strip electrode maps the amplitude gradient of conducted spinal somatosensory evoked potentials elicited by bilateral tibial nerve stimulation. Using these recordings, the dorsal columns are topographically mapped as lying between two adjacent numbers.

Results

The authors conducted a retrospective analysis of the preoperative, immediate, and short-term postoperative neurological status, focusing especially on posterior column function. There were 8 women and 2 men whose mean age was 52 years. There were 4 ependymomas, 1 subependymoma, 1 gangliocytoma, 1 anaplastic astrocytoma, 1 cavernous malformation, and 2 symptomatic syringes requiring shunting. In all patients the authors attempted to identify the midline by using anatomical landmarks, and then proceeded with dorsal column mapping to identify the midline electrophysiologically. In the 2 patients with syringomyelia and in 5 of the patients with tumors, the authors were unable to identify the midline anatomically with any certainty. In 2 patients with intramedullary tumors, they were able to identify the midline anatomically with certainty. Dorsal column mapping allowed identification of the midline and to confirm the authors' anatomical localization. In 2 patients with intramedullary tumors, posterior column function was preserved only on 1 side. All other patients had intact posterior column function preoperatively.

Conclusions

Dorsal column mapping is a useful technique for guiding the surgeon in locating the midline for myelotomy in intramedullary spinal cord surgery. In conjunction with somatosensory evoked potential, motor evoked potential, and D-wave recordings, we have been able to reduce the surgical morbidity related to dorsal column dysfunction in this small group of patients.

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Hyunchul Shin, Ignacio J. Barrenechea, Jonathan Lesser, Chandranath Sen and Noel I. Perin

Object

Surgical access to tumors at the craniovertebral junction (CVJ) requires extensive bone removal. Guidelines for the use of occipitocervical fusion (OCF) after resection of CVJ tumors have been based on anecdotal evidence. The authors performed a retrospective study of factors associated with the use of OCF in 46 patients with CVJ tumors. The findings were used to develop recommendations for use of OCF in such patients.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed the cases of 51 patients with CVJ tumors treated by their group between March 1991 and February 2004. Forty-six patients were available for follow up. Charts were reviewed to obtain data on demographic characteristics, presenting symptoms, and perioperative complications. Preoperative computerized tomography scans and magnetic resonance imaging studies were obtained in all patients. Occipitocervical fusion was performed in patients who had undergone a unilateral condyle resection in which 70% or more of the condyle was removed, a bilateral condyle resection with 50% removal, or C1–2 vertebral body destruction. Of the 46 patients, 16 had foramen magnum meningiomas, 17 had chordomas, one had a chondrosarcoma, two had Schwann cell tumors, two had glomus tumors, and eight had other types of tumors. Twenty-three (50%) of the 46 patients underwent OCF, including 15 of the 17 patients with chordomas (88%). None of the patients with meningiomas required fusion. Seventeen (71%) of the 24 patients presenting with neck pain preoperatively underwent OCF.

Conclusions

Patients presenting with neck pain had a 71% chance of undergoing OCF. Patients with chordomas and metastatic tumors were most likely to require OCF. One patient with a 50% unilateral condylar resection returned with OC instability for which OCF was required. Based on their clinical experience and published biomechanical studies, the authors recommend that OCF be performed when 50% or more of one condyle is resected.