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Iman Feiz-Erfan, L. Fernando Gonzalez and Curtis A. Dickman

✓ The authors describe a new technique of internal atlantooccipital screw fixation involving posterior wiring and fusion for the treatment of traumatic atlantooccipital dislocation, which was performed in a 17-year-old male patient involved in a motor vehicle accident and who suffered from atlantooccipital dislocation without neurological injury. At the 6-month follow-up examination, the patient was neurologically intact with a solid occipitocervical fusion and full range of motion of the neck.

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Ganesh Rao, Robert Bohinski, Iman Feiz-Erfan and Laurence D. Rhines

✓The retroperitoneal surgical approach has gained acceptance as a way to access the ventral aspect of the lumbar spine. Visualization is often limited, however, by the psoas muscle, which lies along the posterolateral aspect of the spine. Improved visualization is often attempted by retracting the muscle from the wound, which generally pulls the muscle laterally from the spine but not posteriorly, which is desirable for a better exposure of the spine, particularly the neural elements. In this paper, the authors describe a simple, atraumatic technique for retraction of the psoas muscle that allows excellent visualization of the spine.

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Mark B. Ellis, Daniel Gridley, Suresh Lal, Geetha R. Nair and Iman Feiz-Erfan

Phosphaturic mesenchymal tumor (mixed connective tissue variant) (PMT-MCT) are tumors that may cause tumor-induced osteomalacia and rarely appear intracranially. The authors describe the case of an 8-year-old girl who was found to have PMT-MCT with involvement of the cerebellar hemisphere and a small tumor pedicle breaching the dura mater and involving the skull. This was removed surgically in gross-total fashion without further complication. Histologically the tumor was confirmed to be a PMT-MCT. There was no evidence of tumor-induced osteomalacia. At the 42-month follow-up, the patient is doing well, has no abnormalities, and is free of recurrence. PMT-MCTs are rare tumors that may involve the brain parenchyma. A gross-total resection may be effective to cure these lesions.

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Iman Feiz-Erfan, Mary Harrigan, Volker K. H. Sonntag and Timothy R. Harrington


In a double-blind randomized study, platelet concentrate was used to treat 50 patients who underwent anterior cervical fusion with allograft bone and internal fixation, predominantly for degenerative disc disease or soft herniated cervical disc. The goal in this study was to compare the outcomes in patients treated with and without the platelet gel.


Patients were assessed radiographically at 6, 12, and 52 weeks and at 2 years if needed. Clinically, patients were evaluated with the visual analog scale, Neck Disability Index, Short Form–36, and a modified Prolo Scale.


Follow-up included 90% of the patients at 1 year and 84% at 2 years. The overall fusion rate was 84%.


Whereas patients with degenerative discs treated with platelet gel demonstrated early fusion at the 12-week follow-up interval, no consistent early fusion was obtained with the use of the platelet gel preparation in patients with a soft disc herniation.

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Ganesh Rao, Chul S. Ha, Indro Chakrabarti, Iman Feiz-Erfan, Ehud Mendel and Laurence D. Rhines


Metastases of multiple myeloma often occur in the cervical spine. These metastases may cause pain and associated spinal instability. The authors report the results of radiotherapy and surgical treatment for myeloma involving the cervical spine. The results of radiation therapy for multiple myeloma metastases to the cervical spine that cause clinical or radiographically documented instability have not been reported previously.


A retrospective chart review of patients with multiple myeloma metastases to the cervical spine was undertaken. Between 1993 and 2005, 35 patients were treated with external-beam radiation and/or surgical stabilization at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Nineteen of 20 patients with sufficient follow-up data experienced resolution of their pain when treated with radiation without surgical intervention. Twenty-three patients had evidence of spinal instability on radiographic images; 15 of these were treated with radiation alone. Of these, 10 had sufficient follow-up data, and none showed any clinical progression of instability. Radiographic follow-up images demonstrated an arrest of further progression of instability and, in some cases, healing of pathological fractures by means of radiation alone.


The results of this series suggest that, in selected cases, external-beam radiation for multiple myeloma metastases to the cervical spine is an effective palliative treatment, even in cases involving clinical or radiographically documented instability.

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Tsinsue Chen, Karam Moon, Daphne E. deMello, Iman Feiz-Erfan, Nicholas Theodore and Ratan D. Bhardwaj

A 13-year-old boy presented with fever and neck pain and stiffness, which was initially misdiagnosed as culture-negative meningitis. Magnetic resonance images of the brain and cervical spine demonstrated what appeared to be an intradural extramedullary mass at the C1–3 level, resulting in moderate cord compression, and a Chiari Type I malformation. The patient underwent a suboccipital craniectomy and a C1–3 laminectomy with intradural exploration for excisional biopsy and resection. The lesion containing the parasite was extradural, extending laterally through the C2–3 foramina. Inflammatory tissue secondary to Onchocerca lupi infection was identified, and treatment with steroids and doxycycline was initiated. At the 6-month follow-up, the patient remained asymptomatic, with MR images demonstrating a significant reduction in lesional size. However, 10 weeks postoperatively, the infection recurred, necessitating a second operation. The patient was treated with an additional course of doxycycline and is currently maintained on ivermectin therapy. This is the second reported case of cervical O. lupi infection in a human. In the authors' experience, oral doxycycline alone was insufficient in controlling the disease, and the addition of ivermectin therapy was necessary.

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Jonathan S. Hott, Iman Feiz-Erfan, Louis J. Kim, Harold L. Rekate and Volker K. H. Sonntag

✓ Cervical spine injuries in the pediatric population typically affect the upper cervical region. The authors present the first reported case of a subaxial C6–7 unilateral locked facet joint in a neurologically intact 10-month-old infant. To date, this patient's nonoperative treatment has been successful. The proposed biomechanical mechanism of this injury and the treatment paradigm are discussed.

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Francisco A. Ponce, Patrick P. Han, Robert F. Spetzler, Alexa Canady and Iman Feiz-Erfan

✓ Wyburn-Mason syndrome is a rare condition associated with multiple cerebral arteriovenous malformations. The disease, also called retinoencephalofacial angiomatosis, includes lesions of the retina, brain, and skin. This disorder stems from a vascular dysgenesis of the embryological anterior plexus early in the gestational period when the primitive vascular mesoderm is shared by the involved structures. The timing of the insult to the embryonic tissue determines which structures are affected. Extensions of the lesions vary widely but cutaneous lesions are unusual. Among reports in the literature, only three cases appear to have manifested without retinal involvement. The authors report the fourth case of Wyburn-Mason syndrome in which there was no retinal involvement and the first to involve neither the retina nor the face.

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Jonathan S. Hott, Iman Feiz-Erfan, Kathy Kenny and Curtis A. Dickman

Object. The authors evaluated the clinical and surgical outcomes obtained in patients with giant herniated thoracic discs (HTDs), defined as occupying more than 40% of the spinal canal. Surgery-related considerations and functional outcomes in patients with small- and medium-sized HTDs were compared.

Methods. The authors reviewed 140 cases of surgically treated HTDs, 20 (14%) of which were giant. Before and after surgery, all patients underwent computerized tomography myelography, magnetic resonance imaging, or both. Functional outcomes were assessed using the Frankel grading system preoperatively, immediately after surgery, and at long-term follow-up examination. The results observed in patients with giant HTDs were compared with those with small- and medium-sized HTDs. The mean overall follow-up period was 2.6 years.

Sixty-six patients (47%) presented with myelopathy, including 19 (95%) with a giant HTD. Of the latter, 16 (80%) underwent anterior, eight thoracoscopic, and eight open thoracotomy approaches. Four patients (20%) with laterally oriented giant HTDs within the spinal canal underwent surgery via a posterolateral approach.

Based on analysis of long-term follow-up data, 53% of patients with giant HTDs improved neurologically by one Frankel grade. Progression of myelopathy was arrested in 42%, and in 5% the Frankel grade worsened by one. In patients with small- and medium-sized HTDs, the Frankel grade improved by one in 77%, stabilized in 23%, and worsened in 0%. Patients with giant HTDs who underwent thoracoscopic surgery had worse short- and long-term functional outcomes than those in whom open thoracotomy was performed.

Conclusions. Patients with giant HTDs presented more frequently with myelopathy and experienced worse functional outcomes than those with smaller HTDs. Based on their experience, the authors recommend open thoracotomy rather than thoracoscopy for the treatment of midline giant HTDs.

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Cervical magnetic resonance imaging abnormalities not predictive of cervical spine instability in traumatically injured patients

Invited submission from the Joint Section Meeting on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves, March 2004

Eric M. Horn, Gregory P. Lekovic, Iman Feiz-Erfan, Volker K. H. Sonntag and Nicholas Theodore

Object. Identifying instability of the cervical spine can be difficult in traumatically injured patients. The goal of this study was to determine whether cervical abnormalities demonstrated on magnetic resonance (MR) imaging are predictive of spinal instability.

Methods. Data in all patients admitted through the Level I trauma service at the authors' institution who had undergone cervical MR imaging were retrospectively reviewed. The reasons for MR imaging screening were neurological deficit, fracture, neck pain, and indeterminate clinical examination (for example, coma). Abnormal soft-tissue (prevertebral or paraspinal) findings on MR imaging were correlated with those revealed on computerized tomography (CT) scanning and plain and dynamic radiography to determine the presence/absence of cervical instability.

Of 6328 patients admitted through the trauma service, 314 underwent MR imaging of the cervical spine. Of 166 patients in whom CT scanning or radiography demonstrated normal findings, 70 had undergone MR imaging that revealed abnormal findings. Of these 70 patients, 23 underwent dynamic imaging, the findings of which were normal. In each case of cervical instability (65 patients) CT, radiographic, and MR imaging studies demonstrated abnormalities. Furthermore, there were 143 patients with abnormal CT or radiographic study findings, in 13 of whom MR imaging revealed normal findings. Six of the latter underwent dynamic testing, which demonstrated normal results.

Conclusions. Magnetic resonance imaging is sensitive to soft-tissue injuries of the cervical spine. When CT scanning and radiography detect no fractures or signs of instability, MR imaging does not help in determining cervical stability and may lead to unnecessary testing when not otherwise indicated.