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Anthony N. Grieff, George M. Ghobrial and Jack Jallo


The aim in this paper was to evaluate the efficacy of long-acting liposomal bupivacaine in comparison with bupivacaine hydrochloride for lowering postoperative analgesic usage in the management of posterior cervical and lumbar decompression and fusion.


A retrospective cohort-matched chart review of 531 consecutive cases over 17 months (October 2013 to February 2015) for posterior cervical and lumbar spinal surgery procedures performed by a single surgeon (J.J.) was performed. Inclusion criteria for the analysis were limited to those patients who received posterior approach decompression and fusion for cervical or lumbar spondylolisthesis and/or stenosis. Patients from October 1, 2013, through December 31, 2013, received periincisional injections of bupivacaine hydrochloride, whereas after January 1, 2014, liposomal bupivacaine was solely administered to all patients undergoing posterior approach cervical and lumbar spinal surgery through the duration of treatment. Patients were separated into 2 groups for further analysis: posterior cervical and posterior lumbar spinal surgery.


One hundred sixteen patients were identified: 52 in the cervical cohort and 64 in the lumbar cohort. For both cervical and lumbar cases, patients who received bupivacaine hydrochloride required approximately twice the adjusted morphine milligram equivalent (MME) per day in comparison with the liposomal bupivacaine groups (5.7 vs 2.7 MME, p = 0.27 [cervical] and 17.3 vs 7.1 MME, p = 0.30 [lumbar]). The amounts of intravenous rescue analgesic requirements were greater for bupivacaine hydrochloride in comparison with liposomal bupivacaine in both the cervical (1.0 vs 0.39 MME, p = 0.31) and lumbar (1.0 vs 0.37 MME, p = 0.08) cohorts as well. None of these differences was found to be statistically significant. There were also no significant differences in lengths of stay, complication rates, or infection rates. A subgroup analysis of both cohorts of opiate-naive versus opiate-dependent patients found that those patients who were naive had no difference in opiate requirements. In chronic opiate users, there was a trend toward higher opiate requirements for the bupivacaine hydrochloride group than for the liposomal bupivacaine group; however, this trend did not achieve statistical significance.


Liposomal bupivacaine did not appear to significantly decrease perioperative narcotic use or length of hospitalization, although there was a trend toward decreased narcotic use in comparison with bupivacaine hydrochloride. While the results of this study do not support the routine use of liposomal bupivacaine, there may be a benefit in the subgroup of patients who are chronic opiate users. Future prospective randomized controlled trials, ideally with dose-response parameters, must be performed to fully explore the efficacy of liposomal bupivacaine, as the prior literature suggests that clinically relevant effects require a minimum tissue concentration.

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George M. Ghobrial, Sara Beygi, Matthew J. Viereck, Joshua E. Heller, Ashwini Sharan, Jack Jallo, James S. Harrop and Srinivas Prasad

Syringomyelia is a potentially debilitating disease that involves abnormal CSF flow mechanics; its incidence after traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) is approximately 15%. Treatment consists of restoration of CSF flow, typically via arachnoidolysis and syrinx decompression. The authors present a case of pronounced syringomyelia in a patient with concomitant severe cervical myelomalacia to demonstrate unilateral C-5 palsy as a potential complication of aggressive syrinx decompression at a remote level.

A 56-year-old man with a remote history of SCI at T-11 (ASIA [American Spinal Injury Association] Grade A) presented with complaints of ascending motor and sensory weakness into the bilateral upper extremities that had progressed over 1 year. MRI demonstrated severe distortion of the spinal cord at the prior injury level of T10–11, where an old anterior column injury and prior hook-rod construct was visualized. Of note, the patient had a holocord syrinx with demonstrable myelomalacia. To restore CSF flow and decompress the spinal cord, T-2 and T-3 laminectomies, followed by arachnoidolysis and syringopleural shunt placement, were performed. Postoperatively on Day 1, with the exception of a unilateral deltoid palsy, the patient had immediate improvement in upper-extremity strength and myelopathy. He was discharged from the hospital on postoperative Day 5; however, at his 2-week follow-up visit, a persistent unilateral deltoid palsy was noted. MRI demonstrated a significant reduction in the holocord syrinx, no neural foraminal stenosis, and a significant positional shift of the ventral spinal cord. Further motor recovery was noted at the 8-month follow-up.

Syringomyelia is a debilitating disease arising most often as a result of traumatic SCI. In the setting of myelomalacia with a pronounced syrinx, C-5 palsy is a potential complication of syrinx decompression.

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Anish N. Sen, Peter G. Campbell, Sanjay Yadla, Jack Jallo and Ashwini D. Sharan

Patients suffering from disorders of consciousness constitute a population that exists largely outside of the daily practice patterns of neurosurgeons. Historically, treatment has focused on nursing and custodial issues with limited neurosurgical intervention. Recently, however, deep brain stimulation has been explored to restore cognitive and physical function to patients in minimally conscious states. In this article, the authors characterize the physiological mechanisms for the use of deep brain stimulation in persistently vegetative and minimally conscious patients, review published cases and associated ethical concerns, and discuss future directions of this technology.

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Eli M. Baron, Howard B. Levene, Joshua E. Heller, Jack I. Jallo, Christopher M. Loftus and Devanand A. Dominique

Neuroendoscopy has grown rapidly in the last 20 years as a therapeutic modality for treating a variety of spinal disorders. Spinal endoscopy has been widely used to treat patients with cervical, thoracic, and lumbosacral disorders safely and effectively. Although it is most commonly used with minimally invasive lumbar spine surgery, endoscopy has gained widespread acceptance for the treatment of thoracic disc herniations and for anterior release and rod implantation in the correction of thoracic spinal deformity. The authors review the use of endoscopy in spine surgery and in the treatment of spinal disorders as well as in the treatment of intrathoracic nonspinal lesions. Endoscopy has some significant advantages over open or other minimally invasive techniques in that it can allow for better visualization of the lesion, smaller incision sizes with reduced morbidity and mortality, reduced hospital stays, and ultimately lower cost. In addition, spinal endoscopy allows observers and operating room staff to be more involved in each case and fosters education. Spinal endoscopy, like any novel modality, carries with it additional risks and the surgeon must always be prepared to convert to an open procedure. The learning curve for spinal endoscopy is steep and the procedure should not be attempted alone by a novice surgeon. Nevertheless, with training and experience, the spine surgeon can achieve better outcomes, reduced morbidity, and better cosmesis with spinal endoscopy, and the operating times are comparable to open procedures. As technology evolves and more experience is obtained, neuroendoscopy will likely achieve further roles as a mainstay in spine surgery.

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Howard B. Levene, Melanie B. Elliott, John P. Gaughan, Christopher M. Loftus, Ronald F. Tuma and Jack I. Jallo


Spinal cord injury (SCI) continues to be a problem without a definitive cure. Research based on improved understanding of the immunological aspects of SCI has revealed targets for treating and ameliorating the extent of secondary injury. Hypertonic saline (HTS), a substance both easy to create and to transport, has been investigated as an immunologically active material that can be used in a clinically relevant interval after injury. In this pilot study, HTS was investigated in a murine model for its abilities to ameliorate secondary injury after a severe spinal cord contusion.


Female C57Bl/6 mice with severe T8–10 contusion injuries were used as the model subjects. A group of 41 mice were studied in a blinded fashion. Mice received treatments with HTS (HTS, 7.5%) or normal saline solution (NSS, 0.9%) at 2 discreet time points (3 and 24 hours after injury.) A separate group of 9 untreated animals were also used as controls. Animals were assessed for autonomic outcome (bladder function). In a group of 33 mice, histological assessment (cellular infiltration) was also measured.


Bladder function was found to be improved significantly in those treated with HTS compared with those who received NSS and also at later treatment times (24 hours) than at earlier treatment times (3 hours). Decreased cellular infiltration in each group correlated with bladder recovery.


The increased effectiveness of later administration time of the more osmotically active and immunomodulatory substance (HTS) suggests that interaction with events occurring around 24 hours after injury is critical. These events may be related to the invasion of leukocytes peaking at 8–24 hours postinjury and/or the peak benefit time of subject rehydration.

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George M. Ghobrial, Sara Beygi, Matthew J. Viereck, Christopher M. Maulucci, Ashwini Sharan, Joshua Heller, Jack Jallo, Srinivas Prasad and James S. Harrop


One often overlooked aspect of spinal epidural abscesses (SEAs) is the timing of surgical management. Limited evidence is available correlating earlier intervention with outcomes. Spinal epidural abscesses, once a rare diagnosis carrying a poor prognosis, are steadily becoming more common, with one recent inpatient meta-analysis citing an approximate incidence of 1 in 10,000 admissions with a mortality approaching 16%. One key issue of contention is the benefit of rapid surgical management of SEA to maximize outcomes. Timing of surgical management is definitely one overlooked aspect of care in spinal infections. Therefore, the authors performed a retrospective analysis in which they evaluated patients who underwent early (evacuation within 24 hours) versus delayed surgical intervention (> 24 hours) from the point of diagnosis, in an attempt to test the hypothesis that earlier surgery results in improved outcomes.


A retrospective review of a prospectively maintained adult neurosurgical database from 2009 to 2011 was conducted for patients with the diagnostic heading: epidural abscess, infection, osteomyelitis, osteodiscitis, spondylodiscitis, and abscess. The primary end point for each patient was neurological grade, measured as an American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale grade using hospital inpatient records on admission and discharge. Patients were divided into early surgical (< 24 hours) and delayed surgical cohorts.


Eighty-seven consecutive patients were identified (25 females; mean age 55.5 years, age range 18–87 years). Fifty-four patients received surgery within 24 hours of admission (mean time from admission to incision, 11.2 hours), and 33 underwent surgery longer than 24 hours (mean 59 hours) after admission. Of the 54 patients undergoing early surgery 45 (85%) had a neurological deficit, whereas in the delayed surgical group 21 (64%) of 33 patients presented with a neurological deficit (p = 0.09). Patients in the delayed surgery cohort were significantly older by 10 years (59.6 vs 51.8 years, p = 0.01). With regard to history of prior revision, body mass index, intravenous drug abuse, tobacco use, prior radiation therapy, diabetes, chronic systemic infection, and prior osteomyelitis, there were no significant differences. There was no significant difference between early and delayed surgery groups in neurological grade on presentation, discharge, or location of epidural abscess. The most common organism isolated was Staphylococcus aureus (n = 51, 59.3%). The incidence of methicillin-resistant S. aureus was 21% (18 of 87).


Evacuation within 24 hours appeared to have a relative advantage over delayed surgery with regard to discharge neurological grade. However, due to a limited, variable sample size, a significant benefit could not be shown. Further subgroup analyses with larger populations are required.

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Christian Hoelscher, Ahmad Sweid, Ritam Ghosh, Fadi Al Saiegh, Kavantissa M. Keppetipola, Christopher J. Farrell, Jack Jallo, Pascal Jabbour, Stavropoula Tjoumakaris, M. Reid Gooch, Robert H. Rosenwasser and Syed O. Shah

Herein, the authors present the case of a 54-year-old male diagnosed with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) during a screening test. The patient was asked to self-isolate at home and report with any exacerbations of symptoms. He presented later with pneumonia complicated by encephalopathy at days 14 and 15 from initial diagnosis, respectively. MRI of the brain showed bithalamic and gangliocapsular FLAIR signal abnormality with mild right-sided thalamic and periventricular diffusion restriction. A CT venogram was obtained given the distribution of edema and demonstrated deep venous thrombosis involving the bilateral internal cerebral veins and the vein of Galen. CSF workup was negative for encephalitis, as the COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and bacterial cultures were negative. A complete hypercoagulable workup was negative, and the venous thrombosis was attributed to a hypercoagulable state induced by COVID-19. The mental decline was attributed to bithalamic and gangliocapsular venous infarction secondary to deep venous thrombosis. Unfortunately, the patient’s condition continued to decline, and care was withdrawn.