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Jacob R. Joseph, Brandon W. Smith, Xilin Liu and Paul Park

OBJECTIVE

Surgical robotics has demonstrated utility across the spectrum of surgery. Robotics in spine surgery, however, remains in its infancy. Here, the authors systematically review the evidence behind robotic applications in spinal instrumentation.

METHODS

This systematic review was conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. Relevant studies (through October 2016) that reported the use of robotics in spinal instrumentation were identified from a search of the PubMed database. Data regarding the accuracy of screw placement, surgeon learning curve, radiation exposure, and reasons for robotic failure were extracted.

RESULTS

Twenty-five studies describing 2 unique robots met inclusion criteria. Of these, 22 studies evaluated accuracy of spinal instrumentation. Although grading of pedicle screw accuracy was variable, the most commonly used method was the Gertzbein and Robbins system of classification. In the studies using the Gertzbein and Robbins system, accuracy (Grades A and B) ranged from 85% to 100%. Ten studies evaluated radiation exposure during the procedure. In studies that detailed fluoroscopy usage, overall fluoroscopy times ranged from 1.3 to 34 seconds per screw. Nine studies examined the learning curve for the surgeon, and 12 studies described causes of robotic failure, which included registration failure, soft-tissue hindrance, and lateral skiving of the drill guide.

CONCLUSIONS

Robotics in spine surgery is an emerging technology that holds promise for future applications. Surgical accuracy in instrumentation implanted using robotics appears to be high. However, the impact of robotics on radiation exposure is not clear and seems to be dependent on technique and robot type.

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Jacob R. Joseph, Brandon W. Smith, Frank La Marca and Paul Park

OBJECT

Minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MI-TLIF) and lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) are 2 currently popular techniques for lumbar arthrodesis. The authors compare the total risk of each procedure, along with other important complication outcomes.

METHODS

This systematic review was conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Relevant studies (up to May 2015) that reported complications of either MI-TLIF or LLIF were identified from a search in the PubMed database. The primary outcome was overall risk of complication per patient. Secondary outcomes included risks of sensory deficits, temporary neurological deficit, permanent neurological deficit, intraoperative complications, medical complications, wound complications, hardware failure, subsidence, and reoperation.

RESULTS

Fifty-four studies were included for analysis of MI-TLIF, and 42 studies were included for analysis of LLIF. Overall, there were 9714 patients (5454 in the MI-TLIF group and 4260 in the LLIF group) with 13,230 levels fused (6040 in the MI-TLIF group and 7190 in the LLIF group). A total of 1045 complications in the MI-TLIF group and 1339 complications in the LLIF group were reported. The total complication rate per patient was 19.2% in the MI-TLIF group and 31.4% in the LLIF group (p < 0.0001). The rate of sensory deficits and temporary neurological deficits, and permanent neurological deficits was 20.16%, 2.22%, and 1.01% for MI-TLIF versus 27.08%, 9.40%, and 2.46% for LLIF, respectively (p < 0.0001, p < 0.0001, p = 0.002, respectively). Rates of intraoperative and wound complications were 3.57% and 1.63% for MI-TLIF compared with 1.93% and 0.80% for LLIF, respectively (p = 0.0003 and p = 0.034, respectively). No significant differences were noted for medical complications or reoperation.

CONCLUSIONS

While there was a higher overall complication rate with LLIF, MI-TLIF and LLIF both have acceptable complication profiles. LLIF had higher rates of sensory as well as temporary and permanent neurological symptoms, although rates of intraoperative and wound complications were less than MI-TLIF. Larger, prospective comparative studies are needed to confirm these findings as the current literature is of relative poor quality.

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Jacob R. Joseph, Brandon W. Smith and Hugh J. L. Garton

Blunt prenatal trauma is known to have consequences to the developing brain, and can result in subdural hematoma (SDH) or epidural hematoma (EDH). The authors present a case of blunt prenatal trauma resulting in a fetal SDH, intraparenchymal hematoma, and intraventricular hemorrhage, and perform a systematic review of the literature. This systematic review was conducted according to the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines. Relevant studies (up to April 2016) that reported on cases of fetal SDH or EDH after blunt prenatal trauma were identified from the PubMed database. The primary outcome was fetal mortality, and the secondary outcome was neurological outcome. Fourteen studies were included in the analysis, comprising a total of 14 patients including the present case. The average gestational age at discovery of hemorrhage was 30.1 weeks. Nine mothers were in a motor vehicle collision and 3 were assaulted; the mechanism of injury for 2 mothers was not defined. Twelve patients had SDH, 1 had EDH, and 1 had conflicting reports. Three patients had intrauterine fetal demise, and 3 died in the neonatal period after birth. Three patients had persistent neurological deficit, and 5 were neurologically intact. Fetal SDH or EDH after blunt trauma to the mother trauma is rare and is associated with mortality. However, a significant number of patients can have good neurological outcomes.

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Brandon W. Smith, Jacob R. Joseph and Paul Park

Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) is a state of thrombocytopenia with a paradoxically elevated thrombotic potential after exposure to heparin. Severe cases can present with multiorgan involvement with direct and secondary effects. Although HIT has been reported following other surgeries, to the authors’ knowledge there has not been a report of HIT after spinal surgery. The present case details the course of a patient who underwent elective lumbar surgery followed by delayed presentation of shortness of breath due to multiple pulmonary embolisms and right lower-extremity paralysis due to extensive iliofemoral clot burden with acute compartment syndrome. The patient was treated with intravenous argatroban for extensive thrombosis and also required open thrombectomy and fasciotomies for treatment of compartment syndrome. Although the patient eventually experienced motor recovery, residual sensory deficits persisted at last follow-up. In this report, the pathophysiology, clinical presentation, and treatment of HIT are reviewed.

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Brandon W. Smith, Jacob R. Joseph, Michael Kirsch, Mary Oakley Strasser, Jacob Smith and Paul Park

OBJECTIVE

Percutaneous pedicle screw insertion (PPSI) is a mainstay of minimally invasive spinal surgery. Traditionally, PPSI is a fluoroscopy-guided, multistep process involving traversing the pedicle with a Jamshidi needle, placement of a Kirschner wire (K-wire), placement of a soft-tissue dilator, pedicle tract tapping, and screw insertion over the K-wire. This study evaluates the accuracy and safety of PPSI with a simplified 2-step process using a navigated awl-tap followed by navigated screw insertion without use of a K-wire or fluoroscopy.

METHODS

Patients undergoing PPSI utilizing the K-wire–less technique were identified. Data were extracted from the electronic medical record. Complications associated with screw placement were recorded. Postoperative radiographs as well as CT were evaluated for accuracy of pedicle screw placement.

RESULTS

Thirty-six patients (18 male and 18 female) were included. The patients’ mean age was 60.4 years (range 23.8–78.4 years), and their mean body mass index was 28.5 kg/m2 (range 20.8–40.1 kg/m2). A total of 238 pedicle screws were placed. A mean of 6.6 pedicle screws (range 4–14) were placed over a mean of 2.61 levels (range 1–7). No pedicle breaches were identified on review of postoperative radiographs. In a subgroup analysis of the 25 cases (69%) in which CT scans were performed, 173 screws were assessed; 170 (98.3%) were found to be completely within the pedicle, and 3 (1.7%) demonstrated medial breaches of less than 2 mm (Grade B). There were no complications related to PPSI in this cohort.

CONCLUSIONS

This streamlined 2-step K-wire–less, navigated PPSI appears safe and accurate and avoids the need for radiation exposure to surgeon and staff.

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Jacob R. Joseph, Brandon W. Smith, Rakesh D. Patel and Paul Park

OBJECTIVE

Lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) is an increasingly popular technique used to treat degenerative lumbar disease. The technique of using an intraoperative cone-beam CT (iCBCT) and an image-guided navigation system (IGNS) for LLIF cage placement has been previously described. However, other than a small feasibility study, there has been no clinical study evaluating its accuracy or safety. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the accuracy and safety of image-guided spinal navigation in LLIF.

METHODS

An analysis of a prospectively acquired database was performed. Thirty-one consecutive patients were identified. Accuracy was initially determined by comparison of the planned trajectory of the IGNS with post–cage placement intraoperative fluoroscopy. Accuracy was subsequently confirmed by postprocedural CT and/or radiography. Cage placement was graded based on a previously described system separating the disc space into quarters.

RESULTS

The mean patient age was 63.9 years. A total of 66 spinal levels were treated, with a mean of 2.1 levels (range 1–4) treated per patient. Cage placement was noted to be accurate using IGNS in each case, as confirmed with intraoperative fluoroscopy and postoperative imaging. Sixty-four (97%) cages were placed within Quarters 1 to 2 or 2 to 3, indicating placement of the cage in the anterior or middle portions of the disc space. There were no instances of misguidance by IGNS. There was 1 significant approach-related complication (psoas muscle abscess) that required intervention, and 8 patients with transient, mild thigh paresthesias or weakness.

CONCLUSIONS

LLIF can be safely and accurately performed utilizing iCBCT and IGNS. Accuracy is acceptable for multilevel procedures.

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Jacob R. Joseph, Ashwin Viswanathan and Daniel Yoshor

Corpus callosotomy offers useful palliation for selected patients with medically intractable seizures, particularly those with uncontrolled and disabling drop attacks. Here the authors present their technique for performing a corpus callosotomy that allows for complete sectioning of the callosum while avoiding entry into the lateral ventricles. The anatomical basis for the technique is the presence of a definable cleft just ventral to the corpus callosum in the midline, formed by the fusion of the two laminae of the septum pellucidum. This small cleft is typically present even in the absence of a cavum septum pellucidum on MR imaging. The authors have found that dividing the body of the corpus callosum by exploiting the cleft of the septum pellucidum in the absolute midline is a simple and expeditious way to perform a callosotomy without entering the lateral ventricles.

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Thomas J. Wilson, Jacob R. Joseph, Jonathan R. Dillman, Amer Heider and Lynda J. S. Yang

Patients presenting with enlarging fibrofatty masses in the extremities pose an interesting dilemma to clinicians, as the differential diagnosis in such cases ranges from benign to malignant, and from lesions optimally managed operatively to those managed nonoperatively. The differential diagnosis includes benign lipoma, liposarcoma, lipoblastoma, and fibrolipomatous hamartoma (lipomatosis) of the nerves. The authors present the case of a 14-year-old girl with an enlarging fibrofatty mass of the forearm, initially thought, based on diagnostic imaging, to be a fibrolipomatous hamartoma of the median nerve, but found to be a lipoblastoma without direct nerve involvement based on histopathological examination of the operative specimen. This case serves to illustrate the diagnostic predicament that can exist with such masses. The authors advocate the need to establish a tissue diagnosis while having a contingency plan for each of the diagnostic possibilities because the management of each lesion is markedly different. In this report, the authors consider the differential diagnosis of fibrofatty masses of the extremities that the peripheral nerve surgeon may encounter, and they highlight the significant differences in management strategies for each possible diagnosis.

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Kanwaljeet Garg, Ankita Aggarwal and Rishab Gupta

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Jacob R. Joseph, Zishaan Farooqui, Brandon W. Smith, Elyne N. Kahn, Xilin Liu, Frank La Marca and Paul Park

OBJECTIVE

Obesity and low-back pain associated with degenerative spondylosis or spondylolisthesis are common comorbid conditions. Many patients report that the pain and disability associated with degenerative lumbar disease are key factors in their inability to lose weight. The aim of this retrospective study was to determine if there is an association between improved functional status and weight loss following a successful transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) procedure.

METHODS

A retrospective cohort study of patients who underwent single-level TLIF was performed. Inclusion criteria were preoperative body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 kg/m2, achievement of minimum clinically important difference in the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI, defined as improvement of 15 points), and minimum 1-year postoperative followup BMI. Preoperative and postoperative BMI, ODI, and visual analog scale (VAS) scores were compared. A subgroup analysis of patients who achieved substantial clinical benefit (SCB, defined as a net improvement of 18.8 points on the ODI) was also performed.

RESULTS

A total of 56 patients met the inclusion criteria. The mean age of the study population was 55.6 ± 13.7 years. The mean preoperative BMI was 34.8 ± 4.6 kg/m2, the mean preoperative ODI was 66.2 ± 10.1, and the mean preoperative VAS score was 7.1 ± 1.7. The mean change in ODI was −33.1 ± 13.5 (p < 0.01) and the mean change in the VAS score was −4.1 ± 2.1 (p < 0.01). The mean change in BMI was +0.15 ± 2.1 kg/m2 (range −4.2 to +6.5 kg/m2; p = 0.6). SCB was achieved in 46 patients on the ODI. The mean preoperative BMI for patients with SCB was 34.8 ± 4.8 kg/m2, and the mean postoperative BMI was 34.7 ± 5.0 kg/m2. The mean change in BMI was −0.03 ± 1.9 kg/m2 (p = 0.9).

CONCLUSIONS

Despite successful surgical intervention via TLIF with achievement of improved function and pain, obese patients did not have significant change in weight postoperatively.