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Joseph C. Noggle, Daniel M. Sciubba, Amer F. Samdani, D. Greg Anderson, Randal R. Betz and Jahangir Asghar

Object

Lumbar spondylolysis occurs in approximately 6% of the population and presents with localized mechanical back pain, often in young athletes. Surgical treatment may involve decompression, lumbar intersegmental fusion, or direct repair of pars defects. Although such open procedures may effectively resolve symptoms, minimal-access approaches may additionally decrease collateral damage to soft tissues, allowing young, active patients to resume athletic activities sooner. In this study, the authors review their experience repairing bilateral lumbar spondylolyses with screw and hook constructs placed via a minimal-access approach.

Methods

Five consecutive pediatric patients with bilateral L-5 spondylolysis were treated. Bilateral incisions (2.5 cm) were made over L-5. Exposure was maintained with bilateral expandable tubular retractor systems. Pedicle screws were placed in the L-5 pedicles and attached to hooks under the L-5 laminae. A direct repair was performed at the pars defect. Clinical characteristics, operative variables, and postoperative outcomes were collected.

Results

All 5 patients underwent surgery; 4 were male (80%) and 1 was female (20%), and the mean age was 15.8 years (range 15–17 years). The mean estimated blood loss and duration of surgery were 37 ml (range 15–75 ml) and 1.94 hours (range 1–3 hours), respectively. Postoperative hospital stays ranged from 1 to 3 days (mean 1.8 days). The only complication occurred in 1 patient who experienced minor superficial wound breakdown. All patients have experienced resolution of symptoms at this preliminary stage, which has continued over an 8-month follow-up period.

Conclusions

Lumbar spondylolysis can be adequately and safely treated via minimal-access surgical repair of the pars interarticularis by using pedicle screws and rod-hook constructs. This approach may decrease the collateral soft tissue damage common to open dissections, and may be ideal for young, active surgical candidates.

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Jason R. Smith, Amer F. Samdani, Joshua Pahys, Ashish Ranade, Jahangir Asghar, Patrick Cahill and Randal R. Betz

Object

There are few data on treatment results for patients with idiopathic infantile scoliosis (IIS). Thus, the authors have performed a retrospective review of their experience with treating these patients, particularly as newer technologies, such as the vertical expandable prosthetic titanium rib (VEPTR), emerge.

Methods

This retrospective study was conducted to evaluate the methods of treatment used to manage IIS at a single institution. The authors reviewed 31 consecutive patients with a primary diagnosis of IIS. Patients were screened to ensure that there were no confounding congenital anomalies or comorbidities that may have contributed to the spinal deformity. The average age at the time of initial treatment was 25 months. Treatment modalities included bracing, serial body casting, and VEPTR. Pretreatment, posttreatment, and most recent Cobb angles were compared to assess the overall curve correction, and patient charts were reviewed for the occurrence of complications.

Results

Of the 31 patients, 17 were treated with a brace, 9 of whom had curve progression and went on to other forms of treatment. Of the 8 who did respond, there was an overall improvement of 51.2%. The 10 patients who received body casts, who had a mean preoperative Cobb angle of 50.4°, demonstrated an average correction of 59.0%, with only a few skin irritations reported. The 10 patients treated with VEPTR devices demonstrated a mean preoperative Cobb angle of 90.0°, and an average correction of 33.8% was attained. Three of the VEPTR-treated patients (33%) experienced minor problems.

Conclusions

The authors' results suggest that body casting has utility for appropriately selected patients; that is, those with smaller, flexible spinal curves. Bracing had limited utility, with high levels of progression and the need for secondary treatments. The VEPTR device appears to be a viable alternative for large-magnitude curves.

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Jean-Marc Mac-Thiong, Jahangir Asghar, Stefan Parent, Harry L. Shufflebarger, Amer Samdani and Hubert Labelle

Anterior release and fusion is sometimes required in pediatric patients with thoracic scoliosis. Typically, a formal anterior approach is performed through open thoracotomy or video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery. The authors recently developed a technique for anterior release and fusion in thoracic scoliosis referred to as “posterior convex release and interbody fusion” (PCRIF). This technique is performed via the posterior-only approach typically used for posterior instrumentation and fusion and thus avoids a formal anterior approach. In this article the authors describe the technique and its use in 9 patients—to prevent a crankshaft phenomenon in 3 patients and to optimize the correction in 6 patients with a severe thoracic curve showing poor reducibility. After Ponte osteotomies at the levels requiring anterior release and fusion, intervertebral discs are approached from the convex side of the scoliosis. The annulus on the convex side of the scoliosis is incised from the lateral border of the pedicle to the lateral annulus while visualizing and protecting the pleura and spinal cord. The annulus in contact with the pleura and the anterior longitudinal ligament are removed before completing the discectomies and preparing the endplates. The PCRIF was performed at 3 levels in 4 patients and at 4 levels in 5 patients. Mean correction of the main thoracic curve, blood loss, and length of stay were 74.9%, 1290 ml, and 7.6 days, respectively. No neurological deficit, implant failure, or pseudarthrosis was observed at the last follow-up. Two patients had pleural effusion postoperatively, with 1 of them requiring placement of a chest tube. One patient had pulmonary edema secondary to fluid overload, while another patient underwent reoperation for a deep wound infection 3 weeks after the initial surgery.

The technique is primarily indicated in skeletally immature patients with open triradiate cartilage and/or severe scoliosis. It can be particularly useful if there is significant vertebral rotation because access to the disc and anterior longitudinal ligament from the convex side will become safer. The PCRIF is an alternative to the formal anterior approach and does not require repositioning between the anterior and posterior stages, which prolongs the surgery and can be associated with an increased complication rate. The procedure can be done in the presence of preexisting pulmonary morbidity such as pleural adhesions and decreased pulmonary function because it does not require mobilization of the lung or single-lung ventilation. However, PCRIF can still be associated with pulmonary complications such as a pleural effusion, and care should be taken to avoid iatrogenic injury to the pleura. Placement of a deep wound drain at the level of the PCRIF is strongly recommended if postoperative bleeding is anticipated, to decrease the risk of pleural effusion.