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James S. Harrop and Gregory J. Przybylski

Odontoid fractures can be successfully treated with anterior screw fixation. Odontoid fractures commonly occur in older patients who may have significant osteopenia. The authors examined the use of a bone substitute to overcome limitations encountered during a procedure in which anterior odontoid screw fixation is performed.

Two elderly patients with displaced, reducible acute odontoid fractures underwent anterior odontoid screw fixation. The intraoperative failure of the anterior vertebral cortex from osteopenic bone and failure to achieve complete contact between the dens and axis were encountered. The defects were supplemented by using the osteoconductive agent Norian. Outcome was evaluated to determine the utility of this method.

Occasional intraoperative failure of anterior odontoid screw fixation may be encountered. Supplementation of bone defects with this osteoconductive agent may facilitate successful bone union in selected patients.

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James S. Harrop, Gabriel E. Hunt Jr. and Alexander R. Vaccaro

Conus medullaris syndrome (CMS) and cauda equina syndrome (CES) are complex neurological disorders that can be manifested through a variety of symptoms. Patients may present with back pain, unilateral or bilateral leg pain, paresthesias and weakness, perineum or saddle anesthesia, and rectal and/or urinary incontinence or dysfunction. Although patients typically present with acute disc herniations, traumatic injuries at the thoracolumbar junction at the terminal portion of the spinal cord and cauda equina are also common. Unfortunately, a precise understanding of the pathophysiology and optimal treatments, including the best timing of surgery, has yet to be elucidated for either traumatic CES or CMS. In this paper the authors review the current literature on traumatic conus medullaris and cauda equina injuries and available treatment options.

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Gregory J. Przybylski, James S. Harrop and Alexander R. Vaccaro

Object

Acute respiratory failure has been observed in patients after external immobilization for displaced odontoid fractures. The authors studied the frequency of respiratory deterioration in the acute management of displaced Type II odontoid fractures to identify patients at risk for respiratory failure.

Methods

The authors conducted a retrospective review of a consecutive series of 89 patients with odontoid fractures who were treated over a 5-year period to identify 53 patients with displaced Type II odontoid fractures. Patient demographics, degree of displacement, respiratory status, treatment method, and outcome were examined. Of the 32 patients with posteriorly displaced fractures, 13 experienced acute respiratory compromise, whereas only one of 21 patients with anteriorly displaced fractures had respiratory difficulties (p = 0.0032). The average posterior displacement was 6.9 mm. All 13 were initially managed using flexion traction for reduction of these fractures. Two of these patients died because of failure to emergently secure an airway during closed treatment of the fracture.

Conclusions

Frequent respiratory deterioration during acute closed reduction of posteriorly displaced Type II odontoid fractures was observed, whereas respiratory failure in patients with anteriorly displaced fractures was rare. The use of the flexed cervical position in the setting of retropharyngeal edema rather than the direction of the displacement may substantially increase the risk of respiratory failure. This may prompt early elective nasotracheal intubation during closed reduction of posteriorly displaced Type II odontoid fractures that require a flexed posture.

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Matthew J. Viereck, George M. Ghobrial, Sara Beygi and James S. Harrop

OBJECTIVE

Resection significantly improves the clinical symptoms and functional outcomes of patients with intradural extramedullary tumors. However, patient quality of life following resection has not been adequately investigated. The aim in this retrospective analysis of prospectively collected quality of life outcomes is to analyze the efficacy of resection of intradural extramedullary spinal tumors in terms of quality of life markers.

METHODS

A retrospective review of a single institutional neurosurgical administrative database was conducted to analyze clinical data. The Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), visual analog scale (VAS) for pain, and the EQ-5D-3 L descriptive system were used to analyze quality of life preoperatively, less than 1 month postoperatively, 1–3 months postoperatively, 3–12 months postoperatively, and more than 12 months postoperatively.

RESULTS

The ODI scores increased perioperatively at the < 1-month follow-up from 36 preoperatively to 47. Relative to preoperative values, the ODI score decreased significantly at 1–3, 3–12, and > 12 months to 23, 17, and 20, respectively. VAS scores significantly decreased from 6.1 to 3.5, 2.4, 2.0, and 2.9 at the < 1-month, 1- to 3-, 3- to 12-, and > 12-month follow-ups, respectively. EQ-5D mobility significantly worsened at the < 1-month follow-up but improved at the 3- to 12-and > 12-month follow-ups. EQ-5D self-care significantly worsened at the < 1-month follow-up but significantly improved by the 3- to 12-month follow-up. EQ-5D usual activities improved at the 1- to 3-, 3- to 12-, and > 12-month follow-ups. EQ-5D pain and discomfort significantly improved at all follow-up points. EQ-5D anxiety and depression significantly improved at 1- to 3-month and 3- to 12-month follow-ups.

CONCLUSIONS

Resection of intradural extramedullary spine tumors appears to significantly improve patient quality of life by decreasing patient disability and pain and by improving each of the EQ-5D domains.

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James S. Harrop, Ashwini D. Sharan and Gregory J. Przybylski

Object

Cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) after odontoid fracture is unusual. To identify predisposing factors, the authors evaluated a consecutive series of patients who sustained SCI from odontoid fractures.

Methods

A consecutive series of 5096 admissions to the Delaware Valley Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center were reviewed, and 126 patients with neurological impairment at the C1–3 levels were identified. Seventeen patients had acute closed odontoid fractures with neurological deficit. Various parameters including demographics, mechanisms of injury, associated injuries, fracture types/displacements, and radiographic cervical canal dimensions were compared between “complete” and “incomplete” spinal cord injured–patients as well as with neurologically intact patients who had suffered odontoid fractures. There were similar demographics, mechanisms of injury, associated injuries, fracture type/displacement, and canal dimensions in patients with complete and incomplete SCIs. However, only patients with complete injury were ventilator dependent. In comparison with patients with intact spinal cords, spinal cord–injured patients were more commonly males (p = 0.011) who had sustained higher velocity injuries (p = 0.027). The computerized tomography scans of 11 of 17 neurologically impaired patients were compared with those of a random sample of 11 patients with intact spinal cords. Although the anteroposterior diameter (p = 0.028) and cross-sectional area (p = 0.0004) of the cervical spinal canal at the C–2 level were smaller in impaired patients, the displacement of the fragment was not different.

Conclusions

Odontoid fractures are an infrequent cause of SCI. Patients with these injuries typically are males who have smaller spinal canals and have sustained high velocity injuries.

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George M. Ghobrial, Richard Dalyai, Adam E. Flanders and James Harrop

The authors describe a patient who presented with acute tetraparesis and a proposed acute traumatic spinal cord injury that was the result of nitrous oxide myelopathy. This 19-year-old man sustained a traumatic fall off a 6-ft high wall. His examination was consistent with a central cord syndrome with the addition of dorsal column impairment. Cervical MRI demonstrated an isolated dorsal column signal that was suggestive of a nontraumatic etiology. The patient's symptoms resolved entirely over the course of 48 hours.

Nitrous oxide abuse is increasing in prevalence. Its toxic side effects can mask vitamin B12 and folate deficiency and central cord syndrome. The patient's history and radiographic presentation are key to establishing a diagnosis.

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James S. Harrop, Gregory J. Przybylski, Alexander R. Vaccaro and Kennedy Yalamanchili

Object

Type II odontoid fractures are the most common trauma-related dens fracture. Although Type III odontoid fractures have a high union rate when external immobilization is applied, Type II fractures are associated with high rates of nonunion, particularly in elderly patients and those with posteriorly displaced fractures or fractures displaced by more than 6 mm. Because elderly patients may not also tolerate external immobilization in a halo vest, alternative techniques should be explored to identify a method for managing these higher-risk patients. In this study the authors examine the efficacy of anterior odontoid screw fixation in a high-risk group of 10 elderly patients (> 65 years of age) treated for Type II odontoid fractures.

Methods

A retrospective review of all patients with Type II odontoid fractures treated at two institutions between September 1997 and March 2000 was performed. Demographic data, neurological examination, fracture type and degree of displacement, treatment method, and outcome data were examined at discharge. Ten patients older than 65 years who had sustained a trauma-related odontoid fracture and had undergone an anterior odontoid screw placement procedure were retrospectively reviewed. Fracture displacement (mean 6.6 mm) was observed in all but one patient, and in seven there were posteriorly displaced fractures. Seven were successfully treated with anterior screw fixation and external orthosis alone; in one patient in whom poor intraoperative screw purchase had been observed, the fracture healed after undergoing halo vest therapy. Only one patient was shown to develop a nonunion requiring a subsequent posterior fusion procedure.

Conclusions

Odontoid screw fixation can be safely performed in elderly patients, and frequent bone union is demonstrated. However, osteopenia may preclude adequate screw fixation in some patients.

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Sanjay Yadla, Mitchell G. Maltenfort, John K. Ratliff and James S. Harrop

Object

Appreciation of the optimal management of skeletally mature patients with spinal deformities requires understanding of the natural history of the disease relative to expected outcomes of surgical intervention. Appropriate outcome measures are necessary to define the surgical treatment. Unfortunately, the literature lacks prospective randomized data. The majority of published series report outcomes of a particular surgical approach, procedure, or surgeon. The purpose of the current study was to systematically review the present spine deformity literature and assess the available data on clinical and radiographic outcome measurements.

Methods

A systematic review of MEDLINE and PubMed databases was performed to identify articles published from 1950 to the present using the following key words: “adult scoliosis surgery,” “adult spine deformity surgery,” “outcomes,” and “complications.” Exclusion criteria included follow-up shorter than 2 years and mean patient age younger than 18 years. Data on major curve (coronal scoliosis or lumbar lordosis Cobb angle as reported), major curve correction, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores, Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) instrument scores, complications, and pseudarthroses were recorded.

Results

Forty-nine articles were obtained and included in this review; 3299 patient data points were analyzed. The mean age was 47.7 years, and the mean follow-up period was 3.6 years. The average major curve correction was 26.6° (for 2188 patients); for 2129 patients, it was possible to calculate average curve reduction as a percentage (40.7%). The mean total ODI was 41.2 (for 1289 patients), and the mean postoperative reduction in ODI was 15.7 (for 911 patients). The mean SRS-30 equivalent score was 97.1 (for 1700 patients) with a mean postoperative decrease of 23.1 (for 999 patients). There were 897 reported complications for 2175 patients (41.2%) and 319 pseudarthroses for 2469 patients (12.9%).

Conclusions

Surgery for adult scoliosis is associated with improvement in radiographic and clinical outcomes at a minimum 2-year follow-up. Perioperative morbidity includes an approximately 13% risk of pseudarthrosis and a greater than 40% incidence of perioperative adverse events. Incidence of perioperative complications is substantial and must be considered when deciding optimal disease management. Although the quality of published studies in this area has improved, particularly in the last few years, the current review highlights the lack of routine use of standardized outcomes measures and assessment in the adult scoliosis literature.

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George M. Ghobrial, David W. Cadotte, Kim Williams Jr., Michael G. Fehlings and James S. Harrop

OBJECT

The use of intrawound vancomycin is rapidly being adopted for the prevention of surgical site infection (SSI) in spinal surgery. At operative closure, the placement of vancomycin powder in the wound bed—in addition to standard infection prophylaxis—can provide high concentrations of antibiotics with minimal systemic absorption. However, despite its popularity, to date the majority of studies on intrawound vancomycin are retrospective, and there are no prior reports highlighting the risks of routine treatment.

METHODS

A MEDLINE search for pertinent literature was conducted for studies published between 1966 and May 2015 using the following MeSH search terms: “intrawound vancomycin,” “operative lumbar spine complications,” and “nonoperative lumbar spine complications.” This was supplemented with references and known literature on the topic.

RESULTS

An advanced MEDLINE search conducted on May 6, 2015, using the search string “intrawound vancomycin” found 22 results. After a review of all abstracts for relevance to intrawound vancomycin use in spinal surgery, 10 studies were reviewed in detail. Three meta-analyses were evaluated from the initial search, and 2 clinical studies were identified. After an analysis of all of the identified manuscripts, 3 additional studies were included for a total of 16 studies. Fourteen retrospective studies and 2 prospective studies were identified, resulting in a total of 9721 patients. A total of 6701 (68.9%) patients underwent treatment with intrawound vancomycin. The mean SSI rate among the control and vancomycin-treated patients was 7.47% and 1.36%, respectively. There were a total of 23 adverse events: nephropathy (1 patient), ototoxicity resulting in transient hearing loss (2 patients), systemic absorption resulting in supratherapeutic vancomycin exposure (1 patient), and culture-negative seroma formation (19 patients). The overall adverse event rate for the total number of treated patients was 0.3%.

CONCLUSIONS

Intrawound vancomycin use appears to be safe and effective for reducing postoperative SSIs with a low rate of morbidity. Study disparities and limitations in size, patient populations, designs, and outcomes measures contribute significant bias that could not be fully rectified by this systematic review. Moreover, care should be exercised in the use of intrawound vancomycin due to the lack of well-designed, prospective studies that evaluate the efficacy of vancomycin and include the appropriate systems to capture drug-related complications.

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Pascal Jabbour, Michael Fehlings, Alexander R. Vaccaro and James S. Harrop

In this paper the authors review spine trauma and spinal cord injury (SCI) in the geriatric population. The information in this study was compiled through a literature review of clinical presentation and management of SCI in the elderly population. This was done to define, identify, and specify treatment algorithms and management strategies in this unique patient population.