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William R. Miele, Rolf Pfannl, and James T. Kryzanski

The authors present a case of extensive primary intramedullary spinal CNS ganglioneuroblastoma (GNB) in a 23-year-old man. Central nervous system GNB is a poorly differentiated neuroepithelial tumor composed of neuroblasts and differentiated ganglion cells, and these lesions are extremely uncommon. Most previously reported primary intraaxial neuroblastic tumors were described in the brain. There has been only one other report of primary spinal cord CNS GNB published to date; the clinical course and prognosis for primary spinal cord tumors of this type are unknown. Similar tumor types demonstrate poor prognoses.

This 23-year-old man presented after 9 months of progressive myelopathy. Admission MR imaging showed an intraaxial enhancing mass extending from C-3 to the conus medullaris, with a holocord appearance in several areas. Due to the tumor size, operative intervention was initially limited to biopsy sampling. Chemotherapy resulted in histological maturation, but initial tumor regression was temporary. The patient suffered progressive quadriparesis, and neuroimaging demonstrated slow enlargement of the tumor and an associated syrinx. Nineteen months after diagnosis, the tumor was excised to gross-total resection in a 2-stage operation. One year following resection, the patient had no radiographic recurrence and was functional in a wheelchair with minimal paresis in the upper extremities. This case represents the most extensive example of primary spinal intramedullary CNS GNB reported to date. Holocord tumors present a significant challenge to the neurosurgeon, and resection bears substantial risk of morbidity. In spinal cord CNS GNB, chemotherapy followed by complete resection may be the most effective means of tumor control.

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Shane M. Burke, Mina G. Safain, James Kryzanski, and Ron I. Riesenburger

Lumbar nerve root anomalies are uncommon phenomena that must be recognized to avoid neural injury during surgery. The authors describe 2 cases of nerve root anomalies encountered during mini-open transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) surgery. One anomaly was a confluent variant not previously classified; the authors suggest that this variant be reflected in an amendment to the Neidre and Macnab classification system. They also propose strategies for identifying these anomalies and avoiding injury to anomalous nerve roots during TLIF surgery. Case 1 involved a 68-year-old woman with a 2-year history of neurogenic claudication. An MR image demonstrated L4–5 stenosis and spondylolisthesis and an L-4 nerve root that appeared unusually low in the neural foramen. During a mini-open TLIF procedure, a nerve root anomaly was seen. Six months after surgery this patient was free of neurogenic claudication. Case 2 involved a 60-year-old woman with a 1-year history of left L-4 radicular pain. Both MR and CT images demonstrated severe left L-4 foraminal stenosis and focal scoliosis. Before surgery, a nerve root anomaly was not detected, but during a unilateral mini-open TLIF procedure, a confluent nerve root was identified. Two years after surgery, this patient was free of radicular pain.

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James T. Kryzanski, Donald J. Annino Jr., and Carl B. Heilman

The treatment of malignant skull base tumors has improved with the development of skull base surgical approaches that allow en bloc resection of a lesion and increase the efficacy of adjuvant therapies. The anatomical complexity of these lesions and their surroundings has led to a relatively high complication rate. Infection and cerebrospinal fluid fistulas are the most common serious procedure-related complications. They result from the frequent necessity of working in a contaminated space such as the paranasal sinuses as well as from the creation of large dural and skull base defects. The authors have reviewed the literature regarding complications of surgery for malignant skull base lesions and present several techniques and strategies for minimizing their incidence by performing the craniofacial approach to anterior skull base lesions.

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Mina Safain, Matthew Shepard, Jason Rahal, James Kryzanski, Steven Hwang, Marie Roguski, and Ron I. Riesenburger

Treprostinil is a synthetic analog of prostacyclin, which is used for treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Continuous subcutaneous administration of treprostinil has been proven in randomized controlled trials to improve quality of life, hemodynamics, and 5-year survival in patients with PAH. The efficacy of treprostinil has been attributed to its vasodilatory and antiplatelet effects. Unfortunately, the efficacy of treprostinil in the treatment of PAH is rapidly reversed upon cessation of the continuous infusion. Furthermore, cases of patients rapidly declining or succumbing to disease progression upon cessation of treprostinil have raised significant concern regarding discontinuation of this medication. To date, there are no reports of emergency craniotomies performed in the setting of continuous subcutaneous infusion of treprostinil. The authors report a case of a patient with PAH, treated with continuous administration of subcutaneous treprostinil as well as warfarin, who developed an acute subdural hematoma (SDH). Despite adequate INR (international normalized ratio) correction, the patient eventually underwent an emergency craniotomy for evacuation of the SDH while on continuous treprostinil administration. This case highlights the neurosurgical dilemma regarding the appropriate management of acute SDHs in patients receiving continuous treprostinil infusion.

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Gaetano De Biase, Shaun E. Gruenbaum, James L. West, Selby Chen, Elird Bojaxhi, James Kryzanski, Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, and Kingsley Abode-Iyamah


There has been increasing interest in the use of spinal anesthesia (SA) for spine surgery, especially within Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocols. Despite the wide adoption of SA by the orthopedic practices, it has not gained wide acceptance in lumbar spine surgery. Studies investigating SA versus general anesthesia (GA) in lumbar laminectomy and discectomy have found that SA reduces perioperative costs and leads to a reduction in analgesic use, as well as to shorter anesthesia and surgery time. The aim of this retrospective, case-control study was to compare the perioperative outcomes of patients who underwent minimally invasive surgery (MIS)–transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) after administration of SA with those who underwent MIS-TLIF under GA.


Overall, 40 consecutive patients who underwent MIS-TLIF by a single surgeon were analyzed; 20 patients received SA and 20 patients received GA. Procedure time, intraoperative adverse events, postoperative adverse events, postoperative length of stay, 3-hour postanesthesia care unit (PACU) numeric rating scale (NRS) pain score, opioid medication, and time to first ambulation were collected for each patient.


The two groups were homogeneous for clinical characteristics. A decrease in total operating room (OR) time was found for patients who underwent MIS-TLIF after administration of SA, with a mean OR time of 156.5 ± 18.9 minutes versus 213.6 ± 47.4 minutes for patients who underwent MIS-TLIF under GA (p < 0.0001), a reduction of 27%. A decrease in total procedure time was also observed for SA versus GA (122 ± 16.7 minutes vs 175.2 ± 10 minutes; p < 0.0001). No significant differences were found in intraoperative and postoperative adverse events. There was a difference in the mean maximum NRS pain score during the first 3 hours in the PACU as patients who received SA reported a lower pain score compared with those who received GA (4.8 ± 3.5 vs 7.3 ± 2.7; p = 0.018). No significant difference was observed in morphine equivalents received by the two groups. A difference was also observed in the mean overall NRS pain score, with 2.4 ± 2.1 for the SA group versus 4.9 ± 2.3 for the GA group (p = 0.001). Patients who received SA had a shorter time to first ambulation compared with those who received GA (385.8 ± 353.8 minutes vs 855.9 ± 337.4 minutes; p < 0.0001).


The results of this study have pointed to some important observations in this patient population. SA offers unique advantages in comparison with GA for performing MIS-TLIF, including reduced OR time and postoperative pain, and faster postoperative mobilization.

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Mark Henry, Katherine Scarlata, Ron I. Riesenburger, James Kryzanski, Leslie Rideout, Amer Samdani, Andrew Jea, and Steven W. Hwang


Although MRI with short-term T1 inversion recovery (STIR) sequencing has been widely adopted in the clearance of cervical spine in adults who have sustained trauma, its applicability for cervical spine clearance in pediatric trauma patients remains unclear. The authors sought to review a Level 1 trauma center's experience using MRI for posttraumatic evaluation of the cervical spine in pediatric patients.


A pediatric trauma database was retrospectively queried for patients who received an injury warranting radiographic imaging of the cervical spine and had a STIR-MRI sequence of the cervical spine performed within 48 hours of injury between 2002 and 2011. Demographic, radiographic, and outcome data were retrospectively collected through medical records.


Seventy-three cases were included in the analysis. The mean duration of follow-up was 10 months (range 4 days–7 years). The mean age of the patients at the time of trauma evaluation was 8.3 ± 5.8 years, and 65% were male. The majority of patients were involved in a motor vehicle accident. In 70 cases, the results of MRI studies were negative, and the patients were cleared prior to discharge with no clinical suggestion of instability on follow-up. In 3 cases, the MRI studies had abnormal findings; 2 of these 3 patients were cleared with dynamic radiographs during the same admission. Only 1 patient had an unstable injury and required surgical stabilization. The sensitivity of STIR MRI to detect cervical instability was 100% with a specificity of 97%. The positive predictive value was 33% and the negative predictive value was 100%.


Although interpretation of our results are diminished by limitations of the study, in our series, STIR MRI in routine screening for pediatric cervical trauma had a high sensitivity and slightly lower specificity, but may have utility in future practices and should be considered for implementation into protocols.

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Jeffrey M. Breton, Calvin G. Ludwig, Michael J. Yang, T. Jayde Nail, Ron I. Riesenburger, Penny Liu, and James T Kryzanski


Spinal anesthesia (SA) is an alternative to general anesthesia (GA) for lumbar spine surgery, including complex instrumented fusion, although there are relatively few outcome data available. The authors discuss their experience using SA in a modern complex lumbar spine surgery practice to describe its utility and implementation.


Data from patients receiving SA for lumbar spine surgery by one surgeon from March 2017 to December 2020 were collected via a retrospective chart review. Cases were divided into nonfusion and fusion procedure categories and analyzed for demographics and baseline medical status; pre-, intra-, and postoperative events; hospital course, including Acute Pain Service (APS) consults; and follow-up visit outcome data.


A total of 345 consecutive lumbar spine procedures were found, with 343 records complete for analysis, including 181 fusion and 162 nonfusion procedures and spinal levels from T11 through S1. The fusion group was significantly older (mean age 65.9 ± 12.4 vs 59.5 ± 15.4 years, p < 0.001) and had a significantly higher proportion of patients with American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Physical Status Classification class III (p = 0.009) than the nonfusion group. There were no intraoperative conversions to GA, with infrequent need for a second dose of SA preoperatively (2.9%, 10/343) and rare preoperative conversion to GA (0.6%, 2/343) across fusion and nonfusion groups. Rates of complications during hospitalization were comparable to those seen in the literature. The APS was consulted for 2.9% (10/343) of procedures. An algorithm for the integration of SA into a lumbar spine surgery practice, from surgical and anesthetic perspectives, is also offered.


SA is a viable, safe, and effective option for lumbar spine surgery across a wide range of age and health statuses, particularly in older patients and those who want to avoid GA. The authors’ protocol, based in part on the largest set of data currently available describing complex instrumented fusion surgeries of the lumbar spine completed under SA, presents guidance and best practices to integrate SA into contemporary lumbar spine practices.