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

OBJECTIVE

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.

METHODS

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.

RESULTS

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.

CONCLUSIONS

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.