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Max C. Lee, Michael Y. Wang, Richard G. Fessler, Jason Liauw and Daniel H. Kim

Object

Placement of instrumentation in the setting of a spinal infection has always been controversial. Although the use of allograft and autograft bone has been accepted as safe, demonstrations of the effectiveness of titanium have been speculative, based on several retrospective reviews. The authors' goal in this study was to demonstrate the effectiveness of instrumentation in the setting of a spinal infection by retrospectively reviewing their cases over the last 4 years and searching the literature regarding instrumentation in patients with pyogenic spinal infections.

Methods

The authors conducted a retrospective review of their cumulative data on spinal infections. Diagnosis was based on subjective and objective clinical findings, along with radiographic and laboratory evaluation of infection and mechanical stability. Patients with medically managed disease and those who did not receive instrumentation were eliminated from this review.

Of 105 patients with spinal infections who were admitted to the neurosurgical service between January 2000 and June 2004, 30 underwent surgical debridement necessitating spinal instrumentation. There were 17 women and 13 men in this group ranging from 28 to 86 years of age. Follow-up duration ranged from 3 to 54 months. There was one death, which occurred 3 months postsurgery. In three patients a deep wound infection developed, necessitating intervention, and two patients experienced a graft expulsion. Twenty-nine patients went on to demonstrate adequate fusion based on follow-up neuroimaging studies.

Conclusions

The goal of neurosurgical intervention in the setting of spinal infection is to obtain an organism culture and the debridement of infection while maintaining neurological and mechanical stability. The authors demonstrate the effectiveness of radical debridement of infected bone and placement of instrumentation in patients with spinal infections.

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Justin M. Caplan, Mari Groves, Ignacio Jusue-Torres, Jennifer E. Kim, Jason Liauw, Ali Bydon and Rafael J. Tamargo

Spinal vascular lesions are rare and may be classified as a) dural arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs), b) arteriovenous malformations, or c) perimedullary AVFs. In this narrated video illustration, we present the case of a 71-year-old woman who presented with progressive bilateral lower extremity weakness and urinary retention who was diagnosed with a thoracic spinal perimedullary arteriovenous fistula. The diagnostic studies included a thoracic MRI and spinal angiogram. A multilevel thoracic laminoplasty was performed for microsurgical obliteration of the AVF. The techniques of intraoperative angiography, thoracic laminoplasty and microsurgical obliteration and resection of the AVF are reviewed.

The video can be found here: http://youtu.be/5vVp3oq5sLg.

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Justin M. Caplan, Ignacio Jusue-Torres, Jennifer E. Kim, Andrew Luksik, Jason Liauw, Allan Gottschalk and Rafael J. Tamargo

Aneurysms of the posterior circulation remain challenging lesions given their proximity to the brainstem and cranial nerves. Many of these aneurysms may best be approached through a retrosigmoid-suboccipital craniectomy with a far-lateral transcondylar extension. In this narrated video illustration, we present the case of a 37-year-old man with an incidentally discovered right-sided anterior inferior cerebellar artery (AICA) aneurysm. Diagnostic studies included CT angiography and cerebral angiography. A suboccipital craniectomy and far-lateral transcondylar extension were performed for microsurgical trapping and excision of the AICA aneurysm. The techniques of the retrosigmoid craniectomy, C-1 laminectomy, condylectomy and microsurgical trapping of the aneurysm are reviewed.

The video can be found here: http://youtu.be/JiM3CXVwXnk.

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Varun Puvanesarajah, Sheng-fu Larry Lo, Nafi Aygun, Jason A. Liauw, Ignacio Jusué-Torres, Ioan A. Lina, Uri Hadelsberg, Benjamin D. Elder, Ali Bydon, Chetan Bettegowda, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Daniele Rigamonti, Lawrence R. Kleinberg, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Timothy F. Witham, Kristin J. Redmond and Michael Lim

OBJECT

The number of patients with spinal tumors is rapidly increasing; spinal metastases develop in more than 30% of cancer patients during the course of their illness. Such lesions can significantly decrease quality of life, often necessitating treatment. Stereotactic radiosurgery has effectively achieved local control and symptomatic relief for these patients. The authors determined prognostic factors that predicted pain palliation and report overall institutional outcomes after spine stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT).

METHODS

Records of patients who had undergone treatment with SBRT for either primary spinal tumors or spinal metastases from June 2008 through June 2013 were retrospectively reviewed. Data were collected at the initial visit just before treatment and at 1-, 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-up visits. Collected clinical data included Karnofsky Performance Scale scores, pain status, presence of neurological deficits, and prior radiation exposure at the level of interest. Radiation treatment plan parameters (dose, fractionation, and target coverage) were recorded. To determine the initial extent of epidural spinal cord compression (ESCC), the authors retrospectively reviewed MR images, assessed spinal instability according to the Bilsky scale, and evaluated lesion progression after treatment.

RESULTS

The study included 99 patients (mean age 60.4 years). The median survival time was 9.1 months (95% CI 6.9–17.2 months). Significant decreases in the proportion of patients reporting pain were observed at 3 months (p < 0.0001), 6 months (p = 0.0002), and 12 months (p = 0.0019) after treatment. Significant decreases in the number of patients reporting pain were also observed at the last follow-up visit (p = 0.00020) (median follow-up time 6.1 months, range 1.0–56.6 months). Univariate analyses revealed that significant predictors of persistent pain after intervention were initial ESCC grade, stratified by a Bilsky grade of 1c (p = 0.0058); initial American Spinal Injury Association grade of D (p = 0.011); initial Karnofsky Performance Scale score, stratified by a score of 80 (p = 0.002); the presence of multiple treated lesions (p = 0.044); and prior radiation at the site of interest (p < 0.0001). However, when multivariate analyses were performed on all variables with p values less than 0.05, the only predictor of pain at last follow-up visit was a prior history of radiation at the site of interest (p = 0.0038), although initial ESCC grade trended toward significance (p = 0.073). Using pain outcomes at 3 months, at this follow-up time point, pain could be predicted by receipt of radiation above a threshold biologically effective dose of 66.7 Gy.

CONCLUSIONS

Pain palliation occurs as early as 3 months after treatment; significant differences in pain reporting are also observed at 6 and 12 months. Pain palliation is limited for patients with spinal tumors with epidural extension that deforms the cord and for patients who have previously received radiation to the same site. Further investigation into the optimal dose and fractionation schedule are needed, but improved outcomes were observed in patients who received radiation at a biologically effective dose (with an a/b of 3.0) of 66.7 Gy or higher.