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Jean-Marc Voyadzis, Parul Bhargava, and Fraser C. Henderson

Object. Tarlov or perineurial cysts are lesions of the nerve root most often found in the sacral region. Although there is agreement that asymptomatic Tarlov cysts should be followed, it is still debated whether patients with symptomatic Tarlov cysts should be treated surgically. The authors assessed the outcome and efficacy of cyst wall resection in 10 patients with symptomatic Tarlov cysts. The medical literature is reviewed, theories of origin are evaluated, and suggestions as to their cause and pathogenesis are offered.

Methods. Ten consecutive patients harboring symptomatic Tarlov cysts were treated by the senior author between 1989 and 1999. All patients were assessed for neurological deficits and pain by neurological examination and visual analog scale, respectively. Computerized tomography myelography was performed in all patients to diagnose delayed filling of the cysts. A sacral laminectomy with resection of the sacral cyst or cysts was performed in all patients. Resected material from eight of 10 patients was submitted for histopathological evaluation. Seven (70%) of 10 patients obtained complete or substantial resolution of their symptoms, with an average follow up of 31.7 months. All of these patients had Tarlov cysts larger than 1.5 cm in diameter, producing radicular pain or bladder and bowel dysfunction. Three (30%) of 10 patients experienced no significant improvement. All three patients harbored Tarlov cysts smaller than 1.5 cm in diameter, producing nonradicular pain. Histopathological examination was performed on specimens from eight of 10 patients, which demonstrated nerve fibers in 75% of cases, ganglion cells in 25% of cases, and evidence of old hemorrhage in half.

Conclusions. Large cysts (> 1.5 cm) and the presence of associated radicular symptoms strongly correlate with excellent outcome. Tarlov cysts may result from increased hydrostatic pressure and trauma.

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Ehsan Dowlati, Hepzibha Alexander, and Jean-Marc Voyadzis

OBJECTIVE

Nerve root injuries associated with anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) are uncommonly reported in the literature. This case series and review aims to describe the etiology of L5 nerve root injury following ALIF at L5–S1.

METHODS

The authors performed a single-center retrospective review of prospectively collected data of patients who underwent surgery between 2017 and 2019 who had postoperative L5 nerve root injuries after stand-alone L5–S1 ALIF. They also reviewed the literature with regard to nerve root injuries after ALIF procedures.

RESULTS

The authors report on 3 patients with postoperative L5 radiculopathy. All 3 patients had pain that improved. Two of the 3 patients had a neurological deficit, one of which improved.

CONCLUSIONS

Stretch neuropraxia from overdistraction is an important cause of postoperative L5 radiculopathy after L5–S1 ALIF. Judicious use of implants and careful preoperative planning to determine optimal implant sizes are paramount.

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Jean-Marc Voyadzis, Daniel Felbaum, and Jay Rhee

Minimally invasive lateral interbody fusion for the treatment of degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, or scoliosis is becoming increasingly popular. The approach at L4–5 carries the highest risk of nerve injury given the proximity of the lumbar plexus and femoral nerve. The authors present 3 cases that were aborted during the approach because of pervasive electromyography responses throughout the L4–5 disc space. Preoperative imaging characteristics of psoas muscle anatomy in all 3 cases are analyzed and discussed. In all cases, the psoas muscle on axial views was rising away from the vertebral column as opposed to its typical location lateral to it. Preoperative evaluation of psoas muscle anatomy is important. A rising psoas muscle at L4–5 on axial imaging may complicate a lateral approach.

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Steven M. Spitz, Faheem A. Sandhu, and Jean-Marc Voyadzis

OBJECT

Percutaneous pedicle screws are used to provide rigid internal fixation in minimally invasive spinal procedures and generally require the use of Kirchner wires (or K-wires) as a guide for screw insertion. K-wires can bend, break, advance, or pull out during the steps of pedicle preparation and screw insertion. This can lead to increased fluoroscopic and surgical times and potentially cause neurological, vascular, or visceral injury. The authors present their experience with a novel “K-wireless” percutaneous pedicle screw system that eliminates the inherent risks of K-wire use.

METHODS

A total of 100 screws were placed in 28 patients using the K-wireless percutaneous screw system. Postoperative dedicated spinal CT scans were performed in 25 patients to assess the accuracy of screw placement. Screw placement was graded A through D by 2 independent radiologists: A = within pedicle, B = breach < 2 mm, C = breach of 2–4 mm, and D = breach > 4 mm. Screw insertion and fluoroscopy times were also recorded in each case. Clinical complications associated with screw insertion were documented.

RESULTS

A total of 100 K-wireless percutaneous pedicle screws were placed into the lumbosacral spine in 28 patients. Postoperative CT was performed in 25 patients, thus the placement of only 90 screws was assessed. Eighty-seven screws were placed within the pedicle confines (Grade A), and 3 violated the pedicle (2 Grade B [1 lateral, 1 medial] and 1 Grade D [medial]) for an overall accuracy rate of 96.7%. One patient required reoperation for screw repositioning due to a postoperative L-5 radiculopathy secondary to a Grade D medial breach at L-5. This patient experienced improvement of the radiculopathy after reoperation. Average screw insertion and fluoroscopy times were 6.92 minutes and 22.7 seconds per screw, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this study demonstrate that the placement of K-wireless percutaneous pedicle screws is technically feasible and can be performed accurately and safely with short procedure and fluoroscopy times.

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Jean-Marc Voyadzis, Ines Guttman-Bauman, Mariarita Santi, and Philip Cogen

✓ The authors describe a unique case of a 2-year-old boy with a hypothalamic hamartoma secreting corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). The patient presented with a history of behavioral disturbances progressing over 12 months. His neurological status was intact. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated a 1.8 × 1.6 × 1.2—cm isointense, nonenhancing hypothalamic lesion. Endocrinological workup revealed elevated serum CRH and adrenocorticotropic hormone levels, nonsuppression with low-dose dexamethasone, and partial suppression with high-dose dexamethasone. He underwent tumor resection via a right frontotemporal craniotomy. Pathological examination of the tissue confirmed a hypothalamic hamartoma with CRH immunostaining. Postoperatively, his hormone levels normalized and his behavioral disturbances abated. The radiographic and clinical characteristics of hypothalamic hamartomas are reviewed and therapeutic considerations discussed.

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Jay Rhee, Amjad Nasr Anaizi, Faheem A. Sandhu, and Jean-Marc Voyadzis

Synovial cysts of the lumbar spine result from degeneration of the facet capsule and often mimic symptoms commonly seen with herniated intervertebral discs. In symptomatic patients, the prevalence of synovial cysts may be as high as 10%. Although conservative management is possible, the majority of patients will require resection. Traditional procedures for lumbar synovial cyst resection use an ipsilateral approach requiring partial or complete resection of the ipsilateral facet complex, possibly leading to further destabilization. A contralateral technique using minimally invasive tubular retractors for synovial cyst resection avoids facet disruption. The authors report 2 cases of a minimally invasive synovial cyst resection via a contralateral laminotomy. In both cases, complete resection of the cyst was achieved while sparing the facet joint.

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Austin H. Carroll, Ehsan Dowlati, Esteban Molina, David Zhao, Marcelle Altshuler, Kyle B. Mueller, Faheem A. Sandhu, and Jean-Marc Voyadzis

OBJECTIVE

The effect of obesity on outcomes in minimally invasive surgery (MIS) approaches to posterior lumbar surgery is not well characterized. The authors aimed to determine if there was a difference in operative variables and complication rates in obese patients who underwent MIS versus open approaches in posterior spinal surgery, as well as between obese and nonobese patients undergoing MIS approaches.

METHODS

A retrospective review of all consecutive patients who underwent posterior lumbar surgery from 2013 to 2016 at a single institution was performed. The primary outcome measure was postoperative complications. Secondary outcome measures included estimated blood loss (EBL), operative time, the need for revision, and hospital length of stay (LOS); readmission and disposition were also reviewed. Obese patients who underwent MIS were compared with those who underwent an open approach. Additionally, obese patients who underwent an MIS approach were compared with nonobese patients. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were carried out between the groups.

RESULTS

In total, 423 obese patients (57.0% decompression and 43.0% fusion) underwent posterior lumbar MIS. When compared with 229 obese patients (56.8% decompression and 43.2% fusion) who underwent an open approach, patients in both the obese and nonobese groups who underwent MIS experienced significantly decreased EBL, LOS, operative time, and surgical site infections (SSIs). Of the nonobese patients, 538 (58.4% decompression and 41.6% fusion) underwent MIS procedures. When compared with nonobese patients, obese patients who underwent MIS procedures had significantly increased LOS, EBL, operative time, revision rates, complications, and readmissions in the decompression group. In the fusion group, only LOS and disposition were significantly different.

CONCLUSIONS

Obese patients have poorer outcomes after posterior lumbar MIS when compared with nonobese patients. The use of an MIS technique can be of benefit, as it decreased EBL, operative time, LOS, and SSIs for posterior decompression with or without instrumented fusion in obese patients.

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Jeffrey W. Degen, Gregory J. Gagnon, Jean-Marc Voyadzis, Donald A. McRae, Michael Lunsden, Sonja Dieterich, Inge Molzahn, and Fraser C. Henderson

Object. The authors conducted a study to assess safety, pain, and quality of life (QOL) outcomes following CyberKnife radiosurgical treatment of spinal tumors.

Methods. Data obtained in all patients with spinal tumors who underwent CyberKnife radiosurgery at Georgetown University Hospital between March 2002 and March 2003 were analyzed. Patients underwent examination, visual analog scale (VAS) pain assessment, and completed the 12-item Short Form Health Survey (SF-12) before treatment and at 1, 3, 6, 8, 12, 18, and 24 months following treatment.

Fifty-one patients with 72 lesions (58 metastatic and 14 primary) were treated. The mean follow-up period was 1 year. Pain was improved, with the mean VAS score decreasing significantly from 51.5 to 21.3 at 4 weeks (p < 0.001). This effect on pain was durable, with a mean score of 17.5 at 1 year, which was still significantly decreased (p = 0.002).

Quality of life was maintained throughout the study period. After 18 months, physical well-being was 33 (initial score 32; p = 0.96) and mental well-being was 43.8 (initial score 44.2; p = 0.97). (The mean SF-12 score is 50 ± 10 [standard deviation].) Adverse effects included self-limited dysphagia (three cases), diarrhea (two cases), lethargy (three cases), paresthesias (one case), and wound dehiscence (one case).

Conclusions. CyberKnife radiosurgery improves pain control and maintains QOL in patients treated for spinal tumors. Early adverse events are infrequent and minor. The authors await long-term follow-up data to determine late complications and tumor control rates.