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Vaidya Govindarajan, Jean-Paul Bryant, Roberto J. Perez-Roman, and Michael Y. Wang

OBJECTIVE

Cervical fractures in patients with ankylosing spondylitis can have devastating neurological consequences. Currently, several surgical approaches are commonly used to treat these fractures: anterior, posterior, and anterior-posterior. The relative rarity of these fractures has limited the ability of surgeons to objectively determine the merits of each. The authors present an updated systematic review and meta-analysis investigating the utility of anterior surgical approaches relative to posterior and anterior-posterior approaches.

METHODS

After a comprehensive literature search of the PubMed, Cochrane, and Embase databases, 7 clinical studies were included in the final qualitative and 6 in the final quantitative analyses. Of these studies, 6 compared anterior approaches with anterior-posterior and posterior approaches, while 1 investigated only an anterior approach. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated where appropriate.

RESULTS

A meta-analysis of postoperative neurological improvement revealed no statistically significant differences in gross rates of neurological improvement between anterior and posterior approaches (OR 0.40, 95% CI 0.10–1.59; p = 0.19). However, when analyzing the mean change in neurological function, patients who underwent anterior approaches had a significantly lower mean change in postoperative neurological function relative to patients who underwent posterior approaches (mean difference [MD] −0.60, 95% CI −0.76 to −0.45; p < 0.00001). An identical trend was seen between anterior and anterior-posterior approaches; there were no statistically significant differences in gross rates of neurological improvement (OR 3.05, 95% CI 0.84–11.15; p = 0.09). However, patients who underwent anterior approaches experienced a lower mean change in neurological function relative to anterior-posterior approaches (MD −0.46, 95% CI −0.60 to −0.32; p < 0.00001). There were no significant differences in complication rates between anterior approaches, posterior approaches, or anterior-posterior approaches, although complication rates trended lower in patients who underwent anterior approaches.

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this review and meta-analysis demonstrated the varying benefits of anterior approaches relative to posterior and anterior-posterior approaches in treatment of cervical fractures associated with ankylosing spondylitis. While reports demonstrated lower degrees of neurological improvement in anterior approaches, they may benefit patients with less-severe injuries if lower complication rates are desired.

Free access

Roberto J. Perez-Roman, Vaidya Govindarajan, Jean-Paul Bryant, and Michael Y. Wang

OBJECTIVE

Awake surgery has previously been found to improve patient outcomes postoperatively in a variety of procedures. Recently, multiple groups have investigated the utility of this modality for use in spine surgery. However, few current meta-analyses exist comparing patient outcomes in awake spinal anesthesia with those in general anesthesia. Therefore, the authors sought to present an updated systematic review and meta-analysis investigating the utility of spinal anesthesia relative to general anesthesia in lumbar procedures.

METHODS

Following a comprehensive literature search of the PubMed and Cochrane databases, 14 clinical studies were included in our final qualitative and quantitative analyses. Of these studies, 5 investigated spinal anesthesia in lumbar discectomy, 4 discussed lumbar laminectomy, and 2 examined interbody fusion procedures. One study investigated combined lumbar decompression and fusion or decompression alone. Two studies investigated patients who underwent discectomy and laminectomy, and 1 study investigated a series of patients who underwent transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion, posterolateral fusion, or decompression. Odds ratios, mean differences (MDs), and 95% confidence intervals were calculated where appropriate.

RESULTS

A meta-analysis of the total anesthesia time showed that time was significantly less in patients who received spinal anesthesia for both lumbar discectomies (MD −26.53, 95% CI −38.16 to −14.89; p = 0.00001) and lumbar laminectomies (MD −11.21, 95% CI −19.66 to −2.75; p = 0.009). Additionally, the operative time was significantly shorter in patients who underwent spinal anesthesia (MD −14.94, 95% CI −20.43 to −9.45; p < 0.00001). Similarly, when analyzing overall postoperative complication rates, patients who received spinal anesthesia were significantly less likely to experience postoperative complications (OR 0.29, 95% CI 0.16–0.53; p < 0.0001). Furthermore, patients who received spinal anesthesia had significantly lower postoperative pain scores (MD −2.80, 95% CI −4.55 to −1.06; p = 0.002). An identical trend was seen when patients were stratified by lumbar procedures. Patients who received spinal anesthesia were significantly less likely to require postoperative analgesia (OR 0.06, 95% CI 0.02–0.25; p < 0.0001) and had a significantly shorter hospital length of stay (MD −0.16, 95% CI −0.29 to −0.03; p = 0.02) and intraoperative blood loss (MD −52.36, 95% CI −81.55 to −23.17; p = 0.0004). Finally, the analysis showed that spinal anesthesia cost significantly less than general anesthesia (MD −226.14, 95% CI −324.73 to −127.55; p < 0.00001).

CONCLUSIONS

This review has demonstrated the varying benefits of spinal anesthesia in awake spine surgery relative to general anesthesia in patients who underwent various lumbar procedures. The analysis has shown that spinal anesthesia may offer some benefits when compared with general anesthesia, including reduction in the duration of anesthesia, operative time, total cost, and postoperative complications. Large prospective trials will elucidate the true role of this modality in spine surgery.

Free access

Jean-Paul Bryant, Diana I. Nwokoye, MaKayla F. Cox, and Nnenna S. Mbabuike

While diversity in organized medicine has undoubtedly improved, a disparity remains in the racial and gender makeup of its constituents. This disparity is not distributed equally among all specialties of practice. The surgical subspecialties exemplify this phenomenon by having large gaps between the number of women and racial/ethnic minorities compared to their majority counterparts. Pertaining to neurosurgery in the US, this gap is substantial, with women reaching minority status only within the last 2 years. Among international women in neurosurgery, Black women are even further underrepresented despite efforts in recent years to close the gender gap. The reason for this disparity is likely multifactorial, as Black women demonstrate a unique intersectionality as a minority in regard to both race and gender. In this study, the authors provide historical context for the current state of diversity in neurosurgery and the global strides made by Black women within the field. The authors report recurrent themes in the experiences of Black female neurosurgery attendings and residents as revealed through personal interviews. Furthermore, they examine factors that contribute to the disproportionate representation of Black women in neurosurgery.

Free access

Jean-Paul Bryant, Roberto J. Perez-Roman, S. Shelby Burks, and Michael Y. Wang

OBJECTIVE

Osteoporosis represents the most common metabolic disease of the bone, with an estimated 10% of adults aged 50 years or older affected in the United States. This patient population is at increased risk for spine fracture and instrumentation-related complications after spine surgery. Surgeon knowledge of the available treatments for patients with low bone mineral density (BMD) and how they impact biology of fusion may help mitigate negative effects in the postoperative period. Recombinant parathyroid hormone, which is sold under the name teriparatide, is the most extensively studied bone-protecting agent in humans. Additionally, the success of the monoclonal antibody denosumab has led to further clinical investigations of human patients undergoing spine surgery. Another monoclonal antibody, romosozumab, was recently approved by the US FDA for human use in patients with osteoporosis. Although studies of romosozumab in patients undergoing spine surgery have not been conducted, this is a promising potential therapeutic agent based on its early success in preclinical and clinical trials. Here, the authors aimed to review the mechanisms of action and evidence of use of antiresorptive and anabolic agents in patients with osteoporosis undergoing spine surgery.

METHODS

In accordance with the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines, a systematic review was conducted to explore the antiresorptive and anabolic agents used in the perioperative period in patients with osteoporosis undergoing spinal surgery. The search was performed by using the PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library databases. Titles and abstracts were screened and subsequently selected for full review.

RESULTS

The initial search returned 330 articles. Of these articles, 23 final articles were included and reviewed. Many of these articles reported that use of adjuvant agents in the perioperative period improved radiographic evidence of bony fusion and bone fusion rates. These agents tended to improve BMD postoperatively.

CONCLUSIONS

Although antiosteoporosis agents are effective to varying degrees as treatments of patients with low BMD, teriparatide and bisphosphonates have been the most extensively studied with respect to spinal instrumentation. The advent of newer agents represents an area for further exploration, especially due to the current paucity of controlled investigations. It is imperative for spine surgeons to understand the mechanisms of action of these drugs and their effects on biology of fusion.

Restricted access

Panagiotis Mastorakos, I. Jonathan Pomeraniec, Jean-Paul Bryant, Prashant Chittiboina, and John D. Heiss

OBJECTIVE

Chronic adhesive spinal arachnoiditis (SA) is a complex disease process that results in spinal cord tethering, CSF flow blockage, intradural adhesions, spinal cord edema, and sometimes syringomyelia. When it is focal or restricted to fewer than 3 spinal segments, the disease responds well to open surgical approaches. More extensive arachnoiditis extending beyond 4 spinal segments has a much worse prognosis because of less adequate removal of adhesions and a higher propensity for postoperative scarring and retethering. Flexible neuroendoscopy can extend the longitudinal range of the surgical field with a minimalist approach. The authors present a cohort of patients with severe cervical and thoracic arachnoiditis and myelopathy who underwent flexible endoscopy to address arachnoiditis at spinal segments not exposed by open surgical intervention. These observations will inform subsequent efforts to improve the treatment of extensive arachnoiditis.

METHODS

Over a period of 3 years (2017–2020), 10 patients with progressive myelopathy were evaluated and treated for extensive SA. Seven patients had syringomyelia, 1 had spinal cord edema, and 2 had spinal cord distortion. Surgical intervention included 2- to 5-level thoracic laminectomy, microscopic lysis of adhesions, and then lysis of adhesions at adjacent spinal levels performed using a rigid or flexible endoscope. The mean follow-up was 5 months (range 2–15 months). Neurological function was examined using standard measures. MRI was used to assess syrinx resolution.

RESULTS

The mean length of syringes was 19.2 ± 10 cm, with a mean maximum diameter of 7.0 ± 2.9 mm. Patients underwent laminectomies averaging 3.7 ± 0.9 (range 2–5) levels in length followed by endoscopy, which expanded exposure by an average of another 2.4 extra segments (6.1 ± 4.0 levels total). Endoscopic dissection of extensive arachnoiditis in the dorsal subarachnoid space proceeded through a complex network of opaque arachnoidal bands and membranes bridging from the dorsal dura mater to the spinal cord. In less severely problematic areas, the arachnoid membrane was transparent and attached to the spinal cord through multifocal arachnoid adhesions bridging the subarachnoid space. The endoscope did not compress or injure the spinal cord.

CONCLUSIONS

Intrathecal endoscopy allowed visual assessment and safe removal of intradural adhesions beyond the laminectomy margins. Further development of this technique should improve its effectiveness in opening the subarachnoid space and untethering the spinal cord in cases of extensive chronic adhesive SA.

Free access

Dallas L. Sheinberg, David J. McCarthy, Omar Elwardany, Jean-Paul Bryant, Evan Luther, Stephanie H. Chen, John W. Thompson, and Robert M. Starke

Endothelial cell (EC) dysfunction is known to contribute to cerebral aneurysm (CA) pathogenesis. Evidence shows that damage or injury to the EC layer is the first event in CA formation. The mechanisms behind EC dysfunction in CA disease are interrelated and include hemodynamic stress, hazardous nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity, oxidative stress, estrogen imbalance, and endothelial cell-to-cell junction compromise. Abnormal variations in hemodynamic stress incite pathological EC transformation and inflammatory zone formation, ultimately leading to destruction of the vascular wall and aneurysm dilation. Hemodynamic stress activates key molecular pathways that result in the upregulation of chemotactic cytokines and adhesion molecules, leading to inflammatory cell recruitment and infiltration. Concurrently, oxidative stress damages EC-to-EC junction proteins, resulting in interendothelial gap formation. This further promotes leukocyte traffic into the vessel wall and the release of matrix metalloproteinases, which propagates vascular remodeling and breakdown. Abnormal hemodynamic stress and inflammation also trigger adverse changes in NOS activity, altering proper EC mediation of vascular tone and the local inflammatory environment. Additionally, the vasoprotective hormone estrogen modulates gene expression that often suppresses these harmful processes. Crosstalk between these sophisticated pathways contributes to CA initiation, progression, and rupture. This review aims to outline the complex mechanisms of EC dysfunction in CA pathogenesis.