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Jacqueline Nguyen, Bryant Chu, Calvin C. Kuo, Jeremi M. Leasure, Christopher Ames and Dimitriy Kondrashov


Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) with or without partial uncovertebral joint resection (UVR) and posterior keyhole foraminotomy are established operative procedures to treat cervical disc degeneration and radiculopathy. Studies have demonstrated reliable results with each procedure, but none have compared the change in neuroforaminal area between indirect and direct decompression techniques. The purpose of this study was to determine which cervical decompression method most consistently increases neuroforaminal area and how that area is affected by neck position.


Eight human cervical functional spinal units (4 each of C5–6 and C6–7) underwent sequential decompression. Each level received the following surgical treatment: bilateral foraminotomy, ACDF, ACDF + partial UVR, and foraminotomy + ACDF. Multidirectional pure moment flexibility testing combined with 3D C-arm imaging was performed after each procedure to measure the minimum cross-sectional area of each foramen in 3 different neck positions: neutral, flexion, and extension.


Neuroforaminal area increased significantly with foraminotomy versus intact in all positions. These area measurements did not change in the ACDF group through flexion-extension. A significant decrease in area was observed for ACDF in extension (40 mm2) versus neutral (55 mm2). Foraminotomy + ACDF did not significantly increase area compared with foraminotomy in any position. The UVR procedure did not produce any changes in area through flexion-extension.


All procedures increased neuroforaminal area. Foraminotomy and foraminotomy + ACDF produced the greatest increase in area and also maintained the area in extension more than anterior-only procedures. The UVR procedure did not significantly alter the area compared with ACDF alone. With a stable cervical spine, foraminotomy may be preferable to directly decompress the neuroforamen; however, ACDF continues to play an important role for indirect decompression and decompression of more centrally located herniated discs. These findings pertain to bony stenosis of the neuroforamen and may not apply to soft disc herniation. The key points of this study are as follows. Both ACDF and foraminotomy increase the foraminal space. Foraminotomy was most successful in maintaining these increases during neck motion. Partial UVR was not a significant improvement over ACDF alone. Foraminotomy may be more efficient at decompressing the neuroforamen. Results should be taken into consideration only with stable spines.

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Aaron J. Clark, Jessica A. Tang, Jeremi M. Leasure, Michael E. Ivan, Dimitriy Kondrashov, Jenni M. Buckley, Vedat Deviren and Christopher P. Ames


Reconstruction after total sacrectomy is a critical component of malignant sacral tumor resection, permitting early mobilization and maintenance of spinal pelvic alignment. However, implant loosening, graft migration, and instrumentation breakage remain major problems. Traditional techniques have used interiliac femoral allograft, but more modern methods have used fibular or cage struts from the ilium to the L-5 endplate or sacral body replacement with transiliac bars anchored to cages to the L-5 endplate. This study compares the biomechanical stability under gait-simulating fatigue loading of the 3 current methods.


Total sacrectomy was performed and reconstruction was completed using 3 different constructs in conjunction with posterior spinal screw rod instrumentation from L-3 to pelvis: interiliac femur strut allograft (FSA); L5–iliac cage struts (CSs); and S-1 body replacement expandable cage (EC). Intact lumbar specimens (L3–sacrum) were tested for flexion-extension range of motion (FE-ROM), axial rotation ROM (AX-ROM), and lateral bending ROM (LB-ROM). Each instrumented specimen was compared with its matched intact specimen to generate an ROM ratio. Fatigue testing in compression and flexion was performed using a custom-designed long fusion gait model.


Compared with intact specimen, the FSA FE-ROM ratio was 1.22 ± 0.60, the CS FE-ROM ratio was significantly lower (0.37 ± 0.12, p < 0.001), and EC was lower still (0.29 ± 0.14, p < 0.001; values are expressed as the mean ± SD). The difference between CS and EC in FE-ROM ratio was not significant (p = 0.83). There were no differences in AX-ROM or LB-ROM ratios (p = 0.77 and 0.44, respectively). No failures were noted on fatigue testing of any EC construct (250,000 cycles). This was significantly improved compared with FSA (856 cycles, p < 0.001) and CS (794 cycles, p < 0.001).


The CS and EC appear to be significantly more stable constructs compared with FSA with FE-ROM. The 3 constructs appear to be equal with AX-ROM and LB-ROM. Most importantly, EC appears to be significantly more resistant to fatigue compared with FSA and CS. Reconstruction of the load transfer mechanism to the pelvis via the L-5 endplate appears to be important in maintenance of alignment after total sacrectomy reconstruction.