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Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr, Brian D. Snyder, John B. Emans, Mark R. Proctor and Daniel Hedequist

Severe os odontoideum causing ventral brainstem compression is a rare and difficult entity to treat. It is generally accepted that severe os odontoideum causing ventral brainstem compression and neurological deficits warrants surgical treatment. This often requires both anterior and posterior procedures. Anterior approaches to the craniocervical junction are fraught with complications, including infection and risk of injury to neurovascular structures. External traction systems traditionally require long-term bedrest.

The authors report 2 cases of severe ventral brainstem compression secondary to displaced os odontoideum and describe their use of extended preoperative halo vest traction to reduce the severe kyphosis and improve neurological function, followed by posterior occipitocervical fusion. Postoperatively both patients showed remarkable improvements in their neurological function and kyphotic deformity.

Preoperative halo vest traction combined with posterior occipitocervical fusion appears to be a safe and effective method to treat brainstem compression by severe os odontoideum. It allows for adequate decompression of ventral neural structures and improvement of neurological function, but it is not hindered by the risks of anterior surgical approaches and does not restrict patients to strict bedrest as traditional traction systems. This method of halo vest traction and posterior-only approaches may be transferable to other cervical instability issues with both anterior and posterior pathologies.

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Donald J. Blaskiewicz, Durga R. Sure, Daniel J. Hedequist, John B. Emans, Frederick Grant and Mark R. Proctor


Osteoid osteomas (OOs) are benign lesions of the spine, but can cause significant pain and spinal deformity in the pediatric population. They are often surgically elusive, and may require multiple surgical procedures to ensure complete resection. Nuclear medicine intraoperative bone scans (IOBSs) are highly sensitive for lesion localization and verification of complete surgical extirpation.


A retrospective review of 20 consecutive patients who had undergone resection of a spinal OO at the authors' institution was undertaken. In all cases, IOBSs were used for lesion localization and verification of resection. Postoperative imaging and clinical follow-up were obtained.


The average length of follow-up was 56 months, with a range of 8–156 months. Five patients had undergone a total of 12 unsuccessful prior procedures for resection at other institutions where IOBSs were not used. In these patients, complete resection was accomplished with the use of IOBSs at the authors' institution. Of the 15 patients who presented to this institution with a newly diagnosed OO and who underwent IOBS-assisted resection, 14 had complete resection without recurrence. One patient, however, was found to have a discrete recurrence adjacent to the initial resection bed at the time of follow-up.


Osteoid osteomas are benign lesions of the spine, and complete resection is curative. If resection is incomplete, then recurrence is likely. The IOBS modality is highly sensitive for detecting OO and for guiding complete resection. The IOBS modality should be considered as a first-line surgical adjunct in cases of suspected OO.

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A. Noelle Larson, David W. Polly Jr., Stacey J. Ackerman, Charles G. T. Ledonio, Baron S. Lonner, Suken A. Shah, John B. Emans, B. Stephens Richards III and Minimize Implants Maximize Outcomes Study Group


There is substantial heterogeneity in the number of screws used per level fused in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) surgery. Assuming equivalent clinical outcomes, the potential cost savings of using fewer pedicle screws were estimated using a medical decision model with sensitivity analysis.


Descriptive analyses explored the annual costs for 5710 AIS inpatient stays using discharge data from the 2009 Kids’ Inpatient Database (Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality), which is a national all-payer inpatient database. Patients between 10 and 17 years of age were identified using the ICD-9-CM code for idiopathic scoliosis (737.30). All inpatient stays were assumed to represent 10-level fusions with pedicle screws for AIS. High screw density was defined at 1.8 screws per level fused, and the standard screw density was defined as 1.48 screws per level fused. The surgical return for screw malposition was set at $23,762. A sensitivity analysis was performed by varying the cost per screw ($600–$1000) and the rate of surgical revisions for screw malposition (0.117%–0.483% of screws; 0.8%–4.3% of patients). The reported outcomes include estimated prevented malpositioned screws (set at 5.1%), averted revision surgeries, and annual cost savings in 2009 US dollars, assuming similar clinical outcomes (rates of complications, revision) using a standard- versus high-density pattern.


The total annual costs for 5710 AIS hospital stays was $278 million ($48,900 per patient). Substituting a high for a standard screw density yields 3.2 fewer screws implanted per patient, with 932 malpositioned screws prevented and 21 to 88 revision surgeries for implant malposition averted, and a potential annual cost savings of $11 million to $20 million (4%–7% reduction in the total cost of AIS hospitalizations).


Reducing the number of screws used in scoliosis surgery could potentially decrease national AIS hospitalization costs by up to 7%, which may improve the safety and efficiency of care. However, such a screw construct must first be proven safe and effective.

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Bram P. Verhofste, Michael P. Glotzbecker, Michael T. Hresko, Patricia E. Miller, Craig M. Birch, Michael J. Troy, Lawrence I. Karlin, John B. Emans, Mark R. Proctor and Daniel J. Hedequist


Pediatric cervical deformity is a complex disorder often associated with neurological deterioration requiring cervical spine fusion. However, limited literature exists on new perioperative neurological deficits in children. This study describes new perioperative neurological deficits in pediatric cervical spine instrumentation and fusion.


A single-center review of pediatric cervical spine instrumentation and fusion during 2002–2018 was performed. Demographics, surgical characteristics, and neurological complications were recorded. Perioperative neurological deficits were defined as the deterioration of preexisting neurological function or the appearance of new neurological symptoms.


A total of 184 cases (160 patients, 57% male) with an average age of 12.6 ± 5.30 years (range 0.2–24.9 years) were included. Deformity (n = 39) and instability (n = 36) were the most frequent indications. Syndromes were present in 39% (n = 71), with Down syndrome (n = 20) and neurofibromatosis (n = 12) the most prevalent. Eighty-seven (48%) children presented with preoperative neurological deficits (16 sensory, 16 motor, and 55 combined deficits).

A total of 178 (96.7%) cases improved or remained neurologically stable. New neurological deficits occurred in 6 (3.3%) cases: 3 hemiparesis, 1 hemiplegia, 1 quadriplegia, and 1 quadriparesis. Preoperative neurological compromise was seen in 4 (67%) of these new deficits (3 myelopathy, 1 sensory deficit) and 5 had complex syndromes. Three new deficits were anticipated with intraoperative neuromonitoring changes (p = 0.025).

Three (50.0%) patients with new neurological deficits recovered within 6 months and the child with quadriparesis was regaining neurological function at the latest follow-up. Hemiplegia persisted in 1 patient, and 1 child died due a complication related to the tracheostomy. No association was found between neurological deficits and indication (p = 0.96), etiology (p = 0.46), preoperative neurological symptoms (p = 0.65), age (p = 0.56), use of halo vest (p = 0.41), estimated blood loss (p = 0.09), levels fused (p = 0.09), approach (p = 0.07), or fusion location (p = 0.07).


An improvement of the preexisting neurological deficit or stabilization of neurological function was seen in 96.7% of children after cervical spine fusion. New or progressive neurological deficits occurred in 3.3% of the patients and occurred more frequently in children with preoperative neurological symptoms. Patients with syndromic diagnoses are at higher risk to develop a deficit, probably due to the severity of deformity and the degree of cervical instability. Long-term outcomes of new neurological deficits are favorable, and 50% of patients experienced complete neurological recovery within 6 months.