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Syed A. Quadri, John Capua, Vivek Ramakrishnan, Raed Sweiss, Marc Cabanne, Jerry Noel, Brian Fiani and Javed Siddiqi

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a very common surgery performed globally. Although a few cases of expectorating screws or extrusion of screws into the gastrointestinal tract through esophageal perforations have previously been reported, there has not been a case reporting pharyngeal perforation and entire cervical construct extrusion in the literature to date. In this report the authors present the first case involving the extrusion of an entire cervical construct via a tear in the posterior pharyngeal wall. An 81-year-old woman presented to the emergency department (ED) with a complaint of significant cervical pain 5 days after a fall due to a syncopal event. Radiological findings showed severe anterior subluxation of C-2 on C-3 with no spinal cord signal change noted. She underwent ACDF at the C2–3 level utilizing a polyetheretherketone (PEEK) cage, allograft, autograft, and a nontranslational plate with a locking apparatus and expanding screws. The screw placement was satisfactory on postoperative radiography and the Grade II spondylolisthesis of C-2 on C-3 was reduced appropriately with the surgery. The postoperative radiographs obtained demonstrated good instrumentation placement. Three and a half years later the patient returned to the ED having expectorated the entire anterior cervical construct. A CT scan demonstrated the C-2 and C-3 vertebral bodies to be fused posteriorly with an anterior erosive defect within the vertebral bodies and the anterior fusion hardware at the C2–3 level no longer identified. The fiberoptic laryngoscopy demonstrated a 1 × 1 cm area over the importation of the hypopharynx, above the glotic area. The Gastrografin swallowing test ruled out any esophageal tear or fistula and confirmed the presence of a large ulcer on the posterior wall of the oropharynx. To the best of the authors' knowledge, this is the first ever reported case of a tear in the posterior pharyngeal wall along with extrusion of the entire cervical construct after ACDF. This case demonstrates a rare but potentially serious complication of ACDF. Based on the available literature, each case requires separate and distinct treatment from the others.

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John W. Gilbert, Greg R. Wheeler, John R. Spitalieri and Gregory E. Mick

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John W. Gilbert, Greg R. Wheeler, John R. Spitalieri and Gregory E. Mick

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Wade Wong and John M. Mathis

The purpose of this article is to present a series of common complications and pitfalls associated with vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty, with discussions on how to avoid those problems in a practical, case-based essay.

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Jeroen R. Coppens, John D. Cantando and Saleem I. Abdulrauf

The authors describe their minimally invasive technique for performing a superficial temporal artery (STA) to middle cerebral artery (MCA) bypass, which relies on an enlarged bur hole (2–2.5 cm) rather than the standard craniotomy. They perform this procedure in a minimally invasive fashion, using CT angiography for intraoperative neuronavigation as well as for preoperative identification of the donor and recipient vessels and planning of bur hole location. They present 2 cases in which this procedure was used, including one involving a patient with multivessel occlusive disease and significant cerebrovascular hemodynamic compromise in whom they performed the procedure using only local anesthetic and propofol sedation in order to minimize the risk of hypotension associated with the use of general anesthetic agents. A comprehensive literature search revealed no previously published case of an extracranial–intracranial arterial bypass procedure performed in an awake patient.

The authors have adopted the described minimally invasive method for all STA–MCA bypass procedures. The awake setting, however, is reserved for specific indications, primarily patients with severe moyamoya disease, in whom ventilator-related hypocarbia can result in intraoperative ischemia, or patients with multivessel occlusive disease and significant cerebral hemodynamic compromise, in whom general anesthesia–related hypotension can lead to intraoperative ischemia.

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John Lloyd and Frank Conidi

OBJECT

Helmets are used for sports, military, and transportation to protect against impact forces and associated injuries. The common belief among end users is that the helmet protects the whole head, including the brain. However, current consensus among biomechanists and sports neurologists indicates that helmets do not provide significant protection against concussion and brain injuries. In this paper the authors present existing scientific evidence on the mechanisms underlying traumatic head and brain injuries, along with a biomechanical evaluation of 21 current and retired football helmets.

METHODS

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) standard test apparatus was modified and validated for impact testing of protective headwear to include the measurement of both linear and angular kinematics. From a drop height of 2.0 m onto a flat steel anvil, each football helmet was impacted 5 times in the occipital area.

RESULTS

Skull fracture risk was determined for each of the current varsity football helmets by calculating the percentage reduction in linear acceleration relative to a 140-g skull fracture threshold. Risk of subdural hematoma was determined by calculating the percentage reduction in angular acceleration relative to the bridging vein failure threshold, computed as a function of impact duration. Ranking the helmets according to their performance under these criteria, the authors determined that the Schutt Vengeance performed the best overall.

CONCLUSIONS

The study findings demonstrated that not all football helmets provide equal or adequate protection against either focal head injuries or traumatic brain injuries. In fact, some of the most popular helmets on the field ranked among the worst. While protection is improving, none of the current or retired varsity football helmets can provide absolute protection against brain injuries, including concussions and subdural hematomas. To maximize protection against head and brain injuries for football players of all ages, the authors propose thresholds for all sports helmets based on a peak linear acceleration no greater than 90 g and a peak angular acceleration not exceeding 1700 rad/sec2.

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Michael H. Lawless, Evan J. Lytle, Andrea F. McGlynn and John A. Engler

OBJECTIVE

This study was performed to determine whether decompression of penetrating spinal cord injury (SCI) due to explosive shrapnel leads to greater neurological recovery than conservative management.

METHODS

In accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, a comprehensive literature search using PubMed/MEDLINE, Web of Science, Google Scholar, and the Defense Technical Information Center public site was conducted on May 2, 2016. Studies that described penetrating SCI with shrapnel as an etiology, included surgical and/or conservative management, and demonstrated admission and follow-up neurological status were eligible for inclusion in this study. Odds ratios were calculated for the overall effect of surgical treatment on neurological recovery. Funnel plots were used to evaluate publication bias.

RESULTS

Five case series (Level IV evidence) met the study criteria, and 2 of them had estimable odds ratios for use in the Forest plot analysis. Among the patients from all 5 studies, 65% were injured by shrapnel, 25% by high-velocity bullet, 8% by low-velocity bullet, and 2% by an unknown cause. A total of 288 patients were included in the overall odds ratio calculations. Patients were stratified by complete and incomplete SCI. The meta-analysis showed no significant difference in outcomes between surgical and conservative management in the complete SCI cohort or the incomplete SCI cohort. Overall rates of improvement for complete SCI were 25% with surgery and 27% with conservative treatment (OR 1.07, 95% CI 0.44–2.61, p = 0.88); for incomplete SCI, 70% with surgery and 81% with conservative treatment (OR 1.67, 95% CI 0.68–4.05, p = 0.26).

CONCLUSIONS

This study demonstrates no clear benefit to surgical decompression of penetrating SCI due predominantly to shrapnel. There is a considerable need for nonrandomized prospective cohort studies examining decompression and stabilization surgery for secondary and tertiary blast injuries.

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Angela Mae Richardson, Joanna Elizabeth Gernsback, John Paul G. Kolcun and Steven Vanni

The authors report on the first surgical treatment for traumatic interspinous ligament calcification, with significant radiographic and symptomatic improvements at long-term follow-up. Heterotopic ossification occurs following traumatic injury but does not typically affect the interspinous ligaments. While these ligaments can calcify with age, this is rarely seen in patients younger than 50 years of age. The authors present the unusual case of a 31-year-old man who suffered traumatic fractures of thoracic and lumbar spinous processes. He developed progressive low-back pain that failed to respond to conservative treatments. At presentation, he was neurologically intact. CT scanning demonstrated partial calcification of the interspinous ligaments at L2–3, L3–4, and L4–5 with significant hypertrophy of the spinous processes at those levels. He did not have significant disc pathology, and his symptoms were attributed to the limited range of motion caused by the enlarged spinous processes. Partial resection of the spinous processes and calcified interspinous ligaments was performed to remove the heterotopic bone. The patient was seen in follow-up at 5 months postoperatively for imaging, and he was interviewed at 1 and 2 years postoperatively. He is doing well with significant pain relief and an improved range of motion. His Oswestry Disability Index improved from 25 preoperatively to 18 at 2 years postoperatively.

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Oren N. Gottfried, Gary L. Hedlund, John M. Opitz and Marion L. Walker

Object

The FG syndrome (FGS) is a common, heterogeneous group of clinically indistinguishable X-linked disorders comprising congenital hypotonia, macrocephaly, psychomotor delay, abnormalities in sensory integration, agenesis of corpus callosum, an unusual personality with behavior abnormalities, and disturbances of gastrointestinal function. On magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, some patients have evidence of tonsillar ectopia. The authors describe the incidence of Chiari I malformation in patients with FGS and attempt to determine the optimal treatment of these patients.

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective chart and radiological review of 144 pediatric patients with FGS for evidence of tonsillar ectopia on brain MR imaging. Eleven (7.6%) of these 144 patients had tonsillar ectopia, and in eight patients (5.6%), the tonsils were located more than 5 mm below the foramen magnum. Four of these patients underwent posterior fossa decompression, and surgery was performed at a mean age of 3 years. Indications for surgery included significant headaches and behavioral problems in two patients and failure to thrive with severe breathing and feeding difficulties in two infants. All four improved after surgery. The other patients remained asymptomatic from their tonsillar ectopia, showed no clinical or radiological signs of progression, and did not require surgery.

Conclusions

Chiari I malformation is more common in individuals with FGS than in the general population. Some of these patients with FGS require decompression surgery, but the decision to operate can be difficult because of their developmental delay, difficulties with language skills, general fatigue, possibility of upper motor neuron dysfunction, behavioral problems, or failure to thrive, which may mask the symptoms of a Chiari I malformation.

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Bryan W. Cunningham, John C. Sefter, Nianbin Hu and Paul C. McAfee

Object

Using an in vivo caprine model, authors in this study compared the efficacy of autologous growth factors (AGFs) with autogenous graft for anterior cervical interbody arthrodesis.

Methods

Fourteen skeletally mature Nubian goats were used in this study and followed up for a period of 16 weeks postoperatively. Anterior cervical interbody arthrodesis was performed at the C3–4 and C5–6 vertebral levels. Four interbody treatment groups (7 animals in each group) were equally randomized among the 28 arthrodesis sites: Group 1, autograft alone; Group 2, autograft + cervical cage; Group 3, AGFs + cervical cage; and Group 4, autograft + anterior cervical plate. Groups 1 and 4 served as operative controls. Autologous growth factors were obtained preoperatively from venous blood and were ultra-concentrated. Following the 16-week survival period, interbody fusion success was evaluated based on radiographic, biomechanical, and histological analyses.

Results

All goats survived surgery without incidence of vascular or infectious complications. Radiographic analysis by 3 independent observers indicated fusion rates ranging from 9 (43%) of 21 in the autograft-alone and autograft + cage groups to 12 (57%) of 21 in the autograft + anterior plate group. The sample size was not large enough to detect any statistical significance in these observed differences. Biomechanical testing revealed statistical differences (p < 0.05) between all treatments and the nonoperative controls under axial rotation and flexion and extension loading. Although the AGF + cage and autograft-alone treatments appeared to be statistically different from the intact spine during lateral bending, larger variances and smaller relative differences precluded a determination of statistical significance. Histomorphometric analysis of bone formation within the predefined fusion zone indicated quantities of bone within the interbody cage ranging from 21.3 ± 14.7% for the AGF + cage group to 34.5 ± 9.9% for the autograft-alone group.

Conclusions

The results indicated no differences in biomechanical findings among the treatment groups and comparable levels of trabecular bone formation within the fusion site between specimens treated with autogenous bone and those filled with the ultra-concentrated AGF extract. In addition, interbody cage treatments appeared to maintain disc space height better than autograft-alone treatments.