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Joseph S. Cheng and John K. Song

One of the basic tenets of performing surgery is knowledge of the relevant anatomy. Surgeons incorporate this knowledge along with factors, such as biomechanics and physiology, to develop their operative approaches and procedures. In the diagnosis and management of sacral tumors, the need to be familiar with the anatomy of the sacrum is no less important than knowledge of the pathological entity involved. This article will provide an overview of the embryology and anatomy of the sacrum, along with concepts as applied to surgical intervention.

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Daniel M. Oberer, Oran S. Aaronson and Joseph S. Cheng

✓ The authors describe a previously undocumented complication of suboccipital craniectomy combined with duraplasty for the treatment of Chiari malformation Type I and propose techniques to prevent its occurrence. Although there have been reports of epidural pseudomeningoceles in the setting of spontaneous intracranial hypotension and intracranial hygromas following suboccipital craniectomy with duraplasty, the authors believe this case to be the first instance of quadriparesis caused by the delayed formation of a compressive epidural cerebrospinal fluid collection after suboccipital craniectomy with duraplasty. This complication is significant and must be recognized given the potential severity of neurological insult and the number of these procedures performed yearly in both the pediatric and adult populations.

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Debraj Mukherjee, Kaisorn L. Chaichana, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Oran Aaronson, Joseph S. Cheng and Matthew J. McGirt

Object

Malignant primary osseous spinal neoplasms are aggressive tumors that remain associated with poor outcomes despite aggressive multidisciplinary treatment measures. To date, prognosis for patients with these tumors is based on results from small single-center patient series and controlled trials. Large population-based observational studies are lacking. To assess national trends in histology-specific survival, the authors reviewed patient survival data spanning 30 years (1973–2003) from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registry, a US population-based cancer registry.

Methods

The SEER registry was queried to identify cases of histologically confirmed primary spinal chordoma, chondrosarcoma, osteosarcoma, or Ewing sarcoma using coding from the International Classification of Disease for Oncology, Third Edition. Association of survival with histology, metastasis status, tumor site, and year of diagnosis was assessed using Cox proportional-hazards regression analysis.

Results

A total of 1892 patients were identified with primary osseous spinal neoplasms (414 with chordomas, 579 with chondrosarcomas, 430 with osteosarcomas, and 469 with Ewing sarcomas). Chordomas presented in older patients (60 ± 17 years; p < 0.01) whereas Ewing sarcoma presented in younger patients (19 ± 11 years; p < 0.01) compared with patients with all other tumors. The relative incidence of each tumor type remained similar per decade from 1973 to 2003. African Americans comprised a significantly greater proportion of patients with osteosarcomas than other tumors (9.6% vs 3.5%, respectively; p < 0.01). Compared with the sacrum, the mobile spine was more likely to be the site of tumor location for chordomas than for all other tumors (47% vs 23%, respectively; p < 0.05). Osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma were 3 times more likely than chondrosarcoma and chordoma to present with metastasis (31% vs 8%, respectively). Resection was performed more frequently for chordoma (88%) and chondrosarcoma (89%) than for osteosarcoma (61%) and Ewing sarcoma (53%). Overall median survival was histology-specific (osteosarcoma, 11 months; Ewing sarcoma, 26 months; chondrosarcoma, 37 months; chordoma, 50 months) and significantly worse in patients with metastasis at presentation for all tumor types. Survival did not significantly differ as a function of site (mobile spine vs sacrum/pelvis) for any tumor type, but more recent year of diagnosis was associated with improved survival for isolated spinal Ewing sarcoma (hazard ration [HR] 0.95; p = 0.001), chondrosarcoma (HR 0.98; p = 0.009), and chordoma (HR 0.98; p = 0.10), but not osteosarcoma.

Conclusions

In this analysis of a 30-year, US population-based cancer registry (SEER), the authors provide nationally representative prognosis and survival data for patients with malignant primary spinal osseous neoplasms. Overall patient survival has improved for isolated spine tumors with advancements in care over the past 4 decades. These results may be helpful in providing historical controls for understanding the efficacy of new treatment paradigms, patient education, and guiding level of aggressiveness in treatment strategies.

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Kaisorn L. Chaichana, Debraj Mukherjee, Owoicho Adogwa, Joseph S. Cheng and Matthew J. McGirt

Object

Lumbar discectomy is the most common surgical procedure performed in the US for patients experiencing back and leg pain from herniated lumbar discs. However, not all patients will benefit from lumbar discectomy. Patients with certain psychological predispositions may be especially vulnerable to poor clinical outcomes.

The goal of this study was therefore to determine the role that preoperative depression and somatic anxiety have on long-term back and leg pain, disability, and quality of life (QOL) for patients undergoing single-level lumbar discectomy.

Methods

In 67 adults undergoing discectomy for a single-level herniated lumbar disc, the authors determined quantitative measurements of leg and back pain (visual analog scale [VAS]), quality of life (36-Item Short Form Health Survey [SF-36]), and disease-specific disability (Oswestry Disability Index) preoperatively and at 6 weeks, 3, 6, and 12 months after surgery. The degree of preoperative depression and somatization was assessed using the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale and a modified somatic perception questionnaire (MSPQ). Multivariate regression analyses were performed to assess associations between Zung Scale and MSPQ scores with achievement of a minimum clinical important difference (MCID) in each outcome measure by 12 months postoperatively.

Results

All patients completed 12 months of follow-up. Overall, a significant improvement in VAS leg pain, VAS back pain, Oswestry Disability Index, and SF-36 Physical Component Summary scores was observed by 6 weeks after surgery. Improvements in all outcomes were maintained throughout the 12-month follow-up period. Increasing preoperative depression (measured using the Zung Scale) was associated with a decreased likelihood of achieving an MCID in disability (p = 0.006) and QOL (p = 0.04) but was not associated with VAS leg pain (p = 0.96) or back pain (p = 0.85) by 12 months. Increasing preoperative somatic anxiety (measured using the MSPQ) was associated with decreased likelihood of achieving an MCID in disability (p = 0.002) and QOL (p = 0.03) but was not associated with leg pain (p = 0.64) or back pain (p = 0.77) by 12 months.

Conclusions

The Zung Scale and MSPQ are valuable tools for stratifying risk in patients who may not experience clinically relevant improvement in disability and QOL after discectomy. Efforts to address these confounding and underlying contributors of depression and heightened somatic anxiety may improve overall outcomes after lumbar discectomy.

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Jonathan A. Forbes, Ahmed J. Awad, Scott Zuckerman, Kevin Carr and Joseph S. Cheng

Object

The authors' goal was to better define the relationship between biomechanical parameters of a helmeted collision and the likelihood of concussion.

Methods

The English-language literature was reviewed in search of scholarly articles describing the rotational and translational accelerations observed during all monitored impact conditions that resulted in concussion at all levels of American football.

Results

High school players who suffer concussion experience an average of 93.9g of translational acceleration (TA) and 6505.2 rad/s2 of rotational acceleration (RA). College athletes experience an average of 118.4g of TA and 5311.6 rad/s2 of RA. While approximately 3% of collisions are associated with TAs greater than the mean TA associated with concussion, only about 0.02% of collisions actually result in a concussion. Associated variables that determine whether a player who experiences a severe collision also experiences a concussion remain hypothetical at present.

Conclusions

The ability to reliably predict the incidence of concussion based purely on biomechanical data remains elusive. This study provides novel, important information that helps to quantify the relative insignificance of biomechanical parameters in prediction of concussion risk. Further research will be necessary to better define other factors that predispose to concussion.

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Comparison of cervical spine kinematics using a fluoroscopic model for adjacent segment degeneration

Invited submission from the Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves, March 2007

Joseph S. Cheng, Fei Liu, Richard D. Komistek, Mohamed R. Mahfouz, Adrija Sharma and Diana Glaser

Object

In this cervical spine kinematics study the authors evaluate the motions and forces in the normal, degenerative, and fused states to assess how alteration in the cervical motion segment affects adjacent segment degeneration and spondylosis.

Methods

Fluoroscopic images obtained in 30 individuals (10 in each group with disease at C5–6) undergoing flexion/extension motions were collected. Kinematic data were obtained from the fluoroscopic images and analyzed with an inverse dynamic mathematical model of the cervical spine that was developed for this analysis.

Results

During 20° flexion to 15° extension, average relative angles at the adjacent levels of C6–7 and C4–5 in the fused patients were 13.4° and 8.8° versus 3.7° and 4.8° in the healthy individuals. Differences at C3–4 averaged only about 1°. Maximum transverse forces in the fused spines were two times the skull weight at C6–7 and one times the skull weight at C4–5, compared with 0.2 times the skull weight and 0.3 times the skull weight in the healthy individuals. Vertical forces ranged from 1.6 to 2.6 times the skull weight at C6–7 and from 1.2 to 2.5 times the skull weight at C4–5 in the patients who had undergone fusion, and from 1.4 to 3.1 times the skull weight and from 0.9 to 3.3 times the skull weight, respectively, in the volunteers.

Conclusions

Adjacent-segment degeneration may occur in patients with fusion due to increased motions and forces at both adjacent levels when compared with healthy individuals in a comparable flexion and extension range.

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Owoicho Adogwa, Scott L. Parker, David N. Shau, Stephen K. Mendenhall, Clinton J. Devin, Joseph S. Cheng and Matthew J. McGirt

Object

Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of spinal fusions performed in the US and a corresponding increase in the incidence of adjacent-segment disease (ASD). Surgical management of symptomatic ASD consists of decompression of neural elements and extension of fusion. It has been shown to have favorable long-term outcomes, but the cost-effectiveness remains unclear. In this study, the authors set out to assess the cost-effectiveness of revision surgery in the treatment of ASD over a 2-year period.

Methods

Fifty patients undergoing neural decompression and extension of fusion construct for ASD-associated back and leg pain were included in the study. Two-year total back-related medical resource utilization, missed work, and health state values (quality-adjusted life years [QALYs], calculated from the EQ-5D with US valuation) were assessed. Two-year resource use was multiplied by unit costs based on Medicare national allowable payment amounts (direct cost), and patient and caregiver workday losses were multiplied by the self-reported gross-of-tax wage rate (indirect cost). Mean total 2-year cost per QALY gained after revision surgery was assessed.

Results

The mean (± SD) interval between prior fusion and revision surgery for ASD was 3.07 ± 2.02 years. A mean cumulative 2-year gain of 0.76 QALYs was observed after revision surgery. The mean total 2-year cost of extension of fusion constructs was $47,846 ± $32,712 (surgery cost: $24,063 ± $300; outpatient resource utilization cost: $4175 ± $3368; indirect cost: $19,607 ± $32,187). Revision decompression and extension of fusion was associated with a mean 2-year cost per QALY gained of $62,955.

Conclusions

In the authors' practice, revision decompression and extension of fusion provided a significant gain in health state utility for patients with symptomatic ASD, with a 2-year cost per QALY gained of $62,995. When indicated, revision surgery for ASD is a valuable treatment option for patients experiencing back and leg pain secondary to ASD. The findings provide a value measure of surgery that can be compared with future cost-per-QALY-gained studies of medical management or alternative surgical approaches.

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Owoicho Adogwa, Scott L. Parker, Brandon J. Davis, Oran Aaronson, Clinton Devin, Joseph S. Cheng and Matthew J. McGirt

Object

Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) for spondylolisthesis-associated back and leg pain is associated with improvement in pain, disability, and quality of life. However, given the rising health care costs associated with spinal fusion procedures and varying results of recent cost-utility studies, the cost-effectiveness of TLIF remains unclear. The authors set out to assess the comprehensive costs of TLIF at their institution and to determine its cost-effectiveness in the treatment of degenerative spondylolisthesis.

Methods

Forty-five patients undergoing TLIF for Grade I degenerative spondylolisthesis–associated back and leg pain after 6–12 months of conservative therapy were included. The authors assessed the 2-year back pain visual analog scale (VAS) score, leg pain VAS score, Oswestry Disability Index, and total back-related medical resource utilization, missed work, and health-state values (quality-adjusted life years [QALYs], calculated from EQ-5D with US valuation). Two-year resource use was multiplied by unit costs based on Medicare national allowable payment amounts (direct cost), and patient and caregiver workday losses were multiplied by the self-reported gross-of-tax wage rate (indirect cost). The mean total 2-year cost per QALY gained after TLIF was assessed.

Results

Compared with preoperative health states reported after at least 6 months of medical management, a significant improvement in back pain VAS score, leg pain VAS score, and Oswestry Disability Index was observed 2 years after TLIF, with a mean 2-year gain of 0.86 QALYs. The mean ± SD total 2-year cost of TLIF was $36,836 ± $11,800 (surgery cost, $21,311 ± $2800; outpatient resource utilization cost, $3940 ± $2720; indirect cost, $11,584 ± $11,363). Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion was associated with a mean 2-year cost per QALY gained of $42,854.

Conclusions

Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion improved pain, disability, and quality of life in patients with degenerative spondylolisthesis–associated back and leg pain. The total cost per QALY gained for TLIF was $42,854 when evaluated 2 years after surgery with Medicare fees, suggesting that TLIF is a cost-effective treatment of lumbar spondylolisthesis.

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Owoicho Adogwa, Ryan Owens, Isaac Karikari, Vijay Agarwal, Oren N. Gottfried, Carlos A. Bagley, Robert E. Isaacs and Joseph S. Cheng

Object

Despite advances in technology and understanding in spinal physiology, reoperation for symptomatic adjacent-segment disease (ASD), same-level recurrent stenosis, and pseudarthrosis in elderly patients continues to occur. While revision lumbar surgery is effective, attention has turned to questions on the utility and value of the revision decompression and fusion procedure. To date, an analysis of the cost and health state gain associated with revision lumbar surgery in elderly patients with symptomatic pseudarthrosis, ASD, or same-level recurrent lumbar stenosis has yet to be performed. The aim of this study was to assess the long-term outcomes and cost-effectiveness of revision surgery in elderly patients with recurrent or persistent back and leg pain.

Methods

After reviewing their institutional database, the authors found 69 patients 65 years of age and older who had undergone revision decompression and instrumented fusion for back and leg pain associated with pseudarthrosis (17 patients), same-level recurrent stenosis (24 patients), or ASD (28 patients) and included them in this study. Total 2-year back-related medical resource utilization and health state values (quality-adjusted life years [QALYs], calculated from the EQ-5D, the EuroQol-5D health survey, with US valuation) were assessed. Two-year resource use was multiplied by unit costs based on Medicare national allowable payment amounts. The mean total 2-year cost per QALY gained after revision surgery was assessed.

Results

The mean (± standard deviation) time between the index surgery and revision surgery was 3.51 ± 3.63 years. A mean cumulative 2-year gain of 0.35 QALY was observed after revision surgery. The mean total 2-year cost of revision surgery was $28,256 ± $3000 (ASD: $28,829 ± $3812, pseudarthrosis: $28,069 ± $2508, same-level recurrent stenosis: $27,871 ± $2375). Revision decompression and extension of fusion was associated with a mean 2-year cost of $80,594 per QALY gained.

Conclusions

Revision decompression and fusion provided a significant gain in health state utility for elderly patients with symptomatic pseudarthrosis, same-level recurrent stenosis, or ASD, with a mean 2-year cost of $80,594 per QALY gained. When indicated, revision surgery for symptomatic ASD, same-level recurrent stenosis, and pseudarthrosis is a valuable treatment option for elderly patients experiencing persistent back and leg pain. Findings in this study provided a value measure of surgery that can be compared with future cost-per-QALY-gained studies of medical management or alternative surgical approaches.

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Owoicho Adogwa, Ricardo K. Carr, Katherine Kudyba, Isaac Karikari, Carlos A. Bagley, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Nicholas Theodore and Joseph S. Cheng

Object

Same-level recurrent lumbar stenosis, pseudarthrosis, and adjacent-segment disease (ASD) are potential complications that can occur after index lumbar spine surgery, leading to significant discomfort and radicular pain. While numerous studies have demonstrated excellent results following index lumbar spine surgery in elderly patients (age > 65 years), the effectiveness of revision lumbar surgery in this cohort remains unclear. The aim of this study was to assess the long-term effectiveness of revision lumbar decompression and fusion in the treatment of symptomatic pseudarthrosis, ASD, and same-level recurrent stenosis, using validated patient-reported outcomes.

Methods

After a review of the institutional database, 69 patients who had undergone revision neural decompression and instrumented fusion for ASD (28 patients), pseudarthrosis (17 patients), or same-level recurrent stenosis (24 patients) were included in this study. Baseline and 2-year scores on the visual analog scale for leg pain (VAS-LP), VAS for back pain (VAS-BP), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS) as well as the time to narcotic independence, time to return to baseline activity level, health state utility (EQ-5D, the EuroQol-5D health survey), and physical and mental component summary scores of the 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-12 PCS and MCS) were assessed.

Results

Compared with the preoperative status, VAS-BP was significantly improved 2 years after surgery for ASD (mean ± standard deviation 9 ± 2 vs 4.01 ± 2.56, p = 0.001), pseudarthrosis (7.41 ± 1 vs 5.52 ± 3.08, p = 0.02), and same-level recurrent stenosis (7 ± 2.00 vs 5.00 ± 2.34, p = 0.003). The 2-year ODI was also significantly improved after surgery for ASD (29 ± 9 vs 23.10 ± 10.18, p = 0.001), pseudarthrosis (28.47 ± 5.85 vs 24.41 ± 7.75, p = 0.001), and same-level recurrent stenosis (30.83 ± 5.28 vs 26.29 ± 4.10, p = 0.003). The Zung SDS score and SF-12 MCS did not change appreciably after surgery in any of the cohorts, with an overall mean 2-year change of 1.01 ± 5.32 (p = 0.46) and 2.02 ± 9.25 (p = 0.22), respectively.

Conclusions

Data in this study suggest that revision lumbar decompression and extension of fusion for symptomatic pseudarthrosis, ASD, and same-level recurrent stenosis provides improvement in low-back pain, disability, and quality of life and should be considered a viable treatment option for elderly patients with persistent or recurrent back and radicular pain. Mental health symptoms may be more refractory to revision surgery.