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Joshua T. Wewel, Bledi C. Brahimaj, Manish K. Kasliwal, and Vincent C. Traynelis

OBJECTIVE

Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is a progressive degenerative pathology that frequently affects older individuals and causes spinal cord compression with symptoms of neck pain, radiculopathy, and weakness. Anterior decompression and fusion is the primary intervention to prevent neurological deterioration; however, in severe cases, circumferential decompression and fusion is necessary. Published data regarding perioperative morbidity associated with these complex operations are scarce. In this study, the authors sought to add to this important body of literature by documenting a large single-surgeon experience of single-session circumferential cervical decompression and fusion.

METHODS

A retrospective analysis was performed to identify intended single-stage anterior-posterior or posterior-anterior-posterior cervical spine decompression and fusion surgeries performed by the primary surgeon (V.C.T.) at Rush University Medical Center between 2009 and 2016. Cases in which true anterior-posterior cervical decompression and fusion was not performed (i.e., those involving anterior-only, posterior-only, or delayed circumferential fusion) were excluded from analysis. Data including standard patient demographic information, comorbidities, previous surgeries, and intraoperative course, along with postoperative outcomes and complications, were collected and analyzed. Perioperative morbidity was recorded during the 90 days following surgery.

RESULTS

Seventy-two patients (29 male and 43 female, mean age 57.6 years) were included in the study. Fourteen patients (19.4%) were active smokers, and 56.9% had hypertension, the most common comorbidity. The most common clinical presentation was neck pain in 57 patients (79.2%). Twenty-three patients (31.9%) had myelopathy, and 32 patients (44.4%) had undergone prior cervical spine surgery. Average blood loss was 613 ml. Injury to the vertebral artery was encountered in 1 patient (1.4%). Recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy was observed in 2 patients (2.8%). Two patients (2.8%) had transient unilateral hand grip weakness. There were no permanent neurological deficits. Dysphagia was encountered in 45 patients (62.5%) postoperatively, with 23 (32%) requiring nasogastric parenteral nutrition and 9 (12.5%) patients ultimately undergoing percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) placement. Nine of the 72 patients required a tracheostomy. The incidence of pneumonia was 6.9% (5 patients) overall, and 2 of these patients were in the tracheostomy group. Superficial wound infections occurred in 4 patients (5.6%). Perioperative death occurred in 1 patient. Reoperation was necessary in 10 patients (13.9%). Major perioperative complications (permanent neurological deficit, vascular injury, tracheostomy, PEG tube, stroke, or death) occurred in 30.6% of patients. The risk of minor perioperative complications (temporary deficit, dysphagia, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, urinary tract infection, pneumonia, or wound infection) was 80.6%.

CONCLUSIONS

Single-session anterior-posterior cervical decompression and fusion is an inherently morbid operation required in select patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy. In this large single-surgeon series, there was a major perioperative complication risk of 30.6% and minor perioperative complication risk of 80.6%. This overall elevated risk for postoperative complications must be carefully considered and discussed with the patient preoperatively. In some situations, shared decision making may lead to the conclusion that a procedure of lesser magnitude may be more appropriate.

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Joshua T. Wewel, Alp Ozpinar, Corey T. Walker, David O. Okonkwo, Adam S. Kanter, and Juan S. Uribe

OBJECTIVE

Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) techniques, particularly lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF), have become increasingly popular for adult spinal deformity (ASD) correction. Much discussion has been had regarding theoretical and clinical advantages to addressing coronal curvature from the convex versus concave side of the curve. In this study, the authors aimed to broadly evaluate the clinical outcomes of addressing ASD with circumferential MIS (cMIS) techniques while accessing the lumbar coronal curvature from the concave side.

METHODS

A multi-institution, retrospective chart and radiographic review was performed for all ASD patients with at least a 10° curvature, as defined by the Scoliosis Research Society, who underwent cMIS correction. The data collected included convex versus concave access to the coronal curve, durable or sensory femoral nerve injury lasting longer than 6 weeks, vascular injury, visceral injury, and any additional major complication, with at least a 2-year follow-up. Neither health-related quality-of-life metrics nor spinopelvic parameters were included within the scope of this study.

RESULTS

A total of 152 patients with ASD treated with cMIS correction via lateral access were identified and analyzed. Of these, 126 (82.9%) were approached from the concave side and 26 (17.1%) were approached from the convex side. In the concave group, 1 (0.8%) motor and 4 (3.2%) sensory deficit cases remained at 6 weeks after the operation. No vascular, visceral, or catastrophic intraoperative injuries were encountered in the concave group. Of the 26 patients in the convex group, 2 (7.7%) experienced motor deficits lasting longer than 6 weeks and 5 (19.2%) had lower-extremity sensory deficits.

CONCLUSIONS

It has been reported that lateral access to the convex side is associated with similar clinical and radiographic outcomes with fewer complications when compared with access to the concave side. Advantages to approaching the lumbar spine from the concave side include using one incision to access multiple levels, breaking the operative table to assist with curvature correction, easier access to the L4–5 disc space, the ability to release the contracted side, and, often, avoidance of the need to access or traverse the thoracic cavity. This study illustrates the largest reported cohort of concave access for cMIS scoliosis correction; few postoperative sensory and motor deficits were found.

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Corey T. Walker, David S. Xu, Tyler S. Cole, Lea M. Alhilali, Jakub Godzik, Santiago Angel Estrada, Juan Pedro Giraldo, Joshua T. Wewel, Clinton D. Morgan, James J. Zhou, Alexander C. Whiting, S. Harrison Farber, Nikolay L. Martirosyan, Jay D. Turner, and Juan S. Uribe

OBJECTIVE

An advantage of lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) surgery is the indirect decompression of the neural elements that occurs because of the resulting disc height restoration, spinal realignment, and ligamentotaxis. The degree to which indirect decompression occurs varies; no method exists for effectively predicting which patients will respond. In this study, the authors identify preoperative predictive factors of indirect decompression of the central canal.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective evaluation of prospectively collected consecutive patients at a single institution who were treated with LLIF without direct decompression. Preoperative and postoperative MRI was used to grade central canal stenosis, and 3D volumetric reconstructions were used to measure changes in the central canal area (CCA). Multivariate regression was used to identify predictive variables correlated with radiographic increases in the CCA and clinically successful improvement in visual analog scale (VAS) leg pain scores.

RESULTS

One hundred seven levels were treated in 73 patients (mean age 68 years). The CCA increased 54% from a mean of 0.96 cm2 to a mean of 1.49 cm2 (p < 0.001). Increases in anterior disc height (74%), posterior disc height (81%), right (25%) and left (22%) foraminal heights, and right (12%) and left (15%) foraminal widths, and reduction of spondylolisthesis (67%) (all p < 0.001) were noted. Multivariate evaluation of predictive variables identified that preoperative spondylolisthesis (p < 0.001), reduced posterior disc height (p = 0.004), and lower body mass index (p = 0.042) were independently associated with radiographic increase in the CCA. Thirty-two patients were treated at a single level and had moderate or severe central stenosis preoperatively. Significant improvements in Oswestry Disability Index and VAS back and leg pain scores were seen in these patients (all p < 0.05). Twenty-five (78%) patients achieved the minimum clinically important difference in VAS leg pain scores, with only 2 (6%) patients requiring direct decompression postoperatively due to persistent symptoms and stenosis. Only increased anterior disc height was predictive of clinical failure to achieve the minimum clinically important difference.

CONCLUSIONS

LLIF successfully achieves indirect decompression of the CCA, even in patients with substantial central stenosis. Low body mass index, preoperative spondylolisthesis, and disc height collapse appear to be most predictive of successful indirect decompression. Patients with preserved disc height but severe preoperative stenosis are at higher risk of failure to improve clinically.