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Amir Ahmadian and Juan S. Uribe

Thoracic vertebral body corpectomy with associated deformity and neural element compression can be challenging. Multiple approaches have been proposed including trans-pedicular, costotransversectomy and trans-thoracic. Approach related pitfalls, nuances, morbidity and complication profile differ with each technique. A mini-open retro-pleural approach provides great access to bony pathology and neural elements without the need to violate the thoracic cavity or chest-tube placement postoperatively. Here we present a 56-year-old male with progressive back pain and suspected osteomyelitis/discitis at T-9 & T-10 who presented with progressive deformity and failure of empiric antibiotic treatment. He underwent a two-level lateral corpectomy. The technique and operative nuances to a lateral retro-pleural approach to thoracic corpectomy are presented. Important surgical concepts such as patient positioning, appropriate use of intraoperative fluoroscopy, regional anatomy, postoperative care and pitfalls are outlined. Emphasis is made on a true lateral approach, posterior rib resection, wide retro-pleural dissection and preservation of the parietal pleura as you descent on to the vertebral body. Identifying the correct plane of dissection, timely corpectomy, placement of expandable cage and correction of deformity are discussed. Water-tight closure with removal of retro-pleural air utilizing an intra-operative water-seal technique using a red-rubber catheter is shown.

Nuvasive owns the copyright for figures included within the video and has given JNSPG permission to use them.

The video can be found here: http://youtu.be/17Xo_u3WHNg.

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Juan S. Uribe and Fernando L. Vale

Object

In this retrospective review, the authors examine the clinical characteristics, diagnosis, and outcome of surgery in 25 consecutive patients with mesial basal temporal lobe (MBTL) tumors. A limited access approach to the inferior temporal gyrus (ITG) was used.

Methods

Patients with MBTL tumors were identified from the epilepsy and tumor surgery database at the authors' institution. Intraaxial tumors localized to the mesial basal structures, and without involvement of the cortical surface of the temporal lobe, temporal stem, and basal ganglia were included. Preoperative and postoperative MR images were obtained in all patients. The mean follow-up period was 24 months (range 9–36 months). Preoperative symptoms, neurological deficits, outcomes, surgical complications, and a technical description of the approach are discussed.

Results

Intraaxial MBTL tumors in 25 patients (mean age 44 years, range 8–76 years) were resected using a limited access approach via the ITG. The largest groups of tumors were high-grade gliomas and dysembryoblastic neuroepithelial tumors (8 in each group), followed by oligodendrogliomas, cerebral metastases, and gangliogliomas. Seizures, headaches, and disorientation were the most common preoperative symptoms. Postoperative MR images demonstrated gross-total resection in all cases. There were 2 surgical complications (a superficial wound infection and a transient frontalis branch palsy). There were no permanent neurological complications or significant new hemianoptic defects.

Conclusions

A limited access ITG approach performed with intraoperative image guidance offers an alternative corridor for resection of MBTL tumors (Schramm Type A). This approach may be technically less demanding than the transsylvian or subtemporal approach. Gross-total resection is feasible utilizing this approach and compares favorably with other, more classical approaches.

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David S. Xu, Konrad Bach and Juan S. Uribe

OBJECTIVE

Minimally invasive anterior and lateral approaches to the lumbar spine are increasingly used to treat and reduce grade I spondylolisthesis, but concerns still exist for their usage in the management of higher-grade lesions. The authors report their experience with this strategy for grade II spondylolisthesis in a single-surgeon case series and provide early clinical and radiographic outcomes.

METHODS

A retrospective review of a single surgeon’s cases between 2012 and 2016 identified all patients with a Meyerding grade II lumbar spondylolisthesis who underwent minimally invasive lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) or anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) targeting the slipped level. Demographic, clinical, and radiographic data were collected and analyzed. Changes in radiographic measurements, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and visual analog scale (VAS) scores were compared using the paired t-test and Wilcoxon signed rank test for continuous and ordinal variables, respectively.

RESULTS

The average operative time was 199.1 minutes (with 60.6 ml of estimated blood loss) for LLIFs and 282.1 minutes (with 106.3 ml of estimated blood loss), for ALIFs. Three LLIF patients had transient unilateral anterior thigh numbness during the 1st week after surgery, and 1 ALIF patient had transient dorsiflexion weakness, which was resolved at postoperative week 1. The mean follow-up time was 17.6 months (SD 12.5 months) for LLIF patients and 10 months (SD 3.1 months) for ALIF patients. Complete reduction of the spondylolisthesis was achieved in 12 LLIF patients (75.0%) and 7 ALIF patients (87.5%). Across both procedures, there was an increase in both the segmental lordosis (LLIF 5.6°, p = 0.002; ALIF 15.0°, p = 0.002) and overall lumbar lordosis (LLIF 2.9°, p = 0.151; ALIF 5.1°, p = 0.006) after surgery. Statistically significant decreases in the mean VAS and the mean ODI measurements were seen in both treatment groups. The VAS and ODI scores fell by a mean value of 3.9 (p = 0.002) and 19.8 (p = 0.001), respectively, for LLIF patients and 3.8 (p = 0.02) and 21.0 (p = 0.03), respectively, for ALIF patients at last follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS

Early clinical and radiographic results from using minimally invasive LLIF and ALIF approaches to treat grade II spondylolisthesis appear to be good, with low operative blood loss and no neurological deficits. Complete reduction of the spondylolisthesis is frequently possible with a statistically significant reduction in pain scores.

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Amir Ahmadian, Naomi Abel and Juan S. Uribe

The minimally invasive lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas approach is a popular fusion technique. However, potential complications include injury to the lumbar plexus nerves, bowel, and vasculature, the most common of which are injuries to the lumbar plexus. The femoral nerve is particularly vulnerable because of its size and location; injury to the femoral nerve has significant clinical implications because of its extensive sensory and motor innervation of the lower extremities. The authors present an interesting case of a 49-year-old male patient in whom femoral and obturator nerve functional recovery unexpectedly occurred 364 days after the nerves had been injured during lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas surgery. Chronological video and electrodiagnostic findings demonstrate evidence of recovery. Classification and mechanisms of nerve injury and nerve regeneration are discussed.

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Elias Dakwar, Amir Ahmadian and Juan S. Uribe

Object

The thoracolumbar junction (T11–L2) poses an anatomical dilemma, given the presence of the lower rib cage and the diaphragm when performing anterolateral approaches. To circumvent dealing with the diaphragm, a minimally invasive lateral extracoelomic approach has been used to approach the thoracolumbar junction by mobilizing the diaphragm anteriorly. No anatomical studies have described the attachments of the diaphragm and their surgical significance during the lateral approach to the thoracolumbar spine. The objective of this study is to describe the anatomical relationship of the diaphragm in reference to the minimally invasive lateral approach to the thoracolumbar spine and its surgical significance.

Methods

Nine adult fresh-frozen cadaveric specimens were dissected and studied (18 sides). All specimens were placed in the lateral decubitus position, similar to the surgical technique, for the dissections. The relationship between the retroperitoneum, retropleural space, diaphragm, and thoracolumbar spine was analyzed in reference to the minimally invasive lateral approach. Special attention was given to the attachments of the diaphragm and their relationship to the ribs during the early stages of the approach.

Results

All 18 sides were successfully dissected, analyzed, and photographed. The diaphragm is a musculotendinous sheet extending between the thoracic and abdominal cavities. Its attachments can be divided into 3 main categories: 1) sternal or anterior, 2) costal or lateral, and 3) lumbar or posterior. These attachments are described in detail, with specific reference to the lateral approach. When performing the minimally invasive lateral extracoelomic approach to the thoracolumbar spine, the lateral and posterior attachments must be identified and dissected to successfully mobilize the diaphragm anteriorly.

Conclusions

The diaphragm has multiple attachments that can be categorized as anterior, lateral, and posterior. In reference to the minimally invasive lateral extracoelomic approach to the thoracolumbar junction, the surgically significant attachments are primarily to the 12th rib and transverse process of L-1.

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Elias Dakwar, Fernando L. Vale and Juan S. Uribe

Object

The minimally invasive lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas approach is increasingly used to treat various spinal disorders. Accessing the retroperitoneal space and traversing the abdominal wall poses a risk of injury to the major nervous structures and adds significant morbidity to the procedure. Most of the current literature focuses on the anatomy of the lumbar plexus within the substance of the psoas muscle. However, there is sparse knowledge regarding the trajectory of the lumbar plexus nerves that travel along the retroperitoneum and abdominal wall muscles in relation to the lateral approach to the spine. The objective of this study is to define the anatomical trajectories of the major motor and sensory branches of the lumbar plexus that are located outside the psoas muscle.

Methods

Six adult fresh frozen cadaveric specimens were dissected and studied (12 sides). The relationship between the retroperitoneum, abdominal wall muscles, and the lumbar plexus nerves was analyzed in reference to the minimally invasive lateral retroperitoneal approach. Special attention was given to the lumbar plexus nerves that run outside of psoas muscle in the retroperitoneal cavity and within the abdominal muscle wall.

Results

The skin and muscles of the abdominal wall and the retroperitoneal cavity were dissected and analyzed with respect to the major motor and sensory branches of the lumbar plexus. The authors identified 4 nerves at risk during the lateral approach to the spine: subcostal, iliohypogastric, ilioinguinal, and lateral femoral cutaneous nerves. The anatomical trajectory of each of these nerves is described starting from the spinal column until their termination or exit from the pelvic cavity.

Conclusions

There is risk of direct injury to the main motor/sensory nerves that supply the anterior abdominal muscles during the early stages of the lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas approach while obtaining access to the retroperitoneum. There is also a risk of injury to the ilioinguinal, iliohypogastric, and lateral femoral cutaneous nerves in the retroperitoneal space where they travel obliquely during the blunt retroperitoneal dissection. Moreover, there is a latent possibility of lesioning these nerves with the retractor blades against the anterior iliac crest.

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Ali A. Baaj, Juan S. Uribe and Fernando L. Vale

Chance-type fractures of the spine have been associated with seat-belt injuries in the pediatric population. Nonoperative management is appropriate in most cases of Chance fractures, but surgical intervention is occasionally warranted to deter progression of kyphosis and neurological deterioration. Internal fixation using pedicle screws has been widely used in the surgical repair of this injury. The authors report on a 6-year-old girl who suffered an L-2 Chance fracture with facet disruption, kyphosis, and significant posterior ligamentous injury. She underwent open reduction and internal fixation using Songer cable wiring augmented with bilateral lamina plating. At the 18-week follow-up, she continued to be free of any neurological deficits and her alignment was stable on plain radiographs of flexion-extension. The authors have therefore described a feasible option in the surgical management of Chance-type fractures in the pediatric spine.

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Elias Dakwar, Rafael F. Cardona, Donald A. Smith and Juan S. Uribe

Object

The object of this study was to evaluate an alternative surgical approach to degenerative thoracolumbar deformity in adults. The authors present their early experience with the minimally invasive, lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas approach for placing interbody grafts and providing anterior column support for adult degenerative deformity.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed a prospectively acquired database of all patients with adult thoracolumbar degenerative deformity treated with the minimally invasive, lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas approach at our institution. All patient data were recorded including demographics, preoperative evaluation, procedure used, postoperative follow-up, operative time, blood loss, length of hospital stay, and complications. The Oswestry Disability Index and visual analog scale (for pain) were also administered pre- and postoperatively as early outcome measures. All patients were scheduled for follow-up postoperatively at weeks 2, 6, 12, and 24, and at 1 year.

Results

The authors identified 25 patients with adult degenerative deformity who were treated using the minimally invasive, lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas approach. All patients underwent discectomy and lateral interbody graft placement for anterior column support and interbody fusion. The mean total blood loss was 53 ml per level. The average length of stay in the hospital was 6.2 days. Mean follow-up was 11 months (range 3–20 months). A mean improvement of 5.7 points on visual analog scale scores and 23.7% on the Oswestry Disability Index was observed. Perioperative complications include 1 patient with rhabdomyolysis requiring temporary hemodialysis, 1 patient with subsidence, and 1 patient with hardware failure. Three patients (12%) experienced transient postoperative anterior thigh numbness, ipsilateral to the side of approach. In this series, 20 patients (80%) were identified who had more than 6 months of follow-up and radiographic evidence of fusion. The minimally invasive, lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas approach, without the use of osteotomies, did not correct the sagittal balance in approximately one-third of the patients.

Conclusions

Degenerative scoliosis of the adult spine is secondary to asymmetrical degeneration of the discs. Surgical decompression and correction of the deformity can be performed from an anterior, posterior, or combined approach. These procedures are often associated with long operative times and a high incidence of complications. The authors' experience with the minimally invasive, lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas approach for placement of a large interbody graft for anterior column support, restoration of disc height, arthrodesis, and realignment is a feasible alternative to these procedures.