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Justin C. Clark, Gary Jasmer, Frederick F. Marciano and Luis M. Tumialán

Object

There is an increasing awareness of radiation exposure to surgeons and the lifelong implications of such exposure. One of the main criticisms of minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS TLIF) is the amount of ionizing radiation required to perform the procedure. The goal in this study was to develop a protocol that would minimize the fluoroscopy time and radiation exposure needed to perform an MIS TLIF without compromising visualization of the anatomy or efficiency of the procedure.

Methods

A retrospective review of a prospectively collected database was performed to review the development of a low-dose protocol for MIS TLIFs in which a combination of low-dose pulsed fluoroscopy and digital spot images was used. Total fluoroscopy time and radiation dose were reviewed for 50 patients who underwent single-level MIS TLIFs.

Results

Fifty patients underwent single-level MIS TLIFs, resulting in the placement of 200 pedicle screws and 57 interbody spacers. There were 28 women and 22 men with an average age of 58.3 years (range 32–78 years). The mean body mass index was 26.2 kg/m2 (range 17.1–37.6 kg/m2). Indications for surgery included spondylolisthesis (32 patients), degenerative disc disease with radiculopathy (12 patients), and recurrent disc herniation (6 patients). Operative levels included 7 at L3–4, 40 at L4–5, and 3 at L5–S1. The mean operative time was 177 minutes (range 139–241 minutes). The mean fluoroscopic time was 18.72 seconds (range 7–29 seconds). The mean radiation dose was 0.247 mGy*m2 (range 0.06046–0.84054 mGy*m2). No revision surgery was required for any of the patients in this series.

Conclusions

Altering the fluoroscopic technique to low-dose pulse images or digital spot images can dramatically decrease fluoroscopy times and radiation doses in patients undergoing MIS TLIFs, without compromising image quality, accuracy of pedicle screw placement, or efficiency of the procedure.

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Leonardo Rangel-Castilla, Fangxiang Chen, Lawrence Choi, Justin C. Clark and Peter Nakaji

Object

An optimal entry point and trajectory for endoscopic colloid cyst (ECC) resection helps to protect important neurovascular structures. There is a large discrepancy in the entry point and trajectory in the neuroendoscopic literature.

Methods

Trajectory views from MRI or CT scans used for cranial image guidance in 39 patients who had undergone ECC resection between July 2004 and July 2010 were retrospectively evaluated. A target point of the colloid cyst was extended out to the scalp through a trajectory carefully observed in a 3D model to ensure that important anatomical structures were not violated. The relation of the entry point to the midline and coronal sutures was established. Entry point and trajectory were correlated with the ventricular size.

Results

The optimal entry point was situated 42.3 ± 11.7 mm away from the sagittal suture, ranging from 19.1 to 66.9 mm (median 41.4 mm) and 46.9 ± 5.7 mm anterior to the coronal suture, ranging from 36.4 to 60.5 mm (median 45.9 mm). The distance from the entry point to the target on the colloid cyst varied from 56.5 to 78.0 mm, with a mean value of 67.9 ± 4.8 mm (median 68.5 mm). Approximately 90% of the optimal entry points are located 40–60 mm in front of the coronal suture, whereas their perpendicular distance from the midline ranges from 19.1 to 66.9 mm. The location of the “ideal” entry points changes laterally from the midline as the ventricles change in size.

Conclusions

The results suggest that the optimal entry for ECC excision be located at 42.3 ± 11.7 mm perpendicular to the midline, and 46.9 ± 5.7 mm anterior to the coronal suture, but also that this point differs with the size of the ventricles. Intraoperative stereotactic navigation should be considered for all ECC procedures whenever it is available. The entry point should be estimated from the patient's own preoperative imaging studies if intraoperative neuronavigation is not available. An estimated entry point of 4 cm perpendicular to the midline and 4.5 cm anterior to the coronal suture is an acceptable alternative that can be used in patients with ventriculomegaly.

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Mark E. Oppenlander, Justin C. Clark, James Kalyvas and Curtis A. Dickman

Object

Symptomatic herniated thoracic discs (HTDs) are rare, and patients infrequently require treatment of 2 or more disc levels. The authors assess the surgical management and outcomes of patients with multiple-level symptomatic HTDs.

Methods

A retrospective review of a prospectively maintained database was performed of 220 consecutive patients treated surgically for symptomatic HTDs. Clinical and surgical results were compared between patients with single-level disease and patients with multiple-level disease and also among the different approaches used for surgical decompression.

Results

Between 1992 and 2012, 56 patients (mean age 48 years; 26 male, 30 female) underwent 62 procedures for 130 HTDs. Forty-six patients (82%) had myelopathy, and 36 (64%) had thoracic radiculopathy; 24 patients had both conditions in varying degree. Symptom duration averaged 28 months. The surgical approach was dictated by disc size, consistency, and location. Twenty-three thoracotomy, 26 thoracoscopy, and 13 posterolateral procedures were performed. Five patients required a combination of approaches. Patients underwent 2-level (n = 44), 3-level (n = 7), 4-level (n = 4), or 5-level (n = 1) discectomies. Instrumented fusion was performed in 36 patients (64%). Thirteen patients harbored 19 additional discs, which were deemed asymptomatic/nonoperative.

The mean hospital stay was 6.5 days. Complete disc resection was verified with postoperative imaging in every patient. The procedural complication rate was 23%, and the nature of complications differed based on approach. No patients had surgery-related spinal cord injury or new myelopathy.

At a mean follow-up of 48 months, myelopathy and radiculopathy had resolved or improved at a rate of 85% and 92%, respectively. Using a general linear model, preoperative symptom duration (p = 0.037) and perioperative hospital length of stay (p = 0.004) emerged as negative predictors of myelopathy improvement. Most patients (96%) were satisfied with the surgical results.

Compared with 164 patients who underwent single-level HTD decompression, patients requiring surgery for multiple-level HTDs were more often myelopathic (p = 0.012). Surgery for multiple-level HTDs was more likely to require a thoracotomy approach (p = 0.00055) and instrumented fusion (p < 0.0001) and resulted in greater blood loss (p = 0.0036) and higher complication rates (p = 0.0069). The rates of resolution for myelopathy (p = 0.24) and radiculopathy (p = 1.0), however, were similar between the 2 patient groups.

Conclusions

The management of multiple-level symptomatic HTDs is complex, requiring individualized clinical decision making. The surgical approaches must be selected to minimize manipulation of the compressed thoracic spinal cord, and a patient may require a combination of approaches. Excellent surgical results can be achieved in this unique and challenging patient population.

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Justin C. Clark and Curtis A. Dickman

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Felipe C. Albuquerque, Yin C. Hu, Shervin R. Dashti, Adib A. Abla, Justin C. Clark, Brian Alkire, Nicholas Theodore and Cameron G. McDougall

Object

Chiropractic manipulation of the cervical spine is a known cause of craniocervical arterial dissections. In this paper, the authors describe the patterns of arterial injury after chiropractic manipulation and their management in the modern endovascular era.

Methods

A prospectively maintained endovascular database was reviewed to identify patients presenting with craniocervical arterial dissections after chiropractic manipulation. Factors assessed included time to symptomatic presentation, location of the injured arterial segment, neurological symptoms, endovascular treatment, surgical treatment, clinical outcome, and radiographic follow-up.

Results

Thirteen patients (8 women and 5 men, mean age 44 years, range 30–73 years) presented with neurological deficits, head and neck pain, or both, typically within hours or days of chiropractic manipulation. Arterial dissections were identified along the entire course of the vertebral artery, including the origin through the V4 segment. Three patients had vertebral artery dissections that continued rostrally to involve the basilar artery. Two patients had dissections of the internal carotid artery (ICA): 1 involved the cervical ICA and 1 involved the petrocavernous ICA. Stenting was performed in 5 cases, and thrombolysis of the basilar artery was performed in 1 case. Three patients underwent emergency cerebellar decompression because of impending herniation. Six patients were treated with medication alone, including either anticoagulation or antiplatelet therapy. Clinical follow-up was obtained in all patients (mean 19 months). Three patients had permanent neurological deficits, and 1 died of a massive cerebellar stroke. The remaining 9 patients recovered completely. Of the 12 patients who survived, radiographic follow-up was obtained in all but 1 of the most recently treated patients (mean 12 months). All stents were widely patent at follow-up.

Conclusions

Chiropractic manipulation of the cervical spine can produce dissections involving the cervical and cranial segments of the vertebral and carotid arteries. These injuries can be severe, requiring endovascular stenting and cranial surgery. In this patient series, a significant percentage (31%, 4/13) of patients were left permanently disabled or died as a result of their arterial injuries.

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Aaron J. Clark, Roxanna M. Garcia, Malla K. Keefe, Tyler R. Koski, Michael K. Rosner, Justin S. Smith, Joseph S. Cheng, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Paul C. McCormick and Christopher P. Ames

Object

Adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery is increasing in the spinal neurosurgeon's practice.

Methods

A survey of neurosurgeon AANS membership assessed the deformity knowledge base and impact of current training, education, and practice experience to identify opportunities for improved education. Eleven questions developed and agreed upon by experienced spinal deformity surgeons tested ASD knowledge and were subgrouped into 5 categories: 1) radiology/spinopelvic alignment, 2) health-related quality of life, 3) surgical indications, 4) operative technique, and 5) clinical evaluation. Chi-square analysis was used to compare differences based on participant demographic characteristics (years of practice, spinal surgery fellowship training, percentage of practice comprising spinal surgery).

Results

Responses were received from 1456 neurosurgeons. Of these respondents, 57% had practiced less than 10 years, 20% had completed a spine fellowship, and 32% devoted more than 75% of their practice to spine. The overall correct answer percentage was 42%. Radiology/spinal pelvic alignment questions had the lowest percentage of correct answers (38%), while clinical evaluation and surgical indications questions had the highest percentage (44%). More than 10 years in practice, completion of a spine fellowship, and more than 75% spine practice were associated with greater overall percentage correct (p < 0.001). More than 10 years in practice was significantly associated with increased percentage of correct answers in 4 of 5 categories. Spine fellowship and more than 75% spine practice were significantly associated with increased percentage correct in all categories. Interestingly, the highest error was seen in risk for postoperative coronal imbalance, with a very low rate of correct responses (15%) and not significantly improved with fellowship (18%, p = 0.08).

Conclusions

The results of this survey suggest that ASD knowledge could be improved in neurosurgery. Knowledge may be augmented with neurosurgical experience, spinal surgery fellowships, and spinal specialization. Neurosurgical education should particularly focus on radiology/spinal pelvic alignment, especially pelvic obliquity and coronal imbalance and operative techniques for ASD.