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Christopher I. Shaffrey and Justin S. Smith

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Christopher I. Shaffrey and Justin S. Smith

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Justin S. Smith, Alfred T. Ogden and Richard G. Fessler

Thoracic spine fusion may be indicated in the surgical treatment of a wide range of pathologies, including trauma, deformity, tumor, and infection. Conventional open procedures for surgical treatment of thoracic spine disease can be associated with significant approach-related morbidity, which has motivated the development of minimally invasive approaches. Thoracoscopy and, later, video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery were developed to address diseases of the thoracic cavity and subsequently adapted for thoracic spine surgery. Although video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery has been used to treat a variety of thoracic spine diseases, its relatively steep learning curve and high rate of pulmonary complications have limited its widespread use. These limitations have motivated the development of minimally invasive posterior approaches to address thoracic spine pathology without the added risk of morbidity involved in surgically entering the chest. Many of these advances are ongoing and represent the forefront of minimally invasive spine surgery. As these techniques are developed and applied, it will be important to assess their equivalence or superiority in comparison with standard open techniques using prospective trials. In this paper the authors focus on minimally invasive posterior thoracic procedures that include fusion, and provide a review of the current literature, a discussion of future pathways for development, and case examples. The topic is divided by pathology into sections including trauma, deformity, spinal column tumors, and osteomyelitis.

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Devin K. Binder, Justin S. Smith and Nicholas M. Barbaro

Object

The authors report on the treatment of primary brachial plexus tumors in 25 patients at the University of California, San Francisco. They compare their findings with those obtained in similar series.

Methods

The authors reviewed the electronic and medical records, radiological images, operative reports, and pathological findings in 25 consecutive cases of primary brachial plexus tumors. Cases of metastatic lesions or adjacent neoplasms extending into and involving the brachial plexus were excluded.

At presentation patients ranged in age from 19 to 71 years (mean 47 ±15 years), and neurofibromatosis was present in eight patients (32%). Presenting signs and symptoms included palpable mass (60%), numbness/paresthesias (44%), radiating pain (44%), local pain (16%), and weakness (12%). Duration of symptoms ranged from 2 months to 10 years. Neuroimaging revealed lesions ranging widely in size (volume ~1 to >100 ml). Pathological diagnoses included schwannoma (15 [60%]), neurofibroma (five [20%]), malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (four [16%]), and desmoid tumor (one [4%]).

Conclusions

Primary tumors arising in the brachial plexus are rare. Careful workup, surgical technique, and attention to pathological diagnosis optimize management.

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Dean Chou, Justin S. Smith and Cynthia T. Chin

✓The authors describe a case of a discal cyst that resolved almost completely without direct intervention. Discal cysts are rare, with the authors of only a few case reports describing this entity. These reports all identify at least some intervention performed for alleviation of the symptoms, including open surgery, minimally invasive surgery, or percutaneous puncture with aspiration. The authors report on a 35-year-old man with radiculopathy who presented with a discal cyst and was treated with a routine epidural injection and selective nerve root block. Within 5 months, the discal cyst showed dramatic regression on magnetic resonance imaging and the patient’s symptoms improved. The natural history of this pathological entity is unknown, and to the authors’ knowledge this is the first detailed report of the regression of a discal cyst without surgery or aspiration.

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Christopher I. Shaffrey and Justin S. Smith

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Christopher I. Shaffrey and Justin S. Smith

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Justin S. Smith, Anita Lal, Miranda Harmon-Smith, Andrew W. Bollen and Michael W. McDermott

Object

The clinical behavior of meningiomas is variable. Because multiple growth factor receptors have been identified in these tumors, the authors sought to assess the capacity of the expression patterns of a subset of these receptors to stratify meningioma cases.

Methods

Eighty-four meningiomas were analyzed, including 36 benign, 29 atypical, and 19 malignant lesions. Immunohistochemical staining was performed for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR)–β, basic fibroblast growth factor receptor (BFGFR), and MIB-1. Survival analyses were performed using follow-up data obtained in patients with newly diagnosed tumors.

Immunoreactivity for EGFR was observed in 47% of benign, 48% of atypical, and 42% of malignant tumors. Staining for BFGFR was identified in 89% of benign, 97% of atypical, and 95% of malignant lesions. Immunostaining for PDGFR-β was evident in all the lesions assessed. Mean MIB-1 indices for benign, atypical, and malignant cases were 3.6 (range 0.5–15.3), 8.2 (range 1.5–23.1) and 18.3 (range 1.0–55.8), respectively. Overall mean follow-up duration was 9.0 years (range 5.1–18.8 years). Lack of EGFR immunoreactivity was identified as a strong predictor of shorter overall survival in patients with atypical meningioma (p = 0.003, log-rank test). This association was not evident in cases of benign or malignant meningiomas.

Conclusions

There is a significant association between EGFR immunoreactivity and prolonged survival in patients with atypical meningioma. Given the variable behavior of atypical meningiomas, EGFR assessment could improve existing strategies for patient stratification and treatment.

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D. Kojo Hamilton, Justin S. Smith, Charles A. Sansur, Aaron S. Dumont and Christopher I. Shaffrey

Object

The originally described technique of atlantoaxial stabilization using C-1 lateral mass and C-2 pars screws includes a C-2 neurectomy to provide adequate hemostasis and visualization for screw placement, enable adequate joint decortication and arthrodesis, and prevent new-onset postoperative C-2 neuralgia. However, inclusion of a C-2 neurectomy for this procedure remains controversial, likely due in part to a lack of studies that have specifically addressed whether it affects patient outcome. The authors' objective was to assess the surgical and clinical impact of routine C-2 neurectomy performed with C1–2 segmental instrumented arthrodesis in a consecutive series of elderly patients with C1–2 instability.

Methods

Forty-four consecutive patients (mean age 71 years) underwent C1–2 instrumented fusion, including C-1 lateral mass screw insertion. Bilateral C-2 neurectomies were performed. Standardized clinical assessments were performed both pre- and postoperatively. Numbness or discomfort in a C-2 distribution was documented at follow-up. Fusion was assessed using the Lenke fusion grade.

Results

Among all 44 patients, mean blood loss was 200 ml (range 100–350 ml) and mean operative time was 129 minutes (range 87–240 minutes). There were no intraoperative complications, and no patients reported new postoperative onset or worsening of C-2 neuralgia postoperatively. Outcomes for the 30 patients with a minimum 13-month follow-up (range 13–72 months) were assessed. At a mean follow-up of 36 months, Nurick grade and pain numeric rating scale scores improved from 3.7 to 1.0 (p < 0.001) and 9.4 to 0.6 (p < 0.001), respectively. The mean postoperative Neck Disability Index score was 7.3%. The fusion rate was 97%, and the patient satisfaction rate was 93%. All 24 patients with preoperative occipital neuralgia reported relief. Seventeen patients noticed C-2 distribution numbness only during examination in the clinic, and 2 patients reported C-2 numbness, but it did not affect their daily function.

Conclusions

In this series of C1–2 instrumented arthrodesis in elderly patients, excellent fusion rates were achieved, and patient satisfaction was not negatively affected by C-2 neurectomy. In the authors' experience, C-2 neurectomy enhanced surgical exposure of the C1–2 joint, thereby facilitating hemostasis, placement of instrumentation, and decortication of the joint space for arthrodesis. Importantly, with C-2 neurectomy in the present series, no cases of new onset postoperative C-2 neuralgia occurred, in contrast to a growing number of reports in the literature documenting new-onset C-2 neuralgia without C-2 neurectomy. On the contrary, 80% of patients in the present series had preoperative occipital neuralgia and in all of these patients this neuralgia was relieved following C1–2 instrumented arthrodesis with C-2 neurectomy.

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Matthew B. Potts, Justin S. Smith, Annette M. Molinaro and Mitchel S. Berger

Object

Low-grade gliomas (LGGs) are rarely diagnosed as an incidental, asymptomatic finding, and it is not known how the early surgical management of these tumors might affect outcome. The purpose of this study was to compare the outcomes of patients with incidental and symptomatic LGGs and determine any prognostic factors associated with those outcomes.

Methods

All patients treated by the lead author for an LGG incidentally discovered between 1999 and 2010 were retrospectively reviewed. “Incidental” was defined as a finding on imaging that was obtained for a reason not attributable to the glioma, such as trauma or headache. Primary outcomes included overall survival, progression-free survival (PFS), and malignant PFS. Patients with incidental LGGs were compared with a previously reported cohort of patients with symptomatic gliomas.

Results

Thirty-five patients with incidental LGGs were identified. The most common reasons for head imaging were headache not associated with mass effect (31.4%) and trauma (20%). Patients with incidental lesions had significantly lower preoperative tumor volumes than those with symptomatic lesions (20.2 vs 53.9 cm3, p < 0.001), were less likely to have tumors in eloquent locations (14.3% vs 61.9%, p < 0.001), and had a higher prevalence of females (57.1% vs 36%, p = 0.02). In addition, patients with incidental lesions were also more likely to undergo gross-total resection (60% vs 31.5%, p = 0.001) and had improved overall survival on Kaplan-Meier analysis (p = 0.039, Mantel-Cox test). Progression and malignant progression rates did not differ between the 2 groups. Univariate analysis identified pre- and postoperative volumes as well as the use of motor or language mapping as significant prognostic factors for PFS.

Conclusions

In this retrospective cohort of surgically managed LGGs, incidentally discovered lesions were associated with improved patient survival as compared with symptomatic LGGs, with acceptable surgical risks.