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Andrei F. Joaquim and K. Daniel Riew

OBJECTIVE

Cervical disc arthroplasty (CDA) has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment modality for single-level cervical radiculopathy or myelopathy. Its advantages over an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) include motion preservation and decreased reoperations at the index and adjacent segments up to 7 years postoperatively. Considering the fact that many patients have multilevel cervical disc degeneration (CDD), the authors performed a systematic review of the clinical studies evaluating patients who underwent multilevel CDA (2 or more levels).

METHODS

A systematic review in the MEDLINE database was performed. Clinical studies including patients who had multilevel CDA were selected and included. Case reports and literature reviews were excluded. Articles were then grouped according to their main study objective: 1) studies comparing multilevel CDA versus ACDF; 2) studies comparing single-level CDA versus multilevel CDA; and 3) multilevel CDA after a previous cervical spine surgery.

RESULTS

Fourteen articles met all inclusion criteria. The general conclusions were that multilevel CDA was at least as safe and effective as ACDF, with preservation of cervical motion when compared with ACDF and potentially with fewer reoperations expected in most of the studies. Multilevel CDAs are clinically effective as single-level surgeries, with good clinical and radiological outcomes. Some studies reported a higher incidence of heterotopic ossification in multilevel CDA when compared with single-level procedures, but without clinical relevance during the follow-up period. A CDA may be indicated even after a previous cervical surgery in selected cases.

CONCLUSIONS

The current literature supports the use of multilevel CDA. Caution is necessary regarding the more restrictive indications for CDA when compared with ACDF. Further prospective, controlled, multicenter, and randomized studies not sponsored by the device manufactures are desirable to prove the superiority of CDA surgery over ACDF as the treatment of choice for CDD in selected cases.

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Andrei F. Joaquim and K. Daniel Riew

Management of intradural spinal tumors requires posterior decompressive techniques. Cervical spine deformity secondary to sagittal and/or coronal imbalance after a laminectomy may result in significant cervical pain and functional deterioration, as well as neurological deficits in the most severe cases. In this paper, the authors discuss the management of cervical spine deformity after intradural tumor resection, with emphasis on the surgical strategies required to reestablish acceptable cervical spine alignment and to correct postoperative deformity. In general, after an oncological evaluation, assessing the alignment, extent, and flexibility of the deformity is mandatory before surgical planning. Rigid deformities require an osteotomy and, most often, combined approaches to restore cervical alignment. Flexible deformities can often be treated with a single approach, although a circumferential approach has its advantages.

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Kingsley R. Chin, Eric T. Ricchetti, Warren D. Yu, and K. Daniel Riew

Multilevel anterior cervical fusion often necessitates a large extensile incision for exposure and substantial retraction of the esophagus for placing long plates, potentially predisposing patients to complications such as dysphagia, dysphonia, and neurovascular injury. To the authors' knowledge, the use of 2 incisions as an option has not been published, and so it is not intuitive to young surgeons or widely practiced. In this report, the authors discuss the advantages and raise awareness of using 2 incisions for multilevel anterior cervical fusion, and they document a safe skin bridge length. They also describe the advantages of using 2 incisions for performing multilevel anterior cervical fusion either at contiguous or noncontiguous levels as in adjacent-segment disease. By using the 2-incision technique, the authors made the surgery technically easier and diminished the amount of esophageal retraction otherwise needed through 1 long transverse or longitudinal incision. A skin bridge of 3 cm was safe.

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A comparison of simulator-tested and -retrieved cervical disc prostheses

Invited submission from the Joint Section Meeting on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves, March 2004

Paul A. Anderson, Jeffrey P. Rouleau, Jeffrey M. Toth, and K. Daniel Riew

Object. Total joint arthroplasties most commonly fail because the implant becomes worn and a host inflammatory response subsequently develops. Both the material response to the biological environment and the host response to the device must be thoroughly evaluated to establish the efficacy of cervical arthroplasty. Analyses of devices explanted in humans allow evaluation of both responses. Hypothetical wear rates can be determined by comparing in vivo wear with simulator-derived wear. The purpose of this study was to perform explant analyses involving the Bryan and Prestige discs and compare these results with those obtained using spine simulators.

Methods. Of the approximately 5500 patients treated with the Bryan disc, 11 have undergone explantation of the device. Six of these devices were analyzed for dimensional and chemical changes. Three of the approximately 300 implanted Prestige discs were retrieved, and two were examined microscopically. Histological specimens were assessed for wear particles and host inflammatory response. Additionally, the extent of simulator-produced wear was compared with that demonstrated in the retrieved specimens.

Conclusions. The simulator-generated results predict adequate wear-related characteristics for both the Bryan and Prestige prostheses for a minimum of 40 years. Comparison of data with those of the retrieved specimens indicates that the wear was more minimal than predicted in simulators by five- to 10-fold. In no instance did the revisions result from failure of the device due to a reaction to wear debris, fracture, polymer oxidation, or metal corrosion. The inflammatory response seen in the periprosthetic tissues was minimal and not characteristic of inflammatory responses in failed diarthrodial joint arthroplasties.

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Michael P. Kelly, Paul A. Anderson, Rick C. Sasso, and K. Daniel Riew

OBJECT

The aim of this study is to evaluate the relationship between preoperative opioid strength and outcomes of anterior cervical decompressive surgery.

METHODS

A retrospective cohort of 1004 patients enrolled in 1 of 2 investigational device exemption studies comparing cervical total disc arthroplasty (TDA) and anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) for single-level cervical disease causing radiculopathy or myelopathy was selected. At a preoperative visit, opioid use data, Neck Disability Index (NDI) scores, 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) scores, and numeric rating scale scores for neck and arm pain were collected. Patients were divided into strong (oxycodone/morphine/meperidine), weak (codeine/propoxyphene/hydrocodone), and opioid-naïve groups. Preoperative and postoperative (24 months) outcomes scores were compared within and between groups using the paired t-test and ANCOVA, respectively.

RESULTS

Patients were categorized as follows: 226 strong, 762 weak, and 16 opioid naïve. The strong and weak groups were similar with respect to age, sex, race, marital status, education level, Worker’s Compensation status, litigation status, and alcohol use. At 24-month follow-up, no differences in change in arm or neck pain scores (arm: strong −52.3, weak −50.6, naïve −54.0, p = 0.244; neck: strong −52.7, weak −50.8, naïve −44.6, p = 0.355); NDI scores (strong −36.0, weak −33.3, naïve −32.3, p = 0.181); or SF-36 Physical Component Summary scores (strong: 14.1, weak 13.3, naïve 21.7, p = 0.317) were present. Using a 15-point improvement in NDI to determine success, the authors found no between-groups difference in success rates (strong 80.6%, weak 82.7%, naïve 73.3%, p = 0.134). No difference existed between treatment arms (TDA vs ACDF) for any outcome at any time point.

CONCLUSIONS

Preoperative opioid strength did not adversely affect outcomes in this analysis. Careful patient selection can yield good results in this patient population.

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Andrei F. Joaquim, Enrico Ghizoni, Helder Tedeschi, Simone Appenzeller, K. Daniel Riew, and MD

Cervical spine involvement commonly occurs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), especially those with inadequate treatment or severe disease forms. The most common site affected by RA is the atlantoaxial joint, potentially resulting in atlantoaxial instability, with cervical pain and neurological deficits. The second most common site of involvement is the subaxial cervical spine, often with subluxation, resulting in nerve root or spinal cord compression.

In this paper, the authors review the most commonly used plain radiographic criteria to diagnose cervical instabilities seen with RA. Finally, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of cervical CT and MRI in the setting of cervical involvement in RA.

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Ryan Snowden, Justin Miller, Tome Saidon, Joseph D. Smucker, K. Daniel Riew, and Rick Sasso

OBJECTIVE

The authors sought to compare the effect of index level sagittal alignment on cephalad radiographic adjacent segment pathology (RASP) in patients undergoing cervical total disc arthroplasty (TDA) or anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).

METHODS

This was a retrospective study of prospectively collected radiographic data from 79 patients who underwent TDA or ACDF and were enrolled and followed prospectively at two centers in a multicenter FDA investigational device exemption trial of the Bryan cervical disc prosthesis used for arthroplasty. Neutral lateral radiographs were obtained pre- and postoperatively and at 1, 2, 4, and up to 7 years following surgery. The index level Cobb angle was measured both pre- and postoperatively. Cephalad disc degeneration was determined by a previously described measurement of the disc height/anteroposterior (AP) distance ratio.

RESULTS

Sixty-eight patients (n = 33 ACDF; n = 35 TDA) had complete radiographs and were included for analysis. Preoperatively, there was no difference in the index level Cobb angle between the ACDF and TDA patients. Postoperatively, the ACDF patients had a larger segment lordosis compared to the TDA patients (p = 0.002). Patients who had a postoperative kyphotic Cobb angle were more likely to have undergone TDA (p = 0.01). A significant decrease in the disc height/AP distance ratio occurred over time (p = 0.035), by an average of 0.01818 at 84 months. However, this decrease was not influenced by preoperative alignment, postoperative alignment, or type of surgery.

CONCLUSIONS

In this cohort of patients undergoing TDA and ACDF, the authors found that preoperative and postoperative sagittal alignment have no effect on RASP at follow-up of at least 7 years. They identified time as the only significant factor affecting RASP.

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Ho-Yeon Won, Jong-Beom Park, Eun-Young Park, and K. Daniel Riew

Object

Diabetes mellitus is thought to be an important etiologic factor in intervertebral disc degeneration. It is known that notochordal cells gradually disappear from the nucleus pulposus (NP) of the intervertebral disc with age by undergoing apoptosis. What is not known is whether diabetes has an effect on apoptotic rates of notochordal cells. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of hyperglycemia on apoptosis of notochordal cells and intervertebral disc degeneration in age-matched OLETF (diabetic) and LETO (control) rats.

Methods

Lumbar disc tissue (L1–2 through L5–6), including cranial and caudal cartilaginous endplates, was obtained from 6- and 12-month-old OLETF and LETO rats (40 rats, 10 in each of the 4 groups). The authors examined the NP using TUNEL, histological analysis, and Western blot for expression of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)–1, -2, -3, and -13, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP)–1 and -2, and Fas (apoptosis-related protein). The apoptosis index of notochordal cells was calculated. The degree of transition of notochordal NP to fibrocartilaginous NP was classified on a scale ranging from Grade 0 (no transition) to Grade 4 (transition > 75%). The degree of expression of MMP-1, -2, -3, and -13, TIMP-1 and -2, and Fas was evaluated by densitometry.

Results

At 6 and 12 months of age, OLETF rats showed increased body weight and abnormal 2-hour glucose tolerance tests compared with LETO rats. The apoptosis index of notochordal cells was significantly higher in the OLETF rats than in the LETO rats at both 6 and 12 months of age. The degree of transition of notochordal NP to fibrocartilaginous NP was significantly higher in the OLETF rats than in the LETO rats at 6 and 12 months of age. The expression of MMP-1, -2, -3, and -13, TIMP-1, and Fas was higher in the OLETF rats at 6 and 12 months of age. The expression of TIMP-2 was significantly higher in the OLETF rats than in the LETO rats at 6 months of age, but not at 12.

Conclusions

The findings suggest that diabetes is associated with premature, excessive apoptosis of NP notochordal cells. This results in an accelerated transition of a notochordal NP to a fibrocartilaginous NP, which leads to early intervertebral disc degeneration. It remains to be determined if these premature changes are due to hyperglycemia or some other factors associated with diabetes. Understanding the mechanism by which diabetes affects disc degeneration is the first step in designing therapeutic modalities to delay or prevent disc degeneration caused by diabetes mellitus.

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Melvin D. Helgeson, Ronald A. Lehman Jr., Anton E. Dmitriev, Daniel G. Kang, Rick C. Sasso, Chadi Tannoury, and K. Daniel Riew

Object

Intraoperative imaging often does not provide adequate visualization to ensure safe placement of screws. Therefore, the authors investigated the accuracy of a freehand technique for placement of pars, pedicle, and intralaminar screws in C-2.

Methods

Sixteen cadaveric specimens were instrumented freehand by 2 experienced cervical spine surgeons with either a pars or pedicle screw, and bilateral intralaminar screws. The technique was based on anatomical starting points and published screw trajectories. A pedicle finder was used to establish the trajectory, followed by tapping, palpation, and screw placement. After placement of all screws (16 pars screws, 16 pedicle screws, and 32 intralaminar screws), the C-2 segments were disarticulated, radiographed in anteroposterior, lateral, and axial planes, and meticulously inspected by another spine surgeon to determine the nature and presence of any defects.

Results

A total of 64 screws were evaluated in this study. Pars screws exhibited 2 critical defects (1 in the foramen transversarium and 1 in the C2–3 facet) and an insignificant dorsal cortex breech, for an overall accuracy rate of 81.3%. Pedicle screws demonstrated only 1 insignificant violation (inferior facet/medial cortex intrusion of 1 mm) with an accuracy rate of 93.8%, and intralaminar screws demonstrated 3 insignificant violations (2 in the ventral canal, 1 in the caudad lamina breech) for an accuracy rate of 90.6%. Pars screws had significantly more critical violations than intralaminar screws (p = 0.041).

Conclusions

Instrumentation of the C-2 vertebrae using the freehand technique for insertion of pedicle and intralaminar screws showed a high success rate with no critical violations. Pars screw insertion was not as reliable, with 2 critical violations from a total of 16 placements. The freehand technique appears to be a safe and reliable method for insertion of C-2 pedicle and intralaminar screws.

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Asdrubal Falavigna, Nicolas Scheverin, Orlando Righesso, Alisson R. Teles, Maria Carolina Gullo, Joseph S. Cheng, and K. Daniel Riew

OBJECT

Lumbar discectomy is one of the most common surgical spine procedures. In order to understand the value of this surgical care, it is important to understand the costs to the health care system and patient for good results. The objective of this study was to evaluate for the first time the cost-effectiveness of spine surgery in Latin America for lumbar discectomy in terms of cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained for patients in Brazil.

METHODS

The authors performed a prospective cohort study involving 143 consecutive patients who underwent open discectomy for lumbar disc herniation (LDH). Patient-reported outcomes were assessed utilizing the SF-6D, which is derived from a 12-month variation of the SF-36. Direct medical costs included medical reimbursement, costs of hospital care, and overall resource consumption. Disability losses were considered indirect costs. A 4-year horizon with 3% discounting was applied to health-utilities estimates. Sensitivity analysis was performed by varying utility gain by 20%. The costs were expressed in Reais (R$) and US dollars ($), applying an exchange rate of 2.4:1 (the rate at the time of manuscript preparation).

RESULTS

The direct and indirect costs of open lumbar discectomy were estimated at an average of R$3426.72 ($1427.80) and R$2027.67 ($844.86), respectively. The mean total cost of treatment was estimated at R$5454.40 ($2272.66) (SD R$2709.17 [$1128.82]). The SF-6D utility gain was 0.044 (95% CI 0.03197–0.05923, p = 0.017) at 12 months. The 4-year discounted QALY gain was 0.176928. The estimated cost-utility ratio was R$30,828.35 ($12,845.14) per QALY gained. The sensitivity analysis showed a range of R$25,690.29 ($10,714.28) to R$38,535.44 ($16,056.43) per QALY gained.

CONCLUSIONS

The use of open lumbar discectomy to treat LDH is associated with a significant improvement in patient outcomes as measured by the SF-6D. Open lumbar discectomy performed in the Brazilian supplementary health care system provides a cost-utility ratio of R$30,828.35 ($12,845.14) per QALY. The value of acceptable cost-effectiveness will vary by country and region.