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Mark W. Hawk and Kee D. Kim

Spinal pseudomeningoceles and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) fistulas are uncommon extradural collections of CSF that may result from inadvertent tears in the dural–arachnoid layer, traumatic injury, or may be congenital in origin. Most pseudomeningoceles are iatrogenic and occur in the posterior lumbar region following surgery. The true incidence of iatrogenic pseudomeningoceles following laminectomy or discectomy is unknown; however, the authors of several published reports suggest that the incidence of lumbar pseudomeningoceles following laminectomy or discectomy is between 0.07% and 2%. Pseudomeningoceles are often asymptomatic, but patients may present with recurrence of low-back pain, radiculopathy, subcutaneous swelling, or with symptoms of intracranial hypotension. Very rarely, they present with delayed myelopathy. Although magnetic resonance imaging is the neurodiagnostic study of choice, computerized tomography myelography and radionuclide myelographic study may be helpful diagnostic tools in some cases. Analysis of suspect fluid for β2 transferrin may be a useful adjunctive study. Treatment options include close observation for spontaneous resolution, conservative measures such as bed rest and applicaton of an epidural blood patch, lumbar subarachnoid drainage, and definitive surgical repair.

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Sun Wuk Kim and Kee Chan Lee

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Kee D. Kim, J. Patrick Johnson, and Jesse D. Babbitz


Thoracic pedicle screw fixation is effective and reliable in providing short-segment stabilization. Although the procedure is becoming more widely used, accurate insertion of the screws is difficult due to the small dimensions of thoracic pedicles, and the associated risk is high due to the proximity of the spinal cord. In previous studies authors have shown the accuracy of image-guided lumbar pedicle screw placement, but there have been no reported investigations into the accuracy of image-guided thoracic pedicle screw placement. The authors report their experience with such an investigation.


To evaluate the accuracy of image-guided thoracic pedicle screw placement in vitro and in vivo, thoracic pedicle screws were placed with an image-guidance system in five human cadavers and 10 patients. In cadavers, the accuracy of screw placement was assessed by postoperative computerized tomography and visual inspection and in patients by postoperative imaging studies. Of the 120 pedicle screws placed in five cadavers pedicle violation occurred in 23 cases (19.2%); there was one pedicle violation (4.2%) in each of the last two cadavers. Of the 45 pedicle screws placed in 10 patients, pedicle violations occurred in three (6.7%).


In comparison with historical controls, the accuracy of thoracic pedicle screw placement is improved with the use of an image-guidance system. It allows the surgeon to visualize the thoracic pedicle and the surrounding structures that are normally out of the surgical field of view. The surgeon, however, must be aware of the limitations of an image-guidance system and have a sound basic knowledge of spinal anatomy to avoid causing serious complications.

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Kee D. Kim, Jesse D. Babbitz, and Jeffrey Mimbs

The surgical management of thoracic disc disease remains challenging. Outcomes after laminectomy had been poor, and modern posterolateral, lateral, and anterior approaches have evolved to replace this older procedure. Each has its own set of complications, and all are hampered, to varying degrees, by the limited visualization of the ventral disc space and spinal cord during decompression. The authors present their early experience with computer-assisted image guidance as an adjunctive tool for preoperative planning and navigation in the treatment of thoracic disc disease. Five consecutive patients underwent image-guided costotransversectomies between January 1999 and April 2000. The levels of herniation were T8–9 in three and T7–8 and T5–6, respectively, in the other two. There were four centrolateral herniations and one midline herniation. Three discs were soft and two hard. Two patients had previously undergone failed disc excisions. All patients had axial pain and myeloradiculopathies preoperatively. Three were unable to walk.

Four patients enjoyed good or excellent outcomes, with return of ambulation. One patient experienced only mild improvement in her severe paraparesis. Image-guidance was invaluable in planning the corpectomy and aiding visualization in situations in which the dura or disc were obscured; its use allowed successful surgical excisions in the most challenging circumstances.

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Jared D. Ament and Kee D. Kim

This review seeks to introduce the concept of cost-utility analysis in neurosurgery and to highlight its essential components. It also includes a suggested approach to standardization, which would help bring more credence to this research and potentially affect management choices, reimbursement, and policy.

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Rudolph J. Schrot, Kee D. Kim, and Mark Fedor

✓ The authors report the case of a 15-year-old boy who presented with left shoulder pain and paresthesia of the left hand. Imaging studies revealed an osseous lesion compressing the C-8 nerve root. The patient underwent tumor resection followed by instrumentation-augmented fusion. Histological findings were consistent with osteochondroma. The tumor most likely originated from the articular cartilage between the first rib and T-1 or between C-7 and T-1. The correct diagnosis, therefore, was dysplasia epiphysialis hemimelica (DEH), also known as Trevor disease. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first report of DEH involving the spine.

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Dong Gyu Kim, Chul-Kee Park, and Sun Ha Paek

✓ Bo Sung Sim (1924–2001) stands as a prominent figure in the history of Korean neurosurgery. His devoted contributions have led to the fruitful development of modern neurosurgery in Korea. Sim practiced advanced neurosurgical techniques, undertook basic research, was passionate about education in the early years of neurosurgery in Korea, and played an essential role in founding the Korean Neurosurgical Society. Sim was a true neurosurgeon—a teacher, a scientist, and a superb pioneer in Korean neurosurgery.

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Ho Jun Seol, Chun Kee Chung, and Hyun Jib Kim

Object. The anterior upper thoracic spine (T1–3) is difficult to access because most neurosurgeons are unfamiliar with the anatomy. This study was performed to evaluate the different surgical options by retrospectively analyzing data on operations performed for anterior upper thoracic compression at the authors' institution.

Methods. Eighteen patients underwent surgery between November 1993 and May 2001. There were eight men and 10 women; their mean age was 55 years (range 28–80 years). All patients presented with pain and/or neurological deficits. The causes of anterior compression were diverse, although metastatic spinal tumor was most common. The approach chosen was primarily dictated by the axial involvement of the lesion. Anterior approaches, mainly the transmanubrium approach, were performed in six and posterior approaches in 12. In all cases except one, in which only an iliac bone graft was placed, instrumentation was used. The mean follow-up period was 11.4 months (range 1–57 months). One postoperative death occurred. Postoperative follow-up imaging studies, especially plain radiography, demonstrated no instrumentation failure. Improvement was shown in eight patients, an aggravation of symptoms in one, and stable clinical status in eight.

Conclusions. Decompression may be achieved on the anterior side of the upper thoracic spine if the operative approach is scrupulously chosen; this choice involves consideration of the locations of the lesion, the nature of the primary disease, and the surgery-related risk.

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June Ho Lee, Chun-Kee Chung, and Hyun Jib Kim

✓ A 16-year-old boy presented at the authors' emergency department with a sudden deterioration of respiration. He had been paraparetic for 3 years and had become quadriplegic 2 days previously. Magnetic resonance images revealed a Chiari I malformation and a hydromyelic cavity extending from C-1 to T-11. Rostrally, a small cylindrically shaped lesion extended from the cervicomedullary junction to the left semioval center. The patient made a dramatic neurological recovery following suboccipital craniectomy and upper cervical laminectomies with augmentation duraplasties followed by placement of a syringoperitoneal shunt.

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Nicholas M. Barbaro