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

Object

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.

Methods

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%).

Conclusions

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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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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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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Gilbert Cadena, Huy T. Duong, Jonathan J. Liu and Kee D. Kim

OBJECTIVE

C1–2 is a highly mobile complex that presents unique surgical challenges to achieving biomechanical rigidity and fusion. Posterior wiring methods have been largely replaced with segmental constructs using the C1 lateral mass, C1 pedicle, C2 pars, and C2 pedicle. Modifications to reduce surgical morbidity led to the development of C2 laminar screws. The C1 posterior arch has been utilized mostly as a salvage technique, but recent data indicate that this method provides significant rigidity in flexion-extension and axial rotation. The authors performed biomechanical testing of a C1 posterior arch screw (PAS)/C2 pars screw construct, collected morphometric data from a population of 150 CT scans, and performed a feasibility study of a freehand C1 PAS technique in 45 cadaveric specimens.

METHODS

Cervical spine CT scans from 150 patients were analyzed to determine the average C1 posterior tubercle thickness and size of C1 posterior arches. Eight cadavers were used to compare biomechanical stability of intact specimens, C1 lateral mass/C2 pars screw, and C1 PAS/C2 pars screw constructs. Paired comparisons were made using repeated-measures ANOVA and Holm-Sidak tests. Forty-five cadaveric specimens were used to demonstrate the feasibility and safety of the C1 PAS freehand technique.

RESULTS

Morphometric data showed the average craniocaudal thickness of the C1 posterior tubercle was 12.3 ± 1.94 mm. Eight percent (12/150) of cases showed thin posterior tubercles or midline defects. Average posterior arch thickness was 6.1 ± 1.1 mm and right and left average posterior arch length was 28.7 mm ± 2.53 mm and 28.9 ± 2.29 mm, respectively. Biomechanical testing demonstrated C1 lateral mass/C2 pars and C1 PAS/C2 pars constructs significantly reduced motion in flexion-extension and axial rotation compared with intact specimens (p < 0.05). The C1 lateral mass/C2 pars screw construct provided significant rigidity in lateral bending (p < 0.05). There was no statistically significant difference between the two constructs in flexion-extension, lateral bending, or axial rotation. Of the C1 posterior arches, 91.3% were successfully cannulated using a freehand technique with a low incidence of cortical breach (4.4%).

CONCLUSIONS

This biomechanical analysis indicates equivalent stability of the C1 PAS/C2 pars screw construct compared with a traditional C1 lateral mass/C2 pars screw construct. Both provide significant rigidity in flexion-extension and axial rotation. Feasibility testing in 45 cadaveric specimens indicates a high degree of accuracy with low incidence of cortical breach. These findings are supported by a separate radiographic morphometric analysis.

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Rudolph J. Schrot, Jesna S. Mathew, Yueju Li, Laurel Beckett, Hyun W. Bae and Kee D. Kim

Object

The authors analyzed headache relief after anterior cervical discectomy. Headache may be relieved after anterior cervical discectomy, but the mechanism is unknown. If headaches were directly referred from upper cervical pathology, more headache relief would be expected from surgery performed at higher cervical levels. If spinal kinesthetics were the mechanism, then headache relief may differ between arthroplasty and fusion. Headache relief after anterior cervical discectomy was quantified by the operated disc level and by the method of operation (arthroplasty vs arthrodesis).

Methods

The authors performed a post hoc analysis of an artificial disc trial. Data on headache pain were extracted from the Neck Disability Index (NDI) questionnaire.

Results

A total of 260 patients underwent single-level arthroplasty or arthodesis. Preoperatively, 52% reported NDI headache scores of 3 or greater, compared with only 13%–17% postoperatively. The model-based mean NDI headache score at baseline was 2.5 (95% CI 2.3–2.7) and was reduced by 1.3 points after surgery (95% CI 1.2–1.4, p < 0.001). Higher cervical levels were associated with a greater degree of preoperative headache, but there was no association with headache relief. There was no significant difference in headache relief between arthroplasty and arthrodesis.

Conclusions

Most patients with symptomatic cervical spondylosis have headache as a preoperative symptom (88%). Anterior cervical discectomy with both arthroplasty and arthrodesis is associated with a durable decrease in headache. Headache relief is not related to the level of operation. The mechanism for headache reduction remains unclear.

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Ripul R. Panchal, Huy T. Duong, Kiarash Shahlaie and Kee D. Kim

Posterior neck deformity with an unsightly crater-like defect may result after cervicothoracic laminectomies. The authors present a new technique, spinous process reconstruction, to address this problem. A 64-year-old man presented with progressive quadriparesis secondary to cervical spondylotic myelopathy. Previously he had undergone multiple neck surgeries including cervicothoracic decompressive laminectomy. Postoperatively, he developed severe craniocervical spinal deformity and a large painful concave surgical defect in the neck. The authors performed craniocervical decompression and craniocervicothoracic instrumented stabilization. At the same time, cervicothoracic spinous process reconstruction was performed using titanium mesh to address the defect. Cervicothoracic decompressive laminectomy results in varying degrees of neck defect with resulting unsightly and an often painful surgical wound defect despite an appropriate multilayer closure. The presented spinous process reconstruction is a simple technique to address this problem with good clinical outcome.

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Kee D. Kim, Jeffrey C. Wang, Daniel P. Robertson, Darrel S. Brodke, Mohammed BenDebba, Kathleen M. Block and Gere S. diZerega

Object

Although good surgical technique is effective in reducing postoperative epidural fibrosis, compression or tethering of the nerve root may cause recurrent radicular pain and physical impairment. The implantation of a bioresorbable gel on the dura may further decrease the amount of scar formation after surgery and thus improve the patient's ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL). This study is a 12-month evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of Oxiplex/SP Gel (FzioMed, Inc., San Luis Obispo, CA) in the reduction of pain and radiculopathy after lumbar discectomy.

Methods

A pilot randomized single-blind multicenter clinical trial was conducted to evaluate the performance of Oxiplex/SP Gel in patients who underwent surgery for unilateral herniation of the lumbar disc at L4–5 or L5–S1. Eighteen patients with severe leg pain and lower-extremity weakness (11 women and seven men) were randomly assigned intraoperatively to receive the gel at the conclusion of surgery (treatment group) or to undergo surgery alone (control group). Self-assessment questionnaires (Lumbar Spine Outcomes Questionnaire) to assess pain, symptoms, and ADL were completed preoperatively and at scheduled postoperative intervals (30 days, 90 days, 6 months, and 12 months).

The authors examined the spine and lower extremities of patients scheduled for discectomy to assess neurological function and pain. Treated patients received sufficient Oxiplex/SP Gel (1–3 ml) to coat the nerve root and fill the epidural space. Postoperative clinical evaluations were performed at 30 and 90 days. Patients completed the self-assessment questionnaires at baseline and were contacted by telephone or mail for the completion of the postoperative self-assessment questionnaires.

Surgical procedures were well tolerated; no device-related adverse events and no clinically significant laboratory results were reported. The 11 patients with severe leg pain and lower-extremity weakness who were treated with Oxiplex/SP Gel had a reduction in those symptoms at 30 days, 90 days, 6 months, and 12 months after discectomy, compared with the seven control patients who underwent surgery only.

Conclusions

Oxiplex/SP Gel was easy to use and safe in patients who underwent unilateral discectomy. A greater benefit in clinical outcome measures was seen over the 12-month follow-up period in gel-treated patients.