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Ken Ishii, Kazuhiro Chiba, Masahiko Watanabe, Hiroo Yabe, Yoshikazu Fujimura and Yoshiaki Toyama

✓ Excision is the treatment of choice in cases of sacral chordoma. Local recurrences, however, have often been observed even after total en bloc resection. The authors assessed outcomes in four cases of tumor recurrence in patients who underwent total en bloc S2–3 resection for sacral chordomas that were located below S-3. The primary recurrences were located at either side of the lateral portion of the remaining sacrum in all patients. In two patients in whom preoperative magnetic resonance imaging indicated no invasion of the tumor into surrounding soft tissues, recurrence in the resected end of the gluteus maximus or piriformis muscle was also observed. The authors therefore recommend that the S2–3 sacrectomy should be performed over an adequate margin, including a part of sacroiliac joints at the bilateral portions of the sacrum and soft tissues such as the gluteus maximus or piriformis muscle.

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Morio Matsumoto, Masayuki Ishikawa, Ken Ishii, Takashi Nishizawa, Hirofumi Maruiwa, Masaya Nakamura, Kazuhiro Chiba and Yoshiaki Toyama

Object. Although neurological examination is the key step to reaching a correct diagnosis of cervical compressive myelopathy (CCM), the accuracy of diagnosis of the affected spinal level for CCM has not yet been tested.

Methods. The authors conducted a prospective study to elucidate how accurately the affected intervertebral level can be determined and decompressed based on neurological examination. Fifty patients who underwent successful decompressive surgery for cervical myelopathy caused by single-level disc herniation or spondylosis were included in this study (38 men and 12 women, mean age 60 years). Three board-certified spine surgeons participated in establishing the neurological diagnoses. One of the three surgeons made a diagnosis of CCM, and the other two conducted the neurological examination including deep tendon reflex, pinprick response, muscle weakness, and numbness in the hand only, knowing that the patient had CCM, and established the neurological-level diagnosis. A single intervertebral level responsible for patient's symptoms was determined concordantly based on magnetic resonance imaging and myelography findings by two spine surgeons, and this served as the standard. Agreement between neurological and neuroimaging/radiological level diagnoses was determined. The rate of agreement between neurological and neuroimaging diagnosis was 66%. Among the neurological tests, patient-perceived location of numbness in the hands was the most useful for establishing the affected level. For the other three tests the agreement rate was lower than 50% and thus each individual test may not be reliable for diagnosing the affected level.

Conclusions. The results of this study suggested that neurological examination in patients with CCM is moderately accurate and reliable for determining the neurological level of disease.

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Morio Matsumoto, Kazuhiro Chiba, Ken Ishii, Kota Watanabe, Masaya Nakamura and Yoshiaki Toyama

✓ The authors report the cases of three patients with L-5 radiculopathy caused by extraforaminal entrapment of the L-5 spinal nerve at the lumbosacral tunnel; this structure comprises the lumbosacral ligament, the sacral ala, and the L-5 and S-1 vertebral bodies. All three patients suffered severe leg pain and neurological deficits compatible with L-5 radiculopathy. Decompressive surgery involved the microendoscopic partial resection of the sacral ala along the L-5 spinal nerve. All patients experienced immediate pain relief postoperatively. Microendoscopic partial resection of the sacral ala is an effective and minimally invasive surgical option for patients with extraforaminal entrapment of the L-5 spinal nerve.

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Ken Ishii, Kazuhiro Chiba, Hirofumi Maruiwa, Masaya Nakamura, Morio Matsumoto and Yoshiaki Toyama

Object

The authors conducted a study to assess the correlation between radiological features and clinical courses in patients with chronic atlantoaxial rotatory fixation (AARF) and to determine diagnostic imaging signs for predicting prognosis.

Methods

There were 24 patients (eight boys and 16 girls) whose mean age was 7.8 years (range 4–14 years) and in whom AARF was diagnosed. The mean follow-up duration was 3.7 years (range 5 weeks–12 years). There were two groups of patients: 15 patients who visited the hospital less than 8 weeks after symptom (torticollis) onset comprised the acute group, and nine patients in whom the diagnosis of AARF was established later than 3 months after symptom onset comprised the chronic group. The chronic group was divided into two subgroups: those in whom the closed reduction could be achieved and those in whom it could not. Clinical data and radiographic studies, including plain radiographs and plain and three-dimensional (3D) computed tomography (CT) reconstructions, were reviewed retrospectively.

A deformity of the superior C-2 facet joint was frequently observed in the group of patients with chronic AARF (p < 0.0001). This sign represented a risk factor for recurrent dislocation (p = 0.0003, Fisher exact test). Prominent lateral inclination of C-1 was an impeding factor for reduction of chronic AARF (p < 0.0001, analysis of variance with Fisher post hoc test). Greater than 20° of lateral inclination of the atlas indicated an irreducible subluxation (p = 0.0023, Fisher exact test).

Conclusions

Both facet joint deformity and lateral inclination observed on 3D CT reconstructions can be useful signs to predict the prognosis and the treatment of choice in patients with chronic AARFs.

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Morio Matsumoto, Ken Ishii, Hironari Takaishi, Masaya Nakamura, Hideo Morioka, Kazuhiro Chiba, Takeshi Takahata and Yoshiaki Toyama

✓The authors report the case of a 47-year-old woman who harbored a giant cell tumor at the T-5 level. She had undergone curettage of the tumor via a combined anterior and posterior approach at a regional hospital and was later referred to the authors' institution for treatment after the tumor recurred. On examination she exhibited progressive paraparesis and was nonambulatory due to cord compression caused by the tumor, which had invaded the spinal canal and extended to the right paravertebral muscles and right thoracic cavity. A spondylectomy was performed through a single posterior approach. The tumor, together with a portion of the dura mater, pleura, and muscles, was resected en bloc from T-4 to T-6. After resection, spinal reconstruction was performed by placement of an anterior titanium mesh cage as well as posterior pedicle screw and rod instrumentation. The patient's postoperative course was uneventful, and she exhibited substantial neurological recovery and became ambulatory. Two and a half years after surgery, the patient was tumor free.

En bloc resection of a recurrent giant cell tumor was successfully achieved through a single posterior approach. This surgical technique can be an effective option for this pathological condition, which is difficult to manage using other conventional treatment options including repeated curettage and radiotherapy.

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Morio Matsumoto, Kota Watanabe, Takashi Tsuji, Ken Ishii, Hironari Takaishi, Masaya Nakamura, Yoshiaki Toyama and Kazuhiro Chiba

Object

This retrospective study was conducted to evaluate the prevalence and clinical consequences of postoperative lamina closure after open-door laminoplasty and to identify the risk factors.

Methods

Eighty-two consecutive patients with cervical myelopathy who underwent open-door laminoplasty without plates or spacers in the open side (Hirabayashi's original method) were included (62 men and 20 women with a mean age of 62 years and a mean follow-up of 1.8 years). In 67 patients the cause of cervical myelopathy was spondylotic myelopathy, and in 15 it was caused by ossification of posterior longitudinal ligament. Radiographic measurements were made of the anteroposterior diameters of the spinal canal and vertebral bodies from C3–6, and the presence of kyphosis were assessed. Lamina closure was defined as ≥ 10% decrease in the canal-to-body ratio at the final follow-up compared with that immediately after surgery at ≥ 1 vertebral level. The impact of lamina closure on neck pain, patient satisfaction, Japanese Orthopaedic Association scores, and recovery rates were also evaluated.

Results

The mean canal-to-body ratio at C3–6 was 0.69–0.72 preoperatively, 1.25–1.28 immediately after surgery, and 1.18–1.24 at the final follow-up examination. Lamina closure was observed in 34% of patients and was not associated with sex, age, or cause of myelopathy, but was significantly associated with the presence of preoperative kyphosis (p = 0.014). Between patients with and without lamina closure, there was no significant difference in preoperative (9.7 ± 3.1 vs 10.6 ± 2.5) and postoperative (13.7 ± 2.4 vs 13.1 ± 2.7) Japanese Orthopaedic Association scores, recovery rates (53.9 ± 29.9% vs 44.3 ± 29.5%), neck pain scores (3.5 ± 0.7 vs 3.3 ± 1.0), or patient satisfaction level (4.0 ± 1.4 vs 4.8 ± 1.0).

Conclusions

Lamina closure at ≥ 1 vertebral level occurred in 34% of patients. Although patients with lamina closure obtained equivalent recovery from myelopathy in a short-term follow-up, they tended to be less satisfied with surgery compared with those who did not have closure. The only significant risk factor identified was the presence of preoperative cervical kyphosis, and preventative methods for lamina closure, therefore, should be considered for patients with preoperative kyphosis.

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Morio Matsumoto, Kota Watanabe, Ken Ishii, Takashi Tsuji, Hironari Takaishi, Masaya Nakamura, Yoshiaki Toyama and Kazuhiro Chiba

Object

In this paper, the authors' goal was to elucidate the clinical features and results of decompression surgery for extraforaminal stenosis at the lumbosacral junction.

Methods

Twenty-eight patients with severe leg pain caused by extraforaminal stenosis at the lumbosacral junction (18 men and 10 women; mean age 68.2 ± 8.9 years) were treated by posterior decompression without fusion using a microendoscope in 19 patients and a surgical microscope or loupe in 9 patients. The decompression procedures consisted of partial resection of the sacral ala, the L-5 transverse process, and the L5–S1 facet joint along the L-5 spinal nerve. The following items were investigated: 1) preoperative neurological findings; 2) preoperative radiological findings, including plain radiographs, CT scans, selective radiculography of L-5; 3) surgical outcome as evaluated using the Japanese Orthopaedic Association scale for low-back pain (JOA score); and 4) need for revision surgery.

Results

All patients presented with neurological deficits compatible with a diagnosis of L-5 radiculopathy such as weakness of the extensor hallucis longus muscle and sensory disturbance in the L-5 area together with neurogenic claudication. On plain radiographs, 21 patients (75%) and 17 patients (60.7%) exhibited lumbar scoliosis (≥ 5°) and wedging of the L5–S1 intervertebral space (≥ 3°), respectively. The CT scans demonstrated marked osteophyte formation at the posterolateral margin of the L5–S1 vertebral bodies, and a selective L-5 nerve root block was effective in all patients. All patients reported pain relief immediately after surgery. The mean JOA scores were 11.3 ± 3.8 before surgery and 24.3 ± 3.4 at the time of the final follow-up examination; the recovery rate was 68.6 ± 16.5%. The mean estimated blood loss was 66.6 ± 98.6 ml, and the mean surgical time was 135.3 ± 46.5 minutes. No significant difference in the recovery rate of the JOA scores or in the surgical time and blood loss was observed between the 2 surgical approaches. Four patients underwent revision posterior interbody fusion for the recurrence of radicular pain as a result of intraforaminal stenosis in 3 patients and insufficient decompression of the extraforaminal area in the remaining patient at an average of 19.5 months after surgery.

Conclusions

Extraforaminal stenosis at the lumbosacral junction is a rare but distinct pathological condition causing L-5 radiculopathy. Decompression surgery without fusion using a microendoscope or a surgical microscope/ loupe is a feasible and less invasive surgical option for elderly patients with extraforaminal stenosis at the lumbosacral junction.

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Kota Watanabe, Morio Matsumoto, Takashi Tsuji, Ken Ishii, Hironari Takaishi, Masaya Nakamura, Yoshiaki Toyama and Kazuhiro Chiba

Object

The aim in this study was to evaluate the efficacy of the ball tip technique in placing thoracic pedicle screws (TPSs), as compared with the conventional freehand technique, in both a cadaveric study and a clinical study of patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Although posterior spinal surgery using TPSs has been widely applied, these screws are associated with the potential risk of vascular, pulmonary, or neurological complications. To further enhance the accuracy and safety of TPS placement, the authors developed the ball tip technique.

Methods

After creating an appropriate starting point for probe insertion, a specially designed ball tip probe consisting of a ball-shaped tip with a flexible metal shaft is used to make a guide hole into the pedicle. Holding the probe with the fingertips while using an appropriate amount of pressure or by tapping it gently and continuously with a hammer, one can safely insert the ball tip probe into the cancellous channel in the pedicle.

In a cadaveric study, 5 spine fellows with similar levels of experience in placing TPSs applied the ball tip or the conventional technique to place screws in 5 cadavers with no spinal deformities. The incidence of misplaced screws was evaluated by dissecting the spines. In a clinical study, 40 patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis underwent posterior surgery with TPS placement via the ball tip or conventional technique (20 patients in each treatment group). The accuracy of the TPS placements was evaluated on postoperative axial CT scanning.

Results

In the cadaveric study, 100 TPSs were evaluated, and the incidence of misplaced screws was 14% in the ball tip group and 34% in the conventional group (p = 0.0192). In the clinical study, 574 TPSs were evaluated. One hundred seventy-one intrapedicular screws (67%) were recognized in the conventional group and 288 (90%) in the ball tip group (p < 0.01). In the conventional and ball tip groups, the respective numbers of TPSs with a pedicle breach of ≤ 2 mm were 20 (8%) and 15 (5%), those with a pedicle breach of > 2 mm were 32 (13%) and 9 (3%; p < 0.01), and those located in the costovertebral joints were 32 (13%) and 7 (2%).

Conclusions

In both cadaveric and clinical studies the ball tip technique enhanced the accuracy of TPS placement as compared with the conventional freehand technique. Thus, the ball tip technique is useful for the accurate and safe placement of TPSs in deformed spines.

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Masaya Nakamura, Osahiko Tsuji, Kanehiro Fujiyoshi, Kota Watanabe, Takashi Tsuji, Ken Ishii, Morio Matsumoto, Yoshiaki Toyama and Kazuhiro Chiba

Object

The optimal management of malignant astrocytomas remains controversial, and the prognosis of these lesions has been dismal regardless of the administered treatment. In this study the authors investigated the surgical outcomes of cordotomy in patients with thoracic malignant astrocytomas to determine the effectiveness of this procedure.

Methods

Cordotomy was performed in 5 patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and 2 with anaplastic astrocytoma (AA). A Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was performed, and the associations of the resection level with survival and postoperative complications were retrospectively examined.

Results

Cordotomy was performed in a single stage in 2 patients with GBM and in 2 stages in 3 patients with GBM and 2 patients with AA. In the 2 patients with GBM, cordotomy was performed 2 and 3 weeks after a partial tumor resection. In the 2 patients with AA, the initial treatment consisted of partial tumor resection and subtotal resection combined with radiotherapy, and rostral tumor growth and progressive paralysis necessitated cordotomy 2 and 28 months later. One patient with a secondary GBM underwent cordotomy; the GBM developed 1 year after subtotal resection and radiotherapy for a WHO Grade II astrocytoma. Four patients died 4, 5, 24, and 42 months after the initial operation due to CSF dissemination, and 3 patients (2 with GBM and 1 with AA) remain alive (16, 39, and 71 months). No metastasis to any other organs was noted.

Conclusions

One-stage cordotomy should be indicated for patients with thoracic GBM or AA presenting with complete paraplegia preoperatively. In patients with thoracic GBM, even if paralysis is incomplete, cordotomy should be performed before the tumor disseminates through the CSF. Radical resection should be attempted in patients with AA and incomplete paralysis. If the tumor persists, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are indicated, and cordotomy should be reserved for lesions growing progressively after such second-line treatments.

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Kota Watanabe, Morio Matsumoto, Takeshi Ikegami, Yuji Nishiwaki, Takashi Tsuji, Ken Ishii, Yuto Ogawa, Hironari Takaishi, Masaya Nakamura, Yoshiaki Toyama and Kazuhiro Chiba

Object

To reduce intraoperative damage to the posterior supporting structures of the lumbar spine during decompressive surgery for lumbar canal stenosis (LCS), lumbar spinous process–splitting laminectomy (LSPSL or split laminectomy) was developed. This prospective, randomized, controlled study was conducted to clarify whether the split laminectomy decreases acute postoperative wound pain compared with conventional laminectomy.

Methods

Forty-one patients with LCS were enrolled in this study. The patients were randomly assigned to either the LSPSL group (22 patients) or the conventional laminectomy group (19 patients). Questionnaires regarding wound pain (intensity, depth, and duration) and activities of daily living (ADL) were administered at postoperative days (PODs) 3 and 7. Additionally, the authors evaluated the pre- and postoperative serum levels of C-reactive protein and creatine phosphokinase, the amount of pain analgesics used during a 3-day postoperative period, and the muscle atrophy rate measured on 1-month postsurgical MR images.

Results

Data obtained in patients in the LSPSL group and in 16 patients in the conventional laminectomy group were analyzed. The mean visual analog scale for wound pain on POD 7 was significantly lower in the LSPSL group (16 ± 17 mm vs 34 ± 31 mm, respectively; p = 0.04). The mean depth-of-pain scores on POD 7 were significantly lower in the LSPSL group than in the conventional group (0.9 ± 0.6 vs 1.7 ± 0.8, respectively; p = 0.013). On POD 3, the mean serum creatine phosphokinase level was significantly lower in the LSPSL group (126 ± 93 U/L) than in the other group (207 ± 150 U/L) (p = 0.02); on POD 7, the mean serum C-reactive protein level was significantly lower in the LSPSL group (1.1 ± 0.6 mg/dl) than in the conventional laminectomy group (1.9 ± 1.5 mg/dl) (p = 0.04). The number of pain analgesics taken during the 3-day postoperative period was lower in the LSPSL group than in the conventional laminectomy group (1.7 ± 1.3 tablets vs 2.3 ± 2.4 tablets, respectively; p = 0.22). The mean muscle atrophy rate was also significantly lower in the LSPSL group (24% ± 15% vs 43% ± 22%; p = 0.004).

Conclusions

Lumbar spinous process–splitting laminectomy for the treatment of LCS reduced acute postoperative wound pain and prevented postoperative muscle atrophy compared with conventional laminectomy, possibly because of minimized damage to the paraspinal muscles.