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Danielle S. Chun, Kevin C. Baker and Wellington K. Hsu

OBJECT

Failed solid bony fusion, or pseudarthrosis, is a well-known complication of lumbar arthrodesis. Recent advances in radiographic technology, biologics, instrumentation, surgical technique, and understanding of the local biology have all aided in the prevention and treatment of pseudarthrosis. Here, the current literature on the diagnosis and management of lumbar pseudarthroses is reviewed.

METHODS

A systematic literature review was conducted using the MEDLINE and Embase databases in order to search for the current radiographie diagnosis and surgical treatment methods published in the literature (1985 to present). Inclusion criteria included: 1) published in English; 2) level of evidence I–III; 3) diagnosis of degenerative lumbar spine conditions and/or history of lumbar spine fusion surgery; and 4) comparative studies of 2 different surgical techniques or comparative studies of imaging modality versus surgical exploration.

RESULTS

Seven studies met the inclusion criteria for current radiographie imaging used to diagnose lumbar pseudarthrosis. Plain radiographs and thin-cut CT scans were the most common method for radiographie diagnosis. PET has been shown to be a valid imaging modality for monitoring in vivo active bone formation. Eight studies compared the surgical techniques for managing and preventing failed lumbar fusion. The success rates for the treatment of pseudarthrosis are enhanced with the use of rigid instrumentation.

CONCLUSIONS

Spinal fusion rates have improved secondary to advances in biologies, instrumentation, surgical techniques, and understanding of local biology. Treatment of lumbar pseudarthrosis includes a variety of surgical options such as replacing loose instrumentation, use of more potent biologies, and interbody fusion techniques. Prevention and recognition are important tenets in the algorithm for the management of spinal pseudarthrosis.

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Anton V. Zaryanov, Daniel K. Park, Jad G. Khalil, Kevin C. Baker and Jeffrey S. Fischgrund

As a result of axial compression, traumatic vertebral burst fractures disrupt the anterior column, leading to segmental instability and cord compression. In situations with diminished anterior column support, pedicle screw fixation alone may lead to delayed kyphosis, nonunion, and hardware failure. Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty (balloon-assisted vertebroplasty) have been used in an effort to provide anterior column support in traumatic burst fractures. Cited advantages are providing immediate stability, improving pain, and reducing hardware malfunction. When used in isolation or in combination with posterior instrumentation, these techniques theoretically allow for improved fracture reduction and maintenance of spinal alignment while avoiding the complications and morbidity of anterior approaches. Complications associated with cement use (leakage, systemic effects) are similar to those seen in the treatment of osteoporotic compression fractures; however, extreme caution must be used in fractures with a disrupted posterior wall.

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Yossi Smorgick, Kevin C. Baker, Harry Herkowitz, David Montgomery, Siddharth A. Badve, Casey Bachison, Steven Ericksen and Jeffrey S. Fischgrund

OBJECT

The purpose of this prospective cohort study was to identify risk factors for incidental durotomies in lumbar spine surgery. The authors hypothesized that the incidence of durotomy would be higher in cases involving multiple operations.

METHODS

The authors prospectively evaluated 523 patients who underwent lumbar and thoracolumbar spine surgery. They compared data on patients in whom a dural tear occurred and those in whom a dural tear did not occur. Data from patients in whom a dural tear occurred were compared with data from patients who did not experience durotomy. The data included basic demographic information, intraoperative data, and clinical information from a medical record review.

RESULTS

One hundred thirty-one patients underwent discectomy and 392 patients underwent laminectomy. Among the 131 patients who underwent discectomy 6 patients had a dural tear. Among the 392 patients who underwent discectomy 49 patients had dural tear. Patients with incidental durotomy were older (mean 65 ± 13 vs 60 ± 14 years of age; p = 0.044, t-test), and had longer surgery (146 ± 59 vs 110 ± 54 minutes; p = 0.025, t-test), compared with the patients without dural tear. The incidence of dural tear was more common in patients with a history of previous spine surgery (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

In patients who underwent lumbar and thoracolumbar spine surgery for degenerative problems, previous surgery and older age were found to be predisposing factors for dural tear.