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Molly E. Hubbard, Matthew A. Hunt, Kristen E. Jones, and David W. Polly

Congenital scoliosis due to a hemivertebra requires surgical stabilization prior to skeletal maturity if rapidly progressive curve growth occurs. Here the authors present the unique case of a man who, at the age of 12 years, had undergone Harrington rod placement for stabilization of progressive congenital scoliosis due to a T-11 hemivertebra and then, at the age of 53 years, presented with acutely progressive myelopathy due to spinal cord compression from an arachnoid web at T-11 despite a solid fusion mass at the prior surgical site. The patient underwent a posterior midline approach for resection of the T-11 pedicle at the level of the hemivertebra, intradural spinal cord detethering with resection of the arachnoid web at T-11, and T2–L2 instrumented fusion with deformity correction, leading to subsequent resolution of his acute myelopathic symptoms. In conclusion, arachnoid web formation superimposed on preexisting tension on the thoracic spinal cord from congenital scoliosis due to a T-11 hemivertebra caused acute myelopathy in an adult with a previously solid fusion mass from childhood. The resolution of acute myelopathy and halting of further progression occurred with pedicle resection, arachnoid web fenestration, and spinal deformity correction.

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Andrew M. Gardeck, Xuan Pu, Qiuyu Yang, David W. Polly, and Kristen E. Jones


Residency work-hour restrictions necessitate efficient, reproducible training. Simulation training for spinal instrumentation placement shows significant benefit to learners’ subjective and objective proficiency. Cadaveric laboratories are most effective but have high cost and low availability. The authors’ goal was to create a low-cost, efficient, reproducible spinal instrumentation placement simulation curriculum for neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery residents using synthetic models and 3D computer-assisted navigation, assessing subjective and objective proficiency with placement of thoracolumbar pedicle screws.


Fifteen neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery residents participated in a standardized curriculum with lecture followed by two separate sessions of thoracolumbar pedicle screw placement in a synthetic spine model utilizing 3D computer-assisted navigation. Data were collected on premodule experience, time and accuracy of screw placement, and both subjective and objective ratings of proficiency.


Fifteen of 15 residents demonstrated improvement in subjective (Physician Performance Diagnostic Inventory Scale [PPDIS]) and 14 in objective (Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skills [OSATS]) measures of proficiency in navigated screw placement with utilization of this curriculum (p < 0.001 for both), regardless of the number of cases of previous experience using thoracolumbar spinal instrumentation. Fourteen of 15 residents demonstrated decreased time per screw placement from session 1 to session 2 (p = 0.006). There was no significant difference in pedicle screw accuracy between session 1 and session 2.


A standardized curriculum using synthetic simulation training for navigated thoracolumbar pedicle screw placement results in significantly improved resident subjective and objective proficiency. Development of a nationwide competency curriculum using simulation training for spinal instrumentation placement should be considered for safe, efficient resident training.

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Kristen E. Jones, Ava M. Puccio, Kathy J. Harshman, Bonnie Falcione, Neal Benedict, Brian T. Jankowitz, Martina Stippler, Michael Fischer, Erin K. Sauber-Schatz, Anthony Fabio, Joseph M. Darby, and David O. Okonkwo


Current standard of care for patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) is prophylactic treatment with phenytoin for 7 days to decrease the risk of early posttraumatic seizures. Phenytoin alters drug metabolism, induces fever, and requires therapeutic-level monitoring. Alternatively, levetiracetam (Keppra) does not require serum monitoring or have significant pharmacokinetic interactions. In the current study, the authors compare the EEG findings in patients receiving phenytoin with those receiving levetiracetam monotherapy for seizure prophylaxis following severe TBI.


Data were prospectively collected in 32 cases in which patients received levetiracetam for the first 7 days after severe TBI and compared with data from a historical cohort of 41 cases in which patients received phenytoin monotherapy. Patients underwent 1-hour electroencephalographic (EEG) monitoring if they displayed persistent coma, decreased mental status, or clinical signs of seizures. The EEG results were grouped into normal and abnormal findings, with abnormal EEG findings further categorized as seizure activity or seizure tendency.


Fifteen of 32 patients in the levetiracetam group warranted EEG monitoring. In 7 of these 15 cases the results were normal and in 8 abnormal; 1 patient had seizure activity, whereas 7 had seizure tendency. Twelve of 41 patients in the phenytoin group received EEG monitoring, with all results being normal. Patients treated with levetiracetam and phenytoin had equivalent incidence of seizure activity (p = 0.556). Patients receiving levetiracetam had a higher incidence of abnormal EEG findings (p = 0.003).


Levetiracetam is as effective as phenytoin in preventing early posttraumatic seizures but is associated with an increased seizure tendency on EEG analysis.