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Kuniyoshi Abumi, Kiyoshi Kaneda, Yasuhiro Shono, and Masanori Fujiya

Object. This retrospective study was conducted to analyze the results of one-stage posterior decompression and reconstruction of the cervical spine by using pedicle screw fixation systems in 46 patients.

Methods. Causes of cervical myelopathy in these 46 patients included spondylosis or ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament, rheumatoid arthritis, metastatic or primary vertebral tumors, cervical spinal injuries, and spinal cord tumor. Thirty-three patients underwent this one-stage procedure as primary surgery. In the remaining 13 patients who had previously undergone laminectomies, the one-stage procedure was performed as salvage surgery. Cervical pedicle screws were inserted into the pedicles after probing and tapping. Graft bone was placed on the bilateral lateral masses, and pedicle screws were interconnected longitudinally by either plates or rods. Postoperatively, 26 patients showed improved neurological status (at least one grade improvement on Frankel's functional classification). There were no cases of neurological deterioration postoperatively. Solid bony fusion was obtained in all patients, except in seven patients with metastatic tumor who did not receive bone grafts. Correction of kyphosis was satisfactory. Postoperative radiological evaluation revealed that 10 (5.3%) of 190 screws inserted into the cervical vertebrae had perforated the cortex of the pedicles; however, no neurovascular complications were caused by the perforations.

Conclusions. The pedicle screw fixation procedure, which does not require the lamina to be used as a stabilizing anchor, has proven to be valuable when performing one-stage posterior decompressive and reconstructive surgery in the cervical spine. The risk to neurovascular structures in this procedure, however, cannot be completely eliminated. Thorough knowledge of local anatomy and application of established surgical techniques are essential for this procedure.

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Yoshihisa Kotani, Kuniyoshi Abumi, Manabu Ito, and Akio Minami

Object. The authors introduce a unique computer-assisted cervical pedicle screw (CPS) insertion technique used in conjunction with specially modified original pedicle screw insertion instruments. The accuracy of screw placement as well as surgery-related outcome and complication rates were compared between two groups of patients: those in whom a computer-assisted and those in whom a conventional manual insertion technique was used.

Methods. The screw insertion guiding system consisted of a modified awl, probe, tap and a screwdriver specially designed for a computer-assisted CPS insertion. Using this system, real-time instrument/screw tip information was three dimensionally identified in each step of screw insertion. Seventeen patients underwent CPS fixation in which a computer-assisted surgical navigation system was used. The cervical disorders consisted of spondylotic myelopathy with segmental instability or kyphosis, metastatic spinal tumor, rheumatoid spine, and postlaminectomy kyphosis. The rate of pedicle wall perforation was significantly lower in the computer-assisted group than that in the other group (1.2 and 6.7%, respectively; p < 0.05). The screw trajectory in the horizontal plane was significantly closer to the anatomical pedicle axis in the computer-assisted group compared with the manual insertion group (p < 0.05). This factor significantly reduced the incidence of screw perforation laterally. Complications such as neural damage or vascular injury were not demonstrated in the computer-assisted group (compared with 2% in the manual insertion treatment group). The overall surgery-related outcome was satisfactory.

Conclusions. In contrast to the previously reported computer-assisted technique, our CPS insertion technique provides real-time three-dimensional instrument/screw tip information. This serves as a powerful tool for safe and accurate pedicle screw placement in the cervical spine.

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Kuniyoshi Abumi, Yasuhiro Shono, Yoshihisa Kotani, and Kiyoshi Kaneda

Object. In this study the authors retrospectively review 16 patients with traumatic disc herniation secondary to middle and lower cervical spine injuries who underwent a single posterior reduction and fusion procedure in which a cervical pedicle screw system was used. The study was undertaken to evaluate whether the procedure effectively reduced the disc herniation and whether it can be safely conducted without performing anterior decompressive surgery.

Methods. A total of 73 patients with middle and lower cervical spine injuries were identified. In 50 patients, pre- and postoperative magnetic resonance (MR) images were obtained, and disc herniation was defined as the presence of an extruded disc that deformed the thecal sac or nerve roots. Traumatic disc herniation was revealed in 16 patients (32%) who underwent a single posterior reduction/fusion procedure in which a cervical pedicle screw system was used. The average follow-up period was 4.25 years (2–6.25 years). In all patients the average kyphotic deformity was 18°, which was corrected to 0.7° lordosis postoperatively. Anterior translation was reduced from 8 to 0.7 mm. The preoperative disc height ratio of 63% (normal 100%) was improved to 104%. Preoperative MR images revealed traumatic disc herniation in all 16 patients; postsurgery, reduction or reversal of disc herniation was observed in all patients. Thecal sac and/or spinal cord compression had disappeared after indirect decompression was achieved using a posterior procedure. No additional decompressive procedures were required to remove residual herniated disc material. Preoperatively, four patients presented with cervical radiculopathy, 10 with myelopathy (eight incomplete and two complete), and two without neurological symptoms. At final follow up, complete recovery was observed in all four patients with radiculopathy and improvement of at least one Frankel grade was shown in six patients (60%) with myelopathy. There were no cases of neurological deterioration immediately after surgery or during the course of the follow-up period. In all patients solid bone union was demonstrated, and there were no implant-related complications.

Conclusions. Traumatic disc herniation may occur frequently in association with injury of the cervical spine. The incidence of traumatic disc herniation in our series was 32%. The cervical pedicle screw system allowed three-dimensional reduction of the injured cervical segment and reduction or reversal of a disc herniation. After surgery, compression of the thecal sac and/or spinal cord had disappeared. The cervical pedicle screw system provides effective and safe fixation of the cervical spine injury—related traumatic disc herniation, and the surgery can be performed safely in a single posteriorapproach procedure without need of additional anterior decompressive interventions.

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Hideki Sudo, Kuniyoshi Abumi, Manabu Ito, Yoshihisa Kotani, and Akio Minami

✓ The sublaminar wiring procedure has been commonly used for stabilizing the atlantoaxial complex. Multistrand braided cables were introduced in the early 1990s. In previous biomechanical studies these cables were demonstrated to be superior to monofilament wires in terms of their flexibility, mechanical strength, and fatigue-related characteristics. To the authors' knowledge, they are the first to describe clinically the occurrence of delayed spinal cord compression resulting from multistrand cables after the completion of rigid spinal arthrodesis in the upper cervical spine.

Three patients underwent posterior atlantoaxial fusion in which two sublaminar multistrand cables were placed. Between 15 and 48 months postoperatively, they suffered from upper- and lower-extremity numbness as well as gait disturbance. Plain radiography and computerized tomography myelography revealed spinal cord compression caused by the sublaminar cables, although fusion was complete and physiological alignment was maintained at the fused segment. The radiographs obtained immediately after surgery demonstrated that the initial cable placement had been properly performed. The shape of the cable at the initial surgery was oval and then gradually became circular. The anterior arc of the circular shape of the cable in fact led to the spinal cord compression.

Considering the mechanism of this late complication, a cable tends to spring open because of its high flexibility and becomes circular shaped even after the complete arthrodesis. When applying multistrand cables for intersegmental fixation at the atlantoaxial complex, delayed complications related to bowing of the cables is possible.

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Yoshihisa Kotani, Manabu Ito, Kuniyoshi Abumi, Keigo Yasui, and Akio Minami

The authors describe a case of a 52-year-old woman in whom tetraplegia developed with neurological respiratory failure due to POEMS syndrome associated with a solitary sacral plasmacytoma. Resection was finally performed after her condition proved resistant to radiation and chemotherapy. The patient showed a dramatic recovery and was ambulatory without tumor recurrence after 5 years and 6 months of follow-up. To the authors' knowledge, there are only 3 reported cases in the literature of bilateral phrenic nerve palsy leading to respiratory failure treated by chemotherapy. This is the first report describing neurological recovery after surgery for pentaplegia due to POEMS syndrome associated with solitary sacral plasmacytoma.

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Masahiro Kanayama, Bryan W. Cunningham, Charles J. Haggerty, Kuniyoshi Abumi, Kiyoshi Kaneda, and Paul C. McAfee

Object. Interbody fusion devices are rapidly gaining acceptance as a method of ensuring lumbar interbody arthrodesis. Although different types of devices have been developed, the comparative reconstruction stability remains controversial. It also remains unclear how different stress-shielded environments are created within the devices. Using a calf spine model, this study was designed to compare the construct stiffness afforded by 11 differently designed lumbar interbody fusion devices and to quantify their stress-shielding effects by measuring pressure within the devices.

Methods. Sixty-six lumbar specimens obtained from calves were subjected to anterior interbody reconstruction at L4–5 by using one of the following interbody fusion devices: four different threaded fusion cages (BAK device, BAK Proximity, Ray TFC, and Danek TIBFD), five different nonthreaded fusion devices (oval and circular Harms cages, Brantigan PLIF and ALIF cages, and InFix device); two different types of allograft (femoral ring and bone dowel) were used. Construct stiffness was evaluated in axial compression, torsion, flexion, and lateral bending. Prior to testing, a silicon elastomer was injected into the cages and intracage pressures were measured using pressure needle transducers.

Conclusions. No statistical differences were observed in construct stiffness among the threaded cages and nonthreaded devices in most of the testing modalities. Threaded fusion cages demonstrated significantly lower intracage pressures compared with nonthreaded cages and structural allografts. Compared with nonthreaded cages and structural allografts, threaded fusion cages afforded equivalent reconstruction stiffness but provided more stress-shielded environment within the devices.

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Hideki Sudo, Itaru Oda, Kuniyoshi Abumi, Manabu Ito, Yoshihisa Kotani, Yoshihiro Hojo, and Akio Minami

Object. Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) was developed to overcome the limitations of posterolateral fusion in correcting spinal deformity and maintaining lumbar lordosis. In this study the authors compare the biomechanical effects of three different posterior reconstructions on the adjacent motion segment.

Methods. Ten calf spinal (L2—S1) specimens underwent nondestructive flexion—extension testing (± 6 Nm). The specimens were destabilized at the L5—S1 levels after intact testing. This was followed by pedicle screw fixation with and without interbody cages as follows: 1) with straight rods (“aligned” posterolateral fusion); 2) with kyphotically prebent rods (“kyphotic” posterolateral fusion); and 3) with interbody cages combined with straight rods (“aligned” PLIF/posterolateral fusion). The range of motion (ROM) of the operative segments, the intradiscal pressure (IDP), and longitudinal lamina strain in the superior adjacent segment (L4–5) were analyzed.

The ROM associated with aligned PLIF/posterolateral fusion-treated specimens was significantly less than both the aligned and kyphotic posterolateral fusion-treated procedures in both flexion and extension loading (p < 0.05). The aligned PLIF/posterolateral fusion was associated with greater IDP and the lamina strain compared with the aligned and kyphotic posterolateral fusion groups in flexion loading. Under extension loading, greater IDP and lamina strain were present in the kyphotic posterolateral fusion group than in the aligned posterolateral fusion group. The highest IDP and lamina strain were shown in the aligned PLIF/posterolateral fusion group.

Conclusions. Compared with kyphotic posterolateral fusion, PLIF may lead to even higher load at the superior adjacent level because of the increased stiffness of the fixed segments even if local kyphosis is corrected by PLIF.

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Manabu Ito, Makoto Motomiya, Kuniyoshi Abumi, Osamu Shirado, Yoshihisa Kotani, Ken Kadoya, Eihiro Murota, and Akio Minami

✓ Sarcoidosis is a systemic disease commonly affecting lung, skin, or eye. Sarcoidosis involved with osseous structures occurs in approximately 5% of patients, usually involving small bones. Spinal sarcoidosis is extremely rare. The authors report on a man in whom examination of a subclavicular lymph node biopsy specimen and its spinal involvement had established a diagnosis of sarcoidosis and who had undergone steroid therapy. Despite intensive conservative treatment, the authors observed progressive collapse of L-2 requiring spinal decompressive and reconstructive surgeries. Histological evaluation of the collapsed vertebra did not show the typical noncaseating granuloma; rather, the authors observed osteonecrosis of the entire L-2 structure without reactive cellular activities. Other potential diagnoses including infectious disease, metastatic spinal tumor, and osteoporotic vertebral collapse were excluded based on laboratory data, imaging studies, and pathological findings. Complete necrosis of the entire L-2 vertebra in this case can be considered as a rare clinical manifestation of spinal sarcoidosis. Because of osteopenia and systemic bone fragility, combined anterior—posterior spinal reconstructive surgery was performed to restabilize the severely damaged spine.

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Akira Iwata, Hideki Sudo, Kuniyoshi Abumi, Manabu Ito, Katsuhisa Yamada, and Norimasa Iwasaki


Controversy exists regarding the effects of lowest instrumented vertebra (LIV) tilt and rotation on uninstrumented lumbar segments in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) surgery. Because the intraoperative LIV tilt from the inferior endplate of the LIV to the superior sacral endplate is not stable after surgery, the authors measured the LIV angle of the instrumented thoracic spine as the LIV angle of the construct. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of the LIV angle of the construct and the effects of LIV rotation on the postoperative uninstrumented lumbar curve and L4 tilt in patients with thoracic AIS.


A retrospective correlation and multivariate analysis of a prospectively collected, consecutive, nonrandomized series of patients at a single institution was undertaken. Eighty consecutive patients with Lenke type 1 or type 2 AIS treated with posterior correction and fusion were included. Preoperative and 2-year postoperative radiographic measurements were the outcome measures for this study. Outcome variables were postoperative uninstrumented lumbar segments (LIV tilt, LIV translation, uninstrumented lumbar curve, thoracolumbar/lumbar [TL/L] apical vertebral translation [AVT], and L4 tilt). The LIV angle of the construct was measured from the orthogonal line drawn from the upper instrumented vertebra to the LIV. Multiple stepwise linear regression analysis was conducted between outcome variables and patient demographics/radiographic measurements. There were no study-specific biases related to conflicts of interest.


Predictor variables for postoperative uninstrumented lumbar curve were the postoperative LIV angle of the construct, number of uninstrumented lumbar segments, and flexibility of TL/L curve. Specifically, a lower postoperative uninstrumented lumbar curve was predicted by a lower absolute value of the postoperative LIV angle of the construct (p < 0.0001). Predictor variables for postoperative L4 tilt were postoperative LIV rotation, preoperative L4 tilt, and preoperative uninstrumented lumbar curve. Specifically, a lower postoperative L4 tilt was predicted by a lower absolute value of postoperative LIV rotation (p < 0.0001).


The LIV angle of the construct significantly affected the LIV tilt, uninstrumented lumbar curve, and TL/L AVT. LIV rotation significantly affected the LIV translation and L4 tilt.

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Yuichiro Abe, Manabu Ito, Kuniyoshi Abumi, Yoshihisa Kotani, Hideki Sudo, and Akio Minami


Use of computer-assisted spine surgery (CASS) technologies, such as navigation systems, to improve the accuracy of pedicle screw (PS) placement is increasingly popular. Despite of their benefits, previous CASS systems are too expensive to be ubiquitously employed, and more affordable and portable systems are desirable. The aim of this study was to introduce a novel and affordable computer-assisted technique that 3-dimensionally visualizes anatomical features of the pedicles and assists in PS insertion. The authors have termed this the 3D-visual guidance technique for inserting pedicle screws (3D-VG TIPS).


The 3D-VG technique for placing PSs requires only a consumer-class computer with an inexpensive 3D DICOM viewer; other special equipment is unnecessary. Preoperative CT data of the spine were collected for each patient using the 3D-VG TIPS. In this technique, the anatomical axis of each pedicle can be analyzed by volume-rendered 3D models, as with existing navigation systems, and both the ideal entry point and the trajectory of each PS can be visualized on the surface of 3D-rendered images. Intraoperative guidance slides are made from these images and displayed on a TV monitor in the operating room. The surgeon can insert PSs according to these guidance slides. The authors enrolled 30 patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) who underwent posterior fusion with segmental screw fixation for validation of this technique.


The novel technique allowed surgeons, from office or home, to evaluate the precise anatomy of each pedicle and the risks of screw misplacement, and to perform 3D preoperative planning for screw placement on their own computer. Looking at both 3D guidance images on a TV monitor and the bony structures of the posterior elements in each patient in the operating theater, surgeons were able to determine the best entry point for each PS with ease and confidence. Using the current technique, the screw malposition rate was 4.5% in the thoracic region in corrective surgery for AIS.


The authors found that 3D-VG TIPS worked on a consumer-class computer and easily visualized the ideal entry point and trajectory of PSs in any operating theater without costly special equipment. This new technique is suitable for preoperative planning and intraoperative guidance when performing reconstructive surgery with PSs.