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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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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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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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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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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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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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Manabu Ito, Kuniyoshi Abumi, Yoshihisa Kotani, Masahiko Takahata, Hideki Sudo, Yoshihiro Hojo and Akio Minami

The authors present a new posterior correction technique consisting of simultaneous double-rod rotation using 2 contoured rods and polyaxial pedicle screws with or without Nesplon tapes. The purpose of this study is to introduce the basic principles and surgical procedures of this new posterior surgery for correction of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Through gradual rotation of the concave-side rod by 2 rod holders, the convex-side rod simultaneously rotates with the the concave-side rod. This procedure does not involve any force pushing down the spinal column around the apex. Since this procedure consists of upward pushing and lateral translation of the spinal column with simultaneous double-rod rotation maneuvers, it is simple and can obtain thoracic kyphosis as well as favorable scoliosis correction. This technique is applicable not only to a thoracic single curve but also to double major curves in cases of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.

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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.

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Yuichiro Abe, Shigenobu Sato, Koji Kato, Takahiko Hyakumachi, Yasushi Yanagibashi, Manabu Ito and Kuniyoshi Abumi

Augmented reality (AR) is an imaging technology by which virtual objects are overlaid onto images of real objects captured in real time by a tracking camera. This study aimed to introduce a novel AR guidance system called virtual protractor with augmented reality (VIPAR) to visualize a needle trajectory in 3D space during percutaneous vertebroplasty (PVP).

The AR system used for this study comprised a head-mount display (HMD) with a tracking camera and a marker sheet. An augmented scene was created by overlaying the preoperatively generated needle trajectory path onto a marker detected on the patient using AR software, thereby providing the surgeon with augmented views in real time through the HMD. The accuracy of the system was evaluated by using a computer-generated simulation model in a spine phantom and also evaluated clinically in 5 patients.

In the 40 spine phantom trials, the error of the insertion angle (EIA), defined as the difference between the attempted angle and the insertion angle, was evaluated using 3D CT scanning. Computed tomography analysis of the 40 spine phantom trials showed that the EIA in the axial plane significantly improved when VIPAR was used compared with when it was not used (0.96° ± 0.61° vs 4.34° ± 2.36°, respectively). The same held true for EIA in the sagittal plane (0.61° ± 0.70° vs 2.55° ± 1.93°, respectively).

In the clinical evaluation of the AR system, 5 patients with osteoporotic vertebral fractures underwent VIPAR-guided PVP from October 2011 to May 2012. The postoperative EIA was evaluated using CT. The clinical results of the 5 patients showed that the EIA in all 10 needle insertions was 2.09° ± 1.3° in the axial plane and 1.98° ± 1.8° in the sagittal plane. There was no pedicle breach or leakage of polymethylmethacrylate.

VIPAR was successfully used to assist in needle insertion during PVP by providing the surgeon with an ideal insertion point and needle trajectory through the HMD. The findings indicate that AR guidance technology can become a useful assistive device during spine surgeries requiring percutaneous procedures.

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Manabu Ito, Yoshihisa Kotani, Yoshihiro Hojo, Kuniyoshi Abumi, Tsuyoshi Kadosawa and Akio Minami


The aim of this study was to evaluate the degree of bone ingrowth and bonding stiffness at the surface of hydroxyapatite ceramic (HAC) spacers with different porosities in an animal model and to discuss the ideal porous characteristics of these spacers for anterior spinal reconstruction.


Twenty-one adult sheep (age 1–2 years, mean weight 70 kg) were used in this experiment. Surgery consisted of anterior lumbar interbody fusion at L2–3 and L4–5, insertion of an HAC spacer (10 × 13 × 24 mm) with three different porosities (0, 3, and 15%), and single-rod anterior instrumentation. At 4 and 6 months postoperatively, the lumbar spines were harvested. Bonding conditions at the bone–HAC spacer interface were evaluated using neuroimages and biomechanically. A histological evaluation was also conducted to examine the state of bone ingrowth at the surface of the HAC spacer.

Biomechanical testing showed that the bonding strength of HAC at 6 months postoperatively was 0.047 MPa in 0% porosity spacers, 0.39 MPa in 3%, and 0.49 MPa in 15% porosity spacers. The histological study showed that there was a soft-tissue layer at the surface of the HAC spacer with 0% porosity. Direct bonding was observed between bone and spacers with 3 or 15% porosity. Micro–computed tomography scans showed direct bonding between the bone and HAC with 3 or 15% porosity. No direct bonding was observed in HAC with 0% porosity.


Dense (0%) HAC anterior vertebral spacers did not achieve direct bonding to the bone in the sheep model. The HAC vertebral spacers with 3 or 15% porosity showed proof of direct bonding to the bone at 6 months postoperatively. The higher porosity HAC spacer showed better bonding stiffness to the bone.