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Bryan W. Cunningham, Kyle B. Mueller, Kenneth P. Mullinix, Xiaolei Sun, and Faheem A. Sandhu

OBJECTIVE

The objective of the current study was to quantify and compare the multidirectional flexibility properties of occipital anchor fixation with conventional methods of occipitocervical screw fixation using nondestructive and destructive investigative methods.

METHODS

Fourteen cadaveric occipitocervical specimens (Oc–T2) were randomized to reconstruction with occipital anchors or an occipital plate and screws. Using a 6-degree-of-freedom spine simulator with moments of ± 2.0 Nm, initial multidirectional flexibility analysis of the intact and reconstructed conditions was performed followed by fatigue loading of 25,000 cycles of flexion-extension (x-axis, ± 2.0 Nm), 15,000 cycles of lateral bending (z-axis, ± 2.0 Nm), and 10,000 cycles of axial rotation (y-axis, ± 2.0 Nm). Fluoroscopic images of the implantation sites were obtained before and after fatigue testing and placed on an x-y coordinate system to quantify positional stability of the anchors and screws used for reconstruction and effect, if any, of the fatigue component. Destructive testing included an anterior flexural load to construct failure. Quantification of implant, occipitocervical, and atlantoaxial junction range of motion is reported as absolute values, and peak flexural failure moment in Newton-meters (Nm).

RESULTS

Absolute value comparisons between the intact condition and 2 reconstruction groups demonstrated significant reductions in segmental flexion-extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation motion at the Oc–C1 and C1–2 junctions (p < 0.05). The average bone mineral density at the midline keel (1.422 g/cm3) was significantly higher compared with the lateral occipital region at 0.671 g/cm3 (p < 0.05). There were no significant differences between the occipital anchor and plate treatments in terms of angular rotation (degrees; p = 0.150) or x-axis displacement (mm; p = 0.572), but there was a statistically significant difference in y-axis displacement (p = 0.031) based on quantitative analysis of the pre- and postfatigue fluoroscopic images (p > 0.05). Under destructive anterior flexural loading, the occipital anchor group failed at 90 ± 31 Nm, and the occipital plate group failed at 79 ± 25 Nm (p > 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

Both reconstructions reduced flexion-extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation at the occipitocervical and atlantoaxial junctions, as expected. Flexural load to failure did not differ significantly between the 2 treatment groups despite occipital anchors using a compression-fit mechanism to provide fixation in less dense bone. These data suggest that an occipital anchor technique serves as a biomechanically viable clinical alternative to occipital plate fixation.

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Austin H. Carroll, Ehsan Dowlati, Esteban Molina, David Zhao, Marcelle Altshuler, Kyle B. Mueller, Faheem A. Sandhu, and Jean-Marc Voyadzis

OBJECTIVE

The effect of obesity on outcomes in minimally invasive surgery (MIS) approaches to posterior lumbar surgery is not well characterized. The authors aimed to determine if there was a difference in operative variables and complication rates in obese patients who underwent MIS versus open approaches in posterior spinal surgery, as well as between obese and nonobese patients undergoing MIS approaches.

METHODS

A retrospective review of all consecutive patients who underwent posterior lumbar surgery from 2013 to 2016 at a single institution was performed. The primary outcome measure was postoperative complications. Secondary outcome measures included estimated blood loss (EBL), operative time, the need for revision, and hospital length of stay (LOS); readmission and disposition were also reviewed. Obese patients who underwent MIS were compared with those who underwent an open approach. Additionally, obese patients who underwent an MIS approach were compared with nonobese patients. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were carried out between the groups.

RESULTS

In total, 423 obese patients (57.0% decompression and 43.0% fusion) underwent posterior lumbar MIS. When compared with 229 obese patients (56.8% decompression and 43.2% fusion) who underwent an open approach, patients in both the obese and nonobese groups who underwent MIS experienced significantly decreased EBL, LOS, operative time, and surgical site infections (SSIs). Of the nonobese patients, 538 (58.4% decompression and 41.6% fusion) underwent MIS procedures. When compared with nonobese patients, obese patients who underwent MIS procedures had significantly increased LOS, EBL, operative time, revision rates, complications, and readmissions in the decompression group. In the fusion group, only LOS and disposition were significantly different.

CONCLUSIONS

Obese patients have poorer outcomes after posterior lumbar MIS when compared with nonobese patients. The use of an MIS technique can be of benefit, as it decreased EBL, operative time, LOS, and SSIs for posterior decompression with or without instrumented fusion in obese patients.