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Jung-Hee Lee, Wook-Jae Song and Kyung-Chung Kang

Epidural venous engorgement can result from various lesions, such as arteriovenous malformation, thrombosis or occlusion of the inferior vena cava (IVC), or an abdominal masslike lesion. Most patients with these problems complain of low-back pain, radicular pain, or neurogenic claudication, which are symptoms suggestive of disc herniation or spinal stenosis. However, these patients rarely exhibit neurological deficits or cauda equina syndrome. The authors encountered a case of a 60-year-old man presenting with lower-extremity weakness and voiding difficulty for a period of 1 year. To investigate the patient’s myelopathy-mimicking symptoms, a lumbar spine MRI scan was performed. The MR images exhibited tortuous and dilated spinal vessels compressing the spinal cord and thecal sac at the T11-L3 level, which were concurrent with syringomyelia evidenced by a 22 × 2.5-mm cyst at the T11–12 level. 3D CT scanning of the whole aorta revealed total occlusion and regression of the IVC in the intrahepatic region 3 cm inferior to the right atrium and dilation of multiple collateral veins. The patient was diagnosed with chronic Budd-Chiari syndrome Type I. The authors performed venography, followed by intrahepatic IVC recanalization via stent placement under fluoroscopic and ultra sonographic guidance and without surgical exploration. After this treatment, there was a marked decrease in epidural venous engorgement and the patient’s symptoms resolved almost completely. This case indicates that epidural venous engorgement at thoracolumbar levels may cause symptoms suggestive of myelopathy and can be successfully treated by minimally invasive procedures to eliminate the underlying causes.

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Chong-Suh Lee, Kyung-Chung Kang, Sung-Soo Chung, Ki-Tack Kim and Seong-Kee Shin

OBJECT

The aim of this study was to examine the results of microbiological cultures from local bone autografts used in posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) and to identify their association with postoperative spinal infection.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively evaluated cases involving 328 patients who had no previous spinal surgeries and underwent PLIF for degenerative diseases with a minimum 1-year follow-up. Local bone was obtained during laminectomy, and microbiological culture was performed immediately prior to bone grafting. The associations between culture results from local bone autografts and postoperative spinal infections were evaluated.

RESULTS

The contamination rate of local bone was 4.3% (14 of 328 cases). Coagulase-negative Staphylococcus (29%) was the most common contaminant isolated, followed by Streptococcus species and methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus. Of 14 patients with positive culture results, 5 (35.7%) had postoperative spinal infections and were treated with intravenous antibiotics for a minimum of 4 weeks. One of these 5 patients also underwent reoperation for debridement during this 4-week period. Regardless of the microbiological culture results, the infection rate after PLIF with local bone autograft was 2.4% (8 of 328 cases), with 5 (62.5%) of 8 patients showing positive results on autograft culture.

CONCLUSIONS

The incidence of contamination of local bone autograft during PLIF was considerable, and positive culture results were significantly associated with postoperative spinal infection. Special attention focused on the preparation of local bone for autograft and its microbiological culture will be helpful for the control of postoperative spinal infection.

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Kyung-Chung Kang, Chong-Suh Lee, Seung-Kee Shin, Se-Jun Park, Chul-Hee Chung and Sung-Soo Chung

Object

Thoracic ossification of the ligamentum flavum (OLF), a main cause of thoracic myelopathy, is an uncommon disease entity. It is seen mostly in East Asia, although the majority of reports have issued from Japan. In the present study, the clinical features and prognostic factors of thoracic OLF were examined in a large number of Korean patients.

Methods

Data from 51 consecutive patients who underwent decompressive laminectomy with or without fusion for thoracic OLF between 1998 and 2008 were retrospectively analyzed. Patients were evaluated pre- and postoperatively using the modified Japanese Orthopedic Association (JOA) scale (maximum total score of 11). Patient age, sex, preoperative symptoms, duration of initial symptoms, number of involved segments, duration of follow-up, presence of dural adhesion (dural tearing), intramedullary high signal intensity, morphological classification of OLF (axial or sagittal), coexisting disease, and fusion or no fusion were also evaluated. Surgical outcomes were assessed using JOA recovery rate/outcome scores, and patient satisfaction grades and prognostic factors were analyzed.

Results

There were 18 men and 33 women with a mean age of 60.9 years (range 38–80 years). A mean preoperative JOA score of 5.5 improved to a mean score of 7.4 at the last follow-up (mean 52 months after surgery). The mean duration of the initial symptoms was 34.5 months (range 0.1–240 months) prior to surgery. The most common symptoms were motor dysfunction (80%); sensory deficit (67%); and pain, numbness, and claudication (59%) in the lower extremities. Knee hyperreflexia appeared in 69% of the patients. There were a total of 130 ossified segments, and the mean number of segments per patient was 2.6. Ninety-two (71%) of 130 segments were located below T-8. Recovery outcomes were good (18 patients), fair (16 patients), unchanged (11 patients), or worse (6 patients). Thirty-one patients (61%) were satisfied with their operations. Patients with a beak type of OLF on sagittal MR images experienced a higher recovery rate and a better satisfaction grade than did those with a round OLF. The patients with higher preoperative JOA scores demonstrated significantly higher JOA scores postoperatively (p < 0.001), and the preoperative JOA score had a significant correlation with the recovery rate in patients exhibiting mainly motor dysfunction (p = 0.040, r = 0.330).

Conclusions

Of the thoracic OLF studies published to date, the present analysis involves the largest Korean population. The most common symptoms of thoracic OLF were motor dysfunction and sensory deficit in the lower extremities, although pain, numbness, and claudication were observed in some patients and were notably accompanied by knee hyperreflexia. At a minimum of 2 years after surgery for thoracic OLF, operative outcomes were generally good, and the prognostic factors affecting good surgical outcomes included a beak type of OLF and a preoperative JOA score > 6.

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Ki Young Lee, Jung-Hee Lee, Kyung-Chung Kang, Won-Ju Shin, Sang Kyu Im and Seong Jin Cho

OBJECTIVE

The incidence of proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) after long-segment fixation in patients with adult spinal deformity (ASD) has been reported to range from 17% to 61.7%. Recent studies have reported using “hybrid” techniques in which semirigid fixation is introduced between the fused and flexible segments at the proximal level to allow a more gradual transition. The authors used these hybrid techniques in a clinical setting and analyzed PJK to evaluate the usefulness of the flexible rod (FR) technique.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively selected 77 patients with lumbar degenerative kyphosis (LDK) who underwent sagittal correction and long-segment fixation and had follow-up for > 1 year. An FR was used in 30 of the 77 patients. PJK development and spinal sagittal changes were analyzed in the FR and non-FR groups, and the predictive factors of PJK between a PJK group and a non-PJK group were compared.

RESULTS

The patient population comprised 77 patients (75 females and 2 males) with a mean (± SD) follow-up of 32.0 ± 12.7 months (36.7 ± 9.8 months in the non-FR group and 16.8 ± 4.7 months in the FR group) and mean (± SD) age of 71.7 ± 5.1 years. Sagittal balance was well maintained at final follow-up (10.5 and 1.5 mm) in the non-FR and FR groups, respectively. Thoracic kyphosis (TK) and lumbar lordosis (LL) were improved in both groups, without significant differences between the two (p > 0.05). PJK occurred in 28 cases (36.4%) in total, 3 (10%) in the FR and 25 (53.2%) in the non-FR group (p < 0.001). Postoperatively, PJK was observed at an average of 8.9 months in the non-FR group and 1 month in the FR group. No significant differences in the incidence of PJK regarding patient factors or radiological parameters were found between the PJK group and non-PJK group (p > 0.05). However, FR (vs non-FR) and interbody fusion except L5–S1 using oblique lumbar interbody fusion (vs non–oblique lumbar interbody fusion), demonstrated a significantly lower PJK prevalence (p < 0.001 and p = 0.044) among the surgical factors.

CONCLUSIONS

PJK was reduced after surgical treatment with the FR in the patients with LDK. Solid long-segment fixation and the use of the FR may become another surgical option for spine surgeons who plan and make decisions regarding spine reconstruction surgery for patients with ASD.

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Chong-Suh Lee, Kyung-Chung Kang, Sung-Soo Chung, Won-Hah Park, Won-Ju Shin and Yong-Gon Seo

OBJECTIVE

There is a lack of evidence of how back muscle strength changes after lumbar fusion surgery and how exercise influences these changes. The aim of this study was to evaluate changes in back muscle strength after posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) and to measure the effects of a postoperative exercise program on muscle strength and physical and mental health outcomes.

METHODS

This prospective study enrolled 59 women (mean age 58 years) who underwent PLIF at 1 or 2 spinal levels. To assess the effects of a supervised lumbar stabilization exercise (LSE), the authors allocated the patients to an LSE (n = 26) or a control (n = 33) group. The patients in the LSE group performed the LSEs between 3 and 6 months postoperatively. Back extensor strength, visual analog scale (VAS) scores in back pain, and physical component summary (PCS) and mental component summary (MCS) scores on the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey were determined for the both groups.

RESULTS

Mean strength of the back muscles tended to slightly decrease by 7.5% from preoperatively to 3 months after PLIF (p = 0.145), but it significantly increased thereafter and was sustained until the last follow-up (38.1%, p < 0.001). The mean back muscle strength was similar in the LSE and control groups preoperatively, but it increased significantly more in the LSE group (64.2%) than in the control group (21.7%) at the last follow-up 12 months after PLIF (p = 0.012). At the last follow-up, decreases in back pain VAS scores were more significant among LSE group patients, who had a pain reduction on average of 58.2%, than among control group patients (reduction of 26.1%) (p = 0.013). The patients in the LSE group also had greater improvement in both PCS (39.9% improvement) and MCS (20.7% improvement) scores than the patients in the control group (improvement of 18.0% and 1.1%, p = 0.042 and p = 0.035, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

After PLIF, strength in back muscles decreased until 3 months postoperatively but significantly increased after that period. The patients who regularly underwent postoperative LSE had significantly improved back strength, less pain, and less functional disability at 12 months postoperatively.

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Kyung-Jae Park, Shin-Hyuk Kang, Yang-Seok Chae, Mi-Ok Yu, Tai-Hyoung Cho, Jung-Keun Suh, Hoon-Kap Lee and Yong-Gu Chung

Object

Peritumoral brain edema (PTBE) is associated with perioperative neurological deficits in patients with meningiomas. However, the pathogenesis of meningioma-associated edema remains unclear. In the present study, the authors investigated the expression of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and its relationship with PTBE in resected meningiomas.

Methods

Thirty-six benign meningiomas obtained in 36 patients were studied retrospectively. Edema volume was assessed on MR images, and an edema index (EI) was calculated. Interleukin-6 mRNA and protein expression were examined by real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemical staining.

Results

Peritumoral brain edema was found in 16 patients (44%). Neither age, sex, histological subtype, nor tumor location were related to PTBE. The level of IL-6 mRNA was 7.72 times greater in the edema group (EI > 0.2) than in the nonedema group (EI < 0.2; p = 0.011). On immunohistochemical analysis, IL-6 protein was found localized in the cytoplasm of the tumor cells, and was detected in 12 (75%) of 16 cases of edematous meningiomas, but in only 6 (30%) of 20 nonedematous cases. There was a significant correlation between the severity of PTBE and IL-6 expression (p = 0.004).

Conclusions

The authors' results in this study indicate that IL-6 expression may contribute to the development of brain edema associated with meningiomas.