✓ The authors describe a case of paraspinal calcinosis in a 65-year-old woman with progressive systemic sclerosis. Although calcinosis occurs in up to 27% of cases of progressive systemic sclerosis, symptomatic paraspinal calcinosis is extremely rare. In the case reported here, multiple cervical facet joints were compromised by progressive calcinosis, leading to glacial spinal instability. Internal fixation was indicated to correct the instability and decompress the spinal canal. Medical therapy was instituted to arrest or reverse the ongoing calcinosis.
Marc S. Arginteanu and Noel I. Perin
Raj K. Shrivastava, Marc S. Arginteanu, Wesley A. King and Kalmon D. Post
Object. Giant prolactinomas are rare tumors whose treatment and outcome has only been addressed in isolated case reports. The authors document the long-term follow-up findings and clinical outcome in a group of patients with giant prolactinomas.
Methods. This study is a retrospective chart and clinical review of more than 2000 cases of pituitary tumors treated at the authors' institution, of which 10 met the criteria for inclusion (prolactin level > 1000 ng/ml, diameter > 4 cm on neuroimaging studies, and clinical signs of hyperprolactinemia/mass effect). The average follow-up duration was 6.7 years after initial treatment with either bromocriptine or transsphenoidal resection. In more than 90% of the patients in this series the disease was controlled by medical treatment with bromocriptine alone; the other 10% required early surgery via transsphenoidal resection. All patients had improvement in visual symptoms. All tumors had extrasellar components, five of which exhibited frank invasion of the cavernous sinus. Tumor volume on magnetic resonance imaging was decreased on average by 69%; this occurred at a faster rate and in larger amounts when treated with bromocriptine than has been reported in the literature for macroprolactinomas.
Conclusions. According to long-term follow-up findings, giant prolactinomas are exquisitely responsive to dopamine agonist therapy. In giant prolactinomas the prolactin level does not correlate with size. The main indication for early surgery is intratumoral hematoma, whereas our main indications for late surgery are cerebrospinal fluid leakage caused by medical treatment, or an increasing prolactin level despite medical therapy. Checking prolactin levels in suspicious sellar and/or suprasellar lesions may be diagnostic and prevent unnecessary surgery.
Paul S. Saphier, Marc S. Arginteanu, Frank M. Moore, Alfred A. Steinberger and Martin B. Camins
In a prospective analysis the authors evaluated the clinical and radiographic outcome of 50 consecutive patients who underwent anterior cervical discectomy and fusion and fixation in which either a stress-shielding or a load-sharing plate (Orion and Premier, respectively) was placed. Data obtained in the two cohorts were analyzed to determine whether clinical or radiographic differences would emerge.
All patients underwent either one- or two-level fusion in which freeze-dried allogenic tricortical iliac crest bone graft was used. In the first cohort of 25 patients entered into the study, fixation was achieved using a stress-shielding anterior cervical plate (ACP) system, whereas in the second cohort of 25 patients a load-sharing plate system was employed. Patients were evaluated during a follow-up period that ranged from 12 to 35 months. Outcome was determined using a standard questionnaire by which the authors gauged the level of pain, disability, and satisfaction following surgery. The success of surgical fusion and the magnitude of the translation were determined by radiographic evaluation.
There was no statistically significant difference between the two cohorts with respect to age, sex, smoking rate, and postoperative complications. With regard to pain and functionality, there was a significant difference (p < 0.05) in favor of the load-sharing system. The fusion rates with the load-sharing and stress-shielding systems were 96 and 92%, respectively, and this difference was not significant. There was no significant difference between the two cohorts with regard to overall satisfaction. The magnitude of vertical translation was significantly greater in the stress-shielding ACP group (p < 0.05) for treatment at one level but not at two. Clinical and radiographic data were available in all patients.
Load-sharing ACP systems exhibited superior clinical results compared with stress-shielding ACPs in this series of patients. The symptomatic pseudarthrosis rate was lower in the load-sharing ACP–treated patients, although this was not statistically significant.
Marc S. Arginteanu, Karin Hague, Robert Zimmerman, Mark J. Kupersmith, John H. Shaiu, John Schaeffer and Kalmon D. Post
✓ The authors report the case of a 55-year-old woman who developed a symptomatic craniopharyngioma within 2 years of obtaining a normal magnetic resonance image of her brain. Craniopharyngiomas are histologically benign tumors. They are thought to arise from embryonic remnants of Rathke's pouch and sac and to manifest themselves clinically after a steady growth that commences in fetal life. To the authors' knowlege, this is the first report that documents a tumor arising de novo in the sixth decade of life. This report appears to challenge the concept of the origin and natural history of craniopharyngiomas.
Jonathan J. Rasouli, Brooke T. Kennamer, Frank M. Moore, Alfred Steinberger, Kevin C. Yao, Omar N. Syed, Marc S. Arginteanu and Yakov Gologorsky
The C7 vertebral body is morphometrically unique; it represents the transition from the subaxial cervical spine to the upper thoracic spine. It has larger pedicles but relatively small lateral masses compared to other levels of the subaxial cervical spine. Although the biomechanical properties of C7 pedicle screws are superior to those of lateral mass screws, they are rarely placed due to increased risk of neurological injury. Although pedicle screw stimulation has been shown to be safe and effective in determining satisfactory screw placement in the thoracolumbar spine, there are few studies determining its utility in the cervical spine. Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility, clinical reliability, and threshold characteristics of intraoperative evoked electromyographic (EMG) stimulation in determining satisfactory pedicle screw placement at C7.
The authors retrospectively reviewed a prospectively collected data set. All adult patients who underwent posterior cervical decompression and fusion with placement of C7 pedicle screws at the authors’ institution between January 2015 and March 2019 were identified. Demographic, clinical, neurophysiological, operative, and radiographic data were gathered. All patients underwent postoperative CT scanning, and the position of C7 pedicle screws was compared to intraoperative neurophysiological data.
Fifty-one consecutive C7 pedicle screws were stimulated and recorded intraoperatively in 25 consecutive patients. Based on EMG findings, 1 patient underwent intraoperative repositioning of a C7 pedicle screw, and 1 underwent removal of a C7 pedicle screw. CT scans demonstrated ideal placement of the C7 pedicle screw in 40 of 43 instances in which EMG stimulation thresholds were > 15 mA. In the remaining 3 cases the trajectories were suboptimal but safe. When the screw stimulation thresholds were between 11 and 15 mA, 5 of 6 screws were suboptimal but safe, and in 1 instance was potentially dangerous. In instances in which the screw stimulated at thresholds ≤ 10 mA, all trajectories were potentially dangerous with neural compression.
Ideal C7 pedicle screw position strongly correlated with EMG stimulation thresholds > 15 mA. In instances, in which the screw stimulates at values between 11 and 15 mA, screw trajectory exploration is recommended. Screws with thresholds ≤ 10 mA should always be explored, and possibly repositioned or removed. In conjunction with other techniques, EMG threshold testing is a useful and safe modality in determining appropriate C7 pedicle screw placement.
Frank J. Yuk, Jonathan J. Rasouli, Marc S. Arginteanu, Alfred A. Steinberger, Frank M. Moore, Kevin C. Yao, John M. Caridi and Yakov Gologorsky
Rigid cervicothoracic kyphotic deformity (CTKD) remains a difficult pathology to treat, especially in the setting of prior cervical instrumentation and fusion. CTKD may result in chronic neck pain, difficulty maintaining horizontal gaze, and myelopathy. Prior studies have advocated for the use of C7 or T1 pedicle subtraction osteotomies (PSOs). However, these surgeries are fraught with danger and, most significantly, place the C7, C8, and/or T1 nerve roots at risk.
The authors retrospectively reviewed their experience with performing T2 PSO for the correction of rigid CTKD. Demographics collected included age, sex, details of prior cervical surgery, and coexisting conditions. Perioperative variables included levels decompressed, levels instrumented, estimated blood loss, length of surgery, length of stay, complications from surgery, and length of follow-up. Radiographic measurements included C2–7 sagittal vertical axis (SVA) correction, and changes in the cervicothoracic Cobb angle, lumbar lordosis, and C2–S1 SVA.
Four male patients were identified (age range 55–72 years). Three patients had undergone prior posterior cervical laminectomy and instrumented fusion and developed postsurgical kyphosis. All patients underwent T2 PSO: 2 patients received instrumentation at C2–T4, and 2 patients received instrumentation at C2–T5. The median C2–7 SVA correction was 3.85 cm (range 2.9–5.3 cm). The sagittal Cobb angle correction ranged from 27.8° to 37.6°. Notably, there were no neurological complications.
T2 PSO is a powerful correction technique for the treatment of rigid CTKD. Compared with C7 or T1 PSO, there is decreased risk of injury to intrinsic hand muscle innervators, and there is virtually no risk of vertebral artery injury. Laminectomy may also be safer, as there is less (or no) scar tissue from prior surgeries. Correction at this distal level may allow for a greater sagittal correction. The authors are optimistic that these findings will be corroborated in larger cohorts examining this challenging clinical entity.