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Yasutsugu Yukawa, Fumihiko Kato, Keigo Ito, Yumiko Horie, Tetsurou Hida, Masaaki Machino, Zen-ya Ito and Yukihiro Matsuyama

Object

Increased signal intensity of the spinal cord on magnetic resonance (MR) imaging was classified pre- and postoperatively in patients with cervical compressive myelopathy. It was investigated whether postoperative classification and alterations of increased signal intensity could reflect the postoperative severity of symptoms and surgical outcomes.

Methods

One hundred and four patients with cervical compressive myelopathy were prospectively enrolled. All were treated using cervical expansive laminoplasty. Magnetic resonance imaging was performed in all patients preoperatively and after an average of 39.7 months postoperatively (range 12–90 months). Increased signal intensity of the spinal cord was divided into 3 grades based on sagittal T2-weighted MR images as follows: Grade 0, none; Grade 1, light (obscure); and Grade 2, intense (bright). The severity of myelopathy was evaluated according to the Japanese Orthopedic Association (JOA) score for cervical myelopathy and its recovery rate (100% = full recovery).

Results

Increased signal intensity was seen in 83% of cases preoperatively and in 70% postoperatively. Preoperatively, there were 18 patients with Grade 0 increased signal intensity, 49 with Grade 1, and 37 with Grade 2; postoperatively, there were 31 with Grade 0, 31 with Grade 1, and 42 with Grade 2. The respective postoperative JOA scores and recovery rates (%) were 13.9/56.7% in patients with postoperative Grade 0, 13.2/50.7% in those with Grade 1, and 12.8/40.1% in those with Grade 2, and these differences were not statistically significant. The postoperative increased signal intensity grade was improved in 16 patients, worsened in 8, and unchanged in 80 (77%). There was no significant correlation between the alterations of increased signal intensity and surgical outcomes.

Conclusions

The postoperative increased signal intensity classification reflected postoperative symptomatology and surgical outcomes to some extent, without statistically significant differences. The alteration of increased signal intensity was seen postoperatively in 24 patients (23%) and was not correlated with surgical outcome.

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Hiroaki Nakashima, Yasutsugu Yukawa, Shiro Imagama, Tokumi Kanemura, Mitsuhiro Kamiya, Makoto Yanase, Keigo Ito, Masaaki Machino, Go Yoshida, Yoshimoto Ishikawa, Yukihiro Matsuyama, Naoki Ishiguro and Fumihiko Kato

Object

The cervical pedicle screw (PS) provides strong stabilization but poses a potential risk to the neurovascular system, which may be catastrophic. In particular, vertebrae with degenerative changes complicate the process of screw insertion, and PS misplacement and subsequent complications are more frequent. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the peri- and postoperative complications of PS fixation for nontraumatic lesions and to determine the risk factors of each complication.

Methods

Eighty-four patients who underwent cervical PS fixation for nontraumatic lesions were independently reviewed to identify associated complications. The mean age of the patients was 60.1 years, and the mean follow-up period was 4.1 years (range 6–168 months). Pedicle screw malpositioning was classified on postoperative CT scans as Grade I (< 50% of the screw outside the pedicle) or Grade II (≥ 50% of the screw outside the pedicle). Risk factors of each complication were evaluated using a multivariate analysis.

Results

Three hundred ninety cervical PSs and 24 lateral mass screws were inserted. The incidence of PS misplacement was 19.5% (76 screws); in terms of malpositioning, 60 screws (15.4%) were classified as Grade I and 16 (4.1%) as Grade II. In total, 33 complications were observed. These included postoperative neurological complications in 11 patients in whom there was no evidence of screw misplacement (C-5 palsy in 10 and C-7 palsy in 1), implant failure in 11 patients (screw loosening in 5, broken screws in 4, and loss of reduction in 2), complications directly attributable to screw insertion in 5 patients (nerve root injury by PS in 3 and vertebral artery injury in 2), and other complications in 6 patients (pseudarthrosis in 2, infection in 1, transient dyspnea in 1, transient dysphagia in 1, and adjacent-segment degeneration in 1). The multivariate analysis showed that a primary diagnosis of cerebral palsy was a risk factor for postoperative implant failure (HR 10.91, p = 0.03) and that the presence of preoperative cervical spinal instability was a risk factor for both Grade I and Grade II screw misplacement (RR 2.12, p = 0.03), while there were no statistically significant risk factors for postoperative neurological complications in the absence of evidence of screw misplacement or complications directly attributable to screw insertion.

Conclusions

In the present study, misplacement of cervical PSs and associated complications occurred more often than in previous studies. The rates of screw-related neurovascular complications and neurological deterioration unrelated to PSs were high. Insertion of a PS for nontraumatic lesions is surgically more challenging than that for trauma; consequently, experienced surgeons should use PS fixation for nontraumatic cervical lesions only after thorough preoperative evaluation of each patient's cervical anatomy and after considering the risk factors specified in the present study.

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Hiroaki Nakashima, Shiro Imagama, Yasutsugu Yukawa, Tokumi Kanemura, Mitsuhiro Kamiya, Makoto Yanase, Keigo Ito, Masaaki Machino, Go Yoshida, Yoshimoto Ishikawa, Yukihiro Matsuyama, Nobuyuki Hamajima, Naoki Ishiguro and Fumihiko Kato

Object

Postoperative C-5 palsy is a significant complication resulting from cervical decompression procedures. Moreover, when cervical degenerative diseases are treated with a combination of decompression and posterior instrumented fusion, patients are at increased risk for C-5 palsy. However, the clinical and radiological features of this condition remain unclear. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to clarify the risk factors for developing postoperative C-5 palsy.

Methods

Eighty-four patients (mean age 60.1 years) who had undergone posterior instrumented fusion using cervical pedicle screws to treat nontraumatic lesions were independently reviewed. The authors analyzed the medical records of some of these patients who developed postoperative C-5 palsy, paying particular attention to their plain radiographs, MRI studies, and CT scans. Risk factors for postoperative C-5 palsy were assessed using multivariate logistic regression analysis. The cutoff values for the pre- and postoperative width of the intervertebral foramen (C4–5) were determined by receiver operating characteristic curve analysis.

Results

Ten (11.9%) of 84 patients developed postoperative C-5 palsy. Seven patients recovered fully from the neurological complications. The pre- and postoperative C4–5 angles showed significant kyphosis in the C-5 palsy group. The pre- and postoperative diameters of the C4–5 foramen on the palsy side were significantly smaller than those on the opposite side in the C-5 palsy group and those bilaterally in the non–C5 palsy group. Risk factors identified by multivariate logistic regression analysis were as follows: 1) ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (relative risk [RR] 7.22 [95% CI 1.03–50.55]); 2) posterior shift of the spinal cord (C4–5) (RR 1.73 [95% CI 1.00–2.98]); and 3) postoperative width of the C-5 intervertebral foramen (RR 0.33 [95% CI 0.14–0.79]). The cutoff values of the pre- and postoperative widths of the C-5 intervertebral foramen for C-5 palsy were 2.2 and 2.3 mm, respectively.

Conclusions

Patients with preoperative foraminal stenosis, posterior shift of the spinal cord, and additional iatrogenic foraminal stenosis due to cervical alignment correction were more likely to develop postoperative C-5 palsy after posterior instrumentation with fusion. Prophylactic foraminotomy at C4–5 might be useful when preoperative foraminal stenosis is present on CT. Furthermore, it might be useful for treating postoperative C-5 palsy. To prevent excessive posterior shift of the spinal cord, the authors recommend that appropriate kyphosis reduction should be considered carefully.

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Shunsuke Kanbara, Yasutsugu Yukawa, Keigo Ito, Masaaki Machino and Fumihiko Kato

The lumbar spinous process–splitting laminectomy (LSPSL) procedure was developed as an alternative to lumbar laminectomy. In the LSPSL procedure, the spinous process is evenly split longitudinally and then divided at its base from the posterior arch, leaving the bilateral paravertebral muscle attached to the lateral aspects. This procedure allows for better exposure of intraspinal nerve tissues, comparable to that achieved by conventional laminectomy while minimizing damage to posterior supporting structures. In this study, the authors make some modifications to the original LSPSL procedure (modified LSPSL), in which laminoplasty is performed instead of laminectomy. The purpose of this study was to compare postoperative outcomes in modified LSPSL with those in conventional laminectomy (CL) and to evaluate bone unions between the split spinous process and residual laminae following modified LSPSL.

Forty-seven patients with lumbar spinal stenosis were enrolled in this study. Twenty-six patients underwent modified LSPSL and 21 patients underwent CL. Intraoperative blood loss and surgical duration were evaluated. The Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scale scores were used to assess parameters before surgery and 12 months after surgery. The recovery rates were also evaluated. Postoperative paravertebral muscle atrophy was assessed using MRI. Bone union rates between the split spinous process and residual laminae were also examined.

The mean surgical time and intraoperative blood loss were 25.7 minutes and 42.4 ml per 1 level in modified LSPSL, respectively, and 22.7 minutes and 29.5 ml in CL, respectively. The recovery rate of the JOA score was 64.2% in modified LSPSL and 68.7% in CL. The degree of paravertebral muscle atrophy was 7.8% in modified LSPSL and 22.2% in CL at 12 months after surgery (p < 0.05). The fusion rates of the spinous process with the arcus vertebrae at 6 and 12 months in modified LSPSL were 56.3% and 81.3%, respectively.

The modified LSPSL procedure was less invasive to the paravertebral muscles and could be a laminoplasty; therefore, the modified LSPSL procedure presents an effective alternative to lumbar laminectomy.

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Kazuyoshi Kobayashi, Kei Ando, Ryuichi Shinjo, Kenyu Ito, Mikito Tsushima, Masayoshi Morozumi, Satoshi Tanaka, Masaaki Machino, Kyotaro Ota, Naoki Ishiguro and Shiro Imagama

OBJECTIVE

Monitoring of brain evoked muscle-action potentials (Br[E]-MsEPs) is a sensitive method that provides accurate periodic assessment of neurological status. However, occasionally this method gives a relatively high rate of false-positives, and thus hinders surgery. The alarm point is often defined based on a particular decrease in amplitude of a Br(E)-MsEP waveform, but waveform latency has not been widely examined. The purpose of this study was to evaluate onset latency in Br(E)-MsEP monitoring in spinal surgery and to examine the efficacy of an alarm point using a combination of amplitude and latency.

METHODS

A single-center, retrospective study was performed in 83 patients who underwent spine surgery using intraoperative Br(E)-MsEP monitoring. A total of 1726 muscles in extremities were chosen for monitoring, and acceptable baseline Br(E)-MsEP responses were obtained from 1640 (95%). Onset latency was defined as the period from stimulation until the waveform was detected. Relationships of postoperative motor deficit with onset latency alone and in combination with a decrease in amplitude of ≥ 70% from baseline were examined.

RESULTS

Nine of the 83 patients had postoperative motor deficits. The delay of onset latency compared to the control waveform differed significantly between patients with and without these deficits (1.09% ± 0.06% vs 1.31% ± 0.14%, p < 0.01). In ROC analysis, an intraoperative 15% delay in latency from baseline had a sensitivity of 78% and a specificity of 96% for prediction of postoperative motor deficit. In further ROC analysis, a combination of a decrease in amplitude of ≥ 70% and delay of onset latency of ≥ 10% from baseline had sensitivity of 100%, specificity of 93%, a false positive rate of 7%, a false negative rate of 0%, a positive predictive value of 64%, and a negative predictive value of 100% for this prediction.

CONCLUSIONS

In spinal cord monitoring with intraoperative Br(E)-MsEP, an alarm point using a decrease in amplitude of ≥ 70% and delay in onset latency of ≥ 10% from baseline has high specificity that reduces false positive results.

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Kei Ando, Kazuyoshi Kobayashi, Masaaki Machino, Kyotaro Ota, Satoshi Tanaka, Masayoshi Morozumi, Sadayuki Ito, Shunsuke Kanbara, Taro Inoue, Naoki Ishiguro and Shiro Imagama

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between morphological changes in thoracic ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (T-OPLL) and postoperative neurological recovery after thoracic posterior fusion surgery. Changes of OPLL morphology and postoperative recovery in cases with T-OPLL have not been examined.

METHODS

In this prospective study, the authors evaluated data from 44 patients (23 male and 21 female) who underwent posterior decompression and fusion surgery with instrumentation for the treatment of T-OPLL at our hospital. The patients’ mean age at surgery was 50.7 years (range 38–68 years). The minimum duration of follow-up was 2 years. The location of thoracic ossification of the ligamentum flavum (T-OLF), T-OLF at the OPLL level, OPLL morphology, fusion range, estimated blood loss, operative time, pre- and postoperative Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scores, and JOA recovery rate were investigated. Reconstructed sagittal multislice CT images were obtained before and at 3 and 6 months and 1 and 2 years after surgery. The basic fusion area was 3 vertebrae above and below the OPLL lesion. All parameters were compared between patients with and without continuity across the disc space at the OPLL at 3 and 6 months after surgery.

RESULTS

The preoperative morphology of OPLL was discontinuous across the disc space between the rostral and caudal ossification regions on sagittal CT images in all but one of the patients. Postoperatively, these segments became continuous in 42 patients (97.7%; occurring by 6.6 months on average) without progression of OPLL thickness. Patients with continuity at 3 months had significantly lower rates of diabetes mellitus (p < 0.05) and motor palsy in the lower extremities (p < 0.01). The group with continuity also had significantly higher mean postoperative JOA scores at 3 (p < 0.01) and 6 (p < 0.05) months and mean JOA recovery rates at 3 and 6 months (both p < 0.01) after surgery.

CONCLUSIONS

Preoperatively, discontinuity of rostral and caudal ossified lesions was found on CT in all patients but one of this group of 44 patients who needed surgery for T-OPLL. Rigid fixation with instrumentation may have allowed these segments to connect at the OPLL. Such OPLL continuity at an early stage after surgery may accelerate spinal cord recovery.