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Morio Matsumoto, Kota Watanabe, Takashi Tsuji, Ken Ishii, Masaya Nakamura, Kazuhiro Chiba, and Yoshiaki Toyama


The object of this study was to investigate failures after spinal reconstruction following total en bloc spondylectomy (TES), related factors, and sequelae arising from such failures in patients with malignant spinal tumors.


Fifteen patients (12 males and 3 females, with a mean age of 46.5 years) with malignant spinal tumors who underwent TES and survived for more than 1 year were included in this analysis (mean follow-up 41.5 months). Seven patients had primary tumors, including giant cell tumors in 4 patients, chordoma in 2, and Ewing sarcoma in 1. Eight patients had metastatic tumors, including thyroid cancer in 6 and renal cell cancer and malignant fibrous histiocytoma in 1 patient each. Seven patients without prominent paravertebral extension of the tumor were treated using a posterior approach alone, and 8 patients who exhibited prominent anterior or anterolateral extension of the tumors into the thoracic or abdominal cavity were treated using a combined anterior and posterior approach. Spinal reconstruction after tumor resection was performed using a combination of anterior structural support and posterior instrumentation. The relationship between instrumentation failure and clinical and radiographic factors, including age, sex, history of previous surgery, preoperative radiotherapy, tumor histology, tumor level, surgical approach, number of resected vertebrae, rod diameter, number of instrumented vertebrae, and cage subsidence, was investigated.


Six patients (40%) with spinal instrumentation failure were identified: rod breakage occurred in 3 patients, and breakage of both the rod and the cage, combined cage breakage and screw back-out, and endplate fracture arising from cage subsidence occurred in 1 patient each. All of these patients experienced acute or chronic back pain, but only 1 patient with a tumor recurrence experienced neurological deterioration upon instrumentation failure. Cage subsidence (≥ 5 mm), preoperative irradiation, and the number of instrumented vertebrae (≤ 4 vertebrae) were significantly related to late instrumentation failure.


Late instrumentation failure was a frequent complication after TES. Although patients with instrumentation failure experienced back pain, the neurological sequelae were not catastrophic. For prevention, meticulous preparation of the graft site and a longer posterior fixation should be considered.

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Masaya Nakamura, Kazuhiro Chiba, Takashi Nishizawa, Hirofumi Maruiwa, Morio Matsumoto, and Yoshiaki Toyama

Object. Pain is one of the major symptoms in patients with syringomyelia; however, its origin is not fully understood, and postoperative improvement of pain is difficult to predict. The objectives of this study were to assess the surgery-related results obtained in patients who underwent treatment for syringomyelia associated with Chiari I malformation, particularly related to pain status, and to identify factors that may influence improvement in postoperative pain by comparing pre- and postoperative magnetic resonance (MR) imaging findings.

Methods. The correlation between pre- and postoperative changes in the size and the location of the syrinx and pain improvement was investigated in 25 patients. The shapes of the syringes were classified into three types: central, enlarged, and deviated. In most cases in which the syrinx deviated toward the posterolateral aspect of the spinal cord at the level corresponding to dermatomal distribution of preoperative pain, the lesion remained at the same position postoperatively, and improvement in pain was poor. On the other hand, enlarged-type syringes were the most frequently observed prior to surgery, exhibited diverse changes postoperatively, and improvement in pain status was difficult to predict. When postoperative MR imaging revealed a transformation to the deviated type, poor pain improvement was noted.

Conclusions. Neurons in the dorsal horn were thought to be involved in the development of pain as a result of the deafferentiation mechanism in cases of syringomyelia.

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Yuji Mikami, Masahiro Toda, Masahiko Watanabe, Masaya Nakamura, Yoshiaki Toyama, and Yutaka Kawakami

✓ To establish a simple and reliable method to assess the behavioral function after spinal cord injury (SCI) in mice, the authors used an automated animal movement analysis system, SCANET.

Two different SCI lesions were created in adult female BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice by transecting both the posterior columns and the left lateral and anterior funiculi or only the left lateral and anterior funiculi at T-8. Control mice underwent laminectomy only. The SCANET system consists of a cage equipped with two crossing sensor frames arranged at different heights, by which small (M1) and large (M2) horizontal movements and the vertical movement involved in rearing (RG) can be monitored. The authors assessed locomotor function by determining the M1, M2, and RG scores; to this end, they used the SCANET system and a previously established behavior test, the 21-point open-field Basso-Beattie-Bresnahan (BBB) Locomotor Rating Scale. The results indicated that the RG scores were significantly and consistently different between the spinal cord—injured and control mice, irrespective of the mouse strain or injury model, but that M1 and M2 scores were not. Moreover, there was a statistically positive correlation between the RG score and the BBB Scale score.

For the assessment of locomotor function after SCI, use of the SCANET sytem in behavioral analysis is simple and the method is highly reproducible. The analysis of vertical movement is useful for assessing the recovery of limb function in mice following thoracic hemisection.

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Kenya Nojiri, Morio Matsumoto, Kazuhiro Chiba, Hirofumi Maruiwa, Masaya Nakamura, Takashi Nishizawa, and Yoshiaki Toyama


The aim of this study was to establish standard values for the normal alignment of the upper cervical spine and to clarify its relationship with the lower cervical spine in terms of alignment.


Three hundred thirteen asymptomatic volunteers (155 men and 158 women) participated in this study. Lateral radiographs were obtained with the neck in neutral position, and the angles formed by the occiput (Oc) and the axis, the atlas and the axis, and C-2 to C-7 were measured. The mean Oc—C2 angle was 14.5 ± 8° in men and 16 ± 8.5° in women; the mean C1–2 angle was 26.5 ± 7° and 28.9 ± 6.7°, respectively; and the mean C2–7 angle was 16.2 ± 12.9° and 10.5 ± 10.3°, respectively. Although weak, statistically significant negative correlation was observed between Oc—C2 and C2–7 angles (r = −0.31 in men and −0.37 in women), and between C1–2 and C2–7 angles (r = −0.22 in men and −0.22 in women). The correlation coefficient between the Oc—C2 and C2–7 angles was greater than that between the C1–2 and C2–7 angles.


Such relationships between alignment of the upper and lower cervical spines should be taken into consideration when performing occipitocervical fusion.

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Morio Matsumoto, Kazuhiro Chiba, Masaya Nakamura, Yuto Ogawa, Yoshiaki Toyama, and Jun Ogawa

Object. Structural interlaminar graft materials were used for atlantoaxial transarticular screw fixation (TSF), and its impact on the fusion status was investigated.

Methods. Forty-two patients (10 men, 32 women, mean age 51 years, mean follow-up period 45 months; 30 with rheumatoid arthritis, and 12 with os odontoideum) underwent TSF and modified Brooks posterior wiring involving titanium cables. As interlaminar graft materials, autologous bone from posterior iliac crest alone was used in 20 patients (Group A), and a structural spacer (13 ceramic spacers, nine titanium mesh cages) in 22 (Group B). Lateral radiographs were evaluated to determine bone fusion, alignment of the cervical spine, and wire loosening. Solid osseous fusion was obtained in 95% of Group A and 96% of Group B patients. The mean atlantoaxial angle was 19.1 ± 9.7° and 16.7 ± 10.4° before surgery (p = 0.45), and 27.4± 7.8° and 22.1 ± 5.5° after surgery (p = 0.02) in Groups A and B, respectively. Atlantoaxial hyperlordosis (atlantoaxial angle ≥ 30°) was observed in 32% of Group A and 18% of Group B patients (p = 0.26). Postoperative kyphosis occurred in 40% of Group A and 23% of Group B patients (p = 0.28). Loosening of the cable was demonstrated in 50% of Group A and 36% of Group B patients (p = 0.37). In Group B patients maintenance of cervical lordosis was more likely than in those in Group A, although the differences did not reach statistical significance.

Conclusions. These results indicate that structural interlaminar spacers can maintain proper cervical alignment without a decease in the fusion rate; the authors recommend their use in conjunction with TSF.

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Masaya Nakamura, Kazuhiro Chiba, Morio Matsumoto, Eiji Ikeda, and Yoshiaki Toyama

✓ The authors present clinical, radiological, and pathological features in a patient with a pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma (PXA) of the spinal cord. To their knowledge, this is only the second report of a spinal cord PXA. In addition they perform a review of the literature on these tumors.

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Soya Kawabata, Kota Watanabe, Naobumi Hosogane, Ken Ishii, Masaya Nakamura, Yoshiaki Toyama, and Morio Matsumoto

Severe cervical kyphosis requiring surgical treatment is rare in patients with neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1). When it occurs, however, dystrophic changes in the vertebrae make surgical correction and fusion of the deformity extremely difficult.

The authors report on 3 cases of severe cervical kyphosis associated with NF1 that were successfully treated with combined anterior and posterior correction and fusion. All patients underwent halo-gravity traction for approximately 1 month prior to surgery to correct the deformity gradually. Posterior correction and fusion were performed with segmental spinal instrumentation consisting of lateral mass screws, lamina screws, pedicle screws, and polyethylene tape for sublaminar wiring. Anterior spinal fusion was performed using a fibula strut to induce solid bone fusion. All patients used a halo vest for postoperative external fixation.

Preoperative CT scans showed dystrophic cervical spine changes, and MR images demonstrated extensive neurofibromas outside the cervical spine in all 3 patients. The preoperative kyphotic angles were as follows: Case 1, 140°; Case 2, 81°; and Case 3, 72°; after halo-gravity traction, the kyphosis angles improved to 50°, 55°, and 51°, respectively; and after surgery, they were 50°, 15°, and 27°, respectively. Solid bone union was observed in all patients at the latest follow-up. All three patients experienced postoperative complications consisting of superficial infection, severe pneumonia, and partial dislocation of the distal fibula graft after removing the halo vest, in one patient each.

Although dystrophic cervical vertebral changes in these patients with NF1 complicated the correction of severe cervical kyphosis, the use of preoperative halo-gravity traction, a combination of spinal instrumentations, an anterior strut bone graft, and postoperative halo-vest fixation made it possible to correct the kyphosis, maintain the correction, and achieve solid bone fusion.

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Tomohiro Hikata, Kota Watanabe, Nobuyuki Fujita, Akio Iwanami, Naobumi Hosogane, Ken Ishii, Masaya Nakamura, Yoshiaki Toyama, and Morio Matsumoto


The object of this study was to investigate correlations between sagittal spinopelvic alignment and improvements in clinical and quality-of-life (QOL) outcomes after lumbar decompression surgery for lumbar spinal canal stenosis (LCS) without coronal imbalance.


The authors retrospectively reviewed data from consecutive patients treated for LCS with decompression surgery in the period from 2009 through 2011. They examined correlations between preoperative or postoperative sagittal vertical axis (SVA) and radiological parameters, clinical outcomes, and health-related (HR)QOL scores in patients divided according to SVA. Clinical outcomes were assessed according to Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) and visual analog scale (VAS) scores. Health-related QOL was evaluated using the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) and the JOA Back Pain Evaluation Questionnaire (JOABPEQ).


One hundred nine patients were eligible for inclusion in the study. Compared to patients with normal sagittal alignment prior to surgery (Group A: SVA < 50 mm), those with preoperative sagittal imbalance (Group B: SVA ≥ 50 mm) had significantly smaller lumbar lordosis and thoracic kyphosis angles and larger pelvic tilt. In Group B, there was a significant decrease in postoperative SVA compared with the preoperative SVA (76.3 ± 29.7 mm vs 54.3 ± 39.8 mm, p = 0.004). The patients in Group B with severe preoperative sagittal imbalance (SVA > 80 mm) had residual sagittal imbalance after surgery (82.8 ± 41.6 mm). There were no significant differences in clinical and HRQOL outcomes between Groups A and B. Compared to patients with normal postoperative SVA (Group C: SVA < 50 mm), patients with a postoperative SVA ≥ 50 mm (Group D) had significantly lower JOABPEQ scores, both preoperative and postoperative, for walking ability (preop: 36.6 ± 26.3 vs 22.7 ± 26.0, p = 0.038, respectively; postop: 71.1 ± 30.4 vs 42.5 ± 29.6, p < 0.001) and social functioning (preop: 38.7 ± 18.5 vs 30.2 ± 16.7, p = 0.045; postop: 67.0 ± 25.8 vs 49.6 ± 20.0, p = 0.001), as well as significantly higher postoperative RMDQ (4.9 ± 5.2 vs 7.9 ± 5.7, p = 0.015) and VAS scores for low-back pain (2.68 ± 2.69 vs 3.94 ± 2.59, p = 0.039).


Preoperative sagittal balance was not significantly correlated with clinical or HRQOL outcomes after decompression surgery in LCS patients without coronal imbalance. Decompression surgery improved the SVA value in patients with preoperative sagittal imbalance; however, the patients with severe preoperative sagittal imbalance (SVA > 80 mm) had residual imbalance after decompression surgery. Both clinical and HRQOL outcomes were negatively affected by postoperative residual sagittal imbalance.

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Kota Watanabe, Morio Matsumoto, Takashi Tsuji, Ken Ishii, Hironari Takaishi, Masaya Nakamura, Yoshiaki Toyama, and Kazuhiro Chiba


The aim in this study was to evaluate the efficacy of the ball tip technique in placing thoracic pedicle screws (TPSs), as compared with the conventional freehand technique, in both a cadaveric study and a clinical study of patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Although posterior spinal surgery using TPSs has been widely applied, these screws are associated with the potential risk of vascular, pulmonary, or neurological complications. To further enhance the accuracy and safety of TPS placement, the authors developed the ball tip technique.


After creating an appropriate starting point for probe insertion, a specially designed ball tip probe consisting of a ball-shaped tip with a flexible metal shaft is used to make a guide hole into the pedicle. Holding the probe with the fingertips while using an appropriate amount of pressure or by tapping it gently and continuously with a hammer, one can safely insert the ball tip probe into the cancellous channel in the pedicle.

In a cadaveric study, 5 spine fellows with similar levels of experience in placing TPSs applied the ball tip or the conventional technique to place screws in 5 cadavers with no spinal deformities. The incidence of misplaced screws was evaluated by dissecting the spines. In a clinical study, 40 patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis underwent posterior surgery with TPS placement via the ball tip or conventional technique (20 patients in each treatment group). The accuracy of the TPS placements was evaluated on postoperative axial CT scanning.


In the cadaveric study, 100 TPSs were evaluated, and the incidence of misplaced screws was 14% in the ball tip group and 34% in the conventional group (p = 0.0192). In the clinical study, 574 TPSs were evaluated. One hundred seventy-one intrapedicular screws (67%) were recognized in the conventional group and 288 (90%) in the ball tip group (p < 0.01). In the conventional and ball tip groups, the respective numbers of TPSs with a pedicle breach of ≤ 2 mm were 20 (8%) and 15 (5%), those with a pedicle breach of > 2 mm were 32 (13%) and 9 (3%; p < 0.01), and those located in the costovertebral joints were 32 (13%) and 7 (2%).


In both cadaveric and clinical studies the ball tip technique enhanced the accuracy of TPS placement as compared with the conventional freehand technique. Thus, the ball tip technique is useful for the accurate and safe placement of TPSs in deformed spines.

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Morio Matsumoto, Masayuki Ishikawa, Ken Ishii, Takashi Nishizawa, Hirofumi Maruiwa, Masaya Nakamura, Kazuhiro Chiba, and Yoshiaki Toyama

Object. Although neurological examination is the key step to reaching a correct diagnosis of cervical compressive myelopathy (CCM), the accuracy of diagnosis of the affected spinal level for CCM has not yet been tested.

Methods. The authors conducted a prospective study to elucidate how accurately the affected intervertebral level can be determined and decompressed based on neurological examination. Fifty patients who underwent successful decompressive surgery for cervical myelopathy caused by single-level disc herniation or spondylosis were included in this study (38 men and 12 women, mean age 60 years). Three board-certified spine surgeons participated in establishing the neurological diagnoses. One of the three surgeons made a diagnosis of CCM, and the other two conducted the neurological examination including deep tendon reflex, pinprick response, muscle weakness, and numbness in the hand only, knowing that the patient had CCM, and established the neurological-level diagnosis. A single intervertebral level responsible for patient's symptoms was determined concordantly based on magnetic resonance imaging and myelography findings by two spine surgeons, and this served as the standard. Agreement between neurological and neuroimaging/radiological level diagnoses was determined. The rate of agreement between neurological and neuroimaging diagnosis was 66%. Among the neurological tests, patient-perceived location of numbness in the hands was the most useful for establishing the affected level. For the other three tests the agreement rate was lower than 50% and thus each individual test may not be reliable for diagnosing the affected level.

Conclusions. The results of this study suggested that neurological examination in patients with CCM is moderately accurate and reliable for determining the neurological level of disease.