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Daniel Huttman, Mathew Cyriac, Warren Yu, and Joseph R. O'Brien

Vascular injury during lumbar spine surgery is a relatively rare complication but can have devastating outcomes. The injury may not be apparent during surgery and can present acutely or late in various manners, and some injuries can be asymptomatic. This report discusses the unusual case of a 35-year-old woman who underwent a right L4–5 microdiscectomy for disc herniation and 4 days postoperatively presented with a pulmonary embolus. A subsequent CT scan revealed a pseudoaneurysm and arteriovenous fistula of the right common iliac vein and artery, which gave rise to the embolus. The patient received a right iliac artery stent, and at 4 months after surgery she continues to be symptom free. This report describes the atypical presentation of vascular injury after lumbar microdiscectomy and stresses the importance of cautiously using the pituitary rongeur when removing deeper disc fragments.

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Matthew Mantell, Mathew Cyriac, Colin M. Haines, Manasa Gudipally, and Joseph R. O’Brien

OBJECT

Insufficient biomechanical data exist from comparisons of the stability of expandable lateral cages with that of static transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) cages. The purpose of this biomechanical study was to compare the relative rigidity of L4–5 expandable lateral interbody constructs with or without additive pedicle screw fixation with that of L4–5 static TLIF cages in a novel cadaveric spondylolisthesis model.

METHODS

Eight human cadaver spines were used in this study. A spondylolisthesis model was created at the L4–5 level by creating 2 injuries. First, in each cadaver, a nucleotomy from 2 channels through the anterior side was created. Second, the cartilage of the facet joint was burred down to create a gap of 4 mm. Light-emitting-diode tracking markers were placed at L-3, L-4, L-5, and S-1. Specimens were tested in the following scenarios: intact model, bilateral pedicle screws, expandable lateral 18-mm-wide cage (alone, with unilateral pedicle screws [UPSs], and with bilateral pedicle screws [BPSs]), expandable lateral 22-mm-wide cage (alone, with UPSs, and with BPSs), and TLIF (alone, with UPSs, and with BPSs). Four of the spines were tested with the expandable lateral cages (18-mm cage followed by the 22-mm cage), and 4 of the spines were tested with the TLIF construct. All these constructs were tested in flexion-extension, axial rotation, and lateral bending.

RESULTS

The TLIF-alone construct was significantly less stable than the 18- and 22-mm-wide lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) constructs and the TLIF constructs with either UPSs or BPSs. The LLIF constructs alone were significantly less stable than the TLIF construct with BPSs. However, there was no significant difference between the 18-mm LLIF construct with UPSs and the TLIF construct with BPSs in any of the loading modes.

CONCLUSIONS

Expandable lateral cages with UPSs provide stability equivalent to that of a TLIF construct with BPSs in a degenerative spondylolisthesis model.

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Akshar H. Patel, Sione A. Ofa, Lacee K. Collins, Leland C. McCluskey Jr., William F. Sherman, and Mathew Cyriac

OBJECTIVE

With the use of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) expected to rise by 13.3% from 2020 to 2040, the increased usage of interbody cages with integral anterior fixation prompted a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) review, which resulted in coding changes affecting anterior instrumentation documentation. CMS determined that Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code 22845 should not be used to report integrated instrumentation (plate) with an interbody device, and if additional anterior instrumentation (e.g., plates and screws) is placed with an integrated interbody device, then a 59 modifier should be used. There is sparse literature examining the trends of ACDF without and with additional anterior instrumentation after the 2015 CMS audit. Therefore, this study aimed to evaluate the trends of single-level subaxial ACDF utilization from 2011 to 2019 to determine whether the 2015 CMS audit influenced the documented usage of additional anterior instrumentation.

METHODS

A retrospective cohort study was performed using the commercially available database PearlDiver. Patient records were queried from 2011 to 2019 for single-level subaxial ACDF without (CPT code 22551) and with (CPT codes 22551 + 22845) instrumentation. Cochran-Armitage trend analyses were performed to evaluate the hypothesis that ACDF with additional anterior instrumentation decreased over the given time period.

RESULTS

Between 2011 and 2019, the total number of single-level ACDFs decreased from 6202 to 4402. From 2011 to 2015, an average of 6240 patients per year underwent single-level subaxial ACDF; of those, 950 patients (15.2%) had ACDF without instrumentation and 5290 patients (84.8%) had ACDF with instrumentation. In 2016, the total number of single-level subaxial ACDFs decreased to 5525, with 1006 patients (18.2%) receiving no instrumentation and 4519 patients (81.8%) receiving instrumentation. From 2017 to 2019, an average of 4283 patients per year underwent a single-level subaxial ACDF; of these, 1280 (29.9%) had no instrumentation and 3003 (70.1%) had instrumentation (all p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

From 2015 to 2019, single-level ACDF without instrumentation significantly increased by 91.5% and ACDF with anterior instrumentation significantly decreased by 18.1%. The 2015 CMS audit of interbody cages and anterior instrumentation coding (CPT code 22845) may account for the decreased documentation of anterior instrumentation in the 9-year period. Understanding CMS auditing could help surgeons perceive changes in practice patterns that may lead to a more thorough evaluation of patient outcomes, cost, and overall value.