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Meic H. Schmidt

The management of metastatic spine disease is complex, but usually involves radiation therapy and/or surgical treatment. Surgery followed by radiation has a significant role in select patients presenting with metastatic spinal cord compression. Ventral decompression can be achieved through several surgical approaches including posterior, posterolateral, and anterior surgical approaches. Although open thoracotomy is the most common approach for ventral decompression, it is associated with significant spinal access morbidity. This video illustrates a thoracoscopic transdiaphragmatic approach for symptomatic L-1 metastatic spinal cord compression. This approach allows for a minimal incision in the diaphragm to expose the thoracolumbar junction and allows for corpectomy, spinal canal decompression, vertebral body replacement, and spinal stabilization via four small incisions along the chest wall. The step-by-step technique illustrates operative nuances and surgical pearls to safely perform this approach in a patient with thoracolumbar L-1 metastatic spinal cord compression.

The video can be found here: http://youtu.be/w8fanV9bq-E.

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Michael A. Finn and Meic H. Schmidt

✓ Castleman disease is a rare lymphoproliferative disease of unknown cause. In most cases, afflicted patients present with a mediastinal mass although the disease may manifest in numerous other sites, including intracranially and rarely intraspinally. The authors report on the case of a 19-year-old woman who presented with a large paraspinal mass emanating from the T7–8 neural foramen. The morphological and signal characteristics revealed on magnetic resonance imaging were similar to those of nerve sheath tumors. The patient underwent open biopsy sampling of the lesion, and results of a pathological evaluation revealed hyaline-vascular type Castleman disease. She underwent radiotherapy and remains symptom-free with a radiographically stable lesion 1 year later. Although the disease has been reported to mimic a meningioma when encountered in intracranial locations, to the authors' knowledge, this is the first case of the disorder mimicking a nerve sheath tumor. When the diagnosis of Castleman disease is made, good results can be obtained with partial resection and radiotherapy.

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Daniel R. Fassett and Meic H. Schmidt

Object

The goal of this study was to review the management of intra- and extradural ependymomas. Spinal ependymomas most commonly occur as intramedullary tumors throughout the spinal axis. In the lumbosacral region, ependymomas are most commonly associated with the conus medullaris and cauda equina, but can also occur extradurally in the sacrum, presacral tissues, or subcutaneous tissues over the sacrum. These two tumor locations produce different management concerns. Intradural ependymomas, especially those in the lumbosacral region, are now recognized for their potential to spread throughout the central nervous system (CNS), whereas extradural tumors elicit more concern for their association with extraneural metastases.

Methods

The authors have reviewed the literature regarding both of these distinct tumors and have summarized recommendations for the management of intra- and extradural lumbosacral ependymomas. For both tumors, it appears that gross-total resection is the treatment of choice when feasible. The role of radiation therapy has not been adequately studied for either tumor location, but most clinicians use this modality in patients with subtotal resection of intradural ependymomas, local recurrence, or CNS dissemination. Data supporting the use of radiation therapy for extradural ependymomas are lacking. There does not appear to be a significant role for chemotherapy in either tumor location.

Conclusions

Despite the risk for local recurrence and CNS dissemination, the prognosis for intradural lumbosacral ependymomas is good, with a greater than 90% 10-year patient survival in most series. The prognosis for extradural ependymomas does not appear to be as good. Much depends on extradural tumor location, however; the outlook is better for dorsal sacral tumors than presacral tumors.

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James K. Liu, Peter Kan and Meic H. Schmidt

Primary lymphomas of the sacrum are rare tumors, reported only in a few cases in the literature. The authors describe two patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphomas presenting as a sacral tumor.

In the first case a 52-year-old man presented with progressive back pain, bilateral radicular pain, and saddle block anesthesia secondary to a lytic, expansile soft-tissue mass. The mass arose from the sacrum and eroded through the right S-1 to S-4 foramina and extended into the epidural space of the spinal canal. On magnetic resonance imaging, the sacral mass enhanced homogeneously with Gd. In the second case a 64-year-old man presented with left-sided radicular pain, paresthesias, and progressive weakness due to a lytic soft-tissue mass in the left sacral ala extending into the left L-5 and S-1 foramina. Metastatic workup in each patient demonstrated unremarkable findings. In both cases, an open biopsy procedure was performed after nondiagnostic examination of needle biopsy samples. Histopathological examination showed evidence consistent with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma in both patients. In the first case the disease was classified as Stage IAE, and the patient subsequently underwent four cycles of cyclophosphamide/doxorubicin/vincristine/prednisone (CHOP)– and rituximab-based chemotherapy followed by consolidation radiotherapy. In the second case the disease was also classified as Stage IAE, and the patient underwent CHOP-based chemotherapy and consolidation radiotherapy. In both cases radiography demonstrated a decrease in size of the sacral lymphomas.

The authors review the clinical, radiological, and histological features of sacral lymphomas. Lymphoma should be considered in the differential diagnosis of sacral tumors.

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Daniel R. Fassett and Meic H. Schmidt

Spinal epidural lipomatosis is most commonly observed in patients receiving long-term exogenous steroid therapy, but can also be seen in patients with endogenous steroid overproduction, obesity, or idiopathic disease. With this condition, there is hypertrophy of the epidural adipose tissue, causing a narrowing of the spinal canal and compression of neural structures. A majority of patients will present with progressive myelopathy, but radicular symptoms are also common. Conservative treatment—weaning from steroids or weight loss—can reverse the hypertrophy of the adipose tissue and relieve the neural compression. If conservative management fails, surgery with decompressive laminectomy is also very successful at improving the patient's neurological symptoms.

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Oren N. Gottfried, Wayne M. Gluf and Meic H. Schmidt

Cavernous hemangioma of the calvaria is a very rare disease, and patients usually present with headaches or a visible skull deformity. Few reports of patients presenting with intradiploic or epidural hemorrhages are found in the literature. No case of an intradural hemorrhage from a cavernous hemangioma of the skull has been reported to date. The authors present the case of a 50-year-old man in whom a symptomatic subdural hematoma (SDH) resulting from a cavernous hemangioma of the calvaria had hemorrhaged and eroded through the inner table of the skull and dura mater. The patient underwent surgery for evacuation of the SDH and resection of the calvarial lesion. Postoperatively, the patient experienced immediate relief of his symptoms and had no clinical or radiological recurrence. Calvarial cavernous hemangiomas should be considered in the differential diagnosis of nontraumatic SDHs. Additionally, skull lesions that present with intracranial hemorrhages must be identified and resected at the time of hematoma evacuation to prevent recurrences.

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Frank S. Bishop, Andrew T. Dailey and Meic H. Schmidt

Charcot spinal disease is a destructive degenerative process involving the vertebrae and surrounding discs, resulting from repetitive microtrauma in patients who have decreased joint protective mechanisms due to loss of deep pain and proprioceptive sensation. The typical presentation of the disease is back pain and progressive spinal instability and deformity. The authors report an unusual case of massive Charcot spinal disease deformity in a patient presenting with increasing abdominal girth and discomfort.

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Peter Kan and Meic H. Schmidt

Object

The choices available in the management of metastatic spine disease are complex, and the role of surgical therapy is increasing. Recent studies have indicated that patients treated with direct surgical decompression and stabilization before radiation have better functional outcomes than those treated with radiation alone. The most common anterior surgical approach for direct spinal cord decompression and stabilization in the thoracic spine is open thoracotomy; however, thoracotomy for spinal access is associated with morbidity that can be avoided with minimally invasive techniques like thoracoscopy.

Methods

A minimally invasive thoracoscopic approach was used for the surgical treatment of thoracic and thoracolumbar metastatic spinal cord compression. This technique allows ventral decompression via corpectomy, inter-body reconstruction with expandable cages, and stabilization with an anterolateral plating system designed specifically for minimally invasive implantation. This technique was performed in 5 patients with metastatic disease of the thoracic spine, including the thoracolumbar junction.

Results

All patients had improvement in preoperative symptoms and neurological deficits. No complications occurred in this small series.

Conclusions

The minimally invasive thoracoscopic approach can be applied to the treatment of thoracic and thoracolumbar metastatic spine disease in an effort to reduce access morbidity. Preliminary results have indicated that adequate decompression, reconstruction, and stabilization can be achieved with this technique.

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Wayne M. Gluf, Meic H. Schmidt and Ronald I. Apfelbaum

Object. In this, the first of two articles regarding C1–2 transarticular screw fixation, the authors assessed the rate of fusion, surgery-related complications, and lessons learned after C1–2 transarticular screw fixation in an adult patient series.

Methods. The authors retrospectively reviewed 191 consecutive patients (107 women and 84 men; mean age 49.7 years, range 17–90 years) in whom at least one C1–2 transarticular screw was placed. Overall 353 transarticular screws were placed for trauma (85 patients), rheumatoid arthritis (63 patients), congenital anomaly (26 patients), os odontoideum (four patients), neoplasm (eight patients), and chronic cervical instability (five patients). Among these, 67 transarticular screws were placed in 36 patients as part of an occipitocervical construct. Seventeen patients had undergone 24 posterior C1–2 fusion attempts prior to referral. The mean follow-up period was 15.2 months (range 0.1–106.3 months).

Fusion was achieved in 98% of cases followed to commencement of fusion or for at least 24 months. The mean duration until fusion was 9.5 months (range 3–48 months). Complications occurred in 32 patients. Most were minor; however, five patients suffered vertebral artery (VA) injury. One bilateral VA injury resulted in patient death. The others did not result in any permanent neurological sequelae.

Conclusions. Based on this series, the authors have learned important lessons that can improve outcomes and safety. These include techniques to improve screw-related patient positioning, development of optimal instrumentation, improved screw materials and design, and defining the role for stereotactic navigation. Atlantoaxial transarticular screw fixation is highly effective in achieving fusion, and the complication rate is low when performed by properly trained surgeons.

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Amin Amini and Meic H. Schmidt

Hyponatremia caused by an inappropriately high level of antidiuretic hormone secretion after spinal surgery is an uncommon and self-limiting phenomenon that resolves within 2 or 3 weeks. During the early postoperative period, the patient's urine output and serum level of sodium should be monitored closely to prevent possible serious complications of the syndrome of inappropriate secretion of antidiuretic hormone. Symptoms vary depending on the severity of the hyponatremia and can range from mild headache, muscle cramps, nausea, and vomiting to convulsions, coma, and death. Treatment options include fluid restriction, oral intake of salt, and hypertonic saline. It is important that spine surgeons recognize this phenomenon early and treat it appropriately and conservatively to prevent possible serious complications.