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John K. Houten, Joshua R. Buksbaum and Michael J. Collins


Paresis of the C5 nerve is a well-recognized complication of cervical spine surgery. Numerous studies have investigated its incidence and possible causes, but the specific pattern and character of neurological deficits, time course, and relationship to preoperative cord signal changes remain incompletely understood.


Records of patients undergoing cervical decompressive surgery for spondylosis, disc herniation, or ossification of the longitudinal ligament, including the C4–5 level, were reviewed from a 15-year period, identifying C5 palsy cases. Data collected included age, sex, diabetes and smoking statuses, body mass index, surgical levels, approach, presence of increased cord signal intensity, and modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (mJOA) scores. Narrative descriptions of the patterns and findings on neurological examination were reviewed, and complications were noted. The minimum follow-up requirement for the study was 12 months.


Of 642 patients who underwent cervical decompressive surgery, 18 developed C5 palsy (2.8%). The incidence was significantly lower following anterior surgery (6 of 441 [1.4%]) compared with that following cervical laminectomy and fusion (12 of 201 [6.0%]) (p < 0.001). There were 10 men and 8 women whose mean age was 66.7 years (range 54–76 years). The mean preoperative mJOA score of 11.4 improved to 15.6 at the latest follow-up examination. There were no differences between those with and without C5 palsy with regard to sex, age, number of levels treated, or pre- or postoperative mJOA score. Fifteen patients with palsy (83%) had signal changes/myelomalacia on preoperative T2-weighted imaging, compared with 436 of 624 (70%) patients without palsy; however, looking specifically at the C4–5 level, signal change/myelomalacia was present in 12 of 18 (67%) patients with C5 palsy, significantly higher than in the 149 of 624 (24%) patients without palsy (p < 0.00003). Paresis was unilateral in 16 (89%) and bilateral in 2 (11%) patients. All had deltoid weakness, but 15 (83%) exhibited new biceps weakness, 8 (44%) had triceps weakness, and 2 (11%) had hand intrinsic muscle weakness. The mean time until onset of palsy was 4.6 days (range 2–14 days). Two patients (11%) complained of shoulder pain preceding weakness; 3 patients (17%) had sensory loss. Recovery to grade 4/5 deltoid strength occurred in 89% of the patients. No patient had intraoperative loss of somatosensory or motor evoked potentials or abnormal intraoperative C5 electromyography activity.


Postoperative C5 nerve root dysfunction appears in a delayed fashion, is predominantly a motor deficit, and weakness is frequently appreciated in the biceps and triceps muscles in addition to the deltoid muscle. Preoperative cord signal change/myelomalacia at C4–5 was a significant risk factor. No patient had a detectable deficit in the immediate postoperative period or changes in intraoperative neuromonitoring status. Neurological recovery to at least that of grade 4/5 occurred in nearly 90% of the patients.

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Merrill J. Egorin, Edwin H. Bellis, Michael Salcman, Jerry M. Collins, James F. Spiegel and Nicholas R. Bachur

✓ Diaziquone (also called “aziridinyl benzoquinone,” or AZQ), an antitumor drug designed to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, has demonstrated activity against central nervous system (CNS) neoplasms. Four-hour infusions of carbon-14 (14C)-labeled AZQ (0.8 mg/kg) were given via the left common carotid artery or left brachial vein to two groups of puppies. A third group, harboring a transplantable canine glioma, received 14C-AZQ by intravenous infusion. Levels of chloroform (CHCl3)-extractable 14C (AZQ only) and total 14C (AZQ and metabolites) were determined in serial samples of plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). At the end of the infusion time, total and CHCl3-extractable 14C levels were determined in brain and tumor. Intra-arterial infusion of AZQ caused no histological abnormalities in the retina or brain. For the intravenous infusion group, the concentrations of CHCl3-extractable 14C (in nmol/ml or nmol/gm) were 0.68, 0.35, and 0.84 for plasma, brain, and CSF, respectively. For the intra-arterial infusion group, the concentrations were 0.25, 0.13, and 0.32 for plasma, brain, and CSF, respectively.

Comparison of right and left hemispheres following intra-arterial infusion showed a slightly higher concentration of 14C in the ipsilateral (left) hemisphere, with concentrations (nmol/gm) of CHCl3-extractable 14C/total 14C of 0.15/0.87 on the left and 0.12/0.65 on the right. Concentrations (nmol/gm) of CHCl3-extractable 14C/total 14C in brain and tumor were 0.60/1.24 and 0.58/1.65, respectively. In tumor-bearing animals, tumor and surrounding brain contained similar concentrations of AZQ, but there were higher concentrations of metabolites in tumor. This may reflect different metabolism of AZQ within brain and tumor or different permeability to metabolites. This study revealed that AZQ enters the CNS and brain-tumor tissue in substantial concentrations and that there is no significant advantage to intracarotid infusion of AZQ.

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Daniel M. Sciubba, Rory J. Petteys, Sophia F. Shakur, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Edward F. McCarthy, Michael T. Collins, Matthew J. McGirt, Patrick C. Hsieh, Clarke S. Nelson and Jean-Paul Wolinsky

En bloc spondylectomy represents a radical resection of a spinal segment most often reserved for patients presenting with a primary extradural spine tumor or a solitary metastasis in the setting of an indolent, well-controlled systemic malignancy. The authors report a case in which en bloc spondylectomy was conducted to control a metabolically active spine tumor. A 56-year-old woman, who suffered from severe tumor-induced osteomalacia, was found to have a fibroblast growth factor-23–secreting phosphaturic mesenchymal tumor in the T-8 vertebral body. En bloc resection was conducted, leading to resolution of her tumor-induced osteomalacia. This case suggests that radical spondylectomy may be beneficial in the management of metabolically or endocrinologically active tumors of the spine.