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Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr, Brian D. Snyder, John B. Emans, Mark R. Proctor and Daniel Hedequist

Severe os odontoideum causing ventral brainstem compression is a rare and difficult entity to treat. It is generally accepted that severe os odontoideum causing ventral brainstem compression and neurological deficits warrants surgical treatment. This often requires both anterior and posterior procedures. Anterior approaches to the craniocervical junction are fraught with complications, including infection and risk of injury to neurovascular structures. External traction systems traditionally require long-term bedrest.

The authors report 2 cases of severe ventral brainstem compression secondary to displaced os odontoideum and describe their use of extended preoperative halo vest traction to reduce the severe kyphosis and improve neurological function, followed by posterior occipitocervical fusion. Postoperatively both patients showed remarkable improvements in their neurological function and kyphotic deformity.

Preoperative halo vest traction combined with posterior occipitocervical fusion appears to be a safe and effective method to treat brainstem compression by severe os odontoideum. It allows for adequate decompression of ventral neural structures and improvement of neurological function, but it is not hindered by the risks of anterior surgical approaches and does not restrict patients to strict bedrest as traditional traction systems. This method of halo vest traction and posterior-only approaches may be transferable to other cervical instability issues with both anterior and posterior pathologies.

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Ziev B. Moses, Alp Ozpinar, Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr, Luis G. Quinonez, Sitaram M. Emani and Liliana C. Goumnerova

The authors report a complex case of an 18-year-old male with a history of hydrocephalus secondary to intraventricular hemorrhage of prematurity, with more than 30 previous shunt revisions, who presented to the authors' institution with shunt malfunction. After exhausting his peritoneal cavity and pleural space as possible distal sites of shunt placement, he underwent a direct heart shunt placement when it was discovered he had thrombosis of his subclavian vein precluding a standard wire-guided atrial cannulation. His course was complicated by postoperative distal catheter migration and repeat surgery for reimplantation of the shunt directly into the atrium. At the 16-month follow-up visit, the patient showed no symptoms of shunt malfunction or pericardial effusion. Imaging studies demonstrated a functioning shunt system. This is the second reported successful ventricle to direct heart shunt placement in an adult. The authors report on the technical aspects of the case and review the relevant literature.

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Faith C. Robertson, Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr, Srinivasan Mukundan Jr. and William B. Gormley

OBJECTIVE

Ventriculostomy entry sites are commonly selected by freehand estimation of Kocher's point or approximations from skull landmarks and a trajectory toward the ipsilateral frontal horn of the lateral ventricles. A recognized ventriculostomy complication is intracranial hemorrhage from cortical vessel damage; reported rates range from 1% to 41%. In this report, the authors assess hemorrhagic risk by simulating traditional ventriculostomy trajectories and using CT angiography (CTA) with venography (CTV) data to identify potential complications, specifically from cortical draining veins.

METHODS

Radiographic analysis was completed on 50 consecutive dynamic CTA/CTV studies obtained at a tertiary-care academic neurosurgery department. Image sections were 0.5 mm thick, and analysis was performed on a venous phase that demonstrated high-quality opacification of the cortical veins and sagittal sinus. Virtual ventriculostomy trajectories were determined for right and left sides using medical diagnostic imaging software. Entry points were measured along the skull surface, 10 cm posteriorly from the nasion, and 3 cm laterally for both left and right sides. Cannulation was simulated perpendicular to the skull surface. Distances between the software-traced cortical vessels and the virtual catheter were measured. To approximate vessel injury by twist drill and ventricular catheter placement, veins within a 3-mm radius were considered a hemorrhage risk.

RESULTS

In 100 virtual lines through Kocher's point toward the ipsilateral ventricle, 19% were predicted to cause cortical vein injury and suspected hemorrhage (radius ≤ 3 mm). Little difference existed between cerebral hemispheres (right 18%, left 20%). The average (± SD) distance from the trajectory line and a cortical vein was 7.23 ± 4.52 mm. In all 19 images that predicted vessel injury, a site of entry for an avascular zone near Kocher's point could be achieved by moving the trajectory less than 1.0 cm laterally and less than 1.0 cm along the anterior/posterior axis, suggesting that empirical measures are suboptimal, and that patient-specific coordinates based on preprocedural CTA/CVA imaging may optimize ventriculostomy in the future.

CONCLUSIONS

In this institutional radiographic imaging analysis, traditional methods of ventriculostomy site selection predicted significant rates of cortical vein injury, matching described rates in the literature. CTA/CTV imaging potentiates identification of patient-specific cannulation sites and custom trajectories that avoid cortical vessels, which may lessen the risk of intracranial hemorrhage during ventriculostomy placement. Further development of this software is underway to facilitate stereotactic ventriculostomy and improve outcomes.

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Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr, Wenya Linda Bi, Biji Bahluyen, Samuel T. Rodriguez, Michael W. Groff and John H. Chi

Spinal epidural abscess (SEA) is a rare but often devastating infection of the epidural space around the spinal cord. When an SEA is widespread, extensive decompression with laminectomy is often impossible, as it may subject the patient to very long operative times, extensive blood loss, and mechanical instability. A technique called “skip laminectomy” has been described in the literature, in which laminectomies are performed at the rostral and caudal ends of an abscess that spans 3–5 levels and a Fogarty catheter is used to mechanically drain the abscess, much like in an embolectomy. In this report of 2 patients, the authors present a modification of this technique, which they call “apical laminectomies” to allow for irrigation and drainage of an extensive SEA spanning the entire length of the vertebral column (C1–2 to L5–S1).

Two patients presented with cervico-thoraco-lumbar SEA. Laminectomies were performed at the natural apices of the spine, namely, at the midcervical, midthoracic, and midlumbar spine levels. Next, a pediatric feeding tube was inserted in the epidural space from the thoracic laminectomies up toward the cervical laminectomy site and down toward the lumbar laminectomy site, and saline antibiotics were used to irrigate the SEA. Both patients underwent this procedure with no adverse effects. Their SEAs resolved both clinically and radiologically. Neither patient suffered from mechanical instability at 1 year after treatment.

For patients who present with extensive SEAs, apical laminectomies seem to allow for surgical cure of the infectious burden and do not subject the patient to extended operating room time, an increased risk of blood loss, and the risk of mechanical instability.

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Maryam Rahman, Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr, Vinata Vedam-Mai, Kelly D. Foote, Gregory J. A. Murad, Michael S. Okun and Steven N. Roper

Given the tremendous success of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for the treatment of movement and neuropsychiatric disorders, clinicians have begun to open up to the possible use of electrical stimulation for the treatment of patients with uncontrolled seizures. This process has resulted in the discovery of a wide array of DBS targets, including the cerebellum, hypothalamus, hippocampus, basal ganglia, and various thalamic nuclei. Despite the ambiguity of the mechanism of action and the unknowns surrounding potentially ideal stimulation settings, several recent trials have empirically demonstrated reasonable efficacy in selected cases of medication-refractory seizures. These exciting results have fueled a number of studies aimed at firmly establishing DBS as an effective treatment for selected cases of intractable epilepsy, and many companies are aiming at Food and Drug Administration approval. We endeavor to review the studies in the context of the various DBS targets and their relevant circuitry for epilepsy. Based on the unfolding research, DBS has the potential to play an important role in treating refractory epilepsy. The challenge, as in movement disorders, is to assemble interdisciplinary teams to screen, implant, and follow patients, and to clarify patient selection. The future will undoubtedly be filled with optimization of targets and stimulation parameters and the development of best practices. With tailored therapeutic approaches, epilepsy patients have the potential to improve with DBS.

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Aladine A. Elsamadicy, David T. Lubkin, Amanda R. Sergesketter, Syed M. Adil, Lefko T. Charalambous, Nicolas Drysdale, Theresa Williamson, Joaquin Camara-Quintana, Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr, C. Rory Goodwin and Isaac O. Karikari

OBJECTIVE

In the United States, healthcare expenditures have been soaring at a concerning rate. There has been an excessive use of postoperative radiographs after spine surgery and this has been a target for hospitals to reduce unnecessary costs. However, there are only limited data identifying the rate of instrumentation changes on radiographs after complex spine surgery involving ≥ 5-level fusions.

METHODS

The medical records of 136 adult (≥ 18 years old) patients with spine deformity undergoing elective, primary complex spinal fusion (≥ 5 levels) for deformity correction at a major academic institution between 2010 and 2015 were reviewed. Patient demographics, comorbidities, and intra- and postoperative complication rates were collected for each patient. The authors reviewed the first 5 subsequent postoperative and follow-up radiographs, and determined whether revision of surgery was performed within 5 years postoperatively. The primary outcome investigated in this study was the rate of hardware changes on follow-up radiographs.

RESULTS

The majority of patients were female, with a mean age of 53.8 ± 20.0 years and a body mass index of 27.3 ± 6.2 kg/m2 (parametric data are expressed as the mean ± SD). The median number of fusion levels was 9 (interquartile range 7–13), with a mean length of surgery of 327.8 ± 124.7 minutes and an estimated blood loss of 1312.1 ± 1269.2 ml. The mean length of hospital stay was 6.6 ± 3.9 days, with a 30-day readmission rate of 14.0%. Postoperative and follow-up change in stability on radiographs (days from operation) included: image 1 (4.6 ± 9.3 days) 0.0%; image 2 (51.7 ± 49.9 days) 3.0%; image 3 (142.1 ± 179.8 days) 5.6%; image 4 (277.3 ± 272.5 days) 11.3%; and image 5 (463.1 ± 525.9 days) 15.7%. The 3rd year after surgery had the highest rate of hardware revision (5.55%), followed by the 2nd year (4.68%), and the 1st year (4.54%).

CONCLUSIONS

This study suggests that the rate of instrumentation changes on radiographs increases over time, with no changes occurring at the first postoperative image. In an era of cost-conscious healthcare, fewer orders for early radiographs after complex spinal fusions (≥ 5 levels) may not impact patient care and can reduce the overall use of healthcare resources.

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Linda S. Aglio, Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr, Vwaire Orhurhu, Grace Y. Kim, Jie Zhou, Laverne D. Gugino, Lisa J. Crossley, James L. Gosnell, John H. Chi and Michael W. Groff

OBJECTIVE

Preemptive administration of analgesic medication is more effective than medication given after the onset of the painful stimulus. The efficacy of preoperative or preemptive pain relief after thoracolumbosacral spine surgery has not been well studied. The present study was a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial of preemptive analgesia with a single-shot epidural injection in adult patients undergoing spine surgery.

METHODS

Ninety-nine adult patients undergoing thoracolumbosacral operations via a posterior approach were randomized to receive a single shot of either epidural placebo (group 1), hydromorphone alone (group 2), or bupivacaine with hydromorphone (group 3) before surgery at the preoperative holding area. The primary outcome was the presence of opioid sparing and rescue time—defined as the time interval from when a patient was extubated to the time pain medication was first demanded during the postoperative period. Secondary outcomes include length of stay at the postanesthesia care unit (PACU), pain score at the PACU, opioid dose, and hospital length of stay.

RESULTS

Of the 99 patients, 32 were randomized to the epidural placebo group, 33 to the hydromorphone-alone group, and 34 to the bupivacaine with hydromorphone group. No significant difference was seen across the demographics and surgical complexities for all 3 groups. Compared to the control group, opioid sparing was significantly higher in group 2 (57.6% vs 15.6%, p = 0.0007) and group 3 (52.9% vs 15.6%, p = 0.0045) in the first demand of intravenous hydromorphone as a supplemental analgesic medication. Compared to placebo, the rescue time was significantly higher in group 2 (187 minutes vs 51.5 minutes, p = 0.0014) and group 3 (204.5 minutes vs 51. minutes, p = 0.0045). There were no significant differences in secondary outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors’ study demonstrated that preemptive analgesia in thoracolumbosacral surgeries can significantly reduce analgesia requirements in the immediate postoperative period as evidenced by reduced request for opioid medication in both analgesia study groups who received a preoperative analgesic epidural. Nonetheless, the lack of differences in pain score and opioid dose at the PACU brings into question the role of preemptive epidural opioids in spine surgery patients. Further work is necessary to investigate the long-term effectiveness of preemptive epidural opioids and their role in pain reduction and patient satisfaction.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT02968862 (clinicaltrials.gov)

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Hussam Abou-Al-Shaar, Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr, Hasan A. Zaidi, Eleanor Russell-Goldman, Rebecca D. Folkerth, Edward R. Laws Jr. and E. Antonio Chiocca

There is a wide group of lesions that may exist in the sellar and suprasellar regions. Embryologically, there is varying evidence that many of these entities may in fact represent a continuum of pathology deriving from a common ectodermal origin. The authors report a case of a concomitant suprasellar craniopharyngioma invading the third ventricle with a concurrent frontal lobe cystic dermoid tumor. A 21-year-old man presented to the authors' service with a 3-day history of worsening headache, nausea, vomiting, and blurry vision. Magnetic resonance imaging depicted a right frontal lobe lesion associated with a separate suprasellar cystic lesion invading the third ventricle. The patient underwent a right pterional craniotomy for resection of both lesions. Gross-total resection of the right frontal lesion was achieved, and subtotal resection of the suprasellar lesion was accomplished with some residual tumor adherent to the walls of the third ventricle. Histopathological examination of the resected right frontal lesion documented a diagnosis of dermoid cyst and, for the suprasellar lesion, a diagnosis of adamantinomatous craniopharyngioma. The occurrence of craniopharyngioma with dermoid cyst has not been reported in the literature before. Such an association might indeed suggest the previously reported hypothesis that these lesions represent a spectrum of ectodermally derived epithelial-lined cystic lesions.