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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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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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Timothy Y. Wang, Vikram A. Mehta, Eric W. Sankey, Khoi D. Than, C. Rory Goodwin, Isaac O. Karikari, Robert E. Isaacs, and Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr

OBJECTIVE

The rate of symptomatic adjacent-segment disease (ASD) after newer minimally invasive techniques, such as lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF), is not known. This study aimed to assess the incidence of surgically significant ASD in adult patients who have undergone index LLIF and to identify any predictive factors.

METHODS

Patients who underwent index LLIF with or without additional posterior pedicle screw fixation between 2010 and 2012 and received a minimum of 2 years of postoperative follow-up were retrospectively included. Demographic and perioperative data were recorded, as well as radiographic data and immediate perioperative complications. The primary endpoint was revision surgery at the level above or below the previous construct, from which a survivorship model of patients with surgically significant symptomatic ASD was created.

RESULTS

Sixty-seven patients with a total of 163 interbody levels were included in this analysis. In total, 17 (25.4%) patients developed surgically significant ASD and required additional surgery, with a mean ± SD time to revision of 3.59 ± 2.55 years. The mean annual rate of surgically significant ASD was 3.49% over 7.27 years, which was the average follow-up. One-third of patients developed significant disease within 2 years of index surgery, and 1 patient required surgery at the adjacent level within 1 year. Constructs spanning 3 or fewer interbody levels were significantly associated with increased risk of surgically significant ASD; however, instrument termination at the thoracolumbar junction did not increase this risk. Surgically significant ASD was not impacted by preoperative disc height, foraminal area at the adjacent levels, or changes in global or segmental lumbar lordosis.

CONCLUSIONS

The risk of surgically significant ASD after LLIF was similar to the previously reported rates of other minimally invasive spine procedures. Patients with shorter constructs had higher rates of subsequent ASD.

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Timothy Y. Wang, Vikram A. Mehta, Eric W. Sankey, Khoi D. Than, C. Rory Goodwin, Isaac O. Karikari, Robert E. Isaacs, and Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr

OBJECTIVE

The rate of symptomatic adjacent-segment disease (ASD) after newer minimally invasive techniques, such as lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF), is not known. This study aimed to assess the incidence of surgically significant ASD in adult patients who have undergone index LLIF and to identify any predictive factors.

METHODS

Patients who underwent index LLIF with or without additional posterior pedicle screw fixation between 2010 and 2012 and received a minimum of 2 years of postoperative follow-up were retrospectively included. Demographic and perioperative data were recorded, as well as radiographic data and immediate perioperative complications. The primary endpoint was revision surgery at the level above or below the previous construct, from which a survivorship model of patients with surgically significant symptomatic ASD was created.

RESULTS

Sixty-seven patients with a total of 163 interbody levels were included in this analysis. In total, 17 (25.4%) patients developed surgically significant ASD and required additional surgery, with a mean ± SD time to revision of 3.59 ± 2.55 years. The mean annual rate of surgically significant ASD was 3.49% over 7.27 years, which was the average follow-up. One-third of patients developed significant disease within 2 years of index surgery, and 1 patient required surgery at the adjacent level within 1 year. Constructs spanning 3 or fewer interbody levels were significantly associated with increased risk of surgically significant ASD; however, instrument termination at the thoracolumbar junction did not increase this risk. Surgically significant ASD was not impacted by preoperative disc height, foraminal area at the adjacent levels, or changes in global or segmental lumbar lordosis.

CONCLUSIONS

The risk of surgically significant ASD after LLIF was similar to the previously reported rates of other minimally invasive spine procedures. Patients with shorter constructs had higher rates of subsequent ASD.

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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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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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Stephen M. Bergin, Timothy Y. Wang, Christine Park, Shashank Rajkumar, C. Rory Goodwin, Isaac O. Karikari, Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Chester K. Yarbrough, and Khoi D. Than

OBJECTIVE

The use of osteobiologics, engineered materials designed to promote bone healing by enhancing bone growth, is becoming increasingly common for spinal fusion procedures, but the efficacy of some of these products is unclear. The authors performed a retrospective, multi-institutional study to investigate the clinical and radiographic characteristics of patients undergoing single-level anterior cervical discectomy with fusion performed using the osteobiologic agent Osteocel, an allograft mesenchymal stem cell matrix.

METHODS

The medical records across 3 medical centers and 12 spine surgeons were retrospectively queried for patients undergoing single-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) with the use of Osteocel. Pseudarthrosis was determined based on CT or radiographic imaging of the cervical spine. Patients were determined to have radiographic pseudarthrosis if they met any of the following criteria: 1) lack of bridging bone on CT obtained > 300 days postoperatively, 2) evidence of instrumentation failure, or 3) motion across the index level as seen on flexion-extension cervical spine radiographs. Univariate and multivariate analyses were then performed to identify independent preoperative or perioperative predictors of pseudarthrosis in this population.

RESULTS

A total of 326 patients met the inclusion criteria; 43 (13.2%) patients met criteria for pseudarthrosis, of whom 15 (34.9%) underwent revision surgery. There were no significant differences between patients with and those without pseudarthrosis, respectively, for patient age (54.1 vs 53.8 years), sex (34.9% vs 47.4% male), race, prior cervical spine surgery (37.2% vs 33.6%), tobacco abuse (16.3% vs 14.5%), chronic kidney disease (2.3% vs 2.8%), and diabetes (18.6% vs 14.5%) (p > 0.05). Presence of osteopenia or osteoporosis (16.3% vs 3.5%) was associated with pseudarthrosis (p < 0.001). Implant type was also significantly associated with pseudarthrosis, with a 16.4% rate of pseudarthrosis for patients with polyetherethereketone (PEEK) implants versus 8.4% for patients with allograft implants (p = 0.04). Average lengths of follow-up were 27.6 and 23.8 months for patients with and those without pseudarthrosis, respectively. Multivariate analysis demonstrated osteopenia or osteoporosis (OR 4.97, 95% CI 1.51–16.4, p < 0.01) and usage of PEEK implant (OR 2.24, 95% CI 1.04–4.83, p = 0.04) as independent predictors of pseudarthrosis.

CONCLUSIONS

In patients who underwent single-level ACDF, rates of pseudarthrosis associated with the use of the osteobiologic agent Osteocel are higher than the literature-reported rates associated with the use of alternative osteobiologics. This is especially true when Osteocel is combined with a PEEK implant.

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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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Patient outcomes and tumor control in single-fraction versus hypofractionated stereotactic body radiation therapy for spinal metastases

Presented at the 2020 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Christine Park, Elizabeth P. Howell, Vikram A. Mehta, Luis Ramirez, Meghan J. Price, Scott R. Floyd, John P. Kirkpatrick, Jordan Torok, Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr, Isaac O. Karikari, and C. Rory Goodwin

OBJECTIVE

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) offers efficient, noninvasive treatment of spinal neoplasms. Single-fraction (SF) high-dose SBRT has a relatively narrow therapeutic window, while hypofractionated delivery of SBRT may have an improved safety profile with similar efficacy. Because the optimal approach of delivery is unknown, the authors examined whether hypofractionated SBRT improves pain and/or functional outcomes and results in better tumor control compared with SF-SBRT.

METHODS

This is a single-institution retrospective study of adult patients with spinal metastases treated with SF- or three-fraction (3F) SBRT from 2008 to 2019. Demographics and baseline characteristics, radiographic data, and posttreatment outcomes at a minimum follow-up of 3 months are reported.

RESULTS

Of the 156 patients included in the study, 70 (44.9%) underwent SF-SBRT (median total dose 1700 cGy) and 86 (55.1%) underwent 3F-SBRT (median total dose 2100 cGy). At baseline, a higher proportion of patients in the 3F-SBRT group had a worse baseline profile, including severity of pain (p < 0.05), average use of pain medication (p < 0.001), and functional scores (p < 0.05) compared with the SF-SBRT cohort. At the 3-month follow-up, the 3F-SBRT cohort experienced a greater frequency of improvement in pain compared with the SF-SBRT group (p < 0.05). Furthermore, patients treated with 3F-SBRT demonstrated a higher frequency of improved Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) scores (p < 0.05) compared with those treated with SF-SBRT, with no significant difference in the frequency of improvement in modified Rankin Scale scores. Local tumor control did not differ significantly between the two cohorts.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients who received spinal 3F-SBRT more frequently achieved significant pain relief and an increased frequency of improvement in KPS compared with those treated with SF-SBRT. Local tumor control was similar in the two groups. Future work is needed to establish the relationship between fractionation schedule and clinical outcomes.