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Nachiket Deshpande, Amro M. Stino, Brandon W. Smith, Ann A. Little, Lynda J. S. Yang, Paul Park, and Yamaan S. Saadeh

OBJECTIVE

Postoperative C5 palsy (C5P) is a well-recognized and often-delayed complication of cervical spine surgery. Most patients recover within 6 months of onset, but the prognosis of severe cases is poor. The clinical significance and natural history of mild versus severe C5P appear to differ substantially, but palsy severity and recovery have been poorly characterized in the literature.

METHODS

Owing to the varying prognoses and expanding treatment options such as nerve transfer surgery to reconstruct the C5 myotome, this systematic review attempted to describe how C5P severity is classified and how C5P and its recovery are defined, with the aim of proposing a postoperative C5P scale to support clinical decision-making. PubMed was searched for articles in English published since 2000 that offer a clear definition of postoperative C5P or its recovery. Only articles reporting exclusively on C5 palsy for patients undergoing surgery for degenerative disease were included. A single reviewer screened titles and abstracts and reviewed the full text of relevant articles, with consultation as needed from a second reviewer. Data collected included postoperative C5P definitions, classification of C5P severity, and definition and/or classification of C5P recovery. Qualitative analysis was performed.

RESULTS

Full-text reviews were conducted of 98 of 272 articles identified and screened, and 43 met the inclusion criteria. Postoperative C5P was most commonly defined as a reduction in deltoid muscle strength by ≥ 1 grade using manual muscle testing (MMT), with potential biceps involvement also noted by some studies. The few studies that stratified C5P on the basis of severity unanimously characterized severe C5P as MMT grade ≤ 2. Nine studies reported on C5P recovery. Deltoid muscle strength improvement of MMT grade 5 commonly defined complete recovery, with no MMT improvement considered partial recovery.

CONCLUSIONS

This review identified clear discrepancies in the definitions of C5P and its recovery, leading to heterogeneity in its evaluation and management. With the emergence of therapeutic procedures for severe C5P, standardization of the definitions of C5P and its recovery is critical. The authors propose MMT grades of 4, 3, and ≤ 2 to classify C5P as mild, moderate, and severe, respectively, and grades of 5, 4, and 3 to classify recovery as complete, sufficient, and useful, respectively.

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Nachiket Deshpande, Moustafa S. Hadi, Jock C. Lillard, Peter G. Passias, Joseph R. Linzey, Yamaan S. Saadeh, Michael LaBagnara, and Paul Park

OBJECTIVE

Osteoporosis has significant implications in spine fusion surgery, for which reduced spinal bone mineral density (BMD) can result in complications and poorer outcomes. Currently, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) is the gold standard for radiographic diagnosis of osteoporosis, although DEXA accuracy may be limited by the presence of degenerative spinal pathology. In recent years, there has been an evolving interest in using alternative imaging, including CT and MRI, to assess BMD. In this systematic review of the literature, the authors assessed the use and effectiveness of MRI, opportunistic CT (oCT), and quantitative CT (qCT) to measure BMD.

METHODS

In accordance with the PRISMA guidelines, the authors conducted a systematic search for articles posted on PubMed between the years 2000 and 2022 by using the keywords "opportunistic CT, quantitative CT, MRI" AND "bone density" AND "spine." Inclusion criteria consisted of articles written in English that reported studies pertaining to human or cadaveric subjects, and studies including a measure of spinal BMD. Articles not related to spinal BMD, osteoporosis, or spinal surgery or reports of studies that did not include the use of spinal MRI or CT were excluded. Key study outcomes were extracted from included articles, and qualitative analysis was subsequently performed.

RESULTS

The literature search yielded 302 articles. Forty-two articles reported studies that met the final inclusion criteria. Eighteen studies utilized MRI protocols to correlate spinal BMD with vertebral bone quality scores, M-scores, and quantitative perfusion markers. Eight studies correlated oCT with spinal BMD, and 16 studies correlated qCT with spinal BMD. With oCT and qCT imaging, there was consensus that Hounsfield unit (HU) values > 160 demonstrated significant reduction in risk of osteoporosis, whereas HU values < 110 were significantly correlated with osteoporosis.

CONCLUSIONS

Osteoporosis is increasingly recognized as a significant risk factor for complications after spinal fusion surgery. Consequently, preoperative assessment of BMD is a critical factor to consider in planning surgical treatment. Although DEXA has been the gold standard for BMD measurement, other imaging modalities, including MRI, oCT, and qCT, appear to be viable alternatives and may offer cost and time savings.