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Vincent Dodson, Neil Majmundar, Vanessa Swantic and Rachid Assina

OBJECTIVE

The use of vancomycin powder in spine surgery for prophylaxis against surgical site infections (SSIs) is well debated in the literature, with the majority of studies demonstrating improvement and some studies demonstrating no significant reduction in infection rate. It is well known in certain populations that vancomycin powder reduces the general rate of infection, but its effects on reducing the rate of infection due to gram-negative pathogens are not well reviewed. The goal of this paper was to review studies that investigated the efficacy of vancomycin powder as a prophylactic agent against SSI and demonstrate whether the rate of infections by gram-negative pathogens is impacted.

METHODS

An electronic search of the published literature was performed using PubMed and Google Scholar in accordance with the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines. A variety of combinations of the search terms “vancomycin powder,” “infection,” “spine,” “gram-negative,” “prophylaxis,” and “surgical site” was used. Inclusion criteria were studies that 1) described an experimental group that received intraoperative intrawound vancomycin powder; 2) included adequately controlled groups that did not receive intraoperative intrawound vancomycin powder; 3) included the number of patients in both the experimental and control groups who developed infection after their spine surgery; and 4) identified the pathogen-causing infection. Studies not directly related to this review’s investigation were excluded from the initial screen. Among the studies that met the criteria of the initial screen, additional reasons for exclusion from the systematic review included lack of a control group, unspecified size of control groups, and inconsistent use of vancomycin powder in the experimental group.

RESULTS

This systematic review includes 21 studies with control groups. Vancomycin powder significantly reduced the relative risk of developing an SSI (RR 0.55, 95% CI 0.45–0.67, p < 0.0001). In addition, the use of vancomycin powder did not significantly increase the risk of infection by gram-negative pathogens (RR 1.11, 95% CI 0.66–1.86, p = 0.701).

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this systematic review suggest that intrawound vancomycin powder is protective against SSI. It is less clear if this treatment increases the risk of gram-negative infection. Further studies are required to investigate whether rates of infection due to gram-negative pathogens are affected by the use of vancomycin powder.

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Rachid Assina, Neil J. Majmundar, Yehuda Herschman and Robert F. Heary

Extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF) has gained popularity among spine surgeons for treating multiple conditions of the lumbar spine. In contrast to the anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) approach, the minimally invasive XLIF approach affords wide access to the lumbar disc space without an access surgeon and causes minimal tissue disruption. The XLIF approach offers many advantages over other lumbar spine approaches, with a reportedly low complication profile. The authors describe the first fatality reported in the literature following an XLIF approach. They describe the case of a 50-year-old woman who suffered a fatal intraoperative injury to the great vessels during a lateral transpsoas approach to the L4–5 disc space.

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Yong Xia and Long Yi Chen

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Neil Majmundar, Purvee D. Patel, Vincent Dodson, Ashley Tran, Ira Goldstein and Rachid Assina

OBJECTIVE

Although parasitic infections are endemic to parts of the developing world and are more common in areas with developing economies and poor sanitary conditions, rare cases may occur in developed regions of the world.

METHODS

Articles eligible for the authors’ literature review were initially searched using PubMed with the phrases “parasitic infections” and “spine.” After the authors developed a list of parasites associated with spinal cord infections from the initial search, they expanded it to include individual diagnoses, using search terms including “neurocysticercosis,” “schistosomiasis,” “echinococcosis,” and “toxoplasmosis.”

RESULTS

Two recent cases of parasitic spinal infections from the authors’ institution are included.

CONCLUSIONS

Key findings on imaging modalities, laboratory studies suggestive of parasitic infection, and most importantly a thorough patient history are required to correctly diagnose parasitic spinal infections.

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Seema P. Anandalwar, Christine Y. Mau, Chirag G. Gordhan, Neil Majmundar, Ahmed Meleis, Charles J. Prestigiacomo and Ziad C. Sifri

OBJECTIVE

The utility of routine repeat head CT (HCT) scans in the management of minimal head injury (MHI) patients with an intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) has been questioned in multiple studies. All these studies analyzed this by obtaining a repeat HCT study, and none examined the effects of eliminating these routine HCT studies in neurologically intact patients. The authors' institution implemented a new “Neurologic Observation without Repeat HCT” (NORH) protocol with no repeat HCT scanning for patients admitted for MHI and ICH whose neurological status was maintained or improved to a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 15 at 24 hours after admission. This purpose of this study was to assess the outcomes and safety of this novel protocol.

METHODS

Records of patients who sustained blunt trauma MHI and an ICH and/or skull fracture on initial HCT between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2012, were retrieved from the trauma registry of a Level I trauma center. The authors analyzed 95 patients in whom the NORH protocol was followed. Outcome measures included death, emergency department readmission, neurosurgical intervention, delayed repeat HCT, and length of stay.

RESULTS

The NORH protocol was followed for 95 patients; 83% of the patients were male, the average age was 38 ± 16.0 years old, and the most common cause of trauma was assault (35%). Of the 95 patients in whom the NORH protocol was followed, 8 (8%) had a delayed repeat HCT study (> 24 hours) after admission, but none resulted in neurosurgical intervention because of progression of ICH. The average length of stay was 4 ± 7.2 days. None of the patients were readmitted to the hospital.

CONCLUSIONS

Implementation of the NORH protocol (eliminating routine follow-up HCT) resulted in very low rates of delayed neurological deterioration, no late neurosurgical interventions resulting from ICH progression, very few emergency department revisits, and no readmissions. For a select group of MHI patients with ICH, the NORH protocol is safe and effective, and can reduce radiation exposure and costs.