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  • Author or Editor: Omar N. Syed x
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Omar N. Syed, Todd C. Hankinson, William J. Mack, Neil A. Feldstein and Richard C. E. Anderson

Pediatric neurosurgeons frequently care for children with traumatic scalp and skull injury. Foreign objects are often observed on imaging and may influence the clinician's decision-making process. The authors report on 2 cases of poorly visualized hair beads that had become embedded into the skull during blunt trauma. In both cases, skull radiography and CT scanning demonstrated depressed, comminuted fractures with poorly demonstrated spherical radiolucencies in the overlying scalp. The nature of these objects was initially unclear, and they could have represented air that entered the scalp during trauma. In one case, scalp inspection demonstrated no evidence of the bead. In the other case, a second bead was observed at the site of scalp laceration. In both cases, the beads were surgically removed, the fractures were elevated, and the patients recovered uneventfully. Radiolucent fashion accessories, such as hair beads, may be difficult to appreciate on clinical examination and may masquerade as clinically insignificant air following cranial trauma. If they are not removed, these foreign bodies may pose the risk of an infection. Pediatric neurosurgeons should consider hair accessories in the differential diagnosis of foreign bodies that may produce skull fracture following blunt trauma.

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Jonathan J. Rasouli, Brooke T. Kennamer, Frank M. Moore, Alfred Steinberger, Kevin C. Yao, Omar N. Syed, Marc S. Arginteanu and Yakov Gologorsky


The C7 vertebral body is morphometrically unique; it represents the transition from the subaxial cervical spine to the upper thoracic spine. It has larger pedicles but relatively small lateral masses compared to other levels of the subaxial cervical spine. Although the biomechanical properties of C7 pedicle screws are superior to those of lateral mass screws, they are rarely placed due to increased risk of neurological injury. Although pedicle screw stimulation has been shown to be safe and effective in determining satisfactory screw placement in the thoracolumbar spine, there are few studies determining its utility in the cervical spine. Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility, clinical reliability, and threshold characteristics of intraoperative evoked electromyographic (EMG) stimulation in determining satisfactory pedicle screw placement at C7.


The authors retrospectively reviewed a prospectively collected data set. All adult patients who underwent posterior cervical decompression and fusion with placement of C7 pedicle screws at the authors’ institution between January 2015 and March 2019 were identified. Demographic, clinical, neurophysiological, operative, and radiographic data were gathered. All patients underwent postoperative CT scanning, and the position of C7 pedicle screws was compared to intraoperative neurophysiological data.


Fifty-one consecutive C7 pedicle screws were stimulated and recorded intraoperatively in 25 consecutive patients. Based on EMG findings, 1 patient underwent intraoperative repositioning of a C7 pedicle screw, and 1 underwent removal of a C7 pedicle screw. CT scans demonstrated ideal placement of the C7 pedicle screw in 40 of 43 instances in which EMG stimulation thresholds were > 15 mA. In the remaining 3 cases the trajectories were suboptimal but safe. When the screw stimulation thresholds were between 11 and 15 mA, 5 of 6 screws were suboptimal but safe, and in 1 instance was potentially dangerous. In instances in which the screw stimulated at thresholds ≤ 10 mA, all trajectories were potentially dangerous with neural compression.


Ideal C7 pedicle screw position strongly correlated with EMG stimulation thresholds > 15 mA. In instances, in which the screw stimulates at values between 11 and 15 mA, screw trajectory exploration is recommended. Screws with thresholds ≤ 10 mA should always be explored, and possibly repositioned or removed. In conjunction with other techniques, EMG threshold testing is a useful and safe modality in determining appropriate C7 pedicle screw placement.