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Orgest Lajthia, Mithun G. Sattur, and Abhay K. Varma


Dural reconstruction to achieve expansion duraplasty is important in suboccipital decompression for Chiari malformation type 1 (CM1). Although various dural substitutes are available, including synthetic collagen matrix grafts and dural xenografts, they have the potential to induce an inflammatory response. In this case series, the authors present their experience and discuss the incidence and possible mechanism of aseptic meningitis after the use of bovine collagen matrix graft as a dural substitute in patients with CM1 after suboccipital decompression.


Three consecutive adult female patients who underwent suboccipital decompression at a single institution by a single neurosurgeon were retrospectively reviewed. They all presented with signs of aseptic meningitis in a delayed fashion, responded well to steroid administration, but had recurrence of their symptoms. Bovine collagen dural substitutes are resorbed in a process that induces an inflammatory response manifesting with signs of aseptic meningitis and is only alleviated with removal of the dural substitute.


DuraMatrix Suturable, a dural xenograft derived from bovine dermis, though a viable choice for dural repair, is a potential cause of chemical meningitis after duraplasty in Chiari decompression surgery. In patients presenting with delayed and persistent aseptic meningitis after intervention, removal of this dural substitute led to improved symptomatology.

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Brian F. Saway, Mohammed Alshareef, Orgest Lajthia, Coby Cunningham, Chelsea Shope, Jaime L. Martinez, and Stephen P. Kalhorn


Thoracic disc herniations (TDHs) are a challenging pathology. A variety of surgical techniques have been used to achieve spinal cord decompression. This series elucidates the versatility, efficacy, and safety of the partial transpedicular approach with the use of intraoperative ultrasound and ultrasonic aspiration for resection of TDHs of various sizes, locations, and consistencies. This technique can be deployed to safely remove all TDHs.


A retrospective review was performed of patients who underwent a thoracic discectomy via the partial transpedicular approach between January 2014 and December 2020 by a single surgeon. Variables reviewed included demographics, perioperative imaging, and functional outcome scores.


A total of 43 patients (53.5% female) underwent 54 discectomies. The most common presenting symptoms were myelopathy (86%), motor weakness (72%), and sensory deficit (65%) with a symptom duration of 10.4 ± 11.6 months. A total of 21 (38.9%) discs were fully calcified on imaging and 15 (27.8%) were partially calcified. A total of 36 (66.7%) were giant TDHs (> 40% canal compromise). The average operative time was 197.2 ± 77.1 minutes with an average blood loss of 238.8 ± 250 ml. Six patients required ICU stays. Hospital length of stay was 4.40 ± 3.4 days. Of patients with follow-up MRI, 38 of 40 (95%) disc levels demonstrated < 20% residual disc. Postoperative Frankel scores (> 3 months) were maintained or improved for all patients, with 28 (65.1%) patients having an increase of 1 grade or more on their Frankel score. Six (14%) patients required repeat surgery, 2 of which were due to reherniation, 2 were from adjacent-level herniation, and 2 others were from wound problems. Patients with calcified TDHs had similar improvement in Frankel grade compared to patients without calcified TDH. Additionally, improvement in intraoperative neuromonitoring was associated with a greater improvement in Frankel grade.


The authors demonstrate a minimally disruptive, posterior approach that uses intraoperative ultrasound and ultrasonic aspiration with excellent outcomes and a complication profile similar to or better than other reported case series. This posterior approach is a valuable complement to the spine surgeon’s arsenal for the confident tackling of all TDHs.

Free access

Orgest Lajthia, Jerry W. Chao, Max Mandelbaum, John S. Myseros, Chima Oluigbo, Suresh N. Magge, Christopher S. Zarella, Albert K. Oh, Gary F. Rogers, and Robert F. Keating


Intracranial empyema is a life-threatening condition associated with a high mortality rate and residual deleterious neurological effects if not diagnosed and managed promptly. The authors present their institutional experience with immediate reimplantation of the craniotomy flap and clarify the success of this method in terms of cranial integrity, risk of recurrent infection, and need for secondary procedures.


A retrospective analysis of patients admitted for management of intracranial empyema during a 19-year period (1997–2016) identified 33 patients who underwent emergency drainage and decompression with a follow-up duration longer than 6 months, 23 of whom received immediate bone replacement. Medical records were analyzed for demographic information, extent and location of the infection, bone flap size, fixation method, need for further operative intervention, and duration of intravenous antibiotics.


The mean patient age at surgery was 8.7 ± 5.7 years and the infections were largely secondary to sinusitis (52.8%), with the most common location being the frontal/temporal region (61.3%). Operative intervention involved removal of a total of 31 bone flaps with a mean surface area of 22.8 ± 26.9 cm2. Nearly all (96.8%) of the bone flaps replaced at the time of the initial surgery were viable over the long term. Eighteen patients (78.3%) required a single craniotomy in conjunction with antibiotic therapy to address the infection, whereas the remaining 21.7% required more than 1 surgery. Partial bone flap resorption was noted in only 1 (3.2%) of the 31 successfully replaced bone flaps. This patient eventually had his bone flap removed and received a split-calvaria bone graft. Twenty-one patients (91.3%) received postoperative CT scans to evaluate bone integrity. The mean follow-up duration of the cohort was 43.9 ± 54.0 months.


The results of our investigation suggest that immediate replacement and stabilization of the bone flap after craniectomy for drainage of intracranial empyemas has a low risk of recurrent infection and is a safe and effective way to restore bone integrity in most patients.