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  • Author or Editor: Rakesh D. Patel x
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Rakesh B. Patel, Jed A. Kwartler and Richard M. Hodosh

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Geoffrey Siegel, Nilesh Patel and Rakesh Ramakrishnan

The authors report a case of rectal injury, rectocutaneous fistula, and pseudarthrosis after a TranS1 axial lumbar interbody fusion (AxiaLIF) L5–S1 fixation. The TranS1 AxiaLIF procedure is a percutaneous minimally invasive approach to transsacral fusion of the L4–S1 vertebral levels. It is gaining popularity due to the ease of access to the sacrum through the presacral space, which is relatively free from intraabdominal and neurovascular structures.

This 35-year-old man had undergone the procedure for the treatment of degenerative disc disease. The patient subsequently presented with fever, syncope, and foul-smelling gas and bloody drainage from the surgical site. A CT fistulagram and flexible sigmoidoscopy showed evidence of rectocutaneous fistula, which was managed with intravenous antibiotic therapy and bowel rest with total parenteral nutrition. Subsequent studies performed 6 months postoperatively revealed evidence of pseudarthrosis. The patient's rectocutaneous fistula symptoms gradually subsided, but his preoperative back pain recurred prompting a revision of his L5–S1 spinal fusion.

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Rakesh D. Patel, Humberto G. Rosas, Michael P. Steinmetz and Paul A. Anderson


The theoretical advantage of pars interarticularis repair over spinal fusion to correct pars defects is that the treatment is a direct osteosynthesis that preserves motion at the involved functional spinal unit. Several techniques and constructs have been used to achieve greater rigidity, but these techniques may risk entry into the spinal canal, and adverse events are common. A pedicle and laminar screw construct placed entirely outside the spinal canal may offer greater stiffness and achieve higher pars defect healing rates. The purpose of this study was to biomechanically assess an intralaminar screw construct in cadaveric lumbar spines in comparison with other types of constructs typically used in pars repair and to quantify the sizes of screws that can be placed safely in both normal and spondylolytic vertebrae.


The L-4 and L-5 laminae in patients with spondylolysis and in controls who underwent CT (n = 41, each group) were measured by analysis of conventional axial CT images and multiplanar reformations constructed on a Vitrea workstation to determine the feasibility of translaminar fixation with a 4.5-mm-diameter screw. Biomechanical tests for torsion and flexion-extension were performed on 8 fresh human cadaveric lumbar spines before and after modeling for bilateral spondylolytic defects. Three pars repair techniques were tested at each level and in the following sequence: pedicle screw–cable, pedicle screw–rod–hook, and pedicle screw–intralaminar screw.


The majority of laminae can accept 4.5 × 25-mm screws. The cable construct allowed the greatest motion and least stability across the defect in all biomechanical tests. The hook and laminar screw constructs performed similarly in all tests and exhibited no significant difference in stiffness.


A surgically placed intralaminar screw construct may be a safe and effective alternative to current pars repair methods.

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Jacob R. Joseph, Brandon W. Smith, Rakesh D. Patel and Paul Park


Lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) is an increasingly popular technique used to treat degenerative lumbar disease. The technique of using an intraoperative cone-beam CT (iCBCT) and an image-guided navigation system (IGNS) for LLIF cage placement has been previously described. However, other than a small feasibility study, there has been no clinical study evaluating its accuracy or safety. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the accuracy and safety of image-guided spinal navigation in LLIF.


An analysis of a prospectively acquired database was performed. Thirty-one consecutive patients were identified. Accuracy was initially determined by comparison of the planned trajectory of the IGNS with post–cage placement intraoperative fluoroscopy. Accuracy was subsequently confirmed by postprocedural CT and/or radiography. Cage placement was graded based on a previously described system separating the disc space into quarters.


The mean patient age was 63.9 years. A total of 66 spinal levels were treated, with a mean of 2.1 levels (range 1–4) treated per patient. Cage placement was noted to be accurate using IGNS in each case, as confirmed with intraoperative fluoroscopy and postoperative imaging. Sixty-four (97%) cages were placed within Quarters 1 to 2 or 2 to 3, indicating placement of the cage in the anterior or middle portions of the disc space. There were no instances of misguidance by IGNS. There was 1 significant approach-related complication (psoas muscle abscess) that required intervention, and 8 patients with transient, mild thigh paresthesias or weakness.


LLIF can be safely and accurately performed utilizing iCBCT and IGNS. Accuracy is acceptable for multilevel procedures.

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Darryl Lau, Samuel W. Terman, Rakesh Patel, Frank La Marca and Paul Park


A reported risk factor for adjacent-segment disease is injury to the superior facet joint from pedicle screw placement. Given that the facet joint is not typically visualized during percutaneous pedicle screw insertion, there is a concern for increased facet violation (FV) in minimally invasive fusion procedures. The purpose of this study was to analyze and compare the incidence of FV among patients undergoing minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MITLIF) and open transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF). The impact of O-arm navigation compared with traditional fluoroscopy on FV in MITLIF is also assessed, as are risk factors for FV.


The authors identified a consecutive population of patients who underwent MITLIF with percutaneous pedicle screw placement, as well as a matched cohort of patients who underwent open TLIF. Postoperative CT imaging was assessed to determine intraarticular FV due to pedicle screw placement. Patients were stratified into minimally invasive and open TLIF groups. Within the MITLIF group, the authors performed a subanalysis of image guidance methods used in cases of FV. Two-tailed Student t-test, ANOVA, chi-square testing, and logistic regression were used for statistical analysis.


A total of 282 patients were identified, with a total of 564 superior pedicle screw placements. The MITLIF group consisted of 142 patients with 284 screw insertions. The open TLIF group consisted of 140 patients with 280 screw insertions. Overall, 21 (7.4%) of 282 patients experienced FV. A total of 21 screws violated a facet joint for a screw-based FV rate of 3.7% (21 of 564 screws). There were no significant differences between the MITLIF and open TLIF groups in the percentage of patients with FV (6.3% vs 8.6%) and or the percentage of screws with FV (3.2% vs 4.3%) (p = 0.475 and p = 0.484, respectively). Further stratifying the MI group into O-arm navigation and fluoroscopic guidance subgroups, the patient-based rates of FV were 10.8% (4 of 37 patients) and 4.8% (5 of 105 patients), respectively, and the screw-based rates of FV were 5.4% (4 of 74 screws) and 2.4% (5 of 210 screws), respectively. There was no significant difference between the subgroups with respect to patient-based or screw-based FV rates (p = 0.375 and p = 0.442, respectively). The O-arm group had a significantly higher body mass index (BMI) (p = 0.021). BMI greater than 29.9 was independently associated with higher FV (OR 2.36, 95% CI 1.65–8.53, p = 0.039).


The findings suggest that minimally invasive pedicle screw placement is not associated with higher rates of FV. Overall violation rates were similar in MITLIF and open TLIF. Higher BMI, however, was a risk factor for increased FV. The use of O-arm fluoroscopy with computer-assisted guidance did not significantly decrease the rate of FV.