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Justin F. Fraser and Roger Härtl

Object

Anterior cervical discectomy (ACD), ACD with interbody fusion (ACDF), ACDF with placement of an anterior plate system (ACDFP), corpectomy, and corpectomy with plate placement are used to fuse the cervical spine. The authors conducted a metaanalysis of studies published after 1990 in which fusion rates achieved with each procedure were reported for patients with degenerative disease at one, two, and three disc levels.

Methods

Twenty-one papers each included data on at least 25 patients. In each of the 21 studies the average clinical follow up was more than 12 months, and the results were evaluated according to radiographic evidence of fusion and delineated by the number of levels fused. Chi-square and Fisher exact tests were used for comparisons. The mean age of the patients was 46.7 years, 46.6% were female, and the mean follow-up period was 39.6 months. The studies included 2682 patients and the overall fusion rate was 89.5%. For single disc–level disease, fusion rates were 84.9% for ACD, 92.1% for ACDF, and 97.1% for ACDFP (p = 0.0002). For two disc–level disease, fusion rates were 79.9% for ACDF, 94.6% for ACDFP, 95.9% for corpectomy, and 92.9% for corpectomy with plate placement (p = 0.0001). For three disc–level disease, fusion rates were 65.0% for ACDF, 82.5% for ACDFP, 89.8% for corpectomy, and 96.2% for corpectomy with plate placement (p = 0.0001). The use of anterior plates significantly improved fusion for one-level (p < 0.0001), two-level (p < 0.0001), and three-level (p < 0.05) ACDF. There was no significant difference in fusion rates between two-level ACDF and corpectomy with plate placement.

Conclusions

The anticipated fusion rate is one of several factors that may guide surgical decision making. Anterior cervical decompression and fusion results in high fusion rates. The results of the authors' study show that regardless of the number of levels fused, the use of an anterior cervical plate system significantly increases the fusion rate. For two-disc–level disease, there was no significant difference between ACD with a plate system or corpectomy with a plate system. For three-disc–level disease, however, the evidence suggests that corpectomy with plate placement is associated with higher fusion rates than discectomy with plate placement.

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W. Bradford DeLong

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Robert F. Heary

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Marjan Alimi, Christoph P. Hofstetter, Se Young Pyo, Danika Paulo and Roger Härtl

OBJECT

Surgical decompression is the intervention of choice for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) when nonoperative treatment has failed. Standard open laminectomy is an effective procedure, but minimally invasive laminectomy through tubular retractors is an alternative. The aim of this retrospective case series was to evaluate the clinical and radiographic outcomes of this procedure in patients who underwent LSS and to compare outcomes in patients with and without preoperative spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

Patients with LSS without spondylolisthesis and with stable Grade I spondylolisthesis who had undergone minimally invasive tubular laminectomy between 2004 and 2011 were included in this analysis. Demographic, perioperative, and radiographic data were collected. Clinical outcome was evaluated using the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and visual analog scale (VAS) scores, as well as Macnab's criteria.

RESULTS

Among 110 patients, preoperative spondylolisthesis at the level of spinal stenosis was present in 52.5%. At a mean follow-up of 28.8 months, scoring revealed a median improvement of 16% on the ODI, 2.75 on the VAS back, and 3 on the VAS leg, compared with the preoperative baseline (p < 0.0001). The reoperation rate requiring fusion at the same level was 3.5%. Patients with and without preoperative spondylolisthesis had no significant differences in their clinical outcome or reoperation rate.

CONCLUSIONS

Minimally invasive laminectomy is an effective procedure for the treatment of LSS. Reoperation rates for instability are lower than those reported after open laminectomy. Functional improvement is similar in patients with and without preoperative spondylolisthesis. This procedure can be an alternative to open laminectomy. Routine fusion may not be indicated in all patients with LSS and spondylolisthesis.

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Karishma Parikh, Andre Tomasino, Jared Knopman, John Boockvar and Roger Härtl

Object

The authors present their clinical results and the learning curve associated with the use of tubular retractors for 1- and 2-level lumbar microscope-assisted discectomies and laminectomies.

Methods

The study involves a retrospective and prospective analysis of 230 patients who underwent noninstrumented minimally invasive procedures for degenerative lumbar spinal disease between 2004 and 2007. Data on patient demographic characteristics and operative results, including length of stay, blood loss, operative times, and surgical complications were collected. Clinical outcomes were assessed based on pre- and postoperative Visual Analog Scale scores, Oswestry Disability Index values, and the Macnab outcome scale scores.

Results

The results showed characteristic differences in blood loss and operating times between 1- and 2-level procedures and between discectomies and laminectomies. A significant learning curve was seen by a decrease in operating time for 1- level discectomies and 2-level laminectomies. Major complications were not observed.

Conclusions

The use of tubular retractors for microsurgical decompression of degenerative spinal disease is a safe and effective treatment modality. As with other techniques, minimally invasive procedures are associated with a significant learning curve. As surgeons become more comfortable with the procedure, its applications can be expanded to include, for example, spinal instrumentation and deformity correction.

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Dean Chou, Roger Hartl and Volker K. H. Sonntag

✓ Conus medullaris injury from burst fractures is known to occur in conjunction with other neurological deficits, including lower-extremity motor weakness or sensory changes. Rarely does an isolated conus medullaris injury occur from an extradural cause without other neurological deficits. The authors report four cases of L-1 burst fractures in which conus medullaris dysfunction was the sole neurological injury in the absence of lower-extremity involvement.

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Andre Tomasino, Harry Gebhard, Karishma Parikh, Christian Wess and Roger Härtl

Object

The authors present the radiological and clinical outcome data obtained in patients who underwent single-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) for cervical spondylosis and/or disc herniation; bioabsorbable plates were used for instrumentation. The use of metallic plates in ACDF has gained acceptance as a stabilizing part of the procedure to increase fusion rates, but when complications occur with these devices, the overall effectiveness of the procedure is compromised. As a possible solution, bioabsorbable implants for ACDF have been developed. This study investigates the feasibility and radiological and clinical outcomes of the bioabsorbable plates for ACDF.

Methods

The radiological and clinical outcomes of 30 patients were investigated retrospectively. All patients presented with cervical radiculopathy or myelopathy and underwent single-level ACDF in which a bioabsorbable anterior cervical plate and an allograft bone spacer were placed at a level between C-3 and C-7. Radiological outcome was assessed based on the fusion rate, subsidence, and Cobb angle of the surgical level. Clinical outcome was determined by using a visual analog scale, the Neck Disability Index, and the Odom criteria.

Results

There were no intraoperative complications, and no hardware failure was observed. No signs or symptoms of adverse tissue reaction caused by the implant were seen. Two reoperations were necessary due to postoperative blood collections. The overall complication rate was 16.7%. After 6 months, radiographic fusion was seen in 92.3% of patients. Subsidence at 11.3 ± 7.2 months was 3.1 ± 5.8 mm (an 8.2% change over the immediately postoperative results), and the change in the sagittal curvature was –2.7 ± 2.7°. The visual analog scale score for neck and arm pain and Neck Disability Index improved significantly after surgery (p < 0.001). Overall at 19.5 months postoperatively, 83% of the patients had favorable outcomes based on the Odom criteria.

Conclusions

Absorbable instrumentation provides better stability than the absence of a plate but graft subsidence and deformity rates may be higher than those associated with metal implants. There were no device-related complications, but adverse late effects cannot be excluded. The fusion rate and outcome are comparable to the results achieved with metallic plates. The authors were satisfied with the use of bioabsorbable plates as a reasonable alternative to metal, avoiding the need for lifelong metallic implants.

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Benjamin J. Shin, Innocent U. Njoku, A. John Tsiouris and Roger Härtl

Object

Three-dimensional spinal navigation increases screw accuracy, but its implementation in clinical practice has been difficult, mainly because of surgeons' concerns about increased operative times, disturbance of workflow, and safety. The authors present a custom-designed navigated guide that addresses some of these concerns by allowing for drilling, tapping, and placing the final screw via a minimally invasive approach without the need for K-wires. In this paper, the authors' goal was to describe the technical aspects of the navigated guide tube as well as pedicle screw accuracy.

Methods

The authors present the technical details of a navigated guide that allows drilling, tapping, and the placement of the final screw without the need for K-wires. The first 10 patients who received minimally invasive mini-open spinal pedicle screws are presented. The case series focuses on the immediate postoperative outcomes, pedicle screw accuracy, and pedicle screw–related complications. An independent board-certified neuroradiologist determined pedicle screw accuracy according to a 4-tiered grading system.

Results

The navigated guide allowed successful placement of mini-open pedicle screws as part of posterior fixation from L-1 to S-1 without the use of K-wires. Only 7-mm-diameter screws were placed, and 72% of screws were completely contained within the pedicle. Breaches less than 2 mm were seen in 23% of cases, and these were all lateral except for one screw. Breaches were related to the lateral to medial trajectory chosen to avoid the superior facet joint. There were no complications related to pedicle screw insertion.

Conclusions

A novel customized navigated guide tube is presented that facilitates the workflow and allows accurate placement of mini-open pedicle screws without the need for K-wires.

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Linda M. Gerber, Ya-Lin Chiu, Nancy Carney, Roger Härtl and Jamshid Ghajar

Object

In spite of evidence that use of the Brain Trauma Foundation Guidelines for the Management of Severe Traumatic Brain Injury (Guidelines) would dramatically reduce morbidity and mortality, adherence to these Guidelines remains variable across trauma centers. The authors analyzed 2-week mortality due to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) from 2001 through 2009 in New York State and examined the trends in adherence to the Guidelines.

Methods

The authors calculated trends in adherence to the Guidelines and age-adjusted 2-week mortality rates between January 1, 2001, and December 31, 2009. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to evaluate the effect of time period on case-fatality. Intracranial pressure (ICP) monitor insertion was modeled in a 2-level hierarchical model using generalized linear mixed effects to allow for clustering by different centers.

Results

From 2001 to 2009, the case-fatality rate decreased from 22% to 13% (p < 0.0001), a change that remained significant after adjusting for factors that independently predict mortality (adjusted OR 0.52, 95% CI 0.39–0.70; p < 0.0001). Guidelines adherence increased, with the percentage of patients with ICP monitoring increasing from 56% to 75% (p < 0.0001). Adherence to cerebral perfusion pressure treatment thresholds increased from 15% to 48% (p < 0.0001). The proportion of patients having an ICP elevation greater than 25 mm Hg dropped from 42% to 29% (p = 0.0001).

Conclusions

There was a significant reduction in TBI mortality between 2001 and 2009 in New York State. Increase in Guidelines adherence occurred at the same time as the pronounced decrease in 2-week mortality and decreased rate of intracranial hypertension, suggesting a causal relationship between Guidelines adherence and improved outcomes. Our findings warrant future investigation to identify methods for increasing and sustaining adherence to evidence-based Guidelines recommendations.