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S. Raymond Golish, Louie Fielding, Vijay Agarwal, Jenni Buckley and Todd F. Alamin

Object

There has been increasing interest in spinous process tension band devices, as distinct from spinous process spacers and plates. The purpose of this study was to load spinous processes caudally at L-4 and cranially at L-5 parallel to the long axis of the spine in a biomechanical model of tension band loading. The goal was to provide normative data for the design of a spinous process tension band device after varying degrees of surgical decompression and across varying bone mineral densities (BMDs).

Methods

Fresh-frozen L4–5 lumbar vertebrae pairs were divided into 3 surgical groups: intact, midline-sparing decompression (laminotomy and medial facetectomy), and midline decompression with foraminotomy (one-half of spinous process resected, laminotomy, and medial facetectomy). After decompression, specimens were disarticulated into isolated L-4 and L-5 vertebrae. Each vertebra was loaded to failure in a caudal (L-4) or cranial (L-5) direction parallel to the long axis of the spine via a 6-mm-wide strap looped around the spinous process. Failure strength and mode were recorded.

Results

Seventeen L-4 and L-5 lumbar vertebrae were tested from 17 cadavers. There were 10 male (59%) and 7 female (41%) cadavers, with a mean age of 66.6 ± 16.5 years (range 41–100 years) and a mean BMD of 1 ± 0.23 g/cm2 (range 0.66–1.34 g/cm2); the mean is expressed ± SD throughout. For data analysis, specimens were grouped into those with no or midline-sparing decompression (Group 1: 11 of 17) and those with midline decompression (Group 2: 6 of 17). At L-4, the mean failure strength for Group 1 was 453 ± 162 N, and for Group 2 it was 264 ± 99 N (p = 0.02; Cohen's d = 1.4). At L-5, the mean failure strength for Group 1 was 517 ± 190 N, and for Group 2 it was 269 ± 184 N (p = 0.02; Cohen's d = 1.3). There was no significant difference in failure strength between the intact and midline-sparing decompression groups at L-4 (p = 0.91) or L-5 (p = 0.41).

Conclusions

Across specimens with a wide range of BMDs, midline-sparing decompression was not found to decrease the mean failure strength of the L-4 and L-5 spinous processes (453 and 517 N, respectively), whereas midline surgical decompression decreased the failure strength of these processes (264 and 269 N, respectively) in a biomechanical model of tension band loading relevant to the design of a tension band device.

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Alessandra G. Pedroso, Antonio A. F. De Salles, Katayoun Tajik, Raymond Golish, Zachary Smith, Leonardo Frighetto, Timothy Solberg, Cynthia Cabatan-Awang and Michael T. Selch

Object. The authors studied outcomes and complications in patients who harbored arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) and underwent stereotactic radiosurgery involving the Novalis shaped beam unit.

Methods. Between January 1998 and January 2002, 83 patients were treated with radiosurgery at University of California, Los Angeles. The mean patient age was 37.8 years. Forty-four patients completed follow up. There were 24 women. Sixteen patients underwent repeated radiosurgery. Embolization was performed in 13 patients and radiosurgery alone in 31. The mean follow-up period after embolization was 54.4 ± 21.9 months and 37.4 ± 14.6 months for radiosurgery alone. The mean peripheral dose was 15 Gy (range 12–18 Gy). The mean preradiosurgery lesion volume was 9.7 ± 11.9 ml for radiosurgery alone and 16.2 ± 11.3 ml for embolization. The AVMs in 13 patients (29.8%) were Spetzler—Martin Grade II, 12 (27.5%) were Grade III, eight (18.2%) Grade IV, and five (11.3%) were Grade V and VI each. Spetzler—Martin grade, volume, and peripheral dose were analyzed in consideration to outcome.

A positive trend (p = 0.086) was observed between Spetzler—Martin grade and obliteration rate. Volume per se did not predict obliteration (p = 0.48). A peripheral dose of 18 Gy was shown to be the most important predictor for occlusion (p = 0.007). The overall obliteration rate was 52.5%. A transient complication was noticed in one case (2.3%) and but no permanent deficits due to radiosurgery have been detected so far. Three patients (6.8%) bled after radiosurgery.

Conclusions. The range of the prescribed peripheral dose was narrow. An association between the mean peripheral dose of 15 Gy, high conformality, and homogeneous dose distribution permitted no permanent complications. Volume per se did not correlate with outcome. The next step will be to increase the peripheral dose shaping the beam and to achieve higher obliteration rates without increasing complications.