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Christopher F. Dibble, Saad Javeed, Justin K. Zhang, Brenton Pennicooke, Wilson Z. Ray, and Camilo Molina

BACKGROUND

Traumatic atlantoaxial rotatory subluxation after type 3 odontoid fracture is an uncommon presentation that may require complex intraoperative reduction maneuvers and presents challenges to successful instrumentation and fusion.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors report a case of a 39-year-old female patient who sustained a type 3 odontoid fracture. She was neurologically intact and managed in a rigid collar. Four months later, she presented again after a second trauma with acute torticollis and type 2 atlantoaxial subluxation, again neurologically intact. Serial cervical traction was placed with minimal radiographic reduction. Ultimately, she underwent intraoperative reduction, instrumentation, and fusion. Freehand C1 lateral mass reduction screws were placed, then C2 translaminar screws, and finally lateral mass screws at C3 and C4. The C2–4 instrumentation was used as bilateral rod anchors to reduce the C1 lateral mass reduction screws engaged onto the subluxated atlantodental complex. As a final step, cortical allograft spacers were inserted at C1–2 under compression to facilitate long-term stability and fusion.

LESSONS

This is the first description of a technique using extended tulip cervical reduction screws to correct traction-irreducible atlantoaxial subluxation. This case is a demonstration of using intraoperative tools available for the spine surgeon managing complex cervical injuries requiring intraoperative reduction that is resistant to traction reduction.

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*Christopher F. Dibble, Saad Javeed, Jawad M. Khalifeh, Rajiv Midha, Lynda J. S. Yang, Neringa Juknis, and Wilson Z. Ray

OBJECTIVE

Nerve transfers are increasingly being utilized in the treatment of chronic tetraplegia, with increasing literature describing significant improvements in sensorimotor function up to years after injury. However, despite technical advances, clinical outcomes remain heterogenous. Preoperative electrodiagnostic testing is the most direct measure of nerve health and may provide prognostic information that can optimize preoperative patient selection. The objective of this study in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) was to determine various zones of injury (ZOIs) via electrodiagnostic assessment (EDX) to predict motor outcomes after nerve transfers in tetraplegia.

METHODS

This retrospective review of prospectively collected data included all patients with tetraplegia from cervical SCI who underwent nerve transfer at the authors’ institution between 2013 and 2020. Preoperative demographic data, results of EDX, operative details, and postoperative motor outcomes were extracted. EDX was standardized into grades that describe donor and recipient nerves. Five zones of SCI were defined. Motor outcomes were then compared based on various zones of innervation.

RESULTS

Nineteen tetraplegic patients were identified who underwent 52 nerve transfers targeting hand function, and 75% of these nerve transfers were performed more than 1 year postinjury, with a median interval to surgery following SCI of 24 (range 8–142) months. Normal recipient compound muscle action potential and isolated upper motor neuron injury on electromyography (EMG) were associated with greater motor recovery. When nerve transfers were stratified based on donor EMG, greater motor gains were associated with normal than with abnormal donor EMG motor unit recruitment patterns. When nerve transfers were separated based on donor and recipient nerves, normal flexor donors were more crucial than normal extensor donors in powering their respective flexor recipients.

CONCLUSIONS

This study elucidates the relationship of the preoperative innervation zones in SCI patients to final motor outcomes. EDX studies can be used to tailor surgical therapies for nerve transfers in patients with tetraplegia. The authors propose an algorithm for optimizing nerve transfer strategies in tetraplegia, whereby understanding the ZOI and grade of the donor/recipient nerve is critical to predicting motor outcomes.

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Jacob K. Greenberg, Stephen Shelby Burks, Christopher F. Dibble, Saad Javeed, Vivek P. Gupta, Alexander T. Yahanda, Roberto J. Perez-Roman, Vaidya Govindarajan, Andrew T. Dailey, Sanjay Dhall, Daniel J. Hoh, Daniel E. Gelb, Adam S. Kanter, Eric O. Klineberg, Michael J. Lee, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Paul Park, Charles A. Sansur, Khoi D. Than, Jon J. W. Yoon, Michael Y. Wang, and Wilson Z. Ray

OBJECTIVE

Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) techniques can effectively stabilize and decompress many thoracolumbar injuries with decreased morbidity and tissue destruction compared with open approaches. Nonetheless, there is limited direction regarding the breadth and limitations of MIS techniques for thoracolumbar injuries. Consequently, the objectives of this study were to 1) identify the range of current practice patterns for thoracolumbar trauma and 2) integrate expert opinion and literature review to develop an updated treatment algorithm.

METHODS

A survey describing 10 clinical cases with a range of thoracolumbar injuries was sent to 12 surgeons with expertise in spine trauma. The survey results were summarized using descriptive statistics, along with the Fleiss kappa statistic of interrater agreement. To develop an updated treatment algorithm, the authors used a modified Delphi technique that incorporated a literature review, the survey results, and iterative feedback from a group of 14 spine trauma experts. The final algorithm represented the consensus opinion of that expert group.

RESULTS

Eleven of 12 surgeons contacted completed the case survey, including 8 (73%) neurosurgeons and 3 (27%) orthopedic surgeons. For the 4 cases involving patients with neurological deficits, nearly all respondents recommended decompression and fusion, and the proportion recommending open surgery ranged from 55% to 100% by case. Recommendations for the remaining cases were heterogeneous. Among the neurologically intact patients, MIS techniques were typically recommended more often than open techniques. The overall interrater agreement in recommendations was 0.23, indicating fair agreement. Considering both literature review and expert opinion, the updated algorithm indicated that MIS techniques could be used to treat most thoracolumbar injuries. Among neurologically intact patients, percutaneous instrumentation without arthrodesis was recommended for those with AO Spine Thoracolumbar Classification System subtype A3/A4 (Thoracolumbar Injury Classification and Severity Score [TLICS] 4) injuries, but MIS posterior arthrodesis was recommended for most patients with AO Spine subtype B2/B3 (TLICS > 4) injuries. Depending on vertebral body integrity, anterolateral corpectomy or mini-open decompression could be used for patients with neurological deficits.

CONCLUSIONS

Spine trauma experts endorsed a range of strategies for treating thoracolumbar injuries but felt that MIS techniques were an option for most patients. The updated treatment algorithm may provide a foundation for surgeons interested in safe approaches for using MIS techniques to treat thoracolumbar trauma.