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Satoshi Maki, Masaaki Aramomi, Yusuke Matsuura, Takeo Furuya, Mitsutoshi Ota, Yasushi Iijima, Junya Saito, Takane Suzuki, Chikato Mannoji, Kazuhisa Takahashi, Masashi Yamazaki, and Masao Koda

OBJECTIVE

Fusion surgery with instrumentation is a widely accepted treatment for cervical spine pathologies. The authors propose a novel technique for subaxial cervical fusion surgery using paravertebral foramen screws (PVFS). The authors consider that PVFS have equal or greater biomechanical strength than lateral mass screws (LMS). The authors’ goals of this study were to conduct a biomechanical study of PVFS, to investigate the suitability of PVFS as salvage fixation for failed LMS, and to describe this novel technique.

METHODS

The authors harvested 24 human cervical spine vertebrae (C3–6) from 6 fresh-frozen cadaver specimens from donors whose mean age was 84.3 ± 10.4 years at death. For each vertebra, one side was chosen randomly for PVFS and the other for LMS. For PVFS, a 3.2-mm drill with a stopper was advanced under lateral fluoroscopic imaging. The drill stopper was set to 12 mm, which was considered sufficiently short not to breach the transverse foramen. The drill was directed from 20° to 25° medially so that the screw could purchase the relatively hard cancellous bone around the entry zone of the pedicle. The hole was tapped and a 4.5-mm-diameter × 12-mm screw was inserted. For LMS, 3.5-mm-diameter × 14-mm screws were inserted into the lateral mass of C3–6. The pullout strength of each screw was measured. After pullout testing of LMS, a drill was inserted into the screw hole and the superior cortex of the lateral mass was pried to cause a fracture through the screw hole, simulating intraoperative fracture of the lateral mass. After the procedure, PVFS for salvage (sPVFS) were inserted on the same side and pullout strength was measured.

RESULTS

The CT scans obtained after screw insertion revealed no sign of pedicle breaching, violation of the transverse foramen, or fracture of the lateral mass. A total of 69 screws were tested (23 PVFS, 23 LMS, and 23 sPVFS). One vertebra was not used because of a fracture that occurred while the specimen was prepared. The mean bone mineral density of the specimens was 0.29 ± 0.10 g/cm3. The mean pullout strength was 234 ± 114 N for PVFS, 158 ± 91 N for LMS, and 195 ± 125 N for sPVFS. The pullout strength for PVFS tended to be greater than that for LMS. However, the difference was not quite significant (p = 0.06).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors introduce a novel fixation technique for the subaxial cervical spine. This study suggests that PVFS tend to provide stronger fixation than LMS for initial applications and fixation equal to LMS for salvage applications. If placement of LMS fails, PVFS can serve as a salvage fixation technique.

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Takaki Inoue, Satoshi Maki, Toshitaka Yoshii, Takeo Furuya, Satoru Egawa, Kenichiro Sakai, Kazuo Kusano, Yukihiro Nakagawa, Takashi Hirai, Kanichiro Wada, Keiichi Katsumi, Kengo Fujii, Atsushi Kimura, Narihito Nagoshi, Tsukasa Kanchiku, Yukitaka Nagamoto, Yasushi Oshima, Kei Ando, Masahiko Takahata, Kanji Mori, Hideaki Nakajima, Kazuma Murata, Shunji Matsunaga, Takashi Kaito, Kei Yamada, Sho Kobayashi, Satoshi Kato, Tetsuro Ohba, Satoshi Inami, Shunsuke Fujibayashi, Hiroyuki Katoh, Haruo Kanno, Shiro Imagama, Masao Koda, Yoshiharu Kawaguchi, Katsushi Takeshita, Morio Matsumoto, Seiji Ohtori, Masashi Yamazaki, Atsushi Okawa, and

OBJECTIVE

It is unclear whether anterior cervical decompression and fusion (ADF) or laminoplasty (LMP) results in better outcomes for patients with K-line–positive (+) cervical ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL). The purpose of the study is to compare surgical outcomes and complications of ADF versus LMP in patients with K-line (+) OPLL.

METHODS

The study included 478 patients enrolled in the Japanese Multicenter Research Organization for Ossification of the Spinal Ligament and who underwent surgical treatment for cervical OPLL. The patients who underwent anterior-posterior combined surgery or posterior decompression with instrumented fusion were excluded. The patients with a follow-up period of fewer than 2 years were also excluded, leaving 198 patients with K-line (+) OPLL. Propensity score matching was performed on 198 patients with K-line (+) OPLL who underwent ADF (44 patients) or LMP (154 patients), resulting in 39 pairs of patients based on the following predictors for surgical outcomes: age, preoperative Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) score, C2–7 angle, and the occupying ratio of OPLL. Clinical outcomes were assessed 1 and 2 years after surgery using the recovery rate of the JOA score. Complications and reoperation rates were also investigated.

RESULTS

The mean recovery rate of the JOA score 1 year after surgery was 55.3% for patients who underwent ADF and 42.3% (p = 0.06) for patients who underwent LMP. Two years after surgery, the recovery rate was 53.4% for those who underwent ADF and 38.7% for LMP (p = 0.07). Although both surgical procedures yielded good results, the mean recovery rate of JOA scores tended to be higher in the ADF group. The incidence of surgical complications, however, was higher following ADF (33%) than LMP (15%; p = 0.06). The reoperation rate was also higher in the ADF group (15%) than in the LMP group (0%; p = 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

Clinical outcomes were good for both ADF and LMP, indicating that ADF and LMP are appropriate procedures for patients with K-line (+) OPLL. Clinical outcomes of ADF 1 and 2 years after surgery tended to be better than LMP, but the analysis did not detect any significant difference in clinical outcomes between the groups. Conversely, patients who underwent ADF had a higher incidence of surgery-related complications. When considering indications for ADF or LMP, benefits and risks of the surgical procedures should be carefully weighed.