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Shiveindra B. Jeyamohan, Tyler J. Kenning, Karen A. Petronis, Paul J. Feustel, Doniel Drazin and Darryl J. DiRisio


Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is an effective procedure for the treatment of cervical radiculopathy and/or myelopathy; however, postoperative dysphagia is a significant concern. Dexamethasone, although potentially protective against perioperative dysphagia and airway compromise, could inhibit fusion, a generally proinflammatory process. The authors conducted a prospective, randomized, double-blinded, controlled study of the effects of steroids on swallowing, the airway, and arthrodesis related to multilevel anterior cervical reconstruction in patients who were undergoing ACDF at Albany Medical Center between 2008 and 2012. The objective of this study was to determine if perioperative steroid use improves perioperative dysphagia and airway edema.


A total of 112 patients were enrolled and randomly assigned to receive saline or dexamethasone. Data gathered included demographics, functional status (including modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association myelopathy score, neck disability index, 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey score, and patient-reported visual analog scale score of axial and radiating pain), functional outcome swallowing scale score, interval postoperative imaging, fusion status, and complications/reoperations. Follow-up was performed at 1, 3, 6, 12, and 24 months, and CT was performed 6, 12, and 24 months after surgery for fusion assessment.


Baseline demographics were not significantly different between the 2 groups, indicating adequate randomization. In terms of patient-reported functional and pain-related outcomes, there were no differences in the steroid and placebo groups. However, the severity of dysphagia in the postoperative period up to 1 month proved to be significantly lower in the steroid group than in the placebo group (p = 0.027). Furthermore, airway difficulty and a need for intubation trended toward significance in the placebo group (p = 0.057). Last, fusion rates at 6 months proved to be significantly lower in the steroid group but lost significance at 12 months (p = 0.048 and 0.57, respectively).


Dexamethasone administered perioperatively significantly improved swallowing function and airway edema and shortened length of stay. It did not affect pain, functional outcomes, or long-term swallowing status. However, it significantly delayed fusion, but the long-term fusion rates remained unaffected.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT01065961 (

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Daniel R. Fassett, James S. Harrop, Mitchell Maltenfort, Shiveindra B. Jeyamohan, John D. Ratliff, D. Greg Anderson, Alan S. Hilibrand, Todd J. Albert, Alexander R. Vaccaro and Ashwini D. Sharan


The authors undertook this study to evaluate the incidence of spinal cord injury (SCI) in geriatric patients (≥ 70 years of age) and examine the impact of patient age, extent of neurological injury, and spinal level of injury on the mortality rate associated with traumatic SCI.


A prospectively maintained SCI database (3481 patients) at a single institution was retrospectively studied for the period from 1978 through 2005. Parameters analyzed included patient age, admission American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) motor score, level of SCI, mechanism of injury, and mortality data. The data pertaining to the 412 patients 70 years of age and older were compared with those pertaining to the younger cohort using a chi-square analysis.


Since 1980, the number of SCI-related hospital admissions per year have increased fivefold in geriatric patients and the percentage of geriatric patients within the SCI population has increased from 4.2 to 15.4%. In comparison with younger patients, geriatric patients were found to be less likely to have severe neurological deficits (greater percentage of ASIA Grades C and D injuries), but the mortality rates were higher in the older age group both for the period of hospitalization (27.7% compared with 3.2%, p < 0.001) and during 1-year follow-up. The mortality rates in this older population directly correlate with the severity of neurological injury (1-year mortality rate, ASIA Grade A 66%, Grade D 23%, p < 0.001). The mortality rate in elderly patients with SCI has not changed significantly over the last two decades, and the 1-year mortality rate was greater than 40% in all periods analyzed.


Spinal cord injuries in older patients are becoming more prevalent. The mortality rate in this patient group is much greater than in younger patients and should be taken into account when aggressive interventions are considered and in counseling families regarding prognosis.

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Marc Moisi, Christian Fisahn, Lara Tkachenko, Shiveindra Jeyamohan, Stephen Reintjes, Peter Grunert, Daniel C. Norvell, R. Shane Tubbs, Jeni Page, David W. Newell, Peter Nora, Rod J. Oskouian and Jens Chapman


Posterior atlantoaxial stabilization and fusion using C-1 lateral mass screw fixation has become commonly used in the treatment of instability and for reconstructive indications since its introduction by Goel and Laheri in 1994 and modification by Harms in 2001. Placement of such lateral mass screws can be challenging because of the proximity to the spinal cord, vertebral artery, an extensive venous plexus, and the C-2 nerve root, which overlies the designated starting point on the posterior center of the lateral mass. An alternative posterior access point starting on the posterior arch of C-1 could provide a C-2 nerve root–sparing starting point for screw placement, with the potential benefit of greater directional control and simpler trajectory. The authors present a cadaveric study comparing an alternative strategy (i.e., a C-1 screw with a posterior arch starting point) to the conventional strategy (i.e., using the lower lateral mass entry site), specifically assessing the safety of screw placement to preserve the C-2 nerve root.


Five US-trained spine fellows instrumented 17 fresh human cadaveric heads using the Goel/Harms C-1 lateral mass (GHLM) technique on the left and the posterior arch lateral mass (PALM) technique on the right, under fluoroscopic guidance. After screw placement, a CT scan was obtained on each specimen to assess for radiographic screw placement accuracy. Four faculty spine surgeons, blinded to the surgeon who instrumented the cadaver, independently graded the quality of screw placement using a modified Upendra classification.


Of the 17 specimens, the C-2 nerve root was anatomically impinged in 13 (76.5%) of the specimens. The GHLM technique was graded Type 1 or 2, which is considered “acceptable,” in 12 specimens (70.6%), and graded Type 3 or 4 (“unacceptable”) in 5 specimens (29.4%). In contrast, the PALM technique had 17 (100%) of 17 graded Type 1 or 2 (p = 0.015). There were no vertebral artery injuries found in either technique. All screw violations occurred in the medial direction.


The PALM technique showed statistically fewer medial penetrations than the GHLM technique in this study. The reason for this is not clear, but may stem from a more angulated ”up-and-in” screw direction necessary with a lower starting point.