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Satoshi Maesawa, Camille Salame, John C. Flickinger, Stephen Pirris, Douglas Kondziolka and L. Dade Lunsford

Object. Stereotactic radiosurgery is an increasingly used and the least invasive surgical option for patients with trigeminal neuralgia. In this study, the authors investigate the clinical outcomes in patients treated with this procedure.

Methods. Independently acquired data from 220 patients with idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia who underwent gamma knife radiosurgery were reviewed. The median age was 70 years (range 26–92 years). Most patients had typical features of trigeminal neuralgia, although 16 (7.3%) described additional atypical features. One hundred thirty-five patients (61.4%) had previously undergone surgery and 80 (36.4%) had some degree of sensory disturbance related to the earlier surgery.

Patients were followed for a maximum of 6.5 years (median 2 years). Complete or partial relief was achieved in 85.6% of patients at 1 year. Complete pain relief was achieved in 64.9% of patients at 6 months, 70.3% at 1 year, and 75.4% at 33 months. Patients with an atypical pain component had a lower rate of pain relief (p = 0.025). Because of recurrences, only 55.8% of patients had complete or partial pain relief at 5 years. The absence of preoperative sensory disturbance (p = 0.02) or previous surgery (p = 0.01) correlated with an increased proportion of patients who experienced complete or partial pain relief over time. Thirty patients (13.6%) reported pain recurrence 2 to 58 months after initial relief (median 15.4 months). Only 17 patients (10.2% at 2 years) developed new or increased subjective facial paresthesia or numbness, including one who developed deafferentation pain.

Conclusions. Radiosurgery for idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia was safe and effective, and it provided benefit to a patient population with a high frequency of prior surgical intervention.

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Stephen M. Pirris, Sanjay Dhall, Praveen V. Mummaneni and Adam S. Kanter

Surgical access to extraforaminal lumbar disc herniations is complicated due to the unique anatomical constraints of the region. Minimizing complications during microdiscectomies at the level of L5–S1 in particular remains a challenge. The authors report on a small series of patients and provide a video presentation of a minimally invasive approach to L5–S1 extraforaminal lumbar disc herniations utilizing a tubular retractor with microscopic visualization.

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Placement of thoracic transvertebral pedicle screws using 3D image guidance

Presented at the 2012 Joint Spine Section Meeting 

Eric W. Nottmeier and Stephen M. Pirris

Object

Transvertebral pedicle screws have successfully been used in the treatment of high-grade L5–S1 spondylolisthesis. An advantage of transvertebral pedicle screws is the purchase of multiple cortical layers across 2 vertebrae, thereby increasing the stability of the construct. At the lumbosacral junction, transvertebral pedicle screws have been shown to be biomechanically superior to pedicle screws placed in the standard fashion. The use of transvertebral pedicle screws at spinal levels other than L5–S1 has not been reported in the literature. The authors describe their technique of transvertebral pedicle screw placement in the thoracic spine using 3D image guidance.

Methods

Twelve patients undergoing cervicothoracic or thoracolumbar fusion had 41 thoracic transvertebral pedicle screws placed across 26 spinal levels using this technique. Indications for placement of thoracic transvertebral pedicle screws in earlier cases included osteoporosis and pedicle screw salvage. However, in subsequent cases screws were placed in patients undergoing multilevel thoracolumbar fusion without osteoporosis, particularly near the top of the construct. Image guidance in this study was accomplished using the Medtronic StealthStation S7 image guidance system used in conjunction with the O-arm. All patients were slated to undergo postoperative CT scanning at approximately 4–6 months for fusion assessment, which also allowed for grading of the transvertebral pedicle screws.

Results

No thoracic transvertebral pedicle screw placed in this study had to be replaced or repositioned after intraoperative review of the cone beam CT scans. Review of the postoperative CT scans revealed all transvertebral screws to be across the superior disc space with the tips in the superior vertebral body. Six pedicle screws were placed using the in-out-in technique in patients with narrow pedicles, leaving 35 screws that underwent breach analysis. No pedicle breach was noted in 34 of 35 screws. A Grade 1 (< 2 mm) medial breach was noted in 1 screw without clinical consequence. Solid fusion was observed across 25 of 26 spinal levels that underwent transvertebral screw placement including 7 spinal levels located at the top of a multilevel construct.

Conclusions

This report describes the authors' initial in vivo experience with the 3D image-guided placement of 41 thoracic transvertebral pedicle screws. Advantages of thoracic transvertebral screws include the purchase of 2 vertebral segments across multiple cortical layers. A high fusion rate was observed across spinal levels in which transvertebral screws were placed. A formal biomechanical study is needed to assess the biomechanical advantages of this technique and is currently being planned.

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Eric W. Nottmeier, Stephen M. Pirris, Steven Edwards, Sherri Kimes, Cammi Bowman and Kevin L. Nelson

Object

Surgeon and operating room (OR) staff radiation exposure during spinal surgery is a concern, especially with the increasing use of multiplanar fluoroscopy in minimally invasive spinal surgery procedures. Cone beam computed tomography (cbCT)–based, 3D image guidance does not involve the use of active fluoroscopy during instrumentation placement and therefore decreases radiation exposure for the surgeon and OR staff during spinal fusion procedures. However, the radiation scatter of a cbCT device can be similar to that of a standard 64-slice CT scanner and thus could expose the surgeon and OR staff to radiation during image acquisition. The purpose of the present study was to measure radiation exposure at several unshielded locations in the OR when using cbCT in conjunction with 3D image-guided spinal surgery in 25 spinal surgery cases.

Methods

Five unshielded badge dosimeters were placed at set locations in the OR during 25 spinal surgery cases in which cbCT-based, 3D image guidance was used. The cbCT device (O-ARM) was used in conjunction with the Stealth S7 image-guided platform. The radiology department analyzed the badge dosimeters after completion of the last case.

Results

Fifty high-definition O-ARM spins were performed in 25 patients for spinal registration and to check instrumentation placement. Image-guided placement of 124 screws from C-2 to the ileum was accomplished without complication. Badge dosimetry analysis revealed minimal radiation exposure for the badges 6 feet from the gantry in the area of the anesthesiology equipment, as well as for the badges located 10–13 feet from the gantry on each side of the room (mean 0.7–3.6 mrem/spin). The greatest radiation exposure occurred on the badge attached to the OR table within the gantry (mean 176.9 mrem/spin), as well as on the control panel adjacent to the gantry (mean 128.0 mrem/spin).

Conclusions

Radiation scatter from the O-ARM was minimal at various distances outside of and not adjacent to the gantry. Although the average radiation exposure at these locations was low, an earlier study, undertaken in a similar fashion, revealed no radiation exposure when the surgeon stood behind a lead shield. This simple precaution can eliminate the small amount of radiation exposure to OR staff in cases in which the O-ARM is used.

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Gazanfar Rahmathulla, Eric W. Nottmeier, Stephen M. Pirris, H. Gordon Deen and Mark A. Pichelmann

Spinal instrumentation has made significant advances in the last two decades, with transpedicular constructs now widely used in spinal fixation. Pedicle screw constructs are routinely used in thoracolumbar-instrumented fusions, and in recent years, the cervical spine as well. Three-column fixations with pedicle screws provide the most rigid form of posterior stabilization. Surgical landmarks and fluoroscopy have been used routinely for pedicle screw insertion, but a number of studies reveal inaccuracies in placement using these conventional techniques (ranging from 10% to 50%). The ability to combine 3D imaging with intraoperative navigation systems has improved the accuracy and safety of pedicle screw placement, especially in more complex spinal deformities. However, in the authors' experience with image guidance in more than 1500 cases, several potential pitfalls have been identified while using intraoperative spinal navigation that could lead to suboptimal results. This article summarizes the authors' experience with these various pitfalls using spinal navigation, and gives practical tips on their avoidance and management.

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Stephen M. Pirris and Sherri M. Kimes

There are only 2 documented cases of vertebral compression fractures occurring within a solid lumbar fusion mass: one within the fusion mass after hardware removal and the other within the levels of the existing instrumentation 1 year postoperatively. The authors report a case of fracture occurring in a chronic (> 30 years) solid instrumented fusion mass in a patient who underwent kyphoplasty. The pain did not improve after the kyphoplasty procedure, and the patient developed a posterior cleft in the fusion mass postoperatively. The patient, a 46-year-old woman, had undergone a T4–L4 instrumented fusion with placement of a Harrington rod when she was 12 years old. Adjacent-segment breakdown developed, and her fusion was extended to the pelvis, with pedicle screws placed up to L-3 to capture the existing fusion mass. Almost 2 years after fusion extension, she fell down the stairs and suffered an L-2 compression fracture, which is when kyphoplasty was performed without pain relief, and she then developed a cleft in the posterior fusion mass that was previously intact. She refused further surgical options. This case report is meant to alert surgeons of this possibility and allow them to consider the rare occurrence of fracture within the fusion mass when planning extension of chronic spinal fusions.

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Stephen M. Pirris, Eric W. Nottmeier, Sherri Kimes, Michael O'Brien and Gazanfar Rahmathulla

Object

Considerable biological research has been performed to aid bone healing in conjunction with lumbar fusion surgery. Iliac crest autograft is often considered the gold standard because it has the vital properties of being osteoconductive, osteoinductive, and osteogenic. However, graft site pain has been widely reported as the most common donor site morbidity. Autograft site pain has led many companies to develop an abundance of bone graft extenders, which have limited proof of efficacy. During the surgical consent process, many patients ask surgeons to avoid harvesting autograft because of the reported pain complications. The authors sought to study postoperative graft site pain by simply asking patients whether they knew which iliac crest was grafted when a single skin incision was made for the fusion operation.

Methods

Twenty-five patients underwent iliac crest autografting with allograft reconstruction during instrumented lumbar fusion surgery. In all patients the autograft was harvested through the same skin incision but with a separate fascial incision. At various points postoperatively, the patients were asked if they could tell which iliac crest had been harvested, and if so, how much pain did it cause (10-point Numeric Rating Scale).

Results

Most patients (64%) could not correctly determine which iliac crest had been harvested. Of the 9 patients who correctly identified the side of the autograft, 7 were only able to guess. The 2 patients who confidently identified the side of grafting had no pain at rest and mild pain with activity. One patient who incorrectly guessed the side of autografting did have significant sacroiliac joint degenerative pain bilaterally.

Conclusions

Results of this study indicate the inability of patients to clearly define their graft site after iliac crest autograft harvest with allograft reconstruction of the bony defect unless they have a separate skin incision. This simple, easily reproducible pilot study can be expanded into a larger, multiinstitutional investigation to provide more definitive answers regarding the ideal, safe, and cost-effective bone graft material to be used in spinal fusions.

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Nestor G. Rodriguez-Martinez, Amey Savardekar, Eric W. Nottmeier, Stephen Pirris, Phillip M. Reyes, Anna G. U. S. Newcomb, George A. C. Mendes, Samuel Kalb, Nicholas Theodore and Neil R. Crawford

OBJECTIVE

Transvertebral screws provide stability in thoracic spinal fixation surgeries, with their use mainly limited to patients who require a pedicle screw salvage technique. However, the biomechanical impact of transvertebral screws alone, when they are inserted across 2 vertebral bodies, has not been studied. In this study, the authors assessed the stability offered by a transvertebral screw construct for posterior instrumentation and compared its biomechanical performance to that of standard bilateral pedicle screw and rod (PSR) fixation.

METHODS

Fourteen fresh human cadaveric thoracic spine segments from T-6 to T-11 were divided into 2 groups with similar ages and bone quality. Group 1 received transvertebral screws across 2 levels without rods and subsequently with interconnecting bilateral rods at 3 levels (T8–10). Group 2 received bilateral PSR fixation and were sequentially tested with interconnecting rods at T7–8 and T9–10, at T8–9, and at T8–10. Flexibility tests were performed on intact and instrumented specimens in both groups. Presurgical and postsurgical O-arm 3D images were obtained to verify screw placement.

RESULTS

The mean range of motion (ROM) per motion segment with transvertebral screws spanning 2 levels compared with the intact condition was 66% of the mean intact ROM during flexion-extension (p = 0.013), 69% during lateral bending (p = 0.015), and 47% during axial rotation (p < 0.001). The mean ROM per motion segment with PSR spanning 2 levels compared with the intact condition was 38% of the mean intact ROM during flexion-extension (p < 0.001), 57% during lateral bending (p = 0.007), and 27% during axial rotation (p < 0.001). Adding bilateral rods to the 3 levels with transvertebral screws decreased the mean ROM per motion segment to 28% of intact ROM during flexion-extension (p < 0.001), 37% during lateral bending (p < 0.001), and 30% during axial rotation (p < 0.001). The mean ROM per motion segment for PSR spanning 3 levels was 21% of intact ROM during flexion-extension (p < 0.001), 33% during lateral bending (p < 0.001), and 22% during axial rotation (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Biomechanically, fixation with a novel technique in the thoracic spine involving transvertebral screws showed restoration of stability to well within the stability provided by PSR fixation.