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Doniel Drazin, Ali Shirzadi, Sunil Jeswani, Harry Ching, Jack Rosner, Alexandre Rasouli, Terrence Kim, Robert Pashman and J. Patrick Johnson


Athletes present with back pain as a common symptom. Various sports involve repetitive hyperextension of the spine along with axial loading and appear to predispose athletes to the spinal pathology spondylolysis. Many athletes with acute back pain require nonsurgical treatment methods; however, persistent recurrent back pain may indicate degenerative disc disease or spondylolysis. Young athletes have a greater incidence of spondylolysis. Surgical solutions are many, and yet there are relatively few data in the literature on both the techniques and outcomes of spondylolytic repair in athletes. In this study, the authors undertook a review of the surgical techniques and outcomes in the treatment of symptomatic spondylolysis in athletes.


A systematic review of the MEDLINE and PubMed databases was performed using the following key words to identify articles published between 1950 and 2011: “spondylolysis,” “pars fracture,” “repair,” “athlete,” and/or “sport.” Papers on both athletes and nonathletes were included in the review. Articles were read for data on methodology (retrospective vs prospective), type of treatment, number of patients, mean patient age, and mean follow-up.


Eighteen articles were included in the review. Eighty-four athletes and 279 nonathletes with a mean age of 20 and 21 years, respectively, composed the population under review. Most of the fractures occurred at L-5 in both patient groups, specifically 96% and 92%, respectively. The average follow-up period was 26 months for athletes and 86 months for nonathletes. According to the modified Henderson criteria, 84% (71 of 84) of the athletes returned to their sports activities. The time intervals until their return ranged from 5 to 12 months.


For a young athlete with a symptomatic pars defect, any of the described techniques of repair would probably produce acceptable results. An appropriate preoperative workup is important. The ideal candidate is younger than 20 years with minimal or no listhesis and no degenerative changes of the disc. Limited participation in sports can be expected from 5 to 12 months postoperatively.

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Sunil Jeswani, Miriam Nuño, Arthur Wu, Vivien Bonert, John D. Carmichael, Keith L. Black, Ray Chu, Wesley King and Adam N. Mamelak


Craniopharyngiomas and similar midline suprasellar tumors have traditionally been resected via transcranial approaches. More recently, expanded endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal approaches have gained interest. Surgeons have advocated for both approaches, and at present there is no consensus whether one approach is superior to the other. The authors therefore compared surgical outcomes between craniotomy and endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal surgery (EETS) for suprasellar tumors treated at their institution.


A retrospective review of patients undergoing resection of suprasellar lesions at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center between 2000 and 2013 was performed. Patients harboring suspected craniopharyngioma were selected for extensive review. Other pathologies or predominantly intrasellar masses were excluded. Cases were separated into 2 groups, based on the surgical approach taken. One group underwent EETS and the other cohort underwent craniotomy. Patient demographic data, presenting symptoms, and previous therapies were tabulated. Preoperative and postoperative tumor volume was calculated for each case based on MRI. Student t-test and the chi-square test were used to evaluate differences in patient demographics, tumor characteristics, and outcomes between the 2 cohorts. To assess for selection bias, 3 neurosurgeons who did not perform the surgeries reviewed the preoperative imaging studies and clinical data for each patient in blinded fashion and indicated his/her preferred approach. These data were subject to concordance analysis using Cohen’s kappa test to determine if factors other than surgeon preference influenced the choice of surgical approach.


Complete data were available for 53 surgeries; 19 cases were treated via EETS, and 34 were treated via craniotomy. Patient demographic data, preoperative symptoms, and tumor characteristics were similar between the 2 cohorts, except that fewer operations for recurrent tumor were observed in the craniotomy cohort compared with EETS (17.6% vs 42.1%, p = 0.05). The extent of resection was similar between the 2 groups (85.6% EETS vs 90.7% craniotomy, p = 0.77). An increased rate of cranial nerve injury was noted in the craniotomy group (0% EETS vs 23.5% craniotomy, p = 0.04). Postoperative CSF leak rate was higher in the EETS group (26.3% EETS vs 0% craniotomy, p = 0.004). The progression-free survival curves (log-rank p = 0.99) and recurrence rates (21.1% EETS vs 23.5% craniotomy, p = 1.00) were similar between the 2 groups. Concordance analysis of cases reviewed by 3 neurosurgeons indicated that individual surgeon preference was the only factor that determined surgical approach (kappa coefficient −0.039, p = 0.762)


Surgical outcomes were similar for tumors resected via craniotomy or EETS, except that more CSF leaks occurred in the EETS cohort, whereas more neurological injuries occurred in the craniotomy cohort. Surgical approach appears to mostly reflect surgeon preference rather than specific tumor characteristics. These data support the view that EETS is a viable alternative to craniotomy, providing a similar extent of resection with less neurological injury.

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Sunil Jeswani, Doniel Drazin, Joseph C. Hsieh, Faris Shweikeh, Eric Friedman, Robert Pashman, J. Patrick Johnson and Terrence T. Kim


Traditionally, instrumentation of thoracic pedicles has been more difficult because of their relatively smaller size. Thoracic pedicles are at risk for violation during surgical instrumentation, as is commonly seen in patients with scoliosis and in women. The laterally based “in-out-in” approach, which technically results in a lateral breach, is sometimes used in small pedicles to decrease the comparative risk of a medial breach with neurological involvement. In this study the authors evaluated the role of CT image–guided surgery in navigating screws in small thoracic pedicles.


Thoracic (T1–12) pedicle screw placements using the O-arm imaging system (Medtronic Inc.) were evaluated for accuracy with preoperative and postoperative CT. “Small” pedicles were defined as those ≤ 3 mm in the narrowest diameter orthogonal to the long axis of the pedicle on a trajectory entering the vertebral body on preinstrumentation CT. A subset of “very small” pedicles (≤ 2 mm in the narrowest diameter, 13 pedicles) was also analyzed. Screw accuracy was categorized as good (< 1 mm of pedicle breach in any direction or in-out-in screws), fair (1–3 mm of breach), or poor (> 3 mm of breach).


Twenty-one consecutive patients (age range 32–71 years) had large (45 screws) and small (52 screws) thoracic pedicles. The median pedicle diameter was 2.5 mm (range 0.9–3 mm) for small and 3.9 mm (3.1–6.7 mm) for large pedicles. Computed tomography–guided surgical navigation led to accurate screw placement in both small (good 100%, fair 0%, poor 0%) and large (good 96.6%, fair 0%, poor 3.4%) pedicles. Good screw placement in very small or small pedicles occurred with an in-out-in trajectory more often than in large pedicles (large 6.8% vs small 36.5%, p < 0.0005; vs very small 69.2%, p < 0.0001). There were no medial breaches even though 75 of the 97 screws were placed in postmenopausal women, traditionally at higher risk for osteoporosis.


Computed tomography–guided surgical navigation allows for safe, effective, and accurate instrumentation of small (≤ 3 mm) to very small (≤ 2 mm) thoracic pedicles.