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Sven O. Eicker, Klaus Christian Mende, Lasse Dührsen and Nils Ole Schmidt

OBJECT

The surgical management of lesions ventral to the neuraxis at the level of the craniovertebral junction (CVJ) and upper cervical spine is challenging. Here, the authors describe a minimally invasive dorsal approach for small ventrally located intradural lesions at the CVJ as an alternative for the more extensive classic transoral approach or variants of suboccipital approaches.

METHODS

Between 2012 and 2014, 6 symptomatic patients with a small lesion of the ventral aspect at the CVJ level were treated using a minimally invasive dorsal approach at the University Medical Center in Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany. The anatomical distance between the posterior atlantooccipital membrane and the posterior atlantoaxial ligament, as determined by CT images, was assessed in the treated patients and in 100 untreated persons.

RESULTS

The authors treated 6 patients (mean age 54.7 years) who had a clinical presentation of mild neurological symptoms that disappeared after resection. Minimally invasive surgical dorsal access was achieved by using tubular systems and using the natural space between the occiput (C-0) and C-1, and in 1 case between C-1 and C-2, without having to remove bony structures. The postoperative course in each of the 6 patients was uneventful. The neuropatho-logical findings confirmed a meningotheliomatous meningioma (WHO Grade I) in 5 cases and an extramedullary cavernous hemangioma in 1 case. MRI confirmed complete resection of all the lesions. The atlantooccipital distances ranged from 3 to 17 mm (mean 8.98 mm) in the supine neutral position, and the atlantoaxial distances ranged from 5 to 17 mm (mean 10.56 mm). There were no significant differences between women and men (atlantooccipital p = 0.14; atlantoaxial p = 0.72).

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this study demonstrate that the minimally invasive dorsal approach using the space between C-0 and C-1 or C-1 and C-2 provides direct and sufficient exposure for the safe surgical resection of small ventrally located intradural lesions at the CVJ level while reducing the necessity for musculoskeletal preparation to a minimum.

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Sven Schmidt, Joerg Franke, Michael Rauschmann, Dieter Adelt, Matteo Mario Bonsanto and Steffen Sola

OBJECTIVE

Surgical decompression is extremely effective in relieving pain and symptoms due to lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS). Decompression with interlaminar stabilization (D+ILS) is as effective as decompression with posterolateral fusion for stenosis, as shown in a major US FDA pivotal trial. This study reports a multicenter, randomized controlled trial in which D+ILS was compared with decompression alone (DA) for treatment of moderate to severe LSS.

METHODS

Under approved institutional ethics review, 230 patients (1:1 ratio) randomized to either DA or D+ILS (coflex, Paradigm Spine) were treated at 7 sites in Germany. Patients had moderate to severe LSS at 1 or 2 adjacent segments from L-3 to L-5. Outcomes were evaluated up to 2 years postoperatively, including Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores, the presence of secondary surgery or lumbar injections, neurological status, and the presence of device- or procedure-related severe adverse events. The composite clinical success (CCS) was defined as combining all 4 of these outcomes, a success definition validated in a US FDA pivotal trial. Additional secondary end points included visual analog scale (VAS) scores, Zürich Claudication Questionnaire (ZCQ) scores, narcotic usage, walking tolerance, and radiographs.

RESULTS

The overall follow-up rate was 91% at 2 years. There were no significant differences in patient-reported outcomes at 24 months (p > 0.05). The CCS was superior for the D+ILS arm (p = 0.017). The risk of secondary intervention was 1.75 times higher among patients in the DA group than among those in the D+ILS group (p = 0.055). The DA arm had 228% more lumbar injections (4.5% for D+ILS vs 14.8% for DA; p = 0.0065) than the D+ILS one. Patients who underwent DA had a numerically higher rate of narcotic use at every time point postsurgically (16.7% for D+ILS vs 23% for DA at 24 months). Walking Distance Test results were statistically significantly different from baseline; the D+ILS group had > 2 times the improvement of the DA. The patients who underwent D+ILS had > 5 times the improvement from baseline compared with only 2 times the improvement from baseline for the DA group. Foraminal height and disc height were largely maintained in patients who underwent D+ILS, whereas patients treated with DA showed a significant decrease at 24 months postoperatively (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

This study showed no significant difference in the individual patient-reported outcomes (e.g., ODI, VAS, ZCQ) between the treatments when viewed in isolation. The CCS (survivorship, ODI success, absence of neurological deterioration or device- or procedure-related severe adverse events) is statistically superior for ILS. Microsurgical D+ILS increases walking distance, decreases compensatory pain management, and maintains radiographic foraminal height, extending the durability and sustainability of a decompression procedure.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT01316211 (clinicaltrials.gov)

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Matthias Reitz, Till Burkhardt, Eik Vettorazzi, Frank Raimund, Erik Fritzsche, Nils Ole Schmidt, Jan Regelsberger, Manfred Westphal and Sven Oliver Eicker

OBJECT

Intramedullary spinal cavernoma (ISC) is a rare entity and accounts for approximately 5%−12% of all spinal vascular pathologies. The purpose of the present study was to examine the influence of clinical presentation, localization, and different surgical approaches on long-term outcome in patients treated for ISC.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective single-center study of 48 cases of ISC treated microsurgically over the past 28 years. Analyzed factors included preoperative clinical history, microsurgical strategies, neurological outcome (American Spinal Injury Association [ASIA] grade, Epstein and Cooper grade), and the occurrence of postoperative spinal ataxia. Univariate analysis was performed to identify factors influencing long-term outcome.

RESULTS

Preoperatively, 18.8% of all patients experienced a slow, progressive decline in neurological function and 33.3% suffered repetitive episodes of acute neurological deterioration over a time frame of months to years. Moreover, 16.7% noted the sudden onset of a severe neurological deficit, whereas 25% experienced the sudden onset of symptoms with a subsequent gradually progressive decline in neurological function. On long-term follow-up after treatment (mean ± SD, 79.3 ± 35.2 months), 70.8% of patients showed no change in neurological function, 6.3% suffered from a decline, and 22.9% improved neurologically. Thoracolumbar localization (p = 0.043), low preoperative Epstein and Cooper grade for the lower extremities (p < 0.001), and a low preoperative ASIA grade (p < 0.001) were identified as factors associated with an unfavorable outcome (ASIA Grade A-C). The rate of spinal ataxia related to surgical approach was 16.7%.

CONCLUSION

Postoperative neurological function in ISC patients is determined by the preoperative neurological status. On long-term follow-up after microsurgical treatment, 93.7% of patients presented with a stable or improved condition (ASIA grade); thus, definite microsurgical treatment should be considered as long as patients present with only mild symptoms after the diagnosis of symptomatic ISC.