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Eiji Mori, Takayoshi Ueta, Takeshi Maeda, Itaru Yugué, Osamu Kawano and Keiichiro Shiba

OBJECT

Axial neck pain after C3–6 laminoplasty has been reported to be significantly lesser than that after C3–7 laminoplasty because of the preservation of the C-7 spinous process and the attachment of nuchal muscles such as the trapezius and rhomboideus minor, which are connected to the scapula. The C-6 spinous process is the second longest spinous process after that of C-7, and it serves as an attachment point for these muscles. The effect of preserving the C-6 spinous process and its muscular attachment, in addition to preservation of the C-7 spinous process, on the prevention of axial neck pain is not well understood. The purpose of the current study was to clarify whether preservation of the paraspinal muscles of the C-6 spinous process reduces postoperative axial neck pain compared to that after using nonpreservation techniques.

METHODS

The authors studied 60 patients who underwent C3–6 double-door laminoplasty for the treatment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy or cervical ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament; the minimum follow-up period was 1 year. Twenty-five patients underwent a C-6 paraspinal muscle preservation technique, and 35 underwent a C-6 nonpreservation technique. A visual analog scale (VAS) and VAS grading (Grades I–IV) were used to assess axial neck pain 1–3 months after surgery and at the final follow-up examination. Axial neck pain was classified as being 1 of 5 types, and its location was divided into 5 areas. The potential correlation between the C-6/C-7 spinous process length ratio and axial neck pain was examined.

RESULTS

The mean VAS scores (± SD) for axial neck pain were comparable between the C6-preservation group and the C6-nonpreservation group in both the early and late postoperative stages (4.1 ± 3.1 vs 4.0 ± 3.2 and 3.8 ± 2.9 vs 3.6 ± 3.0, respectively). The distribution of VAS grades was comparable in the 2 groups in both postoperative stages. Stiffness was the most prevalent complaint in both groups (64.0% and 54.5%, respectively), and the suprascapular region was the most common site in both groups (60.0% and 57.1%, respectively). The types and locations of axial neck pain were also similar between the groups. The C-6/C-7 spinous process length ratios were similar in the groups, and they did not correlate with axial neck pain. The reductions of range of motion and changes in sagittal alignment after surgery were also similar.

CONCLUSIONS

The C-6 paraspinal muscle preservation technique was not superior to the C6-nonpreservation technique for preventing postoperative axial neck pain.

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Tetsuo Hayashi, Takayoshi Ueta, Masahiro Kubo, Takeshi Maeda and Keiichiro Shiba

Object

The origin of posttraumatic syringomyelia is not completely understood. With respect to posttraumatic syringomyelia, the optimum management strategy for patients with spinal cord injury has also not been established. The authors hypothesized that reconstruction of the subarachnoid channels would reestablish CSF flow, thereby addressing the underlying cause of the syrinx formation. The authors performed a new type of surgery, subarachnoid–subarachnoid bypass (S–S bypass), in which an attempt was made to reestablish normal CSF circulation around the spinal cord. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of S–S bypass for posttraumatic syringomyelia.

Methods

Twenty consecutive patients with symptomatic posttraumatic syringomyelia who had progressive neurological symptoms and underwent S–S bypass were included in the study. The surgical procedure was as follows: a laminectomy was performed at the level of trauma, and a midline dural opening was made under a microscope. The arachnoid was exposed up to the area of normal arachnoid mater with normal CSF circulation. After dissection of the normal arachnoid mater at the cephalic and caudal sites, 1 or 2 tubes made of medical-grade silicone were inserted into the cephalic and caudal ends of the normal subarachnoid space. Bypass tubes were laid in the subdural space, and a watertight dural closure was accomplished using running sutures. The mean follow-up period was 48.2 months (range 12–93 months). The preoperative status and postoperative clinical course were assessed according to 3 grading systems: the Frankel grading system for global neurological status, the American Spinal Injury Association motor score for motor weakness, and the Klekamp system for bladder function. The major presenting symptoms or signs were assessed in terms of symptom improvement, stabilization, or deterioration. Preoperative and postoperative MRI was used to analyze the size and craniocaudal extension of the cavity.

Results

Twelve patients showed clinical improvement, 4 were stable, and 4 showed deterioration. The mean length of the syrinx observed on preoperative MRI was 9.9 spinal levels, and the mean Vaquero index was 62.3%. The mean length of the syrinx observed on postoperative MRI was 5.3 spinal levels, and the mean Vaquero index was 28.4%. These values were significantly lower than the preoperative values (p = 0.01 and p < 0.01, respectively).

Conclusions

This study showed that interference with CSF flow was the major cause of syrinx development and that reconstruction of CSF flow is the most important treatment strategy based on the cause of the syrinx. Subarachnoid–subarachnoid bypass, which can be performed without myelotomy, was not only a safe and effective surgical technique, but may also be a more physiological way of treating posttraumatic syringomyelia.

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Yuichiro Morishita, Takeshi Maeda, Takayoshi Ueta, Masatoshi Naito and Keiichiro Shiba

Object

The goal of this prospective study was to investigate somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEPs) during dynamic motion of the cervical spine and to evaluate the efficacy of analyzing dynamic SSEPs for predicting dynamic effects on the spinal cord in patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM).

Methods

In total, 40 human subjects (20 CSM patients and 20 healthy volunteers as a control group) were examined prospectively using dynamic SSEPs with median nerve stimulation. The CSM patients showed cervical myelopathy due to cervical cord compression at the C4–5 segment. The SSEPs were examined with the cervical spine in a neutral position and at a 20° extension for 10 and 20 minutes. Changes in the N20 latency and amplitude were determined and analyzed. The authors defined the changes in the N20 latency and N20 amplitude between the neutral and extension positions of the cervical spine as percent latency and amplitude, respectively.

Results

In the CSM patients, SSEPs tended to deteriorate after cervical spine extension, and a statistically significant deterioration of the N20 amplitude after the extension was observed. Moreover, the percent latency and amplitude progressively increased during cervical spine extension in these patients. In the healthy controls, SSEPs tended to deteriorate with cervical spine extension, but these changes did not result in statistically significant differences. Moreover, in this group the percent latency and amplitude were almost identical during the extension. When the CSM patients and the healthy controls were compared, a significant difference in the percent amplitude was observed between the 2 groups during the cervical spine extension.

Conclusions

This study suggests the potential of dynamic SSEPs as a useful neurophysiological technique to detect the effect of dynamic factors on the pathogenesis of CSM.

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Eiji Mori, Takayoshi Ueta, Takeshi Maeda, Ryousuke Ideta, Itaru Yugué, Osamu Kawano and Keiichiro Shiba

OBJECTIVE

This study investigated neurological improvements after conservative treatment in patients with complete motor paralysis caused by acute cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) without bone and disc injury.

METHODS

This study was retrospective. The authors evaluated neurological outcomes after conservative treatment of 62 patients with complete motor paralysis caused by cervical SCI without bone and disc injury within 72 hours after trauma. The sequential changes in their American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS) grades were reviewed at follow-up 24–72 hours, 1 week, and 1, 3, and 6 months after treatment.

RESULTS

Of the 31 patients with a baseline AIS grade of A, 2 (6.5%) patients improved to grade B, 5 (16.1%) improved to grade C, and 2 (6.5%) improved to grade D by the 6-month follow-up. The 22 (71.0%) patients who remained at AIS grade A 1 month after injury showed no neurological improvement at the 6-month follow-up. Of the 31 patients with a baseline AIS grade of B, 12 (38.7%) patients showed at least a 1-grade improvement at the 1-month follow-up; 11 (35.5%) patients improved to grade C and 16 (51.6%) patients improved to grade D at the 6-month follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS

Even in patients with complete motor paralysis caused by cervical SCI without bone and disc injury within 72 hours after trauma, approximately 30% of the patients with an AIS grade of A and 85% of the patients with an AIS grade B improved neurologically after conservative treatment. It is very important to recognize the extent of neurological improvement possible with conservative treatment, even for severe complete motor paralysis.

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Nobuaki Tsukamoto, Takeshi Maeda, Hiromasa Miura, Seiya Jingushi, Akira Hosokawa, Katsumi Harimaya, Hidehiko Higaki, Kousaku Kurata and Yukihide Iwamoto

Object

Mechanical stress has been considered one of the important factors in ossification of the spinal ligaments. According to previous clinical and in vitro studies, the accumulation of tensile stress to these ligaments may be responsible for ligament ossification. To elucidate the relationship between such mechanical stress and the development of ossification of the spinal ligaments, the authors established an animal experimental model in which the in vivo response of the spinal ligaments to direct repetitive tensile loading could be observed.

Methods

The caudal vertebrae of adult Wistar rats were studied. After creating a novel stimulating apparatus, cyclic tensile force was loaded to rat caudal spinal ligaments at 10 N in 600 to 1800 cycles per day for up to 2 weeks. The morphological responses were then evaluated histologically and immunohistochemically.

After the loadings, ectopic cartilaginous formations surrounded by proliferating round cells were observed near the insertion of the spinal ligaments. Several areas of the cartilaginous tissue were accompanied by woven bone. Bone morphogenetic protein–2 expression was clearly observed in the cytoplasm of the proliferating round cells. The histological features of the rat spinal ligaments induced by the tensile loadings resembled those of spinal ligament ossification observed in humans.

Conclusions

The findings obtained in the present study strongly suggest that repetitive tensile stress to the spinal ligaments is one of the important causes of ligament ossification in the spine.

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Hirokazu Saiwai, Seiji Okada, Mitsumasa Hayashida, Katsumi Harimaya, Yoshihiro Matsumoto, Ken-ichi Kawaguchi, Kazu Kobayakawa, Takeshi Maeda, Hideki Ohta, Kenzo Shirasawa, Kuniyoshi Tsuchiya, Kazumasa Terada, Kouzo Kaji, Takeshi Arizono, Taichi Saito, Masami Fujiwara, Yukihide Iwamoto and Yasuharu Nakashima

OBJECTIVE

Compression of the spinal cord by thoracic ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (T-OPLL) often causes severe thoracic myelopathy. Although surgery is the most effective treatment for T-OPLL, problems associated with surgical intervention require resolution because surgical outcomes are not always favorable, and a small number of patients experience deterioration of their neurological status after surgery. The aim of the present study was to examine the surgery-related risk factors contributing to poor clinical outcomes for myelopathy caused by T-OPLL.

METHODS

Data were extracted from the records of 55 patients with thoracic myelopathy due to T-OPLL at institutions in the Fukuoka Spine Group. The mean follow-up period was 5.3 years. Surgical outcomes were assessed using the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scale. To investigate the definitive factors associated with surgical outcomes, univariate and multivariate regression analyses were performed with several patient-related and surgery-related factors, including preoperative comorbidities, radiological findings, JOA score, surgical methods, surgical outcomes, and complications.

RESULTS

Neurological status improved in 33 patients (60.0%) and deteriorated in 10 patients (18.2%) after surgery. The use of instrumentation was significantly associated with an improved outcome. In the comparison of surgical approaches, posterior decompression and fusion resulted in a significantly higher neurological recovery rate than did anterior decompression via a posterior approach and fusion or decompression alone. It was also found that postoperative neurological status was significantly poorer when there were fewer instrumented spinal levels than decompression levels. CSF leakage was a predictable risk factor for deterioration following surgery.

CONCLUSIONS

It is important to identify preventable risk factors for poor surgical outcomes for T-OPLL. The findings of the present study suggest that intraoperative CSF leakage and a lower number of instrumented spinal fusion levels than decompression levels were exacerbating factors for the neurological improvement in T-OPLL surgery.