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Mini-open transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion

Beejal Y. Amin, Tsung-Hsi Tu, and Praveen V. Mummaneni

The potential advantages of a mini-open transforaminal interbody fusion (TLIF) operation are reduced blood loss, shorter length of stay, and less soft-tissue trauma compared to the standard open technique. Prior reports from our group and others have demonstrated successful outcomes using MIS techniques in lumbar fusion surgery.

In this 3D video, we demonstrate the key steps of the mini-open technique for a transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion using an expandable tubular retractor and contralateral percutaneous screw fixation for the treatment of a multiple recurrent disc herniation. The video demonstrates patient positioning, surgical opening with development of the Wiltse plane, placement of the tubular retractor, pedicle screw placement through both a percutaneous technique and a mini-open technique, decompression of the neural elements, graft insertion, and wound closure.

The video can be found here:

Open access

Cloward’s approach for Pancoast neurogenic tumors: illustrative cases

Yi-Hsuan Kuo, Po-Kuei Hsu, Jau-Ching Wu, Wen-Cheng Huang, and Tsung-Hsi Tu


Pancoast tumors are a wide range of tumors located in the apex of the lung. Traditional surgery for Pancoast neurogenic tumors frequently involves extensive approaches, whether anterior or posterior or a combination, in which osteotomies are sometimes required. In this study, the authors proposed a less invasive surgical strategy using the standard Cloward’s approach for complete resection of a schwannoma arising from the T1 nerve root.


Two patients, each harboring a large T1 tumor, one on each side, underwent Cloward’s approach with and without thoracoscopic surgery. Both patients had complete resection of the tumor. Considering the benign and encapsulated nature of neurogenic tumors, Cloward’s approach under neuromonitoring, which is a common procedure for anterior cervical discectomy for most neurosurgeons, is a safe and less invasive alternative for Pancoast neurogenic tumors. For patients whose tumor cannot be removed completely via Cloward’s approach, video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery is a viable backup plan with minimal invasiveness.


Cloward’s approach is a viable option for Pancoast neurogenic tumors.

Free access

Hybrid cervical disc arthroplasty

Tsung-Hsi Tu, Jau-Ching Wu, Henrich Cheng, and Praveen V. Mummaneni

For patients with multilevel cervical stenosis at nonadjacent segments, one of the traditional approaches has included a multilevel fusion of the abnormal segments as well as the intervening normal segment. In this video we demonstrate an alternative treatment plan with tailored use of a combination of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) and cervical disc arthroplasty (CDA) with an intervening skipped level.

The authors present the case of a 72-year-old woman with myeloradiculopathy and a large disc herniation with facet joint degeneration at C3–4 and bulging disc at C5–6. After nonoperative treatment failed, she underwent a single-level ACDF at C3–4 and single-level arthroplasty at C5–6, which successfully relieved her symptoms. No intervention was performed at the normal intervening C4–5 segment. By using ACDF combined with arthroplasty, the authors have avoided a 3-level fusion for this patient and maintained the range of motion of 2 disc levels.

The video can be found here:

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Mini-open removal of intradural spinal tumor

Jason S. Cheng, Cheerag Upadhyaya, Jau-Ching Wu, Tsung-Hsi Tu, and Praveen V. Mummaneni

Minimally invasive surgical (MIS) approaches have gained popularity in many surgical fields. Potential advantages to a minimally invasive, spinal intradural approach include decreased operative blood loss, shorter hospitalization, and less post-operative pain. Potential disadvantages include longer operative times, decreased exposure, and difficulty closing the dura. Prior case series from our group and others have demonstrated successful tumor resections using MIS techniques without increased complications. In this 3D video, we demonstrate the key steps in our mini-open, transpinous approach for the resection of an intradural, extramedullary lumbar schwannoma. This operation is performed through a midline incision confined to one or two levels. The spinous process is removed. The paraspinal muscles are spread using a series of sequentially larger tubular dilators, and the first dilator is placed in the space previously occupied by the target level spinous process. The expandable tube retractor is then placed over the largest dilator and docked into place over the target laminae. The expandable tubular retractor is 6 centimeters in depth and 2.5 centimeters in width before expansion and is adjustable to 9 centimeters in depth and 4–5 centimeters in diameter which allows removal of intradural lesions confined to one or two spinal segments.

The video can be found here: .

Free access

Editorial: Readmissions

Peter D. Angevine and Paul C. McCormick

Restricted access

Vertebral body split fracture after a single-level cervical total disc replacement

Case report

Tsung-Hsi Tu, Jau-Ching Wu, Li-Yu Fay, Chin-Chu Ko, Wen-Cheng Huang, and Henrich Cheng

Cervical total disc replacement (TDR) is a viable option for the surgical treatment of degenerative disc disease. This 67-year-old nonsmoking male patient underwent single-level ProDisc-C cervical TDR at C5–6 without any intraoperative problem. His radicular pain improved and he had no neck pain immediately after the operation. However, on postoperative Day 3, a radiograph demonstrated a vertical split fracture of the C-5 vertebra. This fracture was managed conservatively, and 2 years postoperatively a follow-up CT scan demonstrated stable device position and fusion of the fracture. Although the linear fracture caused no neurological symptoms or device migration, the authors advocate prudence in selection and installation of keel-design prostheses, even in a single-level cervical TDR scenario.

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Editorial: Disc replacement or arthrodesis

Tsung-Hsi Tu, John E. Ziewacz, and Praveen V. Mummaneni

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Editorial: Disc replacement versus fusion

Tsung-Hsi Tu, John E. Ziewacz, and Praveen V. Mummaneni

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The effects of carpentry on heterotopic ossification and mobility in cervical arthroplasty: determination by computed tomography with a minimum 2-year follow-up

Clinical article

Tsung-Hsi Tu, Jau-Ching Wu, Wen-Cheng Huang, Ching-Lan Wu, Chin-Chu Ko, and Henrich Cheng


Heterotopic ossification (HO) after cervical arthroplasty can limit the mobility of an artificial disc. In this study the authors used CT scanning to assess the formation of HO with the goal of investigating the correlation between the carpentry of arthroplasty, formation of HO, mobility, and clinical outcomes.


A retrospective review of medical records, radiological studies, and clinical evaluations was conducted for consecutive patients who underwent 1- or 2-level cervical arthroplasty with the Bryan disc. The patients underwent follow-up for more than 24 months. The formation of HO was assessed using CT scanning as the final determination. The perfectness of carpentry for each arthroplasty level was scrutinized using criteria composed of 2 parameters (postoperative shell kyphosis and inadequate endplate coverage). Levels were divided into the optimal carpentry group and the suboptimal carpentry group. Radiographic and clinical outcomes, including the visual analog scale and neck disability index, were compared between the groups.


A total of 107 levels of Bryan discs were placed in 75 patients (mean age 46.71 ± 9.94 years) and were analyzed. There was a male predominance of 68.0% (51 men), and the mean follow-up duration was 38.56 ± 9.66 months. Heterotopic ossification was identified in 60 levels (56.1%) by CT scanning. Most cases of HO were low grade and did not correlate with the limitation in the segmental motion of the arthroplasty device. There were no significant differences in terms of age, sex, and number of arthroplasty levels between the optimal and the suboptimal carpentry groups. However, the suboptimal carpentry group had significantly more high-grade HO (≥ Grade 2) than the optimal carpentry group (13 levels [12.1%] vs 7 levels [6.5%], p = 0.027). There were also more immobile (range of motion < 3°) artificial discs in the suboptimal carpentry group than the optimal carpentry group (11 levels [10.3%] vs 4 levels [3.7%], p = 0.010). The clinical outcomes (neck and arm visual analog scale scores and Neck Disability Index) in both groups were similarly good.


Shell kyphosis and inadequate endplate coverage have adverse effects on the formation of HO and segmental mobility after cervical arthroplasty with the Bryan artificial disc. Appropriate carpentry is the more important factor in determining the maintenance of segmental motion. Although the midterm clinical outcome remained similarly good regardless of HO, the carpentry of cervical arthroplasty should not be overlooked. Further studies are needed to clarify the etiology of HO.

Open access

Multilevel cervical disc arthroplasty: a review of optimal surgical management and future directions

Tsung-Hsi Tu, Ching-Ying Wang, Yu-Chun Chen, and Jau-Ching Wu


Cervical disc arthroplasty (CDA) has been recognized as a popular option for cervical radiculopathy or myelopathy caused by disc problems that require surgery. There have been prospective randomized controlled trials comparing CDA to anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) for 1- and 2-level disc herniations. However, the indications for CDA have been extended beyond the strict criteria of these clinical trials after widespread real-world experiences in the past decade. This article provides a bibliometric analysis with a review of the literature to understand the current trends of clinical practice and research on CDA.


The PubMed database was searched using the keywords pertaining to CDA in human studies that were published before August 2022. Analyses of the bibliometrics, including the types of papers, levels of evidence, countries, and the number of disc levels involved were conducted. Moreover, a systematic review of the contents with the emphasis on the current practice of multilevel CDA and complex cervical disc problems was performed.


A total of 957 articles published during the span of 22 years were analyzed. Nearly one-quarter of the articles (232, 24.2%) were categorized as level I evidence, and 33.0% were categorized as levels I or II. These studies clearly demonstrated the viability and effectiveness of CDA regarding clinical and radiological outcomes, including neurological improvement, maintenance, and preservation of segmental mobility with relatively low risks for several years postoperation. Also, there have been more papers published during the last decade focusing on multilevel CDA and fewer involving the comparison of ACDF. Overall, there was a clustering of CDA papers published from the US and East Asian countries. Based on substantial clinical data of CDA for 1- and 2-level disc diseases, the practice and research of CDA show a trend toward multilevel and complex disease conditions.


CDA is an established surgical management procedure for 1- and 2-level cervical disc herniation and spondylosis. The success of motion preservation by CDA—with low rates of complications—has outscored ACDF in patients without deformity. For more than 2-level disc diseases, the surgery shows a trend toward multiple CDA or hybrid ACDF–CDA according to individual evaluation for each level of degeneration.