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Marcus D. Mazur, Vijay M. Ravindra and Douglas L. Brockmeyer

OBJECT

Patients with occipitocervical (OC) instability from congenital vertebral anomalies (CVAs) of the craniocervical junction (CCJ) often have bony abnormalities that make instrumentation placement difficult. Within this patient population, some bilateral instrumentation constructs either fail or are not feasible, and a unilateral construct must be used. The authors describe the surgical management and outcomes of this disorder in patients in whom unilateral fixation constructs were used to treat OC instability.

METHODS

From a database of OC fusion procedures, the authors identified patients who underwent unilateral fixation for the management of OC instability. Patient characteristics, surgical details, and radiographic outcomes were reviewed. In each patient, CT scans were performed at least 4 months after surgery to evaluate for fusion.

RESULTS

Eight patients with CVAs of the CCJ underwent unilateral fixation for the treatment of OC instability. For 4 patients, the procedure occurred after a bilateral OC construct failed or infection forced hardware removal. For the remainder, it was the primary procedure. Two patients required reoperation for hardware revision and 1 developed nonunion requiring revision of the bone graft. Ultimately, 7 patients demonstrated osseous fusion on CT scans and 1 had a stable fibrous union.

CONCLUSIONS

These findings demonstrate that a unilateral OC fixation is effective for the treatment of OC instability in children with CVAs of the CCJ in whom bilateral screw placement fails or is not feasible.

Free access

Vijay M. Ravindra, Andrea Brock, Al-Wala Awad, Ricky Kalra and Meic H. Schmidt

OBJECTIVE

Treatment advances have resulted in improved survival for many cancer types, and this, in turn, has led to an increased incidence of metastatic disease, specifically to the vertebral column. Surgical decompression and stabilization prior to radiation therapy have been shown to improve functional outcomes, but anterior access to the thoracolumbar junction may involve open thoracotomy, which can cause significant morbidity. The authors describe the treatment of 12 patients in whom a mini-open thoracoscopic-assisted approach (mini-open TAA) to the thoracolumbar junction was used to treat metastatic disease, with an analysis of outcomes.

METHODS

The authors reviewed a retrospective cohort of patients treated for thoracolumbar junction metastatic disease with mini-open TAA between 2004 and 2016. Data collection included operative time, estimated blood loss, length of stay, follow-up duration, and pre- and postoperative visual analog scale scores and Frankel grades.

RESULTS

Twelve patients underwent a mini-open TAA procedure for metastatic disease at the thoracolumbar junction. The mean age of patients was 59 years (range 53–77 years), mean estimated blood loss was 613 ml, and the mean duration of the mini-open TAA procedure was 234 minutes (3.8 hours). The median length of stay in the hospital was 7.5 days (range 5–21 days). All 12 patients had significant improvement in their postoperative pain scores in comparison with their preoperative pain scores (p < 0.001). No patients suffered from worsening neurological function after surgery, and of 7 patients who presented with neurological dysfunction, 6 (86%) had an improvement in their Frankel grade after surgery. No patients experienced delayed hardware failure requiring reoperation over a mean follow-up of 10 months (range 1–45 months).

CONCLUSIONS

The mini-open TAA to the thoracolumbar junction for metastatic disease is a durable procedure that has a reduced morbidity rate compared with traditional open thoracotomy for ventral decompression and fusion. It compares well with traditional and novel posterior approaches to the thoracolumbar junction. The authors found a significant improvement in preoperative pain and neurological symptoms that supports greater use of the mini-open TAA for the treatment of complex metastatic disease at the thoracolumbar junction.

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Wilson Z. Ray, Vijay M. Ravindra, Meic H. Schmidt and Andrew T. Dailey

Object

Pelvic fixation is a crucial adjunct to many lumbar fusions to avoid L5–S1 pseudarthrosis. It is useful for treatment of kyphoscoliosis, high-grade spondylolisthesis, L5–S1 pseudarthrosis, sacral tumors, lumbosacral dislocations, and osteomyelitis. The most popular method, iliac fixation, has drawbacks including hardware prominence, extensive muscle dissection, and the need for connection devices. S-2 alar iliac fixation provides a useful primary or salvage alternative. The authors describe their techniques for using stereotactic navigation for screw placement.

Methods

The O-arm Surgical Imaging System allowed for CT-quality multiplanar reconstructions of the pelvis, and registration to a StealthStation Treon provided intraoperative guidance. The authors describe their technique for performing computer-assisted S-2 alar iliac fixation for various indications in 18 patients during an 18-month period.

Results

All patients underwent successful bilateral placement of screws 80–100 mm in length. All placements were confirmed with a second multiplanar reconstruction. One screw was moved because of apparent anterior breach of the ilium. There were no immediate neurological or vascular complications due to screw placement. The screw length required additional instruments including a longer pedicle finder and tap.

Conclusions

Stereotactic guidance to navigate the placement of distal pelvic fixation with bilateral S-2 alar iliac fixation can be safely performed in patients with a variety of pathological conditions. Crossing the sacroiliac joint, choosing trajectory, and ensuring adequate screw length can all be enhanced with 3D image guidance. Long-term outcome studies are underway, specifically evaluating the sacroiliac joint.

Free access

Hussam Abou-Al-Shaar, Michael Karsy, Vijay Ravindra, Evan Joyce and Mark A. Mahan

Particularly challenging after complete brachial plexus avulsion is reestablishing effective hand function, due to limited neurological donors to reanimate the arm. Acute repair of avulsion injuries may enable reinnervation strategies for achieving hand function. This patient presented with pan–brachial plexus injury. Given its irreparable nature, the authors recommended multistage reconstruction, including contralateral C-7 transfer for hand function, multiple intercostal nerves for shoulder/triceps function, shoulder fusion, and spinal accessory nerve–to–musculocutaneous nerve transfer for elbow flexion. The video demonstrates distal contraction from electrical stimulation of the avulsed roots. Single neurorrhaphy of the contralateral C-7 transfer was performed along with a retrosternocleidomastoid approach.

The video can be found here: https://youtu.be/GMPfno8sK0U.

Free access

Vijay M. Ravindra, Jayson A. Neil, Marcus D. Mazur, Min S. Park, William T. Couldwell and Philipp Taussky

The craniocervical junction (CCJ) functions within a complicated regional anatomy necessary to protect and support vital neurovascular structures. In select instances, vascular pathology can be attributed to this complicated interplay of motion and structure found within this narrow space. The authors report 3 cases of complex vascular pathology related to motion at the CCJ and detail the management of these cases. Two cases involved posterior circulation vascular compression syndromes, and one case involved a vascular anomaly and its relation to aneurysm formation and rupture. The patient in Case 1 was a 66-year-old man with a history of syncopal episodes resulting from the bilateral vertebral artery becoming occluded when he rotated his head. Successful microsurgical decompression at the skull base resulted in patent bilateral vertebral artery V3 segments upon head movement in all directions. The patient in Case 2 was a 53-year-old woman who underwent elective resection of a right temporal meningioma and who experienced postoperative drowsiness, dysphagia, and mild right-arm ataxia. Subsequent MRI demonstrated bilateral posterior inferior cerebel-lar artery (PICA) strokes. Cerebral angiography showed a single PICA, of extradural origin, supplying both cerebellar hemispheres. The PICA exhibited dynamic extradural compression when the patient rotated her head; the bilateral PICA strokes were due to head rotation during surgical positioning. In Case 3, a 37-year-old woman found unconscious in her home had diffuse subarachnoid hemorrhage and evidence of a right PICA aneurysm. A right far-lateral craniectomy was performed for aneurysm clipping, and she was found to have a dissecting aneurysm with an associated PICA originating extradurally. There was a shearing phenomenon of the extradural PICA along the dura of the foramen magnum, and this microtraumatic stress imposed on the vessel resulted in a dissecting aneurysm. This series of complex and unusual cases highlights the authors’ understanding of vascular pathology of the CCJ and its management.

Free access

Vijay M. Ravindra, Ilyas M. Eli, Meic H. Schmidt and Douglas L. Brockmeyer

Spinal column tumors are rare in children and young adults, accounting for only 1% of all spine and spinal cord tumors combined. They often present diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. In this article, the authors review the current management of primary osseous tumors of the pediatric spinal column and highlight diagnosis, management, and surgical decision making.

Free access

Jian Guan, Vijay M. Ravindra, Meic H. Schmidt, Andrew T. Dailey, Robert S. Hood and Erica F. Bisson

OBJECTIVE

Recurrent lumbar disc herniation (RLDH) is a significant cause of morbidity in patients undergoing lumbar discectomy and has been reported to occur in up to 18% of cases. While repeat discectomy is often successful in treating these patients, concern over repeat RLDH may lead surgeons to advocate instrumented fusion even in the absence of instability. The authors' goal was to compare clinical outcomes for patients undergoing repeat discectomy versus instrumented fusion for RLDH.

METHODS

The authors used the National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database (N2QOD) to assess outcomes of patients who underwent repeat discectomy versus instrumented fusion at a single institution from 2012 to 2015. Primary outcomes included Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score, visual analog scale (VAS) score, and quality-adjusted life year (QALY) measures. Secondary outcomes included hospital length of stay, discharge status, and hospital charges.

RESULTS

The authors identified 25 repeat discectomy and 12 instrumented fusion patients with 3- and 12-month follow-up records. The groups had similar ODI and VAS scores and QALY measurements at 3 and 12 months. Patients in the instrumented fusion group had significantly longer hospitalizations (3.7 days vs 1.0 days, p < 0.001) and operative times (229.6 minutes vs 82.7 minutes, p < 0.001). They were also more likely to be female (p = 0.020) and to be discharged to inpatient rehabilitation instead of home (p = 0.036). Hospital charges for the instrumented fusion group were also significantly higher ($54,458.29 vs $11,567.05, p < 0.001). Rates of reoperation were higher in the repeat discectomy group (12% vs 0%), but the difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.211).

CONCLUSIONS

Repeat discectomy and instrumented fusion result in similar clinical outcomes at short-term follow-up. Patients undergoing repeat discectomy had significantly shorter operative times and length of stay, and they incurred dramatically lower hospital charges. They were also less likely to require acute rehabilitation postoperatively. Further research is needed to compare these two management strategies.

Full access

Rinchen Phuntsok, Marcus D. Mazur, Benjamin J. Ellis, Vijay M. Ravindra and Douglas L. Brockmeyer

OBJECT

There is a significant deficiency in understanding the biomechanics of the pediatric craniocervical junction (CCJ) (occiput–C2), primarily because of a lack of human pediatric cadaveric tissue and the relatively small number of treated patients. To overcome this deficiency, a finite element model (FEM) of the pediatric CCJ was created using pediatric geometry and parameterized adult material properties. The model was evaluated under the physiological range of motion (ROM) for flexion-extension, axial rotation, and lateral bending and under tensile loading.

METHODS

This research utilizes the FEM method, which is a numerical solution technique for discretizing and analyzing systems. The FEM method has been widely used in the field of biomechanics. A CT scan of a 13-month-old female patient was used to create the 3D geometry and surfaces of the FEM model, and an open-source FEM software suite was used to apply the material properties and boundary and loading conditions and analyze the model. The published adult ligament properties were reduced to 50%, 25%, and 10% of the original stiffness in various iterations of the model, and the resulting ROMs for flexion-extension, axial rotation, and lateral bending were compared. The flexion-extension ROMs and tensile stiffness that were predicted by the model were evaluated using previously published experimental measurements from pediatric cadaveric tissues.

RESULTS

The model predicted a ROM within 1 standard deviation of the published pediatric ROM data for flexion-extension at 10% of adult ligament stiffness. The model's response in terms of axial tension also coincided well with published experimental tension characterization data. The model behaved relatively stiffer in extension than in flexion. The axial rotation and lateral bending results showed symmetric ROM, but there are currently no published pediatric experimental data available for comparison. The model predicts a relatively stiffer ROM in both axial rotation and lateral bending in comparison with flexion-extension. As expected, the flexion-extension, axial rotation, and lateral bending ROMs increased with the decrease in ligament stiffness.

CONCLUSIONS

An FEM of the pediatric CCJ was created that accurately predicts flexion-extension ROM and axial force displacement of occiput–C2 when the ligament material properties are reduced to 10% of the published adult ligament properties. This model gives a reasonable prediction of pediatric cervical spine ligament stiffness, the relationship between flexion-extension ROM, and ligament stiffness at the CCJ. The creation of this model using open-source software means that other researchers will be able to use the model as a starting point for research.

Full access

Vijay M. Ravindra, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Walavan Sivakumar, Ryan R. Metzger and Robert J. Bollo

OBJECT

Computed tomography angiography (CTA) is frequently used to examine patients for blunt cerebrovascular injury (BCVI) after cranial trauma, but the pediatric population at risk for BCVI is poorly defined. Although CTA is effective for BCVI screening in adults, the increased lifetime risk for malignant tumors associated with this screening modality warrants efforts to reduce its use in children. The authors' objective was to evaluate the incidence of BCVI diagnosed by CTA in a pediatric patient cohort and to create a prediction model to identify children at high risk for BCVI.

METHODS

Demographic, clinical, and radiographic data were collected retrospectively for pediatric patients who underwent CTA during examination for traumatic cranial injury from 2003 through 2013. The primary outcome was injury to the carotid or vertebral artery diagnosed by CTA.

RESULTS

The authors identified 234 patients (mean age 8.3 years, range 0.04–17 years, 150 [64%] boys) who underwent CTA screening for BCVI. Of these, 24 (10.3%) had a focal neurological deficit, and 153 (65.4%) had intracranial hemorrhage on a head CTA. Thirty-seven BCVIs were observed in 36 patients (15.4%), and 16 patients (6.8%) died. Multivariate regression analysis identified fracture through the carotid canal, petrous temporal bone fracture, Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score of < 8, focal neurological deficit, and stroke on initial CT scan as independent risk factors for BCVI. A prediction model for identifying children at high risk for BCVI was created. A score of ≤ 2 yielded a 7.9% probability of BCVI and a score of ≥ 3 a risk of 39.3% for BCVI.

CONCLUSIONS

For cranial trauma in children, fracture of the petrous temporal bone or through the carotid canal, focal neurological deficit, stroke, and a GCS score of < 8 are independent risk factors for BCVI.