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Dhruve S. Jeevan, Mohamed Saleh, Michael LaBagnara, Jayson A. Neil and Virany H. Hillard

Malignant carotid body tumors are rare, with spread of the tumor mostly noted in regional lymph nodes. Vertebral metastases are an exceedingly rare presentation, only reported in isolated case reports, and present a diagnostic and management challenge. A case of widespread vertebral metastasis, presenting with myelopathy, from a carotid body tumor is discussed in this paper, along with management strategies.

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Aaron R. Cutler, Saquib Siddiqui, Mohan Avinash L., Virany H. Hillard, Franco Cerabona and Kaushik Das

Object

Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) is an accepted alternative to circumferential fusion of the lumbar spine in the treatment of degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, and recurrent disc herniation. To maintain disc height while arthrodesis takes place, the technique requires the use of an interbody spacer. Although titanium cages are used in this capacity, the two most common spacers are polyetheretherketone (PEEK) cages and femoral cortical allografts (FCAs). The authors compared the clinical and radiographic outcomes of patients who underwent TLIF with pedicle screw fixation, in whom either a PEEK cage or an FCA was placed as an interbody spacer.

Methods

The charts and x-ray films obtained in 39 patients (age range 33–68 years, mean 44.7 years) who underwent single-level TLIF between October 2001 and April 2004 and in whom either a PEEK cage (18 patients) or FCA (21 patients) was placed as an interbody spacer were evaluated in a retrospective study. Radiological outcome was based on fusion rate and a comparison of the initial postoperative lordotic angle on standing lateral radiographs with that at long-term follow up (mean follow up 15.1 months, minimum 12 months). To control for variations in radiographic magnification, the authors used lordotic angle as an indirect measure of disc space height. Clinical outcome was assessed using the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI).

There were no major complications in either group. Radiographically documented fusion occurred in all patients in the PEEK group and 95.2% of those in the FCA group. Pseudarthrosis developed in one patient in the FCA group, and this patient underwent additional surgery. In both groups, the mean lordotic angle changed by less than 2.20° during the postoperative period, and the mean postoperative ODI score was more than 40 points lower than the mean preoperative score. There was no significant difference between the two groups in mean change in lordotic angle (p = 0.415) and mean change in ODI score (p = 0.491).

Conclusions

Both PEEK cages and FCAs are highly effective in promoting interbody fusion, maintaining postoperative disc space height, and achieving desirable clinical outcomes in patients who undergo TLIF with pedicle screw fixation. The advantages of PEEK cages include a lower incidence of subsidence and their radiolucency, which permits easier visualization of bone growth.

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Virany H. Hillard, Hong Peng, Kaushik Das, Raj Murali, Chitti R. Moorthy, Joseph D. Etlinger and Richard J. Zeman

Object

Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO), the nitroxide antioxidant tempol, and x-irradiation have been used to promote locomotor recovery in experimental models of spinal cord injury. The authors used x-irradiation of the injury site together with either HBO or tempol to determine whether combined therapy offers greater benefit to rats.

Methods

Contusion injury was produced with a weight-drop device in rats at the T-10 level, and recovery was determined using the 21-point Basso-Beattie-Bresnahan (BBB) locomotor scale. Locomotor function recovered progressively during the 6-week postinjury observation period and was significantly greater after x-irradiation (20 Gy) of the injury site or treatment with tempol (275 mg/kg intraperitoneally) than in untreated rats (final BBB Scores 10.6 [x-irradiation treated] and 9.1 [tempol treated] compared with 6.4 [untreated], p < 0.05). Recovery was not significantly improved by HBO (2 atm for 1 hour [BBB Score 8.2, p > 0.05]). Interestingly, the improved recovery of locomotor function after x-irradiation, in contrast with antiproliferative radiotherapy for neoplasia, was inhibited when used together with either HBO or tempol (BBB Scores 8.2 and 8.3, respectively). The ability of tempol to block enhanced locomotor recovery by x-irradiation was accompanied by prevention of alopecia at the irradiation site. The extent of locomotor recovery following treatment with tempol, HBO, and x-irradiation correlated with measurements of spared spinal cord tissue at the contusion epicenter.

Conclusions

These results suggest that these treatments, when used alone, can activate neuroprotective mechanisms but, in combination, may result in neurotoxicity.