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W. Bradley Jacobs and Michael G. Fehlings

✓ Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory rheumatic disease that primarily affects the vertebral column and sacroiliac joints. Over time, the disease process promotes extensive remodeling of the spinal axis via ligamentous ossification, vertebral joint fusion, osteoporosis, and kyphosis. These pathological changes result in a weakened vertebral column with increased susceptibility to fractures and spinal cord injury (SCI). Spinal cord injury is often exacerbated by the highly unstable nature of vertebral column fractures in AS. A high incidence of missed fractures in the ankylosed spine as well as an increased incidence of spinal epidural hematoma also worsens the severity of SCI. Spinal cord injury in AS is a complex problem associated with high morbidity and mortality rates, which can be attributed to the severity of the injury, associated medical comorbidities, and the advanced age of most patients with AS who suffer an SCI. In this paper the authors outline the factors that increase the incidence of vertebral column fractures and SCI in AS and discuss the management of SCI in patients with AS. Primary prevention strategies for SCI in patients with AS are outlined as well.

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W. Bradley Jacobs, Richard J. Bransford, Carlo Bellabarba and Jens R. Chapman


Charcot spinal arthropathy (CSA) is an uncommon disorder that occurs in the setting of conditions with decreased protective sensation of the vertebral column, resulting in vertebral joint degeneration, pain, and deformity. Historically, CSA treatment has been fraught with high failure rates. Over time, the authors' institution has trended toward a CSA treatment paradigm of intralesional debridement, circumferential fusion, and four-rod lumbopelvic fixation. As such, the overall objectives of this study were to define the specific clinical characteristics of this rare condition and to determine whether the authors' treatment paradigm has decreased the incidence of revision due to hardware failure/presumed pseudarthrosis or the development of a new CSA over the course of the study and in comparison with historical controls.


The authors performed a retrospective review of the clinical and radiographic records for all patients with CSA treated by the Spine Service at the University of Washington between 1997 and 2009.


Twenty-three patients with CSA were identified. The mean age at presentation was 43.1 years, and the mean latency between spinal cord injury and CSA diagnosis was 19.6 years. The mean follow-up was 33.1 months. Pain and progressive deformity were the major presenting symptoms. Concomitant infection was identified in 17% of patients. Patients with CSA were noted to have long initial fusion constructs spanning an average of 8.4 vertebral levels. Charcot spinal arthropathy did not occur above the level of neurological injury. The vast majority of CSA cases occurred caudally along the spinal axis, with 65% occurring within 1 level of the caudal end of the index fusion construct and 35% occurring even farther distally. Revision due to hardware failure or the development of a new CSA level occurred in 35% of patients. Rates of treatment failure requiring revision significantly decreased over the course of the study, with revision occurring in 6 (66%) of 9 patients who underwent surgery before 2002, in comparison with only 2 (14%) of 14 treated between 2002 and 2009. During a mean follow-up period of 34 months, no treatment revision occurred in the subgroup of 9 patients who underwent four-rod lumbopelvic fixation.


This study represents the largest reported modern surgical series of CSA patients. While revision rates were initially high and comparable to previous reports, the authors' multimodal treatment paradigm, which includes the use of bone morphogenetic protein and four-rod lumbopelvic fixation, dramatically reduced the incidence of treatment failure requiring revision over the course of the study period and represents a significant improvement in the treatment of CSA.

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W. Bradley Jacobs and Richard G. Perrin

Metastases to the spine are a common and somber manifestation of systemic neoplasia. The incidence of spinal metastases continues to increase, likely a result of increasing survival times for patients with cancer. Historically, surgery for spinal metastases has consisted of simple decompressive laminectomy. Results obtained in retrospective case series, however, have shown that this treatment provides little benefit to the patient. With the advent of better patient-related selection practices, in conjunction with new surgical techniques and improved postoperative care, the ability of surgical therapy to play an important and beneficial role in the multidisciplinary care of cancer patients with spinal disease has improved significantly. Controversy remains, however, with respect to the relative merits of surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments.

In this topic review, the literature on spinal column and spinal cord metastases is collated to provide a description of the presentation, investigations, indications for surgical therapy, and the role of adjuvant cancer therapies for patients with spinal metastases. In addition, the authors discuss the different surgical strategies available in the armamentarium of the neurosurgeon treating patients with spinal metastasis.

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Won Hyung A. Ryu, Michael M. H. Yang, Sandeep Muram, W. Bradley Jacobs, Steven Casha and Jay Riva-Cambrin


As the cost of health care continues to increase, there is a growing emphasis on evaluating the relative economic value of treatment options to guide resource allocation. The objective of this systematic review was to evaluate the current evidence regarding the cost-effectiveness of cranial neurosurgery procedures.


The authors performed a systematic review of the literature using PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library, focusing on themes of economic evaluation and cranial neurosurgery following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. Included studies were publications of cost-effectiveness analysis or cost-utility analysis between 1995 and 2017 in which health utility outcomes in life years (LYs), quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), or disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) were used. Three independent reviewers conducted the study appraisal, data abstraction, and quality assessment, with differences resolved by consensus discussion.


In total, 3485 citations were reviewed, with 53 studies meeting the inclusion criteria. Of those, 34 studies were published in the last 5 years. The most common subspecialty focus was cerebrovascular (32%), followed by neurooncology (26%) and functional neurosurgery (24%). Twenty-eight (53%) studies, using a willingness to pay threshold of US$50,000 per QALY or LY, found a specific surgical treatment to be cost-effective. In addition, there were 11 (21%) studies that found a specific surgical option to be economically dominant (both cost saving and having superior outcome), including endovascular thrombectomy for acute ischemic stroke, epilepsy surgery for drug-refractory epilepsy, and endoscopic pituitary tumor resection.


There is an increasing number of cost-effectiveness studies in cranial neurosurgery, especially within the last 5 years. Although there are numerous procedures, such as endovascular thrombectomy for acute ischemic stroke, that have been conclusively proven to be cost-effective, there remain promising interventions in current practice that have yet to meet cost-effectiveness thresholds.

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Heterotopic ossification and radiographic adjacent-segment disease after cervical disc arthroplasty

Presented at the 2019 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Michael M. H. Yang, Won Hyung A. Ryu, Steven Casha, Stephan DuPlessis, W. Bradley Jacobs and R. John Hurlbert


Cervical disc arthroplasty (CDA) is an accepted motion-sparing technique associated with favorable patient outcomes. However, heterotopic ossification (HO) and adjacent-segment degeneration are poorly understood adverse events that can be observed after CDA. The purpose of this study was to retrospectively examine 1) the effect of the residual exposed endplate (REE) on HO, and 2) identify risk factors predicting radiographic adjacent-segment disease (rASD) in a consecutive cohort of CDA patients.


A retrospective cohort study was performed on consecutive adult patients (≥ 18 years) who underwent 1- or 2-level CDA at the University of Calgary between 2002 and 2015 with > 1-year follow-up. REE was calculated by subtracting the anteroposterior (AP) diameter of the arthroplasty device from the native AP endplate diameter measured on lateral radiographs. HO was graded using the McAfee classification (low grade, 0–2; high grade, 3 and 4). Change in AP endplate diameter over time was measured at the index and adjacent levels to indicate progressive rASD.


Forty-five patients (58 levels) underwent CDA during the study period. The mean age was 46 years (SD 10 years). Twenty-six patients (58%) were male. The median follow-up was 29 months (IQR 42 months). Thirty-three patients (73%) underwent 1-level CDA. High-grade HO developed at 19 levels (33%). The mean REE was 2.4 mm in the high-grade HO group and 1.6 mm in the low-grade HO group (p = 0.02). On multivariable analysis, patients with REE > 2 mm had a 4.5-times-higher odds of developing high-grade HO (p = 0.02) than patients with REE ≤ 2 mm. No significant relationship was observed between the type of artificial disc and the development of high-grade HO (p = 0.1). RASD was more likely to develop in the lower cervical spine (p = 0.001) and increased with time (p < 0.001). The presence of an artificial disc was highly protective against degenerative changes at the index level of operation (p < 0.001) but did not influence degeneration in the adjacent segments.


In patients undergoing CDA, high-grade HO was predicted by REE. Therefore, maximizing the implant-endplate interface may help to reduce high-grade HO and preserve motion. RASD increases in an obligatory manner following CDA and is highly linked to specific levels (e.g., C6–7) rather than the presence or absence of an adjacent arthroplasty device. The presence of an artificial disc is, however, protective against further degenerative change at the index level of operation.