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Wayne M. Gluf and Douglas L. Brockmeyer

Object. In this, the second of two articles regarding C1–2 transarticular screw fixation, the authors discuss their surgical experience in treating patients 16 years of age and younger, detailing the rate of fusion, complication avoidance, and lessons learned in the pediatric population.

Methods. The authors retrospectively reviewed 67 consecutive patients (23 girls and 44 boys) younger than 16 years of age in whom at least one C1–2 transarticular screw fixation procedure was performed. A total of 127 transarticular screws were placed in these 67 patients whose mean age at time of surgery was 9 years (range 1.7–16 years). The indications for surgery were trauma in 24 patients, os odontoideum in 22 patients, and congenital anomaly in 17 patients. Forty-four patients underwent atlantoaxial fusion and 23 patients underwent occipitocervical fusion. Two of the 67 patients underwent halo therapy postoperatively.

All patients were followed for a minimum of 3 months. In all 67 patients successful fusion was achieved.Complications occurred in seven patients (10.4%), including two vertebral artery injuries.

Conclusions. The use of C1–2 transarticular screw fixation, combined with appropriate atlantoaxial and craniovertebral bone/graft constructs, resulted in a 100% fusion rate in a large consecutive series of pediatric patients. The risks of C1–2 transarticular screw fixation can be minimized in this population by undertaking careful patient selection and meticulous preoperative planning.

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Oren N. Gottfried, Wayne M. Gluf, and Meic H. Schmidt

Cavernous hemangioma of the calvaria is a very rare disease, and patients usually present with headaches or a visible skull deformity. Few reports of patients presenting with intradiploic or epidural hemorrhages are found in the literature. No case of an intradural hemorrhage from a cavernous hemangioma of the skull has been reported to date. The authors present the case of a 50-year-old man in whom a symptomatic subdural hematoma (SDH) resulting from a cavernous hemangioma of the calvaria had hemorrhaged and eroded through the inner table of the skull and dura mater. The patient underwent surgery for evacuation of the SDH and resection of the calvarial lesion. Postoperatively, the patient experienced immediate relief of his symptoms and had no clinical or radiological recurrence. Calvarial cavernous hemangiomas should be considered in the differential diagnosis of nontraumatic SDHs. Additionally, skull lesions that present with intracranial hemorrhages must be identified and resected at the time of hematoma evacuation to prevent recurrences.

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Wayne M. Gluf, Meic H. Schmidt, and Ronald I. Apfelbaum

Object. In this, the first of two articles regarding C1–2 transarticular screw fixation, the authors assessed the rate of fusion, surgery-related complications, and lessons learned after C1–2 transarticular screw fixation in an adult patient series.

Methods. The authors retrospectively reviewed 191 consecutive patients (107 women and 84 men; mean age 49.7 years, range 17–90 years) in whom at least one C1–2 transarticular screw was placed. Overall 353 transarticular screws were placed for trauma (85 patients), rheumatoid arthritis (63 patients), congenital anomaly (26 patients), os odontoideum (four patients), neoplasm (eight patients), and chronic cervical instability (five patients). Among these, 67 transarticular screws were placed in 36 patients as part of an occipitocervical construct. Seventeen patients had undergone 24 posterior C1–2 fusion attempts prior to referral. The mean follow-up period was 15.2 months (range 0.1–106.3 months).

Fusion was achieved in 98% of cases followed to commencement of fusion or for at least 24 months. The mean duration until fusion was 9.5 months (range 3–48 months). Complications occurred in 32 patients. Most were minor; however, five patients suffered vertebral artery (VA) injury. One bilateral VA injury resulted in patient death. The others did not result in any permanent neurological sequelae.

Conclusions. Based on this series, the authors have learned important lessons that can improve outcomes and safety. These include techniques to improve screw-related patient positioning, development of optimal instrumentation, improved screw materials and design, and defining the role for stereotactic navigation. Atlantoaxial transarticular screw fixation is highly effective in achieving fusion, and the complication rate is low when performed by properly trained surgeons.

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Oren N. Gottfried, Wayne Gluf, Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, Peter Kan, and Meic H. Schmidt

Advances in imaging and surgical technique have improved the treatment of spinal meningiomas; these include magnetic resonance imaging, intraoperative ultrasonography, neuromonitoring, the operative microscope, and ultrasonic cavitation aspirators. This study is a retrospective review of all patients treated at a single institution and with a pathologically confirmed diagnosis of spinal meningioma. Additionally the authors analyze data obtained in 556 patients reported in six large series in the literature, evaluating surgical techniques, results, and functional outcomes. Overall, surgical treatment of spinal meningiomas is associated with favorable outcomes. Spinal meningiomas can be completely resected, are associated with postoperative functional improvement, and the rate of recurrence is low.

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Richard C. E. Anderson, Peter Kan, Wayne M. Gluf, and Douglas L. Brockmeyer

Object

Despite decades of surgical experience, the long-term consequences of occipitocervical (OC) and atlantoax-ial (C1–2) fusions in children are unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine the long-term effects of these fusions on growth and alignment of the maturing cervical spine.

Methods

A retrospective chart review was conducted for patients 6 years of age or younger (mean 4.7 years, range 1.7–6.8 years) who underwent OC or C1–2 fusion at the Primary Children’s Medical Center at the University of Utah within the last 10 years. Immediate postoperative plain radiographs and computed tomography (CT) scans were compared with the most recent plain and dynamic radiographs to assess changes in spinal growth and alignment.

Seventeen children met entry criteria for the study. All patients had fusion documented on follow-up radiography or CT scans. At a mean follow up of 28 months, there were no cases of sagittal malalignment (kyphotic or swanneck deformity), subaxial instability (osteophyte formation or subluxation), or unintended fusion of adjacent levels. The lordotic curvature of the cervical spine increased from a mean of 15° postoperatively to 27° at follow up (p = 0.06). A mean of 34% of the vertical growth of the cervical spine occurred within the fusion segment. When data were analyzed pertaining to a subgroup of five patients who underwent follow-up periods for longer than 48 months (mean 50.2 months, range 48–54 months), similar results were seen.

Conclusions

Preliminary follow-up results indicate that, compared with older children, children 6 years of age or younger undergoing OC or C1–2 fusion are not at an increased risk of spinal deformity or subaxial instability. Longer follow-up periods, during which measurements of the spinal canal are taken, will be necessary to determine precisely how children’s spines grow and remodel after an upper cervical spine fusion.

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Luis M. Tumialán, Ryan P. Ponton, and Wayne M. Gluf

Object

To review the cost effectiveness for the management of a unilateral cervical radiculopathy with either posterior cervical foraminotomy (PCF) or anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) in military personnel, with a particular focus on time required to return to active-duty service.

Methods

Following internal review board approval, the authors conducted a retrospective review of 38 cases in which patients underwent surgical management of unilateral cervical radiculopathy. Nineteen patients who underwent PCF were matched for age, treatment level, and surgeon to 19 patients who had undergone ACDF. Successful outcome was determined by return to full, unrestricted active-duty military service. The difference in time of return to active duty was compared between the groups. In addition, a cost analysis consisting of direct and indirect costs was used to compare the PCF group to the ACDF group.

Results

A total of 21 levels were operated on in each group. There were 17 men and 2 women in the PCF group, whereas all 19 patients in the ACDF group were men. The average age at the time of surgery was 41.5 years (range 27–56 years) and 39.3 years (range 24–52 years) for the PCF and ACDF groups, respectively. There was no statistically significant difference in operating room time, estimated blood loss, or postoperative narcotic refills. Complications included 2 cases of transient recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy in the ACDF group. The average time to return to unrestricted full duty was 4.8 weeks (range 1–8 weeks) in the PCF group and 19.6 weeks (range 12–32 weeks) in the ACDF group, a difference of 14.8 weeks (p < 0.001). The direct costs of each surgery were $3570 for the PCF and $10,078 for the ACDF, a difference of $6508. Based on the 14.8-week difference in time to return to active duty, the indirect cost was calculated to range from $13,586 to $24,045 greater in the ACDF group. Total cost (indirect plus direct) ranged from $20,094 to $30,553 greater in the ACDF group.

Conclusions

In the management of unilateral posterior cervical radiculopathy for military active-duty personnel, PCF offers a benefit relative to ACDF in immediate short-term direct and long-term indirect costs. The indirect cost of a service member away from full, unrestricted active duty 14.8 weeks longer in the ACDF group was the main contributor to this difference.

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Luis M. Tumialán, Ryan P. Ponton, Angelina Garvin, and Wayne M. Gluf

Object

The introduction of cervical and lumbar arthroplasty has allowed for management of cervical radiculopathy and lumbar degenerative disease in patients with the preservation of motion at the affected segment. While the early clinical outcomes of this technology appear promising, it remains unclear what activity limitations should be imposed after surgery in patients with these implants. This is of particular interest in military personnel, who may be required to return to a rigorous level of activity after surgery. The goals of the FDA trials evaluating various disc arthroplasty devices were to establish safety, efficacy, and equivalency to arthrodesis. Information regarding the level of physical performance attained and restrictions or limitations is lacking, as these were outside the objectives of these trials. Nevertheless, there data are essential for the military surgeon, who is tasked with guiding the postoperative management of patients treated with arthroplasty and returning them to full duty. While there is a single report of clinical results of lumbar arthroplasty in athletes, at this writing, there are no reports of either cervical or lumbar arthroplasty in active duty military personnel.

Methods

The surgical database at a single, tertiary care military treatment facility was queried for all activeduty patients who underwent placement of either a cervical or lumbar arthroplasty device over a 3-year period. The authors performed a retrospective chart review to collect patient and procedural data including blood loss, length of hospital stay, tobacco use, age, rank, complications, and ability to return to full unrestricted active duty. Arthroplasty cohorts were then compared to historical controls of arthrodesis to ascertain differences in the time required to return to full duty.

Results

Twelve patients were identified who underwent cervical arthroplasty. All patients returned to unrestricted full duty. This cohort was then compared with 12 patients who had undergone a single-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. The average time to return to unrestricted full duty for the arthroplasty group was 10.3 weeks (range 7–13 weeks), whereas that in the fusion group was 16.5 weeks. This difference between these 2 groups was statistically significant (p = 0.008). Twelve patients were identified who underwent lumbar arthroplasty. Ten (83%) of 12 patients in this group returned to unrestricted full duty. In patients who returned to full duty, it took an average of 22.6 weeks (range 12–29 weeks). This cohort was then compared with one in which patients had undergone anterior lumbar interbody fusion. Eight (67%) of 12 patients in the lumbar arthrodesis group returned to unrestricted full duty. In patients who returned to full duty, it took an average of 32.4 weeks (range 25–41 weeks). This difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.156).

Conclusions

The preliminary experience with cervical and lumbar arthroplasty at the authors' institution indicates that arthroplasty is comparable with arthrodesis and may actually expedite return to active duty. Patients are capable of returning to a high level of rigorous training and physical performance. There are no apparent restrictions or limitations that are required after 3 months in the cervical patient and after 6 months in the lumbar patient. Further prospective studies with long-term follow-up are indicated and will be of value when determining the role of arthroplasty compared to arthrodesis in the active-duty population.

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Paul Klimo Jr., Brian T. Ragel, Michael Rosner, Wayne Gluf, and Randall McCafferty

Object

Penetrating spinal injury (PSI), although an infrequent injury in the civilian population, is not an infrequent injury in military conflicts. Throughout military history, the role of surgery in the treatment of PSI has been controversial. The US is currently involved in 2 military campaigns, the hallmark of both being the widespread use of various explosive devices. The authors reviewed the evidence for or against the use of decompressive laminectomy to treat PSI to provide a triservice (US Army, Navy, and Air Force) consensus and treatment recommendations for military neurosurgeons and spine surgeons.

Methods

A US National Library of Medicine PubMed database search that identified all literature dealing with acute management of PSI from military conflicts and civilian urban trauma centers in the post–Vietnam War period was undertaken.

Results

Nineteen retrospective case series (11 military and 8 civilian) met the study criteria. Eleven military articles covered a 20-year time span that included 782 patients who suffered either gunshot or blast-related projectile wounds. Four papers included sufficient data that analyzed the effectiveness of surgery compared with nonoperative management, 6 papers concluded that surgery was of no benefit, 2 papers indicated that surgery did have a role, and 3 papers made no comment. Eight civilian articles covered a 9-year time span that included 653 patients with spinal gunshot wounds. Two articles lacked any comparative data because of treatment bias. Two papers concluded that decompressive laminectomy had a beneficial role, 1 paper favored the removal of intracanal bullets between T-12 and L-4, and 5 papers indicated that surgery was of no benefit.

Conclusions

Based on the authors' military and civilian PubMed literature search, most of the evidence suggests that decompressive laminectomy does not improve neurological function in patients with PSI. However, there are serious methodological shortcomings in both literature groups. For this and other reasons, neurosurgeons from the US Air Force, Army, and Navy collectively believe that decompression should still be considered for any patient with an incomplete neurological injury and continued spinal canal compromise, ideally within 24–48 hours of injury; the patient should be stabilized concurrently if it is believed that the spinal injury is unstable. The authors recognize the highly controversial nature of this topic and hope that this literature review and the proposed treatment recommendations will be a valuable resource for deployed neurosurgeons. Ultimately, the deployed neurosurgeon must make the final treatment decision based on his or her opinion of the literature, individual abilities, and facility resources available.