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Jau-Ching Wu, Wen-Cheng Huang, Yun-An Tsai, Yu-Chun Chen and Henrich Cheng

Object

The aim of this study was to assess functional outcomes of nerve repair using acidic fibroblast growth factor (FGF) in patients with cervical spinal cord injury (SCI).

Methods

Nine patients who had cervical SCI for longer than 5 months were included in pre- and postoperative assessments of their neurological function. The assessments included evaluating activities of daily living, associated functional ability, and degree of spasticity, motor power, sensation, and pain perception. After the first set of assessments, the authors repaired the injured segment of the spinal cord using a total laminectomy followed by the application of fibrin glue containing acidic FGF. Clinical evaluations were conducted 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 months after the surgery. Preoperative versus postoperative differences in injury severity and grading of key muscle power and sensory points were calculated using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test.

Results

The preoperative degree of injury severity, as measured using the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) scoring system, showed that preoperative motor (52.4 ± 25.9 vs 68.6 ± 21.5), pinprick (61.0 ± 34.9 vs 71.6 ± 31.0), and light touch scores (57.3 ± 33.9 vs 71.9 ± 30.2) were significantly lower than the respective postoperative scores measured 6 months after surgery (p = 0.005, 0.012, and 0.008, respectively).

Conclusions

Based on the significant difference in ASIA motor and sensory scale scores between the preoperative status and the 6-month postoperative follow-up, this novel nerve repair strategy of using acidic FGF may have a role in the repair of human cervical SCI. Modest nerve regeneration occurred in all 9 patients after this procedure without any observed adverse effects. This repair strategy thus deserves further investigation, clinical consideration, and refinement.

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

Object

Cervical arthroplasty is a valid option for patients with single-level symptomatic cervical disc diseases causing neural tissue compression, but postoperative heterotopic ossification (HO) can limit the mobility of an artificial disc. In the present study the authors used CT scanning to assess HO formation, and they investigated differences in radiological and clinical outcomes in patients with either a soft-disc herniation or spondylosis who underwent cervical arthroplasty.

Methods

Medical records, radiographs, and clinical evaluations of consecutive patients who underwent single-level cervical arthroplasty were reviewed. Arthroplasty was performed using the Bryan disc. The patients were divided into a soft-disc herniation group and a spondylosis group. Clinical outcomes were measured using the visual analog scale (VAS) for neck and arm pain and the Neck Disability Index (NDI), whereas HO grading was determined by studying CT scans. Radiological and clinical outcomes were analyzed, and the minimum follow-up duration was 24 months.

Results

Forty-seven consecutive patients underwent a single-level cervical arthroplasty. Forty patients (85.1%) had complete radiological evaluations and clinical follow-up of more than 2 years. Patients were divided into 1 of 2 groups: soft-disc herniation (16 cases) and the spondylosis group (24 cases). Their mean age was 45.51 ± 11.12 years. Sixteen patients (40%) were female. Patients in the soft-disc herniation group were younger than those in the spondylosis group, but the difference was not statistically significant (42.88 vs 47.26, p = 0.227). The mean follow-up duration was 38.83 ± 9.74 months. Sex, estimated blood loss, implant size, and perioperative NSAID prescription were not significantly different between the groups (p = 0.792, 0.267, 0.581, and 1.000, respectively). The soft-disc herniation group had significantly less HO formation than the spondylosis group (1 HO [6.25%] vs 14 Hos [58.33%], p = 0.001). Almost all artificial discs in both groups remained mobile (100% and 95.8%, p = 0.408). The clinical outcomes were not significantly different between the groups at all postoperative time points of evaluation, and clinical improvements were also similar.

Conclusions

Clinical outcomes of single-level cervical arthroplasty for soft-disc herniation and spondylosis were similar 3 years after surgery. There was a significantly higher rate of HO formation in patients with spondylosis than in those with a soft-disc herniation. The mobility of the artificial disc is maintained, but the long-term effects of HO and its higher frequency in spondylotic cases warrant further investigation.

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Jau-Ching Wu, Wen-Cheng Huang, Ming-Chao Huang, Yun-An Tsai, Yu-Chun Chen, Yang-Hsin Shih and Henrich Cheng

Object

In this study, the authors evaluated the efficacy of a new surgical strategy for reconnecting the injured brachial plexus with the spinal cord using fibrin glue containing acidic fibroblast growth factor as an adhesive and neurotrophic agent.

Methods

Eighteen patients with preganglionic brachial plexus injuries, each with varying degrees of upper limb dysfunction, underwent cervical laminectomy with or without sural nerve grafting. The treatment of each avulsed root varied according to the severity of the injury. Some patients also underwent a second-stage operation involving supraclavicular brachial plexus exploration for reconnection with the corresponding segment of cervical spinal cord at the trunk level. Muscle strength was graded both pre- and postoperatively with the British Medical Research Council scale, and the results were analyzed with the Friedman and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests.

Results

Muscle strength improvements were observed in 16 of the 18 patients after 24 months of follow-up. Significant improvements in mean muscle strength were observed in patients from all repair method groups at 12 and 24 months postoperatively (p < 0.05). Statistical significance was not reached in the groups with insufficient numbers of cases.

Conclusions

The authors' new surgical strategy yielded clinical improvement in muscle strength after preganglionic brachial plexus injury, such that nerve regeneration may have taken place. Reconnection of the brachial plexus to the cervical spinal cord is possible. Functional motor recovery, observed through increases in Medical Research Council–rated muscle strength in the affected arm, is likewise possible.

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Jau-Ching Wu, Wen-Cheng Huang, Yu-Chun Chen, Tsung-Hsi Tu, Yun-An Tsai, Shih-Fong Huang, Hsueh-Chen Huang and Henrich Cheng

Object

The study aimed to verify the safety and feasibility of applying acidic fibroblast growth factor (aFGF) with fibrin glue in combination with surgical neurolysis for nonacute spinal cord injury.

Methods

This open-label, prospective, uncontrolled human clinical trial recruited 60 patients with spinal cord injuries (30 cervical and 30 thoracolumbar). The mean patient age was 36.5 ± 15.33 (mean ± SD) years, and the male/female ratio was 3:1. The mean time from injury to treatment was 25.7 ± 26.58 months, and the cause of injury included motor vehicle accident (26 patients [43.3%]), fall from a height (17 patients [28.3%]), sports (4 patients [6.7%]), and other (13 patients [21.7%]). Application of aFGF with fibrin glue and duraplasty was performed via laminectomy, and an adjuvant booster of combined aFGF and fibrin glue (2 ml) was given at 3 and 6 months postsurgery via lumbar puncture. Outcome measurements included the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) motor scores, sensory scores, impairment scales, and neurological levels. Examination of functional independence measures, visual analog scale, MR imaging, electrophysiological and urodynamic studies, hematology and biochemistry tests, tumor markers, and serum inflammatory cytokines were all conducted. All adverse events were monitored and reported. Exclusions were based on refusal, unrelated adverse events, or failure to participate in the planned rehabilitation.

Results

Forty-nine patients (26 with cervical and 23 with thoracolumbar injuries) completed the 24-month trial. Compared with preoperative conditions, the 24-month postoperative ASIA motor scores improved significantly in the cervical group (from 27.6 ± 15.55 to 37.0 ± 19.93, p < 0.001) and thoracolumbar group (from 56.8 ± 9.21 to 60.7 ± 10.10, p < 0.001). The ASIA sensory scores also demonstrated significant improvement in light touch and pinprick in both groups: from 55.8 ± 24.89 to 59.8 ± 26.47 (p = 0.049) and 56.3 ± 23.36 to 62.3 ± 24.87 (p = 0.003), respectively, in the cervical group and from 75.7 ± 15.65 to 79.2 ± 15.81 (p < 0.001) and 78.2 ± 14.72 to 82.7 ± 16.60 (p < 0.001), respectively, in the thoracolumbar group. At 24-month follow-up, the ASIA impairment scale improved significantly in both groups (30% cervical [p = 0.011] and 30% thoracolumbar [p = 0.003]). There was also significant improvement in neurological level in the cervical (from 5.17 ± 1.60 to 6.27 ± 3.27, p = 0.022) and thoracolumbar (from 18.03 ± 4.19 to 18.67 ± 3.96, p = 0.001) groups. The average sum of motor items in functional independence measure also had significant improvement in both groups (p < 0.05). The walking/wheelchair locomotion subscale showed increased percentages of patients who were ambulatory (from 3.4% to 13.8% and from 17.9% to 35.7% in the cervical and thoracolumbar groups, respectively). There were no related adverse events.

Conclusions

The use of aFGF for spinal cord injury was safe and feasible in the present trial. There were significant improvements in ASIA motor and sensory scale scores, ASIA impairment scales, neurological levels, and functional independence measure at 24 months after treatment. Further large-scale, randomized, and controlled investigations are warranted to evaluate the efficacy and long-term results.

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Tsung-Hsi Tu, Jau-Ching Wu, Wen-Cheng Huang, Wan-Yuo Guo, Ching-Lan Wu, Yang-Hsin Shih and Henrich Cheng

Object

Heterotopic ossification (HO) after cervical total disc replacement (TDR) has been reported to impede artificial disc motion. In all previously reported cases of HO, assessment was based on plain radiographs. The authors hypothesized that CT scan is a more sensitive and accurate detector. The aims of this study were to assess the actual incidence of HO and its effect on outcome in a cohort of patients undergoing cervical TDR with the Bryan disc and to compare HO detection by means of plain radiographs and CT.

Methods

The authors retrospectively assessed data from medical records, radiological studies, and clinical evaluations of patients who underwent 1- or 2-level cervical TDR with the Bryan disc and were followed up for more than 12 months. The presence and grading of HO according to the McAfee classification were assessed by CT scan, and these findings were compared with findings on plain radiographs. Thirty-six patients (mean age 46.61 ± 7.24 years; range 29–60 years; 21 men and 15 women) who underwent Bryan TDR at 52 levels were included in the study. The mean duration of CT follow-up was 19.03 ± 4.64 months; the mean duration of clinical follow-up was 26.78 ± 7.20 months.

Results

On the basis of CT, HO was identified in 18 (50%) of 36 patients and 25 (48.1%) of 52 levels treated. Grade 1 HO was present in 9 of the levels treated (17.3%), Grade 2 in 13 levels (25.0%), Grade 3 in 2 levels (3.8%), and Grade 4 in 1 level (1.9%). Nineteen (76%) of the 25 affected levels were in patients who had undergone 2-level TDR. There was no significant association with patient sex or disc pathology. There was a tendency for HO development among older patients, but this finding was not statistically significant (mean age 48.8 ± 6.8 in patients with HO vs 44.4 ± 7.2 in those without HO, p = 0.065). Although HO was found in 25 levels, 96.2% of the treated levels (50 of 52) had segmental range of motion on dynamic (flexion and extension) radiographs. The concordance between HO grading by CT and radiography was high, with an intraclass correlation coefficient of 0.822 (lower limit of 95% CI: 0.710, p < 0.001). Patients who had HO had the same clinical success rate as those who did not (94.4% vs 94.4%, p = 1.00). The visual analog scale scores for neck and arm pain were significantly improved in both the HO and the non-HO group.

Conclusions

The rate of HO detected by CT scan in this cohort of patients undergoing cervical TDR with a Bryan disc was 48.1% per level treated and 50% per patient with minimal limitation of segmental motion (96.2% of levels remained mobile), but plain radiograph is an acceptable detection tool. Two-level surgery has a higher risk of HO, although development of HO does not affect clinical outcome.

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Chao-Hung Kuo, Wen-Cheng Huang, Jau-Ching Wu, Tsung-Hsi Tu, Li-Yu Fay, Ching-Lan Wu and Henrich Cheng

OBJECTIVE

Pedicle screw–based dynamic stabilization has been an alternative to conventional lumbar fusion for the surgical management of low-grade spondylolisthesis. However, the true effect of dynamic stabilization on adjacent-segment degeneration (ASD) remains undetermined. Authors of this study aimed to investigate the incidence of ASD and to compare the clinical outcomes of dynamic stabilization and minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MI-TLIF).

METHODS

The records of consecutive patients with Meyerding grade I degenerative spondylolisthesis who had undergone surgical management at L4–5 in the period from 2007 to 2014 were retrospectively reviewed. Patients were divided into two groups according to the surgery performed: Dynesys dynamic stabilization (DDS) group and MI-TLIF group. Pre- and postoperative radiological evaluations, including radiography, CT, and MRI studies, were compared. Adjacent discs were evaluated using 4 radiological parameters: instability (antero- or retrolisthesis), disc degeneration (Pfirrmann classification), endplate degeneration (Modic classification), and range of motion (ROM). Clinical outcomes, measured with the visual analog scale (VAS) for back and leg pain, the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scores, were also compared.

RESULTS

A total of 79 patients with L4–5 degenerative spondylolisthesis were included in the analysis. During a mean follow-up of 35.2 months (range 24–89 months), there were 56 patients in the DDS group and 23 in the MI-TLIF group. Prior to surgery, both groups were very similar in demographic, radiological, and clinical data. Postoperation, both groups had similarly significant improvement in clinical outcomes (VAS, ODI, and JOA scores) at each time point of evaluation. There was a lower chance of disc degeneration (Pfirrmann classification) of the adjacent discs in the DDS group than in the MI-TLIF group (17% vs 37%, p = 0.01). However, the DDS and MI-TLIF groups had similar rates of instability (15.2% vs 17.4%, respectively, p = 0.92) and endplate degeneration (1.8% vs 6.5%, p = 0.30) at the cranial (L3–4) and caudal (L5–S1) adjacent levels after surgery. The mean ROM in the cranial and caudal levels was also similar in the two groups. None of the patients required secondary surgery for any ASD (defined by radiological criteria).

CONCLUSIONS

The clinical improvements after DDS were similar to those following MI-TLIF for L4–5 Meyerding grade I degenerative spondylolisthesis at 3 years postoperation. According to radiological evaluations, there was a lower chance of disc degeneration in the adjacent levels of the patients who had undergone DDS. However, other radiological signs of ASD, including instability, endplate degeneration, and ROM, were similar between the two groups. Although none of the patients in the present series required secondary surgery, a longer follow-up and a larger number of patients would be necessary to corroborate the protective effect of DDS against ASD.

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

Object

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

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Yu-Shu Yen, Peng-Yuan Chang, Wen-Cheng Huang, Jau-Ching Wu, Muh-Lii Liang, Tsung-Hsi Tu and Henrich Cheng

Object

The goal of the study was to report a series of consecutive patients who underwent endoscopic transnasal odontoidectomy (ETO) without resection of nasal turbinates. The techniques for this minimally invasive approach are described in detail.

Methods

The authors conducted a retrospective review of consecutive patients who underwent ETO for basilar invagination. All the patients had myelopathy caused by compression at the cervicomedullary junction, which required surgical decompression. Preoperative and postoperative data, including those from radiographic and clinical evaluations, were compared. Morbidity and mortality rates for the procedure are also reported in detail.

Results

Thirteen patients (6 men and 7 women) with a mean age of 52.7 years (range 24–72 years) were enrolled. The basilar invagination etiologies were rheumatoid arthritis (n = 5), trauma (n = 4), os odontoideum (n = 2), ankylosing spondylitis (n = 1), and postinfectious deformity (n = 1). The average follow-up duration was 51.2 months (range 0.3–105 months). One patient died 10 days after the operation as a result of meningitis caused by CSF leakage. Among the other 12 patients, the average postoperative Nurick grade (3.2) was significantly improved over that before the operation (4.1, p = 0.004). The mean (± SD) duration of postoperative intubation was 1.5 ± 2.1 days, and there was no need for perioperative tracheostomy or nasogastric tube feeding. There also was no postoperative velopharyngeal insufficiency. There were 6 (46%) intraoperative and 2 (15%) postoperative CSF leaks in the 13 patients in this series.

Conclusions

ETO is a viable and effective option for decompression at the ventral cervicomedullary junction. This approach is minimally invasive and causes little velopharyngeal insufficiency. The pitfall of this approach is the difficulty in repairing dural defects and subsequent CSF leakage.

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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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Wen-Cheng Huang, Jau-Ching Wu, Peng-Yuan Chang, Tsung-Hsi Tu, Yu-Shu Yen and Henrich Cheng