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Mark P. Arts, Arjan Nieborg, Ronald Brand and Wilco C. Peul

Object

Muscle injury is inevitable during surgical exposure of the spine and is quantified by the release of creatine phosphokinase (CPK). No studies have been conducted on different spinal approaches and nonspinal surgery with regard to muscle injury. The present prospective cohort study was conducted to evaluate the results of postoperative serum CPK as an indicator of muscle injury in relation to various spinal and nonspinal procedures.

Methods

The authors analyzed data in 322 consecutive patients who had undergone 257 spinal and 65 nonspinal procedures. Primary procedures were performed in 264 patients and revision surgeries in 58. Spinal procedures were subdivided according to the degree of surgical invasiveness as follows: minimally invasive (microendoscopic lumbar discectomy, unilateral transflaval discectomy, and minithoracotomy), average invasiveness (bilateral lumbar discectomy, laminectomy, and anterior cervical discectomy), and extensive surgery (instrumented single or multilevel spondylodesis of the entire spinal column). Spinal localization, number of spinal levels involved, surgical approach, duration of surgery, and body mass index (BMI) were recorded. Creatine phosphokinase was measured before surgery and 1 day after surgery, and the CPK ratio (that is, the difference within one patient) was used as the outcome measure.

Results

There was a significant dose-response relationship between the CPK ratio and the degree of surgical invasiveness; extensively invasive surgery had the highest CPK ratio and minimally invasive surgery had the lowest. Thoracolumbar surgery had a significantly higher CPK ratio compared with those for cervical and nonspinal surgery. There was a slightly negative relationship between the number of spinal segments involved and the CPK ratio. The CPK ratio in revision surgery was significantly higher than in primary surgery. Posterior surgical approaches had a higher CPK ratio, and the ratios for unilateral compared with bilateral approaches were not significantly different. The duration of surgery and preoperative serum level of CPK significantly influenced postoperative CPK. There was also a significant association between CPK ratio and nonspinal surgery. Age, sex, and BMI were not significant factors.

Conclusions

Data in this study have shown a dose-response relationship between CPK and the extent of surgical invasiveness. Thoracolumbar surgery, posterior approaches, duration of surgery, revision surgery, and preoperative value of CPK were significant influencing factors for the CPK ratio. The clinical significance of the results in the present study is not known.

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Marike L. D. Broekman, Janneke van Beijnum, Wilco C. Peul and Luca Regli

Many neurosurgeons remove their patients' hair before surgery. They claim that this practice reduces the chance of postoperative surgical site infections, and facilitates planning, attachment of the drapes, and closure. However, most patients dread this procedure. The authors performed the first systematic review on shaving before neurosurgical procedures to investigate whether this commonly performed procedure is based on evidence. They systematically reviewed the literature on wound infections following different shaving strategies. Data on the type of surgery, surgeryrelated infections, preoperative shaving policy, decontamination protocols, and perioperative antibiotics protocols were collected. The search detected 165 articles, of which 21 studies—involving 11,071 patients—were suitable for inclusion. Two of these studies were randomized controlled trials. The authors reviewed 13 studies that reported on the role of preoperative hair removal in craniotomies, 14 on implantation surgery, 5 on bur hole procedures, and 3 on spine surgery. Nine studies described shaving policies in pediatric patients. None of these papers provided evidence that preoperative shaving decreases the occurrence of postoperative wound infections. The authors conclude that there is no evidence to support the routine performance of preoperative hair removal in neurosurgery. Therefore, properly designed studies are needed to provide evidence for preoperative shaving recommendations.

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Ken R. Winston

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Ralph T. W. M. Thomeer, J. Marc C. van Dijk and Wilco C. Peul

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Pravesh S. Gadjradj, Maurits W. van Tulder, Clemens M. F. Dirven, Wilco C. Peul and B. Sanjay Harhangi

OBJECTIVE

Throughout the last decades, full-endoscopic techniques to treat lumbar disc herniation (LDH) have gained popularity in clinical practice. To date, however, no Class I evidence on the efficacy of percutaneous transforaminal endoscopic discectomy (PTED) has been published, and studies describing its safety and short- and long-term efficacy are scarce. In this study the authors aimed to evaluate the clinical outcomes and safety in patients undergoing PTED for LDH.

METHODS

Patients who underwent PTED for LDH between January 2009 and December 2012 were prospectively followed. The primary outcomes were the visual analog scale (VAS) score for leg pain and the score on the Quebec Back Pain Disability Scale (QBPDS). Secondary outcomes were the perceived experience with the local anesthesia used and satisfaction with the results after 1 year using Likert-type scales. The pretreatment means were compared with the means obtained 6 and 52 weeks after surgery using paired t-tests.

RESULTS

A total of 166 patients underwent surgery for a total of 167 LDHs. The mean duration of surgery (± SD) was 51.0 ± 9.0 minutes. The 1-year follow-up rate was 95.2%. The mean reported scores on the VAS and QBPDS were 82.5 ± 17.3 mm and 60.0 ± 18.4 at baseline, respectively. Six weeks after surgery, the scores on the VAS and QBPDS were significantly reduced to 28.8 ± 24.5 mm and 26.7 ± 20.6, respectively (p < 0.001). After 52 weeks of follow-up, the scores were further reduced compared with baseline scores (p < 0.001) to 19.6 ± 23.5 mm on the VAS and 20.2 ± 18.1 on the QBPDS. A total of 4 complications were observed, namely 1 dural tear, 1 deficit of ankle dorsiflexion, and 2 cases of transient paresis in the foot due to the use of local anesthetics.

CONCLUSIONS

PTED appears to be a safe and effective intervention for LDH and has similar clinical outcomes compared to conventional open microdiscectomy. High-quality randomized controlled trials are required to study the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of PTED.

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David McKalip

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Mark P. Arts, Wilco C. Peul, Bart W. Koes, Ralph T. W. M. Thomeer and for the Leiden–The Hague Spine Intervention Prognostic Study (SIPS) Group

Object

Although clinical guidelines for sciatica have been developed, various aspects of lumbar disc herniation remain unclear, and daily clinical practice may vary. The authors conducted a descriptive survey among spine surgeons in the Netherlands to obtain an overview of routine management of lumbar disc herniation.

Methods

One hundred thirty-one spine surgeons were sent a questionnaire regarding various aspects of different surgical procedures. Eighty-six (70%) of the 122 who performed lumbar disc surgery provided usable questionnaires.

Results

Unilateral transflaval discectomy was the most frequently performed procedure and was expected to be the most effective, whereas percutaneous laser disc decompression was expected to be the least effective. Bilateral discectomy was expected to be associated with the most postoperative low-back pain. Recurrent disc herniation was expected to be lowest after bilateral discectomy and highest after percutaneous laser disc decompression. Complications were expected to be highest after bilateral discectomy and lowest after unilateral transflaval discectomy. Nearly half of the surgeons preferentially treated patients with 8–12 weeks of disabling leg pain. Some consensus was shown on acute surgery in patients with short-lasting drop foot and those with a cauda equina syndrome, and nonsurgical treatment in patients with long-lasting, painless drop foot. Most respondents allowed postoperative mobilization within 24 hours but advised their patients not to resume work until 8–12 weeks postoperatively.

Conclusions

Unilateral transflaval discectomy was the most frequently performed procedure. Minimally invasive techniques were expected to be less effective, with higher recurrence rates but less postoperative low-back pain. Variety was shown between surgeons in the management of patients with neurological deficit. Most responding surgeons allowed early mobilization but appeared to give conservative advice in resumption of work.

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Chao-Hung Kuo, Peng-Yuan Chang, Jau-Ching Wu, Wen-Cheng Huang, Tsung-Hsi Tu and Henrich Cheng

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Abdelilah el Barzouhi, Carmen L. A. M. Vleggeert-Lankamp, Geert J. Lycklama à Nijeholt, Bas F. Van der Kallen, Wilbert B. van den Hout, Bart W. Koes and Wilco C. Peul

Object

In a randomized controlled trial comparing surgery and prolonged conservative treatment for sciatica of 6–12 weeks' duration, more than one-third of patients assigned to conservative treatment underwent surgery. The objective of the present study was to evaluate whether MRI at baseline could have predicted this delayed surgery.

Methods

Independently evaluated qualitative and quantitative MRI findings were compared between those patients who did and those who did not undergo surgery during follow-up in the conservative care group. In addition, area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was used to assess how well MRI parameters discriminated between those who did and those who did not undergo delayed surgery (0.5–0.7 poor discrimination, ≥ 0.7 acceptable discrimination).

Results

Of 142 patients assigned to receive prolonged conservative care, 55 patients (39%) received delayed surgery. Of the 55 surgically treated patients, 71% had definite nerve root compression at baseline compared with 72% of conservatively treated patients (p = 0.76). Large disc herniations (size > 50% of spinal canal) were nearly equally distributed between those who did and those who did not undergo surgery (25% vs 21%, p = 0.65). The size of the dural sac was smaller in the patients who underwent surgery (101.2 vs 122.9 mm2, p = 0.01). However, the size of the dural sac discriminated poorly between those who did and those who did not undergo delayed surgery (area under ROC curve, 0.62).

Conclusions

In patients who suffered from sciatica of 6–12 weeks' duration, MRI at baseline did not distinguish between patients who did and those who did not undergo delayed surgery. Clinical trial registration no.: ISRCTN26872154 (http://www.controlled-trials.com/ISRCTN/).

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Abdelilah el Barzouhi, Annemieke J. H. Verwoerd, Wilco C. Peul, Arianne P. Verhagen, Geert J. Lycklama à Nijeholt, Bas F. Van der Kallen, Bart W. Koes, Carmen L. A. M. Vleggeert-Lankamp and For the Leiden–The Hague Spine Intervention Prognostic Study Group

OBJECTIVE

This study aimed to determine the prognostic value of MRI variables to predict outcome in patients with herniated disc–related sciatica, and whether MRI could facilitate the decision making between early surgery and prolonged conservative care in these patients.

METHODS

A prospective observational evaluation of patients enrolled in a randomized trial with 1-year follow-up was completed. A total of 283 patients with sciatica who had a radiologically confirmed disc herniation were randomized either to surgery or to prolonged conservative care with surgery if needed. Outcome measures were recovery and leg pain severity. Recovery was registered on a 7-point Likert scale. Complete/near complete recovery was considered a satisfactory outcome. Leg pain severity was measured on a 0- to 100-mm visual analog scale. Multiple MRI characteristics of the degenerated disc herniation were independently scored by 3 spine experts. Cox models were used to study the influence of MRI variables on rate of recovery, and linear mixed models were used to determine the predictive value of MRI variables for leg pain severity during follow-up. The interaction of each MRI predictor with treatment allocation was tested. There were no study-specific conflicts of interest.

RESULTS

Baseline MRI variables associated with less leg pain severity were the reader's assessment of presence of nerve root compression (p < 0.001), and assessment of extrusion compared with protrusion of the disc herniation (p = 0.006). Both variables tended to be associated, but not significantly, with satisfactory outcome during follow-up (HR 1.45, 95% CI 0.93–2.24, and HR 1.24, 95% CI 0.96–1.61, respectively). The size of disc herniation at baseline was not associated with outcome. There was no significant change in the effects between treatment groups.

CONCLUSIONS

MRI assessment of the presence of nerve root compression and extrusion of a herniated disc at baseline was associated with less leg pain during 1-year follow-up, irrespective of a surgical or conservative treatment. MRI findings seem not to be helpful in determining which patients might fare better with early surgery compared with a strategy of prolonged conservative care.

Clinical trial registration no.: ISRCTN26872154 (controlled-trials.com)