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Abdulfettah Tumturk, Yiping Li, Yahya Turan, Ulas Cikla, Bermans J. Iskandar and Mustafa K. Baskaya

Brainstem cavernous malformations (CMs) pose significant challenges to neurosurgeons because of their deep locations and high surgical risks. Most patients with brainstem CMs present with sudden-onset cranial nerve deficits or ataxia, but uncommonly patients can present in extremis from an acute hemorrhage, requiring surgical intervention. However, the timing of surgery for brainstem CMs has been a controversial topic. Although many authors propose delaying surgery into the subacute phase, some patients may not tolerate waiting until surgery. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, emergency surgery after a brainstem CM hemorrhage has not been described. In cases of rapidly progressive neurological deterioration, emergency resection may often be the only option. In this retrospectively reviewed small series of patients, the authors report favorable outcomes after emergency surgery for resection of brainstem CMs.

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Brandon G. Rocque, Mick P. Kelly, Joseph H. Miller, Yiping Li and Paul A. Anderson


Use of recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein–2 has risen steadily since its approval by the FDA for use in anterior lumbar interbody fusion in 2002. The FDA has not approved the use of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) in children. Age less than 18 years or lack of evidence of epiphyseal closure are considered by the manufacturer to be contraindications to BMP use. In light of this, the authors performed a query of the database of one of the nation's largest health insurance companies to determine the rate of BMP use and complications in pediatric patients undergoing spinal fusion.


The authors used the PearlDiver Technologies private payer database containing all records from United Health-Care from 2005 to 2011 to query all cases of pediatric spinal fusion with or without BMP use. A review of the literature was also performed to examine the complications associated with BMP use in pediatric spinal fusion.


A total of 4658 patients underwent spinal fusion. The majority was female (65.4%), and the vast majority was age 10–19 years (94.98%) and underwent thoracolumbar fusion (93.13%). Bone morphogenetic protein was used in 1752 spinal fusions (37.61%). There was no difference in the rate of BMP use when comparing male and female patients or age 10 years or older versus less than 10 years. Anterior cervical fusions were significantly less likely to use BMP (7.3%). Complications occurred in 9.82% of patients treated with versus 9.88% of patients treated without BMP. The complication rate was nearly identical in male versus female patients and in patients older versus younger than 10 years. Comparison of systemic, wound-related, CNS, and other complications showed no difference between groups treated with and without BMP. The reoperation rate was also nearly identical.


Bone morphogenetic protein is used in a higher than expected percentage of pediatric spinal fusions. The rate of acute complications in these operations does not appear to be different in patients treated with versus those treated without BMP. Caution must be exercised in interpreting these data due to the many limitations of the administrative database as a data source, including the short length of follow-up.

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Mohamad Bydon, Vance Fredrickson, Rafael De la Garza-Ramos, Yiping Li, Ronald A. Lehman Jr., Gregory R. Trost and Ziya L. Gokaslan

Sacral fractures are uncommon lesions and most often the result of high-energy trauma. Depending on the fracture location, neurological injury may be present in over 50% of cases. In this article, the authors conducted a comprehensive literature review on the epidemiology of sacral fractures, relevant anatomy of the sacral and pelvic region, common sacral injuries and fractures, classification systems of sacral fractures, and current management strategies. Due to the complex nature of these injuries, surgical management remains a challenge for the attending surgeon. Few large-scale studies have addressed postoperative complications or long-term results, but current evidence suggests that although fusion rates are high, long-term morbidity, such as residual pain and neurological deficits, persists for many patients.