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Zachary A. Smith, Zhenzhou Li, Nan-Fu Chen, Dan Raphael and Larry T. Khoo

Object

In this paper, the authors' goal was to demonstrate the clinical and technical nuances of a minimally invasive lateral extracavitary approach (MI-LECA) for thoracic corpectomy and anterior column reconstruction.

Methods

A cadaveric feasibility study and the subsequent application of this approach in 3 clinical cases are reported. Six procedures were completed in 3 human cadavers. Minimally invasive, extrapleural thoracic corpectomies were performed with the aid of a 24-mm tubular retraction system, using a posterolateral incision and an oblique approach angle. Fluoroscopy and postprocedural CT scanning, using 3D volumetric averaging software, was used to evaluate the degree of bone removal and decompression. Three clinical cases, including a T-11 burst fracture, a T-7 plasmacytoma, and a T4–5 vertebral body (VB) tuberculosis lesion, were treated using the approach.

Results

At 6 cadaveric levels, the mean circumferential volumetric decompression was 48% ± 16%, and the mean resection of the VB was 72% ± 13%. The mean change in anterior and posterior vertebral height with expansion of the corpectomy cage was 47 and 61 mm, respectively. There were no violations of the pleura or dura. Pedicle screw reliability was 95.8% (23 of 24 screws) with a single lateral breach. All 3 patients in the clinical cohort had excellent clinical outcomes. There was a single pleural tear requiring chest tube drainage. Operative images and a video clip are provided to illustrate the approach.

Conclusions

A minimally invasive lateral extracavitary thoracic corpectomy has the ability to provided excellent spinal cord decompression and VB resection. The procedure can be completed safely and successfully with minimal blood loss and little associated morbidity. This approach has the potential to improve upon established traditional open corridors for posterolateral thoracic corpectomy.

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Fubing Liu, Zhenzhou Feng, Tianze Liu, Qinming Fei, Chun Jiang, Yuanchao Li, Xiaoxing Jiang and Jian Dong

OBJECT

This study sought to make a biomechanical comparison of 3 different posterior fixation techniques for 2-level lumbar spinal disorders.

METHODS

Eight fresh-frozen human cadaver lumbar spines (4 from L-1 to L-5, 4 from L-1 to S-1) were tested by applying pure moments of ± 8 Nm. Each specimen was first tested intact, and then the left facetectomies of L3–4 and L4–5 were performed to establish an unstable condition without removal of discs. Three instrumentation systems were then tested randomly: unilateral pedicle screw (UPS), UPS with contralateral translaminar facet screw (UPSFS), and bilateral pedicle screw (BPS). The range of motion (ROM) and the neutral zone (NZ) of L3–5 were measured.

RESULTS

All fixation types could reduce the ROM of L3–5 significantly in flexion, extension, and lateral bending, compared with the intact state. In axial torsion, only BPS reduced the ROM significantly, compared with the intact state. The UPSFS technique provided intermediate stability, which was superior to the UPS in flexion-extension and lateral bending, and inferior to the BPS in lateral bending. Compared with the intact state, the NZs decreased significantly for UPS, UPSFS, and BPS in flexion-extension, while not significantly in lateral bending and axial torsion.

CONCLUSIONS

In this study, among the 3 fixation techniques, BPS offered the highest stability, UPSFS provided intermediate stability, and UPS was the least stable for 2-level lumbar spinal disorders. UPSFS appeared to be able to offer a less invasive choice than BPS in well-selected patients with 2-level lumbar spinal disorders.