Neurosurgery Blog


Daily bibliographic review of the Neurosurgery Department. La Fe University Hospital. Valencia, Spain

Stabilization of Tumor-Associated Craniovertebral Junction Instability

Neurosurgery 81:251–258, 2017

Whether primary or metastatic, tumors of the craniovertebral junction (CVJ) are rare and challenging.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the surgical indications, operative variables, and outcomes in patients with tumors of the CVJ undergoing occipitocervical (OC) stabilization.

METHODS: A single-institution, retrospective case series was performed from a prospectively maintained spine database. Patients with primary or metastatic tumors of the CVJ who underwent OC stabilization were identified. Out of 46 patients who underwent OC fusion, 39 were for tumor. Paired t-tests and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests were performed to assess for postoperative changes.

RESULTS: Ten patients (26%) harbored primary tumors, and the remaining 29 (74%) had metastatic disease. Of the metastatic patients, 14 had a neurological deficit, 10 had severe neck pain, and 5 were deemed mechanically unstable. Postoperative visual analog pain scoreswere significantly reduced at all 3 follow-up times (P<.001, 95% confidence interval [CI; 3.2, 6.0]; P = .001, 95% CI [2.6, 7.7]; P = .020, 95% CI [0.6, 5.5]). The percentage of patients who were ambulatory and neurologically improved or intact remained stable postoperatively with no significant declines. There were 2 perioperative mortalities (5%), and 13 patients (33%) experienced a major complication.

CONCLUSIONS: In patients with primary or metastatic tumor of the CVJ, OC stabilization using a cervical screw-rod system affixed to a midline-keel buttress plate, with or without posterior decompression, is a reliable method for CVJ stabilization in the oncologic setting. Improvement in pain and preservation of neurological function was seen.


A New Classification for Pathologies of Spinal Meninges—Part 2: Primary and Secondary Intradural Arachnoid Cysts

Neurosurgery 81:217–229, 2017

Spinal intradural arachnoid cysts are rare causes of radiculopathy or myelopathy. Treatment options include resection, fenestration, or cyst drainage.

OBJECTIVE: To classify intradural spinal arachnoid cysts and present results of their treatment.

METHODS: Among 1519 patientswith spinal space occupying lesions, 130 patients demonstrated intradural arachnoid cysts. Neuroradiological and surgical features were reviewed and clinical data analyzed.

RESULTS: Twenty-one patients presented arachnoid cysts as a result of an inflammatory leptomeningeal reaction related to meningitis, subarachnoid hemorrhage, intrathecal injections, intradural surgery, or trauma, ie, secondary cysts. For the remaining 109 patients, no such history could be elucidated, ie, primary cysts. Forty-six percent of primary and 86% of secondary cysts were associated with syringomyelia. Patients presented after an average history of 53±88 months. Therewere 122 thoracic and 7 lumbar cysts plus 1 cervical cyst. Fifty-nine patients with primary and 15 patients with secondary cysts underwent laminotomies with complete or partial cyst resection and duraplasty. Mean follow-up was 57 ± 52 months. In the first postoperative year, profound improvements for primary cysts were noted, in contrast to marginal changes for secondary cysts. Progression-free survival for 10 years following surgery was determined as 83% for primary compared to 15% for secondary cysts. Despite differences in clinical presentation, progression-free survival was almost identical for patients with or without syringomyelia.

CONCLUSIONS: Complete or partial resection leads to favorable short- and long-term results for primary arachnoid cysts. For secondary cysts, surgery can only provide clinical stabilization for a limited time due to the often extensive arachnoiditis.


Long-term clinical and radiographic outcomes of the Prestige LP artificial cervical disc replacement at 2 levels

J Neurosurg Spine 27:7–19, 2017

The aim of this study was to assess long-term clinical safety and effectiveness in patients undergoing anterior cervical surgery using the Prestige LP artificial disc replacement (ADR) prosthesis to treat degenerative cervical spine disease at 2 adjacent levels compared with anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).

METHODS A prospective, randomized, controlled, multicenter FDA-approved clinical trial was conducted at 30 US centers, comparing the low-profile titanium ceramic composite-based Prestige LP ADR (n = 209) at 2 levels with ACDF (n = 188). Clinical and radiographic evaluations were completed preoperatively, intraoperatively, and at regular postoperative intervals to 84 months. The primary end point was overall success, a composite variable that included key safety and efficacy considerations.

RESULTS At 84 months, the Prestige LP ADR demonstrated statistical superiority over fusion for overall success (observed rate 78.6% vs 62.7%; posterior probability of superiority [PPS] = 99.8%), Neck Disability Index success (87.0% vs 75.6%; PPS = 99.3%), and neurological success (91.6% vs 82.1%; PPS = 99.0%). All other study effectiveness measures were at least noninferior for ADR compared with ACDF. There was no statistically significant difference in the overall rate of implant-related or implant/surgical procedure–related adverse events up to 84 months (26.6% and 27.7%, respectively). However, the Prestige LP group had fewer serious (Grade 3 or 4) implant- or implant/surgical procedure–related adverse events (3.2% vs 7.2%, log hazard ratio [LHR] and 95% Bayesian credible interval [95% BCI] -1.19 [-2.29 to -0.15]). Patients in the Prestige LP group also underwent statistically significantly fewer second surgical procedures at the index levels (4.2%) than the fusion group (14.7%) (LHR -1.29 [95% BCI -2.12 to -0.46]). Angular range of motion at superior- and inferior-treated levels on average was maintained in the Prestige LP ADR group to 84 months.

CONCLUSIONS The low-profile artificial cervical disc in this study, Prestige LP, implanted at 2 adjacent levels, maintains improved clinical outcomes and segmental motion 84 months after surgery and is a safe and effective alternative to fusion.

Surgical treatment of intraforaminal/extraforaminal lumbar disc herniations

Acta Neurochir (2017) 159:1273–1281

Several disc disease nomenclatures and approaches for LDH exist. The traditional midline bonedestructive procedures together with approaches requiring extreme muscular retraction are being replaced by muscle sparing, targeted, stability-preserving surgical routes. The increasing speculation on LDHs and the innovative corridors described to treat them have lead to an extensive production of papers frequently treating the same topic but adopting different terminologies and reporting contradictory results.

Methods The review of such literature somehow confounding gave us the chance to regroup by surgical corridors the vast amount of approaches for LDH differently renamed over time. Likewise, LDHs were simplified in intra-foraminal (ILDH), extra-foraminal (ELDH), and intra−/extra-foraminal (IELDH) in relation to precise anatomical boundaries and extent of bulging disc.

Results Through the analysis of the papers, it was possible to identify ideal surgical corridors for ILDHs, ELDHs, and IELDHs, distinguishing for each approach the exposure provided and the technical advantages/disadvantages in terms of muscle trauma, biomechanical stability, and nerve root preservation. A significant disproportion was noted between studies discussing traditional midline approaches or variants of the posterolateral route and those investigating pros and cons of simple or combined alternative corridors. Although rarely discussed, these latter represent valuable strategies particularly for the challenging IELDHs, thanks to the optimal compromise between herniation exposure and bone-muscle preservation.

Conclusions The integration of adequate mastery of traditional approaches together with a greater confidence through unfamiliar surgical corridors can improve the development of combined mini-invasive procedures, which seem promising for future targeted LDH excisions.

A New Classification for Pathologies of Spinal Meninges, Part 1: Dural Cysts, Dissections, and Ectasias

Neurosurgery 81:29–44, 2017

The clinical significance of pathologies of the spinal dura is often unclear and their management controversial.

OBJECTIVE: To classify spinal dural pathologies analogous to vascular aneurysms, present their symptoms and surgical results.

METHODS: Among 1519 patients with spinal space-occupying lesions, 66 patients demonstrated dural pathologies. Neuroradiological and surgical features were reviewed and clinical data analyzed.

RESULTS: Saccular dural diverticula (type I, n = 28) caused by defects of both dural layers, dissections between dural layers (type II, n = 29) due to defects of the inner layer, and dural ectasias (type III, n = 9) related to structural changes of the dura were distinguished. For all types, symptoms consisted of local pain followed by signs of radiculopathy or myelopathy, while one patient with dural ectasia presented a low-pressure syndrome and 10 patients with dural dissections additional spinal cord herniation. Type I and type II pathologies required occlusion of their dural defects via extradural (type I) or intradural (type II) approaches. For type III pathologies of the dural sac no surgerywas recommended. Favorable results were obtained in all 14 patients with type I and 13 of 15 patients with type II pathologies undergoing surgery.

CONCLUSION: The majority of dural pathologies involving root sleeves remain asymptomatic, while those of the dural sac commonly lead to pain and neurological symptoms. Type I and type II pathologies were treated with good long-term results occluding their dural defects, while ectasias of the dural sac (type III) were managed conservatively.


Evolution of Sagittal Imbalance Following Corrective Surgery for Sagittal Plane Deformity

Neurosurgery 81:129–134, 2017

Sagittal balance in adult spinal deformity is a major predictor of quality of life. A temporary loss of paraspinalmuscle force and somatic pain following spine surgery may limit a patient’s ability to maintain posture.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the evolution of sagittal balance and clinical outcomes during recovery from adult spinal deformity surgery.

METHODS: Retrospective review of a prospective observational database identified a consecutive series of patients with sagittal vertical axis (SVA) > 40mm undergoing adult deformity surgery. Radiographic parameters and clinical outcomes were measured out to 2 yr after surgery.

RESULTS: A total of 113 consecutive patients met inclusion criteria. Mean preoperative SVA was 90.3 mm, increased to 104.6mm in the first week, then gradually reduced at each follow-up interval to 59.2mm at 6wk, 45.0mm at 3mo, 38.6mm at 6mo, and 34.1mm at 1 yr (all P < .05). SVA did not change between 1 and 2 yr. Pelvic incidence-lumbar lordosis (PI-LL) corrected immediately from 25.3◦ to 8.5◦ (16.8◦ change; P < .01) and a decreased pelvic tilt from 27.6◦ to 17.6◦ (10◦ change; P < .01). No further change was noted in PILL. Pelvic tilt increased to 20.2◦ (P = .01) at 6wk and held steady through 2 yr. Mean Visual Analog Scale, Oswestry Disability Index, and Short Form-36 scores all improved; pain rapidly improved, whereas disability measures improved as SVA improved.

CONCLUSION: Radiographic assessment of global sagittal alignment did not fully reflect surgical correction of sagittal balance until 6 months after adult deformity surgery. Sagittal balance initially worsened then steadily improved at each interval over the first year postoperatively. At 1 yr, all clinical and radiographic measures outcomes were significantly improved.


Expandable vs Static Cages in Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Neurosurgery 81:69–74, 2017

One criticism of transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) is the inability to increase segmental lordosis (SL). Expandable interbody cages are a relatively new innovation theorized to allow improvement in SL.

OBJECTIVE: To compare changes in SL and lumbar lordosis (LL) after TLIF with nonexpandable vs expandable cages. METHODS: We performed a retrospective cohort study of patients who were ≥18 years old and underwent single-level TLIF between 2011 and 2014. Patients were categorized by cage type (static vs expandable). Primary outcome of interestwas change in SL and LL from preoperative values to those at 1 month and 1 year postoperatively.

RESULTS: A total of 89 patients were studied (48 nonexpandable group, 41 expandable group). Groups had similar baseline characteristics. For SL, median (interquartile range) improvement was 3◦ for nonexpandable and 2◦ for expandable (unadjusted, P = .09; adjusted, P = .68) at 1 month postoperatively, and 3◦ for nonexpandable and 1◦ for expandable (unadjusted, P=.41; adjusted, P=.28) at 1 year postoperatively. For LL, median improvement was 1◦ for nonexpandable and 2◦ for expandable (unadjusted, P = .20; adjusted, P = .21), and 2◦ for nonexpandable and 5◦ for expandable (unadjusted, P = .15; adjusted, P=.51) at 1 year postoperatively. After excluding parallel expandable cages, there was still no difference in SL or LL improvement at 1month or 1 year postoperatively between static and expandable cages (both unadjusted and adjusted, P > .05).

CONCLUSION: Patients undergoing single-level TLIF experienced similar improvements in SL and LL regardless of whether nonexpandable or expandable cages were placed.

Morbidity and Mortality Associated with Surgery of Traumatic C2 Fractures in Octogenarians

Neurosurgery 80:854–862, 2017

Management of axis fractures in the elderly remains controversial. As the US population increasingly lives past 80 years, published C2 fracture morbidity/mortality profiles in younger cohorts (55+) have become less applicable to octogenarians.

OBJECTIVE: To report associations between surgery and mortality, hospital length of stay and discharge disposition in octogenarians with traumatic C2 fractures.

METHODS: Retrospective cohort study of 3847 patients age ≥ 80 years representing 17 702 incidents nationwide, divided into surgery/nonsurgery cohorts, using the National Sample Program of the National Trauma Data Bank from 2003 to 2012. Inpatient complications, mortality, length of stay, and discharge disposition are characterized; multivariable regression was utilized to determine associations between surgery and outcomes. Institutional Review Board (IRB): The National Sample Program dataset from the National Trauma Data Bank is fully deidentified and does not contain Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act identifiers; therefore, this study is exempt from IRB review at the University of California, San Francisco.

RESULTS: Incidence of surgery was 10.3%. Surgery was associated with increased pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and decubitus ulcer risks (P < .001). Inpatient mortality was 12.8% (nonsurgery—13.0%; surgery—10.3%; P = .120). Length of stay was 8.31±9.32 days (nonsurgery 7.78±9.21; surgery 12.86±9.07; P<.001) and showed an adjusted mean increase of 5.68 days with surgery (95% confidence interval [4.74-6.61]). Of patients surviving to discharge, 26% returned home (nonsurgery—26.8%; surgery— 18.8%; P=.001); surgery patientswere less likely to returnhome(odds ratio 0.59 [0.44-0.78]).

CONCLUSION: The present study confirms that surgery of traumatic C2 fractures in octogenarians does not significantly affect inpatient mortality and increases discharge to institutionalized care. Patients undergoing surgery are more likely to require longer hospitalization and suffer increased medical complications during their stay. Given the retrospective nature of this study, it is unclear whether these conclusions reflect differences in injury severity between surgery cohorts. This question may be considered in a future prospective study.

Clinical Outcomes of Cervical Laminoplasty

Neurosurgery 80:934–941, 2017

Laminoplasty is an established treatment for cervical myelopathy. Multiple variations have emerged, many advocating the use of allograft, but controversy persists.

OBJECTIVE: To assess medium-term clinical outcomes in patientswho underwent laminoplasty with autograft at our institution.

METHODS: Thirty-two consecutive patients (19 male, 13 female, average age 66 yr) from our prospective outcome registry that underwent cervical laminoplasty between 2009 and 2013 were reviewed. Computed tomography (CT) scan was performed immediately postoperatively and at 6-mo follow-up. Parameters included patient perception of outcome, Nurick score, Neck Disability Index (NDI), visual analog scale for neck pain, and SF-36.

RESULTS: On retrospective analysis, all patients felt improved at 3 mo postoperatively; at 2 yr, this rate was 91%. Improvements were seen in Nurick scores, from 3.16 ± 0.9 preoperatively to 1.94 ± 0.8 at 2 yr; NDI score from 28.7% ± 9% preoperatively to 20.8% ± 9.6% at 2 yr; visual analog scale from2.8 ± 1.2 preoperatively to 1.7 ± 0.9 at 2 yr; and SF-36 physical component summary from 27.9±10 preoperatively to 37.8±11.9 at 2 yr. All values reached significance at all follow-up points (P < .05) with the exception of 6-mo NDI values (P = .062). No C5 palsy, graft complications, or reclosure was observed in any patient during the follow-up period.

CONCLUSION: Laminoplasty with autograft is a safe and effective method to treat cervical myelopathy,with good medium-term clinical outcome. No reclosures were observed. Bony fusion was seen in all cases on CT scan. Our study found good outcomes in the performance of open-door laminoplasty without hardware, in the treatment of cervical stenosis.


The Influence of Pelvic Incidence and Lumbar Lordosis Mismatch on Development of Symptomatic Adjacent Level Disease Following Single-Level Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Neurosurgery 80:880–886, 2017

Annual incidence of symptomatic adjacent level disease (ALD) following lumbar fusion surgery ranges from 0.6% to 3.9% per year. Sagittal malalignment may contribute to the development of ALD.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the relationship between pelvic incidence-lumbar lordosis (PI-LL) mismatch and the development of symptomatic ALD requiring revision surgery following single-level transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion for degenerative lumbar spondylosis and/or low-grade spondylolisthesis.

METHODS: All patients who underwent a single-level transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion at either L4/5 or L5/S1 between July 2006 and December 2012 were analyzed for pre- and postoperative spinopelvic parameters. Using univariate and logistic regression analysis,we compared the spinopelvic parameters of those patients who required revision surgery against those patients who did not develop symptomatic ALD. We calculated the predictive value of PI-LL mismatch.

RESULTS: One hundred fifty-nine patients met the inclusion criteria. The results noted that, for a 1◦ increase in PI-LL mismatch (preop and postop), the odds of developing ALD requiring surgery increased by 1.3 and 1.4 fold, respectively, which were statistically significant increases. Based on our analysis, a PI-LL mismatch of >11◦ had a positive predictive value of 75% for the development of symptomatic ALD requiring revision surgery.

CONCLUSIONS: A high PI-LL mismatch is strongly associated with the development of symptomatic ALD requiring revision lumbar spine surgery. The development of ALD may represent a global disease process as opposed to a focal condition. Spine surgeons may wish to consider assessment of spinopelvic parameters in the evaluation of degenerative lumbar spine pathology.


Cervical disc arthroplasty with the Prestige LP disc versus anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, at 2 levels: results of a prospective, multicenter randomized controlled clinical trial at 24 months

J Neurosurg Spine 26:653–667, 2017

The authors compared the efficacy and safety of arthroplasty using the Prestige LP cervical disc with those of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) for the treatment of degenerative disc disease (DDD) at 2 adjacent levels.

METHODS Patients from 30 investigational sites were randomized to 1 of 2 groups: investigational patients (209) underwent arthroplasty using a Prestige LP artificial disc, and control patients (188) underwent ACDF with a cortical ring allograft and anterior cervical plate. Patients were evaluated preoperatively, intraoperatively, and at 1.5, 3, 6, 12, and 24 months postoperatively. Efficacy and safety outcomes were measured according to the Neck Disability Index (NDI), Numeric Rating Scales for neck and arm pain, 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36), gait abnormality, disc height, range of motion (investigational) or fusion (control), adverse events (AEs), additional surgeries, and neurological status. Treatment was considered an overall success when all 4 of the following criteria were met: 1) NDI score improvement of ≥ 15 points over the preoperative score, 2) maintenance or improvement in neurological status compared with preoperatively, 3) no serious AE caused by the implant or by the implant and surgical procedure, and 4) no additional surgery (supplemental fixation, revision, or nonelective implant removal). Independent statisticians performed Bayesian statistical analyses.

RESULTS The 24-month rates of overall success were 81.4% for the investigational group and 69.4% for the control group. The posterior mean for overall success in the investigational group exceeded that in the control group by 0.112 (95% highest posterior density interval = 0.023 to 0.201) with a posterior probability of 1 for noninferiority and 0.993 for superiority, demonstrating the superiority of the investigational group for overall success. Noninferiority of the investigational group was demonstrated for all individual components of overall success and individual effectiveness end points, except for the SF-36 Mental Component Summary. The investigational group was superior to the control group for NDI success. The proportion of patients experiencing any AE was 93.3% (195/209) in the investigational group and 92.0% (173/188) in the control group, which were not statistically different. The rate of patients who reported any serious AE (Grade 3 or 4) was significantly higher in the control group (90 [47.9%] of 188) than in the investigational group (72 [34.4%] of 209) with a posterior probability of superiority of 0.996. Radiographic success was achieved in 51.0% (100/196) of the investigational patients (maintenance of motion without evidence of bridging bone) and 82.1% (119/145) of the control patients (fusion). At 24 months, heterotopic ossification was identified in 27.8% (55/198) of the superior levels and 36.4% (72/198) of the inferior levels of investigational patients.

CONCLUSIONS Arthroplasty with the Prestige LP cervical disc is as effective and safe as ACDF for the treatment of cervical DDD at 2 contiguous levels and is an alternative treatment for intractable radiculopathy or myelopathy at 2 adjacent levels.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT00637156 (


An assessment of the most reliable method to estimate the sagittal alignment of the cervical spine

J Neurosurg Spine 26:572–576, 2017

Although there is increasing recognition of the importance of cervical spinal sagittal balance, there is a lack of consensus as to the optimal method to accurately assess the cervical sagittal alignment. Cervical alignment is important for surgical decision making. Sagittal balance of the cervical spine is generally assessed using one of two methods; namely, measuring the angle between C-2 and C-7, and drawing a line between C-2 and C-7. Here, the best method to assess sagittal alignment of the cervical spine is investigated.

METHODS Data from 138 patients enrolled in a randomized controlled trial (Procon) were analyzed. Two investigators independently measured the angle between C-2 and C-7 by using Harrison’s posterior tangent method, and also estimated the shape of the sagittal curve by using a modified Toyama method. The mean angles of each quantitative assessment of the sagittal alignment were calculated and the results were compared. The interrater reliability for both methods was estimated using Cronbach’s alpha.

RESULTS For both methods the interrater reliability was high: for the posterior tangent method it was 0.907 and for the modified Toyama technique it was 0.984. For a lordotic cervical spine, defined by the modified Toyama method, the mean angle (defined by Harrison’s posterior tangent method) was 23.4° ± 9.9° (range 0.4°–52.4°), for a kyphotic cervical spine it was -2.2° ± 9.2° (range -16.1° to 16.9°), and for a straight cervical spine it was 10.5° ± 8.2° (range -11° to 36°).

CONCLUSIONS An absolute measurement of the angle between C-2 and C-7 does not unequivocally define the sagittal cervical alignment. As can be seen from the minimum and maximum values, even a positive angle between C-2 and C-7 could be present in a kyphotic spine. For this purpose, the modified Toyama method (drawing a line from the posterior inferior part of the vertebral body of C-2 to the posterior upper part of the vertebral body of C-7 without any measurements) is a better tool for a global assessment of cervical sagittal alignment. Clinical trial registration no.: ISRCTN41681847 (

Lumbar Fusion for Degenerative Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Neurosurgery 80:701–715, 2017

Due to uncertain evidence, lumbar fusion for degenerative indications is associated with the greatest measured practice variation of any surgical procedure.

OBJECTIVE: To summarize the current evidence on the comparative safety and efficacy of lumbar fusion, decompression-alone, or nonoperative care for degenerative indications.

METHODS: A systematic review was conducted using PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (up to June 30, 2016). Comparative studies reporting validated measures of safety or efficacy were included. Treatment effects were calculated through DerSimonian and Laird random effects models.

RESULTS: The literature search yielded 65 studies (19 randomized controlled trials, 16 prospective cohort studies, 15 retrospective cohort studies, and 15 registries) enrolling a total of 302 620 patients. Disability, pain, and patient satisfaction following fusion, decompression-alone, or nonoperative care were dependent on surgical indications and study methodology. Relative to decompression-alone, the risk of reoperation following fusion was increased for spinal stenosis (relative risk [RR] 1.17, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.06-1.28) and decreased for spondylolisthesis (RR 0.75, 95% CI 0.68-0.83). Among patients with spinal stenosis, complications were more frequent following fusion (RR 1.87, 95% CI 1.18-2.96). Mortality was not significantly associated with any treatment modality.

CONCLUSION: Positive clinical change was greatest in patients undergoing fusion for spondylolisthesis while complications and the risk of reoperation limited the benefit of fusion for spinal stenosis. The relative safety and efficacy of fusion for chronic low back pain suggests careful patient selection is required (PROSPERO International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews number, CRD42015020153).


Cortical plasticity catalyzed by prehabilitation enables extensive resection of brain tumors in eloquent areas

J Neurosurg 126:1323–1333, 2017

The extent of resection is the most important prognostic factor following brain glioma surgery. However, eloquent areas within tumors limit the extent of resection and, thus, critically affect outcomes. The authors hypothesized that presurgical suppression of the eloquent areas within a tumor by continuous cortical electrical stimulation, coupled with appropriate behavioral training (“prehabilitation”), would induce plastic reorganization and enable a more extensive resection.

METHODS The authors report on 5 patients harboring gliomas involving eloquent brain areas within tumors as identified on intraoperative stimulation mapping. A grid of electrodes was placed over the residual tumor, and continuous cortical electrical stimulation was targeted to the functional areas. The stimulation intensity was adjusted daily to provoke a mild functional impairment while the function was intensively trained.

RESULTS The stimulation intensity required to impair function increased progressively in all patients, and all underwent another operation a mean of 33.6 days later (range 27–37 days), when the maximal stimulation voltage in all active contacts induced no functional deficit. In all cases, a substantially more extensive resection of the tumor was possible. Intraoperative mapping and functional MRI demonstrated a plastic reorganization, and most previously demonstrated eloquent areas within the tumor were silent, while there was new functional activation of brain areas in the same region or toward the contralateral hemisphere.

CONCLUSIONS Prehabilitation with continuous cortical electrical stimulation and appropriate behavioral training prior to surgery in patients with WHO Grade II and III gliomas affecting eloquent areas accelerate plastic changes. This can help maximize tumor resection and, thus, improve survival while maintaining function.

Navigation and Robotics in Spinal Surgery: Where Are We Now?

Neurosurgery 80:S86–S99, 2017

Spine surgery has experienced much technological innovation over the past several decades. The field has seen advancements in operative techniques, implants and biologics, and equipment such as computer-assisted navigation and surgical robotics.

With the arrival of real-time image guidance and navigation capabilities along with the computing ability to process and reconstruct these data into an interactive three-dimensional spinal “map”, so too have the applications of surgical robotic technology.

While spinal robotics and navigation represent promising potential for improving modern spinal surgery, it remains paramount to demonstrate its superiority as compared to traditional techniques prior to assimilation of its use amongst surgeons.

The applications for intraoperative navigation and image-guided robotics have expanded to surgical resection of spinal column and intradural tumors, revision procedures on arthrodesed spines, and deformity cases with distorted anatomy.

Additionally, these platforms may mitigate much of the harmful radiation exposure in minimally invasive surgery to which the patient, surgeon, and ancillary operating room staff are subjected. Spine surgery relies upon meticulous fine motor skills to manipulate neural elements and a steady hand while doing so, often exploiting small working corridors utilizing exposures that minimize collateral damage.

Additionally, the procedures may be long and arduous, predisposing the surgeon to both mental and physical fatigue. In light of these characteristics, spine surgery may actually be an ideal candidate for the integration of navigation and robotic-assisted procedures.

With this paper, we aim to critically evaluate the current literature and explore the options available for intraoperative navigation and robotic-assisted spine surgery.

Greenstick fracture technique to correct kyphosis

Although posterior decompressive surgery is widely used to treat patients with cervical myelopathy and multilevel ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL), a poor outcome is anticipated if the sagittal alignment is kyphotic (or K-line negative). Accordingly, it is mandatory to perform anterior decompression and fusion in patients with cervical kyphosis. However, it can be difficult to perform anterior surgery because of the high risk of complications. This present report proposes a novel “greenstick fracture technique” to change the K-line from negative to positive in patients with cervical myelopathy, OPLL, and kyphotic deformity.

METHODS Four patients with cervical myelopathy, continuous-type OPLL, and kyphotic sagittal alignment (who were K-line negative) were indicated for surgery. Posterior laminectomy and lateral mass screw insertions using a posterior approach were performed, followed by anterior surgery. Multilevel discectomy and thinning of the OPLL mass by bur drilling was performed, then an intentional greenstick fracture at each disc level was made to convert the cervical K-line from negative to positive. Finally, posterior instrumentation using a rod was carried out to maintain cervical lordosis.

RESULTS MRI showed complete decompression of the cord by posterior migration in all cases, which had been caused by cervical lordosis. Restoration of neurological defects was confirmed at the 1-year follow-up assessment. No specific complications were identified that were associated with this technique.

CONCLUSIONS A greenstick fracture technique may be effective and safe when applied to patients with cervical myelopathy, continuous-type OPLL, and kyphotic deformity (K-line negative). However, further studies with more cases will be required to reveal its generalizability and safety.

Does MIS Surgery Allow for Shorter Constructs in the Surgical Treatment of Adult Spinal Deformity?

Neurosurgery 80:489–497, 2017

The length of construct can potentially influence perioperative risks in adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery. A head-to-head comparison between open and minimally invasive surgery (MIS) techniques for treatment of ASD has yet to be performed.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the impact of MIS approaches on construct length and clinical outcomes in comparison to traditional open approaches when treating similar ASD profiles.

METHODS: Two multicenter databases for ASD, 1 involving MIS procedures and the other open procedures, were propensity matched for clinical and radiographic parameters in this observational study. Inclusion criteria were ASD and minimum 2-year follow-up. Independent t-test and chi-square test were used to evaluate and compare outcomes.

RESULTS: A total of 1215 patients were identified, with 84 patients matched in each group. Statistical significance was found for mean levels fused (4.8 for circumferential MIS [cMIS] and 10.1 for open), mean interbody fusion levels (3.6 cMIS and 2.4 open), blood loss (estimated blood loss 488 mL cMIS and 1762 mL open), and hospital length of stay (6.7 days cMIS and 9.7 days open). There was no significant difference in preoperative radiographic parameters or postoperative clinical outcomes (Owestry Disability Index and visual analog scale) between groups. There was a significant difference in postoperative lumbar lordosis (43.3◦ cMIS and 49.8◦ open) and pelvic incidence-lumbar lordosis correction (10.6◦ cMIS and 5.2◦ open) in the open group. There was no significant difference in reoperation rate between the 2 groups.

CONCLUSION: MIS techniques for ASD may reduce construct length, reoperation rates, blood loss, and length of stay without affecting clinical and radiographic outcomes when compared to a similar group of patients treated with open techniques.

Consensus guidelines for postoperative spine SBRT

J Neurosurg Spine 26:299–306, 2017

Although postoperative stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) for spinal metastases is increasingly performed, few guidelines exist for this application. The purpose of this study is to develop consensus guidelines to promote safe and effective treatment for patients with spinal metastases.

METHODS Fifteen radiation oncologists and 5 neurosurgeons, representing 19 centers in 4 countries and having a collective experience of more than 1300 postoperative spine SBRT cases, completed a 19-question survey about postoperative spine SBRT practice. Responses were defined as follows: 1) consensus: selected by ≥ 75% of respondents; 2) predominant: selected by 50% of respondents or more; and 3) controversial: no single response selected by a majority of respondents.

RESULTS Consensus treatment indications included: radioresistant primary, 1–2 levels of adjacent disease, and previous radiation therapy. Contraindications included: involvement of more than 3 contiguous vertebral bodies, ASIA Grade A status (complete spinal cord injury without preservation of motor or sensory function), and postoperative Bilsky Grade 3 residual (cord compression without any CSF around the cord). For treatment planning, co-registration of the preoperative MRI and postoperative T1-weighted MRI (with or without gadolinium) and delineation of the cord on the T2-weighted MRI (and/or CT myelogram in cases of significant hardware artifact) were predominant. Consensus GTV (gross tumor volume) was the postoperative residual tumor based on MRI. Predominant CTV (clinical tumor volume) practice was to include the postoperative bed defined as the entire extent of preoperative tumor, the relevant anatomical compartment and any residual disease. Consensus was achieved with respect to not including the surgical hardware and incision in the CTV. PTV (planning tumor volume) expansion was controversial, ranging from 0 to 2 mm. The spinal cord avoidance structure was predominantly the true cord. Circumferential treatment of the epidural space and margin for paraspinal extension was controversial. Prescription doses and spinal cord tolerances based on clinical scenario, neurological compromise, and prior overlapping treatments were controversial, but reasonable ranges are presented. Fifty percent of those surveyed practiced an integrated boost to areas of residual tumor and density override for hardware within the beam path. Acceptable PTV coverage was controversial, but consensus was achieved with respect to compromising coverage to meet cord constraint and fractionation to improve coverage while meeting cord constraint.

CONCLUSIONS The consensus by spinal radiosurgery experts suggests that postoperative SBRT is indicated for radioresistant primary lesions, disease confined to 1–2 vertebral levels, and/or prior overlapping radiotherapy. The GTV is the postoperative residual tumor, and the CTV is the postoperative bed defined as the entire extent of preoperative tumor and anatomical compartment plus residual disease. Hardware and scar do not need to be included in CTV. While predominant agreement was reached about treatment planning and definition of organs at risk, future investigation will be critical in better understanding areas of controversy, including whether circumferential treatment of the epidural space is necessary, management of paraspinal extension, and the optimal dose fractionation schedules.

Percutaneous Instrumentation Without Arthrodesis for Thoracolumbar Flexion-Distraction Injuries

Neurosurgery 80:171–179, 2017

Flexion-distraction injuries (FDI) represent 5% to 15% of traumatic thoracolumbar fractures. Treatment depends on the extent of ligamentous involvement: osseous/Magerl type B2 injuries can be managed conservatively, while ligamentous/Magerl type B1 injuries undergo stabilization with arthrodesis. Minimally invasive surgery without arthrodesis can achieve similar outcomes to open procedures. This has been studied for burst fractures; however, its role in FDI is unclear.

OBJECTIVE: To conduct a systematic review of the literature that examined minimally invasive surgery instrumentation without arthrodesis for traumatic FDI of the thora- columbar spine.

METHODS: Four electronic databases were searched, and articles were screened using PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses) guidelines for patients with traumatic FDI of the thoracolumbar spine treated with percutaneous techniques without arthrodesis and had postoperative follow-up.

RESULTS: Seven studies with 44 patients met inclusion criteria. There were 19 patients with osseous FDI and 25 with ligamentous FDI. When reported, patients (n = 39) were neuro- logically intact preoperatively and at follow-up. Osseous FDI patients underwent instru- mentation at 2 levels, while ligamentous injuries at approximately 4 levels. Complication rate was 2.3%. All patients had at least 6 mo of follow-up and demonstrated healing on follow-up imaging.

CONCLUSION: Percutaneous instrumentation without arthrodesis represents a low-risk intermediate between conservative management and open instrumented fusion. This “internal bracing” can be used in osseous and ligamentous FDIs. Neurologically intact patients who do not require decompression and those that may not tolerate or fail conser- vative management may be candidates. The current level of evidence cannot provide official recommendations and future studies are required to investigate long-term safety and efficacy.


Different Risk Factors of Proximal Junctional Kyphosis and Proximal Junctional Failure Following Long Instrumented Fusion to the Sacrum for Adult Spinal Deformity

Neurosurgery 80:279–286, 2017

The failure modes, time to development, and clinical relevance are known to differ between proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) and proximal junctional failure (PJF). However, there are no reports that study the risk factors of PJK and PJF separately.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate the risk factors for PJK and PJF separately.

METHODS: A retrospective study of 160 consecutive patients who underwent a long instrumented fusion to the sacrum for adult spinal deformity with a minimum follow-up of years was conducted. A separate survivorship analysis of PJK and PJF was performed using the Cox proportional hazards model for the 3 categorical parameters of surgical, radiographic, and patient factors.

RESULTS: PJK developed in 27 patients (16.9%) and PJF in 29 patients (18.1%). The median survival time was 17.0 months for PJK and 3.0 months for PJF. Multivariate analyses revealed that a high body mass index was an independent risk factor for PJK (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.179), whereas the significant risk factors for PJF were older age, the presence of osteoporosis, the uppermost instrumented vertebra level at T11-L1, and a greater preoperative sagittal vertical axis (HR = 1.082, 6.465, 5.236, and 1.017, respectively). A large correction of sagittal deformity was shown to be a risk factor for PJF on univariate analyses, but not on multivariate analyses.

CONCLUSION: PJK developed at a median of 17 months and PJF at a median of 3 months. A high body mass index was an independent risk factor for PJK, whereas older age, osteoporosis, uppermost instrumented vertebra level at the thoracolumbar junction, and greater preoperative sagittal vertical axis were risk factors for PJF.


Neurosurgery Department. “La Fe” University Hospital. Valencia, Spain


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