Neurosurgery Blog


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

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.


Impact of obesity on complications and outcomes: a comparison of fusion and nonfusion lumbar spine surgery

J Neurosurg Spine 26:158–162, 2017

Prior studies have shown obesity to be associated with higher complication rates but equivalent clinical outcomes following lumbar spine surgery. These findings have been reproducible across lumbar spine surgery in general and for lumbar fusion specifically. Nevertheless, surgeons seem inclined to limit the extent of surgery, perhaps opting for decompression alone rather than decompression plus fusion, in obese patients. The purpose of this study was to ascertain any difference in clinical improvement or complication rates between obese and nonobese patients following decompression alone compared with decompression plus fusion for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS).

Methods: The Quality Outcomes Database (QOD), formerly known as the National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database (N 2 QOD), was queried for patients who had undergone decompression plus fusion (D+F group) versus decompression alone (D+0 group) for LSS and were stratified by a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 30 kg/m 2 (obese) or < 30 kg/m 2 (nonobese). Demographic, surgical, and health-related quality of life data were compared.

Results: In the nonobese cohort, 947 patients underwent decompression alone and 319 underwent decompression plus fusion. In the obese cohort, 844 patients had decompression alone and 337 had decompression plus fusion. There were no significant differences in the Oswestry Disability Index score or in leg pain improvement at 12 months when comparing decompression with fusion to decompression without fusion in either obese or nonobese cohorts. However, absolute improvement in back pain was less in the obese group when decompression alone had been performed. Blood loss and operative time were lowest in the nonobese D+0 cohort and were higher in obese patients with or without fusion. Obese patients had a longer hospital stay (4.1 days) than the nonobese patients (3.3 days) when fusion had been performed. In-hospital stay was similar in both obese and nonobese D+0 cohorts. No significant differences were seen in 30-day readmission rates among the 4 cohorts.

Conclusions: Consistent with the prior literature, equivalent clinical outcomes were found among obese and non-obese patients treated for LSS. In addition, no difference in clinical outcomes as related to the extent of the surgical procedure was observed between obese and nonobese patients. Within the D+0 group, the nonobese patients had slightly better back pain scores at 2 years postoperatively. There may be a higher blood product requirement in obese patients following spine surgery, as well as an extended hospital stay, when fusion is performed. While obesity may influence the decision for or against surgery, the data suggest that obesity should not necessarily alter the appropriate procedure for well-selected surgical candidates.

A 5- to 8-year randomized study on the treatment of cervical radiculopathy: anterior cervical decompression and fusion plus physiotherapy versus physiotherapy alone

Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine 26(1):19-27

The aim of this study was to evaluate the 5- to 8-year outcome of anterior cervical decompression and fusion (ACDF) combined with a structured physiotherapy program as compared with that following the same physiotherapy program alone in patients with cervical radiculopathy. No previous prospective randomized studies with a follow-up of more than 2 years have compared outcomes of surgical versus nonsurgical intervention for cervical radiculopathy.

METHODS: Fifty-nine patients were randomized to ACDF surgery with postoperative physiotherapy (30 patients) or to structured physiotherapy alone (29 patients). The physiotherapy program included general and specific exercises as well as pain coping strategies. Outcome measures included neck disability (Neck Disability Index [NDI]), neck and arm pain intensity (visual analog scale [VAS]), health state (EQ-5D questionnaire), and a patient global assessment. Patients were followed up for 5–8 years.

RESULTS: After 5–8 years, the NDI was reduced by a mean score% of 21 (95% CI 14–28) in the surgical group and 11% (95% CI 4%–18%) in the nonsurgical group (p = 0.03). Neck pain was reduced by a mean score of 39 mm (95% CI 26–53 mm) compared with 19 mm (95% CI 7–30 mm; p = 0.01), and arm pain was reduced by a mean score of 33 mm (95% CI 18–49 mm) compared with 19 mm (95% CI 7–32 mm; p = 0.1), respectively. The EQ-5D had a mean respective increase of 0.29 (95% CI 0.13–0.45) compared with 0.14 (95% CI 0.01–0.27; p = 0.12). Ninety-three percent of patients in the surgical group rated their symptoms as “better” or “much better” compared with 62% in the nonsurgical group (p = 0.005). Both treatment groups experienced significant improvement over baseline for all outcome measures.

CONCLUSIONS: In this prospective randomized study of 5- to 8-year outcomes of surgical versus nonsurgical treatment in patients with cervical radiculopathy, ACDF combined with physiotherapy reduced neck disability and neck pain more effectively than physiotherapy alone. Self-rating by patients as regards treatment outcome was also superior in the surgery group. No significant differences were seen between the 2 patient groups as regards arm pain and health outcome.


A prospective randomized multicenter phase I/II clinical trial to evaluate safety and efficacy of NOVOCART disk plus autologous disk chondrocyte transplantation in the treatment of nucleotomized and degenerative lumbar disks to avoid secondary disease

Neurosurg Rev (2017) 40:155–162

NOVOCART ® Disk plus, an autologous cell compound for autologous disk chondrocyte transplantation, was developed to reduce the degenerative sequel after lumbar disk surgery or to prophylactically avoid degeneration in adjacent disks, if present. The NDisc trial is an on-going multi-center, randomized study with a sequential phase I study within the combined phase I/II trial with close monitoring of tolerability and safety.

Twenty-four adult patients were randomized and treated with the investigational medicinal product NDisc plus or the carrier material only. Rates of adverse events in Phase I of this trial were comparable with those expected in the early time course after elective disk surgery. There was one reherniation 7 months after transplantation, which corresponds to an expected reherniation rate. Immunological markers like CRP and IL-6 were not significantly elevated and there were no im- aging abnormalities. No indications of harmful material extrusion or immunological consequences due to the investigational medicinal product NDplus were observed.

Therefore, the study appears to be safe and feasible. Safety analyses of Phase I of this trial indicate a relatively low risk considering the benefits that patients with debilitating degenerative disk disease may gain.


The Relationship Between Preoperative Clinical Presentation and Quantitative Magnetic Resonance Imaging Features in Patients With Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy

Neurosurgery 80:121–128, 2017

Degenerative cervical myelopathy encompasses a group of conditions resulting in progressive spinal cord injury through static and dynamic compression. Although a constellation of changes can present on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the clinical significance of these findings remains a subject of controversy and discussion.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the relationship between clinical presentation and quantitative MRI features in patients with degenerative cervical myelopathy.

METHODS: A secondary analysis of MRI and clinical data from 114 patients enrolled in a prospective, multicenter study was conducted. MRIs were assessed for maximum spinal cord compression (MSCC), maximum canal compromise (MCC), signal changes, and a signal change ratio (SCR). MRI features were compared between patients with and those without myelopathy symptoms with the use of t tests. Correlations between MRI features and duration of symptoms were assessed with the Spearman ρ.

RESULTS: Numb hands and Hoffmann sign were associated with greater MSCC (P < .05); broad-based, unstable gait, impairment of gait, and Hoffmann sign were associated with greaterMCC (P<.05); andnumbhands,Hoffmann sign, Babinski sign, lower limb spasticity, hyperreflexia, and T1 hypointensitywere associated with greater SCR (P<.05). Patientswith a T2 signal hyperintensity had greater MSCC and MCC (P < .001).

CONCLUSION: MSCC was associated with upper limb manifestations, and SCR was associated with upper limb, lower limb, and general neurological deficits. Hoffmann sign occurred more commonly in patients with a greater MSCC,MCC and SCR. The Lhermitte phenomenon presented more commonly in patientswith a lower SCR and may be an early indicator of mild spinal cord involvement. Research to validate these findings is required.

The ‘Lumbar Fusion Outcome Score’ (LUFOS): a new practical and surgically oriented grading system for preoperative prediction of surgical outcomes after lumbar spinal fusion in patients with degenerative disc disease and refractory chronic axial low back pain

Neurosurg Review (40) pp 67–81, 2017

In order to evaluate the predictive effect of non-invasive preoperative imaging methods on surgical outcomes of lumbar fusion for patients with degenerative disc disease (DDD) and refractory chronic axial low back pain (LBP), the authors conducted a retrospective review of 45 patients with DDD and refractory LBP submitted to anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) at a single center from 2007 to 2010.

Surgical outcomes – as measured by Visual Analog Scale (VAS/back pain) and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) – were evaluated pre-operatively and at 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year post-operatively. Linear mixed-effects models were generated in order to identify possible preoperative imaging characteristics (including bone scan/99mTc scintigraphy increased endplate uptake, Modic endplate changes, and disc degeneration graded according to Pfirrmann classification) which may be predictive of long-term surgical outcomes .

After controlling for confounders, a combined score, the Lumbar Fusion Outcome Score (LUFOS), was developed. The LUFOS grading system was able to stratify patients in two general groups (Non-surgical: LUFOS 0 and 1; Surgical: LUFOS 2 and 3) that presented significantly different surgical outcomes in terms of estimated marginal means of VAS/back pain (p = 0.001) and ODI (p = 0.006) beginning at 3 months and continuing up to 1 year of follow-up.

In conclusion, LUFOS has been devised as a new practical and surgically oriented grading system based on simple key parameters from non-invasive preoperative imaging exams (magnetic resonance imaging/MRI and bone scan/99mTc scintigraphy) which has been shown to be highly predictive of surgical outcomes of patients undergoing lumbar fusion for treatment for refractory chronic axial LBP.

Lateral interbody fusion combined with open posterior surgery for adult spinal deformity

J Neurosurg Spine 25:697–705, 2016

Lateral interbody fusion (LIF) with percutaneous screw fixation can treat adult spinal deformity (ASD) in the coronal plane, but sagittal correction is limited. The authors combined LIF with open posterior (OP) surgery using facet osteotomies and a rod-cantilever technique to enhance lumbar lordosis (LL). It is unclear how this hybrid strategy compares to OP surgery alone. The goal of this study was to evaluate the combination of LIF and OP surgery (LIF+OP) for ASD.

Methods All thoracolumbar ASD cases from 2009 to 2014 were reviewed. Patients with < 6 months follow-up, prior fusion, severe sagittal imbalance (sagittal vertical axis > 200 mm or pelvic incidence-LL > 40°), and those undergoing anterior lumbar interbody fusion were excluded. Deformity correction, complications, and outcomes were compared between LIF+OP and OP-only surgery patients.

Results LIF+OP (n = 32) and OP-only patients (n = 60) had similar baseline features and posterior fusion levels. On average, 3.8 LIFs were performed. Patients who underwent LIF+OP had less blood loss (1129 vs 1833 ml, p = 0.016) and lower durotomy rates (0% vs 23%, p = 0.002). Patients in the LIF+OP group required less ICU care (0.7 vs 2.8 days, p < 0.001) and inpatient rehabilitation (63% vs 87%, p = 0.015). The incidence of new leg pain, numbness, or weakness was similar between groups (28% vs 22%, p = 0.609). All leg symptoms resolved within 6 months, except in 1 OP-only patient. Follow-up duration was similar (28 vs 25 months, p = 0.462). LIF+OP patients had significantly less pseudarthrosis (6% vs 27%, p = 0.026) and greater improvement in visual analog scale back pain (mean decrease 4.0 vs 1.9, p = 0.046) and Oswestry Disability Index (mean decrease 21 vs 12, p = 0.035) scores. Lumbar coronal correction was greater with LIF+OP surgery (mean [± SD] 22° ± 13° vs 14° ± 13°, p = 0.010). LL restoration was 22° ± 13°, intermediately between OP-only with facet osteotomies (11° ± 7°, p < 0.001) and pedicle subtraction osteotomy (29° ± 10°, p = 0.045).

Conclusions LIF+OP is an effective strategy for ASD of moderate severity. Compared with the authors’ OP-only operations, LIF+OP was associated with faster recovery, fewer complications, and greater relief of pain and disability.

Contribution of Lordotic Correction on C5 Palsy Following Cervical Laminectomy and Fusion

Neurosurgery 79:816–822, 2016

C5 palsy is a well-reported complication of cervical spine surgery. The implication of sagittal cervical alignment parameters and their changes after surgery on the incidence of C5 palsy remains unclear.

OBJECTIVE: We review cervical alignment changes in our cases of C5 palsy after cervical laminectomy and fusion.

METHODS: Cases of C5 palsy were retrospectively compared with a control group. Preoperative and postoperative upright plain film radiographs were analyzed in blinded fashion.

RESULTS: Spine registry analysis identified 148 patients who underwent cervical laminectomy and fusion by the senior author over 5 years. There were 18 (12%) cases complicated by postoperative C5 palsy. Nine of these 18 patients had prerequisite upright films and were compared with a randomly constructed case control group of 20 patients. There were no statistically significant differences between the 2 groups in age, proportion of males, and preoperative Nurick score. Measures of sagittal alignment did not differ significantly between the 2 groups on preoperative and postoperative imaging. When comparing the amount of alignment change between preoperative and postoperative upright imaging, however, patients with C5 palsy had a statistically higher amount of average C4-C5 Cobb angle change (22.53 vs 0.78; P = .01). Logistic regression analysis demonstrated that lordotic change in both C4-C5 and C2-C7 Cobb angles were associated with development of palsy.

CONCLUSION: Lordotic cervical correction, as measured on upright imaging, was statistically larger in patients who had C5 palsy. The role of deformity correction in C5 palsy deserves further study and may inform intraoperative decision making.

The Effect of Lumbar Spinal Muscle on Spinal Sagittal Alignment

Neurosurgery 79:847–855, 2016

The majority of earlier studies of the parameters of sagittal balance did not consider the influence of spinal muscles on spinal sagittal alignment.

OBJECTIVE: To analyze the relationship between the paraspinal muscle (quantity and quality) and sagittal alignment in elderly patients.

METHODS: We reviewed 50 full-spine lateral standing radiographs and lumbar magnetic resonance images of elderly patients at a single center. The radiographic parameters examined were thoracic kyphosis, lumbar lordosis (LL), sagittal vertical axis, pelvic tilt, sacral slope, and pelvic incidence (PI). The lumbar muscularity (LM; quantity) and fatty degeneration ratio (FD; quality) in the paraspinal muscle were measured at the L3 level on magnetic resonance images. The relationships between the parameters, LM, and FD were analyzed with the Pearson correlation coefficient and multiple linear regression.

RESULTS: Pearson analysis demonstrated that the FD had significant correlations with age (r = 0.393), thoracic kyphosis (r = 20.559), pelvic tilt (r = 0.430), sagittal vertical axis (r = 0.488), and PI 2 LL (r = 0.479, P , .05), and a close negative correlation was found between the FD and LL (r = 20.505, P , .01). The LM had significant correlations with the LL (r = 0.342) and PI 2 LL (r = 20.283, P , .05). Regression models that controlled for confounding factors such as body mass index confirmed the correlations between the above parameters and FD (P , .05).

CONCLUSION: The quality of the paraspinal muscle could be one of the various factors that influence sagittal balance.

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


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