Postoperative complications after surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis, assessment using two different data sources

Acta Neurochirurgica (2024) 166:189

Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) is a prevalent disorder, and surgery for LSS is a common procedure. Postoperative complications occur after any surgery and impose costs for society and costs and additional morbidity for patients. Since complications are relatively rare, medical registries of large populations may provide valuable knowledge. However, recording of complications in registries can be incomplete. To better estimate the true prevalence of complications after LSS surgery, we reviewed two different sources of data and recorded complications for a sample of Norwegian LSS patients.

Methods 474 patients treated surgically for LSS during 2015 and 2016 at four hospitals reported to a national spine registry (NORspine). Postoperative complications were recorded by patients in NORspine, and we cross-referenced complications documented in NORspine with the patients´ electronic patient records (EPR) to re-test the complication rates. We performed descriptive statistics of complication rates using the two different data sources above, and analyzed the association between postoperative complications and clinical outcome with logistic regression.

Results The mean (95%CI) patient age was 66.3 (65.3–67.2) years, and 254 (53.6%) were females. All patients were treated with decompression, and 51 (10.7%) received an additional fusion during the index surgery. Combining the two data sources, we found a total rate for postoperative complications of 22.4%, the NORspine registry reported a complication rate of 15.6%, and the EPR review resulted in a complication rate of 16.0%. However, the types of complications were inconsistent across the two data sources. According to NORspine, the frequency of reoperation within 90 days was 0.9% and according to EPR 3.4%. The rates of wound infection were for NORspine 3.1% and EPR review 2.1%. There was no association between postoperative complication and patient reported outcome.

Conclusion Postoperative complications occurred in 22% of LSS patients. The frequency of different postoperative complications differed between the two data sources.

Predictors of pelvic tilt normalization: a multicenter study on the impact of regional and lower-extremity compensation on pelvic alignment after complex adult spinal deformity surgery

J Neurosurg Spine 40:505–512, 2024

OBJECTIVE The objective was to determine the degree of regional decompensation to pelvic tilt (PT) normalization after complex adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery.

METHODS Operative ASD patients with 1 year of PT measurements were included. Patients with normalized PT at baseline were excluded. Predicted PT was compared to actual PT, tested for change from baseline, and then compared against age-adjusted, Scoliosis Research Society–Schwab, and global alignment and proportion (GAP) scores. Lowerextremity (LE) parameters included the cranial-hip-sacrum angle, cranial-knee-sacrum angle, and cranial-ankle-sacrum angle. LE compensation was set as the 1-year upper tertile compared with intraoperative baseline. Univariate analyses were used to compare normalized and nonnormalized data against alignment outcomes. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to develop a model consisting of significant predictors for normalization related to regional compensation.

RESULTS In total, 156 patients met the inclusion criteria (mean ± SD age 64.6 ± 9.1 years, BMI 27.9 ± 5.6 kg/m 2 , Charlson Comorbidity Index 1.9 ± 1.6). Patients with normalized PT were more likely to have overcorrected pelvic incidence minus lumbar lordosis and sagittal vertical axis at 6 weeks (p < 0.05). GAP score at 6 weeks was greater for patients with nonnormalized PT (0.6 vs 1.3, p = 0.08). At baseline, 58.5% of patients had compensation in the thoracic and cervical regions. Postoperatively, compensation was maintained by 42% with no change after matching in age-adjusted or GAP score. The patients with nonnormalized PT had increased rates of thoracic and cervical compensation (p < 0.05). Compensation in thoracic kyphosis differed between patients with normalized PT at 6 weeks and those with normalized PT at 1 year (69% vs 35%, p < 0.05). Those who compensated had increased rates of implant complications by 1 year (OR [95% CI] 2.08 [1.32–6.56], p < 0.05). Cervical compensation was maintained at 6 weeks and 1 year (56% vs 43%, p = 0.12), with no difference in implant complications (OR 1.31 [95% CI −2.34 to 1.03], p = 0.09). For the lower extremities at baseline, 61% were compensating. Matching age-adjusted alignment did not eliminate compensation at any joint (all p > 0.05). Patients with nonnormalized PT had higher rates of LE compensation across joints (all p < 0.01). Overall, patients with normalized PT at 1 year had the greatest odds of resolving LE compensation (OR 9.6, p < 0.001). Patients with normalized PT at 1 year had lower rates of implant failure (8.9% vs 19.5%, p < 0.05), rod breakage (1.3% vs 13.8%, p < 0.05), and pseudarthrosis (0% vs 4.6%, p < 0.05) compared with patients with nonnormalized PT. The complication rate was significantly lower for patients with normalized PT at 1 year (56.7% vs 66.1%, p = 0.02), despite comparable health-related quality of life scores.

CONCLUSIONS Patients with PT normalization had greater rates of resolution in thoracic and LE compensation, leading to lower rates of complications by 1 year. Thus, consideration of both the lower extremities and thoracic regions in surgical planning is vital to preventing adverse outcomes and maintaining pelvic alignment.

Pain alleviation and functional improvement: ultra-early patient-reported outcome measures after full endoscopic spine surgery

J Neurosurg Spine 40:465–474, 2024

Questions regarding anticipated pain improvement and functional recovery postsurgery are frequently posed in preoperative consultations. However, a lack of data characterizing outcomes for the first postoperative days only allows for anecdotal answers. Hence, the assessment of ultra-early patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) is essential for patient-provider communication and patient satisfaction. The aim of this study was to elucidate this research gap by assessing and characterizing PROMs for the first days after full endoscopic spine surgery (FESS).

METHODS This multicenter study included patients undergoing lumbar FESS from March 2021 to July 2023. After informed consent was provided, data were collected prospectively through a smartphone application. Patients underwent either discectomy or decompression. Analyzed parameters included demographics, surgical details, visual analog scale scores for both back and leg pain, and the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score. Data were acquired daily for the 1st postoperative week, as well as after 2 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months.

RESULTS A total of 182 patients were included, of whom 102 underwent FESS discectomy and 80 underwent FESS decompression. Significant differences between the discectomy and decompression groups were found for age (mean 50.45 ± 15.28 years and 63.85 ± 13.25 years, p < 0.001; respectively), sex (p = 0.007), and surgery duration (73.45 ± 45.23 minutes vs 98.05 ± 46.47 minutes, p < 0.001; respectively). Patients in both groups reported a significant amelioration of leg pain on the 1st postoperative day (discectomy group VAS score: 6.2 ± 2.6 vs 2.4 ± 2.9, p < 0.001; decompression group: 5.3 ± 2.8 vs 1.9 ± 2.2, p < 0.001) and of back pain within the 1st postoperative week (discectomy group VAS score: 5.5 ± 2.8 vs 2.8 ± 2.2, p < 0.001; decompression group: 5.2 ± 2.7 vs 3.1 ± 2.4, p < 0.001). ODI score improvement was most pronounced at the 3-month time point (discectomy group: 21.7 ± 9.1 vs 9.3 ± 9.1, p < 0.001; decompression group: 19.3 ± 7.8 vs 9.9 ± 8.3, p < 0.001). For both groups, pain improvement within the 1st week after surgery was highly predictive of later benefits.

CONCLUSIONS Ultra-early PROMs reveal an immediate pain improvement after FESS. While the benefits in pain reduction plateaued within the 1st postoperative week for both groups, functional improvements developed over a more extended period. These results illustrate a biphasic rehabilitation process wherein initial pain alleviation transitions into functional improvement over time.

Evaluating the safe zone for lumbar pedicle screws: are midline crossing screws indicative of pedicle breach?

The Spine Journal 24 (2024) 617−624

Pedicle screw breach (PSB) is not uncommon following lumbar instrumentation, and in some instances, it may lead to vascular and/or neurologic complications. Previous literature suggested that screws crossing the vertebral midline on an anterior-posterior (AP) radiograph (or midsagittal on CT) are concerning for medial pedicle breach.

OBJECTIVE: Our primary aim was to map out the safe zones (SZ) of bilateral pedicle instrumentation and their relationship at each lumbar vertebral level. Our secondary aim was to evaluate the presence of SZs’ intersection at each lumbar level, denoting safe midline pedicle screw crossing not otherwise associated with medial pedicle breach.

STUDY DESIGN/SETTING: Retrospective Anatomical Study.

PATIENT SAMPLE: Adult patients in the from “The Cancer Imaging Archive” (TCIA) database who have not had thoraco-lumbo-sacral fusion.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Physiologic measures obtained through 3D analysis of CT images and virtual pedicle screws.

METHOD: CT scans of 51 patients were randomly selected from “The Cancer Imaging Archive” (TCIA) online database for analysis. The Sectra 3D Spine software was used to create 3D renderings, place virtual screws, and make measurements. At each lumbar vertebra, the right and left pedicle corridors were mapped. At each pedicle, two screw positions were templated, the “medial limit screw” (MLS) and the “lateral limit screw” (LLS). Each limit screw was the most extreme position that the screw could exist in without causing a medial or lateral breach. The safe zone was defined as the zone between MLS and LLS. Measurements were taken for each level (between L1 and L5) and side (Left, Right).

RESULTS: A total of 253 lumbar vertebrae from 51 patients (mean age 53.1, 56.9% male) were included. Two vertebrae from two patients were removed for poor image quality. Out of the 506 screw positions analyzed in our study, 97.4% had overlapping SZ and crossed the midplane without medial pedicle breach. The significant factors (p<.01) for safe midplane-crossing screws included: the screw length (L1−L5); the laterality of the screw entry point (L1−L4); and the pedicle diameter (L2 and L5). CONCLUSIONS: A midline crossing pedicle screw on a lumbar AP radiograph is not necessarily indicative of a medial pedicle screw breach. Anatomical (ie, larger pedicle diameter) and technical (ie, longer screws, and lateral entry points) factors allow for safety zone intersections and indicate safe midline crossing by pedicle screws.

Current concepts in adult cervical spine deformity surgery

J Neurosurg Spine 40:439–452, 2024

Cervical spine deformity surgery has significantly evolved over recent decades. There has been substantial work performed, which has furthered the true understanding of alignment and advancements in surgical technique and instrumentation.

Concomitantly, understanding of cervical spine pathology and the contributing drivers have also improved, which have influenced the development of classification systems for cervical spine deformity and the development of treatment-guiding algorithms.

This article aims to provide a synopsis of the current knowledge surrounding cervical spine deformity to date, with particular focus on preoperative expected alignment targets, perioperative optimization, and the whole operative strategy.

Normative Measurements of L1–S1 Segmental Angulation, Disk Space Height, and Neuroforaminal Dimensions Using Computed Tomography

Neurosurgery 94:813–827, 2024

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: To establish normative anatomic measurements of lumbar segmental angulation (SA) and disk space height (DSH) in relation to neuroforaminal dimensions (NFDs), and to uncover the influence of patient demographic and anthropometric characteristics on SA, DSH, and NFDs.

METHODS: NFDs, SA, and anterior, middle, and posterior DSH were measured using computed tomography of 969 patients. NFDs were defined as sagittal anterior-to-posterior width, foraminal height, and area. Statistical analyses were performed to assess associations among SA, DSH, NFDs, and patient height, weight, body mass index, sex, and ethnicity.

RESULTS: SA and DSH measurements increased moving caudally from L1 to S1. Foraminal width decreased moving caudally from L1 to S1. Foraminal height and area demonstrated unimodal distribution patterns with the largest values clustered at L2–L3 on the right side and L3–L4 on the left. Significant differences in SA, DSH, and NFD measurements were observed based on the disk level. Inconsistent, marginal NFD differences were observed based on laterality. Across all disk levels, only weak-to-moderate correlations were observed between SA and DSH in relation to NFDs. Patient height, weight, and body mass index were only weakly associated with SA, DSH, and NFDs. Based on patient sex, significant differences were observed for SA, DSH, and NFD measurements from L1 to S1, with males demonstrating consistently larger values compared with females. Based on patient race and ethnicity, significant differences in SA and NFD measurements were observed from L1 to S1.

CONCLUSION: This study describes 48 450 normative measurements of L1–S1 SA, DSH, and NFDs. These measurements serve as representative models of normal anatomic dimensions necessary for several applications including surgical planning and diagnosis of foraminal stenosis. Normative values of SA and DSH are not moderately or strongly associated with NFDs. SA, DSH, and NFDs are influenced by sex and ethnicity, but are not strongly or moderately influenced by patient anthropometric factors.

Sacral Tarlov perineurial cysts: a systematic review of treatment options

J Neurosurg Spine 40:375–388, 2024

Tarlov perineurial spinal cysts (TCs) are an underrecognized cause of spinal neuropathic symptoms. TCs form within the sensory nerve root sleeves, where CSF extends distally and can accumulate pathologically. Typically, they develop at the sacral dermatomes where the nerve roots are under the highest hydrostatic pressure and lack enclosing vertebral foramina. In total, 90% of patients are women, and genetic disorders that weaken connective tissues, e.g., Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, convey considerable risk. Most small TCs are asymptomatic and do not require treatment, but even incidental visualizations should be documented in case symptoms develop later. Symptomatic TCs most commonly cause sacropelvic dermatomal neuropathic pain, as well as bladder, bowel, and sexual dysfunction. Large cysts routinely cause muscle atrophy and weakness by compressing the ventral motor roots, and multiple cysts or multiroot compression by one large cyst can cause even greater cauda equina syndromes. Rarely, giant cysts erode the sacrum or extend as intrapelvic masses. Disabling TCs require consideration for surgical intervention.

The authors’ systematic review of treatment analyzed 31 case series of interventional percutaneous procedures and open surgical procedures. The surgical series were smaller and reported somewhat better outcomes with longer term follow-up but slightly higher risks. When data were lacking, authorial expertise and case reports informed details of the specific interventional and surgical techniques, as well as medical, physical, and psychological management.

Cyst-wrapping surgery appeared to offer the best longterm outcomes by permanently reducing cyst size and reconstructing the nerve root sleeves. This curtails ongoing injury to the axons and neuronal death, and may also promote axonal regeneration to improve somatic and autonomic sacral nerve function.

C2 versus C3 or C4 as the upper instrumented vertebra for long-segment cervical fusions: a systematic review and meta-analysis

J Neurosurg Spine 40:265–273, 2024

Selecting C2 versus C3 or C4 (i.e., C3/C4) as the rostral anchoring level in long-segment cervical fusions is a common clinical conundrum. The data regarding proximal failure in long constructs of the cervical spine is scarce. The objective of this study was to systematically review the published literature and perform a meta-analysis of the incidence for proximal adjacent-segment disease (ASD) in the context of long cervical fusions and cervicothoracic fusions ending in C2 versus those ending in the subaxial spine (C3 or C4).

METHODS Using the PRISMA guidelines, the authors performed a search of the PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase/Ovid, and Cochrane Central databases to identify all full-text articles in the English-language literature with the following inclusion criteria: 1) studies including patients with the upper instrumented vertebra (UIV) at C2 versus C3/C4; 2) patients undergoing ≥ 3-level posterior cervical fusion; and 3) indication for surgery of degenerative disc disease, cervical spondylotic myelopathy, or cervical deformity. Studies that were not published in the English language, case reports, review articles, letters to the editor, and meeting abstracts were excluded. A meta-analysis was conducted using a fixed-effects model when I 2 values were below 70%. Conversely, when I 2 values were equal to or greater than 70%, a random-effects model was used. A funnel plot was used to assess the presence of publication bias.

RESULTS Seven studies consisting of 1215 patients were included in the meta-analysis. There were 403 (32.8%) patients in the C2 UIV group and 812 (67.2%) patients in the C3/C4 UIV group. When the 7 studies were analyzed, the overall rate of reoperation was comparable between the C2 (9.2%) and C3/C4 (9.4%) UIV groups (p = 0.93) but the rate of surgical ASD due to proximal pathology was 1.2% and 3%, respectively (OR 0.36, 95% CI 0.15–0.86; p = 0.02). When comparing between groups, no statistical difference was found regarding the rate of reoperation due to distal pathology or surgical infection.

CONCLUSIONS Long-segment cervical or cervicothoracic constructs that anchor into C2 may have similar complication rates but lower revision rates for proximal ASD than constructs that anchor into the subaxial spine.


Early Voice and Swallowing Disturbance Incidence and Risk Factors After Revision Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion Using a Multidisciplinary Surgical Approach

Neurosurgery 94:444–453, 2024

Dysphagia and vocal cord palsy (VCP) are common otolaryngological complications after revision anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (rACDF) procedures. Our objective was to determine the early incidence and risk factors of VCP and dysphagia after rACDF using a 2-team approach.

METHODS: Single-institution, retrospective analysis of a prospectively collected database of patients undergoing rACDF was enrolled from September 2010 to July 2021. Of 222 patients enrolled, 109 patients were included in the final analysis. All patients had prior ACDF surgery with planned revision using a single otolaryngologist and single neurosurgeon. MD Anderson Dysphagia Inventory and fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) were used to assess dysphagia. VCP was assessed using videolaryngostroboscopy.

RESULTS: Seven patients (6.7%) developed new postoperative VCP after rACDF. Most cases of VCP resolved by 3 months postoperatively (mean time-to-resolution 79 ± 17.6 days). One patient maintained a permanent deficit. Forty-one patients (37.6%) reached minimum clinically important difference (MCID) in their MD Anderson Dysphagia Inventory composite scores at the 2-week follow-up (MCID decline of ≥6), indicating new clinically relevant swallowing disturbance. Forty-nine patients (45.0%) had functional FEES Performance Score decline. On univariate analysis, there was an association between new VCPs and the number of cervical levels treated at revision (P = .020) with long-segment rACDF (≥4 levels) being an independent risk factor (P = .010). On linear regression, there was an association between the number of levels treated previously and at revision for FEES Performance Score decline (P = .045 and P = .002, respectively). However, on univariate analysis, sex, age, body mass index, operative time, alcohol use, smoking, and individual levels revised were not risk factors for reaching FEES Performance Score decline nor MCID at 2 weeks postoperatively.

CONCLUSION: VCP is more likely to occur in long-segment rACDF but is often temporary. Clinically relevant and functional rates of dysphagia approach 37% and 45%, respectively, at 2 weeks postoperatively after rACDF.

Midpoint of C7 Lateral Mass Serves as an Accurate Reference Point for the Placement of T1 Pedicle Screws: An Anatomic Study

Operative Neurosurgery 26:323–329, 2024

Free-hand placement of T1 pedicle screws can often be challenging. A reliable freehand technique for placement of T1 pedicle screws can overcome some of the difficulties associated with poor fluoroscopy in this region. The purpose of this study was to propose a novel anatomic landmark for accurate identification of the T1 entry point using the midpoint of the C7 lateral mass as a reference point. Our hypothesis is that the midpoint of the C7 lateral mass is within 1–2 mm of the center of the T1 pedicle.

METHODS: Using 3-dimensional reconstruction software, the pedicle of T1 and the lateral mass of C7 were isolated to assess the location of the T1 pedicle relative to the C7 lateral mass. Specifically, the distance between the center of the T1 pedicle and the center of the C7 lateral mass was measured on 40 computed tomography scans. Furthermore, a clinical validation of this technique was performed by assessing the postoperative computed tomography scans of 53 patients undergoing cervicothoracic instrumentation. The Gertzbein and Robbins classification system was used to grade the accuracy of T1 pedicle screw placements in all patients using this technique.

RESULTS: The average horizontal deviation + SD from centers of the T1 pedicle and the C7 lateral mass was 0.398 mm ± 0.953 mm. The T1 pedicle on average was slightly medial to the center of the C7 lateral mass. A total of 98.1% of T1 pedicle screws placed in vivo using the free-hand technique were of Grade A.

CONCLUSION: In this article, we demonstrate that the center of the C7 lateral mass overlays the T1 pedicle and the optimal entry point is immediately below the midpoint of the C7 lateral mass. This approach provides a practical and accurate landmark in posterior cervicothoracic spine procedures that reduce the need for additional radiation exposure or increased operative time with image-guided techniques.

Anterior retropharyngeal approach (ARPA) for high cervical spine

Acta Neurochirurgica (2024) 166:122

One of the major challenges in operating on the spine lies in taking an anterior approach for the high cervical spine. In patients with a short neck, Klippel-Fiel syndrome or when the C3 vertebra is high in relation to the hyoid bone, it will be difficult to access the C3 body. The transoral route is a highly contaminated zone, and therefore, no instrumentation or grafts can be placed through it.

Method The anterior retropharyngeal approach (ARPA) for the high cervical spine.

Conclusion The anterior retropharyngeal approach is an excellent approach for the high cervical spine where instrumentation is needed. This route provides wide exposure of the C1–C3 region, avoiding the contaminated of the oral cavity.

Gravity Line–Hip Axis Offset as a Guide for Global Alignment to Prevent Recurrent Proximal Junctional Kyphosis/Failure

Operative Neurosurgery 26:268–278, 2024

Proximal junctional kyphosis/failure (PJK/F) is a potentially serious complication after adult spinal deformity (ASD) corrective surgery. Recurrent PJK/F is especially troublesome, necessitating fusion extension and occasionally resulting in irreversible neurological deficits. The gravity line (GL) offers valuable insights into global sagittal balance. This study aims to examine the postoperative GL–hip axis (GL-HA) offset as a critical risk factor for recurrent PJK/F.

METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed patients with ASD who had undergone revision surgery for initial PJK/F at a single academic center. Patients were categorized into 2 groups: nonrecurrent PJK/F group and recurrent PJK/F group. Demographics, surgical characteristics, preoperative and postoperative parameters of spinopelvic and global alignment, and the Scoliosis Research Society-22 scores were assessed. We examined these measures for differences and correlations with recurrent PJK/F.

RESULTS: Our study included 32 patients without recurrent PJK/F and 28 patients with recurrent PJK/F. No significant differences were observed in baseline demographics, operative characteristics, or Scoliosis Research Society-22 scores before and after surgery. Importantly, using a cutoff of À52.6 mm from logistic regression, there were considerable differences and correlations with recurrent PJK/F in the postoperative GL-HA offset, leading to an odds ratio of 7.0 (95% CI: 1.94-25.25, P = .003).

CONCLUSION: Postoperative GL-HA offset serves as a considerable risk factor for recurrent PJK/F in patients with ASD who have undergone revision surgery. Overcorrection, with GL-HA offset less than À5 cm, is associated with recurrent PJK/F. The instrumented spine tends to align the GL near the HA, even at the cost of proximal junction.

Comparison of Lumbar Interbody Fusion with 3D-Printed Porous Titanium Cage Versus Polyetheretherketone Cage in Treating Lumbar Degenerative Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

World Neurosurg. (2024) 183:144-156

OBJECTIVE: To compare the safety and radiological effectiveness of lumbar interbody fusion with a 3D-printed porous titanium (3D-PPT) cage versus a polyetheretherketone (PEEK) cage for the treatment of lumbar degenerative disease.

METHODS: This study was registered at PROSPERO (CRD42023461511). We systematically searched the PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science databases for related studies from inception to September 3, 2023. Review Manager 5.3 was used to conduct this meta-analysis. The reoperation rate, complication rate, fusion rate, and subsidence rate were assessed using relative risk and 95% confidence intervals.

RESULTS: Ten articles reporting 9 studies comparing lumbar interbody fusion with 3D-PPT cages versus PEEK cages for the treatment of lumbar degenerative disease were included. The subsidence rate at the 1-year follow-up in the 3DPPT cage was significantly lower than that in the PEEK cage. The fusion rate in the 3D-PPT cage was significantly higher than that in the PEEK cage at the 6month follow-up. No significant difference was identified between the 2 groups at the 12-month follow-up. No significant difference was identified between the 2 groups in terms of the complication rate and reoperation rate. There was a trend toward a lower complication rate and reoperation rate with the 3DPPT cage.

CONCLUSIONS: Compared with the PEEK cage, the 3D-PPT cage may be a safer implant. The 3D-PPT cage was associated with a higher fusion rate and lower subsidence rate. The 3D-PPT cage may accelerate the intervertebral fusion process, improve the quality of fusion and prevent the occurrence of subsidence.

Lateral‑PLIF for spinal arthrodesis

Acta Neurochirurgica (2024) 166:123

Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) surgery represents an effective option to treat degenerative conditions in the lumbar spine. To reduce the drawbacks of the classical technique, we developed a variant, so-called Lateral-PLIF, which we then evaluated through a prospective consecutive series of patients.

Methods All adult patients treated at our institute with single or double level Lateral-PLIF for lumbar degenerative disease from January to December 2017 were prospectively collected. Exclusion criteria were patients < 18 years of age, traumatic patients, active infection, or malignancy, as well as unavailability of clinical and/or radiological follow-up data. The technique consists of insert the cages bilaterally through the transition zone between the central canal and the intervertebral foramen, just above the lateral recess. Pre- and postoperative (2 years) questionnaires and phone interviews (4 years) assessed pain and functional outcomes. Data related to the surgical procedure, postoperative complications, and radiological findings (1 year) were collected.

Results One hundred four patients were selected for the final analysis. The median age was 58 years and primary symptoms were mechanical back pain (100, 96.1%) and/or radicular pain (73, 70.2%). We found a high fusion rate (95%). A statistically significant improvement in functional outcome was also noted (ODI p < 0.001, Roland-Morris score p < 0.001). Walking distance increased from 812 m ± 543 m to 3443 m ± 712 m (p < 0.001). Complications included dural tear (6.7%), infection/ wound dehiscence (4.8%), and instrument failure (1.9%) but no neurological deterioration.

Conclusions Lateral-PLIF is a safe and effective technique for lumbar interbody fusion and may be considered for further comparative study validation with other techniques before extensive use to treat lumbar degenerative disease.

Long-Term Results After Surgery for Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy

Neurosurgery 94:454–460, 2024

Degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM) is a frequent cause of spinal cord dysfunction, and surgical treatment is considered safe and effective. Long-term results after surgery are limited. This study investigated long-term clinical outcomes through data from the Norwegian registry for spine surgery.

METHODS: Patients operated at the university hospitals serving Central and Northern Norway were approached for long-term follow-up after 3 to 8 years. The primary outcome was change in the Neck Disability Index, and the secondary outcomes were changes in the European Myelopathy Scale score, quality of life (EuroQoL EQ-5D); numeric rating scales (NRS) for headache, neck pain, and arm pain; and perceived benefit of surgery assessed by the Global Perceived Effect scale from 1 year to long-term follow-up.

RESULTS: We included 144 patients operated between January 2013 and June 2018. In total, 123 participants (85.4%) provided patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) at long-term follow-up. There was no significant change in PROMs from 1 year to long-term follow-up, including Neck Disability Index (mean 1.0, 95% CI À2.1-4.1, P = .53), European Myelopathy Scale score (mean À0.3, 95% CI À0.7-0.1, P = .09), EQ-5D index score (mean À0.02, 95% CI À0.09-0.05, P = .51), NRS neck pain (mean 0.3 95% CI À0.2-0.9, P = .22), NRS arm pain (mean À0.1, 95% CI À0.8-0.5, P = .70), and NRS headache (mean 0.4, 95% CI À0.1-0.9, P = .11). According to Global Perceived Effect assessments, 106/121 patients (87.6%) reported to be stable or improved (“complete recovery,” “much better,” “slightly better,” or “unchanged”) at long-term follow-up compared with 88.1% at 1 year. Dichotomizing the outcome data based on severity of DCM did not demonstrate significant changes either.

CONCLUSION: Long-term follow-up of patients undergoing surgery for DCM demonstrates persistence of statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement across a wide range of PROMs.

Optimizing Surgical Efficiency in Complex Spine Surgery Using Virtual Reality as a Communication Technology to Promote a Shared Mental Model

Operative Neurosurgery 26:213–221, 2024

Virtual reality (VR) is an emerging technology that can be used to promote a shared mental model among a surgical team. We present a case series demonstrating the use of 3-dimensional (3D) VR models to visually communicate procedural steps to a surgical team to promote a common operating objective. We also review the literature on existing uses of VR for preoperative communication and planning in spine surgery.

METHODS: Narrations of 3 to 4-minute walkthroughs were created in a VR visualization platform, converted, and distributed to team members through text and email the night before surgical intervention. A VR huddle was held immediately before the intervention to refine surgical goals. After the intervention, the participating team members’ perceptions on the value of the tool were assessed using a survey that used a 5-point Likert scale. MEDLINE, Google Scholar, and Dimensions AI databases were queried from July 2010 to October 2022 to examine existing literature on preoperative VR use to plan spine surgery.

RESULTS: Three illustrative cases are presented with accompanying video. Postoperative survey results demonstrate a positive experience among surgical team members after reviewing preoperative plans created with patient-specific 3D VR models. Respondents felt that preoperative VR video review was “moderately useful” or more useful in improving their understanding of the operational sequence (71%, 5/7), in enhancing their ability to understand their role (86%, 6/7), and in improving the safety or efficiency of the case (86%, 6/7).

CONCLUSION: We present a proof of concept of a novel preoperative communication tool used to create a shared mental model of a common operating objective for surgical team members using narrated 3D VR models. Initial survey results demonstrate positive feedback among respondents. There is a paucity of literature investigating VR technology as a means for preoperative surgical communication in spine surgery.

ETHICS: Institutional review board approval (IRB-300009785) was obtained before this study.

Validation of age-adjusted pelvic incidence minus lumbar lordosis and lordosis distribution index for assessing adjacent-segment disease after short-level lumbar fusion surgery

J Neurosurg Spine 40:143–151, 2024

The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of sagittal alignment according to age-adjusted pelvic incidence minus lumbar lordosis (PI-LL) and lordosis distribution index (LDI) on the occurrence of adjacent-segment disease (ASD) after lumbar fusion surgery.

METHODS This study retrospectively reviewed 234 consecutive patients with lumbar degenerative diseases who underwent 1- or 2-level lumbar fusion surgery. Demographic and radiographic (preoperative and 3-month postoperative) data were collected and compared between ASD and non-ASD groups. Binary logistic regression analysis was performed to evaluate adjusted associations between potential variables and ASD development. A subanalysis was further conducted to assess their relationships in the range of different PI values.

RESULTS With a mean follow-up duration of 70.6 months (range 60–121 months), 118 patients (50.4%) were diagnosed as having cranial radiological ASD. Univariate analyses showed that older age, 2-level fusion, worse preoperative pelvic tilt and LL, lower pre- and postoperative LDI, and more improvement in sagittal vertical axis were significantly correlated with the occurrence of ASD. No significant differences in the PI-LL and age-adjusted PI-LL (offset) were detected between ASD and non-ASD groups. Multivariate analysis identified postoperative LDI (OR 0.971, 95% CI 0.953–0.989, p = 0.002); 2-level fusion (OR 3.477, 95% CI 1.964–6.157, p < 0.001); and improvement of sagittal vertical axis (OR 0.992, 95% CI 0.985–0.998, p = 0.039) as the independent variables for predicting the occurrence of ASD. When stratified by PI, LDI was identified as an independent risk factor in the groups with low and average PI. Lower segmental lordosis (OR 0.841, 95% CI 0.742–0.954, p = 0.007) could significantly increase the incidence of ASD in the patients with high LDI.

CONCLUSIONS Age-adjusted PI-LL may have limited ability to predict the development of ASD. LDI could exert an important effect on diagnosing the occurrence of ASD in the cases with low and average PI, but segmental lordosis was a more significant risk factor than LDI in individuals with high PI.

Minimally Invasive Approaches for Lumbosacral Plexus Schwannomas

Operative Neurosurgery 26:149–155, 2024

Lumbosacral plexus schwannomas (LSPSs) are benign, slow-growing tumors that arise from the myelin sheath of the lumbar or sacral plexus nerves. Surgery is the treatment of choice for symptomatic LSPSs. Conventional retroperitoneal or transabdominal approaches provide wide exposure of the lesion but are often associated with complications in the abdominal wall, lumbar or sacral plexus, ureter, and intraperitoneal organs. Advances in technology and minimally invasive (MIS) techniques have provided alternative approaches with reliable efficacy compared with traditional open surgery. We describe 3 MIS approaches using tubular retractor systems according to the lesion level.

METHODS: This was a multicenter, retrospective observational cohort study to evaluate the use of MIS tubular approaches for surgical resection of LSPSs. We included 23 lumbar and upper sacral plexus schwannomas. Clinical presentation, spinal level, surgical duration, degree of resection, days of hospitalization, pathological anatomy of the tumor, approach-related surgical difficulties, and outcomes were collected.

RESULTS: The posterior oblique approach was used in 43.5% of the cases, the transpsoas approach in 39.1%, and the transiliac in 17.4%. The mean operative time was 3.3 hours, and the mean hospitalization was 2.5 days. All tumors were WHO grade 1 schwannoma. Postoperative MRI confirms gross total resection in 91.3% of the patients. No patient requires instrumentation. The pros and cons of each approach were summarized.

CONCLUSION: The MIS approaches adapted to the lumbar level may improve surgeons’ comfort allowing a safe resection of retroperitoneal LSPS.

Hospital cost differences between open and endoscopic lumbar spine decompression surgery

J Neurosurg Spine 40:77–83, 2024

In recent years, fully endoscopic decompression surgery for degenerative spine disease has become increasingly popular in the US. Although an endoscopic approach has demonstrated some benefits compared with open procedures in randomized controlled trials, the cost of advanced technologies remains contested. The authors evaluated the differences in costs and cost drivers between open and endoscopic decompression surgical procedures performed at a single institution.

METHODS Using associated Current Procedural Terminology codes, the authors identified all open and endoscopic decompression lumbar surgical procedures performed from January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2022. Preoperative comorbidities, surgical characteristics, and postoperative outcomes were captured. The costs of index surgery–related readmission for revision, washout, or other complications were included in the index surgery expenses. Associated inhospital costs were collected; these were reported in comparative percentages with open surgical procedures as the baseline because of an institutional agreement. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed.

RESULTS The retrospective search identified 633 open surgical procedures and 195 endoscopic surgical procedures for inclusion. The two patient cohorts were similar, with clinically nonrelevant but statistically significant differences in mean age (open 55.7 years vs endoscopic 59.4 years, p = 0.01) and mean American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status class (open 2.3 vs endoscopic 2.4, p = 0.03). Postoperatively, patients who underwent open surgical procedures had significantly longer mean hospital stays (open 1.4 days vs endoscopic 0.7, p < 0.01) and more perioperative complications (open 7.9% of patients vs endoscopic 3.1%, p = 0.02), and they required washout surgical procedures in some cases (open 1.3% vs endoscopic 0%, p = 0.12). The largest cost difference between open and endoscopic surgical procedures was the significantly greater cost of disposable supplies for endoscopic cases (10.1% vs 31.7% of the total cost of open procedures, p < 0.01), and open surgical procedures were generally less costly in total (100.0% vs 115.1%, p < 0.01). In multivariate linear regression, endoscopic surgery was independently associated with greater total costs (standardized beta 15.9%, p < 0.01), although length of hospital stay (standardized beta 34.0%) and readmissions (standardized beta 30.0%, p < 0.01) had larger effects on cost.

CONCLUSIONS The endoscopic approach was associated with greater total in-hospital costs compared with open procedures. The findings of further cost evaluations, including those of patient-reported outcomes, social cost, and capital costs per procedure type, need to be included in operational and clinical decisions.

Nonoperative versus operative management of type II odontoid fracture in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis

J Neurosurg Spine 40:45–53, 2024

Odontoid fractures are the most common fracture of the cervical spine in adults older than 65 years of age. Fracture management remains controversial, given the inherently increased surgical risks in older patients. The objective of this study was to compare fusion rates and outcomes between operative and nonoperative treatments of type II odontoid fractures in the older population.

METHODS A systematic literature review was performed to identify studies reporting the management of type II odontoid fractures in patients older than 65 years from database inception to September 2022. A meta-analysis was performed to compare rates of fusion, stable and unstable nonunion, mortality, and complication.

RESULTS Forty-six articles were included in the final review. There were 2822 patients included in the different studies (48.9% female, 51.1% male), with a mean ± SD age of 81.5 ± 3.6 years. Patients in the operative group were significantly younger than patients in the nonoperative group (81.5 ± 3.5 vs 83.4 ± 2.5 years, p < 0.001). The overall (operative and nonoperative patients) fusion rate was 52.9% (720/1361). The fusion rate was higher in patients who underwent surgery (74.3%) than in those who underwent nonoperative management (40.3%) (OR 4.27, 95% CI 3.36–5.44). The likelihood of stable or unstable nonunion was lower in patients who underwent surgery (OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.28–0.49 vs OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.22–0.47). Overall, 4.8% (46/964) of nonoperatively managed patients subsequently required surgery due to treatment failure. Patient mortality across all studies was 16.6% (452/2721), lower in the operative cohort (13.2%) than the nonoperative cohort (19.0%) (OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.52–0.80). Complications were more likely in patients who underwent surgery (26.0% vs 18.5%) (OR 1.55, 95% CI 1.23–1.95). Length of stay was also higher with surgery (13.6 ± 3.8 vs 8.1 ± 1.9 days, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS Patients older than 65 years of age with type II odontoid fractures had higher fusion rates when treated with surgery and higher stable nonunion rates when managed nonoperatively. Complications and length of stay were higher in the surgical cohort. Mortality rates were lower in patients managed with surgery, but this phenomenon could be related to surgical selection bias. Fewer than 5% of patients who underwent nonoperative treatment required revision surgery due to treatment failure, suggesting that stable nonunion is an acceptable treatment goal.