Outcomes following anterior odontoid screw versus posterior arthrodesis for odontoid fractures

J Neurosurg Spine 39:196–205, 2023

Odontoid fractures can be managed surgically when indicated. The most common approaches are anterior dens screw (ADS) fixation and posterior C1–C2 arthrodesis (PA). Each approach has theoretical advantages, but the optimal surgical approach remains controversial. The goal in this study was to systematically review the literature and synthesize outcomes including fusion rates, technical failures, reoperation, and 30-day mortality associated with ADS versus PA for odontoid fractures.

METHODS A systematic literature review was conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines by searching the PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane databases. A random-effects meta-analysis was performed and the I 2 statistic was used to assess heterogeneity.

RESULTS In total, 22 studies comprising 963 patients (ADS 527, PA 436) were included. The average age of the patients ranged from 28 to 81.2 years across the included studies. The majority of the odontoid fractures were type II based on the Anderson-D’Alonzo classification. The ADS group was associated with statistically significantly lower odds to achieve bony fusion at last follow-up compared to the PA group (ADS 84.1%; PA 92.3%; OR 0.46; 95% CI 0.23–0.91; I 2 42.6%). The ADS group was associated with statistically significantly higher odds of reoperation compared to the PA group (ADS 12.4%; PA 5.2%; OR 2.56; 95% CI 1.50–4.35; I 2 0%). The rates of technical failure (ADS 2.3%; PA 1.1%; OR 1.11; 95% CI 0.52–2.37; I 2 0%) and all-cause mortality (ADS 6%; PA 4.8%; OR 1.35; 95% CI 0.67–2.74; I 2 0%) were similar between the two groups. In the subgroup analysis of patients > 60 years old, the ADS was associated with statistically significantly lower odds of fusion compared to the PA group (ADS 72.4%; PA 89.9%; OR 0.24; 95% CI 0.06–0.91; I 2 58.7%).

CONCLUSIONS ADS fixation is associated with statistically significantly lower odds of fusion at last follow-up and higher odds of reoperation compared to PA. No differences were identified in the rates of technical failure and all-cause mortality. Patients receiving ADS fixation at > 60 years old had significantly higher and lower odds of reoperation and fusion, respectively, compared to the PA group. PA is preferred to ADS fixation for odontoid fractures, with a stronger effect size for patients > 60 years old.

Spinopelvic sagittal compensation in adult cervical deformity

J Neurosurg Spine 39:1–10, 2023

The objective of this study was to evaluate spinopelvic sagittal alignment and spinal compensatory changes in adult cervical kyphotic deformity.

METHODS A database composed of 13 US spine centers was retrospectively reviewed for adult patients who underwent cervical reconstruction with radiographic evidence of cervical kyphotic deformity: C2–7 sagittal vertical axis > 4 cm, chin-brow vertical angle > 25°, or cervical kyphosis (T1 slope [T1S] cervical lordosis [CL] > 15°) (n = 129). Sagittal parameters were evaluated preoperatively and in the early postoperative window (6 weeks to 6 months postoperatively) and compared with asymptomatic control patients. Adult cervical deformity patients were further stratified by degree of cervical kyphosis (severe kyphosis, C2–T3 Cobb angle ≤ −30°; moderate kyphosis, ≤ 0°; and minimal kyphosis, > 0°) and severity of sagittal malalignment (severe malalignment, sagittal vertical axis T3–S1 ≤ −60 mm; moderate malalignment, ≤ 20 mm; and minimal malalignment > 20 mm).

RESULTS Compared with asymptomatic control patients, cervical deformity was associated with increased C0–2 lordosis (32.9° vs 23.6°), T1S (33.5° vs 28.0°), thoracolumbar junction kyphosis (T10–L2 Cobb angle −7.0° vs −1.7°), and pelvic tilt (PT) (19.7° vs 15.9°) (p < 0.01). Cervicothoracic kyphosis was correlated with C0–2 lordosis (R = −0.57, p < 0.01) and lumbar lordosis (LL) (R = −0.20, p = 0.03). Cervical reconstruction resulted in decreased C0–2 lordosis, increased T1S, and increased thoracic and thoracolumbar junction kyphosis (p < 0.01). Patients with severe cervical kyphosis (n = 34) had greater C0–2 lordosis (p < 0.01) and postoperative reduction of C0–2 lordosis (p = 0.02) but no difference in PT. Severe cervical kyphosis was also associated with a greater increase in thoracic and thoracolumbar junction kyphosis postoperatively (p = 0.01). Patients with severe sagittal malalignment (n = 52) had decreased PT (p = 0.01) and increased LL (p < 0.01), as well as a greater postoperative reduction in LL (p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS Adult cervical deformity is associated with upper cervical hyperlordotic compensation and thoracic hypokyphosis. In the setting of increased kyphotic deformity and sagittal malalignment, thoracolumbar junction kyphosis and lumbar hyperlordosis develop to restore normal center of gravity. There was no consistent compensatory pelvic retroversion or anteversion among the adult cervical deformity patients in this cohort.

Fifty years later: the “rule of Spence” is finally ready for retirement

J Neurosurg Spine 37:149–156, 2022

Determination of the optimal approach to traumatic atlas fractures with or without transverse atlantal ligament (TAL) injury requires a nuanced understanding of the biomechanics of the atlantoaxial complex. The “rule of Spence” (ROS) was created in 1970 in a landmark effort to streamline management of burst-type atlas fractures. The ROS states that radiographic evidence of lateral mass displacement (LMD) (i.e., the distance that the C1 lateral masses extend beyond the C2 superior articular processes) greater than 6.9 mm may indicate both a torn TAL and need for surgical management. Since then, the ROS has become ubiquitous in the spine literature about atlas injuries. However, in the decades since the original paper by Spence et al., modern research efforts and imaging advancements have revealed that the ROS is inaccurate on both fronts: it neither accurately predicts a TAL injury nor does it inform surgical decision-making.

The purpose of this review was to delineate the history of the ROS, demonstrate its limitations, present findings in the existing literature on ROS and LMD thresholds, and discuss the current landscape of management techniques for TAL injuries, including parameters such as the atlantodental interval and type of injury according to the Dickman classification system and AO Spine upper cervical injury classification system. The ROS was revolutionary for initially investigating and later propelling the biomechanical and clinical understanding of atlas fractures and TAL injuries; however, it is time to retire its legacy as a rule.

Posterior fusion for fragility type 2 odontoid fractures

J Neurosurg Spine 35:644–650, 2021

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the outcomes of elderly patients with type 2 odontoid fractures treated with an instrumented posterior fusion.

METHODS Ninety-three consecutive patients older than 65 years of age in whom a type 2 odontoid fracture had been treated with a variety of C1–2 posterior screw fixation techniques were retrospectively reviewed.

RESULTS The average age was 78 years (range 65–95 years). Thirty-seven patients had an additional fracture, 30 of which involved C1. Three patients had cervical spinal cord dysfunction due to their injury. All patients had comorbidities. The average total hospitalization was 9.6 days (range 2–37 days). There were 3 deaths and 19 major complications, the most common of which was pneumonia. No patient suffered a vertebral artery injury. Imaging studies were obtained in 64 patients at least 12 months postsurgery (mean 19 months). Fusion was assessed by dynamic radiographs in all cases and with a CT scan in 80% of the cases. Four of the 64 patients did not achieve fusion (6.25% overall). All patients in whom fusion failed had undergone C1 lateral mass fixation and C2 pars (1/29, 3.4%) or laminar (3/9, 33.3%) fixation.

CONCLUSIONS Instrumented posterior cervical fusions may be performed in elderly patients with acceptable morbidity and mortality. The fusion rate is excellent except when bilateral C2 translaminar screws are used for axis fixation.

Perioperative and swallowing outcomes in patients undergoing 4- and 5-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion

J Neurosurg Spine 34:849–856, 2021

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a common and robust procedure performed on the cervical spine. Literature on ACDF for 4 or more segments is sparse. Increasing the number of operative levels increases surgical complexity, tissue retraction, and risks of complications, particularly dysphagia. The overall risks of these complications and rates of dysphagia are not well studied for surgery on 4 or more segments. In this study, the authors evaluated their institution’s perioperative experience with 4- and 5-level ACDFs.

METHODS The authors retrospectively reviewed patients who underwent 4- or 5-level ACDF at their institution over a 6-year period (May 2013–May 2019). Patient demographics, perioperative complications, readmission rates, and swallowing outcomes were recorded. Outcomes were analyzed with a multivariate linear regression.

RESULTS A total of 174 patients were included (167 had 4-level and 7 had 5-level ACDFs). The average age was 60.6 years, and 54.0% of patients (n = 94) were men. A corpectomy was performed in 12.6% of patients (n = 22). After surgery, 56.9% of patients (n = 99) experienced dysphagia. The percentage of patients with dysphagia decreased to 22.8% (37/162) at 30 days, 12.9% (17/132) at 90 days, and 6.3% (5/79) and 2.8% (1/36) at 1 and 2 years, respectively. Dysphagia was more likely at 90 days postoperatively in patients with gastroesophageal reflux (OR 4.4 [95% CI 1.5–12.8], p = 0.008), and the mean (± SD) lordosis change was greater in patients with dysphagia than those without at 90 days (19.8° ± 13.3° vs 9.1° ± 10.2°, p = 0.003). Dysphagia occurrence did not differ with operative implants, including graft and interbody type. The mean length of time to solid food intake was 2.4 ± 2.1 days. Patients treated with dexamethasone were more likely to achieve solid food intake prior to discharge (OR 4.0 [95% CI 1.5–10.6], p = 0.004). Postsurgery, 5.2% of patients (n = 9) required a feeding tube due to severe approach-related dysphagia. Other perioperative complication rates were uniformly low. Overall, 8.6% of patients (n = 15) returned to the emergency department within 30 days and 2.9% (n = 5) required readmission, whereas 1.1% (n = 2) required unplanned return to surgery within 30 days.

CONCLUSIONS This is the largest series of patients undergoing 4- and 5-level ACDFs reported to date. This procedure was performed safely with minimal intraoperative complications. More than half of the patients experienced in-hospital dysphagia, which increased their overall length of stay, but dysphagia decreased over time.

C2 medial pedicle screw: a novel “in-out-in” technique as an alternative option for posterior C2 fixation in cases with a narrow C2 isthmus

J Neurosurg Spine 33:281–287, 2020

The authors describe a novel “in-out-in” technique as an alternative option for posterior C2 screw fixation in cases that involve narrow C2 isthmus. Here, they report the preliminary radiological and clinical outcomes in 12 patients who had a minimum 12-month follow-up period.

METHODS Twelve patients with basilar invagination and atlantoaxial dislocation underwent atlantoaxial reduction and fixation. All patients had unilateral hypoplasia of the C2 isthmus that prohibited insertion of pedicle screws. A new method, the C2 medial pedicle screw (C2MPS) fixation, was used as an alternative. In this technique, the inner cortex of the narrow C2 isthmus was drilled to obtain space for screw insertion, such that the lateral cortex could be well preserved and the risk of vertebral artery injury could be largely reduced. The C2MPS traveled along the drilled inner cortex into the anterior vertebral body, achieving a 3-column fixation of the axis with multicortical purchase.

RESULTS Satisfactory C2MPS placement and reduction were achieved in all 12 patients. No instance of C2MPS related vertebral artery injury or dural laceration was observed. There were no cases of implant failure, and solid fusion was demonstrated in all patients.

CONCLUSIONS This novel in-out-in technique can provide 3-column rigid fixation of the axis with multicortical purchase. Excellent clinical outcomes with low complication rates were achieved with this technique. When placement of a C2 pedicle screw is not possible due to anatomical constraints, the C2MPS can be considered as an efficient alternative.

Microanatomy of the dura mater at the craniovertebral junction and spinal region for safe and effective surgical treatment

J Neurosurg Spine 33:165–171, 2020

Few reports have been published regarding the detailed microsurgical anatomy of the dura mater at the craniovertebral junction (CVJ), although many neurosurgeons have had the opportunity to conduct surgeries in this region, such as in cases of Chiari malformation. The authors aimed to evaluate the detailed and precise microsurgical anatomy of the dura mater at the CVJ for safe and effective surgical treatment at this area.

METHODS This study consisted of dissection of 4 formalin-fixed, continuous, human cadaveric dura maters, extending from the posterior fossa to the C2 level. After removing the occipital bone and C1 laminae, a dural incision was made to harvest the specimen. The following structural and topographical aspects of the dura mater in each region were studied: 1) thickness, 2) morphological characteristics, and 3) vascular structures.

RESULTS The average thicknesses of the dura mater were 313.4 ± 137.0 μm, 3051.5 ± 798.8 μm, and 866.5 ± 359.0 μm in the posterior cranial fossa, CVJ, and spinal region, respectively. The outer layer of the posterior cranial dura mater and the tendon of the rectus capitis posterior minor muscle were connected, forming the “myodural bridge.” The dura mater at the CVJ had a well-developed vascular network. These vascular structures were determined to be veins or the venous sinus, and were mainly located around the interface between the inner layer of the cranial dura mater and the rectus capitis posterior minor muscle layer. Regarding the morphological features, the bulging located in the inner layer of the dura mater at the CVJ was determined to be the marginal sinus, and contained a pacchionian granulation that allowed for CSF circulation. In the spinal region, the dura mater was characterized by a single, thick layer enclosing the collagen fibers with almost the same orientation.

CONCLUSIONS The dura mater at the CVJ displayed dynamic morphological changes within an extremely short segment. Its characteristic anatomical features were not similar to those in the cranial regions. The dural bulging at the CVJ was determined to be the venous sinus. During surgery in the posterior fossa, CVJ, and spinal cord, different procedures should be used because of the specific microsurgical anatomy of each region.


Perioperative complications with multilevel anterior and posterior cervical decompression and fusion

J Neurosurg Spine 32:9–14, 2020

Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is a progressive degenerative pathology that frequently affects older individuals and causes spinal cord compression with symptoms of neck pain, radiculopathy, and weakness. Anterior decompression and fusion is the primary intervention to prevent neurological deterioration; however, in severe cases, circumferential decompression and fusion is necessary. Published data regarding perioperative morbidity associated with these complex operations are scarce. In this study, the authors sought to add to this important body of literature by documenting a large single-surgeon experience of single-session circumferential cervical decompression and fusion.

METHODS A retrospective analysis was performed to identify intended single-stage anterior-posterior or posterioranterior- posterior cervical spine decompression and fusion surgeries performed by the primary surgeon (V.C.T.) at Rush University Medical Center between 2009 and 2016. Cases in which true anterior-posterior cervical decompression and fusion was not performed (i.e., those involving anterior-only, posterior-only, or delayed circumferential fusion) were excluded from analysis. Data including standard patient demographic information, comorbidities, previous surgeries, and intraoperative course, along with postoperative outcomes and complications, were collected and analyzed. Perioperative morbidity was recorded during the 90 days following surgery.

RESULTS Seventy-two patients (29 male and 43 female, mean age 57.6 years) were included in the study. Fourteen patients (19.4%) were active smokers, and 56.9% had hypertension, the most common comorbidity. The most common clinical presentation was neck pain in 57 patients (79.2%). Twenty-three patients (31.9%) had myelopathy, and 32 patients (44.4%) had undergone prior cervical spine surgery. Average blood loss was 613 ml. Injury to the vertebral artery was encountered in 1 patient (1.4%). Recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy was observed in 2 patients (2.8%). Two patients (2.8%) had transient unilateral hand grip weakness. There were no permanent neurological deficits. Dysphagia was encountered in 45 patients (62.5%) postoperatively, with 23 (32%) requiring nasogastric parenteral nutrition and 9 (12.5%) patients ultimately undergoing percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) placement. Nine of the 72 patients required a tracheostomy. The incidence of pneumonia was 6.9% (5 patients) overall, and 2 of these patients were in the tracheostomy group. Superficial wound infections occurred in 4 patients (5.6%). Perioperative death occurred in 1 patient. Reoperation was necessary in 10 patients (13.9%). Major perioperative complications (permanent neurological deficit, vascular injury, tracheostomy, PEG tube, stroke, or death) occurred in 30.6% of patients. The risk of minor perioperative complications (temporary deficit, dysphagia, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, urinary tract infection, pneumonia, or wound infection) was 80.6%.

CONCLUSIONS Single-session anterior-posterior cervical decompression and fusion is an inherently morbid operation required in select patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy. In this large single-surgeon series, there was a major perioperative complication risk of 30.6% and minor perioperative complication risk of 80.6%. This overall elevated risk for postoperative complications must be carefully considered and discussed with the patient preoperatively. In some situations, shared decision making may lead to the conclusion that a procedure of lesser magnitude may be more appropriate.

Chiari malformation and syringomyelia

J Neurosurg Spine 31:619–628, 2019

Chiari malformation was first described over a century ago, and consists of posterior fossa anomalies that generally share the feature of cerebellar tonsillar descent through the foramen magnum. Our understanding of this disorder was initially based on autopsy studies, and has been greatly enhanced by the advent of MRI.

The surgical management of Chiari anomalies has also evolved in a parallel fashion. Although the exact surgical technique varies among individual surgeons, the goals of surgery remain constant and consist of relieving brainstem compression and cranial nerve distortion, restoring the normal flow of CSF across the foramen magnum, and reducing the size of any associated syrinx cavity. Syrinx cavities are most commonly associated with Chiari anomalies, yet primary spinal syringomyelia (PSS) can be caused by traumatic, infectious, degenerative, and other etiologies that cause at least a partial CSF flow obstruction in the spinal subarachnoid space. As with syringomyelia associated with Chiari anomalies, the main goal of PSS surgery is to reestablish CSF flow across the area of obstruction. In addition to MRI, myelography with CT can be very helpful in the evaluation and management of these patients by identifying focal regions of CSF obstruction that may be amenable to surgical intervention.

Future directions for the treatment of Chiari anomalies and syringomyelia include the application of advanced imaging techniques, more widespread use of genetic evaluation, large-scale outcome studies, and the further refinement of surgical technique.

Ultra-Early (<12 Hours) Surgery Correlates With Higher Rate of American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale Conversion After Cervical Spinal Cord Injury

Neurosurgery, Volume 85, Issue 2, August 2019, Pages 199–203

Cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating condition with very few treatment options. It remains unclear if early surgery correlated with conversion of American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS) grade A injuries to higher grades.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the optimal time to surgery after cervical SCI through retrospective analysis.

METHODS: We collected data from 48 patients with cervical SCI. Based on the time from Emergency Department (ED) presentation to surgical decompression, we grouped patients into ultra-early (decompression within 12 h of presentation), early (within 12- 24 h), and late groups (>24 h).We compared the improvement in AIS grade fromadmission to discharge, controlling for confounding factors such as AIS grade on admission, injury severity, and age. The mean time from injury to ED for this group of patients was 17 min.

RESULTS: Patients who received surgery within 12 h after presentation had a relative improvement in AIS grade from admission to discharge: the ultra-early group improved on average 1.3. AIS grades compared to 0.5 in the early group (P = .02). In addition, 88.8% of patients with an AIS grade A converted to a higher grade (AIS B or better) in the ultraearly group, compared to 38.4% in the early and late groups (P= .054).

CONCLUSION: These data suggest that surgical decompression after SCI that takes place within 12 hmay lead to a relative improved neurological recovery compared to surgery that takes place after 12 h.


Anterior Reduction and Fusion of Cervical Facet Dislocations

Neurosurgery 84:388–395, 2019

Cervical facet dislocations are among the most common traumatic spinal injuries. Posterior, anterior, and combined surgical approaches have been described and are widely debated.

OBJECTIVE: To demonstrate efficacy in anterior-only surgical management for subaxial cervical facet dislocations.

METHODS: A consistent surgical algorithm for cervical facet dislocation was applied over a 19-yr period and analyzed retrospectively in adults with acute unilateral or bilateral facet dislocation of the subaxial cervical spine. The primary endpoint was maintenance of early cervical alignment. The need for additional posterior instrumented fusion was determined.

RESULTS: A database search identified 96 patients (mean age = 37.9, range = 14-74 yr, 68 (70%) male. The most common affected levels were C4-C5 (30), C5-C6 (29), and C6-C7 (30). Bilateral dislocation occurred in 51 patients (53%). Seventy-eight (81%) patients had neurological deficits, 31 (32%) being complete (Abbreviated Injury Score A) spinal cord injuries. Preoperative closed reductionwas attempted in 60 (63%) patients, with 33 (55%) achieving satisfactory alignment. After anterior cervical discectomy, reduction, allograft placement, and instrumentation, a total of 92 (96%) patients had achieved satisfactory realignment. Median time to surgery was 13.27 h. Eight (8%) patients required posterior fixation due to intraoperative determination of incomplete realignment (4; 4%) and development of early progressive deformity (4; 4%). Mean follow-up was 4.5 mo (range 0.5-24 mo) with 33 (34%) patients lost to follow-up.

CONCLUSION: Anterior approaches are viable for reduction and stabilization of cervical facet dislocations. Further prospective studies are required to evaluate clinical and longterm success.

NuNec™ Cervical Disc Arthroplasty Improves Quality of Life in Cervical Radiculopathy and Myelopathy: A 2-Year Follow-up

Neurosurgery 83:422–428, 2018

Anterior cervical disc replacement is an alternative to fusion for the treatment of selected cases of radiculopathy andmyelopathy. We report clinical and radiological outcomes after disc replacement with the NuNec™ artificial cervical disc (Pioneer (R)  Surgical Technology, Marquette, Michigan) with subgroup analysis.

OBJECTIVE: To review clinical and radiological outcomes after anterior cervical disc replacement with the NuNec™ artificial cervical disc.

METHODS: A consecutive case series of patients undergoing cervical disc replacement with the NuNec™ artificial disc was conducted. Clinical outcomes were assessed by questionnaires preoperatively and up to 2 yr postoperatively including neck and arm pain, Neck Disability Index, Euroqol 5-dimensions, and Short Form-36; x-rays from the same period were analyzed for range of movement and presence of heterotopic ossification.

RESULTS: A total of 44 NuNec™ discs were implanted in 33 patients. Clinical improvements were seen in all outcomes; significant improvements on the Neck Disability Index, Euroqol 5-dimensions, and physical domain of the Short Form-36 were maintained at 2 yr. There was a mean of 4◦ range of movement at the replacement disc level at 2 yr, a significant reduction from baseline; there was also progression in levels of heterotopic ossification. Complications included temporary dysphagia (10%) and progression of disease requiring foraminotomy (6%); no surgery for adjacent level disease was required. There was no significant difference in the outcomes of the radiculopathy and myelopathy groups.

CONCLUSION: Clinical outcomes using the NuNec™ disc replacement are comparable with other disc replacements. Although the range of movement is reduced, the reoperation rate is very low.

Clinical Presentation, Diagnosis, and Surgical Treatment of Spontaneous Cervical Intradural Disc Herniations

World Neurosurg. (2018) 109:275-284

Spontaneous cervical intradural disc herniation (IDH) is a rare occurrence with limited and disparate information available regarding its presentation, diagnosis, and treatment. However, its accurate detection is vital for planning surgical treatment. In this review of the literature, we collected data from all cervical IDHs described to date. Particular attention was paid to diagnostic findings, surgical approach, and causation for cervical IDH, especially at the cervicothoracic junction.

METHODS: A review for cases of cervical IDH was performed via the following search criteria: (“neck”[MeSH Terms] OR “neck”[All Fields] OR “cervical”[All Fields]) AND intradural[All Fields] AND disc[All Fields]. Thirtyseven cases of cervical disc herniation were identified. Demographic variables identified included age, sex, cervical level of herniation, history of associated cervical trauma, presence of Brown-Séquard syndrome, Horner syndrome, and other neurologic findings, radiographic findings, direction of surgical approach, and postoperative outcomes.

RESULTS: A total of 37 cases of cervical IDH were identified. Most of the cases occurred at the lower levels of the cervical spine, with 35.1% at the C5e C6 level, followed by 24.3% at C6eC7, and lower still at other levels. Of the patients reviewed, 44.4% had a previous history of trauma before manifestation of symptom, with the majority being spontaneous IDH with no previous history of trauma or spine surgery. Brown-Séquard syndrome was present in 43.2% of the patients, whereas 10.8% of patients experienced Horner syndrome. The most common presentations of IDH included quadriplegia, finger/gait ataxia, radiculopathy, and nuchal pain. The degree of neurologic recovery was not associated with patient age. Most of the cervical IDHs in the literature were treated surgically via an anterior approach, but a larger portion of patients who underwent a posterior approach had improved recovery.

CONCLUSIONS: Cervical IDH is a rare event, with this review of the literature outlining the clinical and radiographic parameters of its presentation as well as comparing common surgical strategies for treatment. We outline theories underlying the development of cervical IDH and argue for a posterior surgical approach in which the disc herniation is sequestrated with migration



Predictors for Patient Discharge Destination After Elective Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion

Spine 2017;42:1538–1544

Study Design. Retrospective study of prospectively collected data.

Objective. To identify risk factors for nonhome patient discharge after elective anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).

Summary of Background Data. ACDF is one of the most performed spinal procedures and this is expected to increase in the coming years. To effectively deal with an increasing patient volume, identifying variables associated with patient discharge destination can expedite placement applications and subsequently reduce hospital length of stay.

Methods. The 2011 to 2014 ACS-NSQIP database was queried using Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes 22551 or 22554. Patients were divided into two cohorts based on discharge destination. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were employed to identify predictors for patient discharge destination and extended hospital length of stay.

Results. A total of 14,602 patients met the inclusion criteria for the study of which 498 (3.4%) had nonhome discharge. Multivariate logistic regression found that Hispanic versus Black race/ ethnicity (odds ratio, OR¼0.21, 0.05–0.91, P¼0.037), American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander versus Black race/ethnicity (OR¼0.52, 0.34–0.80, p-value¼0.003), White versus Black race/ethnicity (OR¼0.55, 0.42–0.71), elderly age 65 years (OR¼3.32, 2.72–4.06), obesity (OR¼0.77, 0.63–0.93, P¼0.008), diabetes (OR¼1.32, 1.06–1.65, P¼0.013), independent versus partially/totally dependent functional status (OR¼0.11, 0.08–0.15), operation time 4hours (OR¼2.46, 1.87–3.25), cardiac comorbidity (OR ¼1.38, 1.10– 1.72, P ¼0.005), and ASA Class 3 (OR¼2.57, 2.05–3.20) were predictive factors in patient discharge to a facility other than home. In addition, multivariate logistic regression analysis also found nonhome discharge to be the most predictive variable in prolonged hospital length of stay.

Conclusion. Several predictive factors were identified in patient discharge to a facility other than home, many being preoperative variables. Identification of these factors can expedite patient discharge applications and potentially can reduce hospital stay, thereby reducing the risk of hospital acquired conditions and minimizing health care costs.

Level of Evidence: 3

Spinal navigation for posterior instrumentation of C1–2 instability using a mobile intraoperative CT scanner

J Neurosurg Spine 27:268–275, 2017

Spinal navigation techniques for surgical fixation of unstable C1–2 pathologies are challenged by complex osseous and neurovascular anatomy, instability of the pathology, and unreliable preoperative registration techniques. An intraoperative CT scanner with autoregistration of C-1 and C-2 promises sufficient accuracy of spinal navigation without the need for further registration procedures. The aim of this study was to analyze the accuracy and reliability of posterior C1–2 fixation using intraoperative mobile CT scanner–guided navigation.

METHODS In the period from July 2014 to February 2016, 10 consecutive patients with instability of C1–2 underwent posterior fixation using C-2 pedicle screws and C-1 lateral mass screws, and 2 patients underwent posterior fixation from C-1 to C-3. Spinal navigation was performed using intraoperative mobile CT. Following navigated screw insertion in C-1 and C-2, intraoperative CT was repeated to check for the accuracy of screw placement. In this study, the accuracy of screw positioning was retrospectively analyzed and graded by an independent observer.

RESULTS The authors retrospectively analyzed the records of 10 females and 2 males, with a mean age of 80.7 ± 4.95 years (range 42–90 years). Unstable pathologies, which were verified by fracture dislocation or by flexion/extension radiographs, included 8 Anderson Type II fractures, 1 unstable Anderson Type III fracture, 1 hangman fracture Levine Effendi Ia, 1 complex hangman-Anderson Type III fracture, and 1 destructive rheumatoid arthritis of C1–2. In 4 patients, critical anatomy was observed: high-riding vertebral artery (3 patients) and arthritis-induced partial osseous destruction of the C-1 lateral mass (1 patient). A total of 48 navigated screws were placed. Correct screw positioning was observed in 47 screws (97.9%). Minor pedicle breach was observed in 1 screw (2.1%). No screw displacement occurred (accuracy rate 97.9%).

CONCLUSION Spinal navigation using intraoperative mobile CT scanning was reliable and safe for posterior fixation in unstable C1–2 pathologies with high accuracy in this patient series.

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.

Esophageal perforation after anterior cervical spine surgery


J Neurosurg Spine 25:285–291, 2016

Esophageal perforation is a rare but well-known complication of anterior cervical spine surgery. The authors performed a systematic review of the literature to evaluate symptomatology, direct causes, repair methods, and associated complications of esophageal injury.

Methods A PubMed search that adhered to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines included relevant clinical studies and case reports (articles written in the English language that included humans as subjects) that reported patients who underwent anterior spinal surgery and sustained some form of esophageal perforation. Available data on clinical presentation, the surgical procedure performed, outcome measures, and other individual variables were abstracted from 1980 through 2015.

Results The PubMed search yielded 65 articles with 153 patients (mean age 44.7 years; range 14–85 years) who underwent anterior spinal surgery and sustained esophageal perforation, either during surgery or in a delayed fashion. The most common indications for initial anterior cervical spine surgery in these cases were vertebral fracture/dislocation (n = 77), spondylotic myelopathy (n = 15), and nucleus pulposus herniation (n = 10). The most commonly involved spinal levels were C5–6 (n = 51) and C6–7 (n = 39). The most common presenting symptoms included dysphagia (n = 63), fever (n = 24), neck swelling (n = 23), and wound leakage (n = 18). The etiology of esophageal perforation included hardware failure (n = 31), hardware erosion (n = 23), and intraoperative injury (n = 14). The imaging modalities used to identify the esophageal perforations included modified contrast dye swallow studies, CT, endoscopy, plain radiography, and MRI. Esophageal repair was most commonly achieved using a modified muscle flap, as well as with primary closure. Outcomes measured in the literature were often defined by the time to oral intake following esophageal repair. Complications included pneumonia (n = 6), mediastinitis (n = 4), osteomyelitis (n = 3), sepsis (n = 3), acute respiratory distress syndrome (n = 2), and recurrent laryngeal nerve damage (n = 1). The mortality rate of esophageal perforation in the analysis was 3.92% (6 of 153 reported patients).

Conclusions Esophageal perforation after anterior cervical spine surgery is a rare complication. This systematic review demonstrates that these perforations can be stratified into 3 categories based on the timing of symptomatic onset: intraoperative, early postoperative (within 30 days of anterior spinal surgery), and delayed. The most common source of esophageal injury is hardware erosion or migration, each of which may vary in their time to symptomatic manifestation.

Posterior Cervical Fusion Using Cervical Interfacet Spacers in Patients With Symptomatic Cervical Pseudarthrosis

Posterior Cervical Fusion Using Cervical Interfacet Spacers in Patients With Symptomatic Cervical Pseudarthrosis

Neurosurgery 78:661–668, 2016

Posterior cervical fusion with cervical interfacet spacer (CIS) is a novel allograft technology offering the potential to provide indirect neuroforaminal decompression while simultaneously enhancing fusion by placing the allograft in compression.

OBJECTIVE: To analyze the clinical and radiological outcomes after posterior cervical fusion with CIS in patients with symptomatic anterior cervical pseudarthroses.

METHODS: Medical records of patients who underwent posterior cervical fusion with CIS for symptomatic pseudarthrosis after anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion were reviewed. Standardized outcome measures such as visual analog scale (VAS) score for neck and arm pain, Neck Disability Index (NDI), and upright lateral cervical radiographs were reviewed.

RESULTS: There were 19 patients with symptomatic cervical pseudarthrosis. Preoperative symptoms included refractory neck or arm pain. The average follow-up was 20 months (range, 12-56 months). There was improvement in VAS score for neck pain (P < .004), radicular arm pain (P < .007), and NDI score (P < .06) after surgery, with 83%, 72%, and 67% of patients showing improvement in their VAS neck pain, VAS arm pain, and NDI scores, respectively. Fusion rate was high, with fusion occurring at all levels treated for pseudarthrosis. There was a small improvement in cervical lordosis (mean difference, 2 6 5.17; P = .09) and slight worsening of C2-7 sagittal vertical axis after surgery (mean difference, 1.89 6 7.87 mm; P = .43).

CONCLUSION: CIS provides an important fusion technique, allowing placement of an allograft in compression for posterior cervical fusion in patients with anterior cervical pseudarthroses. Although there was improvement in clinical outcome measures after surgery, placement of CIS had no clinically significant impact on cervical lordosis and C2-7 sagittal vertical axis.

Cerebellar and hindbrain motion in Chiari malformation with and without syringomyelia

Cerebellar and hindbrain motion in Chiari malformation with and without syringomyelia

J Neurosurg Spine 24:546–555, 2016

The pathogenesis of syringomyelia associated with Chiari malformation type I (CM-I) is unclear. Theories of pathogenesis suggest the cerebellar tonsils may obstruct CSF flow or alter pressure gradients, or their motion might act as a piston to increase CSF pressure in the spinal subarachnoid space. This study was performed to measure cerebellar tonsillar and hindbrain motion in CM-I and assess the potential contributions to syrinx formation.

Methods Sixty-four CM-I patients and 25 controls were retrospectively selected from a clinical database, and all subjects had undergone cardiac-gated cine balanced fast-field echo MRI. There were a total of 36 preoperative CM-I scans, which consisted of 15 patients with and 21 patients without syringomyelia. Nineteen patients underwent paired pre- and postoperative imaging. Anteroposterior (AP) and superoinferior (SI) movements of the tip of the cerebellar tonsils, obex, fastigium of the fourth ventricle, pontomedullary junction, and cervicomedullary junction were measured. The distance between the fastigium and tip of the tonsils was used to calculate tonsillar tissue strain.

Results CM-I patients had significantly greater cerebellar tonsillar motion in both the AP and SI directions than controls (AP +0.34 mm [+136%], p < 0.001; SI +0.49 mm [+163%], p < 0.001). This motion decreased after posterior fossa decompression (AP -0.20 mm [-33%], p = 0.001; SI -0.29 mm [-36%]; p < 0.001), but remained elevated above control levels (AP +56%, p = 0.021; SI +67%, p = 0.015). Similar trends were seen for all other tracked landmarks. There were no significant differences in the magnitude or timing of motion throughout the hindbrain between CM-I patients with and without syringomyelia. Increased tonsillar tissue strain correlated with Valsalva headaches (p = 0.03).

Conclusions Cerebellar tonsillar motion may be a potential marker of CM-I and may have use in tailoring surgical procedures. The lack of association with syringomyelia suggests that tonsillar motion alone is not the driver of syrinx formation. Tonsillar tissue strain may play a part in the pathophysiology of Valsalva headaches.

Treatment of isolated cervical facet fractures

cervical facet fracture

J Neurosurg Spine 24:347–354, 2016

In this clinically based systematic review of cervical facet fractures, the authors’ aim was to determine the optimal clinical care for patients with isolated fractures of the cervical facets through a systematic review.

Methods A systematic review of nonoperative and operative treatment methods of cervical facet fractures was performed. Reduction and stabilization treatments were compared, and analysis of postoperative outcomes was performed. MEDLINE and Scopus databases were used. This work was supported through support received from the Association for Collaborative Spine Research and AOSpine North America.

Results Eleven studies with 368 patients met the inclusion criteria. Forty-six patients had bilateral isolated cervical facet fractures and 322 had unilateral isolated cervical facet fractures. Closed reduction was successful in 56.4% (39 patients) and 63.8% (94 patients) of patients using a halo vest and Gardner-Wells tongs, respectively. Comparatively, open reduction was successful in 94.9% of patients (successful reduction of open to closed reduction OR 12.8 [95% CI 6.1–26.9], p < 0.0001); 183 patients underwent internal fixation, with an 87.2% success rate in maintaining anatomical alignment. When comparing the success of patients who underwent anterior versus posterior procedures, anterior approaches showed a 90.5% rate of maintenance of reduction, compared with a 75.6% rate for the posterior approach (anterior vs posterior OR 3.1 [95% CI 1.0–9.4], p = 0.05).

Conclusions In comparison with nonoperative treatments, operative treatments provided a more successful outcome in terms of failure of treatment to maintain reduction for patients with cervical facet fractures. Operative treatment appears to provide superior results to the nonoperative treatments assessed.