Minimally invasive modification of the Goel-Harms atlantoaxial fusion technique

Neurosurg Focus 54(3):E14, 2023

The Goel-Harms atlantoaxial screw fixation technique for the treatment of atlantoaxial instability and unstable odontoid fractures is reliable and reproducible for a variety of anatomies. The drawbacks of the technique are the potential for significant bleeding from the C2 nerve root venous plexus and the risks associated with posterior midline exposure and retraction, such as pain and wound complications. The authors developed a minimally invasive surgical (MIS) modification of the Goel-Harms technique using intra-articular grafting to facilitate placement of percutaneous lateral mass and pars screws with extended tabs for minimally invasive subfascial rod placement. The objective of this study was to present the authors’ first series of 5 patients undergoing minimally invasive modification in comparison with 51 patients undergoing open atlantoaxial fusion.

METHODS A retrospective analysis of patient comorbid conditions, blood loss, length of surgery, and length of stay was performed on patients undergoing Goel-Harms instrumented fusion (GHIF) for unstable odontoid fractures performed between 2016 and 2021.

RESULTS Patients undergoing the minimally invasive procedure showed significantly less blood loss than those undergoing the open atlantoaxial fusion procedure, with a median blood loss of 30 ml compared with 150 ml using the open technique (p < 0.01). The patients showed no significant differences in length of stay (2 days for MIS vs 4 days for open atlantoaxial fusion, p = 0.25). There were no significant differences in length of surgery for MIS, but a possible trend toward increased operative duration (234 vs 151 minutes, p = 0.112).

CONCLUSIONS In this small pilot study, it was shown that MIS-GHIF can be performed with decreased blood loss in atlantoaxial instability and odontoid fractures. This technique may allow for greater and safer application of the procedure in the elderly and infirm.


Effect of Surgery on Gait and Sensory Motor Performance in Patients With Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy

Evaluation of spinal cord compression and hyperintense intramedullary lesions on T2-weighted sequences in patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy using flexion-extension MRI protocol

Neurosurgery 79:701–707, 2016

Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is a common disease of aging that leads to gait instability resulting from loss of leg sensory and motor functions. The results of surgical intervention have been studied using a variety of methods, but no test has been reported that objectively measures integrative leg motor sensory functions in CSM patients.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the feasibility of using a novel single leg squat (SLS) test to measure integrative motor sensory functions in patients with CSM before and after surgery.
METHODS: Fifteen patients with CSM were enrolled in this prospective study. Clinical data and scores from standard outcomes questionnaires were obtained before and after surgery. Patients also participated in experimental test protocols consisting of standard kinematic gait testing, the Purdue pegboard test, and the novel SLS test.
RESULTS: The SLS test protocol was well tolerated by CSM patients and generated objective performance data over short test periods. In patients who participated in postoperative testing, the group measures of mean SLS errors decreased following surgery. Gait velocity measures followed a similar pattern of group improvement postoperatively. Practical barriers to implementing this extensive battery of tests resulted in subject attrition over time. Compared with kinematic gait testing, the SLS protocol required less space and could be effectively implemented more efficiently.
CONCLUSIONS: The SLS test provides a practical means of obtaining objective measures of leg motor sensory functions in patients with CSM. Additional testing with a larger cohort of patients is required to use SLS data to rigorously examine group treatment effects.



Atlanto-occipital Instability Following Endoscopic Endonasal Approach for Lower Clival Lesions

Atlanto-occipital Instability Following Endoscopic Endonasal Approach for Lower Clival Lesions

Neurosurgery 77:888–897, 2015

The endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) for craniocervical lesions involving the lower clivus and occipital condyles carries an unclear risk of atlantooccipital (AO) instability requiring arthrodesis.

OBJECTIVE: Elucidate risk factors for AO instability following EEA for clival lesions.

METHODS: We reviewed patients with clival tumors who underwent EEA at our institution between 2002 and 2012. Resection of the lower clivus, foramen magnum, AO joint, and occipital condyles were evaluated on fine-cut postoperative computed tomography.

RESULTS: Two hundred twelve patients (mean age 47.9 years, 57.1% male) underwent transclival EEA for lower clival lesions. In addition to the lower clivus, resection involved the condyle in 14.2% of patients, the foramen magnum in 16.5%, and the AO joint in 1.4%. Quantification of condyle resection revealed complete resection in 3 cases, 75% resection in 8 cases, 50% resection in 6 cases, and 25% resection in 13 cases. Seven of these patients had EEA combined with an open, far-lateral approach. In total, 7 patients required arthrodesis following EEA (3.3%), 4 of them after a combined approach. All patients who underwent arthrodesis had primary bone tumors such as chordoma, chondrosarcoma, or osteosarcoma (P = .022). Degree of condyle resection was a significant factor predisposing to occipitocervical instability (P = .001 and P < .001 for 75% and 100% condyle resection, respectively). Use of a combined approach was significantly associated with arthrodesis (P < .001).

CONCLUSION: EEA resection of the occipital condyles that results in greater than 75% condyle resection or EEA in combination with an open approach significantly increases the risk of AO instability and likely necessitates AO fixation.

3D motion analysis comparing ACDF with an artificial disc

3D motion analysis comparing ACDF with an artificial disc

J Neurosurg Spine 20:245–255, 2014

Cervical arthroplasty with an artificial disc (AD) has emerged as an alternative to anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) for the management of cervical spondylosis. This study aims to provide 3D motion analysis data comparing patients after ACDF and AD replacement.

Methods. Ten patients who underwent C5–6 ACDF and 7 who underwent C5–6 AD replacement were enrolled. Using biplanar fluoroscopy and a model-based track technique (accurate up to 0.6 mm and 0.6°), motion analysis of axial rotation and flexion-extension of the neck was performed. Three nonoperative segments (C3–4, C4–5, and C6–7) were assessed for both intervertebral rotation (coronal, sagittal, and axial planes) and facet shear (anteroposterior and mediolateral).

Results. There was no difference in total neck motion comparing ACDF and AD replacement for neck extension (43.3° ± 10.2° vs 44.3° ± 12.6°, p = 0.866) and rotation (36.0° ± 6.5° vs 38.2° ± 9.3°, p = 0.576). For extension, when measured as a percentage of total neck motion, there was a greater amount of rotation at the nonoperated segments in the ACDF group than in the AD group (p = 0.003). When comparing specific motion segments, greater normalized rotation was seen in the ACDF group at C3–4 (33.2% ± 4.9% vs 26.8% ± 6.6%, p = 0.036) and C6–7 (28.5% ± 6.7% vs 20.5% ± 5.5%, p = 0.009) but not at C4–5 (33.5% ± 6.4% vs 31.8% ± 4.0%, p = 0.562). For neck rotation, greater rotation was observed at the nonoperative segments in the ACDF group than in the AD group (p = 0.024), but the differences between individual segments did not reach significance (p ≥ 0.146). Increased mediolateral facet shear was seen on neck extension with ACDF versus AD replacement (p = 0.008). Comparing each segment, C3–4 (0.9 ± 0.5 mm vs 0.4 ± 0.1 mm, p = 0.039) and C4–5 (1.0 ± 0.4 mm vs 0.5 ± 0.2 mm, p = 0.022) showed increased shear while C6–7 (1.0 ± 0.4 mm vs 1.0 ± 0.5 mm, p = 0.767) did not.

Conclusions. This study illustrates increased motion at nonoperative segments in patients who have undergone ACDF compared with those who have undergone AD replacement. Further studies will be required to examine whether these changes contribute to adjacent-segment disease.

Very Late Complications of Cervical Arthroplasty

Very Late Complications of Cervical Arthroplasty

Spine 2013;38:2223––2226

Prospective, single-site, randomized, Food and Drug Administration––approved investigational device exemption clinical trials of 2 cervical arthroplasty (CA) devices.

Objective. To evaluate complications with CA occurring more than 4 years after the surgical procedure in Food and Drug Administration clinical trials of the Bryan and Prestige LP arthroplasty devices. Summary of Background Data. Reports of several randomized clinical studies have shown CA to be a safe and effective alternative to anterior cervical fusion in the treatment of degenerative cervical disc disorders. A majority include follow-up intervals of 4 years or less.

Methods. Between 2002 and 2006, 94 patients were enrolled in Food and Drug Administration studies of the Bryan and Prestige LP cervical disc devices. Charts, imaging studies, and hospital records were reviewed for those who underwent arthroplasty and returned more than 4 years after their surgical procedure with neck-related pain or dysfunction. Results. Excluding adjacent segment disease that occurred with a similar rate for patients who underwent fusion and arthroplasty, 5 patients, all treated with arthroplasty, returned for evaluation of neck and arm symptoms between 48 and 72 months after surgery. Four patients had peridevice vertebral body bone loss. One patient had posterior device migration and presented with myelopathy. Three required revision surgery and 2 were observed. Four patients maintained follow-up and reported stabilization or improvement in symptoms.

Conclusion. Despite their similarities, CA and fusion are not equivalent procedures in this study in regard to very late complications. Similar to large joint arthroplasty, delayed devicerelated complications may occur with CA. These complications commenced well beyond the time frame for complications associated with more traditional cervical spine procedures. Both patients and surgeons should be aware of the potential for very late device-related complications occurring with CA and the need for revision surgery.

Level of Evidence: 1

Outcomes After Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion in Professional Athletes

Outcomes After Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion in Professional Athletes

Neurosurgery 73:103–112, 2013

Significant controversy exists regarding when an athlete may return to contact sports after anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). Return-to-play (RTP) recommendations are complicated due to a mix of medical factors, social pressures, and limited outcome data.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to characterize our diagnostic and surgical criteria, intervention, postoperative imaging results, and rehabilitation and report RTP decisions and outcomes for professional athletes with cervical spine injuries.

METHODS: Fifteen professional athletes who had undergone a 1-level ACDF by a single neurosurgeon were identified after a retrospective chart and radiographic review from 2003 to 2012. Patient records and imaging studies were recorded.

RESULTS: Seven of the 15 athletes presented with neurapraxia, 8 with cervical radiculopathy, and 2 with hyperintensity of the spinal cord. Cervical stenosis with effacement of the cerebrospinal fluid signal was noted in 14 subjects. The operative level included C3-4 (4 patients), C4-5 (1 patient), C5-6 (8 patients), and C6-7 (2 patients). All athletes were cleared for RTP after a neurological examination with normal findings, and radiographic criteria for early fusion were confirmed. Thirteen of the 15 players returned to their sport between 2 and 12 months postoperatively (mean, 6 months), with 8 still participating. The RTP duration of the 5 who retired after full participation ranged from 1 to 3 years. All athletes remain asymptomatic for radicular or myelopathic symptoms or signs.

CONCLUSION: After a single-level ACDF, an athlete may return to contact sports if there are normal findings on a neurological examination, full range of neck movement, and solid arthrodesis. There may be an increased risk of the development of adjacent segment disease above or below the level of fusion. Cord hyperintensity may not necessarily preclude RTP.


The Impact of Standing Regional Cervical Sagittal Alignment on Outcomes in Posterior Cervical Fusion Surgery

Neurosurgery 71:662–669, 2012

Positive spinal regional and global sagittal malalignment has been repeatedly shown to correlate with pain and disability in thoracolumbar fusion.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the relationship between regional cervical sagittal alignment and postoperative outcomes for patients receiving multilevel cervical posterior fusion.

METHODS: From 2006 to 2010, 113 patients received multilevel posterior cervical fusion for cervical stenosis, myelopathy, and kyphosis. Radiographic measurements made at intermediate follow-up included the following: (1) C1-C2 lordosis, (2) C2-C7 lordosis, (3) C2-C7 sagittal vertical axis (C2-C7 SVA; distance between C2 plumb line and C7), (4) center of gravity of head SVA (CGH-C7 SVA), and (5) C1-C7 SVA. Health-related quality-of-life measures included neck disability index (NDI), visual analog pain scale, and SF-36 physical component scores. Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients were calculated between pairs of radiographic measures and health-related quality-oflife scores.

RESULTS: Both C2-C7 SVA and CGH-C7 SVA negatively correlated with SF-36 physical component scores (r = -0.43, P <.001 and r = -0.36, P = .005, respectively). C2-C7 SVA positively correlated with NDI scores (r = 0.20, P = .036). C2-C7 SVA positively correlated with C1-C2 lordosis (r = 0.33, P = .001). For significant correlations between C2-C7 SVA and NDI scores, regression models predicted a threshold C2-C7 SVA value of approximately 40 mm, beyond which correlations were most significant.

CONCLUSION: Our findings demonstrate that, similar to the thoracolumbar spine, the severity of disability increases with positive sagittal malalignment following surgical reconstruction.

Direct Lateral Approach to Pathology at the Craniocervical Junction

Neurosurgery 70[ONS Suppl 2]:ons202–ons208, 2012 DOI: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e31824042e6

Approaches to the foramen magnum and upper cervical spine traditionally include the posterior midline, far lateral, and endoscopic endonasal approaches. The far lateral approach is a well-established technique for the removal of pathology ventrolateral to the brainstem and the craniocervical junction, but it may be too extensive for lesions limited to areas far from the midline.

OBJECTIVE: To present an alternative to the commonly used approaches to the foramen magnum and upper cervical.

METHODS: We used an approach directly overlying ventral or lateral pathology.

RESULTS: Two cases are presented in which the direct lateral approach followed by an occipitocervical fusion was successfully performed.

CONCLUSION: This approach can be considered for patients in whom a ventral decompression is necessary but an endoscopic endonasal approach is undesirable or when a ventral, lateral, and ventrolateral resection of tumor, pannus, or infection is required.