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.

Effect of Lumbar Discectomy or Lumbar Decompression on Axial Back Pain: Results of a Meta-Analysis

World Neurosurg. (2023) 177:109-121

This meta-analysis evaluated the impact of lumbar disk herniation and lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) on axial back pain and the extent of improvement of axial and radicular pain following lumbar decompression and discectomy surgery in patients with low back pain (LBP).

METHODS: A systematic search for published literature between January 2012 and January 2023 was made on PubMed, Google Scholar, and Cochrane library database on 31 st January 2023.

Original articles that included patients with lumbar disc herniation or LSS who underwent lumbar discectomy or lumbar decompression respectively were included in the study.

RESULTS: A total of 71 studies including 16,770 patients with LBP undergoing lumbar discectomy or decompression surgery were included in the metaanalysis. The pooled standard mean difference between postoperative and preoperative: Visual Analog Scale scores for leg pain was L5.14 with 95% confidence interval (CI): L6.59 to L3.69 (P-value [ 0) and for back pain was L2.90 with 95% CI: L3.79 to L2.01 (P value [ 0), Numerical pain Rating Scale for leg pain was L1.64 with 95% CI: L1.97 to L1.30 (P-value<0.01) and for back pain was L1.58 with 95% CI: L1.84 to L1.32 (P-value <0.01), Oswerty Disability Index score was L4.76 with 95% CI: L6.22 to L3.29 (P-value [ 0) and the Japanese Orthopaedic Association score was 3.45 with 95% CI: 0.02 to 6.88 (P value 0) at follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: This meta-analysis provides evidence that lumbar discectomy and decompression are effective in improving axial LBP in patients with lumbar disk herniation and LSS.


Craniectomy size for subdural haematomas and the impact on brain shift and outcomes

Acta Neurochirurgica (2020) 162:2019–2027

Midline shift in trauma relates to the severity of head injury. Large craniectomies are thought to help resolve brain shift but can be associated with higher rates of morbidity. This study explores the relationship between craniectomy size and subtemporal decompression for acute subdural haematomas with the resolution of brain compression and outcomes. No systematic study correlating these measures has been reported.

Method A retrospective study of all adult cases of acute subdural haematomas that presented to a Major Trauma Centre and underwent a primary decompressive craniectomy between June 2008 and August 2013. Data collection included patient demographics and presentation, imaging findings and outcomes. All imaging metrics were measured by two independent trained assessors. Compression was measured as midline shift, brainstem shift and cisternal effacement.

Results Thirty-six patients with mean age of 36.1 ± 12.5 (range 16–62) were included, with a median follow-up of 23.5 months (range 2.2–109.6). The median craniectomy size was 88.7 cm2 and the median subtemporal decompression was 15.0 mm. There was significant post-operative resolution of shift as measured by midline shift, brainstem shift and cisternal effacement score (all p < .00001). There was no mortality, and the majority of patients made a good recovery with 82.8% having a Modified Rankin Score of 2 or less. There was no association between craniectomy size or subtemporal decompression and any markers of brain shift or outcome (all R2 < 0.05).

Conclusions This study suggests that there is no clear relationship between craniectomy size or extent of subtemporal decompression and resolution of brain shift or outcome. Further studies are needed to assess the relative efficacy of large craniectomies and the role of subtemporal decompression.

Guidelines for the Management of Severe Traumatic Brain Injury: 2020 Update of the Decompressive Craniectomy Recommendations

Neurosurgery 87:427–434, 2020

When the fourth edition of the Brain Trauma Foundation’s Guidelines for theManagement of Severe Traumatic Brain Injury were finalized in late 2016, it was known that the results of the RESCUEicp (Trial of Decompressive Craniectomy for Traumatic Intracranial Hypertension) randomized controlled trial of decompressive craniectomy would be public after the guidelines were released.

The guideline authors decided to proceed with publication but to update the decompressive craniectomy recommendations later in the spirit of “living guidelines,” whereby topics are updated more frequently, and between new editions, when important new evidence is published.

The update to the decompressive craniectomy chapter presented here integrates the findings of the RESCUEicp study as well as the recently published 12-mo outcome data from the DECRA (Decompressive Craniectomy in Patients With Severe Traumatic Brain Injury) trial. Incorporation of these publications into the body of evidence led to the generation of 3 new level-IIA recommendations; a fourth previously presented level-IIA recommendation remains valid and has been restated. To increase the utility of the recommendations, we added a new section entitled Incorporating the Evidence into Practice.

This summary of expert opinion provides important context and addresses key issues for practitioners, which are intended to help the clinician utilize the available evidence and these recommendations. The full guideline canbe found at: of-severe-tbi-4th-ed#/.

Tonsillectomy with modified reconstruction of the cisterna magna with and without craniectomy for the treatment of adult Chiari malformation type I with syringomyelia

Acta Neurochirurgica (2020) 162:1585–1595

In light of the controversies regarding the surgical treatment of adult Chiari malformation type I (CM-I) with syringomyelia, a retrospective study was conducted to evaluate the safety and efficacy of tonsillectomy followed by modified reconstruction of the cisterna magna with or without craniectomy.

Methods Between 2008 and 2017, 78 adult CM-I patients (36 males and 42 females, mean age 40.6 years old) with syringomyelia were treated with posterior fossa decompression (PFD) with tonsillectomy and modified reconstruction of the cisterna magna. Patients were divided into two study groups: group A (n = 40) underwent cranioplasty with replacement of the bone flap; group B (n=38) underwent suboccipital craniectomy. Neurological outcomes were evaluated by traditional physician assessment (improved, unchanged, and worsened) and the Chicago Chiari Outcome Scale (CCOS). Syringomyelia outcomes were assessed radiologically.

Results The procedure was successfully performed in all patients, and restoration of normal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow was confirmed by intraoperative ultrasonography. The median postoperative follow-up was 20.3 months (range 18– 60 months). Clinical improvement was evident in 66 (84.6%) patients, with no significant differences between the two groups (85.0% vs. 84.2%, P = 0.897). According to the CCOS, 36 patients (90.0%) in group A were labeled as “good” outcome, compared with that of 34 (86.8%) in group B (P = 0.734). Improvement of syringomyelia was also comparable between the groups, which was observed in 35 (87.5%) vs. 33 (86.8%) patients (P = 0.887). The postoperative overall (7.5% vs. 23.7%, P = 0.048) and CSF-related (2.5% vs. 18.4%, P = 0.027) complication rates were significantly lower in group A than group B.

Conclusions Tonsillectomy with modified reconstruction of the cisterna magna without craniectomy seems to be a safe and effective surgical option to treat adult CM-I patients with syringomyelia, though future well-powered prospective randomized studies are warranted to validate these findings.

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.

Outcome of unilateral versus standard open midline approach for bilateral decompression in lumbar spinal stenosis: is “over the top” really better?

J Neurosurg Spine 31:236–245, 2019

In this retrospective analysis of a prospective multicenter cohort study, the authors assessed which surgical approach, 1) the unilateral laminotomy with bilateral spinal canal decompression (ULBD; also called “over the top”) or 2) the standard open bilateral decompression (SOBD), achieves better clinical outcomes in the long-term follow-up. The optimal surgical approach (ULBD vs SOBD) to treat lumbar spinal stenosis remains controversial.

METHODS The main outcomes of this study were changes in a spinal stenosis measure (SSM) symptoms score, SSM function score, and quality of life (sum score of the 3-level version of the EQ-5D tool [EQ-5D-3L]) over time. These outcome parameters were measured at baseline and at 12-, 24-, and 36-month follow-ups. To obtain an unbiased result on the effect of ULBD compared to SOBD the authors used matching techniques relying on propensity scores. The latter were calculated based on a logistic regression model including relevant confounders. Additional outcomes of interest were raw changes in main outcomes and in the Roland and Morris Disability Questionnaire from baseline to 12, 24, and 36 months.

RESULTS For this study, 277 patients met the inclusion criteria. One hundred forty-nine patients were treated by ULBD, and 128 were treated by SOBD. After propensity score matching, 128 patients were left in each group. In the matched cohort, the mean (95% CI) estimated differences between ULBD and SOBD for change in SSM symptoms score from baseline to 12 months were -0.04 (-0.25 to 0.17), to 24 months -0.07 (-0.29 to 0.15), and to 36 months -0.04 (-0.28 to 0.21). For change in SSM function score, the estimated differences from baseline to 12 months were 0.06 (-0.08 to 0.21), to 24 months 0.08 (-0.07 to 0.22), and to 36 months 0.01 (-0.16 to 0.17). Differences in changes between groups in EQ-5D-3L sum scores were estimated to be -0.32 (-4.04 to 3.40), -0.89 (-4.76 to 2.98), and -2.71 (-7.16 to 1.74) from baseline to 12, 24, and 36 months, respectively. None of the group differences between ULBD and SOBD were statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS Both surgical techniques, ULBD and SOBD, may provide effective treatment options for DLSS patients. The authors further determined that the patient outcome results for the technically more challenging ULBD seem not to be superior to those for the SOBD even after 3 years of follow-up.


Prognostic Factors for Satisfaction After Decompression Surgery for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Neurosurgery 82:645–651, 2018

Surgical treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis is associated with both short- and long-term benefits with improvements in patient function and pain. Even though most patients are satisfied postoperatively, some studies report that up to onethird of patients are dissatisfied.

OBJECTIVE: To present clinical outcome data and identify prognostic factors related to patient satisfaction 1 yr after posterior decompression surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis.

METHODS: This multicenter register study included 2562 patients. Patients were treated with various types of posterior decompression. Patients with previous spine surgery or concomitant fusion were excluded. Patient satisfaction was analyzed for associations with age, sex, body mass index, smoking status, duration of pain, number of decompressed vertebral levels, comorbidities, and patient-reported outcome measures,which were used to quantify the effect of the surgical intervention.

RESULTS: At 1-yr follow-up, 62.4% of patients were satisfied but 15.1% reported dissatisfaction. The satisfied patients showed significantly greater improvement in all outcome measures compared to the dissatisfied patients. The outcome scores for the dissatisfied patients were relatively unchanged or worse compared to baseline. Association was seen between dissatisfaction, duration of leg pain, smoking status, and patient comorbidities. Patients with good walking capacity at baseline were less prone to be dissatisfied compared to patients with poor walking capacity.

CONCLUSION: This study found smoking, long duration of leg pain, and cancerous and neurological disease to be associated with patient dissatisfaction, whereas good walking capacity at baseline was positively associated with satisfaction after 1 yr.

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

Neurosurgery 80:701–715, 2017

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

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

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

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

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


Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Associated With Degenerative Lumbar Spondylolisthesis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Secondary Fusion Rates Following Open vs Minimally Invasive Decompression

Neurosurgery 80:355–367, 2017

Decompression without fusion is a treatment option in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) associated with stable low-grade degenerative spondylolis- thesis (DS). A minimally invasive unilateral laminotomy (MIL) for “over the top” decom- pression might be a less destabilizing alternative to traditional open laminectomy (OL). OBJECTIVE: To review secondary fusion rates after open vs minimally invasive decom- pression surgery.

METHODS: We performed a literature search in Pubmed/MEDLINE using the keywords “lumbar spondylolisthesis” and “decompression surgery.” All studies that separately reported the outcome of patients with LSS+DS that were treated by OL or MIL (transmuscular or subperiosteal route)were included in our systematic review and meta-analysis. The primary end point was secondary fusion rate. Secondary end points were total reoperation rate, postoperative progression of listhetic slip, and patient satisfaction.

RESULTS: We identified 37 studies (19 with OL, 18 with MIL), with a total of 1156 patients, that were published between 1983 and 2015. The studies’evidence was mostly level 3 or 4. Secondary fusion rates were 12.8% after OL and 3.3% after MIL; the total reoperation rates were 16.3% after OL and 5.8% after MIL. In the OL cohort, 72% of the studies reported a slip progression compared to 0% in the MIL cohort, respectively. After OL, satisfactory outcome was 62.7% compared to 76% after MIL.

CONCLUSION: In patients with LSS and DS, minimally invasive decompression is associated with lower reoperation and fusion rates, less slip progression, and greater patient satisfaction than open surgery.


Surgery for adult spondylolisthesis: a systematic review of the evidence


Eur Spine J (2016) 25:2359–2367

Surgery for isthmic and degenerative spondylolisthesis (SL) in adults is carried out very frequently in everyday practice. However, it is still unclear whether the results of surgery are better than those of conservative treatment and whether decompression alone or instrumented fusion with decompression should be recommended. In addition, the role of reduction is unclear.

Four clinically relevant key questions were addressed in this study: (1) Is surgery more successful than conservative treatment in relation to pain and function in adult patients with isthmic SL? (2) Is surgery more successful than conservative treatment in relation to pain and function in adult patients with degenerative SL? (3) Is instrumented fusion with decompression more successful in relation to pain and function than decompression alone in adult patients with degenerative SL and spinal canal stenosis? (4) Is instrumented fusion with reduction more successful in relation to pain and function than instrumented fusion without reduction in adult patients with isthmic or degenerative SL?

A systematic PubMed search was carried out to identify randomized and nonrandomized controlled trials on these topics. Papers were analyzed systematically in a search for the best evidence.A total of 18 studies was identified and analyzed: two for question 1, eight for question 2, four for question 3, and four for question 4.

Surgery appears to be better than conservative treatment in adults with isthmic SL (poor evidence) and also in adults with degenerative SL (good evidence). Instrumented fusion with decompression appears to be more successful than decompression alone in adults with degenerative SL and spinal stenosis (poor evidence). Reduction and instrumented fusion does not appear to be more successful than instrumented fusion without reduction in adults with isthmic or degenerative SL (moderate evidence).

Long-term outcome and prognostic factors after C2 ganglion decompression in 68 consecutive patients with intractable occipital neuralgia

Long-term outcome and prognostic factors after C2 ganglion decompression in 68 consecutive patients with intractable occipital neuralgia

Acta Neurochir (2015) 157:85–92

Occipital neuralgia is a rare cause of severe headache characterized by paroxysmal shooting or stabbing pain in the distribution of the greater occipital or lesser occipital nerve. In cases of intractable occipital neuralgia, a definite cause has not been uncovered, so various types of treatment have been applied. The aim of this study is to evaluate the prognostic factors, safety, and long-term clinical efficacy of second cervical (C2) ganglion decompression for intractable occipital neuralgia.

Methods Retrospective analysis was performed in 68 patients with medically refractory occipital neuralgia who underwent C2 ganglion decompression. Factors based on patients’ demography, pre- and postoperative headache severity/characteristics, medication use, and postoperative complications were investigated. Therapeutic success was defined as pain relief by at least 50 % without ongoing medication.

Results The visual analog scale (VAS) score was significantly reduced between the preoperative and most recent follow-up period. One year later, excellent or good results were achieved in 57 patients (83.9 %), but poor in 11 patients (16.1 %). The long-term outcome after 5 years was only slightly less than the 1-year outcome; 47 of the 68 patients (69.1 %) obtained therapeutic success. Longer duration of headache (over 13 years; p=0.029) and presence of retro-orbital/frontal radiation (p=0.040) were significantly associated with poor prognosis.

Conclusions In the current study, C2 ganglion decompression provided durable, adequate pain relief with minimal complications in patients suffering from intractable occipital neuralgia. Due to the minimally invasive and nondestructive nature of this surgical procedure, C2 ganglion decompression is recommended as an initial surgical treatment option for intractable occipital neuralgia before attempting occipital nerve stimulation. However, further study is required to manage the pain recurrence associated with longstanding nerve injury.

Minimally invasive spine surgery for adult degenerative lumbar scoliosis

Minimally invasive spine surgery for adult degenerative lumbar scoliosis

Neurosurg Focus 36 (5):E7, 2014

Historically, adult degenerative lumbar scoliosis (DLS) has been treated with multilevel decompression and instrumented fusion to reduce neural compression and stabilize the spinal column. However, due to the profound morbidity associated with complex multilevel surgery, particularly in elderly patients and those with multiple medical comorbidities, minimally invasive surgical approaches have been proposed. The goal of this meta-analysis was to review the differences in patient selection for minimally invasive surgical versus open surgical procedures for adult DLS, and to compare the postoperative outcomes following minimally invasive surgery (MIS) and open surgery.

Methods. In this meta-analysis the authors analyzed the complication rates and the clinical outcomes for patients with adult DLS undergoing complex decompressive procedures with fusion versus minimally invasive surgical approaches. Minimally invasive surgical approaches included decompressive laminectomy, microscopic decompression, lateral and extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF), and percutaneous pedicle screw placement for fusion. Mean patient age, complication rates, reoperation rates, Cobb angle, and measures of sagittal balance were investigated and compared between groups.

Results. Twelve studies were identified for comparison in the MIS group, with 8 studies describing the lateral interbody fusion or XLIF and 4 studies describing decompression without fusion. In the decompression MIS group, the mean preoperative Cobb angle was 16.7° and mean postoperative Cobb angle was 18°. In the XLIF group, mean pre- and postoperative Cobb angles were 22.3° and 9.2°, respectively. The difference in postoperative Cobb angle was statistically significant between groups on 1-way ANOVA (p = 0.014). Mean preoperative Cobb angle, mean patient age, and complication rate did not differ between the XLIF and decompression groups. Thirty-five studies were identified for inclusion in the open surgery group, with 18 studies describing patients with open fusion without osteotomy and 17 papers detailing outcomes after open fusion with osteotomy. Mean preoperative curve in the open fusion without osteotomy and with osteotomy groups was 41.3° and 32°, respectively. Mean reoperation rate was significantly higher in the osteotomy group (p = 0.008). On 1-way ANOVA comparing all groups, there was a statistically significant difference in mean age (p = 0.004) and mean preoperative curve (p = 0.002). There was no statistically significant difference in complication rates between groups (p = 0.28).

Conclusions. The results of this study suggest that surgeons are offering patients open surgery or MIS depending on their age and the severity of their deformity. Greater sagittal and coronal correction was noted in the XLIF versus decompression only MIS groups. Larger Cobb angles, greater sagittal imbalance, and higher reoperation rates were found in studies reporting the use of open fusion with osteotomy. Although complication rates did not significantly differ between groups, these data are difficult to interpret given the heterogeneity in reporting complications between studies.

X-Stop Versus Decompressive Surgery for Lumbar Neurogenic Intermittent Claudication


Spine 2013 ;38:1436–1442

Objective. To compare the outcome of indirect decompression by means of the X-Stop (Medtronics Inc., Minneapolis, MN) implant with conventional decompression in patients with neurogenic intermittent claudication due to lumbar spinal stenosis.

Summary of Background Data. Decompression is currently the “gold standard” for lumbar spinal stenosis but is affl icted with complications and a certain number of dissatisfi ed patients. Interspinous implants have been on the market for more than 10 years, but no prospective study comparing its outcome with decompression has been performed.

Methods. After power calculation, 100 patients were included: 50 in the X-Stop group and 50 in the decompression group. Patients with symptomatic 1- or 2-level lumbar spinal stenosis and neurogenic claudication relieved on fl exion were included. X-Stop operations were performed under local anesthesia. The mean patient age was 69 (49–89) years, and the male/female distribution was 56/44. Minimal dural sac area was in all cases except two 80 mm 2 or less. The noninferiority hypothesis included 6, 12, and 24 months of follow-up, and included. intention-to-treat as well as as-treated analyses. The primary outcome meansure was the Zürich Claudication Questionnaire, and the secondary outcome measures was the visual analogue scale pain, Short-Form 36 (SF-36), complications, and reoperations.

Results. The primary and secondary outcome measures of patients in both groups improved signifi cantly. The results were similar at 6, 12, and 24 months and at no time point could any statistical difference between the 2 types of surgery be identifi ed. Three patients (6%) in the decompression group underwent further surgery, compared with 13 patients (26%) in the X-Stop group ( P = 0.04). Results were identical in intention-to-treat and astreated analyses.

Conclusion. For spinal stenosis with neurogenic claudication, decompressive surgery as well as X-Stop are appropriate procedures. Similar results were achieved in both groups, however, with a higher number of reoperations in the X-Stop group. Patients having X-Stop removal and decompression experienced results similar to those randomized to primary decompression.

Level of Evidence: 1

Normalization of hindbrain morphology after decompression of Chiari malformation Type I

J Neurosurg 117:942–946, 2012

Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) is characterized by hindbrain deformity. We investigated the effects of craniocervical decompression surgery on the anatomical features of hindbrain deformity with a prospective MRI study of patients with CM-I.

Methods. A prospective longitudinal study was conducted in 48 patients with CM-I (39 with syringomyelia) treated with craniocervical decompression. Clinical examinations and cervical MRI were performed before surgery and 1 week, 3–6 months, and annually after surgery. Hindbrain deformity was defined by tonsillar ectopia, pointed cerebellar tonsils, and/or cervicomedullary protuberance. The length of the clivus, basiocciput (sphenooccipital synchondrosis to basion), supraocciput (internal occipital protuberance to opisthion), and anteroposterior (AP) width of CSF pathways at the foramen magnum were measured and compared with those from 18 healthy volunteers (control group).

Results. Before surgery, the patients’ posterior fossa bones were short and their CSF pathways were narrow. All patients had tonsillar ectopia (mean [± SD] 12.3 ± 5.1 mm; normal 0.3 ± 1.0). The majority of patients had pointed tonsils and more than two-thirds exhibited a cervicomedullary protuberance. Clivus and basiocciput lengths were significantly shorter than the values obtained in the control group. However, the supraocciput length did not differ significantly from control measurements. The mean bulbopontine sulcus distance superior to the basion was 9.5 ± 2.6 mm (vs 13.6 ± 2.8 mm in controls; p < 0.0001). The AP widths of the CSF pathways at the level of the foramen magnum were significantly narrowed. After surgery, CSF pathways significantly expanded both ventrally and dorsally. By 3–6 months after surgery, pointed tonsils became round, cervicomedullary protuberance disappeared, and tonsillar ectopia diminished by 51% (to 6.0 ± 3.3 mm; p < 0.0001).

Conclusions. The cerebellar tonsils and brainstem assumed a normal appearance within 6 months after craniocervical decompression. These findings support the concept that the CM-I is not a congenital malformation of the neural elements but rather an acquired malformation that arises from pulsatile impaction of the cerebellar tonsils into the foramen magnum.

Complications following decompression of Chiari malformation Type I in children: dural graft or sealant?

J Neurosurg Pediatrics 8:177–183, 2011. DOI: 10.3171/2011.5.PEDS10362

Posterior fossa decompression with duraplasty for Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) is a common pediatric neurosurgery procedure. Published series report a complication rate ranging from 3% to 40% for this procedure. Historically, many dural substitutes have been used, including bovine grafts, human cadaveric pericardium, synthetic dura, and autologous pericranium. The authors hypothesized that a recently observed increase in complications was dependent on the graft used.

Methods. Between January 2004 and January 2008, 114 consecutive patients ≤ 18 years old underwent primary CM-I decompression using duraplasty. Records were retrospectively reviewed for short- and intermediate-term complications and operative technique, focusing on the choice of duraplasty graft with or without application of a tissue sealant.

Results. The average age of the patients was 8.6 years. The dural graft used was variable: 15 were treated with cadaveric pericardium, 12 with Durepair, and 87 with EnDura. Tisseel was used in 75 patients, DuraSeal in 12, and no tissue sealant was used in 27 patients. The overall complication rate was 21.1%. The most common complications included aseptic meningitis, symptomatic pseudomeningocele, or a CSF leak requiring reoperation. The overall complication rates were as follows: cadaveric pericardium 26.7%, Durepair 41.7%, and EnDura 17.2%; reoperation rates were 13%, 25%, and 8.1%, respectively. Prior to adopting a different graft product, the overall complication rate was 18.1%; following the change the rate increased to 35%. Complication rates for tissue sealants were 14.8% for no sealant, 18.7% for Tisseel, and 50% for DuraSeal. Nine patients were treated with the combination of Durepair and DuraSeal and this subgroup had a 56% complication rate.

Conclusions. Complication rates after CM-I decompression may be dependent on the dural graft with or without the addition of tissue sealant. The complication rate at the authors’ institution approximately doubled following the adoption of a different graft product. Tissue sealants used in combination with a dural substitute to augment a duraplasty may increase the risk of aseptic meningitis and/or CSF leak. The mechanism of the apparent increased inflammation with this combination remains under investigation.

Comparative study of anterior versus posterior decompression in elderly patients of cervical myelopathy with co-morbid conditions

Eur J Orthop Surg Traumatol (2009) 19:397–401 DOI 10.1007/s00590-009-0444-8

Study design: Prospective.

Objective: To assess the results of laminectomy in patients suffering from multilevel multidirectional compressive cervical myelopathy with co-morbid conditions and to compare results of anterior and laminectomy clinically, radiologically and functionally.

Summary of background data: Cervical myelopathy or myeloradiculopathy is a progressive degenerative disorder that usually starts in the middle age. It leads to circumferential cord compression leading to a constellation of signs and symptoms.

Methods: Prospective study of 30 cases in which we had compared the results of anterior and posterior decompression surgery. Our follow-up ranged from 18 to 60 months with an average follow-up of 31.8 months.

Results: Eighteen patients underwent laminectomy by posterior midline approach in which lamina and if required, medial one-third of the facet was also removed. Diskectomy and bone grafting was done in eight patients by standard anterior approach with removal of disc at two or three levels. Corpectomy and diskectomy above and below with bone grafting was done in four patients. Out of these two were fused with tricortical iliac crest and two with fibula.

Conclusion: Anterior decompression is the gold standard. However, in medically unfit patients with multi-level circumferential compression, laminectomy is an equally rewarding option.