Percutaneous Direct Pars Repair in Young Athletes

Neurosurgery 92:263–270, 2023

Lumbar pars defects are common in adolescent athletes and are often due to recurrent axial loading and traumatic stressors.

OBJECTIVE: To present an updated case series of young athletes who underwent percutaneous direct pars repair after failure of conservative management.

METHODS: A single-center, nonrandomized, retrospective observation study of athletes who were referred for minimally invasive direct pars repair after failure of at least 6 months of conservative management was performed. Summary demographic information, clinical features of presentation, perioperative and intraoperative radiographic imaging, and visual analog scale back pain scores were collected and analyzed.

RESULTS: A total of 21 patients were included (mean age [± SD] 17.47 ± 3.02 years, range 14-25 years), 6 of whom were female (29%). All patients presented with bilateral pars fractures, with L5 being the most frequent level involved (n = 13). The average follow-up time was 31.52 ± 9.38 months (range 3-110 months). The visual analog scale score for back pain was significantly reduced from 7.62 ± 1.83 preoperatively to 0.28 ± 0.56 at the final postoperative examination (P < .01). Fusion was noted in 20 of the 21 patients on final follow-up (95%).

CONCLUSION: Percutaneous direct pars repair is a safe and effective means in treating young adolescents who have failed conservative management. The advantages included minimized muscle and soft tissue dissection, reduced blood loss, and early mobilization and recovery. In young athletes who desire return to high-level physical activity, this surgical technique is of particular benefit and should be considered in this patient population.

How dimensions can guide surgical planning and training: a systematic review of Kambin’s triangle

Neurosurg Focus 54(1):E6, 2023

OBJECTIVE The authors sought to analyze the current literature to determine dimensional trends across the lumbar levels of Kambin’s triangle, clarify the role of imaging techniques for preoperative planning, and understand the effect of inclusion of the superior articular process (SAP). This compiled knowledge of the triangle is needed to perform successful procedures, reduce nerve root injuries, and help guide surgeons in training.

METHODS The authors performed a search of multiple databases using combinations of keywords: Kambin’s triangle, size, measurement, safe triangle, and bony triangle. Articles were included if their main findings included measurement of Kambin’s triangle. The PubMed, Scopus, Ovid, Cochrane, Embase, and Medline databases were systematically searched for English-language articles with no time frame restrictions through July 2022.

RESULTS Eight studies comprising 132 patients or cadavers were included in the study. The mean ± SD age was 66.69 ± 9.6 years, and 53% of patients were male. Overall, the size of Kambin’s triangle increased in area moving down vertebral levels, with L5–S1 being the largest (133.59 ± 4.36 mm 2 ). This trend followed a linear regression model when SAP was kept (p = 0.008) and removed (p = 0.003). There was also a considerable increase in the size of Kambin’s triangle if the SAP was removed.

CONCLUSIONS Here, the authors have provided the first reported systematic review of the literature of Kambin’s triangle, its measurements at each lumbar level, and key areas of debate related to the definition of the working safe zone. These findings indicate that CT is heavily utilized for imaging of the safe zone, the area of Kambin’s triangle tends to increase caudally, and variation exists between patients. Future studies should focus on using advanced imaging techniques for preoperative planning and establishing guidelines for surgeons.

Minimally invasive posterior percutaneous transarticular C1–C2 screws: how I do it

Acta Neurochirurgica (2020) 162:2047–2050

Transarticular C1–C2 screw fixation, first described by Magerl, is a widely accepted used technique for C1–C2 instability with a good biomechanical stability and fusion rate.

Method We present a 69-year-old woman, who was diagnosed with a C2 Odontoid fracture type III and primarily treated with conservative treatment and collar. During first 2 weeks of follow-up, the patient developed cervical pain associated with C1–C2 instability. A minimally invasive posterior C1–C2 transarticular screw instrumentation with a percutaneus approach was performed.

Results and conclusion Minimally invasive approach with tubular transmuscular approach for C1–C2 transarticular screws instrumentation is safe and effective for C1–C2 instability.

Kambin’s triangle: definition and new classification schema

J Neurosurg Spine 32:390–398, 2020

Kambin’s triangle is an anatomical corridor used to access critical structures in a variety of spinal procedures. It is considered a safe space because it is devoid of vascular and neural structures of importance. Nonetheless, there is currently significant variation in the literature regarding the exact dimensions and anatomical borders of Kambin’s triangle. This confusion was originally caused by leaving the superior articular process (SAP) unassigned in the description of the working triangle, despite Kambin identifying that structure in his original report. The SAP is the most relevant structure to consider when accessing the transforaminal corridor. Leaving the SAP unassigned has led to an open-handed application of the term “Kambin’s triangle.” That single eponym currently has two potential meanings, one meaning for endoscopic surgeons working through a corridor in the intact spine and a second meaning for surgeons accessing the disc space after a complete or partial facetectomy. Nevertheless, an anatomical corridor should have one consistent definition to clearly communicate techniques and use of instrumentation performed through that space. As such, the authors propose a new surgically relevant classification of this corridor. Assigning the SAP a border requires adding another dimension to the triangle, thereby transforming it into a prism. The term “Kambin’s prism” indicates the assignment of a border to all relevant anatomical structures, allowing for a uniform definition of the 3D space. From there, the classification scheme considers the expansion of the corridor and the extent of bone removal, with a particular focus on the SAP.

Reduced Acute Care Costs With the ERAS ® Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion Compared With Conventional Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Neurosurgery 83:827–834, 2018

Enhancing Recovery After Surgery (ERAS (R)  ) programs have been widely adopted throughout the world, but not in spinal surgery. In this report, we review the implementation of a “fast track”surgery for lumbar fusion and its effect on acute care hospitalization costs.

OBJECTIVE: To determine if a “fast track” surgery methodology results in acute care cost savings.

METHODS: Thirty-eight consecutive ERAS patients were compared with patients undergoing conventional minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion. Differences between these groups included the use of endoscopic decompression, injections of liposomal bupivacaine, and performing the surgery under sedation in the ERAS R  group.

RESULTS: Patients had similar medical comorbidities (2.02 vs 2 for ERAS R  and comparator groups, respectively; P = .458). Body mass index was similar (26.5 vs 27.0; P = .329). ERAS R  patients were older (65 vs 59 yr, P= .031). Both groups had excellent clinical results with an improvement of 23% and 24%, respectively. Intraoperative blood loss was less (68±31 cc vs 231±73, P<0.001). Length of staywas also less with ERAS R  surgery, at ameanof 1.23±0.8 d vs 3.9 ± 1.1 d (P = 0.009). When comparing ERAS R  surgery to standard minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion, the total cost for the acute care hospitalization was $19212vs $22656, respectively(P<0.001). This reflected an average of $3444 in savings, which was a 15.2% reduction.

CONCLUSION: ERAS (R)  programs for spinal fusion surgery have the potential to reduce the costs of acute care. This is made possible by leveraging less invasive interventions to minimize soft tissue damage.

Electromagnetic neuronavigation for the percutaneous treatment of trigeminal neuralgia with balloon compression

Acta Neurochirurgica (2018) 160:1337–1341

Several techniques have been described for the percutaneous treatment of trigeminal neuralgia; however, each has significant drawbacks. We propose a new technique for percutaneous balloon compression of the trigeminal ganglion and distal trigeminal nerve using electromagnetic (EM) neuronavigation.

Methods The procedure was performed in 17 consecutive patients with trigeminal neuralgia. Patients were then followed up with telephone interview. We also performed a cadaveric validation study to further investigate the accuracy of the technique using dye.

Results Excellent clinical outcomes were achieved with a reduction in the median pain score from 10 out of 10 to 0 out of 10 following the procedure. The cadaveric study also demonstrated a high rate of foramen ovale cannulation.

Conclusion EM-based targeting of the foramen ovale and balloon inflation within Meckel’s cave is a quick, reproducible and straightforward technique for the percutaneous treatment of trigeminal neuralgia.

A Review of Percutaneous Treatments for Trigeminal Neuralgia

A Review of Percutaneous Treatments for Trigeminal Neuralgia

Operative Neurosurgery 10:25–33, 2014

Common treatments for trigeminal neuralgia include percutaneous techniques, microvascular decompression, and Gamma Knife radiosurgery. Although microvascular decompression is considered the gold standard for treatment, percutaneous techniques remain an effective option for select patients.

OBJECTIVE: To review the historical development, advantages, and limitations of the most common percutaneous procedures for trigeminal neuralgia: balloon compression (BC), glycerol rhizotomy (GR), and radiofrequency thermocoagulation (RF).

METHODS: Publications reporting clinical outcomes after BC, GR, and RF were reviewed and included. Operative technique was based on the experience of the primary surgeon and senior author.

RESULTS: All 3 percutaneous techniques (BC, GR, and RF) provide effective pain relief but differ in method and specificity of nerve injury. BC selectively injures larger pain fibers while sparing small fibers and does not require an awake, cooperative patient. Pain control rates up to 91% at 6 months and 66% at 3 years have been reported. RF allows somatotopic nerve mapping and selective division lesioning and provides pain relief in up to 97% of patients initially and 58% at 5 years. Multiple treatments improve outcomes but carry significant morbidity risk. GR offers similar pain-free outcomes of 90% at 6 months and 54% at 3 years but with higher complication rates (25% vs 16%) compared with BC. Advantages of percutaneous techniques include shorter procedure duration, minimal anesthesia risk, and in the case of GR and RF, immediate patient feedback.

CONCLUSION: Percutaneous treatments for trigeminal neuralgia remain safe, simple, and effective for achieving good pain control while minimizing procedural risk.

Comparison of Superior-Level Facet Joint Violations During Open and Percutaneous Pedicle Screw Placement

Neurosurgery 71:962–970, 2012 

Superior-level facet joint violation by pedicle screws may result in increased stress to the level above the instrumentation and may contribute to adjacent segment disease. Previous studies have evaluated facet joint violations in open or percutaneous screw cases, but there are no reports describing a direct institutional comparison.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the incidence of superior-level facet violation for open vs percutaneous pedicle screws and to evaluate patient and surgical factors that affect this outcome.

METHODS: We reviewed 279 consecutive patients who underwent an index instrumented lumbar fusion from 2007 to 2011 for degenerative spine disease with stenosis with or without spondylolisthesis. We used a computed tomography grading system that represents progressively increasing grades of facet joint violation. Patient and surgical factors were evaluated to determine their impact on facet violation.

RESULTS: Our cohort consisted of 126 open and 153 percutaneous cases. Percutaneous procedures had a higher overall violation grade (P = .02) and a greater incidence of high-grade violations (P = .006) compared with open procedures. Bivariate analysis showed significantly greater violations in percutaneous cases for age,65 years, obesity, pedicle screws at L4, and 1- and 2-level surgeries. Multivariate analysis showed the percutaneous approach and depth of the spine to be independent risk factors for highgrade violations.

CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates greater facet violations for percutaneously placed pedicle screws compared with open screws.


The Use of Intraoperative Navigation for Percutaneous Procedures at the Skull Base Including a Difficult-to-Access Foramen Ovale

Neurosurgery 70[ONS Suppl 2]:ons177–ons180, 2012 DOI: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e3182309448

We describe the use of an intraoperative CT scan obtained using the Medtronic O-arm (Littleton, Massachusetts) for image-guided cannulation of the foramen ovale not previously accessible with the use of fluoroscopy alone. Unlike previously described procedures, this technique does not require placement of an invasive head clamp and may be used with an awake patient.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the use of intraoperative neuronavigation for accessing skull base foramina and, specifically, cannulating of the foramen ovale during percutaneous rhizotomy procedures using an intraoperative image guidance CT scanner (Medtronic O-arm, Littleton, Massachusetts).

METHODS: A noninvasive Landmark Fess Strap attached to a spine reference frame was applied to the heads of 4 patients who harbored a difficult-to-access foramen ovale. An intraoperative HD3D skull base scan using a Medtronic O-arm was obtained, and Synergy Spine software was used to create 3D reconstructions of the skull base. Using image guidance, we navigated the needle to percutaneously access the foramen ovale by the use of a single tract for successful completion of balloon compression of the trigeminal nerve.

RESULTS: All 4 patients (3 females and 1 male; ages 65-75) underwent the procedure with no complications.

CONCLUSION: Based on our experience, neuronavigation with the use of intraoperative O-arm CT imaging is useful during these cases.

Clinical Assessment of Percutaneous Lumbar Pedicle Screw Placement Using the O-Arm Multidimensional Surgical Imaging System

Neurosurgery 70:990–995, 2012 DOI: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e318237a829

Increasing popularity of minimally invasive surgery for lumbar fusion has led to dependence upon intraoperative fluoroscopy for pedicle screw placement, because limited muscle dissection does not expose the bony anatomy necessary for traditional, freehand techniques nor for registration steps in image-guidance techniques. This has raised concerns about cumulative radiation exposure for both surgeon and operating room staff. The recent introduction of the O-arm Multidimensional Surgical Imaging System allows for percutaneous placement of pedicle screws, but there is limited clinical experience with the technique and data examining its accuracy.

OBJECTIVE: We present the first large clinical series of percutaneous screw placement using navigation of O-arm imaging and compare the results with the fluoroscopyguided method.

METHODS: A retrospective review of a 24-month period identified patients undergoing minimally invasive lumbar interbody fusion. The O-arm was introduced in the middle of this period and was used for all subsequent patients. Accuracy of screw placement was assessed by examination of axial computed tomography or O-arm scans.

RESULTS: The fluoroscopy group included 141 screws in 42 patients, and the O-arm group included 205 screws in 52 patients. The perforation rate was 12.8% in the fluoroscopy group and 3% in the O-arm group (P < .001). Single-level O-arm procedures took a mean 200 (153-241) minutes, whereas fluoroscopy took 221 (178-302) minutes (P < .03).

CONCLUSION: Percutaneous pedicle screw placement with the O-arm Multidimensional Intraoperative Imaging System is a safe and effective technique and provided improved overall accuracy and reduced operative time compared with conventional fluoroscopic techniques.

Avoidance of wrong-level thoracic spine surgery: intraoperative localization with preoperative percutaneous fiducial screw placement

Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine DOI: 10.3171/2011.3.SPINE10445.

The accurate intraoperative localization of the correct thoracic spine level remains a challenging problem in both open and minimally invasive spine surgery. The authors describe a technique of using preoperatively placed percutaneous fiducial screws to localize the area of interest in the thoracic spine, and they assess the safety and efficacy of the technique.


To avoid wrong-level surgery in the thoracic spine, the authors preoperatively placed a percutaneous 5-mm fiducial screw at the level of intended surgery using CT guidance. Plain radiographs and CT images with reconstructed views can then be referenced in the operating room to verify the surgical level, and the fiducial screw is easily identified on intraoperative fluoroscopy. The authors compared a group of 26 patients who underwent preoperative (often outpatient) fiducial screw placement prior to open or minimally invasive thoracic spine surgery to a historical group of 26 patients who had intraoperative localization with fluoroscopy alone.


In the treatment group of 26 patients, no complications related to fiducial screw placement occurred, and there was no incidence of wrong-level surgery. In comparison, there were no wrong-level surgeries in the historical cohort of 26 patients who underwent mini-open or open thoracic spine surgery without placement of a fiducial screw. However, the authors found that the intraoperative localization fluoroscopy time was greatly reduced when a fiducial screw localization technique was employed.


The aforementioned technique for intraoperative localization is safe, efficient, and accurate for identifying the target level in thoracic spine exposures. The fiducial marker screw can be placed using CT guidance on an outpatient basis. There is a reduction in the amount of intraoperative fluoroscopy time needed for localization in the fiducial screw group.