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.

Safety of brainstem safe entry zones: comparison of microsurgical outcomes associated with superficial, exophytic, and deep brainstem cavernous malformations

J Neurosurg 139:113–123, 2023

Safe entry zones (SEZs) enable safe tissue transgression to lesions beneath the brainstem surface. However, evidence for the safety of SEZs is scarce and is based on anatomical studies, case reports, and small series.

METHODS A cohort of 154 patients who underwent microsurgical brainstem cavernous malformation (BSCM) treatment during a 23-year period and who had preoperative MR images and intraoperative photographs or videos was retrospectively examined. This study assessed the safety of SEZs for access to deep BSCMs, preoperative MRI to predict BSCM surface proximity, and the relationships between BSCM subtype, surgical approach, and SEZs. Lesions were characterized as exophytic, superficial, or deep on the basis of preoperative MRI and intraoperative inspection. Outcomes were scored as good (modified Rankin Scale [mRS] score ≤ 2) or poor (mRS score > 2) and relative outcomes as stable/ improved or worse relative to baseline (± 1 point).

RESULTS Resections included 34 (22%) in the midbrain, 102 (66%) in the pons, and 18 (12%) in the medulla. Of those, 23 (15%) were exophytic, 57 (37%) were superficial, and 74 (48%) were deep. Established SEZs were used for 97% (n = 72) of deep lesions; the preferred SEZ associated with its subtype was used for 91% (n = 67). MR images accurately depicted exophytic BSCMs that did not require SEZ approaches (sensitivity, 96%) but overestimated the proximity of lesions superficial to brainstem surfaces (specificity, 67%), resulting in unanticipated SEZ use. Final neurological outcomes were good in 80% of patients with follow-up data (119/149), and relative outcomes were stable/improved in 93% (139/149). Outcomes for patients with brainstem transgression through an SEZ did not differ from outcomes for patients with superficial or exophytic lesions that did not require SEZ use (final mRS score ≤ 2 in 72% of all patients with deep lesions vs 82% of all patients with superficial or exophytic lesions [p = 0.10]). Among patients with follow-up, the rates of permanent new cranial nerve deficits in patients with deep BSCMs and superficial or exophytic BSCMs were 21% and 20%, respectively (p = 0.81), with no significant change in overall cranial nerve deficit (0 and −1, p = 0.65).

CONCLUSIONS Neurological outcomes for patients with deep BSCMs were equivalent to those for superficial or exophytic BSCMs, validating the safety of SEZs for deep BSCMs. Preoperative T1-weighted MR images overestimated the lesion’s surface proximity, necessitating detailed knowledge of SEZs and readiness to use them in cases of radiologicalmicrosurgical discordance. Most patients achieved favorable outcomes despite the transgression of eloquent brainstem tissue in and around SEZs.

The longitudinal volumetric response of vestibular schwannomas after Gamma Knife radiosurgery

J Neurosurg 138:1273–1280, 2023

Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS) is an effective treatment for vestibular schwannomas (VSs) and has been used in > 100,000 cases worldwide. In the present study the authors sought to define the serial volumetric tumor response of Koos grade I–IV VS after radiosurgery.

METHODS A total of 201 consecutive VS patients underwent GKRS at a single institution between 2015 and 2019. All patients had a minimum follow-up of 18 months and at least 2 interval postprocedure MRI scans. The contrast-enhanced tumor volumes were contoured manually and compared between pre- and post-GKRS imaging. The percentages of tumor volume change at 18 months (short-term follow-up) and up to 5 years after GKRS (long-term follow-up) were compared with the baseline tumor volume. An increase of 20% was considered a significant increase of tumor volume. Trends of tumor volume over time were assessed with linear models using time as a continuous variable. A test for linear trend was evaluated according to the initial Koos tumor classification.

RESULTS Koos grade II VS was the most frequently occurring tumor (n = 74, 36.8%), followed by grade III (n = 57, 28.4%), grade I (n = 41, 20.4%), and grade IV (n = 29, 14.4%). The mean tumor volume at the time of GKRS was 2.12 ±2.82 cm 3 (range 0.12–18.77 cm 3 ) and the median margin dose was 12 Gy. Short-term follow-up revealed that tumor volumes transiently increased in 34.2% and 28.4% of patients at 6 and 18 months, respectively, regardless of Koos grade. Linear regression analysis of Koos grade II, III, and IV tumors showed a significant longitudinal volume decrease on long-term follow-up. At last follow-up (median 30 months, range 18–54 months), 19 patients (9.4%) showed a persistent increase of tumor volume. Five patients received additional management after GKRS.

CONCLUSIONS Although selected VS patients demonstrate an early and measurable transient volumetric increase after GKRS, > 90% have stable or reduced tumor volumes over an observed period of up to 5 years. Volumetric regression is most pronounced in Koos grade II, III, and IV tumors and may not be fully detectable until 3 years after GKRS.

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.


Dissociation of Broca’s area from Broca’s aphasia in patients undergoing neurosurgical resections

J Neurosurg 138:847–857, 2023

Broca’s aphasia is a syndrome of impaired fluency with retained comprehension. The authors used an unbiased algorithm to examine which neuroanatomical areas are most likely to result in Broca’s aphasia following surgical lesions.

METHODS Patients were prospectively evaluated with standardized language batteries before and after surgery. Broca’s area was defined anatomically as the pars opercularis and triangularis of the inferior frontal gyrus. Broca’s aphasia was defined by the Western Aphasia Battery language assessment. Resections were outlined from MRI scans to construct 3D volumes of interest. These were aligned using a nonlinear transformation to Montreal Neurological Institute brain space. A voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping (VLSM) algorithm was used to test for areas statistically associated with Broca’s aphasia when incorporated into a resection, as well as areas associated with deficits in fluency independent of Western Aphasia Battery classification. Postoperative MRI scans were reviewed in blinded fashion to estimate the percentage resection of Broca’s area compared to areas identified using the VLSM algorithm.

RESULTS A total of 289 patients had early language evaluations, of whom 19 had postoperative Broca’s aphasia. VLSM analysis revealed an area that was highly correlated (p < 0.001) with Broca’s aphasia, spanning ventral sensorimotor cortex and supramarginal gyri, as well as extending into subcortical white matter tracts. Reduced fluency scores were significantly associated with an overlapping region of interest. The fluency score was negatively correlated with fraction of resected precentral, postcentral, and supramarginal components of the VLSM area.

CONCLUSIONS Broca’s aphasia does not typically arise from neurosurgical resections in Broca’s area. When Broca’s aphasia does occur after surgery, it is typically in the early postoperative period, improves by 1 month, and is associated with resections of ventral sensorimotor cortex and supramarginal gyri.


Extra-axial endoscopic third ventriculostomy: preliminary experience with a technique to circumvent conventional endoscopic third ventriculostomy complications

J Neurosurg 138:503–513, 2023

Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) is mostly safe but may have serious complications. Most of the complications are inherent to the procedure’s intra-axial nature. This study aimed to explore an alternative route to overcome inherent issues with conventional ETV. The authors performed supraorbital, subfrontal extra-axial ETV (EAETV) via the lamina terminalis.

METHODS This prospective study began in October 2021 and included patients with obstructive triventricular hydrocephalus with a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 8 or more and a minimum follow-up of 3 months. Patients with multiloculated hydrocephalus and those younger than 1 year of age were excluded. The preoperative parameters etiology, symptoms, Evans’ Index, frontal occipital horn ratio (FOHR), and third ventricle index were recorded. The surgical procedure is described. Postoperative evaluation included clinical (modified Rankin Scale [mRS]) and radiological assessment with CT and cine phase-contrast MRI. Preoperative and postoperative parameters were compared statistically.

RESULTS Ten patients were included in this study. Six patients had acute hydrocephalus, and 4 had chronic hydrocephalus. After EAETV, all patients showed clinical improvement. An mRS score of 0 or 1 was achieved in 9 patients, but the mRS score remained at 4 in a patient with tectal tuberculoma. There was a significant reduction in Evans’ Index, FOHR, and third ventricle index after EAETV (p < 0.05). The mean percent reduction in Evans’ Index was 20.80% ± 13.89%, the mean percent reduction in FOHR was 20.79% ± 12.98%, and the mean percent reduction in the third ventricle index was 37.45% ± 14.74%. CSF flow voids were seen in all cases. The results of CSF flow quantification parameters were as follows: mean peak velocity 3.82 ± 0.93 cm/sec, mean average velocity 0.10 ± 0.05 cm/sec, mean average flow rate 46.60 ± 28.58 μL/sec, mean forward volume 39.90 ± 23.29 μL, mean reverse volume 34.10 ± 15.98 μL, mean overall flow amplitude 74.00 ± 27.61 μL, and mean stroke volume 37.00 ± 13.80 μL. One patient developed a minor frontal lobe contusion. The frontal air sinus was breached in 5 patients, but none had CSF rhinorrhea. Transient supraorbital hypesthesia was seen in 3 patients. No patient had electrolyte disturbance or change in thirst or fluid intake habits.

CONCLUSIONS EAETV is a feasible, safe, and effective surgical alternative to conventional ETV.

Sacrifice or preserve the superior petrosal vein in microvascular decompression surgery

J Neurosurg 138:390–398, 2023

In microvascular decompression (MVD) surgery through the retrosigmoid approach, the surgeon may have to sacrifice the superior petrosal vein (SPV). However, this is a controversial maneuver. To date, high-level evidence comparing the operative outcomes of patients who underwent MVD with and without SPV sacrifice is lacking. Therefore, this study sought to bridge this gap.

METHODS The authors searched the Medline and PubMed databases with appropriate Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) terms and keywords. The primary outcome was vascular-related complications; secondary outcomes were new neurological deficit, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak, and neuralgia relief. The pooled proportions of outcomes and OR (95% CI) for categorical data were calculated by using the logit transformation and Mantel-Haenszel methods, respectively.

RESULTS Six studies yielding 1143 patients were included, of which 618 patients had their SPV sacrificed. The pooled proportion (95% CI) values were 3.82 (0.87–15.17) for vascular-related complications, 3.64 (1.0–12.42) for new neurological deficits, 2.85 (1.21–6.58) for CSF leaks, and 88.90 (84.90–91.94) for neuralgia relief. The meta-analysis concluded that, whether the surgeon sacrificed or preserved the SPV, the odds were similar for vascular-related complications (2.5% vs 1.5%, OR [95% CI] 1.01 [0.33–3.09], p = 0.99), new neurological deficits (1.2% vs 2.8%, OR [95% CI] 0.55 [0.18–1.66], p = 0.29), CSF leak (3.1% vs 2.1%, OR [95% CI] 1.16 [0.46–2.94], p = 0.75), and neuralgia relief (86.6% vs 87%, OR [95% CI] 0.96 [0.62–1.49], p = 0.84).

CONCLUSIONS SPV sacrifice is as safe as SPV preservation. The authors recommend intentional SPV sacrifice when gentle retraction fails to enhance surgical field visualization and if the surgeon encounters SPV-related neurovascular conflict and/or anticipates impeding SPV-related bleeding.


Radiographic comparison of L5–S1 lateral anterior lumbar interbody fusion cage subsidence and displacement by fixation strategy: anterior plate versus integrated screws

J Neurosurg Spine 38:126–130, 2023

OBJECTIVE The aim of this study was to radiographically compare cage subsidence and displacement between L5–S1 lateral anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) cages secured with an anterior buttress plate and cages secured with integrated screws.

METHODS Consecutive patients who underwent L5–S1 lateral ALIF with supplemental posterior fixation by a single surgeon from June 2016 to January 2021 were reviewed. Radiographs were analyzed and compared between the two groups based on the type of fixation used to secure the L5–S1 lateral ALIF cage: 1) anterior buttress plate or 2) integrated screws. The following measurements at L5–S1 were analyzed on radiographs obtained preoperatively, before discharge, and at latest follow-up: 1) anterior disc height, 2) posterior disc height, and 3) segmental lordosis. Cage subsidence and anterior cage displacement were determined radiographically.

RESULTS One hundred thirty-nine patients (mean age 60.0 ± 14.3 years) were included for analysis. Sixty-eight patients were treated with an anterior buttress plate (mean follow-up 12 ± 5 months), and 71 were treated with integrated screws (mean follow-up 9 ± 3 months). Mean age, sex distribution, preoperative L5–S1 lordosis, preoperative L5–S1 anterior disc height, and preoperative L5–S1 posterior disc height were statistically similar between the two groups. After surgery, the segmental L5–S1 lordosis and L5–S1 anterior disc heights significantly improved for both groups, and each respective measurement was similar between the groups at final follow-up. Posterior disc heights significantly increased after surgery with integrated screws but not with the anterior buttress plate. As such, posterior disc heights were significantly greater at final follow-up for integrated screws. Compared with patients who received integrated screws, significantly more patients who received the anterior buttress plate had cage subsidence cranially through the L5 endplate (20.6% vs 2.8%, p < 0.01), cage subsidence caudally through the S1 endplate (27.9% vs 0%, p < 0.01), and anterior cage displacement (22.1% vs 0%, p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS In this radiographic analysis of 139 patients who underwent lateral L5–S1 ALIF supplemented by posterior fixation, L5–S1 cages secured with an anterior buttress plate demonstrated significantly higher rates of cage subsidence and anterior cage displacement compared with cages secured with integrated screws. While the more durable stability afforded by cages secured with integrated screws suggests that they may be a more viable fixation strategy for L5–S1 lateral ALIFs, there are multiple factors that can contribute to cage subsidence, and, thus, definitive presumption cannot be made that the findings of this study are directly related to the buttress plate.

Indication for a skull base approach in microvascular decompression for hemifacial spasm

Acta Neurochirurgica (2022) 164:3235–3246

A thorough observation of the root exit zone (REZ) and secure transposition of the offending arteries is crucial for a successful microvascular decompression (MVD) for hemifacial spasm (HFS). Decompression procedures are not always feasible in a narrow operative field through a retrosigmoid approach. In such instances, extending the craniectomy laterally is useful in accomplishing the procedure safely. This study aims to introduce the benefits of a skull base approach in MVD for HFS.

Methods The skull base approach was performed in twenty-eight patients among 335 consecutive MVDs for HFS. The site of the neurovascular compression (NVC), the size of the flocculus, and the location of the sigmoid sinus are measured factors in the imaging studies. The indication for a skull base approach is evaluated and verified retrospectively in comparison with the conventional retrosigmoid approach. Operative outcomes and long-term results were analyzed retrospectively.

Results The extended retrosigmoid approach was used for 27 patients and the retrolabyrinthine presigmoid approach was used in one patient. The measurement value including the site of NVC, the size of the flocculus, and the location of the sigmoid sinus represents well the indication of the skull base approach, which is significantly different from the conventional retrosigmoid approach. The skull base approach is useful for patients with medially located NVC, a large flocculus, or repeat MVD cases. The long-term result demonstrated favorable outcomes in patients with the skull base approach applied. Conclusions Preoperative evaluation for lateral expansion of the craniectomy contributes to a safe and secure MVD.

Radiographic and MRI evidence of indirect neural decompression after the anterior column realignment procedure for adult spinal deformity

J Neurosurg Spine 37:703–712, 2022

The anterior column realignment (ACR) procedure, which consists of sectioning the anterior longitudinal ligament/annulus and placing a hyperlordotic interbody cage, has emerged as a minimally invasive surgery (MIS) for achieving aggressive segmental lordosis enhancement to address adult spinal deformity (ASD). Although accumulated evidence has revealed indirect neural decompression after lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF), whether ACR serves equally well for neural decompression remains to be proven. The current study intended to clarify this ambiguous issue.

METHODS A series of 36 ASD patients with spinopelvic mismatch, defined as pelvic incidence (PI) minus lumbar lordosis (LL) > 10°, underwent a combination of ACR, LLIF, and percutaneous pedicle screw (PPS) fixation. This “MIS triad” procedure was applied over short segments with mean fusion length of 3.3 levels, and most patients underwent single-level ACR. The authors analyzed full-length standing radiographs, CT and MRI scans, and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores in patients with minimum 1 year of follow-up (mean [range] 20.3 [12–39] months).

RESULTS Compared with the preoperative values, the radiographic and MRI measurements of the latest postoperative studies changed as follows. Segmental disc angle more than quadrupled at the ACR level and LL nearly doubled. MRI examinations at the ACR level revealed a significant (p < 0.0001) increase in the area of the dural sac that was accompanied by significant (p < 0.0001) decreases in area and thickness of the ligamentum flavum and in thickness of the disc bulge. The corresponding CT scans demonstrated significant (all p < 0.0001) increases in disc height to 280% of the preoperative value at the anterior edge, 224% at the middle edge, and 209% at the posterior edge, as well as in pedicleto-pedicle distance to 122%. Mean ODI significantly (p < 0.0001) decreased from 46.3 to 26.0.

CONCLUSIONS The CT-based data showing vertebral column lengthening across the entire ACR segment with an increasingly greater degree anteriorly suggest that the corrective action of ACR relies on a lever mechanism, with the intact facet joints acting as the fulcrum. Whole-segment spine lengthening at the ACR level reduced the disc bulge anteriorly and the ligamentum flavum posteriorly, with eventual enlargement of the dural sac. ACR plays an important role in not only LL restoration but also stenotic spinal canal enlargement for ASD surgery.

Preservation of language function by mapping the arcuate fasciculus using intraoperative corticocortical evoked potential under general anesthesia in glioma surgery

J Neurosurg 137:1535–1543, 2022

Intraoperative language mapping under general anesthesia is imperative for brain tumor surgery because awake surgery is not always feasible. Monitoring corticocortical evoked potential (CCEP) is known to be a useful method for tracking neuronal connectivity and localizing functional areas. The authors evaluated the clinical benefit of intraoperative CCEP monitoring for language function preservation in patients undergoing glioma surgery.

METHODS Between January 2019 and June 2021, the authors performed a total of 29 consecutive glioma surgeries using CCEP monitoring under general anesthesia because of a risk of speech impairment; these were analyzed. Language area mapping was implemented by the anterior language area to posterior language area CCEP method for arcuate fasciculus mapping, and tumor resection was performed while avoiding the localized language areas. Language function before and after surgery was evaluated by the Controlled Oral Word Association Test (COWAT).

RESULTS Intraoperative CCEP was successfully monitored in 25 patients (86.2%), and a valid signal was undetectable in the other 4 patients. Language function evaluation was possible before and after surgery in a total of 20 patients. Overall, the preservation rate of language function was 65.0%, and the deterioration rate was 35.0% after tumor resection with CCEP monitoring. Among those 8 patients with preoperative COWAT scores ≥ 18, 5 patients (62.5%) successfully preserved their language function, with COWAT scores > 18 after tumor resection. Among the 12 patients with preoperative deteriorated language function (COWAT score < 18), 8 patients (66.7%) showed improvement or preserved language function after surgery.

CONCLUSIONS Intraoperative CCEP monitoring of the arcuate fasciculus is an acceptable technology for the preservation of language function under general anesthesia in glioma surgery in patients in whom awake surgery is not feasible.

Circumferential sulcus-guided resection technique for improved outcomes of low-grade gliomas

J Neurosurg 137:1015–1025, 2022

Many neurosurgeons resect nonenhancing low-grade gliomas (LGGs) by using an inside-out piecemeal resection (PMR) technique. At the authors’ institution they have increasingly used a circumferential, perilesional, sulcusguided resection (SGR) technique. This technique has not been well described and there are limited data on its effectiveness. The authors describe the SGR technique and assess the extent to which SGR correlates with extent of resection and neurological outcome.

METHODS The authors identified all patients with newly diagnosed LGGs who underwent resection at their institution over a 22-year period. Demographics, presenting symptoms, intraoperative data, method of resection (SGR or PMR), volumetric imaging data, and postoperative outcomes were obtained. Univariate analyses used ANOVA and Fisher’s exact test. Multivariate analyses were performed using multivariate logistic regression.

RESULTS Newly diagnosed LGGs were resected in 519 patients, 208 (40%) using an SGR technique and 311 (60%) using a PMR technique. The median extent of resection in the SGR group was 84%, compared with 77% in the PMR group (p = 0.019). In multivariate analysis, SGR was independently associated with a higher rate of complete (100%) resection (27% vs 18%) (OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.1–2.6; p = 0.03). SGR was also associated with a statistical trend toward lower rates of postoperative neurological complications (11% vs 16%, p = 0.09). A subset analysis of tumors located specifically in eloquent brain demonstrated SGR to be as safe as PMR.

CONCLUSIONS The authors describe the SGR technique used to resect LGGs and show that SGR is independently associated with statistically significantly higher rates of complete resection, without an increase in neurological complications, than with PMR. SGR technique should be considered when resecting LGGs.

Robot-assisted and augmented reality–assisted spinal instrumentation

J Neurosurg Spine 37:299–314, 2022

The use of technology-enhanced methods in spine surgery has increased immensely over the past decade. Here, the authors present the largest systematic review and meta-analysis to date that specifically addresses patient-centered outcomes, including the risk of inaccurate screw placement and perioperative outcomes in spinal surgeries using robotic instrumentation and/or augmented reality surgical navigation (ARSN).

METHODS A systematic review of the literature in the PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library databases spanning the last decade (January 2011–November 2021) was performed to present all clinical studies comparing robot-assisted instrumentation and ARSN with conventional instrumentation techniques in lumbar spine surgery. The authors compared these two technologies as they relate to screw accuracy, estimated blood loss (EBL), intraoperative time, length of stay (LOS), perioperative complications, radiation dose and time, and the rate of reoperation.

RESULTS A total of 64 studies were analyzed that included 11,113 patients receiving 20,547 screws. Robot-assisted instrumentation was associated with less risk of inaccurate screw placement (p < 0.0001) regardless of control arm approach (freehand, fluoroscopy guided, or navigation guided), fewer reoperations (p < 0.0001), fewer perioperative complications (p < 0.0001), lower EBL (p = 0.0005), decreased LOS (p < 0.0001), and increased intraoperative time (p = 0.0003). ARSN was associated with decreased radiation exposure compared with robotic instrumentation (p = 0.0091) and fluoroscopy-guided (p < 0.0001) techniques.

CONCLUSIONS Altogether, the pooled data suggest that technology-enhanced thoracolumbar instrumentation is advantageous for both patients and surgeons. As the technology progresses and indications expand, it remains essential to continue investigations of both robotic instrumentation and ARSN to validate meaningful benefit over conventional instrumentation techniques in spine surgery.

Systematic review registration no.: CRD42021283631 (https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/)

Lateral versus prone robot-assisted percutaneous pedicle screw placement: a CT-based comparative assessment of accuracy

J Neurosurg Spine 37:112–120, 2022

Single-position lateral lumbar interbody fusion (SP-LLIF) has recently gained significant popularity due to increased operative efficiency, but it remains technically challenging. Robot-assisted percutaneous pedicle screw (RAPPS) placement can facilitate screw placement in the lateral position. The authors have reported their initial experience with SP-LLIF with RA-PPS placement in the lateral position, and they have compared this accuracy with that of RA-PPS placement in the prone position.

METHODS The authors reviewed prospectively collected data from their first 100 lateral-position RA-PPSs. The authors graded screw accuracy on CT and compared it to the accuracy of all prone-position RA-PPS procedures during the same time period. The authors analyzed the effect of several demographic and perioperative metrics, as a whole and specifically for lateral-position RA-PPS placement.

RESULTS The authors placed 99 lateral-position RA-PPSs by using the ExcelsiusGPS robotic platform in the first 18 consecutive patients who underwent SP-LLIF with postoperative CT imaging; these patients were compared with 346 prone-position RA-PPSs that were placed in the first consecutive 64 patients during the same time period. All screws were placed at L1 to S1. Overall, the lateral group had 14 breaches (14.1%) and the prone group had 25 breaches (7.2%) (p = 0.032). The lateral group had 5 breaches (5.1%) greater than 2 mm (grade C or worse), and the prone group had 4 (1.2%) (p = 0.015). The operative level had an effect on the breach rate, with breach rates (grade C or worse) of 7.1% at L3 and 2.8% at L4. Most breaches were grade B (< 2 mm) and lateral, and no breach had clinical sequelae or required revision. Within the lateral group, multivariate regression analysis demonstrated that BMI and number of levels affected accuracy, but the side that was positioned up or down did not.

CONCLUSIONS RA-PPSs can improve the feasibility of SP-LLIF. Spine surgeons should be cautious and selective with this technique owing to decreased accuracy in the lateral position, particularly in obese patients. Further studies should compare SP-LLIF techniques performed while the patient is in the prone and lateral positions.

Surgical anatomy of minimally invasive lateral approaches to the thoracolumbar junction

J Neurosurg Spine 36:937–944, 2022

The thoracolumbar (TL) junction spanning T11 to L2 is difficult to access because of the convergence of multiple anatomical structures and tissue planes. Earlier studies have described different approaches and anatomical
structures relevant to the TL junction. This anatomical study aims to build a conceptual framework for selecting and executing a minimally invasive lateral approach to the spine for interbody fusion at any level of the TL junction with appropriate adjustments for local anatomical variations.

METHODS The authors reviewed anatomical dissections from 9 fresh-frozen cadaveric specimens as well as clinical case examples to denote key anatomical relationships and considerations for approach selection.

RESULTS The retroperitoneal and retropleural spaces reside within the same extracoelomic cavity and are separated from each other by the lateral attachments of the diaphragm to the rib and the L1 transverse process. If the lateral diaphragmatic attachments are dissected and the diaphragm is retracted anteriorly, the retroperitoneal and retropleural spaces will be in direct continuity, allowing full access to the TL junction. The T12–L2 disc spaces can be reached by a conventional lateral retroperitoneal exposure with the rostral displacement of the 11th and 12th ribs. With caudally
displaced ribs, or to expose T12–L1 disc spaces, the diaphragm can be freed from its lateral attachments to perform a retrodiaphragmatic approach. The T11–12 disc space can be accessed purely through a retropleural approach without significant mobilization of the diaphragm.

CONCLUSIONS The entirety of the TL junction can be accessed through a minimally invasive extracoelomic approach, with or without manipulation of the diaphragm. Approach selection is determined by the region of interest, degree of diaphragmatic mobilization required, and rib anatomy.

Septal rhinopharyngeal flap: a novel technique for skull base reconstruction after endoscopic endonasal clivectomies

J Neurosurg 136:1601–1606, 2022

Endoscopic endonasal reconstruction techniques have improved CSF leak rates that were initially reported after surgery for cranial base and intradural lesions. However, wide surgical defects still pose a problem, especially if located in the clival region.

The authors propose and describe a novel reconstruction technique they call a septal rhinopharyngeal flap (SRF) specifically designed to address this issue. The SRF is formed by three components of mucosa: 1) septal, 2) rhinopharyngeal roof, and 3) rhinopharyngeal posterior wall components, which allows for the coverage of the tuberculum/ sellar region, midclivus, and lower clivus, respectively. A step-by-step procedure is described and its results analyzed in cases in which it has been used. The SRF was performed in 8 patients, which included diagnoses of 4 chordomas, 2 petroclival meningiomas, 1 invasive pituitary adenoma, and 1 chondrosarcoma. The size of the flap was considered optimal in all patients (100%). Postoperative MRI revealed contrast enhancement covering the entire surface of the flap. No CSF leaks were encountered after at least 1 postoperative year.

The SRF is a novel vascularized reconstruction technique specifically indicated for wide endosanasal clivectomies focused on the middle clivus with caudal extension into the lower clivus and craniocervical junction, as well as rostral extensions into the tubercular or planum sphenoidale. This new reconstruction technique could be added to the skull base reconstruction armamentarium as a safe and optimal option.


Ninety-day complication, revision, and readmission rates for current-generation robot-assisted thoracolumbar spinal fusion surgery

J Neurosurg Spine 36:841–848, 2022

Robotics is a major area for research and development in spine surgery. The high accuracy of robot-assisted placement of thoracolumbar pedicle screws is documented in the literature. The authors present the largest case series to date evaluating 90-day complication, revision, and readmission rates for robot-assisted spine surgery using the current generation of robotic guidance systems.

METHODS An analysis of a retrospective, multicenter database of open and minimally invasive thoracolumbar instrumented fusion surgeries using the Mazor X or Mazor X Stealth Edition robotic guidance systems was performed. Patients 18 years of age or older and undergoing primary or revision surgery for degenerative spinal conditions were included. Descriptive statistics were used to calculate rates of malpositioned screws requiring revision, as well as overall complication, revision, and readmission rates within 90 days.

RESULTS In total, 799 surgical cases (Mazor X: 48.81%; Mazor X Stealth Edition: 51.19%) were evaluated, involving robot-assisted placement of 4838 pedicle screws. The overall intraoperative complication rate was 3.13%. No intraoperative implant-related complications were encountered. Postoperatively, 129 patients suffered a total of 146 complications by 90 days, representing an incidence of 16.1%. The rate of an unrecognized malpositioned screw resulting in a new postoperative radiculopathy requiring revision surgery was 0.63% (5 cases). Medical and pain-related complications unrelated to hardware placement accounted for the bulk of postoperative complications within 90 days. The overall surgical revision rate at 90 days was 6.63% with 7 implant-related revisions, representing an implant-related revision rate of 0.88%. The 90-day readmission rate was 7.13% with 2 implant-related readmissions, representing an implant-related readmission rate of 0.25% of cases.

CONCLUSIONS The results of this multicenter case series and literature review suggest current-generation robotic guidance systems are associated with low rates of intraoperative and postoperative implant-related complications, revisions, and readmissions at 90 days. Future outcomes-based studies are necessary to evaluate complication, revision, and readmission rates compared to conventional surgery.


Supraorbital and mini-pterional keyhole craniotomies for brain tumors

J Neurosurg 136:1314–1324, 2022

The authors’ objective was to compare the indications, outcomes, and anatomical limits of supraorbital (SO) and mini-pterional (MP) craniotomies in patients with intra- and extraaxial brain tumors, and to assess approach selection, utility of endoscopy, and surgical field overlap.

METHODS A retrospective analysis was conducted of all brain tumor patients who underwent an SO or MP approach. The analyzed characteristics included pathology, endoscopy use, extent of resection, length of stay (LOS), and complications. On the basis of preoperative MRI data, tumor heatmaps were constructed to compare surgical access provided by both routes, including coronal projection heatmaps for parasellar tumors.

RESULTS From 2007 to 2020, 158 patients underwent 173 (84.8%) SO craniotomies and 30 patients underwent 31 (15.2%) MP craniotomies; 71 (34.8%) procedures were reoperations. Of these 204 operations, 110 (63.6%) SO and 21 (67.7%) MP approaches were for extraaxial tumors (meningiomas in 65% and 76.2%, respectively). Gliomas and metastases together represented 84.1% and 70% of intraaxial tumors accessed with SO and MP approaches, respectively. Overall, 56.1% of tumors accessed with the SO approach and 41.9% of those accessed with the MP approach were in the parasellar region. Axial projection heatmaps showed that SO access extended along the entire ipsilateral and medial contralateral anterior cranial fossa, parasellar region, ipsilateral sylvian fissure, medial middle cranial fossa, and anterior midbrain, whereas MP access was limited to the ipsilateral middle cranial fossa, sylvian fissure, lateral parasellar region, and posterior aspect of anterior cranial fossa. Coronal projection heatmaps showed that parasellar access extended further superiorly with the SO approach compared with that of the MP approach. Endoscopy was utilized in 98 (56.6%) SO craniotomies and 7 (22.6%) MP craniotomies, with further tumor resection in 48 (49%) and 5 (71.4%) cases, respectively. Endoscope-assisted tumor removal was clustered in areas that were generally at farther distances from the craniotomy or in angled locations such as the cribriform plate region where microscopic visualization is limited. Gross-total or neartotal resection was achieved in 120/173 (69%) SO approaches and 21/31 (68%) MP approaches. Major complications occurred in 11 (6.4%) SO approaches and 1 (3.2%) MP approach (p = 0.49). The median LOS decreased to 2 days in the last 2 years of the study.

CONCLUSIONS This clinical experience suggests the SO and MP craniotomies are versatile, safe, and complementary approaches for tumors located in the anterior and middle cranial fossae and perisylvian and parasellar regions. The SO route, used in 85% of cases, achieved greater overall reach than the MP route. Both approaches may benefit from expanded visualization with endoscopy.


Clinical accuracy and initial experience with augmented reality–assisted pedicle screw placement

J Neurosurg Spine 36:351–357, 2022

Augmented reality (AR) is a novel technology which, when applied to spine surgery, offers the potential for efficient, safe, and accurate placement of spinal instrumentation. The authors report the accuracy of the first 205 pedicle screws consecutively placed at their institution by using AR assistance with a unique head-mounted display (HMD) navigation system.

METHODS A retrospective review was performed of the first 28 consecutive patients who underwent AR-assisted pedicle screw placement in the thoracic, lumbar, and/or sacral spine at the authors’ institution. Clinical accuracy for each pedicle screw was graded using the Gertzbein-Robbins scale by an independent neuroradiologist working in a blinded fashion.

RESULTS Twenty-eight consecutive patients underwent thoracic, lumbar, or sacral pedicle screw placement with AR assistance. The median age at the time of surgery was 62.5 (IQR 13.8) years and the median body mass index was 31 (IQR 8.6) kg/m2. Indications for surgery included degenerative disease (n = 12, 43%); deformity correction (n = 12, 43%); tumor (n = 3, 11%); and trauma (n = 1, 4%). The majority of patients (n = 26, 93%) presented with low-back pain, 19 (68%) patients presented with radicular leg pain, and 10 (36%) patients had documented lower extremity weakness. A total of 205 screws were consecutively placed, with 112 (55%) placed in the lumbar spine, 67 (33%) in the thoracic spine, and 26 (13%) at S1. Screw placement accuracy was 98.5% for thoracic screws, 97.8% for lumbar/S1 screws, and 98.0% overall.

CONCLUSIONS AR depicted through a unique HMD is a novel and clinically accurate technology for the navigated insertion of pedicle screws. The authors describe the first 205 AR-assisted thoracic, lumbar, and sacral pedicle screws consecutively placed at their institution with an accuracy of 98.0% as determined by a Gertzbein-Robbins grade of A or B.

Severity, timeline, and management of complications after stereotactic brain biopsy

J Neurosurg 136:867–876, 2022

The literature shows discrepancies in stereotactic brain biopsy complication rates, severities, and outcomes. Little is known about the timeline of postbiopsy complications. This study aimed to analyze 1) complications following brain biopsies, using a graded severity scale, and 2) a timeline of complication occurrence. The secondary objectives were to determine factors associated with an increased risk of complications and to assess complication related management and extra costs.

METHODS The authors retrospectively examined 1500 consecutive stereotactic brain biopsies performed in adult patients at their tertiary medical center between April 2009 and April 2019.

RESULTS Three hundred eighty-one biopsies (25.4%) were followed by a complication, including 88.2% of asymptomatic hemorrhages. Symptomatic complications involved 3.0% of the biopsies, and 0.8% of the biopsies were fatal. The severity grading scale had a 97.6% interobserver reproducibility. Twenty-three (51.1%) of the 45 symptomatic complications occurred within the 1st hour following the biopsy, while 75.6% occurred within the first 6 hours. Age ≥ 65 years, second biopsy procedures, gadolinium-enhanced lesions, glioblastomas, and lymphomas were predictors of biopsy-related complications. Brainstem biopsy-targeted lesions and cerebral toxoplasmosis were predictive of mortality. Asymptomatic hemorrhage was associated with delayed (> 6 hours) symptomatic complications. Symptomatic complications led to extended hospitalization in 86.7% of patients. The average extra cost for management of a patient with postbiopsy symptomatic complication was $35,702.

CONCLUSIONS Symptomatic complications from brain biopsies are infrequent but associated with substantial adverse effects and cost implications for the healthcare system. The use of a severity grading scale, as the authors propose in this article, helps to classify complications according to the therapeutic consequences and the patient’s outcome. Because this study indicates that most complications occur within the first few hours following the biopsy, postbiopsy monitoring can be tailored accordingly. The authors therefore recommend systematic monitoring for 2 hours in the recovery unit and a CT scan 2 hours after the end of the biopsy procedure. In addition, they propose a modern algorithm for optimal postoperative management of patients undergoing stereotactic biopsy.

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