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1.  Effect of caudal epidural steroid or saline injection in chronic lumbar radiculopathy: multicentre, blinded, randomised controlled trial 
Objective To assess the efficacy of caudal epidural steroid or saline injection in chronic lumbar radiculopathy in the short (6 weeks), intermediate (12 weeks), and long term (52 weeks).
Design Multicentre, blinded, randomised controlled trial.
Setting Outpatient multidisciplinary back clinics of five Norwegian hospitals.
Participants Between October 2005 and February 2009, 461 patients assessed for inclusion (presenting with lumbar radiculopathy >12 weeks). 328 patients excluded for cauda equina syndrome, severe paresis, severe pain, previous spinal injection or surgery, deformity, pregnancy, ongoing breast feeding, warfarin therapy, ongoing treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, body mass index >30, poorly controlled psychiatric conditions with possible secondary gain, and severe comorbidity.
Interventions Subcutaneous sham injections of 2 mL 0.9% saline, caudal epidural injections of 30 mL 0.9% saline, and caudal epidural injections of 40 mg triamcinolone acetonide in 29 mL 0.9% saline. Participants received two injections with a two week interval.
Main outcome measures Primary: Oswestry disability index scores. Secondary: European quality of life measure, visual analogue scale scores for low back pain and for leg pain.
Results Power calculations required the inclusion of 41 patients per group. We did not allocate 17 of 133 eligible patients because their symptoms improved before randomisation. All groups improved after the interventions, but we found no statistical or clinical differences between the groups over time. For the sham group (n=40), estimated change in the Oswestry disability index from the adjusted baseline value was −4.7 (95% confidence intervals −0.6 to −8.8) at 6 weeks, −11.4 (−6.3 to −14.5) at 12 weeks, and −14.3 (−10.0 to −18.7) at 52 weeks. For the epidural saline intervention group (n=39) compared with the sham group, differences in primary outcome were −0.5 (−6.3 to 5.4) at 6 weeks, 1.4 (−4.5 to 7.2) at 12 weeks, and −1.9 (−8.0 to 4.3) at 52 weeks; for the epidural steroid group (n=37), corresponding differences were −2.9 (−8.7 to 3.0), 4.0 (−1.9 to 9.9), and 1.9 (−4.2 to 8.0). Analysis adjusted for duration of leg pain, back pain, and sick leave did not change this trend.
Conclusions Caudal epidural steroid or saline injections are not recommended for chronic lumbar radiculopathy.
Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN No 12574253.
PMCID: PMC3172149  PMID: 21914755
2.  Postoperative spinal epidural hematoma resulting in cauda equina syndrome: a case report and review of the literature 
Cases Journal  2009;2:8584.
Spinal epidural hematoma is a well known complication of spinal surgery. Clinically insignificant small epidural hematomas develop in most spinal surgeries following laminectomy. However, the incidence of clinically significant postoperative spinal epidural hematomas that result in neurological deficits is extremely rare. In this report, we present a 33-year-old female patient whose spinal surgery resulted in postoperative spinal epidural hematoma. She was diagnosed with lumbar disc disease and underwent hemipartial lumbar laminectomy and discectomy. After twelve hours postoperation, her neurologic status deteriorated and cauda equina syndrome with acute spinal epidural hematoma was identified. She was immediately treated with surgical decompression and evacuation of the hematoma. The incidence of epidural hematoma after spinal surgery is rare, but very serious complication. Spinal epidural hematomas can cause significant spinal cord and cauda equina compression, requiring surgical intervention. Once diagnosed, the patient should immediately undergo emergency surgical exploration and evacuation of the hematoma.
PMCID: PMC2740261  PMID: 19830087
3.  Sparganosis in the Lumbar Spine : Report of Two Cases and Review of the Literature 
Sparganosis is a rare parasitic infection affecting various organs, including the central nervous system, especially the lumbar epidural space. This report describes the identification of disease and different strategies of treatments with preoperative information. A 42-year-old man presented with a 2-year history of urinary incontinence and impotence. He had a history of ingesting raw frogs 40 years ago. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging showed an intramedullary nodular mass at conus medullaris and severe inflammation in the cauda equina. A 51-year-old woman was admitted with acute pain in the left inguinal area. We observed a lesion which seemed to be a tumor of the lumbar epidural space on MR imaging. She also had a history of ingesting inadequately cooked snakes 10 years ago. In the first patient, mass removal was attempted through laminectomy and parasite infection was identified during intra-operative frozen biopsy. Total removal could not be performed because of severe arachnoiditis and adhesion. We therefore decided to terminate the operation and final histology confirmed dead sparganum infection. We also concluded further surgical trial for total removal of the dead worm and inflammatory grannulation totally. However, after seeing another physician at different hospital, he was operated again which resulted in worsening of pain and neurological deficit. In the second patient, we totally removed dorsal epidural mass. Final histology and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) confirmed living sparganum infection and her pain disappeared. Although the treatment of choice is surgical resection of living sparganum with inflammation, the attempt to remove dead worm and adhesive granulation tissue may cause unwanted complications to the patients. Therefore, the result of preoperative ELISA, as well as the information from image and history, must be considered as important factors to decide whether a surgery is necessary or not.
PMCID: PMC3098431  PMID: 21607186
Sparganosis; Sparganosis in the lumbar vertebrae; Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay
4.  Lumbar Spinal Extradural Angiolipoma: Case Report and Review of the Literature 
Angiolipomas in the lumbar spinal region are extremely rare. The present report describes the identification of such a tumor and its removal, and discusses the tumor characteristics and prognosis. A 74-year-old woman was presented with a 5-month history of lower back pain. Severe radiculopathy was experienced in the left leg for 5 days prior to the presentation, and there were no neurological deficits. Magnetic resonance (MR) images showed an approximately 3.5 cm heterogeneously enhanced and elongated mass at the left L5-S1 level. A portion of the mass appeared with high signal intensity on T2-weighted MR images, with low signal intensity on T1-weighted images, and with high signal intensity on T1 fat suppression enhancement images. Resection of the tumor was approached via an L5 and S1 laminectomy. A fibrous sticky yellowish hypervascular tumor was identified. Histological study revealed the tumor as an angiolipoma. Symptoms were relieved after tumor excision, and there were no neurological sequelae. Although extremely rare, lumbar epidural angiolipoma should be considered in the differential diagnosis of lumbar spinal epidural lesions. The prognosis after surgical management of this lesion is favorable.
PMCID: PMC2588319  PMID: 19096690
Angiolipoma; Spinal neoplasm; Lumbar epidural tumor
5.  Cauda Equina Syndrome Caused by Idiopathic Epidural Lipomatosis 
Korean Journal of Spine  2015;12(4):272-274.
Spinal epidural lipomatosis (SEL) is a rare condition that presents as a back pain with progressive neurologic symptoms. Most affected patients are obese and receiving steroid therapy, or have an endocrinopathies. We report a rare case of cauda equina syndrome caused by SEL in a non-obese healthy young man without any evident traumatic episode. A healthy 19-year-old man, who had experienced lower back pain for two months, visited our emergency room because of the sudden development of motor weakness and voiding difficulty. Lumbar magnetic resonance image revealed extradural fat compressing the cauda equina. Urgent decompression via posterior laminectomy and excision of excess epidural fat resulted in an immediate symptom improvement.
PMCID: PMC4731563  PMID: 26834816
Cauda equina syndrome; Epidural; Lipomatosis
6.  Synovial Cyst Mimicking an Intraspinal Sacral Mass 
A 68-year-old female had a three-week history of severe low back pain radiating down the posterior left buttocks and left leg exacerbated by standing and walking. Lumbar spine MRI revealed cystic mass with similar intensity to cerebrospinal fluid located on dorsolateral left side of the sacral spinal canal inferior to the S1 pedicle. There was compression of left exiting S1 and traversing S2 nerve roots. Neurosurgery consult was requested to evaluate the cystic mass in the sacral spinal canal. After clinical evaluation, an unusually located synovial cyst was thought possible. Cyst contents were heterogeneous, suggestive of small hemorrhage and acute clinical history seemed reasonable. Left S1 and partial left S2 hemilaminectomy was performed and an epidural, partially hemorrhagic cyst was removed. There was no obvious connection to the ipsilateral L5-S1 facet joint. Pathology revealed synovial cyst, and the patient's leg pain was improved postoperatively. This synovial cyst was unusual as it had no connection with the facet joint intraoperatively and its location in the sacral canal was uncommon.
PMCID: PMC3970337  PMID: 24716025
7.  Adolescence spinal epidural abscess with neurological symptoms: case report, a lesson to be re-learnt 
Epidural abscess of the spinal column is a rare condition that can be fatal if left untreated. It promptly progresses and can cause neurologic paralysis, urinary retention or cauda equina syndrome. Compromised immune system that occurs in patients with diabetes mellitus, AIDS, chronic renal failure, alcoholism, or cancer is a predisposing factor. It mostly occurs in adults. Here we would like to report a case of spontaneous pyogenic lumbar epidural abscess with neurological deficit diagnosed in a 15 year old boy. We treated this case successfully with surgical microscopic decompression and drainage.
PMCID: PMC3592942  PMID: 23483810
Spinal infection; Spinal epidural abscess; Antibiotics; Spinal surgery
8.  Perioperative complications with rhBMP-2 in transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion 
European Spine Journal  2010;20(4):612-617.
Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) is commonly used as an ICBG substitute for transforaminal lumbar interbody spine fusion (TLIF). However, multiple recent reports have raised concerns regarding a substantial incidence of perioperative radiculopathy. Also, given the serious complications reported with anterior cervical BMP use, risks related to swelling and edema with TLIF need to be clarified. As TLIF related complications with rhBMP-2 have generally been reported in small series or isolated cases, without a clear denominator, actual complication rates are largely unknown. The purpose this study is to characterize perioperative complications and complication rates in a large consecutive series of TLIF procedures with rhBMP-2. We reviewed inpatient and outpatient medical records for a consecutive series of 204 patients [113 females, 91 males, mean age 49.3 (22–79) years] who underwent TLIF using rhBMP-2 between 2003 and 2007. Complications observed within a 3-month perioperative interval were categorized as to etiology and severity. Wound problems were delineated as wound infection, hematoma/seroma or persistent drainage/superficial dehiscence. Neurologic deficits and radiculopathies were analyzed to determine the presence of a clear etiology (screw misplacement) and identify any potential relationship to rhBMP-2 usage. Complications were observed in 47 of 204 patients (21.6%) during the 3-month perioperative period. Major complications occurred in 13 patients (6.4%) and minor complications in 34 patients (16.7%). New or more severe postoperative neurologic complaints were noted in 13 patients (6.4%), 6 of whom required additional surgery. These cases included one malpositioned pedicle screw and one epidural hematoma. In four patients (2.0%), localized seroma/hematoma in the area of the foramen caused neural compression, and required revision. In one additional patient, vertebral osteolysis caused foraminal narrowing and radiculopathy, but resolved without further surgery. Persistent radiculopathy without clear etiology on imaging studies was seen in six patients. Wound related problems were seen in six patients (2.9%), distributed as wound infection (3), hematoma/seroma (1) and persistent drainage/dehiscence (2). Overall, this study demonstrates a modest complication rate for TLIF using rhBMP-2. While perioperative complications which appeared specific to BMP usage were noted, they occurred infrequently. It will be necessary to weigh this incidence of complications against the complication rate associated with ICBG harvest and any differential benefit in obtaining a solid arthrodesis.
PMCID: PMC3065615  PMID: 20582554
Bone graft substitute; Bone morphogenetic protein; Transforaminal interbody fusion; Morbidity; Spine fusion
9.  Recurrent ‘universal tumour’ of the spinal cord 
BMJ Case Reports  2012;2012:bcr1220115284.
Lipoma is popularly known as the ‘universal tumour’ because of its ubiquitous presence anywhere in the body. This is the first documented case of recurrent thoracic spinal cord intramedullary lipoma in a 44-year-old man, with a background of spinal dysraphism, which recurred 15 years after initial surgery. He was followed up every 2 years and currently presented with an 8-month history of progressive weakness in his lower limbs. An MRI of the spine confirmed recurrence of lipoma. He underwent redo laminectomy and partial resection and spinal cord decompression with duroplasty. Lipoma, although a low-grade tumour, can cause significant neurological deficits because of its location. Surgical exploration and removal of lipoma is recommended. However, to preserve the functionality of the spinal cord, one may resort to partial resection and aim for spinal cord decompression. The literature on spinal cord lipoma is reviewed and the aetiopathogenesis of this rare occurrence is described.
PMCID: PMC4543125  PMID: 22675149
10.  Minimally Invasive Surgical Approaches in the Management of Tuberculosis of the Thoracic and Lumbar Spine 
Spinal tuberculosis is the most common form of skeletal tuberculosis. Various approaches have been described for surgical management of spinal tuberculosis, but many entail wide exposures with attendant morbidity; whether minimally invasive surgical (MIS) approaches are suitable is unknown.
We evaluated (1) neurologic results, (2) radiographic results, and (3) complications in patients with thoracic and lumbar spinal tuberculosis treated with two MIS approaches.
We retrospectively evaluated 22 patients with thoracic and lumbar tuberculosis managed surgically from October 2008 to February 2011 using MIS methods; one patient was lost to followup, leaving 21 patients with a minimum followup of 15 months (mean, 30 months; range, 15–59 months) for analysis. MIS approaches were used for patients with disease below D6 and minimum pedicle diameters of 4.5 mm to permit percutaneous screw placement. The MIS approach was divided into two groups depending on the extent of destruction of the vertebral body: a posterior-only group (n = 9), where posterior transpedicular decompression sufficed, and the hybrid group (n = 12), requiring anterior débridement and ventral-column reconstruction by conventional or mini-open thoracotomy. All but two patients with more than two contiguous bodies involvement underwent MIS posterior fixation by percutaneous transpedicular screws. Plain radiographs were evaluated for deformity correction and correction maintenance. Neurologic recovery and complications were ascertained by chart review.
All patients with neurologic deficits recovered completely with no motor deficits at followup; 13% improved by three grades, 53% by two grades, and 33% by one grade. Mean correction was 2.5° (thoracic) and 8° (lumbar) in the posterior-only group and 4.2° in the hybrid group. Some correction loss occurred with healing (2° and 1.6° in the posterior-only and hybrid groups, respectively), but in none of those who had fixation did this progress to more than preoperative status. Two of 22 patients (9%) had complications. One had a malposition of L5 screw causing painful radiculopathy without motor deficit and required repositioning. The other had an intraoperative dural tear repaired by onlay fascial patch and cerebrospinal fluid diversion. There were no approach-related complications, neurologic deterioration, or implant fatigue at last followup.
We found evidence of neurologic recovery, avoidance of deformity progression, and few complications with these MIS approaches. Comparative trials are called for between open and MIS approaches for patients with spinal tuberculosis.
Level of Evidence
Level IV, therapeutic study. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
PMCID: PMC4016460  PMID: 24474323
11.  Intraoperative neuromonitoring: lessons learned from 32 case events in 2095 spine cases 
Study type: Restrospective chart review
Introduction: Intraoperative neuromonitoring is becoming the standard of care for many more spinal surgeries, especially with deformity correction and instrumentation. We reviewed our institution's neuromonitored spine cases over the past 4 years to see the immediate intraoperative and postoperative clinical findings when an intraoperative neuromonitoring event was noted.
Objective: The main question addressed in this review is how multimodality intraoperative neuromonitoring has affected our ability to avoid potential neurological injury during spine surgery.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed 2,095 neuromonitored spine cases at one institution performed over a period of 4 years. Data from the single neuromonitoring provider (Impulse Monitoring, Inc.) at our institution was collected and any cases with possible intraoperative events were isolated. The intraoperative and immediate postoperative clinical documentation of these 32 cases were reviewed (Table 1).
Summary of each case event with the type of procedure, intraoperative findings, intraoperative intervention, and postoperative findings
Results: There were 17 cases where changes noted on EMG, SSEP, and/or MEPs affected the course of the surgery, and prevented possible postoperative neurological deficits. Of these 17, five were related to hypotension, seven due to deformity correction, one screw had a low triggered EMG threshold and was repositioned, and four cases had changes related to patient positioning and external pressure (ie, brachial plexus stretch). None of the 17 cases had postoperative motor or sensory deficits (Figure 1).
During the insertion of the convex rod: decrease of the MEP amplitude in left foot by 80% amplitude (yellow arrow). The baseline recording is in blue, the current recording in purple. The right side (non represented) will remain normal.
Four cases consisted of intradural cord biopsies or tumor resections that had various positive neuromonitoring findings that essentially serve as controls. These cases confirm that the expected changes were seen on neuromonitoring. Four cases had false-positive neuromonitoring findings due to one technical issue requiring needle repositioning, one low threshold with triggered EMG without a pedicle breach, one case had decreased MEP responses with stable SSEPs, and one case had decreased SSEPs after positioning the patient prone. None of these four cases had any postoperative deficits. Four cases showed improved SSEPs after decompression; three cervical corpectomies, and one thoracic discectomy.
Three cases of lumbar instrumentation with spontaneous EMGs each had a medial screw breach without intraoperative findings (Figure 2). They all had a postoperative motor deficit (foot drop). None of these three cases had triggered EMGs performed with the index procedure.
Left L4 pedicle screw medial breach. Triggered EMGs were not performed during the index procedure. Postoperative foot drop required a second surgery to reposition the screw.
Conclusions: Overall, this review reinforces the importance of multimodality neuromonitoring for spinal surgery. The incidence of possible events in our series was 1.5%. It is difficult to determine the true incidence, since it is impossible to know of any missed events due to lack of complete documentation. In a majority of the cases with events, possible postoperative neurologic deficits were avoided by intraoperative intervention, but the possible outcomes without intervention are not known. Clearly, in the three cases with lumbar pedicle screw malposition, triggered EMGs would have likely shown low thresholds. This would allow for screw reposition, and thus avoid a postoperative lumbar radiculopathy and revision surgery. The incidence of false-positive findings was very low in this review, and unfortunately the true incidence of false-negative findings is not able to be elucidated with this database.
PMCID: PMC3623097  PMID: 23637670
12.  Endoscopic Foraminal Decompression for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome under local Anesthesia 
The most common causes of failed back surgery are residual or recurrent herniation, foraminal fibrosis and foraminal stenosis that is ignored, untreated, or undertreated. Residual back ache may also be from facetal causes or denervation and scarring of the paraspinal muscles.1–6 The original surgeon may advise his patient that nothing more can be done on the basis of his opinion that the nerve was visually decompressed by the original surgery, supported by improved post-op imaging and follow-up studies such as EMG and conduction velocity studies. Post-op imaging or electrophysiological assessment may be inadequate to explain all the reasons for residual or recurrent symptoms. Treatment of Failed back surgery by repeat traditional open revision surgery usually incorporates more extensive decompression causing increased instability and back pain, therefore necessitating fusion. The authors, having limited their practice to endoscopic MIS surgery over the last 15-20 years, report on their experience gained during that period to relieve pain by endoscopically visualizing and treating unrecognized causative patho-anatomy in FBSS.7
Thirty consecutive patients with FBSS presenting with back and leg pain that had supporting imaging diagnosis of lateral stenosis and /or residual / recurrent disc herniation, or whose pain complaint was supported by relief from diagnostic and therapeutic injections (Figure 1), were offered percutaneous transforaminal endoscopic discectomy and foraminoplasty over a repeat open procedure. Each patient sought consultation following a transient successful, partially successful or unsuccessful open translaminar surgical treatment for disc herniation or spinal stenosis. Endoscopic foraminoplasty was also performed to either decompress the bony foramen for foraminal stenosis, or foraminoplasty to allow for endoscopic visual examination of the affected traversing and exiting nerve roots in the axilla, also known as the “hidden zone” of Macnab (Figure 2).8, 9 The average follow up time was, average 40 months, minimum 12 months. Outcome data at each visit included Macnab, VAS and ODI.
A diagnostic and therapeutic epidural gram may help identify unrecognized lateral recess stenosis underestimated by MRI. An excellent result from a therapeutic block lends excellent prognosis for a more lasting and “permanent” result from transforaminal endoscopic lateral recess decompression.
Kambin's Triangle provides access to the “hidden zone” of Macnab by foraminoplasty. The foramen and lateral recess is decompressed by removing the ventral aspect and tip of the superior articular process to gain access to the axilla between the traversing and exiting nerve. FBSS contains patho-anatomy in the axilla between the traversing and exiting nerve that hides the pain generators of FBSS.
The average pre-operative VAS improved from 7.2 to 4.0, and ODI 48% to 31%. While temporary dysesthesia occurred in 4 patients in the early post-operative period, all were happy, as all received additional relief of their pre-op symptoms. They were also relieved to be able to avoid “open” decompression or fusion surgery.
Conclusions / Level of Evidence 3
The transforaminal endoscopic approach is effective for FBSS due to residual/recurrent HNP and lateral stenosis. Failed initial index surgery may involve failure to recognize patho-anatomy in the axilla of the foramen housing the traversing and the exiting nerve, including the DRG, which is located cephalad and near the tip of SAP.10 The transforaminal endoscopic approach effectively decompresses the foramen and does not further destabilize the spine needing stabilization.11 It also avoids going through the previous surgical site.
Clinical Relevance
Disc narrowing as a consequence of translaminar discectomy and progressive degenerative narrowing and spondylolisthesis (Figure 3) as a natural history of degenerative disc disease can lead to central and lateral stenosis. The MRI may underestimate the degree of stenosis from a bulging or a foraminal disc protrusion and residual lateral recess stenosis. Pain can be diagnosed and confirmed by evocative discography and by clinical response to transforaminal diagnostic and therapeutic steroid injections.12 Foraminal endoscopic decompression of the lateral recess is a MIS technique that does not “burn bridges” for a more conventional approach and it adds to the surgical armamentarium of FBSS.
Cadaver Illustration of Foraminal Stenosis (courtesy of Wolfgang Rauschning). As the disc narrows, the superior articular process impinges on the exiting nerve and DRG, creating lateral recess stenosis, lumbar spondylosis, and facet arthrosis.
PMCID: PMC4325507  PMID: 25694939
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome(FBSS); Hidden zone; Foraminal decompression; Recurrent herniation; Lateral stenosis; Foraminal osteophyte
13.  Minimally Invasive Pedicle Screw Placement in A Case of L4 Fracture: Case Report with Review of Literature 
Asian Journal of Neurosurgery  2010;5(2):64-69.
Pedicle screw instrumentation provides a rigid construct to promote fusion in cases of spinal trauma and degenerative diseases. Minimally invasive percutaneous technique in lumbar spine is a safe and reliable procedure as compared to the well established Magerl technique. It is a straight forward alternative to open approaches or minimally invasive ones and the accuracy of screw placement is also similar to that reported for other techniques.
Case Report:
A 16 year old high school boy presented to us with accidental fall from third floor. He was suffering from common cold with resulting high fever. He developed low back ache with bilateral radiculopathy and weakness of dorsiflexors. Neuro-imaging revealed a burst fracture of L4 vertebral body (type A 3.3 according to Magerl/AO spine classification), with bone fragments compromising the spinal canal. Delayed surgery was planned in view of anticipated excessive bleeding from the wound site in addition to poor general condition. Using a bone impactor, the bony fragments were impacted back into the original vertebral body space. Sextant (Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Tennessee, USA) percutaneous pedicle screw and rod fixation device was then used as a rigid construct to stabilize the lumbar spine. Post-operative CT scan and MRI revealed accurate pedicle screw fixation with adequately decompressed spinal canal.
Short segment fusion with minimally invasive pedicle screwing following decompression of cauda equina was considered to be a minimally invasive approach for this case.
PMCID: PMC3201084  PMID: 22028760
Percutaneous pedicle screw; burst fracture; lumbar spine
14.  Balloon Kyphoplasty 
Executive Summary
To review the evidence on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of balloon kyphoplasty for the treatment of vertebral compression fractures (VCFs).
Clinical Need
Vertebral compression fractures are one of the most common types of osteoporotic fractures. They can lead to chronic pain and spinal deformity. They are caused when the vertebral body (the thick block of bone at the front of each vertebra) is too weak to support the loads of activities of daily living. Spinal deformity due to a collapsed vertebral body can substantially affect the quality of life of elderly people, who are especially at risk for osteoporotic fractures due to decreasing bone mass with age. A population-based study across 12 European centres recently found that VCFs have a negative impact on health-related quality of life. Complications associated with VCFs are pulmonary dysfunction, eating disorders, loss of independence, and mental status change due to pain and the use of medications. Osteoporotic VCFs also are associated with a higher rate of death.
VCFs affect an estimated 25% of women over age 50 years and 40% of women over age 80 years. Only about 30% of these fractures are diagnosed in clinical practice. A Canadian multicentre osteoporosis study reported on the prevalence of vertebral deformity in Canada in people over 50 years of age. To define the limit of normality, they plotted a normal distribution, including mean and standard deviations (SDs) derived from a reference population without any deformity. They reported a prevalence rate of 23.5% in women and a rate of 21.5% in men, using 3 SDs from the mean as the limit of normality. When they used 4 SDs, the prevalence was 9.3% and 7.3%, respectively. They also found the prevalence of vertebral deformity increased with age. For people older than 80 years of age, the prevalence for women and men was 45% and 36%, respectively, using 3 SDs as the limit of normality.
About 85% of VCFs are due to primary osteoporosis. Secondary osteoporosis and neoplasms account for the remaining 15%. A VCF is operationally defined as a reduction in vertebral body height of at least 20% from the initial measurement. It is considered mild if the reduction in height is between 20% and 25%; moderate, if it is between 25% and 40%; and severs, if it is more than 40%. The most frequently fractured locations are the third-lower part of the thorax and the superior lumbar levels. The cervical vertebrae and the upper third of the thorax are rarely involved.
Traditionally, bed rest, medication, and bracing are used to treat painful VCFs. However, anti-inflammatory and narcotic medications are often poorly tolerated by the elderly and may harm the gastrointestinal tract. Bed rest and inactivity may accelerate bone loss, and bracing may restrict diaphragmatic movement. Furthermore, medical treatment does not treat the fracture in a way that ameliorates the pain and spinal deformity.
Over the past decade, the injection of bone cement through the skin into a fractured vertebral body has been used to treat VCFs. The goal of cement injection is to reduce pain by stabilizing the fracture. The secondary indication of these procedures is management of painful vertebral fractures caused by benign or malignant neoplasms (e.g., hemangioma, multiple myeloma, and metastatic cancer).
The Technology
Balloon kyphoplasty is a modified vertebroplasty technique. It is a minimally invasive procedure that aims to relieve pain, restore vertebral height, and correct kyphosis. During this procedure, an inflatable bone tamp is inserted into the collapsed vertebral body. Once inflated, the balloon elevates the end plates and thereby restores the height of the vertebral body. The balloon is deflated and removed, and the space is filled with bone cement. Creating a space in the vertebral body enables the application of more viscous cement and at a much lower pressure than is needed for vertebroplasty. This may result in less cement leakage and fewer complications. Balloons typically are inserted bilaterally, into each fractured vertebral body. Kyphoplasty usually is done under general anesthesia in about 1.5 hours. Patients typically are observed for only a few hours after the surgery, but some may require an overnight hospital stay.
Health Canada has licensed KyphX Xpander Inflatable Bone Tamp (Kyphon Inc., Sunnyvale, CA), for kyphoplasty in patients with VCFs. KyphX is the only commercially available device for percutaneous kyphoplasty. The KyphX kit uses a series of bone filler device tubes. Each bone filler device must be loaded manually with cement. The cement is injected into the cavity by pressing an inner stylet.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the KyphX Inflatable Bone Tamp for marketing in July 1998. CE (Conformité European) marketing was obtained in February 2000 for the reduction of fracture and/or creation of a void in cancellous bone.
Review Strategy
The aim of this literature review was to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of balloon kyphoplasty in the treatment of painful VCFs.
INAHTA, Cochrane CCTR (formerly Cochrane Controlled Trials Register), and DSR were searched for health technology assessment reports. In addition, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations were searched from January 1, 2000 to September 21, 2004. The search was limited to English-language articles and human studies.
The positive end points selected for this assessment were as follows:
Reduction in pain scores
Reduction in vertebral height loss
Reduction in kyphotic (Cobb) angle
Improvement in quality of life scores
The search did not yield any health technology assessments on balloon kyphoplasty. The search yielded 152 citations, including those for review articles. No randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on balloon kyphoplasty were identified. All of the published studies were either prospective cohort studies or retrospective studies with no controls. Eleven studies (all case series) met the inclusion criteria. There was also a comparative study published in German that had been translated into English.
Summary of Findings
The results of the 1 comparative study (level 3a evidence) that was included in this review showed that, compared with conservative medical care, balloon kyphoplasty significantly improved patient outcomes.
Patients who had balloon kyphoplasty reported a significant reduction in pain that was maintained throughout follow-up (6 months), whereas pain scores did not change in the control group. Patients in the balloon kyphoplasty group did not need pain medication after 3 days. In the control group, about one-half of the patients needed more pain medication in the first 4 weeks after the procedure. After 6 weeks, 82% of the patients in the control group were still taking pain medication regularly.
Adjacent fractures were more frequent in the control group than in the balloon kyphoplasty group.
The case series reported on several important clinical outcomes.
Pain: Four studies on osteoporosis patients and 1 study on patients with multiple myeloma/primary cancers used the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) to measure pain before and after balloon kyphoplasty. All of these studies reported that patients had significantly less pain after the procedure. This was maintained during follow-up. Two other studies on patients with osteoporosis also used the VAS to measure pain and found a significant improvement in pain scores; however, they did not provide follow-up data.
Vertebral body height: All 5 studies that assessed vertebral body height in patients with osteoporosis reported a significant improvement in vertebral body height after balloon kyphoplasty. One study had 1-year follow-up data for 26 patients. Vertebral body height was significantly better at 6 months and 1 year for both the anterior and midline measurements.
Two studies reported that vertebral body height was restored significantly after balloon kyphoplasty for patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease. In another study, the researchers reported complete height restoration in 9% of patients, a mean 56% height restoration in 60% of patients, and no appreciable height restoration in 31% of the patients who received balloon kyphoplasty.
Kyphosis correction: Four studies that assessed Cobb angle before and after balloon kyphoplasty in patients with osteoporosis found a significant reduction in degree of kyphosis after the procedure. In these studies, the differences between preoperative and postoperative Cobb angles were 3.4°, 7°, 8.8°, and 9.9°.
Only 1 study investigated kyphosis correction in patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease. The authors reported a significant improvement (5.2°) in local kyphosis.
Quality of life: Four studies used the Short Form 36 (SF-36) Health Survey Questionnaire to measure the quality of life in patients with osteoporosis after they had balloon kyphoplasty. A significant improvement in most of the domains of the SF-36 (bodily pain, social functioning, vitality, physical functioning, mental health, and role functioning) was observed in 2 studies. One study found that general health declined, although not significantly, and another found that role emotional declined.
Both studies that used the Oswestry Disability Index found that patients had a better quality of life after balloon kyphoplasty. In one study, this improvement was statistically significant. In another study, researchers found that quality of life after kyphoplasty improved significantly, as measured with the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire. Yet another study used a quality of life questionnaire and found that 62% of the patients that had balloon kyphoplasty had returned to normal activities, whereas 2 patients had reduced mobility.
To measure quality of life in patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease, one group of researchers used the SF-36 and found significantly better scores on bodily pain, physical functioning, vitality, and social functioning after kyphoplasty. However, the scores for general health, mental health, role physical, and role emotional had not improved. A study that used the Oswestry Disability Index reported that patients’ scores were better postoperatively and at 3 months follow-up.
These were the main findings on complications in patients with osteoporosis:
The bone cement leaked in 37 (6%) of 620 treated fractures.
There were no reports of neurological deficits.
There were no reports of pulmonary embolism due to cement leakage.
There were 6 cases of cardiovascular events in 362 patients:
3 (0.8%) patients had myocardial infarction.
3 (0.8%) patients had cardiac arrhythmias.
There was 1 (0.27%) case of pulmonary embolism due to deep venous thrombosis.
There were 20 (8.4%) cases of new fractures in 238 patients.
For patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease, these were the main findings:
The bone cement leaked in 12 (9.6%) of 125 procedures.
There were no reports of neurological deficits.
Economic Analysis
Balloon kyphoplasty requires anesthesia. Standard vertebroplasty requires sedation and an analgesic. Based on these considerations, the professional fees (Cdn) for each procedure is shown in Table 1.
Professional Fees for Standard Vertebroplasty and Balloon Kyphoplasty
Balloon kyphoplasty has a sizable device cost add-on of $3,578 (the device cost per case) that standard vertebroplasty does not have. Therefore, the up-front cost (i.e., physician’s fees and device costs) is $187 for standard vertebroplasty and $3,812 for balloon kyphoplasty. (All costs are in Canadian currency.)
There are also “downstream costs” of the procedures, based on the different adverse outcomes associated with each. This includes the risk of developing new fractures (21% for vertebroplasty vs. 8.4% for balloon kyphoplasty), neurological complications (3.9% for vertebroplasty vs. 0% for balloon kyphoplasty), pulmonary embolism (0.1% for vertebroplasty vs. 0% for balloon kyphoplasty), and cement leakage (26.5% for vertebroplasty vs. 6.0% for balloon kyphoplasty). Accounting for these risks, and the base costs to treat each of these complications, the expected downstream costs are estimated at less than $500 per case. Therefore, the expected total direct medical cost per patient is about $700 for standard vertebroplasty and $4,300 for balloon kyphoplasty.
Kyphon, the manufacturer of the inflatable bone tamps has stated that the predicted Canadian incidence of osteoporosis in 2005 is about 29,000. The predicted incidence of cancer-related vertebral fractures in 2005 is 6,731. Based on Ontario having about 38% of the Canadian population, the incidence in the province is likely to be about 11,000 for osteoporosis and 2,500 for cancer-related vertebral fractures. This means there could be as many as 13,500 procedures per year in Ontario; however, this is highly unlikely because most of the cancer-related fractures likely would be treated with medication. Given a $3,600 incremental direct medical cost associated with balloon kyphoplasty, the budget impact of adopting this technology could be as high as $48.6 million per year; however, based on data from the Provider Services Branch, about 120 standard vertebroplasties are done in Ontario annually. Given these current utilization patterns, the budget impact is likely to be in the range of $430,000 per year. This is because of the sizable device cost add-on of $3,578 (per case) for balloon kyphoplasty that standard vertebroplasty does not have.
Policy Considerations
Other treatments for osteoporotic VCFs are medical management and open surgery. In cases without neurological involvement, the medical treatment of osteoporotic VCFs comprises bed rest, orthotic management, and pain medication. However, these treatments are not free of side effects. Bed rest over time can result in more bone and muscle loss, and can speed the deterioration of the underlying condition. Medication can lead to altered mood or mental status. Surgery in these patients has been limited because of its inherent risks and invasiveness, and the poor quality of osteoporotic bones. However, it may be indicated in patients with neurological deficits.
Neither of these vertebral augmentation procedures eliminates the need for aggressive treatment of osteoporosis. Osteoporotic VCFs are often under-diagnosed and under-treated. A survey of physicians in Ontario (1) who treated elderly patients living in long-term care homes found that although these physicians were aware of the rates of osteoporosis in these patients, 45% did not routinely assess them for osteoporosis, and 26% did not routinely treat them for osteoporosis.
Management of the underlying condition that weakens the vertebral bodies should be part of the treatment plan. All patients with osteoporosis should be in a medical therapy program to treat the underlying condition, and the referring health care provider should monitor the clinical progress of the patient.
The main complication associated with vertebroplasty and balloon kyphoplasty is cement leakage (extravertebral or vascular). This may result in more patient morbidity, longer hospitalizations, the need for open surgery, and the use of pain medications, all of which have related costs. Extravertebral cement leakage can cause neurological complications, like spinal cord compression, nerve root compression, and radiculopathy. In some cases, surgery is required to remove the cement and release the nerve. The rate of cement leakage is much lower after balloon kyphoplasty than after vertebroplasty. Furthermore, the neurological complications seen with vertebroplasty have not seen in the studies of balloon kyphoplasty. Rarely, cement leakage into the venous system will cause a pulmonary embolism. Finally, compared with vertebroplasty, the rate of new fractures is lower after balloon kyphoplasty.
Diffusion – International, National, Provincial
In Canada, balloon kyphoplasty has not yet been funded in any of the provinces. The first balloon kyphoplasty performed in Canada was in July 2004 in Ontario.
In the United States, the technology is considered by some states as medically reasonable and necessary for the treatment of painful vertebral body compression fractures.
There is level 4 evidence that balloon kyphoplasty to treat pain associated with VCFs due to osteoporosis is as effective as vertebroplasty at relieving pain. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that it restores the height of the affected vertebra. It also results in lower fracture rates in other vertebrae compared with vertebroplasty, and in fewer neurological complications due to cement leakage compared with vertebroplasty. Balloon kyphoplasty is a reasonable alternative to vertebroplasty, although it must be reiterated that this conclusion is based on evidence from level 4 studies.
Balloon kyphoplasty should be restricted to facilities that have sufficient volumes to develop and maintain the expertise required to maximize good quality outcomes. Therefore, consideration should be given to limiting the number of facilities in the province that can do balloon kyphoplasty.
PMCID: PMC3387743  PMID: 23074451
15.  Postoperative Spinal Epidural Hematoma: Risk Factor and Clinical Outcome 
Yonsei Medical Journal  2006;47(3):326-332.
We report a series of epidural hematomas which cause neurologic deterioration after spinal surgery, and have taken risk factors and prognostic factors into consideration. We retrospectively reviewed the database of 3720 cases of spine operation in a single institute over 7 years (1998 April-2005 July). Nine patients who demonstrated neurologic deterioration after surgery and required surgical decompression were identified. Factors postulated to increase the postoperative epidural hematoma and to improve neurologic outcome were investigated. The incidence of postoperative epidural hematoma was 0.24%. Operation sites were cervical 3 cases, thoracic 2 cases, and lumbar 4 cases. Their original diagnoses were tumor 3 cases, cervical stenosis 2 cases, lumbar stenosis 3 cases and herniated lumbar disc 1case. The symptoms of epidural hematomas were neurologic deterioration and pain. After decompression, clinical outcome revealed complete recovery in 3 cases (33.3%), incomplete recovery in 5 cases (55.6%) and no change in 1 case (11.1%). Factors increasing the risk of postoperative epidural hematoma were coagulopathy from medical illness or anticoagulation therapy (4 cases, 44.4%) and highly vascularized tumor (3 cases, 33.3%). The time interval to evacuation of complete recovery group (29.3 hours) was shorter than incomplete recovery group (66.3 hours). Patients with coagulopathy and highly vascularized tumor were more vulnerable to spinal epidural hematoma. The postoperative outcome was related to the preoperative neurological deficit and the time interval to the decompression.
PMCID: PMC2688151  PMID: 16807981
Clinical outcome; risk factor; postoperative; spinal epidural hematoma; spine surgery
16.  Hemorrhagic lumbar facet cysts accompanying a spinal subdural hematoma at the same level 
We present a rare and interesting case of hemorrhagic lumbar facet cysts accompanying a spinal subdural hematoma at the same level suggesting a possible mechanism by which spinal subdural hematomas can arise.
A 71-year-old man presented with persistent sciatic pain and intermittent claudication. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated a multilocular mass lesion that showed high signal intensity in both T1- and T2-weighted images, and was located both inside and outside of the spinal canal. Computed tomographic myelography showed a cap-shaped block of the dural tube at L5 and computed tomography with L5–S facet arthrography demonstrated cystic masses. The patient was diagnosed with lumbar radiculopathy caused by hemorrhagic facet cysts, and then progressed to surgical treatment. Surgery revealed that the cysts contained blood clots, and intraoperative findings that the inside of the dural tube appeared blackish and that the dural tube was tensely ballooned after removal of the cysts led us to explorative durotomy. The durotomy demonstrated concentrated old blood pooling both in the dorsal and ventral subdural space, and these spaces were subsequently drained. After surgery, his sciatic pain and intermittent claudication resolved. There was no evidence of cyst mass recurrence at 2 years of follow-up.
We propose a newly described mechanism for the formation of spinal subdural hematomas. We recommend surgeons be alert to epidural lesions causing repeated acute compression of the dural tube, which can cause spinal subdural hematoma, and consider the possible coexistence of these lesions in diagnosis and strategic surgical decisions.
PMCID: PMC4397208  PMID: 24976137
Epidural hematoma; Hemorrhagic facet cyst; Multilocular cysts; Spinal subdural hematoma
17.  Cervical Radiculopathy: A Review 
HSS Journal  2011;7(3):265-272.
Cervical radiculopathy is defined as a syndrome of pain and/or sensorimotor deficits due to compression of a cervical nerve root. Understanding of this disease is vital for rapid diagnosis and treatment of patients with this condition, facilitating their recovery and return to regular activity.
This review is designed to clarify (1) the pathophysiology that leads to nerve root compression; (2) the diagnosis of the disease guided by history, physical exam, imaging, and electrophysiology; and (3) operative and non-operative options for treatment and how these should be applied.
The PubMed database was searched for relevant articles and these articles were reviewed by independent authors. The conclusions are presented in this manuscript.
Facet joint spondylosis and herniation of the intervertebral disc are the most common causes of nerve root compression. The clinical consequence of radiculopathy is arm pain or paresthesias in the dermatomal distribution of the affected nerve and may or may not be associated with neck pain and motor weakness. Patient history and clinical examination are important for diagnosis. Further imaging modalities, such as x-ray, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and electrophysiologic testing, are of importance. Most patients will significantly improve from non-surgical active and passive therapies. Indicated for surgery are patients with clinically significant motor deficits, debilitating pain that is resistant to conservative modalities and/or time, or instability in the setting of disabling radiculopathy. Surgical treatment options include anterior cervical decompression with fusion and posterior cervical laminoforaminotomy.
Understanding the pathophysiology, diagnosis, treatment indications, and treatment techniques is essential for rapid diagnosis and care of patients with cervical radiculopathy.
PMCID: PMC3192889  PMID: 23024624
cervical radiculopathy; disc herniation; ACDF; ADF; posterior cervical laminoforaminotomy; posterior cervical foraminotomy
18.  Minimally invasive surgical decompression for lumbar spinal metastases 
The risk of significant morbidity and mortality often outweighs the benefit of surgical resection as palliative treatment for patients with high systemic disease burden, poor cardiopulmonary status, and previous spinal surgeries. Minimally invasive surgical (MIS) approaches to decompressing metastatic epidural cord compression (MECC) can address these issues and thereby make palliation a feasible option for these patients.
Case Description:
We present the cases of three consecutively collected patients with severe neurological compromise secondary to lumbar epidural metastases who underwent MIS decompression and achieved improved functional outcome and quality of life. The first patient is a 23-year-old female with metastatic Ewing's sarcoma who presented with 2 weeks of a right foot drop and radiculopathic pain. The next case is that of a 71-year-old male with metastatic prostate cancer who presented with significant radiculopathic L5-S1 pain and severe motor deficits in his lower extremities. The last case is that of a 73-year-old male with metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma who presented with worsening left leg weakness, paresthesia, and dysethesia. Postoperatively, each patient experienced significant improvement and almost complete enduring return of function, strength, and resolution of pain.
We demonstrate that MIS approaches to spinal decompression as palliative treatment for metastatic disease is a viable treatment in patients with a focal symptomatic lesion and comes with the benefits of decreased surgical morbidity inherent to the minimally invasive approach as well as excellent functional outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3707324  PMID: 23869278
Epidural metastases; Ewing's sarcoma; metastatic; palliation; spinal decompression
19.  Sacral laminoplasty and cystic fenestration in the treatment of symptomatic sacral perineural (Tarlov) cysts: Technical case report 
Perineural cysts of the sacrum, or Tarlov cysts, are cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-filled sacs that commonly occur at the intersection of the dorsal root ganglion and posterior nerve root in the lumbosacral spine. Although often asymptomatic, these cysts have the potential to produce significant symptoms, including pain, weakness, and/or bowel or bladder incontinence. We present a case in which the sacral roof is removed and reconstructed via plated laminoplasty and describe how this technique could be of potential use in maximizing outcomes.
We describe technical aspects of a sacral laminoplasty in conjunction with cyst fenestration for a symptomatic sacral perineural cyst in a 50-year-old female with severe sacral pain, lumbosacral radiculopathy, and progressive incontinence. This patient had magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT)-myelographic evidence of a non-filling, 1.7 × 1.4 cm perineural cyst that was causing significant compression of the cauda equina and sacral nerve roots. This surgical technique was also employed in a total of 18 patients for symptomatic tarlov cysts with their radiographic and clinical results followed in a prospective fashion.
Intraoperative images, drawings, and video are presented to demonstrate both the technical aspects of this technique and the regional anatomy. Postoperative MRI scan demonstrated complete removal of the Tarlov cyst. The patient's symptoms improved dramatically and she regained normal bladder function. There was no evidence of radiographic recurrence at 12 months. At an average 16 month followup interval 10/18 patients had significant relief with mild or no residual complaints, 3/18 reported relief but had persistent coccydynia around the surgical area, 2/18 had primary relief but developed new low back pain and/or lumbar radiculopathy, 2/18 remained at their preoperative level of symptoms, and 1/18 had relief of their preoperative leg pain but developed new pain and neurological deficits.
Sacral laminoplasty and microscopic cystic fenestration is a feasible approach in the operative treatment of this difficult, and often controversial, spinal pathology. This technique may be used further and studied in an attempt to minimize potential surgical morbidity, including CSF leaks, cyst recurrence, and sacral insufficiency fractures.
PMCID: PMC3205499  PMID: 22059124
Laminoplasty; perineural cyst; sacral; Tarlov cyst
20.  Surgical removal of extravasated epidural and neuroforaminal polymethylmethacrylate after percutaneous vertebroplasty in the thoracic spine 
European Spine Journal  2006;16(Suppl 3):326-331.
Although extravasations of polymethylmetharylate during percutaneous vertebroplasty are usually of little clinical consequence, surgical decompression is occasionally required if resultant neurologic deficits are severe. Surgical removal of epidural polymethylmetharylate is usually necessary to achieve good neurologic recovery. Because mobilizing the squeezed spinal cord in a compromised canal can cause further deterioration, attempts to remove epidural polymethylmetharylate in the thoracic region need special consideration. A 66-year-old man had incomplete paraparesis and radicular pain on the chest wall after percutaneous vertebroplasty for osteoporotic compression fracture of T7. Radiological studies revealed polymethylmetharylate extravasations into the right lateral aspect of spinal canal that caused marked encroachment of the thecal sac and right neuroforamina. Progressive neurologic deficit and poor responses to medical managements were observed; therefore, surgical decompression was performed 4 months later. After laminectomy and removal of facet joints and T7 pedicle on the affected side, extravasated polymethylmetharylate posterior and anterior to the thecal sac was completely removed without retracting the dura mater. Spinal stability was reconstructed by supplemental spinal instrumentation and intertransverse arthrodesis with banked cancellous allografts. Myelopathy and radicular pain gradually resolved after decompression surgery. The patient was free of sensory abnormality and regained satisfactory ambulation two years after surgical decompression.
PMCID: PMC2148084  PMID: 17053943
Vertebroplasty; Polymethylmethacrylate; Epidural extravasations; Thoracic myelopathy; Surgical removal
21.  Urgent discectomy: Clinical features and neurological outcome 
To evaluate the clinical features and outcome of patients with progressive neurological deficits due to disc herniation who were treated surgically within 24 h.
We conducted a retrospective analysis of consecutive patients who were admitted between 2004 and 2013 via the Emergency Department. Records were screened for presenting symptoms, neurological status at admission, discharge, and 6-week follow-up.
About 72 of 526 patients underwent surgery within 24 h. Magnetic resonance imaging showed lumbar disc herniation in 72 patients. The most common presenting symptoms included radiculopathy (n = 69), the Lasègue sign (n = 60), sensory deficits (n = 57), or motor deficits (n = 47). In addition, 11 patients experienced perineal numbness and 12 had bowel and bladder dysfunction. At discharge, motor and sensory deficits and bowel and bladder dysfunction had improved significantly (P < 0.001, P = 0.029, and P = 0.015, respectively).
Motor deficits, sensory deficits, and cauda equina dysfunction were significantly improved immediately after urgent surgery. After 6 weeks, motor and sensory deficits were also significantly improved compared to the neurological status at discharge. Thus, we advocate immediate surgery of disc herniation in patients with acute onset of motor deficits, perineal numbness, or bladder or bowel dysfunction indicative of cauda equina syndrome.
PMCID: PMC4766809  PMID: 26958423
Disc herniation; outcome; radicular pain; urgent discectomy
22.  Unnecessary multiple epidural steroid injections delay surgery for massive lumbar disc: Case discussion and review 
Surgical Neurology International  2015;6(Suppl 14):S383-S387.
Epidural steroid injections (ESI) in the lumbar spine are not effective over the long-term for resolving “surgical” lesions. Here, we present a patient with a massive L2–L3 lumbar disk herniation whose surgery was delayed for 4 months by multiple unnecessary ESI, resulting in a cauda equina syndrome.
A 54-year-old male acutely developed increased low back and radiating left leg pain in October of 2014. In December of 2014, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan showed a massive central/left sided disk herniation at the L2–L3 level resulting in marked thecal sac and left L2 foraminal and L3 lateral recess root compression. Despite the marked degree of neural compression, pain management treated him with 3 ESI over the next 3 months.
At the end of April of 2015, he presented to spine surgeon with a cauda equina syndrome. When the new MRI scan confirmed the previously documented massive central-left sided L2–L3 disk herniation, the patient emergently underwent an L1–L3 laminectomy with central-left sided L2–L3 lateral/foraminal diskectomy. Postoperatively, the patient was neurologically intact.
Pain specialists performed multiple unnecessary lumbar ESI critically delaying spinal surgery for 4 months in this patient with a massive lumbar disk herniation who ultimately developed a cauda equina syndrome. Unfortunately, pain specialists (e.g., radiologists, anesthesiologists, and physiatrists), not specifically trained to perform neurological examinations or spinal surgery, are increasingly mismanaging spinal disease with ESI/variants. It is time for spine surgeons to speak out against this, and “take back” the care of patients with spinal surgical disease.
PMCID: PMC4566306  PMID: 26425398
Cauda equina syndrome; epidural steroid injections/variants; lumbar disk herniation; massive discs; pain specialists; spinal surgeons; unnecessary delay
23.  Patterns of Epidural Venous Varicosity in Lumbar Stenosis 
Korean Journal of Spine  2012;9(3):244-249.
Epidural venous varicosity (congestion of the epidural vein) is rarely introduced as an influential factor of clinical symptoms. However, there are several studies suggesting that epidural venous varicosity results in neurologic symptoms. We would like to highlight evidence that epidural venous varicosity results in neurologic symptoms and the relation between epidural venous varicosity and neural structure observed during the surgery. Based on our experiences, we also propose a new classification of epidural venous varicosity.
29 patients with symptomatic lumbar stenosis received microsurgical decompression via partial hemilaminectomy. The authors retrospectively reviewed all recorded intraoperative pictures and categorized patterns of venous varicosities with relationship to neural structures.
Type A is conditions in which epidural veins are dilated but located parallel to the nerve root on the lateral side of the nerve root and thus do not compress the nerve root. Type B is conditions in which varices are located on the anterior lateral side of the nerve root to compress the nerve root. Type C is conditions in which varices are encircled around the nerve root and compressing the nerve root.
Epidural venous varicosity is observed in most lumbar stenosis patients with clinical symptoms. Of the types, the types of epidural venous varicosity compressing nerve structures were Type B and Type C. All epidural venous varicosities were removed regardless of classification during operations. Most patients showed relief in clinical symptoms after the operation. We thought to epidural venous varicosity as a factor that causes clinical symptoms of lumbar stenosis.
PMCID: PMC4431010  PMID: 25983823
Epidural space; Intermittent claudication; Radiculopathy; Spinal stenosis; Surgical decompression; Varicose veins
24.  Subacute steroid-induced paraparesis: surgical treatment of a devastating “invisible” side effect 
European Spine Journal  2012;21(Suppl 4):542-544.
To emphasize an underestimated side effect following long-term use of steroids.
We report on surgical treatment of two patients with serious neurologic deficits caused by epidural spinal lipoma following long-term intake of cortisone.
Early decompression of the spinal cord by removal of epidural lipoma was the most effective treatment in these patients with progressive symptoms.
Diagnostic work-up of such patients should include early spinal MRI resulting in surgical intervention, if indicated. Decompression of the spinal cord eventually combined with fusion is necessary.
PMCID: PMC3369028  PMID: 22370924
Lipoma; Paraplegia; Spinal instrumentation; Spinal tumor; Steroids
25.  A Prospective, Observational Study of the Relationship Between Body Mass Index and Depth of the Epidural Space During Lumbar Transforaminal Epidural Steroid Injection 
Background and Objectives
Previous studies have concluded that transforaminal epidural steroid injections (ESIs) are more effective than interlaminar injections in the treatment of radiculopathies due to lumbar intervertebral disk herniation. There are no published studies examining the depth of epidural space using a transforaminal approach. We investigated the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and the depth of the epidural space during lumbar transforaminal ESIs.
Eighty-six consecutive patients undergoing lumbar transforaminal ESI at the L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1 levels were studied. Using standard protocol, the foraminal epidural space was attained using fluoroscopic guidance. The measured distance from needle tip to skin was recorded (depth to foraminal epidural space). The differences in the needle depth and BMI were analyzed using regression analysis.
Needle depth was positively associated with BMI (regression coefficient [RC], 1.13; P < 0.001). The median depths (in centimeters) to the epidural space were 6.3, 7.5, 8.4, 10.0, 10.4, and 12.2 for underweight, normal, preobese, obese I, obese II, and obese III classifications, respectively. Sex (RC, 1.3; P = 0.02) and race (RC, 0.8; P = 0.04) were also significantly associated with needle depth; however, neither factor remained significant when BMI was accounted as a covariate in the regression model. Age, intervertebral level treated, and oblique angle had no predictive value on foraminal depth (P > 0.2).
There is a positive association between BMI and transforaminal epidural depth, but not with age, sex, race, oblique angle, or intervertebral level.
PMCID: PMC2715548  PMID: 19282707

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