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1.  Impact of total disc arthroplasty on the surgical management of lumbar degenerative disc disease: Analysis of the Nationwide Inpatient Sample from 2000 to 2008 
Spinal fusion is the most rapidly increasing type of lumbar spine surgery for various lumbar degenerative pathologies. The surgical treatment of lumbar spine degenerative disc disease may involve decompression, stabilization, or arthroplasty procedures. Lumbar disc athroplasty is a recent technological advance in the field of lumbar surgery. This study seeks to determine the clinical impact of anterior lumbar disc replacement on the surgical treatment of lumbar spine degenerative pathology. This is a retrospective assessment of the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS).
The NIS was searched for ICD-9 codes for lumbar and lumbosacral fusion (81.06), anterior lumbar interbody fusion (81.07), and posterolateral lumbar fusion (81.08), as well as for procedure codes for revision fusion surgery in the lumbar and lumbosacral spine (81.36, 81.37, and 81.38). To assess lumbar arthroplasty, procedure codes for the insertion or replacement of lumbar artificial discs (84.60, 84.65, and 84.68) were queried. Results were assayed from 2000 through 2008, the last year with available data. Analysis was done using the lme4 package in the R programming language for statistical computing.
A total of nearly 300,000 lumbar spine fusion procedures were reported in the NIS database from 2000 to 2008; assuming a representative cross-section of the US health care market, this models approximately 1.5 million procedures performed over this time period. In 2005, the first year of its widespread use, there were 911 lumbar arthroplasty procedures performed, representing 3% of posterolateral fusions performed in this year. Since introduction, the number of lumbar spine arthroplasty procedures has consistently declined, to 653 total procedures recorded in the NIS in 2008. From 2005 to 2008, lumbar arthroplasties comprised approximately 2% of lumbar posterolateral fusions. Arthroplasty patients were younger than posterior lumbar fusion patients (42.8 ± 11.5 vs. 55.9 ± 15.1 years, P < 0.0000001). The distribution of arthroplasty procedures was even between academic and private urban facilities (48.5% and 48.9%, respectively). While rates of posterolateral lumbar spine fusion steadily grew during the period (OR 1.06, 95% CI: 1.05-1.06, P < 0.0000001), rates of revision surgery and anterior spinal fusion remained static.
The impact of lumbar arthroplasty procedures has been minimal. Measured as a percentage of more common lumbar posterior arthrodesis procedures, lumbar arthroplasty comprises only approximately 2% of lumbar spine surgeries performed in the United States. Over the first 4 years following the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, the frequency of lumbar disc arthroplasty has decreased while the number of all lumbar spinal fusions has increased.
PMCID: PMC3205497  PMID: 22059134
Artificial disc; lumbar spinal fusion; total disc replacement
2.  Dorsal Epidural Intervertebral Disk Herniation With Atypical Radiographic Findings: Case Report and Literature Review 
Intervertebral disk herniation is relatively common. Migration usually occurs in the ventral epidural space; rarely, disks migrate to the dorsal epidural space due to the natural anatomical barriers of the thecal sac.
Case report.
A 49-year-old man presented with 1 week of severe back pain with bilateral radiculopathy to the lateral aspect of his lower extremities and weakness of the ankle dorsiflexors and toe extensors. Lumbar spine magnetic resonance imaging with gadolinium revealed a peripheral enhancing dorsal epidural lesion with severe compression of the thecal sac. Initial differential diagnosis included spontaneous hematoma, synovial cyst, and epidural abscess. Posterior lumbar decompression was performed; intraoperatively, the lesion was identified as a large herniated disk fragment.
Dorsal migration of a herniated intervertebral disk is rare and may be difficult to definitively diagnose preoperatively. Dorsal disk migration may present in a variety of clinical scenarios and, as in this case, may mimic other epidural lesions on magnetic resonance imaging.
PMCID: PMC2920122  PMID: 20737802
Vertebral disk, herniation; Back pain, radiculopathy; Abscess, epidural; Hematoma, epidural; Laminectomy; Decompression, lumbar
3.  Pilomatrix Carcinoma of the Thoracic Spine: Case Report and Review of the Literature 
Pilomatrixoma is a common head and neck neoplasm in children. Its malignant counterpart, pilomatrix carcinoma, is rare and found more often in men.
Case report of a 21-year-old man with pilomatrixoma of the thoracic spine that underwent malignant degeneration to pilomatrix carcinoma.
The appearance of a painless mobile axillary mass was followed by severe back pain 1 year later. Imaging revealed a compression fracture at the T5 level. The patient underwent resection of the axillary mass and spinal reconstruction of the fracture; the pathology was consistent with synchronous benign pilomatrixomas. Three months later he presented with a recurrence of the spinal lesion and underwent further surgical resection; the pathology was consistent with pilomatrix carcinoma. He received adjuvant radiotherapy and at his 1-year follow-up examination had no sign of recurrence.
Conclusion/Clinical Relevance:
Pilomatrix carcinoma involving the spine is a rare occurrence. It has a high incidence of local recurrence, and wide excision may be necessary to reduce this risk. Radiotherapy may be a helpful adjuvant therapy. Clinicians should be aware of this entity because of its potential for distant metastasis.
PMCID: PMC2920123  PMID: 20737803
Neoplasia; metastatic; Pilomatrixoma; Pilomatrix carcinoma; Thoracic spine; Radiotherapy; Pathologic fracture, vertebral
4.  Cervical Extradural Meningioma: Case Report and Literature Review 
Extradural lesions are most commonly metastatic neoplasms. Extradural meningioma accounts for 2.7 to 10% of spinal neoplasms and most commonly is found in the thoracic spine.
Case report.
A 45-year-old woman presented with posterior cervicothoracic pain for 8 months following a motor vehicle crash. Magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine revealed an enhancing epidural mass. Computerized tomography of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis revealed no systemic disease. Due to the lesion's unusual signal characteristics and location, an open surgical biopsy was completed, which revealed a psammomatous meningioma. Surgical decompression of the spinal cord and nerve roots was then performed. The resection was subtotal due to the extension of the tumor around the vertebral artery.
Meningiomas should be considered in the differential diagnosis of contrast-enhancing lesions in the cervical spine.
PMCID: PMC2565566  PMID: 18795481
Meningioma; psammomatous; Epidural tumor; Vertebrae, cervical
5.  Acute Cervical Fracture or Congenital Spinal Deformity 
There are few reports of developmental or congenital cervical spinal deformities. Such cases may be mistaken for traumatically induced fractures, and additional treatment may ensue.
A retrospective analysis was performed to identify patients with congenital cervical spine deformities. These patients were matched with a confirmed traumatic spinal fracture population with similar demographic features. Patients were analyzed for age, gender, imaging findings (plain roentgenograms including dynamic flexion and extension views, computed tomography scan, and MRI), neurologic status, and subjective complaints of pain.
Thirty-six individuals were included in the final analysis, 7 with congenital abnormalities and 29 with radiographically confirmed traumatic injuries. Patients with congenital abnormalities had significantly less soft-tissue swelling compared with the population with traumatic fractures (P < 0.001). Furthermore, those with congenital defects presented with lesser degrees of vertebral subluxation (0.29 mm vs 7.24 mm) (P < 0.0001) and without neurologic deficits (P < 0.0001).
Congenital abnormalities, though rare, can be mistaken for traumatic fractures of the spine. Physicians should note any evidence of soft-tissue swelling, neurologic deficits, degree of subluxation, and radiographic evidence of pedicle absence because these characteristics often provide insight into the specific etiology of the observed spinal deformity (congenital vs traumatic).
PMCID: PMC2435025  PMID: 18533417
Cervical spine; Fracture; Spine, congenital defect; Deformity, developmental; Spinal cord injuries, traumatic; Pedicle, absence
6.  Evaluation of Neurologic Deficit Without Apparent Cause: The Importance of a Multidisciplinary Approach 
A patient presenting with an acute neurologic deficit with no apparent etiology presents a diagnostic dilemma. A broad differential diagnosis must be entertained, considering both organic and psychiatric causes.
A case report and thorough literature review of acute paraplegia after a low-energy trauma without a discernible organic etiology.
Diagnostic imaging excluded any bony malalignment or fracture and any abnormality on magnetic resonance imaging. When no organic etiology was identified, a multidisciplinary approach using neurology, psychiatry, and physical medicine and rehabilitation services was applied. Neurophysiologic testing confirmed the absence of an organic disorder, and at this juncture, diagnostic efforts focused on identifying any psychiatric disorder to facilitate appropriate treatment for this individual. The final diagnosis was malingering.
The full psychiatric differential diagnosis should be considered in the evaluation of any patient with an atypical presentation of paralysis. A thorough clinical examination in combination with the appropriate diagnostic studies can confidently exclude an organic disorder. When considering a psychiatric disorder, the differential diagnosis should include conversion disorder and malingering, although each must remain a diagnosis of exclusion. Maintaining a broad differential diagnosis and involving multiple disciplines (neurology, psychiatry, social work, medical specialists) early in the evaluation of atypical paralysis may facilitate earlier diagnosis and initiation of treatment for the underlying etiology.
PMCID: PMC2141729  PMID: 18092568
Hysterical paralysis; Atypical paralysis; Conversion disorder; Malingering; Spinal cord injuries
7.  Whiplash: diagnosis, treatment, and associated injuries 
Study design Focused review of the current literature. Objective To identify and synthesize the most current data pertaining to the diagnosis and treatment of whiplash and whiplash-associated disorders (WAD), and to report on whiplash-related injuries. Methods A search of OVID Medline (1996–January 2007) and the Cochrane database of systematic reviews was performed using the keywords whiplash and WAD. Articles under subheadings for pathology, diagnosis, treatment, and epidemiology were chosen for review after identification by the authors. Results A total of 485 articles in the English language literature were identified. Thirty-six articles pertained to the diagnosis, treatment, epidemiology of whiplash, and WAD, and were eligible for focused review. From these, 21 primary and 15 secondary sources were identified for full review. In addition, five articles were found that focused on whiplash associated cervical injuries. These five articles were also primary sources. Conclusions Whiplash is a common injury associated most often with motor vehicle accidents. It may present with a variety of clinical manifestations, collectively termed WAD. Whiplash is an important cause of chronic disability. Many controversies exist regarding the diagnosis and treatment of whiplash injuries. The multifactorial etiology, believed to underly whiplash injuries, make management highly variable between patients. Radiographic evidence of injury often cannot be identified in the acute phase. Recent studies suggest early mobilization may lead to improved outcomes. Ligamentous and bony injuries may go undetected at initial presentation leading to delayed diagnosis and inappropriate therapies.
PMCID: PMC2684148  PMID: 19468901
Whiplash; Whiplash associated disorders (WAD); Cervical spine injury
8.  Regional variability in use of a novel assessment of thoracolumbar spine fractures: United States versus international surgeons 
Considerable variability exists in clinical approaches to thoracolumbar fractures. Controversy in evaluation and nomenclature contribute to this confusion, with significant differences found between physicians, between different specialties, and in different geographic regions. A new classification system for thoracolumbar injuries, the Thoracolumbar Injury Severity Score (TLISS), was recently described by Vaccaro. No assessment of regional differences has been described. We report regional variability in use of the TLISS system between United States and non-US surgeons.
Twenty-eight spine surgeons (8 neurosurgeons and 20 orthopedic surgeons) reviewed 56 clinical thoracolumbar injury case histories, which included pertinent imaging studies. Cases were classified and scored using the TLISS system. After a three month period, the case histories were re-ordered and the physicians repeated the exercise; 22 physicians completed both surveys and were used to assess intra-rater reliability. The reliability and treatment validity of the TLISS was assessed. Surgeons were grouped into US (n = 15) and non-US (n = 13) cohorts. Inter-rater (both within and between different geographic groups) and intra-rater reliability was assessed by percent agreement, Cohen's kappa, kappa with linear weighting, and Spearman's rank-order correlation.
Non-US surgeons were found to have greater inter-rater reliability in injury mechanism, while agreement on neurological status and posterior ligamentous complex integrity tended to be higher among US surgeons. Inter-rater agreement on management was moderate, although it tended to be higher in US-surgeons. Inter-rater agreement between US and non-US surgeons was similar to within group inter-rater agreement for all categories. While intra-rater agreement for mechanism tended to be higher among US surgeons, intra-rater reliability for neurological status and PLC was slightly higher among non-US surgeons. Intra-rater reliability for management was substantial in both US and non-US surgeons. The TLISS incorporates generally accepted features of spinal injury assessment into a simple patient evaluation tool. The management recommendation of the treatment algorithm component of the TLISS shows good inter-rater and substantial intra-rater reliability in both non-US and US based spine surgeons. The TLISS may improve communication between health providers and may contribute to more efficient management of thoracolumbar injuries.
PMCID: PMC2045082  PMID: 17825106

Results 1-8 (8)