European Spine Journal

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  1. Abstract

    Purpose

    In order to prevent the recurrent fracture after vertebral augmentation, the concept of prophylactic vertebral augmentation has been proposed, but its efficacy is still controversial. This study aimed to determine the efficacy of prophylactic vertebral augmentation for prevention of refracture in osteoporotic vertebral fracture patients.

    Methods

    Following PRISMA guidelines, a literature search was performed using PubMed, Embase and Web of Science databases for relevant studies published until February 2021. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and retrospective controlled trials comparing prophylactic group versus nonprophylactic group was conducted. The primary outcome was the incidence of new vertebral compression fracture (VCF), and secondary outcomes were incidence of adjacent vertebral fracture (AVF) and remote vertebral fracture (RVF).

    Results

    A total of 6 studies encompassing 618 patients were included in the meta-analysis. The incidence of new VCF was reported in all six studies, and the result showed no significant difference between the two groups (OR: 0.509; 95% CI: 0.184–1.409). Four studies provided data on the incidence of AVF, and it was revealed that there was no significant difference between the two groups (OR: 0.689; 95% CI: 0.109–4.371). In view of the incidence of RVF, prophylactic group also did not differ significantly compared with nonprophylactic group (OR: 0.535; 95% CI: 0.167–1.709).

    Conclusions

    The current evidence suggested that prophylactic vertebral augmentation might not be appropriate to diminish the risk of new VCF. Therefore, there is a need to investigate the mechanism of refracture and explore other preventive regimens to reduce the risk.

  2. Abstract

    Purpose

    This study aims to introduce an innovative adjustable prone positioning frame (APPF) and explore its feasibility and safety for treatment of severe kyphosis secondary to ankylosing spondylitis (AS) with two-level osteotomy.

    Methods

    A retrospective, non-controlled study was conducted to illustrate the process where 13 patients diagnosed with severe kyphosis secondary to AS received operations on the APPF. Parameters of chin brow vertical angle (CBVA), global kyphosis (GK), thoracolumbar kyphosis (TLK), lumbar lordosis (LL) and sagittal vertical axis (SVA) were measured. Positioning time, operation time, intraoperative blood loss aḥd complications were also determined. The Scoliosis Research Society outcomes instrument (SRS-22) was applied for clinical assessment.

    Results

    All patients were placed on the APPF successfully with the positioning time of 2.92 ± 0.76 min, received operation with 457.00 ± 88.04 min and had blood loss of 2330.77 ± 1423.25 ml. Four cases experienced pain due to tensional skin of the abdomen and one case suffered cerebrospinal fluid leakage postoperatively, but these patients were all cured conservatively. No neurological complications were observed, although sagittal translation occurred in four patients. Significant improvements were detected in CBVA, GK, TLK, LL and SVA postoperatively (P < 0.05), but no significant difference was observed between postoperation and the final follow-up (P > 0.05). The SRS-22 scores at 2 years after operation were significantly higher than those before operation (P < 0.05).

    Conclusion

    The innovative APPF provided great convenience to place patients with severe kyphosis secondary to AS in a prone position. Performing two-level osteotomy with the aid of APPF is safe, feasible and effective.

  3. Abstract

    Purpose

    This study aimed to analyse the trends and patterns of IVD degeneration in different age groups at each level of the thoracic spine.

    Methods

    This cross-sectional MRI study included 1000 symptomatic patients who had undergone upright thoracic spine MRI. A total of 13,000 thoracic IVDs from C7/T1 to T12/L1 were classified into five grades using Pfirrmann classification. Patients were divided according to their ages into five groups (n = 200/group). The severity and pattern of IVD degeneration were analysed in each age group. A predictive model of the severity and pattern of IVD degeneration in each age group was proposed.

    Results

    The total grade of IVD degeneration and the number of degenerated levels increased with increasing age (P < 0.001). The most common degenerated level was T6/7 (13.3%), while the least common degenerated level was T12/L1 (1.8%). The most common grades were grade I in group 1 (60.5%), grade II in groups 2 (39%) and 3 (37.3%), and grade III in groups 4 (42.5%) and 5 (44.6%). Adjacent-level degenerations were more common than skip-level degenerations. Severe disc degeneration (Pfirrmann grades IV or V) could be predicted to occur more in group 5 (patients with 60 years and above) (margin = 0.79, 95% CI = 0.73–0.84, P < 0.001).

    Conclusions

    The severity of thoracic IVD degeneration and the number of degenerated levels increased with age. Disc degeneration was more accelerated in the mid-thoracic spine. Adjacent-level degeneration was more common than skip-level degenerations.

  4. Abstract

    Purpose

    To evaluate the impact of discectomy on disc height (DH) in lumbar disc herniation (LDH) patients following discectomy surgery and address the association of DH change with pain score change.

    Methods

    We searched three online databases for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies. In LDH patients, eligible for discectomy surgery, the changes in pre- and post-operative back and/or leg pain score and DH and/or disc height index (DHI) were considered as primary outcomes. Standardize mean difference (SMD) and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) were evaluated. The GRADE approach was used to summarize the strength of evidence.

    Results

    Two RCTs and sixteen observational studies were included in the analysis of 893 LDH patients undergoing discectomy surgery. The mean overall follow-up was 211 weeks. There was a statistically significant reduction in DH (14.4% reduction: SMD =  −0.74 (95% CI =  −0.86 to −0.61)) and DHI (11.5% reduction: SMD =  −0.81 (95% CI =  −0.97 to −0.65)) following discectomy surgery. There was a significant relationship between the reduction in DH and decrease in back pain score (r = 0.68, (95% CI = 0.07–1.30), p = 0.034) after discectomy surgery. No significant relationship between DHI change and decrease in clinical pain scores (back and leg pain) could be established.

    Conclusion

    Discectomy surgery produces significant and quantifiable reductions in DH and DHI. Additionally, the reduction in DH is responsible for the decrease in back pain scores post discectomy, but further studies will improve understanding and aid preoperative counselling.

  5. Abstract

    Purpose

    The Global Burden of Diseases (GBD) Studies have estimated that low back pain is one of the costliest ailments worldwide. Subsequent to GBD publications, leadership of the four largest global spine societies agreed to form SPINE20. This article introduces the concept of SPINE20, the recommendations, and the future of this global advocacy group linked to G20 annual summits.

    Methods

    The founders of SPINE20 advocacy group coordinated with G20 Saudi Arabia to conduct the SPINE20 summit in 2020. The summit was intended to promote evidence-based recommendations to use the most reliable information from high-level research. Eight areas of importance to mitigate spine disorders were identified through a voting process of the participating societies. Twelve recommendations were discussed and vetted.

    Results

    The areas of immediate concern were “Aging spine,” “Future of spine care,” “Spinal cord injuries,” “Children and adolescent spine,” “Spine-related disability,” “Spine Educational Standards,” “Patient safety,” and “Burden on economy.” Twelve recommendations were created and endorsed by 31/33 spine societies and 2 journals globally during a vetted process through the SPINE20.org website and during the virtual inaugural meeting November 10–11, 2020 held from the G20 platform.

    Conclusions

    This is the first time that international spine societies have joined to support actions to mitigate the burden of spine disorders across the globe. SPINE20 seeks to change awareness and treatment of spine pain by supporting local projects that implement value-based practices with healthcare policies that are culturally sensitive based on scientific evidence.

  6. Abstract

    Objective

    Human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-B27 plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of AS. TNF polymorphisms have been reported to be associated with AS susceptibility, but the results of these previous studies have been inconsistent. The aim of this study was to explore whether TNF polymorphism is associated with AS susceptibility in HLA-27-positive population.

    Methods

    Our search was done in the Pubmed, Embase, and Cochrane databases (up to March 2020). The pooled and individual odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of the minor allele of each locus were presented to assess the associations between TNF polymorphisms and AS in HLA-B27-positive population.

    Results

    Ten studies from 8 articles were included in this meta-analysis. In the population of HLA-B27-positive patients and random healthy controls, there were statistical significance in the evaluation of association between the minor allele of TNF-238, -308, -857, -1031 and -863 and AS susceptibility, respectively. In the population of HLA-B27-positive patients and HLA-B27-positive healthy controls, there were no statistical differences in the comparison of minor allele of with their respective major allele in the fixed model.

    Conclusions

    There was no association of the TNF polymorphisms with AS in the HLA-B27-positive AS group and HLA-B27-positive control group. Polymorphisms of TNF-238, -308, -857, -1031, -863 were associated with AS susceptibility in the HLA-B27-positive AS patients and random control population. Other gene SNPs except TNF may play an important role in AS susceptibility in HLA-B27-positive population.

  7. Abstract

    Purpose

    Surgical treatment of herniated lumbar intervertebral disks is a common procedure worldwide. However, recurrent herniated nucleus pulposus (re-HNP) may develop, complicating outcomes and patient management. The purpose of this study was to utilize machine-learning (ML) analytics to predict lumbar re-HNP, whereby a personalized risk prediction can be developed as a clinical tool.

    Methods

    A retrospective, single center study was conducted of 2630 consecutive patients that underwent lumbar microdiscectomy (mean follow-up: 22-months). Various preoperative patient pain/disability/functional profiles, imaging parameters, and anthropomorphic/demographic metrics were noted. An Extreme Gradient Boost (XGBoost) classifier was implemented to develop a predictive model identifying patients at risk for re-HNP. The model was exported to a web application software for clinical utility.

    Results

    There were 1608 males and 1022 females, 114 of whom experienced re-HNP. Primary herniations were central (65.8%), paracentral (17.6%), and far lateral (17.1%). The XGBoost algorithm identified multiple re-HNP predictors and was incorporated into an open-access web application software, identifying patients at low or high risk for re-HNP. Preoperative VAS leg, disability, alignment parameters, elevated body mass index, symptom duration, and age were the strongest predictors.

    Conclusions

    Our predictive modeling via an ML approach of our large-scale cohort is the first study, to our knowledge, that has identified significant risk factors for the development of re-HNP after initial lumbar decompression. We developed the re-herniation after decompression (RAD) profile index that has been translated into an online screening tool to identify low–high risk patients for re-HNP. Additional validation is needed for potential global implementation.

  8. Abstract

    Purpose

    In conservative early onset scoliosis treatment, interest in bracing is growing because repeated general anaesthesia (required by casting) has been questioned for possible brain damages. We aimed to check the results in the medium term of bracing, comparing idiopathic (IIS) to secondary (SIS) infantile scoliosis.

    Methods

    We performed a retrospective study in a consecutive prospective cohort. Inclusion criteria were: discovery of scoliosis and bracing below age 3; exclusion criteria: previous spine surgery, less than three consultations. We considered the following results: full (< 20° Cobb) and partial (< 30°) success; hold-up (progression < 5° but curve > 29°); partial (progression > 5°) and full (fusion) failure; statistics: ANOVA for repeated measures; linear mixed effect model with Cobb angle (dependent), time and diagnosis (independent) variables.

    Results

    We included 34 infants (16 IIS and 18 SIS) of age 1·10 ± 0·10 (years·months), 44 ± 17° curves, 27 ± 10° rib vertebral angle difference, average observation 5·05 ± 3·03 years. We found progressive improvement of IIS and stability of SIS patients. Six IIS (37.5%) and one SIS (6%) reached brace weaning before puberty with 13 ± 5° (improvement 61 ± 15%, p < 0.001), after 4·11 ± 3·07 years of treatment. Three patients were fused, one IIS (6%) and two SIS (11%). Two IIS patients also reached end-of-growth with 18° (start 40° at 1·03 years) and 20° (start 32° at 2·12 years), respectively.

    Conclusion

    Bracing shows promising results in the medium term for high-degree IIS, with very few hold-ups (19%) and failures (12%). Conversely, failures prevail for SIS (full 11%), even if the partial failure (39%) is still a time-buying strategy.

  9. Abstract

    Purpose

    Meeting the information needs of patients adequately is of high importance in informed consent consultations in surgery. However, information needs often remain unmet in the informed consent consultation. The aim of this study was to assess anxiety and pain in relation to the patients’ information needs fulfillment perioperatively.

    Methods

    We applied a question prompt list (QPL) for patients undergoing spine surgery (SN-QPL) before (t1) and a question answering list (SN-QAL) after (t2) the informed consent consultation. The patients additionally completed the “State-Trait Anxiety Operation Inventory” (STOA, cognitive and affective scale) at t1, as well as a pain numerical rating scale (NRS) at t2 and postoperative (t3). We analyzed (1) the association between anxiety, information needs and pain and (2) anxiety and pain scores regarding information needs fulfillment after the consent consultation.

    Results

    A total of n = 118 patients was included. Affective and cognitive state anxiety was only reduced postoperatively (affective p < .001, cognitive p < .05). The higher trait anxiety was, the more patients longed for information at t1–t3 (t1: r = .58/r = .74, each p < .001), (t2: r = .38/r = .49, each p < .001) and (t3: r = .29, p < .01/r = 34, p < .001). Higher grades of trait anxiety resulted in lower information needs fulfilment. Higher state anxiety levels were associated with higher pain levels. Information needs more often remained unfulfilled in high trait and state anxiety patients.

    Conclusion

    Patients’ anxiety was associated with (un)fulfilled information needs. Meeting information needs should be optimized in the process of surgeon–patient communication. Adapting the information to the patients’ anxiety levels seem to be an effective way to reduce anxiety.

  10. Abstract

    Background and purpose

    In cases of spine surgical revisions of patients affected by sagittal malalignment, the restoration of the ideal lumbar lordosis (LL) is mandatory. ALIF procedures represent a powerful and effective approach to improve the LL in case of hypolordosis. This study evaluates the feasibility of ALIF to overpower posterior lumbar instrumentation and fusion mass in revision spine surgery and secondarily to estimate complications, clinical and radiological outcomes.

    Methods

    This is a single-center retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data on the use of ALIF overpowering in cases of lumbosacral instrumentation and/or fusion. Demographic, comorbidity, corrective strategy adopted, surgical data, clinical and radiological results, and intraoperative and postoperative complications were recorded.

    Results

    Twelve patients (3 male; 9 female) underwent overpowering ALIF L5-S1 were included in the study with a mean FU of 34.0 ± 13.4 months. In 10 cases, a posterior titanium instrumentation and fusion mass were present; in 2 patients, only a fusion mass was present. Indicators of pain and disability improved in all patients (p < 0.01). Sagittal realignment with the restoration of ideal spinopelvic parameters was obtained in all cases. One peritoneal lesion requiring intraoperative suture without sequelae, two cases of postoperative radiculopathy, and one posterior wound infection requiring surgical debridement and antibiotic therapy were reported.

    Conclusions

    Anterior implant of lordotic and hyperlordotic cages with increasing segmental lordosis is possible in the presence of posterior instrumentation and/or solid fusion mass. The biomechanical strength of this corrective technique can overcome posterior instrumentation and bone fusion resistance, therefore allowing a single-staged surgery for sagittal realignment.

  11. Abstract

    Background

    The purpose of this retrospective study was to evaluate and compare the clinical outcomes of patients underwent PVP for OVCF as day surgery with the outcomes of patients managed as traditional inpatients.

    Methods

    According to the selection criteria, patients who underwent PVP for single-segment thoracolumbar OVCF were included retrospectively in the day surgery procedure (DSP) group and the traditional inpatient procedure (TIP) group between April 2018 and September 2019. The visual analog scale score (VAS) and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score were recorded preoperatively and 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months after surgery. Duration of hospital stay, preoperative waiting time, hospital cost, and postoperative complications were recorded and analyzed.

    Results

    A total of 335 patients (53 in DSP group; 282 in TIP group) were enrolled and completed 12-month follow-up. The mean duration of hospital stay, the mean preoperative waiting time, and the mean hospital costs were significant lower in the DSP group. The postoperative VAS and ODI scores in both groups were significantly improved after surgery. Moreover, both VAS and ODI scores at each follow-up stage were also significantly lower than the previous follow-up stage. However, the ODI score in the DSP group was significantly lower at 1-day, 1-week, 1-month, and 3-month follow-up, respectively. For cement leakage and secondary vertebral compression fractures, there was no statistical difference between the two groups.

    Conclusions

    We suggest that PVP for OVCFs in day surgery procedure is worthy of wide application.

  12. Abstract

    Purpose

    The cortical bone trajectory (CBT) is an alternative to the traditional pedicle screw trajectory (TT) in posterior spinal instrumentation, enhancing screw contact with cortical bone and therefore increasing fixation strength. Additional to the trajectory, insertion depth (pericortical vs. bicortical placement) could be a relevant factor affecting the fixation strength. However, the potential biomechanical benefit of a bicortical placement of CBT screws is unknown. Therefore, the aim of this study was to quantify the fixation strength of pericortical- versus bicortical-CBT (pCBT versus bCBT) screws in a randomized cadaveric study.

    Methods

    Pedicle screws were either placed pericortical or bicortical with a CBT in 20 lumbar vertebrae (2 × 20 instrumented pedicles) from four human spine cadavers by using patient-specific templates. Instrumented specimens underwent physiological cyclic loading testing (1′800′000 cycles, 10 Hz), including shear and tension loads as well as bending moments. Translational and angular displacements of the screws were quantified and compared between the two techniques.

    Results

    There was a slight decrease in translational (0.2 mm ± 0.09 vs. 0.24 mm ± 0.11) and angular displacements (0.06° ± 0.05 vs. 0.13° ± 0.11) of bCBT screws when compared with pCBT screws after 1′800′000 cycles. However, the results were non-significant (p > 0.05).

    Conclusion

    The authors do not recommend placing CBT screws bicortically, as no relevant biomechanical advantage is gained while the potential risk for iatrogenic injury to structures anterior to the spine is increased.

  13. Abstract

    Background

    Metastatic epidural spinal cord compression (MESCC) is a debilitating sequela of cancer that results in pain, disability, and neurologic deficits. Surgical techniques have included open surgical (OS) techniques with anterior and/or posterior decompression and fusion procedures. Further technical evolution has led to minimally invasive spinal (MIS) decompression and fusion. The objective of this study is to compare MIS to OS techniques in the treatment of thoracolumbar MESCC.

    Methods

    A review of the literature was performed using PubMed database. Inclusion criteria included patients 18 years or older, thoracolumbar MESCC, and surgeries with instrumented fusion. A total of 451 articles met the inclusion criteria and further analysis narrowed them down to 81 articles. Variables collected included blood loss, length of stay, operative time, pre- and postoperative Frankel grade, and complications.

    Results

    A total of 5726 papers were collected, with a total of 81 papers meeting final inclusion criteria: 26 papers with MIS technique and 55 with OS. A total of 2267 patients were evaluated. They were split into three surgical subtypes of MIS and OS: posterior decompression and fusion, partial corpectomy, and complete corpectomy. Overall, MIS had lower operative time, blood loss, and complications compared to OS. A timeline analysis showed reduction of complication rates in MIS surgery between papers published over a 28-year period.

    Conclusion

    MESCC carries significant morbidity and mortality. Surgical approaches for palliative treatment should account for this fact. We conclude that MIS techniques offer a viable alternative to traditional OS approaches with lower overall morbidity and complications.

  14. Abstract

    Purpose

    Lumbar discogenic diffuse pain is still not understood. Authors describe the sinuvertebral nerve (SVN) as one possible cause. Body-donor studies are rare and controversial. Therefore, the aim was to revisit the origin, course and distribution in a body-donor study.

    Methods

    Six lumbar blocks (3 female, 3 male) aged between 59 and 94 years were dissected. After removal of the back muscles, lamina, dura mater and cauda equina, the anterior vertebral venous plexus, spinal artery and SVN were exposed and evaluated.

    Results

    43 nerves out of 48 levels could be evaluated. The origin of the SVN was constituted by two roots: a somatic and a sympathetic branch arising from the rami communicantes. In 4/48 intervertebral canals studied (8.3%), we found two SVN at the same level. In 35/48 cases, one SVN was found. In 9/48 cases, no SVN was found. The SVN had a recurrent course below the inferior vertebral notch; in the vertebral canal it showed different patterns: ascending branch (31/43, 72.1%), common branch diverging into two branches (10/43, 23.3%), double ascending branch (1/43, 2.3%) finalizing two levels above and a descending branch (1/43, 2.3%). In 12/43 cases (27.9%) the SVN had ipsilateral connections with another SVN. The distribution ended in the middle of the vertebral body supplying adjacent structures.

    Conclusion

    A thorough understanding of the anatomy of the SVN might lead to significant benefits in therapy of discogenic low back pain. We suggest blocking the SVN at the level of the inferior vertebral notch of two adjacent segments.

    Level of evidence I

    Diagnostic: individual cross-sectional studies with consistently applied reference standard and blinding

  15. Abstract

    Purpose

    To examine whether unilateral multifidus damage could promote degeneration at the L5-6 facet joint (FJ) and compensatory changes in lumbo-pelvic muscles in rats.

    Methods

    12 facet clamp, 12 facet sham and 7 control rats were studied. Facet clamp and sham animals had the left L5-6 FJ exposed, and the clamp group had a mild compressive clamp applied using hemostatic forceps to model post-traumatic arthritis. Both groups then had the left multifidus detached from the L1–L6 spinous processes. Animals were euthanized 28 days post-surgery. Muscle mass and fascicle length were evaluated bilaterally for the paraspinal muscles, gluteal muscles and biceps femoris. Intra-muscular collagen of the paraspinal muscles was measured histologically. FJ transverse plane angles were measured from micro-computed tomography scans. L5-6 FJ degeneration was evaluated through the 24-point OARSI scale.

    Results

    Differences, compared to control, were observed in the detached multifidus from both facet clamp and sham groups; namely decreased mass and fascicle length and increased collagen content. However, no between group differences were found for any other muscle. Further, mild FJ degeneration was more prevalent in the groups that had experienced multifidus injury but was not exacerbated by the mild compressive clamping of the FJ.

    Conclusion

    Unilateral multifidus injury with or without FJ compressive clamping does not have a clear impact on the characteristics of surrounding spinal musculature within 28 days post-surgery in rats. Mild FJ degeneration was present in some animals from all three groups, and the impact of multifidus injury on this degeneration is inconclusive.