European Spine Journal

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  1. Abstract

    Purpose

    Two main surgical approaches are available for fusing the sacroiliac joint (SIJ): an open or minimally invasive (MIS) approach. The purpose of this study was to analyze the associated total hospital charges and postoperative complications of the MIS and open approach.

    Methods

    Using the 2016 and 2017 National Readmission Database, we conducted a retrospective cohort analysis of 2521 patients who received a SIJ fusion with an open (N = 1990) or MIS (N = 531) approach for diagnosed sacrum pain, sacroiliitis, sacral instability, or spondylosis. Each cohort was analyzed for postoperative complications.

    Results

    We identified 604 patients diagnosed with sacrum pain, 1142 with sacroiliitis, 315 with spondylosis, and 288 with sacral instability. Patients who received the open approach for sacrum pain had significantly higher rates of novel post-procedural pain (p = 0.045) and novel lumbar pathology (p = 0.015) within 30 days. On 30-day follow-up, patients with sacroiliitis treated with open SIJ fusion had significantly higher rates of novel postprocedural pain compared to those treated with MIS fusion (p = 0.045). Patients who received the open approach for spondylosis resulted in significantly higher rates of non-elective readmission within 30 days compared to the MIS approach (p < 0.0001). In addition, the open technique for spondylosis resulted in significantly higher rates of non-elective readmissions for infection within 30 days (p = 0.014). On 30-day follow-up, patients with sacral instability treated with open SIJ fusion had significantly higher rates of UTI (p = 0.045).

    Conclusion

    Our study suggests that there exist unique postoperative complications that arise after SIJ fusion specific to preoperative diagnosis and surgical approach.

  2. Abstract

    Purpose

    The literature concerning the effects of scoliosis correction on pulmonary function (PF) is scarce and solely related to spinal fusion. Vertebral body tethering (VBT) represents a new option for scoliosis correction; however, its effects on PF have not yet been investigated. As VBT is a fusion-less technique that does not limit the dynamics of the chest wall, it is expected not to have a negative impact on PF despite the anterior surgical approach.

    Methods

    We analyzed the PF preoperatively and compared it with the PF at 6-weeks, 6-months and 12-monthts postoperatively. Considered parameters were total lung capacity (TLC), forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) expressed as percentages. A change of more than 10% was considered clinically significant.

    Results

    Before VBT, overall TLC, FEV1 and FVC measured 98 ± 15%, 85 ± 16% and 91 ± 17%, respectively. Six weeks after surgery, all parameters were comparable to the preoperative values (TLC 96 ± 17%, FEV1 84 ± 14%, FVC 90 ± 16%) and remained so at the last follow-up (TLC 99 ± 15%, FEV1 89 ± 9%, FVC 86 ± 9). While a reduction in FEV1 and FVC was observed at 6-weeks and 6-months in patients with thoracic or double curves compared to thoracolumbar curves, no significant differences were observed at the 12-months follow-up.

    Conclusions

    VBT does not cause a reduction in PF values at a short-term follow-up.

  3. Abstract

    Purpose

    Metagenomic next-generation sequencing (mNGS) is a new approach to identify the infecting organism in infectious diseases. Our aim was to evaluate the accuracy of mNGS in determining the etiology of spinal infection.

    Methods

    In this retrospective study, patients who had a suspected spinal infection and underwent mNGS for diagnosis in our hospital were eligible for inclusion. Samples for mNGS, culture, and histopathological tests were collected surgically or with a CT-guided needle biopsy. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated for mNGS and culture test, using histopathological results as reference.

    Results

    A total of 31 mNGS tests in 30 cases were included. Twenty-six cases were classified as infected, and four cases were considered aseptic. mNGS achieved a specificity of 75.0% [95% confidence interval (CI), 21.9% to 98.7%], sensitivity was 70.3% (95% CI, 49.7% to 85.5%). mNGS was more sensitive than culture at 14.8% (95% CI, 4.9% to 34.6%, P < 0.0001). However, the specificities of mNGS and culture were statistically similar.

    Conclusion

    We described here the power of mNGS in the etiological diagnosing of spinal infection. Our study opens the possibility for more extensive use of mNGS techniques in the identification of pathogens in patients with suspected spinal infection.

  4. Abstract

    Objective

    The aim of the study was to compare total en bloc spondylectomy (TES) and separation surgery with postoperative stereotactic radiosurgery (SSRS) for isolated metastatic patients with spinal cord compression by assessing recurrence-free survival (RFS), overall survival (OS), postoperative complications, and quality of life scores (QoL).

    Methods

    From October 2013 to December 2020, 52 isolated spinal metastasis patients with cord compression were selected and separated into two groups based on the surgical method used (TES group, n = 26; and SSRS group, n = 26). Indexes for evaluation included postoperative Frankel grade, postoperative ECOG-PS, RFS, OS, postoperative complications, operation time, intraoperative blood loss, and QoL.

    Results

    The average follow-up duration was 31.44 months. There was no significant difference (P > 0.05) in postoperative complications and OS between the two groups. However, a significant difference in operation time, intraoperative blood loss, postoperative ECOG-PS, RFS, and mental health domain (6 months after surgery) was found between the two groups (P < 0.05). According to The Spine Oncology Study Group Outcomes Questionnaire assessment, the total pain and physical function domains scores were also elevated after surgery in both groups. However, no significant difference was observed between groups A and B (p = 0.450 and 0.446, respectively).

    Conclusions

    TES and SSRS were efficient methods for treating solitary spinal metastasis patients with metastatic spinal cord compression. Better local tumor control and mental health were found in the TES group, and most patients felt as if they were free of spinal tumors. Compared with TES, the SSRS caused less operation-related trauma. However, there was no significant difference in OS between the two groups.

  5. Abstract

    Purpose

    Until recently, there has been no consensus on the optimal operative window for decompressive surgery in acute spinal cord injury (aSCI). However, recent evidence is now supporting a role for early intervention in improving outcomes in this type of patients. The purpose of this letter is to discuss the implications for clinical practice within the European community.

    Methods

    Critical appraisal and interpretation of these results for clinical implementation.

    Results

    Leveraging on the evidence that early (< 24 h), and possibly ultra-early (< 8 h), decompressive spinal surgery in aSCI affords better neurological outcomes, the next challenge for our community will be to ensure that spinal surgery services can accommodate this caseload. Here, we discuss the challenges that will be faced by spinal surgeons and draw parallels between the scaling of these services and the implementation of mechanical thrombectomy for acute ischaemic stroke. We outline key lessons that have been learnt from the rapid scaling of mechanical thrombectomy services and highlight the provisions in infrastructure, education, and staffing that will be required.

    Conclusion

    This is a call for hospital systems to swiftly restructure spinal services in order to meet the need for early, and possibly ultra-early, spinal decompression in aSCI cases in the near future.

  6. Abstract

    Background

    Lumbar disc degeneration (LDD) may be related to aging, biomechanical and genetic factors. Despite the extensive work on understanding its etiology, there is currently no automated tool for accurate prediction of its progression.

    Purpose

    We aim to establish a novel deep learning-based pipeline to predict the progression of LDD-related findings using lumbar MRIs.

    Materials and methods

    We utilized our dataset with MRIs acquired from 1,343 individual participants (taken at the baseline and the 5-year follow-up timepoint), and progression assessments (the Schneiderman score, disc bulging, and Pfirrmann grading) that were labelled by spine specialists with over ten years clinical experience. Our new pipeline was realized by integrating the MRI-SegFlow and the Visual Geometry Group-Medium (VGG-M) for automated disc region detection and LDD progression prediction correspondingly. The LDD progression was quantified by comparing the Schneiderman score, disc bulging and Pfirrmann grading at the baseline and at follow-up. A fivefold cross-validation was conducted to assess the predictive performance of the new pipeline.

    Results

    Our pipeline achieved very good performances on the LDD progression prediction, with high progression prediction accuracy of the Schneiderman score (Accuracy: 90.2 ± 0.9%), disc bulging (Accuracy: 90.4% ± 1.1%), and Pfirrmann grading (Accuracy: 89.9% ± 2.1%).

    Conclusion

    This is the first attempt of using deep learning to predict LDD progression on a large dataset with 5-year follow-up. Requiring no human interference, our pipeline can potentially achieve similar predictive performances in new settings with minimal efforts.

  7. Abstract

    Objective

    To identify the impact of osteoporosis (OS) on postoperative outcomes in Medicare patients undergoing ASD surgery.

    Background

    Patients with OP and advanced age experience higher than average rates of ASD. However, poor bone density could undermine the durability of a deformity correction.

    Methods

    We queried the MarketScan Medicare Supplemental database to identify patients Medicare patients who underwent ASD surgery from 2007 to 2016.

    Results

    A total of 2564 patients met the inclusion criteria of this study, of whom n = 971 (61.0%) were diagnosed with osteoporosis. Patients with OP had a similar 90-day postoperative complication rates (OP: 54.6% vs. non-OP: 49.2%, p = 0.0076, not significant after multivariate regression correction). This was primarily driven by posthemorrhagic anemia (37.6% in OP, vs. 33.1% in non-OP). Rates of revision surgery were similar at 90 days (non-OP 15.0%, OP 16.8%), but by 2 years, OP patients had a significantly higher reoperation rate (30.4% vs. 22.9%, p < 0.0001). In multivariate regression analysis, OP increased odds for revision surgery at 1 year (OR 1.4) and 2 years (OR 1.5) following surgery (all p < 0.05). OP was also an independent predictor of readmission at all time points (90 days, OR 1.3, p < 0.005).

    Conclusion

    Medicare patients with OP had elevated rates of complications, reoperations, and outpatient costs after undergoing primary ASD surgery.

  8. Abstract

    Objectives

    To assess test–retest reliability, internal consistency, construct validity, and the presence of ceiling and floor effects in the Brazilian version of the Short-Form Neck Disability Index (SF-NDI) in patients with chronic neck pain.

    Methods

    One hundred and fifty-six patients answered the Numerical Pain Rating Scale (NPRS), Short-Form Neck Disability Index (SF-NDI), Tampa Scale of Kinesiophobia (TKS), Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS), and the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey questionnaire (SF-36). Another sample (n = 51) filled the SF-NDI at two different times, and test–retest reliability was measured using the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC), standard error of measurement (SEM), and minimum detectable change (MDC). The internal consistency of the SF-NDI was analyzed by Cronbach's alpha. To determine construct validity, Spearman's correlation coefficient was used to determine the magnitude of the correlation between the score of the SF-NDI and other measurement instruments: NPRS, TKS, PCS, SF-36, and original NDI.

    Results

    SF-NDI presented substantial reliability (ICC = 0.844) and adequate internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha = 0.778). We observed significant values and with a correlation magnitude greater than 0.80 for the SF-NDI with the original NDI, between 0.30 and 0.50 for the correlations with TKS, and the functional capacity and pain domains of the SF-36, and less than 0.30 with the other study instruments. No participant reached the maximum score. Ceiling and floor effects were not observed.

    Conclusions

    SF-NDI with 5 items has adequate measurement properties in Brazilian chronic neck pain patients.

  9. Abstract

    Purpose

    To determine the impact of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on fracture classification for low lumbar fractures (LLFs) compared to CT alone.

    Methods

    This study was a retrospective review of 41 consecutive patients with LLFs who underwent CT and MRI within 10 days of injury. Three reviewers classified all fractures according to AOSpine Classification and the Thoracolumbar Injury Classification (TLISS). Posterior ligamentous complex (PLC) injury in MRI was defined by black stripe discontinuity and in CT by the presence of: vertebral body translation, facet joint malalignment, horizontal laminar or spinous process fracture, and interspinous widening. The proportion of patients with AO type A/B/C and with TLISS < 5 and ≥ 5 was compared between CT and MRI. We examined the overall accuracy and individual CT findings for PLC injury.

    Results

    AO classification using CT was: AO type A in 26 patients (61%), type B in 7 patients (17%), and type C in 8 patients (22%). Seventeen patients (41%) had a TLISS ≥ 5 while 24 (59%) had TLISS < 5. The addition of MRI after CT changed the AO classification in only 2 patients (4.9%, 95% CI (0.6–16.5%) due to upgrade of type A to type B or vice versa, but did not change TLISS from < 5 to ≥ 5 [p< 0.0001; 95% CI (0.59, 0.77)].

    Conclusions

    CT was highly accurate (95%) for diagnosis of PLC injury in LLFs. Addition of MRI after CT did not change the AO classification or TLISS, compared to CT alone, thus suggesting limited additional value of MRI for PLC assessment or fracture classification.

  10. Abstract

    Purpose

    A damaged vertebral body can exhibit accelerated ‘creep’ under constant load, leading to progressive vertebral deformity. However, the risk of this happening is not easy to predict in clinical practice. The present cadaveric study aimed to identify morphometric measurements in a damaged vertebral body that can predict a susceptibility to accelerated creep.

    Methods

    A total of 27 vertebral trabeculae samples cored from five cadaveric spines (3 male, 2 female, aged 36 to 73 (mean 57) years) were mechanically tested to establish the relationship between bone damage and residual strain. Compression testing of 28 human spinal motion segments (three vertebrae and intervening soft tissues) dissected from 14 cadaveric spines (10 male, 4 female, aged 67 to 92 (mean 80) years) showed how the rate of creep of a damaged vertebral body increases with increasing “damage intensity” in its trabecular bone. Damage intensity was calculated from vertebral body residual strain following initial compressive overload using the relationship established in the compression test of trabecular bone samples.

    Results

    Calculations from trabecular bone samples showed a strong nonlinear relationship between residual strain and trabecular bone damage intensity (R2 = 0.78, P < 0.001). In damaged vertebral bodies, damage intensity was then related to vertebral creep rate (R2 = 0.39, P = 0.001). This procedure enabled accelerated vertebral body creep to be predicted from morphological changes (residual strains) in the damaged vertebra.

    Conclusion

    These findings suggest that morphometric measurements obtained from fractured vertebrae can be used to quantify vertebral damage and hence to predict progressive vertebral deformity.

  11. Abstract

    Purpose

    To investigate whether upright magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has a role in defining thoracolumbar spine pathology in elite gymnastics.

    Methods

    A prospective cross-sectional observational study of National Senior and Junior Artistic gymnasts in three MRI positions (standard supine, upright flexed and extended positions). Two specialist musculoskeletal radiologists independently analysed images with neutral as a baseline with the effects of flexion and extension reported in line with Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) statement.

    Results

    Forty (18 males) gymnasts aged 13–24 years with a mean (SD) of 32 (5.3) training hours per week consented with 75% showing MRI abnormalities. Degenerative disc disease (DDD) was evident in 55% participants with vertebral end plate (VEP) changes in 42.5%. Spondylolysis was present in 40% with an additional 17% showing chronic bilateral complete L5 pars defects. 23% participants demonstrated different MRI findings in upright flexion compared to neutral.

    Conclusion

    Findings suggest a high levels of MRI abnormalities in elite gymnastics including altered disc morphology and posterior element abnormalities. High prevalence of T11/12 DDD and VEP changes reflects the thoracolumbar junction being a transition zone. Upright MRI and varying spine position offer promise for enhanced visualisation of posterior element abnormalities.