Cervical spinal cord bullet fragment removal using a minimally invasive surgical approach: a case report
1 Department of Neurological Surgery, Northwestern University, 676 N. St. Clair Street, Suite 2210, Chicago, IL 60661, USA
2 Neurological Surgery, UVA Spine Center, 415 Ray C. Hunt Dr., Charlottesville, VA 22903, USA
Journal of Medical Case Reports 2012, 6:235 doi:10.1186/1752-1947-6-235Published: 9 August 2012
We present a case of penetrating gunshot injury to the high-cervical spinal cord and describe a minimally invasive approach used for removal of the bullet fragment. We present this report to demonstrate technical feasibility of a minimally invasive approach to projectile removal.
An 18-year-old African-American man presented to our hospital with a penetrating gunshot injury to the high-cervical spine. The bullet lodged in the spinal cord at the C1 level and rendered our patient quadriplegic and dependent on a ventilator. For personal and forensic reasons, our patient and his family requested removal of the bullet fragment almost one year following the injury. Given the significant comorbidity associated with quadriplegia and ventilator dependency, a minimally invasive approach was used to limit the peri-operative complication risk and expedite recovery. Using a minimally invasive expandable retractor system and the aid of a microscope, the posterior arch of C1 was removed, the dura was opened, and the bullet fragment was successfully removed from the spinal cord.
Here we describe a minimally invasive procedure demonstrating the technical feasibility of removing an intramedullary foreign object from the high-cervical spine. We do not suggest that the availability of minimally invasive procedures should lower the threshold or expand the indications for the removal of bullet fragments in the spinal canal. Rather, our objective is to expand the indications for minimally invasive procedures in an effort to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with spinal procedures. In addition, this report may help to highlight the feasibility of this approach.