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## The minimally invasive spinal deformity surgery algorithm: a reproducible rational framework for decision making in minimally invasive spinal deformity surgery

### Object

Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) is an alternative to open deformity surgery for the treatment of patients with adult spinal deformity. However, at this time MIS techniques are not as versatile as open deformity techniques, and MIS techniques have been reported to result in suboptimal sagittal plane correction or pseudarthrosis when used for severe deformities. The minimally invasive spinal deformity surgery (MISDEF) algorithm was created to provide a framework for rational decision making for surgeons who are considering MIS versus open spine surgery.

### Methods

A team of experienced spinal deformity surgeons developed the MISDEF algorithm that incorporates a patient's preoperative radiographic parameters and leads to one of 3 general plans ranging from MIS direct or indirect decompression to open deformity surgery with osteotomies. The authors surveyed fellowship-trained spine surgeons experienced with spinal deformity surgery to validate the algorithm using a set of 20 cases to establish interobserver reliability. They then resurveyed the same surgeons 2 months later with the same cases presented in a different sequence to establish intraobserver reliability. Responses were collected and tabulated. Fleiss' analysis was performed using MATLAB software.

### Results

Over a 3-month period, 11 surgeons completed the surveys. Responses for MISDEF algorithm case review demonstrated an interobserver kappa of 0.58 for the first round of surveys and an interobserver kappa of 0.69 for the second round of surveys, consistent with substantial agreement. In at least 10 cases there was perfect agreement between the reviewing surgeons. The mean intraobserver kappa for the 2 surveys was 0.86 ± 0.15 (± SD) and ranged from 0.62 to 1.

### Conclusions

The use of the MISDEF algorithm provides consistent and straightforward guidance for surgeons who are considering either an MIS or an open approach for the treatment of patients with adult spinal deformity. The MISDEF algorithm was found to have substantial inter- and intraobserver agreement. Although further studies are needed, the application of this algorithm could provide a platform for surgeons to achieve the desired goals of surgery.

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## Cost-effectiveness of lumbar discectomy and single-level fusion for spondylolisthesis: experience with the NeuroPoint-SD registry

### Object

There is significant practice variation and uncertainty as to the value of surgical treatments for lumbar spine disorders. The authors' aim was to establish a multicenter registry to assess the efficacy and costs of common lumbar spinal procedures by using prospectively collected outcomes.

### Methods

An observational prospective cohort study was completed at 13 academic and community sites. Patients undergoing single-level fusion for spondylolisthesis or single-level lumbar discectomy were included. The 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) data were obtained preoperatively and at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months postoperatively. Power analysis estimated a sample size of 160 patients: lumbar disc (125 patients) and lumbar listhesis (35 patients). The quality-adjusted life year (QALY) data were calculated using 6-dimension utility index scores. Direct costs and complication costs were estimated using Medicare reimbursement values from 2011, and indirect costs were estimated using the human capital approach with the 2011 US national wage index. Total costs equaled $14,980 for lumbar discectomy and$43,852 for surgery for lumbar spondylolisthesis.

### Results

There were 198 patients enrolled over 1 year. The mean age was 46 years (49% female) for lumbar discectomy (n = 148) and 58.1 years (60% female) for lumbar spondylolisthesis (n = 50). Ten patients with disc herniation (6.8%) and 1 with listhesis (2%) required repeat operation at 1 year. The overall 1-year follow-up rate was 88%. At 30 days, both lumbar discectomy and single-level fusion procedures were associated with significant improvements in ODI, visual analog scale, and SF-36 scores (p = 0.0002), which persisted at the 1-year evaluation (p < 0.0001). By 1 year, more than 80% of patients in each cohort who were working preoperatively had returned to work. Lumbar discectomy was associated with a gain of 0.225 QALYs over the 1-year study period ($66,578/QALY gained). Lumbar spinal fusion for Grade I listhesis was associated with a gain of 0.195 QALYs over the 1-year study period ($224,420/QALY gained).

### Conclusions

This national spine registry demonstrated successful collection of high-quality outcomes data for spinal procedures in actual practice. These data are useful for demonstrating return to work and cost-effectiveness following surgical treatment of single-level lumbar disc herniation or spondylolisthesis. One-year cost per QALY was obtained, and this cost per QALY is expected to improve further by 2 years. This work sets the stage for real-world analysis of the value of health interventions.

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## Editorial: Depression and outcome

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## Editorial: Medical management

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## Surgical treatment of pathological loss of lumbar lordosis (flatback) in patients with normal sagittal vertical axis achieves similar clinical improvement as surgical treatment of elevated sagittal vertical axis

### Object

Increased sagittal vertical axis (SVA) correlates strongly with pain and disability for adults with spinal deformity. A subset of patients with sagittal spinopelvic malalignment (SSM) have flatback deformity (pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis [PI-LL] mismatch > 10°) but remain sagittally compensated with normal SVA. Few data exist for SSM patients with flatback deformity and normal SVA. The authors' objective was to compare baseline disability and treatment outcomes for patients with compensated (SVA < 5 cm and PI-LL mismatch > 10°) and decompensated (SVA > 5 cm) SSM.

### Methods

The study was a multicenter, prospective analysis of adults with spinal deformity who consecutively underwent surgical treatment for SSM. Inclusion criteria included age older than 18 years, presence of adult spinal deformity with SSM, plan for surgical treatment, and minimum 1-year follow-up data. Patients with SSM were divided into 2 groups: those with compensated SSM (SVA < 5 cm and PI-LL mismatch > 10°) and those with decompensated SSM (SVA ≥ 5 cm). Baseline and 1-year follow-up radiographic and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) outcomes included Oswestry Disability Index, Short Form–36 scores, and Scoliosis Research Society–22 scores. Percentages of patients achieving minimal clinically important difference (MCID) were also assessed.

### Results

A total of 125 patients (27 compensated and 98 decompensated) met inclusion criteria. Compared with patients in the compensated group, patients in the decompensated group were older (62.9 vs 55.1 years; p = 0.004) and had less scoliosis (43° vs 54°; p = 0.002), greater SVA (12.0 cm vs 1.7 cm; p < 0.001), greater PI-LL mismatch (26° vs 20°; p = 0.013), and poorer HRQOL scores (Oswestry Disability Index, Short Form-36 physical component score, Scoliosis Research Society-22 total; p ≤ 0.016). Although these baseline HRQOL differences between the groups reached statistical significance, only the mean difference in Short Form–36 physical component score reached threshold for MCID. Compared with baseline assessment, at 1 year after surgery improvement was noted for patients in both groups for mean SVA (compensated –1.1 cm, decompensated +4.8 cm; p ≤ 0.009), mean PI-LL mismatch (compensated 6°, decompensated 5°; p < 0.001), and all HRQOL measures assessed (p ≤ 0.005). No significant differences were found between the compensated and decompensated groups in the magnitude of HRQOL score improvement or in the percentages of patients achieving MCID for each of the outcome measures assessed.

### Conclusions

Decompensated SSM patients with elevated SVA experience significant disability; however, the amount of disability in compensated SSM patients with flatback deformity caused by PI-LL mismatch but normal SVA is underappreciated. Surgical correction of SSM demonstrated similar radiographic and HRQOL score improvements for patients in both groups. Evaluation of SSM should extend beyond measuring SVA. Among patients with concordant pain and disability, PI-LL mismatch must be evaluated for SSM patients and can be considered a primary indication for surgery.

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## Editorial: Dynamic stabilization

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## Results of the AANS membership survey of adult spinal deformity knowledge: impact of training, practice experience, and assessment of potential areas for improved education

### Object

Adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery is increasing in the spinal neurosurgeon's practice.

### Methods

A survey of neurosurgeon AANS membership assessed the deformity knowledge base and impact of current training, education, and practice experience to identify opportunities for improved education. Eleven questions developed and agreed upon by experienced spinal deformity surgeons tested ASD knowledge and were subgrouped into 5 categories: 1) radiology/spinopelvic alignment, 2) health-related quality of life, 3) surgical indications, 4) operative technique, and 5) clinical evaluation. Chi-square analysis was used to compare differences based on participant demographic characteristics (years of practice, spinal surgery fellowship training, percentage of practice comprising spinal surgery).

### Results

Responses were received from 1456 neurosurgeons. Of these respondents, 57% had practiced less than 10 years, 20% had completed a spine fellowship, and 32% devoted more than 75% of their practice to spine. The overall correct answer percentage was 42%. Radiology/spinal pelvic alignment questions had the lowest percentage of correct answers (38%), while clinical evaluation and surgical indications questions had the highest percentage (44%). More than 10 years in practice, completion of a spine fellowship, and more than 75% spine practice were associated with greater overall percentage correct (p < 0.001). More than 10 years in practice was significantly associated with increased percentage of correct answers in 4 of 5 categories. Spine fellowship and more than 75% spine practice were significantly associated with increased percentage correct in all categories. Interestingly, the highest error was seen in risk for postoperative coronal imbalance, with a very low rate of correct responses (15%) and not significantly improved with fellowship (18%, p = 0.08).

### Conclusions

The results of this survey suggest that ASD knowledge could be improved in neurosurgery. Knowledge may be augmented with neurosurgical experience, spinal surgery fellowships, and spinal specialization. Neurosurgical education should particularly focus on radiology/spinal pelvic alignment, especially pelvic obliquity and coronal imbalance and operative techniques for ASD.

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## Prospective multicenter assessment of risk factors for rod fracture following surgery for adult spinal deformity

### Object

Improved understanding of rod fracture (RF) following adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery could prove valuable for surgical planning, patient counseling, and implant design. The objective of this study was to prospectively assess the rates of and risk factors for RF following surgery for ASD.

### Methods

This was a prospective, multicenter, consecutive series. Inclusion criteria were ASD, age > 18 years, ≥5 levels posterior instrumented fusion, baseline full-length standing spine radiographs, and either development of RF or full-length standing spine radiographs obtained at least 1 year after surgery that demonstrated lack of RF. ASD was defined as presence of at least one of the following: coronal Cobb angle ≥20°, sagittal vertical axis (SVA) ≥5 cm, pelvic tilt (PT) ≥25°, and thoracic kyphosis ≥60°.

### Results

Of 287 patients who otherwise met inclusion criteria, 200 (70%) either demonstrated RF or had radiographic imaging obtained at a minimum of 1 year after surgery showing lack of RF. The patients' mean age was 54.8 ± 15.8 years; 81% were women; 10% were smokers; the mean body mass index (BMI) was 27.1 ± 6.5; the mean number of levels fused was 12.0 ± 3.8; and 50 patients (25%) had a pedicle subtraction osteotomy (PSO). The rod material was cobalt chromium (CC) in 53%, stainless steel (SS), in 26%, or titanium alloy (TA) in 21% of cases; the rod diameters were 5.5 mm (in 68% of cases), 6.0 mm (in 13%), or 6.35 mm (in 19%). RF occurred in 18 cases (9.0%) at a mean of 14.7 months (range 3–27 months); patients without RF had a mean follow-up of 19 months (range 12–24 months). Patients with RF were older (62.3 vs 54.1 years, p = 0.036), had greater BMI (30.6 vs 26.7, p = 0.019), had greater baseline sagittal malalignment (SVA 11.8 vs 5.0 cm, p = 0.001; PT 29.1° vs 21.9°, p = 0.016; and pelvic incidence [PI]–lumbar lordosis [LL] mismatch 29.6° vs 12.0°, p = 0.002), and had greater sagittal alignment correction following surgery (SVA reduction by 9.6 vs 2.8 cm, p < 0.001; and PI-LL mismatch reduction by 26.3° vs 10.9°, p = 0.003). RF occurred in 22.0% of patients with PSO (10 of the 11 fractures occurred adjacent to the PSO level), with rates ranging from 10.0% to 31.6% across centers. CC rods were used in 68% of PSO cases, including all with RF. Smoking, levels fused, and rod diameter did not differ significantly between patients with and without RF (p > 0.05). In cases including a PSO, the rate of RF was significantly higher with CC rods than with TA or SS rods (33% vs 0%, p = 0.010). On multivariate analysis, only PSO was associated with RF (p = 0.001, OR 5.76, 95% CI 2.01–15.8).

### Conclusions

Rod fracture occurred in 9.0% of ASD patients and in 22.0% of PSO patients with a minimum of 1-year follow-up. With further follow-up these rates would likely be even higher. There was a substantial range in the rate of RF with PSO across centers, suggesting potential variations in technique that warrant future investigation. Due to higher rates of RF with PSO, alternative instrumentation strategies should be considered for these cases.

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## Evaluation of monoenergetic imaging to reduce metallic instrumentation artifacts in computed tomography of the cervical spine

### OBJECT

Monoenergetic imaging with dual-energy CT has been proposed to reduce metallic artifacts in comparison with conventional polychromatic CT. The purpose of this study is to systematically evaluate and define the optimal dual-energy CT imaging parameters for specific cervical spinal implant alloy compositions.

### METHODS

Spinal fixation rods of cobalt-chromium or titanium alloy inserted into the cervical spine section of an Alderson Rando anthropomorphic phantom were imaged ex vivo with fast-kilovoltage switching CT at 80 and 140 peak kV. The collimation width and field of view were varied between 20 and 40 mm and medium to large, respectively. Extrapolated monoenergetic images were generated at 70, 90, 110, and 130 kiloelectron volts (keV). The standard deviation of voxel intensities along a circular line profile around the spine was used as an index of the magnitude of metallic artifact.

### RESULTS

The metallic artifact was more conspicuous around the fixation rods made of cobalt-chromium than those of titanium alloy. The magnitude of metallic artifact seen with titanium fixation rods was minimized at monoenergies of 90 keV and higher, using a collimation width of 20 mm and large field of view. The magnitude of metallic artifact with cobalt-chromium fixation rods was minimized at monoenergies of 110 keV and higher; collimation width or field of view had no effect.

### CONCLUSIONS

Optimization of acquisition settings used with monoenergetic CT studies might yield reduced metallic artifacts.

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