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## The value of high-resolution imaging in an occult peroneal intraneural ganglion cyst: illustrative case

### BACKGROUND

Foot drop is a common complaint with a broad differential diagnosis making imaging a key part of the diagnostic workup. The authors present a patient with an occult peroneal intraneural ganglion cyst who underwent imaging with high-frequency ultrasound (US) and high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to highlight the role of such techniques in cases of peroneal neuropathy.

### OBSERVATIONS

Intraneural ganglion cysts are emerging as a common cause of common peroneal neuropathy. Imaging with US and MRI is a valuable tool used to illustrate the pertinent anatomy and identify the articular branch joint connection and cyst as part of the surgical planning and definitive management.

### LESSONS

Intraneural ganglion cysts can be small or nearly invisible and failure to appreciate the intraneural cyst can lead to symptom or cyst persistence or recurrence. High-resolution modalities can be useful in the diagnosis and surgical planning of difficult cases.

Free access

## A mentorship model for neurosurgical training: the Mayo Clinic experience

Neurosurgical education is a continually developing field with an aim of training competent and compassionate surgeons who can care for the needs of their patients. The Mayo Clinic utilizes a unique mentorship model for neurosurgical training. In this paper, the authors detail the historical roots as well as the logistical and experiential characteristics of this teaching model.

This model was first established in the late 1890s by the Mayo brothers and then adopted by the Mayo Clinic Department of Neurological Surgery at its inception in 1919. It has since been implemented enterprise-wide at the Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona residency programs. The mentorship model is focused on honing resident skills through individualized attention and guidance from an attending physician. Each resident is closely mentored by a consultant during a 2- or 3-month rotation, which allows for exposure to more complex cases early in their training.

In this model, residents take ownership of their patients’ care, following them longitudinally during their hospital course with guided oversight from their mentors. During the chief year, residents have their own clinic, operating room (OR) schedule, and OR team and service nurse. In this model, chief residents conduct themselves more in the manner of an attending physician than a trainee but continue to have oversight from staff to provide a “safety net.” The longitudinal care of patients provided by the residents under the mentorship model is not only beneficial for the trainee and the hospital, but also has a positive impact on patient satisfaction and safety. The Mayo Clinic Mentorship Model is one of many educational models that has demonstrated itself to be an excellent approach for resident education.

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## Positive impact of the pandemic: the effect of post–COVID-19 virtual visit implementation on departmental efficiency and patient satisfaction in a quaternary care center

### OBJECTIVE

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has significantly changed clinical practice across US healthcare. Increased adoption of telemedicine has emerged as an alternative to in-person contact for patient-physician interactions. The aim of this study was to analyze the impact of telemedicine on workflow and care delivery from January 2019 to December 2021 in a neurosurgical department at a quaternary care center.

### METHODS

Prospectively captured data on clinic appointment utilization, duration, and outcomes were queried. Visits were divided into in-person visits and telemedicine appointments, categorized as follow-up visits of previously surgically treated patients, internal consultations, new patient visits, and early postoperative returns after surgery. Appointment volume was compared pre- and postpandemic using March 2020 as the pandemic onset. Clinical efficiency was measured by time to appointment, rate of on-time appointments, proportion of appointments resulting in surgical intervention (surgical yield), and patient-reported satisfaction, the latter measured as the proportion of patients indicating “high likelihood to recommend practice.”

### RESULTS

A total of 54,562 visits occurred, most commonly for follow-up for previously operated patients (51.8%), internal new patient referrals (24.5%), and external new patient referrals (19.8%). Total visit volume was stable pre- to postpandemic (1521.3 vs 1512, p = 0.917). However, in-person visits significantly decreased (1517/month vs 1220/month, p < 0.001), with a nadir in April 2020, while telemedicine appointment utilization increased significantly (0.3% vs 19.1% of all visits). Telemedicine utilization remained stable throughout the 1st calendar year following the pandemic. Telemedicine appointments were associated with shorter time to appointment than in-person visits both before and after the pandemic onset (0–5 days from appointment request: 60% vs 33% vs 29.8%, p < 0.001). Patients had on-time appointments in 87% of telemedicine encounters. Notably, telemedicine appointments resulted in surgery in 31.8% of internal consultations or new patient visits, a significantly lower rate than that for in-person visits (51.8%). After the widespread integration of telemedicine, patient satisfaction for all visits was higher than before the pandemic onset (85.9% vs 88.5%, p = 0.027).

### CONCLUSIONS

Telemedicine use significantly increased following the pandemic onset, compensating for observed decreases in face-to-face visits. Utilization rates have remained stable, suggesting effective integration, and delays between referrals and appointments were lower than for in-person visits. Importantly, telemedicine integration was not associated with a decrease in overall patient satisfaction, although telemedicine appointments had a lower surgical yield. These data suggest that telemedicine smoothened the impact of the pandemic on clinical workflow and helped to maintain continuity and quality of outpatient care.

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## The spectrum of brachial plexopathy from perineural spread of breast cancer

### OBJECTIVE

Perineural spread of breast cancer to the brachial plexus can lead to pain, sensory alterations, and upper-extremity weakness. Although rare, perineural spread is an often-misdiagnosed long-term complication following breast cancer diagnosis. The objective of this study was to critically review the clinical, radiological, and pathological findings of biopsy-proven perineural spread of breast cancer to the brachial plexus.

### METHODS

This is a retrospective study from a single institution in which a total of 19 patients with brachial plexus involvement from perineural spread of breast cancer who underwent fascicular biopsy between 1999 and 2021 were identified. Clinical, radiographic, and pathological data were retrospectively collected. Descriptive statistics were calculated for the cohort.

### RESULTS

The mean age of patients at the time of diagnosis of breast cancer perineural spread was 60.6 ± 11.5 years. The diagnosis of brachial plexopathy due to perineural spread was on average 12 years after the primary diagnosis of breast cancer. There was also a delay in diagnosis due to the rarity of this disease, with a mean time from initial symptom onset to diagnosis of perineural spread of 25 ± 30 months. All patients at the time of presentation had upper-extremity weakness and pain. Nearly all patients demonstrated T2 signal change and nodular so-called sugar-coating contrast enhancement on brachial plexus MRI. Similarly, all patients who underwent PET/MRI or PET/CT had increased FDG uptake in the involved brachial plexus. Breast cancer perineural spread has an overall poor prognosis, with 16 of 19 patients dying within 5.9 ± 3.0 years after diagnosis of perineural spread.

### CONCLUSIONS

Perineural spread should be considered in patients with a history of breast cancer, even 10 years after primary diagnosis, especially in patients who present with arm pain, weakness, and/or sensory changes. Further diagnostic workup with electrodiagnostic studies; brachial plexus MRI, PET/CT, or PET/MRI; and possibly nerve biopsy is warranted to ensure accurate diagnosis.

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Free access

## Building and implementing an institutional registry for a data-driven national neurosurgical practice: experience from a multisite medical center

In an era when healthcare “value” remains a much-emphasized concept, measuring and reporting the quality of neurosurgical care and costs remains a challenge for large multisite health systems. Ensuring cohesion in outcomes across multiple sites is important to the development of a holistic competitive marketing strategy that seeks to promote “brand” performance characterized by a superior quality of patient care. This requires mechanisms for data collection and development of a single uniform outcomes measurement system site wide. Operationalizing a true multidisciplinary effort in this space requires intersection of a vast array of information technology and administrative resources along with the neurosurgeons who provide subject-matter expertise relevant to patient care. To measure neurosurgical quality and safety as well as improve payor contract negotiations, a practice analytics dashboard was created to allow summary visualization of operational indicators such as case volumes, quality outcomes, and relative value units and financial indicators such as total hospital costs and charges in order to provide a comprehensive overview of the “value” of surgical care. The current version of the dashboard summarizes these metrics by site, surgeon, and procedure for nearly 30,000 neurosurgical procedures that have been logged into the Mayo Clinic Enterprise Neurosurgery Registry since transition to the Epic electronic health record (EHR) system. In this article, the authors sought to review their experience in launching this EHR-linked data-driven neurosurgical practice initiative across a large, national multisite academic medical center.

Free access

## The clinical course and role of surgery in pediatric malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors: a database study

### OBJECTIVE

Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) are rare tumors found throughout the body, with their clinical course in children still not completely understood. Correspondingly, this study aimed to determine survival outcomes and specific clinical predictors of survival in this population from a large national database.

### METHODS

All patients with MPNSTs aged ≤ 18 years in the US National Cancer Database (NCDB) between 2005 and 2016 were retrospectively reviewed. Data were summarized, and overall survival was modeled using Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression analyses.

### RESULTS

A total of 251 pediatric patients with MPNSTs (132 [53%] females and 119 [47%] males) were identified; the mean age at diagnosis was 13.1 years (range 1–18 years). There were 84 (33%) MPNSTs located in the extremities, 127 (51%) were smaller than 1 cm, and 22 (9%) had metastasis at the time of diagnosis. In terms of treatment, surgery was pursued in 187 patients (74%), chemotherapy in 116 patients (46%), and radiation therapy in 129 patients (61%). The 5-year overall survival rate was estimated at 52% (95% CI 45%–59%), with a median survival of 64 months (range 36–136 months). Multivariate regression revealed that older age (HR 1.10, p < 0.01), metastases at the time of diagnosis (HR 2.14, p = 0.01), and undergoing biopsy only (HR 2.98, p < 0.01) significantly and independently predicted a shorter overall survival. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy were not statistically significant.

### CONCLUSIONS

In this study, the authors found that older patient age, tumor metastases at the time of diagnosis, and undergoing only biopsy significantly and independently predicted poorer outcomes. Only approximately half of patients survived to 5 years. These results have shown a clear survival benefit in pursuing maximal safe resection in pediatric patients with MPNSTs. As such, judicious workup with meticulous resection by an expert team should be considered the standard of care for these tumors in children.

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## Perineural spread of peripheral neurolymphomatosis to the cauda equina

### OBJECTIVE

Neurolymphomatosis (NL) is a rare manifestation of lymphoma confined to the peripheral nervous system that is poorly understood. It can be found in the cauda equina, but extraspinal disease can be underappreciated. The authors describe how extraspinal NL progresses to the cauda equina by perineural spread and the implications of this on timely and safe diagnostic options.

### METHODS

The authors used the Mayo Clinic medical records database to find cases of cauda equina NL with sufficient imaging to characterize the lumbosacral plexus diagnosed from tissue biopsy. Demographics (sex, age), clinical data (initial symptoms, cerebrospinal fluid, evidence of CNS involvement, biopsy location, primary or secondary disease), and imaging findings were reviewed.

### RESULTS

Ten patients met inclusion and exclusion criteria, and only 2 of 10 patients presented with cauda equina symptoms at the time of biopsy, with 1 patient undergoing a cauda equina biopsy. Eight patients were diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, 1 with low-grade B-cell lymphoma, and 1 with mantle cell lymphoma. Isolated spinal nerve involvement was identified in 5 of 10 cases, providing compelling evidence regarding the pathophysiology of NL. The conus medullaris was not radiologically involved in any case. Lumbosacral plexus MRI was able to identify extraspinal disease and offered diagnostically useful biopsy targets. FDG PET/CT was relatively insensitive for detecting disease in the cauda equina but was helpful in identifying extraspinal NL.

### CONCLUSIONS

The authors propose that perineural spread of extraspinal NL to infiltrate the cauda equina occurs in two phases. 1) There is proximal and distal spread along a peripheral nerve, with eventual spread to anatomically connected nerves via junction and branch points. 2) The tumor cells enter the spinal canal through corresponding neural foramina and propagate along the spinal nerves composing the cauda equina. To diffusely infiltrate the cauda equina, a third phase occurs in which tumor cells can spread circumdurally to the opposite side of the spinal canal and enter contralateral nerve roots extending proximally and distally. This spread of disease can lead to diffuse bilateral spinal nerve disease without diffuse leptomeningeal spread. Recognition of this phasic mechanism can lead to identification of safer extraspinal biopsy targets that could allow for greater functional recovery after appropriate treatment.

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## Do all outpatient spine surgeries cost the same? Comparison of economic outcomes data from a state-level database for outpatient lumbar decompression performed in an ambulatory surgery center or hospital outpatient setting

### OBJECTIVE

Spinal procedures are increasingly conducted as outpatient procedures, with a growing proportion conducted in ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs). To date, studies reporting outcomes and cost analyses for outpatient spinal procedures in the US have not distinguished the various outpatient settings from each other. In this study, the authors used a state-level administrative database to compare rates of overnight stays and nonroutine discharges as well as index admission charges and cumulative 7-, 30-, and 90-day charges for patients undergoing outpatient lumbar decompression in freestanding ASCs and hospital outpatient (HO) settings.

### METHODS

For this project, the authors used the Florida State Ambulatory Surgery Database (SASD), offered by the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), for the years 2013 and 2014. Patients undergoing outpatient lumbar decompression for degenerative diseases were identified using CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) and ICD-9 codes. Outcomes of interest included rates of overnight stays, rate of nonroutine discharges, index admission charges, and subsequent admission cumulative charges at 7, 30, and 90 days. Multivariable analysis was performed to assess the impact of outpatient type on index admission charges. Marginal effect analysis was employed to study the difference in predicted dollar margins between ASCs and HOs for each insurance type.

### RESULTS

A total of 25,486 patients were identified; of these, 7067 patients (27.7%) underwent lumbar decompression in a freestanding ASC and 18,419 (72.3%) in an HO. No patient in the ASC group required an overnight stay compared to 9.2% (n = 1691) in the HO group (p < 0.001). No clinically significant difference in the rate of nonroutine discharge was observed between the two groups. The mean index admission charge for the ASC group was found to be significantly higher than that for the HO group ($35,017.28 ±$14,335.60 vs $33,881.50 ±$15,023.70; p < 0.001). Patients in ASCs were also found to have higher mean 7-day (p < 0.001), 30-day (p < 0.001), and 90-day (p = 0.001) readmission charges. ASC procedures were associated with increased charges compared to HO procedures for patients on Medicare or Medicaid (mean index admission charge increase $4049.27, 95% CI$2577.87–$5520.67, p < 0.001) and for patients on private insurance ($4775.72, 95% CI $4171.06–$5380.38, p < 0.001). For patients on self-pay or no charge, a lumbar decompression procedure at an ASC was associated with a decrease in index admission charge of −$10,995.38 (95% CI −$12124.76 to −\$9866.01, p < 0.001) compared to a lumbar decompression procedure at an HO.

### CONCLUSIONS

These “real-world” results from an all-payer statewide database indicate that for outpatient spine surgery, ASCs may be associated with higher index admission and subsequent 7-, 30-, and 90-day charges. Given that ASCs are touted to have lower overall costs for patients and better profit margins for physicians, these analyses warrant further investigation into whether this cost benefit is applicable to outpatient spine procedures.

Free access

## Incidence and risk factors for prolonged postoperative opioid use following lumbar spine surgery: a cohort study

### OBJECTIVE

Sustained postoperative opioid use after elective surgery is a matter of growing concern. Herein, the authors investigated incidence and predictors of long-term opioid use among patients undergoing elective lumbar spine surgery, especially as a function of opioid prescribing practices at postoperative discharge (dose in morphine milligram equivalents [MMEs] and type of opioid).

### METHODS

The OptumLabs Data Warehouse (OLDW) was queried for postdischarge opioid prescriptions for patients undergoing elective lumbar decompression and discectomy (LDD) or posterior lumbar fusion (PLF) for degenerative spine disease. Only patients who received an opioid prescription at postoperative discharge and those who had a minimum of 180 days of insurance coverage prior to surgery and 180 days after surgery were included. Opioid-naive patients were defined as those who had no opioid fills in 180 days prior to surgery. The following patterns of long-term postoperative use were investigated: additional fills (at least one opioid fill 90–180 days after surgery), persistent fills (any span of opioid use starting in the 180 days after surgery and lasting at least 90 days), and Consortium to Study Opioid Risks and Trends (CONSORT) criteria for persistent use (episodes of opioid prescribing lasting longer than 90 days and 120 or more total days’ supply or 10 or more prescriptions in 180 days after the index fill). Multivariable logistic regression was performed to identify predictors of long-term use.

### RESULTS

A total of 25,587 patients were included, of whom 52.7% underwent PLF (n = 13,486) and 32.5% (n = 8312) were opioid-naive prior to surgery. The rates of additional fills, persistent fills, and CONSORT use were 47%, 30%, and 23%, respectively, after PLF and 35.4%, 19%, and 14.2%, respectively, after LDD. The rates among opioid-naive patients were 18.9%, 5.6%, and 2.5% respectively, after PLF and 13.3%, 2.0%, and 0.8%, respectively, after LDD. Using multivariable logistic regression, the following were identified to be significantly associated with higher risk of long-term opioid use following PLF: discharge opioid prescription ≥ 500 MMEs, prescription of a long-acting opioid, female sex, multilevel surgery, and comorbidities such as depression and drug abuse (all p < 0.05). Elderly (age ≥ 65 years) and opioid-naive patients were found to be at lower risk (all p < 0.05). Similar results were obtained on analysis for LDD with the following significant additional risk factors identified: discharge opioid prescription ≥ 400 MMEs, prescription of tramadol alone at discharge, and inpatient surgery (all p < 0.05).

### CONCLUSIONS

In an analysis of pharmacy claims from a national insurance database, the authors identified incidence and predictors of long-term opioid use after elective lumbar spine surgery.