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Bethany Hung, Zach Pennington, Andrew M. Hersh, Andrew Schilling, Jeff Ehresman, Jaimin Patel, Albert Antar, Jose L. Porras, Aladine A. Elsamadicy, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Previous studies have suggested the possibility of racial disparities in surgical outcomes for patients undergoing spine surgery, although this has not been thoroughly investigated in those with spinal metastases. Given the increasing prevalence of spinal metastases requiring intervention, knowledge about potential discrepancies in outcomes would benefit overall patient care. The objective in the present study was to investigate whether race was an independent predictor of postoperative complications, nonroutine discharge, and prolonged length of stay (LOS) after surgery for spinal metastasis.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively examined patients at a single comprehensive cancer center who had undergone surgery for spinal metastasis between April 2013 and April 2020. Demographic information, primary pathology, preoperative clinical characteristics, and operative outcomes were collected. Factors achieving p values < 0.15 on univariate regression were entered into a stepwise multivariable logistic regression to generate predictive models. Nonroutine discharge was defined as a nonhome discharge destination and prolonged LOS was defined as LOS greater than the 75th percentile for the entire cohort.

RESULTS

Three hundred twenty-eight patients who had undergone 348 operations were included: 240 (69.0%) White and 108 (31.0%) Black. On univariable analysis, cohorts significantly differed in age (p = 0.02), marital status (p < 0.001), insurance status (p = 0.03), income quartile (p = 0.02), primary tumor type (p = 0.04), and preoperative Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) score (p < 0.001). On multivariable analysis, race was an independent predictor for nonroutine discharge: Black patients had significantly higher odds of nonroutine discharge than White patients (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 2.24, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.28–3.92, p = 0.005). Older age (AOR 1.06 per year, 95% CI 1.03–1.09, p < 0.001), preoperative KPS score ≤ 70 (AOR 3.30, 95% CI 1.93–5.65, p < 0.001), preoperative Frankel grade A–C (AOR 3.48, 95% CI 1.17–10.3, p = 0.02), insurance status (p = 0.005), being unmarried (AOR 0.58, 95% CI 0.35–0.97, p = 0.04), number of levels (AOR 1.17 per level, 95% CI 1.05–1.31, p = 0.004), and thoracic involvement (AOR 1.71, 95% CI 1.02–2.88, p = 0.04) were also predictive of nonroutine discharge. However, race was not independently predictive of postoperative complications or prolonged LOS. Higher Charlson Comorbidity Index (AOR 1.22 per point, 95% CI 1.04–1.43, p = 0.01), low preoperative KPS score (AOR 1.84, 95% CI 1.16–2.92, p = 0.01), and number of levels (AOR 1.15 per level, 95% CI 1.05–1.27, p = 0.004) were predictive of complications, while insurance status (p = 0.05), income quartile (p = 0.01), low preoperative KPS score (AOR 1.64, 95% CI 1.03–2.72, p = 0.05), and number of levels (AOR 1.16 per level, 95% CI 1.05–1.30, p = 0.004) were predictive of prolonged LOS.

CONCLUSIONS

Race, insurance status, age, baseline functional status, and marital status were all independently associated with nonroutine discharge. This suggests that a combination of socioeconomic factors and functional status, rather than medical comorbidities, may best predict postdischarge disposition in patients treated for spinal metastases. Further investigation in a prospective cohort is merited.

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Ann Liu, Yike Jin, Ethan Cottrill, Majid Khan, Erick Westbroek, Jeff Ehresman, Zach Pennington, Sheng-fu L. Lo, Daniel M. Sciubba, Camilo A. Molina, and Timothy F. Witham

OBJECTIVE

Augmented reality (AR) is a novel technology which, when applied to spine surgery, offers the potential for efficient, safe, and accurate placement of spinal instrumentation. The authors report the accuracy of the first 205 pedicle screws consecutively placed at their institution by using AR assistance with a unique head-mounted display (HMD) navigation system.

METHODS

A retrospective review was performed of the first 28 consecutive patients who underwent AR-assisted pedicle screw placement in the thoracic, lumbar, and/or sacral spine at the authors’ institution. Clinical accuracy for each pedicle screw was graded using the Gertzbein-Robbins scale by an independent neuroradiologist working in a blinded fashion.

RESULTS

Twenty-eight consecutive patients underwent thoracic, lumbar, or sacral pedicle screw placement with AR assistance. The median age at the time of surgery was 62.5 (IQR 13.8) years and the median body mass index was 31 (IQR 8.6) kg/m2. Indications for surgery included degenerative disease (n = 12, 43%); deformity correction (n = 12, 43%); tumor (n = 3, 11%); and trauma (n = 1, 4%). The majority of patients (n = 26, 93%) presented with low-back pain, 19 (68%) patients presented with radicular leg pain, and 10 (36%) patients had documented lower extremity weakness. A total of 205 screws were consecutively placed, with 112 (55%) placed in the lumbar spine, 67 (33%) in the thoracic spine, and 26 (13%) at S1. Screw placement accuracy was 98.5% for thoracic screws, 97.8% for lumbar/S1 screws, and 98.0% overall.

CONCLUSIONS

AR depicted through a unique HMD is a novel and clinically accurate technology for the navigated insertion of pedicle screws. The authors describe the first 205 AR-assisted thoracic, lumbar, and sacral pedicle screws consecutively placed at their institution with an accuracy of 98.0% as determined by a Gertzbein-Robbins grade of A or B.

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Zach Pennington, Jeff Ehresman, Andrew Schilling, James Feghali, Andrew M. Hersh, Bethany Hung, Eleni N. Kalivas, Daniel Lubelski, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Patients with spine tumors are at increased risk for both hemorrhage and venous thromboembolism (VTE). Tranexamic acid (TXA) has been advanced as a potential intervention to reduce intraoperative blood loss in this surgical population, but many fear it is associated with increased VTE risk due to the hypercoagulability noted in malignancy. In this study, the authors aimed to 1) develop a clinical calculator for postoperative VTE risk in the population with spine tumors, and 2) investigate the association of intraoperative TXA use and postoperative VTE.

METHODS

A retrospective data set from a comprehensive cancer center was reviewed for adult patients treated for vertebral column tumors. Data were collected on surgery performed, patient demographics and medical comorbidities, VTE prophylaxis measures, and TXA use. TXA use was classified as high-dose (≥ 20 mg/kg) or low-dose (< 20 mg/kg). The primary study outcome was VTE occurrence prior to discharge. Secondary outcomes were deep venous thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE). Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify independent risk factors for VTE and the resultant model was deployed as a web-based calculator.

RESULTS

Three hundred fifty patients were included. The mean patient age was 57 years, 53% of patients were male, and 67% of surgeries were performed for spinal metastases. TXA use was not associated with increased VTE (14.3% vs 10.1%, p = 0.37). After multivariable analysis, VTE was independently predicted by lower serum albumin (odds ratio [OR] 0.42 per g/dl, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.23–0.79, p = 0.007), larger mean corpuscular volume (OR 0.91 per fl, 95% CI 0.84–0.99, p = 0.035), and history of prior VTE (OR 2.60, 95% CI 1.53–4.40, p < 0.001). Longer surgery duration approached significance and was included in the final model. Although TXA was not independently associated with the primary outcome of VTE, high-dose TXA use was associated with increased odds of both DVT and PE. The VTE model showed a fair fit of the data with an area under the curve of 0.77.

CONCLUSIONS

In the present cohort of patients treated for vertebral column tumors, TXA was not associated with increased VTE risk, although high-dose TXA (≥ 20 mg/kg) was associated with increased odds of DVT or PE. Additionally, the web-based clinical calculator of VTE risk presented here may prove useful in counseling patients preoperatively about their individualized VTE risk.

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Andrew Hersh, Robert Young, Zach Pennington, Jeff Ehresman, Andy Ding, Srujan Kopparapu, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel M. Sciubba, and Nicholas Theodore

OBJECTIVE

Currently, no consensus exists as to whether patients who develop infection of the surgical site after undergoing instrumented fusion should have their implants removed at the time of wound debridement. Instrumentation removal may eliminate a potential infection nidus, but removal may also destabilize the patient’s spine. The authors sought to summarize the existing evidence by systematically reviewing published studies that compare outcomes between patients undergoing wound washout and instrumentation removal with outcomes of patients undergoing wound washout alone. The primary objectives were to determine 1) whether instrumentation removal from an infected wound facilitates infection clearance and lowers morbidity, and 2) whether the chronicity of the underlying infection affects the decision to remove instrumentation.

METHODS

PRISMA guidelines were used to review the PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Library, Scopus, Web of Science, and ClinicalTrials.gov databases to identify studies that compared patients with implants removed and patients with implants retained. Outcomes of interest included mortality, rate of repeat wound washout, and loss of correction.

RESULTS

Fifteen articles were included. Of 878 patients examined in these studies, 292 (33%) had instrumentation removed. Patient populations were highly heterogeneous, and outcome data were limited. Available data suggested that rates of reoperation, pseudarthrosis, and death were higher in patients who underwent instrumentation removal at the time of initial washout. Three studies recommended that instrumentation be uniformly removed at the time of wound washout. Five studies favored retaining the original instrumentation. Six studies favored retention in early infections but removal in late infections.

CONCLUSIONS

The data on this topic remain heterogeneous and low in quality. Retention may be preferred in the setting of early infection, when the risk of underlying spine instability is still high and the risk of mature biofilm formation on the implants is low. However, late infections likely favor instrumentation removal. Higher-quality evidence from large, multicenter, prospective studies is needed to reach generalizable conclusions capable of guiding clinical practice.

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Zach Pennington, Jeff Ehresman, Aladine A. Elsamadicy, John H. Shin, C. Rory Goodwin, Joseph H. Schwab, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Long-term local control in patients with primary chordoma and sarcoma of the spine and sacrum is increasingly reliant upon en bloc resection with negative margins. At many institutions, adjuvant radiation is recommended; definitive radiation is also recommended for the treatment of unresectable tumors. Because of the high off-target radiation toxicities associated with conventional radiotherapy, there has been growing interest in the use of proton and heavy-ion therapies. The aim of this study was to systematically review the literature regarding these therapies.

METHODS

The PubMed, OVID, Embase, and Web of Science databases were queried for articles describing the use of proton, combined proton/photon, or heavy-ion therapies for adjuvant or definitive radiotherapy in patients with primary sarcoma or chordoma of the mobile spine and sacrum. A qualitative synthesis of the results was performed, focusing on overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS), disease-free survival (DFS), and disease-specific survival (DSS); local control; and postradiation toxicities.

RESULTS

Of 595 unique articles, 64 underwent full-text screening and 38 were included in the final synthesis. All studies were level III or IV evidence with a high risk of bias; there was also significant overlap in the reported populations, with six centers accounting for roughly three-fourths of all reports. Five-year therapy outcomes were as follows: proton-only therapies, OS 67%–82%, PFS 31%–57%, and DFS 52%–62%; metastases occurred in 17%–18% and acute toxicities in 3%–100% of cases; combined proton/photon therapy, local control 62%–85%, OS 78%–87%, PFS 90%, and DFS 61%–72%; metastases occurred in 12%–14% and acute toxicities in 84%–100% of cases; and carbon ion therapy, local control 53%–100%, OS 52%–86%, PFS (only reported for 3 years) 48%–76%, and DFS 50%–53%; metastases occurred in 2%–39% and acute toxicities in 26%–48%. There were no studies directly comparing outcomes between photon and charged-particle therapies or comparing outcomes between radiation and surgical groups.

CONCLUSIONS

The current evidence for charged-particle therapies in the management of sarcomas of the spine and sacrum is limited. Preliminary evidence suggests that with these therapies local control and OS at 5 years are comparable among various charged-particle options and may be similar between those treated with definitive charged-particle therapy and historical surgical cohorts. Further research directly comparing charged-particle and photon-based therapies is necessary.

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Jeff Ehresman, Daniel Lubelski, Zach Pennington, Bethany Hung, A. Karim Ahmed, Tej D. Azad, Kurt Lehner, James Feghali, Zorica Buser, James Harrop, Jefferson Wilson, Shekar Kurpad, Zoher Ghogawala, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to evaluate the characteristics and performance of current prediction models in the fields of spine metastasis and degenerative spine disease to create a scoring system that allows direct comparison of the prediction models.

METHODS

A systematic search of PubMed and Embase was performed to identify relevant studies that included either the proposal of a prediction model or an external validation of a previously proposed prediction model with 1-year outcomes. Characteristics of the original study and discriminative performance of external validations were then assigned points based on thresholds from the overall cohort.

RESULTS

Nine prediction models were included in the spine metastasis category, while 6 prediction models were included in the degenerative spine category. After assigning the proposed utility of prediction model score to the spine metastasis prediction models, only 1 reached the grade of excellent, while 2 were graded as good, 3 as fair, and 3 as poor. Of the 6 included degenerative spine models, 1 reached the excellent grade, while 3 studies were graded as good, 1 as fair, and 1 as poor.

CONCLUSIONS

As interest in utilizing predictive analytics in spine surgery increases, there is a concomitant increase in the number of published prediction models that differ in methodology and performance. Prior to applying these models to patient care, these models must be evaluated. To begin addressing this issue, the authors proposed a grading system that compares these models based on various metrics related to their original design as well as internal and external validation. Ultimately, this may hopefully aid clinicians in determining the relative validity and usability of a given model.

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Aymeric Amelot, Louis-Marie Terrier, Ann-Rose Cook, Pierre-Yves Borius, and Bertrand Mathon

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James Feghali, Zach Pennington, Jeff Ehresman, Daniel Lubelski, Ethan Cottrill, A. Karim Ahmed, Andrew Schilling, and Daniel M. Sciubba

Symptomatic spinal metastasis occurs in around 10% of all cancer patients, 5%–10% of whom will require operative management. While postoperative survival has been extensively evaluated, postoperative health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) outcomes have remained relatively understudied. Available tools that measure HRQOL are heterogeneous and may emphasize different aspects of HRQOL. The authors of this paper recommend the use of the EQ-5D and Spine Oncology Study Group Outcomes Questionnaire (SOSGOQ), given their extensive validation, to capture the QOL effects of systemic disease and spine metastases. Recent studies have identified preoperative QOL, baseline functional status, and neurological function as potential predictors of postoperative QOL outcomes, but heterogeneity across studies limits the ability to derive meaningful conclusions from the data. Future development of a valid and reliable prognostic model will likely require the application of a standardized protocol in the context of a multicenter study design.

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Zach Pennington, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel Lubelski, Jeff Ehresman, Kurt Lehner, Mari L. Groves, Paul Sponseller, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVES

More than 7500 children undergo surgery for scoliosis each year, at an estimated annual cost to the health system of $1.1 billion. There is significant interest among patients, parents, providers, and payors in identifying methods for delivering quality outcomes at lower costs. Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols have been suggested as one possible solution. Here the authors conducted a systematic review of the literature describing the clinical and economic benefits of ERAS protocols in pediatric spinal deformity surgery.

METHODS

The authors identified all English-language articles on ERAS protocol use in pediatric spinal deformity surgery by using the following databases: PubMed/MEDLINE, Web of Science, Cochrane Reviews, EMBASE, CINAHL, and OVID MEDLINE. Quantitative analyses of comparative articles using random effects were performed for the following clinical outcomes: 1) length of stay (LOS); 2) complication rate; 3) wound infection rate; 4) 30-day readmission rate; 5) reoperation rate; and 6) postoperative pain scores.

RESULTS

Of 950 articles reviewed, 7 were included in the qualitative analysis and 6 were included in the quantitative analysis. The most frequently cited benefits of ERAS protocols were shorter LOS, earlier urinary catheter removal, and earlier discontinuation of patient-controlled analgesia pumps. Quantitative analyses showed ERAS protocols to be associated with shorter LOS (mean difference −1.12 days; 95% CI −1.51, −0.74; p < 0.001), fewer postoperative complications (OR 0.37; 95% CI 0.20, 0.68; p = 0.001), and lower pain scores on postoperative day (POD) 0 (mean −0.92; 95% CI −1.29, −0.56; p < 0.001) and POD 2 (−0.61; 95% CI −0.75, −0.47; p < 0.001). There were no differences in reoperation rate or POD 1 pain scores. ERAS-treated patients had a trend toward higher 30-day readmission rates and earlier discontinuation of patient-controlled analgesia (both p = 0.06). Insufficient data existed to reach a conclusion about cost differences.

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this systematic review suggest that ERAS protocols may shorten hospitalizations, reduce postoperative complication rates, and reduce postoperative pain scores in children undergoing scoliosis surgery. Publication biases exist, and therefore larger, prospective, multicenter data are needed to validate these results.

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Jeff Ehresman, Zach Pennington, James Feghali, Andrew Schilling, Andrew Hersh, Bethany Hung, Daniel Lubelski, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

More than 8000 patients are treated annually for vertebral column tumors, of whom roughly two-thirds will be discharged to an inpatient facility (nonroutine discharge). Nonroutine discharge is associated with increased care costs as well as delays in discharge and poorer patient outcomes. In this study, the authors sought to develop a prediction model of nonroutine discharge in the population of vertebral column tumor patients.

METHODS

Patients treated for primary or metastatic vertebral column tumors at a single comprehensive cancer center were identified for inclusion. Data were gathered regarding surgical procedure, patient demographics, insurance status, and medical comorbidities. Frailty was assessed using the modified 5-item Frailty Index (mFI-5) and medical complexity was assessed using the modified Charlson Comorbidity Index (mCCI). Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify independent predictors of nonroutine discharge, and multivariable linear regression was used to identify predictors of prolonged length of stay (LOS). The discharge model was internally validated using 1000 bootstrapped samples.

RESULTS

The authors identified 350 patients (mean age 57.0 ± 13.6 years, 53.1% male, and 67.1% treated for metastatic vs primary disease). Significant predictors of prolonged LOS included higher mCCI score (β = 0.74; p = 0.026), higher serum absolute neutrophil count (β = 0.35; p = 0.001), lower hematocrit (β = −0.34; p = 0.001), use of a staged operation (β = 4.99; p < 0.001), occurrence of postoperative pulmonary embolism (β = 3.93; p = 0.004), and surgical site infection (β = 9.93; p < 0.001). Significant predictors of nonroutine discharge included emergency admission (OR 3.09; p = 0.001), higher mFI-5 score (OR 1.90; p = 0.001), lower serum albumin level (OR 0.43 per g/dL; p < 0.001), and operations with multiple stages (OR 4.10; p < 0.001). The resulting statistical model was deployed as a web-based calculator (https://jhuspine4.shinyapps.io/Nonroutine_Discharge_Tumor/).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found that nonroutine discharge of patients with surgically treated vertebral column tumors was predicted by emergency admission, increased frailty, lower serum albumin level, and staged surgical procedures. The resulting web-based calculator tool may be useful clinically to aid in discharge planning for spinal oncology patients by preoperatively identifying patients likely to require placement in an inpatient facility postoperatively.