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Gaetano De Biase, Shaun E. Gruenbaum, James L. West, Selby Chen, Elird Bojaxhi, James Kryzanski, Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, and Kingsley Abode-Iyamah

OBJECTIVE

There has been increasing interest in the use of spinal anesthesia (SA) for spine surgery, especially within Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocols. Despite the wide adoption of SA by the orthopedic practices, it has not gained wide acceptance in lumbar spine surgery. Studies investigating SA versus general anesthesia (GA) in lumbar laminectomy and discectomy have found that SA reduces perioperative costs and leads to a reduction in analgesic use, as well as to shorter anesthesia and surgery time. The aim of this retrospective, case-control study was to compare the perioperative outcomes of patients who underwent minimally invasive surgery (MIS)–transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) after administration of SA with those who underwent MIS-TLIF under GA.

METHODS

Overall, 40 consecutive patients who underwent MIS-TLIF by a single surgeon were analyzed; 20 patients received SA and 20 patients received GA. Procedure time, intraoperative adverse events, postoperative adverse events, postoperative length of stay, 3-hour postanesthesia care unit (PACU) numeric rating scale (NRS) pain score, opioid medication, and time to first ambulation were collected for each patient.

RESULTS

The two groups were homogeneous for clinical characteristics. A decrease in total operating room (OR) time was found for patients who underwent MIS-TLIF after administration of SA, with a mean OR time of 156.5 ± 18.9 minutes versus 213.6 ± 47.4 minutes for patients who underwent MIS-TLIF under GA (p < 0.0001), a reduction of 27%. A decrease in total procedure time was also observed for SA versus GA (122 ± 16.7 minutes vs 175.2 ± 10 minutes; p < 0.0001). No significant differences were found in intraoperative and postoperative adverse events. There was a difference in the mean maximum NRS pain score during the first 3 hours in the PACU as patients who received SA reported a lower pain score compared with those who received GA (4.8 ± 3.5 vs 7.3 ± 2.7; p = 0.018). No significant difference was observed in morphine equivalents received by the two groups. A difference was also observed in the mean overall NRS pain score, with 2.4 ± 2.1 for the SA group versus 4.9 ± 2.3 for the GA group (p = 0.001). Patients who received SA had a shorter time to first ambulation compared with those who received GA (385.8 ± 353.8 minutes vs 855.9 ± 337.4 minutes; p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this study have pointed to some important observations in this patient population. SA offers unique advantages in comparison with GA for performing MIS-TLIF, including reduced OR time and postoperative pain, and faster postoperative mobilization.

Free access

Mohamed Fawzy M. Khattab, David A. W. Sykes, Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr, Romaric Waguia, Amr Montaser, Sherief El Ghamry, and Youssry Elhawary

OBJECTIVE

Despite tremendous advancements in biomedical science and surgical technique, spine surgeries are still associated with considerable rates of morbidity and mortality, particularly in the elderly. Multiple novel techniques have been employed in recent years to adequately treat spinal diseases while mitigating the perioperative morbidity associated with traditional spinal surgery. Some of these techniques include minimally invasive methods and novel anesthetic and analgesic methods. In recent years, awake spine surgery with spinal anesthesia has gained attention as an alternative to general anesthesia (GA). In this study, the authors retrospectively reviewed a single-institution Egyptian experience with awake spine surgery using spinal anesthesia during the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS

Overall, 149 patients who were admitted to As-Salam International Hospital in Cairo for lumbar and lower thoracic spine surgeries, between 2019 and 2020, were retrospectively reviewed. Patient demographics and comorbidities were collected and analyzed. Visual analog scale (VAS) and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores were assessed at different time intervals including preoperatively, immediately after surgery, and 1 year postoperatively. Patient satisfaction was queried through a questionnaire assessing patient preference for traditional anesthesia or spinal anesthesia.

RESULTS

Of the 149 patients who successfully received spine surgery with spinal anesthesia, there were 49 males and 100 females. The cohort age ranged from 22 to 85 years with a mean of 47.5 years. The operative time ranged from 45 to 300 minutes with a mean estimated blood loss (EBL) of 385 ± 156 mL. No major cardiopulmonary or intraoperative complications occurred, and patients were able to eat immediately after surgery. Patients were able to ambulate without an assistive device 6 to 8 hours after surgery. Decompression and fusion patients were discharged on postoperative days 2 and 3, respectively. VAS and ODI scores demonstrated excellent pain relief, which was maintained at the 1-year postoperative follow-up. No 30- or 90-day readmissions were recorded. Of 149 patients, 124 were satisfied with spinal anesthesia and would recommend spinal anesthesia to other patients. The remaining patients were not satisfied with spinal anesthesia but reported being pleased with their postoperative clinical and functional outcomes. One patient was converted to GA due to the duration of the procedure.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients who received spinal anesthesia for awake spine surgery experienced short stays in the hospital, no readmissions, patient satisfaction, and well-controlled pain. The results of this study have validated the growing body of literature that demonstrates that awake spine surgery with spinal anesthesia is safe and associated with superior outcomes compared with traditional GA. Additionally, the ability to address chronic debilitating conditions, such as spinal conditions, with minimal use of valuable resources, such as ventilators, proved useful during the COVID-19 pandemic and could be a model should other stressors on healthcare systems arise, especially in developing areas of the world.

Free access

Weibo Pan and Boqing Ruan

OBJECTIVE

Surgical decompression via a posterior interlaminar approach is widely used for treating lumbar central canal stenosis (LCCS). However, this surgical approach poses a challenge for elderly patients with comorbidities. Thus, the authors tried a new surgical decompression via the unilateral intervertebral foraminal approach with local anesthesia to treat such patients. The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of surgical decompression via the unilateral intervertebral foraminal approach with local anesthesia for patients with LCCS.

METHODS

Patients with LCCS who underwent surgical decompression, performed by a single surgeon, between January 2016 and March 2019 were retrospectively analyzed. All patients received decompression via the unilateral intervertebral foraminal approach with local anesthesia. Visual analog scale (VAS) scores, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores, modified Macnab criteria, walking distance, and Schizas classification were used as outcome predictors. Additionally, a decompression evaluation method was designed for use after spinal endoscopic surgery.

RESULTS

Overall, 23 patients with a mean age of 69 years were included in this study, with a mean follow-up of 28 months. Low-back and leg pain were significantly improved after decompression surgery. Postoperative ODI scores and walking distances were statistically significantly better than before surgery. Postoperatively, the Schizas classification for all patients was improved by at least 1 grade compared with the preoperative grade. No complications occurred during the follow-up period. According to the novel decompression evaluation method, all patients had at least achieved decompression in part 123+B.

CONCLUSIONS

Surgical decompression via the unilateral intervertebral foraminal approach with local anesthesia showed promising outcomes in the treatment of elderly patients with LCCS. Additionally, a proposed postoperative decompression evaluation method can help guide surgical decompression.

Open access

Kenji Endo, Yasunobu Sawaji, Takato Aihara, Hidekazu Suzuki, Kazuma Murata, Yuji Matsuoka, Hirosuke Nishimura, Taichiro Takamatsu, Takamitsu Konishi, and Kengo Yamamoto

BACKGROUND

As the proportion of elderly people continues to increase, the number of patients with dropped head syndrome (DHS) also grows. However, the relationship between onset and clinical course of DHS has hardly been studied, particularly, that of sudden-onset DHS has not been reported and remains unclear.

OBSERVATIONS

Sudden-onset DHS was defined as presenting with chin on chest deformity within 3 days from the time of awareness of cervical weakness. Sixty-six patients with DHS visited our facility. Among them, 8 of the total cases (12.1%) had experienced sudden onset DHS (6 females and 2 males; average age: 71.9 ± 10.9 years). Six of 8 cases showed recovery by conservative treatment, whose first interventions were from 0.1 to 12 months, but 3 experienced recurrence. Diffuse spinal kyphotic-type DHS was seen in 2 cases, and both had recurring horizontal gaze disturbance after initial recovery. Two unimproved cases underwent surgery of combined anterior and posterior cervical fixation, and their first interventions were at 5 and 24 months. After surgery, cervical sagittal alignment was improved, and they could walk maintaining horizontal gaze.

LESSONS

Sudden-onset DHS can be expected to have a better outcome, but recurrence is possible in global imbalanced-type DHS.

Open access

John K. Chae, Neelan J. Marianayagam, Ibrahim Hussain, Amanda Cruz, Ali A. Baaj, Roger Härtl, and Jeffrey P. Greenfield

BACKGROUND

The authors assessed the connection between clinical outcomes and morphometrics in patients with complex Chiari malformation (CM) who have undergone posterior fossa decompression (PFD) and subsequent occipitocervical fusion (OCF) with or without ventral decompression (VD).

OBSERVATIONS

The authors retrospectively reviewed 33 patients with CM aged over 21 years who underwent PFD and OCF with or without endoscopic endonasal odontoidectomy at the authors’ institution (21 OCF only and 12 OCF + VD). Clivoaxial angle (CXA), pB-C2 (perpendicular line to the line between the basion and C2), atlantodental interval (ADI), basion-dens interval (BDI), basion-axial interval (BAI), and C1 canal diameter were measured on preoperative and approximately 3-month postoperative computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging scans. Common symptoms included headache, paresthesia, and bulbar symptoms. Clinical improvement after surgery was observed in 78.8% of patients. CXA, ADI, and BDI all significantly increased after surgery, whereas pB-C2 and BAI significantly decreased. OCF + VD had a significantly more acute CXA and longer pB-C2 preoperatively than OCF only. Patients who clinically improved postoperatively showed the same significant morphometric changes, but those who did not improve showed no significant morphometric changes.

LESSONS

Patients showing improvement had greater corrections in skull base morphometrics than those who did not. Although there are various mutually nonexclusive reasons why certain patients do not improve after surgery, smaller degrees of morphometric correction could play a role.

Open access

David C. Kieser, Scheherezade Soltani, Niels Hammer, Amir Koutp, Eleanor Hughes, and Jeremy J. Reynolds

BACKGROUND

Sacrectomy carries significant risk of bleeding; however, specific risk factors, apart from medical comorbidities and tumor type, for this life-threatening complication remain unclear. This study describes two cases of massive bleeding, including one death during sacrectomy attributable to adherence of the internal iliac vein (IIV) and its neuroforaminal tributaries from sacral insufficiency fractures.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors presented two cases involving patients who received sacrectomy for a chordoma and experienced massive bleeding from the IIV due to adherence of the IIV and its neuroforaminal tributaries around sacral insufficiency fractures. They assessed their institution’s previous two decades’ experience of sacrectomies to determine risk factors for massive bleeding and performed anatomical dissection of 20 hemipelvises, which revealed the close proximity of the IIV to the sacral foraminae and the consistency of neuroforaminal tributaries arising from the foraminae.

LESSONS

Sacral insufficiency fractures may cause scarring that adheres to the IIV and its neuroforaminal tributaries, which risks massive bleeding during sacrectomy.

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M. Harrison Snyder, Vamsi P. Reddy, Ankitha M. Iyer, Aruna Ganju, Nathan R. Selden, Jeremiah N. Johnson, Stacey Q. Wolfe, and on behalf of the Society of Neurological Surgeons and American Association of Neurological Surgeons Young Neurosurgeons Committee

OBJECTIVE

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant disruption to residency recruitment, including a sudden, comprehensive transition to virtual interviews. The authors sought to characterize applicant experiences and perceptions concerning the change in the application, interview, and match process for neurological surgery residency during the 2020–2021 recruitment cycle.

METHODS

A national survey of neurosurgical residency applicants from the 2020–2021 application cycle was performed. This survey was developed in cooperation with the Society of Neurological Surgeons (SNS) and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons Young Neurosurgeons Committee (YNC) and sent to all applicants (n = 280) who included academic video submissions to the SNS repository as part of their application package. These 280 applicants accounted for 69.6% of the total 402 neurosurgical applicants this year.

RESULTS

Nearly half of the applicants responded to the survey (44.3%, 124 of 280). Applicants favored additional reform of the interview scheduling process, including a centralized scheduling method, a set of standardized release dates for interview invitations, and interview caps for applicants. Less than 8% of students desired a virtual-only platform in the future, though the majority of applicants supported incorporating virtual interviews as part of the process to contain applicant costs and combining them with traditional in-person interview opportunities. Program culture and fit, as well as clinical and research opportunities in subspecialty areas, were the most important factors applicants used to rank programs. However, subjective program "fit" was deemed challenging to assess during virtual-only interviews.

CONCLUSIONS

Neurosurgery resident applicants identified standardized interview invitation release dates, centralized interview scheduling methods, caps on the number of interviews available to each candidate, and regulated opportunities for both virtual and in-person recruitment as measures that could significantly improve the applicant experience during and effectiveness of future neurosurgery residency application cycles. Applicants prioritized program culture and "fit" during recruitment, and a majority were open to incorporating virtual elements into future cycles to reduce costs while retaining in-person opportunities to gauge programs and their locations.

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Syed Hassan A. Akbari, Gabriela R. Oates, Irina Gonzalez-Sigler, Anastasia A. Arynchyna, Justin McCroskey, Elizabeth N. Alford, Tofey J. Leon, Sarah Rutland, James M. Johnston, Jeffrey P. Blount, Curtis J. Rozzelle, and Brandon G. Rocque

OBJECTIVE

There is little research on the effect of social determinants of health on Chiari malformation type I (CM-I). The authors analyzed data on all children evaluated for CM-I at a single institution to assess how socioeconomic factors and race affect the surgical treatment of this population.

METHODS

Medical records of patients treated for CM-I at the authors’ institution between 1992 and 2017 were reviewed. Area Deprivation Index (ADI) and Rural-Urban Commuting Area (RUCA) codes for each patient were used to measure neighborhood disadvantage. Non-Hispanic White patients were compared to non-White patients and Hispanic patients of any race (grouped together as non-White in this study) in terms of insurance status, ADI, and RUCA. Patients with initially benign CM-I, defined as not having undergone surgery within 9 months of their initial visit, were then stratified by having delayed symptom presentation or not, and compared on these same measures.

RESULTS

The sample included 665 patients with CM-I: 82% non-Hispanic White and 18% non-White. The non-White patients were more likely to reside in disadvantaged (OR 3.4, p < 0.001) and urban (OR 4.66, p < 0.001) neighborhoods and to have public health insurance (OR 3.11, p < 0.001). More than one-quarter (29%) of patients underwent surgery. The non-White and non-Hispanic White patients had similar surgery rates (29.5% vs 28.9%, p = 0.895) at similar ages (8.8 vs 9.7 years, p = 0.406). There were no differences by race/ethnicity for symptoms at presentation. Surgical and nonsurgical patients had similar ADI scores (3.9 vs 4.2, p = 0.194), RUCA scores (2.1 vs 2.3, p = 0.252), and private health insurance rates (73.6% vs 74.2%, p = 0.878). A total of 153 patients underwent surgery within 9 months of their initial visit. The remaining 512 were deemed to have benign CM-I. Of these, 40 (7.8%) underwent decompression surgery for delayed symptom presentation. Patients with delayed symptom presentation were from less disadvantaged (ADI 3.2 vs 4.2; p = 0.025) and less rural (RUCA 1.8 vs 2.3; p = 0.023) areas than those who never underwent surgery.

CONCLUSIONS

Although non-White patients were more likely to be socioeconomically disadvantaged, race and socioeconomic disadvantage were not associated with undergoing surgical treatment. However, among patients with benign CM-I, those undergoing decompression for delayed symptom presentation resided in more affluent and urban areas.

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Andrew M. Hersh, Zach Pennington, Bethany Hung, Jaimin Patel, Earl Goldsborough, Andrew Schilling, James Feghali, Albert Antar, Siddhartha Srivastava, David Botros, Aladine A. Elsamadicy, Sheng-Fu Larry Lo, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Frailty—the state defined by decreased physiological reserve and increased vulnerability to physiological stress—is exceedingly common in oncology patients. Given the palliative nature of spine metastasis surgery, it is imperative that patients be healthy enough to tolerate the physical insult of surgery. In the present study, the authors compared the association of two frailty metrics and the widely used Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) with postoperative morbidity in spine metastasis patients.

METHODS

A retrospective cohort of patients who underwent operations for spinal metastases at a comprehensive cancer center were identified. Data on patient demographic characteristics, disease state, medical comorbidities, operative details, and postoperative outcomes were collected. Frailty was measured with the modified 5-item frailty index (mFI-5) and metastatic spinal tumor frailty index (MSTFI). Outcomes of interest were length of stay (LOS) greater than the 75th percentile of the cohort, nonroutine discharge, and the occurrence of ≥ 1 postoperative complication.

RESULTS

In total, 322 patients were included (mean age 59.5 ± 12 years; 56.9% of patients were male). The mean ± SD LOS was 11.2 ± 9.9 days, 44.5% of patients had nonroutine discharge, and 24.0% experienced ≥ 1 postoperative complication. On multivariable analysis, increased frailty on mFI-5 and MSTFI was independently predictive of all three outcomes: prolonged LOS (OR 1.67 per point, 95% CI 1.06–2.63, p = 0.03; and OR 1.63 per point, 95% CI 1.29–2.05, p < 0.01, respectively), nonroutine discharge (OR 2.65 per point, 95% CI 1.74–4.04, p < 0.01; and OR 1.69 per point, 95% CI 1.36–2.11, p < 0.01), and ≥ 1 complication (OR 1.95 per point, 95% CI 1.23–3.09, p = 0.01; and OR 1.41 per point, 95% CI 1.12–1.77, p < 0.01). CCI was found to be independently predictive of only the occurrence of ≥ 1 postoperative complication (OR 1.45 per point, 95% CI 1.22–1.72, p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

Frailty measured with either mFI-5 or MSTFI scores was a more robust independent predictor of adverse postoperative outcomes than the more widely used CCI. Both mFI-5 and MSTFI were significantly associated with prolonged LOS, higher complication rates, and nonroutine discharge. Further investigation in a prospective multicenter cohort is merited.

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Omaditya Khanna, Christopher J. Farrell, Ellina Hattar, Fadi Al Saiegh, Ritam Ghosh, Thana N. Theofanis, Michelle Hoffman, and Ashwini D. Sharan