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Fawaz Al-Mufti, David Roh, Shouri Lahiri, Emma Meyers, Jens Witsch, Hans-Peter Frey, Neha Dangayach, Cristina Falo, Stephan A. Mayer, Sachin Agarwal, Soojin Park, Philip M. Meyers, E. Sander Connolly, Jan Claassen and J. Michael Schmidt

OBJECTIVE

The clinical significance of cerebral ultra-early angiographic vasospasm (UEAV), defined as cerebral arterial narrowing within the first 48 hours of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH), remains poorly characterized. The authors sought to determine its frequency, predictors, and impact on functional outcome.

METHODS

The authors prospectively studied UEAV in a cohort of 1286 consecutively admitted patients with aSAH between August 1996 and June 2013. Admission clinical, radiographic, and acute clinical course information was documented during patient hospitalization. Functional outcome was assessed at 3 months using the modified Rankin Scale. Logistic regression and Cox proportional hazards models were generated to assess predictors of UEAV and its relationship to delayed cerebral ischemia (DCI) and outcome. Multiple imputation methods were used to address data lost to follow-up.

RESULTS

The cohort incidence rate of UEAV was 4.6%. Multivariable logistic regression analysis revealed that younger age, sentinel bleed, and poor admission clinical grade were significantly associated with UEAV. Patients with UEAV had a 2-fold increased risk of DCI (odds ratio [OR] 2.3, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.4–3.9, p = 0.002) and cerebral infarction (OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.0–3.9, p = 0.04), after adjusting for known predictors. Excluding patients who experienced sentinel bleeding did not change this effect. Patients with UEAV also had a significantly higher hazard for DCI in a multivariable model. UEAV was not found to be significantly associated with poor functional outcome (OR 0.8, 95% CI 0.4–1.6, p = 0.5).

CONCLUSIONS

UEAV may be less frequent than has been reported previously. Patients who exhibit UEAV are at higher risk for refractory DCI that results in cerebral infarction. These patients may benefit from earlier monitoring for signs of DCI and more aggressive treatment. Further study is needed to determine the long-term functional significance of UEAV.

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E. Sander Connolly Jr.

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E. Sander Connolly Jr. and Richard G. Ellenbogen

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Bryan A. Lieber, Geoffrey Appelboom, Blake E. S. Taylor, Hani Malone, Nitin Agarwal and E. Sander Connolly Jr.

OBJECT

Each July, 4th-year medical students become 1st-year resident physicians and have much greater responsibility in making management decisions. In addition, incumbent residents and fellows advance to their next postgraduate year and face greater challenges. It has been suggested that among patients who have resident physicians as members of their neurosurgical team, this transition may be associated with increased rates of morbidity and mortality, a phenomenon known as the “July Effect.” In this study, the authors compared morbidity and mortality rates between the initial and later months of the academic year to determine whether there is truly a July Effect that has an impact on this patient population.

METHODS

The authors compared 30-day postoperative outcomes of neurosurgery performed by surgical teams that included resident physicians in training during the first academic quarter (Q1, July through September) with outcomes of neurosurgery performed with resident participation during the final academic quarter (Q4, April through June), using 2006–2012 data from the prospectively collected American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) database. Regression analyses were performed on outcome data that included mortality, surgical complications, and medical complications, which were graded as mild or severe. To determine whether a July Effect was present in subgroups, secondary analyses were performed to analyze the association of outcomes with each major neurosurgical subspecialty, the postgraduate year of the operating resident, and the academic quarter during which the surgery was performed. To control for possible seasonal trends in certain diseases, the authors compared patient outcomes at academic medical centers to those at community-based hospitals, where procedures were not performed by residents. In addition, the efficiency of academic centers was compared to that of community centers in terms of operative duration and total length of hospital stay.

RESULTS

Overall, there were no statistically significant differences in mortality, morbidity, or efficiency between the earlier and later quarters of the academic year, a finding that also held true among neurosurgical subspecialties and among postgraduate levels of training. There was, however, a slight increase in intraoperative transfusions associated with the transitional period in July (6.41% of procedures in Q4 compared to 7.99% in Q1 of the prior calendar year; p = 0.0005), which primarily occurred in cases involving junior (2nd- to 4th-year) residents. In addition, there was an increased rate of reoperation (1.73% in Q4 to 2.19% in Q1; p < 0.0001) observed mainly among senior (5th- to 7th-year) residents in the early academic months and not paralleled in our community cohort.

CONCLUSIONS

There is minimal evidence for a significant July Effect in adult neurosurgery. Our results suggest that, overall, the current resident training system provides enough guidance and support during this challenging transition period.

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Bryan A. Lieber, Geoffrey Appelboom, Blake E. Taylor, Franklin D. Lowy, Eliza M. Bruce, Adam M. Sonabend, Christopher Kellner, E. Sander Connolly Jr. and Jeffrey N. Bruce

OBJECT

Preoperative corticosteroids and chemotherapy are frequently prescribed for patients undergoing cranial neurosurgery but may pose a risk of postoperative infection. Postoperative surgical-site infections (SSIs) have significant morbidity and mortality, dramatically increase the length and cost of hospitalization, and are a major cause of 30-day readmission. In patients undergoing cranial neurosurgery, there is a lack of data on the role of patient-specific risk factors in the development of SSIs. The authors of this study sought to determine whether chemotherapy and prolonged steroid use before surgery increase the risk of an SSI at postoperative Day 30.

METHODS

Using the national prospectively collected American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) database for 2006–2012, the authors calculated the rates of superficial, deep-incisional, and organ-space SSIs at postoperative Day 30 for neurosurgery patients who had undergone chemotherapy or had significant steroid use within 30 days before undergoing cranial surgery. Trauma patients, patients younger than 18 years, and patients with a preoperative infection were excluded. Univariate analysis was performed for 25 variables considered risk factors for superficial and organ-space SSIs. To identify independent predictors of SSIs, the authors then conducted a multivariate analysis in which they controlled for duration of operation, wound class, white blood cell count, and other potential confounders that were significant on the univariate analysis.

RESULTS

A total of 8215 patients who had undergone cranial surgery were identified. There were 158 SSIs at 30 days (frequency 1.92%), of which 52 were superficial, 27 were deep-incisional, and 79 were organ-space infections. Preoperative chemotherapy was an independent predictor of organ-space SSIs in the multivariate model (OR 5.20, 95% CI 2.33–11.62, p < 0.0001), as was corticosteroid use (OR 1.86, 95% CI 1.03–3.37, p = 0.04), but neither was a predictor of superficial or deep-incisional SSIs. Other independent predictors of organ-space SSIs were longer duration of operation (OR 1.16), wound class of ≥ 2 (clean-contaminated and further contaminated) (OR 3.17), and morbid obesity (body mass index ≥ 40 kg/m2) (OR 3.05). Among superficial SSIs, wound class of 3 (contaminated) (OR 6.89), operative duration (OR 1.13), and infratentorial surgical approach (OR 2.20) were predictors.

CONCLUSIONS

Preoperative chemotherapy and corticosteroid use are independent predictors of organ-space SSIs, even when data are controlled for leukopenia. This indicates that the disease process in organ-space SSIs may differ from that in superficial SSIs. In effect, this study provides one of the largest analyses of risk factors for SSIs after cranial surgery. The results suggest that, in certain circumstances, modulation of preoperative chemotherapy or steroid regimens may reduce the risk of organ-space SSIs and should be considered in the preoperative care of this population. Future studies are needed to determine optimal timing and dosing of these medications.

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Claire L. Gordon, Rafal Tokarz, Thomas Briese, W. Ian Lipkin, Komal Jain, Susan Whittier, Jayesh Shah, E. Sander Connolly and Michael T. Yin

OBJECT

Diagnosis of ventriculostomy-related infections (VRIs) is challenging due to the lack of rapid, sensitive assays for pathogen detection. The authors report the development of a multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay for differential diagnosis of common VRI pathogens.

METHODS

MassTag PCR was used to develop a multiplex assay for detection of 11 VRI pathogens. The assay was established and optimized using cloned template standards and spiked samples and was then evaluated on CSF specimens from ventricular drains. Subjects were grouped into definite VRI, possible VRI, or no VRI based on conventional microbiology, CSF evaluation, and clinical parameters.

RESULTS

CSF specimens were obtained from 45 subjects (median age 49 years, interquartile range 32–63 years; 51% were male). The assay detected 10–100 genome copies. It detected a pathogen in 100% (6 of 6) of definite VRI cases in which a pathogen targeted by the assay was present; these represented 67% of all definite VRIs (6 of 9). Among subjects with a possible VRI, the assay detected a pathogen in 29% (5 of 17). In subjects without overt infection the presence of a pathogen was detected in 32% of subjects (6 of 19), albeit with lower signal compared with the VRI group.

CONCLUSIONS

MassTag PCR enabled parallel testing of CSF specimens for 11 pathogens of VRI. The high sensitivity of PCR combined with possible device colonization, specimen contamination, and concurrent antibiotic treatments limit the clinical value of the assay, similar to other current diagnostic approaches. With further optimization, multiplex PCR may provide timely identification of multiple possible VRI pathogens and guide management, complementing classic culture approaches.

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E. Sander Connolly Jr.

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Eric J. Heyer, Kaitlin A. Mallon, Joanna L. Mergeche, Yaakov Stern and E. Sander Connolly

OBJECT

Neurocognitive performance is used to assess multiple cognitive domains, including motor coordination, before and after carotid endarterectomy (CEA). Although gross motor strength is impaired with ischemia of large cortical areas or of the internal capsule, the authors hypothesize that patients undergoing CEA demonstrate significant motor deficits of hand coordination contralateral to the operative side, which is more clearly manifest in the nondominant hand than in the dominant hand with ischemia of smaller cortical areas.

METHODS

The neurocognitive performance of 374 patients was evaluated with a battery of neuropsychometric tests. Both asymptomatic and symptomatic patients undergoing CEA were included. The authors evaluated the patients' dominant and nondominant hand performance on the Grooved Pegboard test, a test of hand coordination, to demonstrate their functional laterality. Neurocognitive dysfunction was evaluated as the difference in performance before and after CEA according to group-rate and event-rate analyses. The z scores were generated for all tests using a reference group of patients who were having simple spine surgery. Dominant and nondominant motor coordination functions were evaluated as raw scores and as calculated z scores.

RESULTS

According to event-rate analysis, significantly more patients undergoing CEA of the opposite carotid artery demonstrated nondominant than dominant hand deficits of coordination (41.2% vs 26.4%, respectively, p = 0.02). Similarly, according to group-rate analysis, in patients undergoing CEA of the opposite carotid artery, raw difference scores from the Grooved Pegboard test reflected greater nondominant than dominant hand deficits of coordination (21.0 ± 54.4 vs 9.7 ± 37.0, respectively, p = 0.02).

CONCLUSIONS

Patients undergoing CEA of the opposite carotid artery are more likely to demonstrate nondominant than dominant hand deficits of coordination because of greater dexterity in the dominant hand before surgery.