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Hussam Abou-Al-Shaar, Yair M. Gozal, Gmaan Alzhrani, Michael Karsy, Clough Shelton and William T. Couldwell

OBJECTIVE

Postoperative cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) is an uncommon complication of posterior fossa surgery. The true incidence of and optimal management strategy for this entity are largely unknown. Herein, the authors report their institutional incidence and management experience of postoperative CVST after vestibular schwannoma surgery.

METHODS

The authors undertook a retrospective review of all vestibular schwannoma cases that had been treated with microsurgical resection at a single institution from December 2011 to September 2017. Patient and tumor characteristics, risk factors, length of stay, surgical approaches, sinus characteristics, CVST management, complications, and follow-up were analyzed.

RESULTS

A total of 116 patients underwent resection of vestibular schwannoma. The incidence of postoperative CVST was 6.0% (7 patients). All 7 patients developed lateral CVST ipsilateral to the lesion. Four cases occurred after translabyrinthine approaches, 3 occurred after retrosigmoid approaches, and none occurred following middle cranial fossa approaches. Patients were managed with anticoagulation or antiplatelet therapy. Although patients were generally asymptomatic, one patient experienced intraparenchymal hemorrhage, epidural hemorrhage, and obstructive hydrocephalus, likely as a result of the anticoagulation therapy. However, all 7 patients had a modified Rankin scale score of 1 at the last follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS

Postoperative CVST is an infrequent complication, with an incidence of 6.0% among 116 patients who had undergone vestibular schwannoma surgery at one institution. Moreover, the management of postoperative CVST with anticoagulation therapy poses a serious dilemma to neurosurgeons. Given the paucity of reports in the literature and the low incidence of CVST, additional studies are needed to better understand the cause of thrombus formation and help to establish evidence-based guidelines for CVST management and prevention.

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Spencer Twitchell, Hussam Abou-Al-Shaar, Jared Reese, Michael Karsy, Ilyas M. Eli, Jian Guan, Philipp Taussky and William T. Couldwell

OBJECTIVE

With the continuous rise of health care costs, hospitals and health care providers must find ways to reduce costs while maintaining high-quality care. Comparing surgical and endovascular treatment of intracranial aneurysms may offer direction in reducing health care costs. The Value-Driven Outcomes (VDO) database at the University of Utah identifies cost drivers and tracks changes over time. In this study, the authors evaluate specific cost drivers for surgical clipping and endovascular management (i.e., coil embolization and flow diversion) of both ruptured and unruptured intracranial aneurysms using the VDO system.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed surgical and endovascular treatment of ruptured and unruptured intracranial aneurysms from July 2011 to January 2017. Total cost (as a percentage of each patient’s cost to the system), subcategory costs, and potential cost drivers were evaluated and analyzed.

RESULTS

A total of 514 aneurysms in 469 patients were treated; 273 aneurysms were surgically clipped, 102 were repaired with coiling, and 139 were addressed with flow diverter placements. Middle cerebral artery aneurysms accounted for the largest portion of cases in the clipping group (29.7%), whereas anterior communicating artery aneurysms were most frequently involved in the coiling group (30.4%) and internal carotid artery aneurysms were the majority in the flow diverter group (63.3%). Coiling (mean total cost 0.25% ± 0.20%) had a higher cost than flow diversion (mean 0.20% ± 0.16%) and clipping (mean 0.17 ± 0.14%; p = 0.0001, 1-way ANOVA). Coiling cases cost 1.5 times as much as clipping and flow diversion costs 1.2 times as much as clipping. Facility costs were the most significant contributor to intracranial clipping costs (60.2%), followed by supplies (18.3%). Supplies were the greatest cost contributor to coiling costs (43.2%), followed by facility (40.0%); similarly, supplies were the greatest portion of costs in flow diversion (57.5%), followed by facility (28.5%). Cost differences for aneurysm location, rupture status, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) grade, and discharge disposition could be identified, with variability depending on surgical procedure. A multivariate analysis showed that rupture status, surgical procedure type, ASA status, discharge disposition, and year of surgery all significantly affected cost (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

Facility utilization and supplies constitute the majority of total costs in aneurysm treatment strategies, but significant variation exists depending on surgical approach, rupture status, and patient discharge disposition. Developing and implementing approaches and protocols to improve resource utilization are important in reducing costs while maintaining high-quality patient care.

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Spencer Twitchell, Michael Karsy, Jared Reese, Jian Guan, William T. Couldwell, Andrew Dailey and Erica F. Bisson

OBJECTIVE

Efforts to examine the value of care—combining both costs and quality—are gaining importance in the current health care climate. This thrust is particularly evident in treating common spinal disease where both incidences and costs are generally high and practice patterns are variable. It is often challenging to obtain direct surgical costs for these analyses, which hinders the understanding of cost drivers and cost variation. Using a novel tool, the authors sought to understand the costs of posterior lumbar arthrodesis with interbody devices.

METHODS

The Value Driven Outcomes (VDO) database at the University of Utah was used to evaluate the care of patients who underwent open or minimally invasive surgery (MIS), 1- and 2-level lumbar spine fusion (Current Procedural Terminology code 22263). Patients treated from January 2012 through June 2017 were included.

RESULTS

A total of 276 patients (mean age 58.9 ± 12.4 years) were identified; 46.7% of patients were men. Most patients (82.2%) underwent 1-level fusion. Thirteen patients (4.7%) had major complications and 11 (4.1%) had minor complications. MIS (β = 0.16, p = 0.002), length of stay (β = 0.47, p = 0.0001), and number of operated levels (β = 0.37, p = 0.0001) predicted costs in a multivariable analysis. Supplies and implants (55%) and facility cost (36%) accounted for most of the expenditure. Other costs included pharmacy (7%), laboratory (1%), and imaging (1%).

CONCLUSIONS

These results provide direct cost accounting for lumbar fusion procedures using the VDO database. Efforts to improve the value of lumbar surgery should focus on high cost areas, i.e., facility and supplies/implant.

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Nam Yoon, Aatman Shah, William T. Couldwell, M. Yashar S. Kalani and Min S. Park

Skull base meningiomas are technically challenging tumors to treat because of their deep vascular supply that can preclude early devascularization during resection. Preoperative embolization of these arterial feeders is thought to decrease blood loss and facilitate resection; however, given the complex and varied anatomy of these skull base lesions, preoperative embolization is not without risk. It is essential for both endovascular and skull base neurosurgeons to understand these risks in light of the potential benefits. The authors review the vascular anatomy of skull base meningiomas, indications for preoperative devascularization, endovascular techniques, and published results regarding embolization of these lesions.

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Amol Raheja, Howard Colman, Cheryl A. Palmer and William T. Couldwell

Sunitinib is a multiple tyrosine kinase inhibitor with antiangiogenic, cytostatic, and antimigratory activity for meningiomas. A recent clinical trial of sunitinib for treatment of recurrent Grade II and III meningiomas suggested potential efficacy in this population, but only 2 patients exhibited significant radiographic response with tumor volume reduction. The authors illustrate another such case and discuss a complication related to this dramatic tumor volume reduction in aggressive skull base meningiomas.

The authors describe the case of a 39-year-old woman who had undergone repeat surgical interventions and courses of radiotherapy over the previous 11 years for recurrent cranial and spinal meningiomas. Despite 4 operations over the course of 4 years on her right petroclival meningioma with cavernous sinus and jugular fossa extensions, she had progressive neurological deficits and tumor recurrences. The specimen histology progressed from WHO Grade I initially to Grade II at the time of the third recurrence. The lesion was then irradiated 3 times using stereotactic radiosurgery for further recurrences. More recently, the tumor size increased rapidly on imaging, in association with progressive neurological symptoms arising from brainstem compression and vasogenic edema. Institution of sunitinib therapy yielded a dramatic radiographic response, with marked reduction in the tumor volume and reduction of brainstem vasogenic edema within a few weeks of initiation of treatment. The significant radiographic response of tumor in the clival region was also associated with CSF rhinorrhea from a dural breach created by resolution of the invasive skull base meningioma, which necessitated withholding the sunitinib medication. To address the leak, the authors undertook surgical exploration and transsphenoidal packing using an autologous fat graft and a vascularized pedicled nasoseptal flap. The patient has done well during follow-up of 3 months after packing, with no evidence of recurrent CSF leak, and the medication was subsequently restarted.

Prior clinical data and the dramatic radiographic response in this patient suggest that sunitinib holds promising therapeutic potential in carefully selected patients with recurrent atypical meningiomas where conventional strategies have been exhausted. There is a potential risk of associated CSF rhinorrhea, especially in more invasive skull base lesions showing dramatic radiographic response.

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Jian Guan, Andrea A. Brock, Michael Karsy, William T. Couldwell, Meic H. Schmidt, John R. W. Kestle, Randy L. Jensen, Andrew T. Dailey and Richard H. Schmidt

OBJECTIVE

Overlapping surgery—the performance of parts of 2 or more surgical procedures at the same time by a single lead surgeon—has recently come under intense scrutiny, although data on the effects of overlapping procedures on patient outcomes are lacking. The authors examined the impact of overlapping surgery on complication rates in neurosurgical patients.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of consecutive nonemergent neurosurgical procedures performed during the period from May 12, 2014, to May 12, 2015, by any of 5 senior neurosurgeons at a single institution who were authorized to schedule overlapping cases. Overlapping surgery was defined as any case in which 2 patients under the care of a single lead surgeon were under anesthesia at the same time for any duration. Information on patient demographics, premorbid conditions, surgical variables, and postoperative course were collected and analyzed. Primary outcome was the occurrence of any complication from the beginning of surgery to 30 days after discharge. A secondary outcome was the occurrence of a serious complication—defined as a life-threatening or life-ending event—during this same period.

RESULTS

One thousand eighteen patients met the inclusion criteria for the study. Of these patients, 475 (46.7%) underwent overlapping surgery. Two hundred seventy-one patients (26.6%) experienced 1 or more complications, with 134 (13.2%) suffering a serious complication. Fourteen patients in the cohort died, a rate of 1.4%. The overall complication rate was not significantly higher for overlapping cases than for nonoverlapping cases (26.3% vs 26.9%, p = 0.837), nor was the rate of serious complications (14.7% vs 11.8%, p = 0.168). After adjustments for surgery type, surgery duration, body mass index, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical classification grade, and intraoperative blood loss, overlapping surgery remained unassociated with overall complications (OR 0.810, 95% CI 0.592–1.109, p = 0.189). Similarly, after adjustments for surgery type, surgery duration, body mass index, ASA grade, and neurological comorbidity, there was no association between overlapping surgery and serious complications (OR 0.979, 95% CI 0.661–1.449, p = 0.915).

CONCLUSIONS

In this cohort, patients undergoing overlapping surgery did not have an increased risk for overall complications or serious complications. Although this finding suggests that overlapping surgery can be performed safely within the appropriate framework, further investigation is needed in other specialties and at other institutions.

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William T. Couldwell

A 49-year-old man presented with headache and cognitive difficulty. MRI demonstrated a meningioma in the falcotentorial region with compression of the internal cerebral veins, basal veins of Rosenthal, and vein of Galen. It was a removed via a left-sided occipital interhemispheric approach, performed with the patient in the lateral position. After tumor debulking and removal of its attachment to the tentorium and anterior falx, the tumor was resected. All venous structures were preserved. The video demonstrates the technical nuances and strategy for removal of tumors in a region with complicated venous anatomy that must be preserved.

The video can be found here: https://youtu.be/wKqAn3dYu4E.

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Randy L. Jensen, Gmaan Alzhrani, John R. W. Kestle, Douglas L. Brockmeyer, Sara M. Lamb and William T. Couldwell

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Jian Guan, Michael Karsy, William T. Couldwell, Richard H. Schmidt, Philipp Taussky, Joel D. MacDonald and Min S. Park

OBJECTIVE

The choice between treating and observing unruptured intracranial aneurysms is often difficult, with little guidance on which variables should influence decision making on a patient-by-patient basis. Here, the authors compared demographic variables, aneurysm-related variables, and comorbidities in patients who received microsurgical or endovascular treatment and those who were conservatively managed to determine which factors push the surgeon toward recommending treatment.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review was conducted of all patients diagnosed with an unruptured intracranial aneurysm at their institution between January 1, 2013, and January 1, 2016. These patients were dichotomized based on whether their aneurysm was treated. Demographic, geographic, socioeconomic, comorbidity, and aneurysm-related information was analyzed to assess which factors were associated with the decision to treat.

RESULTS

A total of 424 patients were identified, 163 who were treated surgically or endovascularly and 261 who were managed conservatively. In a multivariable model, an age < 65 years (OR 2.913, 95% CI 1.298–6.541, p = 0.010), a lower Charlson Comorbidity Index (OR 1.536, 95% CI 1.274–1.855, p < 0.001), a larger aneurysm size (OR 1.176, 95% CI 1.100–1.257, p < 0.001), multiple aneurysms (OR 2.093, 95% CI 1.121–3.907, p = 0.020), a white race (OR 2.288, 95% CI 1.245–4.204, p = 0.008), and living further from the medical center (OR 2.125, 95% CI 1.281–3.522, p = 0.003) were all associated with the decision to treat rather than observe.

CONCLUSIONS

Whereas several factors were expected to be considered in the decision to treat unruptured intracranial aneurysms, including age, Charlson Comorbidity Index, aneurysm size, and multiple aneurysms, other factors such as race and proximity to the medical center were unanticipated. Further studies are needed to identify such biases in patient treatment and improve treatment delineation based on patient-specific aneurysm rupture risk.