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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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Jian Guan, Chad D. Cole, Meic H. Schmidt and Andrew T. Dailey

OBJECTIVE

Blood loss during surgery for thoracolumbar scoliosis often requires blood product transfusion. Rotational thromboelastometry (ROTEM) has enabled the more targeted treatment of coagulopathy, but its use in deformity surgery has received limited study. The authors investigated whether the use of ROTEM reduces transfusion requirements in this case-control study of thoracolumbar deformity surgery.

METHODS

Data were prospectively collected on all patients who received ROTEM-guided blood product management during long-segment (≥ 7 levels) posterior thoracolumbar fusion procedures at a single institution from April 2015 to February 2016. Patients were matched with a group of historical controls who did not receive ROTEM-guided therapy according to age, fusion segments, number of osteotomies, and number of interbody fusion levels. Demographic, intraoperative, and postoperative transfusion requirements were collected on all patients. Univariate analysis of ROTEM status and multiple linear regression analysis of the factors associated with total in-hospital transfusion volume were performed, with p < 0.05 considered to indicate statistical significance.

RESULTS

Fifteen patients who received ROTEM-guided therapy were identified and matched with 15 non-ROTEM controls. The mean number of fusion levels was 11 among all patients, with no significant differences between groups in terms of fusion levels, osteotomy levels, interbody fusion levels, or other demographic factors. Patients in the non-ROTEM group required significantly more total blood products during their hospitalization than patients in the ROTEM group (8.5 ± 4.2 units vs 3.71 ± 2.8 units; p = 0.001). Multiple linear regression analysis showed that the use of ROTEM (p = 0.016) and a lower number of fused levels (p = 0.022) were associated with lower in-hospital transfusion volumes.

CONCLUSIONS

ROTEM use during thoracolumbar deformity correction is associated with lower transfusion requirements. Further investigation will better define the role of ROTEM in transfusion during deformity surgery.

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Jian Guan, Vijay M. Ravindra, Meic H. Schmidt, Andrew T. Dailey, Robert S. Hood and Erica F. Bisson

OBJECTIVE

Recurrent lumbar disc herniation (RLDH) is a significant cause of morbidity in patients undergoing lumbar discectomy and has been reported to occur in up to 18% of cases. While repeat discectomy is often successful in treating these patients, concern over repeat RLDH may lead surgeons to advocate instrumented fusion even in the absence of instability. The authors' goal was to compare clinical outcomes for patients undergoing repeat discectomy versus instrumented fusion for RLDH.

METHODS

The authors used the National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database (N2QOD) to assess outcomes of patients who underwent repeat discectomy versus instrumented fusion at a single institution from 2012 to 2015. Primary outcomes included Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score, visual analog scale (VAS) score, and quality-adjusted life year (QALY) measures. Secondary outcomes included hospital length of stay, discharge status, and hospital charges.

RESULTS

The authors identified 25 repeat discectomy and 12 instrumented fusion patients with 3- and 12-month follow-up records. The groups had similar ODI and VAS scores and QALY measurements at 3 and 12 months. Patients in the instrumented fusion group had significantly longer hospitalizations (3.7 days vs 1.0 days, p < 0.001) and operative times (229.6 minutes vs 82.7 minutes, p < 0.001). They were also more likely to be female (p = 0.020) and to be discharged to inpatient rehabilitation instead of home (p = 0.036). Hospital charges for the instrumented fusion group were also significantly higher ($54,458.29 vs $11,567.05, p < 0.001). Rates of reoperation were higher in the repeat discectomy group (12% vs 0%), but the difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.211).

CONCLUSIONS

Repeat discectomy and instrumented fusion result in similar clinical outcomes at short-term follow-up. Patients undergoing repeat discectomy had significantly shorter operative times and length of stay, and they incurred dramatically lower hospital charges. They were also less likely to require acute rehabilitation postoperatively. Further research is needed to compare these two management strategies.

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Jakub Godzik, Vijay M. Ravindra, Wilson Z. Ray, Meic H. Schmidt, Erica F. Bisson and Andrew T. Dailey

OBJECT

The authors’ objectives were to compare the rate of fusion after occipitoatlantoaxial arthrodesis using structural allograft with the fusion rate from using autograft, to evaluate correction of radiographic parameters, and to describe symptom relief with each graft technique.

METHODS

The authors assessed radiological fusion at 6 and 12 months after surgery and obtained radiographic measurements of C1–2 and C2–7 lordotic angles, C2–7 sagittal vertical alignments, and posterior occipitocervical angles at preoperative, postoperative, and final follow-up examinations. Demographic data, intraoperative details, adverse events, and functional outcomes were collected from hospitalization records. Radiological fusion was defined as the presence of bone trabeculation and no movement between the graft and the occiput or C-2 on routine flexion-extension cervical radiographs. Radiographic measurements were obtained from lateral standing radiographs with patients in the neutral position.

RESULTS

At the University of Utah, 28 adult patients underwent occipitoatlantoaxial arthrodesis between 2003 and 2010 using bicortical allograft, and 11 patients were treated using iliac crest autograft. Mean follow-up for all patients was 20 months (range 1–108 months). Of the 27 patients with a minimum of 12 months of follow-up, 18 (95%) of 19 in the allograft group and 8 (100%) of 8 in the autograft group demonstrated evidence of bony fusion shown by imaging. Patients in both groups demonstrated minimal deterioration of sagittal vertical alignment at final follow-up. Operative times were comparable, but patients undergoing occipitocervical fusion with autograft demonstrated greater blood loss (316 ml vs 195 ml). One (9%) of 11 patients suffered a significant complication related to autograft harvesting.

CONCLUSIONS

The use of allograft in occipitocervical fusion allows a high rate of successful arthrodesis yet avoids the potentially significant morbidity and pain associated with autograft harvesting. The safety and effectiveness profile is comparable with previously published rates for posterior C1–2 fusion using allograft.

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Marcus D. Mazur, Vijay M. Ravindra, Meic H. Schmidt, Darrel S. Brodke, Brandon D. Lawrence, Jay Riva-Cambrin and Andrew T. Dailey

OBJECT

S-2 alar-iliac (S2AI) screws are an attractive alternative to conventional fixation with iliac bolts because they are lower profile, require less muscle dissection, and have greater pullout strength. Few studies, however, compare outcomes between these techniques.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective cohort study of consecutive adult patients at a single institution from December 2009 to March 2012 who underwent lumbopelvic fixation using S2AI screws or iliac bolts. Medical records were reviewed for patients with clinical failure, defined as an unplanned reoperation because of instrumentation failure and/or wound-related complications. Univariate, multivariate, and survival analyses were used to compare patients who required reoperation with those who did not. Method of pelvic fixation was the main predictor variable of interest, and the authors adjusted for potential confounding risk factors.

RESULTS

Of the 60 patients included, 23 received S2AI screws. Seventeen patients (28%) underwent an osteotomy. The mean follow-up was 22 months. A Kaplan-Meier survival model was used to evaluate the time to reoperation from the initial placement of lumbopelvic instrumentation. The failure-free rate was 96.6% at 6 months, 87.0% at 1 year, and 73.5% at 2 years. Reoperation was more common in patients with iliac bolts than in those with S2AI screws (13 vs 2; p = 0.031). Univariate analysis identified potential risk factors for unplanned reoperation, including use of iliac bolts (p = 0.031), absence of L5–S1 interbody graft (p = 0.048), previous lumbar fusion (p = 0.034), and pathology other than degenerative disease or scoliosis (p = 0.034). After adjusting for other risk factors, multivariate analysis revealed that the use of S2AI screws (OR 8.1 [1.5–73.5]; p = 0.030) was the only independent predictor for preventing unplanned reoperation.

CONCLUSIONS

Both S2AI screws and iliac bolts were effective at improving fusion rates at the lumbosacral junction. The use of S2AI screws, however, was independently associated with fewer unplanned reoperations for wound-related complications and instrumentation failures than the use of iliac bolts.

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Gregory F. Jost and Andrew T. Dailey

Rotational occlusion of the vertebral artery (VA), or bow hunter’s syndrome, is a rare yet surgically treatable cause of vertebrobasilar insufficiency. The underlying pathology is dynamic stenosis of the VA by osteophytes, fibrous bands, or lateral disc herniation with neck rotation or extension. The authors present 2 previously unreported cases of bow hunter’s syndrome and summarize 124 cases identified in a literature review.

Both patients in the new cases were treated by VA decompression and fusion of the subaxial spine. Each had > 50% occlusion of the left VA at the point of entry into the transverse foramen with a contralateral VA that ended in the posterior inferior cerebellar artery. Analyzing data from 126 cases (the 2 new cases in addition to the previously published 124), the authors report that stenosis was noted within V1 in 4% of cases, in V2 in 58%, in V3 in 36%, and distal to C-1 in 2%. Patients presented in the 5th to 7th decade of life and were more often male than female. The stenotic area was decompressed in 85 (73%) of the 116 patients for whom the type of treatment was reported (V1, 4 [80%] of 5; V2, 52 [83%] of 63; V3/V4, 29 [60%] of 48). Less commonly, fusion or combined decompression and fusion was used (V2, 7 [11%] of 63; V3/V4, 14 [29%] of 48). Most patients reported complete resolution of symptoms.

The authors conclude that patients with bow hunter’s syndrome classically have an impaired collateral blood flow to the brainstem. This condition carries an excellent prognosis with decompression, fusion, or combined surgery, and individual patient characteristics should guide the choice of therapy.