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Meic H. Schmidt, Frederick A. Boop, Neil A. Martin and Jonathan R. Slotkin

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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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Nick Thomson, Karel Pacak, Meic H. Schmidt, Cheryl A. Palmer, Karen L. Salzman, Marjan Champine, Joshua D. Schiffman and Adam L. Cohen

Leptomeningeal dissemination of paraganglioma is rare, with only 2 prior cases in the literature. The authors present the case of a metastatic low-grade lumbar paraganglioma via leptomeningeal dissemination. This report emphasizes the utility of 3,4-dihydroxy-6-18F-fluoro-l-phenylalanine (18F-FDOPA) PET scanning for diagnosis, as well as the combination of radiation therapy and alkylating chemotherapeutic agents for the treatment of this rare phenomenon. The patient was a 61-year-old woman who presented with low-back pain and was found to have an isolated L-3 intrathecal tumor on MRI. Sixteen months after gross-total en bloc resection of the paraganglioma, the patient again became symptomatic with new neurological symptoms. MRI findings revealed enhancing leptomeningeal nodules throughout the spine. 18F-FDOPA PET/CT scanning was used to confirm the diagnosis of disseminated paraganglioma. Intrathecal thiotepa, radiation therapy, and systemic therapy with capecitabine and temozolomide have been used sequentially over a 2-year period, with each able to stabilize tumor growth for several months. The authors also summarize the 2 other reports of leptomeningeal dissemination of paragangliomas in the literature and compare the course and management of the 3 cases.

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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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Vijay M. Ravindra, Ilyas M. Eli, Meic H. Schmidt and Douglas L. Brockmeyer

Spinal column tumors are rare in children and young adults, accounting for only 1% of all spine and spinal cord tumors combined. They often present diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. In this article, the authors review the current management of primary osseous tumors of the pediatric spinal column and highlight diagnosis, management, and surgical decision making.

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Vijay M. Ravindra, Andrea Brock, Al-Wala Awad, Ricky Kalra and Meic H. Schmidt

OBJECTIVE

Treatment advances have resulted in improved survival for many cancer types, and this, in turn, has led to an increased incidence of metastatic disease, specifically to the vertebral column. Surgical decompression and stabilization prior to radiation therapy have been shown to improve functional outcomes, but anterior access to the thoracolumbar junction may involve open thoracotomy, which can cause significant morbidity. The authors describe the treatment of 12 patients in whom a mini-open thoracoscopic-assisted approach (mini-open TAA) to the thoracolumbar junction was used to treat metastatic disease, with an analysis of outcomes.

METHODS

The authors reviewed a retrospective cohort of patients treated for thoracolumbar junction metastatic disease with mini-open TAA between 2004 and 2016. Data collection included operative time, estimated blood loss, length of stay, follow-up duration, and pre- and postoperative visual analog scale scores and Frankel grades.

RESULTS

Twelve patients underwent a mini-open TAA procedure for metastatic disease at the thoracolumbar junction. The mean age of patients was 59 years (range 53–77 years), mean estimated blood loss was 613 ml, and the mean duration of the mini-open TAA procedure was 234 minutes (3.8 hours). The median length of stay in the hospital was 7.5 days (range 5–21 days). All 12 patients had significant improvement in their postoperative pain scores in comparison with their preoperative pain scores (p < 0.001). No patients suffered from worsening neurological function after surgery, and of 7 patients who presented with neurological dysfunction, 6 (86%) had an improvement in their Frankel grade after surgery. No patients experienced delayed hardware failure requiring reoperation over a mean follow-up of 10 months (range 1–45 months).

CONCLUSIONS

The mini-open TAA to the thoracolumbar junction for metastatic disease is a durable procedure that has a reduced morbidity rate compared with traditional open thoracotomy for ventral decompression and fusion. It compares well with traditional and novel posterior approaches to the thoracolumbar junction. The authors found a significant improvement in preoperative pain and neurological symptoms that supports greater use of the mini-open TAA for the treatment of complex metastatic disease at the thoracolumbar junction.

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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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Michael Karsy, Jian Guan, Walavan Sivakumar, Jayson A. Neil, Meic H. Schmidt and Mark A. Mahan

Genetic alterations in the cells of intradural spinal tumors can have a significant impact on the treatment options, counseling, and prognosis for patients. Although surgery is the primary therapy for most intradural tumors, radiochemothera-peutic modalities and targeted interventions play an ever-evolving role in treating aggressive cancers and in addressing cancer recurrence in long-term survivors. Recent studies have helped delineate specific genetic and molecular differences between intradural spinal tumors and their intracranial counterparts and have also identified significant variation in therapeutic effects on these tumors. This review discusses the genetic and molecular alterations in the most common intradural spinal tumors in both adult and pediatrie patients, including nerve sheath tumors (that is, neurofibroma and schwannoma), meningioma, ependymoma, astrocytoma (that is, low-grade glioma, anaplastic astrocytoma, and glioblastoma), hemangioblastoma, and medulloblastoma. It also examines the genetics of metastatic tumors to the spinal cord, arising either from the CNS or from systemic sources. Importantly, the impact of this knowledge on therapeutic options and its application to clinical practice are discussed.