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Godard C. W. de Ruiter, Mark P. Arts, J. Wolter A. Oosterhuis, Andreas Marinelli and Wilco C. Peul

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Jeff Ehresman, Zach Pennington, Aditya V. Karhade, Sakibul Huq, Ravi Medikonda, Andrew Schilling, James Feghali, Andrew Hersh, A. Karim Ahmed, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel Lubelski, Erick M. Westbroek, Joseph H. Schwab and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Incidental durotomy is a common complication of elective lumbar spine surgery seen in up to 11% of cases. Prior studies have suggested patient age and body habitus along with a history of prior surgery as being associated with an increased risk of dural tear. To date, no calculator has been developed for quantifying risk. Here, the authors’ aim was to identify independent predictors of incidental durotomy, present a novel predictive calculator, and externally validate a novel method to identify incidental durotomies using natural language processing (NLP).

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed all patients who underwent elective lumbar spine procedures at a tertiary academic hospital for degenerative pathologies between July 2016 and November 2018. Data were collected regarding surgical details, patient demographic information, and patient medical comorbidities. The primary outcome was incidental durotomy, which was identified both through manual extraction and the NLP algorithm. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify independent predictors of incidental durotomy. Bootstrapping was then employed to estimate optimism in the model, which was corrected for; this model was converted to a calculator and deployed online.

RESULTS

Of the 1279 elective lumbar surgery patients included in this study, incidental durotomy occurred in 108 (8.4%). Risk factors for incidental durotomy on multivariable logistic regression were increased surgical duration, older age, revision versus index surgery, and case starts after 4 pm. This model had an area under curve (AUC) of 0.73 in predicting incidental durotomies. The previously established NLP method was used to identify cases of incidental durotomy, of which it demonstrated excellent discrimination (AUC 0.97).

CONCLUSIONS

Using multivariable analysis, the authors found that increased surgical duration, older patient age, cases started after 4 pm, and a history of prior spine surgery are all independent positive predictors of incidental durotomy in patients undergoing elective lumbar surgery. Additionally, the authors put forth the first version of a clinical calculator for durotomy risk that could be used prospectively by spine surgeons when counseling patients about their surgical risk. Lastly, the authors presented an external validation of an NLP algorithm used to identify incidental durotomies through the review of free-text operative notes. The authors believe that these tools can aid clinicians and researchers in their efforts to prevent this costly complication in spine surgery.

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Zoher Ghogawala, Shekar Kurpad, Asdrubal Falavigna, Michael W. Groff, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jau-Ching Wu, Paul Park, Sigurd Berven, Daniel J. Hoh, Erica F. Bisson, Michael P. Steinmetz, Marjorie C. Wang, Dean Chou, Charles A. Sansur, Justin S. Smith and Luis M. Tumialán

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Erick M. Westbroek, Zach Pennington, A. Karim Ahmed, Yuanxuan Xia, Christine Boone, Philippe Gailloud and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Preoperative endovascular embolization of hypervascular spine tumors can reduce intraoperative blood loss. The extent to which subtotal embolization reduces blood loss has not been clearly established. This study aimed to elucidate a relationship between the extent of preoperative embolization and intraoperative blood loss.

METHODS

Sixty-six patients undergoing preoperative endovascular embolization and subsequent resection of hypervascular spine tumors were retrospectively reviewed. Patients were divided into 3 groups: complete embolization (n = 22), near-complete embolization (≥ 90% but < 100%; n = 22), and partial embolization (< 90%; n = 22). Intraoperative blood loss was compared between groups using one-way ANOVA with post hoc comparisons between groups.

RESULTS

The average blood loss in the complete embolization group was 1625 mL. The near-complete embolization group had an average blood loss of 2021 mL in surgery. Partial embolization was associated with a mean blood loss of 4009 mL. On one-way ANOVA, significant differences were seen across groups (F-ratio = 6.81, p = 0.002). Significant differences in intraoperative blood loss were also seen between patients undergoing complete and partial embolization (p = 0.001) and those undergoing near-complete and partial embolization (p = 0.006). Pairwise testing showed no significant difference between complete and near-complete embolization (p = 0.57). Analysis of a combined group of complete and near-complete embolization also showed a significantly decreased blood loss compared with partial embolization (p < 0.001). Patient age, tumor size, preoperative coagulation parameters, and preoperative platelet count were not significantly associated with blood loss.

CONCLUSIONS

Preoperative endovascular embolization is associated with decreased intraoperative blood loss. In this series, blood loss was significantly less in surgeries for tumors in which preoperative complete or near-complete embolization was achieved than in tumors in which preoperative embolization resulted in less than 90% reduction of tumor vascular blush. These findings suggest that there may be a critical threshold of efficacy that should be the goal of preoperative embolization.

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Jeff Ehresman, Zach Pennington, Andrew Schilling, Ravi Medikonda, Sakibul Huq, Kevin R. Merkel, A. Karim Ahmed, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel Lubelski, Erick M. Westbroek, Salia Farrokh, Steven M. Frank and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Blood transfusions are given to approximately one-fifth of patients undergoing elective lumbar spine surgery, and previous studies have shown that transfusions are accompanied by increased complications and additional costs. One method for decreasing transfusions is administration of tranexamic acid (TXA). The authors sought to evaluate whether the cost of TXA is offset by the decrease in blood utilization in lumbar spine surgery patients.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed patients who underwent elective lumbar or thoracolumbar surgery for degenerative conditions at a tertiary care center between 2016 and 2018. Patients who received intraoperative TXA (TXA patients) were matched with patients who did not receive TXA (non-TXA patients) by age, sex, BMI, ASA (American Society of Anesthesiologists) physical status class, and surgical invasiveness score. Primary endpoints were intraoperative blood loss, number of packed red blood cell (PRBC) units transfused, and total hemostasis costs, defined as the sum of TXA costs and blood transfusion costs throughout the hospital stay. A subanalysis was then performed by substratifying both cohorts into short-length (1–4 levels) and long-length (5–8 levels) spinal constructs.

RESULTS

Of the 1353 patients who met inclusion criteria, 68 TXA patients were matched to 68 non-TXA patients. Patients in the TXA group had significantly decreased mean intraoperative blood loss (1039 vs 1437 mL, p = 0.01). There were no differences between the patient groups in the total costs of blood transfusion and TXA (p = 0.5). When the 2 patient groups were substratified by length of construct, the long-length construct group showed a significant net cost savings of $328.69 per patient in the TXA group (p = 0.027). This result was attributable to the finding that patients undergoing long-length construct surgeries who were given TXA received a lower amount of PRBC units throughout their hospital stay (2.4 vs 4.0, p = 0.007).

CONCLUSIONS

TXA use was associated with decreased intraoperative blood loss and significant reductions in total hemostasis costs for patients undergoing surgery on more than 4 levels. Furthermore, the use of TXA in patients who received short constructs led to no additional net costs. With the increasing emphasis put on value-based care interventions, use of TXA may represent one mechanism for decreasing total care costs, particularly in the cases of larger spine constructs.

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Rafa Rahman, Alvaro Ibaseta, Jay S. Reidler, Nicholas S. Andrade, Richard L. Skolasky, Lee H. Riley III, David B. Cohen, Daniel M. Sciubba, Khaled M. Kebaish and Brian J. Neuman

OBJECTIVE

The authors conducted a study to analyze associations between changes in depression/anxiety before and 12 months after spine surgery, as well as changes in scores using the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) at the same time points.

METHODS

Preoperatively and 12 months postoperatively, the authors assessed PROMIS scores for depression, anxiety, pain, physical function, sleep disturbance, and satisfaction with participation in social roles among 206 patients undergoing spine surgery for deformity correction or degenerative disease. Patients were stratified according to preoperative/postoperative changes in depression and anxiety, which were categorized as persistent, improved, newly developed postoperatively, or absent. Multivariate regression was used to control for confounders and to compare changes in patient-reported outcomes (PROs).

RESULTS

Fifty patients (24%) had preoperative depression, which improved in 26 (52%). Ninety-four patients (46%) had preoperative anxiety, which improved in 70 (74%). Household income was the only preoperative characteristic that differed significantly between patients whose depression persisted and those whose depression improved. Compared with the no-depression group, patients with persistent depression had less improvement in all 4 domains, and patients with postoperatively developed depression had less improvement in pain, physical function, and satisfaction with social roles. Compared with the group of patients with postoperatively improved depression, patients with persistent depression had less improvement in pain and physical function, and patients with postoperatively developed depression had less improvement in pain. Compared with patients with no anxiety, those with persistent anxiety had less improvement in physical function, sleep disturbance, and satisfaction with social roles, and patients with postoperatively developed anxiety had less improvement in pain, physical function, and satisfaction with social roles. Compared with patients with postoperatively improved anxiety, patients with persistent anxiety had less improvement in pain, physical function, and satisfaction with social roles, and those with postoperatively developed anxiety had less improvement in pain, physical function, and satisfaction with social roles. All reported differences were significant at p < 0.05.

CONCLUSIONS

Many spine surgery patients experienced postoperative improvements in depression/anxiety. Improvements in 12-month PROs were smaller among patients with persistent or postoperatively developed depression/anxiety compared with patients who had no depression or anxiety before or after surgery and those whose depression/anxiety improved after surgery. Postoperative changes in depression/anxiety may have a greater effect than preoperative depression/anxiety on changes in PROs after spine surgery. Addressing the mental health of spine surgery patients may improve postoperative PROs.

CLASSIFICATION OF EVIDENCE Type of question: causation; study design: prospective cohort study; evidence: class III.

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Jeff Ehresman, Andrew Schilling, Zach Pennington, Chengcheng Gui, Xuguang Chen, Daniel Lubelski, A. Karim Ahmed, Ethan Cottrill, Majid Khan, Kristin J. Redmond and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) in patients with spinal metastasis can lead to destabilization and often carry a high risk profile. It is therefore important to have tools that enable providers to predict the occurrence of new VCFs. The most widely used tool for bone quality assessment, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), is not often available at a patient’s initial presentation and has limited sensitivity. While the Spinal Instability Neoplastic Score (SINS) has been associated with VCFs, it does not take patients’ baseline bone quality into consideration. To address this, the authors sought to develop an MRI-based scoring system to estimate trabecular vertebral bone quality (VBQ) and to assess this system’s ability to predict the occurrence of new VCFs in patients with spinal metastasis.

METHODS

Cases of adult patients with a diagnosis of spinal metastasis, who had undergone stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) to the spine or neurosurgical intervention at a single institution between 2012 and 2019, were retrospectively reviewed. The novel VBQ score was calculated for each patient by dividing the median signal intensity of the L1–4 vertebral bodies by the signal intensity of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to identify associations of demographic, clinical, and radiological data with new VCFs.

RESULTS

Among the 105 patients included in this study, 56 patients received a diagnosis of a new VCF and 49 did not. On univariable analysis, the factors associated with new VCFs were smoking status, steroid use longer than 3 months, the SINS, and the novel scoring system—the VBQ score. On multivariable analysis, only the SINS and VBQ score were significant predictors of new VCFs and, when combined, had a predictive accuracy of 89%.

CONCLUSIONS

As a measure of bone quality, the novel VBQ score significantly predicted the occurrence of new VCFs in patients with spinal metastases independent of the SINS. This suggests that baseline bone quality is a crucial factor that requires assessment when evaluating these patients’ conditions and that the VBQ score is a novel and simple MRI-based measure to accomplish this.

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Rafael De la Garza Ramos, Jonathan Nakhla, Daniel M. Sciubba and Reza Yassari

OBJECTIVE

In a meta-analysis, the authors sought to compare outcomes after iliac screw (IS) versus S2 alar-iliac (S2AI) screw fixation in adult patients.

METHODS

A PubMed/MEDLINE database search was performed for studies comparing IS and S2AI screw fixation techniques in adults. Levels of evidence were assigned based on the North American Spine Society guidelines. Three outcomes were examined: 1) revision surgery rate secondary to mechanical failure or wound complications, 2) surgical site infection rate, and 3) screw prominence/pain. Data were pooled and outcomes compared between techniques. Absolute risk reductions (ARRs) were also calculated for outcome measures.

RESULTS

Five retrospective cohort studies (all level III evidence) were included in our analysis. A total of 323 adult patients were included—147 in the IS group (45.5%) and 176 in the S2AI group (54.5%). Overall, revision surgery due to mechanical failure or wound complications was needed in 66 of 323 patients (revision surgery rate 20.4%)—27.9% in the IS group and 14.2% in the S2AI group (13.7% ARR; p < 0.001). Four studies reported wound infections among 278 total patients, with an infection rate of 12.6% (35/278)—25.4% in the IS group and 2.6% in the S2AI group (22.8% ARR; p < 0.001). Three studies examined development of screw prominence/pain; combined, these studies reported screw prominence/pain in 21 of 215 cases (9.8%)—18.1% in the IS group and 1.8% in the S2AI group (16.3% ARR; p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

S2AI screw fixation in adults has a significantly lower mechanical failure and complication rate than IS fixation based on the current best available evidence.

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Micheal Raad, Jay S. Reidler, Mostafa H. El Dafrawy, Raj M. Amin, Amit Jain, Brian J. Neuman, Lee H. Riley III, Daniel M. Sciubba, Khaled M. Kebaish and Richard L. Skolasky

OBJECTIVE

It is important to identify differences in the treatment of common diseases over time and across geographic regions. Several studies have reported increased use of arthrodesis to treat lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS). The purpose of this study was to investigate geographic variations in the treatment of LSS by US region.

METHODS

The authors reviewed inpatient and outpatient medical claims from 2010 to 2014 using the MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters database (Truven Health Analytics), which includes data on commercially insured members younger than 65 years. ICD-9 code 724.02 was used to identify patients aged ≥ 40 and < 65 years who underwent surgery for “spinal stenosis of the lumbar region” and for whom LSS was the only principal diagnosis. The primary outcome was the performance of spinal arthrodesis as part of the procedure. Geographic regions were based on patient residence and defined according to the US Census Bureau as the Northeast, Midwest, South, and West.

RESULTS

Rates of arthrodesis, as opposed to decompression alone, varied significantly by region, from 48% in the South, to 42% in the Midwest, 36% in the Northeast, and 31% in the West. After controlling for patient age, sex, and Charlson Comorbidity Index values, the differences remained significant. Compared with patients in the Northeast, those in the South (OR 1.6, 95% CI 1.50–1.75) and Midwest (OR 1.3, 95% CI 1.18–1.41) were significantly more likely to undergo spinal arthrodesis. On multivariate analysis, patients in the West were significantly less likely to have a prolonged hospital stay (> 3 days) than those in the Northeast (OR 0.84, 95% CI 0.75–0.94). Compared with the rate in the Northeast, the rates of discharge to a skilled nursing facility were lower in the South (OR 0.41, 95% CI 0.31–0.55) and West (OR 0.72, 95% CI 0.53–0.98). The 30-day readmission rate was significantly lower in the West (OR 0.81, 95% CI 0.65–0.98) than in the Northeast and similar between the other regions. Mean payments were significantly higher in the Midwest (mean difference $5503, 95% CI $4279–$6762), South (mean difference $6187, 95% CI $5041–$7332), and West (mean difference $7732, 95% CI $6384–$9080) than in the Northeast.

CONCLUSIONS

The use of spinal arthrodesis, as well as surgical outcomes and payments for the treatment of LSS, varies significantly by US region. This highlights the importance of developing national recommendations for the treatment of LSS.

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Justin K. Scheer, Taemin Oh, Justin S. Smith, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Alan H. Daniels, Daniel M. Sciubba, D. Kojo Hamilton, Themistocles S. Protopsaltis, Peter G. Passias, Robert A. Hart, Douglas C. Burton, Shay Bess, Renaud Lafage, Virginie Lafage, Frank Schwab, Eric O. Klineberg, Christopher P. Ames and the International Spine Study Group

OBJECTIVE

Pseudarthrosis can occur following adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery and can lead to instrumentation failure, recurrent pain, and ultimately revision surgery. In addition, it is one of the most expensive complications of ASD surgery. Risk factors contributing to pseudarthrosis in ASD have been described; however, a preoperative model predicting the development of pseudarthrosis does not exist. The goal of this study was to create a preoperative predictive model for pseudarthrosis based on demographic, radiographic, and surgical factors.

METHODS

A retrospective review of a prospectively maintained, multicenter ASD database was conducted. Study inclusion criteria consisted of adult patients (age ≥ 18 years) with spinal deformity and surgery for the ASD. From among 82 variables assessed, 21 were used for model building after applying collinearity testing, redundancy, and univariable predictor importance ≥ 0.90. Variables included demographic data along with comorbidities, modifiable surgical variables, baseline coronal and sagittal radiographic parameters, and baseline scores for health-related quality of life measures. Patients groups were determined according to their Lenke radiographic fusion type at the 2-year follow-up: bilateral or unilateral fusion (union) or pseudarthrosis (nonunion). A decision tree was constructed, and internal validation was accomplished via bootstrapped training and testing data sets. Accuracy and the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) were calculated to evaluate the model.

RESULTS

A total of 336 patients were included in the study (nonunion: 105, union: 231). The model was 91.3% accurate with an AUC of 0.94. From 82 initial variables, the top 21 covered a wide range of areas including preoperative alignment, comorbidities, patient demographics, and surgical use of graft material.

CONCLUSIONS

A model for predicting the development of pseudarthrosis at the 2-year follow-up was successfully created. This model is the first of its kind for complex predictive analytics in the development of pseudarthrosis for patients with ASD undergoing surgical correction and can aid in clinical decision-making for potential preventative strategies.