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Ryan Planchard, Daniel Lubelski, Jeff Ehresman and Daniel Sciubba

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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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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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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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Ethan Cottrill, Zach Pennington, A. Karim Ahmed, Daniel Lubelski, Matthew L. Goodwin, Alexander Perdomo-Pantoja, Erick M. Westbroek, Nicholas Theodore, Timothy Witham and Daniel Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Nonunion is a common complication of spinal fusion surgeries. Electrical stimulation technologies (ESTs)—namely, direct current stimulation (DCS), capacitive coupling stimulation (CCS), and inductive coupling stimulation (ICS)—have been suggested to improve fusion rates. However, the evidence to support their use is based solely on small trials. Here, the authors report the results of meta-analyses of the preclinical and clinical data from the literature to provide estimates of the overall effect of these therapies at large and in subgroups.

METHODS

A systematic review of the English-language literature was performed using PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science databases. The query of these databases was designed to include all preclinical and clinical studies examining ESTs for spinal fusion. The primary endpoint was the fusion rate at the last follow-up. Meta-analyses were performed using a Freeman-Tukey double arcsine transformation followed by random-effects modeling.

RESULTS

A total of 33 articles (17 preclinical, 16 clinical) were identified, of which 11 preclinical studies (257 animals) and 13 clinical studies (2144 patients) were included in the meta-analysis. Among preclinical studies, the mean fusion rates were higher among EST-treated animals (OR 4.79, p < 0.001). Clinical studies similarly showed ESTs to increase fusion rates (OR 2.26, p < 0.001). Of EST modalities, only DCS improved fusion rates in both preclinical (OR 5.64, p < 0.001) and clinical (OR 2.13, p = 0.03) populations; ICS improved fusion in clinical studies only (OR 2.45, p = 0.014). CCS was not effective at increasing fusion, although only one clinical study was identified. A subanalysis of the clinical studies found that ESTs increased fusion rates in the following populations: patients with difficult-to-fuse spines, those who smoke, and those who underwent multilevel fusions.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found that electrical stimulation devices may produce clinically significant increases in arthrodesis rates among patients undergoing spinal fusion. They also found that the pro-arthrodesis effects seen in preclinical studies are also found in clinical populations, suggesting that findings in animal studies are translatable. Additional research is needed to analyze the cost-effectiveness of these devices.

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The effect of C2–3 disc angle on postoperative adverse events in cervical spondylotic myelopathy

Presented at the 2018 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Bryan S. Lee, Kevin M. Walsh, Daniel Lubelski, Konrad D. Knusel, Michael P. Steinmetz, Thomas E. Mroz, Richard P. Schlenk, Iain H. Kalfas and Edward C. Benzel

OBJECTIVE

Complete radiographic and clinical evaluations are essential in the surgical treatment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM). Prior studies have correlated cervical sagittal imbalance and kyphosis with disability and worse health-related quality of life. However, little is known about C2–3 disc angle and its correlation with postoperative outcomes. The present study is the first to consider C2–3 disc angle as an additional radiographic predictor of postoperative adverse events.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review was performed to identify patients with CSM who underwent surgeries from 2010 to 2014. Data collected included demographics, baseline presenting factors, and postoperative outcomes. Cervical sagittal alignment variables were measured using the preoperative and postoperative radiographs. Univariable logistic regression analyses were used to explore the association between dependent and independent variables, and a multivariable logistic regression model was created using stepwise variable selection.

RESULTS

The authors identified 171 patients who had complete preoperative and postoperative radiographic and outcomes data. The overall rate of postoperative adverse events was 33% (57/171), and postoperative C2–3 disc angle, C2–7 sagittal vertical axis, and C2–7 Cobb angle were found to be significantly associated with adverse events. Inclusion of postoperative C2–3 disc angle in the analysis led to the best prediction of adverse events. The mean postoperative C2–3 disc angle for patients with any postoperative adverse event was 32.3° ± 17.2°, and the mean for those without any adverse event was 22.4° ± 11.1° (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

In the present retrospective analysis of postoperative adverse events in patients with CSM, the authors found a significant association between C2–3 disc angle and postoperative adverse events. They propose that C2–3 disc angle be used as an additional parameter of cervical spinal sagittal alignment and predictor for operative outcomes.

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Daniel Lubelski, Suzanne Tharin, John J. Como, Michael P. Steinmetz, Heather Vallier and Timothy Moore

OBJECTIVE

Few studies have investigated the advantages of early spinal stabilization in the patient with polytrauma in terms of reduction of morbidity and mortality. Previous analyses have shown that early stabilization may reduce ICU stay, with no effect on complication rates.

METHODS

The authors prospectively observed 340 polytrauma patients with an Injury Severity Score (ISS) of greater than 16 at a single Level 1 trauma center who were treated in accordance with a protocol termed “early appropriate care,” which emphasizes operative treatment of various fractures within 36 hours of injury. Of these patients, 46 had upper thoracic and/or cervical spine injuries. The authors retrospectively compared patients treated according to protocol versus those who were not. Continuous variables were compared using independent t-tests and categorical variables using Fisher’s exact test. Logistic regression analysis was performed to account for baseline confounding factors.

RESULTS

Fourteen of 46 patients (30%) did not undergo surgery within 36 hours. These patients were significantly more likely to be older than those in the protocol group (53 vs 38 years, p = 0.008) and have greater body mass index (BMI; 33 vs 27, p = 0.02), and they were less likely to have a spinal cord injury (SCI) (82% did not have an SCI vs 44% in the protocol group, p = 0.04). In terms of outcomes, patients in the protocol-breach group had significantly more total ventilator days (13 vs 6 days, p = 0.02) and total ICU days (16 vs 9 days, p = 0.03). Infection rates were 14% in the protocol-breach group and 3% in the protocol group (p = 0.2) Total complications trended toward being statistically significantly more common in the protocol-breach group (57% vs 31%). After controlling for potential confounding variables by logistic regression (including age, sex, BMI, race, and SCI), total complications were significantly (p < 0.05) greater in the protocol-breach group (OR 29, 95% CI 1.9–1828). This indicates that the odds of developing “any complication” were 29 times greater if treatment was delayed more than 36 hours.

CONCLUSIONS

Early surgical stabilization in the polytrauma patient with a cervical or upper thoracic spine injury is associated with fewer complications and improved outcomes. Hospitals may consider the benefit of protocols that promote early stabilization in this patient population.

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Roy Xiao, Jacob A. Miller, Navin C. Sabharwal, Daniel Lubelski, Vincent J. Alentado, Andrew T. Healy, Thomas E. Mroz and Edward C. Benzel

OBJECTIVE

Improvements in imaging technology have steadily advanced surgical approaches. Within the field of spine surgery, assistance from the O-arm Multidimensional Surgical Imaging System has been established to yield superior accuracy of pedicle screw insertion compared with freehand and fluoroscopic approaches. Despite this evidence, no studies have investigated the clinical relevance associated with increased accuracy. Accordingly, the objective of this study was to investigate the clinical outcomes following thoracolumbar spinal fusion associated with O-arm–assisted navigation. The authors hypothesized that increased accuracy achieved with O-arm–assisted navigation decreases the rate of reoperation secondary to reduced hardware failure and screw misplacement.

METHODS

A consecutive retrospective review of all patients who underwent open thoracolumbar spinal fusion at a single tertiary-care institution between December 2012 and December 2014 was conducted. Outcomes assessed included operative time, length of hospital stay, and rates of readmission and reoperation. Mixed-effects Cox proportional hazards modeling, with surgeon as a random effect, was used to investigate the association between O-arm–assisted navigation and postoperative outcomes.

RESULTS

Among 1208 procedures, 614 were performed with O-arm–assisted navigation, 356 using freehand techniques, and 238 using fluoroscopic guidance. The most common indication for surgery was spondylolisthesis (56.2%), and most patients underwent a posterolateral fusion only (59.4%). Although O-arm procedures involved more vertebral levels compared with the combined freehand/fluoroscopy cohort (4.79 vs 4.26 vertebral levels; p < 0.01), no significant differences in operative time were observed (4.40 vs 4.30 hours; p = 0.38). Patients who underwent an O-arm procedure experienced shorter hospital stays (4.72 vs 5.43 days; p < 0.01). O-arm–assisted navigation trended toward predicting decreased risk of spine-related readmission (0.8% vs 2.2%, risk ratio [RR] 0.37; p = 0.05) and overall readmissions (4.9% vs 7.4%, RR 0.66; p = 0.07). The O-arm was significantly associated with decreased risk of reoperation for hardware failure (2.9% vs 5.9%, RR 0.50; p = 0.01), screw misplacement (1.6% vs 4.2%, RR 0.39; p < 0.01), and all-cause reoperation (5.2% vs 10.9%, RR 0.48; p < 0.01). Mixed-effects Cox proportional hazards modeling revealed that O-arm–assisted navigation was a significant predictor of decreased risk of reoperation (HR 0.49; p < 0.01). The protective effect of O-arm–assisted navigation against reoperation was durable in subset analysis of procedures involving < 5 vertebral levels (HR 0.44; p = 0.01) and ≥ 5 levels (HR 0.48; p = 0.03). Further subset analysis demonstrated that O-arm–assisted navigation predicted decreased risk of reoperation among patients undergoing posterolateral fusion only (HR 0.39; p < 0.01) and anterior lumbar interbody fusion (HR 0.22; p = 0.03), but not posterior/transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion.

CONCLUSIONS

To the authors' knowledge, the present study is the first to investigate clinical outcomes associated with O-arm–assisted navigation following thoracolumbar spinal fusion. O-arm–assisted navigation decreased the risk of reoperation to less than half the risk associated with freehand and fluoroscopic approaches. Future randomized controlled trials to corroborate the findings of the present study are warranted.