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Aditya V. Karhade, Paul Ogink, Quirina Thio, Marike Broekman, Thomas Cha, William B. Gormley, Stuart Hershman, Wilco C. Peul, Christopher M. Bono and Joseph H. Schwab

OBJECTIVE

If not anticipated and prearranged, hospital stay can be prolonged while the patient awaits placement in a rehabilitation unit or skilled nursing facility following elective spine surgery. Preoperative prediction of the likelihood of postoperative discharge to any setting other than home (i.e., nonroutine discharge) after elective inpatient spine surgery would be helpful in terms of decreasing hospital length of stay. The purpose of this study was to use machine learning algorithms to develop an open-access web application for preoperative prediction of nonroutine discharges in surgery for elective inpatient lumbar degenerative disc disorders.

METHODS

The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program was queried to identify patients who underwent elective inpatient spine surgery for lumbar disc herniation or lumbar disc degeneration between 2011 and 2016. Four machine learning algorithms were developed to predict nonroutine discharge and the best algorithm was incorporated into an open-access web application.

RESULTS

The rate of nonroutine discharge for 26,364 patients who underwent elective inpatient surgery for lumbar degenerative disc disorders was 9.28%. Predictive factors selected by random forest algorithms were age, sex, body mass index, fusion, level, functional status, extent and severity of comorbid disease (American Society of Anesthesiologists classification), diabetes, and preoperative hematocrit level. On evaluation in the testing set (n = 5273), the neural network had a c-statistic of 0.823, calibration slope of 0.935, calibration intercept of 0.026, and Brier score of 0.0713. On decision curve analysis, the algorithm showed greater net benefit for changing management over all threshold probabilities than changing management on the basis of the American Society of Anesthesiologists classification alone or for all patients or for no patients. The model can be found here: https://sorg-apps.shinyapps.io/discdisposition/.

CONCLUSIONS

Machine learning algorithms show promising results on internal validation for preoperative prediction of nonroutine discharges. If found to be externally valid, widespread use of these algorithms via the open-access web application by healthcare professionals may help preoperative risk stratification of patients undergoing elective surgery for lumbar degenerative disc disorders.

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Michael A. Williams, Tessa van der Willigen, Patience H. White, Cathy C. Cartwright, David L. Wood and Mark G. Hamilton

The health care needs of children with hydrocephalus continue beyond childhood and adolescence; however, pediatric hospitals and pediatric neurosurgeons are often unable to provide them care after they become adults. Each year in the US, an estimated 5000–6000 adolescents and young adults (collectively, youth) with hydrocephalus must move to the adult health care system, a process known as health care transition (HCT), for which many are not prepared. Many discover that they cannot find neurosurgeons to care for them. A significant gap in health care services exists for young adults with hydrocephalus. To address these issues, the Hydrocephalus Association convened a Transition Summit in Seattle, Washington, February 17–18, 2017.

The Hydrocephalus Association surveyed youth and families in focus groups to identify common concerns with HCT that were used to identify topics for the summit. Seven plenary sessions consisted of formal presentations. Four breakout groups identified key priorities and recommended actions regarding HCT models and practices, to prepare and engage patients, educate health care professionals, and address payment issues. The breakout group results were discussed by all participants to generate consensus recommendations.

Barriers to effective HCT included difficulty finding adult neurosurgeons to accept young adults with hydrocephalus into their practices; unfamiliarity of neurologists, primary care providers, and other health care professionals with the principles of care for patients with hydrocephalus; insufficient infrastructure and processes to provide effective HCT for youth, and longitudinal care for adults with hydrocephalus; and inadequate compensation for health care services.

Best practices were identified, including the National Center for Health Care Transition Improvement’s “Six Core Elements of Health Care Transition 2.0”; development of hydrocephalus-specific transition programs or incorporation of hydrocephalus into existing general HCT programs; and development of specialty centers for longitudinal care of adults with hydrocephalus.

The lack of formal HCT and longitudinal care for young adults with hydrocephalus is a significant health care services problem in the US and Canada that professional societies in neurosurgery and neurology must address. Consensus recommendations of the Hydrocephalus Association Transition Summit address 1) actions by hospitals, health systems, and practices to meet local community needs to improve processes and infrastructure for HCT services and longitudinal care; and 2) actions by professional societies in adult and pediatric neurosurgery and neurology to meet national needs to improve processes and infrastructure for HCT services; to improve training in medical and surgical management of hydrocephalus and in HCT and longitudinal care; and to demonstrate the outcomes and effectiveness of HCT and longitudinal care by promoting research funding.

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Anthony L. Asher, Clinton J. Devin, Robert E. Harbaugh and Mohamad Bydon

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Lateral lumbar interbody fusion in the elderly: a 10-year experience

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

Nitin Agarwal, Andrew Faramand, Nima Alan, Zachary J. Tempel, D. Kojo Hamilton, David O. Okonkwo and Adam S. Kanter

OBJECTIVE

Elderly patients, often presenting with multiple medical comorbidities, are touted to be at an increased risk of peri- and postoperative complications following spine surgery. Various minimally invasive surgical techniques have been developed and employed to treat an array of spinal conditions while minimizing complications. Lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) is one such approach. The authors describe clinical outcomes in patients over the age of 70 years following stand-alone LLIF.

METHODS

A retrospective query of a prospectively maintained database was performed for patients over the age of 70 years who underwent stand-alone LLIF. Patients with posterior segmental fixation and/or fusion were excluded. The preoperative and postoperative values for the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) were analyzed to compare outcomes after intervention. Femoral neck t-scores were acquired from bone density scans and correlated with the incidence of graft subsidence.

RESULTS

Among the study cohort of 55 patients, the median age at the time of surgery was 74 years (range 70–87 years). Seventeen patients had at least 3 medical comorbidities at surgery. Twenty-three patients underwent a 1-level, 14 a 2-level, and 18 patients a 3-level or greater stand-alone lateral fusion. The median estimated blood loss was 25 ml (range 5–280 ml). No statistically significant relationship was detected between volume of blood loss and the number of operative levels. The median length of hospital stay was 2 days (range 1–4 days). No statistically significant relationship was observed between the length of hospital stay and age at the time of surgery. There was one intraoperative death secondary to cardiac arrest, with a mortality rate of 1.8%. One patient developed a transient femoral nerve injury. Five patients with symptomatic graft subsidence subsequently underwent posterior instrumentation. A lower femoral neck t-score < −1.0 correlated with a higher incidence of graft subsidence (p = 0.006). The mean ODI score 1 year postoperatively of 31.1 was significantly (p = 0.003) less than the mean preoperative ODI score of 46.2.

CONCLUSIONS

Stand-alone LLIF can be safely and effectively performed in the elderly population. Careful evaluation of preoperative bone density parameters should be employed to minimize risk of subsidence and need for additional surgery. Despite an association with increased comorbidities, age alone should not be a deterrent when considering stand-alone LLIF in the elderly population.