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Robert D. Winkelman, Michael D. Kavanagh, Joseph E. Tanenbaum, Dominic W. Pelle, Edward C. Benzel, Thomas E. Mroz, and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

On August 31, 2017, the state of Ohio implemented legislation limiting the dosage and duration of opioid prescriptions. Despite the widespread adoption of such restrictions, few studies have investigated the effects of these reforms on opioid prescribing and patient outcomes. In the present study, the authors aimed to evaluate the effect of recent state-level reform on opioid prescribing, patient-reported outcomes (PROs), and postoperative emergency department (ED) visits and hospital readmissions after elective lumbar decompression surgery.

METHODS

This study was a retrospective cohort study of patients who underwent elective lumbar laminectomy for degenerative disease at one of 5 hospitals within a single health system in the years prior to and after the implementation of the statewide reform (September 1, 2016–August 31, 2018). Patients were classified according to the timing of their surgery relative to implementation of the prescribing reform: before reform (September 1, 2016–August 31, 2017) or after reform (September 1, 2017– August 31, 2018). The outcomes of interest included total outpatient opioids prescribed in the 90 days following discharge from surgery as measured in morphine-equivalent doses (MEDs), total number of opioid refill prescriptions written, patient-reported pain at the first postoperative outpatient visit as measured by the Numeric Pain Rating Scale, improvement in patient-reported health-related quality of life as measured by the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System–Global Health (PROMIS-GH) questionnaire, and ED visits or hospital readmissions within 90 days of surgery.

RESULTS

A total of 1031 patients met the inclusion criteria for the study, with 469 and 562 in the before- and after-reform groups, respectively. After-reform patients received 26% (95% CI 19%–32%) fewer MEDs in the 90 days following discharge compared with the before-reform patients. No significant differences were observed in the overall number of opioid prescriptions written, PROs, or postoperative ED or hospital readmissions within 90 days in the year after the implementation of the prescribing reform.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients undergoing surgery in the year after the implementation of a state-level opioid prescribing reform received significantly fewer MEDs while reporting no change in the total number of opioid prescriptions, PROs, or postoperative ED visits or hospital readmissions. These results demonstrate that state-level reforms placing reasonable limits on opioid prescriptions written for acute pain may decrease patient opioid exposure without negatively impacting patient outcomes after lumbar decompression surgery.

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Daniel Lubelski, James Feghali, Amy S. Nowacki, Vincent J. Alentado, Ryan Planchard, Kalil G. Abdullah, Daniel M. Sciubba, Michael P. Steinmetz, Edward C. Benzel, and Thomas E. Mroz

OBJECTIVE

Patient demographics, comorbidities, and baseline quality of life (QOL) are major contributors to postoperative outcomes. The frequency and cost of lumbar spine surgery has been increasing, with controversy revolving around optimal management strategies and outcome predictors. The goal of this study was to generate predictive nomograms and a clinical calculator for postoperative clinical and QOL outcomes following lumbar spine surgery for degenerative disease.

METHODS

Patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery for degenerative disease at a single tertiary care institution between June 2009 and December 2012 were retrospectively reviewed. Nomograms and an online calculator were modeled based on patient demographics, comorbidities, presenting symptoms and duration of symptoms, indication for surgery, type and levels of surgery, and baseline preoperative QOL scores. Outcomes included postoperative emergency department (ED) visit or readmission within 30 days, reoperation within 90 days, and 1-year changes in the EuroQOL-5D (EQ-5D) score. Bootstrapping was used for internal validation.

RESULTS

A total of 2996 lumbar surgeries were identified. Thirty-day ED visits were seen in 7%, 30-day readmission in 12%, 90-day reoperation in 3%, and improvement in EQ-5D at 1 year that exceeded the minimum clinically important difference in 56%. Concordance indices for the models predicting ED visits, readmission, reoperation, and dichotomous 1-year improvement in EQ-5D were 0.63, 0.66, 0.73, and 0.84, respectively. Important predictors of clinical outcomes included age, body mass index, Charlson Comorbidity Index, indication for surgery, preoperative duration of symptoms, and the type (and number of levels) of surgery. A web-based calculator was created, which can be accessed here: https://riskcalc.org/PatientsEligibleForLumbarSpineSurgery/.

CONCLUSIONS

The prediction tools derived from this study constitute important adjuncts to clinical decision-making that can offer patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery realistic and personalized expectations of postoperative outcome. They may also aid physicians in surgical planning, referrals, and counseling to ultimately lead to improved patient experience and outcomes.

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Rupesh Kotecha, Martin C. Tom, Mihir Naik, Lilyana Angelov, Edward C. Benzel, Chandana A. Reddy, Richard A. Prayson, Iain Kalfas, Richard Schlenk, Ajit Krishnaney, Michael P. Steinmetz, William Bingaman, John H. Suh, and Samuel T. Chao

OBJECTIVE

The authors sought to describe the long-term recurrence patterns, prognostic factors, and effect of adjuvant or salvage radiotherapy (RT) on treatment outcomes for patients with spinal myxopapillary ependymoma (MPE).

METHODS

The authors reviewed a tertiary institution IRB-approved database and collected data regarding patient, tumor, and treatment characteristics for all patients treated consecutively from 1974 to 2015 for histologically confirmed spinal MPE. Key outcomes included relapse-free survival (RFS), postrecurrence RFS, failure patterns, and influence of timing of RT on recurrence patterns. Cox proportional hazards regression and Kaplan-Meier analyses were utilized.

RESULTS

Of the 59 patients included in the study, the median age at initial surgery was 34 years (range 12–74 years), 30 patients (51%) were female, and the most common presenting symptom was pain (n = 52, 88%). Extent of resection at diagnosis was gross-total resection (GTR) in 39 patients (66%), subtotal resection (STR) in 15 (25%), and unknown in 5 patients (9%). After surgery, 10 patients (17%) underwent adjuvant RT (5/39 GTR [13%] and 5/15 STR [33%] patients). Median follow-up was 6.2 years (range 0.1–35.3 years). Overall, 20 patients (34%) experienced recurrence (local, n = 15; distant, n = 5). The median RFS was 11.2 years (95% CI 77 to not reached), and the 5- and 10-year RFS rates were 72.3% (95% CI 59.4–86.3) and 54.0% (95% CI, 36.4–71.6), respectively.

STR was associated with a higher risk of recurrence (HR 6.45, 95% CI 2.15–19.23, p < 0.001) than GTR, and the median RFS after GTR was 17.2 years versus 5.5 years after STR. Adjuvant RT was not associated with improved RFS, regardless of whether it was delivered after GTR or STR. Of the 20 patients with recurrence, 12 (60%) underwent salvage treatment with surgery alone (GTR, n = 6), 4 (20%) with RT alone, and 4 (20%) with surgery and RT. Compared to salvage surgery alone, salvage RT, with or without surgery, was associated with a significantly longer postrecurrence RFS (median 9.5 years vs 1.6 years; log-rank, p = 0.006).

CONCLUSIONS

At initial diagnosis of spinal MPE, GTR is key to long-term RFS, with no benefit to immediate adjuvant RT observed in this series. RT at the time of recurrence, however, is associated with a significantly longer time to second disease recurrence. Surveillance imaging of the entire neuraxis remains crucial, as distant failure is not uncommon in this patient population.

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Ghaith Habboub, Matthew M. Grabowski, Michael L. Kelly, and Edward C. Benzel

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Philina Yee, Joseph E. Tanenbaum, Dominic W. Pelle, Don Moore, Edward C. Benzel, Michael P. Steinmetz, and Thomas E. Mroz

OBJECTIVE

Under the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) initiative, Medicare reimburses for lumbar fusion without adjusting for underlying pathology. However, lumbar fusion is a widely used technique that can treat both degenerative and traumatic pathologies. In other surgical cohorts, significant heterogeneity exists in resource use when comparing procedures for traumatic versus degenerative pathologies. If the same were true for lumbar fusion, BPCI would create a financial disincentive to treat specific patient populations. The goal of this study was to compare hospital resource use for lumbar fusion between 2 patient populations: patients with spondylolisthesis and patients with lumbar vertebral fracture.

METHODS

The authors compared the hospital resource use of two lumbar fusion cohorts that BPCI groups into the same payment bundle for lumbar fusion: patients with spondylolisthesis and patients with lumbar vertebral fracture. National Inpatient Sample data from 2013 were queried for patients who underwent lumbar fusion for lumbar vertebral fracture or spondylolisthesis. Hospital resource use was measured using length of stay (LOS), direct hospital costs, and odds of discharge to a post-acute care facility and compared using multivariable linear and logistic regression. All models adjusted for patient demographics, 29 comorbidities, and hospital characteristics.

RESULTS

After adjusting for patient demographics, insurance status, hospital characteristics, and 29 comorbidities, spondylolisthesis patients had a mean LOS that was 36% shorter (95% CI 26%–44%, p < 0.0001), a mean cost that was 13% less (95% CI 3.7%–21%, p < 0.0001), and 3.2 times greater odds of being discharged home (95% CI 2.5–5.4, p < 0.0001) than lumbar vertebral fracture patients.

CONCLUSIONS

Under the proposed DRG (diagnosis-related group)–based BPCI, hospitals would be reimbursed the same amount for lumbar fusion regardless of the diagnosis. However, compared with fusion for spondylolisthesis, fusion for lumbar vertebral fracture was associated with longer LOS, greater direct hospital costs, and increased likelihood of being discharged to a post-acute care facility. These findings suggest that the BPCI episode of care for lumbar fusion dis-incentivizes treatment of trauma patients.

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Jaes C. Jones, Jacob A. Miller, Dattanand M. Sudarshana, Nicolas R. Thompson, Edward C. Benzel, and Thomas E. Mroz

OBJECTIVE

In 2009, 2 randomized controlled trials demonstrated no improvement in pain following vertebral augmentation compared with sham surgery. However, a recent randomized trial demonstrated significant pain relief in patients following vertebroplasty compared to controls treated with conservative medical management. This study is a retrospective review of prospectively collected patient-reported quality of life (QOL) outcomes. The authors hypothesized that vertebral augmentation procedures offer a QOL benefit, but that this benefit would be diminished in patients with a history of depression and/or in patients undergoing vertebral augmentation at more than 1 level.

METHODS

Multivariable linear regression was used to identify predictors of postoperative pain assessed using the Pain Disability Questionnaire (PDQ), Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9), and EQ-5D scores. Eleven candidate predictors were selected a priori: age, sex, smoking history, coronary artery disease, depression, diabetes, procedure location (thoracic, lumbar), BMI, prior spine surgery, procedure indication (metastases, osteoporosis/osteopenia, other), and number of levels (1, 2, 3, or more).

RESULTS

A total of 143 patients were included in the study. For each 10-year increase in age, postoperative PDQ scores decreased (improved) by 9.7 points (p < 0.001). Patients with osteoporosis/osteopenia had significantly higher (worse) postoperative PDQ scores (+17.97, p = 0.028) than patients with metastatic lesions. Male sex was associated with higher (worse) postoperative PHQ-9 scores (+2.48, p = 0.010). Compared to single-level augmentation, operations at 2 levels were associated with significantly higher PHQ-9 scores (+2.58, p = 0.017). Current smokers had significantly lower PHQ-9 scores (−1.98, p = 0.023) than never smokers. No predictors were associated with significantly different EQ-5D score.

CONCLUSIONS

Variables associated with worse postoperative PDQ scores included younger age and osteoporosis/osteopenia. Variables associated with decreased (better) postoperative PHQ-9 scores included female sex, single operative vertebral level, and positive smoking status (i.e., current smoker). These clinically relevant predictors may permit identification of patients who may benefit from vertebral augmentation.

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Pranay Soni, Ghaith Habboub, Varun R. Kshettry, Richard Schlenk, Frederick Lautzenheiser, and Edward C. Benzel

The Cleveland Clinic was established in 1921 under the direction of 4 experienced and iconic physicians: George Crile, Frank Bunts, William Lower, and John Phillips. The Clinic initially employed a staff of only 6 surgeons, 4 internists, 1 radiologist, and 1 biophysicist, but Crile was quick to realize the need for broadening its scope of practice. He asked his close friend, Harvey Cushing, for assistance in finding a suitable candidate to establish a department of neurosurgery at the Cleveland Clinic. With his full endorsement, Cushing recommended Dr. Charles Edward Locke Jr., a former student and burgeoning star in the field of neurosurgery. Unfortunately, Locke’s life and career both ended prematurely in the Cleveland Clinic fire of 1929, but not before he would leave a lasting legacy, both at the Cleveland Clinic and in the field of neurosurgery.

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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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Sameer Kitab, Bryan S. Lee, and Edward C. Benzel

OBJECTIVE

Using an imaging-based prospective comparative study of 709 eligible patients that was designed to assess lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) in the ages between 16 and 82 years, the authors aimed to determine whether they could formulate radiological structural differences between the developmental and degenerative types of LSS.

METHODS

MRI structural changes were prospectively reviewed from 2 age cohorts of patients: those who presented clinically before the age of 60 years and those who presented at 60 years or older. Categorical degeneration variables at L1–S1 segments were compared. A multivariate comparative analysis of global radiographic degenerative variables and spinal dimensions was conducted in both cohorts. The age at presentation was correlated as a covariable.

RESULTS

A multivariate analysis demonstrated no significant between-groups differences in spinal canal dimensions and stenosis grades in any segments after age was adjusted for. There were no significant variances between the 2 cohorts in global degenerative variables, except at the L4–5 and L5–S1 segments, but with only small effect sizes. Age-related degeneration was found in the upper lumbar segments (L1–4) more than the lower lumbar segments (L4–S1). These findings challenge the notion that stenosis at L4–5 and L5–S1 is mainly associated with degenerative LSS.

CONCLUSIONS

Integration of all the morphometric and qualitative characteristics of the 2 LSS cohorts provides evidence for a developmental background for LSS. Based on these findings the authors propose the concept of LSS as a developmental syndrome with superimposed degenerative changes. Further studies can be conducted to clarify the clinical definition of LSS and appropriate management approaches.

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Jay M. Levin, Robert D. Winkelman, Joseph E. Tanenbaum, Edward C. Benzel, Thomas E. Mroz, and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

The Patient Experience of Care, composed of 9 dimensions derived from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey, is being used by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to adjust hospital reimbursement. Currently, there are minimal data on how scores on the constituent HCAHPS items impact the global dimension of satisfaction, the Overall Hospital Rating (OHR). The purpose of this study was to determine the key drivers of overall patient satisfaction in the setting of inpatient lumbar spine surgery.

METHODS

Demographic and preoperative patient characteristics were obtained. Patients selecting a top-box score for OHR (a 9 or 10 of 10) were considered to be satisfied with their hospital experience. A baseline multivariable logistic regression model was then developed to analyze the association between patient characteristics and top-box OHR. Then, multivariable logistic regression models adjusting for patient-level covariates were used to determine the association between individual components of the HCAHPS survey and a top-box OHR.

RESULTS

A total of 453 patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery were included, 80.1% of whom selected a top-box OHR. Diminishing overall health status (OR 0.63, 95% CI 0.43–0.91) was negatively associated with top-box OHR. After adjusting for potential confounders, the survey items that were associated with the greatest increased odds of selecting a top-box OHR were: staff always did everything they could to help with pain (OR 12.5, 95% CI 6.6–23.7), and nurses were always respectful (OR 11.0, 95% CI 5.3–22.6).

CONCLUSIONS

Patient experience of care is increasingly being used to determine hospital and physician reimbursement. The present study analyzed the key drivers of patient experience among patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery and found several important associations. Patient overall health status was associated with top-box OHR. After adjusting for potential confounders, staff always doing everything they could to help with pain and nurses always being respectful were the strongest predictors of overall satisfaction in this population. These findings highlight opportunities for quality improvement efforts in the spine care setting.