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Meng Huang, Avery Buchholz, Anshit Goyal, Erica Bisson, Zoher Ghogawala, Eric Potts, John Knightly, Domagoj Coric, Anthony Asher, Kevin Foley, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Paul Park, Mark Shaffrey, Kai-Ming Fu, Jonathan Slotkin, Steven Glassman, Mohamad Bydon, and Michael Wang

OBJECTIVE

Surgical treatment for degenerative spondylolisthesis has been proven to be clinically challenging and cost-effective. However, there is a range of thresholds that surgeons utilize for incorporating fusion in addition to decompressive laminectomy in these cases. This study investigates these surgeon- and site-specific factors by using the Quality Outcomes Database (QOD).

METHODS

The QOD was queried for all cases that had undergone surgery for grade 1 spondylolisthesis from database inception to February 2019. In addition to patient-specific covariates, surgeon-specific covariates included age, sex, race, years in practice (0–10, 11–20, 21–30, > 30 years), and fellowship training. Site-specific variables included hospital location (rural, suburban, urban), teaching versus nonteaching status, and hospital type (government, nonfederal; private, nonprofit; private, investor owned). Multivariable regression and predictor importance analyses were performed to identify predictors of the treatment performed (decompression alone vs decompression and fusion). The model was clustered by site to account for site-specific heterogeneity in treatment selection.

RESULTS

A total of 12,322 cases were included with 1988 (16.1%) that had undergone decompression alone. On multivariable regression analysis clustered by site, adjusting for patient-level clinical covariates, no surgeon-specific factors were found to be significantly associated with the odds of selecting decompression alone as the surgery performed. However, sites located in suburban areas (OR 2.32, 95% CI 1.09–4.84, p = 0.03) were more likely to perform decompression alone (reference = urban). Sites located in rural areas had higher odds of performing decompression alone than hospitals located in urban areas, although the results were not statistically significant (OR 1.33, 95% CI 0.59–2.61, p = 0.49). Nonteaching status was independently associated with lower odds of performing decompression alone (OR 0.40, 95% CI 0.19–0.97, p = 0.04). Predictor importance analysis revealed that the most important determinants of treatment selection were dominant symptom (Wald χ2 = 34.7, accounting for 13.6% of total χ2) and concurrent diagnosis of disc herniation (Wald χ2 = 31.7, accounting for 12.4% of total χ2). Hospital teaching status was also found to be relatively important (Wald χ2 = 4.2, accounting for 1.6% of total χ2) but less important than other patient-level predictors.

CONCLUSIONS

Nonteaching centers were more likely to perform decompressive laminectomy with supplemental fusion for spondylolisthesis. Suburban hospitals were more likely to perform decompression only. Surgeon characteristics were not found to influence treatment selection after adjustment for clinical covariates. Further large database registry experience from surgeons at high-volume academic centers at which surgically and medically complex patients are treated may provide additional insight into factors associated with treatment preference for degenerative spondylolisthesis.

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Dominic Amara, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Shane Burch, Vedat Deviren, Christopher P. Ames, Bobby Tay, Sigurd H. Berven, and Dean Chou

OBJECTIVE

Radiculopathy from the fractional curve, usually from L3 to S1, can create severe disability. However, treatment methods of the curve vary. The authors evaluated the effect of adding more levels of interbody fusion during treatment of the fractional curve.

METHODS

A single-institution retrospective review of adult patients treated for scoliosis between 2006 and 2016 was performed. Inclusion criteria were as follows: fractional curves from L3 to S1 > 10°, ipsilateral radicular symptoms concordant on the fractional curve concavity side, patients who underwent at least 1 interbody fusion at the level of the fractional curve, and a minimum 1-year follow-up. Primary outcomes included changes in fractional curve correction, lumbar lordosis change, pelvic incidence − lumbar lordosis mismatch change, scoliosis major curve correction, and rates of revision surgery and postoperative complications. Secondary analysis compared the same outcomes among patients undergoing posterior, anterior, and lateral approaches for their interbody fusion.

RESULTS

A total of 78 patients were included. There were no significant differences in age, sex, BMI, prior surgery, fractional curve degree, pelvic tilt, pelvic incidence, pelvic incidence − lumbar lordosis mismatch, sagittal vertical axis, coronal balance, scoliotic curve magnitude, proportion of patients undergoing an osteotomy, or average number of levels fused among the groups. The mean follow-up was 35.8 months (range 12–150 months). Patients undergoing more levels of interbody fusion had more fractional curve correction (7.4° vs 12.3° vs 12.1° for 1, 2, and 3 levels; p = 0.009); greater increase in lumbar lordosis (−1.8° vs 6.2° vs 13.7°, p = 0.003); and more scoliosis major curve correction (13.0° vs 13.7° vs 24.4°, p = 0.01). There were no statistically significant differences among the groups with regard to postoperative complications (overall rate 47.4%, p = 0.85) or need for revision surgery (overall rate 30.7%, p = 0.25). In the secondary analysis, patients undergoing anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) had a greater increase in lumbar lordosis (9.1° vs −0.87° for ALIF vs transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion [TLIF], p = 0.028), but also higher revision surgery rates unrelated to adjacent-segment pathology (25% vs 4.3%, p = 0.046). Higher ALIF revision surgery rates were driven by rod fracture in the majority (55%) of cases.

CONCLUSIONS

More levels of interbody fusion resulted in increased lordosis, scoliosis curve correction, and fractional curve correction. However, additional levels of interbody fusion up to 3 levels did not result in more postoperative complications or morbidity. ALIF resulted in a greater lumbar lordosis increase than TLIF, but ALIF had higher revision surgery rates.

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Dominic Amara, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Shane Burch, Vedat Deviren, Christopher P. Ames, Bobby Tay, Sigurd H. Berven, and Dean Chou

OBJECTIVE

Radiculopathy from the fractional curve, usually from L3 to S1, can create severe disability. However, treatment methods of the curve vary. The authors evaluated the effect of adding more levels of interbody fusion during treatment of the fractional curve.

METHODS

A single-institution retrospective review of adult patients treated for scoliosis between 2006 and 2016 was performed. Inclusion criteria were as follows: fractional curves from L3 to S1 > 10°, ipsilateral radicular symptoms concordant on the fractional curve concavity side, patients who underwent at least 1 interbody fusion at the level of the fractional curve, and a minimum 1-year follow-up. Primary outcomes included changes in fractional curve correction, lumbar lordosis change, pelvic incidence − lumbar lordosis mismatch change, scoliosis major curve correction, and rates of revision surgery and postoperative complications. Secondary analysis compared the same outcomes among patients undergoing posterior, anterior, and lateral approaches for their interbody fusion.

RESULTS

A total of 78 patients were included. There were no significant differences in age, sex, BMI, prior surgery, fractional curve degree, pelvic tilt, pelvic incidence, pelvic incidence − lumbar lordosis mismatch, sagittal vertical axis, coronal balance, scoliotic curve magnitude, proportion of patients undergoing an osteotomy, or average number of levels fused among the groups. The mean follow-up was 35.8 months (range 12–150 months). Patients undergoing more levels of interbody fusion had more fractional curve correction (7.4° vs 12.3° vs 12.1° for 1, 2, and 3 levels; p = 0.009); greater increase in lumbar lordosis (−1.8° vs 6.2° vs 13.7°, p = 0.003); and more scoliosis major curve correction (13.0° vs 13.7° vs 24.4°, p = 0.01). There were no statistically significant differences among the groups with regard to postoperative complications (overall rate 47.4%, p = 0.85) or need for revision surgery (overall rate 30.7%, p = 0.25). In the secondary analysis, patients undergoing anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) had a greater increase in lumbar lordosis (9.1° vs −0.87° for ALIF vs transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion [TLIF], p = 0.028), but also higher revision surgery rates unrelated to adjacent-segment pathology (25% vs 4.3%, p = 0.046). Higher ALIF revision surgery rates were driven by rod fracture in the majority (55%) of cases.

CONCLUSIONS

More levels of interbody fusion resulted in increased lordosis, scoliosis curve correction, and fractional curve correction. However, additional levels of interbody fusion up to 3 levels did not result in more postoperative complications or morbidity. ALIF resulted in a greater lumbar lordosis increase than TLIF, but ALIF had higher revision surgery rates.

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Chih-Chang Chang, Dean Chou, Brenton Pennicooke, Joshua Rivera, Lee A. Tan, Sigurd Berven, and Praveen V. Mummaneni

OBJECTIVE

Potential advantages of using expandable versus static cages during transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) are not fully established. The authors aimed to compare the long-term radiographic outcomes of expandable versus static TLIF cages.

METHODS

A retrospective review of 1- and 2-level TLIFs over a 10-year period with expandable and static cages was performed at the University of California, San Francisco. Patients with posterior column osteotomy (PCO) were subdivided. Fusion assessment, cage subsidence, anterior and posterior disc height, foraminal dimensions, pelvic incidence (PI), segmental lordosis (SL), lumbar lordosis (LL), pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis mismatch (PI-LL), pelvic tilt (PT), sacral slope (SS), and sagittal vertical axis (SVA) were assessed.

RESULTS

A consecutive series of 178 patients (with a total of 210 levels) who underwent TLIF using either static (148 levels) or expandable cages (62 levels) was reviewed. The mean patient age was 60.3 ± 11.5 years and 62.8 ± 14.1 years for the static and expandable cage groups, respectively. The mean follow-up was 42.9 ± 29.4 months for the static cage group and 27.6 ± 14.1 months for the expandable cage group. Within the 1-level TLIF group, the SL and PI-LL improved with statistical significance regardless of whether PCO was performed; however, the static group with PCOs also had statistically significant improvement in LL and SVA. The expandable cage with PCO subgroup had significant improvement in SL only. All of the foraminal parameters improved with statistical significance, regardless of the type of cages used; however, the expandable cage group had greater improvement in disc height restoration. The incidence of cage subsidence was higher in the expandable group (19.7% vs 5.4%, p = 0.0017). Within the expandable group, the unilateral facetectomy-only subgroup had a 5.6 times higher subsidence rate than the PCO subgroup (26.8% vs 4.8%, p = 0.04). Four expandable cages collapsed over time.

CONCLUSIONS

Expandable TLIF cages may initially restore disc height better than static cages, but they also have higher rates of subsidence. Unilateral facetectomy alone may result in more subsidence with expandable cages than using bilateral PCO, potentially because of insufficient facet release. Although expandable cages may have more power to induce lordosis and restore disc height than static cages, subsidence and endplate violation may negate any significant gains compared to static cages.

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Chih-Chang Chang, Dean Chou, Brenton Pennicooke, Joshua Rivera, Lee A. Tan, Sigurd Berven, and Praveen V. Mummaneni

OBJECTIVE

Potential advantages of using expandable versus static cages during transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) are not fully established. The authors aimed to compare the long-term radiographic outcomes of expandable versus static TLIF cages.

METHODS

A retrospective review of 1- and 2-level TLIFs over a 10-year period with expandable and static cages was performed at the University of California, San Francisco. Patients with posterior column osteotomy (PCO) were subdivided. Fusion assessment, cage subsidence, anterior and posterior disc height, foraminal dimensions, pelvic incidence (PI), segmental lordosis (SL), lumbar lordosis (LL), pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis mismatch (PI-LL), pelvic tilt (PT), sacral slope (SS), and sagittal vertical axis (SVA) were assessed.

RESULTS

A consecutive series of 178 patients (with a total of 210 levels) who underwent TLIF using either static (148 levels) or expandable cages (62 levels) was reviewed. The mean patient age was 60.3 ± 11.5 years and 62.8 ± 14.1 years for the static and expandable cage groups, respectively. The mean follow-up was 42.9 ± 29.4 months for the static cage group and 27.6 ± 14.1 months for the expandable cage group. Within the 1-level TLIF group, the SL and PI-LL improved with statistical significance regardless of whether PCO was performed; however, the static group with PCOs also had statistically significant improvement in LL and SVA. The expandable cage with PCO subgroup had significant improvement in SL only. All of the foraminal parameters improved with statistical significance, regardless of the type of cages used; however, the expandable cage group had greater improvement in disc height restoration. The incidence of cage subsidence was higher in the expandable group (19.7% vs 5.4%, p = 0.0017). Within the expandable group, the unilateral facetectomy-only subgroup had a 5.6 times higher subsidence rate than the PCO subgroup (26.8% vs 4.8%, p = 0.04). Four expandable cages collapsed over time.

CONCLUSIONS

Expandable TLIF cages may initially restore disc height better than static cages, but they also have higher rates of subsidence. Unilateral facetectomy alone may result in more subsidence with expandable cages than using bilateral PCO, potentially because of insufficient facet release. Although expandable cages may have more power to induce lordosis and restore disc height than static cages, subsidence and endplate violation may negate any significant gains compared to static cages.

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Andrew K. Chan, Michele Santacatterina, Brenton Pennicooke, Shane Shahrestani, Alexander M. Ballatori, Katie O. Orrico, John F. Burke, Geoffrey T. Manley, Phiroz E. Tarapore, Michael C. Huang, Sanjay S. Dhall, Dean Chou, Praveen V. Mummaneni, and Anthony M. DiGiorgio

OBJECTIVE

Spine surgery is especially susceptible to malpractice claims. Critics of the US medical liability system argue that it drives up costs, whereas proponents argue it deters negligence. Here, the authors study the relationship between malpractice claim density and outcomes.

METHODS

The following methods were used: 1) the National Practitioner Data Bank was used to determine the number of malpractice claims per 100 physicians, by state, between 2005 and 2010; 2) the Nationwide Inpatient Sample was queried for spinal fusion patients; and 3) the Area Resource File was queried to determine the density of physicians, by state. States were categorized into 4 quartiles regarding the frequency of malpractice claims per 100 physicians. To evaluate the association between malpractice claims and death, discharge disposition, length of stay (LOS), and total costs, an inverse-probability-weighted regression-adjustment estimator was used. The authors controlled for patient and hospital characteristics. Covariates were used to train machine learning models to predict death, discharge disposition not to home, LOS, and total costs.

RESULTS

Overall, 549,775 discharges following spinal fusions were identified, with 495,640 yielding state-level information about medical malpractice claim frequency per 100 physicians. Of these, 124,425 (25.1%), 132,613 (26.8%), 130,929 (26.4%), and 107,673 (21.7%) were from the lowest, second-lowest, second-highest, and highest quartile states, respectively, for malpractice claims per 100 physicians. Compared to the states with the fewest claims (lowest quartile), surgeries in states with the most claims (highest quartile) showed a statistically significantly higher odds of a nonhome discharge (OR 1.169, 95% CI 1.139–1.200), longer LOS (mean difference 0.304, 95% CI 0.256–0.352), and higher total charges (mean difference [log scale] 0.288, 95% CI 0.281–0.295) with no significant associations for mortality. For the machine learning models—which included medical malpractice claim density as a covariate—the areas under the curve for death and discharge disposition were 0.94 and 0.87, and the R2 values for LOS and total charge were 0.55 and 0.60, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

Spinal fusion procedures from states with a higher frequency of malpractice claims were associated with an increased odds of nonhome discharge, longer LOS, and higher total charges. This suggests that medicolegal climate may potentially alter practice patterns for a given spine surgeon and may have important implications for medical liability reform. Machine learning models that included medical malpractice claim density as a feature were satisfactory in prediction and may be helpful for patients, surgeons, hospitals, and payers.

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Ping-Guo Duan, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Jeremy M. V. Guinn, Joshua Rivera, Sigurd H. Berven, and Dean Chou

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was to investigate whether fat infiltration of the lumbar multifidus (LM) muscle affects revision surgery rates for adjacent-segment degeneration (ASD) after L4–5 transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) for degenerative spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

A total of 178 patients undergoing single-level L4–5 TLIF for spondylolisthesis (2006 to 2016) were retrospectively analyzed. Inclusion criteria were a minimum 2-year follow-up, preoperative MR images and radiographs, and single-level L4–5 TLIF for degenerative spondylolisthesis. Twenty-three patients underwent revision surgery for ASD during the follow-up. Another 23 patients without ASD were matched with the patients with ASD. Demographic data, Roussouly curvature type, and spinopelvic parameter data were collected. The fat infiltration of the LM muscle (L3, L4, and L5) was evaluated on preoperative MRI using the Goutallier classification system.

RESULTS

A total of 46 patients were evaluated. There were no differences in age, sex, BMI, or spinopelvic parameters with regard to patients with and those without ASD (p > 0.05). Fat infiltration of the LM was significantly greater in the patients with ASD than in those without ASD (p = 0.029). Fat infiltration was most significant at L3 in patients with ASD than in patients without ASD (p = 0.017). At L4 and L5, there was an increasing trend of fat infiltration in the patients with ASD than in those without ASD, but the difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.354 for L4 and p = 0.077 for L5).

CONCLUSIONS

Fat infiltration of the LM may be associated with ASD after L4–5 TLIF for spondylolisthesis. Fat infiltration at L3 may also be associated with ASD at L3–4 after L4–5 TLIF.

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Ping-Guo Duan, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Minghao Wang, Andrew K. Chan, Bo Li, Rory Mayer, Sigurd H. Berven, and Dean Chou

OBJECTIVE

In this study, the authors’ aim was to investigate whether obesity affects surgery rates for adjacent-segment degeneration (ASD) after transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) for spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

Patients who underwent single-level TLIF for spondylolisthesis at the University of California, San Francisco, from 2006 to 2016 were retrospectively analyzed. Inclusion criteria were a minimum 2-year follow-up, single-level TLIF, and degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis. Exclusion criteria were trauma, tumor, infection, multilevel fusions, non-TLIF fusions, or less than a 2-year follow-up. Patient demographic data were collected, and an analysis of spinopelvic parameters was performed. The patients were divided into two groups: mismatched, or pelvic incidence (PI) minus lumbar lordosis (LL) ≥ 10°; and balanced, or PI-LL < 10°. Within the two groups, the patients were further classified by BMI (< 30 and ≥ 30 kg/m2). Patients were then evaluated for surgery for ASD, matched by BMI and PI-LL parameters.

RESULTS

A total of 190 patients met inclusion criteria (72 males and 118 females, mean age 59.57 ± 12.39 years). The average follow-up was 40.21 ± 20.42 months (range 24–135 months). In total, 24 patients (12.63% of 190) underwent surgery for ASD. Within the entire cohort, 82 patients were in the mismatched group, and 108 patients were in the balanced group. Within the mismatched group, adjacent-segment surgeries occurred at the following rates: BMI < 30 kg/m2, 2.1% (1/48); and BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2, 17.6% (6/34). Significant differences were seen between patients with BMI ≥ 30 and BMI < 30 (p = 0.018). A receiver operating characteristic curve for BMI as a predictor for ASD was established, with an AUC of 0.69 (95% CI 0.49–0.90). The optimal BMI cutoff value determined by the Youden index is 29.95 (sensitivity 0.857; specificity 0.627). However, in the balanced PI-LL group (108/190 patients), there was no difference in surgery rates for ASD among the patients with different BMIs (p > 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

In patients who have a PI-LL mismatch, obesity may be associated with an increased risk of surgery for ASD after TLIF, but in obese patients without PI-LL mismatch, this association was not observed.

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Praveen V. Mummaneni, John F. Burke, Andrew K. Chan, Julie Ann Sosa, Errol P. Lobo, Valli P. Mummaneni, Sheila Antrum, Sigurd H. Berven, Michael S. Conte, Sarah B. Doernberg, Andrew N. Goldberg, Christopher P. Hess, Steven W. Hetts, S. Andrew Josephson, Maureen P. Kohi, C. Benjamin Ma, Vaikom S. Mahadevan, Annette M. Molinaro, Andrew H. Murr, Sirisha Narayana, John P. Roberts, Marshall L. Stoller, Philip V. Theodosopoulos, Thomas P. Vail, Sandra Wienholz, Michael A. Gropper, Adrienne Green, and Mitchel S. Berger

OBJECTIVE

During the COVID-19 pandemic, quaternary-care facilities continue to provide care for patients in need of urgent and emergent invasive procedures. Perioperative protocols are needed to streamline care for these patients notwithstanding capacity and resource constraints.

METHODS

A multidisciplinary panel was assembled at the University of California, San Francisco, with 26 leaders across 10 academic departments, including 7 department chairpersons, the chief medical officer, the chief operating officer, infection control officers, nursing leaders, and resident house staff champions. An epidemiologist, an ethicist, and a statistician were also consulted. A modified two-round, blinded Delphi method based on 18 agree/disagree statements was used to build consensus. Significant disagreement for each statement was tested using a one-sided exact binomial test against an expected outcome of 95% consensus using a significance threshold of p < 0.05. Final triage protocols were developed with unblinded group-level discussion.

RESULTS

Overall, 15 of 18 statements achieved consensus in the first round of the Delphi method; the 3 statements with significant disagreement (p < 0.01) were modified and iteratively resubmitted to the expert panel to achieve consensus. Consensus-based protocols were developed using unblinded multidisciplinary panel discussions. The final algorithms 1) quantified outbreak level, 2) triaged patients based on acuity, 3) provided a checklist for urgent/emergent invasive procedures, and 4) created a novel scoring system for the allocation of personal protective equipment. In particular, the authors modified the American College of Surgeons three-tiered triage system to incorporate more urgent cases, as are often encountered in neurosurgery and spine surgery.

CONCLUSIONS

Urgent and emergent invasive procedures need to be performed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The consensus-based protocols in this study may assist healthcare providers to optimize perioperative care during the pandemic.

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John F. Burke, Andrew K. Chan, Rory R. Mayer, Joseph H. Garcia, Brenton Pennicooke, Michael Mann, Sigurd H. Berven, Dean Chou, and Praveen V. Mummaneni

The clamshell thoracotomy is often used to access both hemithoraxes and the mediastinum simultaneously for cardiothoracic pathology, but this technique is rarely used for the excision of spinal tumors. We describe the use of a clamshell thoracotomy for en bloc excision of a 3-level upper thoracic chordoma in a 20-year-old patient. The lesion involved T2, T3, and T4, and it invaded both chest cavities and indented the mediastinum. After 2 biopsies to confirm the diagnosis, the patient underwent a posterior spinal fusion followed by bilateral clamshell thoracotomy for 3-level en bloc resection with simultaneous access to both chest cavities and the mediastinum. To demonstrate how the clamshell thoracotomy was used to facilitate the tumor resection, an operative video and illustrations are provided, which show in detail how the clamshell thoracotomy can be used to access both hemithoraxes and the mediastinum.