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Adham M. Khalafallah, Adrian E. Jimenez, Nathan A. Shlobin, Collin J. Larkin, Debraj Mukherjee, Corinna C. Zygourakis, Sheng-Fu Lo, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ali Bydon, Timothy F. Witham, Nader S. Dahdaleh, and Nicholas Theodore

OBJECTIVE

Although fellowship training is becoming increasingly common in neurosurgery, it is unclear which factors predict an academic career trajectory among spinal neurosurgeons. In this study, the authors sought to identify predictors associated with academic career placement among fellowship-trained neurological spinal surgeons.

METHODS

Demographic data and bibliometric information on neurosurgeons who completed a residency program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education between 1983 and 2019 were gathered, and those who completed a spine fellowship were identified. Employment was denoted as academic if the hospital where a neurosurgeon worked was affiliated with a neurosurgical residency program; all other positions were denoted as nonacademic. A logistic regression model was used for multivariate statistical analysis.

RESULTS

A total of 376 fellowship-trained spinal neurosurgeons were identified, of whom 140 (37.2%) held academic positions. The top 5 programs that graduated the most fellows in the cohort were Cleveland Clinic, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, University of Miami, Barrow Neurological Institute, and Northwestern University. On multivariate analysis, increased protected research time during residency (OR 1.03, p = 0.044), a higher h-index during residency (OR 1.12, p < 0.001), completing more than one clinical fellowship (OR 2.16, p = 0.024), and attending any of the top 5 programs that graduated the most fellows (OR 2.01, p = 0.0069) were independently associated with an academic career trajectory.

CONCLUSIONS

Increased protected research time during residency, a higher h-index during residency, completing more than one clinical fellowship, and attending one of the 5 programs graduating the most fellowship-trained neurosurgical spinal surgeons independently predicted an academic career. These results may be useful in identifying and advising trainees interested in academic spine neurosurgery.

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Charlotte Dandurand, Charles G. Fisher, Laurence D. Rhines, Stefano Boriani, Raphaële Charest-Morin, Alessandro Gasbarrini, Alessandro Luzzati, Jeremy J. Reynolds, Feng Wei, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Chetan Bettegowda, Daniel M. Sciubba, Aron Lazary, Norio Kawahara, Michelle J. Clarke, Y. Raja Rampersaud, Alexander C. Disch, Dean Chou, John H. Shin, Francis J. Hornicek, IIya Laufer, Arjun Sahgal, and Nicolas Dea

OBJECTIVE

Oncological resection of primary spine tumors is associated with lower recurrence rates. However, even in the most experienced hands, the execution of a meticulously drafted plan sometimes fails. The objectives of this study were to determine how successful surgical teams are at achieving planned surgical margins and how successful surgeons are in intraoperatively assessing tumor margins. The secondary objective was to identify factors associated with successful execution of planned resection.

METHODS

The Primary Tumor Research and Outcomes Network (PTRON) is a multicenter international prospective registry for the management of primary tumors of the spine. Using this registry, the authors compared 1) the planned surgical margin and 2) the intraoperative assessment of the margin by the surgeon with the postoperative assessment of the margin by the pathologist. Univariate analysis was used to assess whether factors such as histology, size, location, previous radiotherapy, and revision surgery were associated with successful execution of the planned margins.

RESULTS

Three hundred patients were included. The surgical plan was successfully achieved in 224 (74.7%) patients. The surgeon correctly assessed the intraoperative margins, as reported in the final assessment by the pathologist, in 239 (79.7%) patients. On univariate analysis, no factor had a statistically significant influence on successful achievement of planned margins.

CONCLUSIONS

In high-volume cancer centers around the world, planned surgical margins can be achieved in approximately 75% of cases. The morbidity of the proposed intervention must be balanced with the expected success rate in order to optimize patient management and surgical decision-making.

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Rafael De la Garza Ramos, Christine Park, Edwin McCray, Meghan Price, Timothy Y. Wang, Tara Dalton, César Baëta, Melissa M. Erickson, Norah Foster, Zach Pennington, John H. Shin, Daniel M. Sciubba, Khoi D. Than, Isaac O. Karikari, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr, Reza Yassari, and C. Rory Goodwin

OBJECTIVE

In patients with metastatic spinal disease (MSD), interhospital transfer can potentially impact clinical outcomes as the possible benefits of transferring a patient to a higher level of care must be weighed against the negative effects associated with potential delays in treatment. While the association of clinical outcomes and transfer status has been examined in other specialties, the relationship between transfer status, complications, and risk of mortality in patients with MSD has yet to be explored. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of transfer status on in-hospital mortality and clinical outcomes in patients diagnosed with MSD.

METHODS

The National (Nationwide) Inpatient Sample (NIS) database was retrospectively queried for adult patients diagnosed with vertebral pathological fracture and/or spinal cord compression in the setting of metastatic disease between 2012 and 2014. Demographics, baseline characteristics (e.g., metastatic spinal cord compression [MSCC] and paralysis), comorbidities, type of intervention, and relevant patient outcomes were controlled in a multivariable logistic regression model to analyze the association of transfer status with patient outcomes.

RESULTS

Within the 10,360 patients meeting the inclusion and exclusion criteria, higher rates of MSCC (50.2% vs 35.9%, p < 0.001) and paralysis (17.3% vs 8.4%, p < 0.001) were observed in patients transferred between hospitals compared to those directly admitted. In univariable analysis, a higher percentage of transferred patients underwent surgical intervention (p < 0.001) when compared with directly admitted patients. After controlling for significant covariates and surgical intervention, transferred patients were more likely to develop in-hospital complications (OR 1.34, 95% CI 1.18–1.52, p < 0.001), experience prolonged length of stay (OR 1.33, 95% CI 1.16–1.52, p < 0.001), and have a discharge disposition other than home (OR 1.70, 95% CI 1.46–1.98, p < 0.001), with no significant difference in inpatient mortality rates.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with MSD who were transferred between hospitals demonstrated more severe clinical presentations and higher rates of inpatient complications compared to directly admitted patients, despite demonstrating no difference in in-hospital mortality rates.

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Zach Pennington, Jeff Ehresman, Aladine A. Elsamadicy, John H. Shin, C. Rory Goodwin, Joseph H. Schwab, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Long-term local control in patients with primary chordoma and sarcoma of the spine and sacrum is increasingly reliant upon en bloc resection with negative margins. At many institutions, adjuvant radiation is recommended; definitive radiation is also recommended for the treatment of unresectable tumors. Because of the high off-target radiation toxicities associated with conventional radiotherapy, there has been growing interest in the use of proton and heavy-ion therapies. The aim of this study was to systematically review the literature regarding these therapies.

METHODS

The PubMed, OVID, Embase, and Web of Science databases were queried for articles describing the use of proton, combined proton/photon, or heavy-ion therapies for adjuvant or definitive radiotherapy in patients with primary sarcoma or chordoma of the mobile spine and sacrum. A qualitative synthesis of the results was performed, focusing on overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS), disease-free survival (DFS), and disease-specific survival (DSS); local control; and postradiation toxicities.

RESULTS

Of 595 unique articles, 64 underwent full-text screening and 38 were included in the final synthesis. All studies were level III or IV evidence with a high risk of bias; there was also significant overlap in the reported populations, with six centers accounting for roughly three-fourths of all reports. Five-year therapy outcomes were as follows: proton-only therapies, OS 67%–82%, PFS 31%–57%, and DFS 52%–62%; metastases occurred in 17%–18% and acute toxicities in 3%–100% of cases; combined proton/photon therapy, local control 62%–85%, OS 78%–87%, PFS 90%, and DFS 61%–72%; metastases occurred in 12%–14% and acute toxicities in 84%–100% of cases; and carbon ion therapy, local control 53%–100%, OS 52%–86%, PFS (only reported for 3 years) 48%–76%, and DFS 50%–53%; metastases occurred in 2%–39% and acute toxicities in 26%–48%. There were no studies directly comparing outcomes between photon and charged-particle therapies or comparing outcomes between radiation and surgical groups.

CONCLUSIONS

The current evidence for charged-particle therapies in the management of sarcomas of the spine and sacrum is limited. Preliminary evidence suggests that with these therapies local control and OS at 5 years are comparable among various charged-particle options and may be similar between those treated with definitive charged-particle therapy and historical surgical cohorts. Further research directly comparing charged-particle and photon-based therapies is necessary.

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Camilo A. Molina, Christopher F. Dibble, Sheng-fu Larry Lo, Timothy Witham, and Daniel M. Sciubba

En bloc spinal tumor resections are technically demanding procedures with high morbidity because of the conventionally large exposure area and aggressive resection goals. Stereotactic surgical navigation presents an opportunity to perform the smallest possible resection plan while still achieving an en bloc resection. Augmented reality (AR)–mediated spine surgery (ARMSS) via a mounted display with an integrated tracking camera is a novel FDA-approved technology for intraoperative “heads up” neuronavigation, with the proposed advantages of increased precision, workflow efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. As surgical experience and capability with this technology grow, the potential for more technically demanding surgical applications arises. Here, the authors describe the use of ARMSS for guidance in a unique osteotomy execution to achieve an en bloc wide marginal resection of an L1 chordoma through a posterior-only approach while avoiding a tumor capsule breach. A technique is described to simultaneously visualize the navigational guidance provided by the contralateral surgeon’s tracked pointer and the progress of the BoneScalpel aligned in parallel with the tracked instrument, providing maximum precision and safety. The procedure was completed by reconstruction performed with a quad-rod and cabled fibular strut allograft construct, and the patient did well postoperatively. Finally, the authors review the technical aspects of the approach, as well as the applications and limitations of this new technology.

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Jeff Ehresman, Daniel Lubelski, Zach Pennington, Bethany Hung, A. Karim Ahmed, Tej D. Azad, Kurt Lehner, James Feghali, Zorica Buser, James Harrop, Jefferson Wilson, Shekar Kurpad, Zoher Ghogawala, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to evaluate the characteristics and performance of current prediction models in the fields of spine metastasis and degenerative spine disease to create a scoring system that allows direct comparison of the prediction models.

METHODS

A systematic search of PubMed and Embase was performed to identify relevant studies that included either the proposal of a prediction model or an external validation of a previously proposed prediction model with 1-year outcomes. Characteristics of the original study and discriminative performance of external validations were then assigned points based on thresholds from the overall cohort.

RESULTS

Nine prediction models were included in the spine metastasis category, while 6 prediction models were included in the degenerative spine category. After assigning the proposed utility of prediction model score to the spine metastasis prediction models, only 1 reached the grade of excellent, while 2 were graded as good, 3 as fair, and 3 as poor. Of the 6 included degenerative spine models, 1 reached the excellent grade, while 3 studies were graded as good, 1 as fair, and 1 as poor.

CONCLUSIONS

As interest in utilizing predictive analytics in spine surgery increases, there is a concomitant increase in the number of published prediction models that differ in methodology and performance. Prior to applying these models to patient care, these models must be evaluated. To begin addressing this issue, the authors proposed a grading system that compares these models based on various metrics related to their original design as well as internal and external validation. Ultimately, this may hopefully aid clinicians in determining the relative validity and usability of a given model.

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Alvaro Ibaseta, Rafa Rahman, Nicholas S. Andrade, Richard L. Skolasky, Khaled M. Kebaish, Daniel M. Sciubba, and Brian J. Neuman

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was to determine the concurrent validity, discriminant ability, and responsiveness of the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) in adult spinal deformity (ASD) and to calculate minimal clinically important differences (MCIDs) for PROMIS scores.

METHODS

The authors used data obtained in 186 surgical patients with ASD. Concurrent validity was determined through correlations between preoperative PROMIS scores and legacy measure scores. PROMIS discriminant ability between disease severity groups was determined using the preoperative Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) value as the anchor. Responsiveness was determined through distribution- and anchor-based methods, using preoperative to postoperative changes in PROMIS scores. MCIDs were estimated on the basis of the responsiveness analysis.

RESULTS

The authors found strong correlations between PROMIS Pain Interference and ODI and the Scoliosis Research Society 22-item questionnaire Pain component; PROMIS Physical Function and ODI; PROMIS Anxiety and Depression domains and the 12-Item Short Form Health Survey version 2, Physical and Mental Components, Scoliosis Research Society 22-item questionnaire Mental Health component (anxiety only), 9-Item Patient Health Questionnaire (anxiety only), and 7-Item Generalized Anxiety Disorder questionnaire; PROMIS Fatigue and 9-Item Patient Health Questionnaire; and PROMIS Satisfaction with Participation in Social Roles (i.e., Social Satisfaction) and ODI. PROMIS discriminated between disease severity groups in all domains except between none/mild and moderate Anxiety, with mean differences ranging from 3.7 to 8.4 points. PROMIS showed strong responsiveness in Pain Interference; moderate responsiveness in Physical Function and Social Satisfaction; and low responsiveness in Anxiety, Depression, Fatigue, and Sleep Disturbance. Final PROMIS MCIDs were as follows: –6.3 for Anxiety, –4.4 for Depression, –4.6 for Fatigue, –5.0 for Pain Interference, 4.2 for Physical Function, 5.7 for Social Satisfaction, and –3.5 for Sleep Disturbance.

CONCLUSIONS

PROMIS is a valid assessment of patient health, can discriminate between disease severity levels, and shows responsiveness to changes after ASD surgery. The MCIDs provided herein may help clinicians interpret postoperative changes in PROMIS scores, taking into account the fact that they are pending external validation.

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Aymeric Amelot, Louis-Marie Terrier, Ann-Rose Cook, Pierre-Yves Borius, and Bertrand Mathon

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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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James Feghali, Zach Pennington, Jeff Ehresman, Daniel Lubelski, Ethan Cottrill, A. Karim Ahmed, Andrew Schilling, and Daniel M. Sciubba

Symptomatic spinal metastasis occurs in around 10% of all cancer patients, 5%–10% of whom will require operative management. While postoperative survival has been extensively evaluated, postoperative health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) outcomes have remained relatively understudied. Available tools that measure HRQOL are heterogeneous and may emphasize different aspects of HRQOL. The authors of this paper recommend the use of the EQ-5D and Spine Oncology Study Group Outcomes Questionnaire (SOSGOQ), given their extensive validation, to capture the QOL effects of systemic disease and spine metastases. Recent studies have identified preoperative QOL, baseline functional status, and neurological function as potential predictors of postoperative QOL outcomes, but heterogeneity across studies limits the ability to derive meaningful conclusions from the data. Future development of a valid and reliable prognostic model will likely require the application of a standardized protocol in the context of a multicenter study design.