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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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Sebastian Salas-Vega, Vikram B. Chakravarthy, Robert D. Winkelman, Matthew M. Grabowski, Ghaith Habboub, Jason W. Savage, Michael P. Steinmetz, and Thomas E. Mroz

OBJECTIVE

In a healthcare landscape in which costs increasingly matter, the authors sought to distinguish among the clinical and nonclinical drivers of patient length of stay (LOS) in the hospital following elective lumbar laminectomy—a common spinal surgery that may be reimbursed using bundled payments—and to understand their relationships with patient outcomes and costs.

METHODS

Patients ≥ 18 years of age undergoing laminectomy surgery for degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis within the Cleveland Clinic health system between March 1, 2016, and February 1, 2019, were included in this analysis. Generalized linear modeling was used to assess the relationships between the day of surgery, patient discharge disposition, and hospital LOS, while adjusting for underlying patient health risks and other nonclinical factors, including the hospital surgery site and health insurance.

RESULTS

A total of 1359 eligible patients were included in the authors’ analysis. The mean LOS ranged between 2.01 and 2.47 days for Monday and Friday cases, respectively. The LOS was also notably longer for patients who were ultimately discharged to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) or rehabilitation center. A prolonged LOS occurring later in the week was not associated with greater underlying health risks, yet it nevertheless resulted in greater costs of care: the average total surgical costs for lumbar laminectomy were 20% greater for Friday cases than for Monday cases, and 24% greater for late-week cases than for early-week cases ultimately transferred to SNFs or rehabilitation centers. A Poisson generalized linear model fit the data best and showed that the comorbidity burden, surgery at a tertiary care center versus a community hospital, and the incidence of any postoperative complication were associated with significantly longer hospital stays. Discharge to home healthcare, SNFs, or rehabilitation centers, and late-week surgery were significant nonclinical predictors of LOS prolongation, even after adjusting for underlying patient health risks and insurance, with LOSs that were, for instance, 1.55 and 1.61 times longer for patients undergoing their procedure on Thursday and Friday compared to Monday, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

Late-week surgeries are associated with a prolonged LOS, particularly when discharge is to an SNF or rehabilitation center. These findings point to opportunities to lower costs and improve outcomes associated with elective surgical care. Interventions to optimize surgical scheduling and perioperative care coordination could help reduce prolonged LOSs, lower costs, and, ultimately, give service line management personnel greater flexibility over how to use existing resources as they remain ahead of healthcare reforms.

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Nicholas M. Rabah, Hammad A. Khan, Robert D. Winkelman, Jay M. Levin, Thomas E. Mroz, and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

The Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Clinician & Group Survey (CG-CAHPS) was developed as a result of the value-based purchasing initiative by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. It allows patients to rate their experience with their provider in the outpatient setting. These ratings are then reported in aggregate and made publicly available, allowing patients to make informed choices during physician selection. In this study, the authors sought to elucidate the primary drivers of patient satisfaction in the office-based spine surgery setting as represented by the CG-CAHPS.

METHODS

All patients who underwent lumbar spine surgery between 2009 and 2017 and completed a patient experience survey were studied. The satisfied group comprised patients who selected a top-box score (9 or 10) for overall provider rating (OPR) on the CG-CAHPS, while the unsatisfied group comprised the remaining patients. Demographic and surgical characteristics were compared using the chi-square test for categorical variables and the Student t-test for continuous variables. A multivariable logistic regression model was developed to analyze the association of patient and surgeon characteristics with OPR. Survey items were then added to the baseline model individually, adjusting for covariates.

RESULTS

The study population included 647 patients who had undergone lumbar spine surgery. Of these patients, 564 (87%) selected an OPR of 9 or 10 on the CG-CAHPS and were included in the satisfied group. Patient characteristics were similar between the two groups. The two groups did not differ significantly regarding patient-reported health status measures. After adjusting for potential confounders, the following survey items were associated with the greatest odds of selecting a top-box OPR: did this provider show respect for what you had to say? (OR 21.26, 95% CI 9.98–48.10); and did this provider seem to know the important information about your medical history? (OR 20.93, 95% CI 11.96–45.50).

CONCLUSIONS

The present study sought to identify the key drivers of patient satisfaction in the postoperative office-based spine surgery setting and found several important associations. After adjusting for potential confounders, several items relating to physician communication were found to be the strongest predictors of patient satisfaction. This highlights the importance of effective communication in the patient-provider interaction and elucidates avenues for quality improvement efforts in the spine care setting.

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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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Nicholas M. Rabah, Hammad A. Khan, Jay M. Levin, Robert D. Winkelman, Thomas E. Mroz, and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

The Clinician and Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CG-CAHPS) survey was developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as a result of their value-based purchasing initiative. It allows patients to rate their experience with their provider in the outpatient setting. This presents a unique situation in healthcare in which the patient experience drives the marketplace, and since its creation, providers have sought to improve patient satisfaction. Within the spine surgery setting, however, the question remains whether improved patient satisfaction correlates with improved outcomes.

METHODS

All patients who had undergone lumbar spine surgery between 2009 and 2017 and who completed a CG-CAHPS survey after their procedure were studied. Demographic and surgical characteristics were then obtained. The primary outcomes of this study include patient-reported health outcomes measures such as the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Global Health (PROMIS-GH) surveys for both mental health (PROMIS-GH-MH) and physical health (PROMIS-GH-PH), and the visual analog scale for back pain (VAS-BP). A multivariable linear regression analysis was used to assess whether patient satisfaction with their provider was associated with changes in each health status measure after adjusting for potential confounders.

RESULTS

The study population included 647 patients who had undergone lumbar spine surgery. Of these, 564 (87%) indicated that they were satisfied with the care they received. Demographic and surgical characteristics were largely similar between the two groups. Multivariable linear regression demonstrated that patient satisfaction with their provider was not a significant predictor of change in two of the three patient-reported outcomes (PROMIS-GH-MH and PROMIS-GH-PH) assessed at 1 year. However, top-box patient satisfaction with their provider was a significant predictor of improvement in VAS-BP scores at 1 year.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found that after adjusting for patient-level covariates such as age, diagnosis of disc displacement, self-reported mental health, self-reported overall health, and preoperative patient-reported outcome measure status, a significant association was observed between top-box overall provider rating and 1-year improvement in VAS-BP, but no such association was observed for PROMIS-GH-PH and PROMIS-GH-MH. This suggests that pain-related outcome measures may serve as better predictors of patients’ satisfaction with their spine surgeons. Furthermore, this suggests that the current method by which patient satisfaction is being assessed and publicly reported may not necessarily correlate with validated measures that are used within the spine surgery setting to assess surgical efficacy.

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Bharat Guthikonda, Catherine A. Mazzola, Michael P. Steinmetz, Joseph S. Cheng, Jason D. Stacy, Asdrubal Falavigna, and Richard N. W. Wohns

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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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Zoher Ghogawala, Shekar Kurpad, Asdrubal Falavigna, Michael W. Groff, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jau-Ching Wu, Paul Park, Sigurd Berven, Daniel J. Hoh, Erica F. Bisson, Michael P. Steinmetz, Marjorie C. Wang, Dean Chou, Charles A. Sansur, Justin S. Smith, and Luis M. Tumialán