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Patricia Zadnik Sullivan, Ahmed Albayar, Ashwin G. Ramayya, Brendan McShane, Paul Marcotte, Neil R. Malhotra, Zarina S. Ali, H. Isaac Chen, M. Burhan Janjua, Comron Saifi, James Schuster, M. Sean Grady, Joshua Jones, and Ali K. Ozturk

OBJECTIVE

Multidisciplinary treatment including medical oncology, radiation oncology, and surgical consultation is necessary to provide comprehensive therapy for patients with spinal metastases. The goal of this study was to review the use of radiation therapy and/or surgical intervention and their impact on patient outcomes.

METHODS

In this retrospective series, the authors identified at their institution those patients with spinal metastases who had received radiation therapy alone or had undergone surgery with or without radiation therapy within a 6-year period. Data on patient age, chemotherapy, surgical procedure, radiation therapy, Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS), primary tumor pathology, Spinal Instability Neoplastic Score (SINS), and survival after treatment were collected from the patient electronic medical records. N − 1 chi-square testing was used for comparisons of proportions. The Student t-test was used for comparisons of means. A p value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. A survival analysis was completed using a multivariate Cox proportional hazards model.

RESULTS

Two hundred thirty patients with spinal metastases were identified, 109 of whom had undergone surgery with or without radiation therapy. Among the 104 patients for whom the surgical details were reviewed, 34 (33%) had a history of preoperative radiation to the surgical site but ultimately required surgical intervention. In this surgical group, a significantly increased frequency of death within 30 days was noted for the SINS unstable patients (23.5%) as compared to that for the SINS stable patients (2.3%; p < 0.001). The SINS was a significant predictor of time to death among surgical patients (HR 1.11, p = 0.037). Preoperative KPS was not independently associated with decreased survival (p > 0.5) on univariate analysis. One hundred twenty-six patients met the criteria for inclusion in the radiation-only analysis. Ninety-eight of these patients (78%) met the criteria for potential instability (PI) at the time of treatment, according to the SINS system. Five patients (5%) with PI in the radiation therapy group had a documented neurosurgical or orthopedic surgery consultation prior to radiation therapy.

CONCLUSIONS

At the authors’ institution, patients with gross mechanical instability per the SINS system had an increased rate of 30-day postoperative mortality, which remained significant when controlling for other factors. Surgical consultation for metastatic spine patients receiving radiation oncology consultation with PI is low. The authors describe an institutional pathway to encourage multidisciplinary treatment from the initial encounter in the emergency department to expedite surgical evaluation and collaboration.

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Ashwin G. Ramayya, H. Isaac Chen, Paul J. Marcotte, Steven Brem, Eric L. Zager, Benjamin Osiemo, Matthew Piazza, Nikhil Sharma, Scott D. McClintock, James M. Schuster, Zarina S. Ali, Patrick Connolly, Gregory G. Heuer, M. Sean Grady, David K. Kung, Ali K. Ozturk, Donald M. O’Rourke, and Neil R. Malhotra

OBJECTIVE

Although it is known that intersurgeon variability in offering elective surgery can have major consequences for patient morbidity and healthcare spending, data addressing variability within neurosurgery are scarce. The authors performed a prospective peer review study of randomly selected neurosurgery cases in order to assess the extent of consensus regarding the decision to offer elective surgery among attending neurosurgeons across one large academic institution.

METHODS

All consecutive patients who had undergone standard inpatient surgical interventions of 1 of 4 types (craniotomy for tumor [CFT], nonacute redo CFT, first-time spine surgery with/without instrumentation, and nonacute redo spine surgery with/without instrumentation) during the period 2015–2017 were retrospectively enrolled (n = 9156 patient surgeries, n = 80 randomly selected individual cases, n = 20 index cases of each type randomly selected for review). The selected cases were scored by attending neurosurgeons using a need for surgery (NFS) score based on clinical data (patient demographics, preoperative notes, radiology reports, and operative notes; n = 616 independent case reviews). Attending neurosurgeon reviewers were blinded as to performing provider and surgical outcome. Aggregate NFS scores across various categories were measured. The authors employed a repeated-measures mixed ANOVA model with autoregressive variance structure to compute omnibus statistical tests across the various surgery types. Interrater reliability (IRR) was measured using Cohen’s kappa based on binary NFS scores.

RESULTS

Overall, the authors found that most of the neurosurgical procedures studied were rated as “indicated” by blinded attending neurosurgeons (mean NFS = 88.3, all p values < 0.001) with greater agreement among neurosurgeon raters than expected by chance (IRR = 81.78%, p = 0.016). Redo surgery had lower NFS scores and IRR scores than first-time surgery, both for craniotomy and spine surgery (ANOVA, all p values < 0.01). Spine surgeries with fusion had lower NFS scores than spine surgeries without fusion procedures (p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

There was general agreement among neurosurgeons in terms of indication for surgery; however, revision surgery of all types and spine surgery with fusion procedures had the lowest amount of decision consensus. These results should guide efforts aimed at reducing unnecessary variability in surgical practice with the goal of effective allocation of healthcare resources to advance the value paradigm in neurosurgery.

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Zarina S. Ali, Tracy M. Flanders, Ali K. Ozturk, Neil R. Malhotra, Lena Leszinsky, Brendan J. McShane, Diana Gardiner, Kristin Rupich, H. Isaac Chen, James Schuster, Paul J. Marcotte, Michael J. Kallan, M. Sean Grady, Lee A. Fleisher, and William C. Welch

OBJECTIVE

Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols address pre-, peri-, and postoperative factors of a patient’s surgical journey. The authors sought to assess the effects of a novel ERAS protocol on clinical outcomes for patients undergoing elective spine or peripheral nerve surgery.

METHODS

The authors conducted a prospective cohort analysis comparing clinical outcomes of patients undergoing elective spine or peripheral nerve surgery after implementation of the ERAS protocol compared to a historical control cohort in a tertiary care academic medical center. Patients in the historical cohort (September–December 2016) underwent traditional surgical care. Patients in the intervention group (April–June 2017) were enrolled in a unique ERAS protocol created by the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania. Primary objectives were as follows: opioid and nonopioid pain medication consumption, need for opioid use at 1 month postoperatively, and patient-reported pain scores. Secondary objectives were as follows: mobilization and ambulation status, Foley catheter use, need for straight catheterization, length of stay, need for ICU admission, discharge status, and readmission within 30 days.

RESULTS

A total of 201 patients underwent surgical care via an ERAS protocol and were compared to a total of 74 patients undergoing traditional perioperative care (control group). The 2 groups were similar in baseline demographics. Intravenous opioid medications postoperatively via patient-controlled analgesia was nearly eliminated in the ERAS group (0.5% vs 54.1%, p < 0.001). This change was not associated with an increase in the average or daily pain scores in the ERAS group. At 1 month following surgery, a smaller proportion of patients in the ERAS group were using opioids (38.8% vs 52.7%, p = 0.041). The ERAS group demonstrated greater mobilization on postoperative day 0 (53.4% vs 17.1%, p < 0.001) and postoperative day 1 (84.1% vs 45.7%, p < 0.001) compared to the control group. Postoperative Foley use was decreased in the ERAS group (20.4% vs 47.3%, p < 0.001) without an increase in the rate of straight catheterization (8.1% vs 11.9%, p = 0.51).

CONCLUSIONS

Implementation of this novel ERAS pathway safely reduces patients’ postoperative opioid requirements during hospitalization and 1 month postoperatively. ERAS results in improved postoperative mobilization and ambulation.

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Steve S. Cho, Jun Jeon, Love Buch, Shayoni Nag, MacLean Nasrallah, Philip S. Low, M. Sean Grady, Sunil Singhal, and John Y. K. Lee

OBJECTIVE

Intraoperative molecular imaging with tumor-targeted fluorescent dyes can enhance resection rates. In contrast to visible-light fluorophores (e.g., 5-aminolevulinic-acid), near-infrared (NIR) fluorophores have increased photon tissue penetration and less contamination from tissue autofluorescence. The second-window ICG (SWIG) technique relies on passive accumulation of indocyanine green (ICG) in neoplastic tissues. OTL38, conversely, targets folate receptor overexpression in nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas. In this study, we compare the properties of these 2 modalities for NIR imaging of pituitary adenomas to better understand the potential for NIR imaging in neurosurgery.

METHODS

A total of 39 patients with pituitary adenomas were enrolled between June 2015 and January 2018 in 2, sequential, IRB-approved studies. Sixteen patients received systemic ICG infusions 24 hours prior to surgery, and another 23 patients received OTL38 infusions 2–3 hours prior to surgery. NIR fluorescence signal-to-background ratio (SBR) was recorded during and after resection. Immunohistochemistry was performed on the 23 adenomas resected from patients who received OTL38 to assess expression of folate receptor–alpha (FRα).

RESULTS

All 16 adenomas operated on after ICG administration demonstrated strong NIR fluorescence (mean SBR 4.1 ± 0.69 [SD]). There was no statistically significant difference between the 9 functioning and 7 nonfunctioning adenomas (p = 0.9). After administration of OTL38, the mean SBR was 1.7 ± 0.47 for functioning adenomas, 2.6 ± 0.91 for all nonfunctioning adenomas, and 3.2 ± 0.53 for the subset of FRα-overexpressing adenomas. Tissue identification with white light alone for all adenomas demonstrated 88% sensitivity and 90% specificity. SWIG demonstrated 100% sensitivity but only 29% specificity for both functioning and nonfunctioning adenomas. OTL38 was 75% sensitive and 100% specific for all nonfunctioning adenomas, but when assessment was limited to the 9 FRα-overexpressing adenomas, the sensitivity and specificity of OTL38 were both 100%.

CONCLUSIONS

Intraoperative imaging with NIR fluorophores demonstrates highly sensitive detection of pituitary adenomas. OTL38, a folate-receptor–targeted fluorophore, is highly specific for nonfunctioning adenomas but has no utility in functioning adenomas. SWIG, which relies on passive diffusion into neoplastic tissue, is applicable to both functioning and nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas, but it is less specific than targeted fluorophores. Thus, targeted and nontargeted NIR fluorophores play important, yet distinct, roles in intraoperative imaging. Selectively and intelligently using either agent has the potential to greatly improve resection rates and outcomes for patients with intracranial tumors.

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R. Loch Macdonald

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Susan R. Durham, Katelyn Donaldson, M. Sean Grady, and Deborah L. Benzil

OBJECTIVE

With nearly half of graduating US medical students being female, it is imperative to understand why females typically make up less than 20% of the neurosurgery applicant pool, a number that has changed very slowly over the past several decades. Organized neurosurgery has strongly indicated the desire to overcome the underrepresentation of women, and it is critical to explore whether females are at a disadvantage during the residency application process, one of the first steps in a neurosurgical career. To date, there are no published studies on specific applicant characteristics, including gender, that are associated with match outcome among neurosurgery resident applicants. The purpose of this study is to determine which characteristics of neurosurgery residency applicants, including gender, are associated with a successful match outcome.

METHODS

De-identified neurosurgical resident applicant data obtained from the San Francisco Fellowship and Residency Matching Service for the years 1990–2007 were analyzed. Applicant characteristics including gender, medical school attended, year of application, United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) Step 1 score, Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) status, and match outcome were available for study.

RESULTS

Of the total 3426 applicants studied, 473 (13.8%) applicants were female and 2953 (86.2%) were male. Two thousand four hundred forty-eight (71.5%) applicants successfully matched. USMLE Step 1 score was the strongest predictor of match outcome with scores > 245 having an OR of 20.84 (95% CI 10.31–42.12) compared with those scoring < 215. The mean USMLE Step 1 score for applicants who successfully matched was 233.2 and was 210.8 for those applicants who did not match (p < 0.001). Medical school rank was also associated with match outcome (p < 0.001). AOA status was not significantly associated with match outcome. Female gender was associated with significantly lower odds of matching in both simple (OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.48–0.72) and multivariate analyses (OR 0.57, 95% CI 0.34–0.94 CI). USMLE Step 1 scores were significantly lower for females compared to males with a mean score of 230.1 for males and 221.5 for females (p < 0.001). There was no significant difference in medical school ranking or AOA status when stratified by applicant gender.

CONCLUSIONS

The limited historical applicant data from 1990–2007 suggests that USMLE Step 1 score is the best predictor of match outcome, although applicant gender may also play a role.

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Ralph G. Dacey, Oliver E. Flouty, M. Sean Grady, Matthew A. Howard III, and Marc R. Mayberg

OBJECTIVE

When performing ventriculoperitoneal shunt surgery it is necessary to create a subgaleal pocket that is of sufficient size to accommodate a shunt valve. In most cases the valve is placed over the posterior skull where the galea begins to transition to suboccipital neck fascia. Dense fibrous attachments in this region of the skull make it technically awkward to develop the subgaleal valve pocket using standard scissors and a blunt dissection technique. In this report the authors describe a new device that enables surgeons to create the shunt valve pocket by using a simple semi-sharp dissection technique.

METHODS

The authors analyzed the deficiencies of the standard valve pocket dissection technique and designed shunt scissors that address the identified shortcomings. These new scissors allow the surgeon to sharply dissect the subgaleal space by using an efficient hand-closing maneuver.

RESULTS

Standard surgical scissors were modified to create shunt scissors that were tested on the benchtop and used in the operating room. In all cases the shunt scissors proved easy to use and allowed the efficient and reliable creation of a subgaleal valve pocket in a technically pleasing manner.

CONCLUSIONS

Shunt scissors represent an incremental technical advance in the field of neurosurgical shunt operations.

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John Y. K. Lee, Steve S. Cho, Ryan Zeh, John T. Pierce, Maria Martinez-Lage, Nithin D. Adappa, James N. Palmer, Jason G. Newman, Kim O. Learned, Caitlin White, Julia Kharlip, Peter Snyder, Philip S. Low, Sunil Singhal, and M. Sean Grady

OBJECTIVE

Pituitary adenomas account for approximately 10% of intracranial tumors and have an estimated prevalence of 15%–20% in the general US population. Resection is the primary treatment for pituitary adenomas, and the transsphenoidal approach remains the most common. The greatest challenge with pituitary adenomas is that 20% of patients develop tumor recurrence. Current approaches to reduce recurrence, such as intraoperative MRI, are costly, associated with high false-positive rates, and not recommended. Pituitary adenomas are known to overexpress folate receptor alpha (FRα), and it was hypothesized that OTL38, a folate analog conjugated to a near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent dye, could provide real-time intraoperative visual contrast of the tumor versus the surrounding nonneoplastic tissues. The preliminary results of this novel clinical trial are presented.

METHODS

Nineteen adult patients who presented with pituitary adenoma were enrolled. Patients were infused with OTL38 2–4 hours prior to surgery. A 4-mm endoscope with both visible and NIR light capabilities was used to visualize the pituitary adenoma and its margins in real time during surgery. The signal-to-background ratio (SBR) was recorded for each tumor and surrounding tissues at various endoscope-to-sella distances. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed to assess the FRα expression levels in all specimens and classify patients as having either high or low FRα expression.

RESULTS

Data from 15 patients (4 with null cell adenomas, 1 clinically silent gonadotroph, 1 totally silent somatotroph, 5 with a corticotroph, 3 with somatotrophs, and 1 somatocorticotroph) were analyzed in this preliminary analysis. Four patients were excluded for technical considerations. Intraoperative NIR imaging delineated the main tumors in all 15 patients with an average SBR of 1.9 ± 0.70. The FRα expression level of the adenomas and endoscope-to-sella distance had statistically significant impacts on the fluorescent SBRs. Additional considerations included adenoma functional status and time from OTL38 injection. SBRs were 3.0 ± 0.29 for tumors with high FRα expression (n = 3) and 1.6 ± 0.43 for tumors with low FRα expression (n = 12; p < 0.05). In 3 patients with immunohistochemistry-confirmed FRα overexpression (2 patients with null cell adenoma and 1 patient with clinically silent gonadotroph), intraoperative NIR imaging demonstrated perfect classification of the tumor margins with 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity. In addition, for these 3 patients, intraoperative residual fluorescence predicted postoperative MRI results with perfect concordance.

CONCLUSIONS

Pituitary adenomas and their margins can be intraoperatively visualized with the preoperative injection of OTL38, a folate analog conjugated to NIR dye. Tumor-to-background contrast is most pronounced in adenomas that overexpress FRα. Intraoperative SBR at the appropriate endoscope-to-sella distance can predict adenoma FRα expression status in real time. This work suggests that for adenomas with high FRα expression, it may be possible to identify margins and to predict postoperative MRI findings.

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Gabrielle Lynch, Karina Nieto, Saumya Puthenveettil, Marleen Reyes, Michael Jureller, Jason H. Huang, M. Sean Grady, Odette A. Harris, Aruna Ganju, Isabelle M. Germano, Julie G. Pilitsis, Susan C. Pannullo, Deborah L. Benzil, Aviva Abosch, Sarah J. Fouke, and Uzma Samadani

OBJECT

The objective of this study is to determine neurosurgery residency attrition rates by sex of matched applicant and by type and rank of medical school attended.

METHODS

The study follows a cohort of 1361 individuals who matched into a neurosurgery residency program through the SF Match Fellowship and Residency Matching Service from 1990 to 1999. The main outcome measure was achievement of board certification as documented in the American Board of Neurological Surgery Directory of Diplomats. A secondary outcome measure was documentation of practicing medicine as verified by the American Medical Association DoctorFinder and National Provider Identifier websites. Overall, 10.7% (n = 146) of these individuals were women. Twenty percent (n = 266) graduated from a top 10 medical school (24% of women [35/146] and 19% of men [232/1215], p = 0.19). Forty-five percent (n = 618) were graduates of a public medical school, 50% (n = 680) of a private medical school, and 5% (n = 63) of an international medical school. At the end of the study, 0.2% of subjects (n = 3) were deceased and 0.3% (n = 4) were lost to follow-up.

RESULTS

The total residency completion rate was 86.0% (n = 1171) overall, with 76.0% (n = 111/146) of women and 87.2% (n = 1059/1215) of men completing residency. Board certification was obtained by 79.4% (n = 1081) of all individuals matching into residency between 1990 and 1999. Overall, 63.0% (92/146) of women and 81.3% (989/1215) of men were board certified. Women were found to be significantly more at risk (p < 0.005) of not completing residency or becoming board certified than men. Public medical school alumni had significantly higher board certification rates than private and international alumni (82.2% for public [508/618]; 77.1% for private [524/680]; 77.8% for international [49/63]; p < 0.05). There was no significant difference in attrition for graduates of top 10–ranked institutions versus other institutions. There was no difference in number of years to achieve neurosurgical board certification for men versus women.

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, neurosurgery training attrition rates are low. Women have had greater attrition than men during and after neurosurgery residency training. International and private medical school alumni had higher attrition than public medical school alumni.

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Michael D. Cusimano, Katrina Zanetti, and Conor Sheridan