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Corinna C. Zygourakis, Ethan Winkler, Lawrence Pitts, Lisa Hannegan, Benjamin Franc, and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

Postoperative head CT scanning is performed routinely at the authors' institution on all neurosurgical patients after elective aneurysm clippings. The goal of this study was to determine how often these scans influence medical management and to quantify the associated imaging costs.

METHODS

The authors reviewed the medical records and accounting database of 304 patients who underwent elective (i.e., nonruptured) aneurysm clipping performed by 1 surgeon (M.T.L.) from 2010 to 2014 at the University of California, San Francisco. Specifically, the total number of postoperative head CT scans, radiographic findings, and the effect of these studies on patient management were determined. The authors obtained the total hospital costs for these patients, including the cost of imaging studies, from the hospital accounting database.

RESULTS

Overall, postoperative CT findings influenced clinical management in 3.6% of cases; specifically, they led to permissive hypertension in 4 patients for possible ischemia, administration of mannitol for edema and high-flow oxygen for pneumocephalus in 2 patients each, seizure prophylaxis in 1 patient, Plavix readjustment in 1 patient, and return to the operating room for an asymptomatic epidural hematoma evacuation in 1 patient. When patients were stratified on the basis of postoperative neurological examination, findings on CT scans altered management in 1.1%, 4.8%, and 9.0% of patients with no new neurological deficits, a nonfocal examination, and focal deficits, respectively. The mean total hospital cost for treating patients who undergo elective aneurysm clipping was $72,227 (± $53,966) (all values are US dollars), and the cost of obtaining a noncontrast head CT scan was $292. Neurologically intact patients required 99 head CT scans, at a cost of $28,908, to obtain 1 head CT scan that influenced medical management. In contrast, patients with a focal neurological deficit required only 11 head CT scans, at a cost of $3212, to obtain 1 head CT scan that changed clinical management.

CONCLUSIONS

Although there are no clear guidelines, the large number and high cost of CT scans needed to treat neurologically intact elective aneurysm patients suggest that careful neurological monitoring may be more clinically useful and a better use of hospital resources than routine postoperative CT.

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Corinna C. Zygourakis, Seungwon Yoon, Victoria Valencia, Christy Boscardin, Christopher Moriates, Ralph Gonzales, and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

Disposable supplies constitute a large portion of operating room (OR) costs and are often left over at the end of a surgical case. Despite financial and environmental implications of such waste, there has been little evaluation of OR supply utilization. The goal of this study was to quantify the utilization of disposable supplies and the costs associated with opened but unused items (i.e., “waste”) in neurosurgical procedures.

METHODS

Every disposable supply that was unused at the end of surgery was quantified through direct observation of 58 neurosurgical cases at the University of California, San Francisco, in August 2015. Item costs (in US dollars) were determined from the authors' supply catalog, and statistical analyses were performed.

RESULTS

Across 58 procedures (36 cranial, 22 spinal), the average cost of unused supplies was $653 (range $89-$3640, median $448, interquartile range $230–$810), or 13.1% of total surgical supply cost. Univariate analyses revealed that case type (cranial versus spinal), case category (vascular, tumor, functional, instrumented, and noninstrumented spine), and surgeon were important predictors of the percentage of unused surgical supply cost. Case length and years of surgical training did not affect the percentage of unused supply cost. Accounting for the different case distribution in the 58 selected cases, the authors estimate approximately $968 of OR waste per case, $242,968 per month, and $2.9 million per year, for their neurosurgical department.

CONCLUSIONS

This study shows a large variation and significant magnitude of OR waste in neurosurgical procedures. At the authors' institution, they recommend price transparency, education about OR waste to surgeons and nurses, preference card reviews, and clarification of supplies that should be opened versus available as needed to reduce waste.

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Fred G. Barker II

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Corinna C. Zygourakis, Janelle Lee, Julio Barba, Errol Lobo, and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

Concurrent surgeries, also known as “running two rooms” or simultaneous/overlapping operations, have recently come under intense scrutiny. The goal of this study was to evaluate the operative time and outcomes of concurrent versus nonconcurrent vascular neurosurgical procedures.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed 1219 procedures performed by 1 vascular neurosurgeon from 2012 to 2015 at the University of California, San Francisco. Data were collected on patient age, sex, severity of illness, risk of mortality, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) status, procedure type, admission type, insurance, transfer source, procedure time, presence of resident or fellow in operating room (OR), number of co-surgeons, estimated blood loss (EBL), concurrent vs nonconcurrent case, severe sepsis, acute respiratory failure, postoperative stroke causing neurological deficit, unplanned return to OR, 30-day mortality, and 30-day unplanned readmission. For aneurysm clipping cases, data were also obtained on intraoperative aneurysm rupture and postoperative residual aneurysm. Chi-square and t-tests were performed to compare concurrent versus nonconcurrent cases, and then mixed-effects models were created to adjust for different procedure types, patient demographics, and clinical indicators between the 2 groups.

RESULTS

There was a significant difference in procedure type for concurrent (n = 828) versus nonconcurrent (n = 391) cases. Concurrent cases were more likely to be routine/elective admissions (53% vs 35%, p < 0.001) and physician referrals (59% vs 38%, p < 0.001). This difference in patient/case type was also reflected in the lower severity of illness, risk of death, and ASA class in the concurrent versus nonconcurrent cases (p < 0.01). Concurrent cases had significantly longer procedural times (243 vs 213 minutes) and more unplanned 30-day readmissions (5.7% vs 3.1%), but shorter mean length of hospital stay (11.2 vs 13.7 days), higher rates of discharge to home (66% vs 51%), lower 30-day mortality rates (3.1% vs 6.1%), lower rates of acute respiratory failure (4.3% vs 8.2%), and decreased 30-day unplanned returns to the OR (3.3% vs 6.9%; all p < 0.05). Rates of severe sepsis, postoperative stroke, intraoperative aneurysm rupture, and postoperative aneurysm residual were equivalent between the concurrent and nonconcurrent groups (all p values nonsignificant). Mixed-effects models showed that after controlling for procedure type, patient demographics, and clinical indicators, there was no significant difference in acute respiratory failure, severe sepsis, 30-day readmission, postoperative stroke, EBL, length of stay, discharge status, or intraoperative aneurysm rupture between concurrent and nonconcurrent cases. Unplanned return to the OR and 30-day mortality were significantly lower in concurrent cases (odds ratio 0.55, 95% confidence interval 0.31–0.98, p = 0.0431, and odds ratio 0.81, p < 0.001, respectively), but concurrent cases had significantly longer procedure durations (odds ratio 21.73; p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, there was a significant difference in the types of concurrent versus nonconcurrent cases, with more routine/elective cases for less sick patients scheduled in an overlapping fashion. After adjusting for patient demographics, procedure type, and clinical indicators, concurrent cases had longer procedure times, but equivalent patient outcomes, as compared with nonconcurrent vascular neurosurgical procedures.