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Seungwon Yoon, Michael A. Mooney, Michael A. Bohl, John P. Sheehy, Peter Nakaji, Andrew S. Little, and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

With drastic changes to the health insurance market, patient cost sharing has significantly increased in recent years. However, the patient financial burden, or out-of-pocket (OOP) costs, for surgical procedures is poorly understood. The goal of this study was to analyze patient OOP spending in cranial neurosurgery and identify drivers of OOP spending growth.

METHODS

For 6569 consecutive patients who underwent cranial neurosurgery from 2013 to 2016 at the authors’ institution, the authors created univariate and multivariate mixed-effects models to investigate the effect of patient demographic and clinical factors on patient OOP spending. The authors examined OOP payments stratified into 10 subsets of case categories and created a generalized linear model to study the growth of OOP spending over time.

RESULTS

In the multivariate model, case categories (craniotomy for pain, tumor, and vascular lesions), commercial insurance, and out-of-network plans were significant predictors of higher OOP payments for patients (all p < 0.05). Patient spending varied substantially across procedure types, with patients undergoing craniotomy for pain ($1151 ± $209) having the highest mean OOP payments. On average, commercially insured patients spent nearly twice as much in OOP payments as the overall population. From 2013 to 2016, the mean patient OOP spending increased 17%, from $598 to $698 per patient encounter. Commercially insured patients experienced more significant growth in OOP spending, with a cumulative rate of growth of 42% ($991 in 2013 to $1403 in 2016).

CONCLUSIONS

Even after controlling for inflation, case-mix differences, and partial fiscal periods, OOP spending for cranial neurosurgery patients significantly increased from 2013 to 2016. The mean OOP spending for commercially insured neurosurgical patients exceeded $1400 in 2016, with an average annual growth rate of 13%. As patient cost sharing in health insurance plans becomes more prevalent, patients and providers must consider the potential financial burden for patients receiving specialized neurosurgical care.

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Michael A. Mooney, Elias D. Simon, Scott Brigeman, Peter Nakaji, Joseph M. Zabramski, Michael T. Lawton, and Robert F. Spetzler

OBJECTIVE

A direct comparison of endovascular versus microsurgical treatment of ruptured middle cerebral artery (MCA) aneurysms in randomized trials is lacking. As endovascular treatment strategies continue to evolve, the number of reports of endovascular treatment of these lesions is increasing. Herein, the authors report a detailed post hoc analysis of ruptured MCA aneurysms treated by microsurgical clipping from the Barrow Ruptured Aneurysm Trial (BRAT).

METHODS

The cases of patients enrolled in the BRAT who underwent microsurgical clipping for a ruptured MCA aneurysm were reviewed. Characteristics of patients and their clinical outcomes and long-term angiographic results were analyzed.

RESULTS

Fifty patients underwent microsurgical clipping of a ruptured MCA aneurysm in the BRAT, including 21 who crossed over from the endovascular treatment arm. Four patients with nonsaccular (e.g., dissecting, fusiform, or blister) aneurysms were excluded, leaving 46 patients for analysis. Most (n = 32; 70%) patients presented with a Hunt and Hess grade II or III subarachnoid hemorrhage, with a high prevalence of intraparenchymal blood (n = 23; 50%), intraventricular blood (n = 21; 46%), or both. At the last follow-up (up to 6 years after treatment), clinical outcomes were good (modified Rankin Scale score 0–2) in 70% (n = 19) of 27 Hunt and Hess grades I–III patients and in 36% (n = 4) of 11 Hunt and Hess grade IV or V patients. There were no instances of rebleeding after the surgical clipping of aneurysms in this series at the time of last clinical follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS

Microsurgical clipping of ruptured MCA aneurysms has several advantages over endovascular treatment, including durability over time. The authors report detailed outcome data of patients with ruptured MCA aneurysms who underwent microsurgical clipping as part of a prospective, randomized trial. These results should be used for comparison with future endovascular and surgical series to ensure that the best results are being achieved for patients with ruptured MCA aneurysms.

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Michael A. Mooney, Joseph Georges, Mohammedhassan Izady Yazdanabadi, Katherine Y. Goehring, William L. White, Andrew S. Little, Mark C. Preul, Stephen W. Coons, Peter Nakaji, and Jennifer M. Eschbacher

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of using confocal reflectance microscopy (CRM) ex vivo to differentiate adenoma from normal pituitary gland in surgical biopsy specimens. CRM allows for rapid, label-free evaluation of biopsy specimens with cellular resolution while avoiding some limitations of frozen section analysis.

METHODS

Biopsy specimens from 11 patients with suspected pituitary adenomas were transported directly to the pathology department. Samples were immediately positioned and visualized with CRM using a confocal microscope located in the same area of the pathology department where frozen sections are prepared. An H & E–stained slide was subsequently prepared from imaged tissue. A neuropathologist compared the histopathological characteristics of the H & E–stained slide and the matched CRM images. A second neuropathologist reviewed images in a blinded fashion and assigned diagnoses of adenoma or normal gland.

RESULTS

For all specimens, CRM contrasted cellularity, tissue architecture, nuclear pleomorphism, vascularity, and stroma. Pituitary adenomas demonstrated sheets and large lobules of cells, similar to the matched H & E–stained slides. CRM images of normal tissue showed scattered small lobules of pituitary epithelial cells, consistent with matched H & E–stained images of normal gland. Blinded review by a neuropathologist confirmed the diagnosis in 15 (94%) of 16 images of adenoma versus normal gland.

CONCLUSIONS

CRM is a simple, reliable approach for rapidly evaluating pituitary adenoma specimens ex vivo. This technique can be used to accurately differentiate between pituitary adenoma and normal gland while preserving biopsy tissue for future permanent analysis, immunohistochemical studies, and molecular studies.

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Joseph Georges, Aqib Zehri, Elizabeth Carlson, Joshua Nichols, Michael A. Mooney, Nikolay L. Martirosyan, Layla Ghaffari, M. Yashar S. Kalani, Jennifer Eschbacher, Burt Feuerstein, Trent Anderson, Mark C. Preul, Kendall Van Keuren-Jensen, and Peter Nakaji

Glioblastoma is the most common primary brain tumor with a median 12- to 15-month patient survival. Improving patient survival involves better understanding the biological mechanisms of glioblastoma tumorigenesis and seeking targeted molecular therapies. Central to furthering these advances is the collection and storage of surgical biopsies (biobanking) for research. This paper addresses an imaging modality, confocal reflectance microscopy (CRM), for safely screening glioblastoma biopsy samples prior to biobanking to increase the quality of tissue provided for research and clinical trials. These data indicate that CRM can immediately identify cellularity of tissue biopsies from animal models of glioblastoma. When screening fresh human biopsy samples, CRM can differentiate a cellular glioblastoma biopsy from a necrotic biopsy without altering DNA, RNA, or protein expression of sampled tissue. These data illustrate CRM's potential for rapidly and safely screening clinical biopsy samples prior to biobanking, which demonstrates its potential as an effective screening technique that can improve the quality of tissue biobanked for patients with glioblastoma.

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Michael A. Mooney, Aqib H. Zehri, Joseph F. Georges, and Peter Nakaji

Laser scanning confocal endomicroscopy (LSCE) is an emerging technology for examining brain neoplasms in vivo. While great advances have been made in macroscopic fluorescence in recent years, the ability to perform confocal microscopy in vivo expands the potential of fluorescent tumor labeling, can improve intraoperative tissue diagnosis, and provides real-time guidance for tumor resection intraoperatively. In this review, the authors highlight the technical aspects of confocal endomicroscopy and fluorophores relevant to the neurosurgeon, provide a comprehensive summary of LSCE in animal and human neurosurgical studies to date, and discuss the future directions and potential for LSCE in neurosurgery.