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Clinical outcomes research in spine surgery: what are appropriate follow-up times?

Presented at the 2018 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Oliver G. S. Ayling, Tamir Ailon, Greg McIntosh, Alex Soroceanu, Hamilton Hall, Andrew Nataraj, Christopher S. Bailey, Sean Christie, Alexandra Stratton, Henry Ahn, Michael Johnson, Jerome Paquet, Kenneth Thomas, Neil Manson, Y. Raja Rampersaud and Charles G. Fisher

OBJECTIVE

There has been a generic dictum in spine and musculoskeletal clinical research that a minimum 2-year follow-up is necessary for patient-reported outcomes (PROs) to adequately assess the therapeutic effect of surgery; however, the rationale for this duration is not evidence based. The purpose of this study was to determine the follow-up time necessary to ensure that the effectiveness of a lumbar surgical intervention is adequately captured for three lumbar pathologies and three common PROs.

METHODS

Using the different PROs of pain, physical function, and mental quality of life from the Canadian Spine Outcomes and Research Network (CSORN) prospective database, the authors assessed the time course to the recovery plateau following lumbar spine surgery for lumbar disc herniation, degenerative spondylolisthesis, and spinal stenosis. One-way ANOVA with post hoc testing was used to compare scores on the following standardized PRO measures at baseline and 3, 12, and 24 months postoperatively: Disability Scale (DS), visual analog scale (VAS) for leg and back pain, and SF-12 Mental Component Summary (MCS) and Physical Component Summary (PCS).

RESULTS

Significant differences for all spine pathologies and specific PROs were found with one-way ANOVA (p < 0.0001). The time to plateaued recovery after surgery for lumbar disc herniation (661 patients), lumbar stenosis (913 patients), and lumbar spondylolisthesis (563 patients) followed the same course for the following PRO measures: VAS for back and leg pain, 3 months; DS, 12 months; PCS, 12 months; and MCS, 3 months. Beyond these time points, no further significant improvements in PROs were seen. Patients with degenerative spondylolisthesis or spinal stenosis who had undergone fusion surgery plateaued at 12 months on the DS and PCS, compared to 3 months in those who had not undergone fusion.

CONCLUSIONS

Specific health dimensions follow distinctly different recovery plateaus, indicating that a 2-year postoperative follow-up is not required for all PROs to accurately assess the treatment effect of lumbar spinal surgery. Ultimately, the clinical research question should dictate the follow-up time and the outcome measure utilized; however, there is now evidence to guide the specific duration of follow-up for pain, physical function, and mental quality of life dimensions.

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Emily K. Miller, Brian J. Neuman, Amit Jain, Alan H. Daniels, Tamir Ailon, Daniel M. Sciubba, Khaled M. Kebaish, Virginie Lafage, Justin K. Scheer, Justin S. Smith, Shay Bess, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Christopher P. Ames and the International Spine Study Group

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to analyze the value of an adult spinal deformity frailty index (ASD-FI) in preoperative risk stratification. Preoperative risk assessment is imperative before procedures known to have high complication rates, such as ASD surgery. Frailty has been associated with risk of complications in trauma surgery, and preoperative frailty assessments could improve the accuracy of risk stratification by providing a comprehensive analysis of patient factors that contribute to an increased risk of complications.

METHODS

Using 40 variables, the authors calculated frailty scores with a validated method for 417 patients (enrolled between 2010 and 2014) with a minimum 2-year follow-up in an ASD database. On the basis of these scores, the authors categorized patients as not frail (NF) (< 0.3 points), frail (0.3–0.5 points), or severely frail (SF) (> 0.5 points). The correlation between frailty category and incidence of complications was analyzed.

RESULTS

The overall mean ASD-FI score was 0.33 (range 0.0–0.8). Compared with NF patients (n = 183), frail patients (n = 158) and SF patients (n = 109) had longer mean hospital stays (1.2 and 1.6 times longer, respectively; p < 0.001). The adjusted odds of experiencing a major intraoperative or postoperative complication were higher for frail patients (OR 2.8) and SF patients ( 4.1) compared with NF patients (p < 0.01). For frail and SF patients, respectively, the adjusted odds of developing proximal junctional kyphosis (OR 2.8 and 3.1) were higher than those for NF patients. The SF patients had higher odds of developing pseudarthrosis (OR 13.0), deep wound infection (OR 8.0), and wound dehiscence (OR 13.4) than NF patients (p < 0.05), and they had 2.1 times greater odds of reoperation (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

Greater patient frailty, as measured by the ASD-FI, was associated with worse outcome in many common quality and value metrics, including greater risk of major complications, proximal junctional kyphosis, pseudarthrosis, deep wound infection, wound dehiscence, reoperation, and longer hospital stay.

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Ganesh M. Shankar, Michelle J. Clarke, Tamir Ailon, Laurence D. Rhines, Shreyaskumar R. Patel, Arjun Sahgal, Ilya Laufer, Dean Chou, Mark H. Bilsky, Daniel M. Sciubba, Michael G. Fehlings, Charles G. Fisher, Ziya L. Gokaslan and John H. Shin

OBJECTIVE

Primary osteosarcoma of the spine is a rare osseous neoplasm. While previously reported retrospective studies have demonstrated that overall patient survival is impacted mostly by en bloc resection and chemotherapy, the continued management of residual disease remains to be elucidated. This systematic review was designed to address the role of revision surgery and multimodal adjuvant therapy in cases in which en bloc excision is not initially achieved.

METHODS

A systematic literature search spanning the years 1966 to 2015 was performed on PubMed, Medline, EMBASE, and Web of Science to identify reports describing outcomes of patients who underwent biopsy alone, neurological decompression, or intralesional resection for osteosarcoma of the spine. Studies were reviewed qualitatively, and the clinical course of individual patients was aggregated for quantitative meta-analysis.

RESULTS

A total of 16 studies were identified for inclusion in the systematic review, of which 8 case reports were summarized qualitatively. These studies strongly support the role of chemotherapy for overall survival and moderately support adjuvant radiation therapy for local control. The meta-analysis revealed a statistically significant benefit in overall survival for performing revision tumor debulking (p = 0.01) and also for chemotherapy at relapse (p < 0.01). Adjuvant radiation therapy was associated with longer survival, although this did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.06).

CONCLUSIONS

While the initial therapeutic goal in the management of osteosarcoma of the spine is neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by en bloc marginal resection, this objective is not always achievable given anatomical constraints and other limitations at the time of initial clinical presentation. This systematic review supports the continued aggressive use of revision surgery and multimodal adjuvant therapy when possible to improve outcomes in patients who initially undergo subtotal debulking of osteosarcoma. A limitation of this systematic review is that lesions amenable to subsequent resection or tumors inherently more sensitive to adjuvants would exaggerate a therapeutic effect of these interventions when studied in a retrospective fashion.

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Justin K. Scheer, Justin S. Smith, Frank Schwab, Virginie Lafage, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Shay Bess, Alan H. Daniels, Robert A. Hart, Themistocles S. Protopsaltis, Gregory M. Mundis Jr., Daniel M. Sciubba, Tamir Ailon, Douglas C. Burton, Eric Klineberg, Christopher P. Ames and The International Spine Study Group

OBJECTIVE

The operative management of patients with adult spinal deformity (ASD) has a high complication rate and it remains unknown whether baseline patient characteristics and surgical variables can predict early complications (intraoperative and perioperative [within 6 weeks]). The development of an accurate preoperative predictive model can aid in patient counseling, shared decision making, and improved surgical planning. The purpose of this study was to develop a model based on baseline demographic, radiographic, and surgical factors that can predict if patients will sustain an intraoperative or perioperative major complication.

METHODS

This study was a retrospective analysis of a prospective, multicenter ASD database. The inclusion criteria were age ≥ 18 years and the presence of ASD. In total, 45 variables were used in the initial training of the model including demographic data, comorbidities, modifiable surgical variables, baseline health-related quality of life, and coronal and sagittal radiographic parameters. Patients were grouped as either having at least 1 major intraoperative or perioperative complication (COMP group) or not (NOCOMP group). An ensemble of decision trees was constructed utilizing the C5.0 algorithm with 5 different bootstrapped models. Internal validation was accomplished via a 70/30 data split for training and testing each model, respectively. Overall accuracy, the area under the receiver operating characteristic (AUROC) curve, and predictor importance were calculated.

RESULTS

Five hundred fifty-seven patients were included: 409 (73.4%) in the NOCOMP group, and 148 (26.6%) in the COMP group. The overall model accuracy was 87.6% correct with an AUROC curve of 0.89 indicating a very good model fit. Twenty variables were determined to be the top predictors (importance ≥ 0.90 as determined by the model) and included (in decreasing importance): age, leg pain, Oswestry Disability Index, number of decompression levels, number of interbody fusion levels, Physical Component Summary of the SF-36, Scoliosis Research Society (SRS)–Schwab coronal curve type, Charlson Comorbidity Index, SRS activity, T-1 pelvic angle, American Society of Anesthesiologists grade, presence of osteoporosis, pelvic tilt, sagittal vertical axis, primary versus revision surgery, SRS pain, SRS total, use of bone morphogenetic protein, use of iliac crest graft, and pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis mismatch.

CONCLUSIONS

A successful model (87% accuracy, 0.89 AUROC curve) was built predicting major intraoperative or perioperative complications following ASD surgery. This model can provide the foundation toward improved education and point-of-care decision making for patients undergoing ASD surgery.

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Alexander A. Theologis, Tamir Ailon, Justin K. Scheer, Justin S. Smith, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Shay Bess, Munish Gupta, Eric O. Klineberg, Khaled Kebaish, Frank Schwab, Virginie Lafage, Douglas Burton, Robert Hart, Christopher P. Ames and The International Spine Study Group

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to isolate whether the effect of a baseline clinical history of depression on outcome is independent of associated physical disability and to evaluate which mental health screening tool has the most utility in determining 2-year clinical outcomes after adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery.

METHODS

Consecutively enrolled patients with ASD in a prospective, multicenter ASD database who underwent surgical intervention with a minimum 2-year follow-up were retrospectively reviewed. A subset of patients who completed the Distress and Risk Assessment Method (DRAM) was also analyzed. The effects of categorical baseline depression and DRAM classification on the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), SF-36, and Scoliosis Research Society questionnaire (SRS-22r) were assessed using univariate and multivariate linear regression analyses. The probability of achieving ≥ 1 minimal clinically important difference (MCID) on the ODI based on the DRAM’s Modified Somatic Perceptions Questionnaire (MSPQ) score was estimated.

RESULTS

Of 267 patients, 66 (24.7%) had self-reported preoperative depression. Patients with baseline depression had significantly more preoperative back pain, greater BMI and Charlson Comorbidity Indices, higher ODIs, and lower SRS-22r and SF-36 Physical/Mental Component Summary (PCS/MCS) scores compared with those without self-reported baseline depression. They also had more severe regional and global sagittal malalignment. After adjusting for these differences, preoperative depression did not impact 2-year ODI, PCS/MCS, or SRS-22r totals (p > 0.05). Compared with those in the “normal” DRAM category, “distressed somatics” (n = 11) had higher ODI (+23.5 points), lower PCS (−10.9), SRS-22r activity (−0.9), and SRS-22r total (−0.8) scores (p ≤ 0.01), while “distressed depressives” (n = 25) had lower PCS (−8.4) and SRS-22r total (−0.5) scores (p < 0.05). After adjusting for important covariates, each additional point on the baseline MSPQ was associated with a 0.8-point increase in 2-year ODI (p = 0.03). The probability of improving by at least 1 MCID in 2-year ODI ranged from 77% to 21% for MSPQ scores 0–20, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

A baseline clinical history of depression does not correlate with worse 2-year outcomes after ASD surgery after adjusting for baseline differences in comorbidities, health-related quality of life, and spinal deformity severity. Conversely, DRAM improved risk stratification of patient subgroups predisposed to achieving suboptimal surgical outcomes. The DRAM’s MSPQ was more predictive than MCS and SRS mental domain for 2-year outcomes and may be a valuable tool for surgical screening.