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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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Wajd N. Al-Holou, Thomas J. Wilson, Zarina S. Ali, Ryan P. Brennan, Kelly J. Bridges, Tannaz Guivatchian, Ghaith Habboub, Ajit A. Krishnaney, Giuseppe Lanzino, Kendall A. Snyder, Tracy M. Flanders, Khoi D. Than and Aditya S. Pandey

OBJECTIVE

Gastrostomy tube placement can temporarily seed the peritoneal cavity with bacteria and thus theoretically increases the risk of shunt infection when the two procedures are performed contemporaneously. The authors hypothesized that gastrostomy tube placement would not increase the risk of ventriculoperitoneal shunt infection. The object of this study was to test this hypothesis by utilizing a large patient cohort combined from multiple institutions.

METHODS

A retrospective study of all adult patients admitted to five institutions with a diagnosis of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage between January 2005 and January 2015 was performed. The primary outcome of interest was ventriculoperitoneal shunt infection. Variables, including gastrostomy tube placement, were tested for their association with this outcome. Standard statistical methods were utilized.

RESULTS

The overall cohort consisted of 432 patients, 47% of whom had undergone placement of a gastrostomy tube. The overall shunt infection rate was 9%. The only variable that predicted shunt infection was gastrostomy tube placement (p = 0.03, OR 2.09, 95% CI 1.07–4.08), which remained significant in the multivariate analysis (p = 0.04, OR 2.03, 95% CI 1.04–3.97). The greatest proportion of shunts that became infected had been placed more than 2 weeks (25%) and 1–2 weeks (18%) prior to gastrostomy tube placement, but the temporal relationship between shunt and gastrostomy was not a significant predictor of shunt infection.

CONCLUSIONS

Gastrostomy tube placement significantly increases the risk of ventriculoperitoneal shunt infection.

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Implications of anesthetic approach, spinal versus general, for the treatment of spinal disc herniation

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

Nikhil Sharma, Matthew Piazza, Paul J. Marcotte, William Welch, Ali K. Ozturk, H. Isaac Chen, Zarina S. Ali, James Schuster and Neil R. Malhotra

OBJECTIVE

Healthcare costs continue to escalate. Approaches to care that have comparable outcomes and complications are increasingly assessed for quality improvement and, when possible, cost containment. Efforts to identify components of care to reduce length of stay (LOS) have been ongoing. Spinal anesthesia (SA), for select lumbar spine procedures, has garnered interest as an alternative to general anesthesia (GA) that might reduce cost and in-hospital LOS and accelerate recovery. While clinical outcomes with SA or GA have been studied extensively, few authors have looked at the cost-analysis in relation to clinical outcomes. The authors’ objectives were to compare the clinical perioperative outcomes of patients who received SA and GA, as well as the direct costs associated with each modality of care, and to determine which, in a retrospective analysis, can serve as a dominant procedural approach.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively analyzed a homogeneous surgical population of 550 patients who underwent hemilaminotomy for disc herniation and who received either SA (n = 91) or GA (n = 459). All clinical and billing data were obtained via each patient’s chart and the hospital’s billing database, respectively. Additionally, the authors prospectively assessed patient-reported outcome measures for a subgroup of consecutively treated patients (n = 75) and compared quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gains between the two cohorts. Furthermore, the authors performed a propensity score–matching analysis to compare the two cohorts (n = 180).

RESULTS

Direct hospital costs for patients receiving SA were 40% higher, in the hundreds of dollars, than for patients who received GA (p < 0.0001). Furthermore, there was a significant difference with regard to LOS (p < 0.0001), where patients receiving SA had a considerably longer hospital LOS (27.6% increase in hours). Patients undergoing SA had more comorbidities (p = 0.0053), specifically diabetes and hypertension. However, metrics of complications, including readmission (p = 0.3038) and emergency department (ED) visits at 30 days (p = 1.0), were no different. Furthermore, in a small pilot group, QALY gains were statistically no different (n = 75, p = 0.6708). Propensity score–matching analysis demonstrated similar results as the univariate analysis: there was no difference between the cohorts regarding 30-day readmission (p = 1.0000); ED within 30 days could not be analyzed as there were no patients in the SA group; and total direct costs and LOS were significantly different between the two cohorts (p < 0.0001 and p = 0.0126, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

Both SA and GA exhibit the qualities of a good anesthetic, and the utilization of these modalities for lumbar spine surgery is safe and effective. However, this work suggests that SA is associated with increased LOS and higher direct costs, although these differences may not be clinically or fiscally meaningful.

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Jennifer Hong, Jared M. Pisapia, Zarina S. Ali, Austin J. Heuer, Erin Alexander, Gregory G. Heuer and Eric L. Zager

OBJECTIVE

Neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome (nTOS) is an uncommon compression syndrome of the brachial plexus that presents with pain, sensory changes, and motor weakness in the affected limb. The authors reviewed the clinical presentations and outcomes in their series of pediatric patients with surgically treated nTOS over a 6-year period.

METHODS

Cases of nTOS in patients age 18 years or younger were extracted for analysis from a prospective database of peripheral nerve operations. Baseline patient characteristics, imaging and neurophysiological data, operative findings, and outcomes and complications were assessed.

RESULTS

Twelve patients with 14 cases of nTOS surgically treated between April 2010 and December 2016 were identified. One-third of the patients were male, and 2 male patients underwent staged, bilateral procedures. Disabling pain (both local and radiating) was the most common presenting symptom (100%), followed by numbness (35.7%), then tingling (28.6%). The mean duration of symptoms prior to surgery was 15.8 ± 6.6 months (mean ± SD). Sports-related onset of symptoms was seen in 78.6% of cases. Imaging revealed cervical ribs in 4 cases, prominent C-7 transverse processes in 4 cases, abnormal first thoracic ribs in 2 cases, and absence of bony anomalies in 4 cases. Neurophysiological testing results were normal in 85.7% of cases. Conservative management failed in all patients, with 5 patients reporting minimal improvement in symptoms with physical therapy. With a mean follow-up after surgery of 22 ± 18.3 months (mean ± SD), pain relief was excellent (> 90%) in 8 cases (57.1%), and good (improved > 50%) in 6 cases (42.9%). On univariate analysis, patients who reported excellent pain resolution following surgery at long-term follow-up were found to be significantly younger, and to have suffered a shorter duration of preoperative symptoms than patients who had worse outcomes. Lack of significant trauma or previous surgery to the affected arm was also associated with excellent outcomes. There were 4 minor complications in 3 patients within 30 days of surgery: 1 patient developed a small pneumothorax that resolved spontaneously; 1 patient suffered a transient increase in pain requiring consultation, followed by hiccups for a period of 3 hours that resolved spontaneously; and 1 patient fell at home, with transient increased pain in the surgically treated extremity. There were no new neurological deficits, wound infections, deep vein thromboses, or readmissions.

CONCLUSION

Pediatric nTOS commonly presents with disabling pain and is more frequently associated with bony anomalies compared with adult nTOS. In carefully selected patients, surgical decompression of the brachial plexus results in excellent pain relief, which is more likely to be seen in younger patients who present for early surgical evaluation.

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Robert G. Whitmore, Jill N. Curran, Zarina S. Ali, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Robert F. Heary, Michael G. Kaiser, Anthony L. Asher, Neil R. Malhotra, Joseph S. Cheng, John Hurlbert, Justin S. Smith, Subu N. Magge, Michael P. Steinmetz, Daniel K. Resnick and Zoher Ghogawala

OBJECT

The authors have established a multicenter registry to assess the efficacy and costs of common lumbar spinal procedures using prospectively collected outcomes. Collection of these data requires an extensive commitment of resources from each site. The aim of this study was to determine whether outcomes data from shorter-interval follow-up could be used to accurately estimate long-term outcome following lumbar discectomy.

METHODS

An observational prospective cohort study was completed at 13 academic and community sites. Patients undergoing single-level lumbar discectomy for treatment of disc herniation were included. SF-36 and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) data were obtained preoperatively and at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months postoperatively. Quality-adjusted life year (QALY) data were calculated using SF-6D utility scores. Correlations among outcomes at each follow-up time point were tested using the Spearman rank correlation test.

RESULTS

One hundred forty-eight patients were enrolled over 1 year. Their mean age was 46 years (49% female). Eleven patients (7.4%) required a reoperation by 1 year postoperatively. The overall 1-year follow-up rate was 80.4%. Lumbar discectomy was associated with significant improvements in ODI and SF-36 scores (p < 0.0001) and with a gain of 0.246 QALYs over the 1-year study period. The greatest gain occurred between baseline and 3-month follow-up and was significantly greater than improvements obtained between 3 and 6 months or 6 months and 1 year(p < 0.001). Correlations between 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year outcomes were similar, suggesting that 3-month data may be used to accurately estimate 1-year outcomes for patients who do not require a reoperation. Patients who underwent reoperation had worse outcomes scores and nonsignificant correlations at all time points.

CONCLUSIONS

This national spine registry demonstrated successful collection of high-quality outcomes data for spinal procedures in actual practice. Three-month outcome data may be used to accurately estimate outcome at future time points and may lower costs associated with registry data collection. This registry effort provides a practical foundation for the acquisition of outcome data following lumbar discectomy.

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Zarina S. Ali, Gregory G. Heuer, Ryan W. F. Faught, Shriya H. Kaneriya, Umar A. Sheikh, Idrees S. Syed, Sherman C. Stein and Eric L. Zager

OBJECT

Adult upper trunk brachial plexus injuries result in significant disability. Several surgical treatment strategies exist, including nerve grafting, nerve transfers, and a combination of both approaches. However, no existing data clearly indicate the most successful strategy for restoring elbow flexion and shoulder abduction in these patients. The authors reviewed the literature to compare outcomes of the three surgical repair techniques listed above to determine the optimal approach to traumatic injury to the upper brachial plexus in adults.

METHODS

Both PubMed and EMBASE databases were searched for English-language articles containing the MeSH topic “brachial plexus” in conjunction with the word “injury” or “trauma” in the title and “surgery” or “repair” as a MeSH subheading or in the title, excluding pediatric articles and those articles limited to avulsions. The search was also limited to articles published after 1990 and containing at least 10 operated cases involving upper brachial plexus injuries. The search was supplemented with articles obtained through the “Related Articles” feature on PubMed and the bibliographies of selected publications. From the articles was collected information on the operation performed, number of operated cases, mean subject ages, sex distribution, interval between injury and surgery, source of nerve transfers, mean duration of follow-up, year of publication, and percentage of operative success in terms of elbow flexion and shoulder abduction of the injured limb. The recovery of elbow flexion and shoulder abduction was separately analyzed. A subanalysis was also performed to assess the recovery of elbow flexion following various neurotization techniques.

RESULTS

As regards the restoration of elbow flexion, nerve grafting led to significantly better outcomes than either nerve transfer or the combined techniques (F = 4.71, p = 0.0097). However, separating the Oberlin procedure from other neurotization techniques revealed that the former was significantly more successful (F = 82.82, p < 0.001). Moreover, in comparing the Oberlin procedure to nerve grafting or combined procedures, again the former was significantly more successful than either of the latter two approaches (F = 53.14; p < 0.001). In the restoration of shoulder abduction, nerve transfer was significantly more successful than the combined procedure (p = 0.046), which in turn was significantly better than nerve grafting procedures (F = 5.53, p = 0.0044).

CONCLUSIONS

According to data in this study, in upper trunk brachial plexus injuries in adults, the Oberlin procedure and nerve transfers are the more successful approaches to restore elbow flexion and shoulder abduction, respectively, compared with nerve grafting or combined techniques. A prospective, randomized controlled trial would be necessary to fully elucidate differences in outcome among the various surgical approaches.

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Zarina S. Ali, Eric L. Zager, Gregory G. Heuer and Sherman C. Stein

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Willem Pondaag and Martijn J. A. Malessy