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Gregory W. J. Hawryluk, Perry A. Ball, Zachary L. Hickman and Joshua E. Medow

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Wesley J. Whitson, Perry A. Ball, S. Scott Lollis, Jason D. Balkman and David F. Bauer

Object

Mycoplasma hominis is a rare cause of infection after neurosurgical procedures. The Mycoplasma genus contains the smallest bacteria discovered to date. Mycoplasma are atypical bacteria that lack a cell wall, a feature that complicates both diagnosis and treatment. The Gram stain and some types of culture media fail to identify these organisms, and typical broad-spectrum antibiotic regimens are ineffective because they act on cell wall metabolism. Mycoplasma hominis commonly colonizes the genitourinary tract in a nonvirulent manner, but it has caused postoperative, postpartum, and posttraumatic infections in various organ systems.

The authors present the case of a 17-year-old male with a postoperative intramedullary spinal cord abscess due to M. hominis and report the results of a literature review of M. hominis infections after neurosurgical procedures. Attention is given to time to diagnosis, risk factors for infection, ineffective antibiotic regimens, and final effective antibiotic regimens to provide pertinent information for the practicing neurosurgeon to diagnose and treat this rare occurrence.

Methods

A PubMed search was performed to identify reports of M. hominis infections after neurosurgical procedures.

Results

Eleven cases of postneurosurgical M. hominis infection were found. No other cases of intramedullary spinal cord abscess were found. Initial antibiotic coverage was inadequate in all cases, and diagnosis was delayed in all cases. Multiple surgical interventions were often needed. Once appropriate antibiotics were started, patients typically experienced rapid resolution of their neurological symptoms. In 27% of cases, a suspicious genitourinary source other than urinary catheterization was identified.

Conclusions

Postoperative M. hominis infections are rarely seen after neurosurgical procedures. They are typically responsive to appropriate antibiotic therapy. Mycoplasma infection may cause prolonged hospitalization and multiple returns to the operating room due to delay in diagnosis. Early clinical suspicion with appropriate antibiotic coverage could help prevent these significant complications.

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Atman Desai, Kimon Bekelis, Wenyan Zhao, Perry A. Ball and Kadir Erkmen

Object

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability. Given that neurologists and neurosurgeons have special expertise in this area, the authors hypothesized that the density of neuroscience providers is associated with reduced mortality rates from stroke across US counties.

Methods

This is a retrospective review of the Area Resource File 2009–2010, a national county-level health information database maintained by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The primary outcome variable was the 3-year (2004–2006) average in cerebrovascular disease deaths per million population for each county. The primary independent variable was the combined density of neurosurgeons and neurologists per million population in the year 2006. Multiple regression analysis was performed, adjusting for density of general practitioners (GPs), urbanicity of the county, and socioeconomic status of the residents of the county.

Results

In the 3141 counties analyzed, the median number of annual stroke deaths was 586 (interquartile range [IQR] 449–754), the median number of neuroscience providers was 0 (IQR 0–26), and the median number of GPs was 274 (IQR 175–410) per million population. On multivariate adjusted analysis, each increase of 1 neuroscience provider was associated with 0.38 fewer deaths from stroke per year (p < 0.001) per million population. Rural location (p < 0.001) and increased density of GPs (p < 0.001) were associated with increases in stroke-related mortality.

Conclusions

Higher density of specialist neuroscience providers is associated with fewer deaths from stroke. This suggests that the availability of specialists is an important factor in survival after stroke, and underlines the importance of promoting specialist education and practice throughout the country.

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M. Ross Bullock

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Atman Desai, Kimon Bekelis, Wenyan Zhao and Perry A. Ball

Object

Motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) are a leading cause of death and disability in young people. Given that a major cause of death from MVAs is traumatic brain injury, and neurosurgeons hold special expertise in this area relative to other members of a trauma team, the authors hypothesized that neurosurgeon population density would be related to reduced mortality from MVAs across US counties.

Methods

The Area Resource File (2009–2010), a national health resource information database, was retrospectively analyzed. The primary outcome variable was the 3-year (2004–2006) average in MVA deaths per million population for each county. The primary independent variable was the density of neurosurgeons per million population in the year 2006. Multiple regression analysis was performed, adjusting for population density of general practitioners, urbanicity of the county, and socioeconomic status of the county.

Results

The median number of annual MVA deaths per million population, in the 3141 counties analyzed, was 226 (interquartile range [IQR] 151–323). The median number of neurosurgeons per million population was 0 (IQR 0–0), while the median number of general practitioners per million population was 274 (IQR 175–410). Using an unadjusted analysis, each increase of 1 neurosurgeon per million population was associated with 1.90 fewer MVA deaths per million population (p < 0.001). On multivariate adjusted analysis, each increase of 1 neurosurgeon per million population was associated with 1.01 fewer MVA deaths per million population (p < 0.001), with a respective decrease in MVA deaths of 0.03 per million population for an increase in 1 general practitioner (p = 0.007). Rural location, persistent poverty, and low educational level were all associated with significant increases in the rate of MVA deaths.

Conclusions

A higher population density of neurosurgeons is associated with a significant reduction in deaths from MVAs, a major cause of death nationally. This suggests that the availability of local neurosurgeons is an important factor in the overall likelihood of survival from an MVA, and therefore indicates the importance of promoting neurosurgical education and practice throughout the country.

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Harold A. Wilkinson

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Atman Desai, Perry A. Ball, Kimon Bekelis, Jon D. Lurie, Sohail K. Mirza, Tor D. Tosteson and James N. Weinstein

Object

Incidental durotomy is an infrequent but well-recognized complication during lumbar disc surgery. The effect of a durotomy on long-term outcomes is, however, controversial. The authors sought to examine whether the occurrence of durotomy during surgery impacts long-term clinical outcome.

Methods

Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial (SPORT) participants who had a confirmed diagnosis of intervertebral disc herniation and were undergoing standard first-time open discectomy were followed up at 6 weeks and at 3, 6, and 12 months after surgery and annually thereafter at 13 spine clinics in 11 US states. Patient data from this prospectively gathered database were reviewed. As of May 2009, the mean (± SD) duration of follow-up among all of the intervertebral disc herniation patients whose data were analyzed was 41.5 ± 14.5 months (41.4 months in those with no durotomy vs 40.2 months in those with durotomy, p < 0.68). The median duration of follow-up among all of these patients was 47 months (range 1–95 months).

Results

A total of 799 patients underwent first-time lumbar discectomy. There was an incidental durotomy in 25 (3.1%) of these cases. There were no significant differences between the durotomy and no-durotomy groups with respect to age, sex, race, body mass index, herniation level or type, or the prevalence of smoking, diabetes, or hypertension. When outcome differences between the groups were analyzed, the durotomy group was found to have significantly increased operative duration, operative blood loss, and length of inpatient stay. However, there were no significant differences in incidence rates for nerve root injury, postoperative mortality, additional surgeries, or SF-36 scores for Bodily Pain or Physical Function, or Oswestry Disability Index scores at 1, 2, 3, or 4 years.

Conclusions

Incidental durotomy during first-time lumbar discectomy does not appear to impact long-term outcome in affected patients.

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S. Scott Lollis, Pablo A. Valdes, Zhongze Li, Perry A. Ball and David W. Roberts

Object

The authors sought to determine a cause-specific mortality profile for US neurosurgeons during the period 1979–2005.

Methods

Neurosurgeons who died during the study period were identified from the Physician Master File database. Using the National Death Index, the reported cause of death was identified for 93.7% of decedents. Standardized mortality ratios were used to compare mortality risk in the study cohort to that of the US population.

Results

There was a marked reduction in mortality from virtually all causes in comparison with the control population. This finding is consistent with prior studies of mortality in physicians. The small number of deaths among female neurosurgeons precluded meaningful analysis for this group. Increased mortality risk for male neurosurgeons was seen from leukemia, nervous system disease (particularly Alzheimer disease), and aircraft accidents. Deaths from viral hepatitis and HIV infection, considered to be occupational hazards for surgeons, were less frequent than in the general population. Suicide, drug-related deaths, and alcohol-related deaths were less frequent than in the general population.

Conclusions

Neurosurgeons may be at higher risk for death from leukemia, aircraft accidents, and diseases of the nervous system, particularly Alzheimer disease; however, the mortality profile of neurosurgeons is favorable when compared with the general population.