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Clinton J. Devin, Mohamad Bydon, Mohammed Ali Alvi, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Inamullah Khan, Ahilan Sivaganesan, Matthew J. McGirt, Kristin R. Archer, Kevin T. Foley, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Erica F. Bisson, John J. Knightly, Christopher I. Shaffrey and Anthony L. Asher

OBJECTIVE

Back pain and neck pain are two of the most common causes of work loss due to disability, which poses an economic burden on society. Due to recent changes in healthcare policies, patient-centered outcomes including return to work have been increasingly prioritized by physicians and hospitals to optimize healthcare delivery. In this study, the authors used a national spine registry to identify clinical factors associated with return to work at 3 months among patients undergoing a cervical spine surgery.

METHODS

The authors queried the Quality Outcomes Database registry for information collected from April 2013 through March 2017 for preoperatively employed patients undergoing cervical spine surgery for degenerative spine disease. Covariates included demographic, clinical, and operative variables, and baseline patient-reported outcomes. Multiple imputations were used for missing values and multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with higher odds of returning to work. Bootstrap resampling (200 iterations) was used to assess the validity of the model. A nomogram was constructed using the results of the multivariable model.

RESULTS

A total of 4689 patients were analyzed, of whom 82.2% (n = 3854) returned to work at 3 months postoperatively. Among previously employed and working patients, 89.3% (n = 3443) returned to work compared to 52.3% (n = 411) among those who were employed but not working (e.g., were on a leave) at the time of surgery (p < 0.001). On multivariable logistic regression the authors found that patients who were less likely to return to work were older (age > 56–65 years: OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.57–0.85, p < 0.001; age > 65 years: OR 0.65, 95% CI 0.43–0.97, p = 0.02); were employed but not working (OR 0.24, 95% CI 0.20–0.29, p < 0.001); were employed part time (OR 0.56, 95% CI 0.42–0.76, p < 0.001); had a heavy-intensity (OR 0.42, 95% CI 0.32–0.54, p < 0.001) or medium-intensity (OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.46–0.76, p < 0.001) occupation compared to a sedentary occupation type; had workers’ compensation (OR 0.38, 95% CI 0.28–0.53, p < 0.001); had a higher Neck Disability Index score at baseline (OR 0.60, 95% CI 0.51–0.70, p = 0.017); were more likely to present with myelopathy (OR 0.52, 95% CI 0.42–0.63, p < 0.001); and had more levels fused (3–5 levels: OR 0.46, 95% CI 0.35–0.61, p < 0.001). Using the multivariable analysis, the authors then constructed a nomogram to predict return to work, which was found to have an area under the curve of 0.812 and good validity.

CONCLUSIONS

Return to work is a crucial outcome that is being increasingly prioritized for employed patients undergoing spine surgery. The results from this study could help surgeons identify at-risk patients so that preoperative expectations could be discussed more comprehensively.

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Spencer Twitchell, Michael Karsy, Jared Reese, Jian Guan, William T. Couldwell, Andrew Dailey and Erica F. Bisson

OBJECTIVE

Efforts to examine the value of care—combining both costs and quality—are gaining importance in the current health care climate. This thrust is particularly evident in treating common spinal disease where both incidences and costs are generally high and practice patterns are variable. It is often challenging to obtain direct surgical costs for these analyses, which hinders the understanding of cost drivers and cost variation. Using a novel tool, the authors sought to understand the costs of posterior lumbar arthrodesis with interbody devices.

METHODS

The Value Driven Outcomes (VDO) database at the University of Utah was used to evaluate the care of patients who underwent open or minimally invasive surgery (MIS), 1- and 2-level lumbar spine fusion (Current Procedural Terminology code 22263). Patients treated from January 2012 through June 2017 were included.

RESULTS

A total of 276 patients (mean age 58.9 ± 12.4 years) were identified; 46.7% of patients were men. Most patients (82.2%) underwent 1-level fusion. Thirteen patients (4.7%) had major complications and 11 (4.1%) had minor complications. MIS (β = 0.16, p = 0.002), length of stay (β = 0.47, p = 0.0001), and number of operated levels (β = 0.37, p = 0.0001) predicted costs in a multivariable analysis. Supplies and implants (55%) and facility cost (36%) accounted for most of the expenditure. Other costs included pharmacy (7%), laboratory (1%), and imaging (1%).

CONCLUSIONS

These results provide direct cost accounting for lumbar fusion procedures using the VDO database. Efforts to improve the value of lumbar surgery should focus on high cost areas, i.e., facility and supplies/implant.

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Anthony L. Asher, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Erica F. Bisson, Steven D. Glassman, Kevin T. Foley, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Eric A. Potts, Mark E. Shaffrey, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Domagoj Coric, John J. Knightly, Paul Park, Kai-Ming Fu, Clinton J. Devin, Kristin R. Archer, Silky Chotai, Andrew K. Chan, Michael S. Virk and Mohamad Bydon

OBJECTIVE

Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) play a pivotal role in defining the value of surgical interventions for spinal disease. The concept of minimum clinically important difference (MCID) is considered the new standard for determining the effectiveness of a given treatment and describing patient satisfaction in response to that treatment. The purpose of this study was to determine the MCID associated with surgical treatment for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

The authors queried the Quality Outcomes Database registry from July 2014 through December 2015 for patients who underwent posterior lumbar surgery for grade I degenerative spondylolisthesis. Recorded PROs included scores on the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), EQ-5D, and numeric rating scale (NRS) for leg pain (NRS-LP) and back pain (NRS-BP). Anchor-based (using the North American Spine Society satisfaction scale) and distribution-based (half a standard deviation, small Cohen’s effect size, standard error of measurement, and minimum detectable change [MDC]) methods were used to calculate the MCID for each PRO.

RESULTS

A total of 441 patients (80 who underwent laminectomies alone and 361 who underwent fusion procedures) from 11 participating sites were included in the analysis. The changes in functional outcome scores between baseline and the 1-year postoperative evaluation were as follows: 23.5 ± 17.4 points for ODI, 0.24 ± 0.23 for EQ-5D, 4.1 ± 3.5 for NRS-LP, and 3.7 ± 3.2 for NRS-BP. The different calculation methods generated a range of MCID values for each PRO: 3.3–26.5 points for ODI, 0.04–0.3 points for EQ-5D, 0.6–4.5 points for NRS-LP, and 0.5–4.2 points for NRS-BP. The MDC approach appeared to be the most appropriate for calculating MCID because it provided a threshold greater than the measurement error and was closest to the average change difference between the satisfied and not-satisfied patients. On subgroup analysis, the MCID thresholds for laminectomy-alone patients were comparable to those for the patients who underwent arthrodesis as well as for the entire cohort.

CONCLUSIONS

The MCID for PROs was highly variable depending on the calculation technique. The MDC seems to be a statistically and clinically sound method for defining the appropriate MCID value for patients with grade I degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis. Based on this method, the MCID values are 14.3 points for ODI, 0.2 points for EQ-5D, 1.7 points for NRS-LP, and 1.6 points for NRS-BP.

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Andrew K. Chan, Erica F. Bisson, Mohamad Bydon, Steven D. Glassman, Kevin T. Foley, Eric A. Potts, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Mark E. Shaffrey, Domagoj Coric, John J. Knightly, Paul Park, Kai-Ming Fu, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Anthony L. Asher, Michael S. Virk, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Silky Chotai, Anthony M. DiGiorgio, Alvin Y. Chan, Regis W. Haid and Praveen V. Mummaneni

OBJECTIVE

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons launched the Quality Outcomes Database (QOD), a prospective longitudinal registry that includes demographic, clinical, and patient-reported outcome (PRO) data, to measure the safety and quality of neurosurgical procedures, including spinal surgery. Differing results from recent randomized controlled trials have established a need to clarify the groups that would most benefit from surgery for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis. In the present study, the authors compared patients who were the most and the least satisfied following surgery for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

This was a retrospective analysis of a prospective, national longitudinal registry including patients who had undergone surgery for grade 1 degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis. The most and least satisfied patients were identified based on an answer of “1” and “4,” respectively, on the North American Spine Society (NASS) Satisfaction Questionnaire 12 months postoperatively. Baseline demographics, clinical variables, surgical parameters, and outcomes were collected. Patient-reported outcome measures, including the Numeric Rating Scale (NRS) for back pain, NRS for leg pain, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and EQ-5D (the EuroQol health survey), were administered at baseline and 3 and 12 months after treatment.

RESULTS

Four hundred seventy-seven patients underwent surgery for grade 1 degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis in the period from July 2014 through December 2015. Two hundred fifty-five patients (53.5%) were the most satisfied and 26 (5.5%) were the least satisfied. Compared with the most satisfied patients, the least satisfied ones more often had coronary artery disease (CAD; 26.9% vs 12.2%, p = 0.04) and had higher body mass indices (32.9 ± 6.5 vs 30.0 ± 6.0 kg/m2, p = 0.02). In the multivariate analysis, female sex (OR 2.9, p = 0.02) was associated with the most satisfaction. Notably, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) class, smoking, psychiatric comorbidity, and employment status were not significantly associated with satisfaction. Although there were no significant differences at baseline, the most satisfied patients had significantly lower NRS back and leg pain and ODI scores and a greater EQ-5D score at 3 and 12 months postoperatively (p < 0.001 for all).

CONCLUSIONS

This study revealed that some patient factors differ between those who report the most and those who report the least satisfaction after surgery for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis. Patients reporting the least satisfaction tended to have CAD or were obese. Female sex was associated with the most satisfaction when adjusting for potential covariates. These findings highlight several key factors that could aid in setting expectations for outcomes following surgery for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis.

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Erica F. Bisson, Deshpande V. Rajakumar and Praveen V. Mummaneni

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Praveen V. Mummaneni, Erica F. Bisson, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Steven Glassman, Kevin Foley, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Eric Potts, Mark Shaffrey, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Domagoj Coric, John Knightly, Paul Park, Kai-Ming Fu, Clinton J. Devin, Silky Chotai, Andrew K. Chan, Michael Virk, Anthony L. Asher and Mohamad Bydon

OBJECTIVE

Lumbar spondylolisthesis is a degenerative condition that can be surgically treated with either open or minimally invasive decompression and instrumented fusion. Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) approaches may shorten recovery, reduce blood loss, and minimize soft-tissue damage with resultant reduced postoperative pain and disability.

METHODS

The authors queried the national, multicenter Quality Outcomes Database (QOD) registry for patients undergoing posterior lumbar fusion between July 2014 and December 2015 for Grade I degenerative spondylolisthesis. The authors recorded baseline and 12-month patient-reported outcomes (PROs), including Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), EQ-5D, numeric rating scale (NRS)–back pain (NRS-BP), NRS–leg pain (NRS-LP), and satisfaction (North American Spine Society satisfaction questionnaire). Multivariable regression models were fitted for hospital length of stay (LOS), 12-month PROs, and 90-day return to work, after adjusting for an array of preoperative and surgical variables.

RESULTS

A total of 345 patients (open surgery, n = 254; MIS, n = 91) from 11 participating sites were identified in the QOD. The follow-up rate at 12 months was 84% (83.5% [open surgery]; 85% [MIS]). Overall, baseline patient demographics, comorbidities, and clinical characteristics were similarly distributed between the cohorts. Two hundred fifty seven patients underwent 1-level fusion (open surgery, n = 181; MIS, n = 76), and 88 patients underwent 2-level fusion (open surgery, n = 73; MIS, n = 15). Patients in both groups reported significant improvement in all primary outcomes (all p < 0.001). MIS was associated with a significantly lower mean intraoperative estimated blood loss and slightly longer operative times in both 1- and 2-level fusion subgroups. Although the LOS was shorter for MIS 1-level cases, this was not significantly different. No difference was detected with regard to the 12-month PROs between the 1-level MIS versus the 1-level open surgical groups. However, change in functional outcome scores for patients undergoing 2-level fusion was notably larger in the MIS cohort for ODI (−27 vs −16, p = 0.1), EQ-5D (0.27 vs 0.15, p = 0.08), and NRS-BP (−3.5 vs −2.7, p = 0.41); statistical significance was shown only for changes in NRS-LP scores (−4.9 vs −2.8, p = 0.02). On risk-adjusted analysis for 1-level fusion, open versus minimally invasive approach was not significant for 12-month PROs, LOS, and 90-day return to work.

CONCLUSIONS

Significant improvement was found in terms of all functional outcomes in patients undergoing open or MIS fusion for lumbar spondylolisthesis. No difference was detected between the 2 techniques for 1-level fusion in terms of patient-reported outcomes, LOS, and 90-day return to work. However, patients undergoing 2-level MIS fusion reported significantly better improvement in NRS-LP at 12 months than patients undergoing 2-level open surgery. Longer follow-up is needed to provide further insight into the comparative effectiveness of the 2 procedures.

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Erica F. Bisson, José-Carlos Sauri-Barraza, Toba Niazi and Meic H. Schmidt

Synovial cysts are uncommon pathological entities in patients with cervical degenerative spinal disease, and there are only a few reports in the literature. Treatment typically involves decompression; however, biomechanical data indicate that laminectomies in the cervical spine also result in cervical instability, specifically within the cervicothoracic junction, supporting the use of fusion as well. The authors describe the use of fusion with decompression in the treatment of 3 patients with cervicothoracic synovial cysts that presented in an acute fashion with associated myelopathy and neurological decline, and they review the diagnostic elements, histopathology, and treatment of these cysts. All 3 of the patients did well with decompression via a posterior approach with a single-level instrumented fusion from C-7 to T-1. Each patient regained complete neurological function and had no residual neurological deficits. These results are promising, although the sample size of 3 cases is too small to make any conclusive evaluations. Future studies incorporating Class I and Class II data are imperative to make firm conclusions regarding general management of this rare entity.

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Wilson Z. Ray, Vijay M. Ravindra, Gregory F. Jost, Erica F. Bisson and Meic H. Schmidt

As health care reform continues to evolve, demonstrating the cost effectiveness of spinal fusion procedures will be of critical value. Posterior subaxial cervical fusion with lateral mass screw and rod instrumentation is a well-established fixation technique. Subaxial transarticular facet fixation is a lesser known fusion technique that has been shown to be biomechanically equivalent to lateral mass screws for short constructs. Although there has not been a widespread adoption of transarticular facet screws, the screws potentially represent a cost-effective alternative to lateral mass rod and screw constructs. In this review, the authors describe an institutional experience with the use of lateral mass screws and provide a theoretical cost comparison with the use of transarticular facet screws.

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Marcus D. Mazur, Michael L. Mumert, Erica F. Bisson and Meic H. Schmidt

Anterior screw fixation of Type II odontoid fractures provides immediate stabilization of the cervical spine while preserving C1–2 motion. This technique has a high fusion rate, but can be technically challenging. The authors identify key points that should be taken into account to maximize the chance for a favorable outcome. Keys to success include proper patient and fracture selection, identification of suitable screw entry point and correct screw trajectory, achieving bicortical purchase, and placing 2 screws when feasible and applicable. The authors review the operative technique and present guidance on appropriate patient selection and common pitfalls in anterior screw fixation, with strategies for avoiding complications.