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Zachary G. Ries, Steven D. Glassman, Ivan Vasilyev, Leanne Metcalfe and Leah Y. Carreon

OBJECTIVE

Diagnostic workup for lumbar degenerative disc disease (DDD) includes imaging such as radiography, MRI, and/or CT myelography. If a patient has unsuccessful nonoperative treatment, the surgeon must then decide if obtaining updated images prior to surgery is warranted. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the timing of preoperative neuroimaging altered clinical outcome, as reflected by the subsequent rate of revision surgery, in patients with degenerative lumbar spinal pathology.

METHODS

From the Health Care Service Corporation administrative claims database, adult patients (minimum age 55 years old) with lumbar DDD who underwent surgery including posterior lumbar decompression with and without fusion (1–2 levels) and at least 5 years of continuous coverage after the index surgery were identified. The chi-square test was used to determine differences in revision rates stratified by timing of each imaging procedure relative to the index procedure (< 6 months, 6–12 months, 12–24 months, or > 24 months).

RESULTS

Of 28,676 cases identified, 5128 (18%) had revision surgery within 5 years. The timing of preoperative MRI or plain radiography was not associated with revision surgery. Among the entire cohort, there was a lower incidence of revision surgery in patients who had a CT myelogram within 1 year prior to the index surgery (p = 0.017). This observation was strongest in patients undergoing decompression only (p = 0.002), but not significant in patients undergoing fusion (p = 0.845).

CONCLUSIONS

Routine reimaging prior to surgery, simply because the existing MRI is 6–12 months old, may not be beneficial, at least as reflected in subsequent revision rates. The study also suggests that there may be a subset of patients for whom preoperative CT myelography reduces revision rates. This topic has important financial implications and deserves further study in a more granular data set.

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Mladen Djurasovic, Katlyn E. McGraw, Kelly Bratcher, Charles H. Crawford III, John R. Dimar II, Rolando M. Puno, Steven D. Glassman, R. Kirk Owens II and Leah Y. Carreon

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to determine efficacy and cost-effectiveness of Cell Saver in 2- and 3-level lumbar decompression and fusion.

METHODS

Patients seen at a tertiary care spine center who were undergoing a posterior 2- or 3-level lumbar decompression and fusion were randomized to have Cell Saver used during their surgery (CS group, n = 48) or not used (No Cell Saver [NCS] group, n = 47). Data regarding preoperative and postoperative hemoglobin and hematocrit, estimated blood loss, volume of Cell Saver blood reinfused, number of units and volume of allogeneic blood transfused intraoperatively and postoperatively, complications, and costs were collected. Costs associated with Cell Saver use were calculated based on units of allogeneic blood transfusions averted.

RESULTS

Demographics and surgical parameters were similar in both groups. The mean estimated blood loss was similar in both groups: 612 ml in the CS group and 742 ml in the NCS group. There were 53 U of allogeneic blood transfused in 29 patients in the NCS group at a total blood product cost of $67,688; and 38 U of allogeneic blood transfused in 16 patients in the CS group at a total blood cost of $113,162, resulting in a cost of $3031 per allogeneic blood transfusion averted using Cell Saver.

CONCLUSIONS

Cell Saver use produced lower rates of allogeneic transfusion but was found to be more expensive than using only allogeneic blood for 2- and 3-level lumbar degenerative fusions. This increased cost may be reasonable to patients who perceive that the risks associated with allogeneic transfusions are unacceptable.

CLASSIFICATION OF EVIDENCE Type of question: therapeutic; study design: randomized controlled trial; evidence: class III.

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Joshua T. Bunch, Steven D. Glassman, Howard R. Underwood, Leanne N. Metcalfe, Stephen Ondra, Ivan Vasilyev and Leah Y. Carreon

OBJECTIVE

Full-length (36-inch) standing spine radiographs are commonly used by spine surgeons to evaluate patients with lumbar degenerative scoliosis (LDS). Despite this practice, the impact of these images on preoperative decision making and the rate of revision surgery has not been analyzed. The purpose of this study is to determine if preoperative full-length standing spine radiographs improve surgical decision making by decreasing the rate of revision surgery in patients with LDS.

METHODS

From the Health Care Service Corporation administrative claims database, the authors identified patients 50–80 years of age with LDS who had undergone surgery including posterior lumbar decompression and fusion over 2–6 levels and with at least 5 years of continuous coverage after the index surgery. Patients were stratified into the following groups, according to the preoperative imaging studies performed within 6 months before their index surgery: lumbar spine MRI studies only, lumbar spine MRI studies and standard lumbar spine radiographs, CT myelograms, and full-length standing spine radiographs. Survival analysis was performed with the occurrence of a revision within 5 years of the index surgery as the outcome of interest.

RESULTS

A total of 411 patients were included in the study after applying the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Revision surgery within 5 years after the index procedure was most frequent in the patients with preoperative MRI only (41.8%), followed by the patients with a CT myelogram (30.4%) and those with MRI and standard radiographs (24.8%). The lowest revision rate was seen among those with long-cassette standing radiographs (11.1%). Patients whose preoperative evaluation included full-length standing radiographs (OR 0.353, p = 0.034) and MRI studies plus radiographs (OR 0.650, p = 0.022) were less likely to require revision surgery at 5 years after the index procedure.

CONCLUSIONS

An assessment of standing alignment using full-length (36-inch) standing radiographs may be beneficial in reducing the risk of revision surgery in patients with lumbar scoliosis. This observation was not limited to patients with large curves or substantial deformity.

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Borys V. Gvozdyev, Leah Y. Carreon, Christopher M. Graves, Stephanie A. Riley, Katlyn E. McGraw, R. Joseph Head, John R. Dimar II and Steven D. Glassman

OBJECTIVE

Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) such as the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and EuroQol-5D (EQ-5D) are widely used to evaluate treatment outcomes following spine surgery for degenerative conditions. The goal of this study was to use the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCMI) as a measure of general health status, for comparison with standard PROs.

METHODS

The authors examined serial CCMI scores, complications, and PROs in 371 patients treated surgically for degenerative lumbar spine conditions who were enrolled in the Quality and Outcomes Database from a single center. The cohort included 152 males (41%) with a mean age of 58.7 years. Patients with no, minor, or major complications were compared at baseline and at 1 year postoperatively.

RESULTS

Minor complications were observed in 177 patients (48%), and major complications in 34 (9%). There were no significant differences in preoperative ODI, EQ-5D, or CCMI among the 3 groups. At 1 year, there was a significantly greater deterioration in CCMI in the major complication group (1.03) compared with the minor (0.66) and no complication groups (0.44, p < 0.006), but no significant difference in ODI or EQ-5D.

CONCLUSIONS

Despite equivalent improvements in PROs, patients with major complications actually had greater deterioration in their general health status, as evidenced by worse CCMI scores. Because CCMI is predictive of medical and surgical risk, patients who sustained a major complication now carry a greater likelihood of adverse outcomes with future interventions, including subsequent spine surgery. Although PRO scores are a key metric, they fail to adequately reflect the potential long-term impact of major perioperative complications.

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Rishi K. Wadhwa, Junichi Ohya, Todd D. Vogel, Leah Y. Carreon, Anthony L. Asher, John J. Knightly, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Steven D. Glassman and Praveen V. Mummaneni

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this paper was to use a prospective, longitudinal, multicenter outcome registry of patients undergoing surgery for lumbar degenerative disease in order to assess the incidence and factors associated with 30-day reoperation and 90-day readmission.

METHODS

Prospectively collected data from 9853 patients from the Quality and Outcomes Database (QOD; formerly known as the N2QOD [National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database]) lumbar spine registry were retrospectively analyzed. Multivariate binomial regression analysis was performed to identify factors associated with 30-day reoperation and 90-day readmission after surgery for lumbar degenerative disease. A subgroup analysis of Medicare patients stratified by age (< 65 and ≥ 65 years old) was also performed. Continuous variables were compared using unpaired t-tests, and proportions were compared using Fisher’s exact test.

RESULTS

There was a 2% reoperation rate within 30 days. Multivariate analysis revealed prolonged operative time during the index case as the only independent factor associated with 30-day reoperation. Other factors such as preoperative diagnosis, body mass index (BMI), American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) class, diabetes, and use of spinal implants were not associated with reoperations within 30 days. Medicare patients < 65 years had a 30-day reoperation rate of 3.7%, whereas those ≥ 65 years had a 30-day reoperation rate of 2.2% (p = 0.026). Medicare beneficiaries younger than 65 years undergoing reoperation within 30 days were more likely to be women (p = 0.009), have a higher BMI (p = 0.008), and have higher rates of depression (p < 0.0001). The 90-day readmission rate was 6.3%. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that higher ASA class (OR 1.46 per class, 95% CI 1.25–1.70) and history of depression (OR 1.27, 95% CI 1.04–1.54) were factors associated with 90-day readmission. Medicare beneficiaries had a higher rate of 90-day readmissions compared with those who had private insurance (OR 1.43, 95% CI 1.17–1.76). Medicare patients < 65 years of age were more likely to be readmitted within 90 days after their index surgery compared with those ≥ 65 years (10.8% vs 7.7%, p = 0.017). Medicare patients < 65 years of age had a significantly higher BMI (p = 0.001) and higher rates of depression (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

In this analysis of a large prospective, multicenter registry of patients undergoing lumbar degenerative surgery, multivariate analysis revealed that prolonged operative time was associated with 30-day reoperation. The authors found that factors associated with 90-day readmission included higher ASA class and a history of depression. The 90-day readmission rates were higher for Medicare beneficiaries than for those who had private insurance. Medicare patients < 65 years of age were more likely to undergo reoperation within 30 days and to be readmitted within 90 days after their index surgery.

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Michael P. Kelly, Lawrence G. Lenke, Jakub Godzik, Ferran Pellise, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Justin S. Smith, Stephen J. Lewis, Christopher P. Ames, Leah Y. Carreon, Michael G. Fehlings, Frank Schwab and Adam L. Shimer

OBJECTIVE

The authors conducted a study to compare neurological deficit rates associated with complex adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery when recorded in retrospective and prospective studies. Retrospective studies may underreport neurological deficits due to selection, detection, and recall biases. Prospective studies are expensive and more difficult to perform, but they likely provide more accurate estimates of new neurological deficit rates.

METHODS

New neurological deficits were recorded in a prospective study of complex ASD surgeries (pSR1) with a defined outcomes measure (decrement in American Spinal Injury Association lower-extremity motor score) for neurological deficits. Using identical inclusion criteria and a subset of participating surgeons, a retrospective study was created (rSR1) and neurological deficit rates were collected. Continuous variables were compared with the Student t-test, with correction for multiple comparisons. Neurological deficit rates were compared using the Mantel-Haenszel method for standardized risks. Statistical significance for the primary outcome measure was p < 0.05.

RESULTS

Overall, 272 patients were enrolled in pSR1 and 207 patients were enrolled in rSR1. Inclusion criteria, defining complex spinal deformities, and exclusion criteria were identical. Sagittal Cobb measurements were higher in pSR1, although sagittal alignment was similar. Preoperative neurological deficit rates were similar in the groups. Three-column osteotomies were more common in pSR1, particularly vertebral column resection. New neurological deficits were more common in pSR1 (pSR1 17.3% [95% CI 12.6–22.2] and rSR1 9.0% [95% CI 5.0–13.0]; p = 0.01). The majority of deficits in both studies were at the nerve root level, and the distribution of level of injury was similar.

CONCLUSIONS

New neurological deficit rates were nearly twice as high in the prospective study than the retrospective study with identical inclusion criteria. These findings validate concerns regarding retrospective cohort studies and confirm the need for and value of carefully designed prospective, observational cohort studies in ASD.

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Charles H. Crawford III, Leah Y. Carreon, Mohamad Bydon, Anthony L. Asher and Steven D. Glassman

OBJECTIVE

Patient satisfaction is a commonly used metric in the current health care environment. While factors that affect patient satisfaction following spine surgery are complex, the authors of this study hypothesized that specific diagnostic groups of patients are more likely to be satisfied after spine surgery and that this is reflected in patient-reported outcome measures. The purpose of this study was to determine if the preoperative diagnosis—disc herniation, stenosis, spondylolisthesis, adjacent segment degeneration, or mechanical disc collapse—would impact patient satisfaction following surgery.

METHODS

Patients enrolled in the Quality Outcomes Database, formerly known as the National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database (N2QOD), completed patient-reported outcome measures, including the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and Numeric Rating Scale (NRS) for back pain (NRS-BP) and leg pain (NRS-LP) preoperatively and 1-year postoperatively. Patients were stratified by diagnosis and by their response to the satisfaction question: 1) surgery met my expectations; 2) I did not improve as much as I hoped, but I would undergo the same operation for the same results; 3) surgery helped, but I would not undergo the same operation for the same results; or 4) I am the same or worse as compared with before surgery.

RESULTS

A greater proportion of patients with primary disc herniation or spondylolisthesis reported that surgery met expectations (66% and 67%, respectively), followed by recurrent disc herniation and stenosis (59% and 60%, respectively). A smaller proportion of patients who underwent surgery for adjacent segment degeneration or mechanical disc collapse had their expectations met (48% and 41%, respectively). The percentage of patients that would undergo the same surgery again, by diagnostic group, was as follows: disc herniation 88%, recurrent disc herniation 79%, spondylolisthesis 86%, stenosis 82%, adjacent segment disease 75%, and mechanical collapse 73%. Regardless of diagnosis, mean improvement and ultimate 1-year postoperative ODI, NRS-BP, and NRS-LP reflected patient satisfaction.

CONCLUSIONS

Preoperative diagnosis was predictive of patient satisfaction following spine surgery. The mean change in and 1-year ODI, NRS-BP, and NRS-LP reflected patient satisfaction regardless of preoperative diagnosis.

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Ikemefuna Onyekwelu, Steven D. Glassman, Anthony L. Asher, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Praveen V. Mummaneni and Leah Y. Carreon

OBJECTIVE

Prior studies have shown obesity to be associated with higher complication rates but equivalent clinical outcomes following lumbar spine surgery. These findings have been reproducible across lumbar spine surgery in general and for lumbar fusion specifically. Nevertheless, surgeons seem inclined to limit the extent of surgery, perhaps opting for decompression alone rather than decompression plus fusion, in obese patients. The purpose of this study was to ascertain any difference in clinical improvement or complication rates between obese and nonobese patients following decompression alone compared with decompression plus fusion for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS).

METHODS

The Quality Outcomes Database (QOD), formerly known as the National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database (N2QOD), was queried for patients who had undergone decompression plus fusion (D+F group) versus decompression alone (D+0 group) for LSS and were stratified by a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 30 kg/m2 (obese) or < 30 kg/m2 (nonobese). Demographic, surgical, and health-related quality of life data were compared.

RESULTS

In the nonobese cohort, 947 patients underwent decompression alone and 319 underwent decompression plus fusion. In the obese cohort, 844 patients had decompression alone and 337 had decompression plus fusion. There were no significant differences in the Oswestry Disability Index score or in leg pain improvement at 12 months when comparing decompression with fusion to decompression without fusion in either obese or nonobese cohorts. However, absolute improvement in back pain was less in the obese group when decompression alone had been performed. Blood loss and operative time were lowest in the nonobese D+0 cohort and were higher in obese patients with or without fusion. Obese patients had a longer hospital stay (4.1 days) than the nonobese patients (3.3 days) when fusion had been performed. In-hospital stay was similar in both obese and nonobese D+0 cohorts. No significant differences were seen in 30-day readmission rates among the 4 cohorts.

CONCLUSIONS

Consistent with the prior literature, equivalent clinical outcomes were found among obese and non-obese patients treated for LSS. In addition, no difference in clinical outcomes as related to the extent of the surgical procedure was observed between obese and nonobese patients. Within the D+0 group, the nonobese patients had slightly better back pain scores at 2 years postoperatively. There may be a higher blood product requirement in obese patients following spine surgery, as well as an extended hospital stay, when fusion is performed. While obesity may influence the decision for or against surgery, the data suggest that obesity should not necessarily alter the appropriate procedure for well-selected surgical candidates.

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Charles H. Crawford III, Steven D. Glassman, Jeffrey L. Gum and Leah Y. Carreon

Advancements in the understanding of adult spinal deformity have led to a greater awareness of the role of the pelvis in maintaining sagittal balance and alignment. Pelvic incidence has emerged as a key radiographic measure and should closely match lumbar lordosis. As proper measurement of the pelvic incidence requires accurate identification of the S-1 endplate, lumbosacral transitional anatomy may lead to errors. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate how lumbosacral transitional anatomy may lead to errors in the measurement of pelvic parameters. The current case highlights one of the potential complications that can be avoided with awareness.

The authors report the case of a 61-year-old man who had undergone prior lumbar surgeries and then presented with symptomatic lumbar stenosis and sagittal malalignment. Radiographs showed a lumbarized S-1. Prior numbering of the segments in previous surgical and radiology reports led to a pelvic incidence calculation of 61°. Corrected numbering of the segments using the lumbarized S-1 endplate led to a pelvic incidence calculation of 48°. Without recognition of the lumbosacral anatomy, overcorrection of the lumbar lordosis might have led to negative sagittal balance and the propensity to develop proximal junction failure. This case illustrates that improper identification of lumbosacral transitional anatomy may lead to errors that could affect clinical outcome. Awareness of this potential error may help improve patient outcomes.