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Yoji Ogura, Jeffrey L. Gum, Portia Steele, Charles H. Crawford III, Mladen Djurasovic, R. Kirk Owens II, Joseph L. Laratta, Morgan Brown, Christy Daniels, John R. Dimar II, Steven D. Glassman and Leah Y. Carreon

OBJECTIVE

Unexpected nonhome discharge causes additional costs in the current reimbursement models, especially to the payor. Nonhome discharge is also related to longer length of hospital stay and therefore higher healthcare costs to society. With increasing demand for spine surgery, it is important to minimize costs by streamlining discharges and reducing length of hospital stay. Identifying factors associated with nonhome discharge can be useful for early intervention for discharge planning. The authors aimed to identify the drivers of nonhome discharge in patients undergoing 1- or 2-level instrumented lumbar fusion.

METHODS

The electronic medical records from a single-center hospital administrative database were analyzed for consecutive patients who underwent 1- to 2-level instrumented lumbar fusion for degenerative lumbar conditions during the period from 2016 to 2018. Discharge disposition was determined as home or nonhome. A logistic regression analysis was used to determine associations between nonhome discharge and age, sex, body mass index (BMI), race, American Society of Anesthesiologists grade, smoking status, marital status, insurance type, residence in an underserved zip code, and operative factors.

RESULTS

A total of 1502 patients were included. The majority (81%) were discharged home. Factors associated with a nonhome discharge were older age, higher BMI, living in an underserved zip code, not being married, being on government insurance, and having more levels fused. Patients discharged to a nonhome facility had longer lengths of hospital stay (5.6 vs 3.0 days, p < 0.001) and significantly increased hospital costs ($21,204 vs $17,518, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Increased age, greater BMI, residence in an underserved zip code, not being married, and government insurance are drivers for discharge to a nonhome facility after a 1- to 2-level instrumented lumbar fusion. Early identification and intervention for these patients, even before admission, may decrease the length of hospital stay and medical costs.

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Joseph Laratta, Leah Y. Carreon, Avery L. Buchholz, Andrew Y. Yew, Erica F. Bisson, Praveen V. Mummaneni and Steven D. Glassman

OBJECTIVE

Medical comorbidities, particularly preoperatively diagnosed anxiety, depression, and obesity, may influence how patients perceive and measure clinical benefit after a surgical intervention. The current study was performed to define and compare the minimum clinically important difference (MCID) thresholds in patients with and without preoperative diagnoses of anxiety or depression and obesity who underwent spinal fusion for grade 1 degenerative spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

The Quality Outcomes Database (QOD) was queried for patients who underwent lumbar fusion for grade 1 degenerative spondylolisthesis during the period from January 2014 to August 2017. Collected patient-reported outcomes (PROs) included the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), health status (EQ-5D), and numeric rating scale (NRS) scores for back pain (NRS-BP) and leg pain (NRS-LP). Both anchor-based and distribution-based methods for MCID calculation were employed.

RESULTS

Of 462 patients included in the prospective registry who underwent a decompression and fusion procedure, 356 patients (77.1%) had complete baseline and 12-month PRO data and were included in the study. The MCID values for ODI scores did not significantly differ in patients with and those without a preoperative diagnosis of obesity (20.58 and 20.69, respectively). In addition, the MCID values for ODI scores did not differ in patients with and without a preoperative diagnosis of anxiety or depression (24.72 and 22.56, respectively). Similarly, the threshold MCID values for NRS-BP, NRS-LP, and EQ-5D scores were not statistically different between all groups. Based on both anchor-based and distribution-based methods for determination of MCID thresholds, there were no statistically significant differences between all cohorts.

CONCLUSIONS

MCID thresholds were similar for ODI, EQ-5D, NRS-BP, and NRS-LP in patients with and without preoperative diagnoses of anxiety or depression and obesity undergoing spinal fusion for grade 1 degenerative spondylolisthesis. Preoperative clinical and shared decision-making may be improved by understanding that preoperative medical comorbidities may not affect the way patients experience and assess important clinical changes postoperatively.

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Hideyuki Arima, Steven D. Glassman, Keith Bridwell, Yu Yamato, Mitsuru Yagi, Kota Watanabe, Morio Matsumoto, Satoshi Inami, Hiroshi Taneichi, Yukihiro Matsuyama and Leah Y. Carreon

OBJECTIVE

The Scoliosis Research Society-22r questionnaire (SRS-22r) has been shown to be reliable, valid, and responsive to change in patients with adult spinal deformity (ASD) undergoing surgery. The minimal clinically important difference (MCID) is the smallest difference in a health-related quality of life score that is considered to be worthwhile or clinically important to the individual. The authors hypothesized that the proportion of patients with ASD achieving an MCID in the SRS-22r score would be different between two culturally different cohorts. The purpose of this study was to compare the proportion of patients with ASD achieving MCID for the SRS-22r domains in North American (NA) and Japanese cohorts.

METHODS

A total of 137 patients from North America (123 women, mean age 60.0 years) and 60 patients from Japan (56 women, mean age 65.5 years) with at least 2 years of follow-up after corrective spine surgery for ASD were included. Except for self-image, published Japanese MCID values of SRS-22r for ASD were higher (function = 0.90, pain = 0.85, self-image = 1.05, subtotal = 1.05) than the published NA MCID values (function = 0.60, pain = 0.40, self-image = 1.23, subtotal = 0.43).

RESULTS

There was a statistically significant improvement in all SRS-22r domain scores at 2 years compared to baseline in both cohorts. Except for mental health (NA = 0.32, Japanese = 0.72, p = 0.005), the mean improvement from baseline to 2 years was similar between the NA and Japanese cohorts. The proportion of patients achieving MCID was higher in North America for function (NA = 51%, Japanese = 30%, p = 0.006), pain (NA = 80%, Japanese = 47%, p < 0.001), and subtotal (NA = 72%, Japanese = 35%, p < 0.001), while there was no significant difference for self-image (NA = 53%, Japanese = 58%, p = 0.454).

CONCLUSIONS

Despite similar improvements in SRS-22r domain scores from baseline to 2 years postoperatively, the proportion of patients reaching SRS-22r MCID for function, pain, and subtotal after ASD surgery was higher in the NA cohort than in the Japanese cohort. This may imply that patients in North America and Japan may value observed changes in clinical status differently.

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Mladen Djurasovic, Jeffrey L. Gum, Charles H. Crawford III, Kirk Owens II, Morgan Brown, Portia Steele, Steven D. Glassman and Leah Y. Carreon

OBJECTIVE

The midline transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIDLIF) using cortical screw fixation is a novel, minimally invasive procedure that may offer enhanced recovery over traditional open transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF). Little information is available regarding the comparative cost-effectiveness of the MIDLIF over conventional TLIF. The purpose of this study was to compare cost-effectiveness of minimally invasive MIDLIF with open TLIF.

METHODS

From a prospective, multisurgeon, surgical database, a consecutive series of patients undergoing 1- or 2-level MIDLIF for degenerative lumbar conditions was identified and propensity matched to patients undergoing TLIF based on age, sex, smoking status, BMI, diagnosis, American Society of Anesthesiologists Physical Status Classification System (ASA) class, and levels fused. Direct costs at 1 year were collected, including costs associated with the index surgical visit as well as costs associated with readmission. Improvement in health-related quality of life was measured using EQ-5D and SF-6D.

RESULTS

Of 214 and 181 patients undergoing MIDLIF and TLIF, respectively, 33 cases in each cohort were successfully propensity matched. Consistent with propensity matching, there was no difference in age, sex, BMI, diagnosis, ASA class, smoking status, or levels fused. Spondylolisthesis was the most common indication for surgery in both cohorts. Variable direct costs at 1 year were $2493 lower in the MIDLIF group than in the open TLIF group (mean $15,867 vs $17,612, p = 0.073). There was no difference in implant (p = 0.193) or biologics (p = 0.145) cost, but blood utilization (p = 0.015), operating room supplies (p < 0.001), hospital room and board (p < 0.001), pharmacy (p = 0.010), laboratory (p = 0.004), and physical therapy (p = 0.009) costs were all significantly lower in the MIDLIF group. Additionally, the mean length of stay was decreased for MIDLIF as well (3.21 vs 4.02 days, p = 0.05). The EQ-5D gain at 1 year was 0.156 for MIDLIF and 0.141 for open TLIF (p = 0.821). The SF-6D gain at 1 year was 0.071 for MIDLIF and 0.057 for open TLIF (p = 0.551).

CONCLUSIONS

Compared with patients undergoing traditional open TLIF, those undergoing MIDLIF have similar 1-year gains in health-related quality of life, with total direct costs that are $2493 lower. Although the findings were not statistically significant, minimally invasive MIDLIF showed improved cost-effectiveness at 1 year compared with open TLIF.

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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.