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Chloe O’Connell, Tej Deepak Azad, Vaishali Mittal, Daniel Vail, Eli Johnson, Atman Desai, Eric Sun, John K. Ratliff and Anand Veeravagu

OBJECTIVE

Preoperative depression has been linked to a variety of adverse outcomes following lumbar fusion, including increased pain, disability, and 30-day readmission rates. The goal of the present study was to determine whether preoperative depression is associated with increased narcotic use following lumbar fusion. Moreover, the authors examined the association between preoperative depression and a variety of secondary quality indicator and economic outcomes, including complications, 30-day readmissions, revision surgeries, likelihood of discharge home, and 1- and 2-year costs.

METHODS

A retrospective analysis was conducted using a national longitudinal administrative database (MarketScan) containing diagnostic and reimbursement data on patients with a variety of private insurance providers and Medicare for the period from 2007 to 2014. Multivariable logistic and negative binomial regressions were performed to assess the relationship between preoperative depression and the primary postoperative opioid use outcomes while controlling for demographic, comorbidity, and preoperative prescription drug–use variables. Logistic and log-linear regressions were also used to evaluate the association between depression and the secondary outcomes of complications, 30-day readmissions, revisions, likelihood of discharge home, and 1- and 2-year costs.

RESULTS

The authors identified 60,597 patients who had undergone lumbar fusion and met the study inclusion criteria, 4985 of whom also had a preoperative diagnosis of depression and 21,905 of whom had a diagnosis of spondylolisthesis at the time of surgery. A preoperative depression diagnosis was associated with increased cumulative opioid use (β = 0.25, p < 0.001), an increased risk of chronic use (OR 1.28, 95% CI 1.17–1.40), and a decreased probability of opioid cessation (OR 0.96, 95% CI 0.95–0.98) following lumbar fusion. In terms of secondary outcomes, preoperative depression was also associated with a slightly increased risk of complications (OR 1.14, 95% CI 1.03–1.25), revision fusions (OR 1.15, 95% CI 1.05–1.26), and 30-day readmissions (OR 1.19, 95% CI 1.04–1.36), although it was not significantly associated with the probability of discharge to home (OR 0.92, 95% CI 0.84–1.01). Preoperative depression also resulted in increased costs at 1 (β = 0.06, p < 0.001) and 2 (β = 0.09, p < 0.001) years postoperatively.

CONCLUSIONS

Although these findings must be interpreted in the context of the limitations inherent to retrospective studies utilizing administrative data, they provide additional evidence for the link between a preoperative diagnosis of depression and adverse outcomes, particularly increased opioid use, following lumbar fusion.

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Anand Veeravagu, Amy Li, Christian Swinney, Lu Tian, Adrienne Moraff, Tej D. Azad, Ivan Cheng, Todd Alamin, Serena S. Hu, Robert L. Anderson, Lawrence Shuer, Atman Desai, Jon Park, Richard A. Olshen and John K. Ratliff

OBJECTIVE

The ability to assess the risk of adverse events based on known patient factors and comorbidities would provide more effective preoperative risk stratification. Present risk assessment in spine surgery is limited. An adverse event prediction tool was developed to predict the risk of complications after spine surgery and tested on a prospective patient cohort.

METHODS

The spinal Risk Assessment Tool (RAT), a novel instrument for the assessment of risk for patients undergoing spine surgery that was developed based on an administrative claims database, was prospectively applied to 246 patients undergoing 257 spinal procedures over a 3-month period. Prospectively collected data were used to compare the RAT to the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) and the American College of Surgeons National Surgery Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) Surgical Risk Calculator. Study end point was occurrence and type of complication after spine surgery.

RESULTS

The authors identified 69 patients (73 procedures) who experienced a complication over the prospective study period. Cardiac complications were most common (10.2%). Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were calculated to compare complication outcomes using the different assessment tools. Area under the curve (AUC) analysis showed comparable predictive accuracy between the RAT and the ACS NSQIP calculator (0.670 [95% CI 0.60–0.74] in RAT, 0.669 [95% CI 0.60–0.74] in NSQIP). The CCI was not accurate in predicting complication occurrence (0.55 [95% CI 0.48–0.62]). The RAT produced mean probabilities of 34.6% for patients who had a complication and 24% for patients who did not (p = 0.0003). The generated predicted values were stratified into low, medium, and high rates. For the RAT, the predicted complication rate was 10.1% in the low-risk group (observed rate 12.8%), 21.9% in the medium-risk group (observed 31.8%), and 49.7% in the high-risk group (observed 41.2%). The ACS NSQIP calculator consistently produced complication predictions that underestimated complication occurrence: 3.4% in the low-risk group (observed 12.6%), 5.9% in the medium-risk group (observed 34.5%), and 12.5% in the high-risk group (observed 38.8%). The RAT was more accurate than the ACS NSQIP calculator (p = 0.0018).

CONCLUSIONS

While the RAT and ACS NSQIP calculator were both able to identify patients more likely to experience complications following spine surgery, both have substantial room for improvement. Risk stratification is feasible in spine surgery procedures; currently used measures have low accuracy.

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Jennifer Hong, Atman Desai, Vijay M. Thadani and David W. Roberts

OBJECTIVE

Vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) and corpus callosotomy (CC) have both been shown to be of benefit in the treatment of medically refractory epilepsy. Recent case series have reviewed the efficacy of VNS in patients who have undergone CC, with encouraging results. There are few data, however, on the use of CC following VNS therapy.

METHODS

The records of all patients at the authors' center who underwent CC following VNS between 1998 and 2015 were reviewed. Patient baseline characteristics, operative details, and postoperative outcomes were analyzed.

RESULTS

Ten patients met inclusion criteria. The median follow-up was 72 months, with a minimum follow-up of 12 months (range 12–109 months). The mean time between VNS and CC was 53.7 months. The most common reason for CC was progression of seizures after VNS. Seven patients had anterior CC, and 3 patients returned to the operating room for a completion of the procedure. All patients had a decrease in the rate of falls and drop seizures; 7 patients experienced elimination of drop seizures. Nine patients had an Engel Class III outcome, and 1 patient had a Class IV outcome. There were 3 immediate postoperative complications and 1 delayed complication. One patient developed pneumonia, 1 developed transient mutism, and 1 had persistent weakness in the nondominant foot. One patient presented with a wound infection.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors demonstrate that CC can help reduce seizures in patients with medically refractory epilepsy following VNS, particularly with respect to drop attacks.

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Anand Veeravagu, Ian D. Connolly, Layton Lamsam, Amy Li, Christian Swinney, Tej D. Azad, Atman Desai and John K. Ratliff

OBJECTIVE

The authors performed a population-based analysis of national trends, costs, and outcomes associated with cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) in the United States. They assessed postoperative complications, resource utilization, and predictors of costs, in this surgically treated CSM population.

METHODS

MarketScan data (2006–2010) were used to retrospectively analyze the complications and costs of different spine surgeries for CSM. The authors determined outcomes following anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), posterior fusion, combined anterior/posterior fusion, and laminoplasty procedures.

RESULTS

The authors identified 35,962 CSM patients, comprising 5154 elderly (age ≥ 65 years) patients (mean 72.2 years, 54.9% male) and 30,808 nonelderly patients (mean 51.1 years, 49.3% male). They found an overall complication rate of 15.6% after ACDF, 29.2% after posterior fusion, 41.1% after combined anterior and posterior fusion, and 22.4% after laminoplasty. Following ACDF and posterior fusion, a significantly higher risk of complication was seen in the elderly compared with the nonelderly (reference group). The fusion level and comorbidity-adjusted ORs with 95% CIs for these groups were 1.54 (1.40–1.68) and 1.25 (1.06–1.46), respectively. In contrast, the elderly population had lower 30-day readmission rates in all 4 surgical cohorts (ACDF, 2.6%; posterior fusion, 5.3%; anterior/posterior fusion, 3.4%; and laminoplasty, 3.6%). The fusion level and comorbidity-adjusted odds ratios for 30-day readmissions for ACDF, posterior fusion, combined anterior and posterior fusion, and laminoplasty were 0.54 (0.44–0.68), 0.32 (0.24–0.44), 0.17 (0.08–0.38), and 0.39 (0.18–0.85), respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors' analysis of the MarketScan database suggests a higher complication rate in the surgical treatment of CSM than previous national estimates. They found that elderly age (≥ 65 years) significantly increased complication risk following ACDF and posterior fusion. Elderly patients were less likely to experience a readmission within 30 days of surgery. Postoperative complication occurrence, and 30-day readmission were significant drivers of total cost within 90 days of the index surgical procedure.

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Sebastian Rubino, Rifat A. Zaman, Caleb R. Sturge, Jessica G. Fried, Atman Desai, Nathan E. Simmons and S. Scott Lollis

Object

Many neurosurgeons obtain repeat head CT at the first clinic follow-up visit for nonoperative cerebral contusion and traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage (tSAH). The authors undertook a single-center, retrospective study to determine whether outpatient CT altered clinical decision-making.

Methods

The authors evaluated 173 consecutive adult patients admitted to their institution from April 2006 to August 2012 with an admission diagnosis of cerebral contusion or tSAH and at least 1 clinic follow-up visit with CT. Patients with epidural, subdural, aneurysmal subarachnoid, or intraventricular hemorrhage, and those who underwent craniotomy, were excluded. Patient charts were reviewed for new CT findings, new patient symptoms, and changes in treatment plan. Patients were stratified by neurological symptoms into 3 groups: 1) asymptomatic; 2) mild, nonspecific symptoms; and 3) significant symptoms. Mild, nonspecific symptoms included minor headaches, vertigo, fatigue, and mild difficulties with concentration, short-term memory, or sleep; significant symptoms included moderate to severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, focal neurological complaints, impaired consciousness, or new cognitive impairment evident on routine clinical examination.

Results

One hundred seventy-three patients met inclusion criteria, with initial clinic follow-up obtained within approximately 6 weeks. Of the 173 patients, 104 (60.1%) were asymptomatic, 68 patients (39.3%) had mild, nonspecific neurological symptoms, and 1 patient (1.0%) had significant neurological symptoms. Of the asymptomatic patients, 3 patients (2.9%) had new CT findings and 1 of these patients (1.0%) underwent a change in treatment plan because of these findings. This change involved an additional clinic appointment and CT to monitor a 12-mm chronic subdural hematoma that ultimately resolved without treatment. Of the patients with mild, nonspecific neurological symptoms, 6 patients (8.8%) had new CT findings and 3 of these patients (4.4%) underwent a change in treatment plan because of these findings; none of these patients required surgical intervention. The single patient with significant neurological symptoms did not have any new CT findings.

Conclusions

Repeat outpatient CT of asymptomatic patients after nonoperative cerebral contusion and tSAH is very unlikely to demonstrate significant new pathology. Given the cost and radiation exposure associated with CT, imaging should be reserved for patients with significant symptoms or focal findings on neurological examination.

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Kimon Bekelis, Symeon Missios, Todd A. MacKenzie, Atman Desai, Adina Fischer, Nicos Labropoulos and David W. Roberts

Object

Precise delineation of individualized risks of morbidity and mortality is crucial in decision making in cerebrovascular neurosurgery. The authors attempted to create a predictive model of complications in patients undergoing cerebral aneurysm clipping (CAC).

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective cohort study of patients who had undergone CAC in the period from 2005 to 2009 and were registered in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) database. A model for outcome prediction based on preoperative individual patient characteristics was developed.

Results

Of the 7651 patients in the NIS who underwent CAC, 3682 (48.1%) had presented with unruptured aneurysms and 3969 (51.9%) with subarachnoid hemorrhage. The respective inpatient postoperative risks for death, unfavorable discharge, stroke, treated hydrocephalus, cardiac complications, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and acute renal failure were 0.7%, 15.3%, 5.3%, 1.5%, 1.3%, 0.6%, 2.0%, and 0.1% for those with unruptured aneurysms and 11.5%, 52.8%, 5.5%, 39.2%, 1.7%, 2.8%, 2.7%, and 0.8% for those with ruptured aneurysms. Multivariate analysis identified risk factors independently associated with the above outcomes. A validated model for outcome prediction based on individual patient characteristics was developed. The accuracy of the model was estimated using the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, and it was found to have good discrimination.

Conclusions

The featured model can provide individualized estimates of the risks of postoperative complications based on preoperative conditions and can potentially be used as an adjunct in decision making in cerebrovascular neurosurgery.

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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.