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Smruti K. Patel, Yair M. Gozal, Mohamed S. Saleh, Justin L. Gibson, Michael Karsy and George T. Mandybur

OBJECTIVE

Spinal cord stimulation has been shown to improve pain relief and reduce narcotic analgesic use in cases of complex refractory pain syndromes. However, a subset of patients ultimately undergoes removal of the spinal cord stimulator (SCS) system, presumably because of surgical complications or poor efficacy. This retrospective study addresses the paucity of evidence regarding risk factors and underlying causes of spinal cord stimulation failures that necessitate this explantation.

METHODS

In this retrospective single-center review, 129 patients underwent explantation of SCS hardware during a 9-year period (2005–2013) following initial placement at the authors’ institution or elsewhere. Medical history, including indication of implantation, device characteristics, revision history, and reported reasons for removal of hardware, were reviewed.

RESULTS

The 74 (57%) women and 55 (43%) men were a median of 49 years old (IQR 41–61 years) at explantation; the median time to explantation was 20 months (IQR 7.5–45.5 months). Thoracic or upper lumbar leads were placed in 89.9% of patients primarily for the diagnosis of postsurgical failed–back surgery syndrome (70.5%), chronic regional pain syndrome (14.7%), and neuropathic pain (8.5%). More than half of patients were legally disabled. Initial postoperative reduction in pain was reported in 81% of patients, and 37.8% returned to work. Among 15 patients with acute postsurgical complications (12 infections, 2 hemorrhages, 1 immediate paraplegia), the median time to removal was 2 months. Primary reasons for hardware removal were lack of stimulation efficacy (81%), electrode failure due to migration (14%), and allergic reactions to implanted hardware in 2 patients. The 72 patients who underwent formal psychiatric evaluation before implantation were affected by high rates of major depression (64%), anxiety (34%), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (12%), drug or alcohol abuse (12%), and physical or sexual abuse (22%).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors’ findings provide insight regarding the mechanisms of spinal cord stimulation failure that resulted in total removal of the implanted system. The relationship between spinal cord stimulation failure and certain psychiatric disorders, such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety, is highlighted. Ultimately, this work may shed light on potential avenues to reduce morbidity and improve patient outcomes.

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Bob S. Carter and Fred G. Barker II

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Michael Karsy, Jian Guan, Ilyas Eli, Andrea A. Brock, Sarah T. Menacho and Min S. Park

OBJECTIVE

Hypovitaminosis D is prevalent in neurocritical care patients, but the potential to improve patient outcome by replenishing vitamin D has not been investigated. This single-center, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized (1:1) clinical trial was designed to assess the effect on patient outcome of vitamin D supplementation in neurocritical care patients with hypovitaminosis D.

METHODS

From October 2016 until April 2018, emergently admitted neurocritical care patients with vitamin D deficiency (≤ 20 ng/ml) were randomized to receive vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol, 540,000 IU) (n = 134) or placebo (n = 133). Hospital length of stay (LOS) was the primary outcome; secondary outcomes included intensive care unit (ICU) LOS, repeat vitamin D levels, patient complications, and patient disposition. Exploratory analysis evaluated specific subgroups of patients by LOS, Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, and Simplified Acute Physiology Score (SAPS II).

RESULTS

Two-hundred seventy-four patients were randomized (intent-to-treat) and 267 were administered treatment within 48 hours of admission (as-treated; 61.2% of planned recruitment) and monitored. The mean age of as-treated patients was 54.0 ± 17.2 years (56.9% male, 77.2% white). After interim analysis suggested a low conditional power for outcome difference (predictive power 0.12), the trial was halted. For as-treated patients, no significant difference in hospital LOS (10.4 ± 14.5 days vs 9.1 ± 7.9 days, p = 0.4; mean difference 1.3, 95% CI −1.5 to 4.1) or ICU LOS (5.8 ± 7.5 days vs 5.4 ± 6.4 days, p = 0.4; mean difference 0.4, 95% CI −1.3 to 2.1) was seen between vitamin D3 and placebo groups, respectively. Vitamin D3 supplementation significantly improved repeat serum levels compared with placebo (20.8 ± 9.3 ng/ml vs 12.8 ± 4.8 ng/ml, p < 0.001) without adverse side effects. No subgroups were identified by exclusion of LOS outliers or segregation by GCS score, SAPS II, or severe vitamin D deficiency (≤ 10 ng/ml).

CONCLUSIONS

Despite studies showing that vitamin D can predict prognosis, supplementation in vitamin D–deficient neurocritical care patients did not result in appreciable improvement in outcomes and likely does not play a role in acute clinical recovery.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT02881957 (clinicaltrials.gov)

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Vijay M. Ravindra, Michael Karsy, Arianna Lanpher, Robert J. Bollo, Julius Griauzde, R. Michael Scott, William T. Couldwell and Edward R. Smith

OBJECTIVE

Comprehensive multicenter data on the surgical treatment of pediatric cerebrovascular malformations (CVMs) in the US are lacking. The goal of this study was to identify national trends in patient demographics and assess the effect of hospital case volume on outcomes.

METHODS

Admissions for CVMs (1997–2012) were identified from the nationwide Kids’ Inpatient Database. Admissions with and without craniotomy were reviewed separately. Patients were categorized by whether they were treated at low-, medium-, or high-volume centers (< 10, 10–40, > 40 cases/year, respectively). A generalized linear model was used to evaluate the association of hospital pediatric CVM case volume and clinical variables assessing outcomes.

RESULTS

Among the 9655 patients, 1828 underwent craniotomy and 7827 did not. Patient age and race differed in the two groups, as did the rate of private medical payers. High-volume hospitals had fewer nonroutine discharges (11.2% [high] vs 16.4% [medium] vs 22.3% [low], p = 0.0001). For admissions requiring craniotomy, total charges ($106,282 [high] vs $126,215 [medium] vs $134,978 [low], p < 0.001) and complication rates (0.09% [high] vs 0.11% [medium] vs 0.16% [low], p = 0.001) were lower in high-volume centers.

CONCLUSIONS

This study revealed that further investigation may be needed regarding barriers to surgical treatment of pediatric CVMs. The authors found that surgical treatment of pediatric CVM at high-volume centers is associated with significantly fewer complications, better dispositions, and lower costs, but for noncraniotomy patients, low-volume centers had lower rates of complications and death and lower costs. These findings may support the consideration of appropriate referral of CVM patients requiring surgery or with intracranial hemorrhage toward high-volume, specialized centers.

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Herschel Wilde, Mohammed A. Azab, Abdullah M. Abunimer, Hussam Abou-Al-Shaar, Michael Karsy, Jian Guan, Sarah T. Menacho and Randy L. Jensen

OBJECTIVE

Gliomas occur in 3–4 individuals per 100,000 individuals and are one of the most common primary brain tumors. Treatment options are limited for gliomas despite the progressive nature of the disease. The authors used the Value Driven Outcomes (VDO) database to identify cost drivers and subgroups that are involved in the surgical treatment of gliomas.

METHODS

A retrospective cohort of patients with gliomas treated at the authors’ institution from August 2011 to February 2018 was evaluated using medical records and the VDO database.

RESULTS

A total of 263 patients with intracranial gliomas met the authors’ inclusion criteria and were included in the analysis (WHO grade I: 2.0%; grade II: 18.5%; grade III: 18.1%; and grade IV: 61.4%). Facility costs were the major (64.4%) cost driver followed by supplies (16.2%), pharmacy (10.1%), imaging (4.5%), and laboratory (4.7%). Univariate analysis of cost contributors demonstrated that American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status (p = 0.002), tumor recurrence (p = 0.06), Karnofsky Performance Scale score (p = 0.002), length of stay (LOS) (p = 0.0001), and maximal tumor size (p = 0.03) contributed significantly to the total costs. However, on multivariate analysis, only LOS (p = 0.0001) contributed significantly to total costs. More extensive tumor resection in WHO grade III and IV tumors was associated with significant improvement in survival (p = 0.004 and p = 0.02, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

Understanding care costs is challenging because of the highly complex, fragmented, and variable nature of healthcare delivery. Adopting effective strategies that would reduce facility costs and limit LOS is likely the most important aspect in reducing intracranial glioma treatment costs.

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Brandon Sherrod, Michael Karsy, Jian Guan, Andrea A. Brock, Ilyas M. Eli, Erica F. Bisson and Andrew T. Dailey

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of hospital type and patient transfer during the treatment of patients with vertebral fracture and/or spinal cord injury (SCI).

METHODS

The National Inpatient Sample (NIS) database was queried to identify patients treated in Utah from 2001 to 2011 for vertebral column fracture and/or SCI (ICD-9-CM codes 805, 806, and 952). Variables related to patient transfer into and out of the index hospital were evaluated in relation to patient disposition, hospital length of stay, mortality, and cost.

RESULTS

A total of 53,644 patients were seen (mean [± SEM] age 55.3 ± 0.1 years, 46.0% females, 90.2% white), of which 10,620 patients were transferred from another institution rather than directly admitted. Directly admitted (vs transferred) patients showed a greater likelihood of routine disposition (54.4% vs 26.0%) and a lower likelihood of skilled nursing facility disposition (28.2% vs 49.2%) (p < 0.0001). Directly admitted patients also had a significantly shorter length of stay (5.6 ± 6.7 vs 7.8 ± 9.5 days, p < 0.0001) and lower total charges ($26,882 ± $37,348 vs $42,965 ± $52,118, p < 0.0001). A multivariable analysis showed that major operative procedures (hazard ratio [HR] 1.7, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.4–2.0, p < 0.0001) and SCI (HR 2.1, 95% CI 1.6–2.8, p < 0.0001) were associated with reduced survival whereas patient transfer was associated with better survival rates (HR 0.4, 95% CI 0.3–0.5, p < 0.0001). A multivariable analysis of cost showed that disposition (β = 0.1), length of stay (β = 0.6), and major operative procedure (β = 0.3) (p < 0.0001) affected cost the most.

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, transferred patients had lower mortality but greater likelihood for poor outcomes, longer length of stay, and higher cost compared with directly admitted patients. These results suggest some significant benefits to transferring patients with acute injury to facilities capable of providing appropriate treatment, but also support the need to further improve coordinated care of transferred patients, including surgical treatment and rehabilitation.

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Al-Wala Awad, Craig Kilburg, Michael Karsy, William T. Couldwell and Philipp Taussky

OBJECTIVE

The Pipeline embolization device (PED) is a self-expanding mesh stent that diverts blood flow away from an aneurysm; it has been successfully used to treat aneurysms of the proximal internal carotid artery (ICA). PEDs have a remarkable ability to alter regional blood flow along the tortuous segments of the ICA and were incidentally found to alter the angle of the anterior genu after treatment. The authors quantified these changes and explored their implications as they relate to treatment effect.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed cases of aneurysms treated with a PED between the ophthalmic and posterior communicating arteries from 2012 through 2015. The angles of the anterior genu were measured on the lateral projections of cerebral angiograms obtained before and after treatment with a PED. The angles of the anterior genu of patients without aneurysms were used as normal controls.

RESULTS

Thirty-eight patients were identified who had been treated with a PED; 34 (89.5%) had complete obliteration and 4 (10.5%) had persistence of their aneurysm at last follow-up (mean 11.3 months). After treatment, 32 patients had an increase, 3 had a decrease, and 3 had no change in the angle of the anterior genu. The average measured angle of the anterior genu was 36.7° before treatment and 44.3° after treatment (p < 0.0001). The average angle of the anterior genu of control patients was 43.32° (vs 36.7° for the preoperative angle in the patients with aneurysms, p < 0.057). The average change in the angle of patients with postoperative Raymond scores of 1 was 9.10°, as compared with 1.25° in patients with postoperative Raymond scores > 1 (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Treatment with a PED significantly changes the angle of the anterior genu. An average change of 9.1° was associated with complete obliteration of treated aneurysms. These findings have important implications for the treatment and management of cerebral aneurysm.

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Spencer Twitchell, Michael Karsy, Yair M. Gozal, Christian Davidson, William T. Couldwell and Douglas Brockmeyer

Psammomatoid juvenile ossifying fibroma (PJOF) is an uncommon, benign fibro-osseous tumor. It is a purely surgical disease, and a review of the literature revealed that adjuvant therapies, including chemotherapy and radiation, play a limited role. The authors report the case of a 16-year-old male refugee who presented with a giant sinonasal PJOF with parasellar invasion, after having been unable to undergo earlier surgical treatment. The delay in presentation resulted in a large lesion with bilateral optic nerve compression, blindness, and frontal lobe compression. The patient was surgically treated with a two-stage combined cranial and endoscopic endonasal surgical approach. The delay in treatment and significant neurological compromise, which necessitated a two-stage approach, are unique from previously reported cases of PJOF.

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Hussam Abou-Al-Shaar, Mohammed A. Azab, Michael Karsy, Jian Guan, Gmaan Alzhrani, Yair M. Gozal, Randy L. Jensen and William T. Couldwell

OBJECTIVE

Microsurgical resection and radiosurgery remain the most widely used interventions in the treatment of vestibular schwannomas. There is a growing demand for cost-effectiveness analyses to evaluate these two treatment modalities and delineate the factors that drive their total costs. Here, the authors evaluated specific cost drivers for microsurgical and radiosurgical management of vestibular schwannoma by using the Value Driven Outcomes system available at the University of Utah.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed all cases involving microsurgical and radiosurgical treatment of vestibular schwannomas at their institution between November 2011 and September 2017. Patient and tumor characteristics, subcategory costs, and potential cost drivers were analyzed.

RESULTS

The authors identified 163 vestibular schwannoma cases, including 116 managed microsurgically and 47 addressed with stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). There were significant differences between the two groups in age, tumor size, and preoperative Koos grade (p < 0.05), suggesting that indications for treatment were markedly different. Length of stay (LOS) and length of follow-up were also significantly different. Facility costs were the most significant contributor to both microsurgical and SRS groups (58.3% and 99.4%, respectively); however, physician professional fees were not specifically analyzed. As expected, microsurgical treatment resulted in an average 4-fold greater overall cost of treatment than for SRS cases (p < 0.05), and there was a greater variation in costs for open cases as well. Costs remained stable over time for both open resection and SRS. Multivariable analysis showed that LOS (β = 0.7, p = 0.0001), discharge disposition (β = 0.2, p = 0.004), nonserviceable hearing (β = 0.1, p = 0.02), and complications (β = 0.2, p = 0.005) affected cost for open surgery, whereas no specifically examined factor could be identified as driving costs for SRS.

CONCLUSIONS

This analysis identified the fact that facility utilization constitutes the majority of total costs for both microsurgery and SRS treatment modalities of vestibular schwannomas. LOS, discharge disposition, nonserviceable hearing, and complications contributed significantly to the total costs for the microsurgical group, whereas none of the factors could be identified as driving total costs for the SRS group. This information may be used to establish policies and protocols to reduce facility costs, with the goal of decreasing the total costs without jeopardizing patient care.