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John R. W. Kestle, Amy Lee, Richard C. E. Anderson, Barbu Gociman, Kamlesh B. Patel, Matthew D. Smyth, Craig Birgfeld, Ian F. Pollack, Jesse A. Goldstein, Mandeep Tamber, Thomas Imahiyerobo, Faizi A. Siddiqi and for the Synostosis Research Group

OBJECTIVE

The authors created a collaborative network, the Synostosis Research Group (SynRG), to facilitate multicenter clinical research on craniosynostosis. To identify common and differing practice patterns within the network, they assessed the SynRG surgeons’ management preferences for sagittal synostosis. These results will be incorporated into planning cooperative studies.

METHODS

The SynRG consists of 12 surgeons at 5 clinical sites. An email survey was distributed to SynRG surgeons in late 2016, and responses were collected through early 2017. Responses were collated and analyzed descriptively.

RESULTS

All of the surgeons—7 plastic/craniofacial surgeons and 5 neurosurgeons—completed the survey. They varied in both experience (1–24 years) and sagittal synostosis case volume in the preceding year (5–45 cases). Three sites routinely perform preoperative CT scans. The preferred surgical technique for children younger than 3 months is strip craniectomy (10/12 surgeons), whereas children older than 6 months are all treated with open cranial vault surgery. Pre-incision cefazolin, preoperative complete blood count panels, and an arterial line were used by most surgeons, but tranexamic acid was used routinely at 3 sites and never at the other 2 sites. Among surgeons performing endoscopic strip craniectomy surgery (SCS), most create a 5-cm-wide craniectomy, whereas 2 surgeons create a 2-cm strip. Four surgeons routinely send endoscopic SCS patients to the intensive care unit after surgery. Two of the 5 sites routinely obtain a CT scan within the 1st year after surgery.

CONCLUSIONS

The SynRG surgeons vary substantially in the use of imaging, the choice of surgical procedure and technique, and follow-up. A collaborative network will provide the opportunity to study different practice patterns, reduce variation, and contribute multicenter data on the management of children with craniosynostosis.

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Jian Guan, Michael Karsy, Andrea A. Brock, William T. Couldwell, John R. W. Kestle, Randy L. Jensen, Andrew T. Dailey, Erica F. Bisson and Richard H. Schmidt

OBJECTIVE

Overlapping surgery remains a controversial topic in the medical community. Although numerous studies have examined the safety profile of overlapping operations, there are few data on its financial impact. The authors assessed direct hospital costs associated with neurosurgical operations during periods before and after a more stringent overlapping surgery policy was implemented.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the records of nonemergency neurosurgical operations that took place during the periods from June 1, 2014, to October 31, 2014 (pre–policy change), and from June 1, 2016, to October 31, 2016 (post–policy change), by any of the 4 senior neurosurgeons authorized to perform overlapping cases during both periods. Cost data as well as demographic, surgical, and hospitalization-related variables were obtained from an institutional tool, the Value-Driven Outcomes database.

RESULTS

A total of 625 hospitalizations met inclusion criteria for cost analysis; of these, 362 occurred prior to the policy change and 263 occurred after the change. All costs were reported as a proportion of the average total hospitalization cost for the entire cohort. There was no significant difference in mean total hospital costs between the prechange and postchange period (0.994 ± 1.237 vs 1.009 ± 0.994, p = 0.873). On multivariate linear regression analysis, neither the policy change (p = 0.582) nor the use of overlapping surgery (p = 0.273) was significantly associated with higher total hospital costs.

CONCLUSIONS

A more restrictive overlapping surgery policy was not associated with a reduction in the direct costs of hospitalization for neurosurgical procedures.

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Michael Karsy, Fraser Henderson Jr., Steven Tenny, Jian Guan, Jeremy W. Amps, Allan H. Friedman, Alejandro M. Spiotta, Sunil Patel, John R. W. Kestle, Randy L. Jensen and William T. Couldwell

OBJECTIVE

The analysis of resident research productivity in neurosurgery has gained significant recent interest. Resident scholarly output affects departmental productivity, recruitment of future residents, and likelihood of future research careers. To maintain and improve opportunities for resident research, the authors evaluated factors that affect resident attitudes toward neurosurgical research on a national level.

METHODS

An online survey was distributed to all US neurosurgical residents. Questions assessed interest in research, perceived departmental support of research, and resident-perceived limitations in pursuing research. Residents were stratified based on number of publications above the median (AM; ≥ 14) or below the median (BM; < 14) for evaluation of factors influencing productivity.

RESULTS

A total of 278 resident responses from 82 US residency programs in 30 states were included (a 20% overall response rate). Residents predominantly desired future academic positions (53.2%), followed by private practice with some research (40.3%). Residents reported a mean ± SD of 11 ± 14 publications, which increased with postgraduate year level. The most common type of research involved retrospective cohort studies (24%) followed by laboratory/benchtop (19%) and case reports (18%). Residents as a group spent on average 14.1 ± 18.5 hours (median 7.0 hours) a week on research. Most residents (53.6%) had ≥ 12 months of protected research time. Mentorship (92.4%), research exposure (89.9%), and early interest in science (78.4%) had the greatest impact on interest in research while the most limiting factors were time (91.0%), call scheduling (47.1%), and funding/grants (37.1%). AM residents cited research exposure (p = 0.003), neurosurgery conference exposure (p = 0.02), formal research training prior to residency (p = 0.03), internal funding sources (p = 0.05), and software support (p = 0.02) as most important for their productivity. Moreover, more productive residents applied and received a higher number of < $10,000 and ≥ $10,000 grants (p < 0.05). A majority of residents (82.4%) agreed or strongly agreed with pursuing research throughout their professional careers. Overall, about half of residents (49.6%) were encouraged toward continued neurosurgical research, while the rest were neutral (36.7%) or discouraged (13.7%). Free-text responses helped to identify solutions on a departmental, regional, and national level that could increase interest in neurosurgical research.

CONCLUSIONS

This survey evaluates various factors affecting resident views toward research, which may also be seen in other specialties. Residents remain enthusiastic about neurosurgical research and offer several solutions to the ever-scarce commodities of time and funding within academic medicine.

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Jian Guan, Michael Karsy, Andrea A. Brock, William T. Couldwell, John R. W. Kestle, Randy L. Jensen, Andrew T. Dailey and Richard H. Schmidt

OBJECTIVE

Recently, overlapping surgery has been a source of controversy both in the popular press and within the academic medical community. There have been no studies examining the possible effects of more stringent overlapping surgery restrictions. At the authors’ institution, a new policy was implemented that restricts attending surgeons from starting a second case until all critical portions of the first case that could require the attending surgeon’s involvement are completed. The authors examined the impact of this policy on complication rates, neurosurgical resident education, and wait times for neurosurgical procedures.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective chart review of nonemergency neurosurgical procedures performed over two periods—from June 1, 2014, to October 31, 2014 (pre–policy change) and from June 1, 2016, to October 31, 2016 (post–policy change)—by any of 4 senior neurosurgeons at a single institution who were authorized to schedule overlapping cases. Information on preoperative evaluation, patient demographics, premorbid conditions, surgical variables, and postoperative course were collected and analyzed.

RESULTS

Six hundred fifty-three patients met inclusion criteria for complications analysis. Of these, 378 (57.9%) underwent surgery before the policy change. On multivariable regression analysis, neither overlapping surgery (odds ratio [OR] 1.072, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.710–1.620) nor the overlapping surgery policy change (OR 1.057, 95% CI 0.700–1.596) was associated with overall complication rates. Similarly, neither overlapping surgery (OR 1.472, 95% CI 0.883–2.454) nor the overlapping surgery policy change (OR 1.251, 95% CI 0.748–2.091) was associated with numbers of serious complications. After the policy change, the percentage of procedures in which the senior assistant was a postresidency fellow increased significantly, from 11.9% to 34.2% (p < 0.001). In a multiple linear regression analysis of surgery wait times, patients undergoing surgery after the policy change had significantly longer delays from the decision to operate until the actual neurosurgical procedure (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

At the authors’ institution, further restriction of overlapping surgery was not associated with a reduction in overall or serious complications. Resident involvement in neurosurgical procedures decreased significantly after the policy change, and this study suggests that wait times for neurosurgical procedures also significantly lengthened.

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Tamara D. Simon, Matthew P. Kronman, Kathryn B. Whitlock, Nancy E. Gove, Nicole Mayer-Hamblett, Samuel R. Browd, D. Douglas Cochrane, Richard Holubkov, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Marcie Langley, David D. Limbrick Jr., Thomas G. Luerssen, W. Jerry Oakes, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Curtis Rozzelle, Chevis Shannon, Mandeep Tamber, John C. Wellons III, William E. Whitehead and John R. W. Kestle

OBJECTIVE

CSF shunt infection requires both surgical and antibiotic treatment. Surgical treatment includes either total shunt removal with external ventricular drain (EVD) placement followed by new shunt insertion, or distal shunt externalization followed by new shunt insertion once the CSF is sterile. Antibiotic treatment includes the administration of intravenous antibiotics. The Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) registry provides a unique opportunity to understand reinfection following treatment for CSF shunt infection. This study examines the association of surgical and antibiotic decisions in the treatment of first CSF shunt infection with reinfection.

METHODS

A prospective cohort study of children undergoing treatment for first CSF infection at 7 HCRN hospitals from April 2008 to December 2012 was performed. The HCRN consensus definition was used to define CSF shunt infection and reinfection. The key surgical predictor variable was surgical approach to treatment for CSF shunt infection, and the key antibiotic treatment predictor variable was intravenous antibiotic selection and duration. Cox proportional hazards models were constructed to address the time-varying nature of the characteristics associated with shunt surgeries.

RESULTS

Of 233 children in the HCRN registry with an initial CSF shunt infection during the study period, 38 patients (16%) developed reinfection over a median time of 44 days (interquartile range [IQR] 19–437). The majority of initial CSF shunt infections were treated with total shunt removal and EVD placement (175 patients; 75%). The median time between infection surgeries was 15 days (IQR 10–22). For the subset of 172 infections diagnosed by CSF culture, the mean ± SD duration of antibiotic treatment was 18.7 ± 12.8 days. In all Cox proportional hazards models, neither surgical approach to infection treatment nor overall intravenous antibiotic duration was independently associated with reinfection. The only treatment decision independently associated with decreased infection risk was the use of rifampin. While this finding did not achieve statistical significance, in all 5 Cox proportional hazards models both surgical approach (other than total shunt removal at initial CSF shunt infection) and nonventriculoperitoneal shunt location were consistently associated with a higher hazard of reinfection, while the use of ultrasound was consistently associated with a lower hazard of reinfection.

CONCLUSIONS

Neither surgical approach to treatment nor antibiotic duration was associated with reinfection risk. While these findings did not achieve statistical significance, surgical approach other than total removal at initial CSF shunt infection was consistently associated with a higher hazard of reinfection in this study and suggests the feasibility of controlling and standardizing the surgical approach (shunt removal with EVD placement). Considerably more variation and equipoise exists in the duration and selection of intravenous antibiotic treatment. Further consideration should be given to the use of rifampin in the treatment of CSF shunt infection. High-quality studies of the optimal duration of antibiotic treatment are critical to the creation of evidence-based guidelines for CSF shunt infection treatment.

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Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Robert P. Naftel, Jessica S. Alvey, Ron W. Reeder, Richard Holubkov, Samuel R. Browd, D. Douglas Cochrane, David D. Limbrick Jr., Tamara D. Simon, Mandeep Tamber, John C. Wellons III, William E. Whitehead and John R. W. Kestle

OBJECTIVE

High-quality data comparing endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) with choroid plexus cauterization (CPC) to shunt and ETV alone in North America are greatly lacking. To address this, the Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network (HCRN) conducted a prospective study of ETV+CPC in infants. Here, these prospective data are presented and compared to prospectively collected data from a historical cohort of infants treated with shunt or ETV alone.

METHODS

From June 2014 to September 2015, infants (corrected age ≤ 24 months) requiring treatment for hydrocephalus with anatomy suitable for ETV+CPC were entered into a prospective study at 9 HCRN centers. The rate of procedural failure (i.e., the need for repeat hydrocephalus surgery, hydrocephalus-related death, or major postoperative neurological deficit) was determined. These data were compared with a cohort of similar infants who were treated with either a shunt (n = 969) or ETV alone (n = 74) by creating matched pairs on the basis of age and etiology. These data were obtained from the existing prospective HCRN Core Data Project. All patients were observed for at least 6 months.

RESULTS

A total of 118 infants underwent ETV+CPC (median corrected age 1.3 months; common etiologies including myelomeningocele [30.5%], intraventricular hemorrhage of prematurity [22.9%], and aqueductal stenosis [21.2%]). The 6-month success rate was 36%. The most common complications included seizures (5.1%) and CSF leak (3.4%). Important predictors of treatment success in the survival regression model included older age (p = 0.002), smaller preoperative ventricle size (p = 0.009), and greater degree of CPC (p = 0.02). The matching algorithm resulted in 112 matched pairs for ETV+CPC versus shunt alone and 34 matched pairs for ETV+CPC versus ETV alone. ETV+CPC was found to have significantly higher failure rate than shunt placement (p < 0.001). Although ETV+CPC had a similar failure rate compared with ETV alone (p = 0.73), the matched pairs included mostly infants with aqueductal stenosis and miscellaneous other etiologies but very few patients with intraventricular hemorrhage of prematurity.

CONCLUSIONS

Within a large and broad cohort of North American infants, our data show that overall ETV+CPC appears to have a higher failure rate than shunt alone. Although the ETV+CPC results were similar to ETV alone, this comparison was limited by the small sample size and skewed etiological distribution. Within the ETV+CPC group, greater extent of CPC was associated with treatment success, thereby suggesting that there are subgroups who might benefit from the addition of CPC. Further work will focus on identifying these subgroups.

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Jian Guan, Andrea A. Brock, Michael Karsy, William T. Couldwell, Meic H. Schmidt, John R. W. Kestle, Randy L. Jensen, Andrew T. Dailey and Richard H. Schmidt

OBJECTIVE

Overlapping surgery—the performance of parts of 2 or more surgical procedures at the same time by a single lead surgeon—has recently come under intense scrutiny, although data on the effects of overlapping procedures on patient outcomes are lacking. The authors examined the impact of overlapping surgery on complication rates in neurosurgical patients.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of consecutive nonemergent neurosurgical procedures performed during the period from May 12, 2014, to May 12, 2015, by any of 5 senior neurosurgeons at a single institution who were authorized to schedule overlapping cases. Overlapping surgery was defined as any case in which 2 patients under the care of a single lead surgeon were under anesthesia at the same time for any duration. Information on patient demographics, premorbid conditions, surgical variables, and postoperative course were collected and analyzed. Primary outcome was the occurrence of any complication from the beginning of surgery to 30 days after discharge. A secondary outcome was the occurrence of a serious complication—defined as a life-threatening or life-ending event—during this same period.

RESULTS

One thousand eighteen patients met the inclusion criteria for the study. Of these patients, 475 (46.7%) underwent overlapping surgery. Two hundred seventy-one patients (26.6%) experienced 1 or more complications, with 134 (13.2%) suffering a serious complication. Fourteen patients in the cohort died, a rate of 1.4%. The overall complication rate was not significantly higher for overlapping cases than for nonoverlapping cases (26.3% vs 26.9%, p = 0.837), nor was the rate of serious complications (14.7% vs 11.8%, p = 0.168). After adjustments for surgery type, surgery duration, body mass index, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical classification grade, and intraoperative blood loss, overlapping surgery remained unassociated with overall complications (OR 0.810, 95% CI 0.592–1.109, p = 0.189). Similarly, after adjustments for surgery type, surgery duration, body mass index, ASA grade, and neurological comorbidity, there was no association between overlapping surgery and serious complications (OR 0.979, 95% CI 0.661–1.449, p = 0.915).

CONCLUSIONS

In this cohort, patients undergoing overlapping surgery did not have an increased risk for overall complications or serious complications. Although this finding suggests that overlapping surgery can be performed safely within the appropriate framework, further investigation is needed in other specialties and at other institutions.

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Randy L. Jensen, Gmaan Alzhrani, John R. W. Kestle, Douglas L. Brockmeyer, Sara M. Lamb and William T. Couldwell

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William E. Whitehead, Jay Riva-Cambrin, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, John C. Wellons III, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Mandeep S. Tamber, David D. Limbrick Jr., Samuel R. Browd, Robert P. Naftel, Chevis N. Shannon, Tamara D. Simon, Richard Holubkov, Anna Illner, D. Douglas Cochrane, James M. Drake, Thomas G. Luerssen, W. Jerry Oakes and John R. W. Kestle

OBJECTIVE

Accurate placement of ventricular catheters may result in prolonged shunt survival, but the best target for the hole-bearing segment of the catheter has not been rigorously defined. The goal of the study was to define a target within the ventricle with the lowest risk of shunt failure.

METHODS

Five catheter placement variables (ventricular catheter tip location, ventricular catheter tip environment, relationship to choroid plexus, catheter tip holes within ventricle, and crosses midline) were defined, assessed for interobserver agreement, and evaluated for their effect on shunt survival in univariate and multivariate analyses. De-identified subjects from the Shunt Design Trial, the Endoscopic Shunt Insertion Trial, and a Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network study on ultrasound-guided catheter placement were combined (n = 858 subjects, all first-time shunt insertions, all patients < 18 years old). The first postoperative brain imaging study was used to determine ventricular catheter placement for each of the catheter placement variables.

RESULTS

Ventricular catheter tip location, environment, catheter tip holes within the ventricle, and crosses midline all achieved sufficient interobserver agreement (κ > 0.60). In the univariate survival analysis, however, only ventricular catheter tip location was useful in distinguishing a target within the ventricle with a survival advantage (frontal horn; log-rank, p = 0.0015). None of the other catheter placement variables yielded a significant survival advantage unless they were compared with catheter tips completely not in the ventricle. Cox regression analysis was performed, examining ventricular catheter tip location with age, etiology, surgeon, decade of surgery, and catheter entry site (anterior vs posterior). Only age (p < 0.001) and entry site (p = 0.005) were associated with shunt survival; ventricular catheter tip location was not (p = 0.37). Anterior entry site lowered the risk of shunt failure compared with posterior entry site by approximately one-third (HR 0.65, 95% CI 0.51–0.83).

CONCLUSIONS

This analysis failed to identify an ideal target within the ventricle for the ventricular catheter tip. Unexpectedly, the choice of an anterior versus posterior catheter entry site was more important in determining shunt survival than the location of the ventricular catheter tip within the ventricle. Entry site may represent a modifiable risk factor for shunt failure, but, due to inherent limitations in study design and previous clinical research on entry site, a randomized controlled trial is necessary before treatment recommendations can be made.