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Sebastien Fournier, John P. Clark III and Jeremy A. Lieberman

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Darryl Lau, Vedat Deviren and Christopher P. Ames

OBJECTIVE

Posterior-based thoracolumbar 3-column osteotomy (3CO) is a formidable surgical procedure. Surgeon experience and case volume are known factors that influence surgical complication rates, but these factors have not been studied well in cases of adult spinal deformity (ASD). This study examines how surgeon experience affects perioperative complications and operative measures following thoracolumbar 3CO in ASD.

METHODS

A retrospective study was performed of a consecutive cohort of thoracolumbar ASD patients who underwent 3CO performed by the senior authors from 2006 to 2018. Multivariate analysis was used to assess whether experience (years of experience and/or number of procedures) is associated with perioperative complications, operative duration, and blood loss.

RESULTS

A total of 362 patients underwent 66 vertebral column resections (VCRs) and 296 pedicle subtraction osteotomies (PSOs). The overall complication rate was 29.4%, and the surgical complication rate was 8.0%. The rate of postoperative neurological deficits was 6.2%. There was a trend toward lower overall complication rates with greater operative years of experience (from 44.4% to 28.0%) (p = 0.115). Years of operative experience was associated with a significantly lower rate of neurological deficits (p = 0.027); the incidence dropped from 22.2% to 4.0%. The mean operative time was 310.7 minutes overall. Both increased years of experience and higher case numbers were significantly associated with shorter operative times (p < 0.001 and p = 0.001, respectively). Only operative years of experience was independently associated with operative times (p < 0.001): 358.3 minutes from 2006 to 2008 to 275.5 minutes in 2018 (82.8 minutes shorter). Over time, there was less deviation and more consistency in operative times, despite the implementation of various interventions to promote fusion and prevent construct failure: utilization of multiple-rod constructs (standard, satellite, and nested rods), bone morphogenetic protein, vertebroplasty, and ligament augmentation. Of note, the use of tranexamic acid did not significantly lower blood loss.

CONCLUSIONS

Surgeon years of experience, rather than number of 3COs performed, was a significant factor in mitigating neurological complications and improving quality measures following thoracolumbar 3CO for ASD. The 3- to 5-year experience mark was when the senior surgeon overcame a learning curve and was able to minimize neurological complication rates. There was a continuous decrease in operative time as the surgeon’s experience increased; this was in concurrence with the implementation of additional preventative surgical interventions. Ongoing practice changes should be implemented and can be done safely, but it is imperative to self-assess the risks and benefits of those practice changes.

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Darryl Lau, Anthony M. DiGiorgio, Andrew K. Chan, Cecilia L. Dalle Ore, Michael S. Virk, Dean Chou, Erica F. Bisson and Praveen V. Mummaneni

OBJECTIVE

Understanding what influences pain and disability following anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) in patients with degenerative cervical spine disease is critical. This study examines the timing of clinical improvement and identifies factors (including spinal alignment) associated with worse outcomes.

METHODS

Consecutive adult patients were enrolled in a prospective outcomes database from two academic centers participating in the Quality Outcomes Database from 2013 to 2016. Demographics, surgical details, radiographic data, arm and neck pain (visual analog scale [VAS] scores), and disability (Neck Disability Index [NDI] and EQ-5D scores) were reviewed. Multivariate analysis was used.

RESULTS

A total of 186 patients were included, and 48.4% were male. Their mean age was 55.4 years, and 45.7% had myelopathy. Preoperative cervical sagittal vertical axis (cSVA), cervical lordosis (CL), and T1 slope values were 24.9 mm (range 0–55 mm), 10.4° (range −6.0° to 44°), and 28.3° (range 14.0°–51.0°), respectively. ACDF was performed at 1, 2, and 3 levels in 47.8%, 42.0%, and 10.2% of patients, respectively. Preoperative neck and arm VAS scores were 5.7 and 5.4, respectively. NDI and EQ-5D scores were 22.1 and 0.5, respectively. There was significant improvement in all outcomes at 3 months (p < 0.001) and 12 months (p < 0.001). At 3 months, neck VAS (3.0), arm VAS (2.2), NDI (12.7), and EQ-5D (0.7) scores were improved, and at 12 months, neck VAS (2.8), arm VAS (2.3), NDI (11.7), and EQ-5D (0.8) score improvements were sustained. Improvements occurred within the first 3-month period; there was no significant difference in outcomes between the 3-month and 12-month mark. There was no correlation among cSVA, CL, or T1 slope with any outcome endpoint. The most consistent independent preoperative factors associated with worse outcomes were high neck and arm VAS scores and a severe NDI result (p < 0.001). Similar findings were seen with worse NDI and EQ-5D scores (p < 0.001). A significant linear trend of worse NDI and EQ-5D scores at 3 and 12 months was associated with worse baseline scores. Of the 186 patients, 171 (91.9%) had 3-month follow-up data, and 162 (87.1%) had 12-month follow-up data.

CONCLUSIONS

ACDF is effective in improving pain and disability, and improvement occurs within 3 months of surgery. cSVA, CL, and T1 slope do not appear to influence outcomes following ACDF surgery in the population with degenerative cervical disease. Therefore, in patients with relatively normal cervical parameters, augmenting alignment or lordosis is likely unnecessary. Worse preoperative pain and disability were independently associated with worse outcomes.

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Ankush Chandra, Jacob S. Young, Cecilia Dalle Ore, Fara Dayani, Darryl Lau, Harsh Wadhwa, Jonathan W. Rick, Alan T. Nguyen, Michael W. McDermott, Mitchel S. Berger and Manish K. Aghi

OBJECTIVE

Glioblastoma (GBM) carries a high economic burden for patients and caregivers, much of which is associated with initial surgery. The authors investigated the impact of insurance status on the inpatient hospital costs of surgery for patients with GBM.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of patients with GBM (2010–2015) undergoing their first resection at the University of California, San Francisco, and corresponding inpatient hospital costs.

RESULTS

Of 227 patients with GBM (median age 62 years, 37.9% females), 31 (13.7%) had Medicaid, 94 (41.4%) had Medicare, and 102 (44.9%) had private insurance. Medicaid patients had 30% higher overall hospital costs for surgery compared to non-Medicaid patients ($50,285 vs $38,779, p = 0.01). Medicaid patients had higher intensive care unit (ICU; p < 0.01), operating room (p < 0.03), imaging (p < 0.001), room and board (p < 0001), and pharmacy (p < 0.02) costs versus non-Medicaid patients. Medicaid patients had significantly longer overall and ICU lengths of stay (6.9 and 2.6 days) versus Medicare (4.0 and 1.5 days) and privately insured patients (3.9 and 1.8 days, p < 0.01). Medicaid patients had similar comorbidity rates to Medicare patients (67.8% vs 68.1%), and both groups had higher comorbidity rates than privately insured patients (37.3%, p < 0.0001). Only 67.7% of Medicaid patients had primary care providers (PCPs) versus 91.5% of Medicare and 86.3% of privately insured patients (p = 0.009) at the time of presentation. Tumor diameter at diagnosis was largest for Medicaid (4.7 cm) versus Medicare (4.1 cm) and privately insured patients (4.2 cm, p = 0.03). Preoperative (70 vs 90, p = 0.02) and postoperative (80 vs 90, p = 0.03) Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) scores were lowest for Medicaid versus non-Medicaid patients, while in subgroup analysis, postoperative KPS score was lowest for Medicaid patients (80, vs 90 for Medicare and 90 for private insurance; p = 0.03). Medicaid patients had significantly shorter median overall survival (10.7 months vs 12.8 months for Medicare and 15.8 months for private insurance; p = 0.02). Quality-adjusted life year (QALY) scores were 0.66 and 1.05 for Medicaid and non-Medicaid patients, respectively (p = 0.036). The incremental cost per QALY was $29,963 lower for the non-Medicaid cohort.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with GBMs and Medicaid have higher surgical costs, longer lengths of stay, poorer survival, and lower QALY scores. This study indicates that these patients lack PCPs, have more comorbidities, and present later in the disease course with larger tumors; these factors may drive the poorer postoperative function and greater consumption of hospital resources that were identified. Given limited resources and rising healthcare costs, factors such as access to PCPs, equitable adjuvant therapy, and early screening/diagnosis of disease need to be improved in order to improve prognosis and reduce hospital costs for patients with GBM.

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Darryl Lau, Cecilia L. Dalle Ore, Patrick Reid, Michael M. Safaee, Vedat Deviren, Justin S. Smith, Christopher I. Shaffrey and Christopher P. Ames

OBJECTIVE

The benefits and utility of routine neuromonitoring with motor and somatosensory evoked potentials during lumbar spine surgery remain unclear. This study assesses measures of performance and utility of transcranial motor evoked potentials (MEPs) during lumbar pedicle subtraction osteotomy (PSO).

METHODS

This is a retrospective study of a single-surgeon cohort of consecutive adult spinal deformity (ASD) patients who underwent lumbar PSO from 2006 to 2016. A blinded neurophysiologist reviewed individual cases for MEP changes. Multivariate analysis was performed to determine whether changes correlated with neurological deficits. Measures of performance were calculated.

RESULTS

A total of 242 lumbar PSO cases were included. MEP changes occurred in 38 (15.7%) cases; the changes were transient in 21 cases (55.3%) and permanent in 17 (44.7%). Of the patients with permanent changes, 9 (52.9%) had no recovery and 8 (47.1%) had partial recovery of MEP signals. Changes occurred at a mean time of 8.8 minutes following PSO closure (range: during closure to 55 minutes after closure). The mean percentage of MEP signal loss was 72.9%. The overall complication rate was 25.2%, and the incidence of new neurological deficits was 4.1%. On multivariate analysis, MEP signal loss of at least 50% was not associated with complication (p = 0.495) or able to predict postoperative neurological deficits (p = 0.429). Of the 38 cases in which MEP changes were observed, the observation represented a true-positive finding in only 3 cases. Postoperative neurological deficits without MEP changes occurred in 7 cases. Calculated measures of performance were as follows: sensitivity 30.0%, specificity 84.9%, positive predictive value 7.9%, and negative predictive value 96.6%. Regarding the specific characteristics of the MEP changes, only a signal loss of 80% or greater was significantly associated with a higher rate of neurological deficit (23.0% vs 0.0% for loss of less than 80%, p = 0.021); changes of less than 80% were not associated with postoperative deficits.

CONCLUSIONS

Neuromonitoring has a low positive predictive value and low sensitivity for detecting new neurological deficits. Even when neuromonitoring is unchanged, patients can still have new neurological deficits. The utility of transcranial MEP monitoring for lumbar PSO remains unclear but there may be advantages to its use.

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Cecilia L. Dalle Ore, Christopher P. Ames, Vedat Deviren and Darryl Lau

OBJECTIVE

Spinal deformity causing spinal imbalance is directly correlated to pain and disability. Prior studies suggest adult spinal deformity (ASD) patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have more complex deformities and are at higher risk for complications. In this study the authors compared outcomes of ASD patients with RA following thoracolumbar 3-column osteotomies to outcomes of a matched control cohort.

METHODS

All patients with RA who underwent 3-column osteotomy for thoracolumbar deformity correction performed by the senior author from 2006 to 2016 were identified retrospectively. A cohort of patients without RA who underwent 3-column osteotomies for deformity correction was matched based on multiple clinical factors. Data regarding demographics and surgical approach, along with endpoints including perioperative outcomes, reoperations, and incidence of proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) were reviewed. Univariate analyses were used to compare patients with RA to matched controls.

RESULTS

Eighteen ASD patients with RA were identified, and a matched cohort of 217 patients was generated. With regard to patients with RA, 11.1% were male and the mean age was 68.1 years. Vertebral column resection (VCR) was performed in 22.2% and pedicle subtraction osteotomy (PSO) in 77.8% of patients. Mean case length was 324.4 minutes and estimated blood loss (EBL) was 2053.6 ml. Complications were observed in 38.9% of patients with RA and 29.0% of patients without RA (p = 0.380), with a trend toward increased medical complications (38.9% vs 21.2%, p = 0.084). Patients with RA had a significantly higher incidence of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)/pulmonary embolism (PE) (11.1% vs 1.8%, p = 0.017) and wound infections (16.7% vs 5.1%, p = 0.046). PJK occurred in 16.7% of patients with RA, and 33.3% of RA patients underwent reoperation. Incidence rates of PJK and reoperation in matched controls were 12.9% and 25.3%, respectively (p = 0.373, p = 0.458). At follow-up, mean sagittal vertical axis (SVA) was 6.1 cm in patients with RA and 4.5 cm in matched controls (p = 0.206).

CONCLUSIONS

Findings from this study suggest that RA patients experience a higher incidence of medical complications, specifically DVT/PE. Preoperative lower-extremity ultrasounds, inferior vena cava (IVC) filter placement, and/or early initiation of DVT prophylaxis in RA patients may be indicated. Perioperative complications, morbidity, and long-term outcomes are otherwise similar to non-RA patients.

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Darryl Lau, Cecilia L. Dalle Ore, Phiroz E. Tarapore, Michael Huang, Geoffrey Manley, Vineeta Singh, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Michael Beattie, Jacqueline Bresnahan, Adam R. Ferguson, Jason F. Talbott, William Whetstone and Sanjay S. Dhall

OBJECTIVE

The elderly are a growing subpopulation within traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) patients. Studies have reported high morbidity and mortality rates in elderly patients who undergo surgery for SCI. In this study, the authors compare the perioperative outcomes of surgically managed elderly SCI patients with those of a younger cohort and those reported in the literature.

METHODS

Data on a consecutive series of adult traumatic SCI patients surgically managed at a single institution in the period from 2007 to 2017 were retrospectively reviewed. The cohort was divided into two groups based on age: younger than 70 years and 70 years or older. Assessed outcomes included complications, in-hospital mortality, intensive care unit (ICU) stay, hospital length of stay (LOS), disposition, and neurological status.

RESULTS

A total of 106 patients were included in the study: 83 young and 23 elderly. The two groups were similar in terms of imaging features (cord hemorrhage and fracture), operative technique, and American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS) grade. The elderly had a significantly higher proportion of cervical SCIs (95.7% vs 71.1%, p = 0.047). There were no significant differences between the young and the elderly in terms of the ICU stay (13.1 vs 13.3 days, respectively, p = 0.948) and hospital LOS (23.3 vs 21.7 days, p = 0.793). Elderly patients experienced significantly higher complication (73.9% vs 43.4%, p = 0.010) and mortality (13.0% vs 1.2%, p = 0.008) rates; in other words, the elderly patients had 1.7 times and 10.8 times the rate of complications and mortality, respectively, than the younger patients. No elderly patients were discharged home (0.0% vs 18.1%, p = 0.029). Discharge AIS grade and AIS grade change were similar between the groups.

CONCLUSIONS

Elderly patients had higher complication and mortality rates than those in younger patients and were less likely to be discharged home. However, it does seem that mortality rates have improved compared to those in prior historical reports.

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Darryl Lau, Cecilia L. Dalle Ore, Kenneth W. Martin, James F. Policy and Peter P. Sun

Pedicle aplasia is an uncommon congenital anomaly most frequently involving the absence of a single pedicle at a single vertebral level. Bilateral pedicle aplasia at multiple levels is exceedingly rare and has only been described once previously in the literature. While single-level pedicle aplasia is often asymptomatic and discovered incidentally, pedicle aplasia of multiple levels may produce severe spinal deformities and neurological deficits. Due to the rarity of this condition, optimal management remains uncertain. In this case report, the authors describe the surgical management of a healthy 9-year-old boy who presented with frequent falls, difficulty running, and severe thoracic kyphotic deformity and was found to have bilateral pedicle aplasia from T3 to T9. A review of the literature regarding pedicle aplasia is also presented.

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Andrew K. Chan, Alvin Y. Chan, Darryl Lau, Beata Durcanova, Catherine A. Miller, Paul S. Larson, Philip A. Starr and Praveen V. Mummaneni

OBJECTIVE

Camptocormia is a potentially debilitating condition in the progression of Parkinson’s disease (PD). It is described as an abnormal forward flexion while standing that resolves when lying supine. Although the condition is relatively common, the underlying pathophysiology and optimal treatment strategy are unclear. In this study, the authors systematically reviewed the current surgical management strategies for camptocormia.

METHODS

PubMed was queried for primary studies involving surgical intervention for camptocormia in PD patients. Studies were excluded if they described nonsurgical interventions, provided only descriptive data, or were case reports. Secondarily, data from studies describing deep brain stimulation (DBS) to the subthalamic nuclei were extracted for potential meta-analysis. Variables showing correlation to improvement in sagittal plane bending angle (i.e., the vertical angle caused by excessive kyphosis) were subjected to formal meta-analysis.

RESULTS

The query resulted in 9 studies detailing treatment of camptocormia: 1 study described repetitive trans-spinal magnetic stimulation (rTSMS), 7 studies described DBS, and 1 study described deformity surgery. Five studies were included for meta-analysis. The total number of patients was 66. The percentage of patients with over 50% decrease in sagittal plane imbalance with DBS was 36.4%. A duration of camptocormia of 2 years or less was predictive of better outcomes (OR 4.15).

CONCLUSIONS

Surgical options include transient, external spinal stimulation; DBS targeting the subthalamic nuclei; and spinal deformity surgery. Benefit from DBS stimulation was inconsistent. Spine surgery corrected spinal imbalance but was associated with a high complication rate.

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Ankush Chandra, Jonathan W. Rick, Cecilia Dalle Ore, Darryl Lau, Alan T. Nguyen, Diego Carrera, Alexander Bonte, Annette M. Molinaro, Philip V. Theodosopoulos, Michael W. McDermott, Mitchel S. Berger and Manish K. Aghi

OBJECTIVE

Glioblastoma (GBM) is an aggressive brain malignancy with a short overall patient survival, yet there remains significant heterogeneity in outcomes. Although access to health care has previously been linked to impact on prognosis in several malignancies, this question remains incompletely answered in GBM.

METHODS

This study was a retrospective analysis of 354 newly diagnosed patients with GBM who underwent first resection at the authors’ institution (2007–2015).

RESULTS

Of the 354 patients (median age 61 years, and 37.6% were females), 32 (9.0%) had no insurance, whereas 322 (91.0%) had insurance, of whom 131 (40.7%) had Medicare, 45 (14%) had Medicaid, and 146 (45.3%) had private insurance. On average, insured patients survived almost 2-fold longer (p < 0.0001) than those who were uninsured, whereas differences between specific insurance types did not influence survival. The adjusted hazard ratio (HR) for death was higher in uninsured patients (HR 2.27 [95% CI 1.49–3.33], p = 0.0003). Age, mean household income, tumor size at diagnosis, and extent of resection did not differ between insured and uninsured patients, but there was a disparity in primary care physician (PCP) status—none of the uninsured patients had PCPs, whereas 72% of insured patients had PCPs. Postoperative adjuvant treatment rates with temozolomide (TMZ) and radiation therapy (XRT) were significantly less in uninsured (TMZ in 56.3%, XRT in 56.3%) than in insured (TMZ in 75.2%, XRT in 79.2%; p = 0.02 and p = 0.003) patients. Insured patients receiving both agents had better prognosis than uninsured patients receiving the same treatment (9.1 vs 16.34 months; p = 0.025), suggesting that the survival effect in insured patients could only partly be explained by higher treatment rates. Moreover, having a PCP increased survival among the insured cohort (10.7 vs 16.1 months, HR 1.65 [95% CI 1.27–2.15]; p = 0.0001), which could be explained by significant differences in tumor diameter at initial diagnosis between patients with and without PCPs (4.3 vs 4.8 cm, p = 0.003), and a higher rate of clinical trial enrollment, suggesting a critical role of PCPs for a timelier diagnosis of GBM and proactive cancer care management.

CONCLUSIONS

Access to health care is a strong determinant of prognosis in newly diagnosed patients with GBM. Any type of insurance coverage and having a PCP improved prognosis in this patient cohort. Higher rates of treatment with TMZ plus XRT, clinical trial enrollment, fewer comorbidities, and early diagnosis may explain survival disparities. Lack of health insurance or a PCP are major challenges within the health care system, which, if improved upon, could favorably impact the prognosis of patients with GBM.