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  • Journal of Neurosurgery x
  • By Author: Malhotra, Neil R. x
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R. Carter Clement, Brendan G. Carr, Michael J. Kallan, Catherine Wolff, Patrick M. Reilly and Neil R. Malhotra

Object

A positive correlation between outcomes and the volume of patients seen by a provider has been supported by numerous studies. Volume-outcome relationships (VORs) have been well documented in the setting of both neurosurgery and trauma care and have shaped regionalization policies to optimize patient outcomes. Several authors have also investigated the correlation between patient volume and cost of care, known as the volume-cost relationship (VCR), with mixed results. The purpose of the present study was to investigate VORs and VCRs in the treatment of common intracranial injuries by testing the hypotheses that outcomes suffer at small-volume centers and costs rise at large-volume centers.

Methods

The authors performed a cross-sectional cohort study of patients with neurological trauma using the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, the largest nationally representative all-payer data set. Patients were identified using ICD-9 codes for subdural, subarachnoid, and extradural hemorrhage following injury. Transfers were excluded from the study. In the primary analysis the association between a facility's neurotrauma patient volume and patient survival was tested. Secondary analyses focused on the relationships between patient volume and discharge status as well as between patient volume and cost. Analyses were performed using logistic regression.

Results

In-hospital mortality in the overall cohort was 9.9%. In-hospital mortality was 14.9% in the group with the smallest volume of patients, that is, fewer than 6 cases annually. At facilities treating 6–11, 12–23, 24–59, and 60+ patients annually, mortality was 8.0%, 8.3%, 9.5%, and 10.0%, respectively. For these groups there was a significantly reduced risk of in-hospital mortality as compared with the group with fewer than 6 annual patients; the adjusted ORs (and corresponding 95% CIs) were 0.45 (0.29–0.68), 0.56 (0.38–0.81), 0.63 (0.44–0.90), and 0.59 (0.41–0.87), respectively. For these same groups (once again using < 6 cases/year as the reference), there were no statistically significant differences in either estimated actual cost or duration of hospital stay.

Conclusions

A VOR exists in the treatment of neurotrauma, and a meaningful threshold for significantly improved mortality is 6 cases per year. Emergency and interfacility transport policies based on this threshold might improve national outcomes. Cost of care does not differ significantly with patient volume.

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Bradley C. Lega, Shabbar F. Danish, Neil R. Malhotra, Seema S. Sonnad and Sherman C. Stein

Object

Chronic subdural hematoma (CSDH), a condition much more common in the elderly, presents an increasing challenge as the population ages. Treatment strategies for CSDH include bur-hole craniostomy (BHC), twist-drill craniostomy (TDC), and craniotomy. Decision analysis was used to organize existing data and develop recommendations for effective treatment.

Methods

A Medline search was used to identify articles about treatment of CSDH. Direct assessment by health care professionals of the relative health impact of common complications and recurrences was used to generate utility values for treatment outcomes. Monte Carlo simulation and sensitivity analyses allowed comparisons across treatment strategies. A second simulation examined whether intraoperative irrigation or postoperative drainage affect the outcomes following BHC.

Results

On a scale from 0 to 1, the utility of BHC was found to be 0.9608, compared with 0.9202 for TDC (p = 0.001) and 0.9169 for craniotomy (p = 0.006). Sensitivity analysis confirmed the robustness of these values. Craniotomy yielded fewer recurrences, but more frequent and more serious complications than did BHC. There were no significant differences for BHC with or without irrigation or postoperative drainage.

Conclusions

Bur-hole craniostomy is the most efficient choice for surgical drainage of uncomplicated CSDH. Bur-hole craniostomy balances a low recurrence rate with a low incidence of highly morbid complications. Decision analysis provides statistical and empirical guidance in the absence of well-controlled large trials and despite a confusing range of previously reported morbidity and recurrence.