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Sergei Terterov, Nancy McLaughlin, Harry Vinters and Neil A. Martin

Angiographically occult cerebral vascular malformations (AOVMs) are usually found in the supratentorial brain parenchyma. Uncommonly, AOVMs can be found within the cavernous sinus or basal cisterns and can be associated with cranial nerves. AOVMs involving the intracranial segment of the spinal accessory nerve have not been described. A 46-year-old female patient presented with a history of episodic frontal headaches and episodes of nausea and dizziness, as well as gait instability progressing over 6 months prior to evaluation. Imaging revealed a well-circumscribed 3-cm extraaxial T1-weighted isointense and T2-weighted hyperintense contrast-enhancing mass centered in the region of the right lateral cerebellomedullary cistern. The patient underwent resection of the lesion. Although the intraoperative appearance was suggestive of a cavernous malformation, some histological findings were atypical, leading to the final diagnosis of vascular malformation, not otherwise specified. The patient’s postoperative course was uneventful with complete resolution of symptoms. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first report of an AOVM involving the intracranial portion of the accessory nerve. For any AOVM located within the cerebellomedullary cistern or one suspected of involving a cranial nerve, the authors recommend including immunohistochemistry with primary antibody to neurofilament in the histopathology workup.

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Nancy McLaughlin, Matthew C. Garrett, Leila Emami, Sarah K. Foss, Johanna L. Klohn and Neil A. Martin

OBJECT

While malpractice litigation has had many negative impacts on health care delivery systems, information extracted from lawsuits could potentially guide toward venues to improve care. The authors present a comprehensive review of lawsuits within a tertiary academic neurosurgical department and report institutional and departmental strategies to mitigate liability by integrating risk management data with quality improvement initiatives.

METHODS

The Comprehensive Risk Intelligence Tool database was interrogated to extract claims/suits abstracts concerning neurosurgical cases that were closed from January 2008 to December 2012. Variables included demographics of the claimant, type of procedure performed (if any), claim description, insured information, case outcome, clinical summary, contributing factors and subfactors, amount incurred for indemnity and expenses, and independent expert opinion in regard to whether the standard of care was met.

RESULTS

During the study period, the Department of Neurosurgery received the most lawsuits of all surgical specialties (30 of 172), leading to a total incurred payment of $4,949,867. Of these lawsuits, 21 involved spinal pathologies and 9 cranial pathologies. The largest group of suits was from patients with challenging medical conditions who underwent uneventful surgeries and postoperative courses but filed lawsuits when they did not see the benefits for which they were hoping; 85% of these claims were withdrawn by the plaintiffs. The most commonly cited contributing factors included clinical judgment (20 of 30), technical skill (19 of 30), and communication (6 of 30).

CONCLUSIONS

While all medical and surgical subspecialties must deal with the issue of malpractice and liability, neurosurgery is most affected both in terms of the number of suits filed as well as monetary amounts awarded. To use the suits as learning tools for the faculty and residents and minimize the associated costs, quality initiatives addressing the most frequent contributing factors should be instituted in care redesign strategies, enabling strategic alignment of quality improvement and risk management efforts.

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Nestor R. Gonzalez, Joshua R. Dusick, Mark Connolly, Firas Bounni, Neil A. Martin, Barbara Van de Wiele, David S. Liebeskind and Jeffrey L. Saver

OBJECT

Encephaloduroarteriosynangiosis (EDAS) is a form of revascularization that has shown promising early results in the treatment of adult patients with moyamoya disease (MMD) and more recently in patients with intracranial atherosclerotic steno-occlusive disease (ICASD). Herein the authors present the long-term results of a single-center experience with EDAS for adult MMD and ICASD.

METHODS

Patients with ischemic symptoms despite intensive medical therapy were considered for EDAS. All patients undergoing EDAS were included. Clinical data, including recurrence of transient ischemic attack (TIA) and/or stroke, functional status, and death, were collected from a retrospective data set and a prospective cohort. Perren revascularization and American Society of Interventional and Therapeutic Neuroradiology/Society of Interventional Radiology (ASITN/SIR) collateral grades were recorded from angiograms.

RESULTS

A total of 107 EDAS procedures were performed in 82 adults (36 with ICASD and 46 with MMD). During a median follow-up of 22 months, 2 (2.4%) patients had strokes; both patients were in the ICASD group. TIA-free survival and stroke-free survival analyses were performed using the product limit estimator (Kaplan-Meier) method. The probability of stroke-free survival at 2 years in the ICASD group was 94.3% (95% CI 80%–98.6%). No patient in the MMD group suffered a stroke. The probability of TIA-free survival at 2 years was 89.4% (95% CI 74.7%–96%) in ICASD and 99.7% (95% CI 87.5%–99.9%) in MMD. There were no hemorrhages or stroke-related deaths. Angiograms in 85.7% of ICASD and 92% of MMD patients demonstrated Perren Grade 3 and improvement in ASITN/SIR grade in all cases.

CONCLUSIONS

EDAS is well tolerated in adults with MMD and ICASD and improves collateral circulation to territories at risk. The rates of stroke after EDAS are lower than those reported with other treatments, including intensive medical therapy in patients with ICASD.

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Nancy McLaughlin, Peng Jin and Neil A. Martin

OBJECT

Review of morbidities and mortality has been the primary method used to assess surgical quality by physicians, hospitals, and oversight agencies. The incidence of reoperation has been proposed as a candidate quality indicator for surgical care. The authors report a comprehensive assessment of reoperations within a neurosurgical department and discuss how such data can be integrated into quality improvement initiatives to optimize value of care delivery.

METHODS

All neurosurgical procedures performed in the main operating room or the outpatient surgery center at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center from July 2008 to December 2012 were considered for this study. Interventional radiology and stereotactic radiosurgery procedures were excluded. Early reoperations within 7 days of the index surgery were reviewed and their preventability status was evaluated.

RESULTS

The incidence of early unplanned reoperation was 2.6% (occurring after 183 of 6912 procedures). More than half of the patients who underwent early unplanned reoperation initially had surgery for shunt-related conditions (34.4%) or intracranial tumor (23.5%). Shunt failure was the most common indication for early unplanned reoperation (34.4%), followed by postoperative bleeding (20.8%) and postoperative elevated intracranial pressure (9.8%). The average time interval (± SD) between the index surgery and reoperation was 3.0 ± 1.9 days. The average length of stay following reoperation was 12.1 ± 14.4 days.

CONCLUSIONS

This study enabled an in-depth assessment of reoperations within an academic neurosurgical practice and identification of strategic opportunities for department-wide quality improvement initiatives. The authors provide a nuanced discussion regarding the use of absolute reoperations as a quality indicator for neurosurgical patient populations.

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Luigi A. Lanterna, Carlo Brembilla and Paolo Gritti

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Nancy McLaughlin, Pooja Upadhyaya, Farzad Buxey and Neil A. Martin

Object

Care providers have put significant effort into optimizing patient safety and quality of care. Value, defined as meaningful outcomes achieved per dollar spent, is emerging as a promising framework to redesign health care. Scarce data exist regarding cost measurement and containment for episodes of neurosurgical care. The authors assessed how cost measurement and strategic containment could be used to optimize the value of delivered care after the implementation and maturation of quality improvement initiatives.

Methods

A retrospective study of consecutive patients undergoing microvascular decompression was performed. Group 1 comprised patients treated prior to the implementation of quality improvement interventions, and Group 2 consisted of those treated after the implementation and maturation of quality improvement processes. A third group, Group 3, represented a contemporary group studied after the implementation of cost containment interventions targeting the three most expensive activities: pre-incision time in the operating room (OR) and total OR time, intraoperative neuromonitoring (IOM), and bed assignment (and overall length of stay [LOS]). The value of care was assessed for all three groups.

Results

Forty-four patients were included in the study. Average preparation time pre-incision decreased from 73 to 65 to 45 minutes in Groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively. The average total OR time and OR cost were 434 minutes and $8513 in Group 1; 348 minutes and $7592 in Group 2; and 407 minutes and $8333 in Group 3. The average cost for IOM, excluding electrode needles, was $1557, $1585, and $1263, respectively, in Groups 1, 2, and 3. Average total cost for bed assignment was $5747, $5198, and $4535, respectively, in Groups 1, 2, and 3. The average total LOS decreased from 3.16 days in Group 1 to 2.14 days in Group 3. Complete relief of or a significant decrease in preoperative symptomatology was achieved in 42 of the 44 patients, respectively. Overall, the average cost of a surgical care episode (index hospitalization + readmission/reoperation) decreased 25% from Group 1 to 3.

Conclusions

Linking cost-containment and cost-reduction strategies to ongoing outcome improvement measures is an important step toward the optimization of value-based delivery of care.

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Colin C. Buchanan, Estebes A. Hernandez, Jody M. Anderson, Justin A. Dye, Michelle Leung, Farzad Buxey, Marvin Bergsneider, Nasim Afsar-Manesh, Nader Pouratian and Neil A. Martin

Object

In terms of measuring quality of care and hospital performance, an outcome of increasing interest is the 30-day readmission rate. Recent health care policy making has highlighted the necessity of understanding the factors that influence readmission. To elucidate the rate, reason, and predictors of readmissions at a tertiary/quaternary neurosurgical service, the authors studied 30-day readmissions for the Department of Neurosurgery at two University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), hospitals.

Methods

Over a 3-year period, the authors retrospectively identified adult and pediatric patients who had been discharged from the UCLA Medical Center after having undergone a major neurosurgical procedure and being readmitted within 30 days. Data were obtained on demographics, follow-up findings, diagnosis and reason for readmission, major operations performed, and length of stay during index admission and readmission. Reasons for readmission were broadly categorized into surgical, medical diagnosis/complication, problem associated with the original diagnosis, neurological decompensation, pain management, and miscellaneous. For further characterization, subgroup analysis and in-depth chart review were performed.

Results

Over the study period, 365 (6.9%) of 5569 patients were readmitted within 30 days. The most common diagnosis at index admission was brain tumor (102 patients), followed by CSF shunt malfunction (63 patients). The most common reason for readmission was surgical complication (50.1%). Among those with surgical complications, the largest subgroup consisted of patients with CSF shunt–related problems (77 patients). The second and third largest subgroups were surgical site infection and CSF leakage (41 and 31 patients, respectively). Medical diagnosis/complication was the second most frequent (27.9%) reason for readmission.

Conclusions

Surgical complications seem to be a major reason for readmission at the neurosurgical practice studied. Results indicate that the outcomes that are amenable to and would have the greatest effect on quality improvement are CSF shunt–related complications, surgical site infections, and CSF leaks.

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Giuseppe Lanzino, Anthony M. Burrows, Kelly D. Flemming and Harry J. Cloft

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Nancy McLaughlin, Farzad Buxey, Karen Chaw and Neil A. Martin

Object

Value of care is emerging as a promising framework to restructure health care, emphasizing the importance of reporting multiple outcomes that encompass the entire care episode instead of isolated outcomes specific to care points during a patient's care. The authors assessed the impact of coordinated implementation of processes across the episode of surgical care on value of neurosurgical care, using microvascular decompression (MVD) as an example.

Methods

This study is a retrospective review of consecutive cases involving patients with either trigeminal neuralgia or hemifacial spasm undergoing first-time MVD. Patients were divided into 2 groups: Group 1 included patients who underwent surgery between February 2008 and November 2009 and Group 2 included those who underwent surgery between January 2011 and October 2012. The authors collected data on outcome measures spanning the entire surgical episode of care according to the Outcome Measures Hierarchy.

Results

Forty-nine patients were included: 20 patients in Group 1 and 29 patients in Group 2. Thirty-one patients underwent MVD for trigeminal neuralgia and 18 for hemifacial spasm. A zero mortality rate and high degree of symptom resolution were achieved in both groups. Group 2 benefited from a reduction in the average total operating room time, a decrease in the mean and median postoperative length of hospital stay, a decrease in the mean length of stay on the floor, and a reduction in the rates of complications and readmissions.

Conclusions

Comprehensive implementation of improvement processes throughout the continuum of care resulted in improved global outcome and greater value of delivered care. Enhanced-recovery perioperative protocols and diagnosis-specific clinical pathways are two avenues built around global care delivery that can help achieve an “optimal episode of surgical care” in every case.