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Zach Pennington, Jeff Ehresman, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel Lubelski, Kurt Lehner, James Feghali, A. Karim Ahmed, Andrew Schilling and Daniel M. Sciubba

Accurate prediction of patient survival is an essential component of the preoperative evaluation of patients with spinal metastases. Over the past quarter of a century, a number of predictors have been developed, although none have been accurate enough to be instituted as a staple of clinical practice. However, recently more comprehensive survival calculators have been published that make use of larger data sets and machine learning to predict postoperative survival among patients with spine metastases. Given the glut of calculators that have been published, the authors sought to perform a narrative review of the current literature, highlighting existing calculators along with the strengths and weaknesses of each. In doing so, they identify two “generations” of scoring systems—a first generation based on a priori factor weighting and a second generation comprising predictive tools that are developed using advanced statistical modeling and are focused on clinical deployment. In spite of recent advances, the authors found that most predictors have only a moderate ability to explain variation in patient survival. Second-generation models have a greater prognostic accuracy relative to first-generation scoring systems, but most still require external validation. Given this, it seems that there are two outstanding goals for these survival predictors, foremost being external validation of current calculators in multicenter prospective cohorts, as the majority have been developed from, and internally validated within, the same single-institution data sets. Lastly, current predictors should be modified to incorporate advances in targeted systemic therapy and radiotherapy, which have been heretofore largely ignored.

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Godard C. W. de Ruiter, Mark P. Arts, J. Wolter A. Oosterhuis, Andreas Marinelli and Wilco C. Peul

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Jeff Ehresman, Zach Pennington, Aditya V. Karhade, Sakibul Huq, Ravi Medikonda, Andrew Schilling, James Feghali, Andrew Hersh, A. Karim Ahmed, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel Lubelski, Erick M. Westbroek, Joseph H. Schwab and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Incidental durotomy is a common complication of elective lumbar spine surgery seen in up to 11% of cases. Prior studies have suggested patient age and body habitus along with a history of prior surgery as being associated with an increased risk of dural tear. To date, no calculator has been developed for quantifying risk. Here, the authors’ aim was to identify independent predictors of incidental durotomy, present a novel predictive calculator, and externally validate a novel method to identify incidental durotomies using natural language processing (NLP).

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed all patients who underwent elective lumbar spine procedures at a tertiary academic hospital for degenerative pathologies between July 2016 and November 2018. Data were collected regarding surgical details, patient demographic information, and patient medical comorbidities. The primary outcome was incidental durotomy, which was identified both through manual extraction and the NLP algorithm. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify independent predictors of incidental durotomy. Bootstrapping was then employed to estimate optimism in the model, which was corrected for; this model was converted to a calculator and deployed online.

RESULTS

Of the 1279 elective lumbar surgery patients included in this study, incidental durotomy occurred in 108 (8.4%). Risk factors for incidental durotomy on multivariable logistic regression were increased surgical duration, older age, revision versus index surgery, and case starts after 4 pm. This model had an area under curve (AUC) of 0.73 in predicting incidental durotomies. The previously established NLP method was used to identify cases of incidental durotomy, of which it demonstrated excellent discrimination (AUC 0.97).

CONCLUSIONS

Using multivariable analysis, the authors found that increased surgical duration, older patient age, cases started after 4 pm, and a history of prior spine surgery are all independent positive predictors of incidental durotomy in patients undergoing elective lumbar surgery. Additionally, the authors put forth the first version of a clinical calculator for durotomy risk that could be used prospectively by spine surgeons when counseling patients about their surgical risk. Lastly, the authors presented an external validation of an NLP algorithm used to identify incidental durotomies through the review of free-text operative notes. The authors believe that these tools can aid clinicians and researchers in their efforts to prevent this costly complication in spine surgery.

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Zoher Ghogawala, Shekar Kurpad, Asdrubal Falavigna, Michael W. Groff, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jau-Ching Wu, Paul Park, Sigurd Berven, Daniel J. Hoh, Erica F. Bisson, Michael P. Steinmetz, Marjorie C. Wang, Dean Chou, Charles A. Sansur, Justin S. Smith and Luis M. Tumialán

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Erick M. Westbroek, Zach Pennington, A. Karim Ahmed, Yuanxuan Xia, Christine Boone, Philippe Gailloud and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Preoperative endovascular embolization of hypervascular spine tumors can reduce intraoperative blood loss. The extent to which subtotal embolization reduces blood loss has not been clearly established. This study aimed to elucidate a relationship between the extent of preoperative embolization and intraoperative blood loss.

METHODS

Sixty-six patients undergoing preoperative endovascular embolization and subsequent resection of hypervascular spine tumors were retrospectively reviewed. Patients were divided into 3 groups: complete embolization (n = 22), near-complete embolization (≥ 90% but < 100%; n = 22), and partial embolization (< 90%; n = 22). Intraoperative blood loss was compared between groups using one-way ANOVA with post hoc comparisons between groups.

RESULTS

The average blood loss in the complete embolization group was 1625 mL. The near-complete embolization group had an average blood loss of 2021 mL in surgery. Partial embolization was associated with a mean blood loss of 4009 mL. On one-way ANOVA, significant differences were seen across groups (F-ratio = 6.81, p = 0.002). Significant differences in intraoperative blood loss were also seen between patients undergoing complete and partial embolization (p = 0.001) and those undergoing near-complete and partial embolization (p = 0.006). Pairwise testing showed no significant difference between complete and near-complete embolization (p = 0.57). Analysis of a combined group of complete and near-complete embolization also showed a significantly decreased blood loss compared with partial embolization (p < 0.001). Patient age, tumor size, preoperative coagulation parameters, and preoperative platelet count were not significantly associated with blood loss.

CONCLUSIONS

Preoperative endovascular embolization is associated with decreased intraoperative blood loss. In this series, blood loss was significantly less in surgeries for tumors in which preoperative complete or near-complete embolization was achieved than in tumors in which preoperative embolization resulted in less than 90% reduction of tumor vascular blush. These findings suggest that there may be a critical threshold of efficacy that should be the goal of preoperative embolization.

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Jeff Ehresman, Zach Pennington, Andrew Schilling, Ravi Medikonda, Sakibul Huq, Kevin R. Merkel, A. Karim Ahmed, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel Lubelski, Erick M. Westbroek, Salia Farrokh, Steven M. Frank and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Blood transfusions are given to approximately one-fifth of patients undergoing elective lumbar spine surgery, and previous studies have shown that transfusions are accompanied by increased complications and additional costs. One method for decreasing transfusions is administration of tranexamic acid (TXA). The authors sought to evaluate whether the cost of TXA is offset by the decrease in blood utilization in lumbar spine surgery patients.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed patients who underwent elective lumbar or thoracolumbar surgery for degenerative conditions at a tertiary care center between 2016 and 2018. Patients who received intraoperative TXA (TXA patients) were matched with patients who did not receive TXA (non-TXA patients) by age, sex, BMI, ASA (American Society of Anesthesiologists) physical status class, and surgical invasiveness score. Primary endpoints were intraoperative blood loss, number of packed red blood cell (PRBC) units transfused, and total hemostasis costs, defined as the sum of TXA costs and blood transfusion costs throughout the hospital stay. A subanalysis was then performed by substratifying both cohorts into short-length (1–4 levels) and long-length (5–8 levels) spinal constructs.

RESULTS

Of the 1353 patients who met inclusion criteria, 68 TXA patients were matched to 68 non-TXA patients. Patients in the TXA group had significantly decreased mean intraoperative blood loss (1039 vs 1437 mL, p = 0.01). There were no differences between the patient groups in the total costs of blood transfusion and TXA (p = 0.5). When the 2 patient groups were substratified by length of construct, the long-length construct group showed a significant net cost savings of $328.69 per patient in the TXA group (p = 0.027). This result was attributable to the finding that patients undergoing long-length construct surgeries who were given TXA received a lower amount of PRBC units throughout their hospital stay (2.4 vs 4.0, p = 0.007).

CONCLUSIONS

TXA use was associated with decreased intraoperative blood loss and significant reductions in total hemostasis costs for patients undergoing surgery on more than 4 levels. Furthermore, the use of TXA in patients who received short constructs led to no additional net costs. With the increasing emphasis put on value-based care interventions, use of TXA may represent one mechanism for decreasing total care costs, particularly in the cases of larger spine constructs.

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Rafa Rahman, Alvaro Ibaseta, Jay S. Reidler, Nicholas S. Andrade, Richard L. Skolasky, Lee H. Riley III, David B. Cohen, Daniel M. Sciubba, Khaled M. Kebaish and Brian J. Neuman

OBJECTIVE

The authors conducted a study to analyze associations between changes in depression/anxiety before and 12 months after spine surgery, as well as changes in scores using the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) at the same time points.

METHODS

Preoperatively and 12 months postoperatively, the authors assessed PROMIS scores for depression, anxiety, pain, physical function, sleep disturbance, and satisfaction with participation in social roles among 206 patients undergoing spine surgery for deformity correction or degenerative disease. Patients were stratified according to preoperative/postoperative changes in depression and anxiety, which were categorized as persistent, improved, newly developed postoperatively, or absent. Multivariate regression was used to control for confounders and to compare changes in patient-reported outcomes (PROs).

RESULTS

Fifty patients (24%) had preoperative depression, which improved in 26 (52%). Ninety-four patients (46%) had preoperative anxiety, which improved in 70 (74%). Household income was the only preoperative characteristic that differed significantly between patients whose depression persisted and those whose depression improved. Compared with the no-depression group, patients with persistent depression had less improvement in all 4 domains, and patients with postoperatively developed depression had less improvement in pain, physical function, and satisfaction with social roles. Compared with the group of patients with postoperatively improved depression, patients with persistent depression had less improvement in pain and physical function, and patients with postoperatively developed depression had less improvement in pain. Compared with patients with no anxiety, those with persistent anxiety had less improvement in physical function, sleep disturbance, and satisfaction with social roles, and patients with postoperatively developed anxiety had less improvement in pain, physical function, and satisfaction with social roles. Compared with patients with postoperatively improved anxiety, patients with persistent anxiety had less improvement in pain, physical function, and satisfaction with social roles, and those with postoperatively developed anxiety had less improvement in pain, physical function, and satisfaction with social roles. All reported differences were significant at p < 0.05.

CONCLUSIONS

Many spine surgery patients experienced postoperative improvements in depression/anxiety. Improvements in 12-month PROs were smaller among patients with persistent or postoperatively developed depression/anxiety compared with patients who had no depression or anxiety before or after surgery and those whose depression/anxiety improved after surgery. Postoperative changes in depression/anxiety may have a greater effect than preoperative depression/anxiety on changes in PROs after spine surgery. Addressing the mental health of spine surgery patients may improve postoperative PROs.

CLASSIFICATION OF EVIDENCE Type of question: causation; study design: prospective cohort study; evidence: class III.

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Jeff Ehresman, Andrew Schilling, Zach Pennington, Chengcheng Gui, Xuguang Chen, Daniel Lubelski, A. Karim Ahmed, Ethan Cottrill, Majid Khan, Kristin J. Redmond and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) in patients with spinal metastasis can lead to destabilization and often carry a high risk profile. It is therefore important to have tools that enable providers to predict the occurrence of new VCFs. The most widely used tool for bone quality assessment, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), is not often available at a patient’s initial presentation and has limited sensitivity. While the Spinal Instability Neoplastic Score (SINS) has been associated with VCFs, it does not take patients’ baseline bone quality into consideration. To address this, the authors sought to develop an MRI-based scoring system to estimate trabecular vertebral bone quality (VBQ) and to assess this system’s ability to predict the occurrence of new VCFs in patients with spinal metastasis.

METHODS

Cases of adult patients with a diagnosis of spinal metastasis, who had undergone stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) to the spine or neurosurgical intervention at a single institution between 2012 and 2019, were retrospectively reviewed. The novel VBQ score was calculated for each patient by dividing the median signal intensity of the L1–4 vertebral bodies by the signal intensity of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to identify associations of demographic, clinical, and radiological data with new VCFs.

RESULTS

Among the 105 patients included in this study, 56 patients received a diagnosis of a new VCF and 49 did not. On univariable analysis, the factors associated with new VCFs were smoking status, steroid use longer than 3 months, the SINS, and the novel scoring system—the VBQ score. On multivariable analysis, only the SINS and VBQ score were significant predictors of new VCFs and, when combined, had a predictive accuracy of 89%.

CONCLUSIONS

As a measure of bone quality, the novel VBQ score significantly predicted the occurrence of new VCFs in patients with spinal metastases independent of the SINS. This suggests that baseline bone quality is a crucial factor that requires assessment when evaluating these patients’ conditions and that the VBQ score is a novel and simple MRI-based measure to accomplish this.

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Readmission after spinal epidural abscess management in urban populations: a bi-institutional study

Presented at the 2019 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Michael Longo, Zach Pennington, Yaroslav Gelfand, Rafael De la Garza Ramos, Murray Echt, A. Karim Ahmed, Vijay Yanamadala, Daniel M. Sciubba and Reza Yassari

OBJECTIVE

The incidence of spinal epidural abscess (SEA) is rising, yet there are few reports discussing readmission rates or predisposing factors for readmission after treatment. The aims of the present study were to determine the rate of 90-day readmission following medical or surgical treatment of SEA in an urban population, identify patients at increased risk for readmission, and delineate the principal causes of readmission.

METHODS

Neurosurgery records from two large urban institutions were reviewed to identify patients who were treated for SEA. Patients who died during admission or were discharged to hospice were excluded. Univariate analysis was performed using chi-square and Student t-tests to identify potential predictors of readmission. A multivariate logistic regression model, controlled for age, body mass index, sex, and institution, was used to determine significant predictors of readmission.

RESULTS

Of 103 patients with identified SEA, 97 met the inclusion criteria. Their mean age was 57.1 years, and 56 patients (57.7%) were male. The all-cause 90-day readmission rate was 37.1%. Infection (sepsis, osteomyelitis, persistent abscess, bacteremia) was the most common cause of readmission, accounting for 36.1% of all readmissions. Neither pretreatment neurological deficit (p = 0.16) nor use of surgical versus medical management (p = 0.33) was significantly associated with readmission. Multivariate analysis identified immunocompromised status (p = 0.036; OR 3.5, 95% CI 1.1–11.5) and hepatic disease (chronic hepatitis or alcohol abuse) (p = 0.033; OR 2.9, 95% CI 1.1–7.7) as positive predictors of 90-day readmission.

CONCLUSIONS

The most common indication for readmission was persistent infection. Readmission was unrelated to baseline neurological status or management strategy. However, both hepatic disease and baseline immunosuppression significantly increased the odds of 90-day readmission after SEA treatment. Patients with these conditions may require closer follow-up upon discharge to reduce overall morbidity and hospital costs associated with SEA.

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Sakibul Huq, Jeffrey Ehresman, Ethan Cottrill, A. Karim Ahmed, Zach Pennington, Erick M. Westbroek and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Scheuermann kyphosis (SK) is an idiopathic kyphosis characterized by anterior wedging of ≥ 5° at 3 contiguous vertebrae managed with either nonoperative or operative treatment. Nonoperative treatment typically employs bracing, while operative treatment is performed with either a combined anterior-posterior fusion or posterior-only approach. Current evidence for these approaches has largely been derived from retrospective case series or focused reviews. Consequently, no consensus exists regarding optimal management strategies for patients afflicted with this condition. In this study, the authors systematically review the literature on SK with respect to indications for treatment, complications of treatment, differences in correction and loss of correction, and changes in treatment over time.

METHODS

Using PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Library, all full-text publications on the operative and nonoperative treatment for SK in the peer-reviewed English-language literature between 1950 and 2017 were screened. Inclusion criteria involved fully published, peer-reviewed, retrospective or prospective studies of the primary medical literature. Studies were excluded if they did not provide clinical outcomes and statistics specific to SK, described fewer than 2 patients, or discussed results in nonhuman models. Variables extracted included treatment indications and methodology, maximum pretreatment kyphosis, immediate posttreatment kyphosis, kyphosis at last follow-up, year of treatment, and complications of treatment.

RESULTS

Of 659 unique studies, 45 met our inclusion criteria, covering 1829 unique patients. Indications for intervention were pain, deformity, failure of nonoperative treatment, and neural impairment. Among operatively treated patients, the most common complications were hardware failure and proximal or distal junctional kyphosis. Combined anterior-posterior procedures were additionally associated with neural, pulmonary, and cardiovascular complications. Posterior-only approaches offered superior correction compared to combined anterior-posterior fusion; both groups provided greater correction than bracing. Loss of correction was similar across operative approaches, and all were superior to bracing. Cross-sectional analysis suggested that surgeons have shifted from anterior-posterior to posterior-only approaches over the past two decades.

CONCLUSIONS

The data indicate that for patients with SK, surgery affords superior correction and maintenance of correction relative to bracing. Posterior-only fusion may provide greater correction and similar loss of correction compared to anterior-posterior approaches along with a smaller complication profile. This posterior-only approach has concomitantly gained popularity over the combined anterior-posterior approach in recent years.