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Joshua L. Golubovsky, Arbaz Momin, Nicolas R. Thompson and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

Bertolotti syndrome is a rare spinal condition that causes low-back pain due to a lumbosacral transitional vertebra (LSTV), which is a pseudoarticulation between the fifth lumbar transverse process and the sacral ala. Bertolotti syndrome patients are rarely studied, particularly with regard to their quality of life. This study aimed to examine the quality of life and prior treatments in patients with Bertolotti syndrome at first presentation to the authors’ center in comparison with those with lumbosacral radiculopathy.

METHODS

This study was a retrospective cohort analysis of patients with Bertolotti syndrome and lumbosacral radiculopathy due to disc herniation seen at the authors’ institution’s spine center from 2005 through 2018. Diagnoses were confirmed with provider notes and imaging. Variables collected included demographics, diagnostic history, prior treatment, patient-reported quality of life metrics, and whether or not they underwent surgery at the authors’ institution. Propensity score matching by age and sex was used to match lumbosacral radiculopathy patients to Bertolotti syndrome patients. Group comparisons were made using t-tests, Fisher’s exact test, Mann-Whitney U-tests, Cox proportional hazards models, and linear regression models where variables found to be different at the univariate level were included as covariates.

RESULTS

The final cohort included 22 patients with Bertolotti syndrome who had patient-reported outcomes data available and 46 propensity score–matched patients who had confirmed radiculopathy due to disc herniation. The authors found that Bertolotti syndrome patients had significantly more prior epidural steroid injections (ESIs) and a longer time from symptom onset to their first visit. Univariate analysis showed that Bertolotti syndrome patients had significantly worse Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) mental health T-scores. Adjustment for prior ESIs and time from symptom onset revealed that Bertolotti syndrome patients also had significantly worse PROMIS physical health T-scores. Time to surgery and other quality of life metrics did not differ between groups.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with Bertolotti syndrome undergo significantly longer workup and more ESIs and have worse physical and mental health scores than age- and sex-matched patients with lumbosacral radiculopathy. However, both groups of patients had mild depression and clinically meaningful reduction in their quality of life according to all instruments. This study shows that Bertolotti syndrome patients have a condition that affects them potentially more significantly than those with lumbosacral radiculopathy, and increased attention should be paid to these patients to improve their workup, diagnosis, and treatment.

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Haariss Ilyas, Joshua L. Golubovsky, Jingxiao Chen, Robert D. Winkelman, Thomas E. Mroz and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to evaluate the incidence and risk factors for 90-day readmission and reoperation after elective surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS).

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective consecutive cohort analysis of patients undergoing posterior lumbar decompression with or without fusion for LSS with claudication from January 2014 through December 2015.

RESULTS

Data were collected on 1592 consecutive patients. The mean age at surgery was 67.4 ± 10.1 years and 45% of patients were female. The 90-day reoperation rate was 4.7%, and 69.3% of the reoperations occurred within the first 30 days. The 90-day readmission rate was 7.2%. Multivariable analysis showed that postoperative development of a surgical site infection (SSI; odds ratio [OR] 14.09, 95% confidence interval [CI] 7.86–25.18), acute kidney injury (AKI; OR 6.76, 95% CI 2.39–19.57), and urinary tract infection (UTI; OR 3.96, 95% CI 2.43–6.37), as well as a history of congestive heart failure (CHF; OR 3.03, 95% CI 1.69–5.28), were significant risk factors for readmission within 90 days. Male sex (OR 0.60, 95% CI 0.38–0.92) was associated with decreased odds for readmission. With regards to reoperation, development of SSI (OR 25.06, 95% CI 13.54–46.51), sepsis (OR 7.63, 95% CI 1.52–40.59), UTI (OR 2.54, 95% CI 1.31–4.76), and increased length of stay (LOS; OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.17–1.33) were found to be significant risk factors. A subsequent analysis found that morbid obesity (OR 6.99), history of coronary artery disease (OR 2.263), increased duration of surgery (OR 1.004), and LOS (OR 1.07) were significant risk factors for developing an SSI.

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, this study found rates of 4.7% and 7.2% for reoperation and readmission, respectively, within 90 days: 30.7% of the reoperations and 44.7% of the readmissions occurred beyond the first 30 days. A diagnosis of SSI, AKI, UTI, and history of CHF were significant factors for readmission, while male sex was associated with decreased odds for readmission. A diagnosis of SSI, sepsis, UTI, and increased LOS were found to be significant predictors for reoperation. Understanding 90-day complication rates is imperative because there has been increased discussion and healthcare policy extending the global postoperative window to 90 days. Current literature supports a readmission rate of 3%–9% after spine surgery. However, this literature either is limited to a 30-day window or does not stratify between different types of spine surgeries.

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The effect of C2–3 disc angle on postoperative adverse events in cervical spondylotic myelopathy

Presented at the 2018 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Bryan S. Lee, Kevin M. Walsh, Daniel Lubelski, Konrad D. Knusel, Michael P. Steinmetz, Thomas E. Mroz, Richard P. Schlenk, Iain H. Kalfas and Edward C. Benzel

OBJECTIVE

Complete radiographic and clinical evaluations are essential in the surgical treatment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM). Prior studies have correlated cervical sagittal imbalance and kyphosis with disability and worse health-related quality of life. However, little is known about C2–3 disc angle and its correlation with postoperative outcomes. The present study is the first to consider C2–3 disc angle as an additional radiographic predictor of postoperative adverse events.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review was performed to identify patients with CSM who underwent surgeries from 2010 to 2014. Data collected included demographics, baseline presenting factors, and postoperative outcomes. Cervical sagittal alignment variables were measured using the preoperative and postoperative radiographs. Univariable logistic regression analyses were used to explore the association between dependent and independent variables, and a multivariable logistic regression model was created using stepwise variable selection.

RESULTS

The authors identified 171 patients who had complete preoperative and postoperative radiographic and outcomes data. The overall rate of postoperative adverse events was 33% (57/171), and postoperative C2–3 disc angle, C2–7 sagittal vertical axis, and C2–7 Cobb angle were found to be significantly associated with adverse events. Inclusion of postoperative C2–3 disc angle in the analysis led to the best prediction of adverse events. The mean postoperative C2–3 disc angle for patients with any postoperative adverse event was 32.3° ± 17.2°, and the mean for those without any adverse event was 22.4° ± 11.1° (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

In the present retrospective analysis of postoperative adverse events in patients with CSM, the authors found a significant association between C2–3 disc angle and postoperative adverse events. They propose that C2–3 disc angle be used as an additional parameter of cervical spinal sagittal alignment and predictor for operative outcomes.

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Eric Z. Herring, Matthew R. Peck, Caroline E. Vonck, Gabriel A. Smith, Thomas E. Mroz and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

Spine surgeons in the United States continue to be overwhelmed by an aging population, and patients are waiting weeks to months for appointments. With a finite number of clinic visits per surgeon, analysis of referral sources needs to be explored. In this study, the authors evaluated patient referrals and their yield for surgical volume at a tertiary care center.

METHODS

This is a retrospective study of new patient visits by the spine surgery group at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Spine Health from 2011 to 2016. Data on all new or consultation visits for 5 identified spinal surgeons at the Center for Spine Health were collected. Patients with an identifiable referral source and who were at least 18 years of age at initial visit were included in this study. Univariate analysis was used to identify demographic differences among referral groups, and then multivariate analysis was used to evaluate those referral groups as significant predictors of surgical yield.

RESULTS

After adjusting for demographic differences across all referrals, multivariate analysis identified physician referrals as more likely (OR 1.48, 95% CI 1.04–2.10, p = 0.0293) to yield a surgical case than self-referrals. General practitioner referrals (OR 0.5616, 95% CI 0.3809–0.8278, p = 0.0036) were identified as less likely to yield surgical cases than referrals from interventionalists (OR 1.5296, p = 0.058) or neurologists (OR 1.7498, 95% CI 1.0057–3.0446, p = 0.0477). Additionally, 2 demographic factors, including distance from home and age, were identified as predictors of surgery. Local patients (OR 1.21, 95% CI 1.13–1.29, p = 0.018) and those 65 years of age or older (OR 0.80, 95% CI 0.72–0.87, p = 0.0023) were both more likely to need surgery after establishing care with a spine surgeon.

CONCLUSIONS

In conclusion, referrals from general practitioners and self-referrals are important areas where focused triaging may be necessary. Further research into midlevel providers and nonsurgical spine provider’s role in these referrals for spine pathology is needed. Patients from outside of the state or younger than 65 years could benefit from pre-visit screening as well to optimize a surgeon’s clinic time use and streamline patient care.

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Jay M. Levin, Robert D. Winkelman, Joseph E. Tanenbaum, Edward C. Benzel, Thomas E. Mroz and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

The Patient Experience of Care, composed of 9 dimensions derived from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey, is being used by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to adjust hospital reimbursement. Currently, there are minimal data on how scores on the constituent HCAHPS items impact the global dimension of satisfaction, the Overall Hospital Rating (OHR). The purpose of this study was to determine the key drivers of overall patient satisfaction in the setting of inpatient lumbar spine surgery.

METHODS

Demographic and preoperative patient characteristics were obtained. Patients selecting a top-box score for OHR (a 9 or 10 of 10) were considered to be satisfied with their hospital experience. A baseline multivariable logistic regression model was then developed to analyze the association between patient characteristics and top-box OHR. Then, multivariable logistic regression models adjusting for patient-level covariates were used to determine the association between individual components of the HCAHPS survey and a top-box OHR.

RESULTS

A total of 453 patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery were included, 80.1% of whom selected a top-box OHR. Diminishing overall health status (OR 0.63, 95% CI 0.43–0.91) was negatively associated with top-box OHR. After adjusting for potential confounders, the survey items that were associated with the greatest increased odds of selecting a top-box OHR were: staff always did everything they could to help with pain (OR 12.5, 95% CI 6.6–23.7), and nurses were always respectful (OR 11.0, 95% CI 5.3–22.6).

CONCLUSIONS

Patient experience of care is increasingly being used to determine hospital and physician reimbursement. The present study analyzed the key drivers of patient experience among patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery and found several important associations. Patient overall health status was associated with top-box OHR. After adjusting for potential confounders, staff always doing everything they could to help with pain and nurses always being respectful were the strongest predictors of overall satisfaction in this population. These findings highlight opportunities for quality improvement efforts in the spine care setting.

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Daniel Lubelski, Suzanne Tharin, John J. Como, Michael P. Steinmetz, Heather Vallier and Timothy Moore

OBJECTIVE

Few studies have investigated the advantages of early spinal stabilization in the patient with polytrauma in terms of reduction of morbidity and mortality. Previous analyses have shown that early stabilization may reduce ICU stay, with no effect on complication rates.

METHODS

The authors prospectively observed 340 polytrauma patients with an Injury Severity Score (ISS) of greater than 16 at a single Level 1 trauma center who were treated in accordance with a protocol termed “early appropriate care,” which emphasizes operative treatment of various fractures within 36 hours of injury. Of these patients, 46 had upper thoracic and/or cervical spine injuries. The authors retrospectively compared patients treated according to protocol versus those who were not. Continuous variables were compared using independent t-tests and categorical variables using Fisher’s exact test. Logistic regression analysis was performed to account for baseline confounding factors.

RESULTS

Fourteen of 46 patients (30%) did not undergo surgery within 36 hours. These patients were significantly more likely to be older than those in the protocol group (53 vs 38 years, p = 0.008) and have greater body mass index (BMI; 33 vs 27, p = 0.02), and they were less likely to have a spinal cord injury (SCI) (82% did not have an SCI vs 44% in the protocol group, p = 0.04). In terms of outcomes, patients in the protocol-breach group had significantly more total ventilator days (13 vs 6 days, p = 0.02) and total ICU days (16 vs 9 days, p = 0.03). Infection rates were 14% in the protocol-breach group and 3% in the protocol group (p = 0.2) Total complications trended toward being statistically significantly more common in the protocol-breach group (57% vs 31%). After controlling for potential confounding variables by logistic regression (including age, sex, BMI, race, and SCI), total complications were significantly (p < 0.05) greater in the protocol-breach group (OR 29, 95% CI 1.9–1828). This indicates that the odds of developing “any complication” were 29 times greater if treatment was delayed more than 36 hours.

CONCLUSIONS

Early surgical stabilization in the polytrauma patient with a cervical or upper thoracic spine injury is associated with fewer complications and improved outcomes. Hospitals may consider the benefit of protocols that promote early stabilization in this patient population.

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Sina Pourtaheri, Akshay Sharma, Jason Savage, Iain Kalfas, Thomas E. Mroz, Edward Benzel and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

The flexed posture of the proximal (L1–3) or distal (L4–S1) lumbar spine increases the diameter of the spinal canal and neuroforamina and can relieve symptoms of neurogenic claudication. Distal lumbar flexion can result in pelvic retroversion; therefore, in cases of flexible sagittal imbalance, pelvic retroversion may be compensatory for lumbar stenosis and not solely compensatory for the sagittal imbalance as previously thought. The authors investigate underlying causes for pelvic retroversion in patients with flexible sagittal imbalance.

METHODS

One hundred thirty-eight patients with sagittal imbalance who underwent a total of 148 fusion procedures of the thoracolumbar spine were identified from a prospective clinical database. Radiographic parameters were obtained from images preoperatively, intraoperatively, and at 6-month and 2-year follow-up. A cohort of 24 patients with flexible sagittal imbalance was identified and individually matched with a control cohort of 23 patients with fixed deformities. Flexible deformities were defined as a 10° change in lumbar lordosis between weight-bearing and non–weight-bearing images. Pelvic retroversion was quantified as the ratio of pelvic tilt (PT) to pelvic incidence (PI).

RESULTS

The average difference between lumbar lordosis on supine MR images and standing radiographs was 15° in the flexible cohort. Sixty-eight percent of the patients in the flexible cohort were diagnosed preoperatively with lumbar stenosis compared with only 22% in the fixed sagittal imbalance cohort (p = 0.0032). There was no difference between the flexible and fixed cohorts with regard to C-2 sagittal vertical axis (SVA) (p = 0.95) or C-7 SVA (p = 0.43). When assessing for postural compensation by pelvic retroversion in the stenotic patients and nonstenotic patients, the PT/PI ratio was found to be significantly greater in the patients with stenosis (p = 0.019).

CONCLUSIONS

For flexible sagittal imbalance, preoperative attention should be given to the root cause of the sagittal misalignment, which could be compensation for lumbar stenosis. Pelvic retroversion can be compensatory for both the lumbar stenosis as well as for sagittal imbalance.

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Xiao Wu, David Durand, Vivek B. Kalra, Sowmya Mahalingam and Ajay Malhotra

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Jeffrey P. Mullin, Breanna Perlmutter, Eric Schmidt, Edward Benzel and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

In 2009, Santoni and colleagues described a novel technique of posterior instrumentation; the cortical bone trajectory (CBT) was described as a caudocephalad and medial-to-lateral trajectory. Reported indications for CBT fixation include patients with osteoporosis, single-level degenerative disease, or adjacent-segment disease (ASD). In cases of revision surgery, it is technically possible and beneficial to place a traditional pedicle screw and a CBT screw at the same spinal level and side. It remains unclear as to the feasibility of placing both a traditional and a CBT screw at all levels of the lumbar spine and with varying trajectories of the preexisting traditional pedicle screws. Therefore, the authors conducted a study to radiographically assess the feasibility of using CBT and traditional pedicle screws at the same level in a large patient population.

METHODS

Using a 3D Spine Navigation WorkStation, the authors assessed 47 lumbar spine CT scans. These images were obtained from 2 disparate groups of patients: those who had previously undergone traditional pedicle instrumentation (prior surgery group) and those who had not (no prior surgery group). The authors virtually placed traditional pedicle and CBT screws at each lumbar level bilaterally. It was then determined if the dual trajectories were feasible, as defined by the presence or absence of a collision of the screw trajectories based on 3D imaging.

RESULTS

Overall, the authors evaluated 47 patients and were able to successfully plan dual trajectories in 50% of the pedicles. The no prior surgery group, compared with the prior surgery group, had a significantly greater success rate for dual trajectories. This difference was most significant in the lower lumbar levels (L3–5) where the prior instrumented group had success rates lower than 40% compared with the no prior surgery group's success rate, which was greater than 70%. There was a significant difference between each lumbar level in the lower spine.

CONCLUSIONS

There is a significant difference in the feasibility of planning CBT screws in patients who have undergone prior pedicle instrumentation compared with placing CBT and traditional pedicle screws simultaneously, but dual trajectory pedicle screws are a feasible option for posterior lumbar spinal instrumentation, especially as a de novo option in osteoporotic patients or in patients with ASD who underwent previous pedicle instrumentation. Ultimately, the practical clinical utility and biomechanical effects on the spine and instrumentation construct would require additional study.