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Juan S. Uribe, Edwin Ramos, Sammy Youssef, Fernando L. Vale and Ali A. Baaj

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Andrew C. Vivas, Ali A. Baaj, Selim R. Benbadis and Fernando L. Vale

Object

The aim of this study was to analyze the national health care burden of patients diagnosed with epilepsy in the US and to analyze any changes in the length of stay, mean charges, in-hospital deaths (mortality), and disposition at discharge.

Methods

A retrospective review of the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) database for epilepsy admissions was completed for the years from 1993 to 2008. The NIS is maintained by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and represents a 20% random stratified sample of all discharges from nonfederal hospitals within the US. Patients with epilepsy were identified using ICD-9 codes beginning with 345.XX. Approximately 1.1 million hospital admissions were identified over a span of 15 years.

Results

Over this 15-year period (between 1993 and 2008), the average hospital charge per admission for patients with epilepsy has increased significantly (p < 0.001) from $10,050 to $23,909, an increase of 137.9%. This is in spite of a 33% decrease in average length of stay from 5.9 days to 3.9 days. There has been a decrease in the percentage of in-hospital deaths by 57.9% and an increase in discharge to outside medical institutions.

Conclusions

The total national charges associated with epilepsy in 2008 were in excess of $2.7 billion (US dollars, normalized). During the studied period, the cost per day for patients rose from $1703.39 to $6130.51. In spite of this drastic increase in health care cost to the patient, medical and surgical treatment for epilepsy has not changed significantly, and epilepsy remains a major source of morbidity.

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Ali A. Baaj, Katheryne Downes, Alexander R. Vaccaro, Juan S. Uribe and Fernando L. Vale

Object

The objective of this study was to investigate a national health care database and analyze demographics, hospital charges, and treatment trends of patients diagnosed with lumbar spine fractures in the US over a 5-year period.

Methods

Clinical data were derived from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) for the years 2003 through 2007. The NIS is maintained by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and represents a 20% random stratified sample of all discharges from nonfederal hospitals within the US. Patients with lumbar spine fractures were identified using the appropriate ICD-9-CM code. Data on the number of vertebral body augmentation procedures were also retrieved. National estimates of discharges, hospital charges, discharge patterns, and treatment with spinal fusion trends were retrieved and analyzed.

Results

More than 190,000 records of patients with lumbar spine fractures were abstracted from the database. During the 5-year period, there was a 17% increase in hospitalizations for lumbar spine fractures. This was associated with a 27% increase in hospital charges and a 55% increase in total national charges (both adjusted for inflation). The total health care bill associated with lumbar spine fractures in 2007 exceeded 1 billion US dollars. During this same time period, there was a 24% increase in spinal fusions for lumbar fractures, which was associated with a 15% increase in hospital charges. The ratio of spinal fusions to hospitalizations (surgical rate) during this period, however, was stable with an average of 7.4% over the 5-year period. There were an estimated 13,000 vertebral body augmentation procedures for nonpathological fractures performed in 2007 with a total national bill of 450 million US dollars.

Conclusions

An increasing trend of hospitalizations, surgical treatment, and charges associated with lumbar spine fractures was observed between 2003 and 2007 on a national level. This trend, however, does not appear to be as steep as that of surgical utilization in degenerative spine disease. Furthermore, the ratio of spinal fusions to hospitalizations for lumbar fractures appears to be stable, possibly indicating no significant changes in indications for surgical intervention over the time period studied.

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Tien V. Le, Elias Dakwar, Shannon Hann, Euclides Effio, Ali A. Baaj, Carlos Martinez, Fernando L. Vale and Juan S. Uribe

Object

Occipital condyle screws serve as an alternative fixation point in occipital-cervical fusion. Their placement requires a thorough understanding of the anatomy of the occipital condyles and associated structures. This study is a CT-based morphometric analysis of occipital condyles as related to occipital condyle–cervical fusion.

Methods

A total of 170 patients were examined with CT scans of the craniocervical junction at a single institution, for a total of 340 occipital condyles, between March 6, 2006, and July 30, 2006. All CT scans were negative for traumatic, degenerative, and neoplastic pathological entities. Condylar anteroposterior (AP) length, transverse width, height, projected screw angle, and projected screw lengths were measured on an EBW Portal 2.5 CT Viewer Workstation (Philips Electronics).

The longest axis in the AP orientation of the occipital condyle was accepted as the length. The transverse width was a line perpendicular to the midpoint of the long axis. The height was measured in the coronal projection that had the thickest craniocaudal portion of the condyle. The screw trajectory started 5 mm lateral to the medial edge of the condyle and a line was directed anteromedially in the longest axis. The angle was measured relative to the sagittal midline. The screw length was measured from the outer cortex of the posterior wall to the outer cortex of the anterior wall.

Results

The mean ± SD values for occipital condyle measurements were as follows: AP length was 22.38 ± 2.19 mm (range 14.7–27.6 mm); width was 11.18 ± 1.44 mm (range 7.4–19.0 mm); height was 9.92 ± 1.30 mm (range 5.1–14.3 mm); screw angle was 20.30° ± 4.89° (range 8.0°–34.0°); and screw length was 20.30 ± 2.24 mm (range 13.0–27.6 mm).

Conclusions

These measurements correlate with previous cadaveric and radiographic studies of the occipital condyle, and emphasize the role of preoperative planning for the feasibility of placement of an occipital condyle screw.

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Tien V. Le, Ali A. Baaj, Armen Deukmedjian, Juan S. Uribe and Fernando L. Vale

Object

The pediatric Chance fracture (PCF) is an uncommon injury, but it has been increasingly reported. Knowledge is limited to few case reports and short series. To understand the various aspects of this injury, the authors reviewed the current literature.

Methods

A literature search was conducted using the PubMed and Ovid online databases and relevant key words. All articles that were in English and provided information regarding PCF as a sole or part of the objective were retrieved.

Results

Seventy-three articles were found to fulfill the inclusion criteria. Relevant information about PCF collected from these articles included: 1) mode of trauma, 2) associated injuries, 3) radiological classification, and 4) treatment.

Conclusions

Chance fractures in children are potentially devastating injuries largely caused by motor vehicle collisions, and these fractures may be more common than previously thought. Concomitant intraabdominal injuries are common and should be suspected, particularly when a seat belt sign is observed. Blunt abdominal aortic injuries are rarely associated, but should be evaluated for and treated appropriately. Magnetic resonance imaging is best for defining ligamentous injury, which aids in defining the pattern of injury, facilitating appropriate treatment regimens.

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Ali A. Baaj, Phillip M. Reyes, Ali S. Yaqoobi, Juan S. Uribe, Fernando L. Vale, Nicholas Theodore, Volker K. H. Sonntag and Neil R. Crawford

Object

Unstable fractures at the thoracolumbar junction often require extended, posterior, segmental pedicular fixation. Some surgeons have reported good clinical outcomes with short-segment constructs if additional pedicle screws are inserted at the fractured level. The goal of this study was to quantify the biomechanical advantage of the index-level screw in a fracture model.

Methods

Six human cadaveric T10–L4 specimens were tested. A 3-column injury at L-1 was simulated, and 4 posterior constructs were tested as follows: one-above-one-below (short construct) with/without index-level screws, and two-above-two-below (long construct) with/without index-level screws. Pure moments were applied quasistatically while 3D motion was measured optoelectronically. The range of motion (ROM) and lax zone across T12–L2 were measured during flexion, extension, left and right lateral bending, and left and right axial rotation.

Results

All constructs significantly reduced the ROM and lax zone in the fractured specimens. With or without index-level screws, the long-segment constructs provided better immobilization than the short-segment constructs during all loading modes. Adding an index-level screw to the short-segment construct significantly improved stability during flexion and lateral bending; there was no significant improvement in stability when an index-level screw was added to the long-segment construct. Overall, bilateral index-level screws decreased the ROM of the 1-level construct by 25% but decreased the ROM of the 2-level construct by only 3%.

Conclusions

In a fracture model, adding index-level pedicle screws to short-segment constructs improves stability, although stability remains less than that provided by long-segment constructs with or without index-level pedicle screws. Therefore, highly unstable fractures likely require extended, long-segment constructs for optimum stability.

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Ali A. Baaj, Juan S. Uribe, Tann A. Nichols, Nicholas Theodore, Neil R. Crawford, Volker K. H. Sonntag and Fernando L. Vale

Object

The objective of this work was to search a national health care database of patients diagnosed with cervical spine fractures in the US to analyze discharge, demographic, and hospital charge trends over a 10-year period.

Methods

Clinical data were derived from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) for the years 1997 through 2006. The NIS is maintained by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and represents a 20% random stratified sample of all discharges from nonfederal hospitals within the US. Patients with cervical spine fractures with and without spinal cord injury (SCI) were identified using the appropriate ICD-9-CM codes. The volume of discharges, length of stay (LOS), hospital charges, total national charges, discharge pattern, age, and sex were analyzed. National estimates were calculated using the HCUPnet tool.

Results

Approximately 200,000 hospitalizations were identified. In the non-SCI group, there was a 74% increase in hospitalizations and charges between 1997 and 2006, but LOS changed minimally. There was no appreciable change in the rate of in-hospital mortality (< 3%), but discharges home with home health care and to skilled rehabilitation or nursing facilities increased slightly. In the SCI group, hospitalizations and charges increased by 29 and 38%, respectively. There were no significant changes in LOS or discharge status in this group. Spinal cord injury was associated with increases in LOS, charges, and adverse outcomes compared with fractures without SCI. Total national charges associated with both groups combined exceeded $1.3 billion US in 2006.

Conclusions

During the studied period, increases in hospitalizations and charges were observed in both the SCI and non-SCI groups. The percentage increase was higher in the non-SCI group. Although SCI was associated with higher adverse outcomes, there were no significant improvements in immediate discharge status in either group during the 10 years analyzed.

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Ali A. Baaj, Juan S. Uribe, Fernando L. Vale, Mark C. Preul and Neil R. Crawford

Enthusiasm for cervical disc arthroplasty is based on the premise that motion-preserving devices attenuate the progression of adjacent-segment disease (ASD) in the cervical spine. Arthrodesis, on the other hand, results in abnormal load transfer on adjacent segments, leading to the acceleration of ASD. It has taken several decades of pioneering work to produce clinically relevant devices that mimic the kinematics of the intervertebral disc. The goal of this work is to trace the origins of cervical arthroplasty technology and highlight the attributes of devices currently available in the market.

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Dzenan Lulic, Amir Ahmadian, Ali A. Baaj, Selim R. Benbadis and Fernando L. Vale

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is a key tool in the treatment of patients with medically refractory epilepsy. Although the mechanism of action of VNS remains poorly understood, this modality is now the most widely used nonpharmacological treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy. The goal of this work is to review the history of VNS and provide information on recent advances and applications of this technology.

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Ali A. Baaj, Juan S. Uribe and Fernando L. Vale

Chance-type fractures of the spine have been associated with seat-belt injuries in the pediatric population. Nonoperative management is appropriate in most cases of Chance fractures, but surgical intervention is occasionally warranted to deter progression of kyphosis and neurological deterioration. Internal fixation using pedicle screws has been widely used in the surgical repair of this injury. The authors report on a 6-year-old girl who suffered an L-2 Chance fracture with facet disruption, kyphosis, and significant posterior ligamentous injury. She underwent open reduction and internal fixation using Songer cable wiring augmented with bilateral lamina plating. At the 18-week follow-up, she continued to be free of any neurological deficits and her alignment was stable on plain radiographs of flexion-extension. The authors have therefore described a feasible option in the surgical management of Chance-type fractures in the pediatric spine.