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Michael D. White, Kristy Latour, Martina Giordano, Tavis Taylor and Nitin Agarwal

OBJECTIVE

There is an increasing trend among patients and their families to seek medical knowledge on the internet. Patients undergoing surgical interventions, including lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF), often rely on online videos as a first source of knowledge to familiarize themselves with the procedure. In this study the authors sought to investigate the reliability and quality of LLIF-related online videos.

METHODS

In December 2018, the authors searched the YouTube platform using 3 search terms: lateral lumbar interbody fusion, LLIF surgery, and LLIF. The relevance-based ranking search option was used, and results from the first 3 pages were investigated. Only videos from universities, hospitals, and academic associations were included for final evaluation. By means of the DISCERN instrument, a validated measure of reliability and quality for online patient education resources, 3 authors of the present study independently evaluated the quality of information.

RESULTS

In total, 296 videos were identified by using the 3 search terms. Ten videos met inclusion criteria and were further evaluated. The average (± SD) DISCERN video quality assessment score for these 10 videos was 3.42 ± 0.16. Two videos (20%) had an average score above 4, corresponding to a high-quality source of information. Of the remaining 8 videos, 6 (60%) scored moderately, in the range of 3–4, indicating that the publication is reliable but important information is missing. The final 2 videos (20%) had a low average score (2 or below), indicating that they are unlikely to be of any benefit and should not be used. Videos with intraoperative clips were significantly more popular, as indicated by the numbers of likes and views (p = 0.01). There was no correlation between video popularity and DISCERN score (p = 0.104). In August 2019, the total number of views for the 10 videos in the final analysis was 537,785.

CONCLUSIONS

The findings of this study demonstrate that patients who seek to access information about LLIF by using the YouTube platform will be presented with an overall moderate quality of educational content on this procedure. Moreover, compared with videos that provide patient information on treatments used in other medical fields, videos providing information on LLIF surgery are still exiguous. In view of the increasing trend to seek medical knowledge on the YouTube platform, and in order to support and optimize patient education on LLIF surgery, the authors encourage academic neurosurgery institutions in the United States and worldwide to implement the release of reliable video educational content.

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Nitin Agarwal, Michael D. White, Xiaoran Zhang, Nima Alan, Alp Ozpinar, David J. Salvetti, Zachary J. Tempel, David O. Okonkwo, Adam S. Kanter and D. Kojo Hamilton

OBJECTIVE

Stand-alone lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) is a useful minimally invasive approach for select spinal disorders, but implant subsidence may occur in up to 30% of patients. Previous studies have suggested that wider implants reduce the subsidence rate. This study aimed to evaluate whether a mismatch of the endplate and implant area can predict the rate and grade of implant subsidence.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of prospectively collected data on consecutive patients who underwent stand-alone LLIF between July 2008 and June 2015; 297 patients (623 surgical levels) met inclusion criteria. Imaging studies were examined to grade graft subsidence according to Marchi criteria. Thirty patients had radiographic evidence of implant subsidence. The endplates above and below the implant were measured.

RESULTS

A total of 30 patients with implant subsidence were identified. Of these patients, 6 had Marchi grade 0, 4 had grade I, 12 had grade II, and 8 had grade III implant subsidence. There was no statistically significant correlation between the endplate-implant area mismatch and subsidence grade or incidence. There was also no correlation between endplate-implant width and length mismatch and subsidence grade or incidence. However, there was a strong correlation between the usage of the 18-mm-wide implants and the development of higher-grade subsidence (p = 0.002) necessitating surgery. There was no significant association between the degree of mismatch or Marchi subsidence grade and the presence of postoperative radiculopathy. Of the 8 patients with 18-mm implants demonstrating radiographic subsidence, 5 (62.5%) required reoperation. Of the 22 patients with 22-mm implants demonstrating radiographic subsidence, 13 (59.1%) required reoperation.

CONCLUSIONS

There was no correlation between endplate-implant area, width, or length mismatch and Marchi subsidence grade for stand-alone LLIF. There was also no correlation between either endplate-implant mismatch or Marchi subsidence grade and postoperative radiculopathy. The data do suggest that the use of 18-mm-wide implants in stand-alone LLIF may increase the risk of developing high-grade subsidence necessitating reoperation compared to the use of 22-mm-wide implants.

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Vamsi Reddy, Arjun Gupta, Michael D. White, Raghav Gupta, Prateek Agarwal, Arpan V. Prabhu, Bryan Lieber, Yue-Fang Chang and Nitin Agarwal

OBJECTIVE

Publication metrics such as the Hirsch index (h-index) are often used to evaluate and compare research productivity in academia. The h-index is not a field-normalized statistic and can therefore be dependent on overall rates of publication and citation within specific fields. Thus, a metric that adjusts for this while measuring individual contributions would be preferable. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has developed a new, field-normalized, article-level metric called the “relative citation ratio” (RCR) that can be used to more accurately compare author productivity between fields. The mean RCR is calculated as the total number of citations per year of a publication divided by the average field-specific citations per year, whereas the weighted RCR is the sum of all article-level RCR scores over an author’s career. The present study was performed to determine how various factors, such as academic rank, career duration, a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree, and sex, impact the RCR to analyze research productivity among academic neurosurgeons.

METHODS

A retrospective data analysis was performed using the iCite database. All physician faculty affiliated with Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)–accredited neurological surgery programs were eligible for analysis. Sex, career duration, academic rank, additional degrees, total publications, mean RCR, and weighted RCR were collected for each individual. Mean RCR and weighted RCR were compared between variables to assess patterns of analysis by using SAS software version 9.4.

RESULTS

A total of 1687 neurosurgery faculty members from 125 institutions were included in the analysis. Advanced academic rank, longer career duration, and PhD acquisition were all associated with increased mean and weighted RCRs. Male sex was associated with having an increased weighted RCR but not an increased mean RCR score. Overall, neurological surgeons were highly productive, with a median RCR of 1.37 (IQR 0.93–1.97) and a median weighted RCR of 28.56 (IQR 7.99–85.65).

CONCLUSIONS

The RCR and its derivatives are new metrics that help fill in the gaps of other indices for research output. Here, the authors found that advanced academic rank, longer career duration, and PhD acquisition were all associated with increased mean and weighted RCRs. Male sex was associated with having an increased weighted, but not mean, RCR score, most likely because of historically unequal opportunities for women within the field. Furthermore, the data showed that current academic neurosurgeons are exceptionally productive compared to both physicians in other specialties and the general scientific community.

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Nitin Agarwal, Michael D. White, Susan C. Pannullo and Lola B. Chambless

OBJECTIVE

Resident attrition creates a profound burden on trainees and residency programs. This study aims to analyze trends in resident attrition in neurological surgery.

METHODS

This study followed a cohort of 1275 residents who started neurosurgical residency from 2005 to 2010. Data obtained from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) included residents who matched in neurosurgery during this time. Residents who did not finish their residency training at the program in which they started were placed into the attrition group. Residents in the attrition group were characterized by one of five outcomes: transferred neurosurgery programs; transferred to a different specialty; left clinical medicine; deceased; or unknown. A thorough internet search was conducted for residents who did not complete their training at their first neurosurgical program. Variables leading to attrition were also analyzed, including age, sex, presence of advanced degree (Ph.D.), postgraduate year (PGY), and geographical region of program.

RESULTS

Residents starting neurosurgical residency from 2005 to 2010 had an overall attrition rate of 10.98%. There was no statistically significant difference in attrition rates among the years (p = 0.337). The outcomes for residents in the attrition group were found to be as follows: 33.61% transferred neurosurgical programs, 56.30% transferred to a different medical specialty, 8.40% left clinical medicine, and 1.68% were deceased. It was observed that women had a higher attrition rate (18.50%) than men (10.35%). Most attrition (65.07%) occurred during PGY 1 or 2. The attrition group was also observed to be significantly older at the beginning of residency training, with a mean of 31.69 years of age compared to 29.31 in the nonattrition group (p < 0.001). No significant difference was observed in the attrition rates for residents with a Ph.D. (9.86%) compared to those without a Ph.D. (p = 0.472).

CONCLUSIONS

A majority of residents in the attrition group pursued training in different medical specialties, most commonly neurology, radiology, and anesthesiology. Factors associated with an increased rate of attrition were older age at the beginning of residency, female sex, and junior resident (PGY-1 to PGY-2). Resident attrition remains a significant problem within neurosurgical training, and future studies should focus on targeted interventions to identify individuals at risk to help them succeed in their medical careers.

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Ahmed Jorge, Michael D. White and Nitin Agarwal

OBJECTIVE

Individuals with a spinal cord injury (SCI) in socioeconomically disadvantaged settings (e.g., rural or low income) have different outcomes than their counterparts; however, a contemporary literature review identifying and measuring these outcomes has not been published. Here, the authors’ aim was to perform a systematic review and identify these parameters in the hope of providing tangible targets for future clinical research efforts.

METHODS

A systematic review was performed to find English-language articles published from 2007 to 2017 in the PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE, and SCOPUS databases. Studies evaluating any outcomes related to patients with an SCI and in a low-resource setting were included. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were followed, and a flowchart was created. Of the 403 articles found, 31 underwent complete review and 26 were eligible for study inclusion. According to the current study criteria, any case studies, studies in less developed countries, studies including and not separating other types of neurological disorders, studies not assessing the effects of a low-resource setting on outcomes in patients with SCI, and studies evaluating the causes of SCI in a low-resource setting were excluded.

RESULTS

In SCI patients, a lower income was a predictor of death (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.7–2.6, p = 0.0002). Moreover, secondary outcomes such as pain intensities (OR 3.32, 95% CI 2.21–4.49, p < 0.001), emergency room visits (11% more likely, p = 0.006), and pressure ulcer formation (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.5–3.0, p < 0.001) were significantly higher in the lower income brackets. Rurality was also a factor and was significantly associated with increased emergency room visits (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1–2.1, p = 0.01) and lower outpatient service utilization (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0.57, 95% CI 0.35–0.93, p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors showed that individuals in a low-resource setting who have suffered an SCI have significantly different outcomes than their counterparts. These specific outcomes are promising targets for future research efforts that focus on improving health conditions among this population.

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A longitudinal survey of adult spine and peripheral nerve case entries during neurosurgery residency training

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

Nitin Agarwal, Michael D. White and D. Kojo Hamilton

OBJECTIVE

Currently, there is a lack of research assessing residents’ operative experience and caseload variability. The current study utilizes data from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) case log system to analyze national trends in neurosurgical residents’ exposure to adult spinal procedures.

METHODS

Prospectively populated ACGME resident case logs from 2013 to 2017 were retrospectively reviewed. The reported number of spinal procedures was compared to the ACGME minimum requirements for each surgical category pertaining to adult spine surgery. A linear regression analysis was conducted to identify changes in operative caseload by residents graduating during the study period, as well as a one-sample t-test using IBM SPSS software to compare the mean number of procedures in each surgical category to the ACGME required minimums.

RESULTS

A mean of 427.42 total spinal procedures were performed throughout residency training for each of the 877 residents graduating between 2013 and 2017. The mean number of procedures completed by graduating residents increased by 19.96 (r2 = 0.95) cases per year. The number of cases in every procedural subspecialty, besides peripheral nerve operations, significantly increased during this time. The two procedural categories with the largest changes were anterior and posterior cervical approaches for decompression/stabilization, which increased by 8.78% per year (r2 = 0.95) and 9.04% per year (r2 = 0.95), respectively. There was also a trend of increasing cases logged for lead resident surgeons and a decline in cases logged for senior resident surgeons. Residents’ mean caseloads during residency were found to be vastly greater than the ACGME required minimums: residents performed at least twice as many procedures as the required minimums in every surgical category.

CONCLUSIONS

Graduating neurosurgical residents reported increasing case volumes for adult spinal cases during this 5-year interval. An increase in logged cases for lead resident surgeons as opposed to senior resident surgeons indicates that residents were logging more cases in which they had a more critical role in the procedure. Moreover, the average resident was noted to perform more than twice the number of procedures required by the ACGME in every surgical category, indicating that neurosurgical residents are getting greater exposure to spine surgery than expected. Given the known correlation between case volume and improved surgical outcomes, this data demonstrates each graduating neurosurgical residency class experiences an augmented training in spine surgery.

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Nitin Agarwal, Michael D. White, Jonathan Cohen, L. Dade Lunsford and D. Kojo Hamilton

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study was to analyze national trends in adult cranial cases performed by neurological surgery residents as logged into the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) system.

METHODS

The ACGME resident case logs were retrospectively reviewed for the years 2009–2017. In these reports, the national average of cases performed by graduating residents is organized by year, type of procedure, and level of resident. These logs were analyzed in order to evaluate trends in residency experience with adult cranial procedures. The reported number of cranial procedures was compared to the ACGME neurosurgical minimum requirements for each surgical category. A linear regression analysis was conducted in order to identify changes in the average number of procedures performed by residents graduating during the study period. Additionally, a 1-sample t-test was performed to compare reported case volumes to the ACGME required minimums.

RESULTS

An average of 577 total cranial procedures were performed throughout residency training for each of the 1631 residents graduating between 2009 and 2017. The total caseload for graduating residents upon completion of training increased by an average of 26.59 cases each year (r2 = 0.99). Additionally, caseloads in most major procedural subspecialty categories increased; this excludes open vascular and extracranial vascular categories, which showed, respectively, a decrease and no change. The majority of cranial procedures performed throughout residency pertained to tumor (mean 158.38 operations), trauma (mean 102.17 operations), and CSF diversion (mean 76.12 operations). Cranial procedures pertaining to the subspecialties of trauma and functional neurosurgery showed the greatest rise in total procedures, increasing at 8.23 (r2 = 0.91) and 6.44 (r2 = 0.95) procedures per graduating year, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

Neurosurgical residents reported increasing case volumes for most cranial procedures between 2009 and 2017. This increase was observed despite work hour limitations set forth in 2003 and 2011. Of note, an inverse relationship between open vascular and endovascular procedures was observed, with a decrease in open vascular procedures and an increase in endovascular procedures performed during the study period. When compared to the ACGME required minimums, neurosurgery residents gained much more exposure to cranial procedures than was expected. Additionally, a larger caseload throughout training suggests that residents are graduating with greater competency and experience in cranial neurosurgery.