Atman Desai, Kimon Bekelis, Wenyan Zhao, Perry A. Ball and Kadir Erkmen
Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability. Given that neurologists and neurosurgeons have special expertise in this area, the authors hypothesized that the density of neuroscience providers is associated with reduced mortality rates from stroke across US counties.
This is a retrospective review of the Area Resource File 2009–2010, a national county-level health information database maintained by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The primary outcome variable was the 3-year (2004–2006) average in cerebrovascular disease deaths per million population for each county. The primary independent variable was the combined density of neurosurgeons and neurologists per million population in the year 2006. Multiple regression analysis was performed, adjusting for density of general practitioners (GPs), urbanicity of the county, and socioeconomic status of the residents of the county.
In the 3141 counties analyzed, the median number of annual stroke deaths was 586 (interquartile range [IQR] 449–754), the median number of neuroscience providers was 0 (IQR 0–26), and the median number of GPs was 274 (IQR 175–410) per million population. On multivariate adjusted analysis, each increase of 1 neuroscience provider was associated with 0.38 fewer deaths from stroke per year (p < 0.001) per million population. Rural location (p < 0.001) and increased density of GPs (p < 0.001) were associated with increases in stroke-related mortality.
Higher density of specialist neuroscience providers is associated with fewer deaths from stroke. This suggests that the availability of specialists is an important factor in survival after stroke, and underlines the importance of promoting specialist education and practice throughout the country.
Kimon Bekelis, Atman Desai, Wenyan Zhao, Dan Gibson, Daniel Gologorsky, Clifford Eskey and Kadir Erkmen
Computed tomography angiography (CTA) is increasingly used as a screening tool in the investigation of spontaneous intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH). However, CTA carries additional costs and risks, necessitating its judicious use. The authors hypothesized that subsets of patients with nontraumatic, nonsubarachnoid ICH are unlikely to benefit from CTA as part of the diagnostic workup and that particular patient risk factors may be used to increase the yield of CTA in the detection of vascular sources.
The authors performed a retrospective analysis of 1376 patients admitted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center with ICH over an 8-year period. Patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage, hemorrhagic conversion of ischemic infarcts, trauma, and known prior malignancy were excluded from the analysis, resulting in 257 patients for final analysis. Records were reviewed for medical risk factors, hemorrhage location, and correlation of CTA findings with final diagnosis. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to investigate the combined effects of baseline variables of interest. Model selection was conducted using the stepwise method with p = 0.10 as the significance level for variable entry and p = 0.05 the significance level for variable retention.
Computed tomography angiography studies detected vascular pathology in 34 patients (13.2%). Patient characteristics that were associated with a significantly higher likelihood of identifying a structural vascular lesion as the source of hemorrhage included patient age younger than 65 years (OR = 16.36, p = 0.0039), female sex (OR = 14.9, p = 0.0126), nonsmokers (OR = 103.8, p = 0.0008), patients with intraventricular hemorrhage (OR = 9.42, p = 0.0379), and patients without hypertension (OR = 515.78, p < 0.0001). Patients who were older than 65 years of age, with a history of hypertension, and hemorrhage located in the cerebellum or basal ganglia were never found to have an identified structural source of hemorrhage on CTA.
Patient characteristics and risk factors are important considerations when ordering diagnostic tests in the workup of nonsubarachnoid, nontraumatic spontaneous ICH. Although CTA is an accurate diagnostic examination, it can usually be omitted in the workup of patients with the described characteristics. The use of this algorithm has the potential to increase the yield, and thus the safety and cost effectiveness, of this diagnostic tool.
Atman Desai, Kimon Bekelis, Wenyan Zhao and Perry A. Ball
Motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) are a leading cause of death and disability in young people. Given that a major cause of death from MVAs is traumatic brain injury, and neurosurgeons hold special expertise in this area relative to other members of a trauma team, the authors hypothesized that neurosurgeon population density would be related to reduced mortality from MVAs across US counties.
The Area Resource File (2009–2010), a national health resource information database, was retrospectively analyzed. The primary outcome variable was the 3-year (2004–2006) average in MVA deaths per million population for each county. The primary independent variable was the density of neurosurgeons per million population in the year 2006. Multiple regression analysis was performed, adjusting for population density of general practitioners, urbanicity of the county, and socioeconomic status of the county.
The median number of annual MVA deaths per million population, in the 3141 counties analyzed, was 226 (interquartile range [IQR] 151–323). The median number of neurosurgeons per million population was 0 (IQR 0–0), while the median number of general practitioners per million population was 274 (IQR 175–410). Using an unadjusted analysis, each increase of 1 neurosurgeon per million population was associated with 1.90 fewer MVA deaths per million population (p < 0.001). On multivariate adjusted analysis, each increase of 1 neurosurgeon per million population was associated with 1.01 fewer MVA deaths per million population (p < 0.001), with a respective decrease in MVA deaths of 0.03 per million population for an increase in 1 general practitioner (p = 0.007). Rural location, persistent poverty, and low educational level were all associated with significant increases in the rate of MVA deaths.
A higher population density of neurosurgeons is associated with a significant reduction in deaths from MVAs, a major cause of death nationally. This suggests that the availability of local neurosurgeons is an important factor in the overall likelihood of survival from an MVA, and therefore indicates the importance of promoting neurosurgical education and practice throughout the country.