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Bryan A. Lieber, Geoffrey Appelboom, Blake E. S. Taylor, Hani Malone, Nitin Agarwal and E. Sander Connolly Jr.


Each July, 4th-year medical students become 1st-year resident physicians and have much greater responsibility in making management decisions. In addition, incumbent residents and fellows advance to their next postgraduate year and face greater challenges. It has been suggested that among patients who have resident physicians as members of their neurosurgical team, this transition may be associated with increased rates of morbidity and mortality, a phenomenon known as the “July Effect.” In this study, the authors compared morbidity and mortality rates between the initial and later months of the academic year to determine whether there is truly a July Effect that has an impact on this patient population.


The authors compared 30-day postoperative outcomes of neurosurgery performed by surgical teams that included resident physicians in training during the first academic quarter (Q1, July through September) with outcomes of neurosurgery performed with resident participation during the final academic quarter (Q4, April through June), using 2006–2012 data from the prospectively collected American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) database. Regression analyses were performed on outcome data that included mortality, surgical complications, and medical complications, which were graded as mild or severe. To determine whether a July Effect was present in subgroups, secondary analyses were performed to analyze the association of outcomes with each major neurosurgical subspecialty, the postgraduate year of the operating resident, and the academic quarter during which the surgery was performed. To control for possible seasonal trends in certain diseases, the authors compared patient outcomes at academic medical centers to those at community-based hospitals, where procedures were not performed by residents. In addition, the efficiency of academic centers was compared to that of community centers in terms of operative duration and total length of hospital stay.


Overall, there were no statistically significant differences in mortality, morbidity, or efficiency between the earlier and later quarters of the academic year, a finding that also held true among neurosurgical subspecialties and among postgraduate levels of training. There was, however, a slight increase in intraoperative transfusions associated with the transitional period in July (6.41% of procedures in Q4 compared to 7.99% in Q1 of the prior calendar year; p = 0.0005), which primarily occurred in cases involving junior (2nd- to 4th-year) residents. In addition, there was an increased rate of reoperation (1.73% in Q4 to 2.19% in Q1; p < 0.0001) observed mainly among senior (5th- to 7th-year) residents in the early academic months and not paralleled in our community cohort.


There is minimal evidence for a significant July Effect in adult neurosurgery. Our results suggest that, overall, the current resident training system provides enough guidance and support during this challenging transition period.

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Robert F. Heary, Ira M. Goldstein, Katarzyna M. Getto and Nitin Agarwal

Cervical disc arthroplasty (CDA) has been gaining popularity as a surgical alternative to anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. Spontaneous fusion following a CDA is uncommon. A few anecdotal reports of heterotrophic ossification around the implant sites have been noted for the BRYAN, ProDisc-C, Mobi-C, PRESTIGE, and PCM devices. All CDA fusions reported to date have been in devices that are semiconstrained.

The authors reported the case of a 56-year-old man who presented with left C-7 radiculopathy and neck pain for 10 weeks after an assault injury. There was evidence of disc herniation at the C6–7 level. He was otherwise healthy with functional scores on the visual analog scale (VAS, 4.2); neck disability index (NDI, 16); and the 36-item short form health survey (SF-36; physical component summary [PSC] score 43 and mental component summary [MCS] score 47). The patient underwent total disc replacement in which the DISCOVER Artificial Cervical Disc (DePuy Spine, Inc.) was used. The patient was seen at regular follow-up visits up to 60 months. At his 60-month follow-up visit, he had complete radiographic fusion at the C6–7 level with bridging trabecular bone and no motion at the index site on dynamic imaging. He was pain free, with a VAS score of 0, NDI score of 0, and SF-36 PCS and MCS scores of 61 and 55, respectively.


This is the first case report that identifies the phenomenon of fusion around a nonconstrained cervical prosthesis. Despite this unwanted radiographic outcome, the patient's clinical outcome was excellent.

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Robert F. Heary, Nitin Agarwal, James C. Barrese, Maureen T. Barry and Ada Baisre

Lesions metastatic to the site of a meningioma resection from a different primary tumor are rare. Metastasis of a tumor without a known primary tumor is also rare. Metastasis of a renal cell carcinoma, without an identifiable primary tumor, to the bed of a meningioma resection has not been previously reported.

The authors describe the case of a 54-year-old man who presented with decreased sensory and motor function in the lower extremities. He underwent T3–5 laminectomies and gross-total removal of an intradural, extramedullary meningioma. The postoperative course was uneventful, and the patient regained full neurological function. After a 3-year period, he developed progressive upper thoracic pain and lower-extremity paresthesias. Imaging studies showed an epidural mass at the T2–4 levels and what appeared to be blastic involvement of the T2–4 vertebrae. A metastatic workup was negative. Emergency revision laminectomies yielded a fibrous, nonvascular mass. Neuropathology was consistent with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. After 6 months, the patient's symptoms of pain and paresthesias recurred. Repeat excision, with decompression of the spinal cord, revealed tumor cells morphologically and immunophenotypically similar to those obtained from the prior surgery. Cytogenetic analysis confirmed the presence of metastatic renal cell carcinoma.

A novel case of an epidural metastatic renal cell carcinoma, of unknown primary origin, in the same operative bed of a previously resected intradural, extramedullary meningioma of the thoracic spine is reported.

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Nitin Agarwal, Daniel P. Feghhi, Raghav Gupta, David R. Hansberry, John C. Quinn, Robert F. Heary and Ira M. Goldstein


The Internet has become a widespread source for disseminating health information to large numbers of people. Such is the case for spine surgery as well. Given the complexity of spinal surgeries, an important point to consider is whether these resources are easily read and understood by most Americans. The average national reading grade level has been estimated to be at about the 7th grade. In the present study the authors strove to assess the readability of open spine surgery resources and minimally invasive spine surgery resources to offer suggestions to help improve the readability of patient resources.


Online patient education resources were downloaded in 2013 from 50 resources representing either traditional open back surgery or minimally invasive spine surgery. Each resource was assessed using 10 scales from Readability Studio Professional Edition version 2012.1.


Patient education resources representing traditional open back surgery or minimally invasive spine surgery were all found to be written at a level well above the recommended 6th grade level. In general, minimally invasive spine surgery materials were written at a higher grade level.


The readability of patient education resources from spine surgery websites exceeds the average reading ability of an American adult. Revisions may be warranted to increase quality and patient comprehension of these resources to effectively reach a greater patient population.

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Nitin Agarwal, Nihar B. Gala, Reza J. Karimi, Roger E. Turbin, Chirag D. Gandhi and Charles J. Prestigiacomo

Central retinal artery occlusion, although relatively rare, is an ophthalmological emergency. If left untreated, complete blindness will ensue. Conventional therapies have not significantly improved outcomes compared with the natural history of the disease. Several case series of more recent endovascular approaches, such as intraarterial fibrinolysis, report successful outcomes. Still other studies regarding intraarterial fibrinolysis do not demonstrate any significantly better outcomes, with some even indicating increased complication rates. Therefore, the authors present a review of the current endovascular treatment options for central retinal artery occlusion.