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  • Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine x
  • By Author: Agarwal, Nitin x
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Nitin Agarwal, Andrew Faramand, Johanna Bellon, Jeffrey Borrebach, D. Kojo Hamilton, David O. Okonkwo and Adam S. Kanter

OBJECTIVE

The Clinician and Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CG-CAHPS) is a standardized patient experience survey that is used to evaluate the quality of care delivered by physicians. The authors sought to determine which factors influenced CG-CAHPS scores for spine surgery, and compare them to their cranial-focused cohorts.

METHODS

A retrospective study of prospectively obtained data was performed to evaluate CG-CAHPS scores. Between May 2013 and May 2017, all patients 18 years of age or older with an outpatient encounter with a neurosurgeon (5 spine-focused neurosurgeons and 20 cranial-focused neurosurgeons) received a CG-CAHPS survey. Three domains were assessed: overall physician rating, likelihood to recommend, and physician communication. Statistical analyses were performed using chi-square tests.

RESULTS

Seven thousand four hundred eighty-five patient surveys (2319 spine and 5166 cranial) were collected from patients presenting to the outpatient offices of an attending neurosurgeon. Analysis of the overall physician rating showed that 81.1% of spine neurosurgeons received a “top-box” score (answers of “yes, definitely”), whereas 86.2% of cranial neurosurgeons received a top-box response (p < 0.001). A similar difference was observed with the domains of “likelihood to recommend” and “physician communication.” Overall physician rating was also significantly influenced by the general and mental health of the patients surveyed (p < 0.001). For spine surgeons seeing patients at more than one facility, the scores with respect to location were also significantly different in all domains for each individual provider (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, spine-focused neurosurgeon ratings differed significantly from those of cranial-focused neurosurgical subspecialty providers. Office location also affected provider ratings for spine neurosurgeons. These results suggest that physician ratings obtained via patient experience surveys may be representative of factors aside from just the quality of physician care provided. This information should be considered as payers, government, and health systems design performance programs based on patient experience scores.

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Lateral lumbar interbody fusion in the elderly: a 10-year experience

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

Nitin Agarwal, Andrew Faramand, Nima Alan, Zachary J. Tempel, D. Kojo Hamilton, David O. Okonkwo and Adam S. Kanter

OBJECTIVE

Elderly patients, often presenting with multiple medical comorbidities, are touted to be at an increased risk of peri- and postoperative complications following spine surgery. Various minimally invasive surgical techniques have been developed and employed to treat an array of spinal conditions while minimizing complications. Lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) is one such approach. The authors describe clinical outcomes in patients over the age of 70 years following stand-alone LLIF.

METHODS

A retrospective query of a prospectively maintained database was performed for patients over the age of 70 years who underwent stand-alone LLIF. Patients with posterior segmental fixation and/or fusion were excluded. The preoperative and postoperative values for the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) were analyzed to compare outcomes after intervention. Femoral neck t-scores were acquired from bone density scans and correlated with the incidence of graft subsidence.

RESULTS

Among the study cohort of 55 patients, the median age at the time of surgery was 74 years (range 70–87 years). Seventeen patients had at least 3 medical comorbidities at surgery. Twenty-three patients underwent a 1-level, 14 a 2-level, and 18 patients a 3-level or greater stand-alone lateral fusion. The median estimated blood loss was 25 ml (range 5–280 ml). No statistically significant relationship was detected between volume of blood loss and the number of operative levels. The median length of hospital stay was 2 days (range 1–4 days). No statistically significant relationship was observed between the length of hospital stay and age at the time of surgery. There was one intraoperative death secondary to cardiac arrest, with a mortality rate of 1.8%. One patient developed a transient femoral nerve injury. Five patients with symptomatic graft subsidence subsequently underwent posterior instrumentation. A lower femoral neck t-score < −1.0 correlated with a higher incidence of graft subsidence (p = 0.006). The mean ODI score 1 year postoperatively of 31.1 was significantly (p = 0.003) less than the mean preoperative ODI score of 46.2.

CONCLUSIONS

Stand-alone LLIF can be safely and effectively performed in the elderly population. Careful evaluation of preoperative bone density parameters should be employed to minimize risk of subsidence and need for additional surgery. Despite an association with increased comorbidities, age alone should not be a deterrent when considering stand-alone LLIF in the elderly population.

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David J. Salvetti, Zachary J. Tempel, Ezequiel Goldschmidt, Nicole A. Colwell, Federico Angriman, David M. Panczykowski, Nitin Agarwal, Adam S. Kanter and David O. Okonkwo

OBJECTIVE

Nutritional deficiency negatively affects outcomes in many health conditions. In spine surgery, evidence linking preoperative nutritional deficiency to postoperative surgical site infection (SSI) has been limited to small retrospective studies. Authors of the current study analyzed a large consecutive cohort of patients who had undergone elective spine surgery to determine the relationship between a serum biomarker of nutritional status (preoperative prealbumin levels) and SSI.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of the electronic medical charts of patients who had undergone posterior spinal surgeries and whose preoperative prealbumin level was available. Additional data pertinent to the risk of SSI were also collected. Patients who developed a postoperative SSI were identified, and risk factors for postoperative SSI were analyzed. Nutritional deficiency was defined as a preoperative serum prealbumin level ≤ 20 mg/dl.

RESULTS

Among a consecutive series of 387 patients who met the study criteria for inclusion, the infection rate for those with preoperative prealbumin ≤ 20 mg/dl was 17.8% (13/73), versus 4.8% (15/314) for those with preoperative prealbumin > 20 mg/dl. On univariate and multivariate analysis a low preoperative prealbumin level was a risk factor for postoperative SSI with a crude OR of 4.29 (p < 0.01) and an adjusted OR of 3.28 (p = 0.02). In addition, several previously known risk factors for infection, including diabetes, spinal fusion, and number of operative levels, were significant for the development of an SSI.

CONCLUSIONS

In this consecutive series, preoperative prealbumin levels, a serum biomarker of nutritional status, correlated with the risk of SSI in elective spine surgery. Prehabilitation before spine surgery, including strategies to improve nutritional status in patients with nutritional deficiencies, may increase value and improve spine care.

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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, Robert F. Heary and Prateek Agarwal

OBJECTIVE

Pedicle screw fixation is a technique widely used to treat conditions ranging from spine deformity to fracture stabilization. Pedicle screws have been used traditionally in the lumbar spine; however, they are now being used with increasing frequency in the thoracic spine as a more favorable alternative to hooks, wires, or cables. Although safety concerns, such as the incidence of adjacent-segment disease (ASD) after cervical and lumbar fusions, have been reported, such issues in the thoracic spine have yet to be addressed thoroughly. Here, the authors review the literature on ASD after thoracic pedicle screw fixation and report their own experience specifically involving the use of pedicle screws in the thoracic spine.

METHODS

Select references from online databases, such as PubMed (provided by the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health), were used to survey the literature concerning ASD after thoracic pedicle screw fixation. To include the authors’ experience at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, a retrospective review of a prospectively maintained database was performed to determine the incidence of complications over a 13-year period in 123 consecutive adult patients who underwent thoracic pedicle screw fixation. Children, pregnant or lactating women, and prisoners were excluded from the review. By comparing preoperative and postoperative radiographic images, the occurrence of thoracic ASD and disease within the surgical construct was determined.

RESULTS

Definitive radiographic fusion was detected in 115 (93.5%) patients. Seven incidences of instrumentation failure and 8 lucencies surrounding the screws were observed. One patient was observed to have ASD of the thoracic spine. The mean follow-up duration was 50 months.

CONCLUSIONS

This long-term radiographic evaluation revealed the use of pedicle screws for thoracic fixation to be an effective stabilization modality. In particular, ASD seems to be less of a problem in the relatively immobile thoracic spine than in the more mobile cervical and lumbar spines.

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Robert F. Heary, Naresh K. Parvathreddy, Zainab S. Qayumi, Naiim S. Ali and Nitin Agarwal

OBJECTIVE

Fibular allograft remains a widely used strut for corpectomy surgeries. The amount of graft material that can be packed into an allograft strut has not been quantified. Cages are an alternative to fibular allograft for fusion surgeries. The authors of this study assessed the suitability of carbon fiber–reinforced polyetheretherketone (CFRP) cages for anterior corpectomy surgeries. They further explored the parameters known to affect fusion rates in clinical practice.

METHODS

Six fibular allografts were tested at standard lengths. Three sets of carbon fiber cages (Bengal, DePuy Spine), each with a different footprint size but the same lengths, were tested. The allografts and cages were wrapped in adhesive, fluid-tight transparent barriers and filled with oil. The volume and weight of the oil instilled as well as the implant footprints were measured. The fibular allografts and cages were tested at 20-, 40-, and 50-mm lengths. Two investigators independently performed all measurements 5 times. Five CFRP cubes (1 × 1 × 1 cm) were tested under pure compression, and load versus displacement curves were plotted to determine the modulus of elasticity.

RESULTS

Significantly more oil fit in the CFRP cages than in the fibular allografts (p < 0.0001). The weight and volume of oil was 4–6 times greater in the cages. Interobserver (r = 0.991) and intraobserver (r = 0.993) reliability was excellent. The modulus of elasticity for CFRP was 16.44 ± 2.07 GPa.

CONCLUSIONS

Carbon fiber–reinforced polyetheretherketone cages can accommodate much more graft material than can fibular allografts. In clinical practice, the ability to deliver greater amounts of graft material following a corpectomy may improve fusion rates.

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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.

Conclusions

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.