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Dara Bakar, Joseph E. Tanenbaum, Kevin Phan, Vincent J. Alentado, Michael P. Steinmetz, Edward C. Benzel and Thomas E. Mroz

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was to systematically review the literature on reported outcomes following decompression surgery for spinal metastases.

METHODS

The authors conducted MEDLINE, Scopus, and Web of Science database searches for studies reporting clinical outcomes and complications associated with decompression surgery for metastatic spinal tumors. Both retrospective and prospective studies were included. After meeting inclusion criteria, articles were categorized based on the following reported outcomes: survival, ambulation, surgical technique, neurological function, primary tumor histology, and miscellaneous outcomes.

RESULTS

Of the 4148 articles retrieved from databases, 36 met inclusion criteria. Of those included, 8 were prospective studies and 28 were retrospective studies. The year of publication ranged from 1992 to 2015. Study size ranged from 21 to 711 patients. Three studies found that good preoperative Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS ≥ 80%) was a significant predictor of survival. No study reported a significant effect of time-to-surgery following the onset of spinal cord compression symptoms on survival. Three studies reported improvement in neurological function following surgery. The most commonly cited complication was wound infection or dehiscence (22 studies). Eight studies reported that preoperative ambulatory or preoperative motor status was a significant predictor of postoperative ambulatory status. A wide variety of surgical techniques were reported: posterior decompression and stabilization, posterior decompression without stabilization, and posterior decompression with total or subtotal tumor resection. Although a wide range of functional scales were used to assess neurological outcomes, four studies used the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale to assess neurological function. Four studies reported the effects of radiation therapy and local disease control for spinal metastases. Two studies reported that the type of treatment was not significantly associated with the rate of local control. The most commonly reported primary tumor types included lung cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, renal cancer, and gastrointestinal cancer.

CONCLUSIONS

This study reports a systematic review of the literature on decompression surgery for spinal metastases. The results of this study can help educate surgeons on the previously published predictors of outcomes following decompression surgery for metastatic spinal disease. However, the authors also identify significant gaps in the literature and the need for future studies investigating the optimal practice with regard to decompression surgery for spinal metastases.

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Syed K. Mehdi, Vincent J. Alentado, Bryan S. Lee, Thomas E. Mroz, Edward C. Benzel and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) is a pathological calcification or ossification of the PLL, predominantly occurring in the cervical spine. Although surgery is often necessary for patients with symptomatic neurological deterioration, there remains controversy with regard to the optimal surgical treatment. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the authors identified differences in complications and outcomes after anterior or posterior decompression and fusion versus after decompression alone for the treatment of cervical myelopathy due to OPLL.

METHODS

A MEDLINE, SCOPUS, and Web of Science search was performed for studies reporting complications and outcomes after decompression and fusion or after decompression alone for patients with OPLL. A meta-analysis was performed to calculate effect summary mean values, 95% CIs, Q statistics, and I2 values. Forest plots were constructed for each analysis group.

RESULTS

Of the 2630 retrieved articles, 32 met the inclusion criteria. There was no statistically significant difference in the incidence of excellent and good outcomes and of fair and poor outcomes between the decompression and fusion and the decompression-only cohorts. However, the decompression and fusion cohort had a statistically significantly higher recovery rate (63.2% vs 53.9%; p < 0.0001), a higher final Japanese Orthopaedic Association score (14.0 vs 13.5; p < 0.0001), and a lower incidence of OPLL progression (< 1% vs 6.3%; p < 0.0001) compared with the decompression-only cohort. There was no statistically significant difference in the incidence of complications between the 2 cohorts.

CONCLUSIONS

This study represents the only comprehensive review of outcomes and complications after decompression and fusion or after decompression alone for OPLL across a heterogeneous group of surgeons and patients. Based on these results, decompression and fusion is a superior surgical technique compared with posterior decompression alone in patients with OPLL. These results indicate that surgical decompression and fusion lead to a faster recovery, improved postoperative neurological functioning, and a lower incidence of OPLL progression compared with posterior decompression only. Furthermore, decompression and fusion did not lead to a greater incidence of complications compared with posterior decompression only.

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Michael F. Shriver, Jack J. Xie, Erik Y. Tye, Benjamin P. Rosenbaum, Varun R. Kshettry, Edward C. Benzel and Thomas E. Mroz

OBJECT

Lumbar microdiscectomy and its various minimally invasive surgical techniques are seeing increasing popularity, but a systematic review of their associated complications has yet to be performed. The authors sought to identify all prospective clinical studies reporting complications associated with lumbar open microdiscectomy, microendoscopic discectomy (MED), and percutaneous microdiscectomy.

METHODS

The authors conducted MEDLINE, Scopus, Web of Science, and Embase database searches for randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies reporting complications associated with open, microendoscopic, or percutaneous lumbar microdiscectomy. Studies with fewer than 10 patients and published before 1990 were excluded. Overall and interstudy median complication rates were calculated for each surgical technique. The authors also performed a meta-analysis of the reported complications to assess statistical significance across the various surgical techniques.

RESULTS

Of 9504 articles retrieved from the databases, 42 met inclusion criteria. Most studies screened were retrospective case series, limiting the number of studies that could be included. A total of 9 complication types were identified in the included studies, and these were analyzed across each of the surgical techniques. The rates of any complication across the included studies were 12.5%, 13.3%, and 10.8% for open, MED, and percutaneous microdiscectomy, respectively. New or worsening neurological deficit arose in 1.3%, 3.0%, and 1.6% of patients, while direct nerve root injury occurred at rates of 2.6%, 0.9%, and 1.1%, respectively. Hematoma was reported at rates of 0.5%, 1.2%, and 0.6%, respectively. Wound complications (infection, dehiscence, orseroma) occurred at rates of 2.1%, 1.2%, and 0.5%, respectively. The rates of recurrent disc complications were 4.4%, 3.1%, and 3.9%, while reoperation was indicated in 7.1%, 3.7%, and 10.2% of operations, respectively. Meta-analysis calculations revealed a statistically significant higher rate of intraoperative nerve root injury following percutaneous procedures relative to MED. No other significant differences were found.

CONCLUSIONS

This review highlights complication rates among various microdiscectomy techniques, which likely reflect real-world practice and conceptualization of complications among physicians. This investigation sets the framework for further discussions regarding microdiscectomy options and their associated complications during the informed consent process.

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Michael F. Shriver, Valerie Zeer, Vincent J. Alentado, Thomas E. Mroz, Edward C. Benzel and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECT

There are a variety of surgical positions that provide optimal exposure of the dorsal lumbar spine. These include the prone, kneeling, knee-chest, knee-elbow, and lateral decubitus positions. All are positions that facilitate exposure of the spine. Each position, however, is associated with an array of unique complications that result from excessive pressure applied to the torso or extremities. The authors reviewed clinical studies reporting complications that arose from positioning of the patient during dorsal exposures of the lumbar spine.

METHODS

MEDLINE, Scopus, and Web of Science database searches were performed to find clinical studies reporting complications associated with positioning during lumbar spine surgery. For articles meeting inclusion criteria, the following information was obtained: publication year, study design, sample size, age, operative time, type of surgery, surgical position, frame or table type, complications associated with positioning, time to first observed complication, long-term outcomes, and evidence-based recommendations for complication avoidance.

RESULTS

Of 3898 articles retrieved from MEDLINE, Scopus, and Web of Science, 34 met inclusion criteria. Twenty-four studies reported complications associated with use of the prone position, and 7 studies investigated complications after knee-chest positioning. Complications associated with the knee-elbow, lateral decubitus, and supine positions were each reported by a single study. Vision loss was the most commonly reported complication for both prone and knee-chest positioning. Several other complications were reported, including conjunctival swelling, Ischemic orbital compartment syndrome, nerve palsies, thromboembolic complications, pressure sores, lower extremity compartment syndrome, and shoulder dislocation, highlighting the assortment of possible complications following different surgical positions. For prone-position studies, there was a relationship between increased operation time and position complications. Only 3 prone-position studies reported complications following procedures of less than 120 minutes, 7 studies reported complications following mean operative times of 121–240 minutes, and 9 additional studies reported complications following mean operative times greater than 240 minutes. This relationship was not observed for knee-chest and other surgical positions.

CONCLUSIONS

This work presents a systematic review of positioning-related complications following prone, knee-chest, and other positions used for lumbar spine surgery. Numerous evidence-based recommendations for avoidance of these potentially severe complications associated with intraoperative positioning are discussed. This investigation may serve as a framework to educate the surgical team and decrease rates of intraoperative positioning complications.

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Matthew D. Alvin, Jacob A. Miller, Daniel Lubelski, Benjamin P. Rosenbaum, Kalil G. Abdullah, Robert G. Whitmore, Edward C. Benzel and Thomas E. Mroz

Object

Cost-effectiveness research in spine surgery has been a prominent focus over the last decade. However, there has yet to be a standardized method developed for calculation of costs in such studies. This lack of a standardized costing methodology may lead to conflicting conclusions on the cost-effectiveness of an intervention for a specific diagnosis. The primary objective of this study was to systematically review all cost-effectiveness studies published on spine surgery and compare and contrast various costing methodologies used.

Methods

The authors performed a systematic review of the cost-effectiveness literature related to spine surgery. All cost-effectiveness analyses pertaining to spine surgery were identified using the cost-effectiveness analysis registry database of the Tufts Medical Center Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy, and the MEDLINE database. Each article was reviewed to determine the study subject, methodology, and results. Data were collected from each study, including costs, interventions, cost calculation method, perspective of cost calculation, and definitions of direct and indirect costs if available.

Results

Thirty-seven cost-effectiveness studies on spine surgery were included in the present study. Twenty-seven (73%) of the studies involved the lumbar spine and the remaining 10 (27%) involved the cervical spine. Of the 37 studies, 13 (35%) used Medicare reimbursements, 12 (32%) used a case-costing database, 3 (8%) used cost-to-charge ratios (CCRs), 2 (5%) used a combination of Medicare reimbursements and CCRs, 3 (8%) used the United Kingdom National Health Service reimbursement system, 2 (5%) used a Dutch reimbursement system, 1 (3%) used the United Kingdom Department of Health data, and 1 (3%) used the Tricare Military Reimbursement system. Nineteen (51%) studies completed their cost analysis from the societal perspective, 11 (30%) from the hospital perspective, and 7 (19%) from the payer perspective. Of those studies with a societal perspective, 14 (38%) reported actual indirect costs.

Conclusions

Changes in cost have a direct impact on the value equation for concluding whether an intervention is cost-effective. It is essential to develop a standardized, accurate means of calculating costs. Comparability and transparency are essential, such that studies can be compared properly and policy makers can be appropriately informed when making decisions for our health care system based on the results of these studies.

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Balint Otvos, Varun R. Kshettry and Edward C. Benzel

In 1919, it was observed that intravascular osmolar shifts could collapse the thecal sac and diminish the ability to withdraw CSF from the lumbar cistern. This led to the notion that hyperosmolar compounds could ameliorate brain swelling. Since then, various therapeutic interventions have been used for the reduction of intracranial pressure and brain volume.

Urea was first used as an osmotic agent for the reduction of brain volume in 1950. It was associated with greater efficacy and consistency than alternatives such as hyperosmolar glucose. Its use became the standard of clinical practice by 1957, in both the intensive care unit and operating room, to reduce intracranial pressure and brain bulk and was the first hyperosmolar compound to have widespread use. However, the prime of urea was rather short lived. Reports of side effects and complications associated with urea emerged. These included coagulopathy, hemoglobinuria, electrocardiography changes, tissue necrosis with extravasation, and a significant potential for rebound intracranial hypertension.

Mannitol was introduced in 1961 as a comparable and potentially superior alternative to urea. However, mannitol was initially purported to be less effective at rapidly reducing intracranial pressure. The debate over the two compounds continued for a decade until mannitol eventually replaced urea by the late 1960s and early 1970s as the hyperosmolar agent of choice due to the ease of preparation, chemical stability, and decreased side effect profile.

Although urea is not currently the standard of care today, its rise and eventual replacement by mannitol played a seminal role in both our understanding of cerebral edema and the establishment of strategies for its management.

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Patrick Flanigan, Varun R. Kshettry and Edward C. Benzel

Cranioplasty is a unique procedure with a rich history. Since ancient times, a diverse array of materials from coconut shells to gold plates has been used for the repair of cranial defects. More recently, World War II greatly increased the demand for cranioplasty procedures and renewed interest in the search for a suitable synthetic material for cranioprostheses. Experimental evidence revealed that tantalum was biologically inert to acid and oxidative stresses. In fact, the observation that tantalum did not absorb acid resulted in the metal being named after Tantalus, the Greek mythological figure who was condemned to a pool of water in the Underworld that would recede when he tried to take a drink. In clinical use, malleability facilitated a single-stage cosmetic repair of cranial defects. Tantalum became the preferred cranioplasty material for more than 1000 procedures performed during World War II. In fact, its use was rapidly adopted in the civilian population. During World War II and the heyday of tantalum cranioplasty, there was a rapid evolution in prosthesis implantation and fixation techniques significantly shaping how cranioplasties are performed today. Several years after the war, acrylic emerged as the cranioplasty material of choice. It had several clear advantages over its metallic counterparts. Titanium, which was less radiopaque and had a more optimal thermal conductivity profile (less thermally conductive), eventually supplanted tantalum as the most common metallic cranioplasty material. While tantalum cranioplasty was popular for only a decade, it represented a significant breakthrough in synthetic cranioplasty. The experiences of wartime neurosurgeons with tantalum cranioplasty played a pivotal role in the evolution of modern cranioplasty techniques and ultimately led to a heightened understanding of the necessary attributes of an ideal synthetic cranioplasty material. Indeed, the history of tantalum cranioplasty serves as a model for innovative thinking and adaptive technology development.