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The effect of C2–3 disc angle on postoperative adverse events in cervical spondylotic myelopathy

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

Bryan S. Lee, Kevin M. Walsh, Daniel Lubelski, Konrad D. Knusel, Michael P. Steinmetz, Thomas E. Mroz, Richard P. Schlenk, Iain H. Kalfas and Edward C. Benzel

OBJECTIVE

Complete radiographic and clinical evaluations are essential in the surgical treatment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM). Prior studies have correlated cervical sagittal imbalance and kyphosis with disability and worse health-related quality of life. However, little is known about C2–3 disc angle and its correlation with postoperative outcomes. The present study is the first to consider C2–3 disc angle as an additional radiographic predictor of postoperative adverse events.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review was performed to identify patients with CSM who underwent surgeries from 2010 to 2014. Data collected included demographics, baseline presenting factors, and postoperative outcomes. Cervical sagittal alignment variables were measured using the preoperative and postoperative radiographs. Univariable logistic regression analyses were used to explore the association between dependent and independent variables, and a multivariable logistic regression model was created using stepwise variable selection.

RESULTS

The authors identified 171 patients who had complete preoperative and postoperative radiographic and outcomes data. The overall rate of postoperative adverse events was 33% (57/171), and postoperative C2–3 disc angle, C2–7 sagittal vertical axis, and C2–7 Cobb angle were found to be significantly associated with adverse events. Inclusion of postoperative C2–3 disc angle in the analysis led to the best prediction of adverse events. The mean postoperative C2–3 disc angle for patients with any postoperative adverse event was 32.3° ± 17.2°, and the mean for those without any adverse event was 22.4° ± 11.1° (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

In the present retrospective analysis of postoperative adverse events in patients with CSM, the authors found a significant association between C2–3 disc angle and postoperative adverse events. They propose that C2–3 disc angle be used as an additional parameter of cervical spinal sagittal alignment and predictor for operative outcomes.

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Roy Xiao, Jacob A. Miller, Navin C. Sabharwal, Daniel Lubelski, Vincent J. Alentado, Andrew T. Healy, Thomas E. Mroz and Edward C. Benzel

OBJECTIVE

Improvements in imaging technology have steadily advanced surgical approaches. Within the field of spine surgery, assistance from the O-arm Multidimensional Surgical Imaging System has been established to yield superior accuracy of pedicle screw insertion compared with freehand and fluoroscopic approaches. Despite this evidence, no studies have investigated the clinical relevance associated with increased accuracy. Accordingly, the objective of this study was to investigate the clinical outcomes following thoracolumbar spinal fusion associated with O-arm–assisted navigation. The authors hypothesized that increased accuracy achieved with O-arm–assisted navigation decreases the rate of reoperation secondary to reduced hardware failure and screw misplacement.

METHODS

A consecutive retrospective review of all patients who underwent open thoracolumbar spinal fusion at a single tertiary-care institution between December 2012 and December 2014 was conducted. Outcomes assessed included operative time, length of hospital stay, and rates of readmission and reoperation. Mixed-effects Cox proportional hazards modeling, with surgeon as a random effect, was used to investigate the association between O-arm–assisted navigation and postoperative outcomes.

RESULTS

Among 1208 procedures, 614 were performed with O-arm–assisted navigation, 356 using freehand techniques, and 238 using fluoroscopic guidance. The most common indication for surgery was spondylolisthesis (56.2%), and most patients underwent a posterolateral fusion only (59.4%). Although O-arm procedures involved more vertebral levels compared with the combined freehand/fluoroscopy cohort (4.79 vs 4.26 vertebral levels; p < 0.01), no significant differences in operative time were observed (4.40 vs 4.30 hours; p = 0.38). Patients who underwent an O-arm procedure experienced shorter hospital stays (4.72 vs 5.43 days; p < 0.01). O-arm–assisted navigation trended toward predicting decreased risk of spine-related readmission (0.8% vs 2.2%, risk ratio [RR] 0.37; p = 0.05) and overall readmissions (4.9% vs 7.4%, RR 0.66; p = 0.07). The O-arm was significantly associated with decreased risk of reoperation for hardware failure (2.9% vs 5.9%, RR 0.50; p = 0.01), screw misplacement (1.6% vs 4.2%, RR 0.39; p < 0.01), and all-cause reoperation (5.2% vs 10.9%, RR 0.48; p < 0.01). Mixed-effects Cox proportional hazards modeling revealed that O-arm–assisted navigation was a significant predictor of decreased risk of reoperation (HR 0.49; p < 0.01). The protective effect of O-arm–assisted navigation against reoperation was durable in subset analysis of procedures involving < 5 vertebral levels (HR 0.44; p = 0.01) and ≥ 5 levels (HR 0.48; p = 0.03). Further subset analysis demonstrated that O-arm–assisted navigation predicted decreased risk of reoperation among patients undergoing posterolateral fusion only (HR 0.39; p < 0.01) and anterior lumbar interbody fusion (HR 0.22; p = 0.03), but not posterior/transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion.

CONCLUSIONS

To the authors' knowledge, the present study is the first to investigate clinical outcomes associated with O-arm–assisted navigation following thoracolumbar spinal fusion. O-arm–assisted navigation decreased the risk of reoperation to less than half the risk associated with freehand and fluoroscopic approaches. Future randomized controlled trials to corroborate the findings of the present study are warranted.

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Daniel Lubelski, Andrew T. Healy, Alan Friedman, Dyan Ferraris, Edward C. Benzel and Richard Schlenk

OBJECTIVE

Neurosurgery is among the most competitive residencies, as evidenced by the high number of applicants for relatively few positions. Although it is important to recruit candidates who have the intellectual capacity and drive to succeed, traditional objective selection criteria, such as US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) (also known as Step 1) score, number of publications, and class ranking, have not been shown to consistently predict clinical and academic success. Furthermore, these traditional objective parameters have not been associated with specific personality traits.

METHODS

The authors sought to determine the efficacy of a personality assessment in the selection of neurosurgery residents. Specifically, the aim was to determine the correlation between traditional measures used to evaluate an applicant (e.g., USMLE score, number of publications, MD/PhD status) and corresponding validated personality traits.

RESULTS

Fifty-four neurosurgery residency applicants were interviewed at the Cleveland Clinic during the 2014–2015 application cycle. No differences in validated personality scores were identified between the 46 MD applicants and 8 MD/PhD applicants. The mean USMLE score (± SD) was 252.3 ± 11.9, and those in the high-USMLE-score category (USMLE score ≥ 260) had a significantly lower “imaginative” score (a stress measure of eccentric thinking and impatience with those who think more slowly). The average number of publications per applicant was 8.6 ± 7.9, and there was a significant positive correlation (r = 0.339, p = 0.016) between greater number of publications and a higher “adjustment” score (a measure of being even-tempered, having composure under pressure). Significant negative correlations existed between the total number of publications and the “excitable” score (a measure of being emotionally volatile) (r = −0.299, p = 0.035) as well as the “skeptical” score (measure of being sensitive to criticism) (r = −0.325, p = 0.021). The average medical school rank was 25.8, and medical school rankings were positively correlated with the “imaginative” score (r = 0.287, p = 0.044).

CONCLUSIONS

This is the first study to investigate the use of personality scores in the selection of neurosurgical residents. The use of personality assessments has the potential to provide insight into an applicant's future behavior as a resident and beyond. This information may be useful in the selection of neurosurgical residents and can be further used to customize the teaching of residents and for enabling them to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses for self-improvement.

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Daniel Lubelski, Matthew D. Alvin, Sergiy Nesterenko, Swetha J. Sundar, Nicolas R. Thompson, Edward C. Benzel and Thomas E. Mroz

OBJECT

Studies comparing surgical treatments for cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) are heterogeneous, using a variety of different quality of life (QOL) outcomes and myelopathy-specific measures. This study sought to evaluate the relationship of these measures to each other, and to better understand their use in evaluating patients with CSM.

METHODS

A retrospective study was performed in all patients with CSM who underwent either ventral or dorsal cervical spine surgery at a single tertiary-care institution between January 2008 and July 2013. Severity of myelopathy was assessed pre- and postoperatively using both the Nurick scale and the modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (mJOA) classification of disability. Prospectively collected QOL outcomes data included Pain Disability Questionnaire (PDQ), Patient Health Questionnaire–9 (PHQ-9), and EQ-5D. Spearman rank correlations were calculated to assess the construct convergent validity for each pair of health status measures (HSMs). To assess each HSM’s ability to discriminate favorable EQ-5D index, we performed receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis and assessed the area under the curve (AUC).

RESULTS

A total of 119 patients were included. The PDQ total score had the highest correlation with EQ-5D index (Spearman’s rho = −0.82). Neither of the myelopathy scales (mJOA or Nurick) had strong correlations between themselves (0.41) or with the other QOL measures (absolute value range 0.13–0.49). In contrast, the QOL measures correlated relatively well with each other (absolute value range 0.68–0.97). For predicting favorable EQ-5D outcomes, PDQ total score had an AUC of 0.909. The AUCs were significantly greater for the QOL measures in comparison with the myelopathy measures (AUCs were 0.677 and 0.607 for mJOA and Nurick scale scores, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found that all included measures of QOL and CSM-specific (mJOA or Nurick scale) measures were valid and responsive. The PDQ was the most predictive of positive QOL after surgery (as measured by the EQ-5D index) for patients with CSM. The substantially lower correlation between myelopathy and QOL outcomes, compared with the various QOL measures themselves, suggests that these questionnaires are measuring different aspects of the patient experience. Solely assessing the myelopathy or disease-specific signs and symptoms is likely insufficient to fully understand and appreciate clinical outcome in its totality. These questionnaire types should be used together to best evaluate patients pre- and postoperatively.

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Megan M. Lockwood, Gabriel A. Smith, Joseph Tanenbaum, Daniel Lubelski, Andreea Seicean, Jonathan Pace, Edward C. Benzel, Thomas E. Mroz and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECT

Screening for vertebral artery injury (VAI) following cervical spine fractures is routinely performed across trauma centers in North America. From 2002 to 2007, the total number of neck CT angiography (CTA) studies performed in the Medicare population after trauma increased from 9796 to 115,021. In the era of cost-effective medical care, the authors aimed to evaluate the utility of CTA screening in detecting VAI and reduce chances of posterior circulation strokes after traumatic cervical spine fractures.

METHODS

A retrospective review of all patients presenting with cervical spine fractures to Northeast Ohio’s Level I trauma institution from 2002 to 2012 was performed.

RESULTS

There was a total of 1717 cervical spine fractures in patients presenting to Northeast Ohio’s Level I trauma institution between 2002 and 2012. CTA screening was performed in 732 patients, and 51 patients (0.7%) were found to have a VAI. Fracture patterns with increased odds of VAI were C-1 and C-2 combined fractures, transverse foramen fractures, and subluxation of adjacent vertebral levels. Ten posterior circulation strokes were identified in this patient population (0.6%) and found in only 4 of 51 cases of VAI (7.8%). High-risk fractures defined by Denver Criteria, VAI, and antiplatelet treatment of VAI were not independent predictors of stroke.

CONCLUSIONS

Cost-effective screening must be reevaluated in the setting of blunt cervical spine fractures on a case-by-case basis. Further prospective studies must be performed to elucidate the utility of screening for VAI and posterior circulation stroke prevention, if identified.

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Andrew T. Healy, Prasath Mageswaran, Daniel Lubelski, Benjamin P. Rosenbaum, Virgilio Matheus, Edward C. Benzel and Thomas E. Mroz

OBJECT

The degenerative process of the spinal column results in instability followed by a progressive loss of segmental motion. Segmental degeneration is associated with intervertebral disc and facet changes, which can be quantified. Correlating this degeneration with clinical segmental motion has not been investigated in the thoracic spine. The authors sought to determine if imaging-determined degeneration would correlate with native range of motion (ROM) or the change in ROM after decompressive procedures, potentially guiding clinical decision making in the setting of spine trauma or following decompressive procedures in the thoracic spine.

METHODS

Multidirectional flexibility tests with image analysis were performed on thoracic cadaveric spines with intact ib cage. Specimens consisted of 19 fresh frozen human cadaveric spines, spanning C-7 to L-1. ROM was obtained for each specimen in axial rotation (AR), flexion-extension (FE), and lateral bending (LB) in the intact state and following laminectomy, unilateral facetectomy, and unilateral costotransversectomy performed at either T4–5 (in 9 specimens) or T8–9 (in 10 specimens). Image grading of segmental degeneration was performed utilizing 3D CT reconstructions. Imaging scores were obtained for disc space degeneration, which quantified osteophytes, narrowing, and endplate sclerosis, all contributing to the Lane disc summary score. Facet degeneration was quantified using the Weishaupt facet summary score, which included the scoring of facet osteophytes, narrowing, hypertrophy, subchondral erosions, and cysts.

RESULTS

The native ROM of specimens from T-1 to T-12 (n = 19) negatively correlated with age in AR (Pearson’s r coefficient = -0.42, p = 0.070) and FE (r = -0.42, p = 0.076). When regional ROM (across 4 adjacent segments) was considered, the presence of disc osteophytes negatively correlated with FE (r = −0.69, p = 0.012), LB (r = −0.82, p = 0.001), and disc narrowing trended toward significance in AR (r = −0.49, p = 0.107). Facet characteristics, scored using multiple variables, showed minimal correlation to native ROM (r range from −0.45 to +0.19); however, facet degeneration scores at the surgical level revealed strong negative correlations with regional thoracic stability following decompressive procedures in AR and LB (Weishaupt facet summary score: r = −0.52 and r = −0.71; p = 0.084 and p = 0.010, respectively). Disc degeneration was not correlated (Lane disc summary score: r = −0.06, p = 0.861).

CONCLUSIONS

Advanced age was the most important determinant of decreasing native thoracic ROM, whereas imaging characteristics (T1–12) did not correlate with the native ROM of thoracic specimens with intact rib cages. Advanced facet degeneration at the surgical level did correlate to specimen stability following decompressive procedures, and is likely indicative of the terminal stages of segmental degeneration.

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Benjamin D. Kuhns, Daniel Lubelski, Matthew D. Alvin, Jason S. Taub, Matthew J. McGirt, Edward C. Benzel and Thomas E. Mroz

OBJECT

Infections following spine surgery negatively affect patient quality of life (QOL) and impose a significant financial burden on the health care system. Postoperative wound infections occur at higher rates following dorsal cervical procedures than ventral procedures. Quantifying the health outcomes and costs associated with infections following dorsal cervical procedures may help to guide treatment strategies to minimize the deleterious consequences of these infections. Therefore, the goals of this study were to determine the cost and QOL outcomes affecting patients who developed deep wound infections following subaxial dorsal cervical spine fusions.

METHODS

The authors identified 22 (4.0%) of 551 patients undergoing dorsal cervical fusions who developed deep wound infections requiring surgical debridement. These patients were individually matched with control patients who did not develop infections. Health outcomes were assessed using the EQ-5D, Pain Disability Questionnaire (PDQ), Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), and visual analog scale (VAS). QOL outcome measures were collected preoperatively and after 6 and 12 months. Health resource utilization was recorded from patient electronic medical records over an average follow-up of 18 months. Direct costs were estimated using Medicare national payment amounts, and indirect costs were based on patients' missed workdays and income.

RESULTS

No significant differences in preoperative QOL scores were found between the 2 cohorts. At 6 months postsurgery, the noninfection cohort had significant pre- to postoperative improvement in EQ-5D (p = 0.02), whereas the infection cohort did not (p = 0.2). The noninfection cohort also had a significantly higher 6-month postoperative EQ-5D scores than the infection cohort (p = 0.04). At 1 year postsurgery, there was no significant difference in EQ-5D scores between the groups. Health care–associated costs for the infection cohort were significantly higher ($16,970 vs $7658; p < 0.0001). Indirect costs for the infection cohort and the noninfection cohort were $6495 and $2756, respectively (p = 0.03). Adjusted for inflation, the total costs for the infection cohort were $21,778 compared with $9159 for the noninfection cohort, reflecting an average cost of $12,619 associated with developing a postoperative deep wound infection (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

Dorsal cervical infections temporarily decrease patient QOL postoperatively, but with no long-term impact; they do, however, dramatically increase the cost of care. Knowledge of the financial burden of wound infections following dorsal cervical fusion may stimulate the development and use of improved prophylactic and therapeutic techniques to manage this serious complication.

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Daniel Lubelski, Nicolas R. Thompson, Sachin Bansal, Thomas E. Mroz, Daniel J. Mazanec, Edward C. Benzel and Tagreed Khalaf

OBJECT

The goal of this study was to determine whether pretreatment depression is predictive of quality of life (QOL) improvement for patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) who are treated conservatively.

METHODS

This retrospective cohort study included patients with LSS and concordant neurogenic claudication who were treated nonoperatively at a single institution between September 2010 and March 2013. Patient QOL measures were recorded pretreatment and then 4 months after treatment. Pretreatment depression was assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire–9 (PHQ-9). Successful outcome was defined as posttreatment improvement in EuroQol-5D (EQ-5D) index or in Pain and Disability Questionnaire (PDQ) scores. Regression analysis was performed to identify independent predictors of outcome while controlling for confounding variables.

RESULTS

A total of 502 patients were included in the study. The average age for these patients was 66.1 years, with 51% female and 90.6% white. After adjusting for baseline demographic and clinical variables, there was a statistically significant association between baseline PHQ-9 score and posttreatment change in EQ-5D index (β = −0.007, p = 0.0002). All other things being equal, a patient with a baseline PHQ-9 score of 0 (no depression) would be expected to improve in the EQ-5D index by 0.14 points (greater than the minimum clinically important difference) more than would a patient with a baseline PHQ-9 score of 20 (major depression). There was no significant association between baseline PHQ-9 score and change in Pain and Disability Questionnaire scores.

CONCLUSIONS

When controlling for other baseline characteristics, severely depressed patients with LSS who are treated nonoperatively have significantly less improvement in their QOL compared with those with little or no depression. These data are similar to the negative predictive effects of depression on posttreatment QOL following lumbar fusion surgery.