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Zarina S. Ali, Tracy M. Flanders, Ali K. Ozturk, Neil R. Malhotra, Lena Leszinsky, Brendan J. McShane, Diana Gardiner, Kristin Rupich, H. Isaac Chen, James Schuster, Paul J. Marcotte, Michael J. Kallan, M. Sean Grady, Lee A. Fleisher and William C. Welch


Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols address pre-, peri-, and postoperative factors of a patient’s surgical journey. The authors sought to assess the effects of a novel ERAS protocol on clinical outcomes for patients undergoing elective spine or peripheral nerve surgery.


The authors conducted a prospective cohort analysis comparing clinical outcomes of patients undergoing elective spine or peripheral nerve surgery after implementation of the ERAS protocol compared to a historical control cohort in a tertiary care academic medical center. Patients in the historical cohort (September–December 2016) underwent traditional surgical care. Patients in the intervention group (April–June 2017) were enrolled in a unique ERAS protocol created by the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania. Primary objectives were as follows: opioid and nonopioid pain medication consumption, need for opioid use at 1 month postoperatively, and patient-reported pain scores. Secondary objectives were as follows: mobilization and ambulation status, Foley catheter use, need for straight catheterization, length of stay, need for ICU admission, discharge status, and readmission within 30 days.


A total of 201 patients underwent surgical care via an ERAS protocol and were compared to a total of 74 patients undergoing traditional perioperative care (control group). The 2 groups were similar in baseline demographics. Intravenous opioid medications postoperatively via patient-controlled analgesia was nearly eliminated in the ERAS group (0.5% vs 54.1%, p < 0.001). This change was not associated with an increase in the average or daily pain scores in the ERAS group. At 1 month following surgery, a smaller proportion of patients in the ERAS group were using opioids (38.8% vs 52.7%, p = 0.041). The ERAS group demonstrated greater mobilization on postoperative day 0 (53.4% vs 17.1%, p < 0.001) and postoperative day 1 (84.1% vs 45.7%, p < 0.001) compared to the control group. Postoperative Foley use was decreased in the ERAS group (20.4% vs 47.3%, p < 0.001) without an increase in the rate of straight catheterization (8.1% vs 11.9%, p = 0.51).


Implementation of this novel ERAS pathway safely reduces patients’ postoperative opioid requirements during hospitalization and 1 month postoperatively. ERAS results in improved postoperative mobilization and ambulation.

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Implications of anesthetic approach, spinal versus general, for the treatment of spinal disc herniation

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

Nikhil Sharma, Matthew Piazza, Paul J. Marcotte, William Welch, Ali K. Ozturk, H. Isaac Chen, Zarina S. Ali, James Schuster and Neil R. Malhotra


Healthcare costs continue to escalate. Approaches to care that have comparable outcomes and complications are increasingly assessed for quality improvement and, when possible, cost containment. Efforts to identify components of care to reduce length of stay (LOS) have been ongoing. Spinal anesthesia (SA), for select lumbar spine procedures, has garnered interest as an alternative to general anesthesia (GA) that might reduce cost and in-hospital LOS and accelerate recovery. While clinical outcomes with SA or GA have been studied extensively, few authors have looked at the cost-analysis in relation to clinical outcomes. The authors’ objectives were to compare the clinical perioperative outcomes of patients who received SA and GA, as well as the direct costs associated with each modality of care, and to determine which, in a retrospective analysis, can serve as a dominant procedural approach.


The authors retrospectively analyzed a homogeneous surgical population of 550 patients who underwent hemilaminotomy for disc herniation and who received either SA (n = 91) or GA (n = 459). All clinical and billing data were obtained via each patient’s chart and the hospital’s billing database, respectively. Additionally, the authors prospectively assessed patient-reported outcome measures for a subgroup of consecutively treated patients (n = 75) and compared quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gains between the two cohorts. Furthermore, the authors performed a propensity score–matching analysis to compare the two cohorts (n = 180).


Direct hospital costs for patients receiving SA were 40% higher, in the hundreds of dollars, than for patients who received GA (p < 0.0001). Furthermore, there was a significant difference with regard to LOS (p < 0.0001), where patients receiving SA had a considerably longer hospital LOS (27.6% increase in hours). Patients undergoing SA had more comorbidities (p = 0.0053), specifically diabetes and hypertension. However, metrics of complications, including readmission (p = 0.3038) and emergency department (ED) visits at 30 days (p = 1.0), were no different. Furthermore, in a small pilot group, QALY gains were statistically no different (n = 75, p = 0.6708). Propensity score–matching analysis demonstrated similar results as the univariate analysis: there was no difference between the cohorts regarding 30-day readmission (p = 1.0000); ED within 30 days could not be analyzed as there were no patients in the SA group; and total direct costs and LOS were significantly different between the two cohorts (p < 0.0001 and p = 0.0126, respectively).


Both SA and GA exhibit the qualities of a good anesthetic, and the utilization of these modalities for lumbar spine surgery is safe and effective. However, this work suggests that SA is associated with increased LOS and higher direct costs, although these differences may not be clinically or fiscally meaningful.

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Peter Syre III, Leonardo Rodriguez-Cruz, Rajiv Desai, Karl A. Greene, Robert Hurst, James Schuster, Neil R. Malhotra and Paul Marcotte


Gunshot wounds to the atlantoaxial spine are uncommon injuries and rarely require treatment, as a bullet traversing this segment often results in a fatal injury. Additionally, these injuries are typically biomechanically stable. The authors report a series of 10 patients with gunshot wounds involving the lateral mass and/or bodies of the atlantoaxial complex. Their care is discussed and conclusions are drawn from these cases to identify the optimal treatment for these injuries.


A retrospective review was conducted of patients presenting to the emergency rooms of 3 institutions with gunshot wounds involving the atlantoaxial spine. Mechanism of injury and neurological status were obtained, as was the extent of the osteoligamentous, vascular, and neurological injuries. Nonoperative and operative treatment, complications, and clinical and radiographic outcome were recorded. The data were then analyzed to determine the neurological and biomechanical prognosis of these injuries, the utility of the various diagnostic modalities in the acute management of the injuries, and the nature and effectiveness of the nonoperative and operative treatment modalities.


Ten patients with gunshot wounds involving the lateral mass and/or bodies of the atlantoaxial complex were identified. All but 2 patients sustained a vertebral artery injury. Each patient was evaluated using cervical radiographs, CT scans, and vascular imaging, 8 in the form of digital subtraction angiography and 2 with high-resolution CT angiography. Uncomplicated patients were treated conservatively using cervical collar immobilization, local wound care, and antibiotics. One patient was treated using a halo for instability and 1 underwent posterior fusion following a posterolateral decompression for delayed myelopathy. One patient underwent transoral resection of a bullet fragment. One patient underwent embolization for a symptomatic arteriovenous fistula and a second patient underwent a neck exploration and a jugular vein ligation. None of the patients received anticoagulation therapy. The mean follow-up duration was 13 months. All but 2 patients regained their previous functional status and all ultimately attained a mechanically stable spine.


These 10 patients represent a rare form of cervical spine penetrating injury. Unilateral gunshot wounds to the atlantoaxial complex are usually stable and the need for acute surgical intervention is rare. Unilateral vertebral artery injury is well tolerated and any information provided by angiography does not alter the acute management of the patient. Vascular complications from gunshot wounds can be managed effectively by endovascular techniques.