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Scott L. Parker, Matthew J. McGirt, Jeffrey A. Murphy, J. Thomas Megerian, Michael Stout and Luella Engelhart


The real-world effectiveness of antibiotic-impregnated shunt catheters to reduce the incidence of shunt infections is still debated. The literature to date consists mostly of small, single-institution studies. The aim of this study was to assess the incidence of infection for antibiotic-impregnated catheters (AICs) versus standard shunt catheters in a large nationwide administrative database.


The authors retrospectively reviewed hospital discharge and billing records from the Premier Perspective Database from April 2003 to July 2009 to identify all adult and pediatric patients undergoing de novo ventricular shunt placement. The primary end point was the incidence of shunt infection within 1 year of implantation. Multivariate logistical regression was performed to determine factors associated with increased incidence of infection.


A total of 10,819 adult (AIC, 963; standard catheter, 9856) and 1770 pediatric (AIC, 229; standard catheter, 1541) patients underwent ventricular shunt placement in 287 US hospitals. Overall, the incidence of infection was 3.5% in adults (n = 380) and 6.6% in pediatric patients (n = 116). AICs were associated with significant reduction in infection for both adult (2.2% vs 3.6%, p = 0.02) and pediatric (2.6% vs 7.1%, p < 0.01) patients. AIC use was associated with reduced infection regardless of hospital size, annual shunt volume, hospital location, or patient risk factors and remained associated with a reduced infection in multivariate analysis for both adult (p = 0.02) and pediatric (p = 0.02) patients.


The use of antibiotic-impregnated shunt catheters was associated with a reduction in shunt infections for both adult and pediatric patients. This provides further support that AICs may represent a reliable means of reducing shunt infections for both adult and pediatric patients.

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Natalie C. Edwards, Luella Engelhart, Eva M. H. Casamento and Matthew J. McGirt


Despite multiple preventive strategies for reducing infection, up to 15% of patients with shunt catheters and 27% of patients with external ventricular drains (EVDs) may develop an infection. There are few data on the cost-effectiveness of measures to prevent hydrocephalus catheter infection from the hospital perspective. The objective of this study was to perform a cost-consequence analysis to assess the potential clinical and economic value of antibiotic-impregnated catheter (AIC) shunts and EVDs compared with non-AIC shunts and EVDs in the treatment of hydrocephalus from a hospital perspective.


The authors used decision analytical techniques to assess the clinical and economic consequences of using antibiotic-impregnated shunts and EVDs from a hospital perspective. Model inputs were derived from the published, peer-reviewed literature. Clinical studies comparing infection rates and the clinical and economic impact of infections associated with the use of AICs and standard catheters (non-AICs) were evaluated. Outcomes assessed included infections, deaths due to infection, surgeries due to infection, and cost associated with shunt- and EVD-related infection. A subanalysis using only AIC shunt and EVD Level I evidence (randomized controlled trial results) was conducted as an alternate to the cumulative analysis of all of the AIC versus non-AIC studies (13 of the 14 shunt studies and 4 of the 6 EVD studies identified were observational). Sensitivity analyses were conducted to determine how changes in the values of uncertain parameters affected the results of the model.


In 100 patients requiring shunts, AICs may be associated with 0.5 fewer deaths, 71 fewer hospital days, 11 fewer surgeries, and $128,228 of net savings in hospital costs due to decreased infection. Results of the subanalysis showed that AICs may be associated with 1.9 fewer deaths, 1611 fewer hospital days, 25 fewer surgeries, and $346,616 of net savings in hospital costs due to decreased infection. The rate of decrease in infection with AIC shunts was shown to have the greatest impact on the cost savings realized with use of AIC shunts.

In 100 patients requiring EVDs, AICs may be associated with 2.7 fewer deaths and 82 fewer hospital days due to infection. The relative risk of more severe neurological impairment was estimated to be 5.33 times greater with EVD infection. Decreases in infection with AIC EVDs resulted in an estimated $264,069 of net savings per 100 patients treated with AICs. Results of the subanalysis showed that AIC EVDs may be associated with 1.0 fewer deaths, 31 infection-related hospital days averted, and $74,631 saved per 100 patients treated with AIC EVDs. As was seen with AIC shunts, the rate of decrease in infection with AIC EVDs was shown to have the greatest impact on the cost savings realized with use of AIC EVDs.


The current value analysis demonstrates that evidence supports the use of AICs as effective and potentially cost-saving treatment.

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John R. W. Kestle

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Matthew J. McGirt, Scott L. Parker, Jason Lerner, Luella Engelhart, Tyler Knight and Michael Y. Wang


Surgical site infection (SSI) after lumbar fusion results in significant patient morbidity and associated medical resource utilization. Minimally invasive (MI) techniques for posterior/transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (P/TLIF) were introduced with the goals of smaller wounds, less tissue trauma, reduced blood loss, and quicker postoperative recovery, while maintaining comparable surgical results. Studies with sufficient power to directly compare the incidence of SSI following MI versus open P/TLIF procedures have been lacking. Furthermore, the direct medical cost associated with the treatment of SSI following the P/TLIF procedure is poorly understood and has not been adequately assessed. Thus, the aim in the present study was to determine the incidence of perioperative SSI in patients undergoing MI versus open P/TLIF and the direct hospital cost associated with the diagnosis and management of SSI after P/TLIF as reported in a large administrative database.


The authors retrospectively reviewed hospital discharge and billing records from the Premier Perspective Database for 2003 to 2009 to identify patients undergoing 1- or 2-level MI or open P/TLIF for lumbar spondylotic disease, disc degeneration, or spondylolisthesis. The ICD-9-CM procedure codes were used to identify patients undergoing P/TLIF and those experiencing SSI. Infection-related costs were obtained from the total costs incurred by the hospital for SSI-related care provided during inpatient or hospital outpatient encounters.


Five thousand one hundred seventy patients undergoing P/TLIF were identified. Demographic profiles, including the Charlson Comorbidity Index, were similar between MI and open cohorts. Overall, 292 patients (5.6%) experienced an SSI with a mean direct cost of $15,817 per SSI. For 1-level MI versus open P/TLIF, the incidence of SSI (38 [4.5%] vs 77 [4.8%], p = 0.77) and the mean SSI-associated cost per P/TLIF ($684 vs $724, p = 0.680) were similar. For 2-level MI versus open P/TLIF, the incidence of SSI (27 [4.6%] vs 150 [7.0%], p = 0.037) and mean SSI-associated cost per P/TLIF ($756 vs $1140, p = 0.030) were both significantly lower among MI-treated patients. In a multivariate model that accounted for differences in demographics and patient severity, open fusion was associated with a strong trend of increased incidence of SSI as compared with MI fusion (OR 1.469, 95% CI 0.959–2.250).


In this multihospital study, the MI technique was associated with a decreased incidence of perioperative SSI and a direct cost savings of $38,400 per 100 P/TLIF procedure when used in 2-level fusion. There was no significant difference in the incidence of SSIs between the open and MI cohorts for 1-level fusion procedures. The results of this study provide further evidence of the reduced patient morbidity and health care costs associated with MI P/TLIF.