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Zoher Ghogawala, Daniel K. Resnick, Steven D. Glassman, James Dziura, Christopher I. Shaffrey and Praveen V. Mummaneni

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Khoi D. Than, Jill N. Curran, Daniel K. Resnick, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Zoher Ghogawala and Praveen V. Mummaneni

OBJECTIVE

To date, the factors that predict whether a patient returns to work after lumbar discectomy are poorly understood. Information on postoperative work status is important in analyzing the cost-effectiveness of the procedure.

METHODS

An observational prospective cohort study was completed at 13 academic and community sites (NeuroPoint–Spinal Disorders [NeuroPoint-SD] registry). Patients undergoing single-level lumbar discectomy were included. Variables assessed included age, sex, body mass index (BMI), SF-36 physical function score, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score, presence of diabetes, smoking status, systemic illness, workers' compensation status, and preoperative work status. The primary outcome was working status within 3 months after surgery. Stepwise logistic regression analysis was performed to determine which factors were predictive of return to work at 3 months following discectomy.

RESULTS

There were 127 patients (of 148 total) with data collected 3 months postoperatively. The patients' average age at the time of surgery was 46 ± 1 years, and 66.9% of patients were working 3 months postoperatively. Statistical analyses demonstrated that the patients more likely to return to work were those of younger age (44.5 years vs 50.5 years, p = 0.008), males (55.3% vs 28.6%, p = 0.005), those with higher preoperative SF-36 physical function scores (44.0 vs 30.3, p = 0.002), those with lower preoperative ODI scores (43.8 vs 52.6, p = 0.01), nonsmokers (83.5% vs 66.7%, p = 0.03), and those who were working preoperatively (91.8% vs 26.2%, p < 0.0001). When controlling for patients who were working preoperatively (105 patients), only age was a statistically significant predictor of postoperative return to work (44.1 years vs 51.1 years, p = 0.049).

CONCLUSIONS

In this cohort of lumbar discectomy patients, preoperative working status was the strongest predictor of postoperative working status 3 months after surgery. Younger age was also a predictor. Factors not influencing return to work in the logistic regression analysis included sex, BMI, SF-36 physical function score, ODI score, presence of diabetes, smoking status, and systemic illness.

Clinical trial registration no.: 01220921 (clinicaltrials.gov)

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Robert G. Whitmore, Jill N. Curran, Zarina S. Ali, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Robert F. Heary, Michael G. Kaiser, Anthony L. Asher, Neil R. Malhotra, Joseph S. Cheng, John Hurlbert, Justin S. Smith, Subu N. Magge, Michael P. Steinmetz, Daniel K. Resnick and Zoher Ghogawala

OBJECT

The authors have established a multicenter registry to assess the efficacy and costs of common lumbar spinal procedures using prospectively collected outcomes. Collection of these data requires an extensive commitment of resources from each site. The aim of this study was to determine whether outcomes data from shorter-interval follow-up could be used to accurately estimate long-term outcome following lumbar discectomy.

METHODS

An observational prospective cohort study was completed at 13 academic and community sites. Patients undergoing single-level lumbar discectomy for treatment of disc herniation were included. SF-36 and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) data were obtained preoperatively and at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months postoperatively. Quality-adjusted life year (QALY) data were calculated using SF-6D utility scores. Correlations among outcomes at each follow-up time point were tested using the Spearman rank correlation test.

RESULTS

One hundred forty-eight patients were enrolled over 1 year. Their mean age was 46 years (49% female). Eleven patients (7.4%) required a reoperation by 1 year postoperatively. The overall 1-year follow-up rate was 80.4%. Lumbar discectomy was associated with significant improvements in ODI and SF-36 scores (p < 0.0001) and with a gain of 0.246 QALYs over the 1-year study period. The greatest gain occurred between baseline and 3-month follow-up and was significantly greater than improvements obtained between 3 and 6 months or 6 months and 1 year(p < 0.001). Correlations between 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year outcomes were similar, suggesting that 3-month data may be used to accurately estimate 1-year outcomes for patients who do not require a reoperation. Patients who underwent reoperation had worse outcomes scores and nonsignificant correlations at all time points.

CONCLUSIONS

This national spine registry demonstrated successful collection of high-quality outcomes data for spinal procedures in actual practice. Three-month outcome data may be used to accurately estimate outcome at future time points and may lower costs associated with registry data collection. This registry effort provides a practical foundation for the acquisition of outcome data following lumbar discectomy.

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Michael G. Kaiser, Jason C. Eck, Michael W. Groff, William C. Watters III, Andrew T. Dailey, Daniel K. Resnick, Tanvir F. Choudhri, Alok Sharan, Jeffrey C. Wang, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Sanjay S. Dhall and Zoher Ghogawala

Fusion procedures are an accepted and successful management strategy to alleviate pain and/or neurological symptoms associated with degenerative disease of the lumbar spine. In 2005, the first version of the “Guidelines for the performance of fusion procedures for degenerative disease of the lumbar spine” was published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. In an effort to incorporate evidence obtained since the original publication of these guidelines, an expert panel of neurosurgical and orthopedic spine specialists was convened in 2009. Topics reviewed were essentially identical to the original publication. Selected manuscripts from the first iteration of these guidelines as well as relevant publications between 2005 through 2011 were reviewed. Several modifications to the methodology of guideline development were adopted for the current update. In contrast to the 2005 guidelines, a 5-tiered level of evidence strategy was employed, primarily allowing a distinction between lower levels of evidence. The qualitative descriptors (standards/guidelines/options) used in the 2005 recommendations were abandoned and replaced with grades to reflect the strength of medical evidence supporting the recommendation. Recommendations that conflicted with the original publication, if present, were highlighted at the beginning of each chapter. As with the original guideline publication, the intent of this update is to provide a foundation from which an appropriate treatment strategy can be formulated.

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Daniel K. Resnick, William C. Watters III, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Andrew T. Dailey, Tanvir F. Choudhri, Jason C. Eck, Alok Sharan, Michael W. Groff, Jeffrey C. Wang, Zoher Ghogawala, Sanjay S. Dhall and Michael G. Kaiser

Lumbar stenosis is one of the more common radiographic manifestations of the aging process, leading to narrowing of the spinal canal and foramen. When stenosis is clinically relevant, patients often describe activity-related low-back or lower-extremity pain, known as neurogenic claudication. For those patients who do not improve with conservative care, surgery is considered an appropriate treatment alternative. The primary objective of surgery is to reconstitute the spinal canal. The role of fusion, in the absence of a degenerative deformity, is uncertain. The previous guideline recommended against the inclusion of lumbar fusion in the absence of spinal instability or a likelihood of iatrogenic instability. Since the publication of the original guidelines, numerous studies have demonstrated the role of surgical decompression in this patient population; however, few have investigated the utility of fusion in patients without underlying instability. The majority of studies contain a heterogeneous cohort of subjects, often combining patients with and without spondylolisthesis who received various surgical interventions, limiting fusions to those patients with instability. It is difficult if not impossible, therefore, to formulate valid conclusions regarding the utility of fusion for patients with uncomplicated stenosis. Lower-level evidence exists, however, that does not demonstrate an added benefit of fusion for these patients; therefore, in the absence of deformity or instability, the inclusion of a fusion is not recommended.

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Praveen V. Mummaneni, Sanjay S. Dhall, Jason C. Eck, Michael W. Groff, Zoher Ghogawala, William C. Watters III, Andrew T. Dailey, Daniel K. Resnick, Tanvir F. Choudhri, Alok Sharan, Jeffrey C. Wang and Michael G. Kaiser

Interbody fusion techniques have been promoted as an adjunct to lumbar fusion procedures in an effort to enhance fusion rates and potentially improve clinical outcome. The medical evidence continues to suggest that interbody techniques are associated with higher fusion rates compared with posterolateral lumbar fusion (PLF) in patients with degenerative spondylolisthesis who demonstrate preoperative instability. There is no conclusive evidence demonstrating improved clinical or radiographic outcomes based on the different interbody fusion techniques. The addition of a PLF when posterior or anterior interbody lumbar fusion is performed remains an option, although due to increased cost and complications, it is not recommended. No substantial clinical benefit has been demonstrated when a PLF is included with an interbody fusion. For lumbar degenerative disc disease without instability, there is moderate evidence that the standalone anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) has better clinical outcomes than the ALIF plus instrumented, open PLF. With regard to type of interbody spacer used, frozen allograft is associated with lower pseudarthrosis rates compared with freeze-dried allograft; however, this was not associated with a difference in clinical outcome.

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Michael W. Groff, Andrew T. Dailey, Zoher Ghogawala, Daniel K. Resnick, William C. Watters III, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Tanvir F. Choudhri, Jason C. Eck, Alok Sharan, Jeffrey C. Wang, Sanjay S. Dhall and Michael G. Kaiser

The utilization of pedicle screw fixation as an adjunct to posterolateral lumbar fusion (PLF) has become routine, but demonstration of a definitive benefit remains problematic. The medical evidence indicates that the addition of pedicle screw fixation to PLF increases fusion rates when assessed with dynamic radiographs. More recent evidence, since publication of the 2005 Lumbar Fusion Guidelines, suggests a stronger association between radiographic fusion and clinical outcome, although, even now, no clear correlation has been demonstrated. Although several reports suggest that clinical outcomes are improved with the addition of pedicle screw fixation, there are conflicting findings from similarly classified evidence. Furthermore, the largest contemporary, randomized, controlled study on this topic failed to demonstrate a significant clinical benefit with the use of pedicle screw fixation in patients undergoing PLF for chronic low-back pain. This absence of proof should not, however, be interpreted as proof of absence. Several limitations continue to compromise these investigations. For example, in the majority of studies the sample size is insufficient to detect small increments in clinical outcome that may be observed with pedicle screw fixation. Therefore, no definitive statement regarding the efficacy of pedicle screw fixation as a means to improve functional outcomes in patients undergoing PLF for chronic low-back pain can be made. There appears to be consistent evidence suggesting that pedicle screw fixation increases the costs and complication rate of PLF. High-risk patients, including (but not limited to) patients who smoke, patients who are undergoing revision surgery, or patients who suffer from medical conditions that may compromise fusion potential, may appreciate a greater benefit with supplemental pedicle screw fixation. It is recommended, therefore, that the use of pedicle screw fixation as a supplement to PLF be reserved for those patients in whom there is an increased risk of nonunion when treated with only PLF.

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William C. Watters III, Daniel K. Resnick, Jason C. Eck, Zoher Ghogawala, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Andrew T. Dailey, Tanvir F. Choudhri, Alok Sharan, Michael W. Groff, Jeffrey C. Wang, Sanjay S. Dhall and Michael G. Kaiser

The medical literature continues to fail to support the use of lumbar epidural injections for long-term relief of chronic back pain without radiculopathy. There is limited support for the use of lumbar epidural injections for shortterm relief in selected patients with chronic back pain. Lumbar intraarticular facet injections are not recommended for the treatment of chronic lower-back pain. The literature does suggest the use of lumbar medial nerve blocks for short-term relief of facet-mediated chronic lower-back pain without radiculopathy. Lumbar medial nerve ablation is suggested for 3–6 months of relief for chronic lower-back pain without radiculopathy. Diagnostic medial nerve blocks by the double-injection technique with an 80% improvement threshold are an option to predict a favorable response to medial nerve ablation for facet-mediated chronic lower-back pain without radiculopathy, but there is no evidence to support the use of diagnostic medial nerve blocks to predict the outcomes in these same patients with lumbar fusion. There is insufficient evidence to support or refute the use of trigger point injections for chronic lowerback pain without radiculopathy.