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Zachary Tan, Stewart McLachlin, Cari Whyne and Joel Finkelstein

OBJECTIVE

The cortical bone trajectory (CBT) technique for pedicle screw placement has gained popularity among spinal surgeons. It has been shown biomechanically to provide better fixation and improved pullout strength compared to a traditional pedicle screw trajectory. The CBT technique also allows for a less invasive approach for fusion and may have lower incidence of adjacent-level disease. A limitation of the current CBT technique is a lack of readily identifiable and reproducible visual landmarks to guide freehand CBT screw placement in comparison to the well-defined identifiable landmarks for traditional pedicle screw insertion. The goal of this study was to validate a safe and intuitive freehand technique for placement of CBT screws based on optimization of virtual CBT screw placement using anatomical landmarks in the lumbar spine. The authors hypothesized that virtual identification of anatomical landmarks on 3D models of the lumbar spine generated from CT scans would translate to a safe intraoperative freehand technique.

METHODS

Customized, open-source medical imaging and visualization software (3D Slicer) was used in this study to develop a workflow for virtual simulation of lumbar CBT screw insertion. First, in an ex vivo study, 20 anonymous CT image series of normal and degenerative lumbar spines and virtual screw insertion were conducted to place CBT screws bilaterally in the L1–5 vertebrae for each image volume. The optimal safe CBT trajectory was created by maximizing both the screw length and the cortical bone contact with the screw. Easily identifiable anatomical surface landmarks for the start point and trajectory that best allowed the reproducible idealized screw position were determined. An in vivo validation of the determined landmarks from the ex vivo study was then performed in 10 patients. Placement of virtual “test” cortical bone trajectory screws was simulated with the surgeon blinded to the real-time image-guided navigation, and the placement was evaluated. The surgeon then placed the definitive screw using image guidance.

RESULTS

From the ex vivo study, the optimized technique and landmarks were similar in the L1–4 vertebrae, whereas the L5 optimized technique was distinct. The in vivo validation yielded ideal, safe, and unsafe screws in 62%, 16%, and 22% of cases, respectively. A common reason for the nonidealized trajectories was the obscuration of patient anatomy secondary to severe degenerative changes.

CONCLUSIONS

CBT screws were placed ideally or safely 78% of the time in a virtual simulation model. A 22% rate of unsafe freehand trajectories suggests that the CBT technique requires use of image-guided navigation or x-ray guidance and that reliable freehand CBT screw insertion based on anatomical landmarks is not reliably feasible in the lumbar spine.

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Jason K. Chu, Abdullah H. Feroze, Kelly Collins, Lynn B. McGrath Jr., Christopher C. Young, John R. Williams and Samuel R. Browd

OBJECTIVE

Placement of an external ventricular drain (EVD) is a common and potentially life-saving neurosurgical procedure, but the economic aspect of EVD management and the relationship to medical expenditure remain poorly studied. Similarly, interinstitutional practice patterns vary significantly. Whereas some institutions require that patients with EVDs be monitored strictly within the intensive care unit (ICU), other institutions opt primarily for management of EVDs on the surgical floor. Therefore, an ICU burden for patients with EVDs may increase a patient’s costs of hospitalization. The objective of the current study was to examine the expense differences between the ICU and the general neurosurgical floor for EVD care.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective analysis of data from 2 hospitals within a single, large academic institution—the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) and Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH). Hospital charges were evaluated according to patients’ location at the time of EVD management: SCH ICU, SCH floor, or UWMC ICU. Daily hospital charges from day of EVD insertion to day of removal were included and screened for days that would best represent baseline expenses for EVD care. Independent-samples Kruskal-Wallis analysis was performed to compare daily charges for the 3 settings.

RESULTS

Data from a total of 261 hospital days for 23 patients were included in the analysis. Ten patients were cared for in the UWMC ICU and 13 in the SCH ICU and/or on the SCH neurosurgical floor. The median values for total daily hospital charges were $19,824.68 (interquartile range [IQR] $12,889.73–$38,494.81) for SCH ICU care, $8,620.88 (IQR $6,416.76–$11,851.36) for SCH floor care, and $10,002.13 (IQR $8,465.16–$12,123.03) for UWMC ICU care. At SCH, it was significantly more expensive to provide EVD care in the ICU than on the floor (p < 0.001), and the daily hospital charges for the UWMC ICU were significantly greater than for the SCH floor (p = 0.023). No adverse clinical event related to the presence of an EVD was identified in any of the settings.

CONCLUSIONS

ICU admission solely for EVD care is costly. If safe EVD care can be provided outside of the ICU, it would represent a potential area for significant cost savings. Identifying appropriate patients for EVD care on the floor is multifactorial and requires vigilance in balancing the expenses associated with ICU utilization and optimal patient care.

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David R. Howell, Morgan N. Potter, Michael W. Kirkwood, Pamela E. Wilson, Aaron J. Provance and Julie C. Wilson

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to determine which variables assessed during an initial clinical evaluation for concussion are independently associated with time until symptom resolution among pediatric patients.

METHODS

Data collected from a prospective clinical registry of pediatric patients with concussion were analyzed. The primary outcome variable was time from injury until symptom resolution. Predictor variables assessed within 10 days after injury included preinjury factors, Health and Behavior Inventory scores, headache severity, and balance, vestibular, and oculomotor test performances. The researchers used univariate Cox proportional models to identify potential predictors of symptom resolution time and constructed a multivariate Cox proportional hazards model in which total duration of concussion symptoms remained the outcome variable.

RESULTS

The sample consisted of 351 patients (33% female, mean age 14.6 ± 2.2 years, evaluated 5.6 ± 2.6 days after concussion). Univariate Cox proportional hazards models indicated that several variables were associated with a longer duration of symptoms, including headache severity (hazard ratio [HR] 0.90 [95% CI 0.85–0.96]), headache frequency (HR 0.83 [95% CI 0.71–0.96]), confusion (HR 0.79 [95% CI 0.69–0.92]), forgetfulness (HR 0.79 [95% CI 0.68–0.92]), attention difficulties (HR 0.83 [95% CI 0.72–0.96]), trouble remembering (HR 0.84 [95% CI 0.72–0.98]), getting tired often (HR 0.86 [95% CI 0.76–0.97]), getting tired easily (HR 0.86 [95% CI 0.76–0.98]), dizziness (HR 0.86 [95% CI 0.75–0.99]), and abnormal performance on the Romberg test (HR 0.59 [95% CI 0.40–0.85]). A multivariate Cox proportional hazards model indicated that an abnormal performance on the Romberg test was independently associated with a longer duration of symptoms (HR 0.65 [95% CI 0.44–0.98]; p = 0.038).

CONCLUSIONS

For children and adolescents evaluated within 10 days after receiving a concussion, abnormal performance on the Romberg test was independently associated with a longer duration of symptoms during recovery. In line with findings of other recent studies investigating predictors of symptom resolution, postural stability tests may provide useful prognostic information for sports medicine clinicians.

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Omer Doron, Tal Or, Limor Battino, Guy Rosenthal and Ofer Barnea

OBJECTIVE

Augmenting brain perfusion or reducing intracranial pressure (ICP) dose is the end target of many therapies in the neuro-critical care unit. Many present therapies rely on aggressive systemic interventions that may lead to untoward effects. Previous studies have used a cardiac-gated intracranial balloon pump (ICBP) to model hydrocephalus or to flatten the ICP waveform. The authors sought to sought to optimize ICBP activation parameters to improve cerebral physiological parameters in a swine model of raised ICP.

METHODS

The authors developed a cardiac-gated ICBP in which the volume, timing, and duty cycle (time relative to a single cardiac cycle) of balloon inflation could be altered. They studied the ICBP in a swine model of elevated ICP attained by continuous intracranial fluid infusion with continuous monitoring of systemic and cerebral physiological parameters, and defined two specific protocols of ICBP activation.

RESULTS

Eleven swine were studied, 3 of which were studied to define the optimal timing, volume, and duty cycle of balloon inflation. Eight swine were studied with two defined protocols at baseline and with ICP gradually raised to a mean of 30.5 mm Hg. ICBP activation caused a consistent modification of the ICP waveform. Two ICBP activation protocols were used. Balloon activation protocol A led to a consistent elevation in cerebral blood flow (8%–25% above baseline, p < 0.00001). Protocol B resulted in a modest reduction of ICP over time (8%–11%, p < 0.0001) at all ICP levels. Neither protocol significantly affected systemic physiological parameters.

CONCLUSIONS

The preliminary results indicate that optimized protocols of ICBP activation may have beneficial effects on cerebral physiological parameters, with minimal effect on systemic parameters. Further studies are warranted to explore whether ICBP protocols may be of clinical benefit in patients with brain injuries with increased ICP.

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Narihito Nagoshi, Osahiko Tsuji, Daisuke Nakashima, Ayano Takeuchi, Kaori Kameyama, Eijiro Okada, Nobuyuki Fujita, Mitsuru Yagi, Morio Matsumoto, Masaya Nakamura and Kota Watanabe

OBJECTIVE

Intramedullary cavernous hemangioma (CH) is a rare vascular lesion that is mainly characterized by the sudden onset of hemorrhage in young, asymptomatic patients, who then experience serious neurological deterioration. Despite the severity of this condition, the therapeutic approach and timing of intervention for CH remain matters of debate. The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical characteristics of CH patients before and after surgery and to identify prognostic indicators that affect neurological function in these patients.

METHODS

This single-center retrospective study included 66 patients who were treated for intramedullary CH. Among them, 57 underwent surgery and 9 patients received conservative treatment. The authors collected demographic, symptomology, imaging, neurological, and surgical data. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to identify the prognostic indicators for neurological function.

RESULTS

When comparing patients with stable and unstable gait prior to surgery, patients with unstable gait had a higher frequency of hemorrhagic episodes (52.4% vs 19.4%, p = 0.010), as assessed by the modified McCormick Scale. The lesion was significantly smaller in patients who underwent conservative treatment compared with surgery (2.5 ± 1.5 mm vs 5.9 ± 4.1 mm, respectively; p = 0.024). Overall, the patients experienced significant neurological recovery after surgery, but a worse preoperative neurological status was identified as an indicator affecting surgical outcomes by multivariate analysis (OR 10.77, 95% CI 2.88–40.36, p < 0.001). In addition, a larger lesion size was significantly associated with poor functional recovery in patients who had an unstable gait prior to surgery (8.6 ± 4.5 mm vs 3.5 ± 1.6 mm, p = 0.011).

CONCLUSIONS

Once a hemorrhage occurs, surgical intervention should be considered to avoid recurrence of the bleeding and further neurological injury. In contrast, if the patients with larger lesion presented with worse preoperative functional status, surgical intervention could have a risk for aggravating the functional deficiencies by damaging the thinning cord parenchyma. Conservative treatment may be selected if the lesion is small, but regular neurological examination by MRI is needed for assessment of a change in lesion size and for detection of functional deterioration.

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Eva M. Wu, Tarek Y. El Ahmadieh, Benjamin Kafka, James P. Caruso, Om J. Neeley, Aaron R. Plitt, Salah G. Aoun, Daiwai Olson, Robert A. Ruchinskas, C. Munro Cullum, Babu G. Welch, H. Hunt Batjer and Jonathan A. White

OBJECTIVE

Objective assessment tests are commonly used to predict the response to ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunting in patients with normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH). Whether subjective reports of improvement after a lumbar drain (LD) trial can predict response to VP shunting remains controversial. The goal in this study was to compare clinical characteristics, complication rates, and shunt outcomes of objective and subjective LD responders who underwent VP shunt placement.

METHODS

This was a retrospective review of patients with NPH who underwent VP shunt placement after clinical improvement with the LD trial. Patients who responded after the LD trial were subclassified into objective LD responders and subjective LD responders. Clinical characteristics, complication rates, and shunt outcomes between the 2 groups were compared with chi-square test of independence and t-test.

RESULTS

A total of 116 patients received a VP shunt; 75 were objective LD responders and 41 were subjective LD responders. There was no statistically significant difference in patient characteristics between the 2 groups, except for a shorter length of stay after LD trial seen with subjective responders. The complication rates after LD trial and VP shunting were not significantly different between the 2 groups. Similarly, there was no significant difference in shunt response between objective and subjective LD responders. The mean duration of follow-up was 1.73 years.

CONCLUSIONS

Reports of subjective improvement after LD trial in patients with NPH can be a reliable predictor of shunt response. The currently used objective assessment scales may not be sensitive enough to detect subtle changes in symptomatology after LD trial.

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Daniela de Souza Coelho, Bruno Fernandes de Oliveira Santos, Marcos Devanir Silva da Costa, Gisele Sampaio Silva, Sergio Cavalheiro, Flávia H. Santos and Feres Chaddad-Neto

OBJECTIVE

A cerebral arteriovenous malformation (cAVM) can change over time and cause symptoms, but clinical studies tend to define only the patients with ruptured cAVMs as symptomatic and do not consider neurocognitive aspects prior to neurosurgical intervention. The objective of this study was to describe the neurocognitive function of patients with ruptured and unruptured cAVMs according to the Spetzler-Martin (SM) grade, flow status, and anatomical topography.

METHODS

In this blinded cross-sectional study, 70 patients of both sexes and ages 18–60 years were evaluated using the Brazilian Brief Neuropsychological Assessment Battery Neupsilin.

RESULTS

Of the 70 patients with cAVMs, 50 (71.4%) demonstrated deficits in at least one of the eight neurocognitive domains surveyed, although they did not exhibit neurological deficits. cAVMs in the temporal lobe were associated with memory deficits compared with the general population. The SM grade was not significantly associated with the results of patients with unruptured cAVMs. However, among patients with ruptured cAVMs, there were deficits in working memory in those with high-grade (SM grade) cAVMs and deficits in executive function (verbal fluency) in those with low-grade cAVMs (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

This study indicates that patients with untreated cAVMs, either ruptured or unruptured, already exhibit neurocognitive deficits, even the patients without other neurological symptoms. However, the scales used to evaluate disability in the main clinical studies, such as A Randomized Trial of Unruptured Brain Arteriovenous Malformations (ARUBA), do not assess neurocognitive alterations and therefore disregard any deficits that may affect quality of life. The authors’ finding raises an important question about the effects of interventional treatment because it reinforces the hypothesis that cognitive alterations may be preexisting and not determined by interventions.

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Sravanthi Koduri, D. Andrew Wilkinson, Julius M. Griauzde, Joseph J. Gemmete and Cormac O. Maher

Moyamoya syndrome predisposes patients to ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke due to progressive narrowing of intracranial vessels with subsequent small-vessel collateralization. Dural arteriovenous fistulae (DAVFs) are most commonly noted after venous sinus or cortical vein thrombosis and are believed to be primarily due to venous hypertension and elevated sinus pressures, although there is no known association with moyamoya syndrome, or with surgical treatment for moyamoya disease (MMD). The authors present the case of a 14-year-old girl with Down syndrome treated using pial synangiosis for MMD who subsequently was noted to have bilateral DAVFs. This case provides a new perspective on the origins and underlying pathophysiology of both moyamoya syndrome and DAVFs, and also serves to highlight the importance of monitoring the moyamoya population closely for de novo cerebrovascular changes after revascularization procedures.

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Elizabeth N. Alford, Lauren E. Rotman, Matthew S. Erwood, Robert A. Oster, Matthew C. Davis, H. Bruce C. Pittman, H. Evan Zeiger and Winfield S. Fisher III

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study was to describe the development of a novel prognostic score, the Subdural Hematoma in the Elderly (SHE) score. The SHE score is intended to predict 30-day mortality in elderly patients (those > 65 years of age) with an acute, chronic, or mixed-density subdural hematoma (SDH) after minor, or no, prior trauma.

METHODS

The authors used the Prognosis Research Strategy group methods to develop the clinical prediction model. The training data set included patients with acute, chronic, and mixed-density SDH. Based on multivariate analyses from a large data set, in addition to review of the extant literature, 3 components to the score were selected: age, admission Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, and SDH volume. Patients are given 1 point if they are over 80 years old, 1 point for an admission GCS score of 5–12, 2 points for an admission GCS score of 3–4, and 1 point for SDH volume > 50 ml. The sum of points across all categories determines the SHE score.

RESULTS

The 30-day mortality rate steadily increased as the SHE score increased for all SDH acuities. For patients with an acute SDH, the 30-day mortality rate was 3.2% for SHE score of 0, and the rate increased to 13.1%, 32.7%, 95.7%, and 100% for SHE scores of 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively. The model was most accurate for acute SDH (area under the curve [AUC] = 0.94), although it still performed well for chronic (AUC = 0.80) and mixed-density (AUC = 0.87) SDH.

CONCLUSIONS

The SHE score is a simple clinical grading scale that accurately stratifies patients’ risk of mortality based on age, admission GCS score, and SDH volume. Use of the SHE score could improve counseling of patients and their families, allow for standardization of clinical treatment protocols, and facilitate clinical research studies in SDH.

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Signe Elmose, Mikkel Ø. Andersen, Else Bay Andresen and Leah Yacat Carreon

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of tranexamic acid (TXA) compared to placebo in low-risk adult patients undergoing elective minor lumbar spine surgery—specifically with respect to operative time, estimated blood loss, and complications. Studies have shown that TXA reduces blood loss during major spine surgery. There have been no previous studies on the effect of TXA in minor lumbar spine surgery in which these variables have been evaluated.

METHODS

The authors enrolled patients with ASA grades 1 to 2 scheduled to undergo lumbar decompressive surgery at Middelfart Hospital into a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study. Patients with thromboembolic disease, coagulopathy, hypersensitivity to TXA, or a history of convulsion were excluded. Patients were randomly assigned, in blocks of 10, to one of 2 groups, TXA or placebo. Anticoagulation therapy was discontinued 2–7 days preoperatively. Prior to the incision, patients received either a bolus of TXA (10 mg/kg) or an equivalent volume of saline solution (placebo). Independent t-tests were used to compare differences between the 2 groups, with statistical significance set at p < 0.05.

RESULTS

Of the 250 patients enrolled, 17 patients were excluded, leaving 233 cases for analysis (117 in the TXA group and 116 in the placebo group). The demographics of the 2 groups were similar, except for a higher proportion of women in the TXA group (TXA 50% vs placebo 32%, p = 0.017). There was no significant between-groups difference in operative time (49.53 ± 18.26 vs 54.74 ± 24.49 minutes for TXA and placebo, respectively; p = 0.108) or intraoperative blood loss (55.87 ± 48.48 vs 69.14 ± 83.47 ml for TXA and placebo, respectively; p = 0.702). Postoperative blood loss measured from drain output was 62% significantly lower in the TXA group (13.03 ± 21.82 ml) than in the placebo group (34.61 ± 44.38 ml) (p < 0.001). There was no significant difference in number of dural lesions or postoperative spinal epidural hematomas, and there were no thromboembolic events.

CONCLUSIONS

Tranexamic acid did not have a statistically significant effect on operative time, intraoperative blood loss, or complications. This study gives no evidence to support the routine use of TXA during minor lumbar decompressive surgery.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT03714360 (clinicaltrials.gov)