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Alejandro N. Santos, Laurèl Rauschenbach, Marvin Darkwah Oppong, Bixia Chen, Annika Herten, Michael Forsting, Ulrich Sure and Philipp Dammann

OBJECTIVE

Treatment indications for patients with brainstem cavernous malformations (BSCMs) remain difficult and controversial. Some authors have tried to establish classification tools to identify eligible candidates for surgery. Authors of this study aimed to validate the performance and replicability of two proposed BSCM grading systems, the Lawton-Garcia (LG) and the Dammann-Sure (DS) systems.

METHODS

For this cross-sectional study, a database was screened for patients with BSCM treated surgically between 2003 and 2019 in the authors’ department. Complete clinical records, preoperative contrast-enhanced MRI, and a postoperative follow-up ≥ 6 months were mandatory for study inclusion. The modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score was determined to quantify neurological function and outcome. Three observers independently determined the LG and the DS score for each patient.

RESULTS

A total of 67 patients met selection criteria. Univariate and multivariate analyses identified multiple bleedings (p = 0.02, OR 5.59), lesion diameter (> 20 mm, p = 0.007, OR 5.43), and patient age (> 50 years, p = 0.019, OR 4.26) as predictors of an unfavorable postoperative functional outcome. Both the LG (AUC = 0.72, p = 0.01) and the DS (AUC = 0.78, p < 0.01) scores were robust tools to estimate patient outcome. Subgroup analyses confirmed this observation for both grading systems (LG: p = 0.005, OR 6; DS: p = 0.026, OR 4.5), but the combined use of the two scales enhanced the test performance significantly (p = 0.001, OR 22.5).

CONCLUSIONS

Currently available classification systems are appropriate tools to estimate the neurological outcome after BSCM surgery. Future studies are needed to design an advanced scoring system, incorporating items from the LG and the DS score systems.

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John K. Houten, Gila R. Weinstein, Michael J. Collins and Daniel Komlos

OBJECTIVE

Wound complications such as surgical site infection (SSI) and dehiscence are among the most common complications of thoracolumbar spinal fusion surgery and are particularly prevalent in patients with risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, smoking, malignancy, and multilevel and/or revision procedures. A specialized wound closure technique with muscle flap mobilization, which reduces tension at the wound edges and increases the bulk of vascularized tissue in the midline, can be employed as a salvage procedure to manage wound complications. The authors evaluated the effectiveness of prophylactic muscle flap closure for reducing SSI in patients with risk factors for wound complications who undergo thoracolumbar fusion surgery.

METHODS

A retrospective review of thoracolumbar fusion surgeries over a 15-year period was conducted in a group of patients at risk for wound complications to compare outcomes of patients who underwent prophylactic muscle flap closure with outcomes of patients who had conventional wound closure. Patients were selected for specialized closure based upon a protocol adopted during the study period. Patients were excluded if they had active infections or underwent tubular retractor–mediated decompression and did not have open surgery with a midline incision.

RESULTS

Of 716 patients, wound closure was performed in 455 patients using conventional closure and in 261 using muscle flap closure. There were no significant differences in the ratios of male to female patients, with 251 men and 204 women with conventional closure and 133 men and 128 women with muscle flap closure, but the muscle flap patients were older than the conventional closure patients, with mean ages of 65.2 versus 62.9 years (p < 0.005). Indications for surgery in the muscle flap group and the conventional group, respectively, were metastatic disease in 44 (17%) and 32 (7%) patients; trauma in 10 (4%) and 14 (3%) patients; and degenerative disease, including spondylolisthesis, spondylolysis, and stenosis, in 207 (79%) and 409 (90%) patients, with more muscle flap patients having metastasis (p < 0.00001). Patients having muscle flaps had significantly higher rates of diabetes, smoking, and revision surgery, and a higher mean BMI and number of operative levels. The serum albumin level was slightly lower in the muscle flap group (p < 0.047). The wound infection rate was significantly lower in the muscle flap group (0.4%) compared with the conventional closure group (2.4%) (p < 0.033).

CONCLUSIONS

Prophylactic muscle flap closure significantly lowers the rate of SSI in patients undergoing thoracolumbar spinal fusion who harbor risk factors for wound complications, with even fewer infections seen than in a group of patients without similar risk factors. Given the success of the technique, consideration of wider use for thoracolumbar fusion cases, even those without a high level of complexity, may be warranted.

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Marjorie C. Wang, Frederick A. Boop, Douglas Kondziolka, Daniel K. Resnick, Steven N. Kalkanis, Elizabeth Koehnen, Nathan R. Selden, Carl B. Heilman, Alex B. Valadka, Kevin M. Cockroft, John A. Wilson, Richard G. Ellenbogen, Anthony L. Asher, Richard W. Byrne, Paul J. Camarata, Judy Huang, John J. Knightly, Elad I. Levy, Russell R. Lonser, E. Sander Connolly Jr., Fredric B. Meyer and Linda M. Liau

The American Board of Neurological Surgery (ABNS) was incorporated in 1940 in recognition of the need for detailed training in and special qualifications for the practice of neurological surgery and for self-regulation of quality and safety in the field. The ABNS believes it is the duty of neurosurgeons to place a patient’s welfare and rights above all other considerations and to provide care with compassion, respect for human dignity, honesty, and integrity. At its inception, the ABNS was the 13th member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), which itself was founded in 1933. Today, the ABNS is one of the 24 member boards of the ABMS.

To better serve public health and safety in a rapidly changing healthcare environment, the ABNS continues to evolve in order to elevate standards for the practice of neurological surgery. In connection with its activities, including initial certification, recognition of focused practice, and continuous certification, the ABNS actively seeks and incorporates input from the public and the physicians it serves. The ABNS board certification processes are designed to evaluate both real-life subspecialty neurosurgical practice and overall neurosurgical knowledge, since most neurosurgeons provide call coverage for hospitals and thus must be competent to care for the full spectrum of neurosurgery.

The purpose of this report is to describe the history, current state, and anticipated future direction of ABNS certification in the US.

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Qiguang Wang, Si Zhang and Yan Ju

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Berendina E. Veerbeek, Robert P. Lamberts, A. Graham Fieggen, Ncedile Mankahla, Richard V. P. de Villiers, Elsabe Botha and Nelleke G. Langerak

OBJECTIVE

The main purpose of selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) is to reduce spasticity in the lower extremities of children diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP) and spastic diplegia. The potential for developing spinal abnormalities and pain is a concern, especially in the aging CP population. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate spinal abnormalities, level of pain, and disability (due to back or leg pain) in adults with CP, and associations with participant characteristics, more than 25 years after SDR.

METHODS

This is a 9-year follow-up study with data collection conducted in 2008 and 2017. Radiographs were assessed for the degree of scoliosis, thoracic kyphosis and lumbar lordosis curvatures, and prevalence of spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis, while level of pain and disability was determined with a self-developed questionnaire and the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) questionnaire, respectively.

RESULTS

Twenty-five participants were included (15 males; median age 35.9 years, IQR 34.3–41.5 years), with a follow-up time after SDR ranging from 25 to 35 years. No clinically relevant changes were found for spinal curvatures, spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis, perceived pain frequency, and ODI scores between 2008 and 2017. While the prevalence of spondylolysis was 44%, spondylolisthesis was found in 20% (of whom 15% were grade I and 5% grade II), lumbar hyperlordosis was found in 32%, thoracic hyperkyphosis in 4%, and scoliosis in 20%. The Cobb angle was < 25°, and no patient required surgery for scoliosis. In addition, the low back was reported as the most common site of pain, with 28% of the adults with CP having daily pain. This resulted in 80% of the cohort indicating none or minimal disability due to pain based on the ODI. The only correlation found was between hyperkyphosis and female gender.

CONCLUSIONS

At follow-up more than 25 years after SDR, no progression in spinal abnormalities, level of pain, and disability was found when compared with findings 15 years after SDR. The prevalence of scoliosis, thoracic hyperkyphosis, and lumbar hyperlordosis was within the range reported for adults with CP, while spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis occurred more often than would be expected. It is difficult, however, to establish the role of SDR in this finding, given the limited data on the natural history of CP. Despite the encouraging outcome of this long-term follow-up study after SDR, it is important to continue monitoring adults with CP during the aging process.

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Philipp Dammann, Annika Herten, Alejandro N. Santos, Laurèl Rauschenbach, Bixia Chen, Marvin Darkwah Oppong, Börge Schmidt, Michael Forsting, Christoph Kleinschnitz and Ulrich Sure

OBJECTIVE

The object of this study was to assess outcome after surgery for brainstem cavernous malformations (BSCMs) using functional, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and psychological surveys to analyze the interrelation of these measurements, and to compare HRQOL and anxiety and depression scores with those in a healthy population.

METHODS

The authors performed a cross-sectional outcome study of all patients surgically treated for BSCM in their department between January 1, 2003, and December 31, 2019. They assessed functional outcome via the modified Rankin Scale (mRS), health-related quality of life (HRQOL) via the SF-36 and 9-item Life Satisfaction Questionnaire (LISAT-9), cranial nerve and brainstem function using a questionnaire, symptom-based psychological outcome via the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and timepoint of a return to previous employment. They analyzed the correlation between absolute (mRS score ≤ 2) and relative (postoperative deterioration in initial mRS score) outcome endpoints and the interrelation of the outcome measures and performed a comparison of HRQOL and HADS scores with findings in a healthy population.

RESULTS

Seventy-four patients were eligible for inclusion in the study. HRQOL was impaired after surgery for BSCM compared to that in a healthy population. This impairment was substantial in patients with an unfavorable functional outcome (mRS > 2) but was also present in those with a favorable outcome (mRS ≤ 2) in selected domains. Psychological impairment was negligible in patients with a favorable outcome and grave in those with an unfavorable outcome. LISAT-9 results revealed that brainstem and cranial nerve symptoms reduce satisfaction mainly in self-care abilities for both unfavorable and favorable outcome patients. Among the brainstem and cranial nerve symptoms, balance impairment showed the most significant impact on HRQOL. Absolute outcome endpoints were superior to relative outcome endpoints in reflecting impairment in HRQOL after surgery.

CONCLUSIONS

The study data can improve patient counseling and decision-making in BSCM treatment and may function as a benchmark. The authors report outcomes after BSCM surgery in high detail, emphasizing the specific impact of cranial nerve and brainstem symptoms on HRQOL. When reporting BSCM surgery outcome, absolute outcome endpoints should be applied.

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Era D. Mikkonen, Markus B. Skrifvars, Matti Reinikainen, Stepani Bendel, Ruut Laitio, Sanna Hoppu, Tero Ala-Kokko, Atte Karppinen and Rahul Raj

OBJECTIVE

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the pediatric population. The authors assessed 1-year costs of intensive care in pediatric TBI patients.

METHODS

In this retrospective multicenter cohort study of four academic ICUs in Finland, the authors used the Finnish Intensive Care Consortium database to identify children aged 0–17 years treated for TBI in ICUs between 2003 and 2013. The authors reviewed all patient health records and head CT scans for admission, treatment, and follow-up data. Patient outcomes included functional outcome (favorable outcome defined as a Glasgow Outcome Scale score of 4–5) and death within 6 months. Costs included those for the index hospitalization, rehabilitation, and social security up to 1 year after injury. To assess costs, the authors calculated the effective cost per favorable outcome (ECPFO).

RESULTS

In total, 293 patients were included, of whom 61% had moderate to severe TBI (Glasgow Coma Scale [GCS] score 3–12) and 40% were ≥ 13 years of age. Of all patients, 82% had a favorable outcome and 9% died within 6 months of injury. The mean cost per patient was €48,719 ($54,557) (95% CI €41,326–€56,112). The index hospitalization accounted for 66%, rehabilitation costs for 27%, and social security costs for 7% of total healthcare costs. The ECPFO was €59,727 ($66,884) (95% CI €52,335–€67,120). A higher ECPFO was observed among patients with clinical and treatment-related variables indicative of parenchymal swelling and high intracranial pressure. Lower ECPFO was observed among patients with higher admission GCS scores and those who had epidural hematomas.

CONCLUSIONS

Greater injury severity increases ECPFO and is associated with higher postdischarge costs in pediatric TBI patients. In this pediatric cohort, over two-thirds of all resources were spent on patients with favorable functional outcome, indicating appropriate resource allocation.

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Yoji Ogura, Jeffrey L. Gum, Alex Soroceanu, Alan H. Daniels, Breton Line, Themistocles Protopsaltis, Richard A. Hostin, Peter G. Passias, Douglas C. Burton, Justin S. Smith, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Virginie Lafage, Renaud Lafage, Eric O. Klineberg, Han Jo Kim, Andrew Harris, Khaled Kebaish, Frank Schwab, Shay Bess, Christopher P. Ames, Leah Y. Carreon and the International Spine Study Group (ISSG)

OBJECTIVE

The shared decision-making (SDM) process provides an opportunity to answer frequently asked questions (FAQs). The authors aimed to present a concise list of answers to FAQs to aid in SDM for adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery.

METHODS

From a prospective, multicenter ASD database, patients enrolled between 2008 and 2016 who underwent fusions of 5 or more levels with a minimum 2-year follow-up were included. All deformity types were included to provide general applicability. The authors compiled a list of FAQs from patients undergoing ASD surgery and used a retrospective analysis to provide answers. All responses are reported as either the means or the proportions reaching the minimal clinically important difference at the 2-year follow-up interval.

RESULTS

Of 689 patients with ASD who were eligible for 2-year follow-up, 521 (76%) had health-related quality-of-life scores available at the time of that follow-up. The mean age at the initial surgery was 58.2 years, and 78% of patients were female. The majority (73%) underwent surgery with a posterior-only approach. The mean number of fused levels was 12.2. Revision surgery accounted for 48% of patients. The authors answered 12 FAQs as follows:

1. Will my pain improve? Back and leg pain will both be reduced by approximately 50%.

2. Will my activity level improve? Approximately 65% of patients feel improvement in their activity level.

3. Will I feel better about myself? More than 70% of patients feel improvement in their appearance.

4. Is there a chance I will get worse? 4.1% feel worse at 2 years postoperatively.

5. What is the likelihood I will have a complication? 67.8% will have a major or minor complication, with 47.8% having a major complication.

6. Will I need another surgery? 25.0% will have a reoperation within 2 years.

7. Will I regret having surgery? 6.5% would not choose the same treatment.

8. Will I get a blood transfusion? 73.7% require a blood transfusion.

9. How long will I stay in the hospital? You need to stay 8.1 days on average.

10. Will I have to go to the ICU? 76.0% will have to go to the ICU.

11. Will I be able to return to work? More than 70% will be working at 1 year postoperatively.

12. Will I be taller after surgery? You will be 1.1 cm taller on average.

CONCLUSIONS

The above list provides concise, practical answers to FAQs encountered in the SDM process while counseling patients for ASD surgery.

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Michael Lumintang Loe, Tito Vivas-Buitrago, Ricardo A. Domingo, Johan Heemskerk, Shashwat Tripathi, Bernard R. Bendok, Mohamad Bydon, Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa and Kingsley Abode-Iyamah

OBJECTIVE

The authors assessed the prognostic significance of various clinical and radiographic characteristics, including C1–C2 facet malalignment, in terms of surgical outcomes after foramen magnum decompression of adult Chiari malformation type I.

METHODS

The electronic medical records of 273 symptomatic patients with Chiari malformation type I who were treated with foramen magnum decompression, C1 laminectomy, and duraplasty at Mayo Clinic were retrospectively reviewed. Preoperative and postoperative Neurological Scoring System scores were compared using the Friedman test. Bivariate analysis was conducted to identify the preoperative variables that correlated with the patient Chicago Chiari Outcome Scale (CCOS) scores. Multiple linear regression analysis was subsequently performed using the variables with p < 0.05 on the bivariate analysis to check for independent associations with the outcome measures. Statistical software SPSS version 25.0 was used for the data analysis. Significance was defined as p < 0.05 for all analyses.

RESULTS

Fifty-two adult patients with preoperative clinical and radiological data and a minimum follow-up of 12 months were included. Motor deficits, syrinx, and C1–C2 facet malalignment were found to have significant negative associations with the CCOS score at the 1- to 3-month follow-up (p < 0.05), while at the 9- to 12-month follow-up only swallowing function and C1–C2 facet malalignment were significantly associated with the CCOS score (p < 0.05). Multivariate analysis showed that syrinx presence and C1–C2 facet malalignment were independently associated with the CCOS score at the 1- to 3-month follow-up. Swallowing function and C1–C2 facet malalignment were found to be independently associated with the CCOS score at the 9- to 12-month follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS

The observed results in this pilot study suggest a significant negative correlation between C1–C2 facet malalignment and clinical outcomes evaluated by the CCOS score at 1–3 months and 9–12 months postoperatively. Prospective studies are needed to further validate the prognostic value of C1–C2 facet malalignment and the potential role of atlantoaxial fixation as part of the treatment.