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The evolution of surgical management for vertebral column tumors

JNSPG 75th Anniversary Invited Review Article

Jared Fridley and Ziya L. Gokaslan

Surgery for the resection of vertebral column tumors has undergone a remarkable evolution over the past several decades. Multiple advancements in surgical techniques, spinal instrumentation, technology, radiation therapy, and medical therapy have led to improved patient survival, function, and decreased morbidity. In this review, the authors discuss major changes in each of these areas in further detail.

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Ilya Laufer and Mark H. Bilsky

An improved understanding of tumor biology, the ability to target tumor drivers, and the ability to harness the immune system have dramatically improved the expected survival of patients diagnosed with cancer. However, many patients continue to develop spine metastases that require local treatment with radiotherapy and surgery. Fortunately, the evolution of radiation delivery and operative techniques permits durable tumor control with a decreased risk of treatment-related toxicity and a greater emphasis on restoration of quality of life and daily function. Stereotactic body radiotherapy allows delivery of ablative radiation doses to the majority of spine tumors, reducing the need for surgery. Among patients who still require surgery for decompression of the spinal cord or spinal column stabilization, minimal access approaches and targeted tumor excision and ablation techniques minimize the surgical risk and facilitate postoperative recovery. Growing interdisciplinary collaboration among scientists and clinicians will further elucidate the synergistic possibilities among systemic, radiation, and surgical interventions for patients with spinal tumors and will bring many closer to curative therapies.

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Francis Lovecchio, Jeffrey G. Stepan, Ajay Premkumar, Michael E. Steinhaus, Maria Sava, Peter Derman, Han Jo Kim and Todd Albert

OBJECTIVE

Patients with lumbar spine pathology are at high risk for opioid misuse. Standardizing prescribing practices through an institutional intervention may reduce the overprescribing of opiates, leading to a decrease in the risk for opioid misuse and the number of pills available for diversion. Without quantitative data on the “minimum necessary quantity” of opioids appropriate for postdischarge prescriptions, the optimal method for changing existing prescribing practices is unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine whether mandatory provider education and prescribing guidelines could modify prescriber behavior and lead to a decreased amount of opioids prescribed at hospital discharge following lumbar spine surgery.

METHODS

Qualified staff were required to attend a mandatory educational conference, and a consensus method among the spine service was used to publish qualitative prescribing guidelines. Prescription data for 2479 patients who had undergone lumbar spine surgery were captured and compared based on the timing of surgery. The preintervention group consisted of 1177 patients who had undergone spine surgery in the period before prescriber education and guidelines (March 1, 2016–November 1, 2016). The postintervention group consisted of 1302 patients who had undergone spine surgery after the dissemination of the guidelines (February 1, 2017–October 1, 2017). Surgeries were classified as decompression or fusion procedures. Patients who had undergone surgeries for infection and patients on long-acting opioids were excluded.

RESULTS

For all lumbar spine surgeries (decompression and fusion), the mean amount of opioids prescribed at discharge was lower after the educational program and distribution of prescribing guidelines (629 ± 294 oral morphine equivalent [OME] preintervention vs 490 ± 245 OME postintervention, p < 0.001). The mean number of prescribed pills also decreased (81 ± 26 vs 66 ± 22, p < 0.001). Prescriptions for 81 or more tablets dropped from 65.5% to 25.5%. Tramadol was prescribed more frequently after prescriber education (9.9% vs 18.6%, p < 0.001). Refill rates within 6 weeks were higher after the institutional intervention (7.6% vs 12.4%, p < 0.07).

CONCLUSIONS

Qualitative guidelines and prescriber education are effective in reducing the amount of opioids prescribed at discharge and encouraging the use of weaker opioids. Coupling provider education with prescribing guidelines is likely synergistic in achieving larger reductions. The sustainability of these changes is yet to be determined.

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Jared C. Tishelman, Dennis Vasquez-Montes, David S. Jevotovsky, Nicholas Stekas, Michael J. Moses, Raj J. Karia, Thomas Errico, Aaron J. Buckland and Themistocles S. Protopsaltis

OBJECTIVE

The Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) has become increasingly popular due to computer adaptive testing methodology. This study aims to validate the association between PROMIS and legacy outcome metrics and compare PROMIS to legacy metrics in terms of ceiling and floor effects and questionnaire burden.

METHODS

A retrospective review of an outcomes database was performed at a single institution from December 2016 to April 2017. Inclusion criteria were age > 18 years and a chief complaint of back pain or neck pain. The PROMIS computer adaptive testing Pain Interference, Physical Function (PF), and Pain Intensity domains; Oswestry Disability Index (ODI); Neck Disability Index (NDI); and visual analog scale (VAS) back, VAS leg, VAS neck, and VAS arm were completed in random order. PROMIS was compared to legacy metrics in terms of the average number of questions needed to complete each questionnaire and the score distributions in the lower and higher bounds of scores.

RESULTS

A total of 494 patients with back pain and 130 patients with neck pain were included. For back pain, ODI showed a strong correlation with PROMIS-PF (R = −0.749, p < 0.001), Pain Intensity (R = 0.709, p < 0.001), and Pain Interference (R = 0.790, p < 0.001) domains. Additionally, the PROMIS Pain Intensity domain correlated to both VAS back and neck pain (R = 0.642, p < 0.001 for both). PROMIS-PF took significantly fewer questions to complete compared to the ODI (4.123 vs 9.906, p < 0.001). When assessing for instrument sensitivity, neither survey presented a significant ceiling and floor effect in the back pain population (ODI: 0.40% and 2.63%; PROMIS-PF: 0.60% and 1.41%). In the neck pain cohort, NDI showed a strong correlation with PROMIS-PF (R = 0.771, p < 0.001). Additionally, PROMIS Pain Intensity correlated to VAS neck (R = 0.642, p < 0.001). The mean number of questions required to complete the questionnaire was much lower for PROMIS-PF compared to NDI (4.417 vs 10, p < 0.001). There were no significant differences found in terms of ceiling and floor effects for neck complaints (NDI: 2.3% and 6.92%; PROMIS-PF: 0.00% and 5.38%) or back complaints (ODI: 0.40% and 2.63%; PROMIS-PF: 1.41% and 0.60%).

CONCLUSIONS

PROMIS correlates strongly with traditional disability measures in patients with back pain and neck pain. For both back and neck pain, the PROMIS-PF required patients to answer significantly fewer questions to achieve similar granularity. There were no significant differences in ceiling and floor effects for NDI or ODI when compared with the PROMIS-PF instrument.

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Dil V. Patel, Mundeep S. Bawa, Brittany E. Haws, Benjamin Khechen, Andrew M. Block, Sailee S. Karmarkar, Eric H. Lamoutte and Kern Singh

OBJECTIVE

This study aimed to determine if the preoperative Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System, Physical Function (PROMIS PF) score is predictive of immediate postoperative patient pain and narcotics consumption or long-term patient-reported outcomes (PROs) following minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS TLIF).

METHODS

A prospectively maintained database was retrospectively reviewed. Patients who underwent primary, single-level MIS TLIF for degenerative pathology were identified and grouped by their preoperative PROMIS PF scores: mild disability (score 40–50), moderate disability (score 30–39.9), and severe disability (score 20–29.9). Postoperative pain was quantified using the visual analog scale (VAS), and narcotics consumption was quantified using Oral Morphine Equivalents. PROMIS PF, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey, Physical Component Summary (SF-12 PCS), and VAS back and leg pain were collected preoperatively and at 6-week, 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month follow-up. Preoperative PROMIS PF subgroups were tested for an association with demographic and perioperative characteristics using 1-way ANOVA or chi-square analysis. Preoperative PROMIS PF subgroups were tested for an association with immediate postoperative pain and narcotics consumption in addition to improvements in PROMIS PF, ODI, SF-12 PCS, and VAS back and leg pain by using linear regression controlling for statistically different demographic characteristics.

RESULTS

A total of 130 patients were included in this analysis. Patients were grouped by their preoperative PROMIS PF scores: 15.4% had mild disability, 63.8% had moderate disability, and 20.8% had severe disability. There were no significant differences among the subgroups in terms of age, sex, smoking status, and comorbidity burden. Patients with greater disability were more likely to be obese and to have workers’ compensation insurance. There were no differences among subgroups in regard to operative levels, operative time, estimated blood loss, and hospital length of stay. Patients with greater disability reported higher VAS pain scores and narcotics consumption for postoperative day 0 and postoperative day 1. Patients with greater preoperative disability demonstrated lower PROMIS PF, ODI, SF-12 PCS, and worse VAS pain scores at each postoperative time point.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with worse preoperative disability, as assessed by PROMIS PF, experienced increased pain and narcotics consumption, along with less improvement in long-term PROs. The authors conclude that PROMIS PF is an efficient and accurate instrument that can quickly assess patient disability in the preoperative period and predict both short-term and long-term surgical outcomes.

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Dominic Amara, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Christopher P. Ames, Bobby Tay, Vedat Deviren, Shane Burch, Sigurd H. Berven and Dean Chou

OBJECTIVE

Many options exist for the surgical management of adult spinal deformity. Radiculopathy and lumbosacral pain from the fractional curve (FC), typically from L4 to S1, is frequently a reason for scoliosis patients to pursue surgical intervention. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the outcomes of limited fusion of the FC only versus treatment of the entire deformity with long fusions.

METHODS

All adult scoliosis patients treated at the authors’ institution in the period from 2006 to 2016 were retrospectively analyzed. Patients with FCs from L4 to S1 > 10° and radiculopathy ipsilateral to the concavity of the FC were eligible for study inclusion and had undergone three categories of surgery: 1) FC only (FC group), 2) lower thoracic to sacrum (LT group), or 3) upper thoracic to sacrum (UT group). Primary outcomes were the rates of revision surgery and complications. Secondary outcomes were estimated blood loss, length of hospital stay, and discharge destination. Spinopelvic parameters were measured, and patients were stratified accordingly.

RESULTS

Of the 99 patients eligible for inclusion in the study, 27 were in the FC group, 46 in the LT group, and 26 in the UT group. There were no significant preoperative differences in age, sex, smoking status, prior operation, FC magnitude, pelvic tilt (PT), sagittal vertical axis (SVA), coronal balance, pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis (PI-LL) mismatch, or proportion of well-aligned spines (SVA < 5 cm, PI-LL mismatch < 10°, and PT < 20°) among the three treatment groups. Mean follow-up was 30 (range 12–112) months, with a minimum 1-year follow-up. The FC group had a lower medical complication rate (22% [FC] vs 57% [LT] vs 58% [UT], p = 0.009) but a higher rate of extension surgery (26% [FC] vs 13% [LT] vs 4% [UT], p = 0.068). The respective average estimated blood loss (592 vs 1950 vs 2634 ml, p < 0.001), length of hospital stay (5.5 vs 8.3 vs 8.3 days, p < 0.001), and rate of discharge to acute rehabilitation (30% vs 46% vs 85%, p < 0.001) were all lower for FC and highest for UT.

CONCLUSIONS

Treatment of the FC only is associated with a lower complication rate, shorter hospital stay, and less blood loss than complete scoliosis treatment. However, there is a higher associated rate of extension of the construct to the lower or upper thoracic levels, and patients should be counseled when considering their options.

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Corey T. Walker, S. Harrison Farber, Tyler S. Cole, David S. Xu, Jakub Godzik, Alexander C. Whiting, Cory Hartman, Randall W. Porter, Jay D. Turner and Juan Uribe

OBJECTIVE

Minimally invasive anterolateral retroperitoneal approaches for lumbar interbody arthrodesis have distinct advantages attractive to spine surgeons. Prepsoas or transpsoas trajectories can be employed with differing complication profiles because of the inherent anatomical differences encountered in each approach. The evidence comparing them remains limited because of poor quality data. Here, the authors sought to systematically review the available literature and perform a meta-analysis comparing the two techniques.

METHODS

A systematic review and meta-analysis was performed according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. A database search was used to identify eligible studies. Prepsoas and transpsoas studies were compiled, and each study was assessed for inclusion criteria. Complication rates were recorded and compared between approach groups. Studies incorporating an analysis of postoperative subsidence and pseudarthrosis rates were also assessed and compared.

RESULTS

For the prepsoas studies, 20 studies for the complications analysis and 8 studies for the pseudarthrosis outcomes analysis were included. For the transpsoas studies, 39 studies for the complications analysis and 19 studies for the pseudarthrosis outcomes analysis were included. For the complications analysis, 1874 patients treated via the prepsoas approach and 4607 treated with the transpsoas approach were included. In the transpsoas group, there was a higher rate of transient sensory symptoms (21.7% vs 8.7%, p = 0.002), transient hip flexor weakness (19.7% vs 5.7%, p < 0.001), and permanent neurological weakness (2.8% vs 1.0%, p = 0.005). A higher rate of sympathetic nerve injury was seen in the prepsoas group (5.4% vs 0.0%, p = 0.03). Of the nonneurological complications, major vascular injury was significantly higher in the prepsoas approach (1.8% vs 0.4%, p = 0.01). There was no difference in urological or peritoneal/bowel injury, postoperative ileus, or hematomas (all p > 0.05). A higher infection rate was noted for the transpsoas group (3.1% vs 1.1%, p = 0.01). With regard to postoperative fusion outcomes, similar rates of subsidence (12.2% prepsoas vs 13.8% transpsoas, p = 0.78) and pseudarthrosis (9.9% vs 7.5%, respectively, p = 0.57) were seen between the groups at the last follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS

Complication rates vary for the prepsoas and transpsoas approaches owing to the variable retroperitoneal anatomy encountered during surgical dissection. While the risks of a lasting motor deficit and transient sensory disturbances are higher for the transpsoas approach, there is a reciprocal reduction in the risks of major vascular injury and sympathetic nerve injury. These results can facilitate informed decision-making and tailored surgical planning regarding the choice of minimally invasive anterolateral access to the spine.

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Yawara Eguchi, Masaki Norimoto, Munetaka Suzuki, Ryota Haga, Hajime Yamanaka, Hiroshi Tamai, Tatsuya Kobayashi, Sumihisa Orita, Miyako Suzuki, Kazuhide Inage, Hirohito Kanamoto, Koki Abe, Tomotaka Umimura, Takashi Sato, Yasuchika Aoki, Atsuya Watanabe, Masao Koda, Takeo Furuya, Junichi Nakamura, Tsutomu Akazawa, Kazuhisa Takahashi and Seiji Ohtori

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between vertebral bodies, psoas major morphology, and the course of lumbar nerve tracts using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) before lateral interbody fusion (LIF) to treat spinal deformities.

METHODS

DTI findings in a group of 12 patients (all women, mean age 74.3 years) with degenerative lumbar scoliosis (DLS) were compared with those obtained in a matched control group of 10 patients (all women, mean age 69.8 years) with low-back pain but without scoliosis. A T2-weighted sagittal view was fused to tractography from L3 to L5 and separated into 6 zones (zone A, zones 1–4, and zone P) comprising equal quarters of the anteroposterior diameters, and anterior and posterior to the vertebral body, to determine the distribution of nerves at various intervertebral levels (L3–4, L4–5, and L5–S1). To determine psoas morphology, the authors examined images for a rising psoas sign at the level of L4–5, and the ratio of the anteroposterior diameter (AP) to the lateral diameter (lat), or AP/lat ratio, was calculated. They assessed the relationship between apical vertebrae, psoas major morphology, and the course of nerve tracts.

RESULTS

Although only 30% of patients in the control group showed a rising psoas sign, it was present in 100% of those in the DLS group. The psoas major was significantly extended on the concave side (AP/lat ratio: 2.1 concave side, 1.2 convex side). In 75% of patients in the DLS group, the apex of the curve was at L2 or higher (upper apex) and the psoas major was extended on the concave side. In the remaining 25%, the apex was at L3 or lower (lower apex) and the psoas major was extended on the convex side. Significant anterior shifts of lumbar nerves compared with controls were noted at each intervertebral level in patients with DLS. Nerves on the extended side of the psoas major were significantly shifted anteriorly. Nerve pathways on the convex side of the scoliotic curve were shifted posteriorly.

CONCLUSIONS

A significant anterior shift of lumbar nerves was noted at all intervertebral levels in patients with DLS in comparison with findings in controls. On the convex side, the nerves showed a posterior shift. In LIF, a convex approach is relatively safer than an approach from the concave side. Lumbar nerve course tracking with DTI is useful for assessing patients with DLS before LIF.