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Suzanne M. Michalak, John D. Rolston, and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECT

Surgery requires careful coordination of multiple team members, each playing a vital role in mitigating errors. Previous studies have focused on eliciting errors from only the attending surgeon, likely missing events observed by other team members.

METHODS

Surveys were administered to the attending surgeon, resident surgeon, anesthesiologist, and nursing staff immediately following each of 31 cerebrovascular surgeries; participants were instructed to record any deviation from optimal course (DOC). DOCs were categorized and sorted by reporter and perioperative timing, then correlated with delays and outcome measures.

RESULTS

Errors were recorded in 93.5% of the 31 cases surveyed. The number of errors recorded per case ranged from 0 to 8, with an average of 3.1 ± 2.1 errors (± SD). Overall, technical errors were most common (24.5%), followed by communication (22.4%), management/judgment (16.0%), and equipment (11.7%). The resident surgeon reported the most errors (52.1%), followed by the circulating nurse (31.9%), the attending surgeon (26.6%), and the anesthesiologist (14.9%). The attending and resident surgeons were most likely to report technical errors (52% and 30.6%, respectively), while anesthesiologists and circulating nurses mostly reported anesthesia errors (36%) and communication errors (50%), respectively. The overlap in reported errors was 20.3%. If this study had used only the surveys completed by the attending surgeon, as in prior studies, 72% of equipment errors, 90% of anesthesia and communication errors, and 100% of nursing errors would have been missed. In addition, it would have been concluded that errors occurred in only 45.2% of cases (rather than 93.5%) and that errors resulting in a delay occurred in 3.2% of cases instead of the 74.2% calculated using data from 4 team members. Compiled results from all team members yielded significant correlations between technical DOCs and prolonged hospital stays and reported and actual delays (p = 0.001 and p = 0.028, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

This study is the only of its kind to elicit error reporting from multiple members of the operating team, and it demonstrates error is truly in the eye of the beholder—the types and timing of perioperative errors vary based on whom you ask. The authors estimate that previous studies surveying only the attending physician missed up to 75% of perioperative errors. By finding significant correlations between technical DOCs and prolonged hospital stays and reported and actual delays, this study shows that these surveys provide relevant and useful information for improving clinical practice. Overall, the results of this study emphasize that research on medical error must include input from all members of the operating team; it is only by understanding every perspective that surgical staff can begin to efficiently prevent errors, improve patient care and safety, and decrease delays.

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Ana Rodríguez-Hernández, Christina Huang, and Michael T. Lawton

Iatrogenic pseudoaneurysms are rare but serious complications of transsphenoidal surgery, and an iatrogenic pseudoaneurysm of the posterior cerebral artery (PCA) has been reported just once in the literature. The authors encountered such a case with a new P1 segment PCA pseudoaneurysm after endoscopic transsphenoidal resection of a pituitary adenoma. The aneurysm proved ideal for a novel intracranial–intracranial bypass in which the superior cerebellar artery (SCA) was used as an in situ donor artery to revascularize the recipient P2 segment. The bypass allowed aneurysm trapping without causing ischemic stroke or neurological morbidity. This case represents the first reported surgical treatment of an iatrogenic PCA pseudoaneurysm. Endovascular occlusion with coils was an option, but dolichoectatic morphology requires sacrifice of the P1 segment, with associated risks to the thalamoperforators and circumflex perforators. The SCA-PCA bypass was ideal because of low-flow demands. Like other in situ bypasses, it requires no dissection of extracranial arteries, no second incision for harvesting interposition grafts, and has a high likelihood of long-term patency. The SCA-PCA bypass is also applicable to fusiform SCA aneurysms requiring revascularization with trapping. This case demonstrates a dangerous complication that results from the limited view of the posterolateral surgical field through the endoscope and the imprecision of endoscopic instruments.

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Fred G. Barker II

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Ali Tayebi Meybodi, Michael T. Lawton, Dylan Griswold, Pooneh Mokhtari, Andre Payman, and Arnau Benet

OBJECTIVE

The anterior temporal artery (ATA) supplies an area of the brain that, if sacrificed, does not cause a noticeable loss of function. Therefore, the ATA may be used as a donor in intracranial-intracranial (IC-IC) bypass procedures. The capacities of the ATA as a donor have not been studied previously. In this study, the authors assessed the feasibility of using the ATA as a donor for revascularization of different segments of the distal middle cerebral artery (MCA).

METHODS

The ATA was studied in 15 cadaveric specimens (8 heads, excluding 1 side). First, the cisternal segment of the artery was untethered from arachnoid adhesions and small branches feeding the anterior temporal lobe and insular cortex, to evaluate its capacity for a side-to-side bypass to insular, opercular, and cortical segments of the MCA. Any branch entering the anterior perforated substance was preserved. Then, the ATA was cut at the opercular-cortical junction and the capacity for an end-to-side bypass was assessed.

RESULTS

From a total of 17 ATAs, 4 (23.5%) arose as an early MCA branch. The anterior insular zone and the frontal parasylvian cortical arteries were the best targets (in terms of mobility and caliber match) for a side-to-side bypass. Most of the insula was accessible for end-to-side bypass, but anterior zones of the insula were more accessible than posterior zones. End-to-side bypass was feasible for most recipient cortical arteries along the opercula, except for posterior temporal and parietal regions. Early ATAs reached significantly farther on the insular MCA recipients than non-early ATAs for both side-to-side and end-to-side bypasses.

CONCLUSIONS

The ATA is a robust arterial donor for IC-IC bypass procedures, including side-to-side and end-to-side techniques. The evidence provided in this work supports the use of the ATA as a donor for distal MCA revascularization in well-selected patients.

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Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, Mittul Gulati, Vineeta Singh, and Michael T. Lawton

Although intracranial hemorrhage accounts for approximately 10 to 15% of all cases of stroke, it is associated with a high mortality rate. Bleeding disorders account for a small but significant risk factor associated with intracranial hemorrhage. In conditions such as hemophilia and acute leukemia associated with thrombocytopenia, massive intracranial hemorrhage is often the cause of death. The authors present a comprehensive review of both the physiology of hemostasis and the pathophysiology underlying spontaneous ICH due to coagulation disorders. These disorders are divided into acquired conditions, including iatrogenic and neoplastic coagulopathies, and congenital problems, including hemophilia and rarer diseases. The authors also discuss clinical features, diagnosis, and management of intracranial hemorrhage resulting from these bleeding disorders.

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Kurtis I. Auguste, Marcus L. Ware, and Michael T. Lawton

Object

The azygos or undivided anterior cerebral artery (ACA) is a rare variant, and aneurysms associated with this variant are particularly rare. Most reported azygos ACA aneurysms are saccular, but the authors encountered four patients with this variant who had nonsaccular aneurysms. A review of the management of these lesions and this morphological distinction is presented.

Methods

A retrospective review of patients with aneurysms treated over a 6-year period identified five Type I (according to the Baptista classification) azygos ACA lesions, of which four were nonsaccular. Aneurysms associated with other ACA variants (Baptista Types II and III) were excluded.

Azygos ACA aneurysms accounted for 0.5% of all treated lesions and 1.7% of all ACA and anterior communicating artery aneurysms. One lesion in this series was located proximally at the azygos ACA origin, and three were located distally. All four aneurysms were large (>10 mm in diameter), and two were thrombotic. All aneurysms were treated with microsurgical clip occlusion.

Conclusions

Azygos ACA aneurysms are rare, and may have unusual nonsaccular anatomy (for example, fusiform shape, broad base, complex branching, and/or thrombus in the lumen). The nonsaccular morphology of these aneurysms may render them unsuitable for endovascular coil placement, and may complicate their microsurgical management.

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Oliver Y. Tang, James S. Yoon, Anna R. Kimata, and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

Previous research has demonstrated the association between increased hospital volume and improved outcomes for a wide range of neurosurgical conditions, including adult neurotrauma. The authors aimed to determine if such a relationship was also present in the care of pediatric neurotrauma patients.

METHODS

The authors identified 106,146 pediatric admissions for traumatic intracranial hemorrhage (tICH) in the National Inpatient Sample (NIS) for the period 2002–2014 and 34,017 admissions in the National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB) for 2012–2015. Hospitals were stratified as high volume (top 20%) or low volume (bottom 80%) according to their pediatric tICH volume. Then the association between high-volume status and favorable discharge disposition, inpatient mortality, complications, and length of stay (LOS) was assessed. Multivariate regression modeling was used to control for patient demographics, severity metrics, hospital characteristics, and performance of neurosurgical procedures.

RESULTS

In each database, high-volume hospitals treated over 60% of pediatric tICH admissions. In the NIS, patients at high-volume hospitals presented with worse severity metrics and more frequently underwent neurosurgical intervention over medical management (all p < 0.001). After multivariate adjustment, admission to a high-volume hospital was associated with increased odds of a favorable discharge (home or short-term facility) in both databases (both p < 0.001). However, there were no significant differences in inpatient mortality (p = 0.208). Moreover, high-volume hospital patients had lower total complications in the NIS and lower respiratory complications in both databases (all p < 0.001). Although patients at high-volume hospitals in the NTDB had longer hospital stays (β-coefficient = 1.17, p < 0.001), they had shorter stays in the intensive care unit (β-coefficient = 0.96, p = 0.024). To determine if these findings were attributable to the trauma center level rather than case volume, an analysis was conducted with only level I pediatric trauma centers (PTCs) in the NTDB. Similarly, treatment at a high-volume level I PTC was associated with increased odds of a favorable discharge (OR 1.28, p = 0.009), lower odds of pneumonia (OR 0.60, p = 0.007), and a shorter total LOS (β-coefficient = 0.92, p = 0.024).

CONCLUSIONS

Pediatric tICH patients admitted to high-volume hospitals exhibited better outcomes, particularly in terms of discharge disposition and complications, in two independent national databases. This trend persisted when examining level I PTCs exclusively, suggesting that volume alone may have an impact on pediatric neurotrauma outcomes. These findings highlight the potential merits of centralizing neurosurgery and pursuing regionalization policies, such as interfacility transport networks and destination protocols, to optimize the care of children affected by traumatic brain injury.

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Jason M. Davies, Vijay Yanamadala, and Michael T. Lawton

Object

The development of multimodality approaches for the treatment of cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), including microsurgery, endovascular therapy, and radiosurgery, has shifted modern treatment paradigms in the last 10 years. This study examines these changes in detail from a nationwide perspective.

Methods

The authors examined data from 2001 to 2009 in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) database, and they assessed the safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness, including the total number of discharges, discharge proportion, length of stay, and hospital charges. The authors also examined patient demographics (including age, sex, income level, and insurance), hemorrhage status at presentation, and trends in open surgical and endovascular treatment.

Results

A total of 33,997 inpatient admissions for patients with a primary diagnosis of intracranial AVM were identified, with a mean of 4191 patients admitted annually. The mean hospital charges increased 2-fold over the study period without significant differences in outcomes. There were substantial differences between surgical, endovascular, radiosurgical, and multimodality treatments. The proportion of AVMs treated microsurgically remained stable over this period, while the proportion treated endovascularly dramatically increased in size, and the data demonstrate important patient-level distinctions among groups. Outcomes and complication profiles were significantly different between treatment modalities and were impacted by age and hemorrhage status.

Conclusions

Charges associated with treatment of cerebral AVMs to the payer and society have increased dramatically over the first decade of the 21st century without clear improvements in quality parameters. However, analysis of the 3 primary treatment modalities has demonstrated differences and warrants further investigation to understand which patient population would benefit maximally from each. Unfortunately, with only imprecise measurements of quality in health care delivery, it remains imperative to develop national databases in which parameters, such as survival, functional outcomes, quality of life, and complication rates, can be assessed to examine the value of care delivered in a more meaningful way. Demonstrating an ever-increasing value of delivered health care will be imperative in our evolving health care system.

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Michael T. Lawton