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Zach Pennington, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel Lubelski, Jeff Ehresman, Nicholas Theodore, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Spine surgery has been identified as a significant source of healthcare expenditures in the United States. Prolonged hospitalization has been cited as one source of increased spending, and there has been drive from providers and payors alike to decrease inpatient stays. One strategy currently being explored is the use of Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocols. Here, the authors review the literature on adult spine ERAS protocols, focusing on clinical benefits and cost reductions. They also conducted a quantitative meta-analysis examining the following: 1) length of stay (LOS), 2) complication rate, 3) wound infection rate, 4) 30-day readmission rate, and 5) 30-day reoperation rate.

METHODS

Using the PRISMA guidelines, a search of the PubMed/Medline, Web of Science, Cochrane Reviews, Embase, CINAHL, and OVID Medline databases was conducted to identify all full-text articles in the English-language literature describing ERAS protocol implementation for adult spine surgery. A quantitative meta-analysis using random-effects modeling was performed for the identified clinical outcomes using studies that directly compared ERAS protocols with conventional care.

RESULTS

Of 950 articles reviewed, 34 were included in the qualitative analysis and 20 were included in the quantitative analysis. The most common protocol types were general spine surgery protocols and protocols for lumbar spine surgery patients. The most frequently cited benefits of ERAS protocols were shorter LOS (n = 12), lower postoperative pain scores (n = 6), and decreased complication rates (n = 4). The meta-analysis demonstrated shorter LOS for the general spine surgery (mean difference −1.22 days [95% CI −1.98 to −0.47]) and lumbar spine ERAS protocols (−1.53 days [95% CI −2.89 to −0.16]). Neither general nor lumbar spine protocols led to a significant difference in complication rates. Insufficient data existed to perform a meta-analysis of the differences in costs or postoperative narcotic use.

CONCLUSIONS

Present data suggest that ERAS protocol implementation may reduce hospitalization time among adult spine surgery patients and may lead to reductions in complication rates when applied to specific populations. To generate high-quality evidence capable of supporting practice guidelines, though, additional controlled trials are necessary to validate these early findings in larger populations.

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Surgical management of giant presacral schwannoma: systematic review of published cases and meta-analysis

Presented at the 2019 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Zach Pennington, Erick M. Westbroek, A. Karim Ahmed, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel Lubelski, Matthew L. Goodwin, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Giant presacral schwannomas are rare sacral tumors found in less than 1 of every 40,000 hospitalizations. Current management of these tumors is based solely upon case reports and small case series. In this paper the authors report the results of a systematic review of the available English literature on presacral schwannoma, focused on identifying the influence of tumor size, tumor morphology, surgical approach, and extent of resection (EOR) on recurrence-free survival and postoperative complications.

METHODS

The medical literature (PubMed and EMBASE) was queried for reports of surgically managed sacral schwannoma, either involving 2 or more contiguous vertebral levels or with a diameter ≥ 5 cm. Tumor size and morphology, surgical approach, EOR, intraoperative and postoperative complications, and survival data were recorded.

RESULTS

Seventy-six articles were included, covering 123 unique patients (mean age 44.1 ± 1.4 years, 50.4% male). The most common presenting symptoms were leg pain (28.7%), lower back pain (21.3%), and constipation (15.7%). Most surgeries used an open anterior-only (40.0%) or posterior-only (30%) approach. Postoperative complications occurred in 25.6% of patients and local recurrence was noted in 5.4%. En bloc resection significantly improved progression-free survival relative to subtotal resection (p = 0.03). No difference existed between en bloc and gross-total resection (GTR; p = 0.25) or among the surgical approaches (p = 0.66). Postoperative complications were more common following anterior versus posterior approaches (p = 0.04). Surgical blood loss was significantly correlated with operative duration and tumor volume on multiple linear regression (both p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Presacral schwannoma can reasonably be treated with either en bloc or piecemeal GTR. The approach should be dictated by lesion morphology, and recurrence is infrequent. Anterior approaches may increase the risk of postoperative complications.

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James Feghali, Zach Pennington, Jeff Ehresman, Daniel Lubelski, Ethan Cottrill, A. Karim Ahmed, Andrew Schilling, and Daniel M. Sciubba

Symptomatic spinal metastasis occurs in around 10% of all cancer patients, 5%–10% of whom will require operative management. While postoperative survival has been extensively evaluated, postoperative health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) outcomes have remained relatively understudied. Available tools that measure HRQOL are heterogeneous and may emphasize different aspects of HRQOL. The authors of this paper recommend the use of the EQ-5D and Spine Oncology Study Group Outcomes Questionnaire (SOSGOQ), given their extensive validation, to capture the QOL effects of systemic disease and spine metastases. Recent studies have identified preoperative QOL, baseline functional status, and neurological function as potential predictors of postoperative QOL outcomes, but heterogeneity across studies limits the ability to derive meaningful conclusions from the data. Future development of a valid and reliable prognostic model will likely require the application of a standardized protocol in the context of a multicenter study design.

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Jeff Ehresman, Zach Pennington, James Feghali, Andrew Schilling, Andrew Hersh, Bethany Hung, Daniel Lubelski, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

More than 8000 patients are treated annually for vertebral column tumors, of whom roughly two-thirds will be discharged to an inpatient facility (nonroutine discharge). Nonroutine discharge is associated with increased care costs as well as delays in discharge and poorer patient outcomes. In this study, the authors sought to develop a prediction model of nonroutine discharge in the population of vertebral column tumor patients.

METHODS

Patients treated for primary or metastatic vertebral column tumors at a single comprehensive cancer center were identified for inclusion. Data were gathered regarding surgical procedure, patient demographics, insurance status, and medical comorbidities. Frailty was assessed using the modified 5-item Frailty Index (mFI-5) and medical complexity was assessed using the modified Charlson Comorbidity Index (mCCI). Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify independent predictors of nonroutine discharge, and multivariable linear regression was used to identify predictors of prolonged length of stay (LOS). The discharge model was internally validated using 1000 bootstrapped samples.

RESULTS

The authors identified 350 patients (mean age 57.0 ± 13.6 years, 53.1% male, and 67.1% treated for metastatic vs primary disease). Significant predictors of prolonged LOS included higher mCCI score (β = 0.74; p = 0.026), higher serum absolute neutrophil count (β = 0.35; p = 0.001), lower hematocrit (β = −0.34; p = 0.001), use of a staged operation (β = 4.99; p < 0.001), occurrence of postoperative pulmonary embolism (β = 3.93; p = 0.004), and surgical site infection (β = 9.93; p < 0.001). Significant predictors of nonroutine discharge included emergency admission (OR 3.09; p = 0.001), higher mFI-5 score (OR 1.90; p = 0.001), lower serum albumin level (OR 0.43 per g/dL; p < 0.001), and operations with multiple stages (OR 4.10; p < 0.001). The resulting statistical model was deployed as a web-based calculator (https://jhuspine4.shinyapps.io/Nonroutine_Discharge_Tumor/).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found that nonroutine discharge of patients with surgically treated vertebral column tumors was predicted by emergency admission, increased frailty, lower serum albumin level, and staged surgical procedures. The resulting web-based calculator tool may be useful clinically to aid in discharge planning for spinal oncology patients by preoperatively identifying patients likely to require placement in an inpatient facility postoperatively.

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Zach Pennington, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel Lubelski, Jeff Ehresman, Kurt Lehner, Mari L. Groves, Paul Sponseller, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVES

More than 7500 children undergo surgery for scoliosis each year, at an estimated annual cost to the health system of $1.1 billion. There is significant interest among patients, parents, providers, and payors in identifying methods for delivering quality outcomes at lower costs. Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols have been suggested as one possible solution. Here the authors conducted a systematic review of the literature describing the clinical and economic benefits of ERAS protocols in pediatric spinal deformity surgery.

METHODS

The authors identified all English-language articles on ERAS protocol use in pediatric spinal deformity surgery by using the following databases: PubMed/MEDLINE, Web of Science, Cochrane Reviews, EMBASE, CINAHL, and OVID MEDLINE. Quantitative analyses of comparative articles using random effects were performed for the following clinical outcomes: 1) length of stay (LOS); 2) complication rate; 3) wound infection rate; 4) 30-day readmission rate; 5) reoperation rate; and 6) postoperative pain scores.

RESULTS

Of 950 articles reviewed, 7 were included in the qualitative analysis and 6 were included in the quantitative analysis. The most frequently cited benefits of ERAS protocols were shorter LOS, earlier urinary catheter removal, and earlier discontinuation of patient-controlled analgesia pumps. Quantitative analyses showed ERAS protocols to be associated with shorter LOS (mean difference −1.12 days; 95% CI −1.51, −0.74; p < 0.001), fewer postoperative complications (OR 0.37; 95% CI 0.20, 0.68; p = 0.001), and lower pain scores on postoperative day (POD) 0 (mean −0.92; 95% CI −1.29, −0.56; p < 0.001) and POD 2 (−0.61; 95% CI −0.75, −0.47; p < 0.001). There were no differences in reoperation rate or POD 1 pain scores. ERAS-treated patients had a trend toward higher 30-day readmission rates and earlier discontinuation of patient-controlled analgesia (both p = 0.06). Insufficient data existed to reach a conclusion about cost differences.

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this systematic review suggest that ERAS protocols may shorten hospitalizations, reduce postoperative complication rates, and reduce postoperative pain scores in children undergoing scoliosis surgery. Publication biases exist, and therefore larger, prospective, multicenter data are needed to validate these results.

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Ethan Cottrill, Zach Pennington, A. Karim Ahmed, Daniel Lubelski, Matthew L. Goodwin, Alexander Perdomo-Pantoja, Erick M. Westbroek, Nicholas Theodore, Timothy Witham, and Daniel Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Nonunion is a common complication of spinal fusion surgeries. Electrical stimulation technologies (ESTs)—namely, direct current stimulation (DCS), capacitive coupling stimulation (CCS), and inductive coupling stimulation (ICS)—have been suggested to improve fusion rates. However, the evidence to support their use is based solely on small trials. Here, the authors report the results of meta-analyses of the preclinical and clinical data from the literature to provide estimates of the overall effect of these therapies at large and in subgroups.

METHODS

A systematic review of the English-language literature was performed using PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science databases. The query of these databases was designed to include all preclinical and clinical studies examining ESTs for spinal fusion. The primary endpoint was the fusion rate at the last follow-up. Meta-analyses were performed using a Freeman-Tukey double arcsine transformation followed by random-effects modeling.

RESULTS

A total of 33 articles (17 preclinical, 16 clinical) were identified, of which 11 preclinical studies (257 animals) and 13 clinical studies (2144 patients) were included in the meta-analysis. Among preclinical studies, the mean fusion rates were higher among EST-treated animals (OR 4.79, p < 0.001). Clinical studies similarly showed ESTs to increase fusion rates (OR 2.26, p < 0.001). Of EST modalities, only DCS improved fusion rates in both preclinical (OR 5.64, p < 0.001) and clinical (OR 2.13, p = 0.03) populations; ICS improved fusion in clinical studies only (OR 2.45, p = 0.014). CCS was not effective at increasing fusion, although only one clinical study was identified. A subanalysis of the clinical studies found that ESTs increased fusion rates in the following populations: patients with difficult-to-fuse spines, those who smoke, and those who underwent multilevel fusions.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found that electrical stimulation devices may produce clinically significant increases in arthrodesis rates among patients undergoing spinal fusion. They also found that the pro-arthrodesis effects seen in preclinical studies are also found in clinical populations, suggesting that findings in animal studies are translatable. Additional research is needed to analyze the cost-effectiveness of these devices.

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Zach Pennington, Jeff Ehresman, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel Lubelski, Kurt Lehner, James Feghali, A. Karim Ahmed, Andrew Schilling, and Daniel M. Sciubba

Accurate prediction of patient survival is an essential component of the preoperative evaluation of patients with spinal metastases. Over the past quarter of a century, a number of predictors have been developed, although none have been accurate enough to be instituted as a staple of clinical practice. However, recently more comprehensive survival calculators have been published that make use of larger data sets and machine learning to predict postoperative survival among patients with spine metastases. Given the glut of calculators that have been published, the authors sought to perform a narrative review of the current literature, highlighting existing calculators along with the strengths and weaknesses of each. In doing so, they identify two “generations” of scoring systems—a first generation based on a priori factor weighting and a second generation comprising predictive tools that are developed using advanced statistical modeling and are focused on clinical deployment. In spite of recent advances, the authors found that most predictors have only a moderate ability to explain variation in patient survival. Second-generation models have a greater prognostic accuracy relative to first-generation scoring systems, but most still require external validation. Given this, it seems that there are two outstanding goals for these survival predictors, foremost being external validation of current calculators in multicenter prospective cohorts, as the majority have been developed from, and internally validated within, the same single-institution data sets. Lastly, current predictors should be modified to incorporate advances in targeted systemic therapy and radiotherapy, which have been heretofore largely ignored.

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Daniel Lubelski, James Feghali, Amy S. Nowacki, Vincent J. Alentado, Ryan Planchard, Kalil G. Abdullah, Daniel M. Sciubba, Michael P. Steinmetz, Edward C. Benzel, and Thomas E. Mroz

OBJECTIVE

Patient demographics, comorbidities, and baseline quality of life (QOL) are major contributors to postoperative outcomes. The frequency and cost of lumbar spine surgery has been increasing, with controversy revolving around optimal management strategies and outcome predictors. The goal of this study was to generate predictive nomograms and a clinical calculator for postoperative clinical and QOL outcomes following lumbar spine surgery for degenerative disease.

METHODS

Patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery for degenerative disease at a single tertiary care institution between June 2009 and December 2012 were retrospectively reviewed. Nomograms and an online calculator were modeled based on patient demographics, comorbidities, presenting symptoms and duration of symptoms, indication for surgery, type and levels of surgery, and baseline preoperative QOL scores. Outcomes included postoperative emergency department (ED) visit or readmission within 30 days, reoperation within 90 days, and 1-year changes in the EuroQOL-5D (EQ-5D) score. Bootstrapping was used for internal validation.

RESULTS

A total of 2996 lumbar surgeries were identified. Thirty-day ED visits were seen in 7%, 30-day readmission in 12%, 90-day reoperation in 3%, and improvement in EQ-5D at 1 year that exceeded the minimum clinically important difference in 56%. Concordance indices for the models predicting ED visits, readmission, reoperation, and dichotomous 1-year improvement in EQ-5D were 0.63, 0.66, 0.73, and 0.84, respectively. Important predictors of clinical outcomes included age, body mass index, Charlson Comorbidity Index, indication for surgery, preoperative duration of symptoms, and the type (and number of levels) of surgery. A web-based calculator was created, which can be accessed here: https://riskcalc.org/PatientsEligibleForLumbarSpineSurgery/.

CONCLUSIONS

The prediction tools derived from this study constitute important adjuncts to clinical decision-making that can offer patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery realistic and personalized expectations of postoperative outcome. They may also aid physicians in surgical planning, referrals, and counseling to ultimately lead to improved patient experience and outcomes.

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Jeff Ehresman, Zach Pennington, Andrew Schilling, Ravi Medikonda, Sakibul Huq, Kevin R. Merkel, A. Karim Ahmed, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel Lubelski, Erick M. Westbroek, Salia Farrokh, Steven M. Frank, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Blood transfusions are given to approximately one-fifth of patients undergoing elective lumbar spine surgery, and previous studies have shown that transfusions are accompanied by increased complications and additional costs. One method for decreasing transfusions is administration of tranexamic acid (TXA). The authors sought to evaluate whether the cost of TXA is offset by the decrease in blood utilization in lumbar spine surgery patients.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed patients who underwent elective lumbar or thoracolumbar surgery for degenerative conditions at a tertiary care center between 2016 and 2018. Patients who received intraoperative TXA (TXA patients) were matched with patients who did not receive TXA (non-TXA patients) by age, sex, BMI, ASA (American Society of Anesthesiologists) physical status class, and surgical invasiveness score. Primary endpoints were intraoperative blood loss, number of packed red blood cell (PRBC) units transfused, and total hemostasis costs, defined as the sum of TXA costs and blood transfusion costs throughout the hospital stay. A subanalysis was then performed by substratifying both cohorts into short-length (1–4 levels) and long-length (5–8 levels) spinal constructs.

RESULTS

Of the 1353 patients who met inclusion criteria, 68 TXA patients were matched to 68 non-TXA patients. Patients in the TXA group had significantly decreased mean intraoperative blood loss (1039 vs 1437 mL, p = 0.01). There were no differences between the patient groups in the total costs of blood transfusion and TXA (p = 0.5). When the 2 patient groups were substratified by length of construct, the long-length construct group showed a significant net cost savings of $328.69 per patient in the TXA group (p = 0.027). This result was attributable to the finding that patients undergoing long-length construct surgeries who were given TXA received a lower amount of PRBC units throughout their hospital stay (2.4 vs 4.0, p = 0.007).

CONCLUSIONS

TXA use was associated with decreased intraoperative blood loss and significant reductions in total hemostasis costs for patients undergoing surgery on more than 4 levels. Furthermore, the use of TXA in patients who received short constructs led to no additional net costs. With the increasing emphasis put on value-based care interventions, use of TXA may represent one mechanism for decreasing total care costs, particularly in the cases of larger spine constructs.

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Zach Pennington, Daniel Lubelski, Erick M. Westbroek, A. Karim Ahmed, Jeff Ehresman, Matthew L. Goodwin, Sheng-Fu Lo, Timothy F. Witham, Ali Bydon, Nicholas Theodore, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Postoperative C5 palsy affects 7%–12% of patients who undergo posterior cervical decompression for degenerative cervical spine pathologies. Minimal evidence exists regarding the natural history of expected recovery and variables that affect palsy recovery. The authors investigated pre- and postoperative variables that predict recovery and recovery time among patients with postoperative C5 palsy.

METHODS

The authors included patients who underwent posterior cervical decompression at a tertiary referral center between 2004 and 2018 and who experienced postoperative C5 palsy. All patients had preoperative MR images and full records, including operative note, postoperative course, and clinical presentation. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was used to evaluate both times to complete recovery and to new neurological baseline—defined by deltoid strength on manual motor testing of the affected side—as a function of clinical symptoms, surgical maneuvers, and the severity of postoperative deficits.

RESULTS

Seventy-seven patients were included, with an average age of 64 years. The mean follow-up period was 17.7 months. The mean postoperative C5 strength was grade 2.7/5, and the mean time to first motor examination with documented C5 palsy was 3.5 days. Sixteen patients (21%) had bilateral deficits, and 9 (12%) had new-onset biceps weakness; 36% of patients had undergone C4–5 foraminotomy of the affected root, and 17% had presented with radicular pain in the dermatome of the affected root. On univariable analysis, patients’ reporting of numbness or tingling (p = 0.02) and a baseline deficit (p < 0.001) were the only predictors of time to recovery. Patients with grade 4+/5 weakness had significantly shorter times to recovery than patients with grade 4/5 weakness (p = 0.001) or ≤ grade 3/5 weakness (p < 0.001). There was no difference between those with grade 4/5 weakness and those with ≤ grade 3/5 weakness. Patients with postoperative strength < grade 3/5 had a < 50% chance of achieving complete recovery.

CONCLUSIONS

The timing and odds of recovery following C5 palsy were best predicted by the magnitude of the postoperative deficit. The use of C4–5 foraminotomy did not predict the time to or likelihood of recovery.