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Jonathan R. Slotkin, Alfred S. Casale, Glenn D. Steele Jr., and Steven A. Toms

Comparative effectiveness research (CER) represents an evolution in clinical decision-making research that allows for the study of heterogeneous groups of patients with complex diseases processes. It has foundations in decision science, reliability science, and health care policy research. Health care finance will increasingly rely on CER for guidance in the coming years. There is increasing awareness of the importance of decreasing unwarranted variation in health care delivery. In the past 7 years, Geisinger Health System has performed broad reengineering of its acute episodic and chronic care delivery models utilizing macrosystem-level application of CER principles. These provider-driven process initiatives have resulted in significant improvement across all segments of care delivery, improved patient outcomes, and notable cost containment. These programs have led to the creation of novel pricing models, and when “hardwired” throughout a care delivery system, they can lead to correct medical decision making by 100% of providers in all patient encounters. Neurosurgery as a specialty faces unique challenges and opportunities with respect to broad adoption and application of CER techniques.

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Meic H. Schmidt, Frederick A. Boop, Neil A. Martin, and Jonathan R. Slotkin

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Patrick J. Codd, Ron I. Riesenburger, Paul Klimo Jr., Jonathan R. Slotkin, and Edward R. Smith

✓ Aneurysmal bone cysts (ABCs) are benign, highly vascular osseous lesions characterized by cystic, blood-filled spaces surrounded by thin perimeters of expanded bone. Children and young adults are most often affected by spinal ABCs; more than 75% of patients are younger than 20 years old at presentation. Although ABCs have been documented in all areas of the axial and appendicular skeleton, ABCs of the spine present unique challenges due to the risk of vertebral destabilization, pathological fracture and vertebral body (VB) collapse, and neurological compromise. The authors describe the case of an 8-year-old child who presented with low-back pain and was subsequently found to have a lumbar ABC causing vertebra plana of the L-3 VB. They also review the literature on ABCs of the spine. This case highlights the importance of considering an ABC in the differential diagnosis when vertebra plana is seen in pediatric patients.

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Kevin T. Foley, Eric J. Woodard, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Cassandra K. Mayotte, Abigail C. Baldwin, Michael C. Brown, and Brian J. Hess

OBJECTIVE

The authors’ goal in this study was to investigate the use of a novel, bioresorbable, osteoconductive, wet-field mineral-organic bone adhesive composed of tetracalcium phosphate and phosphoserine (TTCP-PS) for cranial bone flap fixation and compare it with conventional low-profile titanium plates and self-drilling screws.

METHODS

An ovine craniotomy surgical model was used to evaluate the safety and efficacy of TTCP-PS over 2 years. Bilateral cranial defects were created in 41 sheep and were replaced in their original position. The gaps (kerfs) were completely filled with TTCP-PS (T1 group), half-filled with TTCP-PS (T2 group), or left empty and the flaps fixated by plates and screws as a control (C group). At 12 weeks, 1 year, and 2 years following surgery, the extent of bone healing, local tissue effects, and remodeling of the TTCP-PS were analyzed using macroscopic observations and histopathological and histomorphometric analyses. Flap fixation strength was evaluated by biomechanical testing at 12 weeks and 1 year postoperatively.

RESULTS

No adverse local tissue effects were observed in any group. At 12 weeks, the bone flap fixation strengths in test group 1 (1689 ± 574 N) and test group 2 (1611 ± 501 N) were both statistically greater (p = 0.01) than that in the control group (663 ± 385 N). From 12 weeks to 1 year, the bone flap fixation strengths increased significantly (p < 0.05) for all groups. At 1 year, the flap fixation strength in test group 1 (3240 ± 423 N) and test group 2 (3212 ± 662 N) were both statistically greater (p = 0.04 and p = 0.02, respectively) than that in the control group (2418 ± 1463 N); however, there was no statistically significant difference in the strengths when comparing the test groups at both timepoints. Test group 1 had the best overall performance based on histomorphometric evaluation and biomechanical testing. At 2 years postoperatively, the kerfs filled with TTCP-PS had histological evidence of osteoconduction and replacement of TTCP-PS by bone with nearly complete osteointegration.

CONCLUSIONS

TTCP-PS was demonstrated to be safe and effective for cranial flap fixation in an ovine model. In this study, the bioresorbable, osteoconductive bone adhesive appeared to have multiple advantages over standard plate-and-screw bone flap fixation, including biomechanical superiority, more complete and faster bony healing across the flap kerfs without fibrosis, and the minimization of bone flap and/or hardware migration and loosening. These properties of TTCP-PS may improve human cranial bone flap fixation and cranioplasty.

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Anthony L. Asher, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Erica F. Bisson, Steven D. Glassman, Kevin T. Foley, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Eric A. Potts, Mark E. Shaffrey, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Domagoj Coric, John J. Knightly, Paul Park, Kai-Ming Fu, Clinton J. Devin, Kristin R. Archer, Silky Chotai, Andrew K. Chan, Michael S. Virk, and Mohamad Bydon

OBJECTIVE

Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) play a pivotal role in defining the value of surgical interventions for spinal disease. The concept of minimum clinically important difference (MCID) is considered the new standard for determining the effectiveness of a given treatment and describing patient satisfaction in response to that treatment. The purpose of this study was to determine the MCID associated with surgical treatment for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

The authors queried the Quality Outcomes Database registry from July 2014 through December 2015 for patients who underwent posterior lumbar surgery for grade I degenerative spondylolisthesis. Recorded PROs included scores on the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), EQ-5D, and numeric rating scale (NRS) for leg pain (NRS-LP) and back pain (NRS-BP). Anchor-based (using the North American Spine Society satisfaction scale) and distribution-based (half a standard deviation, small Cohen’s effect size, standard error of measurement, and minimum detectable change [MDC]) methods were used to calculate the MCID for each PRO.

RESULTS

A total of 441 patients (80 who underwent laminectomies alone and 361 who underwent fusion procedures) from 11 participating sites were included in the analysis. The changes in functional outcome scores between baseline and the 1-year postoperative evaluation were as follows: 23.5 ± 17.4 points for ODI, 0.24 ± 0.23 for EQ-5D, 4.1 ± 3.5 for NRS-LP, and 3.7 ± 3.2 for NRS-BP. The different calculation methods generated a range of MCID values for each PRO: 3.3–26.5 points for ODI, 0.04–0.3 points for EQ-5D, 0.6–4.5 points for NRS-LP, and 0.5–4.2 points for NRS-BP. The MDC approach appeared to be the most appropriate for calculating MCID because it provided a threshold greater than the measurement error and was closest to the average change difference between the satisfied and not-satisfied patients. On subgroup analysis, the MCID thresholds for laminectomy-alone patients were comparable to those for the patients who underwent arthrodesis as well as for the entire cohort.

CONCLUSIONS

The MCID for PROs was highly variable depending on the calculation technique. The MDC seems to be a statistically and clinically sound method for defining the appropriate MCID value for patients with grade I degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis. Based on this method, the MCID values are 14.3 points for ODI, 0.2 points for EQ-5D, 1.7 points for NRS-LP, and 1.6 points for NRS-BP.

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Erica F. Bisson, Praveen V. Mummaneni, John Knightly, Mohammed Ali Alvi, Anshit Goyal, Andrew K. Chan, Jian Guan, Michael Biase, Andrea Strauss, Steven Glassman, Kevin Foley, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Eric Potts, Mark Shaffrey, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Regis W. Haid Jr., Kai-Ming Fu, Michael Y. Wang, Paul Park, Anthony L. Asher, and Mohamad Bydon

OBJECTIVE

Loss to follow-up has been shown to bias outcomes assessment among studies utilizing clinical registries. Here, the authors analyzed patients enrolled in a national surgical registry and compared the baseline characteristics of patients captured with those lost to follow-up at 2 years.

METHODS

The authors queried the Quality Outcomes Database for patients with grade I lumbar degenerative spondylolisthesis undergoing a surgical intervention between July 2014 and June 2016. Only those patients enrolled in a multisite study investigating the impact of fusion on clinical and patient-reported outcomes (PROs) among patients with grade I spondylolisthesis were evaluated.

RESULTS

Of the 608 patients enrolled in the study undergoing 1- or 2-level decompression (23.0%, n = 140) or 1-level fusion (77.0%, n = 468), 14.5% (n = 88) were lost to follow-up at 2 years. Patients who were lost to follow-up were more likely to be younger (59.6 ± 13.5 vs 62.6 ± 11.7 years, p = 0.031), be employed (unemployment rate: 53.3% [n = 277] for successful follow-up vs 40.9% [n = 36] for those lost to follow-up, p = 0.017), have anxiety (26.1% [n = 23] vs 16.3% [n = 85], p = 0.026), have higher back pain scores (7.4 ± 2.9 vs 6.6 ± 2.8, p = 0.010), have higher leg pain scores (7.4 ± 2.5 vs 6.4 ± 2.9, p = 0.003), have higher Oswestry Disability Index scores (50.8 ± 18.7 vs 46 ± 16.8, p = 0.018), and have lower EQ-5D scores (0.481 ± 0.2 vs 0.547 ± 0.2, p = 0.012) at baseline.

CONCLUSIONS

To execute future, high-quality studies, it is important to identify patients undergoing surgery for spondylolisthesis who might be lost to follow-up. In a large, prospective registry, the authors found that those lost to follow-up were more likely to be younger, be employed, have anxiety disorder, and have worse PRO scores.

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Praveen V. Mummaneni, Erica F. Bisson, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Steven Glassman, Kevin Foley, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Eric Potts, Mark Shaffrey, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Domagoj Coric, John Knightly, Paul Park, Kai-Ming Fu, Clinton J. Devin, Silky Chotai, Andrew K. Chan, Michael Virk, Anthony L. Asher, and Mohamad Bydon

OBJECTIVE

Lumbar spondylolisthesis is a degenerative condition that can be surgically treated with either open or minimally invasive decompression and instrumented fusion. Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) approaches may shorten recovery, reduce blood loss, and minimize soft-tissue damage with resultant reduced postoperative pain and disability.

METHODS

The authors queried the national, multicenter Quality Outcomes Database (QOD) registry for patients undergoing posterior lumbar fusion between July 2014 and December 2015 for Grade I degenerative spondylolisthesis. The authors recorded baseline and 12-month patient-reported outcomes (PROs), including Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), EQ-5D, numeric rating scale (NRS)–back pain (NRS-BP), NRS–leg pain (NRS-LP), and satisfaction (North American Spine Society satisfaction questionnaire). Multivariable regression models were fitted for hospital length of stay (LOS), 12-month PROs, and 90-day return to work, after adjusting for an array of preoperative and surgical variables.

RESULTS

A total of 345 patients (open surgery, n = 254; MIS, n = 91) from 11 participating sites were identified in the QOD. The follow-up rate at 12 months was 84% (83.5% [open surgery]; 85% [MIS]). Overall, baseline patient demographics, comorbidities, and clinical characteristics were similarly distributed between the cohorts. Two hundred fifty seven patients underwent 1-level fusion (open surgery, n = 181; MIS, n = 76), and 88 patients underwent 2-level fusion (open surgery, n = 73; MIS, n = 15). Patients in both groups reported significant improvement in all primary outcomes (all p < 0.001). MIS was associated with a significantly lower mean intraoperative estimated blood loss and slightly longer operative times in both 1- and 2-level fusion subgroups. Although the LOS was shorter for MIS 1-level cases, this was not significantly different. No difference was detected with regard to the 12-month PROs between the 1-level MIS versus the 1-level open surgical groups. However, change in functional outcome scores for patients undergoing 2-level fusion was notably larger in the MIS cohort for ODI (−27 vs −16, p = 0.1), EQ-5D (0.27 vs 0.15, p = 0.08), and NRS-BP (−3.5 vs −2.7, p = 0.41); statistical significance was shown only for changes in NRS-LP scores (−4.9 vs −2.8, p = 0.02). On risk-adjusted analysis for 1-level fusion, open versus minimally invasive approach was not significant for 12-month PROs, LOS, and 90-day return to work.

CONCLUSIONS

Significant improvement was found in terms of all functional outcomes in patients undergoing open or MIS fusion for lumbar spondylolisthesis. No difference was detected between the 2 techniques for 1-level fusion in terms of patient-reported outcomes, LOS, and 90-day return to work. However, patients undergoing 2-level MIS fusion reported significantly better improvement in NRS-LP at 12 months than patients undergoing 2-level open surgery. Longer follow-up is needed to provide further insight into the comparative effectiveness of the 2 procedures.

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Andrew K. Chan, Erica F. Bisson, Mohamad Bydon, Steven D. Glassman, Kevin T. Foley, Eric A. Potts, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Mark E. Shaffrey, Domagoj Coric, John J. Knightly, Paul Park, Kai-Ming Fu, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Anthony L. Asher, Michael S. Virk, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Silky Chotai, Anthony M. DiGiorgio, Alvin Y. Chan, Regis W. Haid, and Praveen V. Mummaneni

OBJECTIVE

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons launched the Quality Outcomes Database (QOD), a prospective longitudinal registry that includes demographic, clinical, and patient-reported outcome (PRO) data, to measure the safety and quality of neurosurgical procedures, including spinal surgery. Differing results from recent randomized controlled trials have established a need to clarify the groups that would most benefit from surgery for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis. In the present study, the authors compared patients who were the most and the least satisfied following surgery for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

This was a retrospective analysis of a prospective, national longitudinal registry including patients who had undergone surgery for grade 1 degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis. The most and least satisfied patients were identified based on an answer of “1” and “4,” respectively, on the North American Spine Society (NASS) Satisfaction Questionnaire 12 months postoperatively. Baseline demographics, clinical variables, surgical parameters, and outcomes were collected. Patient-reported outcome measures, including the Numeric Rating Scale (NRS) for back pain, NRS for leg pain, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and EQ-5D (the EuroQol health survey), were administered at baseline and 3 and 12 months after treatment.

RESULTS

Four hundred seventy-seven patients underwent surgery for grade 1 degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis in the period from July 2014 through December 2015. Two hundred fifty-five patients (53.5%) were the most satisfied and 26 (5.5%) were the least satisfied. Compared with the most satisfied patients, the least satisfied ones more often had coronary artery disease (CAD; 26.9% vs 12.2%, p = 0.04) and had higher body mass indices (32.9 ± 6.5 vs 30.0 ± 6.0 kg/m2, p = 0.02). In the multivariate analysis, female sex (OR 2.9, p = 0.02) was associated with the most satisfaction. Notably, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) class, smoking, psychiatric comorbidity, and employment status were not significantly associated with satisfaction. Although there were no significant differences at baseline, the most satisfied patients had significantly lower NRS back and leg pain and ODI scores and a greater EQ-5D score at 3 and 12 months postoperatively (p < 0.001 for all).

CONCLUSIONS

This study revealed that some patient factors differ between those who report the most and those who report the least satisfaction after surgery for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis. Patients reporting the least satisfaction tended to have CAD or were obese. Female sex was associated with the most satisfaction when adjusting for potential covariates. These findings highlight several key factors that could aid in setting expectations for outcomes following surgery for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis.

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Praveen V. Mummaneni, Mohamad Bydon, John Knightly, Mohammed Ali Alvi, Anshit Goyal, Andrew K. Chan, Jian Guan, Michael Biase, Andrea Strauss, Steven Glassman, Kevin T. Foley, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Eric Potts, Mark Shaffrey, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Regis W. Haid Jr., Kai-Ming Fu, Michael Y. Wang, Paul Park, Anthony L. Asher, and Erica F. Bisson

OBJECTIVE

Discharge to an inpatient rehabilitation facility or another acute-care facility not only constitutes a postoperative challenge for patients and their care team but also contributes significantly to healthcare costs. In this era of changing dynamics of healthcare payment models in which cost overruns are being increasingly shifted to surgeons and hospitals, it is important to better understand outcomes such as discharge disposition. In the current article, the authors sought to develop a predictive model for factors associated with nonroutine discharge after surgery for grade I spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

The authors queried the Quality Outcomes Database for patients with grade I lumbar degenerative spondylolisthesis who underwent a surgical intervention between July 2014 and June 2016. Only those patients enrolled in a multisite study investigating the impact of fusion on clinical and patient-reported outcomes among patients with grade I spondylolisthesis were evaluated. Nonroutine discharge was defined as those who were discharged to a postacute or nonacute-care setting in the same hospital or transferred to another acute-care facility.

RESULTS

Of the 608 patients eligible for inclusion, 9.4% (n = 57) had a nonroutine discharge (8.7%, n = 53 discharged to inpatient postacute or nonacute care in the same hospital and 0.7%, n = 4 transferred to another acute-care facility). Compared to patients who were discharged to home, patients who had a nonroutine discharge were more likely to have diabetes (26.3%, n = 15 vs 15.7%, n = 86, p = 0.039); impaired ambulation (26.3%, n = 15 vs 10.2%, n = 56, p < 0.001); higher Oswestry Disability Index at baseline (51 [IQR 42–62.12] vs 46 [IQR 34.4–58], p = 0.014); lower EuroQol-5D scores (0.437 [IQR 0.308–0.708] vs 0.597 [IQR 0.358–0.708], p = 0.010); higher American Society of Anesthesiologists score (3 or 4: 63.2%, n = 36 vs 36.7%, n = 201, p = 0.002); and longer length of stay (4 days [IQR 3–5] vs 2 days [IQR 1–3], p < 0.001); and were more likely to suffer a complication (14%, n = 8 vs 5.6%, n = 31, p = 0.014). On multivariable logistic regression, factors found to be independently associated with higher odds of nonroutine discharge included older age (interquartile OR 9.14, 95% CI 3.79–22.1, p < 0.001), higher body mass index (interquartile OR 2.04, 95% CI 1.31–3.25, p < 0.001), presence of depression (OR 4.28, 95% CI 1.96–9.35, p < 0.001), fusion surgery compared with decompression alone (OR 1.3, 95% CI 1.1–1.6, p < 0.001), and any complication (OR 3.9, 95% CI 1.4–10.9, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

In this multisite study of a defined cohort of patients undergoing surgery for grade I spondylolisthesis, factors associated with higher odds of nonroutine discharge included older age, higher body mass index, presence of depression, and occurrence of any complication.