Medical decisions often depend, in part, on cost-effectiveness concerns. Decision analysis is frequently used to help resolve these questions. Unfortunately, this technique has received little attention in neurosurgery. Using an example of moderate head injury, the authors illustrate the utility of this powerful tool in estimating the cost effectiveness of neurosurgical management options.
Sherman C. Stein and Mark G. Burnett
Mark G. Burnett, Sherman C. Stein and M. Sean Grady
Object. The goal of this study was to create a searchable database of research manuscripts authored by members of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (AANS/CNS) to describe the nature and character of the research currently being undertaken by neurosurgeons.
Methods. Manuscripts published by all physician members listed in the 2001 AANS/CNS Membership Directory (6921 physicians) were gathered into a database through individual literature searches of the author name for the calendar year 2001. Duplicate publications were purged and the database was reviewed for accuracy. An internal verification of the database revealed a 4% underreporting rate. Statistics from the database were compiled and displayed with information about AANS/CNS members and their clinical activities.
The AANS/CNS members published a total of 2748 research the manuscripts in 479 different journals during 2001. Thirty-eight percent of the manuscripts (1042 of 2748) were authored by US members and 62% (1706 of 2748) by non-US members. The focus of the majority of manuscripts included the areas of brain tumor (26%; 707 of 2748), vascular disease (20%; 558 of 2748), spine (10%; 282 of 2748), and trauma (8%; 233 of 2748). Sixty-nine percent of manuscripts (1897 of 2748) were retrospective and technical clinical studies, and of these 39% (744 of 1897) were case reports. Laboratory investigations made up 15% (414 of 2748) of all manuscripts, whereas prospective randomized clinical trials represented 1% (34 of 2748).
Conclusions. The majority of AANS/CNS member manuscripts are authored by non—US members despite their small AANS/CNS representation. Most research is clinical, based on retrospective data, and includes a large number of case reports. A disparity exists between what neurosurgeons do clinically and both the quantity and subject of their research.
Shabbar F. Danish, Mark G. Burnett and Sherman C. Stein
Deep venous thrombosis (DVT) remains a source of significant morbidity and mortality in patients who undergo craniotomy procedures. Despite several studies in which the safety and efficacy of various prophylactic strategies were examined, there is still no consensus among clinicians. In this paper the authors review the literature with regard to epidemiological and pathophysiological features, screening methods, and prophylactic measures for DVT.
Sherman C. Stein, Neil R. Malhotra and Mark G. Burnett
Sherman C. Stein, Mark G. Burnett and Seema S. Sonnad
The average 65-year-old patient with moderate dementia can look forward to only 1.4 quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), that is, longevity times quality of life. Some of these patients suffer from normal-pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) and respond dramatically to shunt insertion. Currently, however, NPH cannot be diagnosed with certainty. The authors constructed a Markov decision analysis model to predict the outcome in patients with NPH treated with and without shunts.
Transition probabilities and health utilities were obtained from a review of the literature. A sensitivity analysis and Monte Carlo simulation were applied to test outcomes over a wide range of parameters. Using shunt response and complication rates from the literature, the average patient receiving a shunt would gain an additional 1.7 QALYs as a result of automatic shunt insertion. Even if 50% of patients receiving a shunt have complications, the shunt response rate would need to be less than 5% for empirical shunt insertion to do more harm than good. Authors of most studies have reported far better statistics.
In summary, many more patients with suspected NPH should be considered for shunt insertion.
Mark G. Burnett, Seema S. Sonnad and Sherman C. Stein
Many tests have been proposed to help choose candidates for shunt insertion in cases of suspected normal-pressure hydrocephalus (NPH). It is unclear what sensitivity and specificity a prospective test must have to improve outcomes, compared with the results of automatic shunt insertion.
The authors adapted the decision analysis model used in a companion article to allow for application of a screening test. Using the reported sensitivities and specificities of several such tests, they evaluated the effects such tests would have on the expected outcome of an average 65-year-old patient with moderate dementia. They also evaluated the cost-effectiveness of a theoretical screening test with superior sensitivity and specificity.
Although external lumbar drainage comes quite close, none of the screening tests reported to date have sufficient sensitivity and specificity to improve expected outcome in an average candidate, compared with the results of automatic shunt placement in cases of suspected NPH. In addition, even a theoretically improved test would need to be considerably less expensive than prolonged lumbar drainage to be cost-effective in clinical practice.
Mark G. Burnett, Sherman C. Stein and Ronald H. M. A. Bartels
Standard treatment options for patients with lumbar spinal stenosis include nonoperative therapies as well as decompressive laminectomy. The introduction of interspinous decompression devices such as the X-STOP has broadened treatment options, but data comparing these treatment strategies are lacking. The object of this study was to provide a cost-effectiveness analysis of laminectomy, interspinous decompression, and nonoperative treatment for patients with lumbar stenosis.
The authors performed a structured literature review of lumbar stenosis and constructed a cost-effectiveness model. Using conservative treatment, decompressive laminectomy, and placement of X-STOP as the treatment arms, their primary analysis evaluated the optimal treatment strategy for a patient with lumbar stenosis at a 2-year time horizon. Secondary analyses were done to compare cases in which patients required single-level procedures with those in which multilevel procedures were required as well as to examine the outcomes for a 4-year time horizon. Outcomes were calculated using quality-adjusted life years and costs were considered from the perspective of society.
Laminectomy was found to be the most effective treatment strategy, followed by X-STOP and then conservative treatment at a 2-year time horizon. Both surgical procedures were more costly than conservative treatment. Because laminectomy was both more effective and less costly than X-STOP, it is said to dominate overall. When single level procedures were considered alone, laminectomy was more effective but also more costly than X-STOP.
Lumbar laminectomy appears to be the most cost-effective treatment strategy for patients with symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis.