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Linda S. Aglio, Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr, Vwaire Orhurhu, Grace Y. Kim, Jie Zhou, Laverne D. Gugino, Lisa J. Crossley, James L. Gosnell, John H. Chi and Michael W. Groff

OBJECTIVE

Preemptive administration of analgesic medication is more effective than medication given after the onset of the painful stimulus. The efficacy of preoperative or preemptive pain relief after thoracolumbosacral spine surgery has not been well studied. The present study was a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial of preemptive analgesia with a single-shot epidural injection in adult patients undergoing spine surgery.

METHODS

Ninety-nine adult patients undergoing thoracolumbosacral operations via a posterior approach were randomized to receive a single shot of either epidural placebo (group 1), hydromorphone alone (group 2), or bupivacaine with hydromorphone (group 3) before surgery at the preoperative holding area. The primary outcome was the presence of opioid sparing and rescue time—defined as the time interval from when a patient was extubated to the time pain medication was first demanded during the postoperative period. Secondary outcomes include length of stay at the postanesthesia care unit (PACU), pain score at the PACU, opioid dose, and hospital length of stay.

RESULTS

Of the 99 patients, 32 were randomized to the epidural placebo group, 33 to the hydromorphone-alone group, and 34 to the bupivacaine with hydromorphone group. No significant difference was seen across the demographics and surgical complexities for all 3 groups. Compared to the control group, opioid sparing was significantly higher in group 2 (57.6% vs 15.6%, p = 0.0007) and group 3 (52.9% vs 15.6%, p = 0.0045) in the first demand of intravenous hydromorphone as a supplemental analgesic medication. Compared to placebo, the rescue time was significantly higher in group 2 (187 minutes vs 51.5 minutes, p = 0.0014) and group 3 (204.5 minutes vs 51. minutes, p = 0.0045). There were no significant differences in secondary outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors’ study demonstrated that preemptive analgesia in thoracolumbosacral surgeries can significantly reduce analgesia requirements in the immediate postoperative period as evidenced by reduced request for opioid medication in both analgesia study groups who received a preoperative analgesic epidural. Nonetheless, the lack of differences in pain score and opioid dose at the PACU brings into question the role of preemptive epidural opioids in spine surgery patients. Further work is necessary to investigate the long-term effectiveness of preemptive epidural opioids and their role in pain reduction and patient satisfaction.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT02968862 (clinicaltrials.gov)

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Viren S. Vasudeva, John H. Chi and Michael W. Groff

OBJECTIVE

Vertebral hemangiomas are common tumors that are benign and generally asymptomatic. Occasionally these lesions can exhibit aggressive features such as bony expansion and erosion into the epidural space resulting in neurological symptoms. Surgery is often recommended in these cases, especially if symptoms are severe or rapidly progressive. Some surgeons perform decompression alone, others perform gross-total resection, while others perform en bloc resection. Radiation, embolization, vertebroplasty, and ethanol injection have also been used in combination with surgery. Despite the variety of available treatment options, the optimal management strategy is unclear because aggressive vertebral hemangiomas are uncommon lesions, making it difficult to perform large trials. For this reason, the authors chose instead to report their institutional experience along with a comprehensive review of the literature.

METHODS

A departmental database was searched for patients with a pathological diagnosis of “hemangioma” between 2008 and 2015. Medical records were reviewed to identify patients with aggressive vertebral hemangiomas, and these cases were reviewed in detail.

RESULTS

Five patients were identified who underwent surgery for treatment of aggressive vertebral hemangiomas during the specified time period. There were 2 lumbar and 3 thoracic lesions. One patient underwent en bloc spondylectomy, 2 patients had piecemeal gross-total resection, and the remaining 2 had subtotal tumor resection. Intraoperative vertebroplasty was used in 3 cases to augment the anterior column or to obliterate residual tumor. Adjuvant radiation was used in 1 case where there was residual tumor as well. The patient who underwent en bloc spondylectomy experienced several postoperative complications requiring additional medical care and reoperation. At an average follow-up of 31 months (range 3–65 months), no patient had any recurrence of disease and all were clinically asymptomatic, except the patient who underwent en bloc resection who continued to have back pain.

CONCLUSIONS

Gross-total resection or subtotal resection in combination with vertebroplasty or adjuvant radiation therapy to treat residual tumor seems sufficient in the treatment of aggressive vertebral hemangiomas. En bloc resection appears to provide a similar oncological benefit, but it carries higher morbidity to the patient.

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Aditya V. Karhade, Viren S. Vasudeva, Hormuzdiyar H. Dasenbrock, Yi Lu, William B. Gormley, Michael W. Groff, John H. Chi and Timothy R. Smith

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to use a large national registry to evaluate the 30-day cumulative incidence and predictors of adverse events, readmissions, and reoperations after surgery for primary and secondary spinal tumors.

METHODS

Data from adult patients who underwent surgery for spinal tumors (2011–2014) were extracted from the prospective National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) registry. Multivariable logistic regression was used to evaluate predictors of reoperation, readmission, and major complications (death, neurological, cardiopulmonary, venous thromboembolism [VTE], surgical site infection [SSI], and sepsis). Variables screened included patient age, sex, tumor location, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical classification, preoperative functional status, comorbidities, preoperative laboratory values, case urgency, and operative time. Additional variables that were evaluated when analyzing readmission included complications during the surgical hospitalization, hospital length of stay (LOS), and discharge disposition.

RESULTS

Among the 2207 patients evaluated, 51.4% had extradural tumors, 36.4% had intradural extramedullary tumors, and 12.3% had intramedullary tumors. By spinal level, 20.7% were cervical lesions, 47.4% were thoracic lesions, 29.1% were lumbar lesions, and 2.8% were sacral lesions. Readmission occurred in 10.2% of patients at a median of 18 days (interquartile range [IQR] 12–23 days); the most common reasons for readmission were SSIs (23.7%), systemic infections (17.8%), VTE (12.7%), and CNS complications (11.9%). Predictors of readmission were comorbidities (dyspnea, hypertension, and anemia), disseminated cancer, preoperative steroid use, and an extended hospitalization. Reoperation occurred in 5.3% of patients at a median of 13 days (IQR 8–20 days) postoperatively and was associated with preoperative steroid use and ASA Class 4–5 designation. Major complications occurred in 14.4% of patients: the most common complications and their median time to occurrence were VTE (4.5%) at 9 days (IQR 4–19 days) postoperatively, SSIs (3.6%) at 18 days (IQR 14–25 days), and sepsis (2.9%) at 13 days (IQR 7–21 days). Predictors of major complications included dependent functional status, emergency case status, male sex, comorbidities (dyspnea, bleeding disorders, preoperative systemic inflammatory response syndrome, preoperative leukocytosis), and ASA Class 3–5 designation (p < 0.05). The median hospital LOS was 5 days (IQR 3–9 days), the 30-day mortality rate was 3.3%, and the median time to death was 20 days (IQR 12.5–26 days).

CONCLUSIONS

In this NSQIP analysis, 10.2% of patients undergoing surgery for spinal tumors were readmitted within 30 days, 5.3% underwent a reoperation, and 14.4% experienced a major complication. The most common complications were SSIs, systemic infections, and VTE, which often occurred late (after discharge from the surgical hospitalization). Patients were primarily readmitted for new complications that developed following discharge rather than exacerbation of complications from the surgical hospital stay. The strongest predictors of adverse events were comorbidities, preoperative steroid use, and higher ASA classification. These models can be used by surgeons to risk-stratify patients preoperatively and identify those who may benefit from increased surveillance following hospital discharge.

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Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr, Wenya Linda Bi, Biji Bahluyen, Samuel T. Rodriguez, Michael W. Groff and John H. Chi

Spinal epidural abscess (SEA) is a rare but often devastating infection of the epidural space around the spinal cord. When an SEA is widespread, extensive decompression with laminectomy is often impossible, as it may subject the patient to very long operative times, extensive blood loss, and mechanical instability. A technique called “skip laminectomy” has been described in the literature, in which laminectomies are performed at the rostral and caudal ends of an abscess that spans 3–5 levels and a Fogarty catheter is used to mechanically drain the abscess, much like in an embolectomy. In this report of 2 patients, the authors present a modification of this technique, which they call “apical laminectomies” to allow for irrigation and drainage of an extensive SEA spanning the entire length of the vertebral column (C1–2 to L5–S1).

Two patients presented with cervico-thoraco-lumbar SEA. Laminectomies were performed at the natural apices of the spine, namely, at the midcervical, midthoracic, and midlumbar spine levels. Next, a pediatric feeding tube was inserted in the epidural space from the thoracic laminectomies up toward the cervical laminectomy site and down toward the lumbar laminectomy site, and saline antibiotics were used to irrigate the SEA. Both patients underwent this procedure with no adverse effects. Their SEAs resolved both clinically and radiologically. Neither patient suffered from mechanical instability at 1 year after treatment.

For patients who present with extensive SEAs, apical laminectomies seem to allow for surgical cure of the infectious burden and do not subject the patient to extended operating room time, an increased risk of blood loss, and the risk of mechanical instability.

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Yakov Gologorsky, John J. Knightly, John H. Chi and Michael W. Groff

Object

The rates of lumbar spinal fusion operations have increased dramatically over the past 2 decades, and several studies based on administrative databases such as the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) have suggested that the greatest rise is in the general categories of degenerative disc disease and disc herniation, neither of which is a well-accepted indication for lumbar fusion. The administrative databases classify cases with the International Classification of Disease, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM). The ICD-9-CM discharge codes are not generated by surgeons but rather are assigned by trained hospital medical coders. It is unclear how accurately they capture the surgeon's indication for fusion. The authors sought to compare the ICD-9-CM code(s) assigned by the medical coder to the surgeon's indication based on a review of the medical chart.

Methods

A retrospective review was undertaken of all lumbar fusions performed at our institution by the department of neurosurgery between 8/1/2011 and 8/31/2013. Based on the authors' review, the indication for fusion for each case was categorized as spondylolisthesis, deformity, tumor, infection, nonpathological fracture, pseudarthrosis, adjacent-level degeneration, stenosis, degenerative disc pathology, or disc herniation. These surgeon diagnoses were compared with the primary ICD-9-CM codes that were submitted to administrative databases.

Results

There were 178 lumbar fusion operations performed for 170 hospital admissions. There were 44 hospitalizations in which fusion was performed for tumor, infection, or nonpathological fracture; the remaining 126 were for degenerative diagnoses. For these degenerative cases, the primary ICD-9-CM diagnosis matched the surgeon's diagnosis in only 61 of 126 degenerative cases (48.4%). When both the primary and all secondary ICD-9-CM diagnoses were considered, the indication for fusion was identified in 100 of 126 cases (79.4%).

Conclusions

Characterizing indications for fusion based solely on primary ICD-9-CM codes extracted from large administrative databases does not accurately reflect the surgeon's indication. While these databases may accurately describe national rates of lumbar fusion surgery, the lack of fidelity in the source codes limits their role in accurately identifying indications for surgery. Studying relationships among indications, complications, and outcomes stratified solely by ICD-9-CM codes is not well founded.

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Michael G. Kaiser, Jason C. Eck, Michael W. Groff, William C. Watters III, Andrew T. Dailey, Daniel K. Resnick, Tanvir F. Choudhri, Alok Sharan, Jeffrey C. Wang, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Sanjay S. Dhall and Zoher Ghogawala

Fusion procedures are an accepted and successful management strategy to alleviate pain and/or neurological symptoms associated with degenerative disease of the lumbar spine. In 2005, the first version of the “Guidelines for the performance of fusion procedures for degenerative disease of the lumbar spine” was published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. In an effort to incorporate evidence obtained since the original publication of these guidelines, an expert panel of neurosurgical and orthopedic spine specialists was convened in 2009. Topics reviewed were essentially identical to the original publication. Selected manuscripts from the first iteration of these guidelines as well as relevant publications between 2005 through 2011 were reviewed. Several modifications to the methodology of guideline development were adopted for the current update. In contrast to the 2005 guidelines, a 5-tiered level of evidence strategy was employed, primarily allowing a distinction between lower levels of evidence. The qualitative descriptors (standards/guidelines/options) used in the 2005 recommendations were abandoned and replaced with grades to reflect the strength of medical evidence supporting the recommendation. Recommendations that conflicted with the original publication, if present, were highlighted at the beginning of each chapter. As with the original guideline publication, the intent of this update is to provide a foundation from which an appropriate treatment strategy can be formulated.

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Daniel K. Resnick, William C. Watters III, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Andrew T. Dailey, Tanvir F. Choudhri, Jason C. Eck, Alok Sharan, Michael W. Groff, Jeffrey C. Wang, Zoher Ghogawala, Sanjay S. Dhall and Michael G. Kaiser

Lumbar stenosis is one of the more common radiographic manifestations of the aging process, leading to narrowing of the spinal canal and foramen. When stenosis is clinically relevant, patients often describe activity-related low-back or lower-extremity pain, known as neurogenic claudication. For those patients who do not improve with conservative care, surgery is considered an appropriate treatment alternative. The primary objective of surgery is to reconstitute the spinal canal. The role of fusion, in the absence of a degenerative deformity, is uncertain. The previous guideline recommended against the inclusion of lumbar fusion in the absence of spinal instability or a likelihood of iatrogenic instability. Since the publication of the original guidelines, numerous studies have demonstrated the role of surgical decompression in this patient population; however, few have investigated the utility of fusion in patients without underlying instability. The majority of studies contain a heterogeneous cohort of subjects, often combining patients with and without spondylolisthesis who received various surgical interventions, limiting fusions to those patients with instability. It is difficult if not impossible, therefore, to formulate valid conclusions regarding the utility of fusion for patients with uncomplicated stenosis. Lower-level evidence exists, however, that does not demonstrate an added benefit of fusion for these patients; therefore, in the absence of deformity or instability, the inclusion of a fusion is not recommended.

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Praveen V. Mummaneni, Sanjay S. Dhall, Jason C. Eck, Michael W. Groff, Zoher Ghogawala, William C. Watters III, Andrew T. Dailey, Daniel K. Resnick, Tanvir F. Choudhri, Alok Sharan, Jeffrey C. Wang and Michael G. Kaiser

Interbody fusion techniques have been promoted as an adjunct to lumbar fusion procedures in an effort to enhance fusion rates and potentially improve clinical outcome. The medical evidence continues to suggest that interbody techniques are associated with higher fusion rates compared with posterolateral lumbar fusion (PLF) in patients with degenerative spondylolisthesis who demonstrate preoperative instability. There is no conclusive evidence demonstrating improved clinical or radiographic outcomes based on the different interbody fusion techniques. The addition of a PLF when posterior or anterior interbody lumbar fusion is performed remains an option, although due to increased cost and complications, it is not recommended. No substantial clinical benefit has been demonstrated when a PLF is included with an interbody fusion. For lumbar degenerative disc disease without instability, there is moderate evidence that the standalone anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) has better clinical outcomes than the ALIF plus instrumented, open PLF. With regard to type of interbody spacer used, frozen allograft is associated with lower pseudarthrosis rates compared with freeze-dried allograft; however, this was not associated with a difference in clinical outcome.