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Galal Elsayed, Samuel G. McClugage III, Matthew S. Erwood, Matthew C. Davis, Esther B. Dupépé, Paul Szerlip, Beverly C. Walters and Mark N. Hadley

OBJECTIVE

Insurance disparities can have relevant effects on outcomes after elective lumbar spinal surgery. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between private/public payer status and patient-reported outcomes in adult patients who underwent decompression surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis.

METHODS

A sample of 100 patients who underwent surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis from 2012 to 2014 was evaluated as part of the prospectively collected Quality Outcomes Database at a single institution. Outcome measures were evaluated at 3 months and 12 months, analyzed in regard to payer status (private insurance vs Medicare/Veterans Affairs insurance), and adjusted for potential confounders.

RESULTS

At baseline, patients had similar visual analog scale back and leg pain, Oswestry Disability Index, and EQ-5D scores. At 3 months postintervention, patients with government-funded insurance reported significantly worse quality of life (mean difference 0.11, p < 0.001) and more leg pain (mean difference 1.26, p = 0.05). At 12 months, patients with government-funded insurance reported significantly worse quality of life (mean difference 0.14, p < 0.001). There were no significant differences at 3 months or 12 months between groups for back pain (p = 0.14 and 0.43) or disability (p = 0.19 and 0.15). Across time points, patients in both groups showed improvement at 3 months and 12 months in all 4 functional outcomes compared with baseline (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Both private and public insurance patients had significant improvement after elective lumbar spinal surgery. Patients with public insurance had slightly less improvement in quality of life after surgery than those with private insurance but still benefited greatly from surgical intervention, particularly with respect to functional status.

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Galal A. Elsayed, Esther B. Dupépé, Matthew S. Erwood, Matthew C. Davis, Samuel G. McClugage III, Paul Szerlip, Beverly C. Walters and Mark N. Hadley

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to analyze the effect of patient education level on functional outcomes following decompression surgery for symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis.

METHODS

Patients with surgically decompressed symptomatic lumbar stenosis were collected in a prospective observational registry at a single institution between 2012 and 2014. Patient education level was compared to surgical outcomes to elucidate any relationships. Outcomes were defined using the Oswestry Disability Index score, back and leg pain visual analog scale (VAS) score, and the EuroQol–5 Dimensions questionnaire score.

RESULTS

Of 101 patients with symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis, 27 had no college education and 74 had a college education (i.e., 2-year, 4-year, or postgraduate degree). Preoperatively, patients with no college education had statistically significantly greater back and leg pain VAS scores when compared to patients with a college education. However, there was no statistically significant difference in quality of life or disability between those with no college education and those with a college education. Postoperatively, patients in both cohorts improved in all 4 patient-reported outcomes at 3 and 12 months after treatment for symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis.

CONCLUSIONS

Despite their education level, both cohorts showed improvement in their functional outcomes at 3 and 12 months after decompression surgery for symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis.

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Galal Elsayed, Matthew S. Erwood, Matthew C. Davis, Esther C. Dupépé, Samuel G. McClugage III, Paul Szerlip, Beverly C. Walters and Mark N. Hadley

OBJECTIVE

This study defines the association of preoperative physical activity level with functional outcomes at 3 and 12 months following surgical decompression for lumbar spinal stenosis.

METHODS

Data were collected as a prospective observational registry at a single institution from 2012 through 2015, and then analyzed with a retrospective cohort design. Patients who were able to participate in activities outside the home preoperatively were compared to patients who did not participate in such activities, with respect to 3-month and 12-month functional outcomes postintervention, adjusted for relevant confounders.

RESULTS

Ninety-nine patients were included. At baseline, sedentary/inactive patients (n = 55) reported greater back pain, lower quality of life, and higher disability than similarly treated patients who were active preoperatively. Both cohorts experienced significant improvement from baseline in back pain, leg pain, disability, and quality of life at both 3 and 12 months after lumbar decompression surgery. At 3 months postintervention, sedentary/inactive patients reported more leg pain and worse disability than patients who performed activities outside the home preoperatively. However, at 12 months postintervention, there were no statistically significant differences between the two cohorts in back pain, leg pain, quality of life, or disability. Multivariate analysis revealed that sedentary/inactive patients had improved disability and higher quality of life after surgery compared to baseline. Active patients experienced greater overall improvement in disability compared to inactive patients.

CONCLUSIONS

Sedentary/inactive patients have a more protracted recovery after lumbar decompression surgery for spinal stenosis, but at 12 months postintervention can expect to reach similar long-term outcomes as patients who are active/perform activities outside the home preoperatively.

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Matthew S. Erwood, Beverly C. Walters, Timothy M. Connolly, Amber S. Gordon, William R. Carroll, Bonita S. Agee, Bradley R. Carn and Mark N. Hadley

OBJECTIVE

Dysphagia and vocal cord palsy (VCP) are common complications after anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). The reported incidence rates for dysphagia and VCP are variable. When videolaryngostroboscopy (VLS) is performed to assess vocal cord function after ACDF procedures, the incidence of VCP is reported to be as high as 22%. The incidence of dysphagia ranges widely, with estimates up to 71%. However, to the authors’ knowledge, there are no prospective studies that demonstrate the rates of VCP and dysphagia for reoperative ACDF. This study aimed to investigate the incidence of voice and swallowing disturbances before and after reoperative ACDF using a 2-team operative approach with comprehensive pre- and postoperative assessment of swallowing, direct vocal cord visualization, and clinical neurosurgical outcomes.

METHODS

A convenience sample of sequential patients who were identified as requiring reoperative ACDF by the senior spinal neurosurgeon at the University of Alabama at Birmingham were enrolled in a prospective, nonrandomized study during the period from May 2010 until July 2014. Sixty-seven patients undergoing revision ACDF were enrolled using a 2-team approach with neurosurgery and otolaryngology. Dysphagia was assessed both preoperatively and postoperatively using the MD Anderson Dysphagia Inventory (MDADI) and fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES), whereas VCP was assessed using direct visualization with VLS.

RESULTS

Five patients (7.5%) developed a new postoperative temporary VCP after reoperative ACDF. All of these cases resolved by 2 months postoperatively. There were no new instances of permanent VCP. Twenty-five patients had a new swallowing disturbance detected on FEES compared with their baseline assessment, with most being mild and requiring no intervention. Nearly 60% of patients showed a decrease in their postoperative MDADI scores, particularly within the physical subset.

CONCLUSIONS

A 2-team approach to reoperative ACDF was safe and effective, with no new cases of VCP on postoperative VLS. Dysphagia rates as assessed through the MDADI scale and FEES were consistent with other published reports.

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Matthew S. Erwood, Mark N. Hadley, Amber S. Gordon, William R. Carroll, Bonita S. Agee and Beverly C. Walters

OBJECTIVE

Recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) injury is one of the most frequent complications of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) procedures. The frequency of RLN is reported as 1%–11% in the literature.4,15 The rate of palsy after reoperative ACDF surgery is not well defined. This meta-analysis was performed to review the current medical evidence on RLN injury after ACDF surgery and to determine a relative rate of RLN injury after reoperative ACDF.

METHODS

MEDLINE, PubMed, and Google Scholar searches were performed using several key words and phrases related to ACDF surgery. Included studies were written in English, addressed revisionary ACDF surgery, and studied outcomes of RLN injury. Statistical analysis was then performed using a random-effects model to calculate a pooled rate of RLN injury. The heterogeneity of the studies was assessed using Cochran's Q statistic and I2 statistic, and a funnel plot was constructed to evaluate publication bias.

RESULTS

The search initially identified 345 articles on this topic. Eight clinical articles that met all inclusion criteria were included in the meta-analysis. A total of 238 patients were found to have undergone reoperative ACDF. Thirty-three of those patients experienced an RLN injury. This analysis identified a rate of RLN injury in the literature after reoperative ACDF of 14.1% (95% confidence interval [CI] 9.8%–19.1%).

CONCLUSIONS

The rate of RLN palsy of 14.1% was greater than any published rate of RLN injury after primary ACDF operations, suggesting that there is a greater risk of hoarseness and dysphagia with reoperative ACDF surgeries than with primary procedures as reported in these studies.

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Paul M. Foreman, Robert P. Naftel, Thomas A. Moore II and Mark N. Hadley

OBJECT

Since its introduction in 1976, the lateral extracavitary approach (LECA) has been used to access ventral and ventrolateral pathology affecting the thoracolumbar spine. Reporting of outcomes and complications has been inconsistent. A case series and systematic review are presented to summarize the available data.

METHODS

A retrospective review of medical records was performed, which identified 65 consecutive patients who underwent LECA for the treatment of thoracolumbar spine and spinal cord pathology. Cases were divided according to the presenting pathology. Neurological outcomes and complications were detailed. In addition, a systematic review of outcomes and complications in patients treated with the LECA as reported in the literature was completed.

RESULTS

Sixty-five patients underwent the LECA to the spine for the treatment of thoracic spine and spinal cord pathology. The most common indication for surgery was thoracic disc herniation (23/65, 35.4%). Neurological outcomes were excellent: 69.2% improved, 29.2% experienced no change, and 1.5% were worse. Two patients (3.1%) experienced a complication. The systematic review revealed comparable neurological outcomes (74.9% improved) but a notably higher complication rate (32.2%).

CONCLUSIONS

The LECA provides dorsal and unilateral ventrolateral access to and exposure of the thoracolumbar spine and spinal cord while allowing for posterior instrumentation through the same incision. Although excellent neurological results can be expected, the risk of pulmonary complications should be considered.

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Paul M. Foreman, Christoph J. Griessenauer, Michelle Chua, Mark N. Hadley and Mark R. Harrigan

OBJECT

Approximately 10% of patients with blunt traumatic extracranial cerebrovascular injury have a complete occlusion of the vertebral artery (VA). Ischemic stroke due to embolization of thrombus from an occluded VA following cervical spine surgery has been observed. The risk of ischemic stroke with cervical spine surgery in the presence of an occluded VA, however, has never been determined.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review of 52 patients with a VA occlusion following a blunt trauma was performed. Clinical and radiographic characteristics were collected and analyzed.

RESULTS

Ten patients (19.2%) suffered an ischemic stroke attributable to a traumatic VA occlusion. Univariate analysis demonstrated that patients with ischemic stroke were significantly older (p = 0.042) and had a lower rate of cervical spine surgery (p < 0.005). Multivariate analysis found cervical spine surgery to be protective against ischemic stroke (OR 0.049 [95% CI 0.014–0.167], p = 0.014); increasing age and bilateral VA injury (bilateral occlusion or unilateral occlusion with contralateral dissection) were risk factors for ischemic stroke (OR 1.05 [95% CI1.02–1.07], p = 0.065 and OR 13.2 [95% CI 2.98–58.9], p = 0.084, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

Traumatic VA occlusion is associated with a risk of ischemic stroke and mortality. Corrective cervical spine surgery potentially decreases the risk of ischemic stroke by stabilizing the spine and thereby reducing motion across the occluded segment of the VA and preventing embolization of thrombus. While a high stoke risk may be inherent to the disease, novel therapies should be investigated.

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Mark N. Hadley