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Michael A. Mooney, Scott Brigeman, Michael A. Bohl, Elias D. Simon, John P. Sheehy, Steve W. Chang and Robert F. Spetzler

OBJECTIVE

Overlapping surgery is a controversial subject in medicine today; however, few studies have examined the outcomes of this practice. The authors analyzed outcomes of patients with acutely ruptured saccular aneurysms who were treated with microsurgical clipping in a prospectively collected database from the Barrow Ruptured Aneurysm Trial. Acute and long-term outcomes for overlapping versus nonoverlapping cases were compared.

METHODS

During the study period, 241 patients with ruptured saccular aneurysms underwent microsurgical clipping. Patients were separated into overlapping (n = 123) and nonoverlapping (n = 118) groups based on surgical start/stop times. Outcomes at discharge and at 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, and 6 years after surgery were analyzed.

RESULTS

Patient variables (e.g., age, smoking status, cardiovascular history, Hunt and Hess grade, Fisher grade, and aneurysm size) were similar between the 2 groups. Aneurysm locations were similar, with the exception of the overlapping group having more posterior circulation aneurysms (18/123 [15%]) than the nonoverlapping group (8/118 [7%]) (p = 0.0495). Confirmed aneurysm obliteration at discharge was significantly higher for the overlapping group (109/119 [91.6%]) than for the nonoverlapping group (95/116 [81.9%]) (p = 0.03). Hospital length of stay, discharge location, and proportions of patients with a modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score > 2 at discharge and up to 6 years postoperatively were similar. The mean and median mRS, Glasgow Outcome Scale, Mini–Mental State Examination, National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale, and Barthel Index scores at all time points were not statistically different between the groups.

CONCLUSIONS

Compared with nonoverlapping surgery, overlapping surgery was not associated with worse outcomes for any variable at any time point, despite the complexity of the surgical management in this patient population. These findings should be considered during the discussion of future guidelines on the practice of overlapping surgery.

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Michael A. Mooney, Douglas A. Hardesty, John P. Sheehy, Robert Bird, Kristina Chapple, William L. White and Andrew S. Little

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to determine the interrater and intrarater reliability of the Knosp grading scale for predicting pituitary adenoma cavernous sinus (CS) involvement.

METHODS

Six independent raters (3 neurosurgery residents, 2 pituitary surgeons, and 1 neuroradiologist) participated in the study. Each rater scored 50 unique pituitary MRI scans (with contrast) of biopsy-proven pituitary adenoma. Reliabilities for the full scale were determined 3 ways: 1) using all 50 scans, 2) using scans with midrange scores versus end scores, and 3) using a dichotomized scale that reflects common clinical practice. The performance of resident raters was compared with that of faculty raters to assess the influence of training level on reliability.

RESULTS

Overall, the interrater reliability of the Knosp scale was “strong” (0.73, 95% CI 0.56–0.84). However, the percent agreement for all 6 reviewers was only 10% (26% for faculty members, 30% for residents). The reliability of the middle scores (i.e., average rated Knosp Grades 1 and 2) was “very weak” (0.18, 95% CI −0.27 to 0.56) and the percent agreement for all reviewers was only 5%. When the scale was dichotomized into tumors unlikely to have intraoperative CS involvement (Grades 0, 1, and 2) and those likely to have CS involvement (Grades 3 and 4), the reliability was “strong” (0.60, 95% CI 0.39–0.75) and the percent agreement for all raters improved to 60%. There was no significant difference in reliability between residents and faculty (residents 0.72, 95% CI 0.55–0.83 vs faculty 0.73, 95% CI 0.56–0.84). Intrarater reliability was moderate to strong and increased with the level of experience.

CONCLUSIONS

Although these findings suggest that the Knosp grading scale has acceptable interrater reliability overall, it raises important questions about the “very weak” reliability of the scale's middle grades. By dichotomizing the scale into clinically useful groups, the authors were able to address the poor reliability and percent agreement of the intermediate grades and to isolate the most important grades for use in surgical decision making (Grades 3 and 4). Authors of future pituitary surgery studies should consider reporting Knosp grades as dichotomized results rather than as the full scale to optimize the reliability of the scale.

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Seungwon Yoon, Michael A. Mooney, Michael A. Bohl, John P. Sheehy, Peter Nakaji, Andrew S. Little and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

With drastic changes to the health insurance market, patient cost sharing has significantly increased in recent years. However, the patient financial burden, or out-of-pocket (OOP) costs, for surgical procedures is poorly understood. The goal of this study was to analyze patient OOP spending in cranial neurosurgery and identify drivers of OOP spending growth.

METHODS

For 6569 consecutive patients who underwent cranial neurosurgery from 2013 to 2016 at the authors’ institution, the authors created univariate and multivariate mixed-effects models to investigate the effect of patient demographic and clinical factors on patient OOP spending. The authors examined OOP payments stratified into 10 subsets of case categories and created a generalized linear model to study the growth of OOP spending over time.

RESULTS

In the multivariate model, case categories (craniotomy for pain, tumor, and vascular lesions), commercial insurance, and out-of-network plans were significant predictors of higher OOP payments for patients (all p < 0.05). Patient spending varied substantially across procedure types, with patients undergoing craniotomy for pain ($1151 ± $209) having the highest mean OOP payments. On average, commercially insured patients spent nearly twice as much in OOP payments as the overall population. From 2013 to 2016, the mean patient OOP spending increased 17%, from $598 to $698 per patient encounter. Commercially insured patients experienced more significant growth in OOP spending, with a cumulative rate of growth of 42% ($991 in 2013 to $1403 in 2016).

CONCLUSIONS

Even after controlling for inflation, case-mix differences, and partial fiscal periods, OOP spending for cranial neurosurgery patients significantly increased from 2013 to 2016. The mean OOP spending for commercially insured neurosurgical patients exceeded $1400 in 2016, with an average annual growth rate of 13%. As patient cost sharing in health insurance plans becomes more prevalent, patients and providers must consider the potential financial burden for patients receiving specialized neurosurgical care.