Jay Jagannathan, G. Edward Vates, Nader Pouratian, Jason P. Sheehan, James Patrie, M. Sean Grady and John A. Jane Sr.
Recently, the Institute of Medicine examined resident duty hours and their impact on patient safety. Experts have suggested that reducing resident work hours to 56 hours per week would further decrease medical errors. Although some reports have indicated that cutbacks in resident duty hours reduce errors and make resident life safer, few authors have specifically analyzed the effect of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) duty-hour limits on neurosurgical resident education and the perceived quality of training. The authors have evaluated multiple objective surrogate markers of resident performance and quality of training to determine the impact of the 80-hour workweek.
The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 data on neurosurgical applicants entering ACGME-accredited programs between 1998 and 2007 (before and after the implementation of the work-hour rules) were obtained from the Society of Neurological Surgeons. The American Board of Neurological Surgery (ABNS) written examination scores for this group of residents were also acquired. Resident registration for and presentations at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) annual meetings between 2002 and 2007 were examined as a measure of resident academic productivity. As a case example, the authors analyzed the distribution of resident training hours in the University of Virginia (UVA) neurosurgical training program before and after the institution of the 80-hour workweek. Finally, program directors and chief residents in ACGME-accredited programs were surveyed regarding the effects of the 80-hour workweek on patient care, resident training, surgical experience, patient safety, and patient access to quality care. Respondents were also queried about their perceptions of a 56-hour workweek.
Despite stable mean USMLE Step 1 scores for matched applicants to neurosurgery programs between 2000 and 2008, ABNS written examination scores for residents taking the exam for self-assessment decreased from 310 in 2002 to 259 in 2006 (16% decrease, p < 0.05). The mean scores for applicants completing the written examination for credit also did not change significantly during this period. Although there was an increase in the number of resident registrations to the AANS meetings, the number of abstracts presented by residents decreased from 345 in 2002 to 318 in 2007 (7% decrease, p < 0.05). An analysis of the UVA experience suggested that the 80-hour workweek leads to a notable increase in on-call duty hours with a profound decrease in the number of hours spent in conference and the operating room. Survey responses were obtained from 110 program directors (78% response rate) and 122 chief residents (76% response rate). Most chief residents and program directors believed the 80-hour workweek compromised resident training (96%) and decreased resident surgical experience (98%). Respondents also believed that the 80-hour workweek threatened patient safety (96% of program directors and 78% of chief residents) and access to quality care (82% of program directors and 87% of chief residents). When asked about the effects of a 56-hour workweek, all program directors and 98% of the chief residents indicated that resident training and surgical education would be further compromised. Most respondents (95% of program directors and 84% of chief residents) also believed that additional work-hour restrictions would jeopardize patient care.
Neurological surgery continues to attract top-quality resident applicants. Test scores and levels of participation in national conferences, however, indicate that the 80-hour workweek may adversely affect resident training. Subjectively, neurosurgical program directors and chief residents believe that the 80-hour workweek makes neurosurgical training and the care of patients more difficult. Based on experience with the 80-hour workweek, educators think that a 56-hour workweek would further compromise neurosurgical training and patient care in the US.
Jay Jagannathan, Jason P. Sheehan, Nader Pouratian, Edward R. Laws, Ladislau Steiner and Mary Lee Vance
In this study the authors address the efficacy and safety of Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) in patients with adrenocorticotropic hormone–secreting pituitary adenomas.
A review of data collected from a prospective GKS database between January 1990 and March 2005 was performed in patients with Cushing's disease. All but one patient underwent resection for a pituitary tumor, without achieving remission. Successful endocrine outcome after GKS was defined as a normal 24-hour urinary free cortisol (UFC) concentration posttreatment after a minimum of 1 year of follow up. Patient records were also evaluated for changes in tumor volume, development of new hormone deficiencies, visual acuity, cranial nerve neuropathies, and radiation-induced imaging changes. Ninety evaluable patients had undergone GKS, with a mean endocrine follow-up duration of 45 months (range 12–132 months). The mean dose to the tumor margin was 23 Gy (median 25 Gy).
Normal 24-hour UFC levels were achieved in 49 patients (54%), with an average time of 13 months after treatment (range 2–67 months). In the 49 patients in whom a tumor was visible on the planning magnetic resonance (MR) image, a decrease in tumor size occurred in 39 (80%), in seven patients there was no change in size, and tumor growth occurred in three patients. Ten patients (20%) experienced a relapse of Cushing's disease after initial remission; the mean time to recurrence was 27 months (range 6–60 months). Seven of these patients underwent repeated GKS, with three patients achieving a second remission. New hormone deficiencies developed in 20 patients (22%), with hypothyroidism being the most common endocrinopathy after GKS. Five patients experienced new visual deficits or third, fourth, or sixth cranial nerve deficits; two of these patients had undergone prior conventional fractionated radiation therapy, and four of them had received previous GKS. Radiation-induced changes were observed on MR images in three patients; one had symptoms attributable to these changes.
Gamma Knife surgery is an effective treatment for persistent Cushing's disease. Adenomas with cavernous sinus invasion that are not amenable to resection are treatable with the Gamma Knife. A second GKS treatment appears to increase the risk of cranial nerve damage. These results demonstrate the value of combining two neurosurgical treatment modalities—microsurgical resection and GKS—in the management of pituitary adenomas.
Jay Jagannathan, Chun-Po Yen, Dibyendu Kumar Ray, David Schlesinger, Rod J. Oskouian, Nader Pouratian, Mark E. Shaffrey, James Larner and Jason P. Sheehan
This study evaluated the efficacy of postoperative Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) to the tumor cavity following gross-total resection of a brain metastasis.
A retrospective review was conducted of 700 patients who were treated for brain metastases using GKS. Forty-seven patients with pathologically confirmed metastatic disease underwent GKS to the postoperative resection cavity following gross-total resection of the tumor. Patients who underwent subtotal resection or who had visible tumor in the resection cavity on the postresection neuroimaging study (either CT or MR imaging with and without contrast administration) were excluded. Radiographic and clinical follow-up was assessed using clinic visits and MR imaging. The radiographic end point was defined as tumor growth control (no tumor growth regarding the resection cavity, and stable or decreasing tumor size for the other metastatic targets). Clinical end points were defined as functional status (assessed prospectively using the Karnofsky Performance Scale) and survival. Primary tumor pathology was consistent with lung cancer in 19 cases (40%), melanoma in 10 cases (21%), renal cell carcinoma in 7 cases (15%), breast cancer in 7 cases (15%), and gastrointestinal malignancies in 4 cases (9%). The mean duration between resection and radiosurgery was 15 days (range 2–115 days). The mean volume of the treated cavity was 10.5 cm3 (range 1.75–35.45 cm3), and the mean dose to the cavity margin was 19 Gy. In addition to the resection cavity, 34 patients (72%) underwent GKS for 116 synchronous metastases observed at the time of the initial radiosurgery.
The mean radiographic follow-up duration was 14 months (median 10 months, range 4–37 months). Local tumor control at the site of the surgical cavity was achieved in 44 patients (94%), and tumor recurrence at the surgical site was statistically related to the volume of the surgical cavity (p = 0.04). During follow-up, 34 patients (72%) underwent additional radiosurgery for 140 new (metachronous) metastases. At the most recent follow-up evaluation, 11 patients (23%) were alive, whereas 36 patients had died (mean duration until death 12 months, median 10 months). Patients who showed good systemic control of their primary tumor tended to have longer survival durations than those who did not (p = 0.004). At the last clinical follow-up evaluation, the mean Karnofsky Performance Scale score for the overall group was 78 (median 80, range 40–100).
Radiosurgery appears to be effective in terms of providing local tumor control at the resection cavity following resection of a brain metastasis, and in the treatment of synchronous and metachronous tumors. These data suggest that radiosurgery can be used to prevent recurrence following gross-total resection of a brain metastasis.
Martin H. Weiss and William T. Couldwell