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  • Author or Editor: Sherman C. Stein x
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Robert G. Whitmore, Jayesh P. Thawani, M. Sean Grady, Joshua M. Levine, Matthew R. Sanborn and Sherman C. Stein

Object

The object of this study was to determine whether aggressive treatment of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), including invasive intracranial monitoring and decompressive craniectomy, is cost-effective.

Methods

A decision-analytical model was created to compare costs, outcomes, and cost-effectiveness of 3 strategies for treating a patient with severe TBI. The aggressive-care approach is compared with “routine care,” in which Brain Trauma Foundation guidelines are not followed. A “comfort care” category, in which a single day in the ICU is followed by routine floor care, is included for comparison only. Probabilities of each treatment resulting in various Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) scores were obtained from the literature. The GOS scores were converted to quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), based on expected longevity and calculated quality of life associated with each GOS category. Estimated direct (acute and long-term medical care) and indirect (loss of productivity) costs were calculated from the perspective of society. Sensitivity analyses employed a 2D Monte Carlo simulation of 1000 trials, each with 1000 patients. The model was also used to estimate these values for patients 40, 60, and 80 years of age.

Results

For the average 20-year-old, aggressive care yields 11.7 (± 1.6 [SD]) QALYs, compared with routine care (10.0 ± 1.5 QALYs). This difference is highly significant (p < 0.0001). Although the differences in effectiveness between the 2 strategies diminish with advancing age, aggressive care remains significantly better at all ages. When all costs are considered, aggressive care is also significantly less costly than routine care ($1,264,000 ± $118,000 vs $1,361,000 ± $107,000) for the average 20-year-old. Aggressive care remains significantly less costly until age 80, at which age it costs more than routine care. However, even in the 80-year-old, aggressive care is likely the more cost-effective approach. Comfort care is associated with poorer outcomes at all ages and with higher costs for all groups except 80-year-olds.

Conclusions

When all the costs of severe TBI are considered, aggressive treatment is a cost-effective option, even for older patients. Comfort care for severe TBI is associated with poor outcomes and high costs, and should be reserved for situations in which aggressive approaches have failed or testing suggests such treatment is futile.

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Robert G. Whitmore, Christopher Urban, Ephraim Church, Michael Ruckenstein, Sherman C. Stein and John Y. K. Lee

Object

Widespread use of MR imaging has contributed to the more frequent diagnosis of vestibular schwannomas (VSs). These tumors represent 10% of primary adult intracranial neoplasms, and if they are symptomatic, they usually present with hearing loss and tinnitus. Currently, there are 3 treatment options for quality of life (QOL): wait and scan, microsurgery, and radiosurgery. In this paper, the authors' purpose is to determine which treatment modality yields the highest QOL at 5- and 10-year follow-up, considering the likelihood of recurrence and various complications.

Methods

The MEDLINE, Embase, and Cochrane online databases were searched for English-language articles published between 1990 and June 2008, containing key words relating to VS. Data were pooled to calculate the prevalence of treatment complications, tumor recurrence, and QOL with various complications. For parameters in which incidence varied with time of follow-up, the authors used meta-regression to determine the mean prevalence rates at a specified length of follow-up. A decision-analytical model was constructed to compare 5- and 10-year outcomes for a patient with a unilateral tumor and partially intact hearing. The 3 treatment options, wait and scan, microsurgery, and radiosurgery, were compared.

Results

After screening more than 2500 abstracts, the authors ultimately included 113 articles in this analysis. Recurrence, complication rates, and onset of complication varied with the treatment chosen. The relative QOL at the 5-year follow-up was 0.898 of normal for wait and scan, 0.953 for microsurgery, and 0.97 for radiosurgery. These differences are significant (p < 0.0052). Data were too scarce at the 10-year follow-up to calculate significant differences between the microsurgery and radiosurgery strategies.

Conclusions

At 5 years, patients treated with radiosurgery have an overall better QOL than those treated with either microsurgery or those investigated further with serial imaging. The authors found that the complications associated with wait-and-scan and microsurgery treatment strategies negatively impacted patient lives more than the complications from radiosurgery. One limitation of this study is that the 10-year follow-up data were too limited to analyze, and more studies are needed to determine if the authors' results are still consistent at 10 years.

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Michael D. Cusimano, Katrina Zanetti and Conor Sheridan

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Matthew R. Sanborn, Jayesh P. Thawani, Robert G. Whitmore, Michael Shmulevich, Benjamin Hardy, Conrad Benedetto, Neil R. Malhotra, Paul Marcotte, William C. Welch, Stephen Dante and Sherman C. Stein

Object

There is considerable variation in the use of adjunctive technologies to confirm pedicle screw placement. Although there is literature to support the use of both neurophysiological monitoring and isocentric fluoroscopy to confirm pedicle screw positioning, there are no studies examining the cost-effectiveness of these technologies. This study compares the cost-effectiveness and efficacy of isocentric O-arm fluoroscopy, neurophysiological monitoring, and postoperative CT scanning after multilevel instrumented fusion for degenerative lumbar disease.

Methods

Retrospective data were collected from 4 spine surgeons who used 3 different strategies for monitoring of pedicle screw placement in multilevel lumbar degenerative disease. A decision analysis model was developed to analyze costs and outcomes of the 3 different monitoring strategies. A total of 448 surgeries performed between 2005 and 2010 were included, with 4 cases requiring repeat operation for malpositioned screws. A sample of 64 of these patients was chosen for structured interviews in which the EuroQol-5D questionnaire was used. Expected costs and quality-adjusted life years were calculated based on the incidence of repeat operation and its negative effect on quality of life and costs.

Results

The decision analysis model demonstrated that the O-arm monitoring strategy is significantly (p < 0.001) less costly than the strategy of postoperative CT scanning following intraoperative uniplanar fluoroscopy, which in turn is significantly (p < 0.001) less costly than neurophysiological monitoring. The differences in effectiveness of the different monitoring strategies are not significant (p = 0.92).

Conclusions

Use of the O-arm for confirming pedicle screw placement is the least costly and therefore most cost-effective strategy of the 3 techniques analyzed.