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Jian Guan, Michael Karsy, Andrea A. Brock, William T. Couldwell, John R. W. Kestle, Randy L. Jensen, Andrew T. Dailey, Erica F. Bisson and Richard H. Schmidt

OBJECTIVE

Overlapping surgery remains a controversial topic in the medical community. Although numerous studies have examined the safety profile of overlapping operations, there are few data on its financial impact. The authors assessed direct hospital costs associated with neurosurgical operations during periods before and after a more stringent overlapping surgery policy was implemented.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the records of nonemergency neurosurgical operations that took place during the periods from June 1, 2014, to October 31, 2014 (pre–policy change), and from June 1, 2016, to October 31, 2016 (post–policy change), by any of the 4 senior neurosurgeons authorized to perform overlapping cases during both periods. Cost data as well as demographic, surgical, and hospitalization-related variables were obtained from an institutional tool, the Value-Driven Outcomes database.

RESULTS

A total of 625 hospitalizations met inclusion criteria for cost analysis; of these, 362 occurred prior to the policy change and 263 occurred after the change. All costs were reported as a proportion of the average total hospitalization cost for the entire cohort. There was no significant difference in mean total hospital costs between the prechange and postchange period (0.994 ± 1.237 vs 1.009 ± 0.994, p = 0.873). On multivariate linear regression analysis, neither the policy change (p = 0.582) nor the use of overlapping surgery (p = 0.273) was significantly associated with higher total hospital costs.

CONCLUSIONS

A more restrictive overlapping surgery policy was not associated with a reduction in the direct costs of hospitalization for neurosurgical procedures.

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Michael Karsy, Hussam Abou-Al-Shaar, Christian A. Bowers and Richard H. Schmidt

OBJECTIVE

Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), or pseudotumor cerebri, is a complex and difficult-to-manage condition that can lead to permanent vision loss and refractory headaches if untreated. Traditional treatment options, such as unilateral ventriculoperitoneal (VP) or lumboperitoneal (LP) shunt placement, have high complication and failure rates and often require multiple revisions. The use of bilateral proximal catheters has been hypothesized as a method to improve shunt survival. The use of stereotactic technology has improved the accuracy of catheter placement and may improve treatment of IIH, with fewer complications and greater shunt patency time.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective chart review for all patients with IIH who underwent stereotactic placement of biventriculoperitoneal (BVP) shunt catheters from 2008 to 2016 at their institution. Bilateral proximal catheters were Y-connected to a Strata valve with a single distal catheter. We evaluated clinical, surgical, and ophthalmological variables and outcomes.

RESULTS

Most patients in this series of 34 patients (mean age 34.4 ± 8.2 years, mean body mass index 38.7 ± 8.3 kg/m2; 91.2% were women) undergoing 41 shunt procedures presented with headache (94.1%) and visual deficits (85.3%). The mean opening pressure was 39.6 ± 9.0 cm H2O. In addition, 50.0% had undergone previous unilateral shunt placement, and 20.6% had undergone prior optic nerve sheath fenestration. After BVP shunt placement, there were no cases of proximal catheter obstruction and only a single case of valve obstruction at 41.9 months, with a mean follow-up of 24.8 ± 20.0 months. Most patients showed improvement in their headache (82.4%), subjective vision (70.6%), and papilledema (61.5% preoperatively vs 20.0% postoperatively, p = 0.02) at follow-up. Additional primary complications included 4 patients with migration of their distal catheters out of the peritoneum (twice in 1 patient), and an infection of the distal catheter after catheter dislodgment. The proximal obstructive shunt complication rate in this series (2.9%) was lower than that with LP (53.5%) or unilateral VP (37.8%) shunts seen in the literature.

CONCLUSIONS

This small series suggests that stereotactic placement of BVP shunt catheters appears to improve shunt survival rates and presenting symptoms in patients with IIH. Compared with unilateral VP or LP shunts, the use of BVP shunts may be a more effective and more functionally sustained method for the treatment of IIH.

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Jian Guan, Michael Karsy, Andrea A. Brock, William T. Couldwell, John R. W. Kestle, Randy L. Jensen, Andrew T. Dailey and Richard H. Schmidt

OBJECTIVE

Recently, overlapping surgery has been a source of controversy both in the popular press and within the academic medical community. There have been no studies examining the possible effects of more stringent overlapping surgery restrictions. At the authors’ institution, a new policy was implemented that restricts attending surgeons from starting a second case until all critical portions of the first case that could require the attending surgeon’s involvement are completed. The authors examined the impact of this policy on complication rates, neurosurgical resident education, and wait times for neurosurgical procedures.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective chart review of nonemergency neurosurgical procedures performed over two periods—from June 1, 2014, to October 31, 2014 (pre–policy change) and from June 1, 2016, to October 31, 2016 (post–policy change)—by any of 4 senior neurosurgeons at a single institution who were authorized to schedule overlapping cases. Information on preoperative evaluation, patient demographics, premorbid conditions, surgical variables, and postoperative course were collected and analyzed.

RESULTS

Six hundred fifty-three patients met inclusion criteria for complications analysis. Of these, 378 (57.9%) underwent surgery before the policy change. On multivariable regression analysis, neither overlapping surgery (odds ratio [OR] 1.072, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.710–1.620) nor the overlapping surgery policy change (OR 1.057, 95% CI 0.700–1.596) was associated with overall complication rates. Similarly, neither overlapping surgery (OR 1.472, 95% CI 0.883–2.454) nor the overlapping surgery policy change (OR 1.251, 95% CI 0.748–2.091) was associated with numbers of serious complications. After the policy change, the percentage of procedures in which the senior assistant was a postresidency fellow increased significantly, from 11.9% to 34.2% (p < 0.001). In a multiple linear regression analysis of surgery wait times, patients undergoing surgery after the policy change had significantly longer delays from the decision to operate until the actual neurosurgical procedure (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

At the authors’ institution, further restriction of overlapping surgery was not associated with a reduction in overall or serious complications. Resident involvement in neurosurgical procedures decreased significantly after the policy change, and this study suggests that wait times for neurosurgical procedures also significantly lengthened.

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Vijay M. Ravindra, Adam de Havenon, Timothy C. Gooldy, Jonathan Scoville, Jian Guan, William T. Couldwell, Philipp Taussky, Joel D. MacDonald, Richard H. Schmidt and Min S. Park

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study was to compare the unruptured intracranial aneurysm treatment score (UIATS) recommendations with the real-world experience in a quaternary academic medical center with a high volume of patients with unruptured intracranial aneurysms (UIAs).

METHODS

All patients with UIAs evaluated during a 3-year period were included. All factors included in the UIATS were abstracted, and patients were scored using the UIATS. Patients were categorized in a contingency table assessing UIATS recommendation versus real-world treatment decision. The authors calculated the percentage of misclassification, sensitivity, specificity, and area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve.

RESULTS

A total of 221 consecutive patients with UIAs met the inclusion criteria: 69 (31%) patients underwent treatment and 152 (69%) did not. Fifty-nine (27%) patients had a UIATS between −2 and 2, which does not offer a treatment recommendation, leaving 162 (73%) patients with a UIATS treatment recommendation. The UIATS was significantly associated with treatment (p < 0.001); however, the sensitivity, specificity, and percentage of misclassification were 49%, 80%, and 28%, respectively. Notably, 51% of patients for whom treatment would be recommended by the UIATS did not undergo treatment in the real-world cohort and 20% of patients for whom conservative management would be recommended by UIATS had intervention. The area under the ROC curve was 0.646.

CONCLUSIONS

Compared with the authors’ experience, the UIATS recommended overtreatment of UIAs. Although the UIATS could be used as a screening tool, individualized treatment recommendations based on consultation with a cerebrovascular specialist are necessary. Further validation with longitudinal data on rupture rates of UIAs is needed before widespread use.

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Jian Guan, Andrea A. Brock, Michael Karsy, William T. Couldwell, Meic H. Schmidt, John R. W. Kestle, Randy L. Jensen, Andrew T. Dailey and Richard H. Schmidt

OBJECTIVE

Overlapping surgery—the performance of parts of 2 or more surgical procedures at the same time by a single lead surgeon—has recently come under intense scrutiny, although data on the effects of overlapping procedures on patient outcomes are lacking. The authors examined the impact of overlapping surgery on complication rates in neurosurgical patients.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of consecutive nonemergent neurosurgical procedures performed during the period from May 12, 2014, to May 12, 2015, by any of 5 senior neurosurgeons at a single institution who were authorized to schedule overlapping cases. Overlapping surgery was defined as any case in which 2 patients under the care of a single lead surgeon were under anesthesia at the same time for any duration. Information on patient demographics, premorbid conditions, surgical variables, and postoperative course were collected and analyzed. Primary outcome was the occurrence of any complication from the beginning of surgery to 30 days after discharge. A secondary outcome was the occurrence of a serious complication—defined as a life-threatening or life-ending event—during this same period.

RESULTS

One thousand eighteen patients met the inclusion criteria for the study. Of these patients, 475 (46.7%) underwent overlapping surgery. Two hundred seventy-one patients (26.6%) experienced 1 or more complications, with 134 (13.2%) suffering a serious complication. Fourteen patients in the cohort died, a rate of 1.4%. The overall complication rate was not significantly higher for overlapping cases than for nonoverlapping cases (26.3% vs 26.9%, p = 0.837), nor was the rate of serious complications (14.7% vs 11.8%, p = 0.168). After adjustments for surgery type, surgery duration, body mass index, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical classification grade, and intraoperative blood loss, overlapping surgery remained unassociated with overall complications (OR 0.810, 95% CI 0.592–1.109, p = 0.189). Similarly, after adjustments for surgery type, surgery duration, body mass index, ASA grade, and neurological comorbidity, there was no association between overlapping surgery and serious complications (OR 0.979, 95% CI 0.661–1.449, p = 0.915).

CONCLUSIONS

In this cohort, patients undergoing overlapping surgery did not have an increased risk for overall complications or serious complications. Although this finding suggests that overlapping surgery can be performed safely within the appropriate framework, further investigation is needed in other specialties and at other institutions.

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Jian Guan, Michael Karsy, William T. Couldwell, Richard H. Schmidt, Philipp Taussky, Joel D. MacDonald and Min S. Park

OBJECTIVE

The choice between treating and observing unruptured intracranial aneurysms is often difficult, with little guidance on which variables should influence decision making on a patient-by-patient basis. Here, the authors compared demographic variables, aneurysm-related variables, and comorbidities in patients who received microsurgical or endovascular treatment and those who were conservatively managed to determine which factors push the surgeon toward recommending treatment.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review was conducted of all patients diagnosed with an unruptured intracranial aneurysm at their institution between January 1, 2013, and January 1, 2016. These patients were dichotomized based on whether their aneurysm was treated. Demographic, geographic, socioeconomic, comorbidity, and aneurysm-related information was analyzed to assess which factors were associated with the decision to treat.

RESULTS

A total of 424 patients were identified, 163 who were treated surgically or endovascularly and 261 who were managed conservatively. In a multivariable model, an age < 65 years (OR 2.913, 95% CI 1.298–6.541, p = 0.010), a lower Charlson Comorbidity Index (OR 1.536, 95% CI 1.274–1.855, p < 0.001), a larger aneurysm size (OR 1.176, 95% CI 1.100–1.257, p < 0.001), multiple aneurysms (OR 2.093, 95% CI 1.121–3.907, p = 0.020), a white race (OR 2.288, 95% CI 1.245–4.204, p = 0.008), and living further from the medical center (OR 2.125, 95% CI 1.281–3.522, p = 0.003) were all associated with the decision to treat rather than observe.

CONCLUSIONS

Whereas several factors were expected to be considered in the decision to treat unruptured intracranial aneurysms, including age, Charlson Comorbidity Index, aneurysm size, and multiple aneurysms, other factors such as race and proximity to the medical center were unanticipated. Further studies are needed to identify such biases in patient treatment and improve treatment delineation based on patient-specific aneurysm rupture risk.

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Vijay M. Ravindra, Michael Karsy, Richard H. Schmidt, Philipp Taussky, Min S. Park and Robert J. Bollo

The authors report the case of a previously healthy 6-month-old girl who presented with right arm and leg stiffening consistent with seizure activity. An initial CT scan of the head demonstrated acute subarachnoid hemorrhage in the basal cisterns extending into the left sylvian fissure. Computed tomography angiography demonstrated a 7 × 6 × 5–mm saccular aneurysm of the inferior M2 division of the left middle cerebral artery. The patient underwent left craniotomy and microsurgical clip ligation with wrapping of the aneurysm neck because the vessel appeared circumferentially dysplastic in the region of the aneurysm. Postoperative angiography demonstrated a small remnant, sluggish distal flow, but no significant cerebral vasospasm. Fifty-five days after the initial aneurysm rupture, the patient presented again with an acute intraparenchymal hemorrhage of the left anterior temporal lobe. Angiogram revealed a circumferentially dysplastic superior division of the M2 branch, with a new 5 × 4–mm saccular aneurysm distinct from the first, with 2 smaller aneurysms distal to the new ruptured aneurysm. Endovascular parent vessel occlusion with Onyx was performed. Genetic testing revealed a mutation of the MYH11. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first report of rapid de novo aneurysm formation in an infant with an MYH11 mutation. The authors review the patient's clinical presentation and management and comprehensively review the literature on this topic.

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Rebecca Gryka and Douglas C. Anderson Jr.

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Ruth S. Kuo, Wililiam D. Freeman and Rabih G. Tawk

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Sarah T. Garber, Walavan Sivakumar and Richard H. Schmidt

Dabigatran etexilate is an oral anticoagulant that acts as a direct, competitive thrombin inhibitor. Large randomized clinical trials have shown higher doses of dabigatran (150 mg taken twice daily) to be superior to warfarin in terms of stroke and systemic embolism rates in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation. As a result, in 2010 the US FDA approved the use of dabigatran for the prevention of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with atrial fibrillation. Dabigatran is especially attractive in the outpatient setting because patients do not require routine monitoring with prothrombin times or international normalized ratios. To date, no effective reversal agent for dabigatran in the event of catastrophic hemorrhage has been identified. The authors report a case of an elderly patient, being treated with dabigatran for atrial fibrillation, who presented with a rapidly expanding intracranial hemorrhage after a ground-level fall. This case highlights an impending neurosurgical quandary of complications secondary to this new anticoagulation agent and suggests potential options for management.