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Sherman C. Stein, Mark G. Burnett and Seema S. Sonnad

Object

The average 65-year-old patient with moderate dementia can look forward to only 1.4 quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), that is, longevity times quality of life. Some of these patients suffer from normal-pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) and respond dramatically to shunt insertion. Currently, however, NPH cannot be diagnosed with certainty. The authors constructed a Markov decision analysis model to predict the outcome in patients with NPH treated with and without shunts.

Methods

Transition probabilities and health utilities were obtained from a review of the literature. A sensitivity analysis and Monte Carlo simulation were applied to test outcomes over a wide range of parameters. Using shunt response and complication rates from the literature, the average patient receiving a shunt would gain an additional 1.7 QALYs as a result of automatic shunt insertion. Even if 50% of patients receiving a shunt have complications, the shunt response rate would need to be less than 5% for empirical shunt insertion to do more harm than good. Authors of most studies have reported far better statistics.

Conclusions

In summary, many more patients with suspected NPH should be considered for shunt insertion.

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Sherman C. Stein and Wensheng Guo

Object

The object of this study was to mathematically model the prognosis of a newly inserted shunt in pediatric or adult patients with hydrocephalus.

Methods

A structured search was performed of the English-language literature for case series reporting shunt failure, patient mortality, and shunt removal rates after shunt insertion. A metaanalytic model was constructed to pool data from multiple studies and to predict the outcome of a shunt after insertion. Separate models were used to predict shunt survival rates for children (patients < 17 years old) and adults.

Results

Shunt survival rates in children and adults were calculated for 1 year (64.2 and 80.1%, respectively), 5 years (49.4 and 60.2%, respectively), and the median (4.9 and 7.3 years, respectively). The longer-term rates predicted by the model agree closely with those reported in the literature.

Conclusions

This model gives a comprehensive view of the fate of a shunt for hydrocephalus after insertion. The advantages of this model compared with Kaplan–Meier survival curves are discussed. The model used in this study may provide useful prognostic information and aid in the early evaluation of new shunt designs and techniques.

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Joseph H. Piatt Jr.

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Sherman C. Stein and Wensheng Guo

Object

The goal of this study was to determine whether failure rates of hydrocephalus shunts have fallen over the years as a result of experience or technical improvements.

Methods

A structured search was performed of the English language literature for case series reporting failure rates after shunt insertion. A metaanalytic model was constructed to pool data from multiple studies and to analyze failure rates statistically for temporal trends. Separate models were used for children (< 17 years old) and adults.

Results

In children, the shunt failure rate was 31.3% for the 1st year and 4.5% per year thereafter. There were no significant changes in either rate over time. Although 1st-year failure rates in adults have fallen slightly over time, late failure rates have risen.

Conclusions

Progress in preventing shunt failures has not been made over the last several decades. Any improvements made in shunt materials or insertion techniques have been overshadowed by biological and other factors.

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Andrew H. Milby, Casey H. Halpern, Wensheng Guo and Sherman C. Stein

Object

Diagnosis of cervical spinal injury (CSI) is an essential aspect of the trauma evaluation. This task is especially difficult in patients who are not clinically able to be evaluated (unevaluable) because of distracting painful injuries, intoxication, or concomitant head injury. For this population, the appropriate use of advanced imaging techniques for cervical spinal clearance remains undetermined. This study was undertaken to estimate the prevalence of unstable CSI, particularly among patients in whom clinical evaluation is impossible or unreliable.

Methods

Estimates of the prevalence of CSI in populations consisting of all trauma patients, alert patients only, and clinically unevaluable patients only were determined by variance-weighted pooling of data from 65 publications (281,864 patients) that met criteria for review.

Results

The overall prevalence of CSI among all trauma patients was 3.7%. The prevalence of CSI in alert patients was 2.8%, whereas unevaluable patients were at increased risk of CSI with a prevalence of 7.7% (p = 0.007). Overall, 41.9% of all CSI cases were considered to exhibit instability.

Conclusions

Trauma patients who are clinically unevaluable have a higher prevalence of CSI than alert patients. Knowledge of the prevalence and risk of such injuries may help establish an evidence-based approach to the detection and management of clinically occult CSI.

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Shabbar F. Danish, Dean Barone, Bradley C. Lega and Sherman C. Stein

Decompressive hemicraniectomy is well accepted for the surgical treatment of intractable intracranial hypertension in cases in which medical management fails. Although it is performed as a life-saving procedure when death is imminent from intracranial hypertension, little is known about the functional outcomes for these patients on long-term follow-up. In this study, the authors performed a systematic review of the literature to examine neurological outcome after hemicraniectomy. A literature search revealed 29 studies that reported outcomes using GOS scores. The GOS scores were transformed to utility values for quality of life using a conversion method based on decision analysis modeling. Based on the literature, 1422 cases were analyzed. The average 6-month-postoperative mortality rate was 28.2%. The mean QOL value among survivors was 0.592, which corresponds roughly to a GOS score of 4. Although more studies are needed for validation of long-term neurological outcome after hemicraniectomy, the assumption that most patients remain in a vegetative state after this intervention is clearly incorrect.

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Sherman C. Stein, Patrick Georgoff, Sudha Meghan, Kasim L. Mirza and Omar M. El Falaky

Object

Despite being common practice for decades and being recommended by national guidelines, aggressive monitoring and treatment of patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) have not been supported by convincing evidence.

Methods

The authors reviewed trials and case series reported after 1970 in which patients were treated for severe closed TBI, and mortality rates and favorable outcomes at 6 months after injury were analyzed. The patient groups were divided into those with and without intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring and intensive therapy, and the authors performed a meta-analysis to assess the effects of treatment intensity on outcome.

Results

Although the mortality rate fell during the years reviewed, it was consistently ~ 12% lower among patients in the intense treatment group (p < 0.001). Favorable outcomes did not change significantly over time, and were 6% higher among the aggressively treated patients (p = 0.0105).

Conclusions

Aggressive ICP monitoring and treatment of patients with severe TBI is associated with a statistically significant improvement in outcome. This improvement occurs independently of temporal effects.

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Mark G. Burnett, Sherman C. Stein and Ronald H. M. A. Bartels

Object

Standard treatment options for patients with lumbar spinal stenosis include nonoperative therapies as well as decompressive laminectomy. The introduction of interspinous decompression devices such as the X-STOP has broadened treatment options, but data comparing these treatment strategies are lacking. The object of this study was to provide a cost-effectiveness analysis of laminectomy, interspinous decompression, and nonoperative treatment for patients with lumbar stenosis.

Methods

The authors performed a structured literature review of lumbar stenosis and constructed a cost-effectiveness model. Using conservative treatment, decompressive laminectomy, and placement of X-STOP as the treatment arms, their primary analysis evaluated the optimal treatment strategy for a patient with lumbar stenosis at a 2-year time horizon. Secondary analyses were done to compare cases in which patients required single-level procedures with those in which multilevel procedures were required as well as to examine the outcomes for a 4-year time horizon. Outcomes were calculated using quality-adjusted life years and costs were considered from the perspective of society.

Results

Laminectomy was found to be the most effective treatment strategy, followed by X-STOP and then conservative treatment at a 2-year time horizon. Both surgical procedures were more costly than conservative treatment. Because laminectomy was both more effective and less costly than X-STOP, it is said to dominate overall. When single level procedures were considered alone, laminectomy was more effective but also more costly than X-STOP.

Conclusions

Lumbar laminectomy appears to be the most cost-effective treatment strategy for patients with symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis.

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Editorial

Treatment options for lumbar spinal stenosis

Michael G. Fehlings and Soo Yong Chua

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Jared M. Pisapia, Casey H. Halpern, Noel N. Williams, Thomas A. Wadden, Gordon H. Baltuch and Sherman C. Stein

Object

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is the gold standard treatment for morbid obesity, although failure rates may be high, particularly in patients with a BMI > 50 kg/m2. With improved understanding of the neuropsychiatric basis of obesity, deep brain stimulation (DBS) offers a less invasive and reversible alternative to available surgical treatments. In this decision analysis, the authors determined the success rate at which DBS would be equivalent to the two most common bariatric surgeries.

Methods

Medline searches were performed for studies of laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB), laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (LRYGB), and DBS for movement disorders. Bariatric surgery was considered successful if postoperative excess weight loss exceeded 45% at 1-year follow-up. Using complication and success rates from the literature, the authors constructed a decision analysis model for treatment by LAGB, LRYGB, DBS, or no surgical treatment. A sensitivity analysis in which major parameters were systematically varied within their 95% CIs was used.

Results

Fifteen studies involving 3489 and 3306 cases of LAGB and LRYGB, respectively, and 45 studies involving 2937 cases treated with DBS were included. The operative successes were 0.30 (95% CI 0.247–0.358) for LAGB and 0.968 (95% CI 0.967–0.969) for LRYGB. Sensitivity analysis revealed utility of surgical complications in LRYGB, probability of surgical complications in DBS, and success rate of DBS as having the greatest influence on outcomes. At no values did LAGB result in superior outcomes compared with other treatments.

Conclusions

Deep brain stimulation must achieve a success rate of 83% to be equivalent to bariatric surgery. This high-threshold success rate is probably due to the reported success rate of LRYGB, despite its higher complication rate (33.4%) compared with DBS (19.4%). The results support further research into the role of DBS for the treatment of obesity.