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Charles A. Miller, Jason H. Boulter, Daniel J. Coughlin, Michael K. Rosner, Chris J. Neal and Michael S. Dirks

OBJECTIVE

Symptomatic cervical spondylosis with or without radiculopathy can ground an active-duty military pilot if left untreated. Surgically treated cervical spondylosis may be a waiverable condition and allow return to flying status, but a waiver is based on expert opinion and not on recent published data. Previous studies on rates of return to active duty status following anterior cervical spine surgery have not differentiated these rates among military specialty occupations. No studies to date have documented the successful return of US military active-duty pilots who have undergone anterior cervical spine surgery with cervical fusion, disc replacement, or a combination of the two. The aim of this study was to identify the rate of return to an active duty flight status among US military pilots who had undergone anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) or total disc replacement (TDR) for symptomatic cervical spondylosis.

METHODS

The authors performed a single-center retrospective review of all active duty pilots who had undergone either ACDF or TDR at a military hospital between January 2010 and June 2017. Descriptive statistics were calculated for both groups to evaluate demographics with specific attention to preoperative flight stats, days to recommended clearance by neurosurgery, and days to return to active duty flight status.

RESULTS

Authors identified a total of 812 cases of anterior cervical surgery performed between January 1, 2010, and June 1, 2017, among active duty, reserves, dependents, and Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs patients. There were 581 ACDFs and 231 TDRs. After screening for military occupation and active duty status, there were a total of 22 active duty pilots, among whom were 4 ACDFs, 17 TDRs, and 2 hybrid constructs. One patient required a second surgery. Six (27.3%) of the 22 pilots were nearing the end of their career and electively retired within a year of surgery. Of the remaining 16 pilots, 11 (68.8%) returned to active duty flying status. The average time to be released by the neurosurgeon was 128 days, and the time to return to flying was 287 days. The average follow-up period was 12.3 months.

CONCLUSIONS

Adhering to military service-specific waiver guidelines, military pilots may return to active duty flight status after undergoing ACDF or TDR for symptomatic cervical spondylosis.

Free access

Matthew D. Alvin, Jacob A. Miller, Daniel Lubelski, Benjamin P. Rosenbaum, Kalil G. Abdullah, Robert G. Whitmore, Edward C. Benzel and Thomas E. Mroz

Object

Cost-effectiveness research in spine surgery has been a prominent focus over the last decade. However, there has yet to be a standardized method developed for calculation of costs in such studies. This lack of a standardized costing methodology may lead to conflicting conclusions on the cost-effectiveness of an intervention for a specific diagnosis. The primary objective of this study was to systematically review all cost-effectiveness studies published on spine surgery and compare and contrast various costing methodologies used.

Methods

The authors performed a systematic review of the cost-effectiveness literature related to spine surgery. All cost-effectiveness analyses pertaining to spine surgery were identified using the cost-effectiveness analysis registry database of the Tufts Medical Center Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy, and the MEDLINE database. Each article was reviewed to determine the study subject, methodology, and results. Data were collected from each study, including costs, interventions, cost calculation method, perspective of cost calculation, and definitions of direct and indirect costs if available.

Results

Thirty-seven cost-effectiveness studies on spine surgery were included in the present study. Twenty-seven (73%) of the studies involved the lumbar spine and the remaining 10 (27%) involved the cervical spine. Of the 37 studies, 13 (35%) used Medicare reimbursements, 12 (32%) used a case-costing database, 3 (8%) used cost-to-charge ratios (CCRs), 2 (5%) used a combination of Medicare reimbursements and CCRs, 3 (8%) used the United Kingdom National Health Service reimbursement system, 2 (5%) used a Dutch reimbursement system, 1 (3%) used the United Kingdom Department of Health data, and 1 (3%) used the Tricare Military Reimbursement system. Nineteen (51%) studies completed their cost analysis from the societal perspective, 11 (30%) from the hospital perspective, and 7 (19%) from the payer perspective. Of those studies with a societal perspective, 14 (38%) reported actual indirect costs.

Conclusions

Changes in cost have a direct impact on the value equation for concluding whether an intervention is cost-effective. It is essential to develop a standardized, accurate means of calculating costs. Comparability and transparency are essential, such that studies can be compared properly and policy makers can be appropriately informed when making decisions for our health care system based on the results of these studies.

Free access

Emily K. Miller, Brian J. Neuman, Amit Jain, Alan H. Daniels, Tamir Ailon, Daniel M. Sciubba, Khaled M. Kebaish, Virginie Lafage, Justin K. Scheer, Justin S. Smith, Shay Bess, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Christopher P. Ames and the International Spine Study Group

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to analyze the value of an adult spinal deformity frailty index (ASD-FI) in preoperative risk stratification. Preoperative risk assessment is imperative before procedures known to have high complication rates, such as ASD surgery. Frailty has been associated with risk of complications in trauma surgery, and preoperative frailty assessments could improve the accuracy of risk stratification by providing a comprehensive analysis of patient factors that contribute to an increased risk of complications.

METHODS

Using 40 variables, the authors calculated frailty scores with a validated method for 417 patients (enrolled between 2010 and 2014) with a minimum 2-year follow-up in an ASD database. On the basis of these scores, the authors categorized patients as not frail (NF) (< 0.3 points), frail (0.3–0.5 points), or severely frail (SF) (> 0.5 points). The correlation between frailty category and incidence of complications was analyzed.

RESULTS

The overall mean ASD-FI score was 0.33 (range 0.0–0.8). Compared with NF patients (n = 183), frail patients (n = 158) and SF patients (n = 109) had longer mean hospital stays (1.2 and 1.6 times longer, respectively; p < 0.001). The adjusted odds of experiencing a major intraoperative or postoperative complication were higher for frail patients (OR 2.8) and SF patients ( 4.1) compared with NF patients (p < 0.01). For frail and SF patients, respectively, the adjusted odds of developing proximal junctional kyphosis (OR 2.8 and 3.1) were higher than those for NF patients. The SF patients had higher odds of developing pseudarthrosis (OR 13.0), deep wound infection (OR 8.0), and wound dehiscence (OR 13.4) than NF patients (p < 0.05), and they had 2.1 times greater odds of reoperation (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

Greater patient frailty, as measured by the ASD-FI, was associated with worse outcome in many common quality and value metrics, including greater risk of major complications, proximal junctional kyphosis, pseudarthrosis, deep wound infection, wound dehiscence, reoperation, and longer hospital stay.