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Nicolas W. Villelli, Hong Yan, Jian Zou and Nicholas M. Barbaro

OBJECTIVE

Several similarities exist between the Massachusetts health care reform law of 2006 and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The authors’ prior neurosurgical research showed a decrease in uninsured surgeries without a significant change in surgical volume after the Massachusetts reform. An analysis of the payer-mix status and the age of spine surgery patients, before and after the policy, should provide insight into the future impact of the ACA on spine surgery in the US.

METHODS

Using the Massachusetts State Inpatient Database and spine ICD-9-CM procedure codes, the authors obtained demographic information on patients undergoing spine surgery between 2001 and 2012. Payer-mix status was assigned as Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, uninsured, or other, which included government-funded programs and workers’ compensation. A comparison of the payer-mix status and patient age, both before and after the policy, was performed. The New York State data were used as a control.

RESULTS

The authors analyzed 81,821 spine surgeries performed in Massachusetts and 248,757 in New York. After 2008, there was a decrease in uninsured and private insurance spine surgeries, with a subsequent increase in the Medicare and “other” categories for Massachusetts. Medicaid case numbers did not change. This correlated to an increase in surgeries performed in the age group of patients 65–84 years old, with a decrease in surgeries for those 18–44 years old. New York showed an increase in all insurance categories and all adult age groups.

CONCLUSIONS

After the Massachusetts reform, spine surgery decreased in private insurance and uninsured categories, with the majority of these surgeries transitioning to Medicare. Moreover, individuals who were younger than 65 years did not show an increase in spine surgeries, despite having greater access to health insurance. In a health care system that requires insurance, the decrease in private insurance is primarily due to an increasing elderly population. The Massachusetts model continues to show that this type of policy is not causing extreme shifts in the payer mix, and suggests that spine surgery will continue to thrive in the current US health care system.

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Nicolas W. Villelli, Rohit Das, Hong Yan, Wei Huff, Jian Zou and Nicholas M. Barbaro

OBJECTIVE

The Massachusetts health care insurance reform law passed in 2006 has many similarities to the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). To address concerns that the ACA might negatively impact case volume and reimbursement for physicians, the authors analyzed trends in the number of neurosurgical procedures by type and patient insurance status in Massachusetts before and after the implementation of the state's health care insurance reform. The results can provide insight into the future of neurosurgery in the American health care system.

METHODS

The authors analyzed data from the Massachusetts State Inpatient Database on patients who underwent neurosurgical procedures in Massachusetts from 2001 through 2012. These data included patients' insurance status (insured or uninsured) and the numbers of procedures performed classified by neurosurgical procedural codes of the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM). Each neurosurgical procedure was grouped into 1 of 4 categories based on ICD-9-CM codes: 1) tumor, 2) other cranial/vascular, 3) shunts, and 4) spine. Comparisons were performed of the numbers of procedures performed and uninsured patients, before and after the implementation of the reform law. Data from the state of New York were used as a control. All data were controlled for population differences.

RESULTS

After 2008, there were declines in the numbers of uninsured patients who underwent neurosurgical procedures in Massachusetts in all 4 categories. The number of procedures performed for tumor and spine were unchanged, whereas other cranial/vascular procedures increased. Shunt procedures decreased after implementation of the reform law but exhibited a similar trend to the control group. In New York, the number of spine surgeries increased, as did the percentage of procedures performed on uninsured patients. Other cranial/vascular procedures decreased.

CONCLUSIONS

After the Massachusetts health care insurance reform, the number of uninsured individuals undergoing neurosurgical procedures significantly decreased for all categories, but more importantly, the total number of surgeries performed did not change dramatically. To the extent that trends in Massachusetts can predict the overall US experience, we can expect that some aspects of reimbursement may be positively impacted by the ACA. Neurosurgeons, who often treat patients with urgent conditions, may be affected differently than other specialists.

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Fu-Lin He, Shuai Qiu, Jian-Long Zou, Fan-Bin Gu, Zhi Yao, Zhe-Hui Tu, Yuan-Yuan Wang, Xiao-Lin Liu, Li-Hua Zhou and Qing-Tang Zhu

OBJECTIVE

Neuropathic pain caused by traumatic neuromas is an extremely intractable clinical problem. Disorderly scar tissue accumulation and irregular and immature axon regeneration around the injury site mainly contribute to traumatic painful neuroma formation. Therefore, successfully preventing traumatic painful neuroma formation requires the effective inhibition of irregular axon regeneration and disorderly accumulation of scar tissue. Considering that chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) can act on the growth cone and effectively inhibit axon regeneration, the authors designed and manufactured a CSPG-gelatin blocker to regulate the CSPGs’ spatial distribution artificially and applied it in a rat model after sciatic nerve neurectomy to evaluate its effects in preventing traumatic painful neuroma formation.

METHODS

Sixty female Sprague Dawley rats were randomly divided into three groups (positive group: no covering; blank group: covering with gelatin blocker; and CSPG group: covering with the CSPG-gelatin blocker). Pain-related factors were evaluated 2 and 8 weeks postoperatively (n = 30). Neuroma growth, autotomy behavior, and histological features of the neuromas were assessed 8 weeks postoperatively (n = 30).

RESULTS

Eight weeks postoperatively, typical bulb-shaped neuromas did not form in the CSPG group, and autotomy behavior was obviously better in the CSPG group (p < 0.01) than in the other two groups. Also, in the CSPG group the regenerated axons showed a lower density and more regular and improved myelination (p < 0.01). Additionally, the distribution and density of collagenous fibers and the expression of α–smooth muscle actin were significantly lower in the CSPG group than in the positive group (p < 0.01). Regarding pain-related factors, c-fos, substance P, interleukin (IL)–17, and IL-1β levels were significantly lower in the CSPG group than those in the positive and blank groups 2 weeks postoperatively (p < 0.05), while substance P and IL-17 remained lower in the CSPG group 8 weeks postoperatively (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found that CSPGs loaded in a gelatin blocker can prevent traumatic neuroma formation and effectively relieve pain symptoms after sciatic nerve neurotomy by blocking irregular axon regeneration and disorderly collagenous fiber accumulation in the proximal nerve stump. These results indicate that covering the proximal nerve stump with CSPGs may be a new and promising strategy to prevent traumatic painful neuroma formation in the clinical setting.

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Fengming Lan, Xiao Yue, Lei Han, Xubo Yuan, Zhendong Shi, Kai Huang, Yang Yang, Jian Zou, Junxia Zhang, Tao Jiang, Peiyu Pu and Chunsheng Kang

Object

The goal in this study was to investigate the antitumor effect of aspirin in glioblastoma cells and the molecular mechanism involved in its antineoplastic activities.

Methods

The authors used the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide method, flow cytometry, the annexin V method, and Transwell cell invasion test to detect the proliferation and invasive activity of U87 and A172 glioma cells before and after being treated with aspirin. To determine the effects of aspirin on β-catenin/T-cell factor (TCF) transcription activity, reporter constructs containing 3 repeats of the wild-type (TOPflash) or mutant (FOPflash) TCF-binding sites were used. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and Western blot analyses were used to detect the expression of multiple β-catenin/TCF target genes following aspirin treatment.

Results

The transcriptional activity of the β-catenin/TCF complex was strongly inhibited by aspirin. Increasing the concentration of aspirin resulted in decreased expression of c-myc, cyclin D1, and fra-1 mRNA and protein in U87 and A172 cells in a dose-dependent manner. Aspirin inhibited glioma cell proliferation and invasive ability, and induced apoptotic cell death.

Conclusions

The results suggest that aspirin is a potent antitumor agent, and that it exerts its antineoplastic action by inhibition of the β-catenin/TCF signaling pathway in glioma cells.