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Margaret McGrath, Abdullah H. Feroze, Dominic Nistal, Emily Robinson, and Rajiv Saigal

OBJECTIVE

Recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein–2 (rhBMP-2) is used in spinal arthrodesis procedures to enhance bony fusion. Research has suggested that it is the most cost-effective fusion enhancer, but there are significant upfront costs for the healthcare system. The primary objective of this study was to determine whether intraoperative dosing and corresponding costs changed with surgeon cost awareness. The secondary objective was to describe surgical complications before and after surgeon awareness of rhBMP-2 cost.

METHODS

A retrospective medical record review was conducted to identify patients who underwent spinal arthrodesis procedures performed by a single surgeon, supplemented with rhBMP-2, from June 2016 to June 2018. Collected data included rhBMP-2 dosage, rhBMP-2 list price, and surgical complications. Expected Medicare reimbursement was calculated. Data were analyzed before and after surgeon awareness of rhBMP-2 cost.

RESULTS

Forty-eight procedures were performed using rhBMP-2, 16 before and 32 after surgeon cost awareness. Prior to cost awareness, the most frequent rhBMP-2 dosage level was x-small (38.9%, n = 7), followed by large (27.8%, n = 5) and small (22.2%, n = 4). After cost awareness, the most frequent rhBMP-2 dosage was xx-small (56.8%, n = 21), followed by x-small (21.6%, n = 8) and large (13.5%, n = 5). The rhBMP-2 average cost per surgery was $4116.56 prior to surgeon cost awareness versus $2268.38 after. Two complications were observed in the pre—cost awareness surgical group; 2 complications were observed in the post—cost awareness surgical group.

CONCLUSIONS

Surgeon awareness of rhBMP-2 cost resulted in use of smaller rhBMP-2 doses, decreased rhBMP-2 cost per surgery, and decreased overall hospital admission charges, without a detectable increase in surgical complications.

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Abdullah H. Feroze, Graham G. Walmsley, Omar Choudhri, H. Peter Lorenz, Gerald A. Grant, and Michael S. B. Edwards

Cranial bone repair is one of the oldest neurosurgical practices. Reconstructing the natural contours of the skull has challenged the ingenuity of surgeons from antiquity to the present day. Given the continuous improvement of neurosurgical and emergency care over the past century, more patients survive such head injuries, thus necessitating more than ever before a simple, safe, and durable means of correcting skull defects. In response, numerous techniques and materials have been devised as the art of cranioplasty has progressed. Although the goals of cranioplasty remain the same, the evolution of techniques and diversity of materials used serves as testimony to the complexity of this task. This paper highlights the evolution of these materials and techniques, with a particular focus on the implications for managing pediatric calvarial repair and emerging trends within the field.

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John R. Williams, Christopher C. Young, Nicholas A. Vitanza, Margaret McGrath, Abdullah H. Feroze, Samuel R. Browd, and Jason S. Hauptman

Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is a universally fatal pediatric brainstem tumor affecting approximately 300 children in the US annually. Median survival is less than 1 year, and radiation therapy has been the mainstay of treatment for decades. Recent advances in the biological understanding of the disease have identified the H3K27M mutation in nearly 80% of DIPGs, leading to the 2016 WHO classification of diffuse midline glioma H3K27M-mutant, a grade IV brainstem tumor. Developments in epigenetic targeting of transcriptional tendencies have yielded potential molecular targets for clinical trials. Chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy has also shown preclinical promise. Recent clinical studies, including prospective trials, have demonstrated the safety and feasibility of pediatric brainstem biopsy in the setting of DIPG and other brainstem tumors. Given developments in the ability to analyze DIPG tumor tissue to deepen biological understanding of this disease and develop new therapies for treatment, together with the increased safety of stereotactic brainstem biopsy, the authors present a case for offering biopsy to all children with suspected DIPG. They also present their standard operative techniques for image-guided, frameless stereotactic biopsy.

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Jason K. Chu, Abdullah H. Feroze, Kelly Collins, Lynn B. McGrath Jr., Christopher C. Young, John R. Williams, and Samuel R. Browd

OBJECTIVE

Placement of an external ventricular drain (EVD) is a common and potentially life-saving neurosurgical procedure, but the economic aspect of EVD management and the relationship to medical expenditure remain poorly studied. Similarly, interinstitutional practice patterns vary significantly. Whereas some institutions require that patients with EVDs be monitored strictly within the intensive care unit (ICU), other institutions opt primarily for management of EVDs on the surgical floor. Therefore, an ICU burden for patients with EVDs may increase a patient’s costs of hospitalization. The objective of the current study was to examine the expense differences between the ICU and the general neurosurgical floor for EVD care.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective analysis of data from 2 hospitals within a single, large academic institution—the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) and Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH). Hospital charges were evaluated according to patients’ location at the time of EVD management: SCH ICU, SCH floor, or UWMC ICU. Daily hospital charges from day of EVD insertion to day of removal were included and screened for days that would best represent baseline expenses for EVD care. Independent-samples Kruskal-Wallis analysis was performed to compare daily charges for the 3 settings.

RESULTS

Data from a total of 261 hospital days for 23 patients were included in the analysis. Ten patients were cared for in the UWMC ICU and 13 in the SCH ICU and/or on the SCH neurosurgical floor. The median values for total daily hospital charges were $19,824.68 (interquartile range [IQR] $12,889.73–$38,494.81) for SCH ICU care, $8,620.88 (IQR $6,416.76–$11,851.36) for SCH floor care, and $10,002.13 (IQR $8,465.16–$12,123.03) for UWMC ICU care. At SCH, it was significantly more expensive to provide EVD care in the ICU than on the floor (p < 0.001), and the daily hospital charges for the UWMC ICU were significantly greater than for the SCH floor (p = 0.023). No adverse clinical event related to the presence of an EVD was identified in any of the settings.

CONCLUSIONS

ICU admission solely for EVD care is costly. If safe EVD care can be provided outside of the ICU, it would represent a potential area for significant cost savings. Identifying appropriate patients for EVD care on the floor is multifactorial and requires vigilance in balancing the expenses associated with ICU utilization and optimal patient care.

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Isaac Josh Abecassis, Christopher C. Young, David J. Caldwell, Abdullah H. Feroze, John R. Williams, R. Michael Meyer, Ryan T. Kellogg, Robert H. Bonow, and Randall M. Chesnut

OBJECTIVE

Decompressive craniectomy (DC) is an effective, lifesaving option for reducing intracranial pressure (ICP) in traumatic brain injury (TBI), stroke, and other pathologies with elevated ICP. Most DCs are performed via a standard trauma flap shaped like a reverse question mark (RQM), which requires sacrificing the occipital and posterior auricular arteries and can be complicated by wound dehiscence and infections. The Ludwig Kempe hemispherectomy incision (Kempe) entails a T-shaped incision, one limb from the midline behind the hairline to the inion and the other limb from the root of the zygoma to the coronal suture. The authors’ objective in this study was to define their implementation of the Kempe incision for DC and craniotomy, report clinical outcomes, and quantify the volume of bone removed compared with the RQM incision.

METHODS

A retrospective review of a single-surgeon experience with DC in TBI and stroke was performed. Patient demographics, imaging, and outcomes were collected for all DCs from 2015 to 2020, and the incisions were categorized as either Kempe or RQM. Preoperative and postoperative CT scans were obtained and processed using a combination of automatic segmentation (in Python and SimpleITK) with manual cleanup and further subselection in ITK-SNAP. The volume of bone removed was quantified, and the primary outcome was percentage of hemicranium removed. Postoperative surgical wound infections, estimated blood loss (EBL), and length of surgery were compared between the two groups as secondary outcomes. Cranioplasty data were collected.

RESULTS

One hundred thirty-six patients were included in the analysis; there were 57 patients in the craniotomy group (44 patients with RQM incisions and 13 with Kempe incisions) and 79 in the craniectomy group (41 patients with RQM incisions and 38 Kempe incisions). The mean follow-up for the entire cohort was 251 ± 368 days. There was a difference in the amount of decompression between approaches in multivariate modeling (39% ± 11% of the hemicranium was removed via the Kempe incision vs 34% ± 10% via the RQM incision, p = 0.047), although this did not achieve significance in multivariate modeling. Wound infection rates, EBL, and length of surgery were comparable between the two incision types. No wound infections in either cohort were due to wound dehiscence. Cranioplasty outcomes were comparable between the two incision types.

CONCLUSIONS

The Kempe incision for craniectomy or craniotomy is a safe, feasible, and effective alternative to the RQM. The authors advocate the Kempe incision in cases in which contralateral operative pathology or subsequent craniofacial/skull base repair is anticipated.

Free access

Christopher C. Young, John R. Williams, Abdullah H. Feroze, Margaret McGrath, Ali C. Ravanpay, Richard G. Ellenbogen, Jeffrey G. Ojemann, and Jason S. Hauptman

Functional hemispherectomy/hemispherotomy is a disconnection procedure for severe medically refractory epilepsy where the seizure foci diffusely localize to one hemisphere. It is an improvement on anatomical hemispherectomy and was first performed by Rasmussen in 1974. Less invasive surgical approaches and refinements have been made to improve seizure freedom and minimize surgical morbidity and complications. Key anatomical structures that are disconnected include the 1) internal capsule and corona radiata, 2) mesial temporal structures, 3) insula, 4) corpus callosum, 5) parietooccipital connection, and 6) frontobasal connection. A stepwise approach is indicated to ensure adequate disconnection and prevent seizure persistence or recurrence. In young pediatric patients, careful patient selection and modern surgical techniques have resulted in > 80% seizure freedom and very good functional outcome. In this report, the authors summarize the history of hemispherectomy and its development and present a graphical guide for this anatomically challenging procedure. The use of the osteoplastic flap to improve outcome and the management of hydrocephalus are discussed.

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Abdullah H. Feroze, Margaret McGrath, John R. Williams, Christopher C. Young, Chibawanye I. Ene, Robert T. Buckley, Bonnie L. Cole, Jeffrey G. Ojemann, and Jason S. Hauptman

Herein, the authors describe the successful use of laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) for management of metastatic craniospinal disease for biopsy-proven atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor in a 16-month-old boy presenting to their care. Specifically, LITT was administered to lesions of the right insula and left caudate. The patient tolerated 2 stages of LITT to the aforementioned lesions without complication and with evidence of radiographic improvement of lesions at the 2- and 6-month follow-up appointments. To the authors’ knowledge, this represents the first such published report of LITT for management of atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor.

Free access

Alec W. Gibson, Abdullah H. Feroze, Madeline E. Greil, Margaret E. McGrath, Sananthan Sivakanthan, Gabrielle A. White-Dzuro, John R. Williams, Christopher C. Young, and Christoph P. Hofstetter

OBJECTIVE

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is the most common treatment for degenerative disease of the cervical spine. Given the high rate of pseudarthrosis in multilevel stand-alone ACDF, there is a need to explore the utility of novel grafting materials. In this study, the authors present a single-institution retrospective study of patients with multilevel degenerative spine disease who underwent multilevel stand-alone ACDF surgery with or without cellular allograft supplementation.

METHODS

In a prospectively collected database, 28 patients who underwent multilevel ACDF supplemented with cellular allograft (ViviGen) and 25 patients who underwent multilevel ACDF with decellularized allograft between 2014 and 2020 were identified. The primary outcome was radiographic fusion determined by a 1-year follow-up CT scan. Secondary outcomes included change in Neck Disability Index (NDI) scores and change in visual analog scale scores for neck and arm pain.

RESULTS

The study included 53 patients with a mean age of 53 ± 0.7 years who underwent multilevel stand-alone ACDF encompassing 2.6 ± 0.7 levels on average. Patient demographics were similar between the two cohorts. In the cellular allograft cohort, 2 patients experienced postoperative dysphagia that resolved by the 3-month follow-up. One patient developed cervical radiculopathy due to graft subsidence and required a posterior foraminotomy. At the 1-year CT, successful fusion was achieved in 92.9% (26/28) of patients who underwent ACDF supplemented with cellular allograft, compared with 84.0% (21/25) of patients who underwent ACDF without cellular allograft. The cellular allograft cohort experienced a significantly greater improvement in the mean postoperative NDI score (p < 0.05) compared with the other cohort.

CONCLUSIONS

Cellular allograft is a low-morbidity bone allograft option for ACDF. In this study, the authors determined favorable arthrodesis rates and functional outcomes in a complex patient cohort following multilevel stand-alone ACDF supplemented with cellular allograft.