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Vivek P. Buch, Peter J. Madsen, Kerry A. Vaughan, Paul F. Koch, David K. Kung and Ali K. Ozturk

Rotational vertebrobasilar insufficiency, or bow hunter's syndrome, is a rare cause of posterior circulation ischemia, which, following rotation of the head, results in episodic vertigo, dizziness, nystagmus, or syncope. While typically caused by dynamic occlusion of the vertebral artery in its V2 and V3 segments, the authors here describe a patient with dynamic occlusion of the vertebral artery secondary to a persistent first intersegmental artery, a rare variant course of the vertebral artery. In this case the vertebral artery coursed under rather than over the posterior arch of the C-1. This patient was also found to have incomplete development of the posterior arch of C-1, as is often seen with this variant. The patient underwent dynamic digital subtraction angiography, which demonstrated occlusion at the variant vertebral artery with head turning. He was then taken for decompression of the vertebral artery through removal of the incomplete arch of C-1 that was causing the dynamic compression. After surgery the patient had a complete resolution of symptoms. In this report, the authors present the details of this case, describe the anatomical variants involved, and provide a discussion regarding the need for atlantoaxial fusion in these patients.

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Ali K. Ozturk, Patricia Zadnik Sullivan and Vincent Arlet

The importance of sagittal spinal balance and lumbopelvic parameters is now well understood. The popularization of various osteotomies, including Smith-Peterson, Ponte, and pedicle subtraction osteotomies (PSOs), as well as vertebral column resections, have greatly enhanced the spine surgeon’s ability to recognize and effectively treat sagittal imbalance. Yet rare circumstances remain, most notably in distal kyphotic deformities and patients with extremely elevated pelvic incidences, where these techniques remain inadequate. In this article, the authors describe a patient with severe sagittal imbalance despite multiple prior anterior and posterior reconstructive surgeries in which a sacral PSO was performed with good results. A description of this technique as well as a brief review of the literature is provided.

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Implications of anesthetic approach, spinal versus general, for the treatment of spinal disc herniation

Presented at the 2018 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Nikhil Sharma, Matthew Piazza, Paul J. Marcotte, William Welch, Ali K. Ozturk, H. Isaac Chen, Zarina S. Ali, James Schuster and Neil R. Malhotra

OBJECTIVE

Healthcare costs continue to escalate. Approaches to care that have comparable outcomes and complications are increasingly assessed for quality improvement and, when possible, cost containment. Efforts to identify components of care to reduce length of stay (LOS) have been ongoing. Spinal anesthesia (SA), for select lumbar spine procedures, has garnered interest as an alternative to general anesthesia (GA) that might reduce cost and in-hospital LOS and accelerate recovery. While clinical outcomes with SA or GA have been studied extensively, few authors have looked at the cost-analysis in relation to clinical outcomes. The authors’ objectives were to compare the clinical perioperative outcomes of patients who received SA and GA, as well as the direct costs associated with each modality of care, and to determine which, in a retrospective analysis, can serve as a dominant procedural approach.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively analyzed a homogeneous surgical population of 550 patients who underwent hemilaminotomy for disc herniation and who received either SA (n = 91) or GA (n = 459). All clinical and billing data were obtained via each patient’s chart and the hospital’s billing database, respectively. Additionally, the authors prospectively assessed patient-reported outcome measures for a subgroup of consecutively treated patients (n = 75) and compared quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gains between the two cohorts. Furthermore, the authors performed a propensity score–matching analysis to compare the two cohorts (n = 180).

RESULTS

Direct hospital costs for patients receiving SA were 40% higher, in the hundreds of dollars, than for patients who received GA (p < 0.0001). Furthermore, there was a significant difference with regard to LOS (p < 0.0001), where patients receiving SA had a considerably longer hospital LOS (27.6% increase in hours). Patients undergoing SA had more comorbidities (p = 0.0053), specifically diabetes and hypertension. However, metrics of complications, including readmission (p = 0.3038) and emergency department (ED) visits at 30 days (p = 1.0), were no different. Furthermore, in a small pilot group, QALY gains were statistically no different (n = 75, p = 0.6708). Propensity score–matching analysis demonstrated similar results as the univariate analysis: there was no difference between the cohorts regarding 30-day readmission (p = 1.0000); ED within 30 days could not be analyzed as there were no patients in the SA group; and total direct costs and LOS were significantly different between the two cohorts (p < 0.0001 and p = 0.0126, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

Both SA and GA exhibit the qualities of a good anesthetic, and the utilization of these modalities for lumbar spine surgery is safe and effective. However, this work suggests that SA is associated with increased LOS and higher direct costs, although these differences may not be clinically or fiscally meaningful.

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Zarina S. Ali, Tracy M. Flanders, Ali K. Ozturk, Neil R. Malhotra, Lena Leszinsky, Brendan J. McShane, Diana Gardiner, Kristin Rupich, H. Isaac Chen, James Schuster, Paul J. Marcotte, Michael J. Kallan, M. Sean Grady, Lee A. Fleisher and William C. Welch

OBJECTIVE

Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols address pre-, peri-, and postoperative factors of a patient’s surgical journey. The authors sought to assess the effects of a novel ERAS protocol on clinical outcomes for patients undergoing elective spine or peripheral nerve surgery.

METHODS

The authors conducted a prospective cohort analysis comparing clinical outcomes of patients undergoing elective spine or peripheral nerve surgery after implementation of the ERAS protocol compared to a historical control cohort in a tertiary care academic medical center. Patients in the historical cohort (September–December 2016) underwent traditional surgical care. Patients in the intervention group (April–June 2017) were enrolled in a unique ERAS protocol created by the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania. Primary objectives were as follows: opioid and nonopioid pain medication consumption, need for opioid use at 1 month postoperatively, and patient-reported pain scores. Secondary objectives were as follows: mobilization and ambulation status, Foley catheter use, need for straight catheterization, length of stay, need for ICU admission, discharge status, and readmission within 30 days.

RESULTS

A total of 201 patients underwent surgical care via an ERAS protocol and were compared to a total of 74 patients undergoing traditional perioperative care (control group). The 2 groups were similar in baseline demographics. Intravenous opioid medications postoperatively via patient-controlled analgesia was nearly eliminated in the ERAS group (0.5% vs 54.1%, p < 0.001). This change was not associated with an increase in the average or daily pain scores in the ERAS group. At 1 month following surgery, a smaller proportion of patients in the ERAS group were using opioids (38.8% vs 52.7%, p = 0.041). The ERAS group demonstrated greater mobilization on postoperative day 0 (53.4% vs 17.1%, p < 0.001) and postoperative day 1 (84.1% vs 45.7%, p < 0.001) compared to the control group. Postoperative Foley use was decreased in the ERAS group (20.4% vs 47.3%, p < 0.001) without an increase in the rate of straight catheterization (8.1% vs 11.9%, p = 0.51).

CONCLUSIONS

Implementation of this novel ERAS pathway safely reduces patients’ postoperative opioid requirements during hospitalization and 1 month postoperatively. ERAS results in improved postoperative mobilization and ambulation.

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Ashwin G. Ramayya, H. Isaac Chen, Paul J. Marcotte, Steven Brem, Eric L. Zager, Benjamin Osiemo, Matthew Piazza, Nikhil Sharma, Scott D. McClintock, James M. Schuster, Zarina S. Ali, Patrick Connolly, Gregory G. Heuer, M. Sean Grady, David K. Kung, Ali K. Ozturk, Donald M. O’Rourke and Neil R. Malhotra

OBJECTIVE

Although it is known that intersurgeon variability in offering elective surgery can have major consequences for patient morbidity and healthcare spending, data addressing variability within neurosurgery are scarce. The authors performed a prospective peer review study of randomly selected neurosurgery cases in order to assess the extent of consensus regarding the decision to offer elective surgery among attending neurosurgeons across one large academic institution.

METHODS

All consecutive patients who had undergone standard inpatient surgical interventions of 1 of 4 types (craniotomy for tumor [CFT], nonacute redo CFT, first-time spine surgery with/without instrumentation, and nonacute redo spine surgery with/without instrumentation) during the period 2015–2017 were retrospectively enrolled (n = 9156 patient surgeries, n = 80 randomly selected individual cases, n = 20 index cases of each type randomly selected for review). The selected cases were scored by attending neurosurgeons using a need for surgery (NFS) score based on clinical data (patient demographics, preoperative notes, radiology reports, and operative notes; n = 616 independent case reviews). Attending neurosurgeon reviewers were blinded as to performing provider and surgical outcome. Aggregate NFS scores across various categories were measured. The authors employed a repeated-measures mixed ANOVA model with autoregressive variance structure to compute omnibus statistical tests across the various surgery types. Interrater reliability (IRR) was measured using Cohen’s kappa based on binary NFS scores.

RESULTS

Overall, the authors found that most of the neurosurgical procedures studied were rated as “indicated” by blinded attending neurosurgeons (mean NFS = 88.3, all p values < 0.001) with greater agreement among neurosurgeon raters than expected by chance (IRR = 81.78%, p = 0.016). Redo surgery had lower NFS scores and IRR scores than first-time surgery, both for craniotomy and spine surgery (ANOVA, all p values < 0.01). Spine surgeries with fusion had lower NFS scores than spine surgeries without fusion procedures (p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

There was general agreement among neurosurgeons in terms of indication for surgery; however, revision surgery of all types and spine surgery with fusion procedures had the lowest amount of decision consensus. These results should guide efforts aimed at reducing unnecessary variability in surgical practice with the goal of effective allocation of healthcare resources to advance the value paradigm in neurosurgery.

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M. Burhan Janjua, Sumanth Reddy, William C. Welch, Amer F. Samdani, Ali K. Ozturk, Steven W. Hwang, Angela V. Price, Bradley E. Weprin and Dale M. Swift

OBJECTIVE

The risk of readmission after brain tumor resection among pediatric patients has not been defined. The authors’ objective was to evaluate the readmission rates and predictors of readmission after pediatric brain tumor resection.

METHODS

Nationwide Readmissions Database (NRD) data sets from 2010 to 2014 were searched for unplanned readmissions within 30 days of the discharge date after pediatric brain tumor resection. Patient demographic variables included sex, age, expected payment source (Medicaid or private insurance), and median annual household income. Readmission events for chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or further tumor resection were not included.

RESULTS

Of 282 patients (12.7%) readmitted within 30 days of the index event, the median time to readmission was 10 days (IQR 5–19 days). The most common reason for readmission was hydrocephalus, which accounted for 19% of readmission events. Other CNS-related complications (24%), surgical site infections or septicemia (14%), seizures (7%), and hematological disorders (7%) accounted for other major readmission events. The median charge for readmission events was $35,431, and the median length of readmission stay was 4 days. In multivariate regression, factors associated with a significant increase in readmission risk included Medicaid as the primary payor, discharge from the index event with home health services, and fluid and electrolyte disorders during the index event.

CONCLUSIONS

More than 10% of pediatric brain tumor patients have unplanned readmission events within 30 days of discharge after tumor resection. Medicaid patients and those with preoperative or early postoperative fluid and electrolyte disturbances may benefit from early or frequent outpatient visits after tumor resection.