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Travis M. Dumont and Anand I. Rughani

Object

Several randomized trials have emerged with conflicting data on the overall safety of carotid artery stenting (CAS) in comparison with carotid endarterectomy (CEA). The authors hypothesize that changes in national trends correspond to publication of randomized trials, including an increase in utilization of CAS after publication of trials favorable to CAS (for example, Carotid and Vertebral Artery Transluminal Angioplasty Study [CAVATAS] and Stenting and Angioplasty with Protection in Patients at High Risk for Endarterectomy [SAPPHIRE]) and decrease in utilization of CAS after publication of trials favorable to CEA (for example, Endarterectomy versus Stenting in Patients with Symptomatic Severe Carotid Stenosis [EVA3-S] and Stent-Supported Percutaneous Angioplasty of the Carotid Artery versus Endarterectomy [SPACE]).

Methods

The Nationwide Inpatient Sample was obtained for the years 1998–2008. Individual cases were isolated for principal diagnosis of unilateral or bilateral carotid artery stenosis or occlusion undergoing CEA or CAS. The percentage of CAS for all carotid revascularization procedures was calculated for each year. Perioperative inpatient morbidity, including stroke or death, were calculated and compared.

Results

The percentage of patients undergoing CAS increased yearly from the start of the observed period to the end, with the exception of a decrease in 2007. The peak utilization of CAS for carotid artery revascularization procedures was 15% of all cases in 2006. The stroke or death rate was consistent at 5% among all patients undergoing CEA for all years, while the incidence of stroke or death decreased among patients undergoing CAS from 9% in 1998 to 5% in 2008.

Conclusions

The practice of CAS in the US is expanding, from less than 3% of all carotid artery revascularization procedures to 13% in 2008. The utilization of CAS was seen to correlate with publication of randomized trials. Utilization nearly doubled in 2005 after publication of the CAS-favorable SAPPHIRE in 2004, and decreased by 22% after publication of the CEA-favorable EVA-3S and SPACE in 2007. With the publication of Carotid Revascularization Endarterectomy Versus Stenting Trial (CREST), the authors predict a resultant increase in the rate of CAS for carotid artery disease in the upcoming years.

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D. Douglas Cochrane

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Kim J. Burchiel

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Molly E. Hubbard, Ryan P. Jewell, Travis M. Dumont and Anand I. Rughani

Object

Skiing and snowboarding injuries have increased with the popularity of these sports. Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are a rare but serious event, and a major cause of morbidity and mortality for skiers and snowboarders. The purpose of this study is to characterize the patterns of SCI in skiers and snowboarders.

Methods

The authors queried the Nationwide Inpatient Sample for the years 2000–2008 for all patients admitted with skiing or snowboarding as the mechanism of injury, yielding a total of 8634 patients. The injury patterns were characterized by the ICD-9 diagnostic and procedure codes. The codes were searched for those pertaining to vertebral and skull fracture; spinal cord, chest, abdominal, pelvic, and vessel injuries; and fractures and dislocations of the upper and lower extremity. Statistical analysis was performed with ANOVA and Student t-test.

Results

Patients were predominantly male (71%) skiers (61%), with the average age of the skiers being older than that of snowboarders (39.5 vs 23.5 years). The average length of stay for patients suffering from spine trauma was 3.8 days and was increased to 8.9 days in those with SCI. Among hospitalized patients, SCI was seen in 0.98% of individuals and was equally likely to occur in snowboarders and skiers (1.07% vs 0.93%, p < 0.509). Cervical spine trauma was associated with the highest likelihood of SCI (19.6% vs. 10.9% of thoracic and 6% of lumbar injuries, p < 0.0001). Patients who were injured skiing were more likely to sustain a cervical spine injury, whereas those injured snowboarding had higher frequencies of injury to the lumbar spine. The most common injury seen in tandem with spine injury was closed head injury, and it was seen in 13.4% of patients. Conversely, a spine injury was seen in 12.9% of patients with a head injury. Isolated spine fractures were seen in 4.6% of patients.

Conclusions

Skiers and snowboarders evaluated at the hospital are equally likely to sustain spine injuries. Additionally, participants in both sports have an increased incidence of SCI with cervical spine trauma.

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Jeffrey E. Florman, Deborah Cushing, Lynne A. Keller and Anand I. Rughani

OBJECTIVE

Selecting the appropriate patients undergoing craniotomy who can safely forgo postoperative intensive care unit (ICU) monitoring remains a source of debate. Through a multidisciplinary work group, the authors redefined their institutional care process for postoperative monitoring of patients undergoing elective craniotomy to include transfer from the postanesthesia care unit (PACU) to the neurosurgical floor. The hypothesis was that an appropriately selected group of patients undergoing craniotomy could be safely managed outside the ICU in the postoperative period.

METHODS

The work group developed and implemented a protocol for transfer of patients to the neurosurgical floor after 4-hour recovery in the PACU following elective craniotomy for supratentorial tumor. Criteria included hemodynamically stable adults without significant new postoperative neurological impairment. Data were prospectively collected including patient demographics, clinical characteristics, surgical details, postoperative complications, and events surrounding transfer to a higher level of care.

RESULTS

Of the first 200 consecutive patients admitted to the floor, 5 underwent escalation of care in the first 48 hours. Three of these escalations were for agitation, 1 for seizure, and 1 for neurological change. Ninety-eight percent of patients meeting criteria for transfer to the floor were managed without incident. No patient experienced a major complication or any permanent morbidity or mortality following this care pathway.

CONCLUSIONS

Care of patients undergoing uneventful elective supratentorial craniotomy for tumor on a neurosurgical floor after 4 hours of PACU monitoring appears to be a safe practice in this patient population. This tailored practice safely optimized hospital resources, is financially responsible, and is a strong tool for improving health care value.

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Anand I. Rughani, Agostino Visioni, Robert W. Hamill and Bruce I. Tranmer

The author report a case of a 74-year-old man who had presented with transient bilateral brachial diplegia. Investigations led to the diagnosis and treatment of subclavian artery stenosis. There are no known published cases of subclavian artery stenosis associated with transient bilateral arm weakness, and the authors believe that a steal phenomenon leading to vertebrobasilar artery insufficiency and subsequent anterior spinal artery insufficiency may have caused these symptoms, which resolved after correction of the patient's stenosis.

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Anand I. Rughani, Bruce I. Tranmer, Jeffrey E. Florman and James T. Wilson

Accurate assessment of imaging studies in patients with ventriculoperitoneal shunts can be aided by empirical findings. The authors characterize an objective measurement easily performed on head CT scans with the goal of producing clear evidence of shunt fracture or disconnection in patients with a snap shunt–type system.

The authors describe 2 cases of ventriculoperitoneal shunt failure involving a fracture and a disconnection associated with a snap-shunt assembly. In both cases the initial clinical symptoms were not convincing for shunt malfunction, and the interpretation of the CT finding failed to immediately identify the abnormality. As the clinical picture became more convincing for shunt malfunction, each patient subsequently underwent successful shunt revision. The authors reviewed the CT scans of 10 patients with an intact and functioning snap-shunt system to characterize the normal appearance of the snap-shunt connection.

On CT scans the distance between the radiopaque portion of the ventricular catheter and the radiopaque portion of the reservoir dome measures an average of 4.72 mm (range 4.6–4.9 mm, 95% CI 4.63–4.81 mm). In the authors' patient with a fractured ventricular catheter, this interval measured 7.8 mm, and in the patient with a disconnection it measured 7.7 mm.

In comparison with the range of normal values, a radiolucent interval significantly greater than 4.9 mm should promptly raise concern for a disconnected or fractured shunt in this system. This measurement may prove particularly useful when serial imaging is not readily available.

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Ralph G. Dacey Jr.

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Anand I. Rughani, Travis M. Dumont, Chih-Ta Lin, Bruce I. Tranmer and Michael A. Horgan

Object

Microvascular decompression (MVD) offers an effective and durable treatment for patients suffering from trigeminal neuralgia (TN). Because the disorder has a tendency to occur in older persons, the risks of surgical treatment in the elderly have been a topic of recent interest. To date, evidence derived from several small retrospective and a single prospective case series has suggested that age does not increase the complication rate associated with surgery. Using a large national database, the authors aimed to study the impact of age on in-hospital complications following MVD for TN.

Methods

Using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) for the 10-year period from 1999 to 2008, the authors selected all patients who underwent MVD for TN. The primary outcome of interest was the in-hospital mortality rate. Secondary outcomes of interest were cardiac, pulmonary, thromboembolic, cerebrovascular, and wound complications as well as the duration of hospital stay, total hospital charges, and discharge location. An elderly cohort of patients was first defined as those 65 years of age and older and then redefined as those 75 years and older.

Results

A total of 3273 patients who underwent MVD for TN were identified, having a median age of 57 years. Within this sample, 31.5% were 65 years and older and 10.7% were 75 years and older. The in-hospital mortality rate was 0.68% for patients 65 years or older (p = 0.0087) and 1.16% for those 75 years or older (p = 0.0026). In patients younger than 65 years, the in-hospital mortality rate was 0.13% (3 deaths among 2241 patients). As analyzed using the chi-square test (for both 65 and 75 years as the age cutoff) and the Pearson rank correlation coefficient, the risk of cardiac, pulmonary, thromboembolic, and cerebrovascular complications was higher in older patients (that is, those 65 and older and those 75 and older), but the risks of wound complications and CNS infection were not. The risk of any in-hospital complication occurring in a patient 65 years and older was 7.36% (p < 0.0001) and 10.0% in those 75 years and older (p < 0.0001). There was no difference in the total hospital charges associated with age. The duration of the hospital stay was longer in older patients, and the likelihood of discharge home was lower in older patients.

Conclusions

Microvascular decompression for TN in the elderly population remains a reasonable surgical option. However, based on data from a large national database, authors of the present study suggest that complications do tend to gradually increase in tandem with an advanced age. While age does not act as a risk factor in isolation, it may serve as a convenient surrogate for complication rates. The authors hope that this information can be of use in guiding older patients through decisions for the surgical treatment of TN.

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Whitney Sheen James, Anand I. Rughani and Travis M. Dumont

Object

In the United States in recent years, a dramatic increase in the use of intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring (IONM) during spine surgeries has been suspected. Myriad reasons have been proposed, but no clear evidence confirming this trend has been available. In this study, the authors investigated the use of IONM during spine surgery, identified patterns of geographic variation, and analyzed the value of IONM for spine surgery cases.

Methods

In this retrospective analysis, the Nationwide Inpatient Sample was queried for all spine surgeries performed during 2007–2011. Use of IONM (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, code 00.94) was compared over time and between geographic regions, and its effect on patient independence at discharge and iatrogenic nerve injury was assessed.

Results

A total of 443,194 spine procedures were identified, of which 85% were elective and 15% were not elective. Use of IONM was recorded for 31,680 cases and increased each calendar year from 1% of all cases in 2007 to 12% of all cases in 2011. Regional use of IONM ranged widely, from 8% of cases in the Northeast to 21% of cases in the West in 2011. Iatrogenic nerve and spinal cord injury were rare; they occurred in less than 1% of patients and did not significantly decrease when IONM was used.

Conclusions

As costs of spine surgeries continue to rise, it becomes necessary to examine and justify use of different medical technologies, including IONM, during spine surgery.