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Tej D. Azad, Anand Veeravagu and Gary K. Steinberg

Recent advancements in stem cell biology and neuromodulation have ushered in a battery of new neurorestorative therapies for ischemic stroke. While the understanding of stroke pathophysiology has matured, the ability to restore patients' quality of life remains inadequate. New therapeutic approaches, including cell transplantation and neurostimulation, focus on reestablishing the circuits disrupted by ischemia through multidimensional mechanisms to improve neuroplasticity and remodeling. The authors provide a broad overview of stroke pathophysiology and existing therapies to highlight the scientific and clinical implications of neurorestorative therapies for stroke.

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Michael Zhang, Yi-Ren Chen, Steven D. Chang and Anand Veeravagu

OBJECTIVE

Symptomatic vertebral hemangiomas (SVHs) are a very rare pathology that can present with persistent pain or neurological deficits that warrant surgical intervention. Given the relative rarity and difficulty in assessment, the authors sought to present a dedicated series of SVHs treated using stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) to provide insight into clinical decision making.

METHODS

A retrospective review of a single institution's experience with hypofractionated radiosurgery for SVH from 2004 to 2011 was conducted to determine the clinical and radiographic outcomes following SRS treatment. The authors report and analyze the treatment course of 5 patients with 7 lesions, 2 of which were treated primarily by SRS.

RESULTS

Of the 5 patients studied, 4 presented with a chief complaint of pain refractory to conservative measures. Three patients reported dysesthesias, and 2 reported upper-extremity weakness. Following radiosurgery, 4 of 5 patients exhibited improvement in their primary symptoms (3 for pain and 1 for weakness), achieving a clinical response after a mean period of 1 year. In 2 cases there was 20%–40% reduction in lesion size in the most responsive dimension as noted on images. All treatments were well tolerated.

CONCLUSIONS

SRS for SVH is a safe and feasible treatment strategy, comparable to prior radiotherapy studies, and in select cases may successfully confer delayed decompressive effects. Additional investigation will determine future patient selection and how conformal SRS treatment can best be administered.

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Anand Veeravagu, Tyler S. Cole, Tej D. Azad and John K. Ratliff

OBJECT

The significant medical and economic tolls of spinal disorders, increasing volume of spine surgeries, and focus on quality metrics have made it imperative to understand postoperative complications. This study demonstrates the utility of a longitudinal administrative database for capturing overall and procedure-specific complication rates after various spine surgery procedures.

METHODS

The Thomson Reuters MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters and the Medicare Supplemental and Coordination of Benefits database was used to conduct a retrospective analysis of longitudinal administrative data from a sample of approximately 189,000 patients. Overall and procedure-specific complication rates at 5 time points ranging from immediately postoperatively (index) to 30 days postoperatively were computed.

RESULTS

The results indicated that the frequency of individual complication types increased at different rates. The overall complication rate including all spine surgeries was 13.6% at the index time point and increased to 22.8% at 30 days postoperatively. The frequencies of wound dehiscence, infection, and other wound complications exhibited large increases between 10 and 20 days postoperatively, while complication rates for new chronic pain, delirium, and dysrhythmia increased more gradually over the 30-day period studied. When specific surgical procedures were considered, 30-day complication rates ranged from 8.6% in single-level anterior cervical fusions to 27.3% in multilevel combined anterior and posterior lumbar spine fusions.

CONCLUSIONS

This study demonstrates the usefulness of a longitudinal administrative database in assessing postoperative complication rates after spine surgery. Use of this database gave results that were comparable to those in prospective studies and superior to those obtained with nonlongitudinal administrative databases. Longitudinal administrative data may improve the understanding of overall and procedure-specific complication rates after spine surgery.

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Michael C. Jin, Zachary A. Medress, Tej D. Azad, Vanessa M. Doulames and Anand Veeravagu

Recent advances in stem cell biology present significant opportunities to advance clinical applications of stem cell–based therapies for spinal cord injury (SCI). In this review, the authors critically analyze the basic science and translational evidence that supports the use of various stem cell sources, including induced pluripotent stem cells, oligodendrocyte precursor cells, and mesenchymal stem cells. They subsequently explore recent advances in stem cell biology and discuss ongoing clinical translation efforts, including combinatorial strategies utilizing scaffolds, biogels, and growth factors to augment stem cell survival, function, and engraftment. Finally, the authors discuss the evolution of stem cell therapies for SCI by providing an overview of completed (n = 18) and ongoing (n = 9) clinical trials.

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Michael Y. Wang, Tetsuya Goto, Enrico Tessitore and Anand Veeravagu

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Tae Sung Park

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Albert E. Telfeian, Anand Veeravagu, Adetokunbo A. Oyelese and Ziya L. Gokaslan

Few neurosurgeons practicing today have had training in the field of endoscopic spine surgery during residency or fellowship. Nevertheless, over the past 40 years individual spine surgeons from around the world have worked to create a subfield of minimally invasive spine surgery that takes the point of visualization away from the surgeon's eye or the lens of a microscope and puts it directly at the point of spine pathology. What follows is an attempt to describe the story of how endoscopic spine surgery developed and to credit some of those who have been the biggest contributors to its development.

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Anand Veeravagu, Ian D. Connolly, Layton Lamsam, Amy Li, Christian Swinney, Tej D. Azad, Atman Desai and John K. Ratliff

OBJECTIVE

The authors performed a population-based analysis of national trends, costs, and outcomes associated with cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) in the United States. They assessed postoperative complications, resource utilization, and predictors of costs, in this surgically treated CSM population.

METHODS

MarketScan data (2006–2010) were used to retrospectively analyze the complications and costs of different spine surgeries for CSM. The authors determined outcomes following anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), posterior fusion, combined anterior/posterior fusion, and laminoplasty procedures.

RESULTS

The authors identified 35,962 CSM patients, comprising 5154 elderly (age ≥ 65 years) patients (mean 72.2 years, 54.9% male) and 30,808 nonelderly patients (mean 51.1 years, 49.3% male). They found an overall complication rate of 15.6% after ACDF, 29.2% after posterior fusion, 41.1% after combined anterior and posterior fusion, and 22.4% after laminoplasty. Following ACDF and posterior fusion, a significantly higher risk of complication was seen in the elderly compared with the nonelderly (reference group). The fusion level and comorbidity-adjusted ORs with 95% CIs for these groups were 1.54 (1.40–1.68) and 1.25 (1.06–1.46), respectively. In contrast, the elderly population had lower 30-day readmission rates in all 4 surgical cohorts (ACDF, 2.6%; posterior fusion, 5.3%; anterior/posterior fusion, 3.4%; and laminoplasty, 3.6%). The fusion level and comorbidity-adjusted odds ratios for 30-day readmissions for ACDF, posterior fusion, combined anterior and posterior fusion, and laminoplasty were 0.54 (0.44–0.68), 0.32 (0.24–0.44), 0.17 (0.08–0.38), and 0.39 (0.18–0.85), respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors' analysis of the MarketScan database suggests a higher complication rate in the surgical treatment of CSM than previous national estimates. They found that elderly age (≥ 65 years) significantly increased complication risk following ACDF and posterior fusion. Elderly patients were less likely to experience a readmission within 30 days of surgery. Postoperative complication occurrence, and 30-day readmission were significant drivers of total cost within 90 days of the index surgical procedure.

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Lewis C. Hou, Anand Veeravagu, Andrew R. Hsu and Victor C. K. Tse

✓ Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is one of the most aggressive primary brain tumors, with a grim prognosis despite maximal treatment. Advancements in the past decades have not significantly increased the overall survival of patients with this disease. The recurrence of GBM is inevitable, its management often unclear and case dependent. In this report, the authors summarize the current literature regarding the natural history, surveillance algorithms, and treatment options of recurrent GBM. Furthermore, they provide brief discussions regarding current novel efforts in basic and clinical research. They conclude that although recurrent GBM remains a fatal disease, the literature suggests that a subset of patients may benefit from maximal treatment efforts. Nevertheless, further research effort in all aspects of GBM diagnosis and treatment remains essential to improve the overall prognosis of this disease.

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Justin G. Santarelli, Vahé Sarkissian, Lewis C. Hou, Anand Veeravagu and Victor Tse

✓The brain is a privileged site of systemic cancer metastasis. The stages of the metastatic journey from the periphery to the brain are driven by molecular events that tie the original site of disease to the distant host tissue. This preference is not arbitrary but rather a directed phenomenon that includes such critical steps as angiogenesis and the preparation of the premetastatic niche. It appears that the connection between naïve brain and cancer cells is made in advance of any metastatic breach of the blood–brain barrier. This contributes to the preferential homing of cancer cells to the brain. Delineation of the guidance mechanisms and elements that influence cancer cell motility and dormancy are important for the advancement of treatment modalities aimed at the remediation of this devastating disease.