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Vijay M. Ravindra, Andrea Brock, Al-Wala Awad, Ricky Kalra, and Meic H. Schmidt

OBJECTIVE

Treatment advances have resulted in improved survival for many cancer types, and this, in turn, has led to an increased incidence of metastatic disease, specifically to the vertebral column. Surgical decompression and stabilization prior to radiation therapy have been shown to improve functional outcomes, but anterior access to the thoracolumbar junction may involve open thoracotomy, which can cause significant morbidity. The authors describe the treatment of 12 patients in whom a mini-open thoracoscopic-assisted approach (mini-open TAA) to the thoracolumbar junction was used to treat metastatic disease, with an analysis of outcomes.

METHODS

The authors reviewed a retrospective cohort of patients treated for thoracolumbar junction metastatic disease with mini-open TAA between 2004 and 2016. Data collection included operative time, estimated blood loss, length of stay, follow-up duration, and pre- and postoperative visual analog scale scores and Frankel grades.

RESULTS

Twelve patients underwent a mini-open TAA procedure for metastatic disease at the thoracolumbar junction. The mean age of patients was 59 years (range 53–77 years), mean estimated blood loss was 613 ml, and the mean duration of the mini-open TAA procedure was 234 minutes (3.8 hours). The median length of stay in the hospital was 7.5 days (range 5–21 days). All 12 patients had significant improvement in their postoperative pain scores in comparison with their preoperative pain scores (p < 0.001). No patients suffered from worsening neurological function after surgery, and of 7 patients who presented with neurological dysfunction, 6 (86%) had an improvement in their Frankel grade after surgery. No patients experienced delayed hardware failure requiring reoperation over a mean follow-up of 10 months (range 1–45 months).

CONCLUSIONS

The mini-open TAA to the thoracolumbar junction for metastatic disease is a durable procedure that has a reduced morbidity rate compared with traditional open thoracotomy for ventral decompression and fusion. It compares well with traditional and novel posterior approaches to the thoracolumbar junction. The authors found a significant improvement in preoperative pain and neurological symptoms that supports greater use of the mini-open TAA for the treatment of complex metastatic disease at the thoracolumbar junction.

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Michael Karsy, Andrea Brock, Jian Guan, Phillip Taussky, M. Yashar S. Kalani, and Min S. Park

Stroke is a leading cause of disability in the US. Although there has been significant progress in the area of medical and surgical thrombolytic technologies, neuroprotective agents to prevent secondary cerebral injury and to minimize disability remain limited. Only limited success has been reported in preclinical and clinical trials evaluating a variety of compounds. In this review, the authors discuss the most up-to-date information regarding the underlying molecular biology of stroke as well as strategies that aim to mitigate this complex signaling cascade. Results of historical research trials involving N-methyl-d-aspartate and α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate receptor antagonists, clomethiazole, antioxidants, citicoline, nitric oxide, and immune regulators have laid the groundwork for current progress. In addition, more recent studies involving therapeutic hypothermia, magnesium, albumin, glyburide, uric acid, and a variety of other treatments have provided more options. The use of neuroprotective agents in combination or with existing thrombolytic treatments may be one of many exciting areas of further development. Although past trials of neuroprotective agents in ischemic stroke have been limited, significant insights into mechanisms of stroke, animal models, and trial design have incrementally improved approaches for future therapies.

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Bornali Kundu, Andrea A. Brock, Dario J. Englot, Christopher R. Butson, and John D. Rolston

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a looming epidemic, growing most rapidly in the elderly population. Some of the most devastating sequelae of TBI are related to depressed levels of consciousness (e.g., coma, minimally conscious state) or deficits in executive function. To date, pharmacological and rehabilitative therapies to treat these sequelae are limited. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been used to treat a number of pathologies, including Parkinson disease, essential tremor, and epilepsy. Animal and clinical research shows that targets addressing depressed levels of consciousness include components of the ascending reticular activating system and areas of the thalamus. Targets for improving executive function are more varied and include areas that modulate attention and memory, such as the frontal and prefrontal cortex, fornix, nucleus accumbens, internal capsule, thalamus, and some brainstem nuclei. The authors review the literature addressing the use of DBS to treat higher-order cognitive dysfunction and disorders of consciousness in TBI patients, while also offering suggestions on directions for future research.

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Jonathan A. Forbes, Andrea A. Brock, Mayshan Ghiassi, Reid C. Thompson, David S. Haynes, and Betty S. Tsai

Jugulotympanic paragangliomas were first described approximately 75 years ago. Since that time, there has been considerable evolution in knowledge of tumor biology, methods of classification, and appropriate management strategies. This paper attempts to summarize these gains in information.

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Michael Karsy, Jian Guan, Ilyas Eli, Andrea A. Brock, Sarah T. Menacho, and Min S. Park

OBJECTIVE

Hypovitaminosis D is prevalent in neurocritical care patients, but the potential to improve patient outcome by replenishing vitamin D has not been investigated. This single-center, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized (1:1) clinical trial was designed to assess the effect on patient outcome of vitamin D supplementation in neurocritical care patients with hypovitaminosis D.

METHODS

From October 2016 until April 2018, emergently admitted neurocritical care patients with vitamin D deficiency (≤ 20 ng/ml) were randomized to receive vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol, 540,000 IU) (n = 134) or placebo (n = 133). Hospital length of stay (LOS) was the primary outcome; secondary outcomes included intensive care unit (ICU) LOS, repeat vitamin D levels, patient complications, and patient disposition. Exploratory analysis evaluated specific subgroups of patients by LOS, Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, and Simplified Acute Physiology Score (SAPS II).

RESULTS

Two-hundred seventy-four patients were randomized (intent-to-treat) and 267 were administered treatment within 48 hours of admission (as-treated; 61.2% of planned recruitment) and monitored. The mean age of as-treated patients was 54.0 ± 17.2 years (56.9% male, 77.2% white). After interim analysis suggested a low conditional power for outcome difference (predictive power 0.12), the trial was halted. For as-treated patients, no significant difference in hospital LOS (10.4 ± 14.5 days vs 9.1 ± 7.9 days, p = 0.4; mean difference 1.3, 95% CI −1.5 to 4.1) or ICU LOS (5.8 ± 7.5 days vs 5.4 ± 6.4 days, p = 0.4; mean difference 0.4, 95% CI −1.3 to 2.1) was seen between vitamin D3 and placebo groups, respectively. Vitamin D3 supplementation significantly improved repeat serum levels compared with placebo (20.8 ± 9.3 ng/ml vs 12.8 ± 4.8 ng/ml, p < 0.001) without adverse side effects. No subgroups were identified by exclusion of LOS outliers or segregation by GCS score, SAPS II, or severe vitamin D deficiency (≤ 10 ng/ml).

CONCLUSIONS

Despite studies showing that vitamin D can predict prognosis, supplementation in vitamin D–deficient neurocritical care patients did not result in appreciable improvement in outcomes and likely does not play a role in acute clinical recovery.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT02881957 (clinicaltrials.gov)

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Bob S. Carter and Fred G. Barker II

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Jian Guan, Michael Karsy, Andrea A. Brock, Ilyas M. Eli, Holly K. Ledyard, Gregory W. J. Hawryluk, and Min S. Park

OBJECTIVE

Hypovitaminosis D is highly prevalent among the general population. Studies have shown an association between hypovitaminosis D and multiple negative outcomes in critical care patients, but there has been no prospective evaluation of vitamin D in the neurological critical care population. The authors examined the impact of vitamin D deficiency on in-hospital mortality and a variety of secondary outcomes.

METHODS

The authors prospectively collected 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels of all patients admitted to the neurocritical care unit (NCCU) of a quaternary-care center over a 3-month period. Demographic data, illness acuity, in-hospital mortality, infection, and length of hospitalization were collected. Univariate and multivariable logistic regression were used to examine the effects of vitamin D deficiency.

RESULTS

Four hundred fifteen patients met the inclusion criteria. In-hospital mortality was slightly worse (9.3% vs 4.5%; p = 0.059) among patients with deficient vitamin D (≤ 20 ng/dl). There was also a higher rate of urinary tract infection in patients with vitamin D deficiency (12.4% vs 4.2%; p = 0.002). For patients admitted to the NCCU on an emergency basis (n = 285), higher Simplified Acute Physiology Score II (OR 13.8, 95% CI 1.7–110.8; p = 0.014), and vitamin D deficiency (OR 3.0, 95% CI 1.0–8.6; p = 0.042) were significantly associated with increased in-hospital mortality after adjusting for other factors.

CONCLUSIONS

In the subset of patients admitted to the NCCU on an emergency basis, vitamin D deficiency is significantly associated with higher in-hospital mortality. Larger studies are needed to confirm these findings and to investigate the role of vitamin D supplementation in these patients.

Restricted access

Brandon Sherrod, Michael Karsy, Jian Guan, Andrea A. Brock, Ilyas M. Eli, Erica F. Bisson, and Andrew T. Dailey

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of hospital type and patient transfer during the treatment of patients with vertebral fracture and/or spinal cord injury (SCI).

METHODS

The National Inpatient Sample (NIS) database was queried to identify patients treated in Utah from 2001 to 2011 for vertebral column fracture and/or SCI (ICD-9-CM codes 805, 806, and 952). Variables related to patient transfer into and out of the index hospital were evaluated in relation to patient disposition, hospital length of stay, mortality, and cost.

RESULTS

A total of 53,644 patients were seen (mean [± SEM] age 55.3 ± 0.1 years, 46.0% females, 90.2% white), of which 10,620 patients were transferred from another institution rather than directly admitted. Directly admitted (vs transferred) patients showed a greater likelihood of routine disposition (54.4% vs 26.0%) and a lower likelihood of skilled nursing facility disposition (28.2% vs 49.2%) (p < 0.0001). Directly admitted patients also had a significantly shorter length of stay (5.6 ± 6.7 vs 7.8 ± 9.5 days, p < 0.0001) and lower total charges ($26,882 ± $37,348 vs $42,965 ± $52,118, p < 0.0001). A multivariable analysis showed that major operative procedures (hazard ratio [HR] 1.7, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.4–2.0, p < 0.0001) and SCI (HR 2.1, 95% CI 1.6–2.8, p < 0.0001) were associated with reduced survival whereas patient transfer was associated with better survival rates (HR 0.4, 95% CI 0.3–0.5, p < 0.0001). A multivariable analysis of cost showed that disposition (β = 0.1), length of stay (β = 0.6), and major operative procedure (β = 0.3) (p < 0.0001) affected cost the most.

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, transferred patients had lower mortality but greater likelihood for poor outcomes, longer length of stay, and higher cost compared with directly admitted patients. These results suggest some significant benefits to transferring patients with acute injury to facilities capable of providing appropriate treatment, but also support the need to further improve coordinated care of transferred patients, including surgical treatment and rehabilitation.

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Jian Guan, Michael Karsy, Andrea A. Brock, William T. Couldwell, John R. W. Kestle, Randy L. Jensen, Andrew T. Dailey, and Richard H. Schmidt

OBJECTIVE

Recently, overlapping surgery has been a source of controversy both in the popular press and within the academic medical community. There have been no studies examining the possible effects of more stringent overlapping surgery restrictions. At the authors’ institution, a new policy was implemented that restricts attending surgeons from starting a second case until all critical portions of the first case that could require the attending surgeon’s involvement are completed. The authors examined the impact of this policy on complication rates, neurosurgical resident education, and wait times for neurosurgical procedures.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective chart review of nonemergency neurosurgical procedures performed over two periods—from June 1, 2014, to October 31, 2014 (pre–policy change) and from June 1, 2016, to October 31, 2016 (post–policy change)—by any of 4 senior neurosurgeons at a single institution who were authorized to schedule overlapping cases. Information on preoperative evaluation, patient demographics, premorbid conditions, surgical variables, and postoperative course were collected and analyzed.

RESULTS

Six hundred fifty-three patients met inclusion criteria for complications analysis. Of these, 378 (57.9%) underwent surgery before the policy change. On multivariable regression analysis, neither overlapping surgery (odds ratio [OR] 1.072, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.710–1.620) nor the overlapping surgery policy change (OR 1.057, 95% CI 0.700–1.596) was associated with overall complication rates. Similarly, neither overlapping surgery (OR 1.472, 95% CI 0.883–2.454) nor the overlapping surgery policy change (OR 1.251, 95% CI 0.748–2.091) was associated with numbers of serious complications. After the policy change, the percentage of procedures in which the senior assistant was a postresidency fellow increased significantly, from 11.9% to 34.2% (p < 0.001). In a multiple linear regression analysis of surgery wait times, patients undergoing surgery after the policy change had significantly longer delays from the decision to operate until the actual neurosurgical procedure (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

At the authors’ institution, further restriction of overlapping surgery was not associated with a reduction in overall or serious complications. Resident involvement in neurosurgical procedures decreased significantly after the policy change, and this study suggests that wait times for neurosurgical procedures also significantly lengthened.

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Luis Rafael Moscote-Salazar, Alexis Rafael Narvaez-Rojas, and Amit Agrawal