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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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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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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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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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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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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, 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.

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

OBJECTIVE

Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with a variety of negative outcomes in critically ill patients, but little focused study on the effects of hypovitaminosis D has been performed in the neurocritical care population. In this study, the authors examined the effect of vitamin D deficiency on 3-month outcomes after discharge from a neurocritical care unit (NCCU).

METHODS

The authors prospectively analyzed 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels in patients admitted to the NCCU of a quaternary care center over a 6-month period. Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) scores were used to evaluate their 3-month outcome, and univariate and multivariate logistic regression was used to evaluate the effects of vitamin D deficiency.

RESULTS

Four hundred ninety-seven patients met the inclusion criteria. In the binomial logistic regression model, patients without vitamin D deficiency (> 20 ng/dl) were significantly more likely to have a 3-month GOS score of 4 or 5 than those who were vitamin D deficient (OR 1.768 [95% CI 1.095–2.852]). Patients with a higher Simplified Acute Physiology Score (SAPS II) (OR 0.925 [95% CI 0.910–0.940]) and those admitted for stroke (OR 0.409 [95% CI 0.209–0.803]) or those with an “other” diagnosis (OR 0.409 [95% CI 0.217–0.772]) were significantly more likely to have a 3-month GOS score of 3 or less.

CONCLUSIONS

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with worse 3-month postdischarge GOS scores in patients admitted to an NCCU. Additional study is needed to determine the role of vitamin D supplementation in the NCCU population.

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

OBJECTIVE

Overlapping surgery—the performance of parts of 2 or more surgical procedures at the same time by a single lead surgeon—has recently come under intense scrutiny, although data on the effects of overlapping procedures on patient outcomes are lacking. The authors examined the impact of overlapping surgery on complication rates in neurosurgical patients.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of consecutive nonemergent neurosurgical procedures performed during the period from May 12, 2014, to May 12, 2015, by any of 5 senior neurosurgeons at a single institution who were authorized to schedule overlapping cases. Overlapping surgery was defined as any case in which 2 patients under the care of a single lead surgeon were under anesthesia at the same time for any duration. Information on patient demographics, premorbid conditions, surgical variables, and postoperative course were collected and analyzed. Primary outcome was the occurrence of any complication from the beginning of surgery to 30 days after discharge. A secondary outcome was the occurrence of a serious complication—defined as a life-threatening or life-ending event—during this same period.

RESULTS

One thousand eighteen patients met the inclusion criteria for the study. Of these patients, 475 (46.7%) underwent overlapping surgery. Two hundred seventy-one patients (26.6%) experienced 1 or more complications, with 134 (13.2%) suffering a serious complication. Fourteen patients in the cohort died, a rate of 1.4%. The overall complication rate was not significantly higher for overlapping cases than for nonoverlapping cases (26.3% vs 26.9%, p = 0.837), nor was the rate of serious complications (14.7% vs 11.8%, p = 0.168). After adjustments for surgery type, surgery duration, body mass index, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical classification grade, and intraoperative blood loss, overlapping surgery remained unassociated with overall complications (OR 0.810, 95% CI 0.592–1.109, p = 0.189). Similarly, after adjustments for surgery type, surgery duration, body mass index, ASA grade, and neurological comorbidity, there was no association between overlapping surgery and serious complications (OR 0.979, 95% CI 0.661–1.449, p = 0.915).

CONCLUSIONS

In this cohort, patients undergoing overlapping surgery did not have an increased risk for overall complications or serious complications. Although this finding suggests that overlapping surgery can be performed safely within the appropriate framework, further investigation is needed in other specialties and at other institutions.

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

OBJECTIVE

Overlapping surgery remains a controversial topic in the medical community. Although numerous studies have examined the safety profile of overlapping operations, there are few data on its financial impact. The authors assessed direct hospital costs associated with neurosurgical operations during periods before and after a more stringent overlapping surgery policy was implemented.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the records of nonemergency neurosurgical operations that took place during the 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 the 4 senior neurosurgeons authorized to perform overlapping cases during both periods. Cost data as well as demographic, surgical, and hospitalization-related variables were obtained from an institutional tool, the Value-Driven Outcomes database.

RESULTS

A total of 625 hospitalizations met inclusion criteria for cost analysis; of these, 362 occurred prior to the policy change and 263 occurred after the change. All costs were reported as a proportion of the average total hospitalization cost for the entire cohort. There was no significant difference in mean total hospital costs between the prechange and postchange period (0.994 ± 1.237 vs 1.009 ± 0.994, p = 0.873). On multivariate linear regression analysis, neither the policy change (p = 0.582) nor the use of overlapping surgery (p = 0.273) was significantly associated with higher total hospital costs.

CONCLUSIONS

A more restrictive overlapping surgery policy was not associated with a reduction in the direct costs of hospitalization for neurosurgical procedures.