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Andrew A. Ronald, Vineeth Sadda, Nicholas M. Rabah, and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

Patient complaints are associated with a number of surgical and medical outcomes. Despite high rates of patient complaints regarding spine surgeons and efforts to study patient complaints across medicine and surgery, few studies have analyzed the complaints of patients undergoing spinal surgery. The authors present a retrospective analysis that, to their knowledge, is the first study to directly investigate the complaints of spine surgery patients in the postoperative period.

METHODS

Institutional records were reviewed over a 5-year period (2015–2019) to identify patients who underwent spine surgery and submitted a complaint to the institution’s ombudsman’s office within 1 year of their surgery. A control group, comprising patients who underwent spine surgery without filing a complaint, was matched to the group that filed complaints by admission diagnosis and procedure codes through propensity score matching. Patient demographic and clinical data were obtained by medical record review and compared between the two groups. Patient complaints were reviewed and categorized using a previously established taxonomy.

RESULTS

A total of 52 patients were identified who submitted a complaint after their spine surgery. There were 56 total complaints identified (4 patients submitted 2 each) that reported on 82 specific issues. Patient complaints were most often related to the quality of care received and communication breakdown between the healthcare team and the patient. Patients who submitted complaints were more likely to be Black or African American, have worse baseline health status, and have had prior spine surgery. After their surgery, these patients were also more likely to have longer hospital stays, experience postoperative complications, and require reoperation.

CONCLUSIONS

Complaints were most often related to the quality of care received and communication breakdown. A number of patient-level demographic and clinical characteristics were associated with an increased likelihood of a complaint being filed after spine surgery, and patients who filed complaints were more likely to experience postoperative complications. Improving communication with patients could play a key role in working to address and reduce postoperative complaints. Further study is needed to better understand patient complaints after spine surgery and investigate ways to optimize the care of patients with risks for postoperative complaints.

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Andrew T. Dailey, David Hart, Michael A. Finn, Meic H. Schmidt, and Ronald I. Apfelbaum

Object

Fractures of the odontoid process are the most common fractures of the cervical spine in patients over the age of 70 years. The incidence of fracture nonunion in this population has been estimated to be 20-fold greater than that in patients under the age of 50 years if surgical stabilization is not used. Anterior and posterior approaches have both been advocated, with excellent results reported, but surgeons should understand the drawbacks of the various techniques before employing them in clinical practice.

Methods

A retrospective review was undertaken to identify patients who had direct fixation of an odontoid fracture at a single institution from 1991 to 2006. Patients were followed up using flexion-extension radiographs, and stability was evaluated as bone union, fibrous union, or nonunion. Patients with bone or fibrous union were classified as stable. In addition, the incidence of procedure- and nonprocedure-related complications was extracted from the medical record.

Results

Of the 57 patients over age 70 who underwent placement of an odontoid screw, 42 underwent follow-up from 3 to 62 months (mean 15 months). Stability was confirmed in 81% of these patients. In patients with fixation using 2 screws, 96% demonstrated stability on radiographs at final follow-up. Only 56% of patients with fixation using a single screw demonstrated stability on radiographs. In the immediate postoperative period, 25% of patients required a feeding tube and 19% had aspiration pneumonia that required antibiotic treatment.

Conclusions

Direct fixation of Type II odontoid fractures showed stability rates > 80% in this challenging population. Significantly higher stabilization rates were achieved when 2 screws were placed. The anterior approach was associated with a relatively high dysphagia rate, and patients must be counseled about this risk before surgery.

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Alex S. Ha, Meghan Cerpa, Justin Mathew, Paul Park, Joseph M. Lombardi, Andrew J. Luzzi, Nathan J. Lee, Marc D. Dyrszka, Zeeshan M. Sardar, Ronald A. Lehman Jr., and Lawrence G. Lenke

OBJECTIVE

Lumbosacral fractional curves in adult spinal deformity (ASD) patients often have sharp coronal curves resulting in significant pain and imbalance. Postoperative stretch neuropraxia after fractional curve correction can lead to discomfort and unsatisfactory outcomes. The goal of this study was to use radiographic measures to increase understanding of the relationship between postoperative stretch neuropraxia and fractional curve correction.

METHODS

In 62 ASD patients treated from 2015 to 2018, radiographic review was performed, including measurement of the distance between the lower lumbar neural foramen (L4 and L5) in the concavity and convexity of the lumbosacral fractional curve and the ipsilateral femoral heads (FHs; L4–FH and L5–FH) in pre- and postoperative anteroposterior spine radiographs. The largest absolute preoperative to postoperative change in distance between the lower lumbar neural foramen and the ipsilateral FH (ΔL4/L5–FH) was used for analysis. Chi-square analyses, independent and paired t-tests, and logistic regression were performed to study the relationship between L4/L5–FH and stretch neuropraxia for categorical and continuous variables, respectively.

RESULTS

Of the 62 patients, 13 (21.0%) had postoperative stretch neuropraxia. Patients without postoperative stretch neuropraxia had an average ΔL4–FH distance of 16.2 mm compared to patients with stretch neuropraxia, who had an average ΔL4–FH distance of 31.5 mm (p < 0.01). Patients without postoperative neuropraxia had an average ΔL5–FH distance of 11.1 mm compared to those with stretch neuropraxia, who had an average ΔL5–FH distance of 23.0 mm (p < 0.01). Chi-square analysis showed that patients had a 4.78-fold risk of developing stretch neuropraxia with ΔL4–FH > 20 mm (95% CI 1.3–17.3) and a 5.17-fold risk of developing stretch neuropraxia with ΔL5–FH > 15 mm (95% CI 1.4–18.7). Logistic regression analysis indicated that the odds of developing stretch neuropraxia were 15:1 with a ΔL4–FH > 20 mm (95% CI 3–78) and 21:1 with a ΔL5–FH > 15 mm (95% CI 4–113).

CONCLUSIONS

The novel ΔL4/L5–FH distances are strongly associated with postoperative stretch neuropraxia in ASD patients. A ΔL4–FH > 20 mm and ΔL5–FH > 15 mm significantly increase the odds for patients to develop postoperative stretch neuropraxia.

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Adrian T. H. Casey, H. Alan Crockard, J. Martin Bland, John Stevens, Ronald Moskovich, and Andrew Ransford

✓ The functional results of surgery in patients with myelopathic nonambulatory rheumatoid arthritis (Ranawat Class IIIb) are often disappointing, with high rates of postoperative morbidity and mortality. The authors therefore undertook a detailed investigation of a cohort of 55 Ranawat Class IIIb patients (11 men and 44 women) with a mean age of 64.7 years who were recruited prospectively over a 10-year period (1983–1993), to determine what factors may accurately predict a good surgical outcome. Only 14 patients (25.5%) were judged to have had a favorable outcome as determined by an improvement to Ranawat Class I or II or an improvement of at least 0.5 points in the Stanford Health Assessment Questionnaire disability index. The early postoperative mortality rate was high (12.7%) in this group and almost one-quarter of the patients were dead within 6 months. These poor results mirror those already published in the existing literature.

Univariate analysis revealed that age (p = 0.02), degree of vertical translocation (p = 0.05), and, more importantly, spinal cord area (p = 0.006) were significant predictors of outcome. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that spinal cord area (p = 0.026) was, in fact, the major determinant of outcome and, indeed, of long-term survival (p = 0.001). The mean spinal cord area of those patients not achieving a good outcome was 44 mm2. The atlantodens interval (ADI) was not shown to be a significant outcome determinant, which may be explained by the correlation between an increasing vertical translocation and a decreasing ADI (r = 0.4, p = 0.01). Furthermore, as the degree of vertical translocation increased, the space available for the cord was observed to decrease (p = 0.003) commensurate with a reduction in spinal cord area (p = 0.02). Together, these findings strongly argue for earlier surgical intervention, before the development of vertical translocation, permanent neurological damage, and spinal cord atrophy can occur.

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Jaime Vengoechea, Andrew E. Sloan, Yanwen Chen, Xiaowei Guan, Quinn T. Ostrom, Amber Kerstetter, Devan Capella, Mark L. Cohen, Yingli Wolinsky, Karen Devine, Warren Selman, Gene H. Barnett, Ronald E. Warnick, Christopher McPherson, E. Antonio Chiocca, J. Bradley Elder, and Jill S. Barnholtz-Sloan

Object

Although most meningiomas are benign, about 20% are atypical (Grade II or III) and have increased mortality and morbidity. Identifying tumors with greater malignant potential can have significant clinical value. This validated genome-wide methylation study comparing Grade I with Grade II and III meningiomas aims to discover genes that are aberrantly methylated in atypical meningiomas.

Methods

Patients with newly diagnosed meningioma were identified as part of the Ohio Brain Tumor Study. The Infinium HumanMethylation27 BeadChip (Illumina, Inc.) was used to interrogate 27,578 CpG sites in 14,000 genes per sample for a discovery set of 33 samples (3 atypical). To verify the results, the Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip (Illumina, Inc.) was used to interrogate 450,000 cytosines at CpG loci throughout the genome for a verification set containing 7 replicates (3 atypical), as well as 12 independent samples (6 atypical). A nonparametric Wilcoxon exact test was used to test for difference in methylation between benign and atypical meningiomas in both sets. Heat maps were generated for each set. Methylation results were validated for the 2 probes with the largest difference in methylation intensity by performing Western blot analysis on a set of 20 (10 atypical) samples, including 11 replicates.

Results

The discovery array identified 95 probes with differential methylation between benign and atypical meningiomas, creating 2 distinguishable groups corresponding to tumor grade when visually examined on a heat map. The validation array evaluated 87 different probes and showed that 9 probes were differentially methylated. On heat map examination the results of this array also suggested the existence of 2 major groups that corresponded to histological grade. IGF2BP1 and PDCD1, 2 proteins that can increase the malignant potential of tumors, were the 2 probes with the largest difference in intensity, and for both of these the atypical meningiomas had a decreased median production of protein, though this was not statistically significant (p = 0.970 for IGF2BP1 and p = 1 for PDCD1).

Conclusions

A genome-wide methylation analysis of benign and atypical meningiomas identified 9 genes that were reliably differentially methylated, with the strongest difference in IGF2BP1 and PDCD1. The mechanism why increased methylation of these sites is associated with an aggressive phenotype is not evident. Future research may investigate this mechanism, as well as the utility of IGF2BP1 as a marker for pathogenicity in otherwise benign-appearing meningiomas.

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Monica Mureb, Danielle Golub, Carolina Benjamin, Jason Gurewitz, Ben A. Strickland, Gabriel Zada, Eric Chang, Dušan Urgošík, Roman Liščák, Ronald E. Warnick, Herwin Speckter, Skyler Eastman, Anthony M. Kaufmann, Samir Patel, Caleb E. Feliciano, Carlos H. Carbini, David Mathieu, William Leduc, DCS, Sean J. Nagel, Yusuke S. Hori, Yi-Chieh Hung, Akiyoshi Ogino, Andrew Faramand, Hideyuki Kano, L. Dade Lunsford, Jason Sheehan, and Douglas Kondziolka

OBJECTIVE

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a chronic pain condition that is difficult to control with conservative management. Furthermore, disabling medication-related side effects are common. This study examined how stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) affects pain outcomes and medication dependence based on the latency period between diagnosis and radiosurgery.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective analysis of patients with type I TN at 12 Gamma Knife treatment centers. SRS was the primary surgical intervention in all patients. Patient demographics, disease characteristics, treatment plans, medication histories, and outcomes were reviewed.

RESULTS

Overall, 404 patients were included. The mean patient age at SRS was 70 years, and 60% of the population was female. The most common indication for SRS was pain refractory to medications (81%). The median maximum radiation dose was 80 Gy (range 50–95 Gy), and the mean follow-up duration was 32 months. The mean number of medications between baseline (pre-SRS) and the last follow-up decreased from 1.98 to 0.90 (p < 0.0001), respectively, and this significant reduction was observed across all medication categories. Patients who received SRS within 4 years of their initial diagnosis achieved significantly faster pain relief than those who underwent treatment after 4 years (median 21 vs 30 days, p = 0.041). The 90-day pain relief rate for those who received SRS ≤ 4 years after their diagnosis was 83.8% compared with 73.7% in patients who received SRS > 4 years after their diagnosis. The maximum radiation dose was the strongest predictor of a durable pain response (OR 1.091, p = 0.003). Early intervention (OR 1.785, p = 0.007) and higher maximum radiation dose (OR 1.150, p < 0.0001) were also significant predictors of being pain free (a Barrow Neurological Institute pain intensity score of I–IIIA) at the last follow-up visit. New sensory symptoms of any kind were seen in 98 patients (24.3%) after SRS. Higher maximum radiation dose trended toward predicting new sensory deficits but was nonsignificant (p = 0.075).

CONCLUSIONS

TN patients managed with SRS within 4 years of diagnosis experienced a shorter interval to pain relief with low risk. SRS also yielded significant decreases in adjunct medication utilization. Radiosurgery should be considered earlier in the course of treatment for TN.