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Andrew S. Little and Kristina Chapple

Object

The short-term cost associated with subspecialized surgical care is an increasingly important metric and economic concern. This study sought to determine factors associated with hospital charges in patients undergoing transsphenoidal surgery for Cushing disease in an effort to identify the drivers of resource utilization.

Methods

The authors analyzed the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) hospital discharge database from 2007 to 2009 to determine factors that influenced hospital charges in patients who had undergone transsphenoidal surgery for Cushing disease. The NIS discharge database approximates a 20% sample of all inpatient admissions to nonfederal US hospitals. A multistep regression model was developed that adjusted for patient demographics, acuity measures, comorbidities, hospital characteristics, and complications.

Results

In 116 hospitals, 454 transsphenoidal operations were performed. The mean hospital charge was $48,272 ± $32,060. A multivariate regression model suggested that the primary driver of resource utilization was length of stay (LOS), followed by surgeon volume, hospital characteristics, and postoperative complications. A 1% increase in LOS increased hospital charges by 0.60%. Patient charges were 13% lower when performed by high-volume surgeons compared with low-volume surgeons and 22% lower in large hospitals compared with small hospitals. Hospital charges were 12% lower in cases with no postoperative neurological complications. The proposed model accounted for 46% of hospital charge variance.

Conclusions

This analysis of hospital charges in transsphenoidal surgery for Cushing disease suggested that LOS, hospital characteristics, surgeon volume, and postoperative complications are important predictors of resource utilization. These findings may suggest opportunities for improvement.

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Deborah M. Shepherd, Heidi Jahnke, William L. White and Andrew S. Little

OBJECTIVE

Pain control is an important clinical consideration and quality-of-care metric. No studies have examined postoperative pain control following transsphenoidal surgery for pituitary lesions. The study goals were to 1) report postoperative pain scores following transsphenoidal surgery, 2) determine if multimodal opioid-minimizing pain regimens yielded satisfactory postoperative pain control, and 3) determine if intravenous (IV) ibuprofen improved postoperative pain scores and reduced opioid use compared with placebo.

METHODS

This study was a single-center, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled intervention trial involving adult patients with planned transsphenoidal surgery for pituitary tumors randomized into 2 groups. Group 1 patients were treated with scheduled IV ibuprofen, scheduled oral acetaminophen, and rescue opioids. Group 2 patients were treated with IV placebo, scheduled oral acetaminophen, and rescue opioids. The primary end point was patient pain scores (visual analog scale [VAS], rated 0–10) for 48 hours after surgery. The secondary end point was opioid use as estimated by oral morphine equivalents (OMEs).

RESULTS

Of 136 patients screened, 62 were enrolled (28 in Group 1, 34 in Group 2). The study was terminated early because the primary and secondary end points were reached. Baseline characteristics between groups were well matched except for age (Group 1, 59.3 ± 14.4 years; Group 2, 49.8 ± 16.2 years; p = 0.02). Mean VAS pain scores were significantly different, with a 43% reduction in Group 1 (1.7 ± 2.2) compared with Group 2 (3.0 ± 2.8; p < 0.0001). Opioid use was significantly different, with a 58% reduction in Group 1 (26.3 ± 28.7 mg OME) compared with Group 2 (62.5 ± 63.8 mg OME; p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

Multimodal opioid-minimizing pain-management protocols resulted in acceptable pain control following transsphenoidal surgery. IV ibuprofen resulted in significantly improved pain scores and significantly decreased opioid use compared with placebo. Postoperative multimodal pain management, including a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medication, should be considered after surgery to improve patient comfort and to limit opioid use.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT02351700 (clinicaltrials.gov)

■ CLASSIFICATION OF EVIDENCE Type of question: therapeutic; study design: randomized, controlled trial; evidence: Class III.

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Hasan A. Zaidi, Kristina Chapple and Andrew S. Little

Object

Treatment of craniopharyngiomas is one of the most demanding and controversial neurosurgical procedures performed. The authors sought to determine the factors associated with hospital charges and fees for craniopharyngioma treatment to identify possible opportunities for improving the health care economics of inpatient care.

Methods

The authors analyzed the hospital discharge database of the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) covering the period from 2007 through 2011 to examine national treatment trends for adults (that is, those older than 18 years) who had undergone surgery for craniopharyngioma. To predict the drivers of in-hospital charges, a multistep regression model was developed that accounted for patient demographics, acuity measures, comorbidities, hospital characteristics, and complications.

Results

The analysis included 606 patients who underwent resection of craniopharyngioma; 353 resections involved a transsphenoidal approach (58%) and 253 a transfrontal approach (42%). The mean age (± SD) of patients was 47.7 ± 16.3 years. The average hospital length of stay (LOS) was 7.6 ± 9 days. The mean hospital charge (± SD) was $92,300 ± $83,356. In total, 48% of the patients experienced postoperative diabetes insipidus or an electrolyte abnormality. A multivariate regression model demonstrated that LOS, hospital volume for the selected procedure, the surgical approach, postoperative complications, comorbidities, and year of surgery were all significant predictors of in-hospital charges. The statistical model accounted for 54% of the variance in in-hospital charge.

Conclusions

This analysis of inpatient hospital charges in patients undergoing craniopharyngioma surgery identified key drivers of charges in the perioperative period. Prospective studies designed to evaluate the long-term resource utilization in this complex patient population would be a useful future direction.

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Ali Tayebi Meybodi, Leandro Borba Moreira, Andrew S. Little, Michael T. Lawton and Mark C. Preul

OBJECTIVE

Endoscopic endonasal approaches (EEAs) are increasingly being incorporated into the neurosurgeon’s armamentarium for treatment of various pathologies, including paraclinoid aneurysms. However, few anatomical assessments have been performed on the use of EEA for this purpose. The aim of the present study was to provide a comprehensive anatomical assessment of the EEA for the treatment of paraclinoid aneurysms.

METHODS

Five cadaveric heads underwent an endonasal transplanum-transtuberculum approach to expose the paraclinoid area. The feasibility of obtaining proximal and distal internal carotid artery (ICA) control as well as the topographic location of the origin of the ophthalmic artery (OphA) relative to dural landmarks were assessed. Limitations of the EEA in exposing the supraclinoid ICA were also recorded to identify favorable paraclinoid ICA aneurysm projections for EEA.

RESULTS

The extracavernous paraclival and clinoidal ICAs were favorable segments for establishing proximal control. Clipping the extracavernous ICA risked injury to the trigeminal and abducens nerves, whereas clipping the clinoidal segment put the oculomotor nerve at risk. The OphA origin was found within 4 mm of the medial opticocarotid point on a line connecting the midtubercular recess point to the medial vertex of the lateral opticocarotid recess. An average 7.2-mm length of the supraclinoid ICA could be safely clipped for distal control. Assessments showed that small superiorly or medially projecting aneurysms were favorable candidates for clipping via EEA.

CONCLUSIONS

When used for paraclinoid aneurysms, the EEA carries certain risks to adjacent neurovascular structures during proximal control, dural opening, and distal control. While some authors have promoted this approach as feasible, this work demonstrates that it has significant limitations and may only be appropriate in highly selected cases that are not amenable to coiling or clipping. Further clinical experience with this approach helps to delineate its risks and benefits.

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Colin J. Przybylowski, Tyler S. Cole, Jacob F. Baranoski, Andrew S. Little, Kris A. Smith and Andrew G. Shetter

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to assess long-term outcomes of facial pain and numbness after radiosurgery for multiple sclerosis (MS)–related trigeminal neuralgia (MS-TN).

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of their Gamma Knife radiosurgeries (GKRSs) to identify all patients treated for MS-TN (1998–2014) with at least 3 years of follow-up. Treatment and clinical data were obtained via chart review and mailed or telephone surveys. Pain control was defined as a facial pain score of I–IIIb on the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) Facial Pain Intensity Scale. Kaplan-Meier analysis was performed to determine the rates of pain control after index and first salvage GKRS procedures. Patients could have had more than 1 salvage procedure. Pain control rates were based on the number of patients at risk during follow-up.

RESULTS

Of the 50 living patients who underwent GKRS, 42 responded to surveys (31 women [74%], median age 59 years, range 32–76 years). During the initial GKRS, the trigeminal nerve root entry zone was targeted with a single isocenter, using a 4-mm collimator with the 90% isodose line completely covering the trigeminal nerve and the 50% isodose line abutting the surface of the brainstem. The median maximum radiation dose was 85 Gy (range 50–85 Gy). The median follow-up period was 78 months (range 36–226 months). The rate of pain control after the index GKRS (n = 42) was 62%, 29%, 22%, and 13% at 1, 3, 5, and 7 years, respectively. Twenty-eight patients (67%) underwent salvage treatment, including 25 (60%) whose first salvage treatment was GKRS. The rate of pain control after the first salvage GKRS (n = 25) was 84%, 50%, 44%, and 17% at 1, 3, 5, and 7 years, respectively. The rate of pain control after the index GKRS with or without 1 salvage GKRS (n = 33) was 92%, 72%, 52%, 46%, and 17% at 1, 3, 5, 7, and 10 years, respectively. At last follow-up, 9 (21%) of the 42 patients had BNI grade I facial pain, 35 (83%) had achieved pain control, and 4 (10%) had BNI grade IV facial numbness (very bothersome in daily life).

CONCLUSIONS

Index GKRS offers good short-term pain control for MS-TN, but long-term pain control is uncommon. If the index GKRS fails, salvage GKRS appears to offer beneficial pain control with low rates of bothersome facial numbness.

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Seungwon Yoon, Michael A. Mooney, Michael A. Bohl, John P. Sheehy, Peter Nakaji, Andrew S. Little and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

With drastic changes to the health insurance market, patient cost sharing has significantly increased in recent years. However, the patient financial burden, or out-of-pocket (OOP) costs, for surgical procedures is poorly understood. The goal of this study was to analyze patient OOP spending in cranial neurosurgery and identify drivers of OOP spending growth.

METHODS

For 6569 consecutive patients who underwent cranial neurosurgery from 2013 to 2016 at the authors’ institution, the authors created univariate and multivariate mixed-effects models to investigate the effect of patient demographic and clinical factors on patient OOP spending. The authors examined OOP payments stratified into 10 subsets of case categories and created a generalized linear model to study the growth of OOP spending over time.

RESULTS

In the multivariate model, case categories (craniotomy for pain, tumor, and vascular lesions), commercial insurance, and out-of-network plans were significant predictors of higher OOP payments for patients (all p < 0.05). Patient spending varied substantially across procedure types, with patients undergoing craniotomy for pain ($1151 ± $209) having the highest mean OOP payments. On average, commercially insured patients spent nearly twice as much in OOP payments as the overall population. From 2013 to 2016, the mean patient OOP spending increased 17%, from $598 to $698 per patient encounter. Commercially insured patients experienced more significant growth in OOP spending, with a cumulative rate of growth of 42% ($991 in 2013 to $1403 in 2016).

CONCLUSIONS

Even after controlling for inflation, case-mix differences, and partial fiscal periods, OOP spending for cranial neurosurgery patients significantly increased from 2013 to 2016. The mean OOP spending for commercially insured neurosurgical patients exceeded $1400 in 2016, with an average annual growth rate of 13%. As patient cost sharing in health insurance plans becomes more prevalent, patients and providers must consider the potential financial burden for patients receiving specialized neurosurgical care.

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Andrew S. Little, Daniel F. Kelly and Garni Barkhoudarian

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Michael A. Mooney, Douglas A. Hardesty, John P. Sheehy, Robert Bird, Kristina Chapple, William L. White and Andrew S. Little

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to determine the interrater and intrarater reliability of the Knosp grading scale for predicting pituitary adenoma cavernous sinus (CS) involvement.

METHODS

Six independent raters (3 neurosurgery residents, 2 pituitary surgeons, and 1 neuroradiologist) participated in the study. Each rater scored 50 unique pituitary MRI scans (with contrast) of biopsy-proven pituitary adenoma. Reliabilities for the full scale were determined 3 ways: 1) using all 50 scans, 2) using scans with midrange scores versus end scores, and 3) using a dichotomized scale that reflects common clinical practice. The performance of resident raters was compared with that of faculty raters to assess the influence of training level on reliability.

RESULTS

Overall, the interrater reliability of the Knosp scale was “strong” (0.73, 95% CI 0.56–0.84). However, the percent agreement for all 6 reviewers was only 10% (26% for faculty members, 30% for residents). The reliability of the middle scores (i.e., average rated Knosp Grades 1 and 2) was “very weak” (0.18, 95% CI −0.27 to 0.56) and the percent agreement for all reviewers was only 5%. When the scale was dichotomized into tumors unlikely to have intraoperative CS involvement (Grades 0, 1, and 2) and those likely to have CS involvement (Grades 3 and 4), the reliability was “strong” (0.60, 95% CI 0.39–0.75) and the percent agreement for all raters improved to 60%. There was no significant difference in reliability between residents and faculty (residents 0.72, 95% CI 0.55–0.83 vs faculty 0.73, 95% CI 0.56–0.84). Intrarater reliability was moderate to strong and increased with the level of experience.

CONCLUSIONS

Although these findings suggest that the Knosp grading scale has acceptable interrater reliability overall, it raises important questions about the “very weak” reliability of the scale's middle grades. By dichotomizing the scale into clinically useful groups, the authors were able to address the poor reliability and percent agreement of the intermediate grades and to isolate the most important grades for use in surgical decision making (Grades 3 and 4). Authors of future pituitary surgery studies should consider reporting Knosp grades as dichotomized results rather than as the full scale to optimize the reliability of the scale.