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Jeff Ehresman, Zach Pennington, James Feghali, Andrew Schilling, Andrew Hersh, Bethany Hung, Daniel Lubelski, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

More than 8000 patients are treated annually for vertebral column tumors, of whom roughly two-thirds will be discharged to an inpatient facility (nonroutine discharge). Nonroutine discharge is associated with increased care costs as well as delays in discharge and poorer patient outcomes. In this study, the authors sought to develop a prediction model of nonroutine discharge in the population of vertebral column tumor patients.

METHODS

Patients treated for primary or metastatic vertebral column tumors at a single comprehensive cancer center were identified for inclusion. Data were gathered regarding surgical procedure, patient demographics, insurance status, and medical comorbidities. Frailty was assessed using the modified 5-item Frailty Index (mFI-5) and medical complexity was assessed using the modified Charlson Comorbidity Index (mCCI). Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify independent predictors of nonroutine discharge, and multivariable linear regression was used to identify predictors of prolonged length of stay (LOS). The discharge model was internally validated using 1000 bootstrapped samples.

RESULTS

The authors identified 350 patients (mean age 57.0 ± 13.6 years, 53.1% male, and 67.1% treated for metastatic vs primary disease). Significant predictors of prolonged LOS included higher mCCI score (β = 0.74; p = 0.026), higher serum absolute neutrophil count (β = 0.35; p = 0.001), lower hematocrit (β = −0.34; p = 0.001), use of a staged operation (β = 4.99; p < 0.001), occurrence of postoperative pulmonary embolism (β = 3.93; p = 0.004), and surgical site infection (β = 9.93; p < 0.001). Significant predictors of nonroutine discharge included emergency admission (OR 3.09; p = 0.001), higher mFI-5 score (OR 1.90; p = 0.001), lower serum albumin level (OR 0.43 per g/dL; p < 0.001), and operations with multiple stages (OR 4.10; p < 0.001). The resulting statistical model was deployed as a web-based calculator (https://jhuspine4.shinyapps.io/Nonroutine_Discharge_Tumor/).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found that nonroutine discharge of patients with surgically treated vertebral column tumors was predicted by emergency admission, increased frailty, lower serum albumin level, and staged surgical procedures. The resulting web-based calculator tool may be useful clinically to aid in discharge planning for spinal oncology patients by preoperatively identifying patients likely to require placement in an inpatient facility postoperatively.

Restricted access

Zach Pennington, Jeff Ehresman, Andrew Schilling, James Feghali, Andrew M. Hersh, Bethany Hung, Eleni N. Kalivas, Daniel Lubelski, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Patients with spine tumors are at increased risk for both hemorrhage and venous thromboembolism (VTE). Tranexamic acid (TXA) has been advanced as a potential intervention to reduce intraoperative blood loss in this surgical population, but many fear it is associated with increased VTE risk due to the hypercoagulability noted in malignancy. In this study, the authors aimed to 1) develop a clinical calculator for postoperative VTE risk in the population with spine tumors, and 2) investigate the association of intraoperative TXA use and postoperative VTE.

METHODS

A retrospective data set from a comprehensive cancer center was reviewed for adult patients treated for vertebral column tumors. Data were collected on surgery performed, patient demographics and medical comorbidities, VTE prophylaxis measures, and TXA use. TXA use was classified as high-dose (≥ 20 mg/kg) or low-dose (< 20 mg/kg). The primary study outcome was VTE occurrence prior to discharge. Secondary outcomes were deep venous thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE). Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify independent risk factors for VTE and the resultant model was deployed as a web-based calculator.

RESULTS

Three hundred fifty patients were included. The mean patient age was 57 years, 53% of patients were male, and 67% of surgeries were performed for spinal metastases. TXA use was not associated with increased VTE (14.3% vs 10.1%, p = 0.37). After multivariable analysis, VTE was independently predicted by lower serum albumin (odds ratio [OR] 0.42 per g/dl, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.23–0.79, p = 0.007), larger mean corpuscular volume (OR 0.91 per fl, 95% CI 0.84–0.99, p = 0.035), and history of prior VTE (OR 2.60, 95% CI 1.53–4.40, p < 0.001). Longer surgery duration approached significance and was included in the final model. Although TXA was not independently associated with the primary outcome of VTE, high-dose TXA use was associated with increased odds of both DVT and PE. The VTE model showed a fair fit of the data with an area under the curve of 0.77.

CONCLUSIONS

In the present cohort of patients treated for vertebral column tumors, TXA was not associated with increased VTE risk, although high-dose TXA (≥ 20 mg/kg) was associated with increased odds of DVT or PE. Additionally, the web-based clinical calculator of VTE risk presented here may prove useful in counseling patients preoperatively about their individualized VTE risk.

Restricted access

Andrew Hersh, Robert Young, Zach Pennington, Jeff Ehresman, Andy Ding, Srujan Kopparapu, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel M. Sciubba, and Nicholas Theodore

OBJECTIVE

Currently, no consensus exists as to whether patients who develop infection of the surgical site after undergoing instrumented fusion should have their implants removed at the time of wound debridement. Instrumentation removal may eliminate a potential infection nidus, but removal may also destabilize the patient’s spine. The authors sought to summarize the existing evidence by systematically reviewing published studies that compare outcomes between patients undergoing wound washout and instrumentation removal with outcomes of patients undergoing wound washout alone. The primary objectives were to determine 1) whether instrumentation removal from an infected wound facilitates infection clearance and lowers morbidity, and 2) whether the chronicity of the underlying infection affects the decision to remove instrumentation.

METHODS

PRISMA guidelines were used to review the PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Library, Scopus, Web of Science, and ClinicalTrials.gov databases to identify studies that compared patients with implants removed and patients with implants retained. Outcomes of interest included mortality, rate of repeat wound washout, and loss of correction.

RESULTS

Fifteen articles were included. Of 878 patients examined in these studies, 292 (33%) had instrumentation removed. Patient populations were highly heterogeneous, and outcome data were limited. Available data suggested that rates of reoperation, pseudarthrosis, and death were higher in patients who underwent instrumentation removal at the time of initial washout. Three studies recommended that instrumentation be uniformly removed at the time of wound washout. Five studies favored retaining the original instrumentation. Six studies favored retention in early infections but removal in late infections.

CONCLUSIONS

The data on this topic remain heterogeneous and low in quality. Retention may be preferred in the setting of early infection, when the risk of underlying spine instability is still high and the risk of mature biofilm formation on the implants is low. However, late infections likely favor instrumentation removal. Higher-quality evidence from large, multicenter, prospective studies is needed to reach generalizable conclusions capable of guiding clinical practice.

Free access

Jeff Ehresman, Zach Pennington, Aditya V. Karhade, Sakibul Huq, Ravi Medikonda, Andrew Schilling, James Feghali, Andrew Hersh, A. Karim Ahmed, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel Lubelski, Erick M. Westbroek, Joseph H. Schwab, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Incidental durotomy is a common complication of elective lumbar spine surgery seen in up to 11% of cases. Prior studies have suggested patient age and body habitus along with a history of prior surgery as being associated with an increased risk of dural tear. To date, no calculator has been developed for quantifying risk. Here, the authors’ aim was to identify independent predictors of incidental durotomy, present a novel predictive calculator, and externally validate a novel method to identify incidental durotomies using natural language processing (NLP).

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed all patients who underwent elective lumbar spine procedures at a tertiary academic hospital for degenerative pathologies between July 2016 and November 2018. Data were collected regarding surgical details, patient demographic information, and patient medical comorbidities. The primary outcome was incidental durotomy, which was identified both through manual extraction and the NLP algorithm. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify independent predictors of incidental durotomy. Bootstrapping was then employed to estimate optimism in the model, which was corrected for; this model was converted to a calculator and deployed online.

RESULTS

Of the 1279 elective lumbar surgery patients included in this study, incidental durotomy occurred in 108 (8.4%). Risk factors for incidental durotomy on multivariable logistic regression were increased surgical duration, older age, revision versus index surgery, and case starts after 4 pm. This model had an area under curve (AUC) of 0.73 in predicting incidental durotomies. The previously established NLP method was used to identify cases of incidental durotomy, of which it demonstrated excellent discrimination (AUC 0.97).

CONCLUSIONS

Using multivariable analysis, the authors found that increased surgical duration, older patient age, cases started after 4 pm, and a history of prior spine surgery are all independent positive predictors of incidental durotomy in patients undergoing elective lumbar surgery. Additionally, the authors put forth the first version of a clinical calculator for durotomy risk that could be used prospectively by spine surgeons when counseling patients about their surgical risk. Lastly, the authors presented an external validation of an NLP algorithm used to identify incidental durotomies through the review of free-text operative notes. The authors believe that these tools can aid clinicians and researchers in their efforts to prevent this costly complication in spine surgery.

Restricted access

Bethany Hung, Zach Pennington, Andrew M. Hersh, Andrew Schilling, Jeff Ehresman, Jaimin Patel, Albert Antar, Jose L. Porras, Aladine A. Elsamadicy, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Previous studies have suggested the possibility of racial disparities in surgical outcomes for patients undergoing spine surgery, although this has not been thoroughly investigated in those with spinal metastases. Given the increasing prevalence of spinal metastases requiring intervention, knowledge about potential discrepancies in outcomes would benefit overall patient care. The objective in the present study was to investigate whether race was an independent predictor of postoperative complications, nonroutine discharge, and prolonged length of stay (LOS) after surgery for spinal metastasis.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively examined patients at a single comprehensive cancer center who had undergone surgery for spinal metastasis between April 2013 and April 2020. Demographic information, primary pathology, preoperative clinical characteristics, and operative outcomes were collected. Factors achieving p values < 0.15 on univariate regression were entered into a stepwise multivariable logistic regression to generate predictive models. Nonroutine discharge was defined as a nonhome discharge destination and prolonged LOS was defined as LOS greater than the 75th percentile for the entire cohort.

RESULTS

Three hundred twenty-eight patients who had undergone 348 operations were included: 240 (69.0%) White and 108 (31.0%) Black. On univariable analysis, cohorts significantly differed in age (p = 0.02), marital status (p < 0.001), insurance status (p = 0.03), income quartile (p = 0.02), primary tumor type (p = 0.04), and preoperative Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) score (p < 0.001). On multivariable analysis, race was an independent predictor for nonroutine discharge: Black patients had significantly higher odds of nonroutine discharge than White patients (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 2.24, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.28–3.92, p = 0.005). Older age (AOR 1.06 per year, 95% CI 1.03–1.09, p < 0.001), preoperative KPS score ≤ 70 (AOR 3.30, 95% CI 1.93–5.65, p < 0.001), preoperative Frankel grade A–C (AOR 3.48, 95% CI 1.17–10.3, p = 0.02), insurance status (p = 0.005), being unmarried (AOR 0.58, 95% CI 0.35–0.97, p = 0.04), number of levels (AOR 1.17 per level, 95% CI 1.05–1.31, p = 0.004), and thoracic involvement (AOR 1.71, 95% CI 1.02–2.88, p = 0.04) were also predictive of nonroutine discharge. However, race was not independently predictive of postoperative complications or prolonged LOS. Higher Charlson Comorbidity Index (AOR 1.22 per point, 95% CI 1.04–1.43, p = 0.01), low preoperative KPS score (AOR 1.84, 95% CI 1.16–2.92, p = 0.01), and number of levels (AOR 1.15 per level, 95% CI 1.05–1.27, p = 0.004) were predictive of complications, while insurance status (p = 0.05), income quartile (p = 0.01), low preoperative KPS score (AOR 1.64, 95% CI 1.03–2.72, p = 0.05), and number of levels (AOR 1.16 per level, 95% CI 1.05–1.30, p = 0.004) were predictive of prolonged LOS.

CONCLUSIONS

Race, insurance status, age, baseline functional status, and marital status were all independently associated with nonroutine discharge. This suggests that a combination of socioeconomic factors and functional status, rather than medical comorbidities, may best predict postdischarge disposition in patients treated for spinal metastases. Further investigation in a prospective cohort is merited.

Restricted access

Andrew M. Hersh, Zach Pennington, Bethany Hung, Jaimin Patel, Earl Goldsborough, Andrew Schilling, James Feghali, Albert Antar, Siddhartha Srivastava, David Botros, Aladine A. Elsamadicy, Sheng-Fu Larry Lo, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Frailty—the state defined by decreased physiological reserve and increased vulnerability to physiological stress—is exceedingly common in oncology patients. Given the palliative nature of spine metastasis surgery, it is imperative that patients be healthy enough to tolerate the physical insult of surgery. In the present study, the authors compared the association of two frailty metrics and the widely used Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) with postoperative morbidity in spine metastasis patients.

METHODS

A retrospective cohort of patients who underwent operations for spinal metastases at a comprehensive cancer center were identified. Data on patient demographic characteristics, disease state, medical comorbidities, operative details, and postoperative outcomes were collected. Frailty was measured with the modified 5-item frailty index (mFI-5) and metastatic spinal tumor frailty index (MSTFI). Outcomes of interest were length of stay (LOS) greater than the 75th percentile of the cohort, nonroutine discharge, and the occurrence of ≥ 1 postoperative complication.

RESULTS

In total, 322 patients were included (mean age 59.5 ± 12 years; 56.9% of patients were male). The mean ± SD LOS was 11.2 ± 9.9 days, 44.5% of patients had nonroutine discharge, and 24.0% experienced ≥ 1 postoperative complication. On multivariable analysis, increased frailty on mFI-5 and MSTFI was independently predictive of all three outcomes: prolonged LOS (OR 1.67 per point, 95% CI 1.06–2.63, p = 0.03; and OR 1.63 per point, 95% CI 1.29–2.05, p < 0.01, respectively), nonroutine discharge (OR 2.65 per point, 95% CI 1.74–4.04, p < 0.01; and OR 1.69 per point, 95% CI 1.36–2.11, p < 0.01), and ≥ 1 complication (OR 1.95 per point, 95% CI 1.23–3.09, p = 0.01; and OR 1.41 per point, 95% CI 1.12–1.77, p < 0.01). CCI was found to be independently predictive of only the occurrence of ≥ 1 postoperative complication (OR 1.45 per point, 95% CI 1.22–1.72, p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

Frailty measured with either mFI-5 or MSTFI scores was a more robust independent predictor of adverse postoperative outcomes than the more widely used CCI. Both mFI-5 and MSTFI were significantly associated with prolonged LOS, higher complication rates, and nonroutine discharge. Further investigation in a prospective multicenter cohort is merited.