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Walter A. Hall, Edward Rustamzadeh, and Anthony L. Asher

The poor prognosis associated with the current management of malignant gliomas has led investigators to develop alternative treatments such as targeted toxin therapy. The optimal method for administering these agents is under development but appears to be convection-enhanced delivery (CED).

The direct intratumoral infusion of targeted toxins was first performed in nude mouse flank tumor models of human malignant glioma. After the demonstration of in vivo efficacy, these potent cytotoxic compounds were tested in Phase I and Phase II clinical trials.

Using a high-flow microinfusion technique, volumes of up to 180 ml were infused by CED through catheters placed directly into brain tumors. Minor systemic toxicity was seen in the form of hepatic enzyme elevation. Neural toxicity manifested as seizure activity and hemiparesis resulted from peritumoral edema that followed the completion of the infusion. Peritumoral toxicity was believed to be more related to the concentration of the infused immunotoxin than to the infusion volume. In approximately half of patients treated with CED a stable disease course, a partial response, or a complete response was demonstrated in some clinical trials.

Targeted toxin therapy has clinical efficacy in patients with malignant gliomas. Convection-enhanced delivery appears to represent an effective method for administering these agents in patients with malignant brain tumors.

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Anthony L. Asher, Matthew J. McGirt, and Zoher Ghogawala

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Anthony L. Asher, Paul C. McCormick, and Douglas Kondziolka

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Anthony L. Asher, Clinton J. Devin, Robert E. Harbaugh, and Mohamad Bydon

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Matthew J. McGirt, Ahilan Sivaganesan, Anthony L. Asher, and Clinton J. Devin


Lumbar spine surgery has been demonstrated to be efficacious for many degenerative spine conditions. However, there is wide variability in outcome after spine surgery at the individual patient level. All stakeholders in spine care will benefit from identification of the unique patient or disease subgroups that are least likely to benefit from surgery, are prone to costly complications, and have increased health care utilization. There remains a large demand for individual patient-level predictive analytics to guide decision support to optimize outcomes at the patient and population levels.


One thousand eight hundred three consecutive patients undergoing spine surgery for various degenerative lumbar diagnoses were prospectively enrolled and followed for 1 year. A comprehensive patient interview and health assessment was performed at baseline and at 3 and 12 months after surgery. All predictive covariates were selected a priori. Eighty percent of the sample was randomly selected for model development, and 20% for model validation. Linear regression was performed with Bayesian model averaging to model 12-month ODI (Oswestry Disability Index). Logistic regression with Bayesian model averaging was used to model likelihood of complications, 30-day readmission, need for inpatient rehabilitation, and return to work. Goodness-of-fit was assessed via R2 for 12-month ODI and via the c-statistic, area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), for the categorical endpoints. Discrimination (predictive performance) was assessed, using R2 for the ODI model and the c-statistic for the categorical endpoint models. Calibration was assessed using a plot of predicted versus observed values for the ODI model and the Hosmer-Lemeshow test for the categorical endpoint models.


On average, all patient-reported outcomes (PROs) were improved after surgery (ODI baseline vs 12 month: 50.4 vs 29.5%, p < 0.001). Complications occurred in 121 patients (6.6%), 108 (5.9%) were readmitted within 30 days of surgery, 188 (10.3%) required discharge to inpatient rehabilitation, 1630 (88.9%) returned to work, and 449 (24.5%) experienced an unplanned outcome (no improvement in ODI, a complication, or readmission). There were 45 unique baseline variable inputs, derived from 39 clinical variables and 38 questionnaire items (ODI, SF-12, MSPQ, VAS-BP, VAS-LP, VAS-NP), included in each model. For prediction of 12-month ODI, R2 was 0.51 for development and 0.47 for the validation study. For prediction of a complication, readmission, inpatient rehabilitation, and return to work, AUC values ranged 0.72-0.84 for development and 0.79-0.84 for validation study.


A novel prediction model utilizing both clinical data and patient interview inputs explained the majority of variation in outcome observed after lumbar spine surgery and reliably predicted 12-month improvement in physical disability, return to work, major complications, readmission, and need for inpatient rehabilitation for individual patients. Application of these models may allow clinicians to offer spine surgery specifically to those who are most likely to benefit and least likely to incur complications and excess costs.

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Jason P. Sheehan, Brian D. Kavanagh, Anthony Asher, and Robert E. Harbaugh

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) represents a multidisciplinary approach to the delivery of ionizing high-dose radiation to treat a wide variety of disorders. Much of the radiosurgical literature is based upon retrospective single-center studies along with a few randomized controlled clinical trials. More timely and effective evidence is needed to enhance the consistency and quality of and clinical outcomes achieved with SRS. The authors summarize the creation and implementation of a national SRS registry.

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) through NeuroPoint Alliance, Inc., started a successful registry effort with its lumbar spine initiative. Following a similar approach, the AANS and NeuroPoint Alliance collaborated with corporate partners and the American Society for Radiation Oncology to devise a data dictionary for an SRS registry. Through administrative and financial support from professional societies and corporate partners, a framework for implementation of the registry was created. Initial plans were devised for a 3-year effort encompassing 30 high-volume SRS centers across the country. Device-specific web-based data-extraction platforms were built by the corporate partners. Data uploaders were then used to port the data to a common repository managed by Quintiles, a national and international health care trials company.

Audits of the data for completeness and veracity will be undertaken by Quintiles to ensure data fidelity. Data governance and analysis are overseen by an SRS board comprising equal numbers of representatives from the AANS and NeuroPoint Alliance. Over time, quality outcome assessments and post hoc research can be performed to advance the field of SRS.

Stereotactic radiosurgery offers a high-technology approach to treating complex intracranial disorders. Improvements in the consistency and quality of care delivered to patients who undergo SRS should be afforded by the national registry effort that is underway.

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Silky Chotai, Scott L. Zuckerman, Ahilan Sivaganesan, Anthony L. Asher, and Matthew J. McGirt