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R. Loch Macdonald

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Lorenzo Rinaldo, Brandon A. McCutcheon, Meghan E. Murphy, Mohamad Bydon, Alejandro A. Rabinstein and Giuseppe Lanzino

OBJECTIVE

Hypoplasia of the A1 segment of the anterior cerebral artery is frequently observed in patients with anterior communicating artery (ACoA) aneurysms. The effect of this anatomical variant on ACoA aneurysm morphology is not well understood.

METHODS

Digital subtraction angiography images were reviewed for 204 patients presenting to the authors' institution with either a ruptured or an unruptured ACoA aneurysm. The ratio of the width of the larger A1 segment to the smaller A1 segment was calculated. Patients with an A1 ratio greater than 2 were categorized as having A1 segment hypoplasia. The relationship of A1 segment hypoplasia to both patient and aneurysm characteristics was then assessed.

RESULTS

Of 204 patients that presented with an ACoA aneurysm, 34 (16.7%) were found to have a hypoplastic A1. Patients with A1 segment hypoplasia were less likely to have a history of smoking (44.1% vs 62.9%, p = 0.0410). ACoA aneurysms occurring in the setting of a hypoplastic A1 were also found to have a larger maximum diameter (mean 7.7 vs 6.0 mm, p = 0.0084). When considered as a continuous variable, increasing A1 ratio was associated with decreasing aneurysm dome-to-neck ratio (p = 0.0289). There was no significant difference in the prevalence of A1 segment hypoplasia between ruptured and unruptured aneurysms (18.9% vs 10.7%; p = 0.1605).

CONCLUSIONS

Our results suggest that a hypoplastic A1 may affect the morphology of ACoA aneurysms. In addition, the relative lack of traditional risk factors for aneurysm formation in patients with A1 segment hypoplasia argues for the importance of hemodynamic factors in the formation of ACoA aneurysms in this anatomical setting.

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Lorenzo Rinaldo, Brandon A. McCutcheon, Meghan E. Murphy, Daniel L. Shepherd, Patrick R. Maloney, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Mohamad Bydon and Giuseppe Lanzino

OBJECTIVE

The mechanism by which greater institutional case volume translates into improved outcomes after surgical clipping of unruptured intracranial aneurysms (UIAs) is not well established. The authors thus aimed to assess the effect of case volume on the rate of various types of complications after clipping of UIAs.

METHODS

Using information on the outcomes of inpatient admissions for surgical clipping of UIAs collected within a national database, the relationship of institutional case volume to the incidence of different types of complications after clipping was investigated. Complications were subdivided into different categories, which included all complications, ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, medical complications, infectious complications, complications related to anesthesia, and wound complications. The relationship of case volume to different types of complications was assessed using linear regression analysis. The relationships between case volume and overall complication and stroke rates were fit with both linear and quadratic equations. The numerical cutoff for institutional case volume above and below which the authors found the greatest differences in mean overall complication and stroke rate was determined using classification and regression tree (CART) analysis.

RESULTS

Between October 2012 and September 2015, 125 health care institutions reported patient outcomes from a total of 6040 cases of clipping of UIAs. On linear regression analysis, increasing case volume was negatively correlated to both overall complications (r2 = 0.046, p = 0.0234) and stroke (r2 = 0.029, p = 0.0557) rate, although the relationship of case volume to the complication (r2 = 0.092) and stroke (r2 = 0.067) rate was better fit with a quadratic equation. On CART analysis, the cutoff for the case number that yielded the greatest difference in overall complications and stroke rate between higher- or lower-volume centers was 6 cases/year and 3 cases/year, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

Although the authors confirm that increasing case volume is associated with reduced complications after clipping of UIAs, their results suggest that the relationship between case volume and complications is not necessarily linear. Moreover, these results indicate that the effect of case volume on outcome is most evident between very-low-volume centers relative to centers with a medium-to-high volume.

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Brandon A. McCutcheon, Brian R. Hirshman, Brandon C. Gabel, Michael W. Heffner, Logan P. Marcus, Tyler S. Cole, Clark C. Chen, David C. Chang and Bob S. Carter

OBJECTIVE

The subspecialization of neurosurgical practice is an ongoing trend in modern neurosurgery. However, it remains unclear whether the degree of surgeon specialization is associated with improved patient outcomes. The authors hypothesized that a trend toward increased neurosurgeon specialization was associated with improved patient morbidity and mortality rates.

METHODS

The Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) was used (1998–2009). Patients were included in a spinal analysis cohort for instrumented spine surgery involving the cervical spine (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification [ICD-9-CM] codes 81.31–81.33, 81.01–81.03, 84.61–84.62, and 84.66) or lumbar spine (codes 81.04–81.08, 81.34–81.38, 84.64–84.65, and 84.68). A cranial analysis cohort consisted of patients receiving a parenchymal excision or lobectomy operation (codes 01.53 and 01.59). Surgeon specialization was measured using unique surgeon identifiers in the NIS and defined as the proportion of a surgeon’s total practice dedicated to cranial or spinal cases.

RESULTS

A total of 46,029 and 231,875 patients were identified in the cranial and spinal analysis cohorts, respectively. On multivariate analysis in the cranial analysis cohort (after controlling for overall surgeon volume, patient demographic data/comorbidities, hospital characteristics, and admitting source), each percentage-point increase in a surgeon’s cranial specialization (that is, the proportion of cranial cases) was associated with a 0.0060 reduction in the log odds of patient mortality (95% CI 0.0034–0.0086) and a 0.0042 reduction in the log odds of morbidity (95% CI 0.0032–0.0052). This resulted in a 15% difference in the predicted probability of mortality for neurosurgeons at the 75th versus the 25th percentile of cranial specialization. In the spinal analysis cohort, each percentage-point increase in a surgeon’s spinal specialization was associated with a 0.0122 reduction in the log odds of mortality (95% CI 0.0074–0.0170) and a 0.0058 reduction in the log odds of morbidity (95% CI 0.0049–0.0067). This resulted in a 26.8% difference in the predicted probability of mortality for neurosurgeons at the 75th versus the 25th percentile of spinal specialization.

CONCLUSIONS

For both spinal and cranial surgery patient cohorts derived from the NIS database, increased surgeon specialization was significantly and independently associated with improved mortality and morbidity rates, even after controlling for overall case volume.

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David D. Gonda, Alexander A. Khalessi, Brandon A. McCutcheon, Logan P. Marcus, Abraham Noorbakhsh, Clark C. Chen, David C. Chang and Bob S. Carter

Object

Using a database that enabled longitudinal follow-up, the authors assessed the long-term outcomes of unruptured cerebral aneurysms repaired by clipping or coiling.

Methods

An observational analysis of the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) database, which follows patients longitudinally in time and through multiple hospitalizations, was performed for all patients initially treated for an unruptured cerebral aneurysm in the period from 1998 to 2005 and with follow-up data through 2009.

Results

Nine hundred forty-four cases (36.5%) were treated with endovascular coiling, 1565 cases (60.5%) were surgically clipped, and 76 cases were treated with both coiling and clipping. There was no significant difference in any demographic variable between the two treatment groups except for age (median: 55 years for the clipped group, 58 years for the coiled group, p < 0.001). Perioperative (30-day) mortality was 1.1% in patients with coiled aneurysms compared with 2.3% in those with clipped aneurysms (p = 0.048). The median follow-up was 7 years (range 4–12 years). At the last follow-up, 153 patients (16.2%) in the coiled group had died compared with 244 (15.6%) in the clipped group (p = 0.693). The adjusted hazard ratio for death at the long-term follow-up was 1.14 (95% CI 0.9–1.4, p = 0.282) for patients with endovascularly treated aneurysms. The incidence of intracranial hemorrhage was similar in the two treatment groups (5.9% clipped vs 4.8% coiled, p = 0.276). One hundred ninety-three patients (20.4%) with coiled aneurysms underwent additional hospitalizations for aneurysm repair procedures compared with only 136 patients (8.7%) with clipped aneurysms (p < 0.001). Cumulative hospital costs per patient for admissions involving aneurysm repair procedures were greater in the clipped group (median cost $98,260 vs $81,620, p < 0.001) through the follow-up.

Conclusions

For unruptured cerebral aneurysms, an observed perioperative survival advantage for endovascular coiling relative to that for surgical clipping was lost on long-term follow-up, according to data from an administrative database of patients who were not randomly allocated to treatment type. A cost advantage of endovascular treatment was maintained even though endovascularly treated patients were more likely to undergo subsequent hospitalizations for additional aneurysm repair procedures. Rates of aneurysm rupture following treatment were similar in the two groups.

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Mohamed Macki, Rafael De la Garza-Ramos, Ashley A. Murgatroyd, Kenneth P. Mullinix, Xiaolei Sun, Bryan W. Cunningham, Brandon A. McCutcheon, Mohamad Bydon and Ziya L. Gokaslan

OBJECTIVE

Aggressive sacral tumors often require en bloc resection and lumbopelvic reconstruction. Instrumentation failure and pseudarthrosis remain a clinical concern to be addressed. The objective in this study was to compare the biomechanical stability of 3 distinct techniques for sacral reconstruction in vitro.

METHODS

In a human cadaveric model study, 8 intact human lumbopelvic specimens (L2–pelvis) were tested for flexion-extension range of motion (ROM), lateral bending, and axial rotation with a custom-designed 6-df spine simulator as well as axial compression stiffness with the MTS 858 Bionix Test System. Biomechanical testing followed this sequence: 1) intact spine; 2) sacrectomy (no testing); 3) Model 1 (L3–5 transpedicular instrumentation plus spinal rods anchored to iliac screws); 4) Model 2 (addition of transiliac rod); and 5) Model 3 (removal of transiliac rod; addition of 2 spinal rods and 2 S-2 screws). Range of motion was measured at L4–5, L5–S1/cross-link, L5–right ilium, and L5–left ilium.

RESULTS

Flexion-extension ROM of the intact specimen at L4–5 (6.34° ± 2.57°) was significantly greater than in Model 1 (1.54° ± 0.94°), Model 2 (1.51° ± 1.01°), and Model 3 (0.72° ± 0.62°) (p < 0.001). Flexion-extension at both the L5–right ilium (2.95° ± 1.27°) and the L5–left ilium (2.87° ± 1.40°) for Model 3 was significantly less than the other 3 cohorts at the same level (p = 0.005 and p = 0.012, respectively). Compared with the intact condition, all 3 reconstruction groups statistically significantly decreased lateral bending ROM at all measured points. Axial rotation ROM at L4–5 for Model 1 (2.01° ± 1.39°), Model 2 (2.00° ± 1.52°), and Model 3 (1.15° ± 0.80°) was significantly lower than the intact condition (5.02° ± 2.90°) (p < 0.001). Moreover, axial rotation for the intact condition and Model 3 at L5–right ilium (2.64° ± 1.36° and 2.93° ± 1.68°, respectively) and L5–left ilium (2.58° ± 1.43° and 2.93° ± 1.71°, respectively) was significantly lower than for Model 1 and Model 2 at L5–right ilium (5.14° ± 2.48° and 4.95° ± 2.45°, respectively) (p = 0.036) and L5–left ilium (5.19° ± 2.34° and 4.99° ± 2.31°) (p = 0.022). Last, results of the axial compression testing at all measured points were not statistically different among reconstructions.

CONCLUSIONS

The addition of a transverse bar in Model 2 offered no biomechanical advantage. Although the implementation of 4 iliac screws and 4 rods conferred a definitive kinematic advantage in Model 3, that model was associated with significantly restricted lumbopelvic ROM.

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Brandon A. McCutcheon, David C. Chang, Logan Marcus, David D. Gonda, Abraham Noorbakhsh, Clark C. Chen, Mark A. Talamini and Bob S. Carter

OBJECT

This study was designed to assess the relationship between insurance status and likelihood of receiving a neurosurgical procedure following admission for either extraaxial intracranial hemorrhage or spinal vertebral fracture.

METHODS

A retrospective analysis of the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS; 1998–2009) was performed. Cases of traumatic extraaxial intracranial hematoma and spinal vertebral fracture were identified using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) diagnosis codes. Within this cohort, those patients receiving a craniotomy or spinal fusion and/or decompression in the context of an admission for traumatic brain or spine injury, respectively, were identified using the appropriate ICD-9 procedure codes.

RESULTS

A total of 190,412 patients with extraaxial intracranial hematoma were identified between 1998 and 2009. Within this cohort, 37,434 patients (19.7%) received a craniotomy. A total of 477,110 patients with spinal vertebral fracture were identified. Of these, 37,302 (7.8%) received a spinal decompression and/or fusion. On multivariate analysis controlling for patient demographics, severity of injuries, comorbidities, hospital volume, and hospital characteristics, uninsured patients had a reduced likelihood of receiving a craniotomy (odds ratio [OR] 0.76, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.71–0.82) and spinal fusion (OR 0.67, 95% CI 0.64–0.71) relative to insured patients. This statistically significant trend persisted when uninsured and insured patients were matched on the basis of mortality propensity score. Uninsured patients demonstrated an elevated risk-adjusted mortality rate relative to insured patients in cases of extraaxial intracranial hematoma. Among patients with spinal injury, mortality rates were similar between patients with and without insurance.

CONCLUSIONS

In this study, uninsured patients were consistently less likely to receive a craniotomy or spinal fusion for traumatic intracranial extraaxial hemorrhage and spinal vertebral fracture, respectively. This difference persisted after accounting for overall injury severity and patient access to high- or low-volume treatment centers, and potentially reflects a resource allocation bias against uninsured patients within the hospital setting. This information adds to the growing literature detailing the benefits of health reform initiatives seeking to expand access for the uninsured.

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Logan P. Marcus, Brandon A. McCutcheon, Abraham Noorbakhsh, Ralitza P. Parina, David D. Gonda, Clark Chen, David C. Chang and Bob S. Carter

Object

Hospital readmission within 30 days of discharge is a major contributor to the high cost of health care in the US and is also a major indicator of patient care quality. The purpose of this study was to investigate the incidence, causes, and predictors of 30-day readmission following craniotomy for malignant supratentorial tumor resection.

Methods

The longitudinal California Office of Statewide Health Planning & Development inpatient-discharge administrative database is a data set that consists of 100% of all inpatient hospitalizations within the state of California and allows each patient to be followed throughout multiple inpatient hospital stays, across multiple institutions, and over multiple years (from 1995 to 2010). This database was used to identify patients who underwent a craniotomy for resection of primary malignant brain tumors. Causes for unplanned 30-day readmission were identified by principle ICD-9 diagnosis code and multivariate analysis was used to determine the independent effect of various patient factors on 30-day readmissions.

Results

A total of 18,506 patients received a craniotomy for the treatment of primary malignant brain tumors within the state of California between 1995 and 2010. Four hundred ten patients (2.2%) died during the index surgical admission, 13,586 patients (73.4%) were discharged home, and 4510 patients (24.4%) were transferred to another facility. Among patients discharged home, 1790 patients (13.2%) were readmitted at least once within 30 days of discharge, with 27% of readmissions occurring at a different hospital than the initial surgical institution. The most common reasons for readmission were new onset seizure and convulsive disorder (20.9%), surgical infection of the CNS (14.5%), and new onset of a motor deficit (12.8%). Medi-Cal beneficiaries were at increased odds for readmission relative to privately insured patients (OR 1.52, 95% CI 1.20–1.93). Patients with a history of prior myocardial infarction were at an increased risk of readmission (OR 1.64, 95% CI 1.06–2.54) as were patients who developed hydrocephalus (OR 1.58, 95% CI 1.20–2.07) or venous complications during index surgical admission (OR 3.88, 95% CI 1.84–8.18).

Conclusions

Using administrative data, this study demonstrates a baseline glioma surgery 30-day readmission rate of 13.2% in California for patients who are initially discharged home. This paper highlights the medical histories, perioperative complications, and patient demographic groups that are at an increased risk for readmission within 30 days of home discharge. An analysis of conditions present on readmission that were not present at the index surgical admission, such as infection and seizures, suggests that some readmissions may be preventable. Discharge planning strategies aimed at reducing readmission rates in neurosurgical practice should focus on patient groups at high risk for readmission and comprehensive discharge planning protocols should be implemented to specifically target the mitigation of potentially preventable conditions that are highly associated with readmission.

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Abraham Noorbakhsh, Jessica A. Tang, Logan P. Marcus, Brandon McCutcheon, David D. Gonda, Craig S. Schallhorn, Mark A. Talamini, David C. Chang, Bob S. Carter and Clark C. Chen

Object

There is limited information on the relationship between patient age and the clinical benefit of resection in patients with glioblastoma. The purpose of this study was to use a population-based database to determine whether patient age influences the frequency that gross-total resection (GTR) is performed, and also whether GTR is associated with survival difference in different age groups.

Methods

The authors identified 20,705 adult patients with glioblastoma in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registry (1998–2009). Surgical practice patterns were defined by the categories of no surgery, subtotal resection (STR), and GTR. Kaplan-Meier and multivariate Cox regression analyses were used to assess the pattern of surgical practice and overall survival.

Results

The frequency that GTR was achieved in patients with glioblastoma decreased in a stepwise manner as a function of patient age (from 36% [age 18–44 years] to 24% [age ≥ 75]; p < 0.001). For all age groups, glioblastoma patients who were selected for and underwent GTR showed a 2- to 3-month improvement in overall survival (p < 0.001) relative to those who underwent STR. These trends remained true after a multivariate analysis that incorporated variables including ethnicity, sex, year of diagnosis, tumor size, tumor location, and radiotherapy status.

Conclusions

Gross-total resection is associated with improved overall survival, even in elderly patients with glioblastoma. As such, surgical decisions should be individually tailored to the patient rather than an adherence to age as the sole clinical determinant.

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Meghan E. Murphy, Hannah Gilder, Patrick R. Maloney, Brandon A. McCutcheon, Lorenzo Rinaldo, Daniel Shepherd, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Daniel S. Ubl, Cynthia S. Crowson, William E. Krauss, Elizabeth B. Habermann and Mohamad Bydon

OBJECTIVE

With improving medical therapies for chronic conditions, elderly patients increasingly present as candidates for operative intervention for degenerative diseases of the spine. To date, there is a paucity of studies examining complications in lumbar decompression, without fusion, that include patients older than 80 years. Using a multicenter national database, the authors of this study evaluated lumbar decompression in the elderly, including octogenarians, to evaluate for associations between age and patient outcomes.

METHODS

The 2011–2013 American College of Surgeons' National Surgical Quality Improvement Program data set was queried for patients 65 years and older with diagnosis and procedure codes inclusive of degenerative spine disease and lumbar decompression without fusion. Morbidity and mortality within the 30-day postoperative period were the primary outcomes. Secondary outcomes of interest included unplanned readmission within 30 days or discharge to a nonhome facility. Outcomes and operative characteristics were compared using chi-square tests, Kruskal-Wallis tests, and multivariable logistic regression models.

RESULTS

A total of 8744 patients were identified; of these patients 4573 (52.30%) were 65 years and older. Elderly patients were stratified into 3 age categories: 85 years or older (n = 314), 75–84 years (n = 1663), and 65–74 years (n = 2596). Univariate analysis showed that, compared with age younger than 65 years, increased age was associated with the number of levels (≥ 3), readmissions within 30 days, nonhome discharge, any complication, length of stay, and blood transfusion (all p < 0.001). On multivariable analysis and with younger than 65 years as the reference, increased age was associated with any minor complication (p < 0.001; ≥ 85 years: OR 3.47, 95% CI 1.69–7.13; 75–84 years: OR 2.34, 95% CI 1.45–3.78; and 65–74 years: OR 1.44, 95% CI 0.94–2.20), as well as discharge location other than home (p < 0.001; ≥ 85 years: OR 13.59, 95% CI 9.47–19.49; 75–84 years: OR 5.64, 95% CI 4.33–7.34; and 65–74 years: OR 2.61, 95% CI 2.05–3.32).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors' high-powered, multicenter analysis of lumbar decompression without fusion in the elderly, specifically including patients older than 80 years, demonstrates that increased age is associated with more extensive operations, resulting in longer hospital stays, increased rates of nonhome discharge, and minor complications.