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Marcel F. Dvorak, Michael G. Johnson, Michael Boyd, Garth Johnson, Brian K. Kwon, and Charles G. Fisher

Object. The primary goal of this study was to describe the long-term health-related quality of life (HRQOL) outcomes in patients who have suffered Jefferson-type fractures. These outcomes were compared with matched normative HRQOL data and with the patient's perceptions of their HRQOL prior to the injury. Variables that potentially influence these HRQOL outcomes were analyzed.

No standardized outcome assessments have been published for patients who suffer these fractures; their outcomes have long thought to be excellent following treatment. Determining the optimal surrogate measure to represent preinjury HRQOL in trauma patients is difficult.

Methods. A retrospective review, radiographic analysis, and cross-sectional outcome assessment were performed. The Short Form (SF)—36 and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons/North American Spine Society (AAOS/NASS) outcome instruments were filled out by patients at final follow-up examination (follow-up period 75 months, range 19–198 months) to represent their current status as well as their perceptions of preinjury status.

In 34 patients, the SF-36 physical component score and the AAOS/NASS pain values were significantly lower than normative values. There was no significant difference between normative and preinjury values. Spence criteria greater than 7 mm and the presence of associated injuries predicted poorer outcome scores during the follow-up period.

Conclusions. Long-term follow-up examination of patients with Jefferson fractures indicated that patients' status does not return to the level of their perceived preinjury health status or that of normative population controls. Those with other injuries and significant osseous displacement (≥ 7 mm total) may experience poorer long-term outcomes. Limitations of the study included a relatively low (60%) response rate and the difficulties of identifying an appropriate baseline outcome in a trauma population with which the follow-up outcomes can be compared.

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Editorial

Measuring quality of life outcomes in spine clinical trials

Michael G. Fehlings and Anoushka Singh

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Rowan Schouten, Peter Lewkonia, Vanessa K. Noonan, Marcel F. Dvorak, and Charles G. Fisher

OBJECT

The aim of this study was to define the expected functional and health-related quality of life outcomes following common thoracolumbar injuries on the basis of consensus expert opinion and the best available literature. Patient expectations are primarily determined by the information provided by health care professionals, and these expectations have been shown to influence outcome in various medical and surgical conditions. This paper presents Part 2 of a multiphase study designed to investigate the impact of patient expectations on outcomes following spinal injury. Part 1 demonstrated substantial variability in the information surgeons are communicating to patients. Defining the expected outcomes following thoracolumbar injury would allow further analysis of this relationship and enable surgeons to more accurately and consistently inform patients.

METHODS

Expert opinion was assembled by distributing questionnaires comprising 4 cases representative of common thoracolumbar injuries to members of the Spine Trauma Study Group (STSG). The 4 cases included a thoracolumbar junction burst fracture treated nonoperatively or with posterior transpedicular instrumentation, a low lumbar (L-4) burst fracture treated nonoperatively, and a thoracolumbar junction flexion-distraction injury managed with posterior fusion. For each case, 5 questions about expected outcomes were posed. The questions related to the proportion of patients who are pain free, the proportion who have regained full range of motion, and the patients' recreational activity restrictions and personal care and social life limitations, all at 1 year following injury, as well as the timing of return to work and length of hospital stay. Responses were analyzed and combined with the results of a systematic literature review on the same injuries to define the expected outcomes.

RESULTS

The literature review identified 38 appropriate studies that met the preset inclusion criteria. Published data were available for all injuries, but not all outcomes were available for each type of injury. The survey was completed by 31 (57%) of 53 surgeons representing 24 trauma centers across North America (15), Europe (5), India (1), Mexico (1), Japan (1) and Israel (1). Consensus expert opinion supplemented the available literature and was used exclusively when published data were lacking.

For example, 1 year following cast or brace treatment of a thoracolumbar burst fracture, the expected outcomes include a 40% chance of being pain free, a 70% chance of regaining pre-injury range of motion, and an expected ability to participate in high-impact exercise and contact sport with no or minimal limitation. Consensus expert opinion predicts reemployment within 4–6 months. The length of inpatient stay averages 4–5 days.

CONCLUSIONS

This synthesis of the best available literature and consensus opinion of surgeons with extensive clinical experience in spine trauma reflects the optimal methodology for determining functional prognosis after thoracolumbar trauma. By providing consistent, accurate information surgeons will help patients develop realistic expectations and potentially optimize outcomes.

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Andrea M. Simmonds, Y. Raja Rampersaud, Marcel F. Dvorak, Nicolas Dea, Angela D. Melnyk, and Charles G. Fisher

OBJECT

A range of surgical options exists for the treatment of degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis (DLS). The chosen technique inherently depends on the stability of the DLS. Despite a substantial body of literature dedicated to the outcome analysis of numerous DLS procedures, no consensus has been reached on defining or classifying the disorder with respect to stability or the role that instability should play in a treatment algorithm. The purpose of this study was to define grades of stability and to develop a guide for deciding on the optimal approach in surgically managing patients with DLS.

METHODS

The authors conducted a qualitative systematic review of clinical or biomechanical analyses evaluating the stability of and surgical outcomes for DLS for the period from 1990 to 2013. Research focused on nondegenerative forms of spondylolisthesis or spinal stenosis without associated DLS was excluded. The primary extracted results were clinical and radiographic parameters indicative of DLS instability.

RESULTS

The following preoperative parameters are predictors of stability in DLS: restabilization signs (disc height loss, osteophyte formation, vertebral endplate sclerosis, and ligament ossification), no disc angle change or less than 3 mm of translation on dynamic radiographs, and the absence of low-back pain. The validity and magnitude of each parameter’s contribution can only be determined through appropriately powered prospective evaluation in the future. Identifying these parameters has allowed for the creation of a preliminary DLS instability classification (DSIC) scheme based on the preoperative assessment of DLS stability.

CONCLUSIONS

Spinal stability is an important factor to consider in the evaluation and treatment of patients with DLS. Qualitative assessment of the best available evidence revealed clinical and radiographic parameters for the creation of the DSIC, a decision aid to help surgeons develop a method of preoperative evaluation to better stratify DLS treatment options.

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Y. Raja Rampersaud, Paul A. Anderson, John R. Dimar II, Charles G. Fisher, and on behalf of the Spine Trauma Study Group and Degenerative Spine Study Group

OBJECTIVE

Reporting of adverse events (AEs) in spinal surgery uses inconsistent definitions and severity grading, making it difficult to compare results between studies. The Spinal Adverse Events Severity System, version 2 (SAVES-V2) aims to standardize the classification of spine surgery AEs; however, its inter- and intraobserver reliability are unknown. The objective of this study was to assess inter- and intraobserver reliability of the SAVES-V2 grading system for assessing AEs in spinal surgery.

METHODS

Two multinational, multicenter surgical study groups assessed surgical case vignettes (10 trauma and 12 degenerative cases) for AE occurrence by using SAVES-V2. Thirty-four members of the Spine Trauma Study Group (STSG) and 17 members of the Degenerative Spine Study Group (DSSG) participated in the first round of case vignettes. Six months later, the same case vignettes were randomly reorganized and presented in an otherwise identical manner. Inter- and intraobserver agreement on the presence, severity, number, and type of AE, as well as the impact of the AE on length of stay (LOS) were assessed using intraclass correlation (ICC), Cohen's kappa value, and the percentage of participants in agreement.

RESULTS

Agreement on the presence of AEs ranged from 97% to 100% in the 2 groups. Severity classification showed substantial interobserver (ICC = 0.75 for both groups) and intraobserver (ICC = 0.70 in DSSG, 0.71 in STSG) agreement. Judgments on the number of AEs showed high interobserver agreement and moderate intraobserver agreement in both groups. Both the STSG and DSSG had high intraobserver agreement on the type of AE; interobserver agreement for AE type was high in the STSG and fair in the DSSG. Agreement on impact of the AE on LOS was excellent in the DSSG and fair in the STSG.

CONCLUSIONS

There was good agreement on the presence, severity, and number of AEs in both trauma and degenerative cases in using the SAVES-V2. This grading system is a simple, reliable tool for identifying and capturing AEs in spinal surgery.

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Daniel M. Sciubba, Rory J. Petteys, Mark B. Dekutoski, Charles G. Fisher, Michael G. Fehlings, Stephen L. Ondra, Laurence D. Rhines, and Ziya L. Gokaslan

With continued growth of the elderly population and improvements in cancer therapies, the number of patients with symptomatic spinal metastases is likely to increase, and this is a condition that commonly leads to debilitating neurological dysfunction and pain. Advancements in surgical techniques of resection and spinal reconstruction, improvements in clinical outcomes following various treatment modalities, generally increased overall survival in patients with metastatic spine disease, and a recent randomized trial by Patchell and colleagues demonstrating the superiority of a combined surgical/radiotherapeutic approach over a radiotherapy-only strategy have led many to suggest increasingly aggressive interventions for patients with such lesions. Optimal management of spinal metastases encompasses numerous medical specialties, including neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, medical and radiation oncology, radiology, and rehabilitation medicine. In this review, the clinical presentation, diagnosis, and management of spinal metastatic disease are discussed. Ultimately, the goal of treatment in patients with spinal metastases remains palliative, and clinical judgment is required to select the appropriate patients for surgical intervention.

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John T. Street, R. Andrew Glennie, Nicolas Dea, Christian DiPaola, Zhi Wang, Michael Boyd, Scott J. Paquette, Brian K. Kwon, Marcel F. Dvorak, and Charles G. Fisher

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to determine if there is a significant difference in surgical site infection (SSI) when comparing the Wiltse and midline approaches for posterior instrumented interbody fusions of the lumbar spine and, secondarily, to evaluate if the reoperation rates and specific causes for reoperation were similar for both approaches.

METHODS

A total of 358 patients who underwent 1- or 2-level posterior instrumented interbody fusions for degenerative lumbar spinal pathology through either a midline or Wiltse approach were prospectively followed between March 2005 and January 2011 at a single tertiary care facility. A retrospective analysis was performed primarily to evaluate the incidence of SSI and the incidence and causes for reoperation. Secondary outcome measures included intraoperative complications, blood loss, and length of stay. A matched analysis was performed using the Fisher's exact test and a logistic regression model. The matched analysis controlled for age, sex, comorbidities, number of index levels addressed surgically, number of levels fused, and the use of bone grafting.

RESULTS

All patients returned for follow-up at 1 year, and adverse events were followed for 2 years. The rate of SSI was greater in the midline group (8 of 103 patients; 7.8%) versus the Wiltse group (1 of 103 patients; 1.0%) (p = 0.018). Fewer additional surgical procedures were performed in the Wiltse group (p = 0.025; OR 0.47; 95% CI 0.23–0.95). Proximal adjacent segment failure requiring reoperation occurred more frequently in the midline group (15 of 103 patients; 14.6%) versus the Wiltse group (6 of 103 patients; 5.8%) (p = 0.048). Blood loss was significantly lower in the Wiltse group (436 ml) versus the midline group (703 ml); however, there was no significant difference between the 2 groups in intraoperative complications or length of stay.

CONCLUSIONS

The patients who underwent the Wiltse approach had a decreased risk of wound breakdown and infection, less blood loss, and fewer reoperations than the midline patients. The risk of adjacent segment failure in short posterior constructs is lower with a Wiltse approach.

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Khalid M. I. Salem, Aditya P. Eranki, Scott Paquette, Michael Boyd, John Street, Brian K. Kwon, Charles G. Fisher, and Marcel F. Dvorak

OBJECTIVE

The study aimed to determine if the intraoperative segmental lordosis (as calculated on a cross-table lateral radiograph following a single-level transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion [TLIF] for degenerative spondylolisthesis/low-grade isthmic spondylolisthesis) is maintained at discharge and at 6 months postsurgery.

METHODS

The authors reviewed images and medical records of patients ≥ 16 years of age with a diagnosis of an isolated single-level, low-grade spondylolisthesis (degenerative or isthmic) with symptomatic spinal stenosis treated between January 2008 and April 2014. Age, sex, surgical level, surgical approach, and facetectomy (unilateral vs bilateral) were recorded. Upright standardized preoperative, early, and 6-month postoperative radiographs, as well as intraoperative lateral radiographs, were analyzed for the pelvic incidence, segmental lumbar lordosis (SLL) at the TILF level, and total LL (TLL). In addition, the anteroposterior position of the cage in the disc space was documented. Data are presented as the mean ± SD; a p value < 0.05 was considered significant.

RESULTS

Eighty-four patients were included in the study. The mean age of patients was 56.8 ± 13.7 years, and 46 patients (55%) were men. The mean pelvic incidence was 59.7° ± 11.9°, and a posterior midline approach was used in 47 cases (56%). All TLIF procedures were single level using a bullet-shaped cage. A bilateral facetectomy was performed in 17 patients (20.2%), and 89.3% of procedures were done at the L4–5 and L5–S1 segments. SLL significantly improved intraoperatively from 15.8° ± 7.5° to 20.9° ± 7.7°, but the correction was lost after ambulation. Compared with preoperative values, at 6 months the change in SLL was modest at 1.8° ± 6.7° (p = 0.025), whereas TLL increased by 4.3° ± 9.6° (p < 0.001). The anteroposterior position of the cage, approach, level of surgery, and use of a bilateral facetectomy did not significantly affect postoperative LL.

CONCLUSIONS

Following a single-level TLIF procedure using a bullet-shaped cage, the intraoperative improvement in SLL is largely lost after ambulation. The improvement in TLL over time is probably due to the decompression part of the procedure. The approach, level of surgery, bilateral facetectomy, and position of the cage do not seem to have a significant effect on LL achieved postoperatively.

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Christian P. DiPaola, Nicolas Dea, Marcel F. Dvorak, Robert S. Lee, Dennis Hartig, and Charles G. Fisher

Object

Conflict of interest (COI) as it applies to medical education and training has become a source of considerable interest, debate, and regulation in the last decade. Companies often pay surgeons as faculty for educational events and often sponsor and give financial support to major professional society meetings. Professional medical societies, industry, and legislators have attempted to regulate potential COI without consideration for public opinion. The practice of evidence-based medicine requires the inclusion of patient opinion along with best available evidence and expert opinion. The primary goal of this study was to assess the opinion of the general population regarding surgeon-industry COI for education-related events.

Methods

A Web-based survey was administered, with special emphasis on the surgeon's role in industry-sponsored education and support of professional societies. A survey was constructed to sample opinions on reimbursement, disclosure, and funding sources for educational events.

Results

There were 501 completed surveys available for analysis. More than 90% of respondents believed that industry funding for surgeons' tuition and travel for either industry-sponsored or professional society educational meetings would either not affect the quality of care delivered or would cause it to improve. Similar results were generated for opinions on surgeons being paid by industry to teach other surgeons. Moreover, the majority of respondents believed it was ethical or had no opinion if surgeons had such a relationship with industry. Respondents were also generally in favor of educational conferences for surgeons regardless of funding source. Disclosures of a surgeon-industry relationship, especially if it involves specific devices that may be used in their surgery, appears to be important to respondents.

Conclusions

The vast majority of respondents in this study do not believe that the quality of their care will be diminished due to industry funding of educational events, for surgeon tuition, and/or travel expenses. The results of this study should help form the basis of policy and continued efforts at surgeon-industry COI management.