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Kavelin Rumalla, Chester K. Yarbrough, Andrew J. Pugely, Linda Koester and Ian G. Dorward

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to determine if the recent changes in technology, surgical techniques, and surgical literature have influenced practice trends in spinal fusion surgery for pediatric neuromuscular scoliosis (NMS). In this study the authors analyzed recent trends in the surgical management of NMS and investigated the effect of various patient and surgical factors on in-hospital complications, outcomes, and costs, using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) database.

METHODS

The NIS was queried from 2002 to 2011 using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Edition, Clinical Modification codes to identify pediatric cases (age < 18 years) of spinal fusion for NMS. Several patient, surgical, and short-term outcome factors were included in the analyses. Trend analyses of these factors were conducted. Both univariate and multivariable analyses were used to determine the effect of the various patient and surgical factors on short-term outcomes.

RESULTS

Between 2002 and 2011, a total of 2154 NMS fusion cases were identified, and the volume of spinal fusion procedures increased 93% from 148 in 2002 to 286 in 2011 (p < 0.0001). The mean patient age was 12.8 ± 3.10 years, and 45.6% of the study population was female. The overall complication rate was 40.1% and the respiratory complication rate was 28.2%. From 2002 to 2011, upward trends (p < 0.0001) were demonstrated in Medicaid insurance status (36.5% to 52.8%), presence of ≥ 1 comorbidity (40.2% to 52.1%), and blood transfusions (25.2% to 57.3%). Utilization of posterior-only fusions (PSFs) increased from 66.2% to 90.2% (p < 0.0001) while combined anterior release/fusions and PSF (AR/PSF) decreased from 33.8% to 9.8% (< 0.0001). Intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring (IONM) underwent increasing utilization from 2009 to 2011 (15.5% to 20.3%, p < 0.0001). The use/harvest of autograft underwent a significant upward trend between 2002 and 2011 (31.3% to 59.8%, p < 0.0001). In univariate analysis, IONM use was associated with decreased complications (40.7% to 33.1%, p = 0.049) and length of stay (LOS; 9.21 to 6.70 days, p <0.0001). Inflation-adjusted mean hospital costs increased nearly 75% from 2002 to 2011 ($36,805 to $65,244, p < 0.0001). In the multivariable analysis, nonwhite race, highest quartile of median household income, greater preexisting comorbidity, long-segment fusions, and use of blood transfusions were found to increase the likelihood of complication occurrence (all p < 0.05). In further multivariable analysis, independent predictors of prolonged LOS included older age, increased preexisting comorbidity, the AR/PSF approach, and long-segment fusions (all p < 0.05). Lastly, the likelihood of increased hospital costs (at or above the 90th percentile for LOS, 14 days) was increased by older age, female sex, Medicaid insurance status, highest quartile of median household income, AR/PSF approach, long-segment fusion, and blood transfusion (all p < 0.05). In multivariable analysis, the use of autograft was associated with a lower likelihood of complication occurrence and prolonged LOS (both p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

Increasing use of IONM and posterior-only approaches may combat the high complication rates in NMS. The trends of increasing comorbidities, blood transfusions, and total costs in spinal fusion surgery for pediatric NMS may indicate an increasingly aggressive approach to these cases.

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Wilson Z. Ray, Chester K. Yarbrough, Andrew Yee and Susan E. Mackinnon

The surgical management of lower brachial plexus injuries remains a challenging problem. Although nerve transfers have improved clinical outcomes following brachial plexus injuries, the majority of work has focused on upper trunk injuries. Complete lower plexus injuries often lack suitable donors for either nerve or tendon transfers. The authors describe their experience with isolated lower trunk injuries utilizing the nerve to the brachialis to reinnervate the anterior interosseous nerve.

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Ammar H. Hawasli, Jawad M. Khalifeh, Ajay Chatrath, Chester K. Yarbrough and Wilson Z. Ray

OBJECTIVE

Minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS-TLIF) has been adopted as an alternative technique to hasten recovery and minimize postoperative morbidity. Advances in instrumentation technologies and operative techniques have evolved to maximize patient outcomes as well as radiographic results. The development of expandable interbody devices allows a surgeon to perform MIS-TLIF with minimal tissue disruption. However, sagittal segmental and pelvic radiographic outcomes after MIS-TLIF with expandable interbody devices are not well characterized. The object of this study is to evaluate the radiographic sagittal lumbar segmental and pelvic parameter outcomes of MIS-TLIF performed using an expandable interbody device.

METHODS

A retrospective review of MIS-TLIFs performed between 2014 and 2016 at a high-volume center was performed. Radiographic measurements were performed on lateral radiographs before and after MIS-TLIF with static or expandable interbody devices. Radiographic measurements included disc height, foraminal height, fused disc angle, lumbar lordosis, pelvic incidence, sacral slope, and pelvic tilt. Mismatch between pelvic incidence and lumbar lordosis were calculated for each radiograph.

RESULTS

A total of 48 MIS-TLIFs were performed, predominantly at the L4–5 level, in 44 patients. MIS-TLIF with an expandable interbody device led to a greater and more sustained increase in disc height when compared with static interbody devices. Foraminal height increased after MIS-TLIF with expandable but not with static interbody devices. MIS-TLIF with expandable interbody devices increased index-level segmental lordosis more than with static interbody devices. The increase in segmental lordosis was sustained in the patients with expandable interbody devices but not in patients with static interbody devices. For patients with a collapsed disc space, MIS-TLIF with an expandable interbody device provided superior and longer-lasting increases in disc height, foraminal height, and index-level segmental lordosis than in comparison with patients with static interbody devices. Using an expandable interbody device improved the Oswestry Disability Index scores more than using a static interbody device, and both disc height and segmental lordosis were correlated with improved clinical outcome. Lumbar MIS-TLIF with expandable or static interbody devices had no effect on overall lumbar lordosis, pelvic parameters, or pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis mismatch.

CONCLUSIONS

Performing MIS-TLIF with an expandable interbody device led to a greater and longer-lasting restoration of disc height, foraminal height, and index-level segmental lordosis than MIS-TLIF with a static interbody device, especially for patients with a collapsed disc space. However, neither technique had any effect on radiographic pelvic parameters.

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Chester K. Yarbrough, Jacob K. Greenberg, Matthew D. Smyth, Jeffrey R. Leonard, Tae Sung Park and David D. Limbrick Jr.

Object

Historically, assessment of clinical outcomes following surgical management of Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) has been challenging due to the lack of a validated instrument for widespread use. The Chicago Chiari Outcome Scale (CCOS) is a novel system intended to provide a less subjective evaluation of outcomes for patients with CM-I. The goal of this study was to externally validate the performance of the CCOS.

Methods

Patients undergoing surgery for CM-I between 2001 and 2012 were reviewed (n = 292). Inclusion criteria for this study were as follows: 1) patients receiving primary posterior fossa decompression; 2) at least 5.5 months of postoperative clinical follow-up; and 3) patients ≤ 18 years of age at the time of surgery. Outcomes were evaluated using the CCOS, along with a “gestalt” impression of whether patients experienced significant improvement after surgery. A subgroup of 118 consecutive patients undergoing operations between 2008 and 2010 was selected for analysis of interrater reliability (n = 73 meeting inclusion/exclusion criteria). In this subgroup, gestalt and CCOS scores were independently determined by 2 reviewers, and interrater reliability was assessed using the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and kappa (κ) statistic.

Results

The median CCOS score was 14, and 67% of patients had improved gestalt scores after surgery. Overall, the CCOS was effective at identifying patients with improved outcome after surgery (area under curve = 0.951). The interrater reliability of the CCOS (ICC = 0.71) was high, although the reliability of the component scores ranged from poor to good (ICC 0.23–0.89). The functionality subscore demonstrated a low ICC and did not add to the predictive ability of the logistic regression model (likelihood ratio = 1.8, p = 0.18). When analyzing gestalt outcome, there was moderate agreement between raters (κ = 0.56).

Conclusions

In this external validation study, the CCOS was effective at identifying patients with improved outcomes and proved more reliable than the authors' gestalt impression of outcome. However, certain component subscores (functionality and nonpain symptoms) were found to be less reliable, and may benefit from further definition in score assignment. In particular, the functionality subscore does not add to the predictive ability of the CCOS, and may be unnecessary. Overall, the authors found the CCOS to be an improvement over the previously used assessment of outcome at their institution.

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S. Kathleen Bandt, Jacob K. Greenberg, Chester K. Yarbrough, Kenneth B. Schechtman, David D. Limbrick and Jeffrey R. Leonard

Object

There has been an increase in civilian gun violence since the late 1980s, with a disproportionately high increase occurring within the pediatric population. To date, no definite treatment paradigm exists for the management of these patients, nor is there a full understanding of the predictors of favorable clinical outcome in this population.

Methods

The authors completed a retrospective review of all victims of intracranial gunshot injury from birth to age 18 years at a major metropolitan Level 1 trauma center (n = 48) from 2002 to 2011. The predictive values of widely accepted adult clinical and radiographic factors for poor prognosis were investigated.

Results

Eight statistically significant factors (p < 0.05) for favorable outcome were identified. These factors include single hemispheric involvement, absence of a transventricular trajectory, < 3 lobes involved, ≥ 1 reactive pupil on arrival, systolic blood pressure > 100 mm Hg on arrival, absence of deep nuclei and/or third ventricular involvement, initial ICP < 30 mm Hg when monitored, and absence of midline shift. Of these 8 factors, 5 were strong predictors of favorable clinical outcome as defined by Glasgow Outcome Scale score of 4 or 5. These predictive factors included absence of a transventricular trajectory, < 3 lobes involved, ≥ 1 reactive pupil on arrival, absence of deep nuclei and/or third ventricular involvement, and initial ICP < 30 mm Hg. These findings form the basis of the St. Louis Scale for Pediatric Gunshot Wounds to the Head, a novel metric to inform treatment decisions for pediatric patients who sustain these devastating injuries.

Conclusions

The pediatric population tends to demonstrate more favorable outcomes following intracranial gunshot injury when compared with the adult population; therefore some patients may benefit from more aggressive treatment than is considered for adults. The St. Louis Scale for Pediatric Gunshot Wounds to the Head may provide critical data toward evidence-based guidelines for clinical decision making.

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Akash P. Kansagra, Jayant P. Menon, Chester K. Yarbrough, Klaudia Urbaniak, J. Dawn Waters, Ewa Borys and Rahul Jandial

Balamuthia mandrillaris is a rare but increasingly recognized cause of amebic encephalitis, yet it remains poorly understood. The condition is almost universally fatal, and due to diagnostic difficulty, most cases are identified postmortem. The authors report a case of Balamuthia amebic encephalitis in a patient with combined variable immunodeficiency in which a rare antemortem diagnosis was made via brain biopsy. Despite broad-spectrum antimicrobial therapy, the outcome was fatal. Such presentations are challenging, and definitive diagnosis may require biopsy in consultation with a skilled neuropathologist.

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Chester K. Yarbrough, Alexander K. Powers, Tae Sung Park, Jeffrey R. Leonard, David D. Limbrick and Matthew D. Smyth

Object

A subset of patients with Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) presented with acute onset of a neurological deficit. In this study the authors summarize their experience with these patients' clinical presentation, imaging results, timing of surgery, and outcome following decompression.

Methods

The authors reviewed clinical records, imaging studies, and operative notes from all patients undergoing posterior fossa decompression for CM-I at St. Louis Children's Hospital from 1990 to 2008. Of the 189 patients who underwent surgery, 6 were identified with the acute onset of a neurological deficit at presentation.

Results

All 6 children (age range 3–14 years, 3 boys and 3 girls) had either syringomyelia (5 patients) or T2 signal changes in the spinal cord (1 patient) and CM-I on initial MR imaging. Three patients presented after minor trauma (1 with paraparesis, 2 with sensory deficits). Three patients presented without a clear history of trauma (1 with abrupt onset of spontaneous dysphagia and ataxia, 2 with sensory deficits). Decompression was performed at a mean 7.7 ± 4.9 days after symptom onset (7.0 ± 1.6 days after neurosurgical evaluation). In 1 patient, symptoms had resolved by the time of surgery; in the remainder of the patients, clear improvements were noted within 2 weeks of surgery, with complete resolution of symptoms by 12 months postoperatively. Follow-up MR images were obtained in 4 patients, demonstrating improvement in the extent of the syrinx in each patient.

Conclusions

Children with CM-I and syringomyelia can develop acute spinal cord or bulbar deficits with relatively minor head or neck injuries. The prognosis for symptomatic improvement in the observed deficit is good, with each patient in our series showing resolution of deficits over time. However, based on this relatively limited experience, the authors suggest that patients who present with an acute neurological deficit and are found to have CM-I be managed with early posterior fossa decompression. Patients with CM-I and syringomyelia may be at higher risk of acute neurological deficit than those without a syrinx.

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Rowland H. Han, Dennis C. Nguyen, Brent S. Bruck, Gary B. Skolnick, Chester K. Yarbrough, Sybill D. Naidoo, Kamlesh B. Patel, Alex A. Kane, Albert S. Woo and Matthew D. Smyth

OBJECT

The authors present a retrospective cohort study examining complications in patients undergoing surgery for craniosynostosis using both minimally invasive endoscopic and open approaches.

METHODS

Over the past 10 years, 295 nonsyndromic patients (140 undergoing endoscopic procedures and 155 undergoing open procedures) and 33 syndromic patients (endoscopic procedures in 10 and open procedures in 23) met the authors’ criteria. Variables analyzed included age at surgery, presence of a preexisting CSF shunt, skin incision method, estimated blood loss, transfusions of packed red blood cells, use of intravenous steroids or tranexamic acid, intraoperative durotomies, procedure length, and length of hospital stay. Complications were classified as either surgically or medically related.

RESULTS

In the nonsyndromic endoscopic group, the authors experienced 3 (2.1%) surgical and 5 (3.6%) medical complications. In the nonsyndromic open group, there were 2 (1.3%) surgical and 7 (4.5%) medical complications. Intraoperative durotomies occurred in 5 (3.6%) endoscopic and 12 (7.8%) open cases, were repaired primarily, and did not result in reoperations for CSF leakage. Similar complication rates were seen in syndromic cases. There was no death or permanent morbidity. Additionally, endoscopic procedures were associated with significantly decreased estimated blood loss, transfusions, procedure length, and length of hospital stay compared with open procedures.

CONCLUSIONS

Rates of intraoperative durotomies and surgical and medical complications were comparable between endoscopic and open techniques. This is the largest direct comparison to date between endoscopic and open interventions for synostosis, and the results are in agreement with previous series that endoscopic surgery confers distinct advantages over open surgery in appropriate patient populations.

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Aladine A. Elsamadicy, Hanna Kemeny, Owoicho Adogwa, Eric W. Sankey, C. Rory Goodwin, Chester K. Yarbrough, Shivanand P. Lad, Isaac O. Karikari and Oren N. Gottfried

OBJECTIVE

In spine surgery, racial disparities have been shown to impact various aspects of surgical care. Previous studies have associated racial disparities with inferior surgical outcomes, including increased complication and 30-day readmission rates after spine surgery. Recently, patient-reported outcomes (PROs) and satisfaction measures have been proxies for overall quality of care and hospital reimbursements. However, the influence that racial disparities have on short- and long-term PROs and patient satisfaction after spine surgery is relatively unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of racial disparities on 3- and 12-month PROs and patient satisfaction after elective lumbar spine surgery.

METHODS

This study was designed as a retrospective analysis of a prospectively maintained database. The medical records of adult (age ≥ 18 years) patients who had undergone elective lumbar spine surgery for spondylolisthesis (grade 1), disc herniation, or stenosis at a major academic institution were included in this study. Patient demographics, comorbidities, postoperative complications, and 30-day readmission rates were collected. Patients had prospectively collected outcome and satisfaction measures. Patient-reported outcome instruments—Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), visual analog scale for back pain (VAS-BP), and VAS for leg pain (VAS-LP)—were completed before surgery and at 3 and 12 months after surgery, as were patient satisfaction measures.

RESULTS

The authors identified 345 medical records for 53 (15.4%) African American (AA) patients and 292 (84.6%) white patients. Baseline patient demographics and comorbidities were similar between the two cohorts, with AA patients having a greater body mass index (33.1 ± 6.6 vs 30.2 ± 6.4 kg/m2, p = 0.005) and a higher prevalence of diabetes (35.9% vs 16.1%, p = 0.0008). Surgical indications, operative variables, and postoperative variables were similar between the cohorts. Baseline and follow-up PRO measures were worse in the AA cohort, with patients having a greater baseline ODI (p < 0.0001), VAS-BP score (p = 0.0002), and VAS-LP score (p = 0.0007). However, mean changes from baseline to 3- and 12-month PROs were similar between the cohorts for all measures except the 3-month VAS-BP score (p = 0.046). Patient-reported satisfaction measures at 3 and 12 months demonstrated a significantly lower proportion of AA patients stating that surgery met their expectations (3 months: 47.2% vs 65.5%, p = 0.01; 12 months: 35.7% vs 62.7%, p = 0.007).

CONCLUSIONS

The study data suggest that there is a significant difference in the perception of health, pain, and disability between AA and white patients at baseline and short- and long-term follow-ups, which may influence overall patient satisfaction. Further research is necessary to identify patient-specific factors associated with racial disparities that may be influencing outcomes to adequately measure and assess overall PROs and satisfaction after elective lumbar spine surgery.

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Jacob K. Greenberg, Eric Milner, Chester K. Yarbrough, Kim Lipsey, Jay F. Piccirillo, Matthew D. Smyth, Tae Sung Park and David D. Limbrick Jr.

OBJECT

Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) is a common and often debilitating neurological disease. Efforts to improve treatment of CM-I are impeded by inconsistent and limited methods of evaluating clinical outcomes. To understand current approaches and lay a foundation for future research, the authors conducted a systematic review of the methods used in original published research articles to evaluate clinical outcomes in patients treated for CM-I.

METHODS

The authors searched PubMed, Embase, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, ClinicalTrials.gov, and Cochrane databases to identify publications between January 2003 and August 2013 that met the following criteria: 1) reported clinical outcomes in patients treated for CM-I; 2) were original research articles; 3) included at least 10 patients or, if a comparative study, at least 5 patients per group; and 4) were restricted to patients with CM-I.

RESULTS

Among the 74 papers meeting inclusion criteria, there was wide variation in the outcome methods used. However, all approaches were broadly grouped into 3 categories: 1) “gestalt” impression of overall symptomatic improvement (n = 45 papers); 2) postoperative change in specific signs or symptoms (n = 20); or 3) results of various standardized assessment scales (n = 22). Among standardized scales, 11 general function measures were used, compared with 6 disease-specific tools. Only 3 papers used scales validated in patients with CM-I. To facilitate a uniform comparison of these heterogeneous approaches, the authors appraised articles in multiple domains defined a priori as integral to reporting clinical outcomes in CM-I. Notably, only 7 articles incorporated patient-response instruments when reporting outcome, and only 22 articles explicitly assessed quality of life.

CONCLUSIONS

The methods used to evaluate clinical outcomes in CM-I are inconsistent and frequently not comparable, complicating efforts to analyze results across studies. Development, validation, and incorporation of a small number of disease-specific patient-based instruments will improve the quality of research and care of CM-I patients.