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Editorial. Spine professionals must critically examine the impact of medicolegal pressures on delivering care

Daniel M. Sciubba

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Editorial: Spine metastasis

Paul M. Arnold

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Systematic review and meta-analysis of the clinical utility of Enhanced Recovery After Surgery pathways in adult spine surgery

Zach Pennington, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel Lubelski, Jeff Ehresman, Nicholas Theodore, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Spine surgery has been identified as a significant source of healthcare expenditures in the United States. Prolonged hospitalization has been cited as one source of increased spending, and there has been drive from providers and payors alike to decrease inpatient stays. One strategy currently being explored is the use of Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocols. Here, the authors review the literature on adult spine ERAS protocols, focusing on clinical benefits and cost reductions. They also conducted a quantitative meta-analysis examining the following: 1) length of stay (LOS), 2) complication rate, 3) wound infection rate, 4) 30-day readmission rate, and 5) 30-day reoperation rate.

METHODS

Using the PRISMA guidelines, a search of the PubMed/Medline, Web of Science, Cochrane Reviews, Embase, CINAHL, and OVID Medline databases was conducted to identify all full-text articles in the English-language literature describing ERAS protocol implementation for adult spine surgery. A quantitative meta-analysis using random-effects modeling was performed for the identified clinical outcomes using studies that directly compared ERAS protocols with conventional care.

RESULTS

Of 950 articles reviewed, 34 were included in the qualitative analysis and 20 were included in the quantitative analysis. The most common protocol types were general spine surgery protocols and protocols for lumbar spine surgery patients. The most frequently cited benefits of ERAS protocols were shorter LOS (n = 12), lower postoperative pain scores (n = 6), and decreased complication rates (n = 4). The meta-analysis demonstrated shorter LOS for the general spine surgery (mean difference −1.22 days [95% CI −1.98 to −0.47]) and lumbar spine ERAS protocols (−1.53 days [95% CI −2.89 to −0.16]). Neither general nor lumbar spine protocols led to a significant difference in complication rates. Insufficient data existed to perform a meta-analysis of the differences in costs or postoperative narcotic use.

CONCLUSIONS

Present data suggest that ERAS protocol implementation may reduce hospitalization time among adult spine surgery patients and may lead to reductions in complication rates when applied to specific populations. To generate high-quality evidence capable of supporting practice guidelines, though, additional controlled trials are necessary to validate these early findings in larger populations.

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Editorial

Metastatic spinal cord tumors

Mark N. Hadley

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Ossification of the ligamentum flavum in a Caucasian man

Case report

Risheng Xu, Daniel M. Sciubba, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Ali Bydon

Abnormal ossification of spinal ligaments is a well-known cause of myelopathy in East Asian populations, with ossification of the ligamentum flavum (OLF) and the posterior longitudinal ligament being the most prevalent. In Caucasian populations, OLF is rare, and there has been only 1 documented case of the disease affecting more than 5 spinal levels. In this report, the authors describe the clinical presentation, imaging characteristics, and management of the second published case of a Caucasian man with OLF affecting almost the entire thoracic spine. The literature is then reviewed with regard to OLF epidemiology, pathogenesis, presentation, and treatment.

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Shunt Infection

Kuniaki Nakahara and Satoru Shimizu

Object

The majority of shunt infections occur within 6 months of shunt placement and chiefly result from perioperative colonization of shunt components by skin flora. Antibiotic-impregnated shunt (AIS) systems have been designed to prevent such colonization. In this study, the authors evaluate the incidence of shunt infection after introduction of an AIS system in a population of children with hydrocephalus.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed all pediatric patients who had undergone cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunt insertion at their institution over a 3-year period between April 2001 and March 2004. During the 18 months prior to October 2002, all CSF shunts included standard, nonimpregnated catheters. During the 18 months after October 2002, all CSF shunts included antibiotic-impregnated catheters. All patients were followed up for 6 months after shunt surgery, and all shunt-related complications, including shunt infection, were evaluated. The independent association of AIS catheter use with subsequent shunt infection was assessed via multivariate proportional hazards regression analysis.

A total of 211 pediatric patients underwent 353 shunt placement procedures. In the 18 months prior to October 2002, 208 (59%) shunts were placed with nonimpregnated catheters; 145 (41%) shunts were placed with AIS catheters in the 18 months after October 2002. Of patients with nonimpregnated catheters, 25 (12%) experienced shunt infection, whereas only two patients (1.4%) with antibiotic-impregnated catheters experienced shunt infection within the 6-month follow-up period (p < 0.01). Adjusting for intercohort differences via multivariate analysis, AIS catheters were independently associated with a 2.4-fold decreased likelihood of shunt infection.

Conclusions

The AIS catheter significantly reduced incidence of CSF shunt infection in children with hydrocephalus during the early postoperative period (< 6 months). The AIS system used is an effective instrument to prevent perioperative colonization of CSF shunt components.

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Iliac screw versus S2 alar-iliac screw fixation in adults: a meta-analysis

Rafael De la Garza Ramos, Jonathan Nakhla, Daniel M. Sciubba, and Reza Yassari

OBJECTIVE

In a meta-analysis, the authors sought to compare outcomes after iliac screw (IS) versus S2 alar-iliac (S2AI) screw fixation in adult patients.

METHODS

A PubMed/MEDLINE database search was performed for studies comparing IS and S2AI screw fixation techniques in adults. Levels of evidence were assigned based on the North American Spine Society guidelines. Three outcomes were examined: 1) revision surgery rate secondary to mechanical failure or wound complications, 2) surgical site infection rate, and 3) screw prominence/pain. Data were pooled and outcomes compared between techniques. Absolute risk reductions (ARRs) were also calculated for outcome measures.

RESULTS

Five retrospective cohort studies (all level III evidence) were included in our analysis. A total of 323 adult patients were included—147 in the IS group (45.5%) and 176 in the S2AI group (54.5%). Overall, revision surgery due to mechanical failure or wound complications was needed in 66 of 323 patients (revision surgery rate 20.4%)—27.9% in the IS group and 14.2% in the S2AI group (13.7% ARR; p < 0.001). Four studies reported wound infections among 278 total patients, with an infection rate of 12.6% (35/278)—25.4% in the IS group and 2.6% in the S2AI group (22.8% ARR; p < 0.001). Three studies examined development of screw prominence/pain; combined, these studies reported screw prominence/pain in 21 of 215 cases (9.8%)—18.1% in the IS group and 1.8% in the S2AI group (16.3% ARR; p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

S2AI screw fixation in adults has a significantly lower mechanical failure and complication rate than IS fixation based on the current best available evidence.

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Surgical management of giant presacral schwannoma: systematic review of published cases and meta-analysis

Presented at the 2019 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Zach Pennington, Erick M. Westbroek, A. Karim Ahmed, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel Lubelski, Matthew L. Goodwin, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Giant presacral schwannomas are rare sacral tumors found in less than 1 of every 40,000 hospitalizations. Current management of these tumors is based solely upon case reports and small case series. In this paper the authors report the results of a systematic review of the available English literature on presacral schwannoma, focused on identifying the influence of tumor size, tumor morphology, surgical approach, and extent of resection (EOR) on recurrence-free survival and postoperative complications.

METHODS

The medical literature (PubMed and EMBASE) was queried for reports of surgically managed sacral schwannoma, either involving 2 or more contiguous vertebral levels or with a diameter ≥ 5 cm. Tumor size and morphology, surgical approach, EOR, intraoperative and postoperative complications, and survival data were recorded.

RESULTS

Seventy-six articles were included, covering 123 unique patients (mean age 44.1 ± 1.4 years, 50.4% male). The most common presenting symptoms were leg pain (28.7%), lower back pain (21.3%), and constipation (15.7%). Most surgeries used an open anterior-only (40.0%) or posterior-only (30%) approach. Postoperative complications occurred in 25.6% of patients and local recurrence was noted in 5.4%. En bloc resection significantly improved progression-free survival relative to subtotal resection (p = 0.03). No difference existed between en bloc and gross-total resection (GTR; p = 0.25) or among the surgical approaches (p = 0.66). Postoperative complications were more common following anterior versus posterior approaches (p = 0.04). Surgical blood loss was significantly correlated with operative duration and tumor volume on multiple linear regression (both p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Presacral schwannoma can reasonably be treated with either en bloc or piecemeal GTR. The approach should be dictated by lesion morphology, and recurrence is infrequent. Anterior approaches may increase the risk of postoperative complications.

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Clinical utility of enhanced recovery after surgery pathways in pediatric spinal deformity surgery: systematic review of the literature

Zach Pennington, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel Lubelski, Jeff Ehresman, Kurt Lehner, Mari L. Groves, Paul Sponseller, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVES

More than 7500 children undergo surgery for scoliosis each year, at an estimated annual cost to the health system of $1.1 billion. There is significant interest among patients, parents, providers, and payors in identifying methods for delivering quality outcomes at lower costs. Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols have been suggested as one possible solution. Here the authors conducted a systematic review of the literature describing the clinical and economic benefits of ERAS protocols in pediatric spinal deformity surgery.

METHODS

The authors identified all English-language articles on ERAS protocol use in pediatric spinal deformity surgery by using the following databases: PubMed/MEDLINE, Web of Science, Cochrane Reviews, EMBASE, CINAHL, and OVID MEDLINE. Quantitative analyses of comparative articles using random effects were performed for the following clinical outcomes: 1) length of stay (LOS); 2) complication rate; 3) wound infection rate; 4) 30-day readmission rate; 5) reoperation rate; and 6) postoperative pain scores.

RESULTS

Of 950 articles reviewed, 7 were included in the qualitative analysis and 6 were included in the quantitative analysis. The most frequently cited benefits of ERAS protocols were shorter LOS, earlier urinary catheter removal, and earlier discontinuation of patient-controlled analgesia pumps. Quantitative analyses showed ERAS protocols to be associated with shorter LOS (mean difference −1.12 days; 95% CI −1.51, −0.74; p < 0.001), fewer postoperative complications (OR 0.37; 95% CI 0.20, 0.68; p = 0.001), and lower pain scores on postoperative day (POD) 0 (mean −0.92; 95% CI −1.29, −0.56; p < 0.001) and POD 2 (−0.61; 95% CI −0.75, −0.47; p < 0.001). There were no differences in reoperation rate or POD 1 pain scores. ERAS-treated patients had a trend toward higher 30-day readmission rates and earlier discontinuation of patient-controlled analgesia (both p = 0.06). Insufficient data existed to reach a conclusion about cost differences.

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this systematic review suggest that ERAS protocols may shorten hospitalizations, reduce postoperative complication rates, and reduce postoperative pain scores in children undergoing scoliosis surgery. Publication biases exist, and therefore larger, prospective, multicenter data are needed to validate these results.

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Predicting nonroutine discharge in patients undergoing surgery for vertebral column tumors

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.