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Graft subsidence as a predictor of revision surgery following stand-alone lateral lumbar interbody fusion

Zachary J. Tempel, Michael M. McDowell, David M. Panczykowski, Gurpreet S. Gandhoke, D. Kojo Hamilton, David O. Okonkwo, and Adam S. Kanter

OBJECTIVE

Lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) is a less invasive surgical option commonly used for a variety of spinal conditions, including in high-risk patient populations. LLIF is often performed as a stand-alone procedure, and may be complicated by graft subsidence, the clinical ramifications of which remain unclear. The aim of this study was to characterize further the sequelae of graft subsidence following stand-alone LLIF.

METHODS

A retrospective review of prospectively collected data was conducted on consecutive patients who underwent stand-alone LLIF between July 2008 and June 2015; 297 patients (623 levels) met inclusion criteria. Imaging studies were examined to grade graft subsidence according to Marchi criteria, and compared between those who required revision surgery and those who did not. Additional variables recorded included levels fused, DEXA (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) T-score, body mass index, and routine demographic information. The data were analyzed using the Student t-test, chi-square analysis, and logistic regression analysis to identify potential confounding factors.

RESULTS

Of 297 patients, 34 (11.4%) had radiographic evidence of subsidence and 18 (6.1%) required revision surgery. The median subsidence grade for patients requiring revision surgery was 2.5, compared with 1 for those who did not. Chi-square analysis revealed a significantly higher incidence of revision surgery in patients with high-grade subsidence compared with those with low-grade subsidence. Seven of 18 patients (38.9%) requiring revision surgery suffered a vertebral body fracture. High-grade subsidence was a significant predictor of the need for revision surgery (p < 0.05; OR 12, 95% CI 1.29–13.6), whereas age, body mass index, T-score, and number of levels fused were not. This relationship remained significant despite adjustment for the other variables (OR 14.4; 95% CI 1.30–15.9).

CONCLUSIONS

In this series, more than half of the patients who developed graft subsidence following stand-alone LLIF required revision surgery. When evaluating patients for LLIF, supplemental instrumentation should be considered during the index surgery in patients with a significant risk of graft subsidence.

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Incidence of adjacent-segment surgery following stand-alone lateral lumbar interbody fusion

Gautam Nayar, Souvik Roy, Waseem Lutfi, Nitin Agarwal, Nima Alan, Alp Ozpinar, D. Kojo Hamilton, David O. Okonkwo, and Adam S. Kanter

OBJECTIVE

Adjacent-segment disease (ASD) requiring operative intervention is a relatively common long-term consequence of lumbar fusion surgery. Although the incidence of ASD requiring reoperation is well described for traditional posterior lumbar approaches (2.5%–3.9% per year), it remains poorly characterized for stand-alone lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF). In this study, the authors report their institutional experience with ASD requiring reoperation after LLIF over an extended follow-up period of 4 years.

METHODS

Medical records were reviewed for 276 consecutive patients who underwent stand-alone LLIF by a single surgeon for degenerative spinal disorders. Inclusion criteria (single-stage, stand-alone LLIF without posterior supplementation, with no prior lumbar instrumentation, and a minimum of 4 years of follow-up) were met by 182 patients, who were analyzed for operative ASD incidence (per-year rate), demographics, and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score. Operative ASD was strictly defined as new-onset pathology following index surgery at directly adjacent levels to the prior construct. Operative, rather than symptomatic or radiographic, ASD was analyzed to provide a consistent and impactful endpoint while avoiding retrospective diagnosis.

RESULTS

The study cohort of 182 patients had an operative ASD rate of 3.3% (n = 6 procedures) over 4 years of follow-up, for an incidence on Kaplan-Meier survival analysis of 0.88% (95% CI 0.67%–1.09%) per year. In comparing patients with operative ASD with those without, there were no significant differences in mean age (53.7 vs 56.2 years), male sex (33.3% vs 44.9%), smoking status (16.7% vs 25.0%), or number of levels fused (mean 1.33 vs 1.46). The operative ASD cohort had a greater mean BMI (37.3 vs 30.2, p < 0.01). Operative ASD patients had lower baseline ODI scores (33.8 vs 48.3, p = 0.02); however, no difference was observed in ODI at 6 weeks (34.0 vs 39.0) or 3 months (16.0 vs 32.8) postoperatively.

CONCLUSIONS

The incidence of ASD in LLIF for degenerative lumbar etiologies in this cohort was 0.88% (95% CI 0.67%–1.09%) per year. Meanwhile, the reported reoperation rates for ASD in posterior spinal approaches was 2.5% to 3.9% per year, which implies that LLIF may be preferable for well-selected patients.

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Patient perception of scoliosis correction surgery on Instagram

Nitin Agarwal, Amaan Rahman, Rachel Jacobs, Tavis Taylor, Nallammai Muthiah, Nima Alan, Alp Ozpinar, Daryl Fields, and David Kojo Hamilton

OBJECTIVE

Patient feedback surveys provide important insight into patient outcomes, satisfaction, and perioperative needs. Recent critiques have questioned provider-initiated surveys and their capacity to accurately gauge patient perspectives due to intrinsic biases created by question framing. In this study, the authors sought to evaluate provider-independent, patient-controlled social media Instagram posts in order to better understand the patient experience following scoliosis correction surgery.

METHODS

Twitter and Instagram were queried for posts with two tagged indicators, #scoliosissurgery or @scoliosissurgery, resulting in no relevant Twitter posts and 25,000 Instagram posts. Of the initial search, 24,500 Instagram posts that did not directly involve the patient’s own experience were eliminated. Posts were analyzed and coded for the following criteria: the gender of the patient, preoperative or postoperative timing discussed in the post, and classified themes related to the patient’s experiences with scoliosis correction surgery.

RESULTS

Females made 87.6% of the Instagram posts about their experience following scoliosis correction surgery. The initial postoperative stage of surgery was mentioned in 7.6% of Instagram posts. The most common theme on Instagram involved offering or seeking online support from other patients, which constituted 85.2% of all posts. Other common themes included concern about the surgical scar (31.8%), discussing the results of treatment (28.8%), and relief regarding results (21.2%).

CONCLUSIONS

Social media provided a platform to analyze unprompted feedback from patients. Patients were most concerned with their scoliosis correction surgery in the period of time 2 weeks or more after surgery. Themes that were most commonly found on Instagram posts were offering or seeking online support from other patients and concern about the surgical scar. Patient-controlled social media platforms, like Instagram, may provide a useful mechanism for healthcare providers to understand the patient experience following scoliosis correction surgery. Such platforms may help in evaluating postoperative satisfaction and improving postoperative quality of care.

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Mini-open anterior lumbar interbody fusion

Gurpreet S. Gandhoke, Christian Ricks, Zachary Tempel, Brian Zuckerbraun, D. Kojo Hamilton, David O. Okonkwo, and Adam S. Kanter

In deformity surgery, anterior lumbar interbody fusion provides excellent biomechanical support, creates a broad surface area for arthrodesis, and induces lordosis in the lower lumbar spine. Preoperative MRI, plain radiographs, and, when available, CT scan should be carefully assessed for sacral slope as it relates to pubic symphysis, position of the great vessels (especially at L4/5), disc space height, or contraindication to an anterior approach. This video demonstrates the steps in an anterior surgical procedure with minimal open exposure.

The video can be found here: https://youtu.be/r3bC4_vu1hQ.

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Limitations of patient experience reports to evaluate physician quality in spine surgery: analysis of 7485 surveys

Nitin Agarwal, Andrew Faramand, Johanna Bellon, Jeffrey Borrebach, D. Kojo Hamilton, David O. Okonkwo, and Adam S. Kanter

OBJECTIVE

The Clinician and Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CG-CAHPS) is a standardized patient experience survey that is used to evaluate the quality of care delivered by physicians. The authors sought to determine which factors influenced CG-CAHPS scores for spine surgery, and compare them to their cranial-focused cohorts.

METHODS

A retrospective study of prospectively obtained data was performed to evaluate CG-CAHPS scores. Between May 2013 and May 2017, all patients 18 years of age or older with an outpatient encounter with a neurosurgeon (5 spine-focused neurosurgeons and 20 cranial-focused neurosurgeons) received a CG-CAHPS survey. Three domains were assessed: overall physician rating, likelihood to recommend, and physician communication. Statistical analyses were performed using chi-square tests.

RESULTS

Seven thousand four hundred eighty-five patient surveys (2319 spine and 5166 cranial) were collected from patients presenting to the outpatient offices of an attending neurosurgeon. Analysis of the overall physician rating showed that 81.1% of spine neurosurgeons received a “top-box” score (answers of “yes, definitely”), whereas 86.2% of cranial neurosurgeons received a top-box response (p < 0.001). A similar difference was observed with the domains of “likelihood to recommend” and “physician communication.” Overall physician rating was also significantly influenced by the general and mental health of the patients surveyed (p < 0.001). For spine surgeons seeing patients at more than one facility, the scores with respect to location were also significantly different in all domains for each individual provider (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, spine-focused neurosurgeon ratings differed significantly from those of cranial-focused neurosurgical subspecialty providers. Office location also affected provider ratings for spine neurosurgeons. These results suggest that physician ratings obtained via patient experience surveys may be representative of factors aside from just the quality of physician care provided. This information should be considered as payers, government, and health systems design performance programs based on patient experience scores.

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Lateral lumbar interbody fusion in the elderly: a 10-year experience

Presented at the 2018 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Nitin Agarwal, Andrew Faramand, Nima Alan, Zachary J. Tempel, D. Kojo Hamilton, David O. Okonkwo, and Adam S. Kanter

OBJECTIVE

Elderly patients, often presenting with multiple medical comorbidities, are touted to be at an increased risk of peri- and postoperative complications following spine surgery. Various minimally invasive surgical techniques have been developed and employed to treat an array of spinal conditions while minimizing complications. Lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) is one such approach. The authors describe clinical outcomes in patients over the age of 70 years following stand-alone LLIF.

METHODS

A retrospective query of a prospectively maintained database was performed for patients over the age of 70 years who underwent stand-alone LLIF. Patients with posterior segmental fixation and/or fusion were excluded. The preoperative and postoperative values for the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) were analyzed to compare outcomes after intervention. Femoral neck t-scores were acquired from bone density scans and correlated with the incidence of graft subsidence.

RESULTS

Among the study cohort of 55 patients, the median age at the time of surgery was 74 years (range 70–87 years). Seventeen patients had at least 3 medical comorbidities at surgery. Twenty-three patients underwent a 1-level, 14 a 2-level, and 18 patients a 3-level or greater stand-alone lateral fusion. The median estimated blood loss was 25 ml (range 5–280 ml). No statistically significant relationship was detected between volume of blood loss and the number of operative levels. The median length of hospital stay was 2 days (range 1–4 days). No statistically significant relationship was observed between the length of hospital stay and age at the time of surgery. There was one intraoperative death secondary to cardiac arrest, with a mortality rate of 1.8%. One patient developed a transient femoral nerve injury. Five patients with symptomatic graft subsidence subsequently underwent posterior instrumentation. A lower femoral neck t-score < −1.0 correlated with a higher incidence of graft subsidence (p = 0.006). The mean ODI score 1 year postoperatively of 31.1 was significantly (p = 0.003) less than the mean preoperative ODI score of 46.2.

CONCLUSIONS

Stand-alone LLIF can be safely and effectively performed in the elderly population. Careful evaluation of preoperative bone density parameters should be employed to minimize risk of subsidence and need for additional surgery. Despite an association with increased comorbidities, age alone should not be a deterrent when considering stand-alone LLIF in the elderly population.

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Use of trans sodium crocetinate for sensitizing glioblastoma multiforme to radiation

Laboratory investigation

Jason Sheehan, Adina Ionescu, Nader Pouratian, D. Kojo Hamilton, David Schlesinger, Rod J. Oskouian Jr., and Charles Sansur

Object

Adjuvant treatment with radiation (radiation therapy or radiosurgery) is a mainstay of treatment for patients harboring glioblastomas multiforme (GBM). Hypoxic regions within the tumor make cells less sensitive to radiation therapy. Trans sodium crocetinate (TSC) has been shown to increase oxygen diffusion in the brain and elevate the partial brain oxygen level. The goal of this study was to evaluate the radiosensitizing effects of TSC on GBM tumors.

Methods

A rat C6 glioma model was used, in which C6 glioma cells were stereotactically injected into the rat brain to create a tumor. Following creation of a right frontal tumor, animals were randomized into 1 of 4 groups: 1) TSC alone (animal treated with moderate-dose TSC only); 2) radiation (animals receiving 8 Gy of cranial radiation); 3) radiation and low-dose TSC (animals receiving 8 Gy of radiation and 50 μg/kg of TSC); or 4) radiation and moderate-dose TSC (animals receiving 8 Gy of radiation and 100 μg/kg of TSC). Animals were observed clinically for 60 days or until death. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging was performed at 2-week intervals on each animal and quantitatively evaluated for tumor response. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed on all brain tumors. Survival differences were also evaluated using the Kaplan–Meier method.

Results

On MR imaging, a statistically significant reduction in tumor size was seen in the group receiving moderate-dose TSC and radiation treatment compared with the group receiving radiation treatment alone. The rate of tumor growth was significantly less for the combination of TSC and radiation treatment compared with either modality alone. Median survival times for the TSC-only and the radiation therapy–only groups were 15 and 30 days, respectively. The 60-day median survival times for the groups receiving a combination of either low- or moderate-dose TSC with radiation therapy were statistically improved compared with those for the other treatment groups.

Conclusions

Use of TSC improves the extent of GBM tumor regression following radiation therapy and enhances survival. Radiosensitization of hypoxic tumors through increased oxygen diffusion may have clinical utility in patients with GBM tumors but must be explored in a clinical trial.

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Impact of endplate-implant area mismatch on rates and grades of subsidence following stand-alone lateral lumbar interbody fusion: an analysis of 623 levels

Nitin Agarwal, Michael D. White, Xiaoran Zhang, Nima Alan, Alp Ozpinar, David J. Salvetti, Zachary J. Tempel, David O. Okonkwo, Adam S. Kanter, and D. Kojo Hamilton

OBJECTIVE

Stand-alone lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) is a useful minimally invasive approach for select spinal disorders, but implant subsidence may occur in up to 30% of patients. Previous studies have suggested that wider implants reduce the subsidence rate. This study aimed to evaluate whether a mismatch of the endplate and implant area can predict the rate and grade of implant subsidence.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of prospectively collected data on consecutive patients who underwent stand-alone LLIF between July 2008 and June 2015; 297 patients (623 surgical levels) met inclusion criteria. Imaging studies were examined to grade graft subsidence according to Marchi criteria. Thirty patients had radiographic evidence of implant subsidence. The endplates above and below the implant were measured.

RESULTS

A total of 30 patients with implant subsidence were identified. Of these patients, 6 had Marchi grade 0, 4 had grade I, 12 had grade II, and 8 had grade III implant subsidence. There was no statistically significant correlation between the endplate-implant area mismatch and subsidence grade or incidence. There was also no correlation between endplate-implant width and length mismatch and subsidence grade or incidence. However, there was a strong correlation between the usage of the 18-mm-wide implants and the development of higher-grade subsidence (p = 0.002) necessitating surgery. There was no significant association between the degree of mismatch or Marchi subsidence grade and the presence of postoperative radiculopathy. Of the 8 patients with 18-mm implants demonstrating radiographic subsidence, 5 (62.5%) required reoperation. Of the 22 patients with 22-mm implants demonstrating radiographic subsidence, 13 (59.1%) required reoperation.

CONCLUSIONS

There was no correlation between endplate-implant area, width, or length mismatch and Marchi subsidence grade for stand-alone LLIF. There was also no correlation between either endplate-implant mismatch or Marchi subsidence grade and postoperative radiculopathy. The data do suggest that the use of 18-mm-wide implants in stand-alone LLIF may increase the risk of developing high-grade subsidence necessitating reoperation compared to the use of 22-mm-wide implants.

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Implementation of an infection prevention bundle and increased physician awareness improves surgical outcomes and reduces costs associated with spine surgery

Nitin Agarwal, Prateek Agarwal, Ashley Querry, Anna Mazurkiewicz, Zachary J. Tempel, Robert M. Friedlander, Peter C. Gerszten, D. Kojo Hamilton, David O. Okonkwo, and Adam S. Kanter

OBJECTIVE

Previous studies have demonstrated the efficacy of infection prevention protocols in reducing infection rates. This study investigated the effects of the development and implementation of an infection prevention protocol that was augmented by increased physician awareness of spinal fusion surgical site infection (SSI) rates and resultant cost savings.

METHODS

A cohort clinical investigation over a 10-year period was performed at a single tertiary spine care academic institution. Preoperative infection control measures (chlorohexidine gluconate bathing, Staphylococcus aureus nasal screening and decolonization) followed by postoperative infection control measures (surgical dressing care) were implemented. After the implementation of these infection control measures, an awareness intervention was instituted in which all attending and resident neurosurgeons were informed of their individual, independently adjudicated spinal fusion surgery infection rates and rankings among their peers. During the course of these interventions, the overall infection rate was tracked as well as the rates for those neurosurgeons who complied with the preoperative and postoperative infection control measures (protocol group) and those who did not (control group).

RESULTS

With the implementation of postoperative surgical dressing infection control measures and physician awareness, the postoperative spine surgery infection rate decreased by 45% from 3.8% to 2.1% (risk ratio 0.55; 95% CI 0.32–0.93; p = 0.03) for those in the protocol cohort, resulting in an estimated annual cost savings of $291,000. This reduction in infection rate was not observed for neurosurgeons in the control group, although the overall infection rate among all neurosurgeons decreased by 54% from 3.3% to 1.5% (risk ratio 0.46; 95% CI 0.28–0.73; p = 0.0013).

CONCLUSIONS

A novel paradigm for spine surgery infection control combined with physician awareness methods resulted in significantly decreased SSI rates and an associated cost reduction. Thus, information sharing and physician engagement as a supplement to formal infection control measures result in improvements in surgical outcomes and costs.

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Graft subsidence and reoperation after lateral lumbar interbody fusion: a propensity score–matched and cost analysis of polyetheretherketone versus 3D-printed porous titanium interbodies

Nima Alan, Hansen Deng, Nallammai Muthiah, Lena Vodovotz, Robert Dembinski, Daipayan Guha, Nitin Agarwal, Alp Ozpinar, D. Kojo Hamilton, Adam S. Kanter, and David O. Okonkwo

OBJECTIVE

Lumbar interbody cage subsidence has a multifactorial etiology. Cage material, although well studied after transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion, has not been investigated as a contributing factor to subsidence after lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF). In this study the authors compared rates of subsidence and reoperation after LLIF between polyetheretherketone (PEEK) and 3D-printed porous titanium (pTi) in an institutional propensity score–matched and cost analysis.

METHODS

This is a retrospective observational cohort analysis of adult patients who underwent LLIF with pTi versus PEEK between 2016 and 2020. Demographic, clinical, and radiographic characteristics were collected. Propensity scores were calculated and 1:1 matching without replacement of surgically treated levels was performed. The primary outcome of interest was subsidence. The Marchi subsidence grade was determined at the time of last follow-up. Chi-square or Fisher’s exact tests were used to compare subsidence and reoperation rates between lumbar levels treated with PEEK versus pTi. Modeling and cost analysis were performed using TreeAge Pro Healthcare.

RESULTS

The authors identified a total of 192 patients; 137 underwent LLIF with PEEK (212 levels) and 55 had LLIF with pTi (97 levels). After propensity score matching, a total of 97 lumbar levels remained in each treatment group. After matching, there were no statistically significant differences between groups in baseline characteristics. Levels treated with pTi were significantly less likely to exhibit subsidence (any grade) compared to those treated with PEEK (8% vs 27%, p = 0.001). Five (5.2%) levels treated with PEEK required reoperation for subsidence, but only 1 (1.0%) level treated with pTi required reoperation for subsidence (p = 0.12). Given subsidence and revision rates experienced in the cohorts in this study, the pTi interbody device is economically superior to PEEK in a single-level LLIF as long as its cost is at least $1185.94 lower than that of PEEK.

CONCLUSIONS

The pTi interbody device was associated with less subsidence, but statistically similar revision rates after LLIF. pTi is potentially a superior economic choice at this study’s reported revision rate.