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Jefferson R. Wilson, David W. Cadotte, and Michael G. Fehlings

Object

The object of this study was to identify, by means of a systematic review of the literature, the acute clinical predictors of neurological outcome, functional outcome, and survival after traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI).

Methods

A comprehensive computerized literature review search was performed, using MEDLINE, PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Selected articles were classified according to their level of evidence. Articles were then stratified into one of 3 domains depending on whether the primary focus was clinical prediction of 1) neurological outcome, 2) functional status, or 3) survival. For each study selected, clinical predictors related to patient demographic characteristics, injury mechanism, or neurological examination findings were extracted, and the individual relationship to outcome was defined.

Results

The initial search resulted in 376 citations. After application of the inclusion and exclusion criteria and study review, 51 relevant articles were identified and graded. Of these, 25 provided predictors for neurological outcome, 22 for functional outcome, and 15 for survival, with several of the articles providing information on more than one type of outcome. All of the included studies were designated as providing Class I, II, or III levels of evidence. The severity of neurological injury (as measured by admission Americal Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale grade, Frankel grade, or injury completeness), level of injury, and the presence of a zone of partial preservation were consistent predictors of neurological outcome. Severity of neurological injury, level of injury, reflex pattern, and age were consistent predictors of functional outcome. Finally, severity of neurological injury, level of injury, age, and the presence of multisystem trauma seen with higher-energy injury mechanisms were consistent predictors of survival.

Conclusions

On the basis on this review, the authors have identified a constellation of acute clinical features that may help to define an individual's profile for recovery and survival after SCI. This study will help to facilitate communication in the clinical realm and assist in classifying subsets of patients within future clinical studies.

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George M. Ghobrial, David W. Cadotte, Kim Williams Jr., Michael G. Fehlings, and James S. Harrop

OBJECT

The use of intrawound vancomycin is rapidly being adopted for the prevention of surgical site infection (SSI) in spinal surgery. At operative closure, the placement of vancomycin powder in the wound bed—in addition to standard infection prophylaxis—can provide high concentrations of antibiotics with minimal systemic absorption. However, despite its popularity, to date the majority of studies on intrawound vancomycin are retrospective, and there are no prior reports highlighting the risks of routine treatment.

METHODS

A MEDLINE search for pertinent literature was conducted for studies published between 1966 and May 2015 using the following MeSH search terms: “intrawound vancomycin,” “operative lumbar spine complications,” and “nonoperative lumbar spine complications.” This was supplemented with references and known literature on the topic.

RESULTS

An advanced MEDLINE search conducted on May 6, 2015, using the search string “intrawound vancomycin” found 22 results. After a review of all abstracts for relevance to intrawound vancomycin use in spinal surgery, 10 studies were reviewed in detail. Three meta-analyses were evaluated from the initial search, and 2 clinical studies were identified. After an analysis of all of the identified manuscripts, 3 additional studies were included for a total of 16 studies. Fourteen retrospective studies and 2 prospective studies were identified, resulting in a total of 9721 patients. A total of 6701 (68.9%) patients underwent treatment with intrawound vancomycin. The mean SSI rate among the control and vancomycin-treated patients was 7.47% and 1.36%, respectively. There were a total of 23 adverse events: nephropathy (1 patient), ototoxicity resulting in transient hearing loss (2 patients), systemic absorption resulting in supratherapeutic vancomycin exposure (1 patient), and culture-negative seroma formation (19 patients). The overall adverse event rate for the total number of treated patients was 0.3%.

CONCLUSIONS

Intrawound vancomycin use appears to be safe and effective for reducing postoperative SSIs with a low rate of morbidity. Study disparities and limitations in size, patient populations, designs, and outcomes measures contribute significant bias that could not be fully rectified by this systematic review. Moreover, care should be exercised in the use of intrawound vancomycin due to the lack of well-designed, prospective studies that evaluate the efficacy of vancomycin and include the appropriate systems to capture drug-related complications.

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David W. Cadotte, Shobhan Vachhrajani, and Farhad Pirouzmand

Object

This study documents the epidemiology of head injury over the course of 22 years in the largest Level I adult trauma center in Canada. This information defines the current state, changing pattern, and relative distribution of demographic factors in a defined group of trauma patients. It will aid in hypothesis generation to direct etiological research, administrative resource allocation, and preventative strategies.

Methods

Data on all the trauma patients treated at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (SHSC) from 1986 to 2007 were collected in a consecutive, prospective fashion. The authors reviewed these data from the Sunnybrook Trauma Registry Database in a retrospective fashion. The aggregate data on head injury included demographic data, cause of injury, and Injury Severity Score (ISS). The collected data were analyzed using univariate techniques to depict the trend of variables over years. The authors used the length of stay (LOS) and number of deaths per year (case fatality rate) as crude measures of outcome.

Results

A total of 16,678 patients were treated through the Level I trauma center at SHSC from January 1986 to December 2007. Of these, 9315 patients met the inclusion criteria (ISS > 12, head Abbreviated Injury Scale score > 0). The median age of all trauma patients was 36 years, and 69.6% were male. The median ISS of the head-injury patients was 27. The median age of this group of patients increased by 12 years over the study period. Motorized vehicle accidents accounted for the greatest number of head injuries (60.3%) although the relative percentage decreased over the study period. The median transfer time of patients sustaining a head injury was 2.58 hours, and there was an approximately 45 minute improvement over the 22-year study period. The median LOS in our center decreased from 19 to 10 days over the study period. The average case fatality rate was 17.4% over the study period. In multivariate analysis, more severe injuries were associated with increased LOS as was increasing time from injury to hospital presentation. Age and injury severity were independently predictive of mortality.

Conclusions

These data will provide useful information to guide future studies on the changing patterns of head injury, possible mechanisms of injury, and efficient resource allocation for management of this condition.

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David W. Cadotte, Patrick W. Stroman, David Mikulis, and Michael G. Fehlings

Object

Since the first published report of spinal functional MRI (fMRI) in humans in 1996, this body of literature has grown substantially. In the present article, the authors systematically review all spinal fMRI studies conducted in healthy individuals with a focus on the different motor and sensory paradigms used and the results acquired.

Methods

The authors conducted a systematic search of MEDLINE for literature published from 1990 through November 2011 reporting on stimulation paradigms used to assess spinal fMRI scans in healthy individuals.

Results

They identified 19 peer-reviewed studies from 1996 to the present in which a combination of different spinal fMRI methods were used to investigate the spinal cord in healthy individuals. Eight of the studies used a motor stimulation paradigm, 10 used a sensory stimulation paradigm, and 1 compared motor and sensory stimulation paradigms.

Conclusions

Despite differences in the results of various studies, even when similar stimulation paradigms were used, this body of literature underscores that spinal fMRI signals can be obtained from the human spinal cord. The authors intend this review to serve as an introduction to spinal fMRI research and what it may offer the field of spinal cord injury research.

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Editorial

Occipital cervical fusion: an evolution of techniques

Michael G. Fehlings and David W. Cadotte

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Nathan Evaniew, David W. Cadotte, Nicolas Dea, Christopher S. Bailey, Sean D. Christie, Charles G. Fisher, Jerome Paquet, Alex Soroceanu, Kenneth C. Thomas, Y. Raja Rampersaud, Neil A. Manson, Michael Johnson, Andrew Nataraj, Hamilton Hall, Greg McIntosh, and W. Bradley Jacobs

OBJECTIVE

Recently identified prognostic variables among patients undergoing surgery for cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) are limited to two large international data sets. To optimally inform shared clinical decision-making, the authors evaluated which preoperative clinical factors are significantly associated with improvement on the modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (mJOA) scale by at least the minimum clinically important difference (MCID) 12 months after surgery, among patients from the Canadian Spine Outcomes and Research Network (CSORN).

METHODS

The authors performed an observational cohort study with data that were prospectively collected from CSM patients at 7 centers between 2015 and 2017. Candidate variables were tested using univariable and multiple binomial logistic regression, and multiple sensitivity analyses were performed to test assumptions about the nature of the statistical models. Validated mJOA MCIDs were implemented that varied according to baseline CSM severity.

RESULTS

Among 205 patients with CSM, there were 64 (31%) classified as mild, 86 (42%) as moderate, and 55 (27%) as severe. Overall, 52% of patients achieved MCID and the mean change in mJOA score at 12 months after surgery was 1.7 ± 2.6 points (p < 0.01), but the subgroup of patients with mild CSM did not significantly improve (mean change 0.1 ± 1.9 points, p = 0.8). Univariate analyses failed to identify significant associations between achieving MCID and sex, BMI, living status, education, smoking, disability claims, or number of comorbidities. After adjustment for potential confounders, the odds of achieving MCID were significantly reduced with older age (OR 0.7 per decade, 95% CI 0.5–0.9, p < 0.01) and higher baseline mJOA score (OR 0.8 per point, 95% CI 0.7–0.9, p < 0.01). The effects of symptom duration (OR 1.0 per additional month, 95% CI 0.9–1.0, p = 0.2) and smoking (OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.2–1.0, p = 0.06) were not statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS

Surgery is effective at halting the progression of functional decline with CSM, and approximately half of all patients achieve the MCID. Data from the CSORN confirmed that older age is independently associated with poorer outcomes, but novel findings include that patients with milder CSM did not experience meaningful improvement, and that symptom duration and smoking were not important. These findings support a nuanced approach to shared decision-making that acknowledges some prognostic uncertainty when weighing the various risks, benefits, and alternatives to surgical treatment.

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Raphaële Charest-Morin, Christopher S. Bailey, Greg McIntosh, Y. Raja Rampersaud, W. Bradley Jacobs, David W. Cadotte, Jérome Paquet, Hamilton Hall, Michael H. Weber, Michael G. Johnson, Andrew Nataraj, Najmedden Attabib, Neil Manson, Philippe Phan, Sean D. Christie, Kenneth C. Thomas, Charles G. Fisher, and Nicolas Dea

OBJECTIVE

In multilevel posterior cervical instrumented fusion, extension of fusion across the cervicothoracic junction (CTJ) at T1 or T2 has been associated with decreased rates of reoperation and pseudarthrosis but with longer surgical time and increased blood loss. The impact on patient-reported outcomes (PROs) remains unclear. The primary objective was to determine whether extension of fusion through the CTJ influenced PROs at 3, 12, and 24 months after surgery. The secondary objective was to compare the number of patients who reached the minimal clinically important differences (MCIDs) for the PROs, modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (mJOA) score, operative time, intraoperative blood loss, length of stay, discharge disposition, adverse events (AEs), reoperation within 24 months of surgery, and patient satisfaction.

METHODS

This was a retrospective observational cohort study of prospectively collected multicenter data of patients with degenerative cervical myelopathy. Patients who underwent posterior instrumented fusion of 4 levels or greater (between C2 and T2) between January 2015 and October 2020 and received 24 months of follow-up were included. PROs (scores on the Neck Disability Index [NDI], EQ-5D, physical component summary and mental component summary of SF-12, and numeric rating scale for arm and neck pain) and mJOA scores were compared using ANCOVA and adjusted for baseline differences. Patient demographic characteristics, comorbidities, and surgical details were abstracted. The proportions of patients who reached the MCIDs for these outcomes were compared with the chi-square test. Operative duration, intraoperative blood loss, AEs, reoperation, discharge disposition, length of stay, and satisfaction was compared by using the chi-square test for categorical variables and the independent-samples t-test for continuous variables.

RESULTS

A total of 198 patients were included in this study (101 patients with fusion not crossing the CTJ and 97 with fusion crossing the CTJ). Patients with a construct extending through the CTJ were more likely to be female and have worse baseline NDI scores (p > 0.05). When adjusted for baseline differences, there were no statistically significant differences between the two groups in terms of the PROs and mJOA scores at 3, 12, and 24 months. Surgical duration was longer (p < 0.001) and intraoperative blood loss was greater in the group with fusion extending to the upper thoracic spine (p = 0.013). There were no significant differences between groups in terms of AEs (p > 0.05). Fusion with a construct crossing the CTJ was associated with reoperation (p = 0.04). Satisfaction with surgery was not significantly different between groups. The proportions of patients who reached the MCIDs for the PROs were not statistically different at any time point.

CONCLUSIONS

There were no statistically significant differences in PROs between patients with a posterior construct extending to the upper thoracic spine and those without such extension for as long as 24 months after surgery. The AE profiles were not significantly different, but longer surgical time and increased blood loss were associated with constructs extending across the CTJ.

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Lior M. Elkaim, Greg McIntosh, Nicolas Dea, Rodrigo Navarro-Ramirez, W. Bradley Jacobs, David W. Cadotte, Supriya Singh, Sean D. Christie, Aaron Robichaud, Philippe Phan, Jérôme Paquet, Andrew Nataraj, Hamilton Hall, Christopher S. Bailey, Y. Raja Rampersaud, Kenneth Thomas, Neil Manson, Charles Fisher, and Michael H. Weber

OBJECTIVE

Degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM) is an important public health issue. Surgery is the mainstay of treatment for moderate and severe DCM. Delayed discharge of patients after DCM surgery is associated with increased healthcare costs. There is a paucity of data regarding predictive factors for discharge destination after scheduled surgery for patients with DCM. The purpose of this study was to identify factors predictive of home versus nonhome discharge after DCM surgery.

METHODS

Patients undergoing scheduled DCM surgery who had been enrolled in a prospective DCM substudy of the Canadian Spine Outcomes and Research Network registry between January 2015 and October 2020 were included in this retrospective analysis. Patient data were evaluated to identify potential factors predictive of home discharge after surgery. Logistic regression was used to identify independent factors predictive of home discharge. A multivariable model was then used as a final model.

RESULTS

Overall, 639 patients were included in the initial analysis, 543 (85%) of whom were discharged home. The mean age of the entire cohort was 60 years (SD 11.8 years), with a BMI of 28.9 (SD 5.7). Overall, 61.7% of the patients were female. The mean length of stay was 2.72 days (SD 1.7 days). The final internally validated bootstrapped multivariable model revealed that younger age, higher 9-Item Patient Health Questionnaire score, lower Neck Disability Index scores, fewer operated levels, mJOA scores indicating mild disease, anterior cervical discectomy and fusion procedure, and no perioperative adverse effects were predictive of home discharge.

CONCLUSIONS

Younger age, less neck-related disability, fewer operated levels, more significant depression, less severe myelopathy, anterior cervical discectomy and fusion procedure, and no perioperative adverse effects are predictive of home discharge after surgery for DCM. These factors can help to guide clinical decision-making and optimize postoperative care pathways.