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Robert D. Winkelman, Michael D. Kavanagh, Joseph E. Tanenbaum, Dominic W. Pelle, Edward C. Benzel, Thomas E. Mroz, and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

On August 31, 2017, the state of Ohio implemented legislation limiting the dosage and duration of opioid prescriptions. Despite the widespread adoption of such restrictions, few studies have investigated the effects of these reforms on opioid prescribing and patient outcomes. In the present study, the authors aimed to evaluate the effect of recent state-level reform on opioid prescribing, patient-reported outcomes (PROs), and postoperative emergency department (ED) visits and hospital readmissions after elective lumbar decompression surgery.

METHODS

This study was a retrospective cohort study of patients who underwent elective lumbar laminectomy for degenerative disease at one of 5 hospitals within a single health system in the years prior to and after the implementation of the statewide reform (September 1, 2016–August 31, 2018). Patients were classified according to the timing of their surgery relative to implementation of the prescribing reform: before reform (September 1, 2016–August 31, 2017) or after reform (September 1, 2017– August 31, 2018). The outcomes of interest included total outpatient opioids prescribed in the 90 days following discharge from surgery as measured in morphine-equivalent doses (MEDs), total number of opioid refill prescriptions written, patient-reported pain at the first postoperative outpatient visit as measured by the Numeric Pain Rating Scale, improvement in patient-reported health-related quality of life as measured by the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System–Global Health (PROMIS-GH) questionnaire, and ED visits or hospital readmissions within 90 days of surgery.

RESULTS

A total of 1031 patients met the inclusion criteria for the study, with 469 and 562 in the before- and after-reform groups, respectively. After-reform patients received 26% (95% CI 19%–32%) fewer MEDs in the 90 days following discharge compared with the before-reform patients. No significant differences were observed in the overall number of opioid prescriptions written, PROs, or postoperative ED or hospital readmissions within 90 days in the year after the implementation of the prescribing reform.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients undergoing surgery in the year after the implementation of a state-level opioid prescribing reform received significantly fewer MEDs while reporting no change in the total number of opioid prescriptions, PROs, or postoperative ED visits or hospital readmissions. These results demonstrate that state-level reforms placing reasonable limits on opioid prescriptions written for acute pain may decrease patient opioid exposure without negatively impacting patient outcomes after lumbar decompression surgery.

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Philina Yee, Joseph E. Tanenbaum, Dominic W. Pelle, Don Moore, Edward C. Benzel, Michael P. Steinmetz, and Thomas E. Mroz

OBJECTIVE

Under the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) initiative, Medicare reimburses for lumbar fusion without adjusting for underlying pathology. However, lumbar fusion is a widely used technique that can treat both degenerative and traumatic pathologies. In other surgical cohorts, significant heterogeneity exists in resource use when comparing procedures for traumatic versus degenerative pathologies. If the same were true for lumbar fusion, BPCI would create a financial disincentive to treat specific patient populations. The goal of this study was to compare hospital resource use for lumbar fusion between 2 patient populations: patients with spondylolisthesis and patients with lumbar vertebral fracture.

METHODS

The authors compared the hospital resource use of two lumbar fusion cohorts that BPCI groups into the same payment bundle for lumbar fusion: patients with spondylolisthesis and patients with lumbar vertebral fracture. National Inpatient Sample data from 2013 were queried for patients who underwent lumbar fusion for lumbar vertebral fracture or spondylolisthesis. Hospital resource use was measured using length of stay (LOS), direct hospital costs, and odds of discharge to a post-acute care facility and compared using multivariable linear and logistic regression. All models adjusted for patient demographics, 29 comorbidities, and hospital characteristics.

RESULTS

After adjusting for patient demographics, insurance status, hospital characteristics, and 29 comorbidities, spondylolisthesis patients had a mean LOS that was 36% shorter (95% CI 26%–44%, p < 0.0001), a mean cost that was 13% less (95% CI 3.7%–21%, p < 0.0001), and 3.2 times greater odds of being discharged home (95% CI 2.5–5.4, p < 0.0001) than lumbar vertebral fracture patients.

CONCLUSIONS

Under the proposed DRG (diagnosis-related group)–based BPCI, hospitals would be reimbursed the same amount for lumbar fusion regardless of the diagnosis. However, compared with fusion for spondylolisthesis, fusion for lumbar vertebral fracture was associated with longer LOS, greater direct hospital costs, and increased likelihood of being discharged to a post-acute care facility. These findings suggest that the BPCI episode of care for lumbar fusion dis-incentivizes treatment of trauma patients.

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The efficacy of intraoperative multimodal monitoring in pedicle subtraction osteotomies of the lumbar spine

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

Jianning Shao, Maxwell Y. Lee, Shreya Louis, Konrad Knusel, Bryan S. Lee, Dominic W. Pelle, Jason Savage, Joseph E. Tanenbaum, Thomas E. Mroz, and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

Iatrogenic spine injury remains one of the most dreaded complications of pedicle subtraction osteotomies (PSOs) and spine deformity surgeries. Thus, intraoperative multimodal monitoring (IOM), which has the potential to provide real-time feedback on spinal cord signal transmission, has become the gold standard in such operations. However, while the benefits of IOM are well established in PSOs of the thoracic spine and scoliosis surgery, its utility in PSOs of the lumbar spine has not been robustly documented. The authors’ aim was to determine the impact of IOM on outcomes in patients undergoing PSO of the lumbar spine.

METHODS

All patients older than 18 years who underwent lumbar PSOs at the authors’ institution from 2007 to 2017 were analyzed via retrospective chart review and categorized into one of two groups: those who had IOM guidance and those who did not. Perioperative complications were designated as the primary outcome measure and postoperative quality of life (QOL) scores, specifically the Parkinson’s Disease Questionnaire–39 (PDQ-39) and Patient Health Questionnaire–9 (PHQ-9), were designated as secondary outcome measures. Data on patient demographics, surgical and monitoring parameters, and outcomes were gathered, and statistical analysis was performed to compare the development of perioperative complications and QOL scores between the two cohorts. In addition, the proportion of patients who reached minimal clinically important difference (MCID), defined as an increase of 4.72 points in the PDQ-39 score or a decrease of 5 points in the PHQ-9 score, in the two cohorts was also determined.

RESULTS

A total of 95 patients were included in the final analysis. IOM was not found to significantly impact the development of new postoperative deficits (p = 0.107). However, the presence of preoperative neurological comorbidities was found to significantly correlate with postoperative neurological complications (p = 0.009). Univariate analysis showed that age was positively correlated with MCID achievement 3 months after surgery (p = 0.018), but this significance disappeared at the 12-month postoperative time point (p = 0.858). IOM was not found to significantly impact MCID achievement at either the 3- or 12-month postoperative period as measured by PDQ-39 (p = 0.398 and p = 0.156, respectively). Similarly, IOM was not found to significantly impact MCID achievement at either the 3- or 12-month postoperative period, as measured by PHQ-9 (p = 0.230 and p = 0.542, respectively). Multivariate analysis showed that female sex was significantly correlated with MCID achievement (p = 0.024), but this significance disappeared at the 12-month postoperative time point (p = 0.064). IOM was not found to independently correlate with MCID achievement in PDQ-39 scores at either the 3- or 12-month postoperative time points (p = 0.220 and p = 0.097, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

In this particular cohort, IOM did not lead to statistically significant improvement in outcomes in patients undergoing PSOs of the lumbar spine (p = 0.220). The existing clinical equipoise, however, indicates that future studies in this arena are necessary to achieve systematic guidelines on IOM usage in PSOs of the lumbar spine.