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Will Forest Beringer, Jean-Pierre Mobasser, Dean Karahalios, and Eric Alfred Potts

✓Adult high-grade degenerative spondylolisthesis represents the extreme end of the spectrum for spondylolisthesis and is consequently rarely encountered. Surgical management of high-grade spondylolisthesis requires constructs capable of resisting the shear forces at the slipped L5–S1 interspace. The severity of the slip, sacral inclination, and slip angle may make conventional approaches to 360° fusion difficult or hazardous. Transdiscal pedicle screw fixation, transvertebral fibular graft fusion, and transvertebral cage fixation are techniques that have been developed to establish anterior column load sharing and to resist shear forces at the L5–S1 interspace, given the anatomical constraints accompanying high-grade spondylolisthesis. In this technical note the authors describe the procedure for implanting an in situ anterior L5–S1 transvertebral cage and performing L4–5 anterior lumbar interbody fusion, followed by placement of posterior S1–L5 vertebral body transdiscal pedicle screws for management of high-grade spondylolisthesis.

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Gregory P. Lekovic, Eric A. Potts, Dean G. Karahalios, and Graham Hall

Object

The goal of this study was to compare the accuracy of thoracic pedicle screw placement aided by two different image-guidance modalities.

Methods

The charts of 40 consecutive patients who had undergone stabilization of the thoracic spine between January 2003 and January 2005 were retrospectively reviewed. Three patients were excluded from the study because, on the basis of preoperative findings, small pedicle diameter precluded the use of pedicle screws. Thus, a total of 37 patients had 277 screws placed with the aid of either virtual fluoroscopy or isocentric C-arm 3D navigation. The indications for surgery included trauma, degenerative disease, and tumor, and were similar in both groups. All 37 patients underwent postoperative computed tomography scanning, and an independent reviewer graded all screws based on axial, sagittal, and coronal projections for a full determination of the placement of the screw in the pedicle.

Results

The rate of unintended perforations was found to depend on pedicle diameter (p < 0.0001). There were no statistical differences between groups with regard to rate or grade of cortical perforations. Overall, the rate and grade of perforations was low, and there were no neurological or vascular complications.

Conclusions

The authors have shown that either image-guidance system may be used with a high degree of accuracy and safety. Because both systems were found to be comparably safe and accurate, the choice of image-guidance modality may be determined by the level of surgeon comfort and/or availability of the system.

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R. Shane Tubbs, Matthew R. Levin, Marios Loukas, Eric A. Potts, and Aaron A. Cohen-Gadol

Object

To date, only scant descriptions of the cluneal nerves are available. As these nerves, and especially the superior group, may be encountered and injured during posterior iliac crest harvest for spinal arthrodesis procedures, the present study was performed to better elucidate their anatomy and to provide anatomical landmarks for their localization.

Methods

The superior and middle cluneal nerves were dissected from their origin to termination in 20 cadaveric sides. The distance between the posterior superior iliac spine (PSIS) and superior cluneal nerves at the iliac crest and the distance between this bony prominence and the origin of the middle cluneals were measured. The specific course of each nerve was documented, and the diameter and length of all cluneal nerves were measured.

Results

Superior and middle cluneal nerves were found on all sides. An intermediate superior cluneal nerve and lateral superior cluneal nerve were not identified on 4 and 5 sides, respectively. The superior cluneal nerves always passed through the psoas major and paraspinal muscles and traveled posterior to the quadratus lumborum. The mean diameters of the superior and middle cluneal nerves were 1.1 and 0.8 mm, respectively. From the PSIS, the superior cluneal branches passed at means of 5, 6.5, and 7.3 cm laterally on the iliac crest. At their origin, the middle cluneal nerves had mean distances of 2 cm superior to the PSIS, 0 cm from the PSIS, and 1.5 cm inferior to the PSIS. In their course, the middle cluneal nerves traversed the paraspinal muscles attaching onto the dorsal sacrum.

Conclusions

Knowledge of the cutaneous nerves that cross the posterior aspect of the iliac crest may assist in avoiding their injury during bone harvest. Additionally, an understanding of the anatomical pathway that these nerves take may be useful in decompressive procedures for entrapment syndromes involving the cluneal nerves.

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Scott L. Zuckerman, Clinton J. Devin, Vincent Rossi, Silky Chotai, E. Hunter Dyer, John J. Knightly, Eric A. Potts, Kevin T. Foley, Erica F. Bisson, Steven D. Glassman, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Mohamad Bydon, and Anthony L. Asher

OBJECTIVE

National databases collect large amounts of clinical information, yet application of these data can be challenging. The authors present the NeuroPoint Alliance and Institute for Healthcare Improvement (NPA-IHI) program as a novel attempt to create a quality improvement (QI) tool informed through registry data to improve the quality of care delivered. Reducing the length of stay (LOS) and readmission after elective lumbar fusion was chosen as the pilot module.

METHODS

The NPA-IHI program prospectively enrolled patients undergoing elective 1- to 3-level lumbar fusions across 8 institutions. A three-pronged approach was taken that included the following phases: 1) Research Phase, 2) Development Phase, and 3) Implementation Phase. Primary outcomes were LOS and readmission. From January to June 2017, a learning system was created utilizing monthly conference calls, weekly data submission, and continuous refinement of the proposed QI tool. Nonparametric tests were used to assess the impact of the QI intervention.

RESULTS

The novel QI tool included the following three areas of intervention: 1) preoperative discharge assessment (location, date, and instructions), 2) inpatient changes (LOS rounding checklist, daily huddle, and pain assessments), and 3) postdischarge calls (pain, primary care follow-up, and satisfaction). A total of 209 patients were enrolled, and the most common procedure was a posterior laminectomy/fusion (60.2%). Seven patients (3.3%) were readmitted during the study period. Preoperative discharge planning was completed for 129 patients (61.7%). A shorter median LOS was seen in those with a known preoperative discharge date (67 vs 80 hours, p = 0.018) and clear discharge instructions (71 vs 81 hours, p = 0.030). Patients with a known preoperative discharge plan also reported significantly increased satisfaction (8.0 vs 7.0, p = 0.028), and patients with increased discharge readiness (scale 0–10) also reported higher satisfaction (r = 0.474, p < 0.001). Those receiving postdischarge calls (76%) had a significantly shorter LOS than those without postdischarge calls (75 vs 99 hours, p = 0.020), although no significant relationship was seen between postdischarge calls and readmission (p = 0.342).

CONCLUSIONS

The NPA-IHI program showed that preoperative discharge planning and postdischarge calls have the potential to reduce LOS and improve satisfaction after elective lumbar fusion. It is our hope that neurosurgical providers can recognize how registries can be used to both develop and implement a QI tool and appreciate the importance of QI implementation as a separate process from data collection/analysis.

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Meng Huang, Avery Buchholz, Anshit Goyal, Erica Bisson, Zoher Ghogawala, Eric Potts, John Knightly, Domagoj Coric, Anthony Asher, Kevin Foley, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Paul Park, Mark Shaffrey, Kai-Ming Fu, Jonathan Slotkin, Steven Glassman, Mohamad Bydon, and Michael Wang

OBJECTIVE

Surgical treatment for degenerative spondylolisthesis has been proven to be clinically challenging and cost-effective. However, there is a range of thresholds that surgeons utilize for incorporating fusion in addition to decompressive laminectomy in these cases. This study investigates these surgeon- and site-specific factors by using the Quality Outcomes Database (QOD).

METHODS

The QOD was queried for all cases that had undergone surgery for grade 1 spondylolisthesis from database inception to February 2019. In addition to patient-specific covariates, surgeon-specific covariates included age, sex, race, years in practice (0–10, 11–20, 21–30, > 30 years), and fellowship training. Site-specific variables included hospital location (rural, suburban, urban), teaching versus nonteaching status, and hospital type (government, nonfederal; private, nonprofit; private, investor owned). Multivariable regression and predictor importance analyses were performed to identify predictors of the treatment performed (decompression alone vs decompression and fusion). The model was clustered by site to account for site-specific heterogeneity in treatment selection.

RESULTS

A total of 12,322 cases were included with 1988 (16.1%) that had undergone decompression alone. On multivariable regression analysis clustered by site, adjusting for patient-level clinical covariates, no surgeon-specific factors were found to be significantly associated with the odds of selecting decompression alone as the surgery performed. However, sites located in suburban areas (OR 2.32, 95% CI 1.09–4.84, p = 0.03) were more likely to perform decompression alone (reference = urban). Sites located in rural areas had higher odds of performing decompression alone than hospitals located in urban areas, although the results were not statistically significant (OR 1.33, 95% CI 0.59–2.61, p = 0.49). Nonteaching status was independently associated with lower odds of performing decompression alone (OR 0.40, 95% CI 0.19–0.97, p = 0.04). Predictor importance analysis revealed that the most important determinants of treatment selection were dominant symptom (Wald χ2 = 34.7, accounting for 13.6% of total χ2) and concurrent diagnosis of disc herniation (Wald χ2 = 31.7, accounting for 12.4% of total χ2). Hospital teaching status was also found to be relatively important (Wald χ2 = 4.2, accounting for 1.6% of total χ2) but less important than other patient-level predictors.

CONCLUSIONS

Nonteaching centers were more likely to perform decompressive laminectomy with supplemental fusion for spondylolisthesis. Suburban hospitals were more likely to perform decompression only. Surgeon characteristics were not found to influence treatment selection after adjustment for clinical covariates. Further large database registry experience from surgeons at high-volume academic centers at which surgically and medically complex patients are treated may provide additional insight into factors associated with treatment preference for degenerative spondylolisthesis.

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Andrew K. Chan, Erica F. Bisson, Mohamad Bydon, Steven D. Glassman, Kevin T. Foley, Eric A. Potts, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Mark E. Shaffrey, Domagoj Coric, John J. Knightly, Paul Park, Michael Y. Wang, Kai-Ming Fu, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Anthony L. Asher, Michael S. Virk, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Mohammed Ali Alvi, Jian Guan, Regis W. Haid, and Praveen V. Mummaneni

OBJECTIVE

The optimal minimally invasive surgery (MIS) approach for grade 1 lumbar spondylolisthesis is not clearly elucidated. In this study, the authors compared the 24-month patient-reported outcomes (PROs) after MIS transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) and MIS decompression for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

A total of 608 patients from 12 high-enrolling sites participating in the Quality Outcomes Database (QOD) lumbar spondylolisthesis module underwent single-level surgery for degenerative grade 1 lumbar spondylolisthesis, of whom 143 underwent MIS (72 MIS TLIF [50.3%] and 71 MIS decompression [49.7%]). Surgeries were classified as MIS if there was utilization of percutaneous screw fixation and placement of a Wiltse plane MIS intervertebral body graft (MIS TLIF) or if there was a tubular decompression (MIS decompression). Parameters obtained at baseline through at least 24 months of follow-up were collected. PROs included the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), numeric rating scale (NRS) for back pain, NRS for leg pain, EuroQol-5D (EQ-5D) questionnaire, and North American Spine Society (NASS) satisfaction questionnaire. Multivariate models were constructed to adjust for patient characteristics, surgical variables, and baseline PRO values.

RESULTS

The mean age of the MIS cohort was 67.1 ± 11.3 years (MIS TLIF 62.1 years vs MIS decompression 72.3 years) and consisted of 79 (55.2%) women (MIS TLIF 55.6% vs MIS decompression 54.9%). The proportion in each cohort reaching the 24-month follow-up did not differ significantly between the cohorts (MIS TLIF 83.3% and MIS decompression 84.5%, p = 0.85). MIS TLIF was associated with greater blood loss (mean 108.8 vs 33.0 ml, p < 0.001), longer operative time (mean 228.2 vs 101.8 minutes, p < 0.001), and longer length of hospitalization (mean 2.9 vs 0.7 days, p < 0.001). MIS TLIF was associated with a significantly lower reoperation rate (14.1% vs 1.4%, p = 0.004). Both cohorts demonstrated significant improvements in ODI, NRS back pain, NRS leg pain, and EQ-5D at 24 months (p < 0.001, all comparisons relative to baseline). In multivariate analyses, MIS TLIF—as opposed to MIS decompression alone—was associated with superior ODI change (β = −7.59, 95% CI −14.96 to −0.23; p = 0.04), NRS back pain change (β = −1.54, 95% CI −2.78 to −0.30; p = 0.02), and NASS satisfaction (OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.12–0.82; p = 0.02).

CONCLUSIONS

For symptomatic, single-level degenerative spondylolisthesis, MIS TLIF was associated with a lower reoperation rate and superior outcomes for disability, back pain, and patient satisfaction compared with posterior MIS decompression alone. This finding may aid surgical decision-making when considering MIS for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis.

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Praveen V. Mummaneni, Mohamad Bydon, Mohammed Ali Alvi, Andrew K. Chan, Steven D. Glassman, Kevin T. Foley, Eric A. Potts, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Mark E. Shaffrey, Domagoj Coric, John J. Knightly, Paul Park, Michael Y. Wang, Kai-Ming Fu, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Anthony L. Asher, Michael S. Virk, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Jian Guan, Regis W. Haid, and Erica F. Bisson

OBJECTIVE

Since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, providers and hospitals have increasingly prioritized patient-centered outcomes such as patient satisfaction in an effort to adapt the “value”-based healthcare model. In the current study, the authors queried a prospectively maintained multiinstitutional spine registry to construct a predictive model for long-term patient satisfaction among patients undergoing surgery for Meyerding grade I lumbar spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

The authors queried the Quality Outcomes Database for patients undergoing surgery for grade I lumbar spondylolisthesis between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2016. The primary outcome of interest for the current study was patient satisfaction as measured by the North American Spine Surgery patient satisfaction index, which is measured on a scale of 1–4, with 1 indicating most satisfied and 4 indicating least satisfied. In order to identify predictors of higher satisfaction, the authors fitted a multivariable proportional odds logistic regression model for ≥ 2 years of patient satisfaction after adjusting for an array of clinical and patient-specific factors. The absolute importance of each covariate in the model was computed using an importance metric defined as Wald chi-square penalized by the predictor degrees of freedom.

RESULTS

A total of 502 patients, out of a cohort of 608 patients (82.5%) with grade I lumbar spondylolisthesis, undergoing either 1- or 2-level decompression (22.5%, n = 113) or 1-level decompression and fusion (77.5%, n = 389), met the inclusion criteria; of these, 82.1% (n = 412) were satisfied after 2 years. On univariate analysis, satisfied patients were more likely to be employed and working (41.7%, n = 172, vs 24.4%, n = 22; overall p = 0.001), more likely to present with predominant leg pain (23.1%, n = 95, vs 11.1%, n = 10; overall p = 0.02) but more likely to present with lower Numeric Rating Scale score for leg pain (median and IQR score: 7 [5–9] vs 8 [6–9]; p = 0.05). Multivariable proportional odds logistic regression revealed that older age (OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.09–2.76; p = 0.009), preoperative active employment (OR 2.06, 95% CI 1.27–3.67; p = 0.015), and fusion surgery (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.30–4.06; p = 0.002) were the most important predictors of achieving satisfaction with surgical outcome.

CONCLUSIONS

Current findings from a large multiinstitutional study indicate that most patients undergoing surgery for grade I lumbar spondylolisthesis achieved long-term satisfaction. Moreover, the authors found that older age, preoperative active employment, and fusion surgery are associated with higher odds of achieving satisfaction.

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Anthony L. Asher, John Knightly, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Mohammed Ali Alvi, Matthew J. McGirt, Yagiz U. Yolcu, Andrew K. Chan, Steven D. Glassman, Kevin T. Foley, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Eric A. Potts, Mark E. Shaffrey, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Regis W. Haid Jr., Kai-Ming Fu, Michael Y. Wang, Paul Park, Erica F. Bisson, Robert E. Harbaugh, and Mohamad Bydon

The Quality Outcomes Database (QOD), formerly known as the National Neurosurgery Quality Outcomes Database (N2QOD), was established by the NeuroPoint Alliance (NPA) in collaboration with relevant national stakeholders and experts. The overarching goal of this project was to develop a centralized, nationally coordinated effort to allow individual surgeons and practice groups to collect, measure, and analyze practice patterns and neurosurgical outcomes. Specific objectives of this registry program were as follows: “1) to establish risk-adjusted national benchmarks for both the safety and effectiveness of neurosurgical procedures, 2) to allow practice groups and hospitals to analyze their individual morbidity and clinical outcomes in real time, 3) to generate both quality and efficiency data to support claims made to public and private payers and objectively demonstrate the value of care to other stakeholders, 4) to demonstrate the comparative effectiveness of neurosurgical and spine procedures, 5) to develop sophisticated ‘risk models’ to determine which subpopulations of patients are most likely to benefit from specific surgical interventions, and 6) to facilitate essential multicenter trials and other cooperative clinical studies.” The NPA has launched several neurosurgical specialty modules in the QOD program in the 7 years since its inception including lumbar spine, cervical spine, and spinal deformity and cerebrovascular and intracranial tumor. The QOD Spine modules, which are the primary subject of this paper, have evolved into the largest North American spine registries yet created and have resulted in unprecedented cooperative activities within our specialty and among affiliated spine care practitioners. Herein, the authors discuss the experience of QOD Spine programs to date, with a brief description of their inception, some of the key achievements and milestones, as well as the recent transition of the spine modules to the American Spine Registry (ASR), a collaboration between the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

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Praveen V. Mummaneni, Erica F. Bisson, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Steven Glassman, Kevin Foley, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Eric Potts, Mark Shaffrey, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Domagoj Coric, John Knightly, Paul Park, Kai-Ming Fu, Clinton J. Devin, Silky Chotai, Andrew K. Chan, Michael Virk, Anthony L. Asher, and Mohamad Bydon

OBJECTIVE

Lumbar spondylolisthesis is a degenerative condition that can be surgically treated with either open or minimally invasive decompression and instrumented fusion. Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) approaches may shorten recovery, reduce blood loss, and minimize soft-tissue damage with resultant reduced postoperative pain and disability.

METHODS

The authors queried the national, multicenter Quality Outcomes Database (QOD) registry for patients undergoing posterior lumbar fusion between July 2014 and December 2015 for Grade I degenerative spondylolisthesis. The authors recorded baseline and 12-month patient-reported outcomes (PROs), including Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), EQ-5D, numeric rating scale (NRS)–back pain (NRS-BP), NRS–leg pain (NRS-LP), and satisfaction (North American Spine Society satisfaction questionnaire). Multivariable regression models were fitted for hospital length of stay (LOS), 12-month PROs, and 90-day return to work, after adjusting for an array of preoperative and surgical variables.

RESULTS

A total of 345 patients (open surgery, n = 254; MIS, n = 91) from 11 participating sites were identified in the QOD. The follow-up rate at 12 months was 84% (83.5% [open surgery]; 85% [MIS]). Overall, baseline patient demographics, comorbidities, and clinical characteristics were similarly distributed between the cohorts. Two hundred fifty seven patients underwent 1-level fusion (open surgery, n = 181; MIS, n = 76), and 88 patients underwent 2-level fusion (open surgery, n = 73; MIS, n = 15). Patients in both groups reported significant improvement in all primary outcomes (all p < 0.001). MIS was associated with a significantly lower mean intraoperative estimated blood loss and slightly longer operative times in both 1- and 2-level fusion subgroups. Although the LOS was shorter for MIS 1-level cases, this was not significantly different. No difference was detected with regard to the 12-month PROs between the 1-level MIS versus the 1-level open surgical groups. However, change in functional outcome scores for patients undergoing 2-level fusion was notably larger in the MIS cohort for ODI (−27 vs −16, p = 0.1), EQ-5D (0.27 vs 0.15, p = 0.08), and NRS-BP (−3.5 vs −2.7, p = 0.41); statistical significance was shown only for changes in NRS-LP scores (−4.9 vs −2.8, p = 0.02). On risk-adjusted analysis for 1-level fusion, open versus minimally invasive approach was not significant for 12-month PROs, LOS, and 90-day return to work.

CONCLUSIONS

Significant improvement was found in terms of all functional outcomes in patients undergoing open or MIS fusion for lumbar spondylolisthesis. No difference was detected between the 2 techniques for 1-level fusion in terms of patient-reported outcomes, LOS, and 90-day return to work. However, patients undergoing 2-level MIS fusion reported significantly better improvement in NRS-LP at 12 months than patients undergoing 2-level open surgery. Longer follow-up is needed to provide further insight into the comparative effectiveness of the 2 procedures.

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Anthony L. Asher, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Erica F. Bisson, Steven D. Glassman, Kevin T. Foley, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Eric A. Potts, Mark E. Shaffrey, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Domagoj Coric, John J. Knightly, Paul Park, Kai-Ming Fu, Clinton J. Devin, Kristin R. Archer, Silky Chotai, Andrew K. Chan, Michael S. Virk, and Mohamad Bydon

OBJECTIVE

Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) play a pivotal role in defining the value of surgical interventions for spinal disease. The concept of minimum clinically important difference (MCID) is considered the new standard for determining the effectiveness of a given treatment and describing patient satisfaction in response to that treatment. The purpose of this study was to determine the MCID associated with surgical treatment for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

The authors queried the Quality Outcomes Database registry from July 2014 through December 2015 for patients who underwent posterior lumbar surgery for grade I degenerative spondylolisthesis. Recorded PROs included scores on the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), EQ-5D, and numeric rating scale (NRS) for leg pain (NRS-LP) and back pain (NRS-BP). Anchor-based (using the North American Spine Society satisfaction scale) and distribution-based (half a standard deviation, small Cohen’s effect size, standard error of measurement, and minimum detectable change [MDC]) methods were used to calculate the MCID for each PRO.

RESULTS

A total of 441 patients (80 who underwent laminectomies alone and 361 who underwent fusion procedures) from 11 participating sites were included in the analysis. The changes in functional outcome scores between baseline and the 1-year postoperative evaluation were as follows: 23.5 ± 17.4 points for ODI, 0.24 ± 0.23 for EQ-5D, 4.1 ± 3.5 for NRS-LP, and 3.7 ± 3.2 for NRS-BP. The different calculation methods generated a range of MCID values for each PRO: 3.3–26.5 points for ODI, 0.04–0.3 points for EQ-5D, 0.6–4.5 points for NRS-LP, and 0.5–4.2 points for NRS-BP. The MDC approach appeared to be the most appropriate for calculating MCID because it provided a threshold greater than the measurement error and was closest to the average change difference between the satisfied and not-satisfied patients. On subgroup analysis, the MCID thresholds for laminectomy-alone patients were comparable to those for the patients who underwent arthrodesis as well as for the entire cohort.

CONCLUSIONS

The MCID for PROs was highly variable depending on the calculation technique. The MDC seems to be a statistically and clinically sound method for defining the appropriate MCID value for patients with grade I degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis. Based on this method, the MCID values are 14.3 points for ODI, 0.2 points for EQ-5D, 1.7 points for NRS-LP, and 1.6 points for NRS-BP.