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Faris Shweikeh, Lutfi Al-Khouja, Miriam Nuño, J. Patrick Johnson, Doniel Drazin and Matthew A. Adamo

OBJECT

Tethered cord syndrome (TCS) is a common spinal abnormality. In this study, the authors analyzed demographics, complications, and outcomes in children and adolescents who underwent surgery for TCS.

METHODS

Using the national Kids' Inpatient Database (KID), the authors retrospectively identified patients with a primary diagnosis of TCS who were treated with spinal laminectomy and discharged in 2000, 2003, 2006, and 2009. Descriptive analysis was provided for patient- and hospital-level characteristics. Mortality, complications, non-routine discharges, in-hospital length of stay (LOS), and total charges were documented for the entire cohort and age-specific cohorts (0–5, 6–10, 11–15, and 16–20 years). Comparisons by complications and age groups were conducted.

RESULTS

A total of 7397 children and adolescents met the criteria in the 4 studied years. The mean age was 5.7 years; 55.3% of patients were younger than 5 years, 21.5% were 6–10 years, and 16.2% were 11–15 years. Most surgeries were performed in patients who were female (55.0%) and white (64.4%) and were performed at large (49.8%), teaching (94.2%), and urban (99.1%) children's (89.3%) hospitals. The trend showed an increase in prevalence from 2000 (19.9%) to 2009 (29.6%). Common comorbidities included anomalies in spinal curvature (16.7%), urinary or bladder dysfunction (14.3%), and spinal stenosis/spondylosis (1.4%). Non-routine discharges (3.3%) were significantly higher with advancing age, increasing from 2.2% in those younger than 5 years to 9.0% in those older than 15 years (p < 0.0001). There was a similar increasing trend for complications (6.8% to 13.9%, respectively, p < 0.0001) and average LOS (3.5 to 5.1 days, respectively, p < 0.0001). Hospital charges increased with age from an average of $28,521 in those younger than 5 years to $36,855 in those older than 15 years (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

There was a steady trend of increasing operative treatment for TCS over the more recent years. The nationwide analysis was also indicative of an existing disparity, based on age, in complications, outcomes, and charges following TCS surgical correction. Older children tended to have more complications, longer LOS, more non-routine discharges, and higher hospital costs. The results are highly supportive of surgery at a younger age for this condition. Future research should investigate this correlation, especially considering the efforts to control and reduce health care costs.

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Faris Shweikeh, David Foulad, Miriam Nuño, Doniel Drazin and Matthew A. Adamo

OBJECT

Craniosynostosis is often treated with neurosurgical intervention. The aim of this study was to report and analyze the clinical and socioeconomic characteristics of patients with craniosynostosis and to present current national trends.

METHODS

Using the Kids’ Inpatient Database for the years 2000, 2003, 2006, and 2009, the authors identified patients with craniosynostosis using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification diagnosis codes and their associated procedure codes. Clinical features, demographics, inpatient procedures, outcomes, and charges were collected and analyzed.

RESULTS

Of the 3415 patients identified, 65.8% were White, 21.4% were Hispanic, and 3.2% were Black. More than 96% were treated at urban teaching hospitals and 54.2% in southern or western regions. White patients were younger (mean 6.1 months) as compared with Blacks (mean 10.9 months) and Hispanics (mean 9.1 months; p < 0.0001) at the time of surgery. A higher fraction of Whites had private insurance (70.3%) compared with nonwhites (34.0%–41.6%; p < 0.001). Approximately 12.2% were nonelective admissions, more so among Blacks (16.9%). Mean hospital length of stay (LOS) was 3.5 days with no significant differences among races. Following surgical treatment, 12.1% of patients developed complications, most commonly pulmonary/respiratory (4.8%), wound infection (4.4%), and hydrocephalus (1.4%). The mean overall hospital charges were significantly lower for Whites than nonwhites ($34,527 vs $44,890–$48,543, respectively; p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

The findings of this national study suggest a higher prevalence of craniosynostosis in Hispanics. The higher predisposition among males was less evident in Hispanics and Blacks. There was a significant percentage of nonelective admissions, more commonly among Blacks. Additionally, Hispanics and Blacks were more likely to receive surgery at an older age, past the current recommendation of the optimum age for surgical intervention. These findings are likely associated with a lack of early detection. Although mean LOS and rate of complications did not significantly differ among different races, nonwhites had, on average, higher hospital charges of $10,000–$14,000. This discrepancy may be due to differences in type of insurance, craniosynostosis type, rates of comorbidities, and delay in treatment. Although there are several limitations to this analysis, the study reports on relevant disparities regarding a costly neurosurgical intervention, and ways to diminish these disparities should be further explored.

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Faris Shweikeh, Kashif Saeed, Laura Bukavina, Stephanie Zyck, Doniel Drazin and Michael P. Steinmetz

Object

Over the past decade, the incidence of bacterial spinal epidural abscess (SEA) has been increasing. In recent years, studies on this condition have been rampant in the literature. The authors present an 11-year institutional experience with SEA patients. Additionally, through an analysis of the contemporary literature, they provide an update on the challenging and controversial nature of this increasingly encountered condition.

Methods

An electronic medical record database was used to retrospectively analyze patients admitted with SEA from January 2001 through February 2012. Presenting symptoms, concurrent conditions, microorganisms, diagnostic modalities, treatments, and outcomes were examined. For the literature search, PubMed was used as the search engine. Studies published from January 1, 2000, through December 31, 2013, were critically reviewed. Data from articles on methodology, demographics, treatments, and outcomes were recorded.

Results

A total of 106 patients with bacterial SEA were identified. The mean ± SD age of patients was 63.3 ± 13.7 years, and 65.1% of patients were male. Common presenting signs and symptoms were back pain (47.1%) and focal neurological deficits (47.1%). Over 75% of SEAs were in the thoracolumbar spine, and over 50% were ventral. Approximately 34% had an infectious origin. Concurrent conditions included diabetes mellitus (35.8%), vascular conditions (31.3%), and renal insufficiency/dialysis (30.2%). The most commonly isolated organism was Staphylococcus aureus (70.7%), followed by Streptococcus spp. (6.6%). Surgery along with antibiotics was the treatment for 63 (59.4%) patients. Surgery involved spinal fusion for 19 (30.2%), discectomy for 14 (22.2%), and corpectomy for 9 (14.3%). Outcomes were reported objectively; at a mean ± SD follow-up time of 8.4 ± 26 weeks (range 0–192 weeks), outcome was good for 60.7% of patients and poor for 39.3%. The literature search yielded 40 articles, and the authors discuss the result of these studies.

Conclusions

Bacterial SEA is an ominous condition that calls for early recognition. Neurological status at the time of presentation is a key factor in decision making and patient outcome. In recent years, surgical treatment has been advocated for patients with neurological deficits and failed response to medical therapy. Surgery should be performed immediately and before 36–72 hours from onset of neurological sequelae. However, the decision between medical or surgical intervention entails individual patient considerations including age, concurrent conditions, and objective findings. An evidence-based algorithm for diagnosis and treatment is suggested.

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Faris Shweikeh, Miriam Nuño, Moise Danielpour, Mark D. Krieger and Doniel Drazin

Object

Positional plagiocephaly (PP) has been on the rise in recent years. In this review, the authors' aim was to assess the effectiveness of current recommendations to parents on this exceedingly common problem through a comprehensive literature search. Additionally, the current treatment options and the most recent studies on PP are reviewed.

Methods

A search of the existing literature was conducted to obtain all relevant studies on guidelines, recommendations, parental and clinician practices, and epidemiological aspects.

Results

Although the incidence and risk factors for PP have been well delineated, there continues to be debates on its management and association with developmental delays. Current guidelines and recommendations on prevention set by the American Association of Pediatrics may not be easily followed by both parents and clinicians. There is also evidence that certain populations, including those with lower education, socioeconomic status, and in particular geographic regions may be more affected by the condition. Additionally, the marketing and financial aspects of PP treatments exist and should be addressed.

Conclusions

Better awareness and education are necessary to inform the population as a whole, although certain populations should be given special attention. Additionally, current guidelines and recommendations can be modified to foster a better grasp of the condition by both parents and clinicians. Adjusting current recommendations, introducing initiatives, and offering elaborate educational campaigns would help deliver these aims. Educating parents on PP as early as possible through clearer guidelines and close monitoring is central to preventing and managing this common condition.

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Terrence T. Kim, Doniel Drazin, Faris Shweikeh, Robert Pashman and J. Patrick Johnson

Object

Intraoperative CT image–guided navigation (IGN) has been increasingly incorporated into minimally invasive spine surgery (MIS). The vast improvement in image resolution and virtual real-time images with CT-IGN has proven superiority over traditional fluoroscopic techniques. The authors describe their perioperative MIS technique using the O-arm with navigation, and they report their postoperative experience, accuracy results, and technical aspects.

Methods

A retrospective review of 48 consecutive adult patients undergoing minimally invasive percutaneous posterior spinal fusion with intraoperative CT-IGN between July 2010 and August 2013 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center was performed. Two surgeons assessed 290 screws in a blinded fashion on intraoperative O-arm images and postoperative CT scans for bony pedicle wall breach. Grade 1 breach was defined to be < 2 mm, Grade 2 breach to be between 2 and 4 mm, and a Grade 3 breach to be > 4 mm. Additionally, anterior vertebral body breach was recorded.

Results

Of 290 pedicle screws placed, 280 (96.6%) were in an acceptable position without cortical wall or anterior breach. Of the 10 breaches (3.4%) 5 were lateral (50%), 4 were medial, and 1 was anterior; 90% of breaches were Grade 1–2 and all medial breaches were Grade 1. The one Grade 3 breach was lateral. No vascular or neurological complications were observed intraoperatively, and no significant postoperative complications were noted. The mean clinical follow-up period was 18 months (range 3–39 months). The overall clinical outcomes, measured using the visual analog scale (back pain scores), were improved significantly postoperatively at 3 months compared with preoperatively (visual analog score 6.35 vs 3.57; p < 0.0001). No revision surgery was performed for screw misplacement or neurological deterioration.

Conclusions

New CT-IGN with the mobile O-arm scanner has increased the accuracy of pedicle screw/instrumentation placement using MIS techniques. The authors' high (96.6%) accuracy rate in MIS compares favorably with historical published accuracy rates for fluoroscopy-based techniques. Additional advantages of CT-IGN over fluoroscopic imaging methods are lower occupational radiation exposure for the surgical team, reduced need for postoperative imaging, and decreased rates of revision surgery. For now, the authors simply conclude that use of intraoperative CT-IGN is safe and accurate.

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Faris Shweikeh, Jordan P. Amadio, Monica Arnell, Zachary R. Barnard, Terrence T. Kim, J. Patrick Johnson and Doniel Drazin

Object

Robotics in the operating room has shown great use and versatility in multiple surgical fields. Robot-assisted spine surgery has gained significant favor over its relatively short existence, due to its intuitive promise of higher surgical accuracy and better outcomes with fewer complications. Here, the authors analyze the existing literature on this growing technology in the era of minimally invasive spine surgery.

Methods

In an attempt to provide the most recent, up-to-date review of the current literature on robotic spine surgery, a search of the existing literature was conducted to obtain all relevant studies on robotics as it relates to its application in spine surgery and other interventions.

Results

In all, 45 articles were included in the analysis. The authors discuss the current status of this technology and its potential in multiple arenas of spinal interventions, mainly spine surgery and spine biomechanics testing.

Conclusions

There are numerous potential advantages and limitations to robotic spine surgery, as suggested in published case reports and in retrospective and prospective studies. Randomized controlled trials are few in number and show conflicting results regarding accuracy. The present limitations may be surmountable with future technological improvements, greater surgeon experience, reduced cost, improved operating room dynamics, and more training of surgical team members. Given the promise of robotics for improvements in spine surgery and spine biomechanics testing, more studies are needed to further explore the applicability of this technology in the spinal operating room. Due to the significant cost of the robotic equipment, studies are needed to substantiate that the increased equipment costs will result in significant benefits that will justify the expense.

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Sunil Jeswani, Doniel Drazin, Joseph C. Hsieh, Faris Shweikeh, Eric Friedman, Robert Pashman, J. Patrick Johnson and Terrence T. Kim

Object

Traditionally, instrumentation of thoracic pedicles has been more difficult because of their relatively smaller size. Thoracic pedicles are at risk for violation during surgical instrumentation, as is commonly seen in patients with scoliosis and in women. The laterally based “in-out-in” approach, which technically results in a lateral breach, is sometimes used in small pedicles to decrease the comparative risk of a medial breach with neurological involvement. In this study the authors evaluated the role of CT image–guided surgery in navigating screws in small thoracic pedicles.

Methods

Thoracic (T1–12) pedicle screw placements using the O-arm imaging system (Medtronic Inc.) were evaluated for accuracy with preoperative and postoperative CT. “Small” pedicles were defined as those ≤ 3 mm in the narrowest diameter orthogonal to the long axis of the pedicle on a trajectory entering the vertebral body on preinstrumentation CT. A subset of “very small” pedicles (≤ 2 mm in the narrowest diameter, 13 pedicles) was also analyzed. Screw accuracy was categorized as good (< 1 mm of pedicle breach in any direction or in-out-in screws), fair (1–3 mm of breach), or poor (> 3 mm of breach).

Results

Twenty-one consecutive patients (age range 32–71 years) had large (45 screws) and small (52 screws) thoracic pedicles. The median pedicle diameter was 2.5 mm (range 0.9–3 mm) for small and 3.9 mm (3.1–6.7 mm) for large pedicles. Computed tomography–guided surgical navigation led to accurate screw placement in both small (good 100%, fair 0%, poor 0%) and large (good 96.6%, fair 0%, poor 3.4%) pedicles. Good screw placement in very small or small pedicles occurred with an in-out-in trajectory more often than in large pedicles (large 6.8% vs small 36.5%, p < 0.0005; vs very small 69.2%, p < 0.0001). There were no medial breaches even though 75 of the 97 screws were placed in postmenopausal women, traditionally at higher risk for osteoporosis.

Conclusions

Computed tomography–guided surgical navigation allows for safe, effective, and accurate instrumentation of small (≤ 3 mm) to very small (≤ 2 mm) thoracic pedicles.

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Pramod V. Butte, Adam Mamelak, Julia Parrish-Novak, Doniel Drazin, Faris Shweikeh, Pallavi R. Gangalum, Alexandra Chesnokova, Julia Y. Ljubimova and Keith Black

Object

The intraoperative clear delineation between brain tumor and normal tissue in real time is required to ensure near-complete resection without damaging the nearby eloquent brain. Tumor Paint BLZ-100, a tumor ligand chlorotoxin (CTX) conjugated to indocyanine green (ICG), has shown potential to be a targeted contrast agent. There are many infrared imaging systems in use, but they are not optimized to the low concentration and amount of ICG. The authors present a novel proof-of-concept near-infrared (NIR) imaging system using a standard charge-coupled device (CCD) camera for visualizing low levels of ICG attached to the tumors. This system is small, inexpensive, and sensitive. The imaging system uses a narrow-band laser at 785 nm and a notch filter in front of the sensor at the band. The camera is a 2-CCD camera, which uses identical CCDs for both visible and NIR light.

Methods

The NIR system is tested with serial dilution of BLZ-100 from 1 μM to 50 pM in 5% Intralipid solution while the excitation energy is varied from 5 to 40 mW/cm2. The analog gain of the CCD was changed from 0, 6, and 12 dB to determine the signal-to-noise ratio. In addition to the Intralipid solution, BLZ-100 was injected 48 hours before euthanizing the mice that were implanted with the human glioma cell line. The brain was removed and imaged using the NIR imaging system.

Results

The authors' results show that the NIR imaging system using a standard CCD is able to visualize the ICG down to 50 nM of concentration with a high signal-to-noise ratio. The preliminary experiment on human glioma implanted in mouse brains demonstrated that BLZ-100 has a high affinity for glioma compared with normal brain tissue. Additionally, the results show that NIR excitation is able to penetrate deeply and has a potential to visualize metastatic lesions that are separate from the main tumor.

Conclusions

The authors have seen that BLZ-100 has a very high affinity toward human gliomas. They also describe a small, cost-effective, and sensitive NIR system for visualizing brain tumors tagged using BLZ-100. The authors hope that the use of BLZ-100 along with NIR imaging will be useful to delineate the brain tumors in real time and assist surgeons in near-complete tumor removal to increase survival and reduce neurological deficits.