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Sunil Manjila, Efrem M. Cox, Gabriel A. Smith, Mark Corriveau, Nipun Chhabra, Freedom Johnson and Robert T. Geertman

Object

There are several surgical techniques for reducing blood loss—open surgical and endoscopic—prior to resection of giant anterior skull base meningiomas, especially when preoperative embolization is risky or not technically feasible. The authors present examples of an institutional experience using surgical ligation of the anterior and posterior ethmoidal arteries producing persistent tumor blush in partially embolized tumors.

Methods

The authors identified 12 patients who underwent extracranial surgical ligation of ethmoidal arteries through either a transcaruncular or a Lynch approach. Of these, 3 patients had giant olfactory groove or planum sphenoidale meningiomas. After approval from the institution privacy officer, the authors studied the medical records and imaging data of these 3 patients, with special attention to surgical technique and outcome. The variations of ethmoidal artery foramina pertaining to this surgical approach were studied using preserved human skulls from the Hamann-Todd Osteological Collection at the Museum of Natural History, Cleveland, Ohio.

Results

The extracranial ligation was performed successfully for control of the ethmoidal arteries prior to resection of hypervascular giant anterior skull base meningiomas. The surgical anatomy and landmarks for ethmoidal arteries were reviewed in anthropology specimens and available literature with reference to described surgical techniques.

Conclusions

Extracranial surgical ligation of anterior, and often posterior, ethmoidal arteries prior to resection of large olfactory groove or planum sphenoidale meningiomas provides a safe and feasible option for control of these vessels prior to either open or endoscopic resection of nonembolized or partially embolized tumors.

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Gabriel A. Smith, Phillip Dagostino, Mitchell G. Maltenfort, Aaron S. Dumont and John K. Ratliff

Object

Considerable evolution has occurred in treatment options for cerebral aneurysms. Development of endovascular techniques has produced a significant change in the treatment of ruptured and unruptured intracranial aneurysms. Adoption of endovascular techniques and increasing numbers of patients undergoing endovascular treatment may affect health care expenditures. Geographic assessment of growth in endovascular procedures has not been assessed.

Methods

The National Inpatient Sample (NIS) was queried for ICD-9 codes for clipping and coiling of ruptured and unruptured cerebral aneurysms from 2002 to 2008. Patients with ruptured and unruptured cerebral aneurysms were compared according to in-hospital deaths, hospital length of stay, total hospital cost, and selected procedure. Hospital costs were adjusted to bring all costs to 2008 equivalents. Regional variation over the course of the study was explored.

Results

The NIS recorded 12,588 ruptured cerebral aneurysm cases (7318 clipped and 5270 coiled aneurysms) compared with 11,606 unruptured aneurysm cases (5216 clipped and 6390 coiled aneurysms), representing approximately 121,000 aneurysms treated in the study period. Linear regression analysis found that the number of patients treated endovascularly increased over time, with the total number of endovascular patients increasing from 17.28% to 57.59% for ruptured aneurysms and from 29.70% to 62.73% for unruptured aneurysms (p < 0.00001). Patient age, elective status, and comorbidities increased the likelihood of endovascular treatment (p < 0.00001, p < 0.00004, and p < 0.02, respectively). In patients presenting with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), endovascular treatments were more commonly chosen in urban and academic medical centers (p = 0.009 and p = 0.05, respectively). In-hospital deaths decreased over the study period in patients with both ruptured and unruptured aneurysms (p < 0.00001); presentation with SAH remained the single greatest predictor of death (OR 38.09, p < 0.00001). Geographic analysis showed growth in endovascular techniques concentrated in eastern and western coastal states, with substantial variation in adoption of endovascular techniques (range of percentage of endovascular patients [2008] 0%–92%). There were higher costs in patients treated endovascularly, but these differences were likely secondary to presenting diagnosis and site-of-service variations.

Conclusions

The NIS database reveals a significant increase in the use of endovascular techniques, with the majority of both ruptured and unruptured aneurysms treated endovascularly by 2008. Differences in hospital costs between open and endovascular techniques are likely secondary to patient and site-of-service factors. Presentation with SAH was the primary factor affecting hospital cost and a greater percentage of endovascular procedures completed at urban academic medical centers. There is substantial regional variation in the adoption of endovascular techniques.

Free access

Xiao Wu, David Durand, Vivek B. Kalra, Sowmya Mahalingam and Ajay Malhotra

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Eric Z. Herring, Matthew R. Peck, Caroline E. Vonck, Gabriel A. Smith, Thomas E. Mroz and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

Spine surgeons in the United States continue to be overwhelmed by an aging population, and patients are waiting weeks to months for appointments. With a finite number of clinic visits per surgeon, analysis of referral sources needs to be explored. In this study, the authors evaluated patient referrals and their yield for surgical volume at a tertiary care center.

METHODS

This is a retrospective study of new patient visits by the spine surgery group at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Spine Health from 2011 to 2016. Data on all new or consultation visits for 5 identified spinal surgeons at the Center for Spine Health were collected. Patients with an identifiable referral source and who were at least 18 years of age at initial visit were included in this study. Univariate analysis was used to identify demographic differences among referral groups, and then multivariate analysis was used to evaluate those referral groups as significant predictors of surgical yield.

RESULTS

After adjusting for demographic differences across all referrals, multivariate analysis identified physician referrals as more likely (OR 1.48, 95% CI 1.04–2.10, p = 0.0293) to yield a surgical case than self-referrals. General practitioner referrals (OR 0.5616, 95% CI 0.3809–0.8278, p = 0.0036) were identified as less likely to yield surgical cases than referrals from interventionalists (OR 1.5296, p = 0.058) or neurologists (OR 1.7498, 95% CI 1.0057–3.0446, p = 0.0477). Additionally, 2 demographic factors, including distance from home and age, were identified as predictors of surgery. Local patients (OR 1.21, 95% CI 1.13–1.29, p = 0.018) and those 65 years of age or older (OR 0.80, 95% CI 0.72–0.87, p = 0.0023) were both more likely to need surgery after establishing care with a spine surgeon.

CONCLUSIONS

In conclusion, referrals from general practitioners and self-referrals are important areas where focused triaging may be necessary. Further research into midlevel providers and nonsurgical spine provider’s role in these referrals for spine pathology is needed. Patients from outside of the state or younger than 65 years could benefit from pre-visit screening as well to optimize a surgeon’s clinic time use and streamline patient care.

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Gabriel A. Smith, Steven Chirieleison, Jay Levin, Karam Atli, Robert Winkelman, Joseph E. Tanenbaum, Thomas Mroz and Michael Steinmetz

OBJECTIVE

Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys, completed by patients following an inpatient stay, are utilized to assess patient satisfaction and quality of the patient experience. HCAHPS results directly impact hospital and provider reimbursements. While recent work has demonstrated that pre- and postoperative factors can affect HCAHPS results following lumbar spine surgery, little is known about how these results are influenced by hospital length of stay (LOS). Here, the authors examined HCAHPS results in patients with LOSs greater or less than expected following lumbar spine surgery to determine whether LOS influences survey scores after these procedures.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of HCAHPS surveys, patient demographics, and outcomes following lumbar spine surgery at a single institution. A total of 391 patients who had undergone lumbar spine surgery and had completed an HCAHPS survey in the period between 2013 and 2015 were included in this analysis. Patients were divided into those with a hospital LOS equal to or less than the expected (LTE-LOS) and those with a hospital LOS longer than expected (GTE-LOS). Expected LOS was based on the University HealthSystem Consortium benchmarks. Nineteen questions from the HCAHPS survey were examined in relation to patient LOS. The primary outcome measure was a comparison of “top-box” (“9–10” or “always or usually”) versus “low-box” (“1–8” and “somewhat or never”) scores on the HCAHPS questions. Secondary outcomes of interest were whether the comorbid conditions of cancer, chronic renal failure, diabetes, coronary artery disease, hypertension, stroke, or depression occurred differently with respect to LOS. Statistical analysis was performed using Fisher’s exact test for the 2 × 2 contingency tables and the chi-square test for categorical variables.

RESULTS

Two hundred fifty-seven patients had an LTE-LOS, whereas 134 patients had a GTE-LOS. The only statistically significant difference in preoperative characteristics between the patient groups was hypertension, which correlated to a shorter LOS. A GTE-LOS was associated with a decreased likelihood of a top-box score for the HCAHPS survey items on doctor listening and pain control.

CONCLUSIONS

Here, the authors report a decreased likelihood of top-box responses for some HCAHPS questions following lumbar spine surgery if LOS is prolonged. This study highlights the need to further examine the factors impacting LOS, identify patients at risk for long hospital stays, and improve mechanisms to increase the quality and efficiency of care delivered to this patient population.

Free access

Gabriel A. Smith, Arshneel S. Kochar, Sunil Manjila, Kaine Onwuzulike, Robert T. Geertman, James S. Anderson and Michael P. Steinmetz

Despite the increasing prevalence of spinal infections, the subcategory of holospinal epidural abscesses (HEAs) is extremely infrequent and requires unique management. Panspinal imaging (preferably MRI), modern aggressive antibiotic therapy, and prompt surgical intervention remain the standard of care for all spinal axis infections including HEAs; however, the surgical decision making on timing and extent of the procedure still remain ill defined for HEAs. Decompression including skip laminectomies or laminoplasties is described, with varied clinical outcomes. In this review the authors present the illustrative cases of 2 patients with HEAs who were treated using skip laminectomies and epidural catheter irrigation techniques. The discussion highlights different management strategies including the role of conservative (nonsurgical) management in these lesions, especially with an already identified pathogen and the absence of mass effect on MRI or significant neurological defects.

Among fewer than 25 case reports of HEA published in the past 25 years, the most important aspect in deciding a role for surgery is the neurological examination. Nearly 20% were treated successfully with medical therapy alone if neurologically intact. None of the reported cases had an associated cranial infection with HEA, because the dural adhesion around the foramen magnum prevented rostral spread of infection. Traditionally a posterior approach to the epidural space with irrigation is performed, unless an extensive focal ventral collection is causing cord compression. Surgical intervention for HEA should be an adjuvant treatment strategy for all acutely deteriorating patients, whereas aspiration of other infected sites like a psoas abscess can determine an infective pathogen, and appropriate antibiotic treatment may avoid surgical intervention in the neurologically intact patient.

Full access

Megan M. Lockwood, Gabriel A. Smith, Joseph Tanenbaum, Daniel Lubelski, Andreea Seicean, Jonathan Pace, Edward C. Benzel, Thomas E. Mroz and Michael P. Steinmetz

OBJECT

Screening for vertebral artery injury (VAI) following cervical spine fractures is routinely performed across trauma centers in North America. From 2002 to 2007, the total number of neck CT angiography (CTA) studies performed in the Medicare population after trauma increased from 9796 to 115,021. In the era of cost-effective medical care, the authors aimed to evaluate the utility of CTA screening in detecting VAI and reduce chances of posterior circulation strokes after traumatic cervical spine fractures.

METHODS

A retrospective review of all patients presenting with cervical spine fractures to Northeast Ohio’s Level I trauma institution from 2002 to 2012 was performed.

RESULTS

There was a total of 1717 cervical spine fractures in patients presenting to Northeast Ohio’s Level I trauma institution between 2002 and 2012. CTA screening was performed in 732 patients, and 51 patients (0.7%) were found to have a VAI. Fracture patterns with increased odds of VAI were C-1 and C-2 combined fractures, transverse foramen fractures, and subluxation of adjacent vertebral levels. Ten posterior circulation strokes were identified in this patient population (0.6%) and found in only 4 of 51 cases of VAI (7.8%). High-risk fractures defined by Denver Criteria, VAI, and antiplatelet treatment of VAI were not independent predictors of stroke.

CONCLUSIONS

Cost-effective screening must be reevaluated in the setting of blunt cervical spine fractures on a case-by-case basis. Further prospective studies must be performed to elucidate the utility of screening for VAI and posterior circulation stroke prevention, if identified.