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Thomas J. Buell and Justin S. Smith

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Jason S. Cheng, Michael E. Ivan, Christopher J. Stapleton, Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, Nalin Gupta, and Kurtis I. Auguste


Intraoperative dorsal column mapping, transcranial motor evoked potentials (TcMEPs), and somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEPs) have been used in adults to assist with the resection of intramedullary spinal cord tumors (IMSCTs) and to predict postoperative motor deficits. The authors sought to determine whether changes in MEP and SSEP waveforms would similarly predict postoperative motor deficits in children.


The authors reviewed charts and intraoperative records for children who had undergone resection for IMSCTs as well as dorsal column mapping and TcMEP and SSEP monitoring. Motor evoked potential data were supplemented with electromyography data obtained using a Kartush microstimulator (Medtronic Inc.). Motor strength was graded using the Medical Research Council (MRC) scale during the preoperative, immediate postoperative, and follow-up periods. Reductions in SSEPs were documented after mechanical traction, in response to maneuvers with the cavitational ultrasonic surgical aspirator (CUSA), or both.


Data from 12 patients were analyzed. Three lesions were encountered in the cervical and 7 in the thoracic spinal cord. Two patients had lesions of the cervicomedullary junction and upper spinal cord. Intraoperative MEP changes were noted in half of the patients. In these cases, normal polyphasic signals converted to biphasic signals, and these changes correlated with a loss of 1–2 grades in motor strength. One patient lost MEP signals completely and recovered strength to MRC Grade 4/5. The 2 patients with high cervical lesions showed neither intraoperative MEP changes nor motor deficits postoperatively. Dorsal columns were mapped in 7 patients, and the midline was determined accurately in all 7. Somatosensory evoked potentials were decreased in 7 patients. Two patients each had 2 SSEP decreases in response to traction intraoperatively but had no new sensory findings postoperatively. Another 2 patients had 3 traction-related SSEP decreases intraoperatively, and both had new postoperative sensory deficits that resolved. One additional patient had a CUSA-related SSEP decrease intraoperatively, which resolved postoperatively, and the last patient had 3 traction-related sensory deficits and a CUSA-related sensory deficit postoperatively, none of which resolved.


Intraoperative TcMEPs and SSEPs can predict the degree of postoperative motor deficit in pediatric patients undergoing IMSCT resection. This technique, combined with dorsal column mapping, is particularly useful in resecting lesions of the upper cervical cord, which are generally considered to be high risk in this population. Furthermore, the spinal cord appears to be less tolerant of repeated intraoperative SSEP decreases, with 3 successive insults most likely to yield postoperative sensory deficits. Changes in TcMEPs and SSEP waveforms can signal the need to guard against excessive manipulation thereby increasing the safety of tumor resection.

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Ivan Cheng, Martin N. Stienen, Zachary A. Medress, Kunal Varshneya, Allen L. Ho, John K. Ratliff, and Anand Veeravagu


Adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery is complex and associated with high morbidity and complication rates. There is growing evidence in the literature for the beneficial effects of an approach to surgery in which two attending physicians rather than a single attending physician perform surgery for and oversee the surgical care of a single patient in a dual-attending care model. The authors developed a dual-attending care collaboration in August 2017 in which a neurosurgeon and an orthopedic surgeon mutually operated on patients with ASD.


The authors recorded data for 2 years of experience with ASD patients operated on by dual attending surgeons. Analyses included estimated blood loss (EBL), transfusions, length of stay (LOS), discharge disposition, complication rates, emergency room visits and readmissions, subjective health status improvement, and disability (Oswestry Disability Index [ODI] score) and pain (visual analog scale [VAS] score) at last follow-up. In addition, the pertinent literature for dual-attending spinal deformity correction was systematically reviewed.


The study group comprised 19 of 254 (7.5%) consecutively operated patients who underwent thoracolumbar fusion during the period from January 2017 to June 2019 (68.4% female; mean patient age 65.1 years, ODI score 44.5, VAS pain score 6.8). The study patients were matched by age, sex, anesthesia risk, BMI, smoking status, ODI score, VAS pain score, prior spine surgeries, and basic operative characteristics (type of interbody implants, instrumented segments, pelvic fixation) to 19 control patients (all p > 0.05). There was a trend toward less EBL (mean 763 vs 1524 ml, p = 0.059), fewer intraoperative red blood cell transfusions (mean 0.5 vs 2.3, p = 0.079), and fewer 90-day readmissions (0% vs 15.8%, p = 0.071) in the dual-attending group. LOS and discharge disposition were similar, as were the rates of any < 30-day postsurgery complications, < 90-day postsurgery emergency room visits, and reoperations, and ODI and VAS pain scores at last follow-up (all p > 0.05). At last follow-up, 94.7% vs 68.4% of patients in the dual- versus single-attending group stated their health status had improved (p = 0.036). In the authors’ literature search of prior articles on spinal deformity correction, 5 of 8 (62.5%) articles reported lower EBL and 6 of 8 (75%) articles reported significantly lower operation duration in dual-attending cases. The literature contained differing results with regard to complication- or reoperation-sparing effects associated with dual-attending cases. Similar clinical outcomes of dual- versus single-attending cases were reported.


Establishing a dual-attending care management platform for ASD correction was feasible at the authors’ institution. Results of the use of a dual-attending strategy at the authors’ institution were favorable. Positive safety and outcome profiles were found in articles on this topic identified by a systematic literature review.

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Anand Veeravagu, Amy Li, Christian Swinney, Lu Tian, Adrienne Moraff, Tej D. Azad, Ivan Cheng, Todd Alamin, Serena S. Hu, Robert L. Anderson, Lawrence Shuer, Atman Desai, Jon Park, Richard A. Olshen, and John K. Ratliff


The ability to assess the risk of adverse events based on known patient factors and comorbidities would provide more effective preoperative risk stratification. Present risk assessment in spine surgery is limited. An adverse event prediction tool was developed to predict the risk of complications after spine surgery and tested on a prospective patient cohort.


The spinal Risk Assessment Tool (RAT), a novel instrument for the assessment of risk for patients undergoing spine surgery that was developed based on an administrative claims database, was prospectively applied to 246 patients undergoing 257 spinal procedures over a 3-month period. Prospectively collected data were used to compare the RAT to the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) and the American College of Surgeons National Surgery Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) Surgical Risk Calculator. Study end point was occurrence and type of complication after spine surgery.


The authors identified 69 patients (73 procedures) who experienced a complication over the prospective study period. Cardiac complications were most common (10.2%). Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were calculated to compare complication outcomes using the different assessment tools. Area under the curve (AUC) analysis showed comparable predictive accuracy between the RAT and the ACS NSQIP calculator (0.670 [95% CI 0.60–0.74] in RAT, 0.669 [95% CI 0.60–0.74] in NSQIP). The CCI was not accurate in predicting complication occurrence (0.55 [95% CI 0.48–0.62]). The RAT produced mean probabilities of 34.6% for patients who had a complication and 24% for patients who did not (p = 0.0003). The generated predicted values were stratified into low, medium, and high rates. For the RAT, the predicted complication rate was 10.1% in the low-risk group (observed rate 12.8%), 21.9% in the medium-risk group (observed 31.8%), and 49.7% in the high-risk group (observed 41.2%). The ACS NSQIP calculator consistently produced complication predictions that underestimated complication occurrence: 3.4% in the low-risk group (observed 12.6%), 5.9% in the medium-risk group (observed 34.5%), and 12.5% in the high-risk group (observed 38.8%). The RAT was more accurate than the ACS NSQIP calculator (p = 0.0018).


While the RAT and ACS NSQIP calculator were both able to identify patients more likely to experience complications following spine surgery, both have substantial room for improvement. Risk stratification is feasible in spine surgery procedures; currently used measures have low accuracy.

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Oral Presentations

2010 AANS Annual Meeting Philadelphia, Pennsylvania May 1–5, 2010