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James Feghali, Yangyiran Xie, Yuxi Chen, Sean Li, and Judy Huang

OBJECTIVE

The Chiari Severity Index (CSI) and points-based algorithm of Thakar et al. are two prognostic tools that have been developed to predict the likelihood of improvement after suboccipital decompression in adult patients with Chiari malformation type I (CM-I). This study aimed to externally validate and critically evaluate these algorithms in the interest of guiding the development of improved prediction systems.

METHODS

A consecutive cohort of CM-I patients undergoing suboccipital decompression between September 2006 and September 2018 were included. The CSI and Thakar point score were computed for all patients, and associations with improvement were analyzed. The ability of both prediction systems to predict improvement as measured by different Chicago Chiari Outcome Scale (CCOS) cutoffs was assessed using receiver operating curve analysis. Post hoc correlations between the algorithms and different CCOS subcomponents were also assessed.

RESULTS

The surgical cohort was composed of 149 adult CM-I patients, of whom 39 (26%) had a syrinx. Most patients experienced improvement after surgery (80% CCOS ≥ 13; 96% CCOS ≥ 11). The proportion of patients improving decreased with increasing CSI, but the results were not statistically significant (p = 0.246). No statistically significant difference in the mean Thakar point score was identified between improved and nonimproved patients using both CCOS cutoffs (p = 0.246 for a cutoff of 13 and p = 0.480 for a cutoff of 11). The CSI had a poor ability in identifying improved patients at a CCOS cutoff of 13 (area under the curve [AUC] 0.582) and 11 (AUC 0.646). The Thakar point score similarly had poor discrimination at a cutoff of 13 (AUC 0.467) and 11 (AUC 0.646). Neither algorithm had significant correlation with any of the CCOS subcomponents except for CSI and nonpain symptom improvement (coefficient = −0.273, p = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Previously published algorithms failed to provide prediction value with regard to clinically meaningful improvement following suboccipital decompression in adult CM-I patients. Future models and practical scoring systems are still required to improve the decision-making process.

Free access

James Feghali, Yuxi Chen, Yangyiran Xie, Christopher Chen, and Judy Huang

OBJECTIVE

The effect of depression on outcomes in Chiari malformation type I (CM-1) is unclear. The authors sought to determine whether depression affects outcome in a surgical cohort of CM-1 patients by using a validated outcome assessment tool, the Chicago Chiari Outcome Scale (CCOS).

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective analysis of a prospectively maintained database of 149 adult CM-1 patients undergoing suboccipital decompression with duraplasty and cranioplasty. Baseline presentation characteristics and composite as well as subcomponent CCOS scores at last follow-up were compared between depressed and nondepressed patients. Outcome comparisons included both a univariable analysis and a logistic regression model adjusting for several covariates.

RESULTS

The prevalence of depression in the study cohort was 28% (41/149). Baseline demographic and imaging characteristics were similar between the 2 patient groups. Dizziness (p = 0.019) and imbalance (p = 0.015) were significantly more common among depressed patients, but clinical symptoms and severity were otherwise comparable. On univariable analysis, depressed patients were significantly less likely to experience improvement in pain symptoms (OR 0.14, 95% CI 0.03–0.61, p = 0.003) and functionality (OR 0.17, 95% CI 0.03–0.99, p = 0.049). No significant difference was identified in complications, nonpain symptom improvement, or overall composite CCOS improvement. Similar results were obtained on multivariable analysis controlling for several covariates.

CONCLUSIONS

Depression is independently associated with poor surgical outcome in adult CM-1 patients, namely when evaluating improvement in pain symptoms and functionality. Optimizing the management of depression preoperatively and ensuring follow-up for psychiatric comorbidity in the postoperative period may possibly lead to improved outcomes.

Free access

Jeff Ehresman, Zach Pennington, James Feghali, Andrew Schilling, Andrew Hersh, Bethany Hung, Daniel Lubelski, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

More than 8000 patients are treated annually for vertebral column tumors, of whom roughly two-thirds will be discharged to an inpatient facility (nonroutine discharge). Nonroutine discharge is associated with increased care costs as well as delays in discharge and poorer patient outcomes. In this study, the authors sought to develop a prediction model of nonroutine discharge in the population of vertebral column tumor patients.

METHODS

Patients treated for primary or metastatic vertebral column tumors at a single comprehensive cancer center were identified for inclusion. Data were gathered regarding surgical procedure, patient demographics, insurance status, and medical comorbidities. Frailty was assessed using the modified 5-item Frailty Index (mFI-5) and medical complexity was assessed using the modified Charlson Comorbidity Index (mCCI). Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify independent predictors of nonroutine discharge, and multivariable linear regression was used to identify predictors of prolonged length of stay (LOS). The discharge model was internally validated using 1000 bootstrapped samples.

RESULTS

The authors identified 350 patients (mean age 57.0 ± 13.6 years, 53.1% male, and 67.1% treated for metastatic vs primary disease). Significant predictors of prolonged LOS included higher mCCI score (β = 0.74; p = 0.026), higher serum absolute neutrophil count (β = 0.35; p = 0.001), lower hematocrit (β = −0.34; p = 0.001), use of a staged operation (β = 4.99; p < 0.001), occurrence of postoperative pulmonary embolism (β = 3.93; p = 0.004), and surgical site infection (β = 9.93; p < 0.001). Significant predictors of nonroutine discharge included emergency admission (OR 3.09; p = 0.001), higher mFI-5 score (OR 1.90; p = 0.001), lower serum albumin level (OR 0.43 per g/dL; p < 0.001), and operations with multiple stages (OR 4.10; p < 0.001). The resulting statistical model was deployed as a web-based calculator (https://jhuspine4.shinyapps.io/Nonroutine_Discharge_Tumor/).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found that nonroutine discharge of patients with surgically treated vertebral column tumors was predicted by emergency admission, increased frailty, lower serum albumin level, and staged surgical procedures. The resulting web-based calculator tool may be useful clinically to aid in discharge planning for spinal oncology patients by preoperatively identifying patients likely to require placement in an inpatient facility postoperatively.

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James Feghali, Zach Pennington, Jeff Ehresman, Daniel Lubelski, Ethan Cottrill, A. Karim Ahmed, Andrew Schilling, and Daniel M. Sciubba

Symptomatic spinal metastasis occurs in around 10% of all cancer patients, 5%–10% of whom will require operative management. While postoperative survival has been extensively evaluated, postoperative health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) outcomes have remained relatively understudied. Available tools that measure HRQOL are heterogeneous and may emphasize different aspects of HRQOL. The authors of this paper recommend the use of the EQ-5D and Spine Oncology Study Group Outcomes Questionnaire (SOSGOQ), given their extensive validation, to capture the QOL effects of systemic disease and spine metastases. Recent studies have identified preoperative QOL, baseline functional status, and neurological function as potential predictors of postoperative QOL outcomes, but heterogeneity across studies limits the ability to derive meaningful conclusions from the data. Future development of a valid and reliable prognostic model will likely require the application of a standardized protocol in the context of a multicenter study design.

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Zach Pennington, Jeff Ehresman, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel Lubelski, Kurt Lehner, James Feghali, A. Karim Ahmed, Andrew Schilling, and Daniel M. Sciubba

Accurate prediction of patient survival is an essential component of the preoperative evaluation of patients with spinal metastases. Over the past quarter of a century, a number of predictors have been developed, although none have been accurate enough to be instituted as a staple of clinical practice. However, recently more comprehensive survival calculators have been published that make use of larger data sets and machine learning to predict postoperative survival among patients with spine metastases. Given the glut of calculators that have been published, the authors sought to perform a narrative review of the current literature, highlighting existing calculators along with the strengths and weaknesses of each. In doing so, they identify two “generations” of scoring systems—a first generation based on a priori factor weighting and a second generation comprising predictive tools that are developed using advanced statistical modeling and are focused on clinical deployment. In spite of recent advances, the authors found that most predictors have only a moderate ability to explain variation in patient survival. Second-generation models have a greater prognostic accuracy relative to first-generation scoring systems, but most still require external validation. Given this, it seems that there are two outstanding goals for these survival predictors, foremost being external validation of current calculators in multicenter prospective cohorts, as the majority have been developed from, and internally validated within, the same single-institution data sets. Lastly, current predictors should be modified to incorporate advances in targeted systemic therapy and radiotherapy, which have been heretofore largely ignored.

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James Feghali, Risheng Xu, Wuyang Yang, Jason Liew, Rafael J. Tamargo, Elisabeth B. Marsh, and Judy Huang

OBJECTIVE

The authors aimed to determine whether differences exist in presentation and natural history when comparing Asian patients with moyamoya disease (MMD) to those of other ethnicities in North America.

METHODS

A database of 137 patients with MMD presenting to their institution between 1994 and 2015 was reviewed. Baseline characteristics and outcome variables, including stroke and functional outcome, were compared between Asian and non-Asian patients. Unadjusted Kaplan-Meier survival analysis and adjusted Cox regression models were used to compare stroke-free survival and stroke hazard after diagnosis among hemispheres of both racial groups. The analysis was stratified by age group, and censoring was performed until last follow-up or at the time of surgery. Because the relative rate of stroke changed between Asian and non-Asian adults after 1.5 years of follow-up, a time-segmented analysis focusing on the period 1.5 years after diagnosis was performed.

RESULTS

The cohort comprised 23% (31/137) Asian and 77% (106/137) non-Asian patients with MMD with a bimodal age distribution. Non-Asian patients had a higher prevalence of increased BMI (p = 0.02) and smoking (p = 0.04). Among patients who presented with stroke (n = 90), hemorrhage was significantly more common among Asians (p = 0.02). The natural history analysis included 250 hemispheres: 67 pediatric and 183 adult hemispheres. The overall mean follow-up duration since diagnosis was 3.3 years. Among adults, Asian patients had a higher incidence of stroke (8.0 per 100 person-years vs 3.0 per 100 person-years) over a mean follow-up of 3.3 years, but results were not statistically significant (p = 0.45). In the period beginning 1.5 years after diagnosis, Asian adults had a significantly higher hazard of stroke over a mean follow-up of 7.7 years, while controlling for sex, hypertension, and stroke before diagnosis (hazard ratio 8.8, p = 0.02). Among pediatric patients, Asians also had a higher stroke incidence (10.0 per 100 person-years vs 3.5 per 100 person-years) over a mean follow-up of 3.2 years; however, results did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.40). Functional outcome was similar between both ethnic groups at last follow-up (p = 0.57).

CONCLUSIONS

This study suggests a comparatively more progressive course of MMD in Asians. Further studies are required to fully characterize the phenotypic distinctions between different races and underlying pathophysiological mechanisms.

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Zach Pennington, Jeff Ehresman, Andrew Schilling, James Feghali, Andrew M. Hersh, Bethany Hung, Eleni N. Kalivas, Daniel Lubelski, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Patients with spine tumors are at increased risk for both hemorrhage and venous thromboembolism (VTE). Tranexamic acid (TXA) has been advanced as a potential intervention to reduce intraoperative blood loss in this surgical population, but many fear it is associated with increased VTE risk due to the hypercoagulability noted in malignancy. In this study, the authors aimed to 1) develop a clinical calculator for postoperative VTE risk in the population with spine tumors, and 2) investigate the association of intraoperative TXA use and postoperative VTE.

METHODS

A retrospective data set from a comprehensive cancer center was reviewed for adult patients treated for vertebral column tumors. Data were collected on surgery performed, patient demographics and medical comorbidities, VTE prophylaxis measures, and TXA use. TXA use was classified as high-dose (≥ 20 mg/kg) or low-dose (< 20 mg/kg). The primary study outcome was VTE occurrence prior to discharge. Secondary outcomes were deep venous thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE). Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify independent risk factors for VTE and the resultant model was deployed as a web-based calculator.

RESULTS

Three hundred fifty patients were included. The mean patient age was 57 years, 53% of patients were male, and 67% of surgeries were performed for spinal metastases. TXA use was not associated with increased VTE (14.3% vs 10.1%, p = 0.37). After multivariable analysis, VTE was independently predicted by lower serum albumin (odds ratio [OR] 0.42 per g/dl, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.23–0.79, p = 0.007), larger mean corpuscular volume (OR 0.91 per fl, 95% CI 0.84–0.99, p = 0.035), and history of prior VTE (OR 2.60, 95% CI 1.53–4.40, p < 0.001). Longer surgery duration approached significance and was included in the final model. Although TXA was not independently associated with the primary outcome of VTE, high-dose TXA use was associated with increased odds of both DVT and PE. The VTE model showed a fair fit of the data with an area under the curve of 0.77.

CONCLUSIONS

In the present cohort of patients treated for vertebral column tumors, TXA was not associated with increased VTE risk, although high-dose TXA (≥ 20 mg/kg) was associated with increased odds of DVT or PE. Additionally, the web-based clinical calculator of VTE risk presented here may prove useful in counseling patients preoperatively about their individualized VTE risk.

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Kuntal Kanti Das, Jaskaran Singh Gosal, Deepak Khatri, and Arun K. Srivastava

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James Feghali, Abhishek Gami, Sarah Rapaport, Jaimin Patel, Adham M. Khalafallah, Sakibul Huq, Debraj Mukherjee, Rafael J. Tamargo, and Judy Huang

OBJECTIVE

The 5-factor modified frailty index (mFI-5) is a practical tool that can be used to estimate frailty by measuring five accessible factors: functional status, history of diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, and hypertension. The authors aimed to validate the utility of mFI-5 for predicting endovascular and microsurgical treatment outcomes in patients with unruptured aneurysms.

METHODS

A prospectively maintained database of consecutive patients with unruptured aneurysm who were treated with clip placement or endovascular therapy was used. Because patient age is an important predictor of treatment outcomes in patients with unruptured aneurysm, mFI-5 was supplemented with age to create the age-supplemented mFI-5 (AmFI-5). Associations of scores on these indices with major complications (symptomatic ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, or surgical site infection requiring reoperation) were evaluated. Validation was carried out with the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database (2006–2017).

RESULTS

The institutional database included 275 patients (88 underwent clip placement, and 187 underwent endovascular treatment). Multivariable analysis of the surgical cohort showed that major complication was significantly associated with mFI-5 (OR 2.0, p = 0.046) and AmFI-5 (OR 1.9, p = 0.028) scores. Significant predictive accuracy for major complications was provided by mFI-5 (c-statistic = 0.709, p = 0.011) and AmFI-5 (c-statistic = 0.720, p = 0.008). The American Society of Anesthesiologists Physical Status Classification System (ASA) provided poor discrimination (area under the curve = 0.541, p = 0.618) that was significantly less than that of mFI-5 (p = 0.023) and AmFI-5 (p = 0.014). Optimal relative fit was achieved with AmFI-5, which had the lowest Akaike information criterion value. Similar results were obtained after equivalent analysis of the endovascular cohort, with additional significant associations between index scores and length of stay (β = 0.6 and p = 0.009 for mFI-5; β = 0.5 and p = 0.003 for AmFI-5). In 1047 patients who underwent clip placement and were included in the NSQIP database, mFI-5 (p = 0.001) and AmFI-5 (p < 0.001) scores were significantly associated with severe postoperative adverse events and provided greater discrimination (c-statistic = 0.600 and p < 0.001 for mFI-5; c-statistic = 0.610 and p < 0.001 for AmFI-5) than ASA score (c-statistic = 0.580 and p = 0.003).

CONCLUSIONS

mFI-5 and AmFI-5 represent potential predictors of procedure-related complications in unruptured aneurysm patients. After further validation, integration of these tools into clinical workflows may optimize patients for intervention.

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Albert Antar, James Feghali, Elizabeth E. Wicks, Shahab Aldin Sattari, Sean Li, Timothy F. Witham, Henry Brem, and Judy Huang

OBJECTIVE

In this study, the authors sought to determine which US medical schools have produced the most neurosurgery residents and to evaluate potential associations between recruitment and medical school characteristics.

METHODS

Demographic and bibliometric characteristics were collected for 1572 residents in US-based and Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)–accredited neurosurgery programs over the 2014 to 2020 match period using publicly available websites. US medical school characteristics were collected, including class size, presence of a home neurosurgery program, number of clinical neurosurgery faculty, research funding, presence of a neurosurgery interest group, and a top 10 ranking via U.S. News & World Report or Doximity. Correlations and associations were then evaluated using Pearson’s correlation coefficient (PCC), independent-samples t-test, and univariable or stepwise multivariable linear regression, as appropriate.

RESULTS

Vanderbilt University produced the most neurosurgery residents as a percentage of medical graduates at 3.799%. Case Western Reserve University produced the greatest absolute number of neurosurgery residents (n = 40). The following factors were shown to be associated with a higher mean percentage of graduates entering neurosurgery: number of clinical neurosurgery faculty (PCC 0.509, p < 0.001), presence of a neurosurgery interest group (1.022% ± 0.737% vs 0.351% ± 0.327%, p < 0.001) or home neurosurgery program (1.169% ± 0.766% vs 0.428% ± 0.327%, p < 0.001), allopathic compared with osteopathic school (0.976% ± 0.719% vs 0.232% ± 0.272%, p < 0.001), U.S. News top 10 ranking for neurology and neurosurgery (1.923% ± 0.924% vs 0.757% ± 0.607%, p < 0.001), Doximity top 10 residency program ranking (1.715% ± 0.803% vs 0.814% ± 0.688%, p < 0.001), and amount of NIH funding (PCC 0.528, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this study have delineated which medical schools produced the most neurosurgery residents currently in training, and the most important independent factors predicting the percentage of graduates entering neurosurgery and the preresidency h-index.