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James A. Taren and Edgar A. Kahn

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Fred C. Kriss, James A. Taren and Edgar A. Kahn

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Corinna C. Zygourakis, Taemin Oh, Matthew Z. Sun, Igor Barani, James G. Kahn and Andrew T. Parsa

Object

Vestibular schwannomas (VSs) are managed in 3 ways: observation (“wait and scan”); Gamma Knife surgery (GKS); or microsurgery. Whereas there is considerable literature regarding which management approach is superior, there are only a few studies addressing the cost of treating VSs, and there are no cost-utility analyses in the US to date.

Methods

In this study, the authors used the University of California at San Francisco medical record and hospital accounting databases to determine total hospital charges and costs for 33 patients who underwent open surgery, 42 patients who had GKS, and 12 patients who were observed between 2010 and 2013. The authors then performed decision-tree analysis to determine which treatment paradigm produces the highest quality-adjusted life years and to calculate the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio, depending on the patient's age at VS diagnosis.

Results

The average total hospital cost over a 3-year period for surgically treated patients was $80,074 (± $49,678) versus $9737 (± $5522) for patients receiving radiosurgery and $1746 (± $2792) for patients who were observed. When modeling the most debilitating symptoms and worst outcomes of VSs (vertigo and death) at different ages at diagnosis, radiation is dominant to observation at all ages up to 70 years. Surgery is cost-effective when compared with radiation (incremental cost-effectiveness ratio < $150,000) at younger ages at diagnosis (< 45 years old).

Conclusions

In this model, surgery is a cost-effective alternative to radiation when VS is diagnosed in patients at < 45 years. For patients ≥ 45 years, radiation is the most cost-effective treatment option.

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Elyne N. Kahn, Chandy Ellimoottil, James M. Dupree, Paul Park and Andrew M. Ryan

OBJECTIVE

Spine surgery is expensive and marked by high variation across regions and providers. Bundled payments have potential to reduce unwarranted spending associated with spine surgery. This study is a cross-sectional analysis of commercial and Medicare claims data from January 2012 through March 2015 in the state of Michigan. The objective was to quantify variation in payments for spine surgery in adult patients, document sources of variation, and determine influence of patient-level, surgeon-level, and hospital-level factors.

METHODS

Hierarchical regression models were used to analyze contributions of patient-level covariates and influence of individual surgeons and hospitals. The primary outcome was price-standardized 90-day episode payments. Intraclass correlation coefficients—measures of variability accounted for by each level of a hierarchical model—were used to quantify sources of spending variation.

RESULTS

The authors analyzed 17,436 spine surgery episodes performed by 195 surgeons at 50 hospitals. Mean price-standardized 90-day episode payments in the highest spending quintile exceeded mean payments for episodes in the lowest cost quintile by $42,953 (p < 0.001). Facility payments for index admission and post-discharge payments were the greatest contributors to overall variation: 39.4% and 32.5%, respectively. After accounting for patient-level covariates, the remaining hospital-level and surgeon-level effects accounted for 2.0% (95% CI 1.1%–3.8%) and 4.0% (95% CI 2.9%–5.6%) of total variation, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

Significant variation exists in total episode payments for spine surgery, driven mostly by variation in post-discharge and facility payments. Hospital and surgeon effects account for relatively little of the observed variation.

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James Drake, Paul Chumas, John Kestle, Alain Pierre-Kahn, Matthieu Vinchon, Jennifer Brown, Ian F. Pollack and Hajime Arai

Object

Late rapid deterioration after endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) is a rare complication. The authors previously reported three deaths from three centers. Three other deaths and a patient who experienced rapid deterioration have also been reported. Following the death at the University of Toronto of an additional patient who underwent surgery elsewhere, they canvassed pediatric neurosurgeons in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia for additional cases.

Methods

An email was sent to the members of the Canadian Congress of Neurological Sciences who are pediatric neurosurgeons, to the pediatric neurosurgery email list of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, to the email list of the International Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery, and to designated neurosurgeons in the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Australia, who in turn contacted pediatric neurosurgeons in their countries. A data form was provided, and data from previously reported cases were extracted.

Nine additional cases were identified, and the results were collated with those of the seven cases previously reported. Patient age at surgery ranged from 2 days to 13 years (mean 7.6 years). The most common causes of hydrocephalus were aqueductal stenosis in 50% of patients and tectal glioma in 25% of patients. The time to treatment failure ranged from 5 weeks to 7.8 years (mean 2.5 years). Thirteen patients died, one patient was in a vegetative state, one patient was mildly disabled, and one patient whose condition deteriorated outside the operating room was alive and well. In the 13 patients in whom the ventriculostomy site was visualized at autopsy or repeated endoscopy, the ventriculostomy was shown to be occluded.

Conclusions

Late rapid deterioration is a rare but lethal complication of ETV. The mechanism is unclear, but deterioration can occur long after the ETV becomes occluded. Patients and caregivers should be counseled regarding this potential complication. An indwelling ventricular access device is an option for patients undergoing ETV.