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The evolution of minimally invasive spine surgery

JNSPG 75th Anniversary Invited Review Article

Jang W. Yoon and Michael Y. Wang

The field of minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) has rapidly evolved over the past 3 decades. This review follows the evolution of techniques and principles that have led to significant advances in the field. While still representing only a subset of spine surgeries, MISS’s goals of reducing soft-tissue trauma and mitigating the morbidity of surgery are being realized, translating into more rapid recovery, lower infection rates, and higher cost savings. Future advances in technology and techniques can be anticipated.

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“Houston, we have a problem”: the difficulty of measuring outcomes in spinal surgery

Gregory W. Basil, Annelise C. Sprau, Zoher Ghogawala, Jang W. Yoon, and Michael Y. Wang

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Introduction. Big data and its impact on the future of neurosurgery

Michael Y. Wang, Jang W. Yoon, Gelareh Zadeh, Paul Park, Erica F. Bisson, and Daniel M. Sciubba

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Data-driven phenotyping of preoperative functional decline patterns in patients undergoing lumbar decompression and lumbar fusion using smartphone accelerometry

Hasan S. Ahmad, Shikha Singh, Kenneth Jiao, Gregory W. Basil, Andrew I. Yang, Michael Y. Wang, William C. Welch, and Jang W. Yoon

OBJECTIVE

Treatment of degenerative lumbar spine pathologies typically escalates to surgical intervention when symptoms begin to significantly impair patients’ functional status. Currently, surgeons rely on subjective patient assessments through patient-reported outcome measures to estimate the decline in patient wellness and quality of life. In this analysis, the authors sought to use smartphone-based accelerometry data to provide an objective, continuous measurement of physical activity that might aid in effective characterization of preoperative functional decline in different lumbar spine surgical indications.

METHODS

Up to 1 year of preoperative activity data (steps taken per day) from 14 patients who underwent lumbar decompression and 15 patients who underwent endoscopic lumbar fusion were retrospectively extracted from patient smartphones. A data-driven algorithm was constructed based on 10,585 unique activity data points to identify and characterize the functional decline of patients preceding surgical intervention. Algorithmic estimation of functional decline onset was compared with reported symptom onset in clinical documentation across patients who presented acutely (≤ 5 months of symptoms) or chronically (> 5 months of symptoms).

RESULTS

The newly created algorithm identified a statistically significant decrease in physical activity during measured periods of functional decline (p = 0.0020). To account for the distinct clinical presentation phenotypes of patients requiring lumbar decompression (71.4% acute and 28.6% chronic) and those requiring lumbar fusion (6.7% acute and 93.3% chronic), a variable threshold for detecting clinically significant reduced physical activity was implemented. The algorithm characterized functional decline (i.e., acute or chronic presentation) in patients who underwent lumbar decompression with 100% accuracy (sensitivity 100% and specificity 100%), while characterization of patients who underwent lumbar fusion was less effective (accuracy 26.7%, sensitivity 21.4%, and specificity 100%). Adopting a less-permissive detection threshold in patients who underwent lumbar fusion, which rendered the algorithm robust to minor fluctuations above or below the chronically decreased level of preoperative activity in most of those patients, increased functional decline classification accuracy of patients who underwent lumbar fusion to 66.7% (sensitivity 64.3% and specificity 100%).

CONCLUSIONS

In this study, the authors found that smartphone-based accelerometer data successfully characterized functional decline in patients with degenerative lumbar spine pathologies. The accuracy and sensitivity of functional decline detection were much lower when using non–surgery-specific detection thresholds, indicating the effectiveness of smartphone-based mobility analysis in characterizing the unique physical activity fingerprints of different lumbar surgical indications. The results of this study highlight the potential of using activity data to detect symptom onset and functional decline in patients, enabling earlier diagnosis and improved prognostication.

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Use of the LACE+ index to predict readmissions after single-level lumbar fusion

Austin J. Borja, Gregory Glauser, Krista Strouz, Zarina S. Ali, Scott D. McClintock, James M. Schuster, Jang W. Yoon, and Neil R. Malhotra

OBJECTIVE

Spinal fusion is one of the most common neurosurgical procedures. The LACE (length of stay, acuity of admission, Charlson Comorbidity Index [CCI] score, and emergency department [ED] visits within the previous 6 months) index was developed to predict readmission but has not been tested in a large, homogeneous spinal fusion population. The present study evaluated use of the LACE+ score for outcome prediction after lumbar fusion.

METHODS

LACE+ scores were calculated for all patients (n = 1598) with complete information who underwent single-level, posterior-only lumbar fusion at a single university medical system. Logistic regression was performed to assess the ability of the LACE+ score as a continuous variable to predict hospital readmissions within 30 days (30D), 30–90 days (30–90D), and 90 days (90D) of the index operation. Secondary outcome measures included ED visits and reoperations. Subsequently, patients with LACE+ scores in the bottom decile were exact matched to the patients with scores in the top 4 deciles to control for sociodemographic and procedural variables.

RESULTS

Among all patients, increased LACE+ score significantly predicted higher rates of readmissions in the 30D (p < 0.001), 30–90D (p = 0.001), and 90D (p < 0.001) postoperative windows. LACE+ score also predicted risk of ED visits at all 3 time points and reoperations at 30–90D and 90D. When patients with LACE+ scores in the bottom decile were compared with patients with scores in the top 4 deciles, higher LACE+ score predicted higher risk of readmissions at 30D (p = 0.009) and 90D (p = 0.005). No significant difference in hospital readmissions was observed between the exact-matched cohorts.

CONCLUSIONS

The present results suggest that the LACE+ score demonstrates utility in predicting readmissions within 30 and 90 days after single-level lumbar fusion. Future research is warranted that utilizes the LACE+ index to identify strategies to support high-risk patients in a prospective population.

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Defining the minimal clinically important difference in smartphone-based mobility after spine surgery: correlation of survey questionnaire to mobility data

Presented at the 2023 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Daksh Chauhan, Hasan S. Ahmad, Robert Subtirelu, Sai Mannam, Ryan Turlip, Kevin Bryan, Shreya Bathula, Yohannes Ghenbot, Andrew I. Yang, Michael Y. Wang, Gregory Basil, Zarina S. Ali, and Jang W. Yoon

OBJECTIVE

Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) are the gold standard for assessing postoperative outcomes in spine surgery. However, PROMs are also limited by the inherent subjectivity of self-reported qualitative data. Recent literature has highlighted the utility of patient mobility data streamed from smartphone accelerometers as an objective measure of functional outcomes and complement to traditional PROMs. Still, for activity-based data to supplement existing PROMs, they must be validated against current metrics. In this study, the authors assessed the relationships and concordance between longitudinal smartphone-based mobility data and PROMs.

METHODS

Patients receiving laminectomy (n = 21) or fusion (n = 10) between 2017 and 2022 were retrospectively included. Activity data (steps-per-day count) recorded in the Apple Health mobile application over a 2-year perioperative window were extracted and subsequently normalized to allow for intersubject comparison. PROMS, including the visual analog scale (VAS), Patient Reported Outcome Measurement Information System Pain Interference (PROMIS-PI), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and EQ-5D, collected at the preoperative and 6-week postoperative visits were retrospectively extracted from the electronic medical record. Correlations between PROMs and patient mobility were assessed and compared between patients who did and those who did not achieve the established minimal clinically important difference (MCID) for each measure.

RESULTS

A total of 31 patients receiving laminectomy (n = 21) or fusion (n = 10) were included. Change between preoperative and 6-week postoperative VAS and PROMIS-PI scores demonstrated moderate (r = −0.46) and strong (r = −0.74) inverse correlations, respectively, with changes in normalized steps-per-day count. In cohorts of patients who achieved PROMIS-PI MCID postoperatively, indicating subjective improvement in pain, there was a 0.784 standard deviation increase in normalized steps per day, representing a 56.5% improvement (p = 0.027). Patients who did achieve the MCID of improvement in either PROMIS-PI or VAS after surgery were more likely to experience an earlier sustained improvement in physical activity commensurate to or greater than their preoperative baseline (p = 2.98 × 10−18) than non-MCID patients.

CONCLUSIONS

This study demonstrates a strong correlation between changes in mobility data extracted from patient smartphones and changes in PROMs following spine surgery. Further elucidating this relationship will allow for more robust supplementation of existing spine outcome measure tools with analyzed objective activity data.

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Abstracts of the 2017 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves Las Vegas, Nevada • March 8–11, 2017

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Oral Presentations

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

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Abstracts of the 10th Annual Meeting of the Lumbar Spine Research Society Chicago, Illinois • April 6 & 7, 2017