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Jawad M. Khalifeh, Christopher F. Dibble, Ammar H. Hawasli and Wilson Z. Ray

OBJECTIVE

The Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) is an adaptive, self-reported outcomes assessment tool that utilizes item response theory and computer adaptive testing to efficiently and precisely evaluate symptoms and perceived health status. Efforts to implement and report PROMIS outcomes in spine clinical practice remain limited. The objective of this retrospective cohort study is to evaluate the performance and psychometric properties of PROMIS physical function (PF) and pain interference (PI) among patients undergoing spine surgery.

METHODS

The authors identified all patients who underwent spine surgery at their institution between 2016 and 2018, and for whom there was retrievable PROMIS data. Descriptive statistics were calculated to summarize demographics, operative characteristics, and patient-reported outcomes. Assessments were evaluated preoperatively, and postoperatively within 2 months (early), 6 months (intermediate), and up to 2 years (late). Pairwise change scores were calculated to evaluate within-subjects differences and construct responsiveness over time. Pearson’s correlation coefficients were used to evaluate the association between PROMIS PF and PI domains. Subgroup analysis was performed based on the primary diagnoses of cervical radiculopathy, cervical myelopathy, or lumbar degenerative disease.

RESULTS

A total of 2770 patients (1395 males, 50.4%) were included in the analysis. The mean age at the time of surgery was 57.3 ± 14.4 years. Mean postoperative follow-up duration was 7.6 ± 6.2 months. Preoperatively, patients scored an average 15.1 ± 7.4 points below the normative population (mean 50 ± 10 points) in PF, and 15.8 ± 6.8 points above the mean in PI. PROMIS PF required a mean of 4.1 ± 0.6 questions and median 40 seconds (interquartile range [IQR] 29–58 seconds) to be completed, which was similar to PI (median 4.3 ± 1.1 questions and 38 seconds [IQR 27–59 seconds]). Patients experienced clinically meaningful improvements in PF and PI, which were sustained throughout the postoperative course. PROMIS instruments were able to capture anticipated changes in PF and PI, although to a lesser degree in PF early postoperatively. There was a strong negative correlation between PROMIS PF and PI scores at baseline (Pearson’s r = −0.72) and during follow-up appointments (early, intermediate, and late |r| > 0.6, each). Subgroup analysis demonstrated similar results within diagnostic groups compared to the overall cohort. However, the burden of PF limitations and PI was greater within the lumbar spine disease subgroup, compared to patients with cervical radiculopathy and myelopathy.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients receiving care at a tertiary spine surgery outpatient clinic experience significant overall disability and PI, as measured by PROMIS PF and PI computer adaptive tests. PROMIS PF and PI health domains are strongly correlated, responsive to changes over time, and facilitate time-efficient evaluations of perceived health status outcomes in patients undergoing spine surgery.

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Ammar H. Hawasli, Jawad M. Khalifeh, Ajay Chatrath, Chester K. Yarbrough and Wilson Z. Ray

OBJECTIVE

Minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS-TLIF) has been adopted as an alternative technique to hasten recovery and minimize postoperative morbidity. Advances in instrumentation technologies and operative techniques have evolved to maximize patient outcomes as well as radiographic results. The development of expandable interbody devices allows a surgeon to perform MIS-TLIF with minimal tissue disruption. However, sagittal segmental and pelvic radiographic outcomes after MIS-TLIF with expandable interbody devices are not well characterized. The object of this study is to evaluate the radiographic sagittal lumbar segmental and pelvic parameter outcomes of MIS-TLIF performed using an expandable interbody device.

METHODS

A retrospective review of MIS-TLIFs performed between 2014 and 2016 at a high-volume center was performed. Radiographic measurements were performed on lateral radiographs before and after MIS-TLIF with static or expandable interbody devices. Radiographic measurements included disc height, foraminal height, fused disc angle, lumbar lordosis, pelvic incidence, sacral slope, and pelvic tilt. Mismatch between pelvic incidence and lumbar lordosis were calculated for each radiograph.

RESULTS

A total of 48 MIS-TLIFs were performed, predominantly at the L4–5 level, in 44 patients. MIS-TLIF with an expandable interbody device led to a greater and more sustained increase in disc height when compared with static interbody devices. Foraminal height increased after MIS-TLIF with expandable but not with static interbody devices. MIS-TLIF with expandable interbody devices increased index-level segmental lordosis more than with static interbody devices. The increase in segmental lordosis was sustained in the patients with expandable interbody devices but not in patients with static interbody devices. For patients with a collapsed disc space, MIS-TLIF with an expandable interbody device provided superior and longer-lasting increases in disc height, foraminal height, and index-level segmental lordosis than in comparison with patients with static interbody devices. Using an expandable interbody device improved the Oswestry Disability Index scores more than using a static interbody device, and both disc height and segmental lordosis were correlated with improved clinical outcome. Lumbar MIS-TLIF with expandable or static interbody devices had no effect on overall lumbar lordosis, pelvic parameters, or pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis mismatch.

CONCLUSIONS

Performing MIS-TLIF with an expandable interbody device led to a greater and longer-lasting restoration of disc height, foraminal height, and index-level segmental lordosis than MIS-TLIF with a static interbody device, especially for patients with a collapsed disc space. However, neither technique had any effect on radiographic pelvic parameters.

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Jawad M. Khalifeh, Christopher F. Dibble, Anna Van Voorhis, Michelle Doering, Martin I. Boyer, Mark A. Mahan, Thomas J. Wilson, Rajiv Midha, Lynda J. S. Yang and Wilson Z. Ray

OBJECTIVE

Patients with cervical spinal cord injury (SCI)/tetraplegia consistently rank restoring arm and hand function as their top functional priority to improve quality of life. Motor nerve transfers traditionally used to treat peripheral nerve injuries are increasingly being used to treat patients with cervical SCIs. In this study, the authors performed a systematic review summarizing the published literature on nerve transfers to restore upper-extremity function in tetraplegia.

METHODS

A systematic literature search was conducted using Ovid MEDLINE 1946–, Embase 1947–, Scopus 1960–, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and clinicaltrials.gov to identify relevant literature published through January 2019. The authors included studies that provided original patient-level data and extracted information on clinical characteristics, operative details, and strength outcomes after nerve transfer procedures. Critical review and synthesis of the articles were performed.

RESULTS

Twenty-two unique studies, reporting on 158 nerve transfers in 118 upper limbs of 92 patients (87 males, 94.6%) were included in the systematic review. The mean duration from SCI to nerve transfer surgery was 18.7 months (range 4 months–13 years) and mean postoperative follow-up duration was 19.5 months (range 1 month–4 years). The main goals of reinnervation were the restoration of thumb and finger flexion, elbow extension, and wrist and finger extension. Significant heterogeneity in transfer strategy and postoperative outcomes were noted among the reports. All but one case report demonstrated recovery of at least Medical Research Council grade 3/5 strength in recipient muscle groups; however, there was greater variation in the results of larger case series. The best, most consistent outcomes were demonstrated for restoration of wrist/finger extension and elbow extension.

CONCLUSIONS

Motor nerve transfers are a promising treatment option to restore upper-extremity function after SCI. Flexor reinnervation strategies show variable treatment effect sizes; however, extensor reinnervation may provide more consistent, meaningful recovery. Despite numerous published case reports describing good patient outcomes with nerve transfers, there remains a paucity in the literature regarding optimal timing and long-term clinical outcomes with these procedures.

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Jawad M. Khalifeh, Christopher F. Dibble, Anna Van Voorhis, Michelle Doering, Martin I. Boyer, Mark A. Mahan, Thomas J. Wilson, Rajiv Midha, Lynda J. S. Yang and Wilson Z. Ray

OBJECTIVE

Patients with cervical spinal cord injury (SCI)/tetraplegia consistently rank restoring arm and hand function as their top functional priority to improve quality of life. Motor nerve transfers traditionally used to treat peripheral nerve injuries are increasingly used to treat patients with cervical SCIs. In this article, the authors present early results of a prospective clinical trial using nerve transfers to restore upper-extremity function in tetraplegia.

METHODS

Participants with American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) grade A–C cervical SCI/tetraplegia were prospectively enrolled at a single institution, and nerve transfer(s) was performed to improve upper-extremity function. Functional recovery and strength outcomes were independently assessed and prospectively tracked.

RESULTS

Seventeen participants (94.1% males) with a median age of 28.4 years (range 18.2–76.3 years) who underwent nerve transfers at a median of 18.2 months (range 5.2–130.8 months) after injury were included in the analysis. Preoperative SCI levels ranged from C2 to C7, most commonly at C4 (35.3%). The median postoperative follow-up duration was 24.9 months (range 12.0–29.1 months). Patients who underwent transfers to median nerve motor branches and completed 18- and 24-month follow-ups achieved finger flexion strength Medical Research Council (MRC) grade ≥ 3/5 in 4 of 15 (26.7%) and 3 of 12 (25.0%) treated upper limbs, respectively. Similarly, patients achieved MRC grade ≥ 3/5 wrist flexion strength in 5 of 15 (33.3%) and 3 of 12 (25.0%) upper limbs. Among patients who underwent transfers to the posterior interosseous nerve (PIN) for wrist/finger extension, MRC grade ≥ 3/5 strength was demonstrated in 5 of 9 (55.6%) and 4 of 7 (57.1%) upper limbs 18 and 24 months postoperatively, respectively. Similarly, grade ≥ 3/5 strength was demonstrated in 5 of 9 (55.6%) and 4 of 7 (57.1%) cases for thumb extension. No meaningful donor site deficits were observed. Patients reported significant postoperative improvements from baseline on upper-extremity–specific self-reported outcome measures.

CONCLUSIONS

Motor nerve transfers are a promising treatment option to restore upper-extremity function after SCI. In the authors’ experience, nerve transfers for the reinnervation of hand and finger flexors showed variable functional recovery; however, transfers for the reinnervation of arm, hand, and finger extensors showed a more consistent and meaningful return of strength and function.