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Joshua M. Rosenow and Katie O. Orrico

Object

Medicare reimbursement for physician services has been declining even as the number of Medicare enrollees has been increasing. The number of Medicare participants will only continue to grow as the American population ages and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act goes into effect. Efforts to increase reimbursement for physician services through Medicare are often met with data showing that most neurosurgeons continue to participate in the program despite these cutbacks. To better understand this dichotomy, practicing neurosurgeons were surveyed to gauge their response to cutbacks in the Medicare program beyond just their participation status.

Methods

An Internet-based survey invitation was emailed to 3469 practicing neurosurgeons. Reminder emails were sent at intervals over several weeks to help increase the response rate.

Results

Among respondents, an overwhelming percentage (96.8%) participated in Medicare. The neurosurgeons indicated that about one-third of their patient population was covered by Medicare. They also reported limiting the number of Medicare patients they see through a variety of mechanisms: only seeing Medicare patients with a specific diagnosis or from certain referring physicians or limiting the number of appointment slots for Medicare patients. Many respondents stated that further declines in Medicare reimbursement would lead to a reduction in their participation.

Conclusions

While most responding neurosurgeons do participate in the Medicare program, a substantial proportion modulates their participation through a variety of mechanisms. These barriers to care access for Medicare patients are only expected to become greater if further declines in reimbursement are implemented through the program.

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Joshua M. Rosenow, Michael Stanton-Hicks, Ali R. Rezai and Jaimie M. Henderson

Object

Epidural spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is effective at treating refractory pain. The failure modes of the implanted hardware, however, have not been well studied. A better understanding of this could aid in improving the current procedure or designing future devices.

Methods

The authors reviewed electronic charts and operative reports of 289 patients who had undergone SCS implantation between 1998 and 2002 at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Data were collected on demographics, type of hardware, date of implantation procedure, indication for treatment, time to failure, and failure mode. Data were then analyzed to identify significant differences.

A total of 577 procedures were performed, 43.5% of which involved revision or removal of SCS hardware. The most common indication was complex regional pain syndrome 1, and this was followed by failed–back surgery syndrome. The median number of procedures per patient was two. Approximately 80% of all leads were the percutaneous type. The majority (62%) of leads were placed in the thoracic region, and 33.5% of all leads required revision. Poor pain relief coverage was the most common indication for revision. Surgically implanted leads broke twice as often as percutaneous leads. In 46% of the patients, hardware revision was required, and multiple revisions were necessary in 22.5%. Three-way ANOVA revealed significant differences in failure mode rates according to location (cervical compared with thoracic, p = 0.037) and failure modes (p = 0.019). Laminotomy leads tended to break and migrate sooner than percutaneous leads. Thoracic leads became infected sooner than cervical leads.

Conclusions

The results of this analysis of SCS hardware failures may be used as a basis for refining surgical technique and designing the next generation of SCS hardware.

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Seokchun Lim, Andrew T. Parsa, Bobby D. Kim, Joshua M. Rosenow and John Y. S. Kim

OBJECT

This study evaluates the impact of resident presence in the operating room on postoperative outcomes in neurosurgery.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS-NSQIP) and identified all cases treated in a neurosurgery service in 2011. Propensity scoring analysis and multiple logistic regression models were used to reduce patient bias and to assess independent effect of resident involvement.

RESULTS

Of the 8748 neurosurgery cases identified, residents were present in 4529 cases. Residents were more likely to be involved in complex procedures with longer operative duration. The multivariate analysis found that resident involvement was not a statistically significant factor for overall complications (OR 1.116, 95% CI 0.961–1.297), surgical complications (OR 1.132, 95% CI 0.825–1.554), medical complications (OR 1.146, 95% CI 0.979–1.343), reoperation (OR 1.250, 95% CI 0.984–1.589), mortality (OR 1.164, 95% CI 0.780–1.737), or unplanned readmission (OR 1.148, 95% CI 0.946–1.393).

CONCLUSIONS

In this multicenter study, the authors demonstrated that resident involvement in the operating room was not a significant factor for postoperative complications in neurosurgery service. This analysis also showed that much of the observed difference in postoperative complication rates was attributable to other confounding factors. This is a quality indicator for resident trainees and current medical education. Maintaining high standards in postgraduate training is imperative in enhancing patient care and reducing postoperative complications.

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Joshua M. Rosenow, Howard Tarkin, Elias Zias, Carmine Sorbera and Alon Mogilner

✓ Bilateral electrical stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus is being used with increasing frequency as a treatment for severe Parkinson disease (PD). Implantable cardiac defibrillators improve survival in certain high-risk patients with coronary artery disease and ventricular arrhythmias. Because of concern about possible interaction between these devices, deep brain stimulation (DBS) systems are routinely disconnected before defibrillators are implanted in patients with PD and arrhythmia. The authors report on a patient with bilateral subthalamic stimulators who underwent successful placement of an implantable defibrillator. Testing of the devices over a wide range of settings revealed no interaction. The patient subsequently underwent multiple episodes of cardioversion when the ventricular lead became dislodged. There was no evidence of adverse neurological effects, and interrogation of the DBS devices after cardioversion revealed no changes in stimulus parameters. The outcome in this case indicates that DBS systems may be safely retained in selected patients who require implantable cardiac defibrillators.

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Kathryn L. Holloway, Steven E. Gaede, Philip A. Starr, Joshua M. Rosenow, Viswanathan Ramakrishnan and Jaimie M. Henderson

Object

Functional neurosurgical interventions such as deep brain stimulation (DBS) are traditionally performed with the aid of a stereotactic frame. Although frameless techniques have been perceived as less accurate, data from a recent phantom study of a modified frameless approach demonstrated a laboratory accuracy exceeding that obtained using a common frame system. The present study was conducted to evaluate the accuracy of a frameless system in routine clinical use.

Methods

Deep brain stimulation leads were implanted in 38 patients by using a skull-mounted trajectory guide and an image-guided workstation. Registration was accomplished with bone fiducial markers. Final lead positions were measured on postoperative computerized tomography scans and compared with the planned lead positions. The accuracy of the Leksell frame within the clinical situation has been reported on in a recent study; these raw data served as a comparison data set.

The difference between expected and actual lead locations in the x plane was 1.4 mm in the frame-based procedure and 1.6 mm in the frameless procedure. Similarly, the difference in the y plane was 1.6 mm in the frame-based system and 1.3 mm in the frameless one. The error was greatest in the z plane, that is, 1.7 mm in the frame-based method and 2 mm in the frameless system. Multivariate analysis of variance demonstrated no statistically significant difference in the accuracy of the two methods.

Conclusions

The accuracy of the frame-based and frameless systems was not statistically significantly different (p = 0.22). Note, however, that frameless techniques offer advantages in patient comfort, separation of imaging from surgery, and decreased operating time.

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James K. Liu, Michael S. Tenner, Oren N. Gottfried, Edwin A. Stevens, Joshua M. Rosenow, Neel Madan, Joel D. Macdonald, John R. W. Kestle and William T. Couldwell

Object. Cerebral vasospasm that is caused by aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage and that is refractory to maximal medical management can be treated with selective intraarterial papaverine infusions. The effects of single papaverine treatments on cerebral circulation time are well known. The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy of multiple, repeated papaverine infusions on the cerebral circulation time in patients with recurrent vasospasm.

Methods. A retrospective study was conducted in 17 patients who received multiple intraarterial papaverine infusions in 91 carotid artery (CA) territories for the treatment of cerebral vasospasm. Cerebral circulation times were measured from the first angiographic image, in which peak contrast was seen above the supraclinoid internal CA, to the peak filling of cortical veins. Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) scores assessed 12 months after discharge were reviewed. Cerebral circulation times in 16 CA territories were measured in a control group of 11 patients.

Seventeen patients received a total of 91 papaverine treatments. Prolonged cerebral circulation times improved after 90 (99%) of 91 papaverine treatments. The prepapaverine mean cerebral circulation time was 6.54 seconds (range 3.35–27 seconds) and the immediate postpapaverine mean cerebral circulation time was 4.19 seconds (range 2.1–12.6 seconds), an overall mean decrease of 2.35 seconds (36%, p < 0.001). Recurrent vasospasm reflected by prolonged cerebral circulation times continued to improve with subsequent papaverine infusions. Repeated infusions were just as successful quantitatively as the primary treatment (mean change 2.06 seconds). The mean cerebral circulation time in the control group was 5.21 seconds (range 4–6.8 seconds). In five patients a dramatic reversal of low-attenuation changes was detected on computerized tomography scans. The mean GOS score at 12 months after discharge was 3.4.

Conclusions. The preliminary results indicate that multiple intraarterial papaverine treatments consistently improve cerebral circulation times, even with repeated infusions in cases of recurrent vasospasm.

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William P. Nobis, Karina A. González Otárula, Jessica W. Templer, Elizabeth E. Gerard, Stephen VanHaerents, Gregory Lane, Guangyu Zhou, Joshua M. Rosenow, Christina Zelano and Stephan Schuele

OBJECTIVE

Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is the leading cause of death for patients with refractory epilepsy, and there is increasing evidence for a centrally mediated respiratory depression as a pathophysiological mechanism. The brain regions responsible for a seizure’s inducing respiratory depression are unclear—the respiratory nuclei in the brainstem are thought to be involved, but involvement of forebrain structures is not yet understood. The aim of this study was to analyze intracranial EEGs in combination with the results of respiratory monitoring to investigate the relationship between seizure spread to specific mesial temporal brain regions and the onset of respiratory dysfunction and apnea.

METHODS

The authors reviewed all invasive electroencephalographic studies performed at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (Chicago) since 2010 to identify those cases in which 1) multiple mesial temporal electrodes (amygdala and hippocampal) were placed, 2) seizures were captured, and 3) patients’ respiration was monitored. They identified 8 investigations meeting these criteria in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy, and these investigations yielded data on a total of 22 seizures for analysis.

RESULTS

The onset of ictal apnea associated with each seizure was highly correlated with seizure spread to the amygdala. Onset of apnea occurred 2.7 ± 0.4 (mean ± SEM) seconds after the spread of the seizure to the amygdala, which was significantly earlier than after spread to the hippocampus (10.2 ± 0.7 seconds; p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

The findings suggest that activation of amygdalar networks is correlated with central apnea during seizures. This study builds on the authors’ prior work that demonstrates a role for the amygdala in voluntary respiratory control and suggests a further role in dysfunctional breathing states seen during seizures, with implications for SUDEP pathophysiology.