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Charles H. Tator, Michael Fehlings, Kevin Thorpe, and Wayne Taylor

A multicenter retrospective study was performed in 36 participating North American centers to examine the use and timing of surgery in the treatment of acute spinal cord injury (SCI). The study was conducted to obtain information required for the planning of a randomized controlled trial of early compared with late decompressive surgery.

The records of all patients aged 16 to 75 years with acute SCI who were admitted to the 36 centers within 24 hours of injury over a 9-month period (August 1994 to April 1995) were examined to obtain data on admission variables, methods of diagnosis, use of traction, and surgical variables including type and timing of surgery.

A total of 585 patients with acute SCI or cauda equina injury were admitted to these centers, although approximately half were ultimately excluded because they did not meet inclusion criteria. Common causes for exclusion were late admission, age, gunshot wound, and an absence of spinal cord compression demonstrated on imaging studies. Thus, only approximately 50% of acute SCI patients would be eligible for inclusion in a study of acute decompressive procedures. Although 100% of patient underwent computerized tomography (CT) scaning, only 54% underwent magnetic resonance imaging, and CT myelography was performed in only 6%. Complete neurological injuries (American Spinal Injury Association Grade A) were present in 57.8%. Traction was applied in only 47% of patients with cervical injuries, of which only 42% demonstrated successful decompression by traction. Neurological deterioration occurred in 8.1% of patients after traction. Surgery was performed in 65.4% of patients. The timing of surgery varied widely: less than 24 hours in 23.5% of patients; 25 to 48 hours in 15.8%; 48 to 96 hours in 19.0%; and 5 days or longer in 41.7% of patients.

These data indicate that whereas surgery is commonly performed in patients with acute SCI, one-third of the cases are managed nonoperatively, and there is very little agreement on the optimum timing of surgical treatment. The results of this study confirm the need for a randomized controlled trial to determine the optimum timing of surgical decompressive procedures in patients with SCI.

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Blessing N. R. Jaja, Hester Lingsma, Ewout W. Steyerberg, Tom A. Schweizer, Kevin E. Thorpe, and R. Loch Macdonald

OBJECT

Neuroimaging characteristics of ruptured aneurysms are important to guide treatment selection, and they have been studied for their value as outcome predictors following aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Despite multiple studies, the prognostic value of aneurysm diameter, location, and extravasated SAH clot on computed tomography scan remains debatable. The authors aimed to more precisely ascertain the relation of these factors to outcome.

METHODS

The data sets of studies included in the Subarachnoid Hemorrhage International Trialists (SAHIT) repository were analyzed including data on ruptured aneurysm location and diameter (7 studies, n = 9125) and on subarachnoid clot graded on the Fisher scale (8 studies; n = 9452) for the relation to outcome on the Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) at 3 months. Prognostic strength was quantified by fitting proportional odds logistic regression models. Univariable odds ratios (ORs) were pooled across studies using random effects models. Multivariable analyses were adjusted for fixed effect of study, age, neurological status on admission, other neuroimaging factors, and treatment modality. The neuroimaging predictors were assessed for their added incremental predictive value measured as partial R2.

RESULTS

Spline plots indicated outcomes were worse at extremes of aneurysm size, i.e., less than 4 or greater than 9 mm. In between, aneurysm size had no effect on outcome (OR 1.03, 95% CI 0.98–1.09 for 9 mm vs 4 mm, i.e., 75th vs 25th percentile), except in those who were treated conservatively (OR 1.17, 95% CI 1.02–1.35). Compared with anterior cerebral artery aneurysms, posterior circulation aneurysms tended to result in slightly poorer outcome in patients who underwent endovascular coil embolization (OR 1.13, 95% CI 0.82–1.57) or surgical clipping (OR 1.32, 95% CI 1.10–1.57); the relation was statistically significant only in the latter. Fisher CT subarachnoid clot burden was related to outcome in a gradient manner. Each of the studied predictors accounted for less than 1% of the explained variance in outcome.

CONCLUSIONS

This study, which is based on the largest cohort of patients so far analyzed, has more precisely determined the prognostic value of the studied neuroimaging factors. Treatment choice has strong influence on the prognostic effect of aneurysm size and location. These findings should guide the development of reliable prognostic models and inform the design and analysis of future prospective studies, including clinical trials.

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Charles H. Tator, Michael Fehlings, Kevin Thorpe, and Wayne Taylor

Object. A multicenter retrospective study was performed in 36 North American centers to examine the use and timing of surgery in patients who have sustained acute spinal cord injury (SCI). The study was performed to obtain information required for the planning of a randomized controlled trial in which early and late decompressive surgery are compared.

Methods. The records of all patients aged 16 to 75 years with acute SCI admitted to 36 centers within 24 hours of injury over a 9-month period in 1994 and 1995 were examined to obtain data on admission variables, methods of diagnosis, use of traction, and surgical variables including type and timing of surgery.

A total of 585 patients with acute SCI or cauda equina injury were admitted to participating centers, although approximately half were ultimately excluded because they did not meet inclusion criteria. Common causes for exclusion were late admission, age, gunshot wound, and absence of signs of compression on imaging studies. Thus, only approximately 50% of patients with acute SCI would be eligible for inclusion in a study of acute decompressive surgery. Although all patients underwent computerized tomography (CT) scanning, only 54% underwent magnetic resonance imaging, and CT myelography was performed in only 6%. Complete neurological injuries (American Spinal Injury Association Grade A) were present in 57.8%. Traction was applied in only 47% of patients who sustained cervical injury, in whom decompressive traction was successful in only 42% of cases. Neurological deterioration occurred in 8.1% of cases after traction. Surgery was performed in 65.4% of patients. The timing of surgery varied widely: less than 24 hours postinjury in 23.5%, between 25 and 48 hours postinjury in 15.8%, between 48 and 96 hours in 19%, and more than 5 days postinjury in 41.7% of patients.

Conclusions. These data indicate that although surgery is commonly performed in patients with acute SCI, one third of cases are managed nonoperatively, and there is very little agreement on the optimum timing of surgical treatment. The results of this study confirm the need for a randomized controlled trial to assess the optimum timing of decompressive surgery in SCI.

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Blessing N. R. Jaja, Hester Lingsma, Tom A. Schweizer, Kevin E. Thorpe, Ewout W. Steyerberg, and R. Loch Macdonald

OBJECT

The literature has conflicting reports about the prognostic value of premorbid hypertension and neurological status in aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). The aim of this study was to investigate the prognostic value of premorbid hypertension and neurological status in the SAH International Trialists repository.

METHODS

Patient-level meta-analyses were conducted to investigate univariate associations between premorbid hypertension (6 studies; n = 7249), admission neurological status measured on the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS) scale (10 studies; n = 10,869), and 3-month Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) score. Multivariable analyses were performed to sequentially adjust for the effects of age, CT clot burden, aneurysm location, aneurysm size, and modality of aneurysm repair. Prognostic associations were estimated across the ordered categories of the GOS using proportional odds models. Nagelkerke's R2 statistic was used to quantify the added prognostic value of hypertension and neurological status beyond those of the adjustment factors.

RESULTS

Premorbid hypertension was independently associated with poor outcome, with an unadjusted pooled odds ratio (OR) of 1.73 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.50–2.00) and an adjusted OR of 1.38 (95% CI 1.25–1.53). Patients with a premorbid history of hypertension had higher rates of cardiovascular and renal comorbidities, poorer neurological status (p ≤ 0.001), and higher odds of neurological complications including cerebral infarctions, hydrocephalus, rebleeding, and delayed ischemic neurological deficits. Worsening neurological status was strongly independently associated with poor outcome, including WFNS Grades II (OR 1.85, 95% CI 1.68–2.03), III (OR 3.85, 95% CI 3.32–4.47), IV (OR 5.58, 95% CI 4.91–6.35), and V (OR 14.18, 95% CI 12.20–16.49). Neurological status had substantial added predictive value greater than the combined value of other prognostic factors (R2 increase > 10%), while the added predictive value of hypertension was marginal (R2 increase < 0.5%).

CONCLUSIONS

This study confirmed the strong prognostic effect of neurological status as measured on the WFNS scale and the independent but weak prognostic effect of premorbid hypertension. The effect of premorbid hypertension could involve multifactorial mechanisms, including an increase in the severity of initial bleeding, the rate of comorbid events, and neurological complications.

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Blessing N. R. Jaja, Gustavo Saposnik, Rosane Nisenbaum, Benjamin W. Y. Lo, Tom A. Schweizer, Kevin E. Thorpe, and R. Loch Macdonald

Object

The goal of this study was to determine racial/ethnic differences in inpatient mortality rates and the use of institutional postacute care following subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) in the US.

Methods

A cross-sectional study of hospital discharges for SAH was conducted using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample for the years 2005–2010. Discharges with a principal diagnosis of SAH were identified and abstracted using the appropriate ICD-9-CM diagnostic code. Racial/ethnic groups were defined as white, black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander (API), and American Indian. Multinomial logistic regression analyses were performed comparing racial/ethnic groups with respect to the primary outcome of risk of in-hospital mortality and the secondary outcome of likelihood of discharge to institutional care.

Results

During the study period, 31,631 discharges were related to SAH. Race/ethnicity was a significant predictor of death (p = 0.003) and discharge to institutional care (p ≤ 0.001). In the adjusted analysis, compared with white patients, API patients were at higher risk of death (OR 1.34, 95% CI 1.13–1.59) and Hispanic patients were at lower risk of death (OR 0.84, 95% CI 0.72–0.97). The likelihood of discharge to institutional care was statistically similar between white, Hispanic, API, and Native American patients. Black patients were more likely to be discharged to institutional care compared with white patients (OR 1.27, 95% CI 1.14–1.40), but were similar to white patients in the risk of death.

Conclusions

Significant racial/ethnic differences are present in the risk of inpatient mortality and discharge to institutional care among patients with SAH in the US. Outcome is likely to be poor among API patients and best among Hispanic patients compared with other groups.