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Oren Berkowitz, Kristen Jones, L. Dade Lunsford and Douglas Kondziolka

Object

The definition and determination of quality health care is an important topic. The purpose of this study was to develop a longitudinal method to define a quality procedure by creating a formal approach to pre- and postoperative outcomes documentation. The authors worked to define quality outcomes by first documenting the patient's condition. Goals were determined together by the surgeon and the patient and then were evaluated to see if those goals were met.

Methods

The population consisted of cancer patients with newly diagnosed metastatic brain disease who were scheduled to undergo stereotactic radiosurgery. Surgeons recorded perioperatively objective information related to preoperative goals, clinical findings, surgical performance and/or error, and whether goals were met. In addition, patients completed pre- and postprocedure questionnaires (Rand 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey 1.0 [SF-36]).

Results

Procedural goals, defined as completing radiosurgery without error or complication and same-day discharge, were met in all patients. The clinically predetermined goal of tumor palliation was met in all but 1 patient at follow-up. The SF-36 scores remained stable except for the general health domain, which was lower (p = 0.006).

Conclusions

Procedural goals can be defined and objectively measured serially. The authors think that quality care can be defined as a process that achieves predefined goals without significant error and maintains or improves health.

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Molly E. Hubbard, Matthew A. Hunt, Kristen E. Jones and David W. Polly

Congenital scoliosis due to a hemivertebra requires surgical stabilization prior to skeletal maturity if rapidly progressive curve growth occurs. Here the authors present the unique case of a man who, at the age of 12 years, had undergone Harrington rod placement for stabilization of progressive congenital scoliosis due to a T-11 hemivertebra and then, at the age of 53 years, presented with acutely progressive myelopathy due to spinal cord compression from an arachnoid web at T-11 despite a solid fusion mass at the prior surgical site. The patient underwent a posterior midline approach for resection of the T-11 pedicle at the level of the hemivertebra, intradural spinal cord detethering with resection of the arachnoid web at T-11, and T2–L2 instrumented fusion with deformity correction, leading to subsequent resolution of his acute myelopathic symptoms. In conclusion, arachnoid web formation superimposed on preexisting tension on the thoracic spinal cord from congenital scoliosis due to a T-11 hemivertebra caused acute myelopathy in an adult with a previously solid fusion mass from childhood. The resolution of acute myelopathy and halting of further progression occurred with pedicle resection, arachnoid web fenestration, and spinal deformity correction.

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Kristen E. Jones, Ava M. Puccio, Kathy J. Harshman, Bonnie Falcione, Neal Benedict, Brian T. Jankowitz, Martina Stippler, Michael Fischer, Erin K. Sauber-Schatz, Anthony Fabio, Joseph M. Darby and David O. Okonkwo

Object

Current standard of care for patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) is prophylactic treatment with phenytoin for 7 days to decrease the risk of early posttraumatic seizures. Phenytoin alters drug metabolism, induces fever, and requires therapeutic-level monitoring. Alternatively, levetiracetam (Keppra) does not require serum monitoring or have significant pharmacokinetic interactions. In the current study, the authors compare the EEG findings in patients receiving phenytoin with those receiving levetiracetam monotherapy for seizure prophylaxis following severe TBI.

Methods

Data were prospectively collected in 32 cases in which patients received levetiracetam for the first 7 days after severe TBI and compared with data from a historical cohort of 41 cases in which patients received phenytoin monotherapy. Patients underwent 1-hour electroencephalographic (EEG) monitoring if they displayed persistent coma, decreased mental status, or clinical signs of seizures. The EEG results were grouped into normal and abnormal findings, with abnormal EEG findings further categorized as seizure activity or seizure tendency.

Results

Fifteen of 32 patients in the levetiracetam group warranted EEG monitoring. In 7 of these 15 cases the results were normal and in 8 abnormal; 1 patient had seizure activity, whereas 7 had seizure tendency. Twelve of 41 patients in the phenytoin group received EEG monitoring, with all results being normal. Patients treated with levetiracetam and phenytoin had equivalent incidence of seizure activity (p = 0.556). Patients receiving levetiracetam had a higher incidence of abnormal EEG findings (p = 0.003).

Conclusions

Levetiracetam is as effective as phenytoin in preventing early posttraumatic seizures but is associated with an increased seizure tendency on EEG analysis.