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Hasan R. Syed, Kurt Yaeger, and Faheem A. Sandhu

Several studies have described the radiographic, histological, and morphological changes to the paraspinal muscle in patients with chronic low-back pain due to degenerative diseases of the spine. Gross anatomical illustrations have shown that the psoas muscle lies lateral to the L4–5 vertebrae and subsequently thins and dissociates from the vertebral body at L5–S1 in a ventrolateral course. A “rising psoas” may influence the location of the lumbar plexus and result in transient neurological injury on lateral approach to the spine. It is postulated that axial back pain may be exacerbated by anatomical changes of paraspinal musculature as a direct result of degenerative spine conditions. To their knowledge, the authors present the first reported case of a more anteriorly positioned psoas muscle and its resolution following correction of spondylolisthesis in a 62-year-old woman. This case highlights the dynamic nature of degenerative spinal disorders and illustrates that psoas muscle position can be affected by sagittal balance. Normal anatomical positioning can be restored following correction of spinal alignment.

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Kurt A. Yaeger, Alexander J. Schupper, Jeffrey T. Gilligan, and Isabelle M. Germano

OBJECTIVE

Neurosurgery is a highly competitive residency field with a match rate lower than that of other specialties. The aim of this study was to analyze trends associated with the residency match process from the applicants’ and program directors’ perspectives.

METHODS

Between 2010 and 2020, the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) Applicant and Program Director Surveys, the NRMP Charting Outcomes reports, and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Data Resource Books were analyzed to identify the number of applicants interviewed and ranked in US programs, the applicants’ ranking preferences, the program directors’ preferential factors in offering interviews, and rank list order. Applicants were divided between US senior medical students and independent applicants. Each cohort was dichotomized for matched and unmatched applicants.

RESULTS

Over the study period, 2935 applicants applied to neurosurgery residency, including 2135 US senior medical students and 800 independent applicants, with an overall match rate of 65%. Overall, matched applicants had a significantly higher number of publications (p < 0.05). Among US senior medical student applicants, the application-to-interview ratio more than doubled over the study period, yet the number of interview invitations received, interviews accepted, and programs ranked remained unchanged. In the US senior medical student cohort, the number of submitted applications, interview invitations, accepted interviews, and programs ranked did not significantly differ between matched and unmatched applicants. In both cohorts, applicants shifted ranking factors from a more academic focus in early years to more well-being in later years. Letters of recommendation and board scores were key factors for program directors while screening applicants for interviews and ranking.

CONCLUSIONS

Neurosurgery residency continues to be a highly competitive field in medicine, with match rates of 65%. Recently, applicants have placed greater importance on ranking programs that value residents’ well-being, as opposed to strictly academic factors. A data-driven understanding of factors important to applicants and program directors during the match process has the potential to improve resident candidate recruitment and overall resident-program fit, thereby improving well-being during residency, reducing the attrition rate, and overall enhancing the diversity of the neurosurgery resident workforce.

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Kurt A. Yaeger, Stephan A. Munich, Richard W. Byrne, and Isabelle M. Germano

OBJECTIVE

Postgraduate training in medicine has been under scrutiny in the last 10 years, with a focus on improving residents’ education. The aim of this study was to quantify trends in neurosurgery residency (NSR) training and education over the last 10 years.

METHODS

The authors assessed Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), National Resident Matching Program, and American Board of Neurological Surgeons records and searched PubMed to collate 2009–2019 data. Analyzed trends included residents’ demographic data, programs’ characteristics, graduation and attrition rates, match data, resident case logs, and qualitative educational curriculum changes.

RESULTS

Significant increases in residents’ demographic data (p < 0.05) included the number of female residents (from 12.7% to 17.6%) and the absolute number of residents (from 1112 to 1462). Age (mean 28.8 years), ethnicity, and number of residents per program (mean 13 residents per program) were unchanged. There were 16 new ACGME NSR programs, with currently 115 programs nationwide. The number of applicants per year (324 applicants per year) and the matching rate (mean 64%) remained stable. The mean attrition rate of 2.6% (range 2%–4%) was higher than the mean 2.1% ACGME attrition rate, a rate that decreased from 3% in 2009 to 1.6% in 2019. Education curriculum changes aimed at the standardization of training across the US included residents’ boot camp (2009), the Milestones project (2012), and mandatory 7-year training initiated in 2013. An increase in endovascular, functional, trauma, and spine resident caseload was noted. The number of yearly publications about US NSR education has significantly increased (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

NSR education has received greater attention over the last decade in the US. Standardization of training has been implemented. A steady number of students remain interested in neurosurgery, with an increased number of women entering the field. Attention to wellness, in addition to high-quality education, should be further assessed as a factor to improve the overall NSR training and retention rate.

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Benjamin K. Hendricks, James S. Yoon, Kurt Yaeger, Christopher P. Kellner, J Mocco, Reade A. De Leacy, Andrew F. Ducruet, Michael T. Lawton, and Justin R. Mascitelli

OBJECTIVE

Wide-necked aneurysms (WNAs) are a variably defined subset of cerebral aneurysms that require more advanced endovascular and microsurgical techniques than those required for narrow-necked aneurysms. The neurosurgical literature includes many definitions of WNAs, and a systematic review has not been performed to identify the most commonly used or optimal definition. The purpose of this systematic review was to highlight the most commonly used definition of WNAs.

METHODS

The authors searched PubMed for the years 1998–2017, using the terms “wide neck aneurysm” and “broad neck aneurysm” to identify relevant articles. All results were screened for having a minimum of 30 patients and for clearly stating a definition of WNA. Reference lists for all articles meeting the inclusion criteria were also screened for eligibility.

RESULTS

The search of the neurosurgical literature identified 809 records, of which 686 were excluded (626 with < 30 patients; 60 for lack of a WNA definition), leaving 123 articles for analysis. Twenty-seven unique definitions were identified and condensed into 14 definitions. The most common definition was neck size ≥ 4 mm or dome-to-neck ratio < 2, which was used in 49 articles (39.8%). The second most commonly used definition was neck size ≥ 4 mm, which was used in 26 articles (21.1%). The rest of the definitions included similar parameters with variable thresholds. There was inconsistent reporting of the precise dome measurements used to determine the dome-to-neck ratio. Digital subtraction angiography was the only imaging modality used to study the aneurysm morphology in 87 of 122 articles (71.3%).

CONCLUSIONS

The literature has great variability regarding the definition of a WNA. The most prevalent definition is a neck diameter of ≥ 4 mm or a dome-to-neck ratio of < 2. Whether this is the most appropriate and clinically useful definition is an area for future study.