✓ Malignant astroglial neoplasms of the cerebellum are rare and the clinical behavior of these tumors is unpredictable. The authors describe the histological characteristics and clinical outcome in 10 patients; eight had malignant cerebellar astrocytomas, and one each had an astroblastoma and a true polar spongioblastoma. Malignant glial tumors involving the cerebellum usually behave very aggressively. Cerebellar astroblastomas and polar spongioblastomas are too rare to predict their natural history. Some hypotheses are proposed concerning the evolution and interrelationship of malignant glial tumors of the cerebellum.
Gary K. Steinberg, Lawrence M. Shuer, Frances K. Conley and John W. Hanbery
Tej D. Azad, Maziyar Kalani, Terrill Wolf, Alisa Kearney, Yohan Lee, Lisa Flannery, David Chen, Ryan Berroya, Matthew Eisenberg, Jon Park, Lawrence Shuer, Alison Kerr and John K. Ratliff
Demonstrating the value of spine care requires adequate outcomes assessment. Long-term outcomes are best measured as overall improvement in quality of life (QOL) after surgical intervention. Present registries often require parallel data entry, introducing inefficiencies and limiting compliance. The authors detail the methodology of constructing an integrated electronic health record (EHR) system to collect QOL metrics and demonstrate the effect of data collection on routine clinical workflow. A streamlined approach to collecting QOL data can capture patient data without requiring dual data entry and without increasing clinic visit times.
Through extensive literature review, a combination of QOL assessments was selected, consisting of the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 and -9, Oswestry Disability Index, Neck Disability Index, and visual analog scale for pain. These metrics were used to provide assessment of QOL following spine surgery and were incorporated into standard clinic workflow by a multidisciplinary team of surgeons, advanced practice providers, and health care information technology specialists. A clinical dashboard tracking more than 25 patient variables was developed. Clinic flow was assessed and opportunities for improvement reviewed. Duration of clinic visits before and after initiation of QOL measure capture was recorded, with assessment of mean clinic visit times for the 12 months before and the 12 months after implementation.
The integrated QOL capture was instituted for 3 spine surgeons in a tertiary care academic center. In the 12-month period prior to initiating collection of QOL data, 806 new patient visits were completed with an average visit time of 127.9 ± 51.5 minutes. In the 12 months after implementation, 1013 new patient visits were recorded, with 791 providing QOL measures with an average visit time of 117.0 ± 45.7 minutes. Initially the primary means of collecting patient outcome data was via paper form, with gradual transition to collection via entry into the electronic medical records system. To improve electronic data capture, paper forms were eliminated and an online portal used as part of the patient rooming process. This improved electronic capture to nearly 98% without decreasing the number of patients enrolled in the process.
A systematic approach to collecting spine-related QOL data within an EHR system is feasible and offers distinct advantages over registries that require dual data entry. The process of data collection does not impact patients’ clinical visit or providers’ clinical workflow. This approach is scalable, and may form the foundation for a decentralized outcomes registry network.
Samuel Henry Cheshier, Mohammad Yashar Sorena Kalani, Arjun Pendakaur, Dominique Higgins, David Kahn, Stephen Shendel and Lawrence Shuer
The authors present a novel case of skeletal dysplasia in a 2.8-year-old girl. The patient presented with progressive lower cranial nerve palsy and myelopathy due to constriction at the cervicomedullary junction caused by overgrowth of the occipital bone of the foramen magnum and the C-1. She also had prominent bone overgrowth of the superior orbital ridges, resulting in excessive stretching of periorbital skin and an inability to fully close her eyes.
Norman L. Lehman, Charlotte D. Jacobs, Phillip A. Holsten, Sivakumar Jaikumar, Trang D. Lehman, Iris C. Gibbs and Lawrence M. Shuer
✓A primary paraspinal leiomyosarcoma invading the spine is an exceedingly rare neoplasm that may clinically mimic a schwannoma. The authors report a case involving a 45-year-old man with a primary leiomyosarcoma of the cervical paraspinal musculature that invaded the spinal canal at C1–2 and subsequently metastasized to the lungs and pancreas. Aggressive treatment consisting of resection of the primary tumor, adjunctive radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and surgical debulking of metastatic disease resulted in local tumor control at the primary site and long-term survival of the patient.
Anand Veeravagu, Amy Li, Christian Swinney, Lu Tian, Adrienne Moraff, Tej D. Azad, Ivan Cheng, Todd Alamin, Serena S. Hu, Robert L. Anderson, Lawrence Shuer, Atman Desai, Jon Park, Richard A. Olshen and John K. Ratliff
The ability to assess the risk of adverse events based on known patient factors and comorbidities would provide more effective preoperative risk stratification. Present risk assessment in spine surgery is limited. An adverse event prediction tool was developed to predict the risk of complications after spine surgery and tested on a prospective patient cohort.
The spinal Risk Assessment Tool (RAT), a novel instrument for the assessment of risk for patients undergoing spine surgery that was developed based on an administrative claims database, was prospectively applied to 246 patients undergoing 257 spinal procedures over a 3-month period. Prospectively collected data were used to compare the RAT to the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) and the American College of Surgeons National Surgery Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) Surgical Risk Calculator. Study end point was occurrence and type of complication after spine surgery.
The authors identified 69 patients (73 procedures) who experienced a complication over the prospective study period. Cardiac complications were most common (10.2%). Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were calculated to compare complication outcomes using the different assessment tools. Area under the curve (AUC) analysis showed comparable predictive accuracy between the RAT and the ACS NSQIP calculator (0.670 [95% CI 0.60–0.74] in RAT, 0.669 [95% CI 0.60–0.74] in NSQIP). The CCI was not accurate in predicting complication occurrence (0.55 [95% CI 0.48–0.62]). The RAT produced mean probabilities of 34.6% for patients who had a complication and 24% for patients who did not (p = 0.0003). The generated predicted values were stratified into low, medium, and high rates. For the RAT, the predicted complication rate was 10.1% in the low-risk group (observed rate 12.8%), 21.9% in the medium-risk group (observed 31.8%), and 49.7% in the high-risk group (observed 41.2%). The ACS NSQIP calculator consistently produced complication predictions that underestimated complication occurrence: 3.4% in the low-risk group (observed 12.6%), 5.9% in the medium-risk group (observed 34.5%), and 12.5% in the high-risk group (observed 38.8%). The RAT was more accurate than the ACS NSQIP calculator (p = 0.0018).
While the RAT and ACS NSQIP calculator were both able to identify patients more likely to experience complications following spine surgery, both have substantial room for improvement. Risk stratification is feasible in spine surgery procedures; currently used measures have low accuracy.