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Cornelia Drees, Kevin Chapman, Erin Prenger, Leslie Baxter, Rama Maganti, Harold Rekate, Andrew Shetter, Maggie Bobrowitz, and John F. Kerrigan

Object

This study aimed at identifying outcomes with respect to seizures, morbidity, and mortality in adult patients undergoing resective or Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) to treat intractable epilepsy associated with hypothalamic hamartoma (HH).

Methods

Adult patients undergoing surgical treatment for HH-related epilepsy were prospectively monitored at a single center for complications and seizure outcome by using a proprietary database. Preintervention and postintervention data for patients 18 years of age and older, and with at least 1 year of follow-up, were analyzed, with specific attention to seizure control, complications, hormonal status, and death.

Results

Forty adult patients were found in the database (21 were women). The median HH volume was 0.54 cm3. In 70% of patients, it was located inside the third ventricle, attached unilaterally and vertically to the hypothalamus (Delalande Type II). Most patients (26) underwent an endoscopic resection, 10 patients had a transcallosal or other type of open (pterional or orbitozygomatic) resection, and 4 patients chose GKS.

Twenty-nine percent became seizure free in the long term, and overall a majority of patients (55%) reported at least > 90% seizure improvement. Only 3 patients were ultimately able to discontinue anticonvulsants, whereas most patients were taking an average of 2 antiepileptic drugs pre- and postoperatively. The only factor significantly correlated with seizure-free outcome was the absence of mental retardation. The HH volume, HH type, and amount of resection or disconnection were not correlated to seizure freedom. A total of 4 patients (10%) died, 2 immediately after surgery and 2 later. All of them had undergone a resection, as opposed to GKS, and still had seizures. Postoperatively, persistent neurological deficits were seen in 1 patient; 34% of patients had mild hormonal problems; and 59% experienced weight gain of at least 6.8 kg (average gain 12.7 kg).

Conclusions

Surgical or GKS procedures in adults with HH provided seizure freedom in one-third of patients. The only significant favorable prognostic factor was the absence of mental retardation. The overall mortality rate was high, at 10%. Other important morbidities were persistent hormonal disturbances and weight gain.

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Christina E. Sarris, Scott T. Brigeman, Estelle Doris, Maggie Bobrowitz, Thomas Rowe, Eva M. Duran, Griffin D. Santarelli, Ryan M. Rehl, Garineh Ovanessoff, Monica C. Rodriguez, Kajalben Buddhdev, Kevin C. J. Yuen, and Andrew S. Little

OBJECTIVE

A comprehensive quality improvement (QI) program aimed at all aspects of patient care after pituitary surgery was initiated at a single center. This initiative was guided by standard quality principles to improve patient outcomes and optimize healthcare value. The programmatic goal was to discharge most elective patients within 1 day after surgery, improve patient safety, and limit unplanned readmissions. The program is described, and its effect on patient outcomes and hospital financial performance over a 5-year period are investigated.

METHODS

Details of the patient care pathway are presented. Foundational elements of the QI program include evidence-based care pathways (e.g., for hyponatremia and pain), an in-house research program designed to fortify care pathways, patient education, expectation setting, multidisciplinary team care, standard order sets, high-touch postdischarge care, outcomes auditing, and a patient navigator, among other elements. Length of stay (LOS), outcome variability, 30-day unplanned readmissions, and hospital financial performance were identified as surrogate endpoints for healthcare value for the surgical epoch. To assess the effect of these protocols, all patients undergoing elective transsphenoidal surgery for pituitary tumors and Rathke’s cleft cysts between January 2015 and December 2019 were reviewed.

RESULTS

A total of 609 adult patients who underwent elective surgery by experienced pituitary surgeons were identified. Patient demographics, comorbidities, and payer mix did not change significantly over the study period (p ≥ 0.10). The mean LOS was significantly shorter in 2019 versus 2015 (1.6 ± 1.0 vs 2.9 ± 2.2 midnights, p < 0.001). The percentage of patients discharged after 1 midnight was significantly higher in 2019 versus 2015 (75.4% vs 15.6%, p < 0.001). The 30-day unplanned hospital readmission rate decreased to 2.8% in 2019 from 8.3% in 2015. Per-patient hospital profit increased 71.3% ($10,613 ± $19,321 in 2015; $18,180 ± $21,930 in 2019), and the contribution margin increased 42.3% ($18,925 ± $19,236 in 2015; $26,939 ± $22,057 in 2019), while costs increased by only 3.4% ($18,829 ± $6611 in 2015; $19,469 ± $4291 in 2019).

CONCLUSIONS

After implementation of a comprehensive pituitary surgery QI program, patient outcomes significantly improved, outcome variability decreased, and hospital financial performance was enhanced. Future studies designed to evaluate disease remission, patient satisfaction, and how the surgeon learning curve may synergize with other quality efforts may provide additional context.