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Martin N. Stienen, Werner Surbeck, and Gerhard Hildebrandt

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Anita M. Klukowska, Marc L. Schröder, Martin N. Stienen, and Victor E. Staartjes

OBJECTIVE

The five-repetition sit-to-stand (5R-STS) test provides a new dimension of clinical assessment by capturing objective functional impairment (OFI). Through the utilization of data from two prospective studies, the authors sought to evaluate the concurrent validity of the proposed 5R-STS baseline severity stratification (BSS) for OFI with the following levels based on time to completion in seconds: none, ≤ 10.4; mild, 10.5–15.2; moderate, 15.3–22.0; and severe, > 22.0 seconds.

METHODS

Patients with degenerative diseases of the spine performed the 5R-STS test and completed visual analog scales (VASs) for back and leg pain, the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ), and EQ-5D questionnaires. The degree of OFI severity was assessed based on the previously proposed BSS, and its association with patient-reported scales was evaluated using ANOVA as well as crude and adjusted linear regression models.

RESULTS

Our sample included 240 patients, of whom 101 exhibited no OFI, whereas 80, 34, and 25 were judged to have mild, moderate, and severe OFI, respectively. A higher baseline severity was strongly associated with loss of working ability (p < 0.001), as well as results of all patient-reported scales (p ≤ 0.001), with the exception of the VAS for leg pain (p = 0.556). Crude and adjusted regression analyses corroborated these findings, although only patients with moderate and severe OFI as judged by using the 5R-STS BSS demonstrated clinically relevant differences compared with patients without OFI.

CONCLUSIONS

The degree of OFI—based on the 5R-STS BSS—is strongly associated with measures of back pain, subjective functional impairment, and health-related quality of life. However, leg pain severity is not reflected within the dimension of OFI measured by the 5R-STS. The proposed BSS appears to be a concurrently valid and clinically relevant measure of OFI in patients with degenerative spinal pathologies.

Open access

Ghani Haider, Katherine E. Wagner, Venita Chandra, Ivan Cheng, Martin N. Stienen, and Anand Veeravagu

BACKGROUND

The use of the lateral decubitus approach for L5–S1 anterior lumbar interbody fusion (LALIF) is a recent advancement capable of facilitating single-position surgery, revision operations, and anterior column reconstruction. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first description of the use of LALIF at L5–S1 for failed prior transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) and anterior column reconstruction. Using an illustrative case, the authors discuss their experience using LALIF at L5–S1 for the revision of pseudoarthrosis and TLIF failure.

OBSERVATIONS

The patient had prior attempted L2 to S1 fusion with TLIF but suffered from hardware failure and pseudoarthrosis at the L5–S1 level. LALIF was used to facilitate same-position revision at L5–S1 in addition to further anterior column revision and reconstruction by lateral lumbar interbody fusion at the L1–2 level. Robotic posterior T10–S2 fusion was then added to provide stability to the construct and address the patient’s scoliotic deformity. No complications were noted, and the patient was followed until 1 year after the operation with a favorable clinical and radiological result.

LESSONS

Revision of a prior failed L5–S1 TLIF with an LALIF approach has technical challenges but may be advantageous for single position anterior column reconstruction under certain conditions.

Free access

Anne-Katrin Hickmann, Andrea Ferrari, Oliver Bozinov, Martin N. Stienen, and Carsten Ostendorp

OBJECTIVE

Restrictions on working time and healthcare expenditures, as well as increasing subspecialization with caseload requirements per surgeon and increased quality-of-care expectations, provide limited opportunities for surgical residents to be trained in the operating room. Yet, surgical training requires goal-oriented and focused practice. As a result, training simulators are increasingly utilized. The authors designed a two-step blended course consisting of a personalized adaptive electronic learning (e-learning) module followed by simulator training. This paper reports on course development and the evaluation by the first participants.

METHODS

Adaptive e-learning was curated by learning engineers based on theoretical information provided by clinicians (subject matter experts). A lumbar spine model for image-guided spinal injections was used for the simulator training. Residents were assigned to the e-learning module first; after its completion, they participated in the simulator training. Performance data were recorded for each participant’s e-learning module, which was necessary to personalize the learning experience to each individual’s knowledge and needs. Simulator training was organized in small groups with a 1-to-4 instructor-to-participant ratio. Structured assessments were undertaken, adapted from the Student Evaluation of Educational Quality.

RESULTS

The adaptive e-learning module was curated, reviewed, and approved within 10 weeks. Eight participants have taken the course to date. The overall rating of the course is very good (4.8/5). Adaptive e-learning is well received compared with other e-learning types (8/10), but scores lower regarding usefulness, efficiency, and fun compared with the simulator training, despite improved conscious competency (32.6% ± 15.1%) and decreased subconscious incompetency (22.8% ± 10.2%). The subjective skill level improved by 20%. Asked about the estimated impact of the course, participants indicated that they had either learned something new that they plan to use in their practice (71.4%) or felt reassured in their practice (28.6%).

CONCLUSIONS

The development of a blended training course combining adaptive e-learning and simulator training in a rapid manner is feasible and leads to improved skills. Simulator training is rated more valuable by surgical trainees than theoretical e-learning; the impact of this type of training on patient care needs to be further investigated.

Free access

Kunal Varshneya, Adrian J. Rodrigues, Zachary A. Medress, Martin N. Stienen, Gerald A. Grant, John K. Ratliff, and Anand Veeravagu

OBJECTIVE

Skull fractures are common after blunt pediatric head trauma. CSF leaks are a rare but serious complication of skull fractures; however, little evidence exists on the risk of developing a CSF leak following skull fracture in the pediatric population. In this epidemiological study, the authors investigated the risk factors of CSF leaks and their impact on pediatric skull fracture outcomes.

METHODS

The authors queried the MarketScan database (2007–2015), identifying pediatric patients (age < 18 years) with a diagnosis of skull fracture and CSF leak. Skull fractures were disaggregated by location (base, vault, facial) and severity (open, closed, multiple, concomitant cerebral or vascular injury). Descriptive statistics and hypothesis testing were used to compare baseline characteristics, complications, quality metrics, and costs.

RESULTS

The authors identified 13,861 pediatric patients admitted with a skull fracture, of whom 1.46% (n = 202) developed a CSF leak. Among patients with a skull fracture and a CSF leak, 118 (58.4%) presented with otorrhea and 84 (41.6%) presented with rhinorrhea. Patients who developed CSF leaks were older (10.4 years vs 8.7 years, p < 0.0001) and more commonly had skull base (n = 183) and multiple (n = 22) skull fractures (p < 0.05). These patients also more frequently underwent a neurosurgical intervention (24.8% vs 9.6%, p < 0.0001). Compared with the non–CSF leak population, patients with a CSF leak had longer average hospitalizations (9.6 days vs 3.7 days, p < 0.0001) and higher rates of neurological deficits (5.0% vs 0.7%, p < 0.0001; OR 7.0; 95% CI 3.6–13.6), meningitis (5.5% vs 0.3%, p < 0.0001; OR 22.4; 95% CI 11.2–44.9), nonroutine discharge (6.9% vs 2.5%, p < 0.0001; OR 2.9; 95% CI 1.7–5.0), and readmission (24.7% vs 8.5%, p < 0.0001; OR 3.4; 95% CI 2.5–4.7). Total costs at 90 days for patients with a CSF leak averaged $81,206, compared with $32,831 for patients without a CSF leak (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found that CSF leaks occurred in 1.46% of pediatric patients with skull fractures and that skull fractures were associated with significantly increased rates of neurosurgical intervention and risks of meningitis, hospital readmission, and neurological deficits at 90 days. Pediatric patients with skull fractures also experienced longer average hospitalizations and greater healthcare costs at presentation and at 90 days.

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Ivan Cheng, Martin N. Stienen, Zachary A. Medress, Kunal Varshneya, Allen L. Ho, John K. Ratliff, and Anand Veeravagu

OBJECTIVE

Adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery is complex and associated with high morbidity and complication rates. There is growing evidence in the literature for the beneficial effects of an approach to surgery in which two attending physicians rather than a single attending physician perform surgery for and oversee the surgical care of a single patient in a dual-attending care model. The authors developed a dual-attending care collaboration in August 2017 in which a neurosurgeon and an orthopedic surgeon mutually operated on patients with ASD.

METHODS

The authors recorded data for 2 years of experience with ASD patients operated on by dual attending surgeons. Analyses included estimated blood loss (EBL), transfusions, length of stay (LOS), discharge disposition, complication rates, emergency room visits and readmissions, subjective health status improvement, and disability (Oswestry Disability Index [ODI] score) and pain (visual analog scale [VAS] score) at last follow-up. In addition, the pertinent literature for dual-attending spinal deformity correction was systematically reviewed.

RESULTS

The study group comprised 19 of 254 (7.5%) consecutively operated patients who underwent thoracolumbar fusion during the period from January 2017 to June 2019 (68.4% female; mean patient age 65.1 years, ODI score 44.5, VAS pain score 6.8). The study patients were matched by age, sex, anesthesia risk, BMI, smoking status, ODI score, VAS pain score, prior spine surgeries, and basic operative characteristics (type of interbody implants, instrumented segments, pelvic fixation) to 19 control patients (all p > 0.05). There was a trend toward less EBL (mean 763 vs 1524 ml, p = 0.059), fewer intraoperative red blood cell transfusions (mean 0.5 vs 2.3, p = 0.079), and fewer 90-day readmissions (0% vs 15.8%, p = 0.071) in the dual-attending group. LOS and discharge disposition were similar, as were the rates of any < 30-day postsurgery complications, < 90-day postsurgery emergency room visits, and reoperations, and ODI and VAS pain scores at last follow-up (all p > 0.05). At last follow-up, 94.7% vs 68.4% of patients in the dual- versus single-attending group stated their health status had improved (p = 0.036). In the authors’ literature search of prior articles on spinal deformity correction, 5 of 8 (62.5%) articles reported lower EBL and 6 of 8 (75%) articles reported significantly lower operation duration in dual-attending cases. The literature contained differing results with regard to complication- or reoperation-sparing effects associated with dual-attending cases. Similar clinical outcomes of dual- versus single-attending cases were reported.

CONCLUSIONS

Establishing a dual-attending care management platform for ASD correction was feasible at the authors’ institution. Results of the use of a dual-attending strategy at the authors’ institution were favorable. Positive safety and outcome profiles were found in articles on this topic identified by a systematic literature review.

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Kunal Varshneya, Rayyan T. Jokhai, Parastou Fatemi, Martin N. Stienen, Zachary A. Medress, Allen L. Ho, John K. Ratliff, and Anand Veeravagu

OBJECTIVE

This was a retrospective cohort study in which the authors used a nationally representative administrative database. Their goal was to identify the risk factors for reoperation in Medicare patients undergoing primary thoracolumbar adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery. Previous literature reports estimate that 20% of patients undergoing thoracolumbar ASD correction undergo revision surgery within 2 years. Most published data discuss risk factors for revision surgery in the general population, but these have not been explored specifically in the Medicare population.

METHODS

Using the MarketScan Medicare Supplemental database, the authors identified patients who were diagnosed with a spinal deformity and underwent ASD surgery between 2007 and 2015. The interactions of patient demographics, surgical factors, and medical factors with revision surgery were investigated during the 2 years following primary ASD surgery. The authors excluded patients without Medicare insurance and those with any prior history of trauma or tumor.

RESULTS

Included in the data set were 2564 patients enrolled in Medicare who underwent ASD surgery between 2007 and 2015. The mean age at diagnosis with spinal deformity was 71.5 years. A majority of patients (68.5%) were female. Within 2 years of follow-up, 661 (25.8%) patients underwent reoperation. Preoperative osteoporosis (OR 1.58, p < 0.0001), congestive heart failure (OR 1.35, p = 0.0161), and paraplegia (OR 2.41, p < 0.0001) independently increased odds of revision surgery. The use of intraoperative bone morphogenetic protein was protective against reoperation (OR 0.71, p = 0.0371). Among 90-day postoperative complications, a wound complication was the strongest predictor of undergoing repeat surgery (OR 2.85, p = 0.0061). The development of a pulmonary embolism also increased the odds of repeat surgery (OR 1.84, p = 0.0435).

CONCLUSIONS

Approximately one-quarter of Medicare patients with ASD who underwent surgery required an additional spinal surgery within 2 years. Baseline comorbidities such as osteoporosis, congestive heart failure, and paraplegia, as well as short-term complications such as pulmonary embolism and wound complications significantly increased the odds of repeat surgery.

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Martin N. Stienen, Holger Joswig, Ivan Chau, Marian C. Neidert, David Bellut, Thomas Wälchli, Karl Schaller, and Oliver P. Gautschi

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the intraoperative application of an epidural steroid (ES) on the decompressed nerve root improves short- and midterm subjective and objective clinical outcomes after lumbar microdiscectomy.

METHODS

This study was a retrospective analysis of a 2-center database including consecutive cases in which patients underwent lumbar microdiscectomy. All patients who received ES application (40 mg triamcinolone, ES group) were matched by age and sex to patients who had not received ES application (control group). Objective functional impairment (OFI) was determined using age- and sex-adjusted T-scores of the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test. Back and leg pain (visual analog scale), functional impairment (Oswestry Disability Index [ODI], Roland-Morris Disability Index [RMDI], and health-related quality of life (hrQoL; 12-Item Short Form Health Survey [SF-12] physical component summary [PSC] score and EuroQol [EQ-5D index]) were measured at baseline, on postoperative day 3, and at postoperative week 6.

RESULTS

Fifty-three patients who received ES application were matched with 101 controls. There were no baseline demographic or disease-specific differences between the study groups, and preoperative pain, functional impairment, and hrQoL were similar. On postoperative day 3, the ES group had less disability on the RMDI (mean 7.4 vs 10.3, p = 0.003) and higher hrQoL as determined by the SF-12 PCS (36.5 vs 32.7, p = 0.004). At week 6, the ES group had less disability on the RMDI (3.6 vs 5.7, p = 0.050) and on the ODI by trend (17.0 vs 24.4, p = 0.056); better hrQoL, determined by the SF-12 PCS (44.3 vs 39.9, p = 0.018); and lower OFI (TUG test T-score 100.5 vs 110.2, p = 0.005). The week 6 responder status based on the minimum clinically important difference (MCID) was similar in the ES and control groups for each metric. The rates and severity of complications were similar, with a 3.8% and 4.0% reoperation rate in the ES group and control group, respectively (p = 0.272). There was a tendency for shorter hospitalization in the ES group (5.0 vs 5.8 days, p = 0.066).

CONCLUSIONS

Intraoperative ES application on the decompressed nerve root is an effective adjunct treatment that may lower subjective and objective functional impairment and increase hrQoL in the short and intermediate term after lumbar microdiscectomy. However, group differences were lower than the commonly accepted MCIDs for each metric, indicating that the effect size of the benefit is limited.

■ CLASSIFICATION OF EVIDENCE Type of question: therapeutic; study design: retrospective cohort trial; evidence: Class II.

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Martin N. Stienen, Nicolas R. Smoll, Holger Joswig, Marco V. Corniola, Karl Schaller, Gerhard Hildebrandt, and Oliver P. Gautschi

OBJECTIVE

The Timed Up and Go (TUG) test is a simple, objective, and standardized method to measure objective functional impairment (OFI) in patients with lumbar degenerative disc disease (DDD). The objective of the current work was to validate the OFI baseline severity stratification (BSS; with levels of “none,” “mild,” “moderate,” and “severe”).

METHODS

Data were collected in a prospective IRB-approved 2-center study. Patients were assessed with a comprehensive panel of scales for measuring pain (visual analog scale [VAS] for back and leg pain), functional impairment (Roland-Morris Disability Index [RMDI] and Oswestry Disability Index [ODI]), and health-related quality of life (HRQOL; EQ-5D and SF-12). OFI BSS was determined using age- and sex-adjusted cutoff values.

RESULTS

A total of 375 consecutive patients scheduled for lumbar spine surgery were included. Each 1-step increase on the OFI BSS corresponded to an increase of 0.53 in the back pain VAS score, 0.69 in the leg pain VAS score, 1.81 points in the RMDI, and 5.93 points in the ODI, as well as to a decrease in HRQOL of −0.073 in the EQ-5D, −1.99 in the SF-12 physical component summary (PCS), and −1.62 in the SF-12 mental component summary (MCS; all p < 0.001). Patients with mild, moderate, and severe OFI had increased leg pain by 0.90 (p = 0.044), 1.54 (p < 0.001), and 1.94 (p < 0.001); increased ODI by 7.99 (p = 0.004), 12.64 (p < 0.001), and 17.13 (p < 0.001); and decreased SF-12 PCS by −2.57 (p = 0.049), −3.63 (p = 0.003), and −6.23 (p < 0.001), respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

The OFI BSS is a valid measure of functional impairment for use in daily clinical practice. The presence of OFI indicates the presence of significant functional impairment on subjective outcome measures.