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Scott A. Meyer and Praveen V. Mummaneni

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John R. W. Kestle

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Scott L. Parker, David N. Shau, Stephen K. Mendenhall and Matthew J. McGirt

Object

Revision lumbar fusion procedures are technically challenging and can be associated with tremendous health care resource utilization and cost. There is a paucity of data regarding specific factors that significantly contribute to increased cost of care. In light of this, the authors set out to identify independent risk factors predictive of increasing 2-year direct health care costs after revision lumbar fusion.

Methods

One hundred fifty patients undergoing revision instrument-assisted fusion for adjacent-segment disease (50 cases), pseudarthrosis (47 cases), or same-level stenosis (53 cases) were included in this study. Patient demographics, comorbidities, preoperative health states as assessed by patient-reported outcome questionnaires and perioperative complications were collected and analyzed. Two-year back-related medical resource utilization and direct health care costs were assessed. The independent association of all variables to increasing cost was assessed using multivariate linear regression analysis.

Results

There was a wide range ($24,935–$63,769) in overall 2-year direct costs for patients undergoing revision lumbar fusion (mean $32,915 ± $8344 [± SD]). Preoperative variables independently associated with 2-year direct health care costs included diagnosis of congestive heart failure, more severe leg pain (visual analog scale), greater back-related disability (Oswestry Disability Index), and worse mental health (12-Item Short Form Health Survey Mental Component Summary score). There was a 1.1- to 1.2-fold increase in cost for patients in the greatest quartiles compared with those in the lowest quartiles for these variables. Surgical site infection, return to the operating room, and spine-related hospital readmission during the 90-day global health period were postoperative variables independently associated with 2-year cost. Patients in the greatest versus lowest quartiles had a 1.7- to 1.9-fold increase in cost for these variables.

Conclusions

Revision lumbar fusion can be associated with considerable 2-year health care costs. These costs can also vary widely among patients, as evidenced by the 2.6-fold overall cost range in this series. Although comorbidities and preoperative severity of disease states contribute to cost of care, the primary drivers of increased cost include perioperative complications such as surgical site infection, return to the operating room, and readmission during the global health period. Measures focused on health service improvement will be most successful in reducing the cost of care for patients undergoing revision lumbar fusion.

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Matthew T. Mayr, Stephen Hunter, Scott C. Erwood and Regis W. Haid Jr

✓ The authors describe two cases of calcifying pseudoneoplasms, rare degenerative lesions that mimic tumor or infection. One case involved the cervical spine and the second the thoracic spine. Both patients experienced progressive myelopathy from extradural compression of the spinal cord. The radiological evaluation, pathological findings in the lesions, treatment, and follow up are described. Total or subtotal excision can relieve symptoms and prevent recurrence of this lesion.

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Kevin Carr, Scott L. Zuckerman, Luke Tomycz and Matthew M. Pearson

The endoscopic resection of intraventricular tumors represents a unique challenge to the neurological surgeon. These neoplasms are invested deep within the brain parenchyma and are situated among neurologically vital structures. Additionally, the cerebrospinal fluid system presents a dynamic pathway for resected tumors to be mobilized and entrapped in other regions of the brain. In 2011, the authors treated a 3-year-old girl with a third ventricular mass identified on stereotactic brain biopsy as a WHO Grade IV CNS primitive neuroectodermal tumor. After successful neoadjuvant chemotherapy, endoscopic resection was performed. Despite successful resection of the tumor, the operation was complicated by mobilization of the resected tumor and entrapment in the atrial horn of the lateral ventricle. Using a urological stone basket retriever, the authors were able to retrieve the intact tumor without additional complications. The flexibility afforded by the nitinol urological stone basket was useful in the endoscopic removal of a free-floating intraventricular tumor. This device may prove to be useful for other practitioners performing these complicated intraventricular resections.

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John R. W. Kestle

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Scott L. Parker, Saniya S. Godil, Scott L. Zuckerman, Stephen K. Mendenhall, Noel B. Tulipan and Matthew J. McGirt

Object

Suboccipital decompression is a common procedure for patients with Chiari malformation Type I (CMI). Published studies have reported complication rates ranging from 3% to 40%, with pseudomeningocele being one of the most common complications. To date, there are no studies assessing the effect of this complication on long-term outcome. Therefore, the authors set out to assess the effect of symptomatic pseudomeningocele on patient outcomes following suboccipital decompression for CM-I.

Methods

The study comprised 50 adult patients with CM-I who underwent suboccipital craniectomy and C-1 laminectomy with or without duraplasty. Clinical presentation, radiological studies, operative variables, and complications were assessed for each case. Baseline and 1-year postoperative patient-reported outcomes were assessed to determine improvement in pain, disability, and quality of life. The extent of improvement was compared for patients with and without development of a postoperative symptomatic pseudomeningocele.

Results

A symptomatic pseudomeningocele developed postoperatively in 9 patients (18%). There was no difference with regard to clinical, radiological, or operative variables for patients with or without a postoperative pseudomeningocele. Patients without a pseudomeningocele had significant improvement in all 9 patient-reported outcome measures assessed. On the other hand, patients with pseudomeningocele only had significant improvement in headache (as measured on the Numeric Rating Scale) and headache-related disability (as measured on the Headache Disability Index) but no improvement in quality of life. Twenty-nine (71%) of 41 patients without a pseudomeningocele reported improvement in health status postoperatively compared with only 3 (33%) of 9 patients with a postoperative pseudomeningocele (p = 0.05).

Conclusions

Surgical management of CM-I in adults provides significant and sustained improvement in pain, disability, general health, and quality of life. Development of a postoperative symptomatic pseudomeningocele has lingering effects at 1 year, and it significantly diminishes the overall benefit of suboccipital decompression for CM-related symptoms. Further research is needed to accurately predict which patients may benefit from decompression alone without duraplasty.

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Scott L. Parker, Saniya S. Godil, Stephen K. Mendenhall, Scott L. Zuckerman, David N. Shau and Matthew J. McGirt

Object

Current health care reform calls for a reduction of procedures and treatments that are less effective, more costly, and of little value (high cost/low quality). The authors assessed the 2-year cost and effectiveness of comprehensive medical management for lumbar spondylolisthesis, stenosis, and herniation by utilizing a prospective single-center multidisciplinary spine center registry in a real-world practice setting.

Methods

Analysis was performed on a prospective longitudinal quality of life spine registry. Patients with lumbar spondylolisthesis (n = 50), stenosis (n = 50), and disc herniation (n = 50) who had symptoms persisting after 6 weeks of medical management and who were eligible for surgical treatment were entered into a prospective registry after deciding on nonsurgical treatment. In all cases, comprehensive medical management included spinal steroid injections, physical therapy, muscle relaxants, antiinflammatory medication, and narcotic oral agents. Two-year patient-reported outcomes, back-related medical resource utilization, and occupational work-day losses were prospectively collected and used to calculate Medicare fee–based direct and indirect costs from the payer and societal perspectives. The maximum health gain associated with medical management was defined as the improvement in pain, disability, and quality of life experienced after 2 years of medical treatment or at the time a patient decided to cross over to surgery.

Results

The maximum health gain in back pain, leg pain, disability, quality of life, depression, and general health state did not achieve statistical significance by 2 years of medical management, except for pain and disability in patients with disc herniation and back pain in patients with lumbar stenosis. Eighteen patients (36%) with spondylolisthesis, 11 (22%) with stenosis, and 17 (34%) with disc herniation eventually required surgical management due to lack of improvement. The 2-year improvement did not achieve a minimum clinically important difference in any outcome measure. The mean 2-year total cost (direct plus indirect) of medical management was $6606 for spondylolisthesis, $7747 for stenosis, and $7097 for herniation.

Conclusions

In an institution-wide, prospective, longitudinal quality of life registry that measures cost and effectiveness of all spine care provided, comprehensive medical management did not result in sustained improvement in pain, disability, or quality of life for patients with surgically eligible degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis, stenosis, or disc herniation. From both the societal and payer perspective, continued medical management of patients with these lumbar pathologies in whom 6 weeks of conservative therapy failed was of minimal value given its lack of health utility and effectiveness and its health care costs. The findings from this real-world practice setting may more accurately reflect the true value and effectiveness of nonoperative care in surgically eligible patient populations.

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Scott L. Parker, Saniya S. Godil, David N. Shau, Stephen K. Mendenhall and Matthew J. McGirt

Object

Treatment effectiveness following spine surgery is usually gauged with the help of patient-reported outcome (PRO) questionnaires. Although these questionnaires assess pain, disability, and general health state, their numerical scores lack direct, clinically significant meaning. Thus, the concept of minimum clinically important difference (MCID) has been introduced, which indicates the smallest change in an outcome measure that reflects clinically meaningful improvement to patients. The authors set out to determine anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF)–specific MCID values for the visual analog scale (VAS), Neck Disability Index (NDI), 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-12), and EQ-5D (the EuroQol health survey) in patients undergoing ACDF for cervical radiculopathy.

Methods

Data on 69 patients who underwent ACDF for cervical radiculopathy were collected in the authors' web-based, prospective registry during the study enrollment period. Patient-reported outcome questionnaires (VAS–neck pain [NP]), VAS–arm pain [AP], NDI, SF-12, and EQ-5D) were administered preoperatively and 3 months postoperatively, allowing 3-month change scores to be calculated. Four established calculation methods were used to calculate anchor-based MCID values using the North American Spine Society (NASS) patient satisfaction scale as the anchor: 1) average change, 2) minimum detectable change (MDC), 3) change difference, and 4) receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis.

Results

Sixty-one patients (88%) were available at follow-up. At 3 months postoperatively, statistically significant improvement (p < 0.001) was observed for the following PROs assessed: VAS-NP (2.7 ± 3.3), VAS-AP (3.7 ± 3.6), NDI (23.2% ± 19.7%), SF-12 physical component score (PCS; 10.7 ± 9.7), and EQ-5D (0.20 ± 0.23 QALY). Improvement on the SF-12 mental component score (MCS) trended toward significance (3.4 ± 11.4, p = 0.07). The 4 MCID calculation methods generated a range of MCID values for each of the PROs: VAS-NP 2.6–4.0, VAS-AP 2.4–4.2, NDI 16.0%–27.6%, SF-12 PCS 7.0–12.2, SF-12 MCS 0.0–7.2, and EQ-5D 0.05–0.24 QALY. The maximum area under the curve (AUC) was observed for NDI (0.80), and the minimum AUC was observed for SF-12 MCS (0.66) and EQ-5D (0.67). Based on the MDC approach, the MCID threshold was 2.6 points for VAS-NP, 4.1 points for VAS-AP, 17.3% for NDI, 8.1 points for SF-12 PCS, 4.7 points for SF-12 MCS, and 0.24 QALY for EQ-5D. The mean improvement in patient scores at 3 months surpassed the MCID threshold for VAS-NP, NDI, and SF-12 PCS but not for VAS-AP, SF-12 MCS, and EQ-5D.

Conclusions

The ACDF-specific MCID is highly variable depending on the calculation technique used. The MDC approach seems to be most appropriate for MCID calculations in the ACDF population, as it provided a threshold value above the 95% confidence interval of nonresponders (greater than the measurement error) and was closest to the average change of most PROs reported by responders. When the MDC method was applied with the NASS patient satisfaction scale as the anchor, the MCID thresholds were 2.6 points for VAS-NP, 4.1 points for VAS-AP, 17.3% for NDI, 8.1 points for SF-12 PCS, 4.7 points for SF-12 MCS, and 0.24 QALY for EQ-5D.

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Scott L. Parker, Ahilan Sivaganesan, Silky Chotai, Matthew J. McGirt, Anthony L. Asher and Clinton J. Devin

OBJECTIVE

Hospital readmissions lead to a significant increase in the total cost of care in patients undergoing elective spine surgery. Understanding factors associated with an increased risk of postoperative readmission could facilitate a reduction in such occurrences. The aims of this study were to develop and validate a predictive model for 90-day hospital readmission following elective spine surgery.

METHODS

All patients undergoing elective spine surgery for degenerative disease were enrolled in a prospective longitudinal registry. All 90-day readmissions were prospectively recorded. For predictive modeling, all covariates were selected by choosing those variables that were significantly associated with readmission and by incorporating other relevant variables based on clinical intuition and the Akaike information criterion. Eighty percent of the sample was randomly selected for model development and 20% for model validation. Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed with Bayesian model averaging (BMA) to model the odds of 90-day readmission. Goodness of fit was assessed via the C-statistic, that is, the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), using the training data set. Discrimination (predictive performance) was assessed using the C-statistic, as applied to the 20% validation data set.

RESULTS

A total of 2803 consecutive patients were enrolled in the registry, and their data were analyzed for this study. Of this cohort, 227 (8.1%) patients were readmitted to the hospital (for any cause) within 90 days postoperatively. Variables significantly associated with an increased risk of readmission were as follows (OR [95% CI]): lumbar surgery 1.8 [1.1–2.8], government-issued insurance 2.0 [1.4–3.0], hypertension 2.1 [1.4–3.3], prior myocardial infarction 2.2 [1.2–3.8], diabetes 2.5 [1.7–3.7], and coagulation disorder 3.1 [1.6–5.8]. These variables, in addition to others determined a priori to be clinically relevant, comprised 32 inputs in the predictive model constructed using BMA. The AUC value for the training data set was 0.77 for model development and 0.76 for model validation.

CONCLUSIONS

Identification of high-risk patients is feasible with the novel predictive model presented herein. Appropriate allocation of resources to reduce the postoperative incidence of readmission may reduce the readmission rate and the associated health care costs.