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James Xie and Maxwell Boakye

Electrophysiological measures can provide information that complements clinical assessments such as the American Spinal Injury Association sensory and motor scores in the evaluation of outcomes after spinal cord injury (SCI). The authors review and summarize the literature regarding tests that are most relevant to the study of SCI recovery—in particular, motor evoked potentials and somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEPs). In addition, they discuss the role of other tests, including F-wave nerve conductance tests and electromyography, sympathetic skin response, and the Hoffman reflex (H-reflex) test as well as the promise of dermatomal SSEPs and the electrical perceptual threshold test, newer quantitative tests of sensory function.

It has been shown that motor evoked potential amplitudes improve with SCI recovery but latencies do not. Somatosensory evoked potentials are predictive of ambulatory capacity and hand function. Hoffman reflexes are present during spinal shock despite the loss of tendon reflexes, but their amplitudes increase with time after injury. Further, H-reflex modulation is reflective of changes in spinal excitability. While these tests have produced data that is congruent with clinical evaluations, they have yet to surpass clinical evaluations in predicting outcomes. Continuing research using these methodologies should yield a better understanding of the mechanisms behind SCI recovery and thus provide potentially greater predictive and evaluative power.

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Mayur Sharma, Beatrice Ugiliweneza, Zaid Aljuboori, and Maxwell Boakye

OBJECTIVE

Opioid abuse is highly prevalent in patients with back pain. The aim of this study was to identify health care utilization and overall costs associated with opioid dependence in patients undergoing surgery for degenerative spondylolisthesis (DS).

METHODS

The authors queried the MarketScan database using ICD-9 and CPT-4 codes from 2000 to 2012. Opioid dependency was defined as having a diagnosis of opioid use disorder, having a prescription for opioid use disorder, or having 10 or more opioid prescriptions. Opioid dependency was evaluated in 12-month period leading to surgery and in the period 3–15 months following the procedure. Patients were segregated into 4 groups based on opioid dependence before and after surgery: group NDND (prior nondependent who remain nondependent), group NDD (prior nondependent who become dependent), group DND (prior dependent who become nondependent), and group DD (prior dependent who remain dependent). The outcomes of interest were discharge disposition, hospital length of stay (LOS), complications, and health care resource costs. The 4 groups were compared using the Kruskal-Wallis test and linear contrasts built from generalized regression models.

RESULTS

A total of 10,708 patients were identified, with 81.57%, 3.58%, 8.54%, and 6.32% of patients in groups NDND, NDD, DND, and DD, respectively. In group DD, 96.31% of patients had decompression with fusion, compared with 93.59% in group NDND. Patients in group NDD, DND, and DD had longer hospital LOS compared with those in group NDND. Patients in group DD were less likely to be discharged home compared with those in group NDND (odds ratio 0.639, 95% confidence interval 0.52–0.785). At 3–15 months postdischarge, patients in group DD incurred 21% higher hospital readmission costs compared with those in group NDND. However, patients in groups NDD and DD were likely to incur 2.8 times the overall costs compared with patients in group NDND (p < 0.001) at 3–15 months after surgery (median overall payments: group NDD $20,033 and group DD $19,654, vs group NDND $7994).

CONCLUSIONS

Patients who continued to be opioid dependent or became opioid dependent following surgery for DS incurred significantly higher health care utilization and costs within 3 months and in the period 3–15 months after discharge from surgery.

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Mayur Sharma, Pooja SirDeshpande, Beatrice Ugiliweneza, Nicholas Dietz, and Maxwell Boakye

OBJECTIVE

Symptomatic perineural or Tarlov cysts (TCs) are a rare cause of chronic low-back pain. Given the rarity of the disease, there is no literature consensus regarding the optimal management of these cysts.

METHODS

The authors conducted a systematic comparative outcome analysis of symptomatic TCs treated with surgery (group A, 32 studies, n = 333) or percutaneous interventions (group B, 6 studies, n = 417) analyzing the demographic characteristics, baseline characteristics of the cysts, clinical presentations, types of interventions, complication rates, and the recurrence rate in both treatment groups. The literature search was performed using the PubMed, MEDLINE, Cochrane, and Ovid databases up to 2018. The MeSH search terms used were “Tarlov cyst,” “sacral perineural cyst,” “sacral nerve root cyst,” “meningeal cyst of the sacral spine,” “extra meningeal cyst with spinal nerve root fibers,” “spinal extradural arachnoid pouch,” and “cyst of the sacral nerve root sheath.” The authors used statistical tests for two proportions using the “N-1” chi-square test with the free version of MedCalc for Windows for comparison among the groups.

RESULTS

Overall symptomatic improvement was reported in 83.5% of patients in both groups; however, exacerbation of preprocedural symptoms was significantly higher in group B than group A (10.1% vs 3.3%, p = 0.0003). The overall complication rates in the surgical and nonsurgical groups were 21% and 12.47%, respectively. Transient sciatica was the most common complication in both groups (17% vs 8%, respectively; p = 0.017). The incidence of cyst recurrence was much lower in group A than group B (8% vs 20%, p = 0.0018). The mean follow-up duration for the surgical group was 38 ± 29 months (25 studies, n = 279), while that for the nonsurgical group was 15 ± 12 months (4 studies, n = 290) (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors noted that although the surgical interventions were associated with higher postprocedural complication rates, long-term efficacy and success in terms of cyst resolution were superior following surgery compared to percutaneous procedures in the management of symptomatic TCs. There was no difference in symptom recurrence with either of the techniques.

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Chirag G. Patil, Shivanand P. Lad, Griffith R. Harsh, Edward R. Laws Jr., and Maxwell Boakye

Object

Information about complications, patient outcomes, and mortality rate after transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) for Cushing's disease has been derived largely from single-institution series. In this study the authors report on inpatient death, morbidity, and outcomes following TSS for Cushing's disease on a national level.

Methods

All patients in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) database who had undergone transsphenoidal resection of a pituitary tumor for Cushing's disease between 1993 and 2002 were included in the study. The number of cases per year, length of stay (LOS), and rates of inpatient complications, death, and adverse outcomes (death or discharge to institution other than home) were abstracted. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to determine the effects of patient and hospital characteristics on outcome measures.

Results

According to the NIS, there were an estimated 3525 cases of TSS for Cushing's disease in the US between 1993 and 2002. During this period, there was a trend toward a small increase in the number of TSSs for Cushing's disease. The in-hospital mortality rate was 0.7%, and the complication rate was 42.1%. Diabetes insipidus (15%), fluid and electrolyte abnormalities (12.5%), and neurological deficits (5.6%) were the most common complications reported. Multivariate analysis showed that complications were more likely in patients with pre-operative comorbidities. Patients older than 64 years were much more likely to have an adverse outcome (odds ratio [OR] 20.8) and a prolonged hospital stay (OR 2.2). Women were less likely than men to have an adverse outcome (OR 0.3). A single postoperative complication increased the mean LOS by 3 days, more than tripled the odds of an adverse outcome, and increased the hospital charges by more than US $7000.

Conclusions

The authors provided a national perspective on trends, inpatient complications, and outcomes after TSS for Cushing's disease in the US. Postoperative complications had a significantly negative effect on LOS, adverse outcome, and resource utilization. Advanced age and multiple preoperative comorbidities were identified as important risk factors, and their effects on patient outcomes were quantified.

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Maxwell Boakye, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Mark Garrett, Gerald Rodts, and Regis Haid

Object. The authors reviewed clinical and radiographic outcomes in patients who had undergone anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) involving the placement of polyetheretherketone (PEEK) spacers filled with recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein (rhBMP)—2.

Methods. Data obtained in 24 cases were retrospectively evaluated. The follow-up period ranged from 12 to 16 months (mean 13 months). Fifteen patients presented with radiculopathy, eight with myeloradiculopathy, and one with quadriparesis. Single-level ACDF was performed in 12 patients, two-level ACDF in nine, and three-level ACDF in three. Clinical outcomes were assessed using Odom criteria, and fusion was assessed by examining flexion—extension radiographs and computerized tomography scans in cases in which arthrodesis was questionable. Follow-up data were available for 23 patients. One patient died of medical complications unrelated to surgery 4 weeks after ACDF. Clinical outcomes were rated as good/excellent in 22 patients (95%) and fair in one (5%). Solid radiographically documented fusion, with evidence of solid bridging bone and no instability on flexion—extension x-ray films, was present in all cases. Complications included transient recurrent laryngeal nerve injury in one case, transient C-5 paresis in one, cerebrospinal fluid leakage in one, and transient dysphagia in two.

Conclusions. Analysis of the results indicated that ACDF involving an rhBMP-2—filled PEEK spacer leads to good clinical outcomes (by Odum criteria) and solid fusion (even in multilevel cases) while avoiding the complications associated with harvesting iliac crest bone grafts.

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Maxwell Boakye, Barbara C. Leigh, and Andrea C. Skelly

Object

The aim of this study was to identify the quality of life (QOL) measures commonly used to assess patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) and to summarize studies using common QOL measures that have been validated in SCI populations to compare scores in persons with SCI with those in a control population.

Methods

A systematic search of PubMed was conducted to identify studies using common QOL measures in persons with SCI and those comparing scores for QOL measures in an SCI population with scores in other populations. The authors sought comparative studies utilizing QOL measures for which validity and reliability analyses had been done.

Results

Of 28 QOL measures found, validity and reliability studies had been conducted in patients with SCI for 5 measures. Twelve comparative studies compared QOL in SCI patients with QOL in healthy controls or in patients with other disabilities, or with normative data. The 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) and the short version of the WHOQOL (WHOQOL-BREF) were the most widely used QOL instruments. Patients with SCI had a decreased QOL as compared with that in healthy controls or normative data, with the most pronounced deficits in the domains of physical functioning and physical role limitations. In 3 studies, patients with tetraplegia had a lower physical domain QOL than did those with paraplegia. Overall, however, the impact of injury level and injury completeness on QOL after SCI remains unclear due to a lack of longitudinal studies.

Conclusions

The SF-36 and WHOQOL-BREF are validated instruments that should be considered for use in SCI QOL studies. Future analysis of deficits in QOL among patients with SCI would benefit from the development of a QOL instrument specifically targeted to SCI. Longitudinal studies to assess the impact of injury level and injury completeness on SCI QOL are also needed.

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Maxwell Boakye, Susan Harkema, Peter H. Ellaway, and Andrea C. Skelly

Object

The objective of this study was to identify commonly used physiological outcome measures and summarize evidence on the reliability and predictive validity of quantitative measures used in monitoring persons with spinal cord injury (SCI).

Methods

A systematic search of PubMed through January 5, 2012, was conducted to identify publications using common outcome measures in persons with SCI and for studies that were specifically designed to evaluate the reliability and predictive validity of selected quantitative measures. Quantitative measures were defined as tests that quantify sensory and motor function, such as amount of force or torque, as well as thresholds, amplitudes, and latencies of evoked potentials that might be useful in studies and monitoring of patients with SCI. Reliability studies reporting interclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) or weighted κ coefficients were considered for inclusion. Studies explicitly evaluating correlation between measures and specific functional outcomes were considered for predictive validity.

Results

From a total of 121 potentially relevant citations, 6 studies of reliability and 4 studies of predictive validity for quantitative tests met the inclusion criteria. In persons with incomplete SCI, ICCs for both interrater and intrarater reliability of electrical perceptual threshold (EPT) were ≥ 0.7 above the sensory level of SCI but were less reliable below the sensory level. Interclass correlation coefficients for interrater and intrarater reliability of the Graded Redefined Assessment of Strength, Sensibility, and Prehension (GRASSP) components ranged from 0.84 to 0.98. For electromyography, the ICC was consistently high for within-day tests. The overall quality of reliability of the majority of studies was poor, due to the potential for selection bias and small sample sizes. No classic validation studies were found for the selected measures, and evidence regarding the predictive validity of the measures was limited. Somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEPs) may be correlated with ambulatory capacity, as well as the Barthel Index and motor index scores, but this correlation was limited for evaluation of bladder function recovery in 3 studies that assessed the correlation between baseline or initial SSEPs and a specific clinical outcome at a later follow-up time. All studies used convenience samples and the overall sample quality was low.

Conclusions

Evidence on the reliability and validity of the quantitative measures selected for this review is limited, and the overall quality of existing studies is poor. There is some evidence for the reliability of the EPT, dermatomal SSEPs, and the GRASSP to suggest that they may be useful in longitudinal studies of patients with SCI. There is a need for high quality studies of reliability, responsiveness, and validity for quantitative measures to monitor the level and degree of SCI.

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Paul Kalanithi, Ryan D. Schubert, Shivanand P. Lad, Odette A. Harris, and Maxwell Boakye

Object

This study provides the first US national data regarding frequency, cost, and mortality rate of traumatic subdural hematoma (SDH), and identifies demographic factors affecting morbidity and death in patients with traumatic SDH undergoing surgical drainage.

Methods

A retrospective analysis was conducted by querying the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, the largest all-payer database of nonfederal community hospitals. All cases of traumatic SDH were identified using ICD-9 codes. The study consisted of 2 parts: 1) trends data, which were abstracted from the years 1993–2006, and 2) univariate analysis and multivariate logistic regression of demographic variables on inhospital complications and deaths for the years 1993–2002.

Results

Admissions for traumatic SDH increased 154% from 17,328 in 1993 to 43,996 in 2006. Inhospital deaths decreased from 16.4% to 11.6% for traumatic SDH. Average costs increased 67% to $47,315 per admission. For the multivariate regression analysis, between 1993 and 2002, 67,864 patients with traumatic SDH underwent operative treatment. The inhospital mortality rate was 14.9% for traumatic SDH drainage, with an 18% inhospital complication rate. Factors affecting inhospital deaths included presence of coma (OR = 2.45) and more than 2 comorbidities (OR = 1.60). Increased age did not worsen the inhospital mortality rate.

Conclusions

Nationally, frequency and cost of traumatic SDH cases are increasing rapidly.

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Bryony A. J. Dayment and Oliver D. Ingham Clark

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Mayur Sharma, Tyler Ball, Ahmad Alhourani, Beatrice Ugiliweneza, Dengzhi Wang, Maxwell Boakye, and Joseph S. Neimat

OBJECTIVE

Surgery for medically refractory epilepsy (RE) is an underutilized treatment modality, despite its efficacy. Laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT), which is minimally invasive, is increasingly being utilized for a variety of brain lesions and offers comparable seizure outcomes. The aim of this study was to report the national trends of open surgical procedures for RE with the advent of LITT.

METHODS

Data were extracted using the ICD-9/10 codes from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS, 2012–2016) in this retrospective study. Patients with a primary diagnosis of RE who underwent either open surgeries (lobectomy, partial lobectomy, and amygdalohippocampectomy) or LITT were included. Patient demographics, complications, hospital length of stay (LOS), discharge disposition, and index hospitalization costs were analyzed. Propensity score matching (PSM) was used to analyze outcomes.

RESULTS

A cohort of 128,525 in-hospital patients with RE was included and 5.5% (n = 7045) of these patients underwent either open surgical procedures (94.3%) or LITT (5.7%). LITT is increasingly being performed at a rate of 1.09 per 1000 epilepsy admissions/year, while open surgical procedures are decreasing at a rate of 10.4/1000 cases/year. The majority of procedures were elective (92%) and were performed at large-bed-size hospitals (86%). All LITT procedures were performed at teaching facilities and the majority were performed in the South (37%) and West (30%) regions. The median LOS was 1 day for the LITT cohort and 4 days for the open cohort. Index hospitalization charges were significantly lower following LITT compared to open procedures ($108,332 for LITT vs $124,012 for open surgery, p < 0.0001). LITT was associated with shorter median LOS, high likelihood of discharge home, and lower median index hospitalization charges compared to open procedures for RE on PSM analysis.

CONCLUSIONS

LITT is increasingly being performed in favor of open surgical procedures. LITT is associated with a shorter LOS, a higher likelihood of being discharged home, and lower index hospitalization charges compared to open procedures. LITT is a safe treatment modality in carefully selected patients with RE and offers an opportunity to increase the utilization of surgical treatment in patients who may be opposed to open surgery or have contraindications that preclude open surgery.