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Matthew Z. Sun, Michael C. Oh, Michael Safaee, Gurvinder Kaur and Andrew T. Parsa

Avoidance of facial nerve injury is one of the major goals of vestibular schwannoma (VS) surgery because functional deficits of the facial nerve can lead to physical, cosmetic, and psychological consequences for patients. Clinically, facial nerve function is assessed using the House-Brackmann grading scale, which also allows physicians to track the progress of a patient's facial nerve recovery. Because the facial nerve is a peripheral nerve, it has the ability to regenerate, and the extent of its functional recovery depends largely on the location and nature of its injury. In this report, the authors first describe the facial nerve anatomy, the House-Brackmann grading system, and factors known to be predictors of postoperative facial nerve outcome. The mechanisms and pathophysiology of facial nerve injury during VS surgery are then discussed, as well as factors affecting facial nerve regeneration after surgery.

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Tomoya Kamide, Halima Tabani, Michael M. Safaee, Jan-Karl Burkhardt and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

While most paraclinoid aneurysms can be clipped with excellent results, new postoperative visual deficits are a concern. New technology, including flow diverters, has increased the popularity of endovascular therapy. However, endovascular treatment of paraclinoid aneurysms is not without procedural risks, is associated with higher rates of incomplete aneurysm occlusion and recurrence, and may not address optic nerve compression symptoms that surgical debulking can. The increasing endovascular management of paraclinoid aneurysms should be justified by comparisons to surgical benchmarks. The authors, therefore, undertook this study to define patient, visual, and aneurysm outcomes in the most common type of paraclinoid aneurysm: ophthalmic artery (OphA) aneurysms.

METHODS

Results from microsurgical clipping of 208 OphA aneurysms in 198 patients were retrospectively reviewed. Patient demographics, aneurysm morphology (size, calcification, etc.), clinical characteristics, and patient outcomes were recorded and analyzed.

RESULTS

Despite 20% of these aneurysms being large or giant in size, complete aneurysm occlusion was accomplished in 91% of 208 cases, with OphA patency preserved in 99.5%. The aneurysm recurrence rate was 3.1% and the retreatment rate was 0%. Good outcomes (modified Rankin Scale score 0–2) were observed in 96.2% of patients overall and in all 156 patients with unruptured aneurysms. New visual field defects (hemianopsia or quadrantanopsia) were observed in 8 patients (3.8%), decreased visual acuity in 5 (2.4%), and monocular blindness in 9 (4.3%). Vision improved in 9 (52.9%) of the 17 patients with preoperative visual deficits.

CONCLUSIONS

The most important risk associated with clipping OphA aneurysms is a new visual deficit. Meticulous microsurgical technique is necessary during anterior clinoidectomy, aneurysm dissection, and clip application to optimize visual outcomes, and aggressive medical management postoperatively might potentially decrease the incidence of delayed visual deficits. As the results of endovascular therapy and specifically flow diverters become known, they warrant comparison with these surgical benchmarks to determine best practices.

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Michael M. Safaee, Aaron J. Clark, Jan-Karl Burkhardt, Ethan A. Winkler and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

Spinal dural arteriovenous fistulas (dAVFs) are rare vascular abnormalities caused by arteriovenous shunting. They often form at the dural root sleeve between a radicular feeding artery and draining medullary vein causing venous congestion and edema, decreased perfusion, and ischemia of the spinal cord. Treatment consists of either surgical ligation of the draining vein or selective embolization via an endovascular approach. There is a paucity of data on which modality provides more durable and effective outcomes.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective review of a prospectively maintained database by the senior author to assess clinical outcomes in patients undergoing surgical treatment of spinal dAVFs. Preoperative and postoperative motor and Aminoff-Logue Scale (ALS) scores were collected.

RESULTS

A total of 41 patients with 44 spinal dAVFs were identified, with a mean patient age of 64 years. The mean symptom duration was 14 months, with weakness (82%), urinary symptoms (47%), and sensory symptoms (29%) at presentation. The fistula locations were as follows: 30 thoracic, 9 lumbar, 3 sacral, and 2 cervical. Five patients had normal motor and ALS scores at presentation. Among the remaining 36 patients with motor deficits or abnormal gait and micturition at presentation, 78% experienced an improvement while the remaining 22% continued to be stable. There was a trend toward improved outcomes in patients with shorter symptom duration; mean symptom duration among patients with clinical improvement was 13 months compared with 22 months among those without improvement. Additionally, rates of improvement were higher for lower thoracic and lumbosacral dAVFs (85% and 83%) compared with those in the upper thoracic spine (57%). No patient developed recurrent fistulas or worsening neurological deficits.

CONCLUSIONS

Surgery is associated with excellent outcomes in the treatment of spinal dAVFs. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical, with a trend toward improved outcomes. No patient in this study had fistula recurrence or worsening of symptoms. Among patients with abnormal motor or ALS scores, 78% improved after surgery. Therapeutic embolization is an option for some lesions, but for cases with unfavorable anatomy where embolization is not feasible, surgery is a safe option associated with high success.

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William B. Feldman, Aaron J. Clark, Michael Safaee, Christopher P. Ames and Andrew T. Parsa

Object

Myxopapillary ependymomas (MPEs) are rare WHO Grade I tumors found in the conus medullaris, cauda equina, and filum terminale. Treatment generally consists of resection with or without adjuvant radiotherapy. Evidence-based guidelines for surgical management are lacking due to the rarity of this tumor.

Methods

An English-language PubMed search was performed using the key words “myxopapillary” and “ependymoma.” Reports describing fewer than 3 patients or those lacking data on the extent of resection or radiotherapy were excluded. A total of 28 articles describing 475 patients met the authors' inclusion criteria. Patients were grouped by extent of resection and whether or not they underwent adjuvant radiotherapy. Differences in recurrence rates were assessed by chi-square test.

Results

The overall recurrence rate was 15.5% in patients treated by gross-total resection (GTR) and 32.6% in patients treated by subtotal resection (STR), irrespective of whether they underwent adjuvant therapy (p < 0.001). Regardless of the extent of resection, adjuvant radiotherapy was not associated with a decrease in recurrence rates. The overall recurrence rate was 15.6% in patients who underwent GTR and radiotherapy compared with 15.9% in patients who underwent GTR alone (p = 0.58), and it was 29.3% in patients who underwent STR and radiotherapy compared with 35.1% in those who underwent STR alone (p = 0.53). The difference between recurrence rates for patients who underwent GTR alone versus STR and radiotherapy was statistically significant (p = 0.02). Subgroup analysis demonstrated significantly higher recurrence rates in pediatric patients compared with adults (40.5% vs 23.4%, respectively; p = 0.02). Even in the setting of GTR alone, recurrence rates were higher in pediatric patients (65% vs 7.6%; p < 0.001).

Conclusions

Gross-total resection alone is associated with decreased recurrence rates compared with STR with or without radiotherapy. The authors' results suggest that treatment goals should include attempted GTR whenever possible. The observation that children benefitted from radiation therapy to a greater extent than did adults suggests that biological differences between tumors in these patient populations warrants more rigorous scientific studies.

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Michael M. Safaee, Cecilia L. Dalle Ore, Corinna C. Zygourakis, Vedat Deviren and Christopher P. Ames

OBJECTIVE

Proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) is a well-recognized complication of surgery for adult spinal deformity and is characterized by increased kyphosis at the upper instrumented vertebra (UIV). PJK prevention strategies have the potential to decrease morbidity and cost by reducing rates of proximal junctional failure (PJF), which the authors define as radiographic PJK plus clinical sequelae requiring revision surgery.

METHODS

The authors performed an analysis of 195 consecutive patients with adult spinal deformity. Age, sex, levels fused, upper instrumented vertebra (UIV), use of 3-column osteotomy, pelvic fixation, and mean time to follow-up were collected. The authors also reviewed operative reports to assess for the use of surgical adjuncts targeted toward PJK prevention, including ligament augmentation, hook fixation, and vertebroplasty. The cost of surgery, including direct and total costs, was also assessed at index surgery and revision surgery. Only revision surgery for PJF was included.

RESULTS

The mean age of the cohort was 64 years (range 25–84 years); 135 (69%) patients were female. The mean number of levels fused was 10 (range 2–18) with the UIV as follows: 2 cervical (1%), 73 upper thoracic (37%), 108 lower thoracic (55%), and 12 lumbar (6%). Ligament augmentation was used in 99 cases (51%), hook fixation in 60 cases (31%), and vertebroplasty in 71 cases (36%). PJF occurred in 18 cases (9%). Univariate analysis found that ligament augmentation and hook fixation were associated with decreased rates of PJF. However, in a multivariate model that also incorporated age, sex, and UIV, only ligament augmentation maintained a significant association with PJF reduction (OR 0.196, 95% CI 0.050–0.774; p = 0.020). Patients with ligament augmentation, compared with those without, had a higher cost of index surgery, but ligament augmentation was overall cost effective and produced significant cost savings. In sensitivity analyses in which we independently varied the reduction in PJF, cost of ligament augmentation, and cost of reoperation by ± 50%, ligament augmentation remained a cost-effective strategy for PJF prevention.

CONCLUSIONS

Prevention strategies for PJK/PJF are limited, and their cost-effectiveness has yet to be established. The authors present the results of 195 patients with adult spinal deformity and show that ligament augmentation is associated with significant reductions in PJF in both univariate and multivariate analyses, and that this intervention is cost-effective. Future studies will need to determine if these clinical results are reproducible, but for high-risk cases, these data suggest an important role of ligament augmentation for PJF prevention and cost savings.

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Aaron J. Clark, Michael M. Safaee, Nickalus R. Khan, Matthew T. Brown and Kevin T. Foley

OBJECTIVE

Microendoscopic discectomy is a minimally invasive surgery technique that was initially described in 1997. It allows surgeons to work with 2 hands through a small-diameter, operating table–mounted tubular retractor, and to apply standard microsurgical techniques in which a small skin incision and minimal muscle dissection are used. Whether the surgeon chooses to use an endoscope or a microscope for visualization, the technique uses the same type of retractor and is thus called tubular microdiscectomy. The goal in this study was to review the current literature, examine the level of evidence supporting tubular microdiscectomy, and describe surgical techniques for complication avoidance.

METHODS

The authors performed a systematic PubMed review using the terms “microdiscectomy trial,” “tubular and open microdiscectomy,” “microendoscopic open discectomy,” and “minimally invasive open microdiscectomy OR microdiskectomy.” Of 317 references, 10 manuscripts were included for analysis based on study design, relevance, and appropriate comparison of open to tubular discectomy.

RESULTS

Similar and very favorable clinical outcomes can be expected from tubular and standard microdiscectomy. Studies have demonstrated equivalent operating times for both procedures, with lower blood loss and shorter hospital stays associated with tubular microdiscectomy. Furthermore, postoperative analgesic usage has been shown to be significantly lower after tubular microdiscectomy. Overall rates of complications are no different for tubular and standard microdiscectomy.

CONCLUSIONS

Prospective randomized trials have been used to evaluate outcomes of common minimally invasive lumbar spine procedures. For lumbar discectomy, Level I evidence supports equivalently good outcomes for tubular microdiscectomy compared with standard microdiscectomy. Likewise, Level I data indicate similar safety profiles and may indicate lower blood loss for tubular microdiscectomy. Future studies should examine the comparative value of these procedures.

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Cecilia L. Dalle Ore, Darryl Lau, Jessica L. Davis, Michael M. Safaee and Christopher P. Ames

Juvenile ossifying fibroma (JOF) is a rare benign bone tumor that occurs most frequently in the craniofacial bones of children and young adults. There are few case reports that describe its involvement outside the craniofacial skeleton, especially within the spinal column. While JOF is classified as a benign lesion, it may be locally aggressive and demonstrate a high propensity for recurrence, even after resection. Definitive surgical management may be challenging in naive cases, but it is particularly challenging in recurrent cases and when extensive spinal reconstruction is warranted. In this report, the authors describe the diagnosis and surgical management of a 29-year-old man who presented with a large recurrent sacral trabecular-subtype JOF. A review of literature regarding JOFs, management of recurrent primary spinal tumors, and sacral reconstruction are discussed.

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Michael M. Safaee, Cecilia L. Dalle Ore, Corinna C. Zygourakis, Vedat Deviren and Christopher P. Ames

OBJECTIVE

Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) is associated with reduced rates of pseudarthrosis and has the potential to decrease the need for revision surgery. There are limited data evaluating the cost-benefit of BMP for pseudarthrosis-related prevention surgery in adult spinal deformity.

METHODS

The authors performed a single-center retrospective review of 200 consecutive patients with adult spinal deformity. Demographic data and costs of BMP, primary surgery, and revision surgery for pseudarthrosis were collected. Patients with less than 12 months of follow-up or with infection, tumor, or neuromuscular disease were excluded.

RESULTS

One hundred fifty-one patients (107 [71%] women) with a mean age of 65 years met the inclusion criteria. The mean number of levels fused was 10; BMP was used in 98 cases (65%), and the mean follow-up was 23 months. Fifteen patients (10%) underwent surgical revision for pseudarthrosis; BMP use was associated with an 11% absolute risk reduction in the rate of reoperation (17% vs 6%, p = 0.033), with a number needed to treat of 9.2. There were no significant differences in age, sex, upper instrumented vertebra, or number of levels fused in patients who received BMP. In a multivariate model including age, sex, number of levels fused, and the upper instrumented vertebra, only BMP (OR 0.250, 95% CI 0.078–0.797; p = 0.019) was associated with revision surgery for pseudarthrosis. The mean direct cost of primary surgery was $87,653 ± $19,879, and the mean direct cost of BMP was $10,444 ± $4607. The mean direct cost of revision surgery was $52,153 ± $26,985. The authors independently varied the efficacy of BMP, cost of BMP, and cost of reoperation by ± 50%; only reductions in the cost of BMP resulted in a cost savings per 100 patients. Using these data, the authors estimated a price point of $5663 in order for BMP to be cost-neutral.

CONCLUSIONS

Use of BMP was associated with a significant reduction in the rates of revision surgery for pseudarthrosis. At its current price, the direct in-hospital costs for BMP exceed the costs associated with revision surgery; however, this likely underestimates the true value of BMP when considering the savings associated with reductions in rehabilitation, therapy, medication, and additional outpatient costs.

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Michael M. Safaee, Ramin A. Morshed, Jordan Spatz, Sujatha Sankaran, Mitchel S. Berger and Manish K. Aghi

OBJECTIVE

Interfacility neurosurgical transfers to tertiary care centers are driven by a number of variables, including lack of on-site coverage, limited available technology, insurance factors, and patient preference. The authors sought to assess the timing and necessity of surgery and compared transfers to their institution from emergency departments (ED) and inpatient units at other hospitals.

METHODS

Adult neurosurgical patients who were transferred to a single tertiary care center were analyzed over 12 months. Patients with traumatic injuries or those referred from skilled nursing facilities or rehabilitation centers were excluded.

RESULTS

A total of 504 transferred patients were included, with mean age 55 years (range 19–92 years); 53% of patients were women. Points of origin were ED in 54% cases and inpatient hospital unit in 46%, with a mean distance traveled for most patients of 119 miles. Broad diagnosis categories included brain tumors (n = 142, 28%), vascular lesions, including spontaneous and hypertensive intracerebral hemorrhage (n = 143, 28%), spinal lesions (n = 126, 25%), hydrocephalus (n = 45, 9%), wound complications (n = 29, 6%), and others (n = 19, 4%). Patients transferred from inpatient units had higher rates of surgical intervention (75% vs 57%, p < 0.001), whereas patients transferred from the ED had higher rates of urgent surgery (20% vs 8%, p < 0.001) and shorter mean time to surgery (3 vs 5 days, p < 0.001). Misdiagnosis rates were higher among ED referrals (11% vs 4%, p = 0.008). Across the same timeframe, patients undergoing elective admission (n = 1986) or admission from the authors’ own ED (n = 248) had significantly shorter lengths of stay (p < 0.001) and ICU days (p < 0.001) than transferred patients, as well as a significantly lower total cost ($44,412, $46,163, and $72,175, respectively; p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors present their 12-month experience from a single tertiary care center without Level I trauma designation. In this cohort, 65% of patients required surgery, but the rates were higher among inpatient referrals, and misdiagnosis rates were higher among ED transfers. These data suggest that admitting nonemergency patients to local hospitals may improve diagnostic accuracy of patients requiring urgent care, more precisely identify patients in need of transfer, and reduce costs. Referring facilities may lack necessary resources or expertise, and the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) obligates tertiary care centers to accept these patients under those circumstances. Telemedicine and integration of electronic medical records may help guide referring hospitals to pursue additional workup, which may eliminate the need for unnecessary transfer and provide additional cost savings.

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Michael Safaee, Andrew T. Parsa, Nicholas M. Barbaro, Dean Chou, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Philip R. Weinstein, Tarik Tihan and Christopher P. Ames

OBJECT

Intradural extramedullary spine tumors represent two-thirds of all primary spine neoplasms. Approximately half of these are peripheral nerve sheath tumors, mainly neurofibromas and schwannomas. Given the rarity of this disease and, thus, the limited analyses of clinical outcomes, the authors examined the association of tumor location, extent of resection, and neurofibromatosis (NF) status with clinical outcomes.

METHODS

Patients were identified through a search of the University of California, San Francisco, neuropathology database and a separate review of current procedural terminology codes. Data recorded included patient age, patient sex, clinical presentation, presence of NF, tumor type, tumor location, extent of resection (gross-total resection [GTR] or subtotal resection [STR]), and clinical follow-up.

RESULTS

Of 221 tumors in 199 patients (mean age 45 years), 53 were neurofibromas, 163 were schwannomas, and 5 were malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors. The most common presenting symptom was spinal pain (76%), followed by weakness (36%) and sensory abnormalities (34%). Mean symptom duration was 16 months. In terms of spinal location, neurofibromas were more common in the cervical spine (74% vs 27%, p < 0.001), and schwannomas were more common in the thoracic and lumbosacral spine (73% vs 26%, p < 0.001). Rates of GTR were lower for neurofibromas than schwannomas (51% vs 83%, p < 0.001), regardless of location. Rates of GTR were lower for cervical (54%) than thoracic (90%) and lumbosacral (86%) lesions (p < 0.001). NF was associated with lower rates of GTR among all tumors (43% vs 86%, p < 0.001). The mean follow-up time was 32 months. Recurrence/progression was more common for neurofibromas than schwannomas (17% vs 7%, p = 0.03), although the mean time to recurrence/progression did not differ according to tumor type (45 vs 53 months, p = 0.63). As expected, GTR was associated with lower recurrence rates (4% vs 22%, p < 0.001). According to multivariate analysis, cervical location (OR 0.239, 95% CI 0.110–0.520) and presence of NF (OR 0.166, 95% CI 0.054–0.507) were associated with lower rates of GTR. In a separate model, only GTR (OR 0.141, 95% CI 0.046–0.429) was associated with tumor recurrence.

CONCLUSIONS

Resection is an effective treatment for spinal nerve sheath tumors. Neurofibromas were found more commonly in the cervical spine than in other regions of the spine and were associated with higher rates of recurrence and lower rates of GTR than other tumor types, particularly in patients with NF Types 1 or 2. According to multivariate analysis, both cervical location and presence of NF were associated with lower rates of GTR. According to a second multivariate model, the only variable associated with tumor recurrence was extent of resection. Maximal safe resection remains ideal for these lesions; however, patients with cervical tumors or NF should be counseled about their increased risk for recurrence.