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Ahmed Jorge, Michael D. White, and Nitin Agarwal

OBJECTIVE

Individuals with a spinal cord injury (SCI) in socioeconomically disadvantaged settings (e.g., rural or low income) have different outcomes than their counterparts; however, a contemporary literature review identifying and measuring these outcomes has not been published. Here, the authors’ aim was to perform a systematic review and identify these parameters in the hope of providing tangible targets for future clinical research efforts.

METHODS

A systematic review was performed to find English-language articles published from 2007 to 2017 in the PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE, and SCOPUS databases. Studies evaluating any outcomes related to patients with an SCI and in a low-resource setting were included. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were followed, and a flowchart was created. Of the 403 articles found, 31 underwent complete review and 26 were eligible for study inclusion. According to the current study criteria, any case studies, studies in less developed countries, studies including and not separating other types of neurological disorders, studies not assessing the effects of a low-resource setting on outcomes in patients with SCI, and studies evaluating the causes of SCI in a low-resource setting were excluded.

RESULTS

In SCI patients, a lower income was a predictor of death (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.7–2.6, p = 0.0002). Moreover, secondary outcomes such as pain intensities (OR 3.32, 95% CI 2.21–4.49, p < 0.001), emergency room visits (11% more likely, p = 0.006), and pressure ulcer formation (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.5–3.0, p < 0.001) were significantly higher in the lower income brackets. Rurality was also a factor and was significantly associated with increased emergency room visits (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1–2.1, p = 0.01) and lower outpatient service utilization (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0.57, 95% CI 0.35–0.93, p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors showed that individuals in a low-resource setting who have suffered an SCI have significantly different outcomes than their counterparts. These specific outcomes are promising targets for future research efforts that focus on improving health conditions among this population.

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A longitudinal survey of adult spine and peripheral nerve case entries during neurosurgery residency training

Presented at the 2018 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Nitin Agarwal, Michael D. White, and D. Kojo Hamilton

OBJECTIVE

Currently, there is a lack of research assessing residents’ operative experience and caseload variability. The current study utilizes data from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) case log system to analyze national trends in neurosurgical residents’ exposure to adult spinal procedures.

METHODS

Prospectively populated ACGME resident case logs from 2013 to 2017 were retrospectively reviewed. The reported number of spinal procedures was compared to the ACGME minimum requirements for each surgical category pertaining to adult spine surgery. A linear regression analysis was conducted to identify changes in operative caseload by residents graduating during the study period, as well as a one-sample t-test using IBM SPSS software to compare the mean number of procedures in each surgical category to the ACGME required minimums.

RESULTS

A mean of 427.42 total spinal procedures were performed throughout residency training for each of the 877 residents graduating between 2013 and 2017. The mean number of procedures completed by graduating residents increased by 19.96 (r2 = 0.95) cases per year. The number of cases in every procedural subspecialty, besides peripheral nerve operations, significantly increased during this time. The two procedural categories with the largest changes were anterior and posterior cervical approaches for decompression/stabilization, which increased by 8.78% per year (r2 = 0.95) and 9.04% per year (r2 = 0.95), respectively. There was also a trend of increasing cases logged for lead resident surgeons and a decline in cases logged for senior resident surgeons. Residents’ mean caseloads during residency were found to be vastly greater than the ACGME required minimums: residents performed at least twice as many procedures as the required minimums in every surgical category.

CONCLUSIONS

Graduating neurosurgical residents reported increasing case volumes for adult spinal cases during this 5-year interval. An increase in logged cases for lead resident surgeons as opposed to senior resident surgeons indicates that residents were logging more cases in which they had a more critical role in the procedure. Moreover, the average resident was noted to perform more than twice the number of procedures required by the ACGME in every surgical category, indicating that neurosurgical residents are getting greater exposure to spine surgery than expected. Given the known correlation between case volume and improved surgical outcomes, this data demonstrates each graduating neurosurgical residency class experiences an augmented training in spine surgery.

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Nitin Agarwal, Michael D. White, Susan C. Pannullo, and Lola B. Chambless

OBJECTIVE

Resident attrition creates a profound burden on trainees and residency programs. This study aims to analyze trends in resident attrition in neurological surgery.

METHODS

This study followed a cohort of 1275 residents who started neurosurgical residency from 2005 to 2010. Data obtained from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) included residents who matched in neurosurgery during this time. Residents who did not finish their residency training at the program in which they started were placed into the attrition group. Residents in the attrition group were characterized by one of five outcomes: transferred neurosurgery programs; transferred to a different specialty; left clinical medicine; deceased; or unknown. A thorough internet search was conducted for residents who did not complete their training at their first neurosurgical program. Variables leading to attrition were also analyzed, including age, sex, presence of advanced degree (Ph.D.), postgraduate year (PGY), and geographical region of program.

RESULTS

Residents starting neurosurgical residency from 2005 to 2010 had an overall attrition rate of 10.98%. There was no statistically significant difference in attrition rates among the years (p = 0.337). The outcomes for residents in the attrition group were found to be as follows: 33.61% transferred neurosurgical programs, 56.30% transferred to a different medical specialty, 8.40% left clinical medicine, and 1.68% were deceased. It was observed that women had a higher attrition rate (18.50%) than men (10.35%). Most attrition (65.07%) occurred during PGY 1 or 2. The attrition group was also observed to be significantly older at the beginning of residency training, with a mean of 31.69 years of age compared to 29.31 in the nonattrition group (p < 0.001). No significant difference was observed in the attrition rates for residents with a Ph.D. (9.86%) compared to those without a Ph.D. (p = 0.472).

CONCLUSIONS

A majority of residents in the attrition group pursued training in different medical specialties, most commonly neurology, radiology, and anesthesiology. Factors associated with an increased rate of attrition were older age at the beginning of residency, female sex, and junior resident (PGY-1 to PGY-2). Resident attrition remains a significant problem within neurosurgical training, and future studies should focus on targeted interventions to identify individuals at risk to help them succeed in their medical careers.

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Nitin Agarwal, Michael D. White, Jonathan Cohen, L. Dade Lunsford, and D. Kojo Hamilton

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study was to analyze national trends in adult cranial cases performed by neurological surgery residents as logged into the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) system.

METHODS

The ACGME resident case logs were retrospectively reviewed for the years 2009–2017. In these reports, the national average of cases performed by graduating residents is organized by year, type of procedure, and level of resident. These logs were analyzed in order to evaluate trends in residency experience with adult cranial procedures. The reported number of cranial procedures was compared to the ACGME neurosurgical minimum requirements for each surgical category. A linear regression analysis was conducted in order to identify changes in the average number of procedures performed by residents graduating during the study period. Additionally, a 1-sample t-test was performed to compare reported case volumes to the ACGME required minimums.

RESULTS

An average of 577 total cranial procedures were performed throughout residency training for each of the 1631 residents graduating between 2009 and 2017. The total caseload for graduating residents upon completion of training increased by an average of 26.59 cases each year (r2 = 0.99). Additionally, caseloads in most major procedural subspecialty categories increased; this excludes open vascular and extracranial vascular categories, which showed, respectively, a decrease and no change. The majority of cranial procedures performed throughout residency pertained to tumor (mean 158.38 operations), trauma (mean 102.17 operations), and CSF diversion (mean 76.12 operations). Cranial procedures pertaining to the subspecialties of trauma and functional neurosurgery showed the greatest rise in total procedures, increasing at 8.23 (r2 = 0.91) and 6.44 (r2 = 0.95) procedures per graduating year, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

Neurosurgical residents reported increasing case volumes for most cranial procedures between 2009 and 2017. This increase was observed despite work hour limitations set forth in 2003 and 2011. Of note, an inverse relationship between open vascular and endovascular procedures was observed, with a decrease in open vascular procedures and an increase in endovascular procedures performed during the study period. When compared to the ACGME required minimums, neurosurgery residents gained much more exposure to cranial procedures than was expected. Additionally, a larger caseload throughout training suggests that residents are graduating with greater competency and experience in cranial neurosurgery.

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Michael D. White, Brandon M. Fox, and Nitin Agarwal

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Michael C. Dewan, Gabrielle A. White-Dzuro, Philip R. Brinson, Reid C. Thompson, and Lola B. Chambless

OBJECTIVE

Seizures are among the most common perioperative complications in patients undergoing craniotomy for brain tumor resection and have been associated with increased disease progression and decreased survival. Little evidence exists regarding the relationship between postoperative seizures and hospital quality measures, including length of stay (LOS), disposition, and readmission. The authors sought to address these questions by analyzing a glioma population over 15 years.

METHODS

A retrospective cohort study was used to evaluate the outcomes of patients who experienced a postoperative seizure. Patients with glioma who underwent craniotomy for resection between 1998 and 2013 were enrolled in the institutional tumor registry. Basic data, including demographics and comorbidities, were recorded in addition to hospitalization details and complications. Seizures were diagnosed by clinical examination, observation, and electroencephalography. The Student t-test and chi-square test were used to analyze differences in the means between continuous and categorical variables, respectively. Multivariate logistic and linear regression was used to compare multiple clinical variables against hospital quality metrics and survival figures, respectively.

RESULTS

In total, 342 patients with glioma underwent craniotomy for first-time resection. The mean age was 51.0 ± 17.3 years, 192 (56.1%) patients were male, and the median survival time for all grades was 15.4 months (range 6.2–24.0 months). High-grade glioma (Grade III or IV) was seen in 71.9% of patients. Perioperative antiepileptic drugs were administered to 88% of patients. Eighteen (5.3%) patients experienced a seizure within 14 days postoperatively, and 9 (50%) of these patients experienced first-time seizures. The mean time to the first postoperative seizure was 4.3 days (range 0–13 days). There was no significant association between tumor grade and the rate of perioperative seizure (Grade I, 0%; II, 7.0%; III, 6.1%; IV, 5.2%; p = 0.665). A single ictal episode occurred in 11 patients, while 3 patients experienced 2 seizures and 4 patients developed 3 or more seizures. Compared with their seizure-free counterparts, patients who experienced a perioperative seizure had an increased average hospital (6.8 vs 3.6 days, p = 0.032) and ICU LOS (5.4 vs 2.3 days; p < 0.041). Seventy-five percent of seizure-free patients were discharged home in comparison with 55.6% of seizure patients (p = 0.068). Patients with a postoperative seizure were significantly more likely to visit the emergency department within 90 days (44.4% vs 19.0%; OR 3.41 [95% CI 1.29–9.02], p = 0.009) and more likely to be readmitted within 90 days (50.0% vs 18.4%; OR 4.45 [95% CI 1.69–11.70], p = 0.001). In addition, seizure-free patients had a longer median overall survival (15.6 months [interquartile range 6.6–24.4 months] vs 3.0 months [interquartile range 1.0–25.0 months]; p = 0.013).

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with perioperative seizures following glioma resection required longer hospital and ICU LOS, were readmitted at higher rates than seizure-free patients, and experienced shorter overall survival. Biological and clinical factors that predispose to the development of seizures after glioma surgery portend a worse outcome. Efforts to identify these factors and reduce the risk of postoperative seizure should remain a priority among neurosurgical oncologists.

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Michael D. White, Kristy Latour, Martina Giordano, Tavis Taylor, and Nitin Agarwal

OBJECTIVE

There is an increasing trend among patients and their families to seek medical knowledge on the internet. Patients undergoing surgical interventions, including lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF), often rely on online videos as a first source of knowledge to familiarize themselves with the procedure. In this study the authors sought to investigate the reliability and quality of LLIF-related online videos.

METHODS

In December 2018, the authors searched the YouTube platform using 3 search terms: lateral lumbar interbody fusion, LLIF surgery, and LLIF. The relevance-based ranking search option was used, and results from the first 3 pages were investigated. Only videos from universities, hospitals, and academic associations were included for final evaluation. By means of the DISCERN instrument, a validated measure of reliability and quality for online patient education resources, 3 authors of the present study independently evaluated the quality of information.

RESULTS

In total, 296 videos were identified by using the 3 search terms. Ten videos met inclusion criteria and were further evaluated. The average (± SD) DISCERN video quality assessment score for these 10 videos was 3.42 ± 0.16. Two videos (20%) had an average score above 4, corresponding to a high-quality source of information. Of the remaining 8 videos, 6 (60%) scored moderately, in the range of 3–4, indicating that the publication is reliable but important information is missing. The final 2 videos (20%) had a low average score (2 or below), indicating that they are unlikely to be of any benefit and should not be used. Videos with intraoperative clips were significantly more popular, as indicated by the numbers of likes and views (p = 0.01). There was no correlation between video popularity and DISCERN score (p = 0.104). In August 2019, the total number of views for the 10 videos in the final analysis was 537,785.

CONCLUSIONS

The findings of this study demonstrate that patients who seek to access information about LLIF by using the YouTube platform will be presented with an overall moderate quality of educational content on this procedure. Moreover, compared with videos that provide patient information on treatments used in other medical fields, videos providing information on LLIF surgery are still exiguous. In view of the increasing trend to seek medical knowledge on the YouTube platform, and in order to support and optimize patient education on LLIF surgery, the authors encourage academic neurosurgery institutions in the United States and worldwide to implement the release of reliable video educational content.

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Michael A. Mooney, Douglas A. Hardesty, John P. Sheehy, Robert Bird, Kristina Chapple, William L. White, and Andrew S. Little

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to determine the interrater and intrarater reliability of the Knosp grading scale for predicting pituitary adenoma cavernous sinus (CS) involvement.

METHODS

Six independent raters (3 neurosurgery residents, 2 pituitary surgeons, and 1 neuroradiologist) participated in the study. Each rater scored 50 unique pituitary MRI scans (with contrast) of biopsy-proven pituitary adenoma. Reliabilities for the full scale were determined 3 ways: 1) using all 50 scans, 2) using scans with midrange scores versus end scores, and 3) using a dichotomized scale that reflects common clinical practice. The performance of resident raters was compared with that of faculty raters to assess the influence of training level on reliability.

RESULTS

Overall, the interrater reliability of the Knosp scale was “strong” (0.73, 95% CI 0.56–0.84). However, the percent agreement for all 6 reviewers was only 10% (26% for faculty members, 30% for residents). The reliability of the middle scores (i.e., average rated Knosp Grades 1 and 2) was “very weak” (0.18, 95% CI −0.27 to 0.56) and the percent agreement for all reviewers was only 5%. When the scale was dichotomized into tumors unlikely to have intraoperative CS involvement (Grades 0, 1, and 2) and those likely to have CS involvement (Grades 3 and 4), the reliability was “strong” (0.60, 95% CI 0.39–0.75) and the percent agreement for all raters improved to 60%. There was no significant difference in reliability between residents and faculty (residents 0.72, 95% CI 0.55–0.83 vs faculty 0.73, 95% CI 0.56–0.84). Intrarater reliability was moderate to strong and increased with the level of experience.

CONCLUSIONS

Although these findings suggest that the Knosp grading scale has acceptable interrater reliability overall, it raises important questions about the “very weak” reliability of the scale's middle grades. By dichotomizing the scale into clinically useful groups, the authors were able to address the poor reliability and percent agreement of the intermediate grades and to isolate the most important grades for use in surgical decision making (Grades 3 and 4). Authors of future pituitary surgery studies should consider reporting Knosp grades as dichotomized results rather than as the full scale to optimize the reliability of the scale.

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Vamsi Reddy, Arjun Gupta, Michael D. White, Raghav Gupta, Prateek Agarwal, Arpan V. Prabhu, Bryan Lieber, Yue-Fang Chang, and Nitin Agarwal

OBJECTIVE

Publication metrics such as the Hirsch index (h-index) are often used to evaluate and compare research productivity in academia. The h-index is not a field-normalized statistic and can therefore be dependent on overall rates of publication and citation within specific fields. Thus, a metric that adjusts for this while measuring individual contributions would be preferable. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has developed a new, field-normalized, article-level metric called the “relative citation ratio” (RCR) that can be used to more accurately compare author productivity between fields. The mean RCR is calculated as the total number of citations per year of a publication divided by the average field-specific citations per year, whereas the weighted RCR is the sum of all article-level RCR scores over an author’s career. The present study was performed to determine how various factors, such as academic rank, career duration, a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree, and sex, impact the RCR to analyze research productivity among academic neurosurgeons.

METHODS

A retrospective data analysis was performed using the iCite database. All physician faculty affiliated with Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)–accredited neurological surgery programs were eligible for analysis. Sex, career duration, academic rank, additional degrees, total publications, mean RCR, and weighted RCR were collected for each individual. Mean RCR and weighted RCR were compared between variables to assess patterns of analysis by using SAS software version 9.4.

RESULTS

A total of 1687 neurosurgery faculty members from 125 institutions were included in the analysis. Advanced academic rank, longer career duration, and PhD acquisition were all associated with increased mean and weighted RCRs. Male sex was associated with having an increased weighted RCR but not an increased mean RCR score. Overall, neurological surgeons were highly productive, with a median RCR of 1.37 (IQR 0.93–1.97) and a median weighted RCR of 28.56 (IQR 7.99–85.65).

CONCLUSIONS

The RCR and its derivatives are new metrics that help fill in the gaps of other indices for research output. Here, the authors found that advanced academic rank, longer career duration, and PhD acquisition were all associated with increased mean and weighted RCRs. Male sex was associated with having an increased weighted, but not mean, RCR score, most likely because of historically unequal opportunities for women within the field. Furthermore, the data showed that current academic neurosurgeons are exceptionally productive compared to both physicians in other specialties and the general scientific community.

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Michael A. Williams, Tessa van der Willigen, Patience H. White, Cathy C. Cartwright, David L. Wood, and Mark G. Hamilton

The health care needs of children with hydrocephalus continue beyond childhood and adolescence; however, pediatric hospitals and pediatric neurosurgeons are often unable to provide them care after they become adults. Each year in the US, an estimated 5000–6000 adolescents and young adults (collectively, youth) with hydrocephalus must move to the adult health care system, a process known as health care transition (HCT), for which many are not prepared. Many discover that they cannot find neurosurgeons to care for them. A significant gap in health care services exists for young adults with hydrocephalus. To address these issues, the Hydrocephalus Association convened a Transition Summit in Seattle, Washington, February 17–18, 2017.

The Hydrocephalus Association surveyed youth and families in focus groups to identify common concerns with HCT that were used to identify topics for the summit. Seven plenary sessions consisted of formal presentations. Four breakout groups identified key priorities and recommended actions regarding HCT models and practices, to prepare and engage patients, educate health care professionals, and address payment issues. The breakout group results were discussed by all participants to generate consensus recommendations.

Barriers to effective HCT included difficulty finding adult neurosurgeons to accept young adults with hydrocephalus into their practices; unfamiliarity of neurologists, primary care providers, and other health care professionals with the principles of care for patients with hydrocephalus; insufficient infrastructure and processes to provide effective HCT for youth, and longitudinal care for adults with hydrocephalus; and inadequate compensation for health care services.

Best practices were identified, including the National Center for Health Care Transition Improvement’s “Six Core Elements of Health Care Transition 2.0”; development of hydrocephalus-specific transition programs or incorporation of hydrocephalus into existing general HCT programs; and development of specialty centers for longitudinal care of adults with hydrocephalus.

The lack of formal HCT and longitudinal care for young adults with hydrocephalus is a significant health care services problem in the US and Canada that professional societies in neurosurgery and neurology must address. Consensus recommendations of the Hydrocephalus Association Transition Summit address 1) actions by hospitals, health systems, and practices to meet local community needs to improve processes and infrastructure for HCT services and longitudinal care; and 2) actions by professional societies in adult and pediatric neurosurgery and neurology to meet national needs to improve processes and infrastructure for HCT services; to improve training in medical and surgical management of hydrocephalus and in HCT and longitudinal care; and to demonstrate the outcomes and effectiveness of HCT and longitudinal care by promoting research funding.