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Wouter I. Schievink, M. Marcel Maya and Miriam Nuño

Object

Spontaneous intracranial hypotension is an important cause of new-onset daily persistent headache. Cerebellar hemorrhage has been identified as a possible feature of spontaneous intracranial hypotension. The authors reviewed the MR imaging studies from a group of patients with spontaneous intracranial hypotension to assess the presence of cerebellar hemorrhage.

Methods

Medical records and radiological images were reviewed in 262 cases involving patients with spontaneous intracranial hypotension who had undergone MR imaging of the brain as well as spinal imaging.

Results

Chronic cerebellar hemorrhages were found in 7 (2.7%) of the 262 patients with spontaneous intracranial hypotension. These hemorrhages were found in 7 (19.4%) of the 36 patients with a ventral spinal CSF leak and in none of the 226 patients who did not have such a CSF leak (p < 0.0001). The degree of hemosiderin deposits was variable, ranging from mild involvement of the cerebellar folia to widespread superficial siderosis. Only the 1 patient with superficial siderosis had symptoms due to the hemorrhages. The time period between the onset of symptoms due to spontaneous intracranial hypotension and MR imaging examination was significantly longer in those patients with cerebellar hemorrhage than in those with a ventral spinal CSF leak and no evidence for cerebellar hemorrhage (mean 19.6 years vs 2.3 months, p < 0.0001).

Conclusions

Chronic cerebellar hemorrhage should be included among the manifestations of spontaneous intracranial hypotension. The severity is variable, but the hemorrhage generally is asymptomatic. The underlying spinal CSF leak is ventral and mostly of long duration.

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Miriam Nuño, Lindsey Pelissier, Kunal Varshneya, Matthew A. Adamo and Doniel Drazin

OBJECT

Head trauma is the leading cause of death in abused children, particularly prior to the age of 2 years. An awareness of factors associated with this condition as well as with a higher risk of mortality is important to improve outcomes and prevent the occurrence of these events. The objective of this study was to evaluate outcomes and factors associated with poor outcomes in infants with diagnosed abusive head trauma (AHT). Patient characteristics, socioeconomic factors, and secondary conditions such as retinal bleeding, contusion, and fractures were considered.

METHODS

Data were obtained from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. From the Kids’ Inpatient Database (KID) sample, the authors identified infants no older than 23 months who had been diagnosed with AHT in 2000, 2003, 2006, and 2009. All statistical analyses were conducted in SAS 9.2. Descriptive statistics were provided, and multivariate logistic regression models were applied to evaluate factors associated with mortality and nonroutine discharge.

RESULTS

A total of 5195 infants were analyzed in this study. Most infants (85.5%) had ages ranging between 0 and 11 months and were male (61.6%). Overall mortality was 10.8%, with a rate of 9.8% in the 0- to 11-month-old cohort and 16.5% in the 12- to 23-month-olds (p = 0.0003). The overall nonroutine discharge rate of 25.6% increased significantly from 23.3% to 39.0% with increasing age (0–11 vs 12–23 months of age, p < 0.0001). Assuming a multivariate model that adjusted for multiple confounders, the authors found that older infants (12–23 vs 0–11 months, OR 1.81, 95% CI 1.18–2.77) with a secondary diagnosis of retinal bleeding (OR 2.85, 95% CI 2.02–4.00) or shaken baby syndrome (OR 2.09, 95% CI 1.48–2.94) had an increased risk of mortality; these factors were similarly associated with an increased odds of a nonroutine discharge. A higher income ($30,001–$35,000 vs $1–$24,999) was associated with a reduction in the odds of mortality (OR 0.46, 95% CI 0.29–0.72). In the subset of cases (1695 [32.6%]) that specified the perpetrator involved in infant injury, the authors found that the father, stepfather, or boyfriend was most frequently reported (67.4%). A trend for a higher AHT incidence was documented in the early ages (peak at 2 months) compared with older ages.

CONCLUSIONS

Despite the higher incidence of AHT among infants during the earlier months of life, higher mortality was documented in the 12- to 23-month-olds. Retinal bleeding and shaken baby syndrome were secondary diagnoses associated with higher mortality and nonroutine discharge. Males (67.4%) were overwhelmingly documented as the perpetrators involved in the injury of these infants.

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Faris Shweikeh, Miriam Nuño, Moise Danielpour, Mark D. Krieger and Doniel Drazin

Object

Positional plagiocephaly (PP) has been on the rise in recent years. In this review, the authors' aim was to assess the effectiveness of current recommendations to parents on this exceedingly common problem through a comprehensive literature search. Additionally, the current treatment options and the most recent studies on PP are reviewed.

Methods

A search of the existing literature was conducted to obtain all relevant studies on guidelines, recommendations, parental and clinician practices, and epidemiological aspects.

Results

Although the incidence and risk factors for PP have been well delineated, there continues to be debates on its management and association with developmental delays. Current guidelines and recommendations on prevention set by the American Association of Pediatrics may not be easily followed by both parents and clinicians. There is also evidence that certain populations, including those with lower education, socioeconomic status, and in particular geographic regions may be more affected by the condition. Additionally, the marketing and financial aspects of PP treatments exist and should be addressed.

Conclusions

Better awareness and education are necessary to inform the population as a whole, although certain populations should be given special attention. Additionally, current guidelines and recommendations can be modified to foster a better grasp of the condition by both parents and clinicians. Adjusting current recommendations, introducing initiatives, and offering elaborate educational campaigns would help deliver these aims. Educating parents on PP as early as possible through clearer guidelines and close monitoring is central to preventing and managing this common condition.

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Doniel Drazin, Miriam Nuño, Chirag G. Patil, Kimberly Yan, John C. Liu and Frank L. Acosta Jr.

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to determine factors associated with admission to the hospital through the emergency room (ER) for patients with a primary diagnosis of low-back pain (LBP). The authors further evaluated the impact of ER admission and patient characteristics on mortality, discharge disposition, and hospital length of stay.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective analysis of patients with LBP discharged from hospitals according to the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) between 1998 and 2007. Univariate comparisons of patient characteristics according to the type of admission (ER versus non-ER) were conducted. Multivariate analysis evaluated factors associated with an ER admission, risk of mortality, and nonroutine discharge.

RESULTS

According to the NIS, approximately 183,151 patients with a primary diagnosis of LBP were discharged from US hospitals between 1998 and 2007. During this period, an average of 65% of these patients were admitted through the ER, with a significant increase from 1998 (54%) to 2005 (71%). Multivariate analysis revealed that uninsured patients (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.7–2.6, p < 0.0001) and African American patients (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.2–1.7, p < 0.0001) were significantly more likely to be admitted through the ER than private insurance patients or Caucasian patients, respectively. Additionally, a moderate but statistically significant increase in the likelihood of ER admission was noted for patients with more preexisting comorbidities (OR 1.1, 95% CI 1.0–1.2, p < 0.001). An 11% incremental increase in the odds of admission through the ER was observed with each year increment (OR 1.1, 95% CI 1.0–1.2, p < 0.001). Highest income patients ($45,000+) were more likely to be admitted through the ER (OR 1.3, 95% CI 1.1–1.6, p = 0.007) than the lowest income cohort. While ER admission did not impact the risk of mortality (OR 0.95, 95% CI 0.60–1.51, p = 0.84), it increased the odds of a nonroutine discharge (OR 1.39, 95% CI 1.26–1.53, p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

A significant majority of patients discharged from hospitals in the US from 1998 to 2007 with a primary diagnosis of LBP were admitted through the ER, with more patients being admitted via this route each year. These patients were less likely to be discharged directly home compared with patients with LBP who were not admitted through the ER. Uninsured and African American patients with LBP were more likely to be admitted through the ER than their counterparts, as were patients with more preexisting health problems. Interestingly, patients with LBP at the highest income levels were more likely to be admitted through hospital ERs. The findings suggest that socioeconomic factors may play a role in the utilization of ER resources by patients with LBP, which in turn appears to impact at least the short-term outcome of these patients.

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Faris Shweikeh, Lutfi Al-Khouja, Miriam Nuño, J. Patrick Johnson, Doniel Drazin and Matthew A. Adamo

OBJECT

Tethered cord syndrome (TCS) is a common spinal abnormality. In this study, the authors analyzed demographics, complications, and outcomes in children and adolescents who underwent surgery for TCS.

METHODS

Using the national Kids' Inpatient Database (KID), the authors retrospectively identified patients with a primary diagnosis of TCS who were treated with spinal laminectomy and discharged in 2000, 2003, 2006, and 2009. Descriptive analysis was provided for patient- and hospital-level characteristics. Mortality, complications, non-routine discharges, in-hospital length of stay (LOS), and total charges were documented for the entire cohort and age-specific cohorts (0–5, 6–10, 11–15, and 16–20 years). Comparisons by complications and age groups were conducted.

RESULTS

A total of 7397 children and adolescents met the criteria in the 4 studied years. The mean age was 5.7 years; 55.3% of patients were younger than 5 years, 21.5% were 6–10 years, and 16.2% were 11–15 years. Most surgeries were performed in patients who were female (55.0%) and white (64.4%) and were performed at large (49.8%), teaching (94.2%), and urban (99.1%) children's (89.3%) hospitals. The trend showed an increase in prevalence from 2000 (19.9%) to 2009 (29.6%). Common comorbidities included anomalies in spinal curvature (16.7%), urinary or bladder dysfunction (14.3%), and spinal stenosis/spondylosis (1.4%). Non-routine discharges (3.3%) were significantly higher with advancing age, increasing from 2.2% in those younger than 5 years to 9.0% in those older than 15 years (p < 0.0001). There was a similar increasing trend for complications (6.8% to 13.9%, respectively, p < 0.0001) and average LOS (3.5 to 5.1 days, respectively, p < 0.0001). Hospital charges increased with age from an average of $28,521 in those younger than 5 years to $36,855 in those older than 15 years (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

There was a steady trend of increasing operative treatment for TCS over the more recent years. The nationwide analysis was also indicative of an existing disparity, based on age, in complications, outcomes, and charges following TCS surgical correction. Older children tended to have more complications, longer LOS, more non-routine discharges, and higher hospital costs. The results are highly supportive of surgery at a younger age for this condition. Future research should investigate this correlation, especially considering the efforts to control and reduce health care costs.

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Faris Shweikeh, David Foulad, Miriam Nuño, Doniel Drazin and Matthew A. Adamo

OBJECT

Craniosynostosis is often treated with neurosurgical intervention. The aim of this study was to report and analyze the clinical and socioeconomic characteristics of patients with craniosynostosis and to present current national trends.

METHODS

Using the Kids’ Inpatient Database for the years 2000, 2003, 2006, and 2009, the authors identified patients with craniosynostosis using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification diagnosis codes and their associated procedure codes. Clinical features, demographics, inpatient procedures, outcomes, and charges were collected and analyzed.

RESULTS

Of the 3415 patients identified, 65.8% were White, 21.4% were Hispanic, and 3.2% were Black. More than 96% were treated at urban teaching hospitals and 54.2% in southern or western regions. White patients were younger (mean 6.1 months) as compared with Blacks (mean 10.9 months) and Hispanics (mean 9.1 months; p < 0.0001) at the time of surgery. A higher fraction of Whites had private insurance (70.3%) compared with nonwhites (34.0%–41.6%; p < 0.001). Approximately 12.2% were nonelective admissions, more so among Blacks (16.9%). Mean hospital length of stay (LOS) was 3.5 days with no significant differences among races. Following surgical treatment, 12.1% of patients developed complications, most commonly pulmonary/respiratory (4.8%), wound infection (4.4%), and hydrocephalus (1.4%). The mean overall hospital charges were significantly lower for Whites than nonwhites ($34,527 vs $44,890–$48,543, respectively; p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

The findings of this national study suggest a higher prevalence of craniosynostosis in Hispanics. The higher predisposition among males was less evident in Hispanics and Blacks. There was a significant percentage of nonelective admissions, more commonly among Blacks. Additionally, Hispanics and Blacks were more likely to receive surgery at an older age, past the current recommendation of the optimum age for surgical intervention. These findings are likely associated with a lack of early detection. Although mean LOS and rate of complications did not significantly differ among different races, nonwhites had, on average, higher hospital charges of $10,000–$14,000. This discrepancy may be due to differences in type of insurance, craniosynostosis type, rates of comorbidities, and delay in treatment. Although there are several limitations to this analysis, the study reports on relevant disparities regarding a costly neurosurgical intervention, and ways to diminish these disparities should be further explored.

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Holly Dickinson, Christine Carico, Miriam Nuño, Debraj Mukherjee, Alicia Ortega, Keith L. Black and Chirag G. Patil

OBJECT

Research on readmissions has been influenced by efforts to reduce hospital cost and avoid penalties stipulated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Less emphasis has been placed on understanding these readmissions and their impact on patient outcomes. This study 1) delineates reasons for readmission, 2) explores factors associated with readmissions, and 3) describes their impact on the survival of glioblastoma patients.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of 362 cases involving patients with glioblastoma undergoing biopsy or tumor resection at their institution between 2003 and 2011. Reasons for re-hospitalization were characterized according to whether or not they were related to surgery and considered preventable. Multivariate analyses were conducted to identify the effect of readmission on survival and determine factors associated with re-hospitalizations.

RESULTS

Twenty-seven (7.5%) of 362 patients experienced unplanned readmissions within 30 days of surgery. Six patients (22.2%) were readmitted by Day 7, 14 (51.9%) by Day 14, and 20 (74.1%) by Day 21. Neurological, infectious, and thromboembolic complications were leading reasons for readmission, accounting for, respectively, 37.0%, 29.6%, and 22.2% of unplanned readmissions. Twenty-one (77.8%) of the 27 readmissions were related to surgery and 19 (70.4%) were preventable. The adjusted hazard ratio of mortality associated with a readmission was 2.03 (95% CI 1.3–3.1). Higher-functioning patients (OR 0.96, 95% CI 0.9–1.0) and patients discharged home (OR 0.21, 95% CI 0.1–0.6) were less likely to get readmitted.

CONCLUSIONS

An overwhelming fraction of documented unplanned readmissions were considered preventable and related to surgery. Patients who were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of surgery had twice the risk of mortality compared with patients who were not readmitted.

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Miriam Nuño, Christine Carico, Debraj Mukherjee, Diana Ly, Alicia Ortega, Keith L. Black and Chirag G. Patil

OBJECT

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality patient safety indicators (PSIs) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) are administrative data-based metrics. The use of these outcomes as standard performance measures has been discussed in previous studies. With the objective of determining the applicability of these events as performance metrics among patients undergoing brain tumor surgery, this study had 2 aims: 1) to evaluate the association between PSIs, HACs, and in-hospital mortality rates; and 2) to determine a correlation between hospital volume, PSIs, and HACs.

METHODS

Patients with brain tumors treated between 1998 and 2009 were captured in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database. Hospitals were categorized into groups according to surgical volume. Associations between PSIs, HACs, and in-hospital mortality rates were studied. Factors associated with a PSI, HAC, and mortality were evaluated in a multivariate setting.

RESULTS

A total of 444,751 patients with brain tumors underwent surgery in 1311 hospitals nationwide. Of these, 7.4% of patients experienced a PSI, 0.4% an HAC, and 1.9% died during their hospitalization. The occurrence of a PSI was strongly associated with mortality. Patients were 7.6 times more likely to die (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 7.6, CI 6.7–8.7) with the occurrence of a PSI in a multivariate analysis. Moderate to strong associations were found between HACs, PSIs, and hospital volume. Patients treated at the highest-volume hospitals compared with the lowest-volume ones had reduced odds of a PSI (aOR 0.9, CI 0.8–1.0) and HAC (aOR 0.5, CI 0.5–0.08).

CONCLUSIONS

Patient safety-related adverse events were strongly associated with in-hospital mortality. Moderate to strong correlations were found between PSIs, HACs, and hospital procedural volume. Patients treated at the highest-volume hospitals had consistently lower rates of mortality, PSIs, and HACs compared with those treated at the lowest-volume facilities.

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Nicholas Dietz, Mayur Sharma, Ahmad Alhourani, Beatrice Ugiliweneza, Dengzhi Wang, Miriam A. Nuño, Doniel Drazin and Maxwell Boakye

OBJECTIVE

There is increasing emphasis on patient-reported outcomes (PROs) to quantitatively evaluate quality outcomes from degenerative spine surgery. However, accurate prediction of PROs is challenging due to heterogeneity in outcome measures, patient characteristics, treatment characteristics, and methodological characteristics. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the current landscape of independently validated predictive models for PROs in elective degenerative spinal surgery with respect to study design and model generation, training, accuracy, reliability, variance, and utility.

METHODS

The authors analyzed the current predictive models in PROs by performing a search of the PubMed and Ovid databases using PRISMA guidelines and a PICOS (participants, intervention, comparison, outcomes, study design) model. They assessed the common outcomes and variables used across models as well as the study design and internal validation methods.

RESULTS

A total of 7 articles met the inclusion criteria, including a total of 17 validated predictive models of PROs after adult degenerative spine surgery. National registry databases were used in 4 of the studies. Validation cohorts were used in 2 studies for model verification and 5 studies used other methods, including random sample bootstrapping techniques. Reported c-index values ranged from 0.47 to 0.79. Two studies report the area under the curve (0.71–0.83) and one reports a misclassification rate (9.9%). Several positive predictors, including high baseline pain intensity and disability, demonstrated high likelihood of favorable PROs.

CONCLUSIONS

A limited but effective cohort of validated predictive models of spine surgical outcomes had proven good predictability for PROs. Instruments with predictive accuracy can enhance shared decision-making, improve rehabilitation, and inform best practices in the setting of heterogeneous patient characteristics and surgical factors.

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Ahmad Al-Sukaini, Nuno Rui Paulino Pereira, Elaine W. Yu, Ivan Chebib, Miriam A. Bredella and Joseph Schwab

A 57-year-old male presented with recurrent falls, bilateral lower-limb paresthesia, and severe neck pain. Imaging revealed a mass compressing his spinal cord. He was admitted for further workup for spinal cord compression. Within 24 hours of admission, he developed upper-extremity weakness while maintaining lower-extremity function. He underwent urgent decompression of his spinal cord. During exposure, a white, creamy odorless substance was noted. This same substance was found under pressure within the spinal canal. The mass was grossly removed, and the patient's weakness improved postoperatively. Based on the clinical picture, intraoperative presentation, and final histological examination, idiopathic tumoral calcinosis-like lesion was considered as the most appropriate diagnosis.