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Ramesh L. Sahjpaul, Muwaffak M. Abdulhak, Charles G. Drake, and Robert R. Hammond

✓ The authors present the case of a 34-year-old man struck over the left mastoid region by a hockey puck, who suffered a fatal rupture of a left vertebral artery berry aneurysm. He became apneic within seconds of the injury and had no brainstem reflex within minutes. The postmortem examination showed massive subarachnoid hemorrhage in the posterior fossa and the remnants of a berry aneurysm near the intradural origin of the left vertebral artery, 11 mm proximal to the posterior inferior cerebellar artery. Rupture of a saccular aneurysm as a result of head trauma is rare. This is the first reported case of a posterior circulation aneurysm rupture as a result of head trauma.

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Blaine S. Nashold Jr., Amr O. El-Naggar, Janice Ovelmen-Levitt, and Muwaffak Abdul-Hak

✓ Two new right-angled electrodes have been designed for use at the dorsal root entry zone (DREZ) of the caudalis nucleus to provide relief of chronic facial pain. The electrode design was based on an anatomical study of the human caudalis nucleus at the cervicomedullary junction. Previously, caudalis nucleus DREZ operations were often followed by ipsilateral ataxia, usually in the arm. The new electrodes have significantly reduced this complication. A group of 21 patients with varied types of chronic facial pain have been treated, with pain relief in 70%.

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Mohamed Macki, Azam Basheer, Ian Lee, Ryan Kather, Ilan Rubinfeld, and Muwaffak M. Abdulhak

OBJECTIVE

In the past, spine surgeons have avoided the transoral approach to the atlantoaxial segment because of concerns for unacceptable patient morbidity. The objective of this study was to measure 30-day postoperative complications, especially surgical site infection (SSI), after transoral versus posterior approach to atlantoaxial fusion.

METHODS

The source population was provided by the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database, which was queried for all patients who underwent atlantoaxial fusion for degenerative/spondylotic disease and/or trauma between 2005 and 2014. To eliminate bias from unequal sample sizes, patients who underwent the transoral approach were matched with patients who underwent the posterior approach (generally 1:5 ratio) based on age ± 5 years and modified frailty index score (a measure of preoperative comorbidity burden). Because of rare SSI incidence, adjusted odds ratios (ORadj) of SSI were calculated using penalized maximum likelihood estimation.

RESULTS

A total of 318 patients were included in the study. There were no statistically significant differences between the transoral cohort (n = 56) and the posterior cohort (n = 262) in terms of 30-day postoperative individual complications, including SSI (1.79% vs 1.91%; p = 0.951) and composite complications (10.71% vs 6.87%; p = 0.323). Controlling for sex and smoking, the odds of SSI in the transoral approach were almost equal to the odds in the posterior approach (ORadj 1.17; p = 0.866). While the unplanned reoperation rate of 5.36% after transoral surgery was higher than the 1.53% rate after posterior surgery, the difference approached, but did not reach, statistical significance (p = 0.076).

CONCLUSIONS

Transoral versus posterior surgery for atlantoaxial fusion did not differ in 30-day unexpected outcomes. Therefore, spinal pathology, rather than concern for postoperative complications, should adjudicate the technical approach to the atlantoaxial segment.

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Hesham Mostafa Zakaria, Tarek R. Mansour, Edvin Telemi, Karam Asmaro, Mohamed Macki, Michael Bazydlo, Lonni Schultz, David R. Nerenz, Muwaffak Abdulhak, Jason M. Schwalb, Paul Park, and Victor Chang

OBJECTIVE

The Michigan Spine Surgery Improvement Collaborative (MSSIC) is a prospective, longitudinal, multicenter, quality-improvement collaborative. Using MSSIC, the authors sought to identify the relationship between a positive Patient Health Questionnaire–2 (PHQ-2) screening, which is predictive of depression, and patient satisfaction, return to work, and achieving Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) minimal clinically important difference (MCID) scores up to 2 years after lumbar fusion.

METHODS

Data from a total of 8585 lumbar fusion patients were analyzed. Patient satisfaction was measured by the North American Spine Society patient satisfaction index. A positive PHQ-2 score is one that is ≥ 3, which has an 82.9% sensitivity and 90.0% specificity in detecting major depressive disorder. Generalized estimating equation models were constructed; variables tested include age, sex, race, past medical history, severity of surgery, and preoperative opioid usage.

RESULTS

Multivariate analysis was performed. Patients with a positive PHQ-2 score (i.e., ≥ 3) were less likely to be satisfied after lumbar fusion at 90 days (relative risk [RR] 0.93, p < 0.001), 1 year (RR 0.92, p = 0.001), and 2 years (RR 0.92, p = 0.028). A positive PHQ-2 score was also associated with decreased likelihood of returning to work at 90 days (RR 0.76, p < 0.001), 1 year (RR 0.85, p = 0.001), and 2 years (RR 0.82, p = 0.031). A positive PHQ-2 score was predictive of failure to achieve an ODI MCID at 90 days (RR 1.07, p = 0.005) but not at 1 year or 2 years after lumbar fusion.

CONCLUSIONS

A multivariate analysis based on information from a large, multicenter, prospective database on lumbar fusion patients was performed. The authors found that a positive score (≥ 3) on the PHQ-2, which is a simple and accurate screening tool for depression, predicts an inability to return to work and worse satisfaction up to 2 years after lumbar fusion. Depression is a treatable condition, and so in the same way that patients are medically optimized before surgery to decrease postoperative morbidity, perhaps patients should have preoperative psychiatric optimization to improve postoperative functional outcomes.

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Victor Chang, Jason M. Schwalb, David R. Nerenz, Lisa Pietrantoni, Sharon Jones, Michelle Jankowski, Nancy Oja-Tebbe, Stephen Bartol, and Muwaffak Abdulhak

OBJECT

Given the scrutiny of spine surgery by policy makers, spine surgeons are motivated to demonstrate and improve outcomes, by determining which patients will and will not benefit from surgery, and to reduce costs, often by reducing complications. Insurers are similarly motivated. In 2013, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) and Blue Care Network (BCN) established the Michigan Spine Surgery Improvement Collaborative (MSSIC) as a Collaborative Quality Initiative (CQI). MSSIC is one of the newest of 21 other CQIs that have significantly improved—and continue to improve—the quality of patient care throughout the state of Michigan.

METHODS

MSSIC focuses on lumbar and cervical spine surgery, specifically indications such as stenosis, disk herniation, and degenerative disease. Surgery for tumors, traumatic fractures, deformity, scoliosis, and acute spinal cord injury are currently not within the scope of MSSIC. Starting in 2014, MSSIC consisted of 7 hospitals and in 2015 included another 15 hospitals, for a total of 22 hospitals statewide. A standardized data set is obtained by data abstractors, who are funded by BCBSM/BCN. Variables of interest include indications for surgery, baseline patient-reported outcome measures, and medical history. These are obtained within 30 days of surgery. Outcome instruments used include the EQ-5D general health state score (0 being worst and 100 being the best health one can imagine) and EQ-5D-3 L. For patients undergoing lumbar surgery, a 0 to 10 numeric rating scale for leg and back pain and the Oswestry Disability Index for back pain are collected. For patients undergoing cervical surgery, a 0 to 10 numeric rating scale for arm and neck pain, Neck Disability Index, and the modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association score are collected. Surgical details, postoperative hospital course, and patient-reported outcome measures are collected at 90-day, 1-year, and 2-year intervals.

RESULTS

As of July 1, 2015, a total of 6397 cases have been entered into the registry. This number reflects 4824 eligible cases with confirmed surgery dates. Of these 4824 eligible cases, 3338 cases went beyond the 120-day window and were considered eligible for the extraction of surgical details, 90-day outcomes, and adverse events. Among these 3338 patients, there are a total of 2469 lumbar cases, 862 cervical cases, and 7 combined procedures that were entered into the registry.

CONCLUSIONS

In addition to functioning as a registry, MSSIC is also meant to be a platform for quality improvement with the potential for future initiatives and best practices to be implemented statewide in order to improve quality and lower costs. With its current rate of recruitment and expansion, MSSIC will provide a robust platform as a regional prospective registry. Its unique funding model, which is supported by BCBSM/BCN, will help ensure its longevity and viability, as has been observed in other CQIs that have been active for several years.

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Timothy J. Yee, Brandon W. Smith, Jacob R. Joseph, Yamaan S. Saadeh, Jay K. Nathan, Elyne N. Kahn, Siri S. Khalsa, Kelsey J. Fearer, Michael J. Kirsch, David R. Nerenz, Victor Chang, Jason M. Schwalb, Muwaffak M. Abdulhak, and Paul Park

OBJECTIVE

The Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) is one of the most commonly used patient-reported outcome instruments, but completion of this 10-question survey can be cumbersome. Tools from the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) are an alternative, and potentially more efficient, means of assessing physical, mental, and social outcomes in spine surgery. Authors of this retrospective study assessed whether scores on the 4-item surveys of function and pain from the PROMIS initiative correlate with those on the ODI in lumbar spine surgery.

METHODS

Patients evaluated in the adult neurosurgery spine clinic at a single institution completed the ODI, PROMIS Short Form v2.0 Physical Function 4a (PROMIS PF), and PROMIS Short Form v1.0 Pain Interference 4a (PROMIS PI) at various time points in their care. Score data were retrospectively analyzed using linear regressions with calculation of the Pearson correlation coefficient.

RESULTS

Three hundred forty-three sets of surveys (ODI, PROMIS PF, and PROMIS PI) were obtained from patients across initial visits (n = 147), 3-month follow-ups (n = 107), 12-month follow-ups (n = 52), and 24-month follow-ups (n = 37). ODI scores strongly correlated with PROMIS PF t-scores at baseline (r = −0.72, p < 0.0001), 3 months (r = −0.79, p < 0.0001), 12 months (r = −0.85, p < 0.0001), and 24 months (r = −0.89, p < 0.0001). ODI scores also correlated strongly with PROMIS PI t-scores at baseline (r = 0.71, p < 0.0001), at 3 months (r = 0.82, p < 0.0001), at 12 months (r = 0.86, p < 0.0001), and at 24 months (r = 0.88, p < 0.0001). Changes in ODI scores moderately correlated with changes in PROMIS PF t-scores (r = −0.68, p = 0.0003) and changes in PROMIS PI t-scores (r = 0.57, p = 0.0047) at 3 months postoperatively.

CONCLUSIONS

A strong correlation was found between the ODI and the 4-item PROMIS PF/PI at isolated time points for patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery. Large cohort studies are needed to determine longitudinal accuracy and precision and to assess possible benefits of time savings and improved rates of survey completion.

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Mohamed Macki, Travis Hamilton, Seokchun Lim, Edvin Telemi, Michael Bazydlo, David R. Nerenz, Hesham Mostafa Zakaria, Lonni Schultz, Jad G. Khalil, Miguelangelo J. Perez-Cruet, Ilyas S. Aleem, Paul Park, Jason M. Schwalb, Muwaffak M. Abdulhak, and Victor Chang

OBJECTIVE

Most studies on racial disparities in spine surgery lack data granularity to control for both comorbidities and self-assessment metrics. Analyses from large, multicenter surgical registries can provide an enhanced platform for understanding different factors that influence outcome. In this study, the authors aimed to determine the effects of race on outcomes after lumbar surgery, using patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in 3 areas: the North American Spine Society patient satisfaction index, the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) on the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) for low-back pain, and return to work.

METHODS

The Michigan Spine Surgery Improvement Collaborative was queried for all elective lumbar operations. Patient race/ethnicity was categorized as Caucasian, African American, and “other.” Measures of association between race and PROs were calculated with generalized estimating equations (GEEs) to report adjusted risk ratios.

RESULTS

The African American cohort consisted of a greater proportion of women with the highest comorbidity burden. Among the 7980 and 4222 patients followed up at 1 and 2 years postoperatively, respectively, African American patients experienced the lowest rates of satisfaction, MCID on ODI, and return to work. Following a GEE, African American race decreased the probability of satisfaction at both 1 and 2 years postoperatively. Race did not affect return to work or achieving MCID on the ODI. The variable of greatest association with all 3 PROs at both follow-up times was postoperative depression.

CONCLUSIONS

While a complex myriad of socioeconomic factors interplay between race and surgical success, the authors identified modifiable risk factors, specifically depression, that may improve PROs among African American patients after elective lumbar spine surgery.

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Paul Park, Victor Chang, Hsueh-Han Yeh, Jason M. Schwalb, David R. Nerenz, Lonni R. Schultz, Muwaffak M. Abdulhak, Richard Easton, Miguelangelo Perez-Cruet, Osama N. Kashlan, Mark E. Oppenlander, Nicholas J. Szerlip, Kevin N. Swong, and Ilyas S. Aleem

OBJECTIVE

In 2017, Michigan passed new legislation designed to reduce opioid abuse. This study evaluated the impact of these new restrictive laws on preoperative narcotic use, short-term outcomes, and readmission rates after spinal surgery.

METHODS

Patient data from 1 year before and 1 year after initiation of the new opioid laws (beginning July 1, 2018) were queried from the Michigan Spine Surgery Improvement Collaborative database. Before and after implementation of the major elements of the new laws, 12,325 and 11,988 patients, respectively, were treated.

RESULTS

Patients before and after passage of the opioid laws had generally similar demographic and surgical characteristics. Notably, after passage of the opioid laws, the number of patients taking daily narcotics preoperatively decreased from 3783 (48.7%) to 2698 (39.7%; p < 0.0001). Three months postoperatively, there were no differences in minimum clinically important difference (56.0% vs 58.0%, p = 0.1068), numeric rating scale (NRS) score of back pain (3.5 vs 3.4, p = 0.1156), NRS score of leg pain (2.7 vs 2.7, p = 0.3595), satisfaction (84.4% vs 84.7%, p = 0.6852), or 90-day readmission rate (5.8% vs 6.2%, p = 0.3202) between groups. Although there was no difference in readmission rates, pain as a reason for readmission was marginally more common (0.86% vs 1.22%, p = 0.0323).

CONCLUSIONS

There was a meaningful decrease in preoperative narcotic use, but notably there was no apparent negative impact on postoperative recovery, patient satisfaction, or short-term outcomes after spinal surgery despite more restrictive opioid prescribing. Although the readmission rate did not significantly increase, pain as a reason for readmission was marginally more frequently observed.