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Guillaume A. Curaudeau, Nikhil Sharma and Richard A. Rovin

Professional athletes are taking concussion very seriously, and missed play due to concussion is no longer stigmatized. One fortuitous consequence is increased awareness of the detrimental effects of concussion among student athletes. Whereas professional athletes have access to formal in-competition evaluation and out-of-competition monitoring programs, the majority of student athletes, especially at the middle school and high school levels, do not. The authors therefore set out to create an easy-to-use iPhone application for sideline concussion testing and serial monitoring of these at-risk athletes.

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Implications of anesthetic approach, spinal versus general, for the treatment of spinal disc herniation

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

Nikhil Sharma, Matthew Piazza, Paul J. Marcotte, William Welch, Ali K. Ozturk, H. Isaac Chen, Zarina S. Ali, James Schuster and Neil R. Malhotra

OBJECTIVE

Healthcare costs continue to escalate. Approaches to care that have comparable outcomes and complications are increasingly assessed for quality improvement and, when possible, cost containment. Efforts to identify components of care to reduce length of stay (LOS) have been ongoing. Spinal anesthesia (SA), for select lumbar spine procedures, has garnered interest as an alternative to general anesthesia (GA) that might reduce cost and in-hospital LOS and accelerate recovery. While clinical outcomes with SA or GA have been studied extensively, few authors have looked at the cost-analysis in relation to clinical outcomes. The authors’ objectives were to compare the clinical perioperative outcomes of patients who received SA and GA, as well as the direct costs associated with each modality of care, and to determine which, in a retrospective analysis, can serve as a dominant procedural approach.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively analyzed a homogeneous surgical population of 550 patients who underwent hemilaminotomy for disc herniation and who received either SA (n = 91) or GA (n = 459). All clinical and billing data were obtained via each patient’s chart and the hospital’s billing database, respectively. Additionally, the authors prospectively assessed patient-reported outcome measures for a subgroup of consecutively treated patients (n = 75) and compared quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gains between the two cohorts. Furthermore, the authors performed a propensity score–matching analysis to compare the two cohorts (n = 180).

RESULTS

Direct hospital costs for patients receiving SA were 40% higher, in the hundreds of dollars, than for patients who received GA (p < 0.0001). Furthermore, there was a significant difference with regard to LOS (p < 0.0001), where patients receiving SA had a considerably longer hospital LOS (27.6% increase in hours). Patients undergoing SA had more comorbidities (p = 0.0053), specifically diabetes and hypertension. However, metrics of complications, including readmission (p = 0.3038) and emergency department (ED) visits at 30 days (p = 1.0), were no different. Furthermore, in a small pilot group, QALY gains were statistically no different (n = 75, p = 0.6708). Propensity score–matching analysis demonstrated similar results as the univariate analysis: there was no difference between the cohorts regarding 30-day readmission (p = 1.0000); ED within 30 days could not be analyzed as there were no patients in the SA group; and total direct costs and LOS were significantly different between the two cohorts (p < 0.0001 and p = 0.0126, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

Both SA and GA exhibit the qualities of a good anesthetic, and the utilization of these modalities for lumbar spine surgery is safe and effective. However, this work suggests that SA is associated with increased LOS and higher direct costs, although these differences may not be clinically or fiscally meaningful.

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Ashwin G. Ramayya, H. Isaac Chen, Paul J. Marcotte, Steven Brem, Eric L. Zager, Benjamin Osiemo, Matthew Piazza, Nikhil Sharma, Scott D. McClintock, James M. Schuster, Zarina S. Ali, Patrick Connolly, Gregory G. Heuer, M. Sean Grady, David K. Kung, Ali K. Ozturk, Donald M. O’Rourke and Neil R. Malhotra

OBJECTIVE

Although it is known that intersurgeon variability in offering elective surgery can have major consequences for patient morbidity and healthcare spending, data addressing variability within neurosurgery are scarce. The authors performed a prospective peer review study of randomly selected neurosurgery cases in order to assess the extent of consensus regarding the decision to offer elective surgery among attending neurosurgeons across one large academic institution.

METHODS

All consecutive patients who had undergone standard inpatient surgical interventions of 1 of 4 types (craniotomy for tumor [CFT], nonacute redo CFT, first-time spine surgery with/without instrumentation, and nonacute redo spine surgery with/without instrumentation) during the period 2015–2017 were retrospectively enrolled (n = 9156 patient surgeries, n = 80 randomly selected individual cases, n = 20 index cases of each type randomly selected for review). The selected cases were scored by attending neurosurgeons using a need for surgery (NFS) score based on clinical data (patient demographics, preoperative notes, radiology reports, and operative notes; n = 616 independent case reviews). Attending neurosurgeon reviewers were blinded as to performing provider and surgical outcome. Aggregate NFS scores across various categories were measured. The authors employed a repeated-measures mixed ANOVA model with autoregressive variance structure to compute omnibus statistical tests across the various surgery types. Interrater reliability (IRR) was measured using Cohen’s kappa based on binary NFS scores.

RESULTS

Overall, the authors found that most of the neurosurgical procedures studied were rated as “indicated” by blinded attending neurosurgeons (mean NFS = 88.3, all p values < 0.001) with greater agreement among neurosurgeon raters than expected by chance (IRR = 81.78%, p = 0.016). Redo surgery had lower NFS scores and IRR scores than first-time surgery, both for craniotomy and spine surgery (ANOVA, all p values < 0.01). Spine surgeries with fusion had lower NFS scores than spine surgeries without fusion procedures (p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

There was general agreement among neurosurgeons in terms of indication for surgery; however, revision surgery of all types and spine surgery with fusion procedures had the lowest amount of decision consensus. These results should guide efforts aimed at reducing unnecessary variability in surgical practice with the goal of effective allocation of healthcare resources to advance the value paradigm in neurosurgery.