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Nikita Lakomkin and Constantinos G. Hadjipanayis

OBJECTIVE

Hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) significantly compromise patient safety, and have been identified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as events that will be associated with penalties for surgeons. The mitigation of HACs must be an important consideration during the postoperative management of patients undergoing spine tumor resection. The purpose of this study was to identify the risk factors for HACs and to characterize the relationship between HACs and other postoperative adverse events following spine tumor resection.

METHODS

The 2008–2014 American College of Surgeons’ National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database was used to identify adult patients undergoing the resection of intramedullary, intradural extramedullary, and extradural spine lesions via current procedural terminology and ICD-9 codes. Demographic, comorbidity, and operative variables were evaluated via bivariate statistics before being incorporated into a multivariable logistic regression model to identify the independent risk factors for HACs. Associations between HACs and other postoperative events, including death, readmission, prolonged length of stay, and various complications were determined through multivariable analysis while controlling for other significant variables. The c-statistic was computed to evaluate the predictive capacity of the regression models.

RESULTS

Of the 2170 patients included in the study, 195 (9.0%) developed an HAC. Only 2 perioperative variables, functional dependency and high body mass index, were risk factors for developing HACs (area under the curve = 0.654). Hospital-acquired conditions were independent predictors of all examined outcomes and complications, including death (OR 2.26, 95% CI 1.24–4.11, p = 0.007), prolonged length of stay (OR 2.74, 95% CI 1.98–3.80, p < 0.001), and readmission (OR 9.16, 95% CI 6.27–13.37, p < 0.001). The areas under the curve for these models ranged from 0.750 to 0.917.

CONCLUSIONS

The comorbidities assessed in this study were not strongly predictive of HACs. Other variables, including hospital-associated factors, may play a role in the development of these conditions. The presence of an HAC was found to be an independent risk factor for a variety of adverse events. These findings highlight the need for continued development of evidence-based protocols designed to reduce the incidence and severity of HACs.

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Zach Pennington, Brendan F. Judy, Hesham M. Zakaria, Nikita Lakomkin, Anthony L. Mikula, Benjamin D. Elder, and Nicholas Theodore

OBJECTIVE

Spine robots have seen increased utilization over the past half decade with the introduction of multiple new systems. Market research expects this expansion to continue over the next half decade at an annual rate of 20%. However, because of the novelty of these devices, there is limited literature on their learning curves and how they should be integrated into residency curricula. With the present review, the authors aimed to address these two points.

METHODS

A systematic review of the published English-language literature on PubMed, Ovid, Scopus, and Web of Science was conducted to identify studies describing the learning curve in spine robotics. Included articles described clinical results in patients using one of the following endpoints: operative time, screw placement time, fluoroscopy usage, and instrumentation accuracy. Systems examined included the Mazor series, the ExcelsiusGPS, and the TiRobot. Learning curves were reported in a qualitative synthesis, given as the mean improvement in the endpoint per case performed or screw placed where possible. All studies were level IV case series with a high risk of reporting bias.

RESULTS

Of 1579 unique articles, 97 underwent full-text review and 21 met the inclusion and exclusion criteria; 62 articles were excluded for not presenting primary data for one of the above-described endpoints. Of the 21 articles, 18 noted the presence of a learning curve in spine robots, which ranged from 3 to 30 cases or 15 to 62 screws. Only 12 articles performed regressions of one of the endpoints (most commonly operative time) as a function of screws placed or cases performed. Among these, increasing experience was associated with a 0.24- to 4.6-minute decrease in operative time per case performed. All but one series described the experience of attending surgeons, not residents.

CONCLUSIONS

Most studies of learning curves with spine robots have found them to be present, with the most common threshold being 20 to 30 cases performed. Unfortunately, all available evidence is level IV data, limited to case series. Given the ability of residency to allow trainees to safely perform these cases under the supervision of experienced senior surgeons, it is argued that a curriculum should be developed for senior-level residents specializing in spine comprising a minimum of 30 performed cases.

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Anthony L. Mikula, Brandon W. Smith, Nikita Lakomkin, Matthew K. Doan, Megan M. Jack, Mohamad Bydon, and Robert J. Spinner

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to determine if patients with nerve sheath tumors affecting the C5 spinal nerve are at greater risk for postoperative weakness than those with similar tumors affecting other spinal nerves contributing to the brachial plexus.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review (1998–2020)identified patients with pathologically confirmed schwannomas or neurofibromas from the C5 to T1 nerves. Patients with plexiform nerve sheath tumors, tumors involving more than 1 nerve, and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors were excluded. Collected variables included basic demographics, tumor dimensions, its location relative to the dura, involved nerve level, surgical approach, extent of resection, presenting symptoms, postoperative neurological deficits, and recurrence rate.

RESULTS

Forty-six patients (23 men, 23 women) were identified for inclusion in the study with an average age of 47 ± 17 years, BMI of 28 ± 5 kg/m, and follow-up of 32 ± 45 months. Thirty-nine patients (85%) had schwannomas and 7 (15%) had neurofibromas. Tumors involved the C5 (n = 12), C6 (n = 11), C7 (n = 14), C8 (n = 6), and T1 (n = 3) nerves. Multivariable logistic regression analysis with an area under the curve of 0.85 demonstrated C5 tumor level as an independent predictor of new postoperative weakness (odds ratio 7.4, p = 0.028). Of those patients with new postoperative weakness, 75% improved and 50% experienced complete resolution of their motor deficits.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with C5 nerve sheath tumor resections are at higher odds of new postoperative weakness. This may be due to the predominant single innervation of shoulder muscle targets in contrast to other upper extremity muscles that receive input from 2 or more spinal nerves. These findings are important for clinical decision-making and preoperative patient counseling.

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Anthony L. Mikula, Brandon W. Smith, Nikita Lakomkin, Matthew K. Doan, Megan M. Jack, Mohamad Bydon, and Robert J. Spinner

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to determine if patients with nerve sheath tumors affecting the C5 spinal nerve are at greater risk for postoperative weakness than those with similar tumors affecting other spinal nerves contributing to the brachial plexus.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review (1998–2020)identified patients with pathologically confirmed schwannomas or neurofibromas from the C5 to T1 nerves. Patients with plexiform nerve sheath tumors, tumors involving more than 1 nerve, and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors were excluded. Collected variables included basic demographics, tumor dimensions, its location relative to the dura, involved nerve level, surgical approach, extent of resection, presenting symptoms, postoperative neurological deficits, and recurrence rate.

RESULTS

Forty-six patients (23 men, 23 women) were identified for inclusion in the study with an average age of 47 ± 17 years, BMI of 28 ± 5 kg/m, and follow-up of 32 ± 45 months. Thirty-nine patients (85%) had schwannomas and 7 (15%) had neurofibromas. Tumors involved the C5 (n = 12), C6 (n = 11), C7 (n = 14), C8 (n = 6), and T1 (n = 3) nerves. Multivariable logistic regression analysis with an area under the curve of 0.85 demonstrated C5 tumor level as an independent predictor of new postoperative weakness (odds ratio 7.4, p = 0.028). Of those patients with new postoperative weakness, 75% improved and 50% experienced complete resolution of their motor deficits.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with C5 nerve sheath tumor resections are at higher odds of new postoperative weakness. This may be due to the predominant single innervation of shoulder muscle targets in contrast to other upper extremity muscles that receive input from 2 or more spinal nerves. These findings are important for clinical decision-making and preoperative patient counseling.

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Spinal cord injury in the United States Army Special Forces

Presented at the 2020 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Remi A. Kessler, Ansh Bhammar, Nikita Lakomkin, Raj K. Shrivastava, Jonathan J. Rasouli, Jeremy Steinberger, Joshua Bederson, Constantinos G. Hadjipanayis, and Deborah L. Benzil

OBJECTIVE

Spinal cord injury (SCI) is an area of key interest in military medicine but has not been studied among the US Army Special Forces (SF), the most elite group of US soldiers. SF soldiers make up a disproportionate 60% of all Special Operations casualties. The objective of this study was to better understand SCI incidence in the SF, its mechanisms of acquisition, and potential areas for intervention by addressing key issues pertaining to protective equipment and body armor use.

METHODS

An electronic survey questionnaire was formulated with the close collaboration of US board-certified neurosurgeons from the Mount Sinai Hospital and Cleveland Clinic Departments of Neurosurgery, retired military personnel of the SF, and operational staff of the Green Beret Foundation. The survey was sent to approximately 6000 SF soldiers to understand SCI diagnosis and its associations with various health and military variables.

RESULTS

The response rate was 8.2%. Among the 492 respondents, 94 (19.1%) self-reported an SCI diagnosis. An airborne operation was the most commonly attributed cause (54.8%). Moreover, 87.1% of SF soldiers reported wearing headgear at the time of injury, but only 36.6% reported wearing body armor, even though body armor use has significantly increased in post-9/11 SF soldiers compared with that in their pre-9/11 counterparts. SCI was significantly associated with traumatic brain injury, arthritis, low sperm count, low testosterone, erectile dysfunction, tinnitus, hyperacusis, sleep apnea, posttraumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. Only 16.5% of SF soldiers diagnosed with SCI had been rescued via medical evacuation (medevac) for treatment.

CONCLUSIONS

A high number of SF soldiers self-reported an SCI diagnosis. Airborne operations landings were the leading cause of SCI, which coincided with warfare tactics employed during the Persian Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and other conflicts. A majority of SCIs occurred while wearing headgear and no body armor, suggesting the need for improvements in protective equipment use and design. The low rate of medevac rescue for these injuries may suggest that medical rescue was not attainable at the time or that certain SCIs were deemed minor at the time of injury.

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Independent predictors of vertebral compression fracture following radiation for metastatic spine disease

Presented at the 2022 AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Anthony L. Mikula, Zach Pennington, Nikita Lakomkin, Michelle J. Clarke, Peter S. Rose, Mohamad Bydon, Brett Freedman, Arjun S. Sebastian, Lichun Lu, Roman O. Kowalchuk, Kenneth W. Merrell, Jeremy L. Fogelson, and Benjamin D. Elder

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to determine independent risk factors for vertebral compression fracture (VCF) following radiation for metastatic spine disease, including low bone mineral density as estimated by Hounsfield units (HU).

METHODS

A retrospective chart review identified patients with a single vertebral column metastasis treated with radiation therapy, a pretreatment CT scan, and a follow-up CT scan at least 6 weeks after treatment. Patients with primary spine tumors, preradiation vertebroplasty, preradiation spine surgery, prior radiation to the treatment field, and proton beam treatment modality were excluded. The HU were measured in the vertebral bodies at the level superior to the metastasis, within the tumor and medullary bone of the metastatic level, and at the level inferior to the metastasis. Variables collected included basic demographics, Spine Instability Neoplastic Score (SINS), presenting symptoms, bone density treatment, primary tumor pathology, Weinstein-Boriani-Biagini (WBB) classification, Enneking stage, radiation treatment details, chemotherapy regimen, and prophylactic vertebroplasty.

RESULTS

One hundred patients with an average age of 63 years and average follow-up of 18 months with radiation treatment dates ranging from 2017 to 2020 were included. Fifty-nine patients were treated with external-beam radiation therapy, with a median total dose of 20 Gy (range 8–40 Gy). Forty-one patients were treated with stereotactic body radiation therapy, with a median total dose of 24 Gy (range 18–39 Gy). The most common primary pathologies included lung (n = 22), prostate (n = 21), and breast (n = 14). Multivariable logistic regression analysis (area under the curve 0.89) demonstrated pretreatment HU (p < 0.01), SINS (p = 0.02), involvement of ≥ 3 WBB sectors (p < 0.01), primary pathology other than prostate (p = 0.04), and ongoing chemotherapy treatment (p = 0.04) to be independent predictors of postradiation VCF. Patients with pretreatment HU < 145 (n = 32), 145–220 (n = 31), and > 220 (n = 37) had a fracture rate of 59%, 39%, and 11%, respectively. An HU cutoff of 157 was found to maximize sensitivity (71%) and specificity (75%) in predicting postradiation VCF.

CONCLUSIONS

Low preradiation HU, higher SINS, involvement of ≥ 3 WBB sectors, ongoing chemotherapy, and nonprostate primary pathology were independent predictors of postradiation VCF in patients with metastatic spine disease. Low bone mineral density, as estimated by HU, is a novel and potentially modifiable risk factor for VCF.

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Lei Zhao, Liwei Peng, Peng Wang, and Weixin Li

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Anthony L. Mikula, Nikita Lakomkin, Zach Pennington, Zachariah W. Pinter, Ahmad Nassr, Brett Freedman, Arjun S. Sebastian, Kingsley Abode-Iyamah, Mohamad Bydon, Christopher P. Ames, Jeremy L. Fogelson, and Benjamin D. Elder

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was to analyze risk factors and avoidance techniques for proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) and proximal junctional failure (PJF) in the upper thoracic spine with an emphasis on bone mineral density (BMD) as estimated by Hounsfield units (HU).

METHODS

A retrospective chart review identified patients at least 50 years of age who underwent instrumented fusion extending from the pelvis to an upper instrumented vertebra (UIV) between T1 and T6 and had a preoperative CT, pre- and postoperative radiographs, and a minimum follow-up of 12 months. HU were measured in the UIV, the vertebral body cephalad to the UIV (UIV+1), and the L3 and L4 vertebral bodies. Numerous perioperative variables were collected, including basic demographics, smoking and steroid use, preoperative osteoporosis treatment, multiple frailty indices, use of a proximal junctional tether, UIV soft landing, preoperative dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, spinopelvic parameters, UIV screw tip distance to the superior endplate, UIV pedicle screw/pedicle diameter ratio, lumbar lordosis distribution, and postoperative spinopelvic parameters compared with age-adjusted normal values.

RESULTS

Eighty-one patients were included in the study (21 men and 60 women) with a mean (SD) age of 66 years (6.9 years), BMI of 29 (5.5), and follow-up of 38 months (25 months). Spinal fusion constructs at the time of surgery extended from the pelvis to a UIV of T1 (5%), T2 (15%), T3 (25%), T4 (33%), T5 (21%), and T6 (1%). Twenty-seven patients (33%) developed PJK and/or PJF; 21 (26%) had PJK and 15 (19%) had PJF. Variables associated with PJK/PJF with p < 0.05 were included in the multivariable analysis, including HU at the UIV/UIV+1, HU at L3/L4, DXA femoral neck T-score, UIV screw tip distance to the superior endplate, UIV pedicle screw/pedicle diameter ratio, and postoperative lumbar lordosis distribution. Multivariable analysis (area under the curve = 0.77) demonstrated HU at the UIV/UIV+1 to be the only independent predictor of PJK and PJF with an OR of 0.96 (p = 0.005). Patients with < 147 HU (n = 27), 147–195 HU (n = 27), and > 195 HU (n = 27) at the UIV/UIV+1 had PJK/PJF rates of 59%, 33%, and 7%, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

In patients with upper thoracic–to-pelvis spinal reconstruction, lower HU at the UIV and UIV+1 were independently associated with PJK and PJF, with an optimal cutoff of 159 HU that maximizes sensitivity and specificity.

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Nikita Lakomkin, Anthony L. Mikula, Zachariah W. Pinter, Elizabeth Wellings, Mohammed Ali Alvi, Kristen M. Scheitler, Zach Pennington, Nathan J. Lee, Brett A. Freedman, Arjun S. Sebastian, Jeremy L. Fogelson, Mohamad Bydon, Michelle J. Clarke, and Benjamin D. Elder

OBJECTIVE

Patients with ankylosing spinal disorders (ASDs), including ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH), have been shown to experience significantly increased rates of postoperative complications. Despite this, very few risk stratification tools have been validated for this population. As such, the purpose of this study was to identify predictors of adverse events and mortality in ASD patients undergoing surgery for 3-column fractures.

METHODS

All adult patients with a documented history of AS or DISH who underwent surgery for a traumatic 3-column fracture between 2000 and 2020 were identified. Perioperative variables, including comorbidities, time to diagnosis, and number of fused segments, were collected. Three instruments, including the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI), modified frailty index (mFI), and Injury Severity Score (ISS), were computed for each patient. The primary outcomes of interest included 1-year mortality, as well as postoperative complications.

RESULTS

A total of 108 patients were included, with a mean ± SD age of 73 ± 11 years. Of these, 41 (38%) experienced at least 1 postoperative complication and 22 (20.4%) died within 12 months after surgery. When the authors controlled for potential known confounders, the CCI score was significantly associated with postoperative adverse events (OR 1.20, 95% CI 1.00–1.42, p = 0.045) and trended toward significance for mortality (OR 1.19, 95% CI 0.97–1.45, p = 0.098). In contrast, mFI score and ISS were not significantly predictive of either outcome.

CONCLUSIONS

Complications in spine trauma patients with ASD may be driven by comorbidity burden rather than operative or injury-related factors. The CCI may be a valuable tool for the evaluation of this unique population.