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Andrew B. Boucher, Osama N. Kashlan, Matthew F. Gary, and Daniel Refai

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Osama N. Kashlan, D. Andrew Wilkinson, Hal Morgenstern, Siri S. Khalsa, and Cormac O. Maher

OBJECTIVE

Thickened or fatty filum terminale is an occult lesion that can cause tethered cord syndrome requiring surgical untethering. This study’s objectives were to estimate the incidence of tethered fibrofatty filum terminale (TFFT) in a large insured pediatric population, identify predictors of surgery among those TFFT patients, and assess a diagnostic algorithm.

METHODS

TFFT was defined according to the ICD-9-CM code for cord tethering (742.59), after excluding codes for diastematomyelia, lipomyelomeningocele, terminal myelocystocele, meningocele, and myelomeningocele. Utilizing the Optum Insight database for 2001–2014, the authors identified pediatric patients (< 21 years) in the US who were diagnosed with a tethered cord and estimated the TFFT incidence rates in that source population and the surgical untethering probability among TFFT patients over the 14-year period. Logistic regression was used to estimate the effects (adjusted OR and 95% CI) of age at diagnosis, sex, Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) score, diagnosis of Chiari malformation type I, diagnosis of syrinx, and the probability of surgery by US census region. Lastly, to evaluate their algorithm for identifying TFFT from ICD-9 codes, the authors estimated its positive predictive value (PPV) among 50 children who were diagnosed at their institution and met the ICD-9-CM criteria.

RESULTS

There were 3218 diagnoses of TFFT, with 482 of these pediatric patients undergoing tethered cord release during the study period. The estimated incidence rate was 12.0 per 100,000/year (95% CI 11.6–12.4 per 100,000/year). The incidence rate was slightly higher in females than in males (12.7 vs 11.4 per 100,000/year). The probability of surgery in the total pediatric TFFT population was 15.0% (95% CI 13.8%–16.2%) and was greater in children with a syrinx (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.6–3.0), children 7–11 years of age at diagnosis versus < 1 year (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1–2.0), CCI score ≥ 3 versus 0 (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.4–3.8), and residents of the Western vs Northeastern US (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.6–3.5). In the authors’ own institution’s database, the PPV of TFFT was 35/50 (70.0%, 95% CI 57.3%–82.7%) for identifying tethered cord due to fibrofatty filum terminale among childhood positives.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with comorbidities or an associated syrinx showed a higher risk of untethering procedures for TFFT. Also, surgery was appreciably more frequent in the Western US. These findings signify the need for a collaborative prospective cohort study of long-term outcomes for TFFT patients with and without surgery to determine which patients should have surgery.

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Michael J. Strong, Timothy J. Yee, Siri Sahib S. Khalsa, Yamaan S. Saadeh, Kevin N. Swong, Osama N. Kashlan, Nicholas J. Szerlip, Paul Park, and Mark E. Oppenlander

OBJECTIVE

The lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) technique is used to treat many common spinal degenerative pathologies including kyphoscoliosis. The use of spinal navigation for LLIF has not been broadly adopted, especially in adult spinal deformity. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility as well as the intraoperative and navigation-related complications of computer-assisted 3D navigation (CaN) during multiple-level LLIF for spinal deformity.

METHODS

Retrospective analysis of clinical and operative characteristics was performed for all patients > 18 years of age who underwent multiple-level CaN LLIF combined with posterior instrumentation for adult spinal deformity at the University of Michigan between 2014 and 2020. Intraoperative CaN-related complications, LLIF approach–related postoperative complications, and medical postoperative complications were assessed.

RESULTS

Fifty-nine patients were identified. The mean age was 66.3 years (range 42–83 years) and body mass index was 27.6 kg/m2 (range 18–43 kg/m2). The average coronal Cobb angle was 26.8° (range 3.6°–67.0°) and sagittal vertical axis was 6.3 cm (range −2.3 to 14.7 cm). The average number of LLIF and posterior instrumentation levels were 2.97 cages (range 2–5 cages) and 5.78 levels (range 3–14 levels), respectively. A total of 6 intraoperative complications related to the LLIF stage occurred in 5 patients. Three of these were CaN-related and occurred in 2 patients (3.4%), including 1 misplaced lateral interbody cage (0.6% of 175 total lateral cages placed) requiring intraoperative revision. No patient required a return to the operating room for a misplaced interbody cage. A total of 12 intraoperative complications related to the posterior stage occurred in 11 patients, with 5 being CaN-related and occurring in 4 patients (6.8%). Univariate and multivariate analyses revealed no statistically significant risk factors for intraoperative and CaN-related complications. Transient hip weakness and numbness were found to be in 20.3% and 22.0% of patients, respectively. At the 1-month follow-up, weakness was observed in 3.4% and numbness in 11.9% of patients.

CONCLUSIONS

Use of CaN in multiple-level LLIF in the treatment of adult spinal deformity appears to be a safe and effective technique. The incidence of approach-related complications with CaN was 3.4% and cage placement accuracy was high.

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Yamaan S. Saadeh, Clay M. Elswick, Eleanor Smith, Timothy J. Yee, Michael J. Strong, Kevin Swong, Brandon W. Smith, Mark E. Oppenlander, Osama N. Kashlan, and Paul Park

OBJECTIVE

Age is known to be a risk factor for increased complications due to surgery. However, elderly patients can gain significant quality-of-life benefits from surgery. Lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) is a minimally invasive procedure that is commonly used to treat degenerative spine disease. Recently, 3D navigation has been applied to LLIF. The purpose of this study was to determine whether there is an increased complication risk in the elderly with navigated LLIF.

METHODS

Patients who underwent 3D-navigated LLIF for degenerative disease from 2014 to 2019 were included in the analysis. Patients were divided into elderly and nonelderly groups, with those 65 years and older categorized as elderly. Ninety-day medical and surgical complications were recorded. Patient and surgical characteristics were compared between groups, and multivariate regression analysis was used to determine independent risk factors for complication.

RESULTS

Of the 115 patients included, 56 were elderly and 59 were nonelderly. There were 15 complications (25.4%) in the nonelderly group and 10 (17.9%) in the elderly group, which was not significantly different (p = 0.44). On multivariable analysis, age was not a risk factor for complication (p = 0.52). However, multiple-level LLIF was associated with an increased risk of approach-related complication (OR 3.58, p = 0.02).

CONCLUSIONS

Elderly patients do not appear to experience higher rates of approach-related complications compared with nonelderly patients undergoing 3D navigated LLIF. Rather, multilevel surgery is a predictor for approach-related complication.

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Osama N. Kashlan, Thomas J. Wilson, Neeraj Chaudhary, Joseph J. Gemmete, William R. Stetler Jr., N. Reed Dunnick, B. Gregory Thompson, and Aditya S. Pandey

Object

As medical costs continue to rise during a time of increasing medical resource utilization, both hospitals and physicians must attempt to limit superfluous health care expenses. Neurointerventional treatment has been shown to be costly, but it is often the best treatment available for certain neuropathologies. The authors studied the effects of 3 policy changes designed to limit the costs of performing neurointerventional procedures at the University of Michigan.

Methods

The authors retrospectively analyzed the costs of performing neurointerventional procedures during the 6-month periods before and after the implementation of 3 cost-saving policies: 1) the use of an alternative, more economical contrast agent, 2) standardization of coil prices through negotiation with industry representatives to receive economies of scale, and 3) institution of a feedback method to show practitioners the costs of unused products per patient procedure. The costs during the 6-month time intervals before and after implementation were also compared with costs during the most recent 6-month time period.

Results

The policy requiring use of a more economical contrast agent led to a decrease in the cost of contrast usage of $42.79 per procedure for the first 6 months after implementation, and $137.09 per procedure for the most current 6-month period, resulting in an estimated total savings of $62,924.31 for the most recent 6-month period. The standardized coil pricing system led to savings of $159.21 per coil after the policy change, and $188.07 per coil in the most recent 6-month period. This yielded total estimated savings of $76,732.56 during the most recent 6-month period. The feedback system for unused items decreased the cost of wasted products by approximately $44.36 per procedure in the 6 months directly after the policy change and by $48.20 per procedure in the most recent 6-month period, leading to total estimated savings of $22,123.80 during the most recent 6-month period. According to extrapolation over a 1-year period, the 3 policy changes decreased costs by an estimated $323,561.34.

Conclusions

Simple cost-saving policies can lead to substantial reductions in costs of neurointerventional procedures while maintaining high levels of quality and growth of services.

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Michael J. Strong, Julianne Santarosa, Timothy P. Sullivan, Noojan Kazemi, Jacob R. Joseph, Osama N. Kashlan, Mark E. Oppenlander, Nicholas J. Szerlip, Paul Park, and Clay M. Elswick

OBJECTIVE

In the era of modern medicine with an armamentarium full of state-of-the art technologies at our disposal, the incidence of wrong-level spinal surgery remains problematic. In particular, the thoracic spine presents a challenge for accurate localization due partly to body habitus, anatomical variations, and radiographic artifact from the ribs and scapula. The present review aims to assess and describe thoracic spine localization techniques.

METHODS

The authors performed a literature search using the PubMed database from 1990 to 2020, compliant with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA). A total of 27 articles were included in this qualitative review.

RESULTS

A number of pre- and intraoperative strategies have been devised and employed to facilitate correct-level localization. Some of the more well-described approaches include fiducial metallic markers (screw or gold), metallic coils, polymethylmethacrylate, methylene blue, marking wire, use of intraoperative neuronavigation, intraoperative localization techniques (including using a needle, temperature probe, fluoroscopy, MRI, and ultrasonography), and skin marking.

CONCLUSIONS

While a number of techniques exist to accurately localize lesions in the thoracic spine, each has its advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, the localization technique deployed by the spine surgeon will be patient-specific but often based on surgeon preference.

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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.