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Editorial. Integrating frailty assessment tools into patient-specific alignment target planning in adult spinal deformity: minimizing risk and optimizing outcomes

Elie Massaad, Ali Kiapour, and John H. Shin

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Current concepts in adult cervical spine deformity surgery

Peter G. Passias, Oluwatobi O. Onafowokan, Peter Tretiakov, Pooja Dave, Jamshaid M. Mir, and Muhammad B. Janjua

Cervical spine deformity surgery has significantly evolved over recent decades. There has been substantial work performed, which has furthered the true understanding of alignment and advancements in surgical technique and instrumentation. Concomitantly, understanding of cervical spine pathology and the contributing drivers have also improved, which have influenced the development of classification systems for cervical spine deformity and the development of treatment-guiding algorithms. This article aims to provide a synopsis of the current knowledge surrounding cervical spine deformity to date, with particular focus on preoperative expected alignment targets, perioperative optimization, and the whole operative strategy.

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A hospital-based analysis of pseudomeningoceles after elective craniotomy in children: what predicts need for intervention?

Sebastian P. Norrdahl, Tamekia L. Jones, Pooja Dave, David S. Hersh, Brandy Vaughn, and Paul Klimo Jr.

OBJECTIVE

In pediatric patients, the development of a postoperative pseudomeningocele after an elective craniotomy is not unusual. Most will resolve with time, but some may require intervention. In this study, the authors analyzed patients who required intervention for a postoperative pseudomeningocele following an elective craniotomy or craniectomy and identified factors associated with the need for intervention.

METHODS

An institutional operative database of elective craniotomies and craniectomies was queried to identify all surgeries associated with development of a postoperative pseudomeningocele from January 1, 2010, to December 31, 2017. Demographic and surgical data were collected, as were details regarding postoperative events and interventions during either the initial admission or upon readmission. A bivariate analysis was performed to compare patients who underwent observation with those who required intervention.

RESULTS

Following 1648 elective craniotomies or craniectomies, 84 (5.1%) clinically significant pseudomeningoceles were identified in 82 unique patients. Of these, 58 (69%) of the pseudomeningoceles were diagnosed during the index admission (8 of which persisted and resulted in readmission), and 26 (31%) were diagnosed upon readmission. Forty-nine patients (59.8% of those with a pseudomeningocele) required one or more interventions, such as lumbar puncture(s), lumbar drain placement, wound exploration, or shunt placement or revision. Only race (p < 0.01) and duraplasty (p = 0.03, OR 3.0) were associated with the need for pseudomeningocele treatment.

CONCLUSIONS

Clinically relevant pseudomeningoceles developed in 5% of patients undergoing an elective craniotomy, with 60% of these pseudomeningoceles needing some form of intervention. The need for intervention was associated with race and whether a duraplasty was performed.

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Should realignment goals vary based on patient frailty status in adult spinal deformity?

Presented at the 2023 AANS/CNS Joint Section on the Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves

Peter G. Passias, Jamshaid M. Mir, Tyler K. Williamson, Peter S. Tretiakov, Pooja Dave, Virginie Lafage, Renaud Lafage, and Andrew J. Schoenfeld

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to adjust the sagittal age-adjusted score (SAAS) to accommodate frailty in alignment considerations and thereby increase the predictability of clinical outcomes and junctional failure.

METHODS

Surgical adult spinal deformity (ASD) patients with 2-year data were included. Frailty was assessed with the continuous ASD modified frailty index (ASD-mFI). Two-year outcomes were proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK), proximal junctional failure (PJF), major mechanical complications, and best clinical outcome (BCO), defined as Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score < 15 and Scoliosis Research Society outcomes questionnaire total score > 4.5 by 2 years. Linear regression analysis established a 6-week score based on the component scores of SAAS, frailty, and US normal values for ODI score. Logistic regression analysis followed by conditional inference tree run forest analysis generated categorical thresholds. Multivariate analysis, controlling for age, baseline deformity, and history of revision, was used to compare outcome rates, and logistic regression generated odds ratios for the continuous score. Thirty percent of the cohort was used as a random sample for internal validation.

RESULTS

In total, 412 patients were included (mean ± SD age 60.1 ± 14.2 years, 80% female, BMI 26.9 ± 5.4 kg/m2). Baseline frailty categories were as follows: 57% not frail, 30% frail, and 14% severely frail. Overall, by 2 years, 39% of patients had developed PJK, 8% PJF, and 21% mechanical complications; 22% had undergone a reoperation; and 15% met BCO. When the cohort as a whole was assessed, the 6-week SAAS had a correlation with the development of PJK and PJF, but not mechanical complications, reoperation, or BCO. Development of mechanical complications, PJF, reoperation, and BCO demonstrated correlations with ASD-mFI (all p < 0.05). Regression analysis modifying SAAS on the basis of ODI norms and frailty generated the following equation: frailty-adjusted SAAS (FAS) = 0.108 × T1 pelvic angle + 0.162 × pelvic tilt − 0.39 × pelvic incidence − lumbar lordosis − 0.03 × ASD-mFI − 1.6771. With conditional inference tree analysis, thresholds were derived for FAS: aligned < 1.7, offset 1.7–2.2, and severely offset > 2.2. Significance between FAS categories was found for PJK, PJF, mechanical complications, reoperation, and BCO by 2 years. Binary logistic regression, controlling for baseline deformity and revision status, demonstrated significance between FAS and all 5 outcome variables (all p < 0.01). Internal validation saw each outcome variable maintain significance between categories, with even greater odds for PJF (OR 13.4, 95% CI 4.7–38.3, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Consideration of physiological age, in addition to chronological age, may be beneficial in the management of operative goals to maximize clinical outcomes while minimizing junctional failure. This combination enables the spine surgeon to fortify a surgical plan for even the most challenging patients undergoing ASD corrective surgery.

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Does the presence of cervical deformity in patients with baseline mild myelopathy increase operative urgency in adult cervical spinal surgery? A retrospective analysis

Peter S. Tretiakov, Emmanuel Budis, Pooja Dave, Jamshaid Mir, Matthew Galetta, Nathan Lorentz, M. Burhan Janjua, Pawel P. Jankowski, and Peter G. Passias

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to assess whether delaying surgical management of cervical deformity (CD) in patients with concomitant mild myelopathy increases the risk of suboptimal outcomes.

METHODS

Patients aged ≥ 18 years who had a baseline diagnosis of mild myelopathy with baseline and up to 2 years of postoperative data were assessed. Patients were categorized as having CD (CD+) or not (CD−) at baseline. Patients with symptoms of myelopathy for more than 1 year after the initial visit prior to surgery were considered delayed. Clinical and radiographic data were assessed using means comparison analyses. Multivariate regression analysis assessed correlations between increasing time to surgery and peri- and postoperative outcomes adjusted for baseline age and frailty score. Backstep logistic regression analysis assessed the risk of complications or reoperation, while controlling for baseline T1 slope minus cervical lordosis (TS-CL).

RESULTS

One hundred six patients were included (mean age 58.11 ± 11.97 years, 48% female, mean BMI 29.13 ± 6.89). Of the patients with baseline mild myelopathy, 22 (20.8%) were CD− while 84 (79.2%) were CD+. Overall, 9.5% of patients were considered to have delayed surgery. Linear regression revealed that both CD− and CD+ patients were more likely to require reoperation when there was more time between the initial visit and surgical admission (p < 0.001). Additionally, an adjusted logistic regression indicated that CD+ patients who had a greater length of time to surgery had a higher likelihood for major complications (p < 0.001). Conversely, CD+ patients who were operated on within 30 days of the initial visit had a significantly lower risk for a major complication (OR 0.901, 95% CI 0.889–1.105, p = 0.043), and a lower risk for reoperation (OR 0.954, 95% CI 0.877–1.090, p = 0.043), while controlling for the severity of deformity based on baseline TS-CL.

CONCLUSIONS

The findings of this study demonstrate that a delay in surgery after the initial visit significantly increases the risk for major complications and reoperation in patients with CD with associated mild baseline myelopathy. Early operative treatment in this patient population may lower the risk of postoperative complications.

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Taking the next step in publication productivity analysis in pediatric neurosurgery

Ryan P. Lee, Raymond Xu, Pooja Dave, Sonia Ajmera, Jock C. Lillard, David Wallace, Austin Broussard, Mustafa Motiwala, Sebastian Norrdahl, Carissa Howie, Oluwatomi Akinduro, Garrett T. Venable, Nickalus R. Khan, Douglas R. Taylor, Brandy N. Vaughn, and Paul Klimo Jr.

OBJECTIVE

There has been an increasing interest in the quantitative analysis of publishing within the field of neurosurgery at the individual, group, and institutional levels. The authors present an updated analysis of accredited pediatric neurosurgery training programs.

METHODS

All 28 Accreditation Council for Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellowship programs were contacted for the names of pediatric neurosurgeons who were present each year from 2011 through 2015. Faculty names were queried in Scopus for publications and citations during this time period. The 5-year institutional Hirsch index [ih(5)-index] and revised 5-year institutional h-index [ir(5)-index] were calculated to rank programs. Each publication was reviewed to determine authorship value, tier of research, clinical versus basic science research, subject matter, and whether it was pediatrics-specific. A unique 3-tier article classification system was introduced to stratify clinical articles by quality and complexity, with tier 3 being the lowest tier of publication (e.g., case reports) and tier 1 being the highest (e.g., randomized controlled trials).

RESULTS

Among 2060 unique publications, 1378 (67%) were pediatrics-specific. The pediatrics-specific articles had a mean of 15.2 citations per publication (median 6), whereas the non–pediatrics-specific articles had a mean of 23.0 citations per publication (median 8; p < 0.0001). For the 46% of papers that had a pediatric neurosurgeon as first or last author, the mean number of citations per publication was 12.1 (median 5.0) compared with 22.5 (median 8.0) for those in which a pediatric neurosurgeon was a middle author (p < 0.0001). Seventy-nine percent of articles were clinical research and 21% were basic science or translational research; however, basic science and translational articles had a mean of 36.9 citations per publication (median 15) compared with 12.6 for clinical publications (median 5.0; p < 0.0001). Among clinical articles, tier 1 papers had a mean of 15.0 citations per publication (median 8.0), tier 2 papers had a mean of 18.7 (median 8.0), and tier 3 papers had a mean of 7.8 (median 3.0). Neuro-oncology papers received the highest number of citations per publication (mean 25.7). The most common journal was the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics (20%). MD/PhD faculty members had significantly more citations per publication than MD faculty members (mean 26.7 vs 14.0; p < 0.0001) and also a higher number of publications per author (mean 38.6 vs 20.8). The median ih(5)- and ir(5)-indices per program were 14 (range 5–48) and 10 (range 5.6–37.2), respectively. The mean ir(5)/ih(5)-index ratio was 0.8. The top 5 fellowship programs (in descending order) as ranked by the ih(5)-index corrected for number of faculty members were The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto; Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh; University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital; Seattle Children’s Hospital; and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

CONCLUSIONS

About two-thirds of publications authored by pediatric neurosurgeons are pediatrics-specific, although non–pediatrics-specific articles averaged more citations. Most of the articles authored by pediatric neurosurgeons are clinical, with basic and translational articles averaging more citations. Neurosurgeons with PhD degrees averaged more total publications and more citations per publication. In all, this is the most advanced and informative analysis of publication productivity in pediatric neurosurgery to date.

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Economic burden of nonoperative treatment of adult spinal deformity

Peter G. Passias, Waleed Ahmad, Pooja Dave, Renaud Lafage, Virginie Lafage, Jamshaid Mir, Eric O. Klineberg, Khaled M. Kabeish, Jeffrey L. Gum, Breton G. Line, Robert Hart, Douglas Burton, Justin S. Smith, Christopher P. Ames, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Frank Schwab, Richard Hostin, Thomas Buell, D. Kojo Hamilton, and Shay Bess

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study was to investigate the cost utility of nonoperative treatment for adult spinal deformity (ASD).

METHODS

Nonoperatively and operatively treated patients who met database criteria for ASD and in whom complete radiographic and health-related quality of life data at baseline and at 2 years were available were included. A cost analysis was completed on the PearlDiver database assessing the average cost of nonoperative treatment prior to surgical intervention based on previously published treatments (NSAIDs, narcotics, muscle relaxants, epidural steroid injections, physical therapy, and chiropractor). Utility data were calculated using the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) converted to SF-6D with published conversion methods. Quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) used a 3% discount rate to account for residual decline in life expectancy (78.7 years). Minor and major comorbidities and complications were assessed according to the CMS.gov manual’s definitions. Successful nonoperative treatment was defined as a gain in the minimum clinically importance difference (MCID) in both ODI and Scoliosis Research Society (SRS)–pain scores, and failure was defined as a loss in MCID or conversion to operative treatment. Patients with baseline ODI ≤ 20 and continued ODI of ≤ 20 at 2 years were considered nonoperative successful maintenance. The average utilization of nonoperative treatment and cost were applied to the ASD cohort.

RESULTS

A total of 824 patients were included (mean age 58.24 years, 81% female, mean body mass index 27.2 kg/m2). Overall, 75.5% of patients were in the operative and 24.5% were in the nonoperative cohort. At baseline patients in the operative cohort were significantly older, had a greater body mass index, increased pelvic tilt, and increased pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis mismatch (all p < 0.05). With respect to deformity, patients in the operative group had higher rates of severe (i.e., ++) sagittal deformity according to SRS–Schwab modifiers for pelvic tilt, sagittal vertical axis, and pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis mismatch (p < 0.05). At 2 years, patients in the operative cohort showed significantly increased rates of a gain in MCID for physical component summary of SF-36, ODI, and SRS-activity, SRS-pain, SRS-appearance, and SRS-mental scores. Cost analysis showed the average cost of nonoperative treatment 2 years prior to surgical intervention to be $2041. Overall, at 2 years patients in the nonoperative cohort had again in ODI of 0.36, did not show a gain in QALYs, and nonoperative treatment was determined to be cost-ineffective. However, a subset of patients in this cohort underwent successful maintenance treatment and had a decrease in ODI of 1.1 and a gain in utility of 0.006 at 2 years. If utility gained for this cohort was sustained to full life expectancy, patients’ cost per QALY was $18,934 compared to a cost per QALY gained of $70,690.79 for posterior-only and $48,273.49 for combined approach in patients in the operative cohort.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with ASD undergoing operative treatment at baseline had greater sagittal deformity and greater improvement in health-related quality of life postoperatively compared to patients treated nonoperatively. Additionally, patients in the nonoperative cohort overall had an increase in ODI and did not show improvement in utility gained. Patients in the nonoperative cohort who had low disability and sagittal deformity underwent successful maintenance and cost-effective treatment.

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Postgraduate publishing output in pediatric neurosurgery: correlation with fellowship site and individual scholars

Sonia Ajmera, Ryan P. Lee, Andrew Schultz, David S. Hersh, Jacob Lepard, Raymond Xu, Hassan Saad, Olutomi Akinduro, Melissa Justo, Brittany D. Fraser, Mustafa Motiwala, Pooja Dave, Brian Jimenez, David A. Wallace, Olufemi Osikoya, Sebastian Norrdahl, Jennings H. Dooley, Nickalus R. Khan, Brandy N. Vaughn, Cormac O. Maher, and Paul Klimo Jr.

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to analyze the publication output of postgraduate pediatric neurosurgery fellows for a 10-year period as well as identify 25 individual highly productive pediatric neurosurgeons. The correlation between academic productivity and the site of fellowship training was studied.

METHODS

Programs certified by the Accreditation Council for Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellowships that had 5 or more graduating fellows from 2006 to 2015 were included for analysis. Fellows were queried using Scopus for publications during those 10 years with citation data through 2017. Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated, comparing program rankings of faculty against fellows using the revised Hirsch index (r-index; primary) and Hirsch index (h-index; secondary). A list of 25 highly accomplished individual academicians and their fellowship training locations was compiled.

RESULTS

Sixteen programs qualified with 152 fellows from 2006 to 2015; 136 of these surgeons published a total of 2009 articles with 23,735 citations. Most publications were pediatric-specific (66.7%) clinical articles (93.1%), with middle authorship (55%). Co-investigators were more likely from residency than fellowship. There was a clustering of the top 7 programs each having total publications of around 120 or greater, publications per fellow greater than 12, more than 1200 citations, and adjusted ir10 (revised 10-year institutional h-index) and ih10 (10-year institutional h-index) values of approximately 2 or higher. Correlating faculty and fellowship program rankings yielded correlation coefficients ranging from 0.53 to 0.80. Fifteen individuals (60%) in the top 25 (by r5 index) list completed their fellowship at 1 of these 7 institutions.

CONCLUSIONS

Approximately 90% of fellowship-trained pediatric neurosurgeons have 1 or more publications, but the spectrum of output is broad. There is a strong correlation between where surgeons complete their fellowships and postgraduate publications.

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Predictors of pelvic tilt normalization: a multicenter study on the impact of regional and lower-extremity compensation on pelvic alignment after complex adult spinal deformity surgery

Pooja Dave, Renaud Lafage, Justin S. Smith, Breton G. Line, Peter S. Tretiakov, Jamshaid Mir, Bassel Diebo, Alan H. Daniels, Jeffrey L. Gum, D. Kojo Hamilton, Thomas Buell, Khoi D. Than, Kai-Ming Fu, Justin K. Scheer, Robert Eastlack, Jeffrey P. Mullin, Gregory Mundis Jr., Naobumi Hosogane, Mitsuru Yagi, Pierce Nunley, Dean Chou, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Eric O. Klineberg, Khaled M. Kebaish, Stephen Lewis, Richard A. Hostin Jr., Munish C. Gupta, Han Jo Kim, Christopher P. Ames, Robert A. Hart, Lawrence G. Lenke, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Shay Bess, Frank J. Schwab, Virginie Lafage, Douglas C. Burton, and Peter G. Passias

OBJECTIVE

The objective was to determine the degree of regional decompensation to pelvic tilt (PT) normalization after complex adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery.

METHODS

Operative ASD patients with 1 year of PT measurements were included. Patients with normalized PT at baseline were excluded. Predicted PT was compared to actual PT, tested for change from baseline, and then compared against age-adjusted, Scoliosis Research Society–Schwab, and global alignment and proportion (GAP) scores. Lower-extremity (LE) parameters included the cranial-hip-sacrum angle, cranial-knee-sacrum angle, and cranial-ankle-sacrum angle. LE compensation was set as the 1-year upper tertile compared with intraoperative baseline. Univariate analyses were used to compare normalized and nonnormalized data against alignment outcomes. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to develop a model consisting of significant predictors for normalization related to regional compensation.

RESULTS

In total, 156 patients met the inclusion criteria (mean ± SD age 64.6 ± 9.1 years, BMI 27.9 ± 5.6 kg/m2, Charlson Comorbidity Index 1.9 ± 1.6). Patients with normalized PT were more likely to have overcorrected pelvic incidence minus lumbar lordosis and sagittal vertical axis at 6 weeks (p < 0.05). GAP score at 6 weeks was greater for patients with nonnormalized PT (0.6 vs 1.3, p = 0.08). At baseline, 58.5% of patients had compensation in the thoracic and cervical regions. Postoperatively, compensation was maintained by 42% with no change after matching in age-adjusted or GAP score. The patients with nonnormalized PT had increased rates of thoracic and cervical compensation (p < 0.05). Compensation in thoracic kyphosis differed between patients with normalized PT at 6 weeks and those with normalized PT at 1 year (69% vs 35%, p < 0.05). Those who compensated had increased rates of implant complications by 1 year (OR [95% CI] 2.08 [1.32–6.56], p < 0.05). Cervical compensation was maintained at 6 weeks and 1 year (56% vs 43%, p = 0.12), with no difference in implant complications (OR 1.31 [95% CI −2.34 to 1.03], p = 0.09). For the lower extremities at baseline, 61% were compensating. Matching age-adjusted alignment did not eliminate compensation at any joint (all p > 0.05). Patients with nonnormalized PT had higher rates of LE compensation across joints (all p < 0.01). Overall, patients with normalized PT at 1 year had the greatest odds of resolving LE compensation (OR 9.6, p < 0.001). Patients with normalized PT at 1 year had lower rates of implant failure (8.9% vs 19.5%, p < 0.05), rod breakage (1.3% vs 13.8%, p < 0.05), and pseudarthrosis (0% vs 4.6%, p < 0.05) compared with patients with nonnormalized PT. The complication rate was significantly lower for patients with normalized PT at 1 year (56.7% vs 66.1%, p = 0.02), despite comparable health-related quality of life scores.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with PT normalization had greater rates of resolution in thoracic and LE compensation, leading to lower rates of complications by 1 year. Thus, consideration of both the lower extremities and thoracic regions in surgical planning is vital to preventing adverse outcomes and maintaining pelvic alignment.