Chordomas of the sacrum require en bloc resection to reduce the risk of recurrence, but this may sacrifice nerves vital to bladder, bowel, and sexual function. High, mid-, and low sacral amputations have been previously classified based on nerve root sacrifice, not bony amputation. Sacrifice of the S-2 nerves or those above results in a high sacral amputation, but preserving the S-2 nerves converts it into a midsacral amputation. Preservation of the S-2 nerves has been shown to improve functional outcome, despite the bony osteotomy being unchanged. Thus, keeping the same bony amputation while preserving the S-2 nerve roots may allow for improved functional outcome while still achieving the same goal of oncological resection. Preservation of the S-2 nerves may be particularly difficult during amputation at the S-2 pedicle or above, and the authors describe their technique for preserving the S-2 nerves during partial sacrectomy at or just above the S-2 pedicle. Four cases of sacral chordoma resections are presented to illustrate the technique.
Rajiv Saigal, Daniel C. Lu, Donna Y. Deng and Dean Chou
Daniel A. Carr, Rajiv Saigal, Fangyi Zhang, Richard J. Bransford, Carlo Bellabarba and Armagan Dagal
The purpose of this study was to compare total cost and length of stay (LOS) between spine surgery patients enrolled in an enhanced perioperative care (EPOC) pathway and patients receiving traditional perioperative care (TRDC).
All spine surgery candidates were screened for inclusion in the EPOC pathway. This cohort was compared to a retrospective cohort of patients who received TRDC and a concurrent group of patients who met inclusion criteria but did not receive the EPOC (no pathway care [NOPC] group). Direct and indirect costs as well as hospital and intensive care LOSs were analyzed between the 3 groups.
Total costs after pathway implementation decreased by $19,344 in EPOC patients compared to a historical cohort of patients who received TRDC and $5889 in a concurrent cohort of patients who did not receive EPOC (NOPC group). Hospital and intensive care LOS were significantly lower in EPOC patients compared to TRDC and NOPC patients.
The implementation of a multimodal EPOC pathway decreased LOS and cost in major elective spine surgeries.
Rajiv Saigal, Darryl Lau, Rishi Wadhwa, Hai Le, Morsi Khashan, Sigurd Berven, Dean Chou and Praveen V. Mummaneni
Long-segment spinal instrumentation ending at the sacrum places substantial biomechanical stress on sacral screws. Iliac (pelvic) screws relieve some of this stress by supplementing the caudal fixation. It remains an open question whether there is any clinically significant difference in sacropelvic fixation with bilateral versus unilateral iliac screws. The primary purpose of this study was to compare clinical and radiographic complications in the use of bilateral versus unilateral iliac screw fixation.
The authors retrospectively reviewed 102 consecutive spinal fixation cases that extended to the pelvis at a single institution (University of California, San Francisco) in the period from 2005 to 2012 performed by the senior authors. Charts were reviewed for the following complications: reoperation, L5–S1 pseudarthrosis, sacral insufficiency fracture, hardware prominence, iliac screw loosening, and infection. The t-test, Pearson chi-square test, and Fisher exact test were used to determine statistical significance.
The mean follow-up was 31 months. Thirty cases were excluded: 12 for inadequate follow-up, 15 for lack of L5–S1 interbody fusion, and 3 for preoperative osteomyelitis. The mean age among the 72 remaining cases was 62 years (range 39–79 years). Forty-six patients underwent unilateral and 26 bilateral iliac screw fixation. Forty-one percent (n = 19) of the unilateral cases and 50% (n = 13) of the bilateral cases were treated with reoperation (p = 0.48). In addition, 13% (n = 6) of the unilateral and 19% (n = 5) of the bilateral cases developed L5–S1 pseudarthrosis (p = 0.51). There were no sacral insufficiency fractures. Thirteen percent (n = 6) of the unilateral and 7.7% (n = 2) of the bilateral cases developed postoperative infection (p = 0.70).
In a retrospective single-institution study, single versus dual pelvic screws led to comparable rates of reoperation, iliac screw removal, postoperative infection, pseudarthrosis, and sacral insufficiency fractures. For spinopelvic fixation, placing bilateral (vs unilateral) pelvic screws produced no added clinical benefit in most cases.
Seunggu J. Han, Rajiv Saigal, John D. Rolston, Jason S. Cheng, Catherine Y. Lau, Rita I. Mistry, Michael W. McDermott and Mitchel S. Berger
Given economic limitations and burgeoning health care costs, there is a need to minimize unnecessary diagnostic laboratory tests.
The authors studied whether a financial incentive program for trainees could lead to fewer unnecessary laboratory tests in neurosurgical patients in a large, 600-bed academic hospital setting. The authors identified 5 laboratory tests that ranked in the top 13 of the most frequently ordered during the 2010–2011 fiscal year, yet were least likely to be abnormal or influence patient management.
In a single year of study, there was a 47% reduction in testing of serum total calcium, ionized calcium, chloride, magnesium, and phosphorus. This reduction led to a savings of $1.7 million in billable charges to health care payers and $75,000 of direct costs to the medical center. In addition, there were no significant negative changes in the quality of care delivered, as recorded in a number of metrics, showing that this cost savings did not negatively impact patient care.
Engaging physician trainees in quality improvement can be successfully achieved by financial incentives. Through the resident-led quality improvement incentive program, neurosurgical trainees successfully reduced unnecessary laboratory tests, resulting in significant cost savings to both the medical center and the health care system. Similar programs that engage trainees could improve the value of care being provided at other academic medical centers.
Ryan Hirschi, Gregory W. J. Hawryluk, Jessica L. Nielson, J. Russell Huie, Lara L. Zimmermann, Rajiv Saigal, Quan Ding, Adam R. Ferguson and Geoffrey Manley
Brain tissue hypoxia is common after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Technology now exists that can detect brain hypoxia and guide corrective therapy. Current guidelines for the management of severe TBI recommend maintaining partial pressure of brain tissue oxygen (PbtO2) > 15–20 mm Hg; however, uncertainty persists as to the optimal treatment threshold. The object of this study was to better inform the relationship between PbtO2 values and outcome for patients with TBI.
PbtO2 measurements were prospectively and automatically collected every minute from consecutive patients admitted to the San Francisco General Hospital neurological ICU during a 6-year period. Mean PbtO2 values in TBI patients as well as the proportion of PbtO2 values below each of 75 thresholds between 0 mm Hg and 75 mm Hg over various epochs up to 30 days from the time of admission were analyzed. Patient outcomes were determined using the Glasgow Outcome Scale. The authors explored putative treatment thresholds by generating 675 separate receiver operating characteristic curves and 675 generalized linear models to examine each 1–mm Hg threshold for various epochs.
A total of 1,380,841 PbtO2 values were recorded in 190 TBI patients. A high proportion of PbtO2 measures were below 20 mm Hg irrespective of the examined epoch. Time below treatment thresholds was more strongly associated with outcome than mean PbtO2. A treatment window was suggested: a threshold of 19 mm Hg most robustly distinguished patients by outcome, especially from days 3–5; however, benefit was suggested from maintaining values at least as high as 33 mm Hg.
This analysis of high-frequency physiological data substantially informs the relationship between PbtO2 values and outcome. The results suggest a therapeutic window for PbtO2 in TBI patients along with minimum and preferred PbtO2 treatment thresholds, which may be examined in future studies. Traditional treatment thresholds that have the strongest association with outcome may not be optimal.
William J. Readdy, William D. Whetstone, Adam R. Ferguson, Jason F. Talbott, Tomoo Inoue, Rajiv Saigal, Jacqueline C. Bresnahan, Michael S. Beattie, Jonathan Z. Pan, Geoffrey T. Manley and Sanjay S. Dhall
The optimal mean arterial pressure (MAP) for spinal cord perfusion after trauma remains unclear. Although there are published data on MAP goals after spinal cord injury (SCI), the specific blood pressure management for acute traumatic central cord syndrome (ATCCS) and the implications of these interventions have yet to be elucidated. Additionally, the complications of specific vasopressors have not been fully explored in this injury condition.
The present study is a retrospective cohort analysis of 34 patients with ATCCS who received any vasopressor to maintain blood pressure above predetermined MAP goals at a single Level 1 trauma center. The collected variables were American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) grades at admission and discharge, administered vasopressor and associated complications, other interventions and complications, and timing of surgery. The relationship between the 2 most common vasopressors—dopamine and phenylephrine—and complications within the cohort as a whole were explored, and again after stratification by age.
The mean age of the ATCCS patients was 62 years. Dopamine was the most commonly used primary vasopressor (91% of patients), followed by phenylephrine (65%). Vasopressors were administered to maintain MAP goals fora mean of 101 hours. Neurological status improved by a median of 1 ASIA grade in all patients, regardless of the choice of vasopressor. Sixty-four percent of surgical patients underwent decompression within 24 hours. There was no observed relationship between the timing of surgical intervention and the complication rate. Cardiogenic complications associated with vasopressor usage were notable in 68% of patients who received dopamine and 46% of patients who received phenylephrine. These differences were not statistically significant (OR with dopamine 2.50 [95% CI 0.82–7.78], p = 0.105). However, in the subgroup of patients > 55 years, dopamine produced statistically significant increases in the complication rates when compared with phenylephrine (83% vs 50% for dopamine and phenylephrine, respectively; OR with dopamine 5.0 [95% CI 0.99–25.34], p = 0.044).
Vasopressor usage in ATCCS patients is associated with complication rates that are similar to the reported literature for SCI. Dopamine was associated with a higher risk of complications in patients > 55 years. Given the increased incidence of ATCCS in older populations, determination of MAP goals and vasopressor administration should be carefully considered in these patients. While a randomized control trial on this topic may not be practical, a multiinstitutional prospective study for SCI that includes ATCCS patients as a subpopulation would be useful for examining MAP goals in this population.
Jason F. Talbott, William D. Whetstone, William J. Readdy, Adam R. Ferguson, Jacqueline C. Bresnahan, Rajiv Saigal, Gregory W. J. Hawryluk, Michael S. Beattie, Marc C. Mabray, Jonathan Z. Pan, Geoffrey T. Manley and Sanjay S. Dhall
Previous studies that have evaluated the prognostic value of abnormal changes in signals on T2-weighted MRI scans of an injured spinal cord have focused on the longitudinal extent of this signal abnormality in the sagittal plane. Although the transverse extent of injury and the degree of spared spinal cord white matter have been shown to be important for predicting outcomes in preclinical animal models of spinal cord injury (SCI), surprisingly little is known about the prognostic value of altered T2 relaxivity in humans in the axial plane.
The authors undertook a retrospective chart review of 60 patients who met the inclusion criteria of this study and presented to the authors’ Level I trauma center with an acute blunt traumatic cervical SCI. Within 48 hours of admission, all patients underwent MRI examination, which included axial and sagittal T2 images. Neurological symptoms, evaluated with the grades according to the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale (AIS), at the time of admission and at hospital discharge were correlated with MRI findings. Five distinct patterns of intramedullary spinal cord T2 signal abnormality were defined in the axial plane at the injury epicenter. These patterns were assigned ordinal values ranging from 0 to 4, referred to as the Brain and Spinal Injury Center (BASIC) scores, which encompassed the spectrum of SCI severity.
The BASIC score strongly correlated with neurological symptoms at the time of both hospital admission and discharge. It also distinguished patients initially presenting with complete injury who improved by at least one AIS grade by the time of discharge from those whose injury did not improve. The authors’ proposed score was rapid to apply and showed excellent interrater reliability.
The authors describe a novel 5-point ordinal MRI score for classifying acute SCIs on the basis of axial T2-weighted imaging. The proposed BASIC score stratifies the SCIs according to the extent of transverse T2 signal abnormality during the acute phase of the injury. The new score improves on current MRI-based prognostic descriptions for SCI by reflecting functionally and anatomically significant patterns of intramedullary T2 signal abnormality in the axial plane.