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Rani Nasser, Kimberly Ashayeri, Alan D. Legatt, and John K. Houten

The authors describe the case of a 48-year-old man found to have the first reported intramedullary spinal cord spindle cell hemangioma. Previous research indicates that spindle cell hemangiomas are rarely found in the spine. Only 3 previous cases exist, all in the intradural, extramedullary space. In the present case, gross-total resection of the tumor was possible with no loss of function from baseline. This report presents the successful resection of the first reported intramedullary spindle cell hemangioma and reports 4-month follow-up, demonstrating the biological behavior of this rare tumor.

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John K. Houten, Lucien C. Alexandre, Rani Nasser, and Adam L. Wollowick

A lateral transpsoas approach to achieve interbody fusion in the lumbar spine using either the extreme lateral interbody fusion or direct lateral interbody fusion technique is an increasingly popular method to treat spinal disease. Dissection and dilation through the iliopsoas muscle places the lumbosacral plexus at risk for injury, but there is very limited information in the published literature about adverse clinical events resulting in postoperative motor deficits or reports of failure of electrophysiological monitoring to detect nerve injury. The authors present 2 cases of postoperative motor deficits following the transpsoas approach not detected by intraoperative monitoring, review the medical literature, and discuss strategies for complication avoidance.

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Alan D. Legatt, Avra S. Laarakker, Jonathan P. Nakhla, Rani Nasser, and David J. Altschul

The authors report herein a case of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) surgery in which findings on somatosensory evoked potential (SSEP) monitoring led to the correction of carotid artery compression in a patient with a vascularly isolated hemisphere (no significant collateral blood vessels to the carotid artery territory). The amplitude of the cortical SSEP component to left ulnar nerve stimulation progressively decreased in multiple runs, but there were no changes in the cervicomedullary SSEP component to the same stimulus. When the lateral (right-sided) retractor was removed, the cortical SSEP component returned to baseline. The retraction was then intermittently relaxed during the rest of the operation, and the patient suffered no neurological morbidity. Magnetic resonance angiography demonstrated a vascularly isolated right hemisphere.

During anterior cervical spine surgery, carotid artery compression by the retractor can cause hemispheric ischemia and infarction in patients with inadequate collateral circulation. The primary purpose of SSEP monitoring during ACDF surgery is to detect compromise of the dorsal column somatosensory pathways within the cervical spinal cord, but intraoperative SSEP monitoring can also detect hemispheric ischemia. Concurrent recording of cervicomedullary SSEPs can help differentiate cortical SSEP changes due to hemispheric ischemia from those due to compromise of the dorsal column pathways. If there are adverse changes in the cortical SSEPs but no changes in the cervicomedullary SSEPs, the possibility of hemispheric ischemia due to carotid artery compression by the retractor should be considered.

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Alaina M. Body, Zachary J. Plummer, Bryan M. Krueger, Justin Virojanapa, Rani Nasser, Joseph S. Cheng, and Charles J. Prestigiacomo

OBJECTIVE

The present systematic review and pooled analysis aims to assess the incidence and risk factors for the development of retrograde ejaculation (RE) following first-time open anterior lumbar surgery.

METHODS

A systematic MEDLINE review via PubMed was performed, identifying 130 clinical papers relating to the topic. Eighteen publications were selected according to predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria and were used to determine the incidence of RE. Only the publications that provided data on surgical risk factors present specifically in the men in the study were included in the analysis of risk factors.

RESULTS

Of the 2503 men included, there were 57 reported events of RE (2.3%). Of the cases for which long-term data were provided, 45.8% had resolved by final follow-up. There was a statistically significant increased risk associated with a transperitoneal as opposed to a retroperitoneal approach (8.6% vs 3.2%), as well as with the use of recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein–2 (rhBMP-2) in anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) as opposed to ALIF with bone graft or arthroplasty in controls (5.0% vs 1.8%). However, when excluding from analysis the patients operated on prior to the FDA’s 2008 warning that commented on the drug’s neuroinflammatory properties, there was no significant difference in rates of RE in patients receiving rhBMP-2 versus the control group (2.4% vs 2.5%). There was no significant difference in risk based on single- versus multilevel procedure or on ALIF versus arthroplasty.

CONCLUSIONS

In a pooled analysis of currently published data on men undergoing first-time open anterior lumbar surgery, this study found an overall incidence of RE of 2.3%. Nearly half of these patients recovered, reporting resolution of symptoms anywhere between 3 months and 48 months. Analysis of risk factors was limited by a paucity of published literature segregating data by sex. However, there was an increased risk associated with rhBMP-2 only when including data collected prior to the FDA warning on its detrimental properties. The authors therefore posit that the risk of RE is probably overestimated in the literature, given that the vast majority of the data available were collected prior to this warning and given the subsequent implementation of precautions when handling rhBMP-2.

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David Altschul, Andrew Kobets, Jonathan Nakhla, Ajit Jada, Rani Nasser, Merritt D. Kinon, Reza Yassari, and John Houten

OBJECTIVE

Postoperative urinary retention (POUR) is a common problem leading to morbidity and an increased hospital stay. There are limited data regarding its baseline incidence in patients undergoing spinal surgery and the risk factors with which it may be associated. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the incidence of POUR in elective spine surgery patients and determine the factors associated with its occurrence.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the records of patients who had undergone elective spine surgery and had been prospectively monitored for POUR during an 18-month period. Collected data included operative positioning, surgery duration, volume of intraoperative fluid, length of hospital stay, and patient characteristics such as age, sex, and medical comorbidities. Dialysis patients or those with complete urinary retention preoperatively were excluded from analysis.

RESULTS

Of the 397 patients meeting the study inclusion criteria, 35 (8.8%) developed POUR. An increased incidence of POUR was noted in those who underwent posterior lumbar surgery, those with benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), those with chronic constipation or prior urinary retention, and those using a patient-controlled analgesia pump postoperatively. An increased incidence of POUR was seen with a longer operative time but not with intraoperative intravenous fluid administration. A significant relationship between the female sex and POUR was noted after controlling for BPH, yet there was no association between POUR and diabetes or intraoperative instrumentation. Postoperative retention significantly prolonged the hospital stay. Three patients developed epidural hematomas necessitating operative reexploration, and while they experienced POUR, they also developed the full constellation of cauda equina syndrome.

CONCLUSIONS

Awareness of the risk factors for POUR may be useful in perioperative Foley catheter management and in identifying patients who need particular vigilance when they are due to void postprocedure. A greater understanding of POUR may also prevent longer hospital stays in select at-risk patients. Postoperative retention is rarely caused by a postoperative cauda equina syndrome due to epidural hematoma, which is also associated with saddle anesthesia, leg pain, and weakness, yet the delineation of isolated POUR from this urgent complication is necessary for optimal patient care.

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Peter G. Campbell, Sanjay Yadla, Rani Nasser, Jennifer Malone, Mitchell G. Maltenfort, and John K. Ratliff

Object

Present attempts to control health care costs focus on reducing the incidence of complications and hospital-acquired conditions (HACs). One approach uses restriction or elimination of hospital payments for HACs. Present approaches assume that all HACs are created equal and that payment restrictions should be applied uniformly. Patient factors, and especially patient comorbidities, likely impact complication incidence. The relationship of patient comorbidities and complication incidence in spine surgery has not been prospectively reported.

Methods

The authors conducted a prospective assessment of complications in spine surgery during a 6-month period; an independent auditor and a validated definition of perioperative complications were used. Initial demographics captured relevant patient comorbidities. The authors constructed a model of relative risk assessment based on the presence of a variety of comorbidities. They examined the impact of specific comorbidities and the cumulative effect of multiple comorbidities on complication incidence.

Results

Two hundred forty-nine patients undergoing 259 procedures at a tertiary care facility were evaluated during the 6-month duration of the study. Eighty percent of the patients underwent fusion procedures. One hundred thirty patients (52.2%) experienced at least 1 complication, with major complications occurring in 21.4% and minor complications in 46.4% of the cohort. Major complications doubled the median duration of hospital stay, from 6 to 12 days in cervical spine patients and from 7 to 14 days in thoracolumbar spine patients. At least 1 comorbid condition was present in 86% of the patients. An increasing number of comorbidities strongly correlated with increased risk of major, minor, and any complications (p = 0.017, p < 0.0001, and p < 0.0001, respectively). Patient factors correlating with increased risk of specific complications included systemic malignancy and cardiac conditions other than hypertension.

Conclusions

Comorbidities significantly increase the risk of perioperative complications. An increasing number of comorbidities in an individual patient significantly increases the risk of a perioperative adverse event. Patient factors significantly impact the relative risk of HACs and perioperative complications.

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Rani Nasser, Sanjay Yadla, Mitchell G. Maltenfort, James S. Harrop, D. Greg Anderson, Alexander R. Vaccaro, Ashwini D. Sharan, and John K. Ratliff

Object

The overall incidence of complications or adverse events in spinal surgery is unknown. Both prospective and retrospective analyses have been performed, but the results have not been critically assessed. Procedures for different regions of the spine (cervical and thoracolumbar) and the incidence of complications for each have been reported but not compared. Authors of previous reports have concentrated on complications in terms of their incidence relevant to healthcare providers: medical versus surgical etiology and the relevance of perioperative complications to perioperative events. Few authors have assessed complication incidence from the patient's perspective. In this report the authors summarize the spine surgery complications literature and address the effect of study design on reported complication incidence.

Methods

A systematic evidence-based review was completed to identify within the published literature complication rates in spinal surgery. The MEDLINE database was queried using the key words “spine surgery” and “complications.” This initial search revealed more than 700 articles, which were further limited through an exclusion process. Each abstract was reviewed and papers were obtained. The authors gathered 105 relevant articles detailing 80 thoracolumbar and 25 cervical studies. Among the 105 articles were 84 retrospective studies and 21 prospective studies. The authors evaluated the study designs and compared cervical, thoracolumbar, prospective, and retrospective studies as well as the durations of follow-up for each study.

Results

In the 105 articles reviewed, there were 79,471 patients with 13,067 reported complications for an overall complication incidence of 16.4% per patient. Complications were more common in thoracolumbar (17.8%) than cervical procedures (8.9%; p < 0.0001, OR 2.23). Prospective studies yielded a higher incidence of complications (19.9%) than retrospective studies (16.1%; p < 0.0001, OR 1.3). The complication incidence for prospective thoracolumbar studies (20.4%) was greater than that for retrospective series (17.5%; p < 0.0001). This difference between prospective and retrospective reviews was not found in the cervical studies. The year of study publication did not correlate with the complication incidence, although the duration of follow-up did correlate with the complication incidence (p = 0.001).

Conclusions

Retrospective reviews significantly underestimate the overall incidence of complications in spine surgery. This analysis is the first to critically assess differing complication incidences reported in prospective and retrospective cervical and thoracolumbar spine surgery studies.

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Rani Nasser, Doniel Drazin, Jonathan Nakhla, Lutfi Al-Khouja, Earl Brien, Eli M. Baron, Terrence T. Kim, J. Patrick Johnson, and Reza Yassari

OBJECTIVE

The use of intraoperative stereotactic navigation has become more available in spine surgery. The authors undertook this study to assess the utility of intraoperative CT navigation in the localization of spinal lesions and as an intraoperative tool to guide resection in patients with spinal lesions.

METHODS

This was a retrospective multicenter study including 50 patients from 2 different institutions who underwent biopsy and/or resection of spinal column tumors using image-guided navigation. Of the 50 cases reviewed, 4 illustrative cases are presented. In addition, the authors provide a description of surgical technique with image guidance.

RESULTS

The patient group included 27 male patients and 23 female patients. Their average age was 61 ± 17 years (range 14–87 years). The average operative time (incision to closure) was 311 ± 188 minutes (range 62–865 minutes). The average intraoperative blood loss was 882 ± 1194 ml (range 5–7000 ml). The average length of hospitalization was 10 ± 8.9 days (range 1–36 days). The postoperative complications included 2 deaths (4.0%) and 4 radiculopathies (8%) secondary to tumor burden.

CONCLUSIONS

O-arm 3D imaging with stereotactic navigation may be used to localize lesions intraoperatively with real-time dynamic feedback of tumor resection. Stereotactic guidance may augment resection or biopsy of primary and metastatic spinal tumors. It offers reduced radiation exposure to operating room personnel and the ability to use minimally invasive approaches that limit tissue injury. In addition, acquisition of intraoperative CT scans with real-time tracking allows for precise targeting of spinal lesions with minimal dissection.

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Rafael De la Garza Ramos, Jonathan Nakhla, Rani Nasser, Jacob F. Schulz, Taylor E. Purvis, Daniel M. Sciubba, Merritt D. Kinon, and Reza Yassari

OBJECTIVE

Obesity is an increasing public health concern in the pediatric population. The purpose of this investigation was to examine the impact of body mass index (BMI) on 30-day outcomes after posterior spinal fusion for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS).

METHODS

The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program Pediatric database (2013 and 2014) was reviewed. Patients 10–18 years of age who had undergone fusion of 7 or more spinal levels for AIS were included. Thirty-day outcomes (complications, readmissions, and reoperations) were compared based on patient BMI per age- and sex-adjusted growth charts as follows: normal weight (NW; BMI < 85th percentile), overweight (OW; BMI 85th–95th percentile), and obese (OB; BMI > 95th percentile).

RESULTS

Patients eligible for study numbered 2712 (80.1% female and 19.9% male) and had a mean age of 14.4 ± 1.8 years. Average BMI for the entire cohort was 21.9 ± 5.0 kg/m2; 2010 patients (74.1%) were classified as NW, 345 (12.7%) as OW, and 357 (13.2%) as OB. The overall complication rate was 1.3% (36/2712). For NW and OW patients, the complication rate was 0.9% in each group; for OB patients, the rate was 4.2% (p < 0.001). The 30-day readmission rate was 2.0% (55/2712) for all patients, 1.6% for NW patients, 1.2% for OW patients, and 5.0% for OB patients (p < 0.001). The 30-day reoperation rate was 1.4% (39/2712). Based on BMI, this reoperation rate corresponded to 0.9%, 1.2%, and 4.8% for NW, OW, and OB patients, respectively (p < 0.001). After controlling for patient age, number of spinal levels fused, and operative/anesthesia time on multiple logistic regression analysis, obesity remained a significant risk factor for complications (OR 4.61), readmissions (OR 3.16), and reoperations (OR 5.33; all p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Body mass index may be significantly associated with short-term outcomes after long-segment fusion procedures for AIS. Although NW and OW patients may have similar 30-day outcomes, OB patients had significantly higher wound complication, readmission, and reoperation rates and longer hospital stays than the NW patients. The findings of this study may help spine surgeons and patients in terms of preoperative risk stratification and perioperative expectations.

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Peter G. Campbell, Jennifer Malone, Sanjay Yadla, Rohan Chitale, Rani Nasser, Mitchell G. Maltenfort, Alex Vaccaro, and John K. Ratliff

Object

Large studies of ICD-9–based complication and hospital-acquired condition (HAC) chart reviews have not been validated through a comparison with prospective assessments of perioperative adverse event occurrence. Retrospective chart review, while generally assumed to underreport complication occurrence, has not been subjected to prospective study. It is unclear whether ICD-9–based population studies are more accurate than retrospective reviews or are perhaps equally susceptible to bias. To determine the validity of an ICD-9–based assessment of perioperative complications, the authors compared a prospective independent evaluation of such complications with ICD-9–based HAC data in a cohort of patients who underwent spine surgery. For further comparison, a separate retrospective review of the same cohort of patients was completed as well.

Methods

A prospective assessment of complications in spine surgery over a 6-month period (May to December 2008) was completed using an independent auditor and a validated definition of perioperative complications. The auditor maintained a prospective database, which included complications occurring in the initial 30 days after surgery. All medical adverse events were included in the assessment. All patients undergoing spine surgery during the study period were eligible for inclusion; the only exclusionary criterion used was the availability of the auditor for patient assessment. From the overall patient database, 100 patients were randomly extracted for further review; in these patients ICD-9–based HAC data were obtained from coder data. Separately, a retrospective assessment of complication incidence was completed using chart and electronic medical record review. The same definition of perioperative adverse events and the inclusion of medical adverse events were applied in the prospective, ICD-9–based, and retrospective assessments.

Results

Ninety-two patients had adequate records for the ICD-9 assessment, whereas 98 patients had adequate chart information for retrospective review. The overall complication incidence among the groups was similar (major complications: ICD-9 17.4%, retrospective 19.4%, and prospective 22.4%; minor complications: ICD-9 43.8%, retrospective 31.6%, and prospective 42.9%). However, the ICD-9–based assessment included many minor medical events not deemed complications by the auditor. Rates of specific complications were consistently underreported in both the ICD-9 and the retrospective assessments. The ICD-9 assessment underreported infection, the need for reoperation, deep wound infection, deep venous thrombosis, and new neurological deficits (p = 0.003, p < 0.0001, p < 0.0001, p = 0.0025, and p = 0.04, respectively). The retrospective review underestimated incidences of infection, the need for revision, and deep wound infection (p < 0.0001 for each). Only in the capture of new cardiac events was ICD-9–based reporting more accurate than prospective data accrual (p = 0.04). The most sensitive measure for the appreciation of complication occurrence was the prospective review, followed by the ICD-9–based assessment (p = 0.05).

Conclusions

An ICD-9–based coding of perioperative adverse events and major complications in a cohort of spine surgery patients revealed an overall complication incidence similar to that in a prospectively executed measure. In contrast, a retrospective review underestimated complication incidence. The ICD-9–based review captured many medical events of limited clinical import, inflating the overall incidence of adverse events demonstrated by this approach. In multiple categories of major, clinically significant perioperative complications, ICD-9–based and retrospective assessments significantly underestimated complication incidence. These findings illustrate a significant potential weakness and source of inaccuracy in the use of population-based ICD-9 and retrospective complication recording.