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Richard P. Menger, Piyush Kalakoti, Andrew J. Pugely, Anil Nanda and Anthony Sin

OBJECTIVE

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is the most common form of scoliosis. Limited literature exists defining risk factors associated with outcomes during initial hospitalization in these patients. In this study, the authors investigated patient demographics, clinical and hospital characteristics impacting short-term outcomes, and costs in adolescent patients undergoing surgical deformity correction for idiopathic scoliosis. Additionally, the authors elucidate the impact of hospital surgical volume on outcomes for these patients.

METHODS

Using the National Inpatient Sample database and appropriate International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision codes, the authors identified adolescent patients (10–19 years of age) undergoing surgical deformity correction for idiopathic scoliosis during 2001–2014. For national estimates, appropriate weights provided by the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality were used. Multivariable regression techniques were employed to assess the association of risk factors with discharge disposition, postsurgical neurological complications, length of hospital stay, and hospitalization costs.

RESULTS

Overall, 75,106 adolescent patients underwent surgical deformity correction. The rates of postsurgical complications were estimated at 0.9% for neurological issues, 2.8% for respiratory complications, 0.8% for cardiac complications, 0.4% for infections, 2.7% for gastrointestinal complications, 0.1% for venous thromboembolic events, and 0.1% for acute renal failure. Overall, patients stayed at the hospital for an average of 5.72 days (median 5 days) and on average incurred hospitalization costs estimated at $54,997 (median $47,909). As compared with patients at low-volume centers (≤ 50 operations/year), those undergoing surgical deformity correction at high-volume centers (> 50/year) had a significantly lower likelihood of an unfavorable discharge (discharge to rehabilitation) (OR 1.16, 95% CI 1.03–1.30, p = 0.016) and incurred lower costs (mean $33,462 vs $56,436, p < 0.001) but had a longer duration of stay (mean 6 vs 5.65 days, p = 0.002). In terms of neurological complications, no significant differences in the odds ratios were noted between high- and low-volume centers (OR 1.23, 95% CI 0.97–1.55, p = 0.091).

CONCLUSIONS

This study provides insight into the clinical characteristics of AIS patients and their postoperative outcomes following deformity correction as they relate to hospital volume. It provides information regarding independent risk factors for unfavorable discharge and neurological complications following surgery for AIS. The proposed estimates could be used as an adjunct to clinical judgment in presurgical planning, risk stratification, and cost containment.

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Richard P. Menger, Jai Deep Thakur, Gary Jain and Anil Nanda

OBJECTIVE

Insurance preauthorization is used as a third-party tool to reduce health care costs. Given the expansion of managed care, the impact of the insurance preauthorization process in delaying health care delivery warrants investigation through a diversified neurosurgery practice.

METHODS

Data for 1985 patients were prospectively gathered over a 12-month period from July 1, 2014, until June 30, 2015. Information regarding attending, procedure, procedure type, insurance type, need for insurance approval, number of days for authorization, or insurance denial was obtained. Delay in authorization was defined as any wait period greater than 7 days. Some of the parameters were added retrospectively to enhance this study; hence, the total number of subjects may vary for different variables.

RESULTS

The most common procedure was back surgery with instrumentation (28%). Most of the patients had commercial insurance (57%) while Medicaid was the least common (1%). Across all neurosurgery procedures, insurance authorization, on average, was delayed 9 days with commercial insurance, 10.7 days with Tricare insurance, 8.5 days with Medicare insurance, 11.5 days with Medicaid, and 14.4 days with workers' compensation. Two percent of all patients were denied insurance preauthorization without any statistical trend or association. Of the 1985 patients, 1045 (52.6%) patients had instrumentation procedures. Independent of insurance type, instrumentation procedures were more likely to have delays in authorization (p = 0.001). Independent of procedure type, patients with Tricare (military) insurance were more likely to have a delay in approval for surgery (p = 0.02). Predictably, Medicare insurance was protective against a delay in surgery (p = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Choice of insurance provider and instrumentation procedures were independent risk factors for a delay in insurance preauthorization. Neurosurgeons, not just policy makers, must take ownership to analyze, investigate, and interpret these data to deliver the best and most efficient care to our patients.

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Richard P. Menger, Christopher M. Storey, Bharat Guthikonda, Symeon Missios, Anil Nanda and John M. Cooper

World War I catapulted the United States from traditional isolationism to international involvement in a major European conflict. Woodrow Wilson envisaged a permanent American imprint on democracy in world affairs through participation in the League of Nations. Amid these defining events, Wilson suffered a major ischemic stroke on October 2, 1919, which left him incapacitated. What was probably his fourth and most devastating stroke was diagnosed and treated by his friend and personal physician, Admiral Cary Grayson. Grayson, who had tremendous personal and professional loyalty to Wilson, kept the severity of the stroke hidden from Congress, the American people, and even the president himself. During a cabinet briefing, Grayson formally refused to sign a document of disability and was reluctant to address the subject of presidential succession. Wilson was essentially incapacitated and hemiplegic, yet he remained an active president and all messages were relayed directly through his wife, Edith. Patient-physician confidentiality superseded national security amid the backdrop of friendship and political power on the eve of a pivotal juncture in the history of American foreign policy.

It was in part because of the absence of Woodrow Wilson’s vocal and unwavering support that the United States did not join the League of Nations and distanced itself from the international stage. The League of Nations would later prove powerless without American support and was unable to thwart the rise and advance of Adolf Hitler. Only after World War II did the United States assume its global leadership role and realize Wilson’s visionary, yet contentious, groundwork for a Pax Americana.

The authors describe Woodrow Wilson’s stroke, the historical implications of his health decline, and its impact on United States foreign policy.

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Richard P. Menger, Bharat Guthikonda, Christopher M. Storey, Anil Nanda, Matthew McGirt and Anthony Asher

Neurosurgeons provide direct individualized care to patients. However, the majority of regulations affecting the relative value of patient-related care are drafted by policy experts whose focus is typically system- and population-based. A central, prospectively gathered, national outcomes-related database serves as neurosurgery’s best opportunity to bring patient-centered outcomes to the policy arena.

In this study the authors analyze the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the determination of quality and value in neurosurgery care through the scope, language, and terminology of policy experts. The methods by which the ACA came into law and the subsequent quality implications this legislation has for neurosurgery will be discussed. The necessity of neurosurgical patient-oriented clinical registries will be discussed in the context of imminent and dramatic reforms related to medical cost containment.

In the policy debate moving forward, the strength of neurosurgery’s argument will rest on data, unity, and proactiveness. The National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database (N2QOD) allows neurosurgeons to generate objective data on specialty-specific value and quality determinations; it allows neurosurgeons to bring the patient-physician interaction to the policy debate.

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Richard P. Menger, David E. Connor Jr., Jai Deep Thakur, Ashish Sonig, Elainea Smith, Bharat Guthikonda and Anil Nanda

Object

Complications following lumboperitoneal (LP) shunting have been reported in 18% to 85% of cases. The need for multiple revision surgeries, development of iatrogenic Chiari malformation, and frequent wound complications have prompted many to abandon this procedure altogether for the treatment of idiopathic benign intracranial hypertension (pseudotumor cerebri), in favor of ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunting. A direct comparison of the complication rates and health care charges between first-choice LP versus VP shunting is presented.

Methods

The Nationwide Inpatient Sample database was queried for all patients with the diagnosis of benign intracranial hypertension (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, code 348.2) from 2005 to 2009. These data were stratified by operative intervention, with demographic and hospitalization charge data generated for each.

Results

A weighted sample of 4480 patients was identified as having the diagnosis of idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), with 2505 undergoing first-time VP shunt placement and 1754 undergoing initial LP shunt placement. Revision surgery occurred in 3.9% of admissions (n = 98) for VP shunts and in 7.0% of admissions (n = 123) for LP shunts (p < 0.0001). Ventriculoperitoneal shunts were placed at teaching institutions in 83.8% of cases, compared with only 77.3% of first-time LP shunts (p < 0.0001). Mean hospital length of stay (LOS) significantly differed between primary VP (3 days) and primary LP shunt procedures (4 days, p < 0.0001). The summed charges for the revisions of 92 VP shunts ($3,453,956) and those of the 6 VP shunt removals ($272,484) totaled $3,726,352 over 5 years for the study population. The summed charges for revision of 70 LP shunts ($2,229,430) and those of the 53 LP shunt removals ($3,125,569) totaled $5,408,679 over 5 years for the study population.

Conclusions

The presented results appear to call into question the selection of LP shunt placement as primary treatment for IIH, as this procedure is associated with a significantly greater likelihood of need for shunt revision, increased LOS, and greater overall charges to the health care system.