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Scott L. Zuckerman, Natalie Limoges, Aaron M. Yengo-Kahn, Christopher S. Graffeo, Lola B. Chambless, Rohan Chitale, J Mocco and Susan Durham

OBJECTIVE

Residency interviews are integral to the recruitment process yet imperfect. Through surveys of neurosurgery residency applicants, the authors describe interview content and the perceived utility and stress of topics from the applicant’s perspective.

METHODS

All 2018–2019 neurosurgery resident applicants applying to three particular programs were surveyed. Across 10 interview topics, survey questions assessed topic frequency and the applicant’s opinion of the utility and stress of each topic (Likert scale 1–5). Analyses included descriptive statistics, Spearman’s rank correlation, and logistic regression.

RESULTS

One hundred thirty-three of 265 surveyed US residency applicants (50%) responded. Extracurricular activities, research, future career, non-medicine interests, and small talk were discussed in all interviews. The least frequent topics included neurosurgical knowledge assessment (79%) and manual dexterity tests (45%). The most useful topics according to respondents were future career objectives (4.78 ± 0.49) and prior research (4.76 ± 0.50); the least useful were neurosurgical knowledge assessment (2.67 ± 1.09) and manual dexterity tests (2.95 ± 1.05). The most stressful topics were neurosurgical knowledge assessment (3.66 ± 1.23) and ethical/behavioral scenarios (2.94 ± 1.28). The utility and stress of manual dexterity tests and neurosurgical knowledge assessments were inversely correlated (r = −0.40, p < 0.01; r = −0.36, p < 0.01), whereas no such correlation existed for ethical/behavioral questions (r = −0.12, p = 0.18), indicating that ethical/behavioral questions may have been stressful but were potentially useful topics. Respondents who attended ≥ 15 interviews were more likely to be asked about the three most stressful topics (each p < 0.05). Respondents with children were less likely to be asked about ethical/behavioral scenarios (OR 0.13, 95% CI 0.03–0.52, p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

Applicants found several of the most frequently discussed topics to be less useful, indicating a potential disconnect between applicant opinion and the faculty’s preferred questions. Ethical/behavioral scenarios were rated as stressful but still useful, representing a potentially worthwhile type of question. These data provide several avenues for potential standardization and improvement of the interview process.

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Nohra Chalouhi, Rohan Chitale, Pascal Jabbour, Stavropoula Tjoumakaris, Aaron S. Dumont, Robert Rosenwasser and L. Fernando Gonzalez

Given that relatives of patients with intracranial aneurysms (IAs) or subarachnoid hemorrhage have a greater risk of harboring an aneurysm, family screening has become a common practice in neurosurgery. Unclear data exist regarding who should be screened and at what age and interval screening should occur. Multiple factors including the natural history of IAs, the risk of treatment, the cost of screening, and the psychosocial impact of finding an aneurysm should be taken into account when family screening is considered. In this paper, the authors review the current literature regarding risk factors and natural history of sporadic and familial aneurysms. Based on these data the authors assess current recommendations for screening and propose their own recommendations.

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Pascal Jabbour, Nohra Chalouhi, Stavropoula Tjoumakaris, L. Fernando Gonzalez, Aaron S. Dumont, Rohan Chitale, Robert Rosenwasser, Carlos G. Bianciotto and Carol Shields

Retinoblastoma is a deadly eye cancer in children, leading to death in 50%–70% of children in undeveloped nations who are diagnosed with it. This malignancy is the most common intraocular tumor in childhood worldwide. The good prognosis in developed nations is related to early detection and advanced treatments. With the advent of intraarterial chemotherapy, neurosurgeons have taken a central role in the treatment of this pediatric condition. Intraarterial chemotherapy is a novel treatment for retinoblastoma whereby chemotherapeutic agents are precisely delivered into the ophthalmic artery, minimizing systemic toxicity. This procedure has shown impressive results and has allowed a dramatic decrease in the rate of enucleation (eye removal) in advanced and refractory retinoblastoma. Recent reports have raised some concerns about the risk of ocular vasculopathy, radiation-related toxicity, and the potential for metastatic disease after intraarterial chemotherapy. In the authors' experience of more than 3 years, tumor control is excellent with globe salvage at 67% and vascular events less than 5%, mostly related to improvement in technique. The role of this novel approach in the management of retinoblastoma has yet to be defined. As more centers are adopting the technique, the topic will decidedly become the focus of intensive future research. In this paper, the authors review and discuss current data regarding intraarterial chemotherapy for retinoblastoma.

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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.