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Editorial. Out-of-court system: a fair fast track to savings of time and money

Sandeep Kandregula and Bharat Guthikonda

Open access

Wound vacuum-assisted closure as a bridge therapy in the treatment of infected cranial gunshot wound in a pediatric patient: illustrative case

Harjus Birk, Audrey Demand, Sandeep Kandregula, Christina Notarianni, Andrew Meram, and Jennifer Kosty

BACKGROUND

The authors reported the first pediatric case of a craniocerebral gunshot injury successfully treated with a wound vacuum-assisted closure (VAC) device after dehiscence and infection of the initial cranial wound.

OBSERVATIONS

A 17-year-old boy suffered several gunshots to the left hemisphere, resulting in significant damage to the scalp, calvaria, and brain. Emergency hemicraniectomy was performed, with reconstruction of a complicated scalp wound performed at the initial surgery. The scalp was devitalized and ultimately dehisced, resulting in a cranial infection. It was treated first with a repeated attempt at primary closure, which failed because of persistent devitalized tissue, and was then treated with aggressive debridement followed by placement of a wound VAC device over the exposed brain as a bridge therapy to reconstruction. This procedure was deemed necessary given the active infection.

LESSONS

The patient received delayed reconstruction with a free split-thickness skin graft and made a remarkable recovery, with cranioplasty performed 6 months later. The authors reviewed the literature on wound VAC use in cranial wound treatment and proposed it as a legitimate bridge therapy to definitive reconstruction in the setting of dirty wounds, active infection, or even hemodynamically unstable patients.

Free access

Improving patient care in neurosurgery through postoperative telephone calls: a systematic review and lessons from all surgical specialties

Dylan Goehner, Sandeep Kandregula, Harjus Birk, Christopher P. Carroll, Bharat Guthikonda, and Jennifer A. Kosty

OBJECTIVE

Postoperative telephone calls are a simple intervention that can be used to improve communication with patients, potentially affecting patient safety and satisfaction. Few studies in the neurosurgical literature have examined the effect of a postoperative telephone call on patient outcomes, although several exist across all surgical specialties. The authors performed a systematic review and analyzed studies published since 2000 to assess the effect of a postoperative telephone call or text message on patient safety and satisfaction across all surgical specialties.

METHODS

A search of PubMed-indexed articles was performed on June 12, 2021, and was narrowed by the inclusion criteria of studies from surgical specialties with > 50 adult patients published after 1999, in which a postoperative telephone call was made and its effects on safety and satisfaction were assessed. Exclusion criteria included dental, medical, and pediatric specialties; systematic reviews; meta-analyses; and non–English-language articles. Dual review was utilized.

RESULTS

Overall, 24 articles met inclusion criteria. The majority reported an increase in patient satisfaction scores after a postoperative telephone call was implemented, and half of the studies demonstrated an improvement in safety or outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS

Taken together, these studies demonstrate that implementation of a postoperative telephone call in a neurosurgical practice is a feasible way to enhance patient care. The major limitations of this study were the heterogeneous group of studies and the limited neurosurgery-specific studies.

Free access

Direct thrombectomy versus bridging thrombolysis with mechanical thrombectomy in middle cerebral artery stroke: a real-world analysis through National Inpatient Sample data

Sandeep Kandregula, Amey R. Savardekar, Pankaj Sharma, Jerry McLarty, Jennifer Kosty, Krystle Trosclair, Hugo Cuellar, and Bharat Guthikonda

OBJECTIVE

A paradigm shift in the management of acute ischemic stroke (AIS) due to large-vessel occlusion (LVO) occurred after 2015 when 7 randomized controlled trials demonstrated better outcomes using second-generation thrombectomy devices combined with best medical management than did stand-alone intravenous thrombolysis (IVT) with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). All recently published landmark trials were designed to study the outcome of mechanical thrombectomy (MT); therefore, the majority of the patients enrolled in these trials received intravenous tPA. Currently, initiating IVT before MT is a matter of debate. Recent trials (DIRECT-MT, DEVT) exploring this clinical question showed noninferiority of MT alone compared with the combined treatment. With this uncertainty, the authors aimed to explore real-world data through the latest National Inpatient Sample (NIS) to compare the safety and outcomes of MT alone with bridging IVT and MT in AIS due to LVO in the middle cerebral artery (MCA).

METHODS

NIS data from 2017 to 2018 were analyzed to compare the outcomes and safety profiles of patients who underwent MT+IVT with those who underwent MT alone.

RESULTS

A total of 2895 patients were included in the final analysis (MT, n = 1669; MT+IVT, n = 1226). The mean National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score was 16.2 (SD 6.1) in the MT group and 16.6 (SD 5.97) in the MT+IVT group (p = 0.04). With respect to comorbidities, the two groups did not differ in rates of hypertension (p = 0.730), atrial fibrillation/flutter (p = 0.828), and smoking status (p = 0.914). The rate of diabetes mellitus was significantly higher in the MT group (28%) than in the MT+IVT group (22.1%) (p < 0.001). The frequency of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) in the MT group was 17.7% (n = 296) and 21.5% (n = 263) in the MT+IVT group (p = 0.012). Intraventricular hemorrhage (p = 0.875), subarachnoid hemorrhage (p = 0.99), and vasospasm (p = 0.976) did not differ significantly between the groups. The primary outcome considered was disability status between the groups; 23.8% of patients in the MT+IVT group had minimal disability versus 18.2% in the MT group (p = 0.001). The risk of progressing to severe disability from minimal disability decreased with the addition of IVT to MT (OR 0.762, 95% CI 0.637–0.912). The adjusted odds ratio for ICH in the MT+IVT group was 1.28 (95% CI 1.043–1.571, p = 0.018) and 2.676 (95% CI 1.259–5.686, p = 0.01) for access-site hemorrhages.

CONCLUSIONS

In the analysis of the NIS database, the MT+IVT group had significantly higher rates of minimal disability at the time of hospital discharge versus the MT-alone group, despite a higher rate of ICH. The question of whether to treat patients with MT+IVT rather than MT alone is currently being addressed in ongoing prospective clinical trials (SWIFT-DIRECT [NCT03494920], MR CLEAN–NO IV [ISRCTN80619088], and DIRECT-SAFE [NCT03494920]). The results of these studies will contribute to greater understanding and progressive improvement in outcomes for AIS patients.

Free access

Insights into potential targeted nonsurgical therapies for the treatment of moyamoya disease

Dylan Goehner, Sandeep Kandregula, Christopher P. Carroll, Mario Zuccarello, Bharat Guthikonda, and Jennifer A. Kosty

Since its initial description in 1957 as an idiopathic disease, moyamoya disease has proved challenging to treat. Although the basic pathophysiology of this disease involves narrowing of the terminal carotid artery with compensatory angiogenesis, the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying these changes are far more complex. In this article, the authors review the literature on the molecular and cellular pathophysiology of moyamoya disease with an emphasis on potential therapeutic targets.

Free access

Racial and socioeconomic disparities in the advanced treatment of medically intractable pediatric epilepsy

Sandeep Kandregula, Danielle Terrell, Robbie Beyl, Anne Freelin, Bharat Guthikonda, Christina Notarianni, and Jamie Toms

OBJECTIVE

Racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare have gained significant importance since the Institute of Medicine published its report on disparities in healthcare. There is a lack of evidence on how race and ethnicity affect access to advanced treatment of pediatric medically intractable epilepsy. In this context, the authors analyzed the latest Kids’ Inpatient Database (KID) for racial/ethnic disparities in access to surgical treatment of epilepsy.

METHODS

The authors queried the KID for the years 2016 and 2019 for the diagnosis of medically intractable epilepsy.

RESULTS

A total of 29,292 patients were included in the sample. Of these patients, 8.9% (n = 2610) underwent surgical treatment/invasive monitoring. The mean ages in the surgical treatment and nonsurgical treatment groups were 11.73 years (SD 5.75 years) and 9.5 years (SD 6.16 years), respectively. The most common insurance in the surgical group was private/commercial (55.9%) and Medicaid in the nonsurgical group (47.7%) (p < 0.001). White patients accounted for the most common population in both groups, followed by Hispanic patients. African American patients made up 7.9% in the surgical treatment group compared with 12.9% in the nonsurgical group. African American (41.1%) and Hispanic (29.9%) patients had higher rates of emergency department (ED) utilization compared with the White population (24.6%). After adjusting for all covariates, the odds of surgical treatment increased with increasing age (OR 1.06, 95% CI 1.053–1.067; p < 0.001). African American race (OR 0.513, 95% CI 0.443–0.605; p < 0.001), Hispanic ethnicity (OR 0.681, 95% CI 0.612–0.758; p < 0.001), and other races (OR 0.789, 95% CI 0.689–0.903; p = 0.006) had lower surgical treatment odds compared with the White population. Medicaid/Medicare was associated with lower surgical treatment odds than private/commercial insurance (OR 0.603, 0.554–0.657; p < 0.001). Interaction analysis revealed that African American (OR 0.708, 95% CI 0.569–0.880; p = 0.001) and Hispanic (OR 0.671, 95% CI 0.556–0.809; p < 0.001) populations with private insurance had lower surgical treatment odds than White populations with private insurance. Similarly, African American patients, Hispanic patients, and patients of other races with nonprivate insurance also had lower surgical treatment odds than their White counterparts after adjusting for all other covariates.

CONCLUSIONS

Based on the KID, African American and Hispanic populations had lower surgical treatment rates than their White counterparts, with higher utilization of the ED for pediatric medically intractable epilepsy.

Restricted access

Transcriptomics of intracranial aneurysms: current state and opportunities in flow diversion

Visish M. Srinivasan, Oleg Shekhtman, Sandeep Kandregula, Sneha Sai Mannam, Ling Fai Charles Yu, and Peter Kan

Over the last 2 decades, the field of transcriptomics has emerged as a major subdiscipline in biology. Transcriptomic techniques have been used by many groups over this time to better understand intracranial aneurysm development, rupture, and treatment. However, only a few studies have applied transcriptomics to understand the mechanisms behind flow diversion (FD) specifically, despite its increasing importance in the neurointerventional armamentarium.

FD is an increasingly safe and effective treatment option for intracranial aneurysms. However, the clinical understanding and use of FD has far outpaced the understanding of the underlying mechanisms. To make FD more predictable, clinically efficacious, and safe, it is important to understand the biological mechanisms at play that lead to successful and unsuccessful FD.

In this review, the authors focus on the current understanding of FD biology, the recent advances in transcriptomics, and what future studies could be performed to deepen the understanding of FD. They propose the new concept of the FD microenvironment to be studied, which may unlock a deeper biological understanding. This review provides the background for prospective studies into the development of targeted aneurysm therapy, whether by modified devices or by medical adjuncts.

Free access

Status of current medicolegal reform in the United States: a neurosurgical perspective

Devon LeFever, Audrey Demand, Sandeep Kandregula, Alexis Vega, Breydon Hobley, Soleil Paterson, Krystle Trosclair, Richard Menger, Jennifer Kosty, and Bharat Guthikonda

OBJECTIVE

There are approximately 85,000 lawsuits filed against medical practitioners every year in the US. Among these lawsuits, neurosurgery has been identified as a “high-risk specialty” with exceptional chance of having medical malpractice suits filed. Major issues affecting the overall medicolegal environment include tort reform, the formation of medical review panels, the increasing practice of defensive medicine, and the rising costs of medical insurance. In this study, the authors provide a concise update of the current medicolegal environments of the 50 states and provide a general guide to favorable and unfavorable states in which to practice neurosurgery.

METHODS

Data were acquired related to state-by-state medical review panel status, noneconomic damage caps, economic damage caps, and civil suit filing fees. States were placed into 5 categories based on the status of their current medicolegal environment.

RESULTS

Of the 50 states in the US, 18 have established a medical review panel process. Fifteen states have a mandatory medical review process, whereas 3 states rely on a voluntary process. Thirty-five states have tort reform and have placed a cap on noneconomic damages. These caps range from $250,000 to $2,350,000, with the median cap of $465,900. Only 8 states have placed a cap on total economic damages. These caps range from $500,000 to $2,350,000, with the median cap of $1,050,000. All states have a filing fee for a medical malpractice lawsuit. These costs range from $37 to $884, with the median cost for filing of $335.

CONCLUSIONS

Medicolegal healthcare reform will continue to play a vital role in physicians’ lives. It will dictate if physicians may practice proactively or be forced to act defensively. With medicolegal reform varying greatly among states, it will ultimately dictate if physicians move into or away from certain states and thus guide the availability of healthcare services. A desirable legal system for neurosurgeons, including caps on economic and noneconomic damages and availability of medical review panels, can lead to safer practice.

Free access

Microsurgical clipping and endovascular management of unruptured anterior circulation aneurysms: how age, frailty, and comorbidity indexes influence outcomes

Sandeep Kandregula, Amey R. Savardekar, Danielle Terrell, Nimer Adeeb, Stephen Whipple, Robbie Beyl, Harjus S. Birk, William Christopher Newman, Jennifer Kosty, Hugo Cuellar, and Bharat Guthikonda

OBJECTIVE

Frailty is one of the important factors in predicting the outcomes of surgery. Many surgical specialties have adopted a frailty assessment in the preoperative period for prognostication; however, there are limited data on the effects of frailty on the outcomes of cerebral aneurysms. The object of this study was to find the effect of frailty on the surgical outcomes of anterior circulation unruptured intracranial aneurysms (UIAs) and compare the frailty index with other comorbidity indexes.

METHODS

A retrospective study was performed utilizing the National Inpatient Sample (NIS) database (2016–2018). The Hospital Frailty Risk Score (HFRS) was used to assess frailty. On the basis of the HFRS, the whole cohort was divided into low-risk (0–5), intermediate-risk (> 5 to 15), and high-risk (> 15) frailty groups. The analyzed outcomes were nonhome discharge, complication rate, extended length of stay, and in-hospital mortality.

RESULTS

In total, 37,685 patients were included in the analysis, 5820 of whom had undergone open surgical clipping and 31,865 of whom had undergone endovascular management. Mean age was higher in the high-risk frailty group than in the low-risk group for both clipping (63 vs 55.4 years) and coiling (64.6 vs 57.9 years). The complication rate for open surgical clipping in the high-risk frailty group was 56.1% compared to 0.8% in the low-risk group. Similarly, for endovascular management, the complication rate was 60.6% in the high-risk group compared to 0.3% in the low-risk group. Nonhome discharges were more common in the high-risk group than in the low-risk group for both open clipping (87.8% vs 19.7%) and endovascular management (73.1% vs 4.4%). Mean hospital charges for clipping were $341,379 in the high-risk group compared to $116,892 in the low-risk group. Mean hospital charges for coiling were $392,861 in the high-risk frailty group and $125,336 in the low-risk group. Extended length of stay occurred more frequently in the high-risk frailty group than in the low-risk group for both clipping (82.9% vs 10.7%) and coiling (94.2% vs 12.7%). Frailty had higher area under the receiver operating characteristic curve values than those for other comorbidity indexes and age in predicting outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS

Frailty affects surgical outcomes significantly and outperforms age and other comorbidity indexes in predicting outcome. It is imperative to include frailty assessment in preoperative planning.