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Correlation between intraoperative ultrasound and postoperative MRI in pediatric tumor surgery

Heather Smith, AmiLyn Taplin, Sohail Syed, and Matthew A. Adamo

OBJECTIVE

Malignant disease of the CNS is the primary etiology for deaths resulting from cancer in the pediatric population. It has been well documented that outcomes of pediatric neurosurgery rely on the extent of tumor resection. Therefore, techniques that improve surgical results have significant clinical implications. Intraoperative ultrasound (IOUS) offers real-time surgical guidance and a more accurate means for detecting residual tumor that is inconspicuous to the naked eye. The objective of this study was to evaluate the correlation of extent of resection between IOUS and postoperative MRI. The authors measured the correlation of extent of resection, negative predictive value, and sensitivity of IOUS and compared them with those of MRI.

METHODS

This study consisted of a retrospective review of the medical charts of all pediatric patients who underwent neurosurgical treatment of a tumor between August 2009 and July 2015 at Albany Medical Center. Included were patients who were aged ≤ 21 years, who underwent brain or spinal tumor resection, for whom IOUS was used during the tumor resection, and for whom postoperative MRI (with and without contrast) was performed within 1 week of surgery.

RESULTS

Sixty-two patients met inclusion criteria for the study (33 males, mean age 10.0 years). The IOUS results very significantly correlated with postoperative MRI results (φ = 0.726; p = 0.000000011; negative predictive value 86.3% [95% CI 73.7%–94.3%]). These results exemplify a 71% overall gross-total resection rate and 80% intended gross-total resection rate with the use of IOUS (i.e., excluding cases performed only for debulking purposes).

CONCLUSIONS

The use of IOUS may play an important role in achieving a greater extent of resection by providing real-time information on tumor volume and location in the setting of brain shift throughout the course of an operation. The authors support the use of IOUS in pediatric CNS tumor surgery to improve clinical outcomes at low cost with minimal additional operating-room time and no identified additional risk.

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Determinants of brain tumor malpractice litigation outcome and indemnity payments: a 29-year nationwide analysis

Oliver Y. Tang, Davis A. Hartnett, Sarah B. Hays, Sohail Syed, and Alan H. Daniels

OBJECTIVE

Medical malpractice litigation is a significant challenge in neurosurgery, with more than 25% of a neurosurgeon’s career on average spent with an open malpractice claim. While earlier research has elucidated characteristics of litigation related to brain tumor treatment, factors impacting outcome and indemnity payment amount are incompletely understood.

METHODS

The authors identified all medical malpractice cases related to brain tumors from 1988 to 2017 in VerdictSearch, a database of 200,000 cases from all 50 states. The outcome for each case was dichotomized from the perspective of the defendant physician as favorable (defendant victory) or unfavorable (plaintiff victory or settlement). Indemnity payments were recorded for cases that resulted in settlement or plaintiff victory. Univariate regression was used to assess the association between case characteristics and case outcome as well as indemnity payment amount. Subsequently, significant variables were used to generate multivariate models for each outcome. Statistical significance was maintained at p < 0.05.

RESULTS

A total of 113 cases were analyzed, resulting most commonly in defendant (physician) victory (46.9%), followed by settlement and plaintiff victory (both 26.5%). The most common specialty of the primary defendant was neurosurgery (35.4%), and the most common allegation was improper diagnosis (59.3%). Indemnity payments totaled $191,621,392, with neurosurgical defendants accounting for $109,000,314 (56.9%). The average payments for cases with a plaintiff victory ($3,333,654) and for settlements ($3,051,832) did not significantly differ (p = 0.941). The highest rates of unfavorable outcomes were observed among radiologists (63.6%) and neurosurgeons (57.5%) (p = 0.042). On multivariate regression, severe disability was associated with a lower odds of favorable case outcome (OR 0.21, p = 0.023), while older plaintiff age (> 65 years) predicted higher odds of favorable outcome (OR 5.75, p = 0.047). For 60 cases resulting in indemnity payment, higher payments were associated on univariate analysis with neurosurgeon defendants (β-coefficient = 2.33, p = 0.017), whether the plaintiff underwent surgery (β-coefficient = 2.11, p = 0.012), and the plaintiff experiencing severe disability (β-coefficient = 4.30, p = 0.005). Following multivariate regression, only medical outcome was predictive of increased indemnity payments, including moderate disability (β-coefficient = 4.98, p = 0.007), severe disability (β-coefficient = 6.96, p = 0.001), and death (β-coefficient = 3.23, p = 0.027).

CONCLUSIONS

Neurosurgeons were the most common defendants for brain tumor malpractice litigation, averaging more than $3 million per claim paid. Older plaintiff age was associated with case outcome in favor of the physician. Additionally, medical outcome was predictive of both case outcome and indemnity payment amount.

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The effect of weekend and after-hours surgery on morbidity and mortality rates in pediatric neurosurgery patients

Virendra Desai, David Gonda, Sheila L. Ryan, Valentina Briceño, Sandi K. Lam, Thomas G. Luerssen, Sohail H. Syed, and Andrew Jea

OBJECT

Several studies have indicated that the 30-day morbidity and mortality risks are higher among pediatric and adult patients who are admitted on the weekends. This “weekend effect” has been observed among patients admitted with and fora variety of diagnoses and procedures, including myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, stroke, peptic ulcer disease, and pediatric surgery. In this study, morbidity and mortality outcomes for emergency pediatric neurosurgical procedures carried out on the weekend or after hours are compared with emergency surgical procedures performed during regular weekday business hours.

METHODS

A retrospective analysis of operative data was conducted. Between December 1, 2011, and August 20, 2014, a total of 710 urgent or emergency neurosurgical procedures were performed at Texas Children’s Hospital in children younger than than 18 years of age. These procedures were then stratified into 3 groups: weekday regular hours, weekday after hours, and weekend hours. By cross-referencing these events with a prospectively collected morbidity and mortality database, the impact of the day and time on complication incidence was examined. Outcome metrics were compared using logistic regression models.

RESULTS

The weekday regular hours and after-hours (weekday after hours and weekends) surgery groups consisted of 341 and 239 patients and 434 and 276 procedures, respectively. There were no significant differences in the types of cases performed (p = 0.629) or baseline preoperative health status as determined by American Society of Anesthesiologists classifications (p = 0.220) between the 2 cohorts. After multivariate adjustment and regression, children undergoing emergency neurosurgical procedures during weekday after hours or weekends were more likely to experience complications (p = 0.0227).

CONCLUSIONS

Weekday after-hours and weekend emergency pediatric neurosurgical procedures are associated with significantly increased 30-day morbidity and mortality risk compared with procedures performed during weekday regular hours.

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Toward more accurate documentation in neurosurgical care

Rohaid Ali, Sohail Syed, Rahul A. Sastry, Hael Abdulrazeq, Belinda Shao, G. Dean Roye, Curtis E. Doberstein, Adetokunbo Oyelese, Tianyi Niu, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Albert Telfeian

OBJECTIVE

Accurate clinical documentation is foundational to any quality improvement endeavor as it is ultimately the medical record that is measured in assessing change. Literature on high-yield interventions to improve the accuracy and completeness of clinical documentation by neurosurgical providers is limited. Therefore, the authors sought to share a single-institution experience of a two-part intervention to enhance clinical documentation by a neurosurgery inpatient service.

METHODS

At an urban, level I trauma, academic teaching hospital, a two-part intervention was implemented to enhance the accuracy of clinical documentation of neurosurgery inpatients by residents and advanced practice providers (APPs). Residents and APPs were instructed on the most common neurosurgical complications or comorbidities (CCs) and major complications or comorbidities (MCCs), as defined by Medicare. Additionally, a “system-based” progress note template was changed to a “problem-based” progress note template. Prepost analysis was performed to compare the CC/MCC capture rates for the 12 months prior to the intervention with those for the 3 months after the intervention.

RESULTS

The CC/MCC capture rate for the neurosurgery service line rose from 62% in the 12 months preintervention to 74% in the 3 months after intervention, representing a significant change (p = 0.00002).

CONCLUSIONS

Existing clinical documentation habits by neurosurgical residents and APPs may fail to capture the extent of neurosurgical inpatients with CC/MCCs. An intervention that focuses on the most common CC/MCCs and utilizes a problem-based progress note template may lead to more accurate appraisals of neurosurgical patient acuity.

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Complex wound closure by plastic surgery following resection of spinal neoplasms minimizes postoperative wound complications in high-risk patients

Owen P. Leary, David D. Liu, Michael K. Boyajian, Sohail Syed, Joaquin Q. Camara-Quintana, Tianyi Niu, Konstantina A. Svokos, Joseph Crozier, Adetokunbo A. Oyelese, Paul Y. Liu, Albert S. Woo, Ziya L. Gokaslan, and Jared S. Fridley

OBJECTIVE

Wound breakdown and infection are common postoperative complications following resection of spinal neoplasms. Accordingly, it has become common practice at some centers for plastic surgeons to assist with closure of large posterior defects after spine tumor resection. In this study, the authors tested the hypothesis that plastic surgery closure of complex spinal defects improves wound outcomes following resection of spinal neoplastic disease.

METHODS

Electronic medical records of consecutive patients who underwent resection of a spinal neoplasm between June 2015 and January 2019 were retrospectively reviewed. Patients were separated into two subpopulations based on whether the surgical wound was closed by plastic surgery or neurosurgery. Patient demographics, preoperative risk factors, surgical details, and postoperative outcomes were collected in a central database and summarized using descriptive statistics. Outcomes of interest included rates of wound complication, reoperation, and mortality. Known preoperative risk factors for wound complication in spinal oncology were identified based on literature review and grouped categorically. The presence of each category of risk factors was then compared between groups. Univariate and multivariate linear regressions were applied to define associations between individual risk factors and wound complications.

RESULTS

One hundred six patients met inclusion criteria, including 60 wounds primarily closed by plastic surgery and 46 by neurosurgery. The plastic surgery population included more patients with systemic metastases (58% vs 37%, p = 0.029), prior radiation (53% vs 17%, p < 0.001), prior chemotherapy (37% vs 15%, p = 0.014), and sacral region tumors (25% vs 7%, p = 0.012), and more patients who underwent procedures requiring larger incisions (7.2 ± 3.6 vs 4.5 ± 2.6 levels, p < 0.001), prolonged operative time (413 ± 161 vs 301 ± 181 minutes, p = 0.001), and greater blood loss (906 ± 1106 vs 283 ± 373 ml, p < 0.001). The average number of risk factor categories present was significantly greater in the plastic surgery group (2.57 vs 1.74, p < 0.001). Despite the higher relative risk, the plastic surgery group did not experience a significantly higher rate of wound complication (28% vs 17%, p = 0.145), reoperation (17% vs 9%, p = 0.234), or all-cause mortality (30% vs 13%, p = 0.076). One patient died from wound-related complications in each group (p = 0.851). Regression analyses identified diabetes, multilevel instrumentation, and BMI as the factors associated with the greatest wound complications.

CONCLUSIONS

Involving plastic surgery in the closure of spinal wounds after resection of neoplasms may ameliorate expected increases in wound complications among higher-risk patients.