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Sohrab S. Virk, Frank M. Phillips and Safdar N. Khan

OBJECTIVE

Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is a progressive spinal condition that often requires surgery. Studies have shown the clinical equivalency of anterior versus posterior approaches for CSM surgery. The purpose of this study was to determine the amount and type of resources used for anterior and posterior surgical treatment of CSM by using large national databases of clinical and financial information from patients.

METHODS

This study consists of 2 large cohorts of patients who underwent either an anterior or posterior approach for treatment of CSM. These patients were selected from the Medicare 5% National Sample Administrative Database (SAF5) and the Humana orthopedic database (HORTHO), which is a database of patients with private payer health insurance. The outcome measures were the cost of a 90-day episode of care, as well as a breakdown of the cost components for each surgical procedure between 2005 and 2014.

RESULTS

A total of 16,444 patients were included in this analysis. In HORTHO, there were 10,332 and 1556 patients treated with an anterior or posterior approach for CSM, respectively. In SAF5, there were 3851 and 705 patients who were treated by an anterior or posterior approach for CSM, respectively. The mean ± SD reimbursements for anterior and posterior approaches in the HORTHO database were $20,863 ± $2014 and $23,813 ± $4258, respectively (p = 0.048). The mean ± SD reimbursements for anterior and posterior approaches in the SAF5 database were $18,219 ± $1053 and $25,598 ± $1686, respectively (p < 0.0001). There were also significantly higher reimbursements for a rehabilitation/skilled nursing facility and hospital/inpatient care for patients who underwent a posterior approach in both the private payer and Medicare databases. In all cohorts in this study, the hospital-related reimbursement was more than double the surgeon-related reimbursement.

CONCLUSIONS

This study provides resource utilization information for a 90-day episode of care for both anterior and posterior approaches for CSM surgery. There is a statistically significant higher resource utilization for patients undergoing the posterior approach for CSM, which is consistent with the literature. Understanding the reimbursement patterns for anterior versus posterior approaches for CSM will help providers design a bundled payment for patients requiring surgery for CSM, and this study suggests that a subset of patients who require the posterior approach for treatment also require greater resources. The data also suggest that hospital-related reimbursement is the major driver of payments.

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Sohrab Virk, Avani S. Vaishnav, Jung Kee Mok, Steven McAnany, Sravisht Iyer, Todd J. Albert, Catherine Himo Gang and Sheeraz A. Qureshi

OBJECTIVE

Preoperative pain assessment is often used to gauge the amount of disability in patients with lumbar disc herniation. How high preoperative pain scores impact the clinical course and outcomes of patients after lumbar microdiscectomy is not always clear. Here, the authors aimed to determine whether patients reporting higher preoperative pain scores have worse outcomes after lumbar microdiscectomy than those reporting lower preoperative scores.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective review of patients with symptomatic lumbar disc herniations that had failed to improve with nonsurgical methods and who had undergone tubular lumbar microdiscectomy. Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) scores had been collected in the preoperative and postoperative period. The anatomical severity of disease was graded based on lumbar disc health (Pfirrmann classification), facet degeneration, thecal sac cross-sectional area, and disc herniation grade. Data on each patient’s narcotic consumption and length of stay were collected. A Student t-test and chi-square test were used to compare patients with high preoperative pain scores (HP cohort) and those with lower preoperative scores (non-HP cohort).

RESULTS

One hundred thirty-eight patients were included in this analysis. The 47 patients in the HP cohort had taken more preoperative opioids (12.0 ± 21.2 vs 3.6 ± 11.1 morphine equivalent doses, p = 0.01). However, there was no statistically significant difference in Pfirrmann classification (p > 0.15), facet grade (p > 0.11), thecal sac cross-sectional area (p = 0.45), or disc herniation grade (p = 0.39) between the HP and non-HP cohorts. The latter cohort had statistically significant higher preoperative PROMIS scores (36.5 ± 7.0 vs 29.9 ± 6.4, p < 0.001), SF-12 mental component summary scores (48.7 ± 11.5 vs 38.9 ± 16.1, p < 0.001), and SF-12 physical component summary scores (PCS; 32.4 ± 8.6 vs 27.5 ± 10.0, p = 0.005), but a lower Oswestry Disability Index (56.4 ± 22.1 vs 35.4 ± 15.5, p < 0.001). There were only two time points after microdiscectomy when the HP cohort had worse HRQOL scores: at the 2-week follow-up for SF-12 PCS scores (32.4 ± 8.6 vs 29.3 ± 7.1, p = 0.03) and the 12-week follow-up for PROMIS scores (45.2 ± 9.5 vs 39.5 ± 7.1, p = 0.01). All other postoperative HRQOL measurements were similar between the two cohorts (p > 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

A patient’s perceived severity of disease often does not correlate with the actual clinical pathology on imaging. Although patients who report high pain and have a symptomatic lumbar disc herniation may describe their pain as more extreme, they should be counseled that the outcomes of microdiscectomy are positive.

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Han Jo Kim, Sohrab Virk, Jonathan Elysee, Peter Passias, Christopher Ames, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Gregory Mundis Jr., Themistocles Protopsaltis, Munish Gupta, Eric Klineberg, Justin S. Smith, Douglas Burton, Frank Schwab, Virginie Lafage, Renaud Lafage and the International Spine Study Group

OBJECTIVE

Cervical deformity (CD) is difficult to define due to the high variability in normal cervical alignment based on postural- and thoracolumbar-driven changes to cervical alignment. The purpose of this study was to identify whether patterns of sagittal deformity could be established based on neutral and dynamic alignment, as shown on radiographs.

METHODS

This study is a retrospective review of a prospective, multicenter database of CD patients who underwent surgery from 2013 to 2015. Their radiographs were reviewed by 12 individuals using a consensus-based method to identify severe sagittal CD. Radiographic parameters correlating with health-related quality of life were introduced in a two-step cluster analysis (a combination of hierarchical cluster and k-means cluster) to identify patterns of sagittal deformity. A comparison of lateral and lateral extension radiographs between clusters was performed using an ANOVA in a post hoc analysis.

RESULTS

Overall, 75 patients were identified as having severe CD due to sagittal malalignment, and they formed the basis of this study. Their mean age was 64 years, their body mass index was 29 kg/m2, and 66% were female. There were significant correlations between focal alignment/flexibility of maximum kyphosis, cervical lordosis, and thoracic slope minus cervical lordosis (TS-CL) flexibility (r = 0.27, 0.31, and −0.36, respectively). Cluster analysis revealed 3 distinct groups based on alignment and flexibility. Group 1 (a pattern involving a flat neck with lack of compensation) had a large TS-CL mismatch despite flexibility in cervical lordosis; group 2 (a pattern involving focal deformity) had focal kyphosis between 2 adjacent levels but no large regional cervical kyphosis under the setting of a low T1 slope (T1S); and group 3 (a pattern involving a cervicothoracic deformity) had a very large T1S with a compensatory hyperlordosis of the cervical spine.

CONCLUSIONS

Three distinct patterns of CD were identified in this cohort: flat neck, focal deformity, and cervicothoracic deformity. One key element to understanding the difference between these groups was the alignment seen on extension radiographs. This information is a first step in developing a classification system that can guide the surgical treatment for CD and the choice of fusion level.