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John M. Mesa, Frank Fang, Karin M. Muraszko and Steven R. Buchman

Object

Successful surgical repair of unicoronal plagiocephaly remains a challenge for craniofacial surgeons. Many of the surgical techniques directed at correcting the stigmata associated with this craniofacial deformity (for example, ipsilateral supraorbital rim elevation [vertical dystopia], ipsilateral temporal constriction, C-shaped deformity of the face, and so on) are not long lasting and often result in deficient correction and the need for secondary revision surgery. The authors posit that the cause of this relapse was intrinsic deficiencies of the current surgical techniques. The aim of this study was to determine if correction of unilateral coronal plagiocephaly with a novel hypercorrection surgical technique could prevent the relapse of the characteristics associated with unicoronal plagiocephaly.

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective analysis of 40 consecutive patients who underwent surgical repair of unicoronal plagiocephaly at their institution between 1999 and 2009. In all cases, the senior author (S.R.B.) used a hypercorrection technique for surgical reconstruction. Hypercorrection consisted of significant overcorrection of the affected ipsilateral frontal and anterior temporal areas in the sagittal and coronal planes. Demographic, perioperative, and follow-up data were collected for comparison. The postsurgical appearance of the forehead was documented clinically and photographically and then evaluated and scored by 2 independent graders using the expanded Whitaker scoring system. A relapse was defined as a recurrence of preoperative features that required secondary surgical correction.

Results

The mean age of the patients at the time of the operation was 13 months (range 8–28 months). The mean follow-up duration was 57 months (range 3 months to 9.8 years). The postsurgical hypercorrection appearance persisted on average 6–8 months but gradually dissipated and normalized. No patients exhibited a relapse of unicoronal plagiocephalic characteristics that required surgical correction. In all cases the aesthetic results were excellent. Only 3 patients required reoperation for the management of persistent calvarial bone defects (2 cases) and removal of a symptomatic granuloma (1 case).

Conclusions

Our study demonstrates that patients who undergo unicoronal plagiocephaly repair with a hypercorrection surgical technique avoid long-term relapse. Our results suggest that the surgical technique used in the correction of unilateral coronal synostosis is strongly associated with the prevention of postsurgical relapse and that the use of this novel method decreases the need for surgical revision.

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James E. Lesnick, John J. Michele, Frederick A. Simeone, Steven DeFeo and Frank A. Welsh

✓ The somatosensory evoked potential (SEP) measured in response to median nerve stimulation was correlated with cortical and white matter cerebral blood flow (CBF), adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and lactate levels in 14 cats subjected to graded hemorrhagic hypotension following bilateral carotid artery ligation. Three additional cats served as controls. Regional CBF was determined by the hydrogen clearance method, and the time for conduction of the sensory stimulus from the thalamus to the cortex (the thalamocortical conduction time), was used to assess SEP latency changes. A reproducible sequence of changes occurred in the SEP as ischemia developed. There was an early conduction delay that correlated well with mild white matter ischemia. Amplitude reductions in the SEP began as significant cortical ischemia occurred. The cortical SEP was abolished when white matter CBF and ATP fell to critical levels.

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Taylor E. Purvis, C. Rory Goodwin, Camilo A. Molina, Steven M. Frank and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was to characterize the association between percentage change in hemoglobin (ΔHb)—i.e., the difference between preoperative Hb and in-hospital nadir Hb concentration—and perioperative adverse events among spine surgery patients.

METHODS

Patients who underwent spine surgery at the authors’ institution between December 4, 2008, and June 26, 2015, were eligible for this retrospective study. Patients who underwent the following procedures were included: atlantoaxial fusion, subaxial anterior cervical fusion, subaxial posterior cervical fusion, anterior lumbar fusion, posterior lumbar fusion, lateral lumbar fusion, excision of intervertebral disc, and excision of spinal cord lesion. Data on intraoperative transfusion were obtained from an automated, prospectively collected, anesthesia data management system. Data on postoperative hospital transfusions were obtained through an Internet-based intelligence portal. Percentage ΔHb was defined as: ([preoperative Hb − nadir Hb]/preoperative Hb) × 100. Clinical outcomes included in-hospital morbidity and length of stay associated with percentage ΔHb.

RESULTS

A total of 3949 patients who underwent spine surgery were identified. Of these, 1204 patients (30.5%) received at least 1 unit of packed red blood cells. The median nadir Hb level was 10.6 g/dl (interquartile range 8.7–12.4 g/dl), yielding a mean percentage ΔHb of 23.6% (SD 15.4%). Perioperative complications occurred in 234 patients (5.9%) and were more common in patients with a larger percentage ΔHb (p = 0.017). Hospital-related infection, which occurred in 60 patients (1.5%), was also more common in patients with greater percentage ΔHb (p = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Percentage ΔHb is independently associated with a higher risk of developing any perioperative complication and hospital-related infection. The authors’ results suggest that percentage ΔHb may be a useful measure for identifying patients at risk for adverse perioperative events.

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David G. Malone, Nevan G. Baldwin, Frank J. Tomecek, Christopher M. Boxell, Steven E. Gaede, Christopher G. Covington and Kenyon K. Kugler

Object

The authors report a series of 22 patients in whom major complications developed after cervical spinal manipulation therapy (CSMT). A second objective was to estimate the regional incidence of these complications and to compare it with the very low incidences reported in the literature.

Methods

During a 5-year period, practioners at a single group neurosurgical practice in Tulsa, Oklahoma, treated 22 patients, who were markedly worse during, or immediately after, CSMT. The details of these cases are reported. The 1995 US Government National Census was used to define the regional referral population for Tulsa. The published data regarding the incidence of serious CSMT-related complications and the rate of CSMTs undertaken nationally were used to estimate the expected number of CSMT-related complications in the authors' region. The number (22 cases) reported in this series was used to estimate the actual regional incidence.

Complications in the series included radiculopathy (21 cases), myelopathy (11 cases), Brown–Séquard syndrome (two cases), and vertebral artery (VA) occlusion (one case). Twenty-one patients underwent surgery. Poor outcomes were observed in three, outcome was unchanged in one, and 17 improved. The number of patients in this series exceeded the expected number for the region.

Conclusions

Cervical spinal manipulation therapy may worsen preexisting cervical disc herniation or cause disc herniation resulting in radiculopathy, myelopathy, or VA compression. In cases of cervical spondylosis, CSMT may also worsen preexisting myelopathy or radiculopathy. Manipulation of the cervical spine may also be associated with higher complication rates than previously reported.

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Huina Zhang, Frank La Marca, Scott J. Hollister, Steven A. Goldstein and Chia-Ying Lin

Object

The goal in this study was to develop a convenient, less-invasive animal model to monitor progression of intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration for future testing of new treatments for disc degeneration.

Methods

Level 5/6 and 7/8 IVDs of rat caudal spine were stabbed laterally with 18- or 21-gauge hypodermic needles to a depth of 5 mm from the subcutaneous surface with the aid of fluoroscopy. In vivo MR imaging studies were performed at 4, 8, and 12 weeks postsurgery to monitor progression of IVD degeneration. Histological analysis including H & E and safranin O staining, and immunohistochemical studies of collagen type II and bone morphogenetic protein receptor type II (BMPRII) were assessed at 12 weeks postsurgery.

Results

The 18- and 21-gauge needle–stabbed discs illustrated decreases in both the T2 density and MR imaging index starting at 4 weeks, with no evidence of spontaneous recovery by 12 weeks. Histological staining demonstrated a decreased nucleus pulposus (NP) area, and the NP–anulus fibrosus border became unclear during the progression of disc degeneration. Similar patterns of degenerative signs were also shown in both safranin O– and collagen type II–stained sections. The BMPRII immunohistochemical analysis of stabbed discs demonstrated an increase in BMPRII expression in the remaining NP cells and became stronger in anulus fibrosus with the severity of disc degeneration.

Conclusions

After introducing an 18- or 21-gauge needle into the NP area of discs in the rat tail, the stabbed disc showed signs of degeneration in terms of MR imaging and histological outcome measurements. Changes in BMPRII expression in this animal model provide an insight for the effectiveness of delivering BMPs into the region responsible for chondrogenesis for disc repair. This convenient, less-invasive, reproducible, and cost-effective model may be a useful choice for testing novel treatments for disc degeneration.

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Manish K. Kasliwal, Justin S. Smith, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Leah Y. Carreon, Steven D. Glassman, Frank Schwab, Virginie Lafage, Kai-Ming G. Fu and Keith H. Bridwell

Object

In many adults with scoliosis, symptoms can be principally referable to focal pathology and can be addressed with short-segment procedures, such as decompression with or without fusion. A number of patients subsequently require more extensive scoliosis correction. However, there is a paucity of data on the impact of prior short-segment surgeries on the outcome of subsequent major scoliosis correction, which could be useful in preoperative counseling and surgical decision making. The authors' objective was to assess whether prior focal decompression or short-segment fusion of a limited portion of a larger spinal deformity impacts surgical parameters and clinical outcomes in patients who subsequently require more extensive scoliosis correction surgery.

Methods

The authors conducted a retrospective cohort analysis with propensity scoring, based on a prospective multicenter deformity database. Study inclusion criteria included a patient age ≥ 21 years, a primary diagnosis of untreated adult idiopathic or degenerative scoliosis with a Cobb angle ≥ 20°, and available clinical outcome measures at a minimum of 2 years after scoliosis surgery. Patients with prior short-segment surgery (< 5 levels) were propensity matched to patients with no prior surgery based on patient age, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), Cobb angle, and sagittal vertical axis.

Results

Thirty matched pairs were identified. Among those patients who had undergone previous spine surgery, 30% received instrumentation, 40% underwent arthrodesis, and the mean number of operated levels was 2.4 ± 0.9 (mean ± SD). As compared with patients with no history of spine surgery, those who did have a history of prior spine surgery trended toward greater blood loss and an increased number of instrumented levels and did not differ significantly in terms of complication rates, duration of surgery, or clinical outcome based on the ODI, Scoliosis Research Society-22r, or 12-Item Short Form Health Survey Physical Component Score (p > 0.05).

Conclusions

Patients with adult scoliosis and a history of short-segment spine surgery who later undergo more extensive scoliosis correction do not appear to have significantly different complication rates or clinical improvements as compared with patients who have not had prior short-segment surgical procedures. These findings should serve as a basis for future prospective study.

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Steven De Vleeschouwer, Frank Van Calenbergh, Philippe Demaerel, Patrick Flamen, Stefan Rutkowski, Eckhart Kaempgen, Johannes E. Wolff, Christian Plets, Raf Sciot and Stefaan W. Van Gool

✓ Treatment of malignant glioma is difficult and discouraging. Even after resection and maximal adjuvant therapy, the prognosis remains poor. The authors sought a novel form of treatment, such as stimulating the patient's own immune response against the tumor, and developed a protocol of tumor vaccination in which autologous dendritic cells (DCs) were used in patients with recurrent malignant glioma. A 4-year-old girl was treated by means of biopsy sampling and radiotherapy for a rolandic low-grade glioma. Ten years later, a Grade III recurrence was discovered and treated with subtotal resection, interstitial radiation, six courses of oral temozolomide, and 12 courses of oral VP16. At the end of the chemotherapy cycle, a new rapidly growing recurrence was diagnosed. A macroscopically complete resection was performed. Afterward, the girl was vaccinated with autologous DCs that had been pulsed ex vivo with the homogenate of the resection specimen. She received six vaccines in total. The efficacy of immunization was checked by a positive delayed-type hypersensitivity skin reaction after the second injection. After the fifth vaccine, a transient contrast enhancement without mass effect was visualized on magnetic resonance imaging. Simultaneously, positron emission tomography imaging revealed a transient increase of metabolic activity around the resection cavity, but the metabolic uptake ratio remained below 1.8. The patient's disease is still in complete remission 24 months after the last surgery. She is clinically well with minor and stable left hemiparesis. This case report illustrates the potential of vaccination with DCs loaded with crude tumor homogenate as adjuvant therapy to induce prolonged tumor control of malignant glioma and the objective noninvasively monitored immune response against infiltrating tumor cells.

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Stephen C. Saris, Nicholas J. Patronas, Steven A. Rosenberg, Joseph T. Alexander, Joseph Frank, Douglas J. Schwartzentruber, Joshua T. Rubin, David Barba and Edward H. Oldfield

✓ Parenteral treatment with interleukin-2 (IL-2) is effective against certain advanced cancers outside the central nervous system. Prior to commencement of Phase II trials in patients with brain tumors, the neurological and neuroradiological features of 10 patients treated with intravenous administration of repeated doses of IL-2 were studied. Three patients had malignant gliomas, and seven patients had extracranial cancer without evidence of intracranial metastasis. All were treated with intravenous doses of 105 U/kg three times daily for up to 5 days. The patients with gliomas received cranial computerized axial tomography (CT) scans before IL-2 therapy was initiated and during the later stages of treatment. The patients with extracranial cancer under-went T2-weighted magnetic resonance (MR) imaging before and later during therapy.

After two to 11 doses of IL-2, the patients with gliomas had marked neurological deterioration that was associated with a mild to marked increase in peritumoral edema and mass effect visible on CT scans. With cessation of treatment and appropriate supportive care, all returned to their pretreatment state. The patients with extracranial cancer were either neurologically unchanged or underwent minor transient changes in mental status (lethargy and confusion). In these patients, the MR signal intensity was quantified and compared in eight anatomic regions of interest. In six of the seven patients, there were increases in gray and white matter signal intensity consistent with increased cerebral water content. The percentage changes (means ± standard error of the means) were 12.6% ± 7.3% in the gray matter and 17.0% ± 6.2% in the white matter.

This study demonstrates that treatment with a high parenteral dose of IL-2 is not tolerated by patients with gliomas due to increased cerebral edema. In patients with extracranial cancer but no brain disease, parenteral IL-2 induces an increase in the cerebral water content of both gray and white matter.

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Timothy Wen, Shuhan He, Frank Attenello, Steven Y. Cen, May Kim-Tenser, Peter Adamczyk, Arun P. Amar, Nerses Sanossian and William J. Mack

Object

As health care administrators focus on patient safety and cost-effectiveness, methodical assessment of quality outcome measures is critical. In 2008 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a series of “never events” that included 11 hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) for which related costs of treatment are not reimbursed. Cerebrovascular procedures (CVPs) are complex and are often performed in patients with significant medical comorbidities.

Methods

This study examines the impact of patient age and medical comorbidities on the occurrence of CMS-defined HACs, as well as the effect of these factors on the length of stay (LOS) and hospitalization charges in patients undergoing common CVPs.

Results

The HACs occurred at a frequency of 0.49% (1.33% in the intracranial procedures and 0.33% in the carotid procedures). Falls/trauma (n = 4610, 72.3% HACs, 357 HACs per 100,000 CVPs) and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (n = 714, 11.2% HACs, 55 HACs per 100,000 CVPs) were the most common events. Age and the presence of ≥ 2 comorbidities were strong independent predictors of HACs (p < 0.0001). The occurrence of HACs negatively impacts both LOS and hospital costs. Patients with at least 1 HAC were 10 times more likely to have prolonged LOS (≥ 90th percentile) (p < 0.0001), and 8 times more likely to have high inpatient costs (≥ 90th percentile) (p < 0.0001) when adjusting for patient and hospital factors.

Conclusions

Improved quality protocols focused on individual patient characteristics might help to decrease the frequency of HACs in this high-risk population. These data suggest that risk adjustment according to underlying patient factors may be warranted when considering reimbursement for costs related to HACs in the setting of CVPs.

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Frank J. Attenello, Ian A. Buchanan, Timothy Wen, Daniel A. Donoho, Shirley McCartney, Steven Y. Cen, Alexander A. Khalessi, Aaron A. Cohen-Gadol, Joseph S. Cheng, William J. Mack, Clemens M. Schirmer, Karin R. Swartz, J. Adair Prall, Ann R. Stroink, Steven L. Giannotta and Paul Klimo Jr.

OBJECTIVE

Excessive dissatisfaction and stress among physicians can precipitate burnout, which results in diminished productivity, quality of care, and patient satisfaction and treatment adherence. Given the multiplicity of its harms and detriments to workforce retention and in light of the growing physician shortage, burnout has garnered much attention in recent years. Using a national survey, the authors formally evaluated burnout among neurosurgery trainees.

METHODS

An 86-item questionnaire was disseminated to residents in the American Association of Neurological Surgeons database between June and November 2015. Questions evaluated personal and workplace stressors, mentorship, career satisfaction, and burnout. Burnout was assessed using the previously validated Maslach Burnout Inventory. Factors associated with burnout were determined using univariate and multivariate logistic regression.

RESULTS

The response rate with completed surveys was 21% (346/1643). The majority of residents were male (78%), 26–35 years old (92%), in a stable relationship (70%), and without children (73%). Respondents were equally distributed across all residency years. Eighty-one percent of residents were satisfied with their career choice, although 41% had at some point given serious thought to quitting. The overall burnout rate was 67%. In the multivariate analysis, notable factors associated with burnout included inadequate operating room exposure (OR 7.57, p = 0.011), hostile faculty (OR 4.07, p = 0.008), and social stressors outside of work (OR 4.52, p = 0.008). Meaningful mentorship was protective against burnout in the multivariate regression models (OR 0.338, p = 0.031).

CONCLUSIONS

Rates of burnout and career satisfaction are paradoxically high among neurosurgery trainees. While several factors were predictive of burnout, including inadequate operative exposure and social stressors, meaningful mentorship proved to be protective against burnout. The documented negative effects of burnout on patient care and health care economics necessitate further studies for potential solutions to curb its rise.