✓Trepanation (ανατρησιζ) is the process by which a hole is drilled into the skull, exposing the intracranial contents for either medical or mystical purposes. It represents one of the oldest surgical procedures, and its practice was widespread in many ancient cultures and several parts of the world. Trepanation was used in ancient Greece and Rome, as described in several ancient texts. Hippocrates and Galen are two of the most prominent ancient Greek medical writers, and their works have influenced the evolution of medicine and neurosurgery across the centuries. The purpose of this paper is to examine Hippocrates' and Galen's written accounts of the technique and use of trepanation in the ancient Greek and Roman world. Examination of those records reveals the ancient knowledge of neurological anatomy, physiology, and therapeutics, and illustrates the state and evolution of neurosurgery in the classical world.
Symeon Missios and Kimon Bekelis
The accuracy of public reporting in health care is an issue of debate. The authors investigated the association of patient satisfaction measures from a public reporting platform with objective outcomes for patients undergoing spine surgery.
The authors performed a cohort study involving patients undergoing elective spine surgery from 2009 to 2013 who were registered in the New York Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System database. This cohort was merged with publicly available data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Hospital Compare website. A mixed-effects regression analysis, controlling for clustering at the hospital level, was used to investigate the association of patient satisfaction metrics with outcomes.
During the study period, 160,235 patients underwent spine surgery. Using a mixed-effects multivariable regression analysis, the authors demonstrated that undergoing elective spine surgery in hospitals with a higher percentage of patient-assigned high satisfaction scores was not associated with a decreased rate of discharge to rehabilitation (OR 0.77, 95% CI 0.57–1.06), mortality (OR 0.96, 95% CI 0.90–1.01), or hospitalization charges (β 0.04, 95% CI −0.16 to 0.23). However, it was associated with decreased length of stay (LOS; β −0.19, 95% CI −0.33 to −0.05). Similar associations were identified for hospitals with a higher percentage of patients who claimed they would recommend these institutions to others.
Merging a comprehensive all-payer cohort of spine surgery patients in New York state with data from the CMS Hospital Compare website, the authors were not able to demonstrate an association of improved performance in patient satisfaction measures with decreased mortality, rate of discharge to rehabilitation, and hospitalization charges. Increased patient satisfaction was associated with decreased LOS.
Symeon Missios and Kimon Bekelis
Fragmentation of care has been recognized as a major contributor to 30-day readmissions after surgical procedures. The authors investigated the association of evaluation in the hospital where the original procedure was performed with the rate of 30-day readmissions for patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) after craniotomy for primary brain tumor resection.
A cohort study was conducted, involving patients who were evaluated in the ED within 30 days after discharge following a craniotomy for primary brain tumor resection between 2009 and 2013, and who were registered in the Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS) database of New York State. A propensity score–adjusted model was used to control for confounding, whereas a mixed-effects model accounted for clustering at the hospital level.
Of the 610 patients presenting to the ED, 422 (69.2%) were evaluated in a hospital different from the one where the original procedure was performed (28.9% were readmitted), and 188 (30.8%) were evaluated at the original hospital (20.3% were readmitted). In a multivariable analysis, the authors demonstrated that being evaluated in the ED of the original hospital was associated with a decreased rate of 30-day readmission (OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.41–0.98). Similar associations were found in a mixed-effects logistic regression model (OR 0.63, 95% CI 0.40–0.96) and a propensity score–adjusted model (OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.41–0.98). This corresponds to one less readmission per 12 patients evaluated in the hospital where the original procedure was performed.
Using a comprehensive all-payer cohort of patients in New York State who were evaluated in the ED after craniotomy for primary brain tumor resection, the authors identified an association of assessment in the hospital where the original procedure was performed with a lower rate of 30-day readmissions. This underscores the potential importance of continuity of care in readmission prevention for these patients.
Symeon Missios, Kimon Bekelis, and Gene H. Barnett
Laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) is a minimally invasive technique for treating intracranial tumors, originally introduced in 1983. Its use in neurosurgical procedures was historically limited by early technical difficulties related to the monitoring and control of the extent of thermal damage. The development of magnetic resonance thermography and its application to LITT have allowed for real-time thermal imaging and feedback control during laser energy delivery, allowing for precise and accurate provision of tissue hyperthermia. Improvements in laser probe design, surgical stereotactic targeting hardware, and computer monitoring software have accelerated acceptance and clinical utilization of LITT as a neurosurgical treatment alternative. Current commercially available LITT systems have been used for the treatment of neurosurgical soft-tissue lesions, including difficult to access brain tumors, malignant gliomas, and radiosurgery-resistant metastases, as well as for the ablation of such lesions as epileptogenic foci and radiation necrosis. In this review, the authors aim to critically analyze the literature to describe the advent of LITT as a neurosurgical, laser excision tool, including its development, use, indications, and efficacy as it relates to neurosurgical applications.
Kimon Bekelis, Symeon Missios, and Robert J. Spinner
Despite the growing epidemic of falls, the true incidence of peripheral nerve injuries (PNIs) in this patient population remains largely unknown.
The authors performed a retrospective cohort study of 839,210 fall-injured patients who were registered in the National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB) between 2009 and 2011 and fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Regression techniques were used to investigate the association of demographic and socioeconomic factors with the rate of PNIs in this patient population. The association of age with the incidence of PNIs was also investigated.
Overall, 3151 fall-injured patients (mean age 39.1 years, 33.3% females) sustained a PNI (0.4% of all falls). The respective incidence of PNIs was 2.7 per 1000 patients for ground-level falls, 4.9 per 1000 patients for multilevel falls, and 4.5 per 1000 patients for falls involving force. This demonstrated a rapid increase in the first 2 decades of life, with a maximum rate of 1.1% of all falls in the 3rd decade, followed by a slower decline and eventual plateau in the 7th decade. In a multivariable analysis, the association of PNIs with age followed a similar pattern with patients 20–29 years of age, demonstrating the highest association (OR 2.34 [95% CI 2.0–2.74] in comparison with the first decade of life). Falls involving force (OR 1.25 [95% CI 1.14–1.37] in comparison with multilevel falls) were associated with a higher incidence of PNIs. On the contrary, female sex (OR 0.87 [95% CI 0.80–0.84]) and ground-level falls (OR 0.79 [95% CI 0.72–0.86]) were associated with a lower rate of PNIs.
Utilizing a comprehensive national database, the authors demonstrated that PNIs are more common than previously described in fall-injured patients and identified their age distribution. These injuries are associated with young adults and falls of high kinetic energy.
Symeon Missios, Kimon Bekelis, and David W. Roberts
Paul of Aegina (625–690 AD) was born on the island of Aegina and was one of the most prominent physician-writers of the Byzantine Empire. His work Epitome of Medicine, comprised of 7 books, was a comprehensive compendium of the medical and surgical knowledge of his time and was subsequently translated into multiple languages. Paul of Aegina made valuable contributions to neurosurgical subjects and described procedures for the treatment of nerve injuries, hydrocephalus, and fractures of the skull and spine. His work combined the ancient knowledge of Hippocrates and Galen with contemporary medical observations and served as a bridge between Byzantine and Arabic medicine. He is considered to be one of the great ancient Greek medical writers and his work has influenced the subsequent evolution of Western European and Arab medicine. This paper provides an account of his contribution to the management of neurosurgical pathologies during the Byzantine era, as described in his medical compendium, Epitome of Medicine.
Symeon Missios, Kimon Bekelis, and Robert J. Spinner
Despite the negative effects of peripheral nerve injuries (PNIs) on long-term population health, their true prevalence among pediatric trauma patients is under debate. The authors investigated the prevalence of PNIs among children involved in trauma and investigated associations between PNIs and several patient characteristics.
The authors performed a retrospective cohort study of pediatric trauma patients who were registered in the National Trauma Data Bank from 2009 through 2011 and who fulfilled the study inclusion criteria. They used regression techniques to investigate the association of demographic and socioeconomic factors with the rate of PNIs among these patients.
Of the 245,470 study patients, 50,211 were involved in motor vehicle crashes, 3380 in motorcycle crashes, 20,491 in bicycle crashes, 18,262 in pedestrian accidents, 26,294 in other crashes (mainly involving all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles), and 126,832 in falls. The respective prevalence of PNIs was 0.66% for motor vehicle crashes, 1% for motorcycle crashes, 0.38% for bicycle crashes, 0.42% for pedestrian accidents, 0.79% for other crashes, and 0.52% for falls. Multivariate logistic regression analysis demonstrated that the following were associated with an increased incidence of PNIs: increased patient age (OR 1.10, 95% CI 1.01–1.20), higher Injury Severity Score (OR 1.10, 95% CI 1.01–1.20), elevated systolic blood pressure at arrival at the emergency room (OR 1.10, 95% CI 1.01–1.20), and increased number of trauma surgeons at the institution (OR 1.10, 95% CI 1.01–1.20). The following were associated with lower incidence of PNIs: female sex (OR 0.94, 95% CI 0.87–1.02), rural hospitals (OR 0.94, 95% CI 0.87–1.02), and urban nonteaching hospitals (OR 0.94, 95% CI 0.87–1.02).
PNIs are more common than previously identified for the pediatric trauma population. These injuries are associated with older age and increased severity of the overall injury.
Kimon Bekelis, Symeon Missios, Shannon Coy, and Jeremiah N. Johnson
The accuracy of public reporting in health care, especially from private vendors, remains an issue of debate. The authors investigated the association of the publicly reported physician complication rates in an online platform with real-world adverse outcomes of the same physicians for patients undergoing posterior lumbar fusion.
The authors performed a cohort study involving physicians performing posterior lumbar fusions between 2009 and 2013 who were registered in the Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System database. This cohort was merged with publicly available data over the same time period from ProPublica, a private company. Mixed-effects multivariable regression models were used to investigate the association of publicly available complication rates with the rate of discharge to a rehabilitation facility, length of stay, mortality, and hospitalization charges for the same surgeons.
During the selected study period, there were 8,457 patients in New York State who underwent posterior lumbar fusion performed by the 56 surgeons represented in the ProPublica Surgeon Scorecard over the same time period. Using a mixed-effects multivariable regression model, the authors demonstrated that publicly reported physician-level complication rates were not associated with the rate of discharge to a rehabilitation facility (OR 0.97, 95% CI 0.72–1.31), length of stay (adjusted difference −0.1, 95% CI −0.5 to 0.2), mortality (OR 0.87, 95% CI 0.49–1.55), and hospitalization charges (adjusted difference $18,735, 95% CI −$59,177 to $96,647). Similarly, no association was observed when utilizing propensity score–adjusted models, and when restricting the cohort to a predefined subgroup of Medicare patients.
After merging a comprehensive all-payer posterior lumbar fusion cohort in New York State with data from the ProPublica Surgeon Scorecard over the same time period, the authors observed no association of publicly available physician complication rates with objective outcomes.
Piyush Kalakoti, Symeon Missios, Richard Menger, Sunil Kukreja, Subhas Konar, and Anil Nanda
Because of the limited data available regarding the associations between risk factors and the effect of hospital case volume on outcomes after resection of intradural spine tumors, the authors attempted to identify these associations by using a large population-based database.
Using the National Inpatient Sample database, the authors performed a retrospective cohort study that involved patients who underwent surgery for an intradural spinal tumor between 2002 and 2011. Using national estimates, they identified associations of patient demographics, medical comorbidities, and hospital characteristics with inpatient postoperative outcomes. In addition, the effect of hospital volume on unfavorable outcomes was investigated. Hospitals that performed fewer than 14 resections in adult patients with an intradural spine tumor between 2002 and 2011 were labeled as low-volume centers, whereas those that performed 14 or more operations in that period were classified as high-volume centers (HVCs). These cutoffs were based on the median number of resections performed by hospitals registered in the National Inpatient Sample during the study period.
Overall, 18,297 patients across 774 hospitals in the United States underwent surgery for an intradural spine tumor. The mean age of the cohort was 56.53 ± 16.28 years, and 63% were female. The inpatient postoperative risks included mortality (0.3%), discharge to rehabilitation (28.8%), prolonged length of stay (> 75th percentile) (20.0%), high-end hospital charges (> 75th percentile) (24.9%), wound complications (1.2%), cardiac complications (0.6%), deep vein thrombosis (1.4%), pulmonary embolism (2.1%), and neurological complications, including durai tears (2.4%). Undergoing surgery at an HVC was significantly associated with a decreased chance of inpatient mortality (OR 0.39; 95% CI 0.16−0.98), unfavorable discharge (OR 0.86; 95% CI 0.76−0.98), prolonged length of stay (OR 0.69; 95% CI 0.62−0.77), high-end hospital charges (OR 0.67; 95% CI 0.60−0.74), neurological complications (OR 0.34; 95% CI 0.26−0.44), deep vein thrombosis (OR 0.65; 95% CI 0.45−0.94), wound complications (OR 0.59; 95% CI 0.41−0.86), and gastrointestinal complications (OR 0.65; 95% CI 0.46−0.92).
The results of this study provide individualized estimates of the risks of postoperative complications based on patient demographics and comorbidities and hospital characteristics and shows a decreased risk for most unfavorable outcomes for those who underwent surgery at an HVC. These findings could be used as a tool for risk stratification, directing presurgical evaluation, assisting with surgical decision making, and strengthening referral systems for complex cases.
Piyush Kalakoti, Osama Ahmed, Papireddy Bollam, Symeon Missios, Jessica Wilden, and Anil Nanda
With limited data available on association of risk factors and effect of hospital case volume on outcomes following deep brain stimulation (DBS), the authors attempted to identify these associations using a large population-based database.
The authors performed a retrospective cohort study involving patients who underwent DBS for 3 primary movement disorders: Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, and dystonia from 2002 to 2011 using the National (Nationwide) Inpatient Sample (NIS) database. Using national estimates, the authors identified associations of patient demographics, clinical characteristics, and hospital characteristics on short-term postoperative outcomes following DBS. Additionally, effect of hospital volume on unfavorable outcomes was investigated.
Overall, 33, 642 patients underwent DBS for 3 primary movement disorders across 234 hospitals in the US. The mean age of the cohort was 63.42 ± 11.31 years and 36% of patients were female. The inpatients’ postoperative risks were 5.9% for unfavorable discharge, 10.2% for prolonged length of stay, 14.6% for high-end hospital charges, 0.5% for wound complications, 0.4% for cardiac complications, 1.8% for venous thromboembolism, and 5.5% for neurological complications, including those arising from an implanted nervous system device. Compared with low-volume centers, odds of having an unfavorable discharge, prolonged LOS, high-end hospital charges, wound, and cardiac complications were significantly lower in the high-volume and medium-volume centers.
The authors’ study provides individualized estimates of the risks of postoperative complications based on patient demographics and comorbidities and hospital characteristics, which could potentially be used as an adjunct for risk stratification for patients undergoing DBS.