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Abdul-Kareem Ahmed, Ann-Christine Duhaime and Timothy R. Smith

OBJECTIVE

Absent from an analysis of supply is consideration of the geographic distribution of pediatric neurosurgeons. Several patient socioeconomic metrics are known to be associated with outcome in pediatric neurosurgical diseases, such as hydrocephalus. The purpose of this study was to determine current geographic proximity to pediatric neurosurgical care using professional society databases. This study also sought to establish how socioeconomic factors are related to distance to care, using federal government–collected data.

METHODS

A list of currently practicing American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery (ABPNS)–certified neurosurgeons was compiled (ABPNS group). A separate list of practicing members of the Joint Pediatric Section (JPS) of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons was prepared (JPS group). Current primary practice locations were collected from each professional society database for each ABPNS or JPS neurosurgeon and were charted using ArcGIS mapping software (ESRI, version 10.3) on a United States Census Bureau map. The straight distance from the centroid of each zip code tabulation area (ZCTA) to the nearest neurosurgeon was determined by group type of neurosurgeon (ABPNS vs ABPNS + JPS). ZCTA-level data on demographic and socioeconomic factors were acquired from the American Community Survey, including data in children and young adults (0–18 or 0–24 years old) and the general population. These data were compared by distance to care and by groups of neurosurgeons (Pearson’s chi-square analysis; the threshold of significance was set at 0.05).

RESULTS

Three hundred fifty-five practicing neurosurgeons providing pediatric care were located, of whom 215 surgeons were certified by the ABPNS and 140 were JPS members only. The analysis showed that 1 pediatric neurosurgeon is in practice for every 289,799 persons up to the age of 24 years. The average distance between a ZCTA and the nearest pediatric neurosurgeon is 63.3 miles (SE 0.3, range 0.0–499.7 miles). Geographic analysis showed that 27.1% of children live farther than 60 miles from an ABPNS-certified neurosurgeon and 19.7% from either an ABPNS-certified neurosurgeon or a JPS member. ZCTAs with children who live farther than 60 miles from a neurosurgeon providing pediatric care had a marginally higher rate of uninsured children, a higher percentage of families with children living below the federal poverty level, and a higher proportion of persons living in rural areas compared with ZCTAs with children who live within 60 miles of care (p < 0.005 for each finding).

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this study indicate that there is considerable variation in proximity to pediatric neurosurgical subspecialty care by geographic region. In addition, there is a relationship between distance to neurosurgical care and socioeconomic indicators. Optimization of access to pediatric neurosurgical care may involve strategies to overcome long geographic distances, particularly in rural and underserved areas. Such areas may have disproportionately lower socioeconomic levels, which may further limit access to care and affect outcomes. Both the total number of pediatric neurosurgeons per pediatric population and their geographic distribution could be important in determining appropriate subspecialty supply factors (e.g., the number of accredited pediatric neurosurgical fellowship training programs), as well as being important drivers of neurosurgical patient outcomes.

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Hormuzdiyar H. Dasenbrock, Timothy R. Smith and Shenandoah Robinson

OBJECTIVES

The goal of this study was to evaluate clinical predictors of abnormal preoperative laboratory values in pediatric neurosurgical patients.

METHODS

Data obtained in children who underwent a neurosurgical operation were extracted from the prospective National Surgical Quality Improvement Program–Pediatrics (NSQIP-P, 2012–2013) registry. Multivariable logistic regression evaluated predictors of preoperative laboratory values that might require further evaluation (white blood cell count < 2000/μl, hematocrit < 24%, platelet count < 100,000/μl, international normalized ratio > 1.4, or partial thromboplastin time > 45 seconds) or a preoperative transfusion (within 48 hours prior to surgery). Variables screened included patient demographics; American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical designation classification; comorbidities; recent steroid use, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy; and admission type. Predictive score validation was performed using the NSQIP-P 2014 data.

RESULTS

Of the 6556 patients aged greater than 2 years, 68.9% (n = 5089) underwent laboratory testing, but only 1.9% (n = 125) had a critical laboratory value. Predictors of a laboratory abnormality were ASA class III–V; diabetes mellitus; hematological, hypothrombotic, or oncological comorbidities; nutritional support; recent chemotherapy; systemic inflammatory response syndrome; and a nonelective hospital admission. These 9 variables were used to create a predictive score, with a single point assigned for each predictor. The prevalence of critical values in the validation population (NSQIP-P 2014) of patients greater than 2 years of age was 0.3% with a score of 0, 1.0% in those with a score of 1, 1.6% in those with a score of 2, and 6.2% in those with a score ≥ 3. Higher score was predictive of a critical value (OR 2.33, 95% CI 1.91–2.83, p < 0.001, C-statistic 0.76) and with the requirement of a perioperative transfusion (intraoperatively or within 72 hours postoperatively; OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.22–1.67, p < 0.001) in the validation population. Moreover, when the same score was applied to children aged 2 years or younger, a greater score was predictive of a critical value (OR 2.47, 95% CI 2.15–2.84, p < 0.001, C-statistic 0.76).

CONCLUSIONS

Critical laboratory values in pediatric neurosurgical patients are largely predicted by clinical characteristics, and abnormal preoperative laboratory results are rare in patients older than 2 years of age without comorbidities who are undergoing elective surgery. The NSQIP-P critical preoperative laboratory value scale is proposed to indicate patients with the highest odds of an abnormal value. The scale can assist with triaging preoperative testing based on the surgical risk, as determined by the treating surgeon and anesthesiologist.

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Timothy R. Smith, David J. Cote, John A. Jane Jr. and Edward R. Laws Jr.

OBJECTIVE

The object of this study was to establish recurrence rates in patients with craniopharyngioma postoperatively treated with recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) as a basis for determining the risk of rhGH therapy in the development of recurrent tumor.

METHODS

The study included 739 pediatric patients with craniopharyngioma who were naïve to GH upon entering the Genentech National Cooperative Growth Study (NCGS) for treatment. Reoperation for tumor recurrence was documented as an adverse event. Cox proportional-hazards regression models were developed for time to recurrence, using age as the outcome and enrollment date as the predictor. Patients without recurrence were treated as censored. Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine the incidence of recurrence with adjustment for the amount of time at risk.

RESULTS

Fifty recurrences in these 739 surgically treated patients were recorded. The overall craniopharyngioma recurrence rate in the NCGS was 6.8%, with a median follow-up time of 4.3 years (range 0.7–6.4 years.). Age at the time of study enrollment was statistically significant according to both Cox (p = 0.0032) and logistic (p < 0.001) models, with patients under 9 years of age more likely to suffer recurrence (30 patients [11.8%], 0.025 recurrences/yr of observation, p = 0.0097) than those ages 9–13 years (17 patients [6.0%], 0.17 recurrences/yr of observation) and children older than 13 years (3 patients [1.5%], 0.005 recurrences/yr of observation).

CONCLUSIONS

Physiological doses of GH do not appear to increase the recurrence rate of craniopharyngioma after surgery in children, but long-term follow-up of GH-treated patients is required to establish a true natural history in the GH treatment era.

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Ryan Brewster, Wenya Linda Bi, Timothy R. Smith, William B. Gormley, Ian F. Dunn and Edward R. Laws Jr.

Baseball maintains one of the highest impact injury rates in all athletics. A principal causative factor is the “beanball,” referring to a pitch thrown directly at a batter’s head. Frequent morbidities elicited demand for the development of protective gear development in the 20th century. In this setting, Dr. Walter Dandy was commissioned to design a “protective cap” in 1941. His invention became widely adopted by professional baseball and inspired subsequent generations of batting helmets. As a baseball aficionado since his youth, Walter Dandy identified a natural partnership between baseball and medical practice for the reduction of beaning-related brain injuries. This history further supports the unique position of neurosurgeons to leverage clinical insights, inform innovation, and expand service to society.

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Timothy R. Smith, M. Maher Hulou, Kevin T. Huang, Breno Nery, Samuel Miranda de Moura, David J. Cote and Edward R. Laws

OBJECT

The purpose of this study was to describe complications associated with the endonasal, transsphenoidal approach for the treatment of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)–positive staining tumors (Cushing's disease [CD] and silent corticotroph adenomas [SCAs]) performed by 1 surgeon at a high-volume academic medical center.

METHODS

Medical records from Brigham and Women's Hospital were retrospectively reviewed. Selected for study were 82 patients with CD who during April 2008–April 2014 had consecutively undergone transsphenoidal resection or who had subsequent pathological confirmation of ACTH-positive tumor staining. In addition to demographic, patient, tumor, and surgery characteristics, complications were evaluated. Complications of interest included syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion, diabetes insipidus (DI), CSF leakage, carotid artery injury, epistaxis, meningitis, and vision changes.

RESULTS

Of the 82 patients, 68 (82.9%) had CD and 14 (17.1%) had SCAs; 55 patients were female and 27 were male. Most common (n = 62 patients, 82.7%) were microadenomas, followed by macroadenomas (n = 13, 14.7%). A total of 31 (37.8%) patients underwent reoperation. Median follow-up time was 12.0 months (range 3–69 months). The most common diagnosis was ACTH-secreting (n = 68, 82.9%), followed by silent tumors/adenomas (n = 14, 17.1%). ACTH hyperplasia was found in 8 patients (9.8%). Of the 74 patients who had verified tumors, 12 (16.2%) had tumors with atypical features.

The overall (CD and SCA) rate of minor complications was 35.4%; the rate of major complications was 8.5% (n = 7). All permanent morbidity was associated with DI (n = 5, 6.1%). In 16 CD patients (23.5%), transient DI developed. Transient DI was more likely to develop in CD patients who had undergone a second operation (37.9%) than in those who had undergone a first operation only (12.8%, p < 0.05). Permanent DI developed in 4 CD patients (5.9%) and 1 SCA patient (7.1%). For 1 CD patient, intraoperative carotid artery injury required endovascular sacrifice of the injured artery, but the patient remained neurologically intact. For another CD patient, aseptic meningitis developed and was treated effectively with corticosteroids. One CD patient experienced major postoperative epistaxis requiring another operative procedure to achieve hemostasis. For 2 CD patients, development of sinus mucoceles was managed conservatively. For 1 SCA patient, an abdominal wound dehisced at the fat graft site. No patients experienced postoperative CSF leakage, visual impairment, or deep vein thrombosis.

CONCLUSIONS

Transsphenoidal surgery is the treatment of choice for patients with CD and other ACTH-positive staining tumors. Recent advances in endoscopic technology and increasing surgeon comfort with this technology are making transsphenoidal procedures safer, faster, and more effective. Serious complications are uncommon and can be managed successfully.

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Bobby D. Kim, Timothy R. Smith, Seokchun Lim, George R. Cybulski and John Y. S. Kim

Object

Unplanned hospital readmission represents a large financial burden on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, commercial insurance payers, hospitals, and individual patients, and is a principal target for cost reduction. A large-scale, multi-institutional study that evaluates risk factors for readmission has not been previously performed in patients undergoing lumbar decompression procedures. The goal of this multicenter retrospective study was to find preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative predictive factors that result in unplanned readmission (UR) after lumbar decompression surgery.

Methods

The National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database was retrospectively reviewed to identify all patients who received lumbar decompression procedures in 2011. Risk-adjusted multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to estimate independent predictors of UR.

Results

The overall rate of UR among patients undergoing lumbar decompression was 4.4%. After multivariate logistic regression analysis, anemia (odds ratio [OR] 1.48), dependent functional status (OR 3.03), total operative duration (OR 1.003), and American Society of Anesthesiologists Physical Status Class 4 (OR 3.61) remained as independent predictors of UR. Postoperative complications that were significantly associated with UR included overall complications (OR 5.18), pulmonary embolism (OR 3.72), and unplanned reoperation (OR 56.91).

Conclusions

There were several risk factors for UR after lumbar spine decompression surgery. Identification of high-risk patients and appropriate allocation of resources to reduce postoperative incidence may reduce the readmission rate.

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Aditya V. Karhade, Viren S. Vasudeva, Hormuzdiyar H. Dasenbrock, Yi Lu, William B. Gormley, Michael W. Groff, John H. Chi and Timothy R. Smith

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to use a large national registry to evaluate the 30-day cumulative incidence and predictors of adverse events, readmissions, and reoperations after surgery for primary and secondary spinal tumors.

METHODS

Data from adult patients who underwent surgery for spinal tumors (2011–2014) were extracted from the prospective National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) registry. Multivariable logistic regression was used to evaluate predictors of reoperation, readmission, and major complications (death, neurological, cardiopulmonary, venous thromboembolism [VTE], surgical site infection [SSI], and sepsis). Variables screened included patient age, sex, tumor location, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical classification, preoperative functional status, comorbidities, preoperative laboratory values, case urgency, and operative time. Additional variables that were evaluated when analyzing readmission included complications during the surgical hospitalization, hospital length of stay (LOS), and discharge disposition.

RESULTS

Among the 2207 patients evaluated, 51.4% had extradural tumors, 36.4% had intradural extramedullary tumors, and 12.3% had intramedullary tumors. By spinal level, 20.7% were cervical lesions, 47.4% were thoracic lesions, 29.1% were lumbar lesions, and 2.8% were sacral lesions. Readmission occurred in 10.2% of patients at a median of 18 days (interquartile range [IQR] 12–23 days); the most common reasons for readmission were SSIs (23.7%), systemic infections (17.8%), VTE (12.7%), and CNS complications (11.9%). Predictors of readmission were comorbidities (dyspnea, hypertension, and anemia), disseminated cancer, preoperative steroid use, and an extended hospitalization. Reoperation occurred in 5.3% of patients at a median of 13 days (IQR 8–20 days) postoperatively and was associated with preoperative steroid use and ASA Class 4–5 designation. Major complications occurred in 14.4% of patients: the most common complications and their median time to occurrence were VTE (4.5%) at 9 days (IQR 4–19 days) postoperatively, SSIs (3.6%) at 18 days (IQR 14–25 days), and sepsis (2.9%) at 13 days (IQR 7–21 days). Predictors of major complications included dependent functional status, emergency case status, male sex, comorbidities (dyspnea, bleeding disorders, preoperative systemic inflammatory response syndrome, preoperative leukocytosis), and ASA Class 3–5 designation (p < 0.05). The median hospital LOS was 5 days (IQR 3–9 days), the 30-day mortality rate was 3.3%, and the median time to death was 20 days (IQR 12.5–26 days).

CONCLUSIONS

In this NSQIP analysis, 10.2% of patients undergoing surgery for spinal tumors were readmitted within 30 days, 5.3% underwent a reoperation, and 14.4% experienced a major complication. The most common complications were SSIs, systemic infections, and VTE, which often occurred late (after discharge from the surgical hospitalization). Patients were primarily readmitted for new complications that developed following discharge rather than exacerbation of complications from the surgical hospital stay. The strongest predictors of adverse events were comorbidities, preoperative steroid use, and higher ASA classification. These models can be used by surgeons to risk-stratify patients preoperatively and identify those who may benefit from increased surveillance following hospital discharge.

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Hormuzdiyar H. Dasenbrock, Kevin X. Liu, Christopher A. Devine, Vamsidhar Chavakula, Timothy R. Smith, William B. Gormley and Ian F. Dunn

OBJECT

Although the length of hospital stay is often used as a measure of quality of care, data evaluating the predictors of extended hospital stay after craniotomy for tumor are limited. The goals of this study were to use multivariate regression to examine which preoperative characteristics and postoperative complications predict a prolonged hospital stay and to assess the impact of length of stay on unplanned hospital readmission.

METHODS

Data were extracted from the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database from 2007 to 2013. Patients who underwent craniotomy for resection of a brain tumor were included. Stratification was based on length of hospital stay, which was dichotomized by the upper quartile of the interquartile range (IQR) for the entire population. Covariates included patient age, sex, race, tumor histology, comorbidities, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) class, functional status, preoperative laboratory values, preoperative neurological deficits, operative time, and postoperative complications. Multivariate logistic regression with forward prediction was used to evaluate independent predictors of extended hospitalization. Thereafter, hierarchical multivariate logistic regression assessed the impact of length of stay on unplanned readmission.

RESULTS

The study included 11,510 patients. The median hospital stay was 4 days (IQR 3-8 days), and 27.7% (n = 3185) had a hospital stay of at least 8 days. Independent predictors of extended hospital stay included age greater than 70 years (OR 1.53, 95% CI 1.28%-1.83%, p < 0.001); African American (OR 1.75, 95% CI 1.44%-2.14%, p < 0.001) and Hispanic (OR 1.68, 95% CI 1.36%-2.08%) race or ethnicity; ASA class 3 (OR 1.52, 95% CI 1.34%-1.73%) or 4-5 (OR 2.18, 95% CI 1.82%-2.62%) designation; partially (OR 1.94, 95% CI 1.61%-2.35%) or totally dependent (OR 3.30, 95% CI 1.95%-5.55%) functional status; insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (OR 1.46, 95% CI 1.16%-1.84%); hematological comorbidities (OR 1.68, 95% CI 1.25%-2.24%); and preoperative hypoalbuminemia (OR 1.78, 95% CI 1.51%-2.09%, all p ≤ 0.009). Several postoperative complications were additional independent predictors of prolonged hospitalization including pulmonary emboli (OR 13.75, 95% CI 4.73%-39.99%), pneumonia (OR 5.40, 95% CI 2.89%-10.07%), and urinary tract infections (OR 11.87, 95% CI 7.09%-19.87%, all p < 0.001). The C-statistic of the model based on preoperative characteristics was 0.79, which increased to 0.83 after the addition of postoperative complications. A length of stay after craniotomy for tumor score was created based on preoperative factors significant in regression models, with a moderate correlation with length of stay (p = 0.43, p < 0.001). Extended hospital stay was not associated with differential odds of an unplanned hospital readmission (OR 0.97, 95% CI 0.89%-1.06%, p = 0.55).

CONCLUSIONS

In this NSQIP analysis that evaluated patients who underwent craniotomy for tumor, much of the variance in hospital stay was attributable to baseline patient characteristics, suggesting length of stay may be an imperfect proxy for quality. Additionally, longer hospitalizations were not found to be associated with differential rates of unplanned readmission.

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Enrico Martin, Joeky T. Senders, Aislyn C. DiRisio, Timothy R. Smith and Marike L. D. Broekman

OBJECTIVE

Ideal timeframes for operating on traumatic stretch and blunt brachial plexus injuries remain a topic of debate. Whereas on the one hand spontaneous recovery might occur, on the other hand, long delays are believed to result in poorer functional outcomes. The goal of this review is to assess the optimal timeframe for surgical intervention for traumatic brachial plexus injuries.

METHODS

A systematic search was performed in January 2017 in PubMed and Embase databases according to the PRISMA guidelines. Search terms related to “brachial plexus injury” and “timing” were used. Obstetric plexus palsies were excluded. Qualitative synthesis was performed on all studies. Timing of operation and motor outcome were collected from individual patient data. Patients were categorized into 5 delay groups (0–3, 3–6, 6–9, 9–12, and > 12 months). Median delays were calculated for Medical Research Council (MRC) muscle grade ≥ 3 and ≥ 4 recoveries.

RESULTS

Forty-three studies were included after full-text screening. Most articles showed significantly better motor outcome with delays to surgery less than 6 months, with some studies specifying even shorter delays. Pain and quality of life scores were also significantly better with shorter delays. Nerve reconstructions performed after long time intervals, even more than 12 months, can still be useful. All papers reporting individual-level patient data described a combined total of 569 patients; 65.5% of all patients underwent operations within 6 months and 27.4% within 3 months. The highest percentage of ≥ MRC grade 3 (89.7%) was observed in the group operated on within 3 months. These percentages decreased with longer delays, with only 35.7% ≥ MRC grade 3 with delays > 12 months. A median delay of 4 months (IQR 3–6 months) was observed for a recovery of ≥ MRC grade 3, compared with a median delay of 7 months (IQR 5–11 months) for ≤ MRC grade 3 recovery.

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this systematic review show that in stretch and blunt injury of the brachial plexus, the optimal time to surgery is shorter than 6 months. In general, a 3-month delay appears to be appropriate because while recovery is better in those operated on earlier, this must be considered given the potential for spontaneous recovery.

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Hormuzdiyar H. Dasenbrock, Robert F. Rudy, Pui Man Rosalind Lai, Timothy R. Smith, Kai U. Frerichs, William B. Gormley, M. Ali Aziz-Sultan and Rose Du

OBJECTIVE

Although cigarette smoking is one of the strongest risk factors for cerebral aneurysm development and rupture, there are limited data evaluating the impact of smoking on outcomes after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Additionally, two recent studies suggested that nicotine replacement therapy was associated with improved neurological outcomes among smokers who had sustained an SAH compared with smokers who did not receive nicotine.

METHODS

Patients who underwent endovascular or microsurgical repair of a ruptured cerebral aneurysm were extracted from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS, 2009–2011) and stratified by cigarette smoking. Multivariable logistic regression analyzed in-hospital mortality, complications, tracheostomy or gastrostomy placement, and discharge to institutional care (a nursing or an extended care facility). Additionally, the composite NIS-SAH outcome measure (based on mortality, tracheostomy or gastrostomy, and discharge disposition) was evaluated, which has been shown to have excellent agreement with a modified Rankin Scale score greater than 3. Covariates included in regression constructs were patient age, sex, race/ethnicity, insurance status, socioeconomic status, comorbidities (including hypertension, drug and alcohol abuse), the NIS-SAH severity scale (previously validated against the Hunt and Hess grade), treatment modality used for aneurysm repair, and hospital characteristics. A sensitivity analysis was performed matching smokers to nonsmokers on age, sex, number of comorbidities, and NIS-SAH severity scale score.

RESULTS

Among the 5784 admissions evaluated, 37.1% (n = 2148) had a diagnosis of tobacco use, of which 31.1% (n = 1800) were current and 6.0% (n = 348) prior tobacco users. Smokers were significantly younger (mean age 51.4 vs 56.2 years) and had more comorbidities compared with nonsmokers (p < 0.001). There were no significant differences in mortality, total complications, or neurological complications by smoking status. However, compared with nonsmokers, smokers had significantly decreased adjusted odds of tracheostomy or gastrostomy placement (11.9% vs 22.7%, odds ratio [OR] 0.63, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.51–0.78, p < 0.001), discharge to institutional care (OR 0.71, 95% CI 0.57–0.89, p = 0.002), and a poor outcome (OR 0.65, 95% CI 0.55–0.77, p < 0.001). Similar statistical associations were noted in the matched-pairs sensitivity analysis and in a subgroup of poor-grade patients (the upper quartile of the NIS-SAH severity scale).

CONCLUSIONS

In this nationwide study, smokers experienced SAH at a younger age and had a greater number of comorbidities compared with nonsmokers, highlighting the negative ramifications of cigarette smoking among patients with cerebral aneurysms. However, smoking was also associated with paradoxical superior outcomes on some measures, and future research to confirm and further understand the basis of this relationship is needed.