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Travis M. Dumont and Anand I. Rughani

Object

Several randomized trials have emerged with conflicting data on the overall safety of carotid artery stenting (CAS) in comparison with carotid endarterectomy (CEA). The authors hypothesize that changes in national trends correspond to publication of randomized trials, including an increase in utilization of CAS after publication of trials favorable to CAS (for example, Carotid and Vertebral Artery Transluminal Angioplasty Study [CAVATAS] and Stenting and Angioplasty with Protection in Patients at High Risk for Endarterectomy [SAPPHIRE]) and decrease in utilization of CAS after publication of trials favorable to CEA (for example, Endarterectomy versus Stenting in Patients with Symptomatic Severe Carotid Stenosis [EVA3-S] and Stent-Supported Percutaneous Angioplasty of the Carotid Artery versus Endarterectomy [SPACE]).

Methods

The Nationwide Inpatient Sample was obtained for the years 1998–2008. Individual cases were isolated for principal diagnosis of unilateral or bilateral carotid artery stenosis or occlusion undergoing CEA or CAS. The percentage of CAS for all carotid revascularization procedures was calculated for each year. Perioperative inpatient morbidity, including stroke or death, were calculated and compared.

Results

The percentage of patients undergoing CAS increased yearly from the start of the observed period to the end, with the exception of a decrease in 2007. The peak utilization of CAS for carotid artery revascularization procedures was 15% of all cases in 2006. The stroke or death rate was consistent at 5% among all patients undergoing CEA for all years, while the incidence of stroke or death decreased among patients undergoing CAS from 9% in 1998 to 5% in 2008.

Conclusions

The practice of CAS in the US is expanding, from less than 3% of all carotid artery revascularization procedures to 13% in 2008. The utilization of CAS was seen to correlate with publication of randomized trials. Utilization nearly doubled in 2005 after publication of the CAS-favorable SAPPHIRE in 2004, and decreased by 22% after publication of the CEA-favorable EVA-3S and SPACE in 2007. With the publication of Carotid Revascularization Endarterectomy Versus Stenting Trial (CREST), the authors predict a resultant increase in the rate of CAS for carotid artery disease in the upcoming years.

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Robert W. Bina, G. Michael Lemole Jr. and Travis M. Dumont

Within neurosurgery, the national mandate of the 2003 duty hour restrictions (DHR) by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has been controversial. Ensuring the proper education and psychological well-being of residents while fulfilling the primary purpose of patient care has generated much debate. Most medical disciplines have developed strategies that address service needs while meeting educational goals. Additionally, there are numerous studies from those disciplines; however, they are not specifically relevant to the needs of a neurosurgical residency. The recent implementation of the 2011 DHR specifically aimed at limiting interns to 16-hourduty shifts has proven controversial and challenging across the nation for neurosurgical residencies—again bringing education and service needs into conflict.

In this report the current literature on DHR is reviewed, with special attention paid to neurosurgical residencies, discussing resident fatigue, technical training, and patient safety. Where appropriate, other specialty studies have been included. The authors believe that a one-size-fits-all approach to residency training mandated by the ACGME is not appropriate for the training of neurosurgical residents. In the authors’ opinion, an arbitrary timeline designed to limit resident fatigue limits patient care and technical training, and has not improved patient safety.

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Molly E. Hubbard, Ryan P. Jewell, Travis M. Dumont and Anand I. Rughani

Object

Skiing and snowboarding injuries have increased with the popularity of these sports. Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are a rare but serious event, and a major cause of morbidity and mortality for skiers and snowboarders. The purpose of this study is to characterize the patterns of SCI in skiers and snowboarders.

Methods

The authors queried the Nationwide Inpatient Sample for the years 2000–2008 for all patients admitted with skiing or snowboarding as the mechanism of injury, yielding a total of 8634 patients. The injury patterns were characterized by the ICD-9 diagnostic and procedure codes. The codes were searched for those pertaining to vertebral and skull fracture; spinal cord, chest, abdominal, pelvic, and vessel injuries; and fractures and dislocations of the upper and lower extremity. Statistical analysis was performed with ANOVA and Student t-test.

Results

Patients were predominantly male (71%) skiers (61%), with the average age of the skiers being older than that of snowboarders (39.5 vs 23.5 years). The average length of stay for patients suffering from spine trauma was 3.8 days and was increased to 8.9 days in those with SCI. Among hospitalized patients, SCI was seen in 0.98% of individuals and was equally likely to occur in snowboarders and skiers (1.07% vs 0.93%, p < 0.509). Cervical spine trauma was associated with the highest likelihood of SCI (19.6% vs. 10.9% of thoracic and 6% of lumbar injuries, p < 0.0001). Patients who were injured skiing were more likely to sustain a cervical spine injury, whereas those injured snowboarding had higher frequencies of injury to the lumbar spine. The most common injury seen in tandem with spine injury was closed head injury, and it was seen in 13.4% of patients. Conversely, a spine injury was seen in 12.9% of patients with a head injury. Isolated spine fractures were seen in 4.6% of patients.

Conclusions

Skiers and snowboarders evaluated at the hospital are equally likely to sustain spine injuries. Additionally, participants in both sports have an increased incidence of SCI with cervical spine trauma.

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Scott D. Simon, Robert E. Harbaugh and Arthur L. Day

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Walter Montanera

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Alberto Maud, Gustavo J. Rodriguez, Paisith Piriyawat and Salvador Cruz-Flores

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Vernard S. Fennell, Nikolay L. Martirosyan, Sheri K. Palejwala, G. Michael Lemole Jr. and Travis M. Dumont

OBJECT

Endovascular treatment of cerebrovascular pathology, particularly aneurysms, is becoming more prevalent. There is a wide variety in clinical background and training of physicians who treat cerebrovascular pathology through endovascular means. The impact of clinical training background on patient outcomes is not well documented.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective analysis of a large national database, the University HealthSystem Consortium, that was queried in the years 2009–2013. Cases of both unruptured cerebral aneurysms and subarachnoid hemorrhage treated by endovascular obliteration were studied. Outcome measures of morbidity and mortality were evaluated according to the specialty of the treating physician.

RESULTS

Elective embolization of an unruptured aneurysm was the procedure code and primary diagnosis, respectively, for 12,400 cases. Patients with at least 1 complication were reported in 799 cases (6.4%). Deaths were reported in 193 cases (1.6%). Complications and deaths were varied by specialty; the highest incidence of complications (11.1%) and deaths (3.0%) were reported by neurologists. The fewest complications were reported by neurosurgeons (5.4%; 1.4% deaths), with a higher incidence of complications reported in cases performed by neurologists (p < 0.0001 for both complications and deaths) and to a lesser degree interventional radiologists (p = 0.0093 for complications). Subarachnoid hemorrhage was the primary diagnosis and procedure for 8197 cases. At least 1 complication was reported in 2385 cases (29%) and deaths in 983 cases (12%). The number of complications and deaths varied among specialties. The highest incidence of complications (34%) and deaths (13.5%) in subarachnoid hemorrhage was in cases performed by neurologists. The fewest complications were in cases by neurosurgeons (27%), with a higher incidence of complications in cases performed by neurologists (34%, p < 0.0001), and a trend of increased complications with interventional radiologists (30%, p < 0.0676). The lowest incidence of mortality was in cases performed by neurosurgeons (11.5%), with a significantly higher incidence of mortality in cases performed by neurologists (13.5%, p = 0.0372). Mortality rates did not reach statistical significance with respect to interventional radiologists (12.1%, p = 0.4884).

CONCLUSIONS

Physicians of varied training types and backgrounds use endovascular treatment of ruptured and unruptured intracerebral aneurysms. In this study there was a statistically significant finding that neurosurgically trained physicians may demonstrate improved outcomes with respect to endovascular treatment of unruptured aneurysms in this cohort. This finding warrants further investigation.

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Ralph G. Dacey Jr.