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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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Walter Montanera

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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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Anand I. Rughani, Travis M. Dumont, Chih-Ta Lin, Bruce I. Tranmer and Michael A. Horgan

Object

Microvascular decompression (MVD) offers an effective and durable treatment for patients suffering from trigeminal neuralgia (TN). Because the disorder has a tendency to occur in older persons, the risks of surgical treatment in the elderly have been a topic of recent interest. To date, evidence derived from several small retrospective and a single prospective case series has suggested that age does not increase the complication rate associated with surgery. Using a large national database, the authors aimed to study the impact of age on in-hospital complications following MVD for TN.

Methods

Using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) for the 10-year period from 1999 to 2008, the authors selected all patients who underwent MVD for TN. The primary outcome of interest was the in-hospital mortality rate. Secondary outcomes of interest were cardiac, pulmonary, thromboembolic, cerebrovascular, and wound complications as well as the duration of hospital stay, total hospital charges, and discharge location. An elderly cohort of patients was first defined as those 65 years of age and older and then redefined as those 75 years and older.

Results

A total of 3273 patients who underwent MVD for TN were identified, having a median age of 57 years. Within this sample, 31.5% were 65 years and older and 10.7% were 75 years and older. The in-hospital mortality rate was 0.68% for patients 65 years or older (p = 0.0087) and 1.16% for those 75 years or older (p = 0.0026). In patients younger than 65 years, the in-hospital mortality rate was 0.13% (3 deaths among 2241 patients). As analyzed using the chi-square test (for both 65 and 75 years as the age cutoff) and the Pearson rank correlation coefficient, the risk of cardiac, pulmonary, thromboembolic, and cerebrovascular complications was higher in older patients (that is, those 65 and older and those 75 and older), but the risks of wound complications and CNS infection were not. The risk of any in-hospital complication occurring in a patient 65 years and older was 7.36% (p < 0.0001) and 10.0% in those 75 years and older (p < 0.0001). There was no difference in the total hospital charges associated with age. The duration of the hospital stay was longer in older patients, and the likelihood of discharge home was lower in older patients.

Conclusions

Microvascular decompression for TN in the elderly population remains a reasonable surgical option. However, based on data from a large national database, authors of the present study suggest that complications do tend to gradually increase in tandem with an advanced age. While age does not act as a risk factor in isolation, it may serve as a convenient surrogate for complication rates. The authors hope that this information can be of use in guiding older patients through decisions for the surgical treatment of TN.

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Anand I. Rughani, Travis M. Dumont, Zhenyu Lu, Josh Bongard, Michael A. Horgan, Paul L. Penar and Bruce I. Tranmer

Object

The authors describe the artificial neural network (ANN) as an innovative and powerful modeling tool that can be increasingly applied to develop predictive models in neurosurgery. They aimed to demonstrate the utility of an ANN in predicting survival following traumatic brain injury and compare its predictive ability with that of regression models and clinicians.

Methods

The authors designed an ANN to predict in-hospital survival following traumatic brain injury. The model was generated with 11 clinical inputs and a single output. Using a subset of the National Trauma Database, the authors “trained” the model to predict outcome by providing the model with patients for whom 11 clinical inputs were paired with known outcomes, which allowed the ANN to “learn” the relevant relationships that predict outcome. The model was tested against actual outcomes in a novel subset of 100 patients derived from the same database. For comparison with traditional forms of modeling, 2 regression models were developed using the same training set and were evaluated on the same testing set. Lastly, the authors used the same 100-patient testing set to evaluate 5 neurosurgery residents and 4 neurosurgery staff physicians on their ability to predict survival on the basis of the same 11 data points that were provided to the ANN. The ANN was compared with the clinicians and the regression models in terms of accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, and discrimination.

Results

Compared with regression models, the ANN was more accurate (p < 0.001), more sensitive (p < 0.001), as specific (p = 0.260), and more discriminating (p < 0.001). There was no difference between the neurosurgery residents and staff physicians, and all clinicians were pooled to compare with the 5 best neural networks. The ANNs were more accurate (p < 0.0001), more sensitive (p < 0.0001), as specific (p = 0.743), and more discriminating (p < 0.0001) than the clinicians.

Conclusions

When given the same limited clinical information, the ANN significantly outperformed regression models and clinicians on multiple performance measures. While this paradigm certainly does not adequately reflect a real clinical scenario, this form of modeling could ultimately serve as a useful clinical decision support tool. As the model evolves to include more complex clinical variables, the performance gap over clinicians and logistic regression models will persist or, ideally, further increase.

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Travis M. Dumont, Anand I. Rughani, Paul L. Penar, Michael A. Horgan, Bruce I. Tranmer and Ryan P. Jewell

Object

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education instituted mandatory 80-hour work-week limitations in July 2003. The work-hour restriction was met with skepticism among the academic neurosurgery community and is thought to represent a barrier to teaching, ultimately compromising patient care. The authors hypothesize that the introduction of the mandatory resident work-hour restriction corresponds with an overall increase in morbidity rate.

Methods

This study compares the morbidity and mortality rates on an academic neurological surgery service before and after institution of the work-hour restriction. Complications are individually assessed at a monthly divisional conference by neurosurgical faculty and residents. A prospective database was commenced in July 2000 recording all complications, complications that were deemed to be potentially avoidable (“possibly preventable”), and complications that were deemed unavoidable. The incidence of morbidity and mortality from July 2000 to June 2003 is compared with the incidence from July 2003 to June 2006.

Results

The overall rate of morbidity and mortality increased from 103 to 114 per 1000 patients treated after institution of the work-hour restriction, although this increase was not statistically significant (χ2 1, N = 8546 = 2.6, p = 0.106). The morbidity rate increased from 70 to 89 per 1000 patients treated after institution of the work-hour restriction (χ2 1, N = 8546 = 10, p = 0.001). The overall mortality rate was diminished from 32 to 27 per 1000 patients treated after institution of the work-hour restriction (χ2 1, N = 8546 = 3.2, p = 0.075). Morbidities considered avoidable or possibly preventable were seen to increase from 56 to 66 per 1000 patients treated (χ2 1, N = 8546 = 5.7, p = 0.017). Avoidable or possibly preventable mortalities numbered 3 per 1000 patients treated, and this rate did not change after introduction of the work-hour restriction (χ2 1, N = 8546 = 0.08, p = 0.777).

Conclusions

The morbidity rate on a neurological surgery service is increased after implementation of the work-hour restriction. Mortality rates remain unchanged.

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Anand I. Rughani, Chih Lin, Travis M. Dumont, Paul L. Penar, Michael A. Horgan and Bruce I. Tranmer

Object

The Subdural Evacuating Port System (SEPS) was recently introduced as a novel method of treating chronic subdural hematomas (SDHs). This system is a variation of the existing twist-drill craniostomy methods for treating chronic SDH. Compared with craniotomy or bur hole treatment of chronic SDH, this system offers the possibility of treatment at bedside without general anesthesia. In comparison with existing twist-drill methods, the system theoretically offers the advantage of a hermetically closed system that can evacuate a hematoma without an intracranial catheter.

Methods

The authors performed a case-control study of all chronic SDHs treated at a single institution over a 5-year period and compared the efficacy and safety of the SEPS to bur hole evacuation. Patients were matched for age, injury mechanism, medical comorbidities, use of anticoagulation, and radiographic appearance of the SDH. The primary outcome of interest was the recurrence rate in each group, which was evaluated by radiographic evidence as well as the number of patients requiring a second procedure. Secondary outcomes examined were mortality, infection, acute hematoma formation, seizure, length of hospital stay, length of intensive care unit stay, and discharge location.

Results

The authors found that there were no appreciable differences in symptoms on presentation, existing comorbidities, home medications, or laboratory values between the treatment groups. The average Hounsfield units of preoperative CT scanning was similar in both groups. Radiographic recurrence was statistically similar between the SEPS group (25.9%) and the bur hole group (18.5%; p = 0.37). Although there was a trend toward higher reoperation rates in the SEPS group, the need for a subsequent procedure was also statistically similar between the SEPS group (25.9%) and the bur hole group (14.8%; p = 0.25). The mortality rate was not significantly different between the SEPS group (9.5%) and the bur hole group (4.8%; p = 0.50). The SEPS procedure provided a mean reduction in SDH thickness of 27.3% compared with 37.9% with bur hole (p = 0.05) when comparing the preoperative CT scan with the first postoperative CT scan. The percentage of reduction in SDH thickness when comparing the preoperative CT scan with the most recent postoperative CT scan was 40.5% in the SEPS group and 45.4% in the bur hole group (p = 0.31).

Conclusions

The SEPS offers an alternative type of twist-drill craniostomy for the treatment of chronic SDH with a trend toward higher recurrence in our experience. The efficacy and safety of SEPS is similar to that of other twist-drill methods reported in the literature. In the authors' experience, the efficacy of this treatment as measured by radiographic worsening or the need for a subsequent procedure is statistically similar to that of bur hole treatment. There was no difference in mortality or other adverse outcomes associated with SEPS.

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Peyton L. Nisson, Salman A. Fard, Christina M. Walter, Cameron M. Johnstone, Michael A. Mooney, Ali Tayebi Meybodi, Michael Lang, Helen Kim, Heidi Jahnke, Denise J. Roe, Travis M. Dumont, G. Michael Lemole Jr., Robert F. Spetzler and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to evaluate the existing Spetzler-Martin (SM), Spetzler-Ponce (SP), and Lawton-Young (LY) grading systems for cerebellar arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) and to propose a new grading system to estimate the risks associated with these lesions.

METHODS

Data for patients with cerebellar AVMs treated microsurgically in two tertiary medical centers were retrospectively reviewed. Data from patients at institution 1 were collected from September 1999 to February 2013, and at institution 2 from October 2008 to October 2015. Patient outcomes were classified as favorable (modified Rankin Scale [mRS] score 0–2) or poor (mRS score 3–6) at the time of discharge. Using chi-square and logistic regression analysis, variables associated with poor outcomes were assigned risk points to design the proposed grading system. The proposed system included neurological status prior to treatment (poor, +2 points), emergency surgery (+1 point), age > 60 years (+1 point), and deep venous drainage (deep, +1 point). Risk point totals of 0–1 comprised grade 1, 2–3 grade 2, and 4–5 grade 3.

RESULTS

A total of 125 cerebellar AVMs of 1328 brain AVMs were reviewed in 125 patients, 120 of which were treated microsurgically and included in the study. With our proposed grading system, we found poor outcomes differed significantly between each grade (p < 0.001), while with the SM, SP, and LY grading systems they did not (p = 0.22, p = 0.25, and p = 1, respectively). Logistic regression revealed grade 2 had 3.3 times the risk of experiencing a poor outcome (p = 0.008), while grade 3 had 9.9 times the risk (p < 0.001). The proposed grading system demonstrated a superior level of predictive accuracy (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve [AUROC] of 0.72) compared with the SM, SP, and LY grading systems (AUROC of 0.61, 0.57, and 0.51, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors propose a novel grading system for cerebellar AVMs based on emergency surgery, venous drainage, preoperative neurological status, and age that provides a superior prognostication power than the formerly proposed SM, SP, and LY grading systems. This grading system is clinically predictive of patient outcomes and can be used to better guide vascular neurosurgeons in clinical decision-making.

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Philip M. Meyers, Randall T. Higashida, Cameron G. McDougall, M. Shazam Hussein, Joshua A. Hirsch and Peter A. Rasmussen