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Anand Veeravagu, Tyler S. Cole, Tej D. Azad, and John K. Ratliff

OBJECT

The significant medical and economic tolls of spinal disorders, increasing volume of spine surgeries, and focus on quality metrics have made it imperative to understand postoperative complications. This study demonstrates the utility of a longitudinal administrative database for capturing overall and procedure-specific complication rates after various spine surgery procedures.

METHODS

The Thomson Reuters MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters and the Medicare Supplemental and Coordination of Benefits database was used to conduct a retrospective analysis of longitudinal administrative data from a sample of approximately 189,000 patients. Overall and procedure-specific complication rates at 5 time points ranging from immediately postoperatively (index) to 30 days postoperatively were computed.

RESULTS

The results indicated that the frequency of individual complication types increased at different rates. The overall complication rate including all spine surgeries was 13.6% at the index time point and increased to 22.8% at 30 days postoperatively. The frequencies of wound dehiscence, infection, and other wound complications exhibited large increases between 10 and 20 days postoperatively, while complication rates for new chronic pain, delirium, and dysrhythmia increased more gradually over the 30-day period studied. When specific surgical procedures were considered, 30-day complication rates ranged from 8.6% in single-level anterior cervical fusions to 27.3% in multilevel combined anterior and posterior lumbar spine fusions.

CONCLUSIONS

This study demonstrates the usefulness of a longitudinal administrative database in assessing postoperative complication rates after spine surgery. Use of this database gave results that were comparable to those in prospective studies and superior to those obtained with nonlongitudinal administrative databases. Longitudinal administrative data may improve the understanding of overall and procedure-specific complication rates after spine surgery.

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Tyler S. Cole and Robert F. Spetzler

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Colin J. Przybylowski, Tyler S. Cole, Jacob F. Baranoski, Andrew S. Little, Kris A. Smith, and Andrew G. Shetter

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to assess long-term outcomes of facial pain and numbness after radiosurgery for multiple sclerosis (MS)–related trigeminal neuralgia (MS-TN).

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of their Gamma Knife radiosurgeries (GKRSs) to identify all patients treated for MS-TN (1998–2014) with at least 3 years of follow-up. Treatment and clinical data were obtained via chart review and mailed or telephone surveys. Pain control was defined as a facial pain score of I–IIIb on the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) Facial Pain Intensity Scale. Kaplan-Meier analysis was performed to determine the rates of pain control after index and first salvage GKRS procedures. Patients could have had more than 1 salvage procedure. Pain control rates were based on the number of patients at risk during follow-up.

RESULTS

Of the 50 living patients who underwent GKRS, 42 responded to surveys (31 women [74%], median age 59 years, range 32–76 years). During the initial GKRS, the trigeminal nerve root entry zone was targeted with a single isocenter, using a 4-mm collimator with the 90% isodose line completely covering the trigeminal nerve and the 50% isodose line abutting the surface of the brainstem. The median maximum radiation dose was 85 Gy (range 50–85 Gy). The median follow-up period was 78 months (range 36–226 months). The rate of pain control after the index GKRS (n = 42) was 62%, 29%, 22%, and 13% at 1, 3, 5, and 7 years, respectively. Twenty-eight patients (67%) underwent salvage treatment, including 25 (60%) whose first salvage treatment was GKRS. The rate of pain control after the first salvage GKRS (n = 25) was 84%, 50%, 44%, and 17% at 1, 3, 5, and 7 years, respectively. The rate of pain control after the index GKRS with or without 1 salvage GKRS (n = 33) was 92%, 72%, 52%, 46%, and 17% at 1, 3, 5, 7, and 10 years, respectively. At last follow-up, 9 (21%) of the 42 patients had BNI grade I facial pain, 35 (83%) had achieved pain control, and 4 (10%) had BNI grade IV facial numbness (very bothersome in daily life).

CONCLUSIONS

Index GKRS offers good short-term pain control for MS-TN, but long-term pain control is uncommon. If the index GKRS fails, salvage GKRS appears to offer beneficial pain control with low rates of bothersome facial numbness.

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Justin R. Mascitelli, Seungwon Yoon, Tyler S. Cole, Helen Kim, and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

Although numerous arteriovenous malformation (AVM) grading scales consider eloquence in risk assessment, none differentiate the types of eloquence. The purpose of this study was to determine if eloquence subtype affects clinical outcome.

METHODS

This is a retrospective review of a prospectively collected clinical database of brain AVMs treated with microsurgery in the period from 1997 to 2017. The only inclusion criterion for this study was the presence of eloquence as defined by the Spetzler-Martin grading scale. Eloquence was preoperatively categorized by radiologists. Poor outcome was defined as a modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score 3–6, and worsening clinical status was defined as an increase in the mRS score at follow-up. Logistic regression analyses were performed.

RESULTS

Two hundred forty-one patients (49.4% female; average age 33.9 years) with eloquent brain AVMs were included in this review. Of the AVMs (average size 2.7 cm), 54.4% presented with hemorrhage, 46.2% had deep venous drainage, and 17.0% were diffuse. The most common eloquence type was sensorimotor (46.1%), followed by visual (27.0%) and language (22.0%). Treatments included microsurgery alone (32.8%), microsurgery plus embolization (51.9%), microsurgery plus radiosurgery (7.9%), and all three modalities (7.5%). Motor mapping was used in 9% of sensorimotor AVM cases, and awake speech mapping was used in 13.2% of AVMs with language eloquence. Complications occurred in 24 patients (10%). At the last follow-up (average 24 months), 71.4% of the patients were unchanged or improved and 16.6% had a poor outcome. There was no statistically significant difference in the baseline patient and AVM characteristics among the different subtypes of eloquence. In a multivariate analysis, in comparison to visual eloquence, both sensorimotor (OR 7.4, p = 0.004) and language (OR 6.5, p = 0.015) eloquence were associated with poor outcomes. Additionally, older age (OR 1.31, p = 0.016) and larger AVM size (OR 1.37, p = 0.034) were associated with poor outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS

Unlike visual eloquence, sensorimotor and language eloquence were associated with worse clinical outcomes after the resection of eloquent AVMs. This nuance in AVM eloquence demands consideration before deciding on microsurgical intervention, especially when numerical grading systems produce a score near the borderline between operative and nonoperative management.

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Tyler S. Cole, Sirin Gandhi, Justin R. Mascitelli, Douglas Hardesty, Claudio Cavallo, and Michael T. Lawton

Venous interruption through surgical clip ligation is the gold standard treatment for ethmoidal dural arteriovenous fistula (e-dAVF). Their malignant natural history is attributable to the higher predilection for retrograde cortical venous drainage. This video illustrates an e-dAVF in a 70-year-old man with progressive tinnitus and headache. Angiogram revealed bilateral e-dAVFs (Borden III–Cognard III) with one fistula draining into cavernous sinus and another to the sagittal sinus. A bifrontal craniotomy was utilized for venous interruption of both e-dAVFs. Postoperative angiography confirmed curative obliteration with no postoperative anosmia. Bilateral e-dAVFs are rare but can be safely treated simultaneously through a single craniotomy.

The video can be found here: https://youtu.be/666edwKHGKc.

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Roxanna M. Garcia, Taemin Oh, Tyler S. Cole, Benjamin K. Hendricks, and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

Proximity of brainstem cavernous malformations (BSCMs) to tracts and cranial nerve nuclei make it costly to transgress normal tissue in accessing the lesion or disrupting normal tissue adjacent to the lesion in the separation plane. This interplay between tissue sensitivity and extreme eloquence makes it difficult to avoid leaving a remnant on occasion. Recurrences require operative intervention, which may increase morbidity, lengthen recovery, and add to overall costs. An approximately 20-year experience with patients with recurrent BSCM lesions following primary microsurgical resection was reviewed.

METHODS

A prospectively maintained database of 802 patients who underwent microsurgical resection of cerebral cavernous malformations during 1997–2018 was queried to identify 213 patients with BSCMs. A retrospective chart review was conducted for patients with recurrent BSCM after primary resection who required a second surgery.

RESULTS

Fourteen of 213 patients (6.6%) underwent repeat resection for recurrent BSCM. Thirty-four hemorrhagic events were observed among these 14 patients over 576 patient-years (recurrent hemorrhage rate, 5.9% per year; median discrete hemorrhagic events, 2; median time to rehemorrhage, 897 days). BSCM occurred in the pons in 10 cases, midbrain in 2 cases, and medulla in 2 cases. A blind spot in the operative corridor was the most common cause of residual BSCM (9 patients). All recurrent BSCMs were removed completely, although 2 patients each required 2 operations to treat recurrence. Twelve patients had unchanged or improved modified Rankin Scale scores at last clinical evaluation compared with admission, and 2 patients had worse scores. Recurrence was more common among patients who were operated on in the first versus the second half of the series (8.5% vs 4.7%).

CONCLUSIONS

The 6.6% rate of BSCM recurrence requiring reoperation reflects the fine lines between complete resection and recurrence and between safe and harmful surgery. The detection of remnants is difficult postoperatively and remains so even at 6 months when the resection bed has healed. The 5.9% annual hemorrhage risk associated with recurrent BSCM in this experience is consistent with that reported for unoperated BSCMs. The right-angle method helps to anticipate blind spots and meticulously inspect the resection cavity for residual BSCM during surgery. A low percentage of recurrent BSCM (5%–10%) ensures ongoing effort toward an acceptable balance of safety and completeness.

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Corey T. Walker, S. Harrison Farber, Tyler S. Cole, David S. Xu, Jakub Godzik, Alexander C. Whiting, Cory Hartman, Randall W. Porter, Jay D. Turner, and Juan Uribe

OBJECTIVE

Minimally invasive anterolateral retroperitoneal approaches for lumbar interbody arthrodesis have distinct advantages attractive to spine surgeons. Prepsoas or transpsoas trajectories can be employed with differing complication profiles because of the inherent anatomical differences encountered in each approach. The evidence comparing them remains limited because of poor quality data. Here, the authors sought to systematically review the available literature and perform a meta-analysis comparing the two techniques.

METHODS

A systematic review and meta-analysis was performed according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. A database search was used to identify eligible studies. Prepsoas and transpsoas studies were compiled, and each study was assessed for inclusion criteria. Complication rates were recorded and compared between approach groups. Studies incorporating an analysis of postoperative subsidence and pseudarthrosis rates were also assessed and compared.

RESULTS

For the prepsoas studies, 20 studies for the complications analysis and 8 studies for the pseudarthrosis outcomes analysis were included. For the transpsoas studies, 39 studies for the complications analysis and 19 studies for the pseudarthrosis outcomes analysis were included. For the complications analysis, 1874 patients treated via the prepsoas approach and 4607 treated with the transpsoas approach were included. In the transpsoas group, there was a higher rate of transient sensory symptoms (21.7% vs 8.7%, p = 0.002), transient hip flexor weakness (19.7% vs 5.7%, p < 0.001), and permanent neurological weakness (2.8% vs 1.0%, p = 0.005). A higher rate of sympathetic nerve injury was seen in the prepsoas group (5.4% vs 0.0%, p = 0.03). Of the nonneurological complications, major vascular injury was significantly higher in the prepsoas approach (1.8% vs 0.4%, p = 0.01). There was no difference in urological or peritoneal/bowel injury, postoperative ileus, or hematomas (all p > 0.05). A higher infection rate was noted for the transpsoas group (3.1% vs 1.1%, p = 0.01). With regard to postoperative fusion outcomes, similar rates of subsidence (12.2% prepsoas vs 13.8% transpsoas, p = 0.78) and pseudarthrosis (9.9% vs 7.5%, respectively, p = 0.57) were seen between the groups at the last follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS

Complication rates vary for the prepsoas and transpsoas approaches owing to the variable retroperitoneal anatomy encountered during surgical dissection. While the risks of a lasting motor deficit and transient sensory disturbances are higher for the transpsoas approach, there is a reciprocal reduction in the risks of major vascular injury and sympathetic nerve injury. These results can facilitate informed decision-making and tailored surgical planning regarding the choice of minimally invasive anterolateral access to the spine.

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Tyler S. Cole, Kaith K. Almefty, Jakub Godzik, Amy H. Muma, Randall J. Hlubek, Eduardo Martinez-del-Campo, Nicholas Theodore, U. Kumar Kakarla, and Jay D. Turner

OBJECTIVE

Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is the primary cause of adult spinal cord dysfunction. Diminished hand strength and reduced dexterity associated with CSM contribute to disability. Here, the authors investigated the impact of CSM severity on hand function using quantitative testing and evaluated the response to surgical intervention.

METHODS

Thirty-three patients undergoing surgical treatment of CSM were prospectively enrolled in the study. An occupational therapist conducted 3 functional hand tests: 1) palmar dynamometry to measure grip strength, 2) hydraulic pinch gauge test to measure pinch strength, and 3) 9-hole peg test (9-HPT) to evaluate upper extremity dexterity. Tests were performed preoperatively and 6–8 weeks postoperatively. Test results were expressed as 1) a percentile relative to age- and sex-stratified norms and 2) achievement of a minimum clinically important (MCI) difference. Patients were stratified into groups (mild, moderate, and severe myelopathy) based on their modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (mJOA) score. The severity of stenosis on preoperative MRI was graded by three independent physicians using the Kang classification.

RESULTS

The primary presenting symptoms were neck pain (33%), numbness (21%), imbalance (12%), and upper extremity weakness (12%). Among the 33 patients, 61% (20) underwent anterior approach decompression, with a mean (SD) of 2.9 (1.5) levels treated. At baseline, patients with moderate and low mJOA scores (indicating more severe myelopathy) had lower preoperative pinch (p < 0.001) and grip (p = 0.01) strength than those with high mJOA scores/mild myelopathy. Postoperative improvement was observed in all hand function domains except pinch strength in the nondominant hand, with MCI differences at 6 weeks ranging from 33% of patients in dominant-hand strength tests to 73% of patients in nondominant-hand dexterity tests. Patients with moderate baseline mJOA scores were more likely to have MCI improvement in dominant grip strength (58.3%) than those with low mJOA scores/severe myelopathy (30%) and high mJOA scores/mild myelopathy (9%, p = 0.04). Dexterity in the dominant hand as measured by the 9-HPT ranged from < 1 in patients with cord signal change to 15.9 in patients with subarachnoid effacement only (p = 0.03).

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with CSM achieved significant improvement in strength and dexterity postoperatively. Baseline strength measures correlated best with the preoperative mJOA score; baseline dexterity correlated best with the severity of stenosis on MRI. The majority of patients experienced MCI improvements in dexterity. Baseline pinch strength correlated with postoperative mJOA MCI improvement, and patients with moderate baseline mJOA scores were the most likely to have improvement in dominant grip strength postoperatively.

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Joshua S. Catapano, Andrew F. Ducruet, Fabio A. Frisoli, Candice L. Nguyen, Christopher E. Louie, Mohamed A. Labib, Jacob F. Baranoski, Tyler S. Cole, Alexander C. Whiting, Felipe C. Albuquerque, and Michael T. Lawton

OBJECTIVE

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy (TC) in patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Previous studies have shown that female patients presenting with a poor clinical grade are at the greatest risk for developing TC. Intra-aortic balloon pumps (IABPs) are known to support cardiac function in severe cases of TC, and they may aid in the treatment of vasospasm in these patients. In this study, the authors investigated risk factors for developing TC in the setting of aSAH and outcomes among patients requiring IABPs.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the records of 1096 patients who had presented to their institution with aSAH. Four hundred five of these patients were originally enrolled in the Barrow Ruptured Aneurysm Trial, and an additional 691 patients from a subsequent prospectively maintained aSAH database were analyzed. Medical records were reviewed for the presence of TC according to the modified Mayo Clinic criteria. Outcomes were determined at the last follow-up, with a poor outcome defined as a modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score > 2.

RESULTS

TC was identified in 26 patients with aSAH. Stepwise multivariate logistic regression analysis identified female sex (OR 8.2, p = 0.005), Hunt and Hess grade > III (OR 7.6, p < 0.001), aneurysm size > 7 mm (OR 3, p = 0.011), and clinical vasospasm (OR 2.9, p = 0.037) as risk factors for developing TC in the setting of aSAH. TC patients, even with IABP placement, had higher rates of poor outcomes (77% vs 47% with an mRS score > 2, p = 0.004) and mortality at the last follow-up (27% vs 11%, p = 0.018) than the non-TC patients. However, aggressive intra-arterial endovascular treatment for vasospasm was associated with good outcomes in the TC patients versus nonaggressive treatment (100% with mRS ≤ 2 at last follow-up vs 53% with mRS > 2, p = 0.040).

CONCLUSIONS

TC after aSAH tends to occur in female patients with large aneurysms, poor clinical grades, and clinical vasospasm. These patients have significantly higher rates of poor neurological outcomes, even with the placement of an IABP. However, aggressive intra-arterial endovascular therapy in select patients with vasospasm may improve outcome.

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Brandon A. McCutcheon, Brian R. Hirshman, Brandon C. Gabel, Michael W. Heffner, Logan P. Marcus, Tyler S. Cole, Clark C. Chen, David C. Chang, and Bob S. Carter

OBJECTIVE

The subspecialization of neurosurgical practice is an ongoing trend in modern neurosurgery. However, it remains unclear whether the degree of surgeon specialization is associated with improved patient outcomes. The authors hypothesized that a trend toward increased neurosurgeon specialization was associated with improved patient morbidity and mortality rates.

METHODS

The Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) was used (1998–2009). Patients were included in a spinal analysis cohort for instrumented spine surgery involving the cervical spine (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification [ICD-9-CM] codes 81.31–81.33, 81.01–81.03, 84.61–84.62, and 84.66) or lumbar spine (codes 81.04–81.08, 81.34–81.38, 84.64–84.65, and 84.68). A cranial analysis cohort consisted of patients receiving a parenchymal excision or lobectomy operation (codes 01.53 and 01.59). Surgeon specialization was measured using unique surgeon identifiers in the NIS and defined as the proportion of a surgeon’s total practice dedicated to cranial or spinal cases.

RESULTS

A total of 46,029 and 231,875 patients were identified in the cranial and spinal analysis cohorts, respectively. On multivariate analysis in the cranial analysis cohort (after controlling for overall surgeon volume, patient demographic data/comorbidities, hospital characteristics, and admitting source), each percentage-point increase in a surgeon’s cranial specialization (that is, the proportion of cranial cases) was associated with a 0.0060 reduction in the log odds of patient mortality (95% CI 0.0034–0.0086) and a 0.0042 reduction in the log odds of morbidity (95% CI 0.0032–0.0052). This resulted in a 15% difference in the predicted probability of mortality for neurosurgeons at the 75th versus the 25th percentile of cranial specialization. In the spinal analysis cohort, each percentage-point increase in a surgeon’s spinal specialization was associated with a 0.0122 reduction in the log odds of mortality (95% CI 0.0074–0.0170) and a 0.0058 reduction in the log odds of morbidity (95% CI 0.0049–0.0067). This resulted in a 26.8% difference in the predicted probability of mortality for neurosurgeons at the 75th versus the 25th percentile of spinal specialization.

CONCLUSIONS

For both spinal and cranial surgery patient cohorts derived from the NIS database, increased surgeon specialization was significantly and independently associated with improved mortality and morbidity rates, even after controlling for overall case volume.