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Jason M. Davies, Vijay Yanamadala and Michael T. Lawton

Object

The development of multimodality approaches for the treatment of cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), including microsurgery, endovascular therapy, and radiosurgery, has shifted modern treatment paradigms in the last 10 years. This study examines these changes in detail from a nationwide perspective.

Methods

The authors examined data from 2001 to 2009 in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) database, and they assessed the safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness, including the total number of discharges, discharge proportion, length of stay, and hospital charges. The authors also examined patient demographics (including age, sex, income level, and insurance), hemorrhage status at presentation, and trends in open surgical and endovascular treatment.

Results

A total of 33,997 inpatient admissions for patients with a primary diagnosis of intracranial AVM were identified, with a mean of 4191 patients admitted annually. The mean hospital charges increased 2-fold over the study period without significant differences in outcomes. There were substantial differences between surgical, endovascular, radiosurgical, and multimodality treatments. The proportion of AVMs treated microsurgically remained stable over this period, while the proportion treated endovascularly dramatically increased in size, and the data demonstrate important patient-level distinctions among groups. Outcomes and complication profiles were significantly different between treatment modalities and were impacted by age and hemorrhage status.

Conclusions

Charges associated with treatment of cerebral AVMs to the payer and society have increased dramatically over the first decade of the 21st century without clear improvements in quality parameters. However, analysis of the 3 primary treatment modalities has demonstrated differences and warrants further investigation to understand which patient population would benefit maximally from each. Unfortunately, with only imprecise measurements of quality in health care delivery, it remains imperative to develop national databases in which parameters, such as survival, functional outcomes, quality of life, and complication rates, can be assessed to examine the value of care delivered in a more meaningful way. Demonstrating an ever-increasing value of delivered health care will be imperative in our evolving health care system.

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Jean-Christophe Leveque, Vijay Yanamadala, Quinlan D. Buchlak and Rajiv K. Sethi

OBJECTIVE

Pedicle subtraction osteotomy (PSO) provides extensive correction in patients with fixed sagittal plane imbalance but is associated with high estimated blood loss (EBL). Anterior column realignment (ACR) with lateral graft placement and sectioning of the anterior longitudinal ligament allows restoration of lumbar lordosis (LL). The authors compare peri- and postoperative measures in 2 groups of patients undergoing correction of a sagittal plane imbalance, either through PSO or the use of lateral lumbar fusion and ACR with hyperlordotic (20°–30°) interbody cages, with stabilization through standard posterior instrumentation in all cases.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective chart review of cases involving a lumbar PSO or lateral lumbar interbody fusion and ACR (LLIF-ACR) between 2010 and 2015 at the authors’ institution. Patients who had a PSO in the setting of a preexisting fusion that spanned more than 4 levels were excluded. Demographic characteristics, spinopelvic parameters, EBL, operative time, and LOS were analyzed and compared between patients treated with PSO and those treated with LLIF-ACR.

RESULTS

The PSO group included 14 patients and the LLIF-ACR group included 13 patients. The mean follow-up was 13 months in the LLIF-ACR group and 26 months in the PSO group. The mean EBL was significantly lower in the LLIF-ACR group, measuring approximately 50% of the mean EBL in the PSO group (1466 vs 2910 ml, p < 0.01). Total LL correction was equivalent between the 2 groups (35° in the PSO group, 31° in the LLIF-ACR group, p > 0.05), as was the preoperative PI-LL mismatch (33° in each group, p > 0.05) and the postoperative PI-LL mismatch (< 1° in each group, p = 0.05). The fusion rate as assessed by the need for reoperation due to pseudarthrosis was lower in the LLIF-ACR group but not significantly so (3 revisions in the PSO group due to pseudarthrosis vs 0 in the LLIF-ACR group, p > 0.5). The total operative time and LOS were not significantly different in the 2 groups.

CONCLUSIONS

This is the first direct comparison of the LLIF-ACR technique with the PSO in adult spinal deformity correction. The study demonstrates that the LLIF-ACR provides equivalent deformity correction with significantly reduced blood loss in patients with a previously unfused spine compared with the PSO. This technique provides a powerful means to avoid PSO in selected patients who require spinal deformity correction.

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Ahmed J. Awad, Brian P. Walcott, Christopher J. Stapleton, Vijay Yanamadala, Brian V. Nahed and Jean-Valery Coumans

Dabigatran etexilate (Pradaxa) is a novel oral anticoagulant that has gained FDA approval for the prevention of ischemic stroke and systemic embolism in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation. In randomized trials, the incidence of hemorrhagic events has been demonstrated to be lower in patients treated with dabigatran compared with the traditional anticoagulant warfarin. However, dabigatran does not have reliable laboratory tests to measure levels of anticoagulation and there is no pharmacological antidote. These drawbacks are challenging in the setting of intracerebral hemorrhage. In this article, the authors provide background information on dabigatran, review the existing anecdotal experiences with treating intracerebral hemorrhage related to dabigatran therapy, present a case study of intracranial hemorrhage in a patient being treated with dabigatran, and suggest clinical management strategies. The development of reversal agents is urgently needed given the growing number of patients treated with this medication.

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Rajiv Sethi, Quinlan D. Buchlak, Vijay Yanamadala, Melissa L. Anderson, Eric A. Baldwin, Robert S. Mecklenburg, Jean-Christophe Leveque, Alicia M. Edwards, Mary Shea, Lisa Ross and Karen J. Wernli

OBJECTIVE

Systematic multidisciplinary approaches to improving quality and safety in complex surgical care have shown promise. Complication rates from complex spine surgery range from 10% to 90% for all surgeries, and the overall mortality rate is 1%–4%. These rates suggest the need for improved perioperative complex spine surgery processes designed to minimize risk and improve quality.

METHODS

The Group Health Research Institute and Virginia Mason Medical Center implemented a systematic multidisciplinary protocol, the Seattle Spine Team Protocol, in 2010. This protocol involves the following elements: 1) a comprehensive multidisciplinary conference including clinicians from neurosurgery, anesthesia, orthopedics, internal medicine, behavioral health, and nursing, collaboratively deciding on each patient's suitability for surgery; 2) a mandatory patient education course that reviews the risks of surgery, preparation for the surgery, and postoperative care; 3) a dual-attending-surgeon approach involving 1 neurosurgeon and 1 orthopedic spine surgeon; 4) a dedicated specialist complex spine anesthesia team; and 5) rigorous intraoperative monitoring of a patient's blood loss and coagulopathy. The authors identified 71 patients who underwent complex spine surgery involving fusion of 6 or more levels before implementation of the protocol (surgery between 2008 and 2010) and 69 patients who underwent complex spine surgery after the implementation of the protocol (2010 and 2012). All patient demographic variables, including age, sex, body mass index, smoking status, diagnosis of diabetes and/or osteoporosis, previous surgery, and the nature of the spinal deformity, were comprehensively assessed. Also comprehensively assessed were surgical variables, including operative time, number of levels fused, and length of stay. The authors assessed overall complication rates at 30 days and 1 year and detailed deaths, cardiovascular events, infections, instrumentation failures, and CSF leaks. Chi-square and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests were used to assess differences in patient characteristics for patients with a procedure in the preimplementation period from those in the postimplementation period under a Poisson distribution model.

RESULTS

Patients who underwent surgery after implementation of the Seattle Spine Team Protocol had a statistically significant reduction (relative risk 0.49 [95% CI 0.30–0.78]) in all measured complications, including cardiovascular events, wound infections, other perioperative infections, and implant failures within 30 days after surgery; the analysis was adjusted for age and Charlson comorbidity score. A trend toward fewer deaths in this group was also found.

CONCLUSIONS

This type of systematic quality improvement strategy can improve quality and patient safety and might be applicable to other complex surgical disciplines. Implementation of these strategies in the treatment of adult spinal deformity will likely lead to better patient outcomes.