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Vikram B. Chakravarthy, Hana Yokoi, Daniel J. Coughlin, Mariel R. Manlapaz, and Ajit A. Krishnaney

Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols have been shown to be effective at reducing perioperative morbidity and costs while improving outcomes. To date, spine surgery protocols have been limited in scope, focusing only on specific types of procedures or specific parts of the surgical episode. The authors describe the creation and implementation of one of the first comprehensive ERAS protocols for spine surgery. The protocol is unique in that it has a comprehensive perioperative paradigm encompassing the entire surgical period that is tailored based on the complexity of each individual spine patient.

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Vikram B. Chakravarthy, Hammad A. Khan, Shaarada Srivatsa, Todd Emch, Samuel T. Chao, and Ajit A. Krishnaney

OBJECTIVE

Separation surgery followed by spine stereotactic radiosurgery (SSRS) has been shown to achieve favorable rates of local tumor control and patient-reported outcomes in patients with metastatic epidural spinal cord compression (MESCC). However, rates and factors associated with adjacent-level tumor progression (ALTP) in this population have not yet been characterized. The present study aimed to identify factors associated with ALTP and examine its association with overall survival (OS) in patients receiving surgery followed by radiosurgery for MESCC.

METHODS

Thirty-nine patients who underwent separation surgery followed by SSRS for MESCC were identified using a prospectively collected database and were retrospectively reviewed. Radiological measurements were collected from preoperative, postoperative, and post-SSRS MRI. Statistical analysis was conducted using the Kaplan-Meier product-limit method and Cox proportional hazards test. Subgroup analysis was conducted for patients who experienced ALTP into the epidural space (ALTP-E).

RESULTS

The authors’ cohort included 39 patients with a median OS of 14.7 months (range 2.07–96.3 months). ALTP was observed in 16 patients (41.0%) at a mean of 6.1 ± 5.4 months postradiosurgery, of whom 4 patients (10.3%) experienced ALTP-E. Patients with ALTP had shorter OS (13.0 vs 17.1 months, p = 0.047) compared with those without ALTP. Factors associated with an increased likelihood of ALTP included the amount of bone marrow infiltrated by tumor at the index level, amount of residual epidural disease following separation surgery, and prior receipt of radiotherapy at the index level (p < 0.05). Subgroup analysis revealed that primary tumor type, amount of preoperative epidural disease, time elapsed between surgery and radiosurgery, and prior receipt of radiotherapy at the index level were significantly associated with ALTP-E (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

To the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to identify possible risk factors for ALTP, and they suggest that it may be associated with shorter OS in patients receiving surgery followed by radiosurgery for MESCC. Future studies with higher power should be conducted to further characterize factors associated with ALTP in this population.

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Alexandra M. Giantini-Larsen, Vikram B. Chakravarthy, Ori Barzilai, William Christopher Newman, Leonard Wexler, and Mark H. Bilsky

OBJECTIVE

Aneurysmal bone cysts (ABCs) are benign cystic lesions most commonly occurring in the long bones of pediatric patients. Spinal ABCs may be difficult to resect given their invasive, locally destructive nature, proximity to critical structures such as the spinal cord, and their intrinsic hypervascularity, for which complete embolization is often constrained by radiculomedullary segmental feeders. Denosumab, a monoclonal antibody that binds the receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) ligand, has been utilized in the treatment of ABCs most often as a rescue therapy for recurrent disease. Here, the authors present 3 cases of neoadjuvant denosumab use in surgically unresectable tumors to calcify and devascularize the lesions, allowing for safer, more complete resection.

METHODS

This is a single-center, retrospective case series treated at a tertiary care cancer center. The authors present 3 cases of spinal ABC treated with neoadjuvant denosumab.

RESULTS

All 3 patients experienced calcification, size reduction, and a significant decrease in the vascularity of their ABCs on denosumab therapy. None of the patients developed new neurological deficits while on denosumab. Subsequently, all underwent resection. One patient continued denosumab during the immediate postoperative period because a subtotal resection had been performed, with stabilization of the residual disease. No complications were associated with denosumab administration.

CONCLUSIONS

The use of denosumab in unresectable ABCs can cause calcification and devascularization, making safe resection more likely.

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Sebastian Salas-Vega, Vikram B. Chakravarthy, Robert D. Winkelman, Matthew M. Grabowski, Ghaith Habboub, Jason W. Savage, Michael P. Steinmetz, and Thomas E. Mroz

OBJECTIVE

In a healthcare landscape in which costs increasingly matter, the authors sought to distinguish among the clinical and nonclinical drivers of patient length of stay (LOS) in the hospital following elective lumbar laminectomy—a common spinal surgery that may be reimbursed using bundled payments—and to understand their relationships with patient outcomes and costs.

METHODS

Patients ≥ 18 years of age undergoing laminectomy surgery for degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis within the Cleveland Clinic health system between March 1, 2016, and February 1, 2019, were included in this analysis. Generalized linear modeling was used to assess the relationships between the day of surgery, patient discharge disposition, and hospital LOS, while adjusting for underlying patient health risks and other nonclinical factors, including the hospital surgery site and health insurance.

RESULTS

A total of 1359 eligible patients were included in the authors’ analysis. The mean LOS ranged between 2.01 and 2.47 days for Monday and Friday cases, respectively. The LOS was also notably longer for patients who were ultimately discharged to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) or rehabilitation center. A prolonged LOS occurring later in the week was not associated with greater underlying health risks, yet it nevertheless resulted in greater costs of care: the average total surgical costs for lumbar laminectomy were 20% greater for Friday cases than for Monday cases, and 24% greater for late-week cases than for early-week cases ultimately transferred to SNFs or rehabilitation centers. A Poisson generalized linear model fit the data best and showed that the comorbidity burden, surgery at a tertiary care center versus a community hospital, and the incidence of any postoperative complication were associated with significantly longer hospital stays. Discharge to home healthcare, SNFs, or rehabilitation centers, and late-week surgery were significant nonclinical predictors of LOS prolongation, even after adjusting for underlying patient health risks and insurance, with LOSs that were, for instance, 1.55 and 1.61 times longer for patients undergoing their procedure on Thursday and Friday compared to Monday, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

Late-week surgeries are associated with a prolonged LOS, particularly when discharge is to an SNF or rehabilitation center. These findings point to opportunities to lower costs and improve outcomes associated with elective surgical care. Interventions to optimize surgical scheduling and perioperative care coordination could help reduce prolonged LOSs, lower costs, and, ultimately, give service line management personnel greater flexibility over how to use existing resources as they remain ahead of healthcare reforms.

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Vikram B. Chakravarthy, Ibrahim Hussain, Ilya Laufer, Jacob L. Goldberg, Anne S. Reiner, Jemma Villavieja, William Christopher Newman, Ori Barzilai, and Mark Bilsky

OBJECTIVE

The cervicothoracic junction (CTJ) is a challenging region to stabilize after tumor resection for metastatic spine disease. The objective of this study was to describe the outcomes of patients who underwent posterolateral decompression and instrumented fusion (i.e., separation surgery across the CTJ for instability due to metastatic disease).

METHODS

The authors performed a single-institution retrospective study of a prospectively collected cohort of patients who underwent single-approach posterior decompression and instrumented fusion across the CTJ for metastatic spine disease between 2011 and 2018. Adult patients (≥ 18 years old) who presented with mechanical instability, myelopathy, and radiculopathy secondary to metastatic epidural spinal cord compression (MESCC) of the CTJ (C7–T1) from 2011 to 2018 were included.

RESULTS

Seventy-nine patients were included, with a mean age of 62.1 years. The most common primary malignancies were non–small cell lung (n = 17), renal cell (11), and prostate (8) carcinoma. The median number of levels decompressed and construct length were 3 and 7, respectively. The average operative time, blood loss, and length of stay were 179.2 minutes, 600.5 ml, and 7.7 days, respectively. Overall, 58 patients received adjuvant radiation, and median dose, fractions, and time from surgery were 27 Gy, 3 fractions, and 20 days, respectively. All patients underwent lateral mass and pedicle screw instrumentation. Forty-nine patients had tapered rods (4.0/5.5 mm or 3.5/5.5 mm), 29 had fixed-diameter rods (3.5 mm or 4.0 mm), and 1 had both. Ten patients required anterior reconstruction with poly-methyl-methacrylate. The overall complication rate was 18.8% (6 patients with wound-related complications, 7 with hardware-related complications, 1 with both, and 1 with other). For the 8 patients (10%) with hardware failure, 7 had tapered rods, all 8 had cervical screw pullout, and 1 patient also experienced rod/screw fracture. The average time to hardware failure was 146.8 days. The 2-year cumulative incidence rate of hardware failure was 11.1% (95% CI 3.7%–18.5%). There were 55 deceased patients, and the median (95% CI) overall survival period was 7.97 (5.79–12.60) months. For survivors, the median (range) follow-up was 12.94 (1.94–71.80) months.

CONCLUSIONS

Instrumented fusion across the CTJ demonstrated an 18.8% rate of postoperative complications and an 11% overall 2-year rate of hardware failure in patients who underwent metastatic epidural tumor decompression and stabilization.