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William C. Newman, Dan W. Neal and Brian L. Hoh

OBJECTIVE

Comorbidities have an impact on risk stratification for outcomes in analyses of large patient databases. Although the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) and the Elixhauser Comorbidity Index (ECI) are the most commonly used comorbidity indexes, these have not been validated for patients with unruptured cerebral aneurysms; therefore, the authors created a comorbidity index specific to these patients.

METHODS

The authors extracted all records involving unruptured cerebral aneurysms treated with clipping, coiling, or both from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (2002–2010). They assessed the effect of 37 variables on poor outcome and used the results to create a risk score for these patients. The authors used a validation data set and bootstrapping to evaluate the new index and compared it to CCI and ECI in prediction of poor outcome, mortality, length of stay, and hospital charges.

RESULTS

The index assigns integer values (−2 to 7) to 20 comorbidities: neurological disorder, renal insufficiency, gastrointestinal bleeding, paralysis, acute myocardial infarction, electrolyte disorder, weight loss, metastatic cancer, drug abuse, arrhythmia, coagulopathy, cerebrovascular accident, psychosis, alcoholism, perivascular disease, valvular disease, tobacco use, hypothyroidism, depression, and hypercholesterolemia. Values are summed to determine a patient's risk score. The new index was better at predicting poor outcome than CCI or ECI (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve [AUC] 0.814 [95% CI 0.798–0.830], vs 0.694 and 0.712, respectively, for the other indices), and it was also better at predicting mortality (AUC 0.775 [95% CI 0.754–0.792], vs 0.635 and 0.657, respectively, for CCI and ECI).

CONCLUSIONS

This new comorbidity index outperforms the CCI and ECI in predicting poor outcome, mortality, length of stay, and total charges for patients with unruptured cerebral aneurysm. Reevaluation of other patient cohorts is warranted to determine the impact of more accurate patient stratification.

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William C. Newman, Paul S. Kubilis and Brian L. Hoh

OBJECTIVE

Comorbidities have a significant effect on patient outcomes. Accounting for this effect is especially important in retrospective reviews of large databases; overpowered studies are at risk for finding significant results because of inaccurate patient risk stratification. The authors previously created a neurovascular comorbidities index (NCI) for patients with an unruptured intracranial aneurysm and found that the model’s ability to predict patient outcomes was statistically significantly improved over that of the routinely used Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) and Elixhauser Comorbidity Index (ECI). In this study, the authors aimed to validate use of the NCI over that of the CCI and ECI for risk stratification of patients with other neurovascular diseases.

METHODS

The authors queried the National (Nationwide) Inpatient Sample database for the years 2002–2012 to compare the accuracy of the previously validated NCI with that of the CCI and ECI with respect to predicting outcomes for patients who had an arteriovenous malformation, a ruptured intracranial aneurysm, carotid artery stenosis, or dural arteriovenous fistula and who underwent surgical intervention.

RESULTS

For patients with an arteriovenous malformation, the NCI outperformed the CCI and ECI in predicting poor outcome, hospital length of stay (LOS), and total cost but was equivalent to the CCI in predicting death. For patients with a ruptured intracranial aneurysm, the NCI outperformed the ECI and CCI in predicting death, poor outcome, LOS, and total cost. For patients with carotid artery stenosis, the NCI outperformed the ECI and CCI in predicting LOS, but it was equivalent to the ECI in predicting death and total cost and inferior to the CCI in predicting poor outcome (p < 0.002 for all). An insufficient number of patients with dural arteriovenous fistula who underwent surgical intervention were available for analysis (n < 10), and they therefore were excluded from study. For 11 of 12 metrics, the NCI was the significantly more efficient model.

CONCLUSIONS

The NCI outperforms the CCI and ECI by providing more appropriate and efficient risk stratification of patients regarding death, outcome, LOS, and cost. Given this finding, the NCI should be used for retrospective reviews of patient outcomes instead of the CCI or ECI.

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William C. Newman, Yue-Fang Chang and L. Dade Lunsford

OBJECTIVE

Neurosurgery is often self-selecting. Concern has been raised that residents in the millennial era (born between 1982 and 2004) may have more serious professionalism and performance issues (PPIs) during training compared to prior trainees. Serious PPIs were defined as concerns that led to specific resident disciplinary actions ranging from initial warnings to termination. In order to evaluate this concern, the authors retrospectively reviewed a 50-year experience at a single training center. They then prospectively surveyed living graduates of the program to assess variations in practice patterns and job satisfaction over 5 decades.

METHODS

The PPIs of 141 residents admitted for training at the University of Pittsburgh (subsequently UPMC) Department of Neurological Surgery were reviewed by decade starting in 1971 when the first department chair was appointed. The review was conducted by the senior author, who served from 1975 to 1980 as a resident, as a faculty member since 1980, and as the resident director since 1986. A review of resident PPIs between 1971 and 1974 was performed in consultation with a senior faculty member active at that time. During the last decade, electronic reporting of PPIs was performed by entry into an electronic reporting system. In order to further evaluate whether the frequency of PPIs affected subsequent job satisfaction and practice patterns after completion of training, the authors surveyed living graduates.

RESULTS

There was no statistically significant difference by decade in serious PPIs. Although millennial residents had no significant increase in the reporting of serious PPIs, the increased use of electronic event reporting over the most recent 2 decades coincided with a trend of increased reporting of all levels of suspected PPIs (p < 0.05). Residents surveyed after completion of training showed no difference by decade in types of practice or satisfaction-based metrics (p > 0.05) but reported increasing concerns related to the impact of their profession on their own lifestyle as well as their family’s.

CONCLUSIONS

There was no statistically significant difference in the incidence of serious PPIs over 5 decades of training neurosurgery residents at the authors’ institution. During the millennial era, serious PPIs have not been increasing. However, reporting of all levels of PPIs is increasing coincident with the ease of electronic reporting. There was remarkably little variance in satisfaction metrics or type of practice over the 5 decades studied.

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William C. Newman, Max Vaynrub, Mark H. Bilsky, Ilya Laufer and Ori Barzilai

Osteoblastomas are a rare, benign primary bone tumor accounting for 1% of all primary bone tumors, with 40% occurring within the spine. Gross-total resection (GTR) is curative, although depending on location, this can require destabilization of the spine and necessitate instrumented fixation. Through the use of minimally invasive, muscle-sparing approaches, these lesions can be resected while maintaining structural integrity of the spine. The authors present a case report and technical note of a single patient describing the use of a purely endoscopic technique to resect a right L5 superior articulating process osteoblastoma in a 45-year-old woman. The patient underwent an image-guided endoscopic resection of her superior articulating facet osteoblastoma. Intraoperative CT demonstrated GTR. On postoperative examination, she remained neurologically intact with resolution of her pain. At follow-up, she remained pain free. Resection of lumbar osteoblastoma through a fully endoscopic approach was a safe and effective technique in this patient. This technique allowed for GTR without compromising spinal structural integrity, thus eliminating the need for instrumented fixation.

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Xiao Zhu, Michael M. McDowell, William C. Newman, Gary E. Mason, Stephanie Greene and Mandeep S. Tamber

Nivolumab is an immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) currently undergoing Phase III clinical trials for the treatment of glioblastoma. The authors present the case of a 10-year-old girl with glioblastoma treated with nivolumab under compassionate-use guidelines. After the first dose of nivolumab the patient developed hemiparesis, cerebral edema, and significant midline shift due to severe tumor necrosis. She was managed using intravenous dexamethasone and discharged on a dexamethasone taper. The patient's condition rapidly deteriorated after the second dose of nivolumab, demonstrating hemiplegia, seizures, and eventually unresponsiveness with a fixed and dilated left pupil. Computed tomography of her brain revealed malignant cerebral edema requiring emergency decompressive hemicraniectomy. Repeat imaging demonstrated increased size of the lesion, reflecting immune-mediated inflammation and tumor necrosis. The patient remained densely hemiplegic, but became progressively more interactive and was ultimately extubated. She resumed nivolumab several weeks later, but again her condition deteriorated with headache, vomiting, swelling at the craniectomy site, and limited right-sided facial movement following the sixth dose. MRI demonstrated severe midline shift and uncal herniation despite her craniectomy. Her condition gradually declined, and she died several days later under “do not resuscitate/do not intubate” orders. To the authors' knowledge, this represents the first case of malignant cerebral edema requiring operative intervention following nivolumab treatment for glioblastoma in a pediatric patient.