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Free access

Editorial. Is preoperative bone health assessment and optimization in spine surgery a good idea?

Timothy F. Witham, Ethan Cottrill, and Zach Pennington

Free access

Systematic review and meta-analysis of the clinical utility of Enhanced Recovery After Surgery pathways in adult spine surgery

Zach Pennington, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel Lubelski, Jeff Ehresman, Nicholas Theodore, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Spine surgery has been identified as a significant source of healthcare expenditures in the United States. Prolonged hospitalization has been cited as one source of increased spending, and there has been drive from providers and payors alike to decrease inpatient stays. One strategy currently being explored is the use of Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocols. Here, the authors review the literature on adult spine ERAS protocols, focusing on clinical benefits and cost reductions. They also conducted a quantitative meta-analysis examining the following: 1) length of stay (LOS), 2) complication rate, 3) wound infection rate, 4) 30-day readmission rate, and 5) 30-day reoperation rate.

METHODS

Using the PRISMA guidelines, a search of the PubMed/Medline, Web of Science, Cochrane Reviews, Embase, CINAHL, and OVID Medline databases was conducted to identify all full-text articles in the English-language literature describing ERAS protocol implementation for adult spine surgery. A quantitative meta-analysis using random-effects modeling was performed for the identified clinical outcomes using studies that directly compared ERAS protocols with conventional care.

RESULTS

Of 950 articles reviewed, 34 were included in the qualitative analysis and 20 were included in the quantitative analysis. The most common protocol types were general spine surgery protocols and protocols for lumbar spine surgery patients. The most frequently cited benefits of ERAS protocols were shorter LOS (n = 12), lower postoperative pain scores (n = 6), and decreased complication rates (n = 4). The meta-analysis demonstrated shorter LOS for the general spine surgery (mean difference −1.22 days [95% CI −1.98 to −0.47]) and lumbar spine ERAS protocols (−1.53 days [95% CI −2.89 to −0.16]). Neither general nor lumbar spine protocols led to a significant difference in complication rates. Insufficient data existed to perform a meta-analysis of the differences in costs or postoperative narcotic use.

CONCLUSIONS

Present data suggest that ERAS protocol implementation may reduce hospitalization time among adult spine surgery patients and may lead to reductions in complication rates when applied to specific populations. To generate high-quality evidence capable of supporting practice guidelines, though, additional controlled trials are necessary to validate these early findings in larger populations.

Open access

Robotics planning in minimally invasive surgery for adult degenerative scoliosis: illustrative case

Zach Pennington, Nolan J. Brown, Saif Quadri, Seyedamirhossein Pishva, Cathleen C. Kuo, and Martin H. Pham

BACKGROUND

Minimally invasive surgical techniques are changing the landscape in adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery, enabling surgical correction to be achievable in increasingly medically complex patients. Spinal robotics are one technology that have helped facilitate this. Here the authors present an illustrative case of the utility of robotics planning workflow for minimally invasive correction of ASD.

OBSERVATIONS

A 60-year-old female presented with persistent and debilitating low back and leg pain limiting her function and quality of life. Standing scoliosis radiographs demonstrated adult degenerative scoliosis (ADS), with a lumbar scoliosis of 53°, a pelvic incidence–lumbar lordosis mismatch of 44°, and pelvic tilt of 39°. Robotics planning software was utilized for preoperative planning of the multiple rod and 4-point pelvic fixation in the posterior construct.

LESSONS

To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first report detailing the use of spinal robotics for complex 11-level minimally invasive correction of ADS. Although additional experiences adapting spinal robotics to complex spinal deformities are necessary, the present case represents a proof-of-concept demonstrating the feasibility of applying this technology to minimally invasive correction of ASD.

Free access

Learning curves in robot-assisted spine surgery: a systematic review and proposal of application to residency curricula

Zach Pennington, Brendan F. Judy, Hesham M. Zakaria, Nikita Lakomkin, Anthony L. Mikula, Benjamin D. Elder, and Nicholas Theodore

OBJECTIVE

Spine robots have seen increased utilization over the past half decade with the introduction of multiple new systems. Market research expects this expansion to continue over the next half decade at an annual rate of 20%. However, because of the novelty of these devices, there is limited literature on their learning curves and how they should be integrated into residency curricula. With the present review, the authors aimed to address these two points.

METHODS

A systematic review of the published English-language literature on PubMed, Ovid, Scopus, and Web of Science was conducted to identify studies describing the learning curve in spine robotics. Included articles described clinical results in patients using one of the following endpoints: operative time, screw placement time, fluoroscopy usage, and instrumentation accuracy. Systems examined included the Mazor series, the ExcelsiusGPS, and the TiRobot. Learning curves were reported in a qualitative synthesis, given as the mean improvement in the endpoint per case performed or screw placed where possible. All studies were level IV case series with a high risk of reporting bias.

RESULTS

Of 1579 unique articles, 97 underwent full-text review and 21 met the inclusion and exclusion criteria; 62 articles were excluded for not presenting primary data for one of the above-described endpoints. Of the 21 articles, 18 noted the presence of a learning curve in spine robots, which ranged from 3 to 30 cases or 15 to 62 screws. Only 12 articles performed regressions of one of the endpoints (most commonly operative time) as a function of screws placed or cases performed. Among these, increasing experience was associated with a 0.24- to 4.6-minute decrease in operative time per case performed. All but one series described the experience of attending surgeons, not residents.

CONCLUSIONS

Most studies of learning curves with spine robots have found them to be present, with the most common threshold being 20 to 30 cases performed. Unfortunately, all available evidence is level IV data, limited to case series. Given the ability of residency to allow trainees to safely perform these cases under the supervision of experienced senior surgeons, it is argued that a curriculum should be developed for senior-level residents specializing in spine comprising a minimum of 30 performed cases.

Restricted access

Letter to the Editor. Determining optimal predictors in pathologic fracture risk in mobile spine metastases after radiotherapy

Kanato Tokushige, Yu Toda, Masaaki Mawatari, and Tadatsugu Morimoto

Open access

Techniques for restoring optimal spinal biomechanics to alleviate symptoms in Bertolotti syndrome: illustrative case

Nolan J Brown, Zach Pennington, Hania Shahin, Oanh T Nguyen, and Martin H Pham

BACKGROUND

Lumbosacral transitional vertebrae (LSTVs) are congenital anomalies that occur in the spinal segments of L5–S1. These vertebrae result from sacralization of the lowermost lumbar segment or lumbarization of the uppermost sacral segment. When the lowest lumbar vertebra fuses or forms a false joint with the sacrum (pseudoarticulation), it can cause pain and manifest clinically as Bertolotti syndrome.

OBSERVATIONS

A 36-year-old female presented with severe right-sided low-back pain. Computed tomography was unremarkable except for a right-sided Castellvi type IIA LSTV. The pain proved refractory to physical therapy and lumbar epidural spinal injections, but targeted steroid and bupivacaine injection of the pseudoarticulation led to 2 weeks of complete pain relief. She subsequently underwent minimally invasive resection of the pseudoarticulation, with immediate improvement in her low-back pain. The patient continued to be pain free at the 3-year follow-up.

LESSONS

LSTVs alter the biomechanics of the lumbosacral spine, which can lead to medically refractory mechanical pain requiring surgical intervention. Select patients with Bertolotti syndrome can benefit from operative management, including resection, fusion, or decompression of the pathologic joint.

Free access

Clinical utility of enhanced recovery after surgery pathways in pediatric spinal deformity surgery: systematic review of the literature

Zach Pennington, Ethan Cottrill, Daniel Lubelski, Jeff Ehresman, Kurt Lehner, Mari L. Groves, Paul Sponseller, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVES

More than 7500 children undergo surgery for scoliosis each year, at an estimated annual cost to the health system of $1.1 billion. There is significant interest among patients, parents, providers, and payors in identifying methods for delivering quality outcomes at lower costs. Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols have been suggested as one possible solution. Here the authors conducted a systematic review of the literature describing the clinical and economic benefits of ERAS protocols in pediatric spinal deformity surgery.

METHODS

The authors identified all English-language articles on ERAS protocol use in pediatric spinal deformity surgery by using the following databases: PubMed/MEDLINE, Web of Science, Cochrane Reviews, EMBASE, CINAHL, and OVID MEDLINE. Quantitative analyses of comparative articles using random effects were performed for the following clinical outcomes: 1) length of stay (LOS); 2) complication rate; 3) wound infection rate; 4) 30-day readmission rate; 5) reoperation rate; and 6) postoperative pain scores.

RESULTS

Of 950 articles reviewed, 7 were included in the qualitative analysis and 6 were included in the quantitative analysis. The most frequently cited benefits of ERAS protocols were shorter LOS, earlier urinary catheter removal, and earlier discontinuation of patient-controlled analgesia pumps. Quantitative analyses showed ERAS protocols to be associated with shorter LOS (mean difference −1.12 days; 95% CI −1.51, −0.74; p < 0.001), fewer postoperative complications (OR 0.37; 95% CI 0.20, 0.68; p = 0.001), and lower pain scores on postoperative day (POD) 0 (mean −0.92; 95% CI −1.29, −0.56; p < 0.001) and POD 2 (−0.61; 95% CI −0.75, −0.47; p < 0.001). There were no differences in reoperation rate or POD 1 pain scores. ERAS-treated patients had a trend toward higher 30-day readmission rates and earlier discontinuation of patient-controlled analgesia (both p = 0.06). Insufficient data existed to reach a conclusion about cost differences.

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this systematic review suggest that ERAS protocols may shorten hospitalizations, reduce postoperative complication rates, and reduce postoperative pain scores in children undergoing scoliosis surgery. Publication biases exist, and therefore larger, prospective, multicenter data are needed to validate these results.

Full access

Treatment approaches for Scheuermann kyphosis: a systematic review of historic and current management

Sakibul Huq, Jeffrey Ehresman, Ethan Cottrill, A. Karim Ahmed, Zach Pennington, Erick M. Westbroek, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

Scheuermann kyphosis (SK) is an idiopathic kyphosis characterized by anterior wedging of ≥ 5° at 3 contiguous vertebrae managed with either nonoperative or operative treatment. Nonoperative treatment typically employs bracing, while operative treatment is performed with either a combined anterior-posterior fusion or posterior-only approach. Current evidence for these approaches has largely been derived from retrospective case series or focused reviews. Consequently, no consensus exists regarding optimal management strategies for patients afflicted with this condition. In this study, the authors systematically review the literature on SK with respect to indications for treatment, complications of treatment, differences in correction and loss of correction, and changes in treatment over time.

METHODS

Using PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Library, all full-text publications on the operative and nonoperative treatment for SK in the peer-reviewed English-language literature between 1950 and 2017 were screened. Inclusion criteria involved fully published, peer-reviewed, retrospective or prospective studies of the primary medical literature. Studies were excluded if they did not provide clinical outcomes and statistics specific to SK, described fewer than 2 patients, or discussed results in nonhuman models. Variables extracted included treatment indications and methodology, maximum pretreatment kyphosis, immediate posttreatment kyphosis, kyphosis at last follow-up, year of treatment, and complications of treatment.

RESULTS

Of 659 unique studies, 45 met our inclusion criteria, covering 1829 unique patients. Indications for intervention were pain, deformity, failure of nonoperative treatment, and neural impairment. Among operatively treated patients, the most common complications were hardware failure and proximal or distal junctional kyphosis. Combined anterior-posterior procedures were additionally associated with neural, pulmonary, and cardiovascular complications. Posterior-only approaches offered superior correction compared to combined anterior-posterior fusion; both groups provided greater correction than bracing. Loss of correction was similar across operative approaches, and all were superior to bracing. Cross-sectional analysis suggested that surgeons have shifted from anterior-posterior to posterior-only approaches over the past two decades.

CONCLUSIONS

The data indicate that for patients with SK, surgery affords superior correction and maintenance of correction relative to bracing. Posterior-only fusion may provide greater correction and similar loss of correction compared to anterior-posterior approaches along with a smaller complication profile. This posterior-only approach has concomitantly gained popularity over the combined anterior-posterior approach in recent years.

Free access

Is dorsal root entry zone lesioning effective and safe for managing continuous versus paroxysmal pains post–brachial plexus avulsion?

Daniel Lubelski, Zach Pennington, Arinze J. Ochuba, Jawad Khalifeh, Abdel-Hameed Al-Mistarehi, and Allan J. Belzberg

OBJECTIVE

Patients with brachial plexus avulsion (BPA) experience chronic deafferentation pain characterized by two patterns: continuous background pain and electrical shooting paroxysmal attacks. The authors’ aim was to report the effectiveness and safety of dorsal root entry zone (DREZ) lesioning in relieving the two forms of pain over short and long periods.

METHODS

All patients who underwent DREZ lesioning performed by the senior author for medically refractory BPA-related pain between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2020, in Johns Hopkins Hospital were followed up. The intensity levels for continuous and paroxysmal pains were evaluated using the numeric rating scale (NRS) preoperatively and at 4 time points postsurgery, including the day of discharge, with a mean hospital stay of 5.6 ± 1.8 days; first postoperative clinic visit (33.0 ± 15.7 days); short-term follow-up (4.0 ± 1.4 months); and long-term follow-up (3.1 ± 1.3 years). The percent of pain relief according to the NRS was categorized into excellent (≥ 75%), fair (25%–74%), and poor (< 25%).

RESULTS

A total of 19 patients were included, with 4 (21.1%) lost to long-term follow-up. The mean age was 52.7 ± 13.6 years; 16 (84.2%) were men, and 10 (52.6%) had left-sided injuries. A motor vehicle accident was the most common etiology of BPA (n = 16, 84.2%). Preoperatively, all patients had motor deficits, and 8 (42.1%) experienced somatosensory deficits. The greatest pain relief was observed at the first postoperative and short-term follow-up visits, with the lowest proportions of patients having continuous pain (26.3% and 23.5%, respectively) and paroxysmal pain (5.3% and 5.9%, respectively). Also, the highest reductions in mean NRS scores were observed for first postoperative and short-term follow-up visits (continuous 1.1 ± 2.1 and 1.1 ± 2.3; paroxysms 0.4 ± 1.4 and 0.5 ± 1.7, respectively) compared to the preoperative symptomatology (continuous 6.7 ± 3.0; paroxysms 7.9 ± 4.3) (p < 0.001). Most patients had excellent relief of continuous pain (82.4% and 81.3%) and of paroxysms (90.9% and 90.0%) at the first postoperative visit and short-term follow-up visit, respectively. The pain relief benefits had diminished by 3 years after surgery but remained significantly better than in the preoperative assessment. At the last evaluation, the proportion of patients achieving excellent relief of paroxysmal pain (66.7%) was double that for continuous pain (35.7%) (p < 0.001). New sensory phenomena were observed among 10 patients (52.6%), and 1 patient developed a motor deficit.

CONCLUSIONS

DREZ lesioning is an effective and safe option for relieving BPA-associated pain, with good long-term outcomes and better benefits for paroxysmal pain than for the continuous pain component.

Free access

Predicting nonroutine discharge in patients undergoing surgery for vertebral column tumors

Jeff Ehresman, Zach Pennington, James Feghali, Andrew Schilling, Andrew Hersh, Bethany Hung, Daniel Lubelski, and Daniel M. Sciubba

OBJECTIVE

More than 8000 patients are treated annually for vertebral column tumors, of whom roughly two-thirds will be discharged to an inpatient facility (nonroutine discharge). Nonroutine discharge is associated with increased care costs as well as delays in discharge and poorer patient outcomes. In this study, the authors sought to develop a prediction model of nonroutine discharge in the population of vertebral column tumor patients.

METHODS

Patients treated for primary or metastatic vertebral column tumors at a single comprehensive cancer center were identified for inclusion. Data were gathered regarding surgical procedure, patient demographics, insurance status, and medical comorbidities. Frailty was assessed using the modified 5-item Frailty Index (mFI-5) and medical complexity was assessed using the modified Charlson Comorbidity Index (mCCI). Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify independent predictors of nonroutine discharge, and multivariable linear regression was used to identify predictors of prolonged length of stay (LOS). The discharge model was internally validated using 1000 bootstrapped samples.

RESULTS

The authors identified 350 patients (mean age 57.0 ± 13.6 years, 53.1% male, and 67.1% treated for metastatic vs primary disease). Significant predictors of prolonged LOS included higher mCCI score (β = 0.74; p = 0.026), higher serum absolute neutrophil count (β = 0.35; p = 0.001), lower hematocrit (β = −0.34; p = 0.001), use of a staged operation (β = 4.99; p < 0.001), occurrence of postoperative pulmonary embolism (β = 3.93; p = 0.004), and surgical site infection (β = 9.93; p < 0.001). Significant predictors of nonroutine discharge included emergency admission (OR 3.09; p = 0.001), higher mFI-5 score (OR 1.90; p = 0.001), lower serum albumin level (OR 0.43 per g/dL; p < 0.001), and operations with multiple stages (OR 4.10; p < 0.001). The resulting statistical model was deployed as a web-based calculator (https://jhuspine4.shinyapps.io/Nonroutine_Discharge_Tumor/).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found that nonroutine discharge of patients with surgically treated vertebral column tumors was predicted by emergency admission, increased frailty, lower serum albumin level, and staged surgical procedures. The resulting web-based calculator tool may be useful clinically to aid in discharge planning for spinal oncology patients by preoperatively identifying patients likely to require placement in an inpatient facility postoperatively.