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Y. Raja Rampersaud, Paul A. Anderson, John R. Dimar II, Charles G. Fisher and on behalf of the Spine Trauma Study Group and Degenerative Spine Study Group

OBJECTIVE

Reporting of adverse events (AEs) in spinal surgery uses inconsistent definitions and severity grading, making it difficult to compare results between studies. The Spinal Adverse Events Severity System, version 2 (SAVES-V2) aims to standardize the classification of spine surgery AEs; however, its inter- and intraobserver reliability are unknown. The objective of this study was to assess inter- and intraobserver reliability of the SAVES-V2 grading system for assessing AEs in spinal surgery.

METHODS

Two multinational, multicenter surgical study groups assessed surgical case vignettes (10 trauma and 12 degenerative cases) for AE occurrence by using SAVES-V2. Thirty-four members of the Spine Trauma Study Group (STSG) and 17 members of the Degenerative Spine Study Group (DSSG) participated in the first round of case vignettes. Six months later, the same case vignettes were randomly reorganized and presented in an otherwise identical manner. Inter- and intraobserver agreement on the presence, severity, number, and type of AE, as well as the impact of the AE on length of stay (LOS) were assessed using intraclass correlation (ICC), Cohen's kappa value, and the percentage of participants in agreement.

RESULTS

Agreement on the presence of AEs ranged from 97% to 100% in the 2 groups. Severity classification showed substantial interobserver (ICC = 0.75 for both groups) and intraobserver (ICC = 0.70 in DSSG, 0.71 in STSG) agreement. Judgments on the number of AEs showed high interobserver agreement and moderate intraobserver agreement in both groups. Both the STSG and DSSG had high intraobserver agreement on the type of AE; interobserver agreement for AE type was high in the STSG and fair in the DSSG. Agreement on impact of the AE on LOS was excellent in the DSSG and fair in the STSG.

CONCLUSIONS

There was good agreement on the presence, severity, and number of AEs in both trauma and degenerative cases in using the SAVES-V2. This grading system is a simple, reliable tool for identifying and capturing AEs in spinal surgery.

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Alpesh A. Patel, Andrew Dailey, Darrel S. Brodke, Michael Daubs, Paul A. Anderson, R. John Hurlbert, Alexander R. Vacccaro and the Spine Trauma Study Group

Object

The authors review a novel subaxial cervical trauma classification system and demonstrate its application through a series of cervical trauma cases.

Methods

The Spine Trauma Study Group collaborated to create the Subaxial Injury Classification (SLIC) and Severity score. The SLIC system is reviewed and is applied to 3 cases of subaxial cervical trauma.

Results

The SLIC system identifies 3 major injury characteristics to describe subaxial cervical injuries: injury morphology, discoligamentous complex integrity, and neurological status. Minor injury characteristics include injury level and osseous fractures. Each major characteristic is assigned a numerical score based upon injury severity. The sum of these scores constitutes the injury severity score.

Conclusions

By addressing both discoligamentous integrity and neurological status, the SLIC system may overcome major limitations of earlier classification systems. The system incorporates a number of critical clinical variables—including neurological status, absent in earlier systems—and is simple to apply and may provide both diagnostic and prognostic information.

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Alpesh A. Patel, Andrew Dailey, Darrel S. Brodke, Michael Daubs, James Harrop, Peter G. Whang, Alexander R. Vaccaro and the Spine Trauma Study Group

Object

The aim of this study was to review the Thoracolumbar Injury Classification and Severity Score (TLICS) and to demonstrate its application through a series of spine trauma cases.

Methods

The Spine Trauma Study Group collaborated to create and report the TLICS system. The TLICS system is reviewed and applied to 3 cases of thoracolumbar spine trauma.

Results

The TLICS system identifies 3 major injury characteristics to describe thoracolumbar spine injuries: injury morphology, posterior ligamentous complex integrity, and neurological status. In addition, minor injury characteristics such as injury level, confounding variables (such as ankylosing spondylitis), multiple injuries, and chest wall injuries are also identified. Each major characteristic is assigned a numerical score, weighted by severity of injury, which is then summated to yield the injury severity score. The TLICS system has demonstrated initial success and its use is increasing. Limitations of the TLICS system exist and, in some instances, have yet to be addressed. Despite these limitations, the severity score may provide a basis to judge spinal stability and the need for surgical intervention.

Conclusions

By addressing both the posterior ligamentous integrity and the patient's neurological status, the TLICS system attempts to overcome the limitations of prior thoracolumbar classification systems. The TLICS system has demonstrated both validity and reliability and has also been shown to be readily learned and incorporated into clinical practice.

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James S. Harrop, Alexander R. Vaccaro, R. John Hurlbert, Jared T. Wilsey, Eli M. Baron, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Charles G. Fisher, Marcel F. Dvorak, F. C. Öner, Kirkham B. Wood, Neel Anand, D. Greg Anderson, Moe R. Lim, Joon Y. Lee, Christopher M. Bono, Paul M. Arnold, Y. Raja Rampersaud, Michael G. Fehlings and The Spine Trauma Study Group

Object

A new classification and treatment algorithm for thoracolumbar injuries was recently introduced by Vaccaro and colleagues in 2005. A thoracolumbar injury severity scale (TLISS) was proposed for grading and guiding treatment for these injuries. The scale is based on the following: 1) the mechanism of injury; 2) the integrity of the posterior ligamentous complex (PLC); and 3) the patient’s neurological status. The reliability and validity of assessing injury mechanism and the integrity of the PLC was assessed.

Methods

Forty-eight spine surgeons, consisting of neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons, reviewed 56 clinical thoracolumbar injury case histories. Each was classified and scored to determine treatment recommendations according to a novel classification system. After 3 months the case histories were reordered and the physicians repeated the exercise. Validity of this classification was good among reviewers; the vast majority (> 90%) agreed with the system’s treatment recommendations. Surgeons were unclear as to a cogent description of PLC disruption and fracture mechanism.

Conclusions

The TLISS demonstrated acceptable reliability in terms of intra- and interobserver agreement on the algorithm’s treatment recommendations. Replacing injury mechanism with a description of injury morphology and better definition of PLC injury will improve inter- and intraobserver reliability of this injury classification system.