Mild and Severe Obesity Reduce the Effectiveness of Lumbar Fusions

Neurosurgery 88 (2) 2021: 285–294

Elevated body mass index (BMI) is a well-known risk factor for surgical complications in lumbar surgery. However, its effect on surgical effectiveness independent of surgical complications is unclear.

OBJECTIVE: To determine increasing BMI’s effect on functional outcomes following lumbar fusion surgery, independent of surgical complications.

METHODS:We retrospectively analyzed a prospectively built, patient-reported, quality of life registry representing 75 hospital systems. We evaluated 1- to 3-level elective lumbar fusions. Patients who experienced surgical complicationswere excluded. A stepwisemultivariate regression model assessed factors independently associated with 1-yr Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), preop to 1-yr ODI change, and achievement of minimal clinically important difference (MCID).

RESULTS: A total of 8171 patients met inclusion criteria: 2435 with class I obesity (BMI 30- 35 kg/m2), 1328 with class II (35-40 kg/m2), and 760 with class III (≥40 kg/m2). Increasing BMI was independently associated with worse 12-mo ODI (t = 8.005, P < .001) and decreased likelihood of achieving MCID (odds ratio [OR] = 0.977, P < .001). One year after surgery, mean ODI, ODI change, and percentage achieving MCID worsened with class I, class II, and class III vs nonobese cohorts (P < .001) in stepwise fashion.

CONCLUSION: Increasing BMI is associated with decreased effectiveness of 1- to 3-level elective lumbar fusion, despite absence of surgical complications. BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2 is, therefore, a risk factor for both surgical complication and reduced benefit from lumbar fusion.

Are There Any Risk Factors Associated with the Presence of Cauda Equina Syndrome in Symptomatic Lumbar Disk Herniation?

World Neurosurg. (2020).

Risk factors for developing cauda equina syndrome (CES) caused by lumbar disk herniation (LDH) remain controversial and have not been established yet. The aim of the study was to investigate whether there is a relationship among age, sex, body mass index (BMI), or the degree of spinal canal compromise and the presence of CES in patients undergoing lumbar microdiskectomy.

METHODS: Between 2015 and 2019, 506 patients who had an operation for LDH compressing the dural sac were prospectively identified. The “prolapse-to-canal ratio” (PCR) was calculated as a proportion of the cross-sectional area of the disk prolapse compared with the total crosssectional area of the spinal canal.

RESULTS: In total, 35 CES (6.9%) patients were identified. Multivariate logistic regression, adjusted for age, gender, BMI, and PCR, shows that only PCR was associated with the presence of CES (P < 0.001, area under the curve 0.7431). BMI was not associated with an increased risk of CES.

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates a significant correlation between the size of LDH relative to size of the spinal canal and the presence of CES. A finding of LDH causing >60% obstruction of the spinal canal should be considered a red flag, and such patients need to be watched more closely.

Impact of obesity on complications and outcomes: a comparison of fusion and nonfusion lumbar spine surgery

J Neurosurg Spine 26:158–162, 2017

Prior studies have shown obesity to be associated with higher complication rates but equivalent clinical outcomes following lumbar spine surgery. These findings have been reproducible across lumbar spine surgery in general and for lumbar fusion specifically. Nevertheless, surgeons seem inclined to limit the extent of surgery, perhaps opting for decompression alone rather than decompression plus fusion, in obese patients. The purpose of this study was to ascertain any difference in clinical improvement or complication rates between obese and nonobese patients following decompression alone compared with decompression plus fusion for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS).

Methods: The Quality Outcomes Database (QOD), formerly known as the National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database (N 2 QOD), was queried for patients who had undergone decompression plus fusion (D+F group) versus decompression alone (D+0 group) for LSS and were stratified by a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 30 kg/m 2 (obese) or < 30 kg/m 2 (nonobese). Demographic, surgical, and health-related quality of life data were compared.

Results: In the nonobese cohort, 947 patients underwent decompression alone and 319 underwent decompression plus fusion. In the obese cohort, 844 patients had decompression alone and 337 had decompression plus fusion. There were no significant differences in the Oswestry Disability Index score or in leg pain improvement at 12 months when comparing decompression with fusion to decompression without fusion in either obese or nonobese cohorts. However, absolute improvement in back pain was less in the obese group when decompression alone had been performed. Blood loss and operative time were lowest in the nonobese D+0 cohort and were higher in obese patients with or without fusion. Obese patients had a longer hospital stay (4.1 days) than the nonobese patients (3.3 days) when fusion had been performed. In-hospital stay was similar in both obese and nonobese D+0 cohorts. No significant differences were seen in 30-day readmission rates among the 4 cohorts.

Conclusions: Consistent with the prior literature, equivalent clinical outcomes were found among obese and non-obese patients treated for LSS. In addition, no difference in clinical outcomes as related to the extent of the surgical procedure was observed between obese and nonobese patients. Within the D+0 group, the nonobese patients had slightly better back pain scores at 2 years postoperatively. There may be a higher blood product requirement in obese patients following spine surgery, as well as an extended hospital stay, when fusion is performed. While obesity may influence the decision for or against surgery, the data suggest that obesity should not necessarily alter the appropriate procedure for well-selected surgical candidates.

Increased body mass index in CM-I and syringomyelia

Increased body mass index in CM-I and syringomyelia

J Neurosurg 119:1058–1067, 2013

In this paper the authors describe an association between increased body mass index (BMI) and Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) in adults, as well as its relationship to the development of syringomyelia.

Methods. In the period between January 2004 and December 2011, the senior author reviewed the data for all CM-I patients with or without syringomyelia and neurological deficit. Analyzed factors included clinical status (headaches and neurological signs), radiological characteristics of syringomyelia (diameter and vertical extent of syrinx), BMI, and relationship of age to BMI, syrinx diameter, and vertical extent of syrinx.

Results. Sixty consecutive adults had CM-I, 26 of whom also had syringomyelia. The mean BMI among all patients was 30.35 ± 7.65, which is Class I obesity (WHO), and was similar among patients with or without syringomyelia. Extension of the vertical syrinx was greater in overweight patients (p = 0.027) than in those with a normal body weight. Evidence of de novo syrinx formation was found in 2 patients who gained an average BMI of 10.8 points. After repeated decompression and no change in holocord syrinx width or vertical extent, a reduction in the syrinx was seen after BMI decreased 11.7 points in one individual. No correlation was found between patient age and BMI, age and vertical extension of the syrinx, and age and diameter of the syrinx.

Conclusions. An association between increased BMI and CM-I in adults was recognized. Gaining weight may influence the de novo creation of a syrinx in adults who previously had minimally symptomatic or asymptomatic CM-I, and reducing weight can improve a syrinx after unsuccessful surgical decompression. Therefore, a reduction in body weight should be recommended for all overweight and obese patients with CM-I.

Obesity and Brain Addiction Circuitry: Implications for Deep Brain Stimulation

Neurosurgery 71:224–238, 2012 DOI: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e31825972ab

Obesity is a growing health problem worldwide and is responsible for a significant proportion of health expenditures in developed nations. It is also notoriously difficult to treat. Prior attempts at pharmacological or neurological modulation, including deep brain stimulation, have primarily targeted homeostatic mechanisms of weight control centered in the hypothalamus. To date, these attempts have had limited success. Multiple lines of independent data suggest that dysregulated reward circuitry in the brain underlies behaviors leading to obesity.

Here, we review the existing data and related neurocircuitry, as well as the scope of obesity and currently available treatments. Finally, we suggest a neuromodulation strategy geared toward regulating these dysfunctional circuits, primarily by alteration of frontolimbic circuits.

Expanding applications of deep brain stimulation: a potential therapeutic role in obesity and addiction management

Acta Neurochir (2011) 153:2293–2306. DOI 10.1007/s00701-011-1166-3

The indications for deep brain stimulation (DBS) are expanding, and the feasibility and efficacy of this surgical procedure in various neurologic and neuropsychiatric disorders continue to be tested.

This review attempts to provide background and rationale for applying this therapeutic option to obesity and addiction. We review neural targets currently under clinical investigation for DBS—the hypothalamus and nucleus accumbens—in conditions such as cluster headache and obsessive-compulsive disorder. These brain regions have also been strongly implicated in obesity and addiction. These disorders are frequently refractory, with very high rates of weight regain or relapse, respectively, despite the best available treatments.

Methods We performed a structured literature review of the animal studies of DBS, which revealed attenuation of food intake, increased metabolism, or decreased drug seeking. We also review the available radiologic evidence in humans, implicating the hypothalamus and nucleus in obesity and addiction.

Results The available evidence of the promise of DBS in these conditions combined with significant medical need, support pursuing pilot studies and clinical trials of DBS in order to decrease the risk of dietary and drug relapse.

Conclusions Well-designed pilot studies and clinical trials enrolling carefully selected patients with obesity or addiction should be initiated.

Magnetic resonance imaging–graded hypothalamic compression in surgically treated adult craniopharyngiomas determining postoperative obesity

Neurosurg Focus 28 (4):E3, 2010. DOI: 10.3171/2010.1.FOCUS09303

Obesity as a consequence of management of pediatric craniopharyngioma is a well-described phenomenon related to the degree of hypothalamic involvement. However, weight change and obesity have not been analyzed in adult patients. Therefore, the purpose of this study was 1) to evaluate the pattern of postoperative weight gain related to preoperative body mass index (BMI), 2) determine if postoperative weight gain is an issue in adult patients, and 3) develop an objective MR imaging grading system to predict risk of postoperative weight gain and obesity in adults treated for craniopharyngioma.

Methods. The authors retrospectively screened 296 patients with known craniopharyngioma for the following inclusion criteria: pathologically confirmed craniopharyngioma, index surgery at the authors’ institution, and operative weight and height recorded with at least 3 months of follow-up including body weight measurement. Patients aged 18 years or younger were excluded, yielding 28 cases for analysis. Cases of craniopharyngiomas were compared with age- and sex-matched controls (pituitary adenoma patients) to evaluate the pattern and significance of perioperative weight changes.

Results. Mean age was 46 ± 17 years at surgery, and 64% of the patients were male. Complete resection was achieved in 71% of cases. There was no correlation of preoperative BMI and postoperative weight gain testing in a linear model. Sixty-one percent and 46% of patients had postoperative weight gains greater than 4 and 9%, respectively. Comparing craniopharyngioma patients (cases) to age- and sex-matched controls, the preoperative BMIs were similar (p = 0.93) between cases (mean 28.9 [95% CI 30.9–26.9]) and controls (mean 29.3 [95% CI 31.9–26.7]). However, there was a trend to a greater mean postoperative weight change (percentage) in cases (10.1%) than in controls (5.6%) (p = 0.24). Hypothalamic T2 signal change and irregular contrast enhancement correlated and predicted higher-grade hypothalamic involvement. Furthermore, they can be used to objectively grade hypothalamic involvement as the authors propose. Progressive hypothalamic involvement correlated with larger postoperative weight gains (p = 0.022); however, hypothalamic involvement did not correlate with preoperative BMI (p = 0.5).

Conclusions. Postoperative weight gain in adult patients undergoing surgery for craniopharyngioma is a significant problem and correlates with hypothalamic involvement, as it does in pediatric patients. Finally, objective MR imaging criteria can be used to predict risk of postoperative weight gain and aid in grading of hypothalamic involvement.

Craniopharyngiomas: intratumoral chemotherapy with interferon-α: a multicenter preliminary study with 60 cases

Neurosurg Focus 28 (4):E12, 2010. (DOI: 10.3171/2010.1.FOCUS09310)

The authors assessed the efficacy of intratumoral interferon-α (IFNα)–based chemotherapy in pediatric patients with cystic craniopharyngiomas.

Methods. In a prospective multicenter study of 60 pediatric patients, the authors assessed the efficacy of intratumoral INFα2A-based chemotherapy. The study was conducted between 2000 and 2009 at 3 locations: the Medical School of the Federal University of São Paulo, Catholic University of Rome, and the Neurosurgery Institute of Santiago, Chile. The assessment included clinical and radiological control examinations, side effects observed, and total dose used.

Results. Sixty cases of cystic craniopharyngioma were analyzed. The cohort consisted of 35 male and 25 female children (mean age 11 years). Clinical and radiological improvement was achieved in 76% of the cases. New endocrinological deficits were observed in 13% of the cases. In approximately 30% of the patients, the evolution included some light side effects, the most common being headache (33%) and eyelid edema (28%). The number of cycles varied from 1 to 9 (mean 5 cycles), and the total dose applied per cycle was 36,000,000 IU.

Conclusions. This has been the largest documented series of intratumoral chemotherapy using INFα for the control of cystic craniopharyngiomas. The treatment has proved efficacious; there was no mortality, and morbidity rates were low.