Pain alleviation and functional improvement: ultra-early patient-reported outcome measures after full endoscopic spine surgery

J Neurosurg Spine 40:465–474, 2024

Questions regarding anticipated pain improvement and functional recovery postsurgery are frequently posed in preoperative consultations. However, a lack of data characterizing outcomes for the first postoperative days only allows for anecdotal answers. Hence, the assessment of ultra-early patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) is essential for patient-provider communication and patient satisfaction. The aim of this study was to elucidate this research gap by assessing and characterizing PROMs for the first days after full endoscopic spine surgery (FESS).

METHODS This multicenter study included patients undergoing lumbar FESS from March 2021 to July 2023. After informed consent was provided, data were collected prospectively through a smartphone application. Patients underwent either discectomy or decompression. Analyzed parameters included demographics, surgical details, visual analog scale scores for both back and leg pain, and the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score. Data were acquired daily for the 1st postoperative week, as well as after 2 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months.

RESULTS A total of 182 patients were included, of whom 102 underwent FESS discectomy and 80 underwent FESS decompression. Significant differences between the discectomy and decompression groups were found for age (mean 50.45 ± 15.28 years and 63.85 ± 13.25 years, p < 0.001; respectively), sex (p = 0.007), and surgery duration (73.45 ± 45.23 minutes vs 98.05 ± 46.47 minutes, p < 0.001; respectively). Patients in both groups reported a significant amelioration of leg pain on the 1st postoperative day (discectomy group VAS score: 6.2 ± 2.6 vs 2.4 ± 2.9, p < 0.001; decompression group: 5.3 ± 2.8 vs 1.9 ± 2.2, p < 0.001) and of back pain within the 1st postoperative week (discectomy group VAS score: 5.5 ± 2.8 vs 2.8 ± 2.2, p < 0.001; decompression group: 5.2 ± 2.7 vs 3.1 ± 2.4, p < 0.001). ODI score improvement was most pronounced at the 3-month time point (discectomy group: 21.7 ± 9.1 vs 9.3 ± 9.1, p < 0.001; decompression group: 19.3 ± 7.8 vs 9.9 ± 8.3, p < 0.001). For both groups, pain improvement within the 1st week after surgery was highly predictive of later benefits.

CONCLUSIONS Ultra-early PROMs reveal an immediate pain improvement after FESS. While the benefits in pain reduction plateaued within the 1st postoperative week for both groups, functional improvements developed over a more extended period. These results illustrate a biphasic rehabilitation process wherein initial pain alleviation transitions into functional improvement over time.

Hospital cost differences between open and endoscopic lumbar spine decompression surgery

J Neurosurg Spine 40:77–83, 2024

In recent years, fully endoscopic decompression surgery for degenerative spine disease has become increasingly popular in the US. Although an endoscopic approach has demonstrated some benefits compared with open procedures in randomized controlled trials, the cost of advanced technologies remains contested. The authors evaluated the differences in costs and cost drivers between open and endoscopic decompression surgical procedures performed at a single institution.

METHODS Using associated Current Procedural Terminology codes, the authors identified all open and endoscopic decompression lumbar surgical procedures performed from January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2022. Preoperative comorbidities, surgical characteristics, and postoperative outcomes were captured. The costs of index surgery–related readmission for revision, washout, or other complications were included in the index surgery expenses. Associated inhospital costs were collected; these were reported in comparative percentages with open surgical procedures as the baseline because of an institutional agreement. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed.

RESULTS The retrospective search identified 633 open surgical procedures and 195 endoscopic surgical procedures for inclusion. The two patient cohorts were similar, with clinically nonrelevant but statistically significant differences in mean age (open 55.7 years vs endoscopic 59.4 years, p = 0.01) and mean American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status class (open 2.3 vs endoscopic 2.4, p = 0.03). Postoperatively, patients who underwent open surgical procedures had significantly longer mean hospital stays (open 1.4 days vs endoscopic 0.7, p < 0.01) and more perioperative complications (open 7.9% of patients vs endoscopic 3.1%, p = 0.02), and they required washout surgical procedures in some cases (open 1.3% vs endoscopic 0%, p = 0.12). The largest cost difference between open and endoscopic surgical procedures was the significantly greater cost of disposable supplies for endoscopic cases (10.1% vs 31.7% of the total cost of open procedures, p < 0.01), and open surgical procedures were generally less costly in total (100.0% vs 115.1%, p < 0.01). In multivariate linear regression, endoscopic surgery was independently associated with greater total costs (standardized beta 15.9%, p < 0.01), although length of hospital stay (standardized beta 34.0%) and readmissions (standardized beta 30.0%, p < 0.01) had larger effects on cost.

CONCLUSIONS The endoscopic approach was associated with greater total in-hospital costs compared with open procedures. The findings of further cost evaluations, including those of patient-reported outcomes, social cost, and capital costs per procedure type, need to be included in operational and clinical decisions.

Midline lumbar interbody fusion: a review of the surgical technique and outcomes

J Neurosurg Spine 39:462–470, 2023

Midline lumbar interbody fusion (MidLIF) is a mini-open posterior interbody fusion technique defined by a cortical screw trajectory wherein screws are placed from a more medial to lateral trajectory compared with traditional pedicle screws. This enables the surgeon to perform a smaller muscle dissection with the benefits of improved blood loss, less muscle retraction, decreased operative time, shorter length of stay, and improved back pain outcomes compared with the traditional posterior lumbar interbody fusion techniques utilizing pedicle screw fixation.

Importantly, MidLIF offers comparable clinical outcomes and radiographic outcomes to other posterior lumbar interbody fusion techniques.

In the current review, the authors aimed to educate readers about the MidLIF surgical technique, as well as surgical, clinical, radiographic, cost effectiveness, and biomechanical outcomes, when compared with both open and minimally invasive posterior lumbar interbody fusion techniques with pedicle screw fixation.

Readers will be able to utilize this information to determine how the MidLIF procedure compares as an alternative to traditional techniques.

Spinal Intradural Arachnoid Cysts in Adults

Neurosurgery 92:450–463, 2023

Adult spinal intradural arachnoid cysts are rare pathologic entities with an unclear etiopathogenesis. These lesions can be dichotomized into primary (idiopathic) or secondary (related to inflammation, intradural surgery, or trauma) etiologies. Limited series have depicted optimal management strategies and clinical outcomes.

OBJECTIVE: To illustrate our experience with spinal intradural arachnoid cysts and to present a literature review of surgically treated cysts to elucidate the clinical and anatomic differences between etiologies.

METHODS: Institutional review revealed 29 patients. Various data were extracted from the medical record. Initial and follow-up symptomatologies of the surgical cohort were compared. The literature review included case series describing cysts managed surgically.

RESULTS: From patients treated surgically at our institution (22), there was a significant reduction in thoracic back pain postoperatively (P = .034). A literature review yielded 271 additional cases. Overall, primary and secondary lesions accounted for 254 and 39 cases, respectively. Cysts of secondary origin were more likely localized ventral to the spinal cord (P = .013). The rate of symptomatic improvement after surgical intervention for primary cysts was more than double than that of secondary cysts (P < .001). Compared with primary etiologies, the rates of radiographic progression (P = .032) and repeat surgery (P = .041) were each more than double for secondary cysts.

CONCLUSION: Surgical intervention for spinal intradural arachnoid cysts improves thoracic back pain. The literature supports surgical intervention for symptomatic primary spinal intradural arachnoid cysts with improved clinical outcomes. Surgery should be cautiously considered for secondary cysts given worse outcomes.

Do the newly proposed realignment targets for C2 and T1 slope bridge the gap between radiographic and clinical success in corrective surgery for adult cervical deformity?

J Neurosurg Spine 37:368–375, 2022

Surgical correction of cervical deformity (CD) has been associated with superior alignment and functional outcomes. It has not yet been determined whether baseline or postoperative T1 slope (T1S) and C2 slope (C2S) correlate with health-related quality-of-life (HRQoL) metrics and radiographic complications, such as distal junctional kyphosis (DJK) and distal junctional failure (DJF). The objective of this study was to determine the impact of T1S and C2S deformity severity on HRQoL metrics and DJF development in patients with CD who underwent a cervical fusion procedure.

METHODS All operative CD patients with upper instrumented vertebra above C7 and preoperative (baseline) and up to 2-year postoperative radiographic and HRQoL data were included. CD was defined as meeting at least one of the following radiographic parameters: C2–7 lordosis < −15°, TS1–cervical lordosis mismatch > 35°, segmental cervical kyphosis > 15° across any 3 vertebrae between C2 and T1, C2–7 sagittal vertical axis > 4 cm, McGregor’s slope > 20°, or chin-brow vertical angle > 25°. Spearman’s rank-order correlation and linear regression analysis assessed the impact of T1S and C2S on HRQoL metrics (Neck Disability Index [NDI], modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association [mJOA] scale, EuroQOL 5-Dimension Questionnaire [EQ-5D] visual analog scale [VAS] score, and numeric rating scale [NRS]–neck) and complications (DJK, DJF, reoperation). Logistic regression and a conditional inference tree (CIT) were used to determine radiographic thresholds for achieving optimal clinical outcome, defined as meeting good clinical outcome criteria (≥ 2 of the following: NDI < 20 or meeting minimal clinically important difference, mild myelopathy [mJOA score ≥ 14], and NRS-neck ≤ 5 or improved by ≥ 2 points), not undergoing reoperation, or developing DJF or mechanical complication by 2 years.

RESULTS One hundred five patients with CD met inclusion criteria. By surgical approach, 14.7% underwent an anterioronly approach, 46.1% a posterior-only approach, and 39.2% combined anterior and posterior approaches. The mean baseline radiographic parameters were T1S 28.3° ± 14.5° and C2S 25.9° ± 17.5°. Significant associations were found between 3-month C2S and mJOA score (r = −0.248, p = 0.034), NDI (r = 0.399, p = 0.001), EQ-5D VAS (r = −0.532, p < 0.001), NRS-neck (r = 0.239, p = 0.040), and NRS-back (r = 0.264, p = 0.021), while significant correlation was also found between 3-month T1S and mJOA score (r = −0.314, p = 0.026), NDI (r = 0.445, p = 0.001), EQ-5D VAS (r = −0.347, p = 0.018), and NRS-neck (r = 0.269, p = 0.049). A significant correlation was also found between development of DJF and 3-month C2S (odds ratio [OR] 1.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01–1.1, p = 0.015) as well as for T1S (OR 1.1, 95% CI 1.01–1.1, p = 0.023). Logistic regression with CIT identified thresholds for optimal outcome by 2 years: optimal 3-month T1S < 26° (OR 5.6) and C2S < 10° (OR 10.4), severe 3-month T1S < 45.5° (OR 0.2) and C2S < 38.0° (no patient above this threshold achieved optimal outcome; all p < 0.05). Patients below both optimal thresholds achieved rates of 0% for DJK and DJF, and 100% met optimal outcome.

CONCLUSIONS The severity of CD, defined by T1S and C2S at baseline and especially at 3 months, can be predictive of postoperative functional improvement and occurrence of worrisome complications in patients with CD, necessitating the use of thresholds in surgical planning to achieve optimal outcomes.

3D printing applications in spine surgery: an evidence‑based assessment toward personalized patient care

European Spine Journal (2022) 31:1682–1690

Spine surgery entails a wide spectrum of complicated pathologies. Over the years, numerous assistive tools have been introduced to the modern neurosurgeon’s armamentarium including neuronavigation and visualization technologies. In this review, we aimed to summarize the available data on 3D printing applications in spine surgery as well as an assessment of the future implications of 3D printing.

Methods We performed a comprehensive review of the literature on 3D printing applications in spine surgery.

Results Over the past decade, 3D printing and additive manufacturing applications, which allow for increased precision and customizability, have gained significant traction, particularly spine surgery. 3D printing applications in spine surgery were initially limited to preoperative visualization, as 3D printing had been primarily used to produce preoperative models of patient-specific deformities or spinal tumors. More recently, 3D printing has been used intraoperatively in the form of 3D customizable implants and personalized screw guides.

Conclusions Despite promising preliminary results, the applications of 3D printing are so recent that the available data regarding these new technologies in spine surgery remains scarce, especially data related to long-term outcomes.


Hounsfield Unit as a Predictor of Adjacent-Level Disease in Lumbar Interbody Fusion Surgery

Neurosurgery 91:146–149, 2022

Bone density has been associated with a successful fusion rate in spine surgery. Hounsfield units (HUs) have more recently been evaluated as an indirect representation of bone density. Low preoperative HUs may be an early indicator of global disease and chronic process and, therefore, indicative of the need for future reoperation.

OBJECTIVE: To assess preoperative HUs and their association with future adjacent segment disease requiring surgical intervention through retrospective study.

METHODS: Patients who underwent lumbar interbody fusion at a single institution between 2007 and 2016 were retrospectively reviewed. Hounsfield unit values were measured from preoperative computed tomography (CT) using sagittal images, encircling cancellous portion of the vertebral body. Patient charts were reviewed for follow-up data and adjacent-level disease development.

RESULTS: A total of 793 patients (age: 56.1 ± 13.7 years, 54.4% female) were included in this study. Twenty-two patients required surgical intervention for adjacent segment disease. Patients who underwent lumbar interbody fusion and did not subsequently require surgical intervention for adjacent-level disease were found to have a higher mean preoperative HU than patients who did require reoperation (180.7 ± 70.0 vs 148.4 ± 8.1, P = .032). Preoperative CT HU was a significant independent predictor for the requirement of adjacent-level surgery after spinal arthrodesis (odds ratio = 0.891 [0.883-0.899], P = .029).

CONCLUSION: Patients who underwent lumbar interbody fusion that did not require reoperation for adjacent-level degeneration were found to have a higher mean preoperative HU than patients who did require surgical intervention. Lower preoperative CT HU was a significant independent predictor for the requirement of adjacent-level surgery after spinal arthrodesis.

Influence of Time of Discharge and Length of Stay on 30-Day Outcomes After Elective Anterior Cervical Spine Surgery

Neurosurgery 90:734–742, 2022

Encouraging early time of discharge (TOD) for medical inpatients is commonplace and may potentially improve patient throughput. It is unclear, however, whether early TOD after elective spine surgery achieves this goal without a consequent increase in re-presentations to the hospital.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether early TOD results in increased rates of hospital read- mission or return to the emergency department after elective anterior cervical spine surgery.

METHODS: We analyzed 686 patients who underwent elective uncomplicated anterior cervical spine surgery at a single institution. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the relationship between sociodemographic, procedural, and discharge characteristics, and the outcomes of readmission or return to the emergency department and TOD.

RESULTS: In multiple logistic regression, TOD was not associated with increased risk of readmission or return to the emergency department within 30 days of surgery. Weekend discharge (odds ratio [OR] 0.33, 95% CI 0.21-0.53), physical therapy evaluation (OR 0.44, 95% CI 0.28-0.71), and occupational therapy evaluation (OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.17-0.63) were all significantly associated with decreased odds of discharge before noon. Disadvantaged status, as measured by area of deprivation index, was associated with increased odds of readmission or re-presentation (OR 1.86, 95% CI 0.95-3.66), although this result did not achieve statistical significance.

CONCLUSION: There does not appear to be an association between readmission or return to the emergency department and early TOD after elective spine surgery. Overuse of inpatient physical and occupational therapy consultations may contribute to decreased patient throughput in surgical admissions.

Spinal Arachnoid Webs

Neurosurgery 89:917–927, 2021

Spinal arachnoid webs are rarely described bands of thickened arachnoid tissue in the dorsal thoracic spine. Much is unknown regarding their origins, risk factors, natural history, and outcomes.

OBJECTIVE: To present the single largest case series, detailing presenting symptoms and outcomes amongst operative and nonoperative patients, to better understand the role of intervention.

METHODS: This retrospective chart review identified 38 patients with arachnoid webs. Patient demographics, radiologic signs, symptoms, and surgical history data were extracted from the electronic medical record. Symptoms were divided by location and character. 28 patients were successfully contacted for follow up outcome surveys.

RESULTS: 26 patients (68%) underwent surgical intervention, 12 (32%) were managed non-operatively. 15 (39%) patients had undergone a previous unsuccessful surgery at a different site for their symptoms prior to arachnoid web diagnosis. Commonly presenting symptoms included myelopathy (68%), focal thoracic back pain (68%), lower extremity weakness (45%), numbness and sensory changes (58%), and lower extremity radicular pain (42%), upper extremity weakness (24%), and radicular pain (37%). Focal thoracic pain was associated with thoracic level (P < .02). Myelopathic symptoms were less common in postoperative patients. Postoperative patients described significantly more upper extremity (P < .01) and thoracic (P < .01) numbness and paresthesias. Surveyed nonoperative patients universally described their symptoms as either stable orworsening.

CONCLUSION: Spinal arachnoid webs present with thoracic myelopathy and back pain but can also present with upper extremity symptoms. Surgical intervention stabilizes or improves symptoms and is well received. Nonoperative patients do not spontaneously improve.


Tear-drop technique in iliac screw placement: a technical analysis

Acta Neurochirurgica (2021) 163:1577–1581

Instrumentation of the lumbosacral region is one of the more challenging regions due to the complex anatomical structures and biomechanical forces. Screw insertion can be done both navigated and based on X-ray verification. In this study, we demonstrate a fast and reliable open, low exposure X-ray-guided technique of iliac screw placement.

Methods Between October 2016 and August 2019, 48 patients underwent sacropelvic fixation in tear-drop technique. Screw insertion was performed in open technique by using an X-ray converter angulated 25-30° in coronal and sagittal view. The anatomical insertion point was the posterior superior iliac spine. Verification of correct screw placement was done by intraoperative 3D scan.

Results In total, 95 iliac screws were placed in tear-drop technique with a correct placement in 98.1%.

Conclusions The tear-drop technique showed a proper screw position in the intraoperative 3D scan and therefore may be considered an alternative technique to the navigated screw placement.

The Oblique Corridor at L4-L5

SPINE Volume 45, Number 10, pp E552–E559

Study Design. Cross-sectional radioanatomical study.

Objective. The aim of this study was to analyze the prevalence, size, and location of the oblique corridor (OC), and the morphology of the psoas muscle at the L4-L5 disc level.

Summary of Background Data. Lateral lumbar interbody fusion via the OC has the advantage of avoiding injury to the psoas muscle and lumbar plexus. However, the varying anatomy of major vascular structures and the iliopsoas may preclude a safe oblique access to the L4-L5 level.

Methods. Five hundred axial magnetic resonance images of the L4-L5 disc level were shortlisted. OCs were categorized into four grades: Grade 0 ¼ no corridor, Grade 1 ¼ small corridor (1 cm), Grade 2 ¼ moderate corridor (1–2 cm) and Grade 3 ¼ large corridor (>2 cm). OC location was labeled as anterooblique, oblique, or oblique-lateral. Psoas morphology was categorized based on a modified Moro’s classification, where the anterior section was further subdivided into types AI-AIV. Oblique approach was considered nonviable either when there was no corridor due to vascular obstruction (Grade 0) or when the psoas was high-rising (Types AII-AIV).

Results. 10.5% of the selected 449 patients had no measurable OC (grade 0) at the L4-L5 level. There were 35% and 37.2% patients with a grade 1and 2 OC, respectively. The location of the OC was anterior oblique, oblique, and oblique lateral in 3.7%, 89.6%, and 6.7%, respectively. According to the modified Moro’s classification, 19.4% had a high-rising psoas. Predominantly, psoas was either in line with the disc (Type I; 30.7%) or low-rising (Type AI; 47.4%).

Conclusion. Twenty-five percent of the patients did not have an accessible OC either due to obstruction by vascular structures or due to a high-rising psoas. Hence, proper evaluation of the relevant anatomy preoperatively is recommended for early adopters of this technique, as varying anatomy precludes universal suitability of oblique lateral interbody fusion for the L4-L5 level.

Level of Evidence: 3

Kambin’s triangle: definition and new classification schema

J Neurosurg Spine 32:390–398, 2020

Kambin’s triangle is an anatomical corridor used to access critical structures in a variety of spinal procedures. It is considered a safe space because it is devoid of vascular and neural structures of importance. Nonetheless, there is currently significant variation in the literature regarding the exact dimensions and anatomical borders of Kambin’s triangle. This confusion was originally caused by leaving the superior articular process (SAP) unassigned in the description of the working triangle, despite Kambin identifying that structure in his original report. The SAP is the most relevant structure to consider when accessing the transforaminal corridor. Leaving the SAP unassigned has led to an open-handed application of the term “Kambin’s triangle.” That single eponym currently has two potential meanings, one meaning for endoscopic surgeons working through a corridor in the intact spine and a second meaning for surgeons accessing the disc space after a complete or partial facetectomy. Nevertheless, an anatomical corridor should have one consistent definition to clearly communicate techniques and use of instrumentation performed through that space. As such, the authors propose a new surgically relevant classification of this corridor. Assigning the SAP a border requires adding another dimension to the triangle, thereby transforming it into a prism. The term “Kambin’s prism” indicates the assignment of a border to all relevant anatomical structures, allowing for a uniform definition of the 3D space. From there, the classification scheme considers the expansion of the corridor and the extent of bone removal, with a particular focus on the SAP.

Emergency Department Visits After Elective Spine Surgery

Neurosurgery, Volume 85, Issue 2, August 2019, Pages E258–E265

Emergency department (ED) overuse is a costly and often neglected source of postdischarge resource utilization after spine surgery. Failing to investigate drivers of ED visits represents a missed opportunity to improve the value of care in spine patients.

OBJECTIVE: To identify the prevalence, drivers, and timing of ED visits following elective spine surgery.

METHODS: Patients undergoing elective spine surgery for degenerative disease at a major medical center were enrolled in a prospective longitudinal registry. Patient and surgery characteristics, and patient-reported outcomes were recorded at baseline and 3 mo after surgery, along with self-reported 90-d ED visits. A multivariable regression model was used to identify independent factors associated with 90-d ED visits. For a sample of patients presenting to our institution’s ED, charts were reviewed to identify the reason and time to ED postdischarge.

RESULTS: Of 2762 patients, we found a 90-d ED visit rate of 9.4%. One-third of patients presented to our institution’s ED and of these, 70% presented due to pain or medical concerns at 9 and 7 d postdischarge, respectively, with 60% presenting outside normal clinic hours. Independent risk factors for 90-d ED visits included younger age, preoperative opioid use, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, and more vertebral levels involved.

CONCLUSION: Nearly 10% of elective spine patients had 90-d ED visits not requiring readmission. Pain and medical concerns accounted for 70% of visits at our center, occurring within 10 d of discharge. This study provides the clinical details and a timeline necessary to guide individualized interventions to prevent unnecessary, costly ED visits after spine surgery.

Surgical Resection With Radiation Treatment Planning of Spinal Tumors

Neurosurgery, Volume 84, Issue 6, June 2019, Pages 1242–1250

The clinical paradigm for spinal tumors with epidural involvement is challenging considering the rigid dose tolerance of the spinal cord. One effective approach involves open surgery for tumor resection, followed by stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT). Resection extent is often determined by the neurosurgeon’s clinical expertise, without considering optimal subsequent post-operative SBRT treatment.

OBJECTIVE: To quantify the effect of incremental epidural disease resection on tumor coverage for spine SBRT in an effort toworking towards integrating radiotherapy planning within the operating room.

METHODS: Ten patients having undergone spinal separation surgery with postoperative SBRTwere retrospectively reviewed. Preoperative magnetic resonance imaging was coregistered to postoperative planning computed tomography to delineate the preoperative epidural disease gross tumor volume (GTV). The GTV was digitally shrunk by a series of fixed amounts away from the cord (up to 6 mm) simulating incremental tumor resection and reflecting an optimal dosimetric endpoint. The dosimetric effect on simulated GTVs was analyzed using metrics such as minimum biologically effective dose (BED) to 95% of the simulated GTV (D95) and compared to the unresected epidural GTV.

RESULTS: Epidural GTV D95 increased at an average rate of 0.88 ± 0.09 Gy10 per mm of resected disease up to the simulated 6 mm limit. Mean BED to D95 was 5.3 Gy10 (31.2%) greater than unresected cases. Allmetrics showed strong positive correlationswith increasing tumor resection margins (R2: 0.989-0.999, P< .01).

CONCLUSION: Spine separation surgery provides division between the spinal cord and epidural disease, facilitating better disease coverage for subsequent post-operative SBRT. By quantifying the dosimetric advantage prior to surgery on actual clinical cases, targeted surgical planning can be implemented.

The Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System in spine surgery: a systematic review

J Neurosurg Spine 30:405–413, 2019

The Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) was developed to provide a standardized measure of clinical outcomes that is valid and reliable across a variety of patient populations. PROMIS has exhibited strong correlations with many legacy patient-reported outcome (PRO) measures. However, it is unclear to what extent PROMIS has been used within the spine literature. In this context, the purpose of this systematic review was to provide a comprehensive overview of the PROMIS literature for spine-specific populations that can be used to inform clinicians and guide future work. Specifically, the authors aimed to 1) evaluate publication trends of PROMIS in the spine literature, 2) assess how studies have used PROMIS, and 3) determine the correlations of PROMIS domains with legacy PROs as reported for spine populations.

METHODS Studies reporting PROMIS scores among spine populations were identified from PubMed/MEDLINE and a review of reference lists from obtained studies. Articles were excluded if they did not report original results, or if the study population was not evaluated or treated for spine-related complaints. Characteristics of each study and journal in which it was published were recorded. Correlation of PROMIS to legacy PROs was reported with 0.1 ≤ |r| < 0.3, 0.3 ≤ |r| < 0.5, and |r| ≥ 0.5 indicating weak, moderate, and strong correlations, respectively.

RESULTS Twenty-one articles were included in this analysis. Twelve studies assessed the validity of PROMIS whereas 9 used PROMIS as an outcome measure. The first study discussing PROMIS in patients with spine disorders was published in 2012, whereas the majority were published in 2017. The most common PROMIS domain used was Pain Interference. Assessments of PROMIS validity were most frequently performed with the Neck Disability Index. PROMIS domains demonstrated moderate to strong correlations with the legacy PROs that were evaluated. Studies assessing the validity of PROMIS exhibited substantial variability in PROMIS domains and legacy PROs used for comparisons.

CONCLUSIONS There has been a recent increase in the use of PROMIS within the spine literature. However, only a minority of studies have incorporated PROMIS for its intended use as an outcomes measure. Overall, PROMIS has exhibited moderate to strong correlations with a majority of legacy PROs used in the spine literature. These results suggest that PROMIS can be effective in the assessment and tracking of PROs among spine populations.


Anterior Reduction and Fusion of Cervical Facet Dislocations

Neurosurgery 84:388–395, 2019

Cervical facet dislocations are among the most common traumatic spinal injuries. Posterior, anterior, and combined surgical approaches have been described and are widely debated.

OBJECTIVE: To demonstrate efficacy in anterior-only surgical management for subaxial cervical facet dislocations.

METHODS: A consistent surgical algorithm for cervical facet dislocation was applied over a 19-yr period and analyzed retrospectively in adults with acute unilateral or bilateral facet dislocation of the subaxial cervical spine. The primary endpoint was maintenance of early cervical alignment. The need for additional posterior instrumented fusion was determined.

RESULTS: A database search identified 96 patients (mean age = 37.9, range = 14-74 yr, 68 (70%) male. The most common affected levels were C4-C5 (30), C5-C6 (29), and C6-C7 (30). Bilateral dislocation occurred in 51 patients (53%). Seventy-eight (81%) patients had neurological deficits, 31 (32%) being complete (Abbreviated Injury Score A) spinal cord injuries. Preoperative closed reductionwas attempted in 60 (63%) patients, with 33 (55%) achieving satisfactory alignment. After anterior cervical discectomy, reduction, allograft placement, and instrumentation, a total of 92 (96%) patients had achieved satisfactory realignment. Median time to surgery was 13.27 h. Eight (8%) patients required posterior fixation due to intraoperative determination of incomplete realignment (4; 4%) and development of early progressive deformity (4; 4%). Mean follow-up was 4.5 mo (range 0.5-24 mo) with 33 (34%) patients lost to follow-up.

CONCLUSION: Anterior approaches are viable for reduction and stabilization of cervical facet dislocations. Further prospective studies are required to evaluate clinical and longterm success.

Robot-assisted intravertebral augmentation corrects local kyphosis more effectively than a conventional fluoroscopy-guided technique

J Neurosurg Spine 30:289–295, 2019

Intravertebral augmentation (IVA) is a reliable minimally invasive technique for treating Magerl type A vertebral body fractures. However, poor correction of kyphotic angulation, the risk of cement leakage, and significant exposure to radiation (for the surgeon, the operating room staff, and the patient) remain significant issues. The authors conducted a study to assess the value of robot-assisted IVA (RA-IVA) for thoracolumbar vertebral body fractures.

METHODS The authors performed a retrospective, single-center study of patients who had undergone RA-IVA or conventional fluoroscopy-guided IVA (F-IVA) for thoracolumbar vertebral body fractures. Installation and operating times, guidance accuracy, residual local kyphosis, degree of restoration of vertebral body height, incidence of cement leakage, rate of morbidity, length of hospital stay, and radiation-related data were recorded.

RESULTS Data obtained in 30 patients who underwent RA-IVA were compared with those obtained in 30 patients who underwent F-IVA during the same period (the surgical indications were identical, but the surgeons were different). The mean ± SD installation time in the RA-IVA group (24 ± 7.5 minutes) was significantly shorter (p = 0.005) than that in the F-IVA group (26 ± 8 minutes). The mean operating time for the RA-IVA group (52 ± 11 minutes) was significantly longer (p = 0.026) than that for the F-IVA group (30 ± 11 minutes). All RA-IVAs and F-IVAs were Ravi’s scale grade A (no pedicle breach). The mean degree of residual local kyphosis (4.7° ± 3.15°) and the percentage of vertebral body height restoration (63.6% ± 21.4%) were significantly better after RA-IVA than after F-IVA (8.4° ± 5.4° and 30% ± 34%, respectively). The incidence of cement leakage was significantly lower in the RA-IVA group (p < 0.05). The mean length of hospital stay after surgery was 3.2 days for both groups. No surgery-related complications occurred in either group. With RA-IVA, the mean radiation exposure was 438 ± 147 mGy × cm for the patient and 30 ± 17 mGy for the surgeon.

CONCLUSIONS RA-IVA provided better vertebral body fracture correction than the conventional F-IVA. However, RAIVA requires more time than F-IVA.


Drivers of Variability in 90-Day Cost for Elective Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion for Cervical Degenerative Disease

Neurosurgery 83:898–904, 2018

Value-based episode of care reimbursement models is being investigated to curb unsustainable health care costs. Any variation in the cost of index spine surgery can affect the payment bundling during the 90-d global period.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the drivers of variability in cost for patients undergoing elective anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) for degenerative cervical spine disease.

METHODS: Four hundred forty-five patients undergoing elective ACDF for cervical spine degenerative diagnoses were included in the study. The direct 90-d cost was derived as sum of cost of surgery, cost associated with postdischarge utilization. Multiple variable linear regression models were built for total 90-d cost.

RESULTS: The mean 90-d direct cost was $17685 ± $5731. In a multiple variable linear regression model, the length of surgery, number of levels involved, length of hospital stay, preoperative history of anticoagulation medication, health-care resource utilization including number of imaging, any complications and readmission encounter were the significant contributor to the 90-d cost. The model performance as measured by R2 was 0.616.

CONCLUSION: There was considerable variation in total 90-d cost for elective ACDF surgery. Our model can explain about 62% of these variations in 90-d cost. The episode of care reimbursement models needs to take into account these variations and be inclusive of the factors that drive the variation in cost to develop a sustainable payment model. The generalized applicability should take in to account the differences in patient population, surgeons’ and institution-specific differences.

Use of the Airo mobile intraoperative CT system versus the O-arm for transpedicular screw fixation in the thoracic and lumbar spine

J Neurosurg Spine 29:397–406, 2018

Navigation-enabling technology such as 3D-platform (O-arm) or intraoperative mobile CT (iCT-Airo) systems for use in spinal surgery has considerably improved accuracy over that of traditional fluoroscopy-guided techniques during pedicular screw positioning. In this study, the authors compared 2 intraoperative imaging systems with navigation, available in their neurosurgical unit, in terms of the accuracy they provided for transpedicular screw fixation in the thoracic and lumbar spine.

METHODS The authors performed a retrospective analysis of clinical and surgical data of 263 consecutive patients who underwent thoracic and lumbar spine screw placement in the same center. Data on 97 patients who underwent surgery with iCT-Airo navigation (iCT-Airo group) and 166 with O-arm navigation (O-arm group) were analyzed. Most patients underwent surgery for a degenerative or traumatic condition that involved thoracic and lumbar pedicle screw fixation using an open or percutaneous technique. The primary endpoint was the proportion of patients with at least 1 screw not correctly positioned according to the last intraoperative image. Secondary endpoints were the proportion of screws that were repositioned during surgery, the proportion of patients with a postoperative complication related to screw malposition, surgical time, and radiation exposure. A blinded radiologist graded screw positions in the last intraoperative image according to the Heary classification (grade 1–3 screws were considered correctly placed).

RESULTS A total of 1361 screws placed in 97 patients in the iCT-Airo group (503 screws) and in 166 in the O-arm group (858 screws) were graded. Of those screws, 3 (0.6%) in the iCT-Airo group and 4 (0.5%) in the O-arm group were misplaced. No statistically significant difference in final accuracy between these 2 groups or in the subpopulation of patients who underwent percutaneous surgery was found. Three patients in the iCT-Airo group (3.1%, 95% CI 0%–6.9%) and 3 in the O-arm group (1.8%, 95% CI 0%–4.0%) had a misplaced screw (Heary grade 4 or 5). Seven (1.4%) screws in the iCT-Airo group and 37 (4.3%) in the O-arm group were repositioned intraoperatively (p = 0.003). One patient in the iCT-Airo group and 2 in the O-arm group experienced postoperative neurological deficits related to hardware malposition. The mean surgical times in both groups were similar (276 [iCT-Airo] and 279 [O-arm] minutes). The mean exposure to radiation in the iCT-Airo group was significantly lower than that in the O-arm group (15.82 vs 19.12 mSv, respectively; p = 0.02).

CONCLUSIONS Introduction of a mobile CT scanner reduced the rate of screw repositioning, which enhanced patient safety and diminished radiation exposure for patients, but it did not improve overall accuracy compared to that of a mobile 3D platform.


Reduced Acute Care Costs With the ERAS ® Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion Compared With Conventional Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Neurosurgery 83:827–834, 2018

Enhancing Recovery After Surgery (ERAS (R)  ) programs have been widely adopted throughout the world, but not in spinal surgery. In this report, we review the implementation of a “fast track”surgery for lumbar fusion and its effect on acute care hospitalization costs.

OBJECTIVE: To determine if a “fast track” surgery methodology results in acute care cost savings.

METHODS: Thirty-eight consecutive ERAS patients were compared with patients undergoing conventional minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion. Differences between these groups included the use of endoscopic decompression, injections of liposomal bupivacaine, and performing the surgery under sedation in the ERAS R  group.

RESULTS: Patients had similar medical comorbidities (2.02 vs 2 for ERAS R  and comparator groups, respectively; P = .458). Body mass index was similar (26.5 vs 27.0; P = .329). ERAS R  patients were older (65 vs 59 yr, P= .031). Both groups had excellent clinical results with an improvement of 23% and 24%, respectively. Intraoperative blood loss was less (68±31 cc vs 231±73, P<0.001). Length of staywas also less with ERAS R  surgery, at ameanof 1.23±0.8 d vs 3.9 ± 1.1 d (P = 0.009). When comparing ERAS R  surgery to standard minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion, the total cost for the acute care hospitalization was $19212vs $22656, respectively(P<0.001). This reflected an average of $3444 in savings, which was a 15.2% reduction.

CONCLUSION: ERAS (R)  programs for spinal fusion surgery have the potential to reduce the costs of acute care. This is made possible by leveraging less invasive interventions to minimize soft tissue damage.