Every month, JBJS publishes a Specialty Update—a review of the most pertinent and impactful studies published in the orthopaedic literature during the previous year in 13 subspecialties. Click here for a collection of all OrthoBuzz Specialty Update summaries.
This month, OrthoBuzz asked Chad Krueger, MD, JBJS Deputy Editor for Social Media, to select the five most clinically compelling findings from among the more than 25 studies cited in the June 20, 2018 Specialty Update on Spine Surgery.
—A Level-III retrospective analysis found that patients who received a preoperative cervical epidural steroid injection prior to an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion or a posterior cervical fusion had a significantly greater risk of postoperative infection than those who did not receive a preoperative steroid injection.1 Prospective studies are needed to further clarify the perioperative infection risk associated with cervical epidural steroid injections.
—A Level-II randomized pilot trial comparing titanium-coated PEEK interbody spacers with non-coated PEEK spacers among 40 patients who underwent transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion found that patients in both groups had 92% fusion at 3 months, with no significant between-group differences in pain and disability outcomes.2
—A Level-II randomized study of 108 patients who underwent lumbar discectomy compared outcomes among those who experienced 2 weeks versus 6 weeks of postoperative activity restriction. At the 1-year follow-up there was a nonsignificant difference in recurrent herniation (11% in the 2-week group versus 7% in the 6-week group) and no significant between-group differences in pain or disability scores.3
RF Ablation for Chronic Low Back Pain
—A Level-II meta-analysis involving 454 patients with chronic low back pain found that those who underwent radiofrequency (RF) lumbar-facet denervation had significantly reduced VAS back pain compared to a group that underwent a sham procedure or epidural block. Those in the denervation group who benefited most were those who had responded favorably to an initial diagnostic facet block.4
Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis
—A Level-II study assessing the ability of surface topography to evaluate spinal deformity in children with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis followed 45 patients for 1 year. This method plus radiography allowed researchers to determine mild curves with strong negative predictive value and sensitivity. The authors estimated that surface topographic analyses could reduce patient exposure to ionizing radiation by eliminating 31% of surveillance radiographs in these patients.5
- Cancienne JM, Werner BC, Puvanesarajah V, Hassanzadeh H, Singla A, Shen FH, Shimer AL. Does the timing of preoperative epidural steroid injection affect infection risk after ACDF or posterior cervical fusion?Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2017 Jan 15;42(2):71-7.
- Rickert M, Fleege C, Tarhan T, Schreiner S, Makowski MR, Rauschmann M, Arabmotlagh M. Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion using polyetheretherketone oblique cages with and without a titanium coating: a randomised clinical pilot study. Bone Joint J.2017 Oct;99-B(10):1366-72.
- Bono CM, Leonard DA, Cha TD, Schwab JH, Wood KB, Harris MB, Schoenfeld AJ. The effect of short (2-weeks) versus long (6-weeks) post-operative restrictions following lumbar discectomy: a prospective randomized control trial. Eur Spine J.2017 Mar;26(3):905-12. Epub 2016 Nov 2.
- Lee CH, Chung CK, Kim CH. The efficacy of conventional radiofrequency denervation in patients with chronic low back pain originating from the facet joints: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Spine J.2017 Nov;17(11):1770-80. Epub 2017 May 30.
- Hong A, Jaswal N, Westover L, Parent EC, Moreau M, Hedden D, Adeeb S. Surface topography classification trees for assessing severity and monitoring progression in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Spine (Phila Pa 1976).2017 Jul 1;42(13):E781-7.
The answer to that question depends largely on how much the 90-day episode of care actually costs. Virk et al., in the August 17, 2016 edition of JBJS, provide benchmark data that could help policymakers design bundled payments for cervical fusions that are economically viable for providers.
The authors analyzed the Medicare 5% National Sample Administrative Database and found that 4,506 patients in that cohort underwent a one to two-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) for cervical radiculopathy from 2005 to 2012. The mean cost per patient of the procedure plus the 90-day postoperative period was $15,417. The physician reimbursement represented 20.4% of that total, with the surgeon receiving 18% of the total. Reimbursements for hospitals for inpatient care represented nearly 73% of the total reimbursement. The study did not account for reimbursements from “Medigap” plans or private payers.
The authors also analyzed data from the same database for 90-day episodes of care related to total knee arthroplasty (TKA). The mean per-patient reimbursement for TKA patients was $17,451. The authors noted significant regional variation in reimbursement for ACDF, with the lowest rates in the Northeast and Midwest and the highest rates in the West.
Among the conclusions made by Virk et al. is the following: “Although payments to physicians have been implicated in the rise of health-care costs, the data suggest that the greater opportunity for reducing expenses involves hospital-related reimbursement.”
Click here for more OrthoBuzz coverage of bundled payments in orthopaedics.
Each month during the coming year, OrthoBuzz will bring you a current commentary on a “classic” article from The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. These articles have been selected by the Editor-in-Chief and Deputy Editors of The Journal because of their long-standing significance to the orthopaedic community and the many citations they receive in the literature. Our OrthoBuzz commentators will highlight the impact that these JBJS articles have had on the practice of orthopaedics. Please feel free to join the conversation about these classics by clicking on the “Leave a Comment” button in the box to the left.
It is rare that an article published more than 50 years ago continues to have an impact on clinical practice today. But that is the case with “The Treatment of Certain Cervical-Spine Disorders by Anterior Removal of the Intervertebral Disc and Interbody Fusion.” What make this article so unique are the details that Drs. George Smith and Robert Robinson put into describing the procedure and the careful follow-up of their early experience with this technique.
I have had a copy of this article in my files since I was a resident at Yale, training with Wayne Southwick, who had trained with Dr. Robinson at the time this approach to the cervical spine was developed. The two key contributors to anterior cervical spine surgery back in the 1950s were Dr. Robinson and the neurosurgeon Dr. Ralph Cloward.
Dr. Robinson’s technique has the support of biomechanical principles, which makes this particular approach and bone-graft fusion construct inherently stable; hence, its continued use to this very day. However, back in the ‘50s, and even when I trained in the 1970s, hardware to stabilize the spine following discectomy was not available in the US.
The approach that these authors described is very versatile and is utilized for all sorts of anterior procedures, including removal of intervertebral discs, arthrodesis, and vertebrectomy, and it allows for doing multiple-level procedures. The technique I use today is the same one that Dr. Southwick taught me and that he learned directly from Dr. Robinson.
Dr. Robinson has had a major impact on cervical spine surgery, and it was estimated that at one time 33% to 50% of members of the Cervical Spine Research Society were trained by him, by one of his residents or fellows, or by one of their residents or fellows—Dr. Robinson’s “offspring.”
I believe this technique will continue to stand the test of time, as it has during the past half century, and will have a major influence on spine surgery well into the future.
Charles Clark, MD
JBJS Deputy Editor for Adult Reconstruction and Spine