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1.  Training safer surgeons: How do patients view the role of simulation in orthopaedic training? 
Background
Simulation allows training without posing risk to patient safety. It has developed in response to the demand for patient safety and the reduced training times for surgeons. Whilst there is an increasing role of simulation in orthopaedic training, the perception of patients and the general public of this novel method is yet unknown. Patients and the public were given the opportunity to perform a diagnostic knee arthroscopy on a virtual reality ARTHRO Mentor simulator. After their practice session, participants answered a validated questionnaire based on a 5-point Likert Scale assessing their opinions on arthroscopic simulation. Primary objective was observing perception of patients on orthopaedic virtual reality simulation.
Findings
There were a total of 159 respondents, of which 86% were of the opinion that simulators are widely used in surgical training and 94% felt that they should be compulsory. 91% would feel safer having an operation by a surgeon trained on simulators, 87% desired their surgeon to be trained on simulators and 72% believed that additional simulator training resulted in better surgeons. Moreover, none of the respondents would want their operation to be performed by a surgeon who had not trained on a simulator. Cronbach’s alpha was 0.969.
Conclusions
There is also a clear public consensus for this method of training to be more widely utilised and it would enhance public perception of safer training of orthopaedic surgeons. This study of public perception provides a mandate to increase investment and infrastructure in orthopaedic simulation as part of promoting clinical governance.
doi:10.1186/s13037-015-0058-5
PMCID: PMC4352243  PMID: 25750661
Public perception; Surgical simulation; Perception; Arthroscopy; Virtual reality
2.  Evaluation of indications for and outcomes of elective surgery 
Background
Wide small-area variations in the rates of elective surgical procedures and lack of systematic outcome measurement have raised questions about the appropriateness of such surgery. Our objective was to determine the feasibility of routine evaluation of indications for and outcomes of elective surgery.
Methods
Participants consisted of 138 surgeons and 5313 patients who underwent 1 or more of 6 specific surgical procedures (for a total of 6274 operations). Surgical indications were evaluated according to published guidelines. Patients' self-reported health-related quality of life (HRQOL) before and at appropriate intervals after surgery was measured with standard, validated generic and disease-specific instruments. Patient-specific results were routinely sent to the surgeons, from whom feedback was requested.
Results
Surgeons provided information on the indications for surgery for 44% to 95% of the 6 procedures, and the indications matched the guidelines in 73% to 99% of cases. Completed HRQOL questionnaires were returned by 58% of the patients. Postoperative HRQOL scores were markedly improved in most patients, but in 2% to 26% of the various procedures, there was either no change or a deterioration in HRQOL. In most of the procedure groups a small proportion of patients had relatively minor symptoms and disability preoperatively, but in the cataract surgery group this proportion was large. Opinion among the participating surgeons was divided as to the potential value of this method of evaluation. The cost of the outcome evaluation program was about $12/patient.
Interpretation
Evaluation of indications for and outcomes of elective surgery could be implemented systematically at reasonable cost and could be included in an accountability framework for health services. Most surgeons were not enthusiastic about this kind of evaluation.
PMCID: PMC121962  PMID: 12240811
3.  Development and Evaluation of the Universal ACS NSQIP Surgical Risk Calculator: A Decision Aide and Informed Consent Tool for Patients and Surgeons 
BACKGROUND
Accurately estimating surgical risks is critical for shared decision making and informed consent. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services may soon put forth a measure requiring surgeons to provide patients with patient-specific, empirically-derived estimates of postoperative complications. Our objectives were (1) to develop a universal surgical risk estimation tool, (2) to compare performance of the universal vs. prior procedure-specific Surgical Risk Calculators, and (3) to allow surgeons to empirically adjust the estimates of risk.
STUDY DESIGN
Using standardized clinical data from 393 ACS NSQIP hospitals, a web-based tool was developed to allow surgeons to easily enter 21 preoperative factors (demographics, comorbidities, procedure). Regression models were developed to predict 8 outcomes based on the preoperative risk factors. The universal model was compared to procedure-specific models. To incorporate surgeon input, a subjective Surgeon Adjustment Score, allowing risk estimates to vary within the estimate's confidence interval, was introduced and tested with 80 surgeons using 10 case scenarios.
RESULTS
Based on 1,414,006 patients encompassing 1,557 unique CPT codes, a universal Surgical Risk Calculator model was developed which had excellent performance for mortality (c-statistic=0.944; Brier=0.011[ where scores approaching zero are better]), morbidity (c-statistic=0.816, Brier=0.069), and 6 additional complications (c-statistics>0.8). Predictions were similarly robust for the universal calculator vs. procedure-specific calculators (e.g., colorectal). Surgeons demonstrated considerable agreement on the case scenario scoring (80-100% agreement), suggesting reliable score assignment between surgeons.
CONCLUSIONS
The ACS NSQIP Surgical Risk Calculator is a decision-support tool based on reliable multi-institutional clinical data which can be used to estimate the risks of most operations. The ACS NSQIP Surgical Risk Calculator will allow clinicians and patients to make decisions using empirically derived, patient-specific postoperative risks.
doi:10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2013.07.385
PMCID: PMC3805776  PMID: 24055383
Surgery; Hospital; Quality; Morbidity; Mortality; Complications; Deaths; National Surgery Quality Improvement Program; Risk; Prognostication; Calculator; Decision aide; Shared decision making; informed consent
4.  The Western Ontario Shoulder Instability Index (WOSI): validity, reliability, and responsiveness retested with a Swedish translation 
Acta Orthopaedica  2009;80(2):233-238.
Background and purpose The WOSI score questionnaire is a tool designed for self-assessment of shoulder function for patients with instability problems. We made a translation into Swedish and retested the score by analyzing the psychometric properties validity, reliability, and responsiveness.
Patients and methods 3 patient materials were used for the assessment: (A) a follow-up on a group of 32 patients more than 8 years after having primary posttraumatic shoulder dislocation. Evaluation of Pearson’s correlation coefficient between WOSI and Rowe score and for test-retest reliability was made; (B) 22 patients, treated with a surgical stabilization of the shoulder at our department, were evaluated with Pearson’s correlation coefficient between WOSI and EQ-5D, and between WOSI and a VAS-scale of general shoulder function. Also, Cronbach’s alpha, effect size, and floor, and ceiling effects were analyzed; (C) 45 students with healthy shoulders (reference group) had their WOSI score determined.
Results The construct validity (Pearson’s correlation coefficient) was adequate (0.59) between the WOSI score and the Rowe score. The agreement with an ICC value (test-retest) for the WOSI score was excellent (0.94). Cronbach’s alpha (internal consistency) was satisfactory, with 0.89 preoperatively and 0.95 postoperatively. All 22 patients in group B reported improvement in the WOSI score (mean 29%). Responsiveness was excellent, with an effect size of 1.67 for the WOSI score. There were no floor or ceiling effects for the Swedish WOSI score. The mean WOSI score from group C with 45 normal healthy shoulders was 96%, with no floor but high ceiling effects.
Interpretation WOSI score does not require an examination of the patient and can be administered by mail. The high ICC and sensitivity makes it able to monitor an individual patient’s progress. At this retest, the WOSI score has good validity, a high degree of reliability, and a high degree of responsiveness, all at the same level as in the original publication. We recommend the WOSI when evaluating patients with instability problems.
doi:10.3109/17453670902930057
PMCID: PMC2823179  PMID: 19404809
5.  Ratings of global outcome at the first post-operative assessment after spinal surgery: how often do the surgeon and patient agree? 
European Spine Journal  2009;18(Suppl 3):386-394.
Patient-orientated questionnaires are becoming increasingly popular in the assessment of outcome and are considered to provide a less biased assessment of the surgical result than traditional surgeon-based ratings. The present study sought to quantify the level of agreement between patients’ and doctors’ global outcome ratings after spine surgery. 1,113 German-speaking patients (59.0 ± 16.6 years; 643 F, 470 M) who had undergone spine surgery rated the global outcome of the operation 3 months later, using a 5-point scale: operation helped a lot, helped, helped only little, didn’t help, made things worse. They also rated pain, function, quality-of-life and disability, using the Core Outcome Measures Index (COMI), and their satisfaction with treatment (5-point scale). The surgeon completed a SSE Spine Tango Follow-up form, blind to the patient’s evaluation, rating the outcome with the McNab criteria as excellent, good, fair, and poor. The data were compared, in terms of (1) the correlation between surgeons’ and patients’ ratings and (2) the proportions of identical ratings, where the doctor’s “excellent” was considered equivalent to the patient’s “operation helped a lot”, “good” to “operation helped”, “fair” to “operation helped only little” and “poor” to “operation didn’t help/made things worse”. There was a significant correlation (Spearman Rho = 0.57, p < 0.0001) between the surgeons’ and patients’ ratings. Their ratings were identical in 51.2% of the cases; the surgeon gave better ratings than the patient (“overrated”) in 25.6% cases and worse ratings (“underrated”) in 23.2% cases. There were significant differences between the six surgeons in the degree to which their ratings matched those of the patients, with senior surgeons “overrating” significantly more often than junior surgeons (p < 0.001). “Overrating” was significantly more prevalent for patients with a poor self-rated outcome (measured as global outcome, COMI score, or satisfaction with treatment; each p < 0.001). In a multivariate model controlling for age and gender, “low satisfaction with treatment” and “being a senior surgeon” were the most significant unique predictors of surgeon “overrating” (p < 0.0001; adjusted R2 = 0.21). Factors with no unique significant influence included comorbidity (ASA score), first time versus repeat surgery, one-level versus multilevel surgery. In conclusion, approximately half of the patient’s perceptions of outcome after spine surgery were identical to those of the surgeon. Generally, where discrepancies arose, there was a tendency for the surgeon to be slightly more optimistic than the patient, and more so in relation to patients who themselves declared a poor outcome. This highlights the potential bias in outcome studies that rely solely on surgeon ratings of outcome and indicates the importance of collecting data from both the patient and the surgeon, in order to provide a balanced view of the outcome of spine surgery.
doi:10.1007/s00586-009-1028-3
PMCID: PMC2899319  PMID: 19462185
Spine surgery; Satisfaction; Global outcome; Self-assessment; Registry
6.  Are recommended spine operations either unnecessary or too complex? Evidence from second opinions 
Surgical Neurology International  2013;4(Suppl 5):S353-S358.
Background:
In 2011, Epstein and Hood documented that 17.2% of 274 patients with cervical/lumbar complaints seen in first or second opinion over one year were told they needed “unnecessary” spine surgery (e.g., defined as for pain alone, without neurological deficits, or significant radiographic abnormalities). Subsequently, in 2012 Gamache found that 69 (44.5%) of the 155 second opinion patients seen over a 14-month period were told by outside spine surgeons that they needed surgery; the second opinion surgeon (Gamache) found those operations to be unnecessary. Increasingly, patients, spine surgeons, hospitals, and insurance carriers should not only be questioning whether spinal operations are “unnecessary”, but also whether they are “wrong” (e.g., overly extensive, anterior vs. posterior operations), or “right” (appropriate).
Methods:
Prospectively, 437 patients with cervical or lumbar complaints were seen in spinal consultation over a 20-month period. Of the 254 (58.1%) patients coming in for first opinions those with surgical vs. non-surgical lesions were identified. Of the 183 (41.9%) patients coming in for second opinions, who were previously told by outside surgeons that they needed spine operations, the second opinion surgeon documented the number of “unnecessary”, “wrong”, or “right” operations previously recommended.
Results:
Surgical pathology was identified in 138 (54.3%) patients presenting for first opinions. For patients seen in second opinion, 111 (60.7%) were told by outside surgeons that they required “unnecessary”, 61 (33.3%) the “wrong”, or 11 (6%) the “right” operations.
Conclusions:
Of 183 second opinions seen over 20 months, the second opinion surgeon documented that previous spine surgeons recommended “unnecessary” (60.7%), the “wrong” (33.3%), or the “right” (6%) operations.
doi:10.4103/2152-7806.120774
PMCID: PMC3841934  PMID: 24340231
First opinions; right; spine surgery; second opinions; unnecessary; wrong
7.  Endoscopic transforaminal decompression, interbody fusion, and percutaneous pedicle screw implantation of the lumbar spine: A case series report 
Background
On the basis of the experiences gained from conventional open spinal procedures, a long list of desirable objectives have emerged with the evolution of the lesser invasive spinal procedures. At the top of that list is the desire to minimize the trauma of surgery. The rest of the objectives, which include reductions of operating time, surgical blood loss, hospital stay, postoperative narcotic medication, convalescence, complication rates, and escalating health care costs, as well as the desire of elderly patients to continue rigorous physical activities, largely depend on the ability to minimize the trauma of surgery. The purpose of this study was to investigate the feasibility of the least invasive lumbar decompression, interbody fusion and percutaneous pedicle screw implantation, to minimize surgical trauma without compromising the quality of the treatment outcome, as well as to minimize risk of complications.
Methods
In this case series, 60 patients with diagnoses of degenerative disc disease, degenerative motion segments with stenosis, and spondylolisthesis, in whom nonoperative treatments failed, were treated with endoscopic transforaminal decompression and interbody fusion by 1 surgeon in 2 centers. The outcome measures were as follows: operating time, intraoperative blood loss, hospital stay, Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) scores for back and leg pain, scores on the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire, and postoperative imaging studies. A consecutive series of patients who met the treatment criteria completed VAS forms and Roland-Morris questionnaires preoperatively. Surgical procedures included arthroscopic decompression of the foramina and the discs; endplate preparation and implantation of allograft bone chips and bone morphogenetic protein 2 on absorbable collagen sponge into the disc space; and percutaneous implantation of pedicle screws. Postoperatively, the patients again completed the VAS forms and Roland-Morris questionnaires. Their charts were reviewed for office notes, operative notes, hospital stay, medications, and imaging studies. The latest X-ray and computed tomography scan films were reviewed and analyzed. Patients were followed up for a minimum of 6 months. The literature was reviewed for comparison of outcomes.
Results
Sixty patients met the inclusion criteria. The mean age was 52.8 years. The duration of illness averaged 5 years. Follow-up ranged from 6 to 25 months, with a mean of 12 months. Preoperative diagnoses included degenerative disc disease, degenerative motion segments with stenosis, and spondylolisthesis. The mean time in the operating room was 2 hours 54 minutes. Estimated blood loss averaged 57.6 mL. The duration of the hospital stay averaged 2.6 days. Preoperative back pain and leg pain were significantly reduced (P < .005). Forty-seven imaging studies obtained at the last visit, including X-ray and computed tomography scans, showed solid fusion in 28 patients (59.6%), stable fixation in 17 (36.2%), and osteolysis around the pedicle screws in 2 (4.2%). All patients had improvement of motor function, whereas 2 patients complained of residual numbness. In addition, 8 patients (13%) complained of residual discomfort on extension of the lumbar spine. Two patients had pedicle screw–related complications requiring surgery. A review of the literature showed that endoscopic transforaminal decompression and interbody fusion performed better than open transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion/posterior lumbar interbody fusion, minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion, and extreme lateral lumbar interbody fusion, with regard to most parameters studied.
Conclusions
The endoscopic transforaminal lumbar decompression, interbody fusion, and percutaneous pedicle screw instrumentation consistently produced satisfactory results in all demographics. It performed better than the alternative procedures for most parameters studied.
doi:10.1016/j.ijsp.2012.04.001
PMCID: PMC4300894  PMID: 25694885
ETDIF; Arthroscopic; Posterolateral; Interbody; Percutaneous; BMP-2
8.  The Incidence and Reporting Rates of Needle-Stick Injury Amongst UK Surgeons 
INTRODUCTION
Needle-stick injuries are common. Such accidents are associated with a small, but significant, risk to our career, health, families and not least our patients. National guidelines steer institution-specific strategies to provide a consistent and safe method of dealing with such incidents. Surgeon-specific guidelines are not currently available. We have observed that hospital sharps policy is often considered cumbersome to the surgeon, resulting in on-the-spot decision making with potential long-term implications. By their essence, these decisions are inconsistent, not reproducible and, thus, we believe them to be unsafe. The under-reporting to occupational health departments is well documented. Current surgical practice has the potential to expose the surgeon to unnecessary risk. The aims of this study were to establish the true incidence of contaminations caused by needle-stick injury in our hospital and to assess how well current protocols are really implemented.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS
We identified all surgeons of consultant, non-career staff grade (NCSG) and registrar grade working in a large 687-bed district general hospital serving a population of 550,000, in the UK. We designed a retrospective, anonymous 30-second survey. Surgeons' awareness and opinion of local policy was sought in a free-text section.
RESULTS
Of the 98 surgeons in the hospital, 77% responded to the questionnaire and 44% anonymously admitted to having a needle-stick injury. Only 3 of the 33 (9%) who sustained an needle-stick injury said that they followed the agreed local policy. Twenty-three surgeons (70%) performed first aid type procedures such as informing scrub nurse, changing needle and gloves. Seven surgeons (21%) simply ignored the incident and continued. Forty-three surgeons commented on the policy's nature with only 9 who regarded it as ‘user friendly’.
CONCLUSIONS
Needle-stick injury is still a common problem, particularly in the surgical cohort and remains significantly under-reported. The disparity between hospital sharps policy and actual surgical practice is considered and an explanation for the difference sought. Without this awareness of ‘real-life’ surgical practice, the occupational health figures for sharps injury will always tell a rosy story under-estimating a real problem. We strongly advocate universal precautions in the operating theatre. However, we acknowledge that sharps injuries will occur. We should remain vigilant and act upon contaminations without surgical bravado but with mater-of-fact professionalism. This includes regular review of policy and, particularly, promotion of surgical awareness.
doi:10.1308/003588409X359213
PMCID: PMC2752234  PMID: 18990263
Needle-stick injury; Sharps injury; Surgical contamination; Blood-borne viruses; Reporting rates
9.  Surgeons’ opinions and practice of informed consent in Nigeria 
Journal of Medical Ethics  2010;36(12):741-745.
Background
Informed consent is perhaps more relevant to surgical specialties than to other clinical disciplines. Fundamental to this concept is the provision of relevant information for the patient to make an informed choice about a surgical intervention. The opinions of surgeons in Nigeria about informed consent in their practice were surveyed.
Methods
A cross-sectional survey of surgeons in Nigeria was undertaken in 2004/5 using self-administered semistructured questionnaires.
Results
There were 102 respondents, 85.3% of whom were men and 58.8% were aged 31–40 years. 43.1% were consultants and 54.0% were surgical trainees. 27.4% were in surgical subspecialties, 26.5% in general surgery and 21.6% were obstetricians and gynaecologists. 54.9% agreed that sufficient information is not provided to patients while obtaining their consent for surgical procedures. They listed medicolegal reasons (70.6%), informing patients about benefits, risks and alternatives (64.7%) and hospital policy (50.0%) as some reasons for obtaining consent for surgical procedures. When patients decline to give consent for surgery, 84.3% of them thought that poor communication between surgeons and patients may be contributory. They identified taking a course in bioethics during surgical training and compulsory communication skills course as some ways to improve communication between surgeons and patients.
Conclusion
Most Nigerian surgeons seemed to have a good knowledge of the informed consent requirements and process but fall short in practice. There is a need to improve the surgeon–patient relationship in line with modern exigencies to provide interactive environments for fruitful patient communication and involvement.
doi:10.1136/jme.2010.037440
PMCID: PMC3332031  PMID: 20940174
10.  Preoperative education for lumbar radiculopathy: A survey of US spine surgeons 
Background
We sought to determine current utilization, importance, content, and delivery methods of preoperative education by spine surgeons in the United States for patients with lumbar radiculopathy.
Methods
An online cross-sectional survey was used to study a random sample of spine surgeons in the United States. The Spinal Surgery Education Questionnaire (SSEQ) was developed based on previous related surveys and assessed for face and content validity by an expert panel. The SSEQ captured information on demographics, content, delivery methods, utilization, and importance of preoperative education as rated by surgeons. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the current utilization, importance, content, and delivery methods of preoperative education by spine surgeons in the United States for patients with lumbar radiculopathy.
Results
Of 200 surgeons, 89 (45% response rate) responded to the online survey. The majority (64.2%) provide preoperative education informally during the course of clinical consultation versus a formal preoperative education session. The mean time from the decision to undergo surgery to the date of surgery was 33.65 days. The highest rated educational topics are surgical procedure (96.3%), complications (96.3%), outcomes/expectations (93.8%), anatomy (92.6%), amount of postoperative pain expected (90.1%), and hospital stay (90.1%). Surgeons estimated spending approximately 20% of the preoperative education time specifically addressing pain. Seventy-five percent of the surgeons personally provide the education, and nearly all surgeons (96.3%) use verbal communication with the use of a spine model.
Conclusions
Spine surgeons believe that preoperative education is important and use a predominantly biomedical approach in preparing patients for surgery. Larger studies are needed to validate these findings.
doi:10.1016/j.ijsp.2012.03.001
PMCID: PMC4300892  PMID: 25694882
Spine; Surgery; Education; Survey; Preoperative
11.  Managing the Security of Nursing Data in the Electronic Health Record 
Acta Informatica Medica  2015;23(1):39-43.
Background:
The Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a patient care information resource for clinicians and nursing documentation is an essential part of comprehensive patient care. Ensuring privacy and the security of health information is a key component to building the trust required to realize the potential benefits of electronic health information exchange. This study was aimed to manage nursing data security in the EHR and also discover the viewpoints of hospital information system vendors (computer companies) and hospital information technology specialists about nursing data security.
Methods:
This research is a cross sectional analytic-descriptive study. The study populations were IT experts at the academic hospitals and computer companies of Tehran city in Iran. Data was collected by a self-developed questionnaire whose validity and reliability were confirmed using the experts’ opinions and Cronbach’s alpha coefficient respectively. Data was analyzed through Spss Version 18 and by descriptive and analytic statistics.
Results:
The findings of the study revealed that user name and password were the most important methods to authenticate the nurses, with mean percent of 95% and 80%, respectively, and also the most significant level of information security protection were assigned to administrative and logical controls. There was no significant difference between opinions of both groups studied about the levels of information security protection and security requirements (p>0.05). Moreover the access to servers by authorized people, periodic security update, and the application of authentication and authorization were defined as the most basic security requirements from the viewpoint of more than 88 percent of recently-mentioned participants.
Conclusions:
Computer companies as system designers and hospitals information technology specialists as systems users and stakeholders present many important views about security requirements for EHR systems and nursing electronic documentation systems. Prioritizing of these requirements helps policy makers to decide what to do when planning for EHR implementation. Therefore, to make appropriate security decisions and to achieve the expected level of protection of the electronic nursing information, it is suggested to consider the priorities of both groups of experts about security principles and also discuss the issues seem to be different between two groups of participants in the research.
doi:10.5455/aim.2015.23.39-43
PMCID: PMC4384867  PMID: 25870490
Electronic Health Records; Management; Security; Nursing
12.  Adhesion Awareness: A National Survey of Surgeons 
World Journal of Surgery  2010;34(12):2805-2812.
Background
Postoperative adhesions are the most frequent complication of abdominal surgery, leading to high morbidity, mortality, and costs. However, the problem seems to be neglected by surgeons for largely unknown reasons.
Methods
A survey assessing knowledge and personal opinion about the extent and impact of adhesions was sent to all Dutch surgeons and surgical trainees. The informed-consent process and application of antiadhesive agents were questioned in addition.
Results
The response rate was 34.4%. Two thirds of all respondents (67.7%) agreed that adhesions exert a clinically relevant, negative effect. A negative perception of adhesions correlated with a positive attitude regarding adhesion prevention (ρ = 0.182, p < 0.001). However, underestimation of the extent and impact of adhesions resulted in low knowledge scores (mean test score 37.6%). Lower scores correlated with more uncertainty about indications for antiadhesive agents which, in turn, correlated with never having used any of these agents (ρ = 0.140, p = 0.002; ρ = 0.095, p = 0.035; respectively). Four in 10 respondents (40.9%) indicated that they never inform patients on adhesions and only 9.8% informed patients routinely. A majority of surgeons (55.9%) used antiadhesive agents in the past, but only a minority (13.4%) did in the previous year. Of trainees, 82.1% foresaw an increase in the use of antiadhesive agents compared to 64.5% of surgeons (p < 0.001).
Conclusions
The magnitude of the problem of postoperative adhesions is underestimated and informed consent is provided inadequately by Dutch surgeons. Exerting adhesion prevention is related to the perception of and knowledge about adhesions.
doi:10.1007/s00268-010-0778-8
PMCID: PMC2982960  PMID: 20814678
13.  Transition to a novel advanced integrated vitrectomy platform: comparison of the surgical impact of moving from the Accurus vitrectomy platform to the Constellation Vision System for microincisional vitrectomy surgery 
Background
Microincisional vitrectomy surgery (MIVS) is the current standard surgical approach for pars plana vitrectomy. Historically, the most common surgical platform for vitrectomy surgery, since its introduction in 1997, has been the Accurus vitrectomy system. Recent introduction of the next generation of vitrectomy platforms has generated concerns associated with transitioning to new technology in the operating room environment. This study compared, in a matched fashion, surgical use of the Accurus vitrectomy system and the next generation Constellation Vision System to evaluate surgical efficiencies, complications, and user perceptions of this transition.
Methods
Electronic health records were abstracted as a hospital quality assurance activity and included all vitreoretinal surgical procedures at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Anne Bates Leach Eye Hospital, during two discrete 12-month time periods. These two periods reflected dedicated usage of the Accurus (June 2008–May 2009) and Constellation Vision (July 2009–June 2010) systems. Data were limited to a single surgeon and evaluated for operating room (OR) total time usage/day, OR case time/case, and OR surgical time/case. Further analysis evaluated all patients undergoing combined MIVS and clear cornea phacoemulsification/intraocular lens (IOL) implantation during each individual time period to determine the impact of the instrumentation on these parameters. All records were evaluated for intraoperative complications.
Results
Five hundred and fourteen eligible patients underwent MIVS during the 2-year study windows, with 281 patients undergoing surgery with the Accurus system and 233 patients undergoing surgery with the Constellation system. Combined MIVS and phacoemulsification with IOL implantation was performed 141 times during this period with the Accurus and 158 times during the second study period with the Constellation. Total number of patients operated per day increased from 7.55 with Accurus to 8.53 with Constellation. Surgical room time decreased from 56 minutes with Accurus to 52 minutes with Constellation, and procedure time decreased from 35 minutes with Accurus to 31 minutes with Constellation (P < 0.004). Combined MIVS/phacoemulsification surgery saw similar declines in surgical room time and procedure time (P < 0.001). Subset analysis of procedures limited by case number per day (eg, four cases/day, five cases/day, six cases/day, and seven or more cases/day) showed similar outcomes with a decrease in surgical room time and procedure time. No increases in surgery-related complications were noted by quality assurance review during these time periods.
Discussion:
Transitioning to advanced surgical technology is a complex issue for the surgeon, the hospital team, and the hospital administration. This study documents improvement in three significant measures of surgical efficiency: operative number of patients per day, operative room time, and surgical procedure time that reflect the positive impact of the novel, combined, integrated, posterior and anterior, ophthalmologic surgical platform of the Constellation Vision System. These data are imperative to evaluate the impact of transition from one surgical platform to another. During this transition, hospital quality assurance review and surgeon evaluation of operative complications showed no increased concerns for the shift from the Accurus to the Constellation Vision System surgical platform. Further, both operative staff and surgeons felt that the transition to the Constellation was not associated with increases in difficulty with setup, turnover, or use and that the Constellation decreased safety concerns for surgical usage. Ultimately, in this case, new technology benefited the surgeon, the patient, and the hospital.
doi:10.2147/OPTH.S35603
PMCID: PMC3581355  PMID: 23450081
MIVS; vitrectomy; new technology
14.  Patient safety risk factors in minimally invasive surgery: a validation study 
Gynecological Surgery  2011;9(3):265-270.
This study was conducted to adapt and validate a patient safety (PS) framework for minimally invasive surgery (MIS) as a first step in understanding the clinical relevance of various PS risk factors in MIS. Eight patient safety risk factor domains were identified using frameworks from a systems approach to patient safety. A questionnaire was drafted containing 34 questions. Three experts in the field of patient safety critically reviewed the questionnaire on clinical relevance and completeness. The questionnaire was distributed among known patient safety experts in person and also sent electronically. A total of 41 questionnaires were distributed and the response rate was 71%. The intraclass correlation coefficient was 0.42 representing moderate agreement. For seven of nine risk domains, Cronbach’s alpha was sufficient (α > 0.7). Mean scores of the risk domains showed the following order of influence on patient safety from high to low: surgeon’s experience [6.6, standard deviation (SD) 0.5], technical skills surgeon (6.6, SD 0.7), technology (5.9, SD 1.1), complications (5.9, SD 1.2), social interaction (5.0, SD 1.0), leadership surgeon (5.4, SD 1.2), blood loss (5.0, SD 1.2), length of surgery (5.0, SD 1.3), surgical team (4.9, SD 1.3), fallibility (4.9, SD 1.3), patient (4.5, SD 1.5), safety measures (4.4, SD 1.5), and finally environment(3.9, SD 1.5). This study is an initiative to give insight into clinical relevance of the maze of PS risk factors in MIS. All investigated risk domains were considered to be of noticeable influence on PS. Nevertheless, it is possible to prioritize various risk domains. In fact, experience and technical skills of the surgeon, technology, and complications are rated as the most important risk factors, closely followed by social interaction and leadership of the surgeon. Patient, safety measures, and environment are rated as the least important risk factors.
doi:10.1007/s10397-011-0718-0
PMCID: PMC3401291  PMID: 22837734
Patient safety; Risk factors; Risk domains; MIS; Laparoscopy; Systems approach
15.  An outcome measure of functionality in patients with lumber spinal stenosis: a validation study of the Iranian version of Neurogenic Claudication Outcome Score (NCOS) 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:101.
Background
Neurogenic claudication (NC) is a common symptom in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS). The Neurogenic Claudication Outcome Score (NCOS) is a very short instrument for measuring functional status in these patients. This study aimed to translate and validate the NCOS in Iran.
Methods
This was a prospective clinical validation study. The 'forward-backward' procedure was applied to translate the NCOS from English into Persian (Iranian language). A total of 84 patients with NC were asked to respond to the questionnaire at two points in time: at preoperative and at postoperative (6 months follow-up) assessments. The Oswestry Disabiltiy Index (ODI) also was completed for patients. To test reliability, the internal consistency was assessed by Cronbach's alpha coefficient. Validity was evaluated using known groups comparison and criterion validity (convergent validity). Internal responsiveness of the NCOS to the clinical intervention (surgery) also was assessed comparing patients’ pre- and postoperative scores.
Results
The Cronbach’s alpha coefficients for the NCOS at preoperative and postoperative assessments were 0.77 and 0.91, respectively. Known groups analysis showed satisfactory results. The instrument discriminated well between sub-groups of patients who differed in claudication distance as measured by the Self-Paced Walking Test (SPWT). The change in the ODI after surgery was strongly correlated with change in the NCOS, lending support to its good convergent validity (r = 0.81; P < 0.001). Further analysis also indicated that the questionnaire was responsive to the clinical intervention (surgery) as expected (P < 0.0001).
Conclusion
In general, the Iranian version of the NCOS performed well and the findings suggest that it is a reliable and valid measure of functionality in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis who are suffering from neurogenic claudication.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-101
PMCID: PMC3502137  PMID: 23006983
16.  Tonsillitis and sore throat in children 
Surgery of the tonsils is still one of the most frequent procedures during childhood. Due to a series of fatal outcomes after hemorrhage in children in Austria in 2006, the standards and indications for tonsillectomy have slowly changed in Germany. However, no national guidelines exist and the frequency of tonsil surgery varies across the country. In some districts eight times more children were tonsillectomized than in others.
A tonsillectomy in children under six years should only be done if the child suffers from recurrent acute bacterially tonsillitis. In all other cases (i.e. hyperplasia of the tonsils) the low risk partial tonsillectomy should be the first line therapy. Postoperative pain and the risk of hemorrhage are much lower in partial tonsillectomy (=tonsillotomy). No matter whether the tonsillotomy is done by laser, radiofrequency, shaver, coblation, bipolar scissor or Colorado needle, as long as the crypts are kept open and some tonsil tissue is left behind. Total extracapsular tonsillectomy is still indicated in severely affected children with recurrent infections of the tonsils, allergy to antibiotics, PFAPA syndrome (periodic fever, aphthous stomatitis, pharyngitis, and cervical adenitis) and peritonsillar abscess. With regard to the frequency and seriousness of the recurrent tonsillitis the indication for tonsillectomy in children is justified if 7 or more well-documented, clinically important, adequately treated episodes of throat infection occur in the preceding year, or 5 or more of such episodes occur in each of the 2 preceding years (according to the paradise criteria). Diagnosis of acute tonsillitis is clinical, but sometimes it is hard to distinguish viral from bacterial infections. Rapid antigen testing has a very low sensitivity in the diagnosis of bacterial tonsillitis and swabs are highly sensitive but take a long time. In all microbiological tests the treating physician has to keep in mind, that most of the bacterials, viruses and fungi belong to the healthy flora and do no harm. Ten percent of healthy children even bear strepptococcus pyogenes all the time in the tonsils with no clinical signs. In these children decolonization is not necessary. Therefore, microbiological screening tests in children without symptoms are senseless and do not justify an antibiotic treatment (which is sometimes postulated by the kindergartens).
The acute tonsillitis should be treated with steroids (e.g. dexamethasone), NSAIDs (e.g. ibuprofene) and betalactam antibiotics (e.g. penicillin or cefuroxime). With respect to the symptom reduction and primary healing the short-term late-generation antibiotic therapy (azithromycin, clarithromycin or cephalosporine for three to five days) is comparable to the long-term penicilline therapy. There is no difference in the course of healing, recurrence or microbiological resistance between the short-term penicilline therapy and the standard ten days therapy.
On the other hand, only the ten days antibiotic therapy has proven to be effective in the prevention of rheumatic fever and glomerulonephritic diseases. The incidence of rheumatic heart disease is currently 0.5 per 100,000 children of school age.
The main morbidity after tonsillectomy is pain and the late haemorrhage. Posttonsillectomy bleeding can occur till the whole wound is completely healed, which is normally after three weeks. Life-threatening haemorrhages occur often after smaller bleedings, which can spontaneously cease. That is why every haemorrhage, even the smallest, has to be treated properly and in ward. Patients and parents have to be informed about the correct behaviour in case of haemorrhage with a written consent before the surgery.
The handout should contain important addresses, phone numbers and contact persons. Almost all cases of fatal outcome after tonsillectomy were due to false management of haemorrhage. Haemorrhage in small children can be especially life-threatening because of the lower blood volume and the danger of aspiration with asphyxia. A massive haemorrhage is an extreme challenge for every paramedic or emergency doctor because of the difficult airway management. Intubation is only possible with appropriate inflexible suction tubes.
All different surgical techniques have the risk of haemorrhage and even the best surgeon will experience a postoperative haemorrhage. The lowest risk of haemorrhage is after cold dissection with ligature or suturing. All “hot” techniques with laser, radiofrequency, coblation, mono- or bipolar forceps have a higher risk of late haemorrhage.
Children with a hereditary coagulopathy have a higher risk of haemorrhage. It is possible, that these children were not identified before surgery. Therefore it is recommended by the Society of paediatrics, anaesthesia and ENT, that a standardised questionnaire should be answered by the parents before tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. This 17-point-checklist questionnaire is more sensitive and easier to perform than a screening with blood tests (e.g. INR and PTT). Unfortunately, a lot of surgeons still screen the children preoperatively by coagulative blood tests, although these tests are inappropriate and incapable of detecting the von Willebrand disease, which is the most frequent coagulopathy in Europe.
The preoperative information about the surgery should be done with the child and the parents in a calm and objective atmosphere with a written consent. A copy of the consent with the signature of the surgeon and both custodial parents has to be handed out to the parents.
doi:10.3205/cto000110
PMCID: PMC4273168  PMID: 25587367
tonsillitis; tonsillectomy; intracapsular; extracapsular; antibiotics
17.  Validity of the Italian adaptation of the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory; focus on quality of life and psychological distress in tinnitus-sufferers 
Summary
The aim of this study was to determine the validity of the Italian translation of the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) by Newman et al. in order to make this self-report measure of perceived tinnitus handicap available both for clinical and research purposes in our country and to contribute to its cross-cultural validation as a self-report measure of perceived severity of tinnitus. The Italian translation of the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) was administered to 100 outpatients suffering from chronic tinnitus, aged between 20 and 82 years, who attended the audiological tertiary centres of the University Hospital of Modena and the Regional Hospital of Treviso. No segregation of cases was made on audiometric results; patients suffering from vertigo and neurological diseases were excluded. Pyschoacoustic characteristics of tinnitus (loudness and pitch) were determined and all patients also completed the MOS 36-Item Short Form Health Survey to assess self-perceived quality of life and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale as a measure of self-perceived levels of anxiety and depression. The THI-I showed a robust internal consistency reliability (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.91) that was only slightly lower than the original version (Tinnitus Handicap Inventory-US; Cronbach’s alpha = 0.93) and its Danish (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.93) and Portuguese (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.94) translations. Also its two subscales (Functional and Emotional) showed a good internal consistency reliability (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.85 and 0.86, respectively). On the other hand, the Catastrophic subscale showed an unacceptable internal consistency reliability as it is too short in length (5 items). A confirmatory factor analysis failed to demonstrate that the 3 subscales of the THI-I correspond to 3 different factors. Close correlations were found between the total score of the Italian translation of the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory and all the subscales of the MOS 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale scores indicating a good construct validity. Moreover, these statistically significant correlations (p < 0.005) confirmed that the self-report tinnitus handicap is largely related to psychological distress and a deterioration in the quality of life. On the other hand, it was confirmed that the tinnitus perceived handicap is totally independent (p > 0.05) from its audiometrically-derived measures of loudness and pitch thus supporting previous studies that focused on the importance of non-auditory factors, namely somatic attention, psychological distress and coping strategies, in the generation of tinnitus annoyance. Finally the results of the present study suggest that the THI-I maintains its original validity and should be incorporated, together with other adequate psychometric questionnaires, in the audiological examination of patients suffering from tinnitus and that psychiatric counselling should be recommended for the suspected co-morbidity between tinnitus annoyance and psychological distress.
PMCID: PMC2644986  PMID: 18646574
Tinnitus; Anxiety; Depression; Quality of life
18.  Challenges in multidisciplinary cancer care among general surgeons in Canada 
Background
While many factors can influence the way that cancer care is delivered, including the way that evidence is packaged and disseminated, little research has evaluated how health care professionals who manage cancer patients seek and use this information to identify whether and how this could be supported. Through interviews we identified that general surgeons experience challenges in coordinating care for complex cancer patients whose management is not easily addressed by guidelines, and conducted a population-based survey of general surgeon information needs and information seeking practices to extend these findings.
Methods
General surgeons with privileges at acute care hospitals in Ontario, Canada were mailed a questionnaire to solicit information needs (task, importance), information seeking (source, frequency of and reasons for use), key challenges and suggested solutions. Non-responders received up to three reminder packages. Significant differences among sub-groups (age, setting) were examined statistically (Kruskal Wallis, Mann Whitney, Chi Square). Standard qualitative methods were used to thematically analyze open-ended responses.
Results
The response rate was 44.2% (170/385) representing all 14 health regions. System resource constraints (60.4%), comorbidities (56.4%) and physiologic factors (51.8%) were top-ranked issues creating information needs. Local surgical colleagues (84.6%), other local colleagues (82.2%) and the Internet (81.1%) were top-ranked sources of information, primarily due to familiarity and speed of access. No resources were considered to be highly applicable to patient care. Challenges were related to limitations in diagnostics and staging, operative resources, and systems to support multidisciplinary care, together accounting for 76.0% of all reported issues. Findings did not differ significantly by surgeon age or setting of care.
Conclusion
General surgeons appear to use a wide range of information resources but they may not address the complex needs of many cancer patients. Decision-making is challenged by informational and logistical issues related to the coordination of multidisciplinary care. This suggests that limitations in system capacity may, in part, contribute to variable guideline compliance. Further research is required to evaluate the appropriateness of information seeking, and both concurrent and consecutive mechanisms by which to achieve multidisciplinary care.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-59
PMCID: PMC2631026  PMID: 19102761
19.  Evaluation of current surgeon practice for patients undergoing lumbar spinal fusion surgery in the United Kingdom 
World Journal of Orthopedics  2015;6(6):483-490.
AIM: To ascertain current surgeon practice in the United Kingdom National Health Service for the management of patients undergoing lumbar spinal fusion surgery.
METHODS: Descriptive survey methodology utilised an online questionnaire administered through SurveyMonkey. Eligible participants were all surgeons currently carrying out lumbar spinal fusion surgery in the National Health Service. Two previous surveys and a recent systematic review informed questions. Statistical analyses included responder characteristics and pre-planned descriptive analyses. Open question data were interpreted using thematic analysis.
RESULTS: The response rate was 73.8%. Most surgeons (84%) were orthopaedic surgeons. Range of surgeon experience (1-15 years), number of operations performed in the previous 12 mo (4-250), and range of information used to predict outcome was broad. There was some consistency of practice: most patients were seen preoperatively; all surgeons ensured patients are mobile within 3 d of surgery; and there was agreement for the value of post-operative physiotherapy. However, there was considerable variability of practice: variability of protocols, duration of hospital stay, use of discharge criteria, frequency and timing of outpatient follow up, use of written patient information and outcome measures. Much variability was explained through patient-centred care, for example, 62% surgeons tailored functional advice to individual patients.
CONCLUSION: Current United Kingdom surgeon practice for lumbar spinal fusion is described. The surgical procedure and patient population is diverse, and it is therefore understandable that management varies. It is evident that care should be patient-centred. However with high costs and documented patient dissatisfaction it is important that further research evaluates optimal management.
doi:10.5312/wjo.v6.i6.483
PMCID: PMC4501934  PMID: 26191495
Lumbar spinal fusion; Spinal surgery; Surgeon practice; Management; Fusion
20.  Why Are Spine Surgery Patients Lost to Follow-up? 
Global Spine Journal  2013;3(1):15-20.
Long-term outcome studies are frequently hindered by a decreasing frequency of patient follow-up with the treating surgeon over time. Whether this attrition represents a “loss of faith” in their index surgeon or the realities of a geographically mobile society has never been assessed in a population of patients undergoing spinal surgery. The purpose of this article is to determine the frequency with which patients who have undergone prior surgery and develop new problems attempt to follow-up with their index spine surgeon. The study design was a population survey. All patients seen at two university-based spine centers over a 3-month period were surveyed regarding prior spine surgery. The questionnaire asked details of the previous operation, whether the patient had sought follow-up with their index surgeon, why the patient did not continue treatment with that surgeon, and whether the patient was satisfied with their prior treatment. Sixty-nine patients completed the survey. Prior operations were lumbar (53 patients) and cervical (16). When asked the reason for not seeing their prior surgeon, 10 patients (15%) stated that they (the patient) had moved and 16 (23%) responded that their surgeon no longer practiced in the area. Thirteen (19%) were unhappy with their previous care, 22 (32%) were seeking a second opinion, and 7 (10%) were told they needed more complex surgery. Thirty-seven (54%) discussed their symptoms with their original surgeon before seeking another surgeon. Although 32 patients (46%) had not discussed their new complaints with their index surgeon, only 3 patients (4%) chose not to return to their prior surgeon despite having the opportunity to do so. Forty-nine patients (71%) were satisfied with their prior surgical care, and 42 patients (61%) would undergo the index operation again. Most of the patients seen at the authors' practices after undergoing prior spine surgery elsewhere failed to follow up with their prior spine surgeon for geographical reasons. It appears that the majority of patients who develop new spinal complaints will seek out their treating surgeon when possible. This suggests that patient attrition over long-term follow-up may reflect a geographically mobile population rather than patient dissatisfaction with prior treatment.
doi:10.1055/s-0033-1337120
PMCID: PMC3854586  PMID: 24436847
loss to follow-up; spine surgery; second opinion; revision spinal surgery; clinical studies
21.  Surgical “Buy-in”: the Contractual Relationship between Surgeons and Patients that Influences Decisions Regarding Life-Supporting Therapy 
Critical care medicine  2010;38(3):843-848.
Context
There is a general consensus by intensivists and non-surgical providers that surgeons hesitate to withdraw life-sustaining therapy on their operative patients despite a patient’s or surrogate’s request to do so.
Objective
To examine the culture and practice of surgeons in order to assess attitudes and concerns regarding advance directives for their patients who have high-risk surgical procedures.
Design
A qualitative investigation using one-on-one, in-person interviews with open-ended questions about the use of advance directives during peri-operative planning. Consensus coding was performed using a grounded theory approach. Data accrual continued until theoretical saturation was achieved. Modeling identified themes and trends, ensuring maximal fit and faithful data representation.
Setting
Surgical practices in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Subjects
Physicians involved in the performance of high risk surgical procedures.
Main Results
We describe here the concept of surgical “buy-in”: a complex process by which surgeons negotiate with patients a commitment to post-operative care prior to undertaking high-risk surgical procedures. Surgeons describe seeking a commitment from the patient to abide prescribed postoperative care: “This is a package deal, this is what this operation entails.” or a specific number of postoperative days: “I will contract with them and say look if we are going to do this I am going to need thirty days to get you through this operation.” “Buy-in” is grounded in surgeons’ strong sense of responsibility for surgical outcomes and can lead to surgeon unwillingness to operate or surgeon reticence to withdraw life-sustaining therapy post-operatively. If negotiations regarding life-sustaining interventions result in treatment limitation, surgeons may shift responsibility for unanticipated outcomes to the patient.
Conclusions
A complicated relationship exists between surgeon and patient that begins in the preoperative setting. It reflects a bidirectional contract that is assumed by the surgeon with distinct implications and consequences for surgeon behavior and patient care.
doi:10.1097/CCM.0b013e3181cc466b
PMCID: PMC3042894  PMID: 20048678
Ethics; Patient Autonomy; Informed Consent; Surgical Outcomes; Decision Making
22.  Cognitive Investigation Study of Patients Admitted for Cosmetic Surgery: Information, Expectations, and Consent for Treatment 
Archives of Plastic Surgery  2015;42(1):46-51.
Background
In all branches of medicine, it is the surgeon's responsibility to provide the patient with accurate information before surgery. This is especially important in cosmetic surgery because the surgeon must focus on the aesthetic results desired by the patient.
Methods
An experimental protocol was developed based on an original questionnaire given to 72 patients. The nature of the responses, the patients' motivation and expectations, the degree of patient awareness regarding the planned operation, and the patients' perceptions of the purpose of the required consent for cosmetic surgery were all analyzed using Fisher's exact test.
Results
Candidates for abdominal wall surgery had significantly more preoperative psychological problems than their counterparts did (P=0.035). A significantly different percentage of patients under 40 years of age compared to those over 40 years of age searched for additional sources of information prior to the operation (P=0.046). Only 30% of patients with a lower educational background stated that the preoperative information had been adequate, whereas 92% of subjects with secondary schooling or a postsecondary degree felt that the information was sufficient (P=0.001). A statistically significant difference was also present between patients according to their educational background regarding expected improvements in their quality of life postoperatively (P=0.008).
Conclusions
This study suggests that patients require more attention in presurgical consultations and that clear communication should be prioritized to ensure that the surgeon understands the patient's expectations.
doi:10.5999/aps.2015.42.1.46
PMCID: PMC4297806  PMID: 25606489
Informed consent; Cosmetic surgery; Quality of life; Aesthetic
23.  Clinical decision making in spinal fusion for chronic low back pain. Results of a nationwide survey among spine surgeons 
BMJ Open  2011;1(2):e000391.
Objectives
To assess the use of prognostic patient factors and predictive tests in clinical decision making for spinal fusion in patients with chronic low back pain.
Design and setting
Nationwide survey among spine surgeons in the Netherlands.
Participants
Surgeon members of the Dutch Spine Society were questioned on their surgical treatment strategy for chronic low back pain.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
The surgeons' opinion on the use of prognostic patient factors and predictive tests for patient selection were addressed on Likert scales, and the degree of uniformity was assessed. In addition, the influence of surgeon-specific factors, such as clinical experience and training, on decision making was determined.
Results
The comments from 62 surgeons (70% response rate) were analysed. Forty-four surgeons (71%) had extensive clinical experience. There was a statistically significant lack of uniformity of opinion in seven of the 11 items on prognostic factors and eight of the 11 items on predictive tests, respectively. Imaging was valued much higher than predictive tests, psychological screening or patient preferences (all p<0.01). Apart from the use of discography and long multisegment fusions, differences in training or clinical experience did not appear to be of significant influence on treatment strategy.
Conclusions
The present survey showed a lack of consensus among spine surgeons on the appreciation and use of predictive tests. Prognostic patient factors were not consistently incorporated in their treatment strategy either. Clinical decision making for spinal fusion to treat chronic low back pain does not have a uniform evidence base in practice. Future research should focus on identifying subgroups of patients for whom spinal fusion is an effective treatment, as only a reliable prediction of surgical outcome, combined with the implementation of individual patient factors, may enable the instalment of consensus guidelines for surgical decision making in patients with chronic low back pain.
Article summary
Article focus
What is the level of professional consensus among spine surgeons regarding spinal fusion surgery for chronic low back pain?
How are tests for patient selection appreciated and to what extent are they used in clinical practice?
Are prognostic patient factors incorporated in the process of surgical decision making for chronic low back pain?
Key messages
In clinical practice, there is no professional consensus on surgical treatment strategy for chronic low back pain.
Prognostic patient factors as well as tests for patient selection are not consistently used in clinical decision making for spinal fusion.
Because of a lack of consensus on spinal fusion strategy for chronic low back pain in clinical practice, no guidelines for proper patient counselling can be installed at present.
Strengths and limitations of this study
A survey among physicians provides valuable insight in the actual decision-making process in clinical practice. Understanding contributory factors in treatment strategy may help in the creation of consensus guidelines.
The introduction of an interviewer bias could be avoided by the use of a neutral intermediary instead of direct questions from peers in spine surgery.
This study focused on surgeon members of the Dutch Spine Society whose practice may not reflect that of all surgeons performing spinal fusion for chronic low back pain. Moreover, no information on conservative treatment options was acquired.
To define consensus, we chose for uniformity of opinion of at least 70%, which we considered to be sufficient for implementation in guidelines. Such a cut-off level remains arbitrary.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000391
PMCID: PMC3278483  PMID: 22189352
24.  “IT'S BIG SURGERY”: PREOPERATIVE EXPRESSIONS OF RISK, RESPONSIBILITY AND COMMITMENT TO TREATMENT AFTER HIGH-RISK OPERATIONS 
Annals of surgery  2014;259(3):458-463.
Objective
To identify the processes surgeons use to establish patient buy-in to postoperative treatments.
Background
Surgeons generally believe they confirm the patient's commitment to an operation and all ensuing postoperative care, before surgery. How surgeons get buy-in and whether patients participate in this agreement is unknown.
Methods
We used purposive sampling to identify three surgeons from different subspecialties who routinely perform high-risk operations at each of three distinct medical centers (Toronto, ON; Boston, MA; Madison, WI). We recorded preoperative conversations with three to seven patients facing high-risk surgery with each surgeon (n = 48) and used content analysis to analyze each preoperative conversation inductively.
Results
Surgeons conveyed the gravity of high-risk operations to patients by emphasizing the operation is “big surgery” and that a decision to proceed invoked a serious commitment for both the surgeon and the patient. Surgeons were frank about the potential for serious complications and the need for intensive care. They rarely discussed the use of prolonged life-supporting treatment, and patients’ questions were primarily confined to logistic or technical concerns. Surgeons regularly proceeded through the conversation in a manner that suggested they believed buy-in was achieved, but this agreement was rarely forged explicitly.
Conclusions
Surgeons who perform high-risk operations communicate the risks of surgery and express their commitment to the patient's survival. However, they rarely discuss prolonged life-supporting treatments explicitly and patients do not discuss their preferences. It is not possible to determine patients’ desires for prolonged postoperative life support based on these preoperative conversations alone.
doi:10.1097/SLA.0000000000000314
PMCID: PMC3936655  PMID: 24253139
25.  The Effects of Preference for Information on Consumers’ Online Health Information Search Behavior 
Background
Preference for information is a personality trait that affects people’s tendency to seek information in health-related situations. Prior studies have focused primarily on investigating its impact on patient-provider communication and on the implications for designing information interventions that prepare patients for medical procedures. Few studies have examined its impact on general consumers’ interactions with Web-based search engines for health information or the implications for designing more effective health information search systems.
Objective
This study intends to fill this gap by investigating the impact of preference for information on the search behavior of general consumers seeking health information, their perceptions of search tasks (representing information needs), and user experience with search systems.
Methods
Forty general consumers who had previously searched for health information online participated in the study in our usability lab. Preference for information was measured using Miller’s Monitor-Blunter Style Scale (MBSS) and the Krantz Health Opinion Survey-Information Scale (KHOS-I). Each participant completed four simulated health information search tasks: two look-up (fact-finding) and two exploratory. Their behaviors while interacting with the search systems were automatically logged and ratings of their perceptions of tasks and user experience with the systems were collected using Likert-scale questionnaires.
Results
The MBSS showed low reliability with the participants (Monitoring subscale: Cronbach alpha=.53; Blunting subscale: Cronbach alpha=.35). Thus, no further analyses were performed based on the scale. KHOS-I had sufficient reliability (Cronbach alpha=.77). Participants were classified into low- and high-preference groups based on their KHOS-I scores. The high-preference group submitted significantly shorter queries when completing the look-up tasks (P=.02). The high-preference group made a significantly higher percentage of parallel movements in query reformulation than did the low-preference group (P=.04), whereas the low-preference group made a significantly higher percentage of new concept movements than the high-preference group when completing the exploratory tasks (P=.01). The high-preference group found the exploratory tasks to be significantly more difficult (P=.05) and the systems to be less useful (P=.04) than did the low-preference group.
Conclusions
Preference for information has an impact on the search behavior of general consumers seeking health information. Those with a high preference were more likely to use more general queries when searching for specific factual information and to develop more complex mental representations of health concerns of an exploratory nature and try different combinations of concepts to explore these concerns. High-preference users were also more demanding on the system. Health information search systems should be tailored to fit individuals’ information preferences.
doi:10.2196/jmir.2783
PMCID: PMC3869058  PMID: 24284061
preference for information; health information; consumer search behavior; search engines

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