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1.  Image-guided spine surgery: state of the art and future directions 
European Spine Journal  2009;19(1):25-45.
Navigation technology is a widely available tool in spine surgery and has become a part of clinical routine in many centers. The issue of where and when navigation technology should be used is still an issue of debate. It is the aim of this study to give an overview on the current knowledge concerning the technical capabilities of image-guided approaches and to discuss possible future directions of research and implementation of this technique. Based on a Medline search total of 1,462 publications published until October 2008 were retrieved. The abstracts were scanned manually for relevance to the topics of navigated spine surgery in the cervical spine, the thoracic spine, the lumbar spine, as well as ventral spine surgery, radiation exposure, tumor surgery and cost-effectivity in navigated spine surgery. Papers not contributing to these subjects were deleted resulting in 276 papers that were included in the analysis. Image-guided approaches have been investigated and partially implemented into clinical routine in virtually any field of spine surgery. However, the data available is mostly limited to small clinical series, case reports or retrospective studies. Only two RCTs and one metaanalysis have been retrieved. Concerning the most popular application of image-guided approaches, pedicle screw insertion, the evidence of clinical benefit in the most critical areas, e.g. the thoracic spine, is still lacking. In many other areas of spine surgery, e.g. ventral spine surgery or tumor surgery, image-guided approaches are still in an experimental stage. The technical development of image-guided techniques has reached a high level as the accuracies that can be achieved technically meet the anatomical demands. However, there is evidence that the interaction between the surgeon (‘human factor’) and the navigation system is a source of inaccuracy. It is concluded that more effort needs to be spend to understand this interaction.
PMCID: PMC2899744  PMID: 19763640
Spine surgery; Image-guided surgery; Navigation; Computer-aided surgery; Computer-assisted surgery
2.  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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3278483  PMID: 22189352
3.  Impact of Advanced Laparoscopy Courses on Present Surgical Practice 
Advanced laparoscopic workshops provide an efficacious instrument for educating surgeons in minimally invasive techniques.
Background and Objectives:
The introduction of new surgical techniques has made training in laparoscopic procedures a necessity for the practicing surgeon, but acquisition of new surgical skills is a formidable task. This study was conducted to assess the impact of advanced laparoscopic workshops on caseload patterns of practicing surgeons.
After we obtained institutional review board approval, a survey of practicing surgeons who participated in advanced laparoscopic courses was distributed; the results were analyzed for statistical significance. The courses were held at the University of Nebraska Medical Center between January 2002 and December 2010. Questionnaires were mailed, faxed, and e-mailed to surgeons.
Of the 109 surgeons who participated in the advanced laparoscopy courses, 79 received surveys and 30 were excluded from the survey because of their affiliation with the University of Nebraska Medical Center. A total of 47 responses (59%) were received from 41 male and 6 female surgeons. The median response time from completion of the course to completion of the survey was 13.2 months (range, 6.8–19.1 months). The mean age of participating surgeons was 39.2 years (range, 29–51 years). The mean time since residency was 8.4 years (range, 0.8–21 years). Eleven surgeons had completed a minimal number of laparoscopic cases in residency (<50), 17 surgeons had completed a moderate number of laparoscopic procedures in residency (50–200), and 21 surgeons had completed a significant number of cases during residency (>200). Of the surgeons who responded, 94% were in private practice. Fifty-seven percent of the participating surgeons who responded reported a change in laparoscopic practice patterns after the courses. Of these surgeons, 24% had a limited residency laparoscopy exposure of <50 cases. Surgeons who were exposed to ≥50 laparoscopic cases during their residency showed a statistically significant increase in the number of laparoscopic procedures performed after their class compared with surgeons who did not receive ≥50 laparoscopic cases in residency (P = .03). In addition, regardless of the procedures learned in a specific class, surgeons with ≥50 laparoscopic cases in residency had a statistically significant increase in their laparoscopic colectomy and laparoscopic hernia procedure caseload (P < .01). However, there was no statistically significant difference in laparoscopic caseload between surgeons who had completed 50 to 200 laparoscopic residency cases and those who had completed greater than 200 laparoscopic residency cases (P = .31). Furthermore, the participant's age (P = .23), practice type (P = .61), and years in practice (P = .22) had no statistical significance with regard to the adoption of laparoscopic procedures after courses taken. This finding is congruent with the findings of other researchers. Future interest in advanced laparoscopy courses was noted in 70% of surgeons and was more pronounced in surgeons with ≥50 cases in residency.
Advanced laparoscopic workshops provide an efficacious instrument in educating surgeons on minimally invasive surgical techniques. Participating surgeons significantly increased the number of course-specific procedures that they performed but also increased the number of other laparoscopic surgeries, suggesting that a certain proficiency in laparoscopic skills is translated to multiple surgical procedures. Laparoscopy experience of ≥50 cases during residency is a strong predictor of an increase in the number of advanced laparoscopic cases after attending courses.
PMCID: PMC3771781  PMID: 23925009
Laparoscopy; Training; Surgical courses; Colon; Hernia
4.  Radiation exposure during the lateral lumbar interbody fusion procedure and techniques to reduce radiation dosage 
Fluoroscopy is widely used in spine surgery to assist with graft and hardware placement. Previous studies have not measured radiation exposure to a surgeon during minimally invasive lateral lumbar spine surgery for single-level discectomy and interbody cage insertion. This study was performed to model and measure radiation exposure to a surgeon during spine surgery using the direct lateral lumbar procedure.
The study was performed using a mannequin substituting for the surgeon and a cadaver substituting for the patient. Radiation was measured with dosimeters attached to 6 locations on the mannequin using a OEC Medical Systems 9800 C-arm fluoroscope (OEC Medical Systems, Salt Lake City, Utah). Three different fluoroscopy setups were tested: a standard imaging setup, a standard setup using pulsed-mode fluoroscopy, and a reversed setup. The experiment was tested 5 times per setup, and the dosimeters’ values were recorded.
The highest amount of radiation exposure occurred when obtaining an anteroposterior view of the spine in the standard setup. Compared with the standard setup, the pulsed-mode setting decreased the radiation exposure to the mannequin by a factor of 6 times (P < .001). Compared with the standard setup, the reversed setup also decreased the radiation exposure to the mannequin by a factor of 6 times (P < .001) and it had the lowest amount of radiation exposure to the eye level (P < .001).
Care should be taken when one is obtaining an anteroposterior view of the lumbar spine during lateral lumbar procedures to limit radiation exposure. Radiation exposure to the surgeon can be greatly minimized by using either a pulsed imaging mode or the reversed setup. The reversed setup has the lowest amount of radiation exposure to the eye level.
PMCID: PMC4300901
5.  The adoption of laparoscopic colorectal surgery: a national survey of general surgeons 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2009;52(6):455-462.
Laparoscopic surgery may become the standard of care for the treatment of colorectal disease. Little is known regarding North American patterns of practice or the limiting factors and strategies for adoption among surgeons.
We sent a 28-item questionnaire to all general surgeon members of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. We derived descriptive and correlative information using χ2, Wilcoxon rank sum and Student t tests and multivariate logistic regression.
The return rate was 55% (694/1266). A total of 67% (462/694; 95% confidence interval 63%–70%) of respondents perform colorectal surgery. Of these, 54% perform laparoscopic colorectal surgery. Multivariate logistic regression identified 5 factors related to performing laparoscopic colorectal surgery: fewer years in practice (p < 0.001), male sex (p = 0.015), practising in the province of Quebec (p = 0.005), university-hospital affiliation (p = 0.034) and minimally invasive surgery fellowship training (p = 0.023). Lack of adequate operating time and formal training were the main reasons cited by surgeons not offering laparoscopic colon resections. Most surgeons (67%) felt that site visits from a minimally invasive surgeon would represent the most effective training method for acquiring advanced laparoscopic skills.
About half of Canadian general surgeons offer laparoscopic colorectal resections. Recent graduation, male sex, practice location, university-hospital affiliation and minimally invasive surgery training are significant predictors for offering a laparoscopic approach. Lack of operative time and formal training are the main barriers to adoption of the technique. Site visits by trained laparoscopic surgeons is the preferred method of acquiring advanced skills.
PMCID: PMC2792405  PMID: 20011180
6.  Robotic-Assisted Minimally Invasive Surgery for Gynecologic and Urologic Oncology 
Executive Summary
An application was received to review the evidence on the ‘The Da Vinci Surgical System’ for the treatment of gynecologic malignancies (e.g. endometrial and cervical cancers). Limitations to the current standard of care include the lack of trained physicians on minimally invasive surgery and limited access to minimally invasive surgery for patients. The potential benefits of ‘The Da Vinci Surgical System’ include improved technical manipulation and physician uptake leading to increased surgeries, and treatment and management of these cancers.
The demand for robotic surgery for the treatment and management of prostate cancer has been increasing due to its alleged benefits of recovery of erectile function and urinary continence, two important factors of men’s health. The potential technical benefits of robotic surgery leading to improved patient functional outcomes are surgical precision and vision.
Clinical Need
Uterine and cervical cancers represent 5.4% (4,400 of 81,700) and 1.6% (1,300 of 81,700), respectively, of incident cases of cancer among female cancers in Canada. Uterine cancer, otherwise referred to as endometrial cancer is cancer of the lining of the uterus. The most common treatment option for endometrial cancer is removing the cancer through surgery. A surgical option is the removal of the uterus and cervix through a small incision in the abdomen using a laparoscope which is referred to as total laparoscopic hysterectomy. Risk factors that increase the risk of endometrial cancer include taking estrogen replacement therapy after menopause, being obese, early age at menarche, late age at menopause, being nulliparous, having had high-dose radiation to the pelvis, and use of tamoxifen.
Cervical cancer occurs at the lower narrow end of the uterus. There are more treatment options for cervical cancer compared to endometrial cancer, however total laparoscopic hysterectomy is also a treatment option. Risk factors that increase the risk for cervical cancer are multiple sexual partners, early sexual activity, infection with the human papillomavirus, and cigarette smoking, whereas barrier-type of contraception as a risk factor decreases the risk of cervical cancer.
Prostate cancer is ranked first in men in Canada in terms of the number of new cases among all male cancers (25,500 of 89,300 or 28.6%). The impact on men who develop prostate cancer is substantial given the potential for erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. Prostate cancer arises within the prostate gland, which resides in the male reproductive system and near the bladder. Radical retropubic prostatectomy is the gold standard treatment for localized prostate cancer. Prostate cancer affects men above 60 years of age. Other risk factors include a family history of prostate cancer, being of African descent, being obese, consuming a diet high in fat, physical inactivity, and working with cadium.
The Da Vinci Surgical System
The Da Vinci Surgical System is a robotic device. There are four main components to the system: 1) the surgeon’s console, where the surgeon sits and views a magnified three-dimensional image of the surgical field; 2) patient side-cart, which sits beside the patient and consists of three instrument arms and one endoscope arm; 3) detachable instruments (endowrist instruments and intuitive masters), which simulate fine motor human movements. The hand movements of the surgeon’s hands at the surgeon’s console are translated into smaller ones by the robotic device and are acted out by the attached instruments; 4) three-dimensional vision system: the camera unit or endoscope arm. The main advantages of use of the robotic device are: 1) the precision of the instrument and improved dexterity due to the use of “wristed” instruments; 2) three-dimensional imaging, with improved ability to locate blood vessels, nerves and tissues; 3) the surgeon’s console, which reduces fatigue accompanied with conventional laparoscopy surgery and allows for tremor-free manipulation. The main disadvantages of use of the robotic device are the costs including instrument costs ($2.6 million in US dollars), cost per use ($200 per use), the costs associated with training surgeons and operating room personnel, and the lack of tactile feedback, with the trade-off being increased visual feedback.
Research Questions
For endometrial and cervical cancers,
1. What is the effectiveness of the Da Vinci Surgical System vs. laparoscopy and laparotomy for women undergoing any hysterectomy for the surgical treatment and management of their endometrial and cervical cancers?
2. What are the incremental costs of the Da Vinci Surgical System vs. laparoscopy and laparotomy for women undergoing any hysterectomy for the surgical treatment and management of their endometrial and cervical cancers?
For prostate cancer,
3. What is the effectiveness of robotically-assisted radical prostatectomy using the Da Vinci Surgical System vs. laparoscopic radical prostatectomy and retropubic radical prostatectomy for the surgical treatment and management of prostate cancer?
4. What are the incremental costs of robotically-assisted radical prostatectomy using the Da Vinci Surgical System vs. laparoscopic radical prostatectomy and retropubic radical prostatectomy for the surgical treatment and management of prostate cancer?
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on May 12, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, OVID EMBASE, Wiley Cochrane, CINAHL, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination/International Agency for Health Technology Assessment for studies published from January 1, 2000 until May 12, 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist, then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Inclusion Criteria
English language articles (January 1, 2000-May 12, 2010)
Journal articles that report on the effectiveness or cost-effectiveness for the comparisons of interest using a primary data source (e.g. obtained in a clinical setting)
Journal articles that report on the effectiveness or cost-effectiveness for the comparisons of interest using a secondary data source (e.g. hospital- or population-based registries)
Study design and methods must be clearly described
Health technology assessments, systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials, non-randomized controlled trials and/or cohort studies, case-case studies, regardless of sample size, cost-effectiveness studies
Exclusion Criteria
Duplicate publications (with the more recent publication on the same study population included)
Non-English papers
Animal or in-vitro studies
Case reports or case series without a referent or comparison group
Studies on long-term survival which may be affected by treatment
Studies that do not examine the cancers (e.g. advanced disease) or outcomes of interest
Outcomes of Interest
For endometrial and cervical cancers,
Primary outcomes:
Morbidity factors
- Length of hospitalization
- Number of complications*
Peri-operative factors
- Operation time
- Amount of blood loss*
- Number of conversions to laparotomy*
Number of lymph nodes recovered
For prostate cancer,
Primary outcomes:
Morbidity factors
- Length of hospitalization
- Amount of morphine use/pain*
Peri-operative factors
- Operation time
- Amount of blood loss*
- Number of transfusions*
- Duration of catheterization
- Number of complications*
- Number of anastomotic strictures*
Number of lymph nodes recovered
Oncologic factors
- Proportion of positive surgical margins
Long-term outcomes
- Urinary continence
- Erectile function
Summary of Findings
Robotic use for gynecologic oncology compared to:
Laparotomy: benefits of robotic surgery in terms of shorter length of hospitalization and less blood loss. These results indicate clinical effectiveness in terms of reduced morbidity and safety, respectively, in the context of study design limitations.
The beneficial effect of robotic surgery was shown in pooled analysis for complications, owing to increased sample size.
More work is needed to clarify the role of complications in terms of safety, including improved study designs, analysis and measurement.
Laparoscopy: benefits of robotic surgery in terms of shorter length of hospitalization, less blood loss and fewer conversions to laparotomy likely owing to the technical difficulty of conventional laparoscopy, in the context of study design limitations.
Clinical significance of significant findings for length of hospitalizations and blood loss is low.
Fewer conversions to laparotomy indicate clinical effectiveness in terms of reduced morbidity.
Robotic use for urologic oncology, specifically prostate cancer, compared to:
Retropubic surgery: benefits of robotic surgery in terms of shorter length of hospitalization and less blood loss/fewer individuals requiring transfusions. These results indicate clinical effectiveness in terms of reduced morbidity and safety, respectively, in the context of study design limitations. There was a beneficial effect in terms of decreased positive surgical margins and erectile dysfunction. These results indicate clinical effectiveness in terms of improved cancer control and functional outcomes, respectively, in the context of study design limitations.
Surgeon skill had an impact on cancer control and functional outcomes.
The results for complications were inconsistent when measured as either total number of complications, pain management or anastomosis. There is some suggestion that robotic surgery is safe with respect to less post-operative pain management required compared to retropubic surgery, however improved study design and measurement of complications need to be further addressed.
Clinical significance of significant findings for length of hospitalizations is low.
Laparoscopy: benefits of robotic surgery in terms of less blood loss and fewer individuals requiring transfusions likely owing to the technical difficulty of conventional laparoscopy, in the context of study design limitations.
Clinical significance of significant findings for blood loss is low.
The potential link between less blood loss, improved visualization and improved functional outcomes is an important consideration for use of robotics.
All studies included were observational in nature and therefore the results must be interpreted cautiously.
Economic Analysis
The objective of this project was to assess the economic impact of robotic-assisted laparoscopy (RAL) for endometrial, cervical, and prostate cancers in the province of Ontario.
A budget impact analysis was undertaken to report direct costs associated with open surgery (OS), endoscopic laparoscopy (EL) and robotic-assisted laparoscopy (RAL) based on clinical literature review outcomes, to report a budget impact in the province based on volumes and costs from administrative data sets, and to project a future impact of RAL in Ontario. A cost-effectiveness analysis was not conducted because of the low quality evidence from the clinical literature review.
Hospital costs were obtained from the Ontario Case Costing Initiative (OCCI) for the appropriate Canadian Classification of Health Intervention (CCI) codes restricted to selective ICD-10 diagnostic codes after consultation with experts in the field. Physician fees were obtained from the Ontario Schedule of Benefits (OSB) after consultation with experts in the field. Fees were costed based on operation times reported in the clinical literature for the procedures being investigated. Volumes of procedures were obtained from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) administrative databases.
Direct costs associated with RAL, EL and OS included professional fees, hospital costs (including disposable instruments), radiotherapy costs associated with positive surgical margins in prostate cancer and conversion to OS in gynecological cancer. The total cost per case was higher for RAL than EL and OS for both gynecological and prostate cancers. There is also an acquisition cost associated with RAL. After conversation with the only supplier in Canada, hospitals are looking to spend an initial 3.6M to acquire the robotic surgical system
Previous volumes of OS and EL procedures were used to project volumes into Years 1-3 using a linear mathematical expression. Burden of OS and EL hysterectomies and prostatectomies was calculated by multiplying the number of cases for that year by the cost/case of the procedure.
The number of procedures is expected to increase in the next three years based on historical data. RAL is expected to capture this market by 65% after consultation with experts. If it’s assumed that RAL will capture the current market in Ontario by 65%, the net impact is expected to be by Year 3, 3.1M for hysterectomy and 6.7M for prostatectomy procedures respectively in the province.
RAL has diffused in the province with four surgical systems in place in Ontario, two in Toronto and two in London. RAL is a more expensive technology on a per case basis due to more expensive robot specific instrumentation and physician labour reflected by increased OR time reported in the clinical literature. There is also an upfront cost to acquire the machine and maintenance contract. RAL is expected to capture the market at 65% with project net impacts by Year 3 of 3.1M and 6.7M for hysterectomy and prostatectomy respectively.
PMCID: PMC3382308  PMID: 23074405
7.  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.
PMCID: PMC3854586  PMID: 24436847
loss to follow-up; spine surgery; second opinion; revision spinal surgery; clinical studies
8.  Subarachnoid block with Taylor's approach for surgery of lower half of the body and lower limbs: A clinical teaching study 
Subarachnoid anesthesia is used as the sole anesthetic technique for below umbilical surgeries, but patients with deformed spine represent technical difficulty for its establishment. This study was aimed to find out whether training of Taylor's approach to residents on normal spine is beneficial for establishing subarachnoid block in patients with deformed spine.
Materials and Methods:
The total of 174 patients of ASA I-III with normal and deformed spine of both genders scheduled for below umbilical surgeries under the subarachnoid block and met the inclusion criteria, were enrolled for this two-phased clinical teaching study. All participating residents have performed more than 100 subarachnoid block with the median and paramedian approach. Residents were randomized into two equal groups. During the first phase program, Group I was taught Taylor's approach by hands on method for the subarachnoid block while Group II kept on observation for the technique. During the second phase of program, Group II was also taught Taylor's approach for establishing the subarachnoid block. Block success was defined according to clinical efficacy.
The results of teaching of Taylor's approach were encouraging. Initially, the residents faced difficulty for establishing the subarachnoid block in deformed spine but after learning by observation and practical hands on, both groups had successfully performed the subarachnoid block by Taylor's approach in one or more attempts in patient with deformed spine with the acceptable failure rate of 15%.
Taylor's approach for establishing subarachnoid block in deformed spine should be taught to residents on normal spine.
PMCID: PMC4173443
Arthritis; scoliosis; subarachnoid block; Taylor's approach
9.  A multi-national report on methods for institutional credentialing for spine radiosurgery 
Stereotactic body radiotherapy and radiosurgery are rapidly emerging treatment options for both malignant and benign spine tumors. Proper institutional credentialing by physicians and medical physicists as well as other personnel is important for the safe and effective adoption of spine radiosurgery. This article describes the methods for institutional credentialing for spine radiosurgery at seven highly experienced international institutions.
All institutions (n = 7) are members of the Elekta Spine Radiosurgery Research Consortium and have a dedicated research and clinical focus on image-guided spine radiosurgery. A questionnaire consisting of 24 items covering various aspects of institutional credentialing for spine radiosurgery was completed by all seven institutions.
Close agreement was observed in most aspects of spine radiosurgery credentialing at each institution. A formal credentialing process was believed to be important for the implementation of a new spine radiosurgery program, for patient safety and clinical outcomes. One institution has a written policy specific for spine radiosurgery credentialing, but all have an undocumented credentialing system in place. All institutions rely upon an in-house proctoring system for the training of both physicians and medical physicists. Four institutions require physicians and medical physicists to attend corporate sponsored training. Two of these 4 institutions also require attendance at a non-corporate sponsored academic society radiosurgery course. Corporate as well as non-corporate sponsored training were believed to be complimentary and both important for training. In 5 centers, all cases must be reviewed at a multidisciplinary conference prior to radiosurgery treatment. At 3 centers, neurosurgeons are not required to be involved in all cases if there is no evidence for instability or spinal cord compression. Backup physicians and physicists are required at only 1 institution, but all institutions have more than one specialist trained to perform spine radiosurgery. All centers believed that credentialing should also be device specific, and all believed that professional societies should formulate guidelines for institutions on the requirements for spine radiosurgery credentialing. Finally, in 4 institutions radiation therapists were required to attend corporate-sponsored device specific training for credentialing, and in only 1 institution were radiation therapists required to also attend academic society training for credentialing.
This study represents the first multi-national report of the current practice of institutional credentialing for spine radiosurgery. Key methodologies for safe implementation and credentialing of spine radiosurgery have been identified. There is strong agreement among experienced centers that credentialing is an important component of the safe and effective implementation of a spine radiosurgery program.
PMCID: PMC3702432  PMID: 23806078
Spine Radiosurgery; Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy; Credentialing; Spine Tumors
10.  Use of a radiopaque localizer grid to reduce radiation exposure 
Minimally invasive spine surgery requires placement of the skin incision at an ideal location in the patient's back by the surgeon. However, numerous fluoroscopic x-ray images are sometimes required to find the site of entry, thereby exposing patients and Operating Room personnel to additional radiation. To minimize this exposure, a radiopaque localizer grid was devised to increase planning efficiency and reduce radiation exposure.
The radiopaque localizer grid was utilized to plan the point of entry for minimally invasive spine surgery. Use of the grid allowed the surgeon to accurately pinpoint the ideal entry point for the procedure with just one or two fluoroscopic X-ray images.
The reusable localizer grid is a simple and practical device that may be utilized to more efficiently plan an entry site on the skin, thus reducing radiation exposure. This device or a modified version may be utilized for any procedure involving the spine.
PMCID: PMC3177900  PMID: 21827694
Radiation; Exposure; Minimally Invasive; Spine Surgery; Localization; Innovation; Grid
11.  Towards standardized measurement of adverse events in spine surgery: conceptual model and pilot evaluation 
Independent of efficacy, information on safety of surgical procedures is essential for informed choices. We seek to develop standardized methodology for describing the safety of spinal operations and apply these methods to study lumbar surgery. We present a conceptual model for evaluating the safety of spine surgery and describe development of tools to measure principal components of this model: (1) specifying outcome by explicit criteria for adverse event definition, mode of ascertainment, cause, severity, or preventability, and (2) quantitatively measuring predictors such as patient factors, comorbidity, severity of degenerative spine disease, and invasiveness of spine surgery.
We created operational definitions for 176 adverse occurrences and established multiple mechanisms for reporting them. We developed new methods to quantify the severity of adverse occurrences, degeneration of lumbar spine, and invasiveness of spinal procedures. Using kappa statistics and intra-class correlation coefficients, we assessed agreement for the following: four reviewers independently coding etiology, preventability, and severity for 141 adverse occurrences, two observers coding lumbar spine degenerative changes in 10 selected cases, and two researchers coding invasiveness of surgery for 50 initial cases.
During the first six months of prospective surveillance, rigorous daily medical record reviews identified 92.6% of the adverse occurrences we recorded, and voluntary reports by providers identified 38.5% (surgeons reported 18.3%, inpatient rounding team reported 23.1%, and conferences discussed 6.1%). Trained observers had fair agreement in classifying etiology of 141 adverse occurrences into 18 categories (kappa = 0.35), but agreement was substantial (kappa ≥ 0.61) for 4 specific categories: technical error, failure in communication, systems failure, and no error. Preventability assessment had moderate agreement (mean weighted kappa = 0.44). Adverse occurrence severity rating had fair agreement (mean weighted kappa = 0.33) when using a scale based on the JCAHO Sentinel Event Policy, but agreement was substantial for severity ratings on a new 11-point numerical severity scale (ICC = 0.74). There was excellent inter-rater agreement for a lumbar degenerative disease severity score (ICC = 0.98) and an index of surgery invasiveness (ICC = 0.99).
Composite measures of disease severity and surgery invasiveness may allow development of risk-adjusted predictive models for adverse events in spine surgery. Standard measures of adverse events and risk adjustment may also facilitate post-marketing surveillance of spinal devices, effectiveness research, and quality improvement.
PMCID: PMC1562418  PMID: 16787537
12.  Utilization of Minimally Invasive Surgical Approach for Sacroiliac Joint Fusion in Surgeon Population of ISASS and SMISS Membership 
The sacroiliac joint (SIJ) may be a source of chronic low back pain in 15 -22% of patients. Over the past four years MIS is an emerging standard of care for SI joint fusion. The International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery (ISASS) and Society for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (SMISS) conducted a survey of their members to examine current preferences in surgeon practice of MIS SI fusion.
To qualify for survey participation, the surgeon had to perform at least one open or MIS SIJ fusion procedure between 2009 and 2012. All surgeons were instructed to review their records. This included the number of surgical procedures performed annually from 2009-2012, site of service where each procedure was commonly performed, and average length of stay for each approach.
Twenty four percent (121/500) of the eligible members participated in this survey. This survey revealed that the percentage of MIS procedures increased from 39% in 2009 to over 87% in 2012. The survey showed a significant increase in average number of MIS surgeries and a significant difference between open and MIS surgeries in 2012 (p<0.0001). In addition, 80% of the survey respondents indicated a lack of preference toward open approach if that was the only available option.
According to performed survey, MIS SIJ fusion is preferred over open technique. Incorporation of the MIS technique into the spine surgeon's specter of skills would allow an increased number of surgical options as well as possible increase in outcome quality.
PMCID: PMC3924210  PMID: 24551025
Sacroiliac joint; Minimally invasive fusion; Sacroiliitis; Sacroiliac disruption.
13.  Minimally Invasive Surgery in Gastrointestinal Cancer: Benefits, Challenges, and Solutions for Underutilization 
Background and Objectives:
After the widespread application of minimally invasive surgery for benign diseases and given its proven safety and efficacy, minimally invasive surgery for gastrointestinal cancer has gained substantial attention in the past several years. Despite the large number of publications on the topic and level I evidence to support its use in colon cancer, minimally invasive surgery for most gastrointestinal malignancies is still underused.
We explore some of the challenges that face the fusion of minimally invasive surgery technology in the management of gastrointestinal malignancies and propose solutions that may help increase the utilization in the future. These solutions are based on extensive literature review, observation of current trends and practices in this field, and discussion made with experts in the field.
We propose 4 different solutions to increase the use of minimally invasive surgery in the treatment of gastrointestinal malignancies: collaboration between surgical oncologists/hepatopancreatobiliary surgeons and minimally invasive surgeons at the same institution; a single surgeon performing 2 fellowships in surgical oncology/hepatopancreatobiliary surgery and minimally invasive surgery; establishing centers of excellence in minimally invasive gastrointestinal cancer management; and finally, using robotic technology to help with complex laparoscopic skills.
Multiple studies have confirmed the utility of minimally invasive surgery techniques in dealing with patients with gastrointestinal malignancies. However, training continues to be the most important challenge that faces the use of minimally invasive surgery in the management of gastrointestinal malignancy; implementation of our proposed solutions may help increase the rate of adoption in the future.
PMCID: PMC4254473  PMID: 25489209
MIS; Minimally Invasive Surgery in GI Cancer; MIS benefits; MIS Underutilization
14.  Minimally invasive surgical practice: a survey of general surgeons in Ontario 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2004;47(1):15-19.
With the rapidly evolving techniques for minimally invasive surgery (MIS), general surgeons are challenged to incorporate advanced procedures into their practices. We therefore carried out a study to assess the state of MIS practice in Ontario.
A questionnaire was mailed to 390 general surgeons in Ontario. It addressed the surgeon's practice demographics, performance of both basic and advanced MIS procedures, the factors influencing this practice and the means of obtaining MIS training.
Of the 390 general surgeons surveyed, 309 (79%) responded. Thirty-six of these were retired and were excluded from the analysis, leaving 273 available for study. The average age in the study group was 49.7 years; 247 (90%) were men. Of 272 who responded to the question, 116 (43%) had subspecialty training. The average surgeon's operating room (OR) time was 1.5 d/wk and the average waiting time for elective procedures was 4 weeks. We found that 257 (94%) respondents performed basic laparoscopic procedures, and 164 (60%) performed appendectomy; 135 (49%) performed at least 1 advanced laparoscopic procedure in their practice, although only 30 (22%) of these performed inguinal hernia repair. Using a Likert scale, we found that the most important factors influencing the incorporation of advanced laparoscopic procedures into surgical practice were a lack of OR time (median 4), lack of OR financial resources (median 4) and lack of training opportunities (median 4). Of surgeons responding to questions, 161 (64%) of 251 felt that the present medical environment did not allow them to meet standard-of-care requirements; they felt that it was the responsibility of academic surgical departments (214 [80%] of 268), the Canadian Association of General Surgeons (177 [68%] of 262) and the Ontario Association of General Surgeons (141 [53%] of 264) to provide continuing medical education courses for MIS training.
The ability of practising general surgeons to incorporate advanced MIS procedures into their surgical practice remains a complex issue.
PMCID: PMC3211809  PMID: 14997919
15.  Commentary: Utility of the O-Arm in spinal surgery 
Surgical Neurology International  2014;5(Suppl 15):S517-S519.
More studies report the intraoperative benefits vs. risks of utilizing the O-Arm in performing pedicle screw insertion in spinal surgery.
Several studies document the utility of CT-guided O-arm placement of pedicle/lateral mass screws. Singh et al. documented the efficacy of CT guided-O Arm placement of pedicle screws and lateral mass screws in the upper cervical spine.[4] Specifically, 10 patients with unstable hangman's fractures (ages 17-80) required 52 screws; C2 pedicle screws (20), C3 lateral mass screws (20), C4 lateral mass screws (12) and one C2 pedicle screw. Of these only 5% were misplaced, and none had new neuorlogical deficits. Kim et al. demonstrated the safety/efficacy of the CT/O-arm in minimally invasive spine surgery (MIS) (posterior percutaneous spinal fusions).[1] Of 290 pedicle screws, 280 (96.6%) were acceptably placed. Kotani et al. compared the placement of 222 pedicle screws (29 patients operated upon with CT-based navigation) vs. 416 screws (32 having surgery using O-arm-based navigation); postoperative CT studies confirmed the accuracy of screw placement, and no significant differences in the frequency of grade 2-3 perforations between the two groups. Nelson et al. analyzed the radiation exposure delivered to the operating room staff utilizing C-arm fluoroscopy (C-arm), portable X-ray (XR) radiography, and portable cone-beam computed tomography (O-arm); the surgeon and assistant were exposed to higher levels of scatter radiation from the C-arm, with a 7.7-fold increase in radiation exposure on the tube vs. detector sides.[3]
There are several pros and a few cons (radiation dosage) for the use of the O-arm in spine surgery.
PMCID: PMC4287897  PMID: 25593769
O Arm; radiation dosage; spinal surgery; utility
16.  Intraoperative spinal cord and nerve root monitoring: a survey of Canadian spine surgeons 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2010;53(5):324-328.
Intraoperative spinal cord and nerve root monitoring is used to identify an insult to the neural elements with the goal of preventing injury. There are 2 major categories of monitoring: evoked potentials (somatosensory evoked potentials and motor evoked potentials) and electromyography. The availability of intraoperative neuromonitoring and the indications for use vary widely. In this study, we aimed to document the current practices and opinions of Canadian spine surgeons with regards to intraoperative spinal monitoring.
We surveyed members of the Canadian Spine Society about the availability and use of various types of intraoperative neuromonitoring modalities for surgical procedures.
We distributed 105 surveys and received 95 responses (90%). Somatosensory evoked potentials were the most commonly available form of intraoperative neuromonitoring, although it was available to only 65.3% of respondents. Surgeons in either full-time or part-time academic practice used monitoring more frequently than those in private practice (p < 0.001), but this association was not based on surgeon preference after controlling for availability. Years of practice and training background (orthopedic or neurosurgical) did not influence the use of monitoring. Canadian spine surgeons overwhelmingly reported that they use intraoperative neuromonitoring to reduce the risk of adverse operative events, rather than because of liability concerns. Most respondents believed that monitoring should be used in the correction of major deformity and scoliosis.
The availability of spinal monitoring in Canada is variable. Most surgeons believe that it is an important adjunct to improve patient safety.
PMCID: PMC2947118  PMID: 20858377
17.  Widening the horizons of otolaryngologist an interdisciplinary approach for surgical problems of cervical spine 
Till recent past the realm of ENT surgeons was limited to tonsils and mastoids. But with the passage of time and strides made by the Biomedical Engineering, the horizon has widened and the Otolaryngology has kept pace with other medical specialities. Lesions of Clivus, cervicomedullary junction and cervical vertebra often present difficulty to the Neuro Surgeon and Orthopaedic Surgeon. The role of ENT surgeon in these cases of cervical spine surgery can be significant. A successful attempt has been made to approach various levels of cervical spine anteriorly either transorally, transpharyngeally or transcervically.
Although these techniques are well suited to the training and experience of the Head & Neck ± surgeon, it is our perception that the procedure is underused by the members of our speciality. Although these approaches are safe and reliable, it is not part of the Otolaryngologist’s usual surgical armamentarium.
In the present study a series of thirteen patients presented between February ’91 and July ’94, with various pathologies of Cervical Spine with or without neurological deficits is reviewed. The surgical technique is discussed and methods to prevent potential complications and adverse sequelae are also addressed.
PMCID: PMC3451391  PMID: 23119584
18.  Computer-Assisted Orthopaedic Surgery and Robotic Surgery in Total Hip Arthroplasty 
Various systems of computer-assisted orthopaedic surgery (CAOS) in total hip arthroplasty (THA) were reviewed. The first clinically applied system was an active robotic system (ROBODOC), which performed femoral implant cavity preparation as programmed preoperatively. Several reports on cementless THA with ROBODOC showed better stem alignment and less variance in limb-length inequality on radiographic evaluation, less incidence of pulmonary embolic events on transesophageal cardioechogram, and less stress shielding on the dual energy X-ray absorptiometry analysis than conventional manual methods. On the other hand, some studies raise issues with active systems, including a steep learning curve, muscle and nerve damage, and technical complications, such as a procedure stop due to a bone motion during cutting, requiring re-registration and registration failure. Semi-active robotic systems, such as Acrobot and Rio, were developed for ease of surgeon acceptance. The drill bit at the tip of the robotic arm is moved by a surgeon's hand, but it does not move outside of a milling path boundary, which is defined according to three-dimensional (3D) image-based preoperative planning. However, there are still few reports on THA with these semi-active systems. Thanks to the advancements in 3D sensor technology, navigation systems were developed. Navigation is a passive system, which does not perform any actions on patients. It only provides information and guidance to the surgeon who still uses conventional tools to perform the surgery. There are three types of navigation: computed tomography (CT)-based navigation, imageless navigation, and fluoro-navigation. CT-based navigation is the most accurate, but the preoperative planning on CT images takes time that increases cost and radiation exposure. Imageless navigation does not use CT images, but its accuracy depends on the technique of landmark pointing, and it does not take into account the individual uniqueness of the anatomy. Fluoroscopic navigation is good for trauma and spine surgeries, but its benefits are limited in the hip and knee reconstruction surgeries. Several studies have shown that the cup alignment with navigation is more precise than that of the conventional mechanical instruments, and that it is useful for optimizing limb length, range of motion, and stability. Recently, patient specific templates, based on CT images, have attracted attention and some early reports on cup placement, and resurfacing showed improved accuracy of the procedures. These various CAOS systems have pros and cons. Nonetheless, CAOS is a useful tool to help surgeons perform accurately what surgeons want to do in order to better achieve their clinical objectives. Thus, it is important that the surgeon fully understands what he or she should be trying to achieve in THA for each patient.
PMCID: PMC3582865  PMID: 23467021
Total hip arthroplasty; Computer; Navigation; Robotics; Patient specific template
19.  The feasibility of introducing advanced minimally invasive surgery into surgical practice 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2007;50(4):256-260.
This study investigates the feasibility of performing advanced minimally invasive surgery (MIS) in a nonspecialized practice environment.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey of all community general surgeons currently practising in Ontario.
Few community surgeons perform a high volume (> 10 procedures per yr) of advanced MIS. Most (70%) believe it is important to acquire additional skills in advanced MIS. The most appropriate methods for learning advanced MIS are believed to be expert mentoring (79.7%), courses (77.2%) and a colleague mentor (63.9%). A total of 57.6% of respondents have attended a course in MIS while in practice, and most have access to a reasonable variety of instrumentation. Respondents believe that 57.6% of assistants, 54.8% of nurses and 43.4% of anaesthetists are relatively inexperienced with advanced MIS. Barriers to establishing advanced MIS include limited operating room access (50%), resources or equipment (45.2%) and limited expert mentoring (43.6%). Surgeons with less than 10 years of practice found lack of trained nursing staff (7.9% v. 4.2%, p = 0.01) and experienced assistants (12% v. 6.2%, p = 0.008) to be more important barriers than did those with over 10 years of practice, respectively.
Most general surgeons working in Ontario are self-taught with respect to MIS skills, and few perform a high volume of advanced MIS. Only one-half of all respondents have access to skilled MIS operating room nurses, surgical assistants or anesthesiology. Despite this, general surgeons perceive the greatest barriers to introducing advanced MIS procedures to be limited access to operating rooms, resources or equipment and limited mentoring. This study has shown that the role of the surgical team in advanced MIS may be underestimated by many general surgeons. These data have important implications in training general surgeons and in incorporating additional advanced MIS procedures into the armamentarium of general surgeons.
PMCID: PMC2386170  PMID: 17897513
20.  Pedicle Screw Surgery in the UK and Ireland: A Questionnaire Study 
Pedicle screw (PS) malpositioning rates are high in spine surgery. This has resulted in the use of computed navigational aids to reduce the rate of malposition; but these are often expensive and limited in availability. A simple mechanical device to aid PS insertion might overcome some of these disadvantages. The purpose of this study was to determine the demand and design criteria for a simple device to aid PS placement, as well as to collect opinions and experiences on PS surgery in the UK and Ireland. A postal questionnaire was sent to 422 spinal surgeons in the UK and Ireland. 101 questionnaires were received; 67 of these (16% of total sent) contained useful information. 78% of surgeons experienced problems with PS placement. The need for a simple mechanical device to aid PS placement was expressed by 59% of respondent surgeons. The proportion of respondents that inserted PSs in the cervical spine was 14%; PSs are mainly inserted in the thoracic, lumbar and sacral spine, but potential exists for a PS placement aid for the cervical and thoracic spine. From the experiences of these 67 surgeons, there is evidence to suggest that surgeons would prefer a pedicle aid that is multiple use, one-piece, hand-held, radiolucent, unilateral and uses the line of sight principle in traditional open surgery. Based on the experiences of 67 surgeons, there is evidence to suggest that computed navigational aids are not readily used in PS surgery and that a simple mechanical device could be a better option. This paper provides useful data for improving the outcomes of spinal surgery.
PMCID: PMC3204426  PMID: 22046202
Navigation in surgery; Osteoporosis; Pedicle screw placement; Questionnaire.
21.  Laminoplasty for Cervical Myelopathy 
Global Spine Journal  2012;2(3):187-194.
This article reviews cervical laminoplasty. The origin of cervical laminoplasty dates back to cervical laminectomy performed in Japan ~50 years ago. To overcome poor surgical outcomes of cervical laminectomy, many Japanese orthopedic spine surgeons devoted their lives to developing better posterior decompression procedures for the cervical spine. Thanks to the development of a high-speed surgical burr, posterior decompression procedures for the cervical spine showed vast improvement from the 1970s to the 1980s, and the original form of cervical laminoplasty was determined. Since around 2000, surgeons performing cervical laminoplasty have been adopting less invasive procedures for the posterior cervical muscle structures so as to minimize postoperative axial neck pain and obtain better functional outcomes of the cervical spine. This article covers the history of cervical laminoplasty, surgical procedures, the benefits and limitation of this procedure, and surgery-related complications.
PMCID: PMC3864408  PMID: 24353967
cervical spine; surgical treatment; laminoplasty; spinal canal stenosis; ossification of posterior longitudinal ligament; axial pain; cervical kyphosis
22.  Percutaneous instrumentation of the cervical and cervico-thoracic spine using pedicle screws: preliminary clinical results and analysis of accuracy 
European Spine Journal  2011;20(6):977-985.
The pedicle screw instrumentation represents the most rigid construct of the cervical and cervicothoracic spine and in spite of the risks to neurovascular structures clinical relevant complications do not occur frequently. The steep angles of the cervical pedicles result in a wide surgical exposure with extensive muscular trauma. The objective of this study was the evaluation of the accuracy of cervical pedicle screw insertion through a minimally invasive technique to reduce access-related muscular trauma. Therefore, percutaneous transpedicular instrumentation of the cervical and cervicothoracic spine was performed in 15 patients using fluoroscopy. All instrumentations from C2 to Th4 were inserted bilaterally through 2 to 3-cm skin and fascia incisions even in multilevel procedures and the rods were placed by blunt insertion through the incision. Thin-cut CT scan was used postoperatively to analyze pedicle violations. 76.4% of 72 screws were placed accurately. Most pedicle perforations were seen laterally towards the vertebral artery. Critical breaches >2 mm or narrowing of the transversal foramen occurred in 12.5% of screws; however, no revision surgery for screw displacement was needed in the absence of clinical symptoms. No conversion from percutaneous to open surgery was necessary. It was concluded that percutaneous transpedicular instrumentation of the cervical spine is a surgically demanding technique and should be reserved for experienced spine surgeons. The indications are limited to instrumentation-only procedures or in combination with anterior treatment, but with the potential to minimize access-related morbidity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00586-011-1775-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3099152  PMID: 21465291
CPS; Percutaneous; Cervical; Instrumentation; Fluoroscopy; Minimally invasive
23.  Comparison of SpineJet™ XL and Conventional Instrumentation for Disk Space Preparation in Unilateral Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion 
Although unilateral transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) is widely used because of its benefits, it does have some technical limitations. Removal of disk material and endplate cartilage is difficult, but essential, for proper fusion in unilateral surgery, leading to debate regarding the surgery's limitations in removing the disk material on the contralateral side. Therefore, authors have conducted a randomized, comparative cadaver study in order to evaluate the efficiency of the surgery when using conventional instruments in the preparation of the disk space and when using the recently developed high-pressure water jet system, SpineJet™ XL.
Two spine surgeons performed diskectomies and disk preparations for TLIF in 20 lumbar disks. All cadaver/surgeon/level allocations for preparation using the SpineJet™ XL (HydroCision Inc., Boston, MA, USA) or conventional tools were randomized. All assessments were performed by an independent spine surgeon who was unaware of the randomizations. The authors measured the areas (cm2) and calculated the proportion (%) of the disk surfaces. The duration of the disk preparation and number of instrument insertions and withdrawals required to complete the disk preparation were recorded for all procedures.
The proportion of the area of removed disk tissue versus that of potentially removable disk tissue, the proportion of the area of removed endplate cartilage, and the area of removed disk tissue in the contralateral posterior portion showed 74.5 ± 17.2%, 18.5 ± 12.03%, and 67.55 ± 16.10%, respectively, when the SpineJet™ XL was used, and 52.6 ± 16.9%, 22.8 ± 17.84%, and 51.64 ± 19.63%, respectively, when conventional instrumentations were used. The results also showed that when the SpineJet™ XL was used, the proportion of the area of removed disk tissue versus that of potentially removable disk tissue and the area of removed disk tissue in the contralateral posterior portion were statistically significantly high (p < 0.001, p < 0.05, respectively). Also, compared to conventional instrumentations, the duration required to complete disk space preparation was shorter, and the frequency of instrument use and the numbers of insertions/withdrawals were lower when the SpineJet™ XL was used.
The present study demonstrates that hydrosurgery using the SpineJet™ XL unit allows for the preparation of a greater portion of disk space and that it is less traumatic and allows for more precise endplate preparation without damage to the bony endplate. Furthermore, the SpineJet™ XL appears to provide tangible benefits in terms of disk space preparation for graft placement, particularly when using the unilateral TLIF approach.
PMCID: PMC2883058  PMID: 20539797
Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion; Diskectomy
24.  Same-day Discharge After Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion: A Series of 808 Cases 
The versatility of transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) allows fusion at any level along with any necessary canal decompression. Unilateral TLIF with a single interbody device and unilateral pedicle fixation has proven effective, and minimally invasive techniques have shortened hospital stays. Reasonable questions have been raised, though, about whether same-day discharge is feasible and safe after TLIF surgery.
We determined, in a high-volume spine practice, what proportion of patients having one- or two-level minimally invasive unilateral TLIF go home on the day of surgery or stay longer and compared the two groups in terms of outcome scores (VAS scores for back and leg pain, Waddell-Main Disability Index), complications, and hospital readmissions.
We retrospectively studied all 1005 patients who underwent 1114 minimally invasive unilateral TLIF procedures by one surgeon between March 18, 2003, and April 12, 2013. For the first 43 months, Medicare patients (65 years or older) were not offered same-day discharge. All other patients were offered the chance to be discharged home on the same day if they felt well enough. Followup data were for 3 months. VAS scores for back and leg pain and Waddell-Main Disability Index were recorded in a prospectively maintained database and readmissions were ascertained by chart review. Data were available on 100% of discharges, 95% of preoperative outcome scores, and 81% of outcome scores out to 3 months.
Of the 1114 procedures, 808 went home the day of surgery, resulting in a 73% same-day discharge rate. Mean differences in outcome scores from preoperatively to 3 months were similar between groups, except for a difference in VAS lower leg pain in hospital stay patients, which was of borderline statistical and unlikely clinical significance (3.3 versus 2.7, p = 0.05). The only important differences between groups were slightly more medical complications and readmissions for patients 65 years and older who stayed in hospital overnight (3.9% versus 0%, p < 0.01); however, some self-selection bias toward staying overnight among patients with higher self-rated disability and pain scores likely accounted for this difference.
Surgeons experienced in minimally invasive spine surgery can consider same-day discharge for patients having minimally invasive unilateral TLIF procedures.
Level of Evidence
Level III, therapeutic study. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
PMCID: PMC4016463  PMID: 24272414
25.  Cross-sectional survey on minimally invasive mitral valve surgery 
Annals of Cardiothoracic Surgery  2013;2(6):733-738.
Minimally invasive mitral valve surgery (MIMVS) has become a standard technique to perform mitral valve surgery in many cardiac centers. However, there remains a question regarding when MIMVS should not be performed due to an increased surgical risk. Consequently, expert surgeons were surveyed regarding their opinions on patient factors, mitral valve pathology and surgical skills in MIMVS.
Surgeons experienced in MIMVS were identified through an electronic search of the literature. A link to an online survey platform was sent to all surgeons, as well as two follow-up reminders. Survey responses were then submitted to a central database and analyzed.
The survey was completed by 20 surgeons. Overall results were not uniform with regard to contraindications to performing MIMVS. Some respondents do not consider left atrial enlargement (95% of surgeons), complexity of surgery (75%), age (70%), aortic calcification (70%), EuroSCORE (60%), left ventricular ejection fraction (55%), or obesity (50%) to be contraindication to surgery. Ninety percent of respondents believe more than 20 cases are required to gain familiarity with the procedure, while 85% believe at least one MIMVS case needs to be performed per week to maintain proficiency. Eighty percent recommend establishment of multi-institutional databases and standardized surgical mentoring courses, while 75% believe MIMVS should be incorporated into current training programs for trainees.
These results suggest that MIMVS has been accepted as a treatment option for patients with mitral valve pathologies according the expert panel. Initial training and continuing practice is recommended to maintain proficiency, as well as further research and formalization of training programs.
PMCID: PMC3856993  PMID: 24349974
Minimally invasive mitral valve surgery; cross sectional survey; contraindications; training programs; surgical expertise

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