Publications by authors named "Nicolas Smoll"

73 Publications

Epidemiology and clinical features of COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care facilities: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

EClinicalMedicine 2021 Mar 1;33:100771. Epub 2021 Mar 1.

Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Australia.

Background: COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care facilities (ACFs) often have devastating consequences. However, epidemiologically these outbreaks are not well defined. We aimed to define such outbreaks in ACFs by systematically reviewing literature published during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: We searched 11 bibliographic databases for literature published on COVID-19 in ACFs between December 2019 and September 2020. Original studies reporting extractable epidemiological data as part of outbreak investigations or non-outbreak surveillance of ACFs were included in this systematic review and meta-analysis. PROSPERO registration: CRD42020211424.

Findings: We identified 5,148 publications and selected 49 studies from four continents reporting data on 214,380 residents in 8,502 ACFs with 25,567 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Aged care residents form a distinct vulnerable population with single-facility attack rates of 45% [95% CI 32-58%] and case fatality rates of 23% [95% CI 18-28%]. Of the cases, 31% [95% CI 28-34%] were asymptomatic. The rate of hospitalization amongst residents was 37% [95% CI 35-39%]. Data from 21 outbreaks identified a resident as the index case in 58% of outbreaks and a staff member in 42%. Findings from the included studies were heterogeneous and of low to moderate quality in risk of bias assessment.

Interpretation: The clinical presentation of COVID-19 varies widely in ACFs residents, from asymptomatic to highly serious cases. Preventing the introduction of COVID-19 into ACFs is key, and both residents and staff are a priority group for COVID-19 vaccination. Rapid diagnosis, identification of primary and secondary cases and close contacts plus their isolation and quarantine are of paramount importance.

Funding: Queensland Advancing Clinical Research Fellowship awarded to Prof. Gulam Khandaker by Queensland Health's Health Innovation, Investment and Research Office (HIRO), Office of the Director-General.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.100771DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7917447PMC
March 2021

Notifiable diseases after implementation of COVID-19 public health prevention measures in Central Queensland, Australia.

Commun Dis Intell (2018) 2021 Feb 26;45. Epub 2021 Feb 26.

Central Queensland Public Health Unit, Central Queensland Hospital and Health Services, Rockhampton, Australia.

Abstract: The implementation of public health measures to control the current COVID-19 pandemic (such as wider lockdowns, overseas travel restrictions and physical distancing) is likely to have affected the spread of other notifiable diseases. This is a descriptive report of communicable disease surveillance in Central Queensland (CQ) for six months (1 April to 30 September 2020) after the introduction of physical distancing and wider lockdown measures in Queensland. The counts of notifiable communicable diseases in CQ in the six months were observed and compared with the average for the same months during the years 2015 to 2019. During the study's six months, there were notable decreases in notifications of most vaccine-preventable diseases such as influenza, pertussis and rotavirus. Conversely, notifications increased for disease groups such as blood-borne viruses, sexually transmitted infections and vector-borne diseases. There were no reported notifications for dengue fever and malaria which are mostly overseas acquired. The notifications of some communicable diseases in CQ were variably affected and the changes correlated with the implementation of the COVID-19 public health measures.

Background: The current COVID-19 pandemic has led to some significant changes to local, regional and national public health practices including social distancing and wider lockdown. These measures have been previously reported to be associated with reductions in the incidence of gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases as well as of other airborne transmitted agents.1,2 A preliminary analysis was conducted assessing the impact of these measures on nationally notifiable diseases across Australia;3 however, the impact of these measures on communicable diseases within regional Australia is not well established. Like most regional areas, Central Queensland (CQ) has a lower population density and considerable distance from major cities; it will be informative to understand how these measures impact on notifiable conditions in this regional setting. We aimed to identify the patterns of change in reported notifiable conditions to the Central Queensland Public Health Unit (CQPHU), during a six-month period (1 April to 30 September 2020) following the implementation of COVID-19 measures. Here, we compare these notifications to the surveillance data for the same six-month period for the previous five years (2015 to 2019).

Methods: The study encompasses all notifiable conditions reported from CQ, which covers approximately 226,000 population and is spread over 117,588 square kilometres. Communicable diseases data were retrieved from the Queensland Notifiable Conditions System (NoCS), an online epidemiological database, from 1 January 2015 to 30 September 2020. The data were collected under the Public Health Act 2005, a legislative authority that provides permission to access health information. Permission to publish was given by the Communicable Diseases Branch of Queensland. Data were extracted on selected notifiable diseases in Queensland: blood-borne viruses (BBV), gastrointestinal diseases, sexually transmissible infections (STIs), vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs), vector-borne diseases, zoonotic diseases and other diseases. For each disease, the count for six months following the implementation of COVID-19 public health measures (1 April to 30 September 2020) was compared with the average for the same six-month period during the years 2015 to 2019.

Results: From 1 April to 30 September 2020, after the implementation of Queensland's COVID-19 preventive measures, there was a decrease seen in several diseases notifications reported to the CQPHU, mostly VPDs, when compared with the same months for each of 2015 to 2019 and for the 5-year average (2015-2019) for those months (Table 1). However, increases in notifications for April-September 2020 were observed in a greater number of other notifiable disease groups.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.33321/cdi.2021.45.11DOI Listing
February 2021

Incidence and Outcome of Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: The Swiss Study on Subarachnoid Hemorrhage (Swiss SOS).

Stroke 2021 01 4;52(1):344-347. Epub 2020 Dec 4.

Neurosurgery (B.S., A.S., M.C., P.B., K.S.), University Hospital Geneva, Switzerland.

Background And Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess nationwide incidence and outcomes of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH). The Swiss SOS (Swiss Study on Subarachnoid Hemorrhage) was established in 2008 and offers the unique opportunity to provide this data from the point of care on a nationwide level.

Methods: All patients with confirmed aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage admitted between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2014, within Switzerland were recorded in a prospective registry. Incidence rates were calculated based on time-matched population data. Admission parameters and outcomes at discharge and at 1 year were recorded.

Results: We recorded data of 1787 consecutive patients. The incidence of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage in Switzerland was 3.7 per 100 000 persons/y. The number of female patients was 1170 (65.5%). With a follow-up rate of 91.3% at 1 year, 1042 patients (58.8%) led an independent life according to the modified Rankin Scale (0-2). About 1 in 10 patients survived in a dependent state (modified Rankin Scale, 3-5; n=185; 10.4%). Case fatality was 20.1% (n=356) at discharge and 22.1% (n=391) after 1 year.

Conclusions: The current incidence of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage in Switzerland is lower than expected and an indication of a global trend toward decreasing admissions for ruptured intracranial aneurysms. Registration: URL: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT03245866.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/STROKEAHA.120.029538DOI Listing
January 2021

Ct Dosimetry for The Australian Cohort Data Linkage Study.

Radiat Prot Dosimetry 2020 Nov 17. Epub 2020 Nov 17.

Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.

Children undergoing computed tomography (CT) scans have an increased risk of cancer in subsequent years, but it is unclear how much of the excess risk is due to reverse causation bias or confounding, rather than to causal effects of ionising radiation. An examination of the relationship between excess cancer risk and organ dose can help to resolve these uncertainties. Accordingly, we have estimated doses to 33 different organs arising from over 900 000 CT scans between 1985 and 2005 in our previously described cohort of almost 12 million Australians aged 0-19 years. We used a multi-tiered approach, starting with Medicare billing details for government-funded scans. We reconstructed technical parameters from national surveys, clinical protocols, regulator databases and peer-reviewed literature to estimate almost 28 000 000 individual organ doses. Doses were age-dependent and tended to decrease over time due to technological improvements and optimisation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/rpd/ncaa175DOI Listing
November 2020

CT scans in childhood predict subsequent brain cancer: Finite mixture modelling can help separate reverse causation scans from those that may be causal.

Cancer Epidemiol 2020 08 25;67:101732. Epub 2020 May 25.

Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, 207 Bouverie Street Carlton, VIC, 3053, Australia.

Background: Excess brain cancers observed after computed tomography (CT) scans could be caused by ionizing radiation. However, as scans are often used to investigate symptoms of brain cancer, excess cancers could also be due to reverse causation bias. We used finite mixture models (FMM) to differentiate CT exposures that are plausibly causal from those due to reverse causation.

Methods: Persons with at least one CT scan exposure and a subsequent diagnosis of brain cancer were selected from a cohort of 11 million young Australians. We fitted FMMs and used the posterior probability to inform the choice of exclusion periods. We validated our findings using a separate clinical dataset describing the time between first symptoms and brain cancer diagnosis (pre-diagnostic symptomatic interval; PSI).

Results: The cohort included 1028 persons with a diagnosed brain tumor and exposed to a total of 1,450 CT scans. The best-fitting model was a generalized linear mixture model using the exponential distribution with three latent classes and two covariates (age at exposure and year of exposure). The 99th percentile classifier cutoff was 18.9 months. The sample-size weighted mean of the 99th percentile of the PSI, derived from clinical data, was 15.6 months.

Conclusions: To minimize reverse causation bias in studies of CT scan and brain cancer, the optimal exclusion period is one to two years (depending on the choice of classifier). This information will inform the interpretation of current and future studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.canep.2020.101732DOI Listing
August 2020

COveRs to impRove AesthetiC ouTcome after Surgery for Chronic subdural haemAtoma by buRr hole trepanation (CORRECT-SCAR): protocol of a Swiss single-blinded, randomised controlled trial.

BMJ Open 2019 12 6;9(12):e031375. Epub 2019 Dec 6.

Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Zurich, Clinical Neuroscience Center, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Introduction: Outcomes rated on impairment scales are satisfactory after burr hole trepanation for chronic subdural haematoma (cSDH). However, the surgery leads to bony defects in the skull with skin depressions above that are frequently considered aesthetically unsatisfactory by the patients. Those defects could be covered by the approved medical devices (burr hole covers), but this is rarely done today. We wish to assess, whether the application of burr hole covers after trepanation for the evacuation of cSDH leads to higher patient satisfaction with the aesthetical result at 90 days postoperative, without worsening disability outcomes or increasing the complication rate.

Methods And Analysis: This is a prospective, single-blinded, randomised, controlled, investigator-initiated clinical trial enrolling 80 adult patients with first-time unilateral or bilateral cSDH in Switzerland. The primary outcome is the difference in satisfaction with the aesthetic result of the scar, comparing patients allocated to the intervention (burr hole cover) and control (no burr hole cover) group, measured on the Aesthetic Numeric Analogue scale at 90 days postoperative. Secondary outcomes include differences in the rates of skin depression, complications, as well as neurological, disability and health-related quality of life outcomes until 12 months postoperative.

Ethics And Dissemination: The institutional review board (Kantonale Ethikkommission Zürich) approved this study on 29 January 2019 under case number BASEC 2018-01180. This study determines, whether a relatively minor modification of a standard surgical procedure can improve patient satisfaction, without worsening functional outcomes or increasing the complication rate. The outcome corresponds to the value-based medicine approach of modern patient-centred medicine. Results will be published in peer-reviewed journals and electronic patient data will be safely stored for 15 years.

Trial Registration Number: NCT03755349.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2019-031375DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6924766PMC
December 2019

Extended time interval between diagnosis and surgery does not improve the outcome in patients operated for resection or ablation of breast cancer liver metastases.

Eur J Surg Oncol 2020 02 12;46(2):229-234. Epub 2019 Oct 12.

Department of Surgery, Institut Jules Bordet, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1000, Brussels, Belgium; Centre de Chirurgie Hépato-Biliaire de l'ULB (CCHB-ULB), Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1070, Brussels, Belgium. Electronic address:

Background: Breast cancer liver metastases (BCLM) is considered a systemic disease with poorly defined selection criteria for surgery and little evidence for the appropriate timing of surgery.

Methods: Postoperative outcomes of patients operated for BCLM were retrospectively reviewed and compared based on the timing of surgery, with the early surgery (ES) group treated ≤12 months after BCLM diagnosis, and late surgery (LS) group operated >12 months after diagnosis.

Results: Seventy-two patients with BCLM underwent liver surgery, including 37 and 35 in the ES and LS groups, respectively. Demographic and preoperative characteristics were similar between the groups, except that multifocal liver disease was more frequent in the LS group (p = 0.008). The LS group had a morbidity rate of 38%, compared to 11% in the ES group (p = 0.015). No postoperative deaths occurred. In the whole cohort, median progression-free (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were 19 and 50 months, respectively, and 1-, 3- and 5-year PFS and OS were 63%, 41%, 24% and 93%, 66%, 43%, respectively, with no significant difference observed between the ES and LS groups. Multivariate analysis revealed that breast cancer progesterone receptor negativity (HR = 3.34, p = 0.03) and a size of LM > 40 mm (HR = 3.11, p = 0.01) were significant negative prognostic factors for PFS. Only a size of LM > 40 mm (HR = 2.79, p = 0.008) was significantly associated with shorter OS.

Conclusion: A prolonged preoperative observational period does not improve long-term outcomes after liver surgery in patients with resectable BCLM, suggesting that early management can safely be proposed to those patients, with good oncological outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejso.2019.10.016DOI Listing
February 2020

Influence of the Intensive Care Unit Environment on the Reliability of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment.

Front Neurol 2019 3;10:734. Epub 2019 Jul 3.

Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Neuropsychological screening becomes increasingly important for the evaluation of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) and stroke patients. It is often performed during the surveillance period on the intensive (ICU), while it remains unknown, whether the distraction in this environment influences the results. We aimed to study the reliability of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) in the ICU environment. Consecutive stable patients with recent brain injury (tumor, trauma, stroke, etc.) were evaluated twice within 36 h using official parallel versions of the MoCA (ΔMoCA). The sequence of assessment was randomized into (a) busy ICU first or (b) quiet office first with subsequent crossover. For repeated MoCA, we determined sequence, period, location effects, and the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC). = 50 patients were studied [ = 30 (60%) male], with a mean age of 57 years. The assessment's sequence ["ICU first" mean ΔMoCA -1.14 (SD 2.34) vs. "Office first" -0.73 (SD 1.52)] did not influence the MoCA ( = 0.47). On the 2nd period, participants scored 0.96 points worse (SD 2.01; = 0.001), indicating no MoCA learning effect but a possible difference in parallel versions. There was no location effect ( = 0.31) with ΔMoCA between locations (Office minus ICU) of -0.32 (SD 2.21). The ICC for repeated MoCA was 0.87 (95% CI 0.79-0.92). The reliability of the MoCA was excellent, independent from the testing environment being ICU or office. This finding is helpful for patient care and studies investigating the effect of a therapeutic intervention on the neuropsychological outcome after SAH, stroke or traumatic brain injury.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2019.00734DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6617738PMC
July 2019

Home-Time as a Surrogate Marker for Functional Outcome After Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage.

Stroke 2018 12;49(12):3081-3084

From the Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Zurich and Clinical Neuroscience Center, University of Zurich, Switzerland (M.N.S., E.K., O.B., L.R.)

Background and Purpose—Commonly used tools to determine functional outcome after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) have limitations. Time spent at the patient’s home has previously been proposed as a robust outcome measure after ischemic stroke. Here, we set out to validate home-time as an outcome measure after aSAH. Methods—We examined prospectively collected data from a nationwide multicenter registry of aSAH patients admitted to a tertiary neurosurgical department in Switzerland (Swiss SOS [Swiss Study on Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage]; 2009–2015). We calculated mean home-time (defined as days spent at home for the first 90 days after aSAH) and 95% CIs for each category of modified Rankin Scale at discharge and 1-year follow-up, using linear regression models to analyze home-time differences per modified Rankin Scale category. Results—We had home-time data from 1076 of 1866 patients (57.7%), and multiple imputation was used to fill-in missing data from the remaining 790 patients. Increasing home-time was associated with improved modified Rankin Scale scores at time of hospital discharge (P<0.0001) and at 1-year follow-up (P<0.0001). Within each of the 8 participating hospitals, the relationship between home-time and modified Rankin Scale was maintained. Conclusions—Home-time for the first 90 days after aSAH offers a robust and easily ascertainable outcome measure, discriminating particularly well across better recovery levels at time of hospital discharge and at 1-year follow-up. This measure complies with the modern trend of patient-centered healthcare and research, representing an outcome that is particularly relevant to the patient.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/STROKEAHA.118.022808DOI Listing
December 2018

Meningioma Surgery-Are We Making Progress?

World Neurosurg 2019 05 24;125:e205-e213. Epub 2019 Jan 24.

School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Background: To study improvements in outcomes after surgery for intracranial meningiomas.

Methods: We performed a longitudinal observational study comparing 1469 patients operated on for intracranial meningioma in 4 consecutive time frames (1990-1994, 1995-1999, 2000-2004, and 2005-2010).

Results: Median age at surgery was 58.3 years. Median follow-up was 7 years. Patients in later periods were older than in the earlier ones (odds ratio [OR], 1.19 [1.09-1.32]; P < 0.0005), indicating a trend toward operating on more elderly patients. Before 2000, 42%, 32%, 6%, 19%, and 0.3% achieved Simpson grade (SG) I, II, III, IV, and V, respectively, whereas the SG rates were 35%, 37%, 4%, 23%, and 0.9% after 2000 (OR, 1.18 [1.06-1.30]; P < 0.005). The perioperative mortality (OR, 0.65 [0.46-0.91]; P < 0.05) and worsened neurologic outcome rate (OR, 0.70 [0.60-0.83]; P < 0.0001) were significantly lower in later decades, but the 4 surgical periods were similar regarding postoperative infections and hematomas. Retreatment-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS) increased significantly over the 4 time frames (P < 0.05 and P < 0.0001, respectively). Multivariate analysis confirmed the improvement of surgical radicality, neurologic outcome, perioperative mortality, OS, and RFS.

Conclusions: Meningioma surgery as well as patient population changed over the 2 decades considered in this study. We observed higher rates of gross total resection in the later period and the perioperative outcomes improved or were unchanged, which signifies better long-term outcomes, RFS, and OS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wneu.2019.01.042DOI Listing
May 2019

Improving the aesthetic outcome with burr hole cover placement in chronic subdural hematoma evacuation-a retrospective pilot study.

Acta Neurochir (Wien) 2018 11 28;160(11):2129-2135. Epub 2018 Aug 28.

Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Background: The aesthetic outcome after burr hole trepanation for the evacuation of chronic subdural hematomas (cSDH) is often unsatisfactory, as the bony skull defects may cause visible skin depressions. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of burr hole cover placement to improve the aesthetic outcome.

Methods: We reviewed consecutive patients treated by burr hole trepanation for cSDH with or without placement of burr hole covers by a single surgeon between October 2016 and May 2018. The clinical data, including complications, were derived from the institution's prospective patient registry. The primary endpoint was the aesthetic outcome, as perceived by patients on the aesthetic numeric analog (ANA) scale, assessed by means of a standardized telephone interview. Secondary endpoints were skin depression rates and wound pain, as well as complications.

Results: From n = 33, outcome evaluation was possible in n = 28 patients (n = 24 male; mean age of 70.4 ± 16.1 years) with uni- (n = 20) or bilateral cSDH (n = 8). A total of 14 burr hole covers were placed in 11 patients and compared to 50 burr holes that were not covered. Patient satisfaction with the aesthetic outcome was significantly better for covered burr holes (mean ANA 9.3 ± 0.74 vs. 7.9 ± 1.0; p < 0.001). Skin depressions occurred over 7% (n = 1/14) of covered and over 92% (n = 46/50) of uncovered burr holes (p < 0.001). There was no difference in wound pain (p = 0.903) between covered and uncovered sites. No surgical site infection, cSDH recurrence, or material failure was encountered in patients who had received a burr hole plate.

Conclusions: In this retrospective series, placement of burr hole covers was associated with improved aesthetic outcome, likely due to reduction of skin depressions. A randomized controlled trial is developed to investigate whether adding burr hole covers results in superior aesthetic outcomes, without increasing the risk for complications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00701-018-3659-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6209004PMC
November 2018

Measuring the Impact of Delayed Cerebral Ischemia on Neuropsychological Outcome After Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage-Protocol of a Swiss Nationwide Observational Study (MoCA-DCI Study).

Neurosurgery 2019 05;84(5):1124-1132

Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Zurich, Clinical Neuroscience Center, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Background: The exact relationship between delayed cerebral ischemia (DCI) following aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) and neuropsychological impairment remains unknown, as previous studies lacked a baseline examination after aneurysm occlusion but before the DCI-period. Neuropsychological evaluation of acutely ill patients is often applied in a busy intensive care unit (ICU), where distraction represents a bias to the obtained results.

Objective: To evaluate the relationship between DCI and neuropsychological outcome after aSAH by comparing the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) results in aSAH patients with and without DCI at 3 mo with a baseline examination before the DCI-period (part 1). To determine the reliability of the MoCA, when applied in an ICU setting (part 2).

Methods: Prospective, multicenter, and observational study performed at all Swiss neurovascular centers. For part 1, n = 240 consecutive aSAH patients and for part 2, n = 50 patients with acute brain injury are recruited.

Expected Outcomes: Part 1: Effect size of the relationship between DCI and neuropsychological outcome (MoCA). Part 2: Reliability measures for the MoCA.

Discussion: The institutional review boards approved this study on July 4, 2017 under case number BASEC 2017-00103. After completion, the results will be offered to an international scientific journal for peer-reviewed publication. This study determines the exact impact of DCI on the neuropsychological outcome after aSAH, unbiased by confounding factors such as early brain injury or patient-specific characteristics. The study provides unique insights in the neuropsychological state of patients in the early period after aSAH.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/neuros/nyy155DOI Listing
May 2019

Association Between Neurological Outcomes Related to Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage and Onsite Access to Neurointerventional Radiology.

World Neurosurg 2018 May 2;113:e29-e37. Epub 2018 Feb 2.

Intensive Care Unit, John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, Australia; School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia. Electronic address:

Objective: An onsite access to neurointerventional radiology (NIR) may be useful for managing patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) after the aneurysm-securing procedure. We aimed to assess the association between neurological outcomes related to aSAH and onsite access to NIR service.

Methods: This was a sequential period study of 47 patients with aSAH admitted consecutively during the pre-NIR period (January 2010 to June 2012) compared with 81 patients with aSAH admitted consecutively during the post-NIR period (January 2013 to June 2015) at an academic tertiary referral intensive care unit (ICU). The primary end point was the incidence of poor neurological outcome, defined as modified Rankin scale of ≥3 at 6 months from ictus. Secondary outcomes included incidence of symptomatic vasospasm (SV) and length of stay in ICU/hospital.

Results: The primary end point was observed in 18 of 47 (38%) patients during the pre-NIR period versus 25 of 81 (31%) patients during the post-NIR period (P = 0.39). The post-NIR period did not have an independent impact on neurological outcomes (adjusted odds ratio = 0.8, 95% confidence interval 0.3-2.1; P = 0.66). Of the patients who developed SV, 10 of 47 (21%) were during the pre-NIR period versus 33 of 81 (41%) during the post-NIR period (P = 0.02). The post-NIR period and higher Fisher grade were independent predictors of SV. Patients with SV had similar outcomes, but with longer stay in ICU during the post-NIR period compared with the pre-NIR period.

Conclusions: Among patients with aSAH, the post-NIR period was associated with more frequent detection of SV, more endovascular procedures, longer hospital stay, but with no appreciable improvement in neurological outcomes either overall or in the subset of patients with SV.

Study Registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12616000201471.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wneu.2018.01.121DOI Listing
May 2018

Predictors of In-Hospital Death After Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: Analysis of a Nationwide Database (Swiss SOS [Swiss Study on Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage]).

Stroke 2018 02 15;49(2):333-340. Epub 2018 Jan 15.

From the Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Zurich and Clinical Neuroscience Center, University of Zurich, Switzerland (M.N.S., M.G., J.-K.B., M.C.N., N.M., S.F., G.E., E.K., O.B., L.R.); Department of Neurosurgery, Inselspital Bern, Switzerland (C.F., D.B.); Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Basel, Switzerland (D.Z., M.R.); Department of Neurosurgery, Kantonsspital Aarau, Switzerland (S.M., J.F.); Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Lausanne, Switzerland (R.M.); Department of Neurosurgery, Ospedale Regionale di Lugano, Switzerland (T.R.); Department of Neurosurgery, Kantonsspital St.Gallen, Switzerland (M.A.S.); Department of Neurosurgery, Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève, Switzerland (P.B., K.S., N.R.S.); and Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Göttingen, Germany (B.S.).

Background And Purpose: To identify predictors of in-hospital mortality in patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage and to estimate their impact.

Methods: Retrospective analysis of prospective data from a nationwide multicenter registry on all aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage cases admitted to a tertiary neurosurgical department in Switzerland (Swiss SOS [Swiss Study on Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage]; 2009-2015). Both clinical and radiological independent predictors of in-hospital mortality were identified, and their effect size was determined by calculating adjusted odds ratios (aORs) using multivariate logistic regression. Survival was displayed using Kaplan-Meier curves.

Results: Data of n=1866 aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage patients in the Swiss SOS database were available. In-hospital mortality was 20% (n=373). In n=197 patients (10.6%), active treatment was discontinued after hospital admission (no aneurysm occlusion attempted), and this cohort was excluded from analysis of the main statistical model. In the remaining n=1669 patients, the rate of in-hospital mortality was 13.9% (n=232). Strong independent predictors of in-hospital mortality were rebleeding (aOR, 7.69; 95% confidence interval, 3.00-19.71; <0.001), cerebral infarction attributable to delayed cerebral ischemia (aOR, 3.66; 95% confidence interval, 1.94-6.89; <0.001), intraventricular hemorrhage (aOR, 2.65; 95% confidence interval, 1.38-5.09; =0.003), and new infarction post-treatment (aOR, 2.57; 95% confidence interval, 1.43-4.62; =0.002).

Conclusions: Several-and among them modifiable-factors seem to be associated with in-hospital mortality after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. Our data suggest that strategies aiming to reduce the risk of rebleeding are most promising in patients where active treatment is initially pursued.

Clinical Trial Registration: URL: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT03245866.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/STROKEAHA.117.019328DOI Listing
February 2018

Robot guidance for percutaneous minimally invasive placement of pedicle screws for pyogenic spondylodiscitis is associated with lower rates of wound breakdown compared to conventional fluoroscopy-guided instrumentation.

Neurosurg Rev 2018 Apr 20;41(2):489-496. Epub 2017 Jul 20.

Department of Neurosurgery, University Medicine Göttingen Georg-August-University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.

Postoperative wound healing can pose a problem in patients undergoing instrumented surgery for pyogenic spondylodiscitis. Robotic guidance allows the minimally invasive placement of pedicle screws in the thoracolumbar spine. We assessed whether using this technique to perform minimally invasive surgery had an impact on wound healing in patients with pyogenic spondylodiscitis when compared to conventional open fluoroscopy-guided surgery. We reviewed charts of 206 consecutive patients who underwent instrumentation for pyogenic spondylodiscitis. The need for wound revision was the primary outcome measure. Patient variables and comorbidities as well as surgical technique (robotic versus fluoroscopy-guided) were analyzed. We also compared fluoroscopy times between the two groups. Multivariate regression analysis was performed to identify predictors of wound breakdown. A total of 206 patients underwent surgery for spondylodiscitis. Robotic surgical assistance was used for percutaneous instrumentation in 47.6% of cases (n = 98). Wound healing problems requiring revision occurred in 30 out of 206 patients (14.6%). Univariate analysis revealed a potential association of wound breakdown with (1) robotic technique, (2) age > 70 years, and (3) the presence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. After multivariate correction however, only robotic technique retained significance with an odds ratio of 0.39 (CI 95% 0.16-0.94; p = 0.035). Wound revision was required in eight out of 98 patients (8.1%) in the robot group and 22/108 (20%) in the conventional surgery group. Fluoroscopy times were significantly lower in the robot group with a mean of 123 ± 86 s in comparison with a mean of 157 ± 99 s in the conventional group (p = 0.014). While initially designed to improve the accuracy of pedicle screw placement, robot-assisted minimally invasive technique had a tangible effect on both radiation exposure and the rate of wound breakdown in patients with pyogenic spondylodiscitis in our large single-center study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10143-017-0877-1DOI Listing
April 2018

Validation of the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale-8 to Detect Large Vessel Occlusion in Ischemic Stroke.

J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis 2017 Jul 27;26(7):1419-1426. Epub 2017 Apr 27.

Acute Stroke Service, John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia; University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia. Electronic address:

Background: Patients with acute ischemic stroke and large vessel occlusion (LVO) may benefit from prehospital identification and transfer to a center offering endovascular therapy.

Aims: We aimed to assess the accuracy of an existing 8-item stroke scale (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale-8 [NIHSS-8]) for identification of patients with acute stroke with LVO.

Methods: We retrospectively calculated NIHSS-8 scores in a population of consecutive patients with presumed acute stroke assessed by emergency medical services (EMS). LVO was identified on admission computed tomography angiography. Accuracy to identify LVO was calculated using receiver operating characteristics analysis. We used weighted Cohen's kappa statistics to assess inter-rater reliability for the NIHSS-8 score between the EMS and the hospital stroke team on a prospectively evaluated subgroup.

Results: Of the 551 included patients, 381 had a confirmed ischemic stroke and 136 patients had an LVO. NIHSS scores were significantly higher in patients with LVO (median 18; interquartile range 14-22). The NIHSS-8 score reliably predicted the presence of LVO (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve .82). The optimum NIHSS-8 cutoff of 8 or more had a sensitivity of .81, specificity of .75, and Youden index of .56 for prediction of LVO. The EMS and the stroke team reached substantial agreement (κ = .69).

Conclusions: Accuracy of the NIHSS-8 to identify LVO in a population of patients with suspected acute stroke is comparable to existing prehospital stroke scales. The scale can be performed by EMS with reasonable reliability. Further validation in the field is needed to assess accuracy of the scale to identify patients with LVO eligible for endovascular treatment in a prehospital setting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2017.03.020DOI Listing
July 2017

Validation of the baseline severity stratification of objective functional impairment in lumbar degenerative disc disease.

J Neurosurg Spine 2017 May 3;26(5):598-604. Epub 2017 Mar 3.

Department of Neurosurgery and Faculty of Medicine, University Hospital Geneva.

OBJECTIVE The Timed Up and Go (TUG) test is a simple, objective, and standardized method to measure objective functional impairment (OFI) in patients with lumbar degenerative disc disease (DDD). The objective of the current work was to validate the OFI baseline severity stratification (BSS; with levels of "none," "mild," "moderate," and "severe"). METHODS Data were collected in a prospective IRB-approved 2-center study. Patients were assessed with a comprehensive panel of scales for measuring pain (visual analog scale [VAS] for back and leg pain), functional impairment (Roland-Morris Disability Index [RMDI] and Oswestry Disability Index [ODI]), and health-related quality of life (HRQOL; EQ-5D and SF-12). OFI BSS was determined using age- and sex-adjusted cutoff values. RESULTS A total of 375 consecutive patients scheduled for lumbar spine surgery were included. Each 1-step increase on the OFI BSS corresponded to an increase of 0.53 in the back pain VAS score, 0.69 in the leg pain VAS score, 1.81 points in the RMDI, and 5.93 points in the ODI, as well as to a decrease in HRQOL of -0.073 in the EQ-5D, -1.99 in the SF-12 physical component summary (PCS), and -1.62 in the SF-12 mental component summary (MCS; all p < 0.001). Patients with mild, moderate, and severe OFI had increased leg pain by 0.90 (p = 0.044), 1.54 (p < 0.001), and 1.94 (p < 0.001); increased ODI by 7.99 (p = 0.004), 12.64 (p < 0.001), and 17.13 (p < 0.001); and decreased SF-12 PCS by -2.57 (p = 0.049), -3.63 (p = 0.003), and -6.23 (p < 0.001), respectively. CONCLUSIONS The OFI BSS is a valid measure of functional impairment for use in daily clinical practice. The presence of OFI indicates the presence of significant functional impairment on subjective outcome measures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3171/2016.11.SPINE16683DOI Listing
May 2017

Influence of the mental health status on a new measure of objective functional impairment in lumbar degenerative disc disease.

Spine J 2017 06 14;17(6):807-813. Epub 2016 Dec 14.

Department of Neurosurgery and Faculty of Medicine, University Hospital Geneva, Rue Gabrielle-Perret-Gentil 4, 1205 Geneva, Switzerland.

Background Context: The Timed Up and Go (TUG) test has recently been proposed as a simple and standardized measure for objective functional impairment (OFI) in patients with lumbar degenerative disc disease (DDD).

Purpose: The study aimed to explore the relationship between a patient's mental health status and both patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) and TUG test results.

Study Design/setting: This is a prospective institutional review board-approved two-center study.

Patient Sample: The sample was composed of 375 consecutive patients scheduled for lumbar spine surgery and a healthy cohort of 110 control subjects.

Outcome Measures: Patients and control subjects were assessed with the TUG test and a comprehensive panel of subjective PROMs of pain intensity (visual analog scale [VAS]), functional impairment (Roland-Morris Disability Index [RMDI]), Oswestry Disability Index [ODI]), as well as health-related quality of life (hrQoL; Euro-Qol [EQ]-5D).

Methods: Standardized age- and sex-adjusted TUG test T-scores were calculated. The dependent variable was the short-form (SF)-12 mental component summary (MCS) quartiles, and the independent variables were the TUG T-scores and PROMs. Direct and adjusted analyses of covariance were performed to estimate the interaction between the SF-12 MCS quartiles and the independent variables.

Results: In patients, there was a significant decrease in the subjective PROMs, notably the VAS back pain (p=.001) and VAS leg pain (p=.035), as well as significant increase in the RMDI (p<.001), ODI (p<.001), and the EQ-5D index (p<.001) with every increase in the quartile of the SF-12 MCS. There were no significant group differences of OFI as measured by the TUG T-scores across the SF-12 MCS quartiles (p=.462). In the healthy control group, a significant decrease in VAS leg pain (p=.028), RMDI (p=.013), and ODI (p<.001), as well as a significant increase in the EQ-5D index (p<.001), was seen across the SF-12 MCS quartiles, whereas TUG T-scores remained stable (p=.897).

Conclusions: There are significant influences of mental hrQoL on subjective measures of pain, functional impairment, and hrQoL that might lead to bias when evaluating patients with lumbar DDD who suffer from reduced mental hrQoL. The TUG test appears to be a stable instrument and especially helpful in the evaluation of patients with lumbar DDD and mental health problems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.spinee.2016.12.004DOI Listing
June 2017

Patients' Preference of the Timed Up and Go Test or Patient-Reported Outcome Measures Before and After Surgery for Lumbar Degenerative Disk Disease.

World Neurosurg 2017 Mar 29;99:26-30. Epub 2016 Nov 29.

Department of Neurosurgery, Faculty of Medicine, University Hospital Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.

Background: The Timed Up and Go (TUG) test, as a measure of objective functional impairment in lumbar degenerative disk disease (DDD), complements patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) of subjective functional impairment.

Methods: Prospective 2-center study on consecutive patients scheduled for surgical treatment for lumbar DDD who underwent an objective (TUG test) and subjective (PROMs) functional assessment before and 1 and 3 days after surgery. PROMs included the visual analog scale (VAS), Roland-Morris Disability Index (RMDI), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), Euro-Qol (EQ-5D), and Short Form 12 (SF-12) questionnaires. On completion of each assessment, patients were asked whether they would prefer performing the TUG test or completing the PROMs questionnaires.

Results: A total of 109 of 125 patients (87.2%) completed the assessments. Preoperatively, patients were 2.18 times as likely to prefer the TUG test to the PROMs (odds ratio [OR], 2.18; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.27-3.75). On postoperative days 1 and 3, patients were 5.79 (OR, 5.79; 95% CI, 3.23-10.37) and 6.33 times as likely to prefer the TUG test to the PROMs, respectively (OR, 6.33; 95% CI, 3.51-11.41). There were no statistical differences in baseline characteristics, TUG t scores, VAS, RMDI, ODI, SF-12, and EQ-5D index between patients preferring either the TUG test or the PROMs questionnaires.

Conclusions: The TUG test is preferred over a battery of PROMs by 60%-70% of patients with lumbar DDD not only in the preoperative, but also in the postoperative, setting. High functional disability does not result in avoidance of the TUG test, and repeated assessments lead to higher preference.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wneu.2016.11.039DOI Listing
March 2017

Effects of Smoking on Subjective and Objective Measures of Pain Intensity, Functional Impairment, and Health-Related Quality of Life in Lumbar Degenerative Disk Disease.

World Neurosurg 2017 Mar 22;99:6-13. Epub 2016 Nov 22.

Department of Neurosurgery and Faculty of Medicine, University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland.

Background: Numerous studies assessed the effects of smoking on lumbar degenerative disk disease (DDD); they focused on patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) and yielded conflicting results.

Methods: In this 2-center study on consecutive patients receiving surgical treatment for lumbar DDD, subjective functional impairment (SFI) in terms of PROMs including visual analog scale back and leg pain, Roland-Morris, Oswestry Disability Index, Euro-Qol-5D, and a Short-Form 12 physical component summary was determined at baseline, 3 days, 6 weeks, 6 months, and 1 year postoperatively. Age- and sex-adjusted T-scores of objective functional impairment (OFI) were determined using the Timed Up and Go test up to 6 weeks postoperatively. The responder status was defined by the minimal clinically important difference.

Results: We analyzed 375 patients (n = 96 [25.6%] smokers and n = 279 [74.4%] nonsmokers). SFI on any of the PROMs before treatment was similar in smokers and nonsmokers. Smokers were more likely to have OFI in univariate logistic regression analysis (95% confidence interval 1.31-3.37, P = 0.002). In multivariate analysis, however, this relationship became insignificant (95% confidence interval 0.85-2.38, P = 0.184). The smoking status had no predictive capacity on the 6-week SFI or OFI responder status, and there were no differences in any of the PROMs until the 1-year follow-up.

Conclusions: PROMs measuring SFI for pain intensity, functional impairment, and health-related quality of life were similar in smokers and nonsmokers before surgery for lumbar DDD, as well as postoperatively. The smoking status has negligible impact on the Timed Up and Go test, which appears to be a robust assessment tool for OFI.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wneu.2016.11.060DOI Listing
March 2017

The usefulness of radiological grading scales to predict pain intensity, functional impairment, and health-related quality of life after surgery for lumbar degenerative disc disease.

Acta Neurochir (Wien) 2017 02 21;159(2):271-279. Epub 2016 Nov 21.

Department of Neurosurgery and Faculty of Medicine, University Hospital Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.

Purpose: The goal of this study is to determine the relationship of radiological grading scales of lumbar degenerative disc disease (DDD) with postoperative pain intensity, functional impairment, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL).

Methods: Response to surgical treatment at 6 weeks (W6) on the visual analogue scale (VAS) for back and leg pain, Oswestry-Disability (ODI) and Roland-Morris Disability Index (RMDI), Timed Up and Go (TUG) test, EuroQol (EQ) 5D, and Short-Form Health-Survey (SF-12) physical component summary (PCS) was compared between patients with different Modic (MOD) and Pfirrmann (PFI) grades. Longitudinal outcomes at day 3 (D3), W6, 6 months (M6), and 1 year (Y1) were compared.

Results: The study included 338 patients (mean age, 58.6 years), of which n = 202 (59.8%) had MOD 1-3 and n = 217 (64.2%) PFI 4-5 changes. Patients with MOD 1-3 were as likely as patients without MOD changes to be treatment-responders at W6 in terms of VAS leg pain, ODI, RMDI, TUG, EQ5D, and SF-12 PCS. Similarly, patients with PFI 4-5 were as likely as patients with PFI 1-3 changes to be treatment-responders at W6. Longitudinal outcomes were similar at D3, W6, M6, and Y1 between patients with and without MOD changes. Patients with PFI 4-5 fared similar to those with PFI 1-3 except for inferior HRQoL on the SF-12 PCS metric at Y1.

Conclusions: There was no distinct relationship between commonly used radiological grading scales of lumbar DDD with clinical outcome. Therefore, no prognosis should be made on the grounds of preoperative PFI and MOD classifications for patients undergoing spine surgery for lumbar DDD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00701-016-3030-yDOI Listing
February 2017

Influence of Body Mass Index on Subjective and Objective Measures of Pain, Functional Impairment, and Health-Related Quality of Life in Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease.

World Neurosurg 2016 Dec 28;96:570-577.e1. Epub 2016 Sep 28.

Department of Neurosurgery, Faculty of Medicine, University Hospital Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.

Objective: To analyze the influence of body mass index (BMI) on subjective and objective measures of pain, functional impairment, and health-related quality of life in patients with lumbar degenerative disc disease undergoing surgery.

Methods: Prospective institutional review board-approved 2-center study, measuring visual analog scale (VAS) back and leg pain, Roland-Morris Disability Index (RMDI), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), EuroQol 5D questionnaire, and Short Form-12 at baseline, 6 weeks, 6 months, and 1 year postoperatively. T-scores of objective functional impairment (OFI) were determined using the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test.

Results: A total of 375 patients with a median BMI of 26.6 kg/m (94 obese patients [BMI ≥30 kg/m]) were included. Obese patients presented more VAS back pain (mean, 4.7 vs. 3.6; P = 0.001) and greater disability on the RMDI (mean, 12.6 vs. 11.3; P = 0.045). The prevalence and severity of OFI were similar in obese and nonobese patients. There was a weak positive correlation between BMI and VAS back pain (r = 0.1552; P = 0.0026), on both RMDI (r = 0.1138; P = 0.0276) and ODI (r = 0.1075; P = 0.0374). There was no correlation between BMI and TUG T-scores (r = 0.0475; P = 0.3585). Obese patients were as likely as nonobese patients to show a positive 6-week treatment response, and the outcome up to 1 year was similar.

Conclusions: BMI positively correlates with VAS back pain, RMDI, and ODI. Standardized TUG T scores reflect the patient's degree of OFI well, irrespective of BMI. The TUG test appears to be a good means to estimate functional impairment in populations with a high prevalence of obesity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wneu.2016.09.070DOI Listing
December 2016

Influence of age on pain intensity, functional impairment and health-related quality of life before and after surgery for lumbar degenerative disc disease.

Clin Neurol Neurosurg 2016 Nov 24;150:33-39. Epub 2016 Aug 24.

Department of Neurosurgery and Faculty of Medicine, University Hospital Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland; Department of Neurosurgery, Cantonal Hospital St.Gallen, St.Gallen, Switzerland.

Background: Demographic changes will lead to an increase of elderly people in our population and consecutively to a higher prevalence of patients suffering from degenerative disc disease (DDD). The goal of this study was to investigate age-related differences in pain intensity, subjective and objective functional impairment and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in patients with lumbar DDD.

Methods: In a prospective two-center study, back and leg pain intensity (visual analogue scale (VAS)), functional impairment (Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), Roland-Morris Disability Index (RMDI)) and HRQoL (EuroQol-5D (EQ-5D), Short-Form (SF12)) were collected for consecutive patients undergoing lumbar spine surgery. Objective functional impairment (OFI) was measured using the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test. Adjusted partial correlation was used to correlate age to each scale preoperatively, as well as to the postoperative improvement at six weeks.

Results: A total of n=377 patients (161 females, 42.7%) with a mean age of 58.5 years (SD 15.7, range 18.0-93.7) were included. Unadjusted TUG test raw times naturally increased with age, whereas the age-effect on standardized OFI T-scores was close to zero in patients with a lumbar disc herniation (LDH; r=-0.0666, p=0.367) or lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS; r=-0.0134, p=0.879). There was a weak correlation between age and higher ODI (LDH: r=0.1289, p=0.089; LSS: r=0.1975; p=0.027), lower EQ-5D (LSS: r=-0.1824, p=0.042) and higher RMDI by trend (LSS: r=0.1679, p=0.061). The correlation between age and postoperative improvement was negative on the VAS for back pain (LDH: r=-0.3189, p=0.026), VAS for leg pain (LDH: r=-0.3656, p=0.009) and RMDI by trend (LSS: r=-0.2004, p=0.069), as well as positive on the EQ-5D index (r=0.2412, p=0.011), indicating that younger patients showed better improvement. Due to in-group heterogeneity, no age-effect could be calculated for patients scheduled for surgical fusion.

Conclusions: The influence of age on subjective and objective measures of pain, functional impairment and HRQoL is limited for patients with LDH and LSS, but suggests an age-dependent increase of functional disability. Younger patients generally showed greater postoperative improvement at six weeks than older patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clineuro.2016.08.024DOI Listing
November 2016

Pre- and postoperative correlation of patient-reported outcome measures with standardized Timed Up and Go (TUG) test results in lumbar degenerative disc disease.

Acta Neurochir (Wien) 2016 10 3;158(10):1875-81. Epub 2016 Aug 3.

Department of Neurosurgery and Faculty of Medicine, University Hospital Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.

Background: The Timed Up and Go (TUG) test is a reliable tool for evaluating objective functional impairment (OFI) in patients with degenerative disc disease before a surgical intervention. The aim of this study is to assess the validity of the TUG test to measure change in function postoperatively.

Methods: In a prospective two-center study, OFI was assessed by the TUG test in patients scheduled for lumbar spine surgery, as well as 3 days (D3) and 6 weeks (W6) postoperatively. At each time point, the TUG test results were correlated with established subjective measures of pain intensity (visual analogue scale (VAS) for back and leg pain), functional impairment (Oswestry Disability Index (ODI)) and health-related quality of life (HRQoL; Short Form-12 (SF12)).

Results: The patient cohort comprised 136 patients with a mean age of 57.7 years; 76 were males, 54 had a microdiscectomy for lumbar disc herniation, 58 a decompression for a lumbar spinal stenosis, 24 had a surgical fusion procedure. The mean OFI t-score was 125.1 before surgery, and as patients improved on the subjective measures in the postoperative interval, the OFI t-score likewise decreased to 118.8 (D3) and 103.4 (W6). The Pearson correlation coefficient (PCC) between the OFI t-score and VAS leg pain was 0.187 preoperatively (p = 0.029) and 0.252 at W6 (p = 0.003). The PCC between OFI t-score and the ODI was 0.324 preoperatively (p < 0.001) and 0.413 at W6 (p < 0.001). The PCC between OFI t-score and physical HRQoL (SF12) was -0.091 preoperatively (p = 0.293) and -0.330 at W6 (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: The TUG test is sensitive to change, and reflects the postoperative functional outcome even more exact than preoperatively, as indicated by better correlation coefficients of the OFI t-score with subjective measures of pain intensity, functional impairment and HRQoL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00701-016-2899-9DOI Listing
October 2016

Short- and Long-Term Outcome of Microscopic Lumbar Spine Surgery in Patients with Predominant Back or Predominant Leg Pain.

World Neurosurg 2016 Sep 5;93:458-465.e1. Epub 2016 Jul 5.

Department of Neurosurgery and Faculty of Medicine, University Hospital Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.

Objective: This study assessed whether predominant back pain (pBP) represents a negative outcome predictor in patients undergoing microscopic spine surgery without fusion for a lumbar disc herniation (LDH) or spinal stenosis (LSS).

Methods: Retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data on consecutive patients with LDH or LSS at 2 centers. Patients with visual analog scale (VAS) back pain ≥VAS leg pain were assigned to the pBP group, and compared with patients with predominant VAS leg pain (pLP). Outcome measures included the Roland-Morris Disability Index (RMDI), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), health-related quality of life measures, Short-Form (SF)-12 Physical Component Summary (PCS), and EuroQol (EQ-5D) index at 3 days, 6 weeks (W6), 6 months, and 1 year postoperatively.

Results: A total of 325 patients (154 [47.4%] with pBP and 171 [52.6%] with pLP) were included. Patients with pBP were about 6 years older and more often had LSS. There was no significant difference between the group means of the RMDI, ODI, SF-12 PCS, or EQ-5D at any postoperative time point. The most improvement was observed until the W6 follow-up with little or no improvement thereafter up to 1 year postoperatively. Patients with pBP were as likely as patients with pLP to be W6 responders on the RMDI (odds ratio [OR], 0.91; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.38-2.16; P = 0.831), ODI (OR, 1.00; 95% CI 0.52-1.92; P = 0.996), SF-12 PCS (OR, 1.09; 95% CI 0.58-2.04; P = 0.791), and EQ-5D (OR, 0.62; 95% CI 0.32-1.21; P = 0.164). Disease-specific subgroup analyses confirmed the results.

Conclusions: The present data suggest that patients with pBP have comparable functional and health-related quality of life outcomes after surgery for LDH or LSS with those of patients with pLP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wneu.2016.06.120DOI Listing
September 2016

Assessment of the Minimum Clinically Important Difference in the Timed Up and Go Test After Surgery for Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease.

Neurosurgery 2017 03;80(3):380-385

School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.

Background: The Timed Up and Go Test (TUG Test) has previously been described as a reliable tool to evaluate objective functional impairment in patients with degenerative disc disease.

Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the minimum clinically important difference (MCID) of the TUG Test.

Methods: The TUG Test (measured in seconds) was correlated with validated patient-reported outcome measures (PROs) of pain intensity (Visual Analog Scale for back and leg pain), functional impairment (Oswestry Disability Index, Roland Morris Disability Index), and health-related quality of life measures (Short Form-12 and EuroQol 5D). Three established methods were used to establish anchor-based MCID values using responders of the following PROs (Visual Analog Scale back and leg pain, Oswestry Disability Index, Roland Morris Disability Index, EuroQol 5D index, and Short Form-12 Physical Component Summary) as anchors: (1) average change, (2) minimum detectable change, and (3) change difference approach.

Results: One hundred patients with a mean ± SD age of 56.2 ± 16.1 years, 57 (57%) male, 45 patients undergoing microdiscectomy, 35 undergoing lumbar decompression, and 20 undergoing fusion surgery were studied. The 3 MCID computation methods revealed a range of MCID values according to the PRO used from 0.9 s (Oswestry Disability Index based on the change difference approach) to 6.0 s (EuroQol 5D index based on the minimum detectable change approach), with a mean MCID of 3.4 s for all measured PROs.

Conclusion: The MCID for the TUG Test time is highly variable depending on the computation technique used. The average TUG Test MCID was 3.4 s using all 3 methods and all anchors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1227/NEU.0000000000001320DOI Listing
March 2017

Pediatric epilepsy surgery: could age be a predictor of outcomes?

J Neurosurg Pediatr 2016 Aug 29;18(2):235-41. Epub 2016 Apr 29.

Departments of 1 Neurosurgery.

OBJECTIVE Like adults, many children suffering from intractable seizures benefit from surgical therapy. Although various reports indicate that early intervention may avoid severe developmental consequences often associated with intractable epilepsy, surgery is still considered a last option for many children. In this retrospective study, the authors aimed to determine whether pediatric epilepsy surgery, in particular during the first years of life, relates to measurable benefits. METHODS Data from 78 patients (age range 5 months to 17 years) who underwent epilepsy surgery at the Geneva and Lausanne University Hospitals between 1997 and 2012 were reviewed retrospectively. Patients were dichotomized into 2 groups: infants (≤ 3 years of age, n = 19), and children/adolescents (4-17 years of age, n = 59). Compared with children/adolescents, infants more often had a diagnosis of dysplasia (37% vs 10%, respectively; p < 0.05, chi-square test). RESULTS The overall seizure-free rate was 76.9%, with 89.5% in infants and 72.9% in the children/adolescents group. Infants were 2.76 times as likely to achieve seizure-free status as children/adolescents. Postoperative antiepileptic medication was reduced in 67.9% of patients. Only 11.4% of the patients were taking more than 2 antiepileptic drugs after surgery, compared with 43% before surgery (p < 0.0001). The overall complication rate was 15.1% (6.4% transient hemiparesis), and no major complications or deaths occurred. CONCLUSIONS The data show a high seizure-free rate in children ≤ 3 years of age, despite a higher occurrence of dysplastic, potentially ill-defined lesions. Pediatric patients undergoing epilepsy surgery can expect a significant reduction in their need for medication. Given the excellent results in the infant group, prospective studies are warranted to determine whether age ≤ 3 years is a predictor for excellent surgical outcome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3171/2015.10.PEDS14413DOI Listing
August 2016

Sex differences in lumbar degenerative disc disease.

Clin Neurol Neurosurg 2016 Jun 8;145:52-7. Epub 2016 Apr 8.

Department of Neurosurgery and Faculty of Medicine, University Hospital Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.

Objectives: A growing number of studies focus on sex differences in the pre- and postoperative setting in patients with degenerative disc disease (DDD). The exact pathomechanism behind this phenomenon, however, remains unclear. The objective of this study was to investigate pre- and postoperative sex differences in patients with lumbar DDD.

Patients And Methods: In a prospective two-center study, back and leg pain (Visual Analogue Scale (VAS)), functional disability (Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and Roland-Morris Disability Index) and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) (EuroQol 5D and Short-Form (SF12)) were collected for patients scheduled for lumbar spine surgery. In addition to the subjective functional impairment (SFI), objective functional impairment (OFI) was estimated using age- and sex-adjusted cut-off values for the timed-up-and-go (TUG) test. The 6-week responder status was defined using minimally clinically important differences of the ODI, SF12 PCS, VAS back and leg pain in all patients. Six months and one year follow-up (FU) was available in n=127 and n=87 patients, respectively.

Results: The patient cohort comprised of n=214 patients (41.6% females). Preoperatively, female patients scored significantly worse on VAS back and leg pain, ODI and SF12 PCS (p<0.033), while OFI was similar (p=0.334). At the 6 week FU, sex-related differences had resolved for SFI and OFI was similar as well (p=0.333). There were no sex differences in the mean improvement after 6 weeks for all measures of pain intensity, functional impairment and HRQoL (p>0.182). Male and female patients profited equally on measures of SFI and HRQoL up to six months and one year after surgery (p>0.091).

Conclusion: Preoperatively, female patients scored worse in terms of SFI, while OFI was similar. Consecutively, OFI appears to be less prone to sex bias and may thus serve as a valuable surrogate-marker of disability. The disadvantageous preoperative SFI-status did not translate into worse postoperative results, as no sex differences were present at the 6-week, 6-months and 1-year follow-up.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clineuro.2016.04.008DOI Listing
June 2016

Exposure to ionizing radiation and brain cancer incidence: The Life Span Study cohort.

Cancer Epidemiol 2016 06 31;42:60-5. Epub 2016 Mar 31.

School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Level 3, 207 Bouverie Street, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia. Electronic address:

Background: Ionizing radiation is a cause of cancer. This paper examines the effects of radiation dose and age at exposure on the incidence of brain cancer using data from the Life Span Study (LSS) of atomic bomb survivors.

Methods: The Radiation Effects Research Foundation website provides demographic details of the LSS population, estimated radiation doses at time of bomb in 1945, person years of follow-up and incident cancers from 1958 to 1998. We modelled brain cancer incidence using background-stratified Poisson regression, and compared the excess relative risk (ERR) per Gray (Gy) of brain dose with estimates from follow-up studies of children exposed to diagnostic CT scans.

Results: After exposure to atomic bomb radiation at 10 years of age the estimated ERR/Gy was 0.91 (90%CI 0.53, 1.40) compared with 0.07 (90%CI -0.27, 0.56) following exposure at age 40. Exposure at 10 years of age led to an estimated excess of 17 brain tumors per 100,000 person year (pyr) Gy by 60 years of age. These LSS estimates are substantially less than estimates based on follow-up of children exposed to CT scans.

Conclusion: Estimates of ERR/Gy for brain cancers in the LSS and haemangioma cohorts seem much smaller than estimates of risk for young persons in the early years after exposure to CT-scans. This could be due to reverse causation bias in the CT cohorts, diagnostic error, measurement error with radiation doses, loss of early follow-up in the LSS, or non-linearity of the dose-response curve.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.canep.2016.03.006DOI Listing
June 2016