The latest medical research on Neurosurgery

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Association of Demographic and Program Factors With American Board of Surgery Qualifying and Certifying Examinations Pass Rates.

JAMA Surgery

American Board of Surgery board certification requires passing both a written qualifying examination and an oral certifying examination. No studies have been conducted assessing the effect of sociodemographic variables on board passage rates.

To evaluate if trainee sociodemographic factors are associated with board passage rates.

This national and multi-institutional prospective observational cohort study of 1048 categorical general surgery trainees starting in 2007-2008 were surveyed. Data collection began in June 2007, follow-up was completed on December 31, 2016, and analysis began September 2018.

Survey responses were linked to American Board of Surgery board passage data.

Of 662 examinees who had complete survey and follow-up data, 443 (65%) were men and 459 (69%) were white, with an overall board passage rate of 87% (n = 578). In a multinomial regression model, trainees of Hispanic ethnicity were more likely to not attempt the examinations (vs passed both) than non-Hispanic trainees (odds ratio [OR], 4.7; 95% CI, 1.5-14). Compared with examinees who were married with children during internship, examinees who were married without children (OR, 0.3; 95% CI, 0.1-0.8) or were single (OR, 0.4; 95% CI, 0.2-0.9) were less likely to fail the examinations. Logistic regression showed white examinees compared with nonwhite examinees (black individuals, Asian individuals, and individuals of other races) (OR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.03-3.0) and examinees who performed better on their first American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination (OR, 1.03; 95% CI, 1.02-1.05) were more likely to pass the qualifying examination on the first try. White examinees compared with nonwhite examinees (OR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.1-2.8), non-Hispanic compared with Hispanic examinees (OR, 2.4; 95% CI, 1.2-4.7), and single women compared with women who were married with children during internship (OR, 10.3; 95% CI, 2.1-51) were more likely to pass the certifying examination on the first try.

Resident race, ethnicity, sex, and family status at internship were observed to be associated with board passage rates. There are multiple possible explanations for these worrisome observations that need to be explored. Tracking demographics of trainees to help understand passage rates based on demographics will be important. The American Board of Surgery already has begun addressing the potential for unconscious bias among board examiners by increasing diversity and adding implicit bias training.

Perioperative Outcomes and Trends in the Use of Robotic Colectomy for Medicare Beneficiaries From 2010 Through 2016.

JAMA Surgery

The use of robotic surgery for common operations like colectomy is increasing rapidly in the United States, but evidence for its effectiveness is limited and may not reflect real-world practice.

To evaluate outcomes of and trends in the use of robotic, laparoscopic, and open colectomy across diverse practice settings.

This population-based study of Medicare beneficiaries undergoing elective colectomy was conducted between January 2010 and December 2016. We used an instrumental variable analysis to account for both measured and unmeasured differences in patient characteristics between robotic, open, and laparoscopic colectomy procedures. Data were analyzed from January 21, 2019, to March 1, 2019.

Receipt of robotic colectomy.

Incidence of postoperative medical and surgical complications and length of stay.

A total of 191 292 procedures (23 022 robotic procedures [12.0%], 87 639 open procedures [45.8%], and 80 631 laparoscopic colectomy procedures [42.0%]) were included. Robotic colectomy was associated with a lower adjusted rate of overall complications than open colectomy (17.6% [95% CI, 16.9%-18.2%] vs 18.6% [95% CI, 18.4%-18.7%]; relative risk [RR], 0.94 [95% CI, 0.91-0.98]). This difference was driven by lower rates of medical complications (15.5% [95% CI, 14.8%-16.2%] vs 16.9% [95% CI, 16.7%-17.1%]; RR, 0.92 [95% CI, 0.87-0.96]) because surgical complications were higher with the robotic approach (3.0% [95% CI, 2.8%-3.2%] vs 2.4% [95% CI, 2.3%-2.5%]; RR, 1.18 [95% CI, 1.04-1.35]). There were no differences in complications between robotic and laparoscopic colectomy (11.1% [95% CI, 10.5%-11.6%] vs 11.0% [95% CI, 10.8%-11.2%]; RR, 1.00 [95% CI, 0.95-1.05]). There was an overall shift toward greater proportional use of robotic colectomy from 0.7% (457 of 65 332 patients) in 2010 to 10.9% (8274 of 75 909 patients) in 2016. In hospitals with the highest adoption of robotic colectomy between 2010 and 2016, increasing use of robotic colectomy (0.8% [100 of 12 522 patients] to 32.8% [5416 of 16 511 patients]) was associated with a greater replacement of laparoscopic operations (43.8% [5485 of 12 522 patients] to 25.2% [4161 of 16 511 patients]) than open operations (55.4% [6937 of 12 522 patients] to 41.9% [6918 of 16 511 patients]).

While robotic colectomy was associated with minimal safety benefit over open colectomy and had comparable outcomes with laparoscopic colectomy, population-based trends suggest that it replaced a greater proportion of laparoscopic rather than open colectomy, especially in hospitals with the highest adoption of robotics.

Association of Decreased Postsurgical Opioid Prescribing With Patients' Satisfaction With Surgeons.

JAMA Surgery

Opioid overdose is the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. Several studies have shown that surgeons overprescribe opioids, and guidelines for appropriate opioid prescribing are available. Concern about patient-reported satisfaction scores may be a barrier to surgeons adopting guideline-directed prescribing.

To determine whether decreased opioid prescribing is associated with a decrease in patient-reported satisfaction with their surgeon.

Retrospective analysis of clinician satisfaction scores at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center obtained in 2 periods: 1 before (period A) and 1 after (period B) an educational intervention that resulted in decreased opioid prescribing. The analysis included 11 surgeons who performed 5 common outpatient general surgical operations on 996 patients. Data were analyzed between March and August 2018.

Patient-reported overall satisfaction rating of the surgeon (scale, 0-10). This was collected by a nonstudy-related, routine general institutional survey of approximately 40% of all outpatient encounters.

Of the total number of patients, 67% were women (667 of 996), and the mean patient age was 58 years. Comparing period A with B, the proportion of patients prescribed opioids decreased from 90.2% (n = 367 of 407) to 72.8% (n = 429 of 589) (P < .001). The mean number of opioid pills per prescription decreased from 28.3 to 13.3 (P < .001) and significantly decreased for each of the 11 surgeons. One hundred five of 996 patients (10.5%) undergoing index operations responded to the survey. There was no difference in the mean clinician satisfaction ratings from period A vs B (9.70 vs 9.65; P = .69). During the study periods, 640 total surveys were collected referencing these surgeons (including outpatient encounters associated with operations other than the 5 index cases). There was no difference in the mean satisfaction ratings from period A vs period B (9.55 vs 9.59; P = .62). When individual clinicians were analyzed, none had a significant difference in overall satisfaction rating from period A vs period B.

Despite a marked decrease in the proportion of patients receiving opioids and in the number of pills prescribed, there was no significant change in clinician satisfaction ratings.

Parathyroidectomy for Patients With Primary Hyperparathyroidism and Associations With Hypertension.

JAMA Surgery

Hyperparathyroidism is associated with cardiovascular disease. However, evidence for a beneficial consequence of parathyroidectomy on hypertension is limited.

To investigate if parathyroidectomy improves hypertension in patients with primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT).

In this cohort study and retrospective database review, patients with PHPT and hypertension between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2016, were identified. The mean arterial pressure (MAP) and number of antihypertensive medications were compared between those who did and did not undergo parathyroidectomy. The setting was a large health care system. Primary hyperparathyroidism was defined using biochemical data, and hypertension was identified by International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision codes.

Parathyroidectomy was identified in the database by Current Procedural Terminology codes.

The MAP and use of antihypertensive medications were compared for patients who underwent parathyroidectomy and those who did not at 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess the adjusted odds ratios for both increased and decreased use of antihypertensive medications.

In this cohort study of 2380 participants (79.0% female), patients undergoing parathyroidectomy (n = 501) were younger (mean [SD] age, 65.3 [9.7] vs 71.9 [10.4] years; P < .001) and took fewer antihypertensive medications at baseline (mean [SD] number of medications, 1.2 [1.1] vs 1.5 [1.3], P < .001) than nonsurgical patients (n = 1879). Patients with parathyroidectomy showed greater improvement in their MAP at all follow-up time points (the median [SD] MAP change from baseline to 1 year was 0.1 [8.7] mm Hg without parathyroidectomy vs -1.2 [7.7] mm Hg after parathyroidectomy, P = .002). Nonsurgical patients were more likely vs those with parathyroidectomy to require more antihypertensive medications at 6 months (15.9% [n = 298] vs 9.8% [n = 49], P = .001), 1 year (18.1% [n = 340] vs 10.8% [n = 54], P < .001), and 2 years (17.6% [n = 330] vs 12.2% [n = 61], P = .004). By multivariable analysis, parathyroidectomy was independently associated with freedom from an increased number of antihypertensive medications at all periods (eg, adjusted odds ratio, 0.49; 95% CI, 0.34-0.70; P < .001 at 1 year). Among patients who were initially not taking antihypertensive medications, patients with parathyroidectomy were less likely vs no surgery to start antihypertensive medication treatment at all periods (eg, 10.2% [13 of 127] vs 30.4% [136 of 447], P < .001 at 1 year).

This study's findings suggest that, among hypertensive patients with PHPT, parathyroidectomy may be associated not only with greater decreases in their MAP but also with reduced requirements for antihypertensive medications. Parathyroidectomy decreased the number of patients who began taking antihypertensive medications. Additional study will be required to find whether there are downstream cardiovascular benefits of parathyroidectomy. Preexisting hypertension, particularly in those not already taking antihypertensive medications, should be considered when weighing surgical treatment.

Risk of Pulmonary Embolism More Than 6 Weeks After Surgery Among Cancer-Free Middle-aged Patients.

JAMA Surgery

The risk of postoperative pulmonary embolism has been reported to be highest during the first 5 weeks after surgery. However, how long the excess risk of postoperative pulmonary embolism persists remains unknown.

To assess the duration and magnitude of the late postoperative risk of pulmonary embolism among cancer-free middle-aged patients by the type of surgery.

Case-crossover analysis to compute the respective risks of pulmonary embolism after 6 types of surgery using data from a French national inpatient database, which covers a total of 203 million inpatient stays over an 8-year period between 2007 and 2014. Participants were cancer-free middle-aged adult patients (aged 45 to 64) with a diagnosis of a first pulmonary embolism.

Hospital admission for surgery. Surgical procedures were classified into 6 types: (1) vascular surgery, (2) gynecological surgery, (3) gastrointestinal surgery, (4) hip or knee replacement, (5) fractures, and (6) other orthopedic operations.

Diagnosis of a first pulmonary embolism.

A total of 60 703 patients were included (35 766 [58.9%] male; mean [SD] age, 56.6 [6.0] years). The risk of postoperative pulmonary embolism was elevated for at least 12 weeks after all types of surgery and was highest during the immediate postoperative period (1 to 6 weeks). The excess risk of postoperative pulmonary embolism ranged from odds ratio (OR), 5.24 (95% CI, 3.91-7.01) for vascular surgery to OR, 8.34 (95% CI, 6.07-11.45) for surgery for fractures. The risk remained elevated from 7 to 12 weeks, with the OR ranging from 2.26 (95% CI, 1.81-2.82) for gastrointestinal operations to 4.23 (95% CI, 3.01-5.92) for surgery for fractures. The risk was not clinically significant beyond 18 weeks postsurgery for all types of procedures.

The risk of postoperative pulmonary embolism is elevated beyond 6 weeks postsurgery regardless of the type of procedure. The persistence of this excess risk suggests that further randomized clinical trials are required to evaluate whether the duration of postoperative prophylactic anticoagulation should be extended and to define the optimal duration of treatment with regard to both the thrombotic and bleeding risks.

Long-term Outcomes of Lung Transplant With Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion.

JAMA Surgery

The mortality rate for individuals on the wait list for lung transplant is 15% to 25%, and still only 20% of lungs from multiorgan donors are used for lung transplant. The lung donor pool may be increased by assessing and reconditioning high-risk extended criteria donor lungs with ex vivo lung perfusion (EVLP), with similar short-term outcomes.

To assess the long-term outcomes of transplant recipients of donor lungs treated with EVLP.

This retrospective cohort single-center study was conducted from August 1, 2008, to February 28, 2017, among 706 recipients of donor lungs not undergoing EVLP and 230 recipients of donor lungs undergoing EVLP.

Donor lungs undergoing EVLP.

The incidence of chronic lung allograft dysfunction and allograft survival during the 10-year EVLP era were the primary outcome measures. Secondary outcomes included donor characteristics, maximum predicted percentage of forced expiratory volume in 1 second, acute cellular rejection, and de novo donor-specific antibody development.

This study included 706 patients (311 women and 395 men; median age, 50 years [interquartile range, 34-61 years]) in the non-EVLP group and 230 patients (85 women and 145 men; median age, 46 years [interquartile range, 32-55 years]) in the EVLP group. The EVLP group donors had a significantly lower mean (SD) Pao2:fraction of inspired oxygen ratio than the non-EVLP group donors (348 [108] vs 422 [88] mm Hg; P < .001), higher prevalence of abnormal chest radiography results (135 of 230 [58.7%] vs 349 of 706 [49.4%]; P = .02), and higher proportion of smoking history (125 of 204 [61.3%] vs 322 of 650 [49.5%]; P = .007). More recipients in the EVLP group received single-lung transplants (62 of 230 [27.0%] vs 100 of 706 [14.2%]; P < .001). There was no significant difference in time to chronic lung allograft dysfunction between the EVLP and non-EVLP group (70% vs 72% at 3 years; 56% vs 56% at 5 years; and 53% vs 36% at 9 years; log-rank P = .68) or allograft survival between the EVLP and non-EVLP groups (73% vs 72% at 3 years; 62% vs 58% at 5 years; and 50% vs 44% at 9 years; log-rank P = .97) between the 2 groups. All secondary outcomes were similar between the 2 groups.

Since 2008, 230 of 936 lung transplants (24.6%) in the Toronto Lung Transplant Program were performed after EVLP assessment and treatment. Use of EVLP-treated lungs led to an increase in the number of patients undergoing transplantation, with comparable long-term outcomes.

Delayed recanalization in acute ischemic stroke patients: Late is better than never?

J Cereb Blood

Successful recanalization of the occluded vessel as early as possible has been widely accepted as the key principle of acute ischemic stroke (AIS) ...

CCL5 of glioma-associated microglia/macrophages regulates glioma migration and invasion via calcium-dependent matrix metalloproteinase-2.


Glioma-associated myeloid (GAM) infiltrates are comprised of macrophages of peripheral origin and brain-intrinsic microglia, which support tumor progression. CCL5 is an inflammatory mediator produced by immune cells and is involved in tumor growth and migration in several cancers including glioma. However, the mechanisms detailing how CCL5 facilitates glioma invasion remain largely unresolved.

Glioma migration and invasion were determined by wound healing, transwell assay, and 3D µ-slide chemotaxis assay. The expression levels of CCL5, CD68, MMP-2, p-CaMKII, p-Akt, and p-PYK2 were determined by cytokine array, q-PCR, western blot, or IHC. Zymography and intracellular calcium assays were used to analyze MMP-2 activity and intracellular calcium levels, respectively.

CCL5 modulated the migratory and invasive activities of human glioma cells in association with MMP-2 expression. In response to CCL5, glioma cells underwent a synchronized increase in intracellular calcium levels, p-CaMKII and p-Akt expression levels. CCL5-directed glioma invasion and increases in MMP-2 were suppressed after inhibition of p-CaMKII. Glioma cells tended to migrate toward GM-CSF-activated GAM conditioned media in which CCL5 was abundant. This homing effect was associated with MMP-2 upregulation, and could be ameliorated either by controlling intracellular and extracellular calcium levels or by CCL5 antagonism. Clinical results also revealed the associations between CCL5 and GAM activation.

Our results suggest that modulation of glioma CaMKII may restrict the effect of CCL5 on glioma invasion and could be a potential therapeutic target for alleviating glioma growth.

The potential of cerebrospinal fluid-based liquid biopsy approaches in CNS tumors.


Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) may be the best hope for minimally invasive diagnosis and treatment monitoring of central nervous system (CNS) malignanci...

Pathologic measures of quality compare favorably in patients undergoing robot-assisted radical cystectomy to open cystectomy cohorts: a National Cancer Database analysis.

Journal of Robotic Surgery

This study aims to assess the impact of facility characteristics on measures of surgical quality (positive surgical margin rates and lymph-node yie...

Robotic vs. open surgical management of ureteroenteric anastomotic strictures: technical modifications to enhance success.

Journal of Robotic Surgery

Development of ureteroanastamotic strictures (UAS) after urinary diversion is not uncommon, but is challenging to treat. Poor outcomes are likely w...

Robust RBM3 and β-klotho expression in developing neurons in the human brain.

J Cereb Blood

RNA binding motif 3 (RBM3) is a powerful neuroprotectant that inhibits neurodegenerative cell death in vivo and is a promising therapeutic target i...