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Prior Authorization Requirements In The Office-Based Laboratory Setting Are Administratively Inefficient And Threaten Timeliness Of Care

Harish, Keerthi B; Chervonski, Ethan; Speranza, Giancarlo; Maldonado, Thomas S; Garg, Karan; Sadek, Mikel; Rockman, Caron B; Jacobowitz, Glenn R; Berland, Todd L
OBJECTIVE:The objective of this study was to investigate the administrative and clinical impacts of prior authorization (PA) processes in the Office-Based Laboratory (OBL) setting. METHODS:This single-institution retrospective analysis studied all OBL PAs pursued between January 2018 and March 2022. Case, PA, and coding information was obtained from the practice's scheduling database. RESULTS:Over the study period, 1,854 OBL cases were scheduled; 8% (n=146) required PA. Of these, 75% (n=110) were for lower extremity arterial interventions, 19% (n=27) were for deep venous interventions, and 6% (n=9) were for other interventions. Of 146 PAs, 19% (n=27) were initially denied but 74.1% (n=7) of these were overturned on appeal. Deep venous procedures were initially denied, at 43.8% (n=14) more often than were arterial procedures, at 11.8% (n=13). Of 146 requested procedures, 4% (n=6) were delayed due to pending prior authorization determination by a mean 14.2±18.3 working days. An additional 6% (n=8) of procedures were performed in the interest of time prior to final determination. Of the 7 terminally denied procedures, 57% (n=4) were performed at cost to the practice based on clinical judgment. CONCLUSIONS:Utilizing prior authorization appeals mechanisms, while administratively onerous, resulted in the overturning of most initial denials.
PMID: 38135169
ISSN: 1097-6809
CID: 5611912

Safety and efficacy of endovenous ablation in patients with a history of deep vein thrombosis

Chervonski, Ethan; Muqri, Furqan; Jacobowitz, Glenn R; Rockman, Caron B; Maldonado, Thomas S; Berland, Todd L; Garg, Karan; Cayne, Neal S; Sadek, Mikel
OBJECTIVE:Endovenous ablation is the standard of care for patients with symptomatic superficial venous insufficiency. For patients with a history of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), concern exists for an increased risk of postprocedural complications, particularly venous thromboembolism. The objective of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of endovenous thermal ablation in patients with a history of DVT. METHODS:The national Vascular Quality Initiative Varicose Vein Registry was queried for superficial venous procedures performed from January 2014 to July 2021. Limbs treated with radiofrequency or laser ablation were compared between patients with and without a DVT history. The primary safety end point was incident DVT or endothermal heat-induced thrombosis (EHIT) II-IV in the treated limb at <3 months of follow-up. The secondary safety end points included any proximal thrombus extension (ie, EHIT I-IV), major bleeding, hematoma, pulmonary embolism, and death due to the procedure. The primary efficacy end point was technical failure (ie, recanalization at <1 week of follow-up). Secondary efficacy end points included the risk of recanalization over time and the postprocedural change in quality-of-life measures. Outcomes stratified by preoperative use of anticoagulation (AC) were also compared among those with prior DVT. RESULTS:Among 33,892 endovenous thermal ablations performed on 23,572 individual patients aged 13 to 90 years, 1698 patients (7.2%) had a history of DVT. Patients with prior DVT were older (P < .001), had a higher body mass index (P < .001), were more likely to be male at birth (P < .001) and Black/African American (P < .001), and had greater CEAP classifications (P < .001). A history of DVT conferred a higher risk of new DVT (1.4% vs 0.8%; P = .03), proximal thrombus extension (2.3% vs 1.6%; P = .045), and bleeding (0.2% vs 0.04%; P = .03). EHIT II-IV, pulmonary embolism, and hematoma risk did not differ by DVT history (P = NS). No deaths from treatment occurred in either group. Continuing preoperative AC in patients with prior DVT did not change the risk of any complications after endovenous ablation (P = NS) but did confer an increased hematoma risk among all endovenous thermal ablations and surgeries (P = .001). Technical failure was similar between groups (2.0% vs 1.2%; P = .07), although a history of DVT conferred an increased recanalization risk over time (hazard ratio, 1.90; 95% confidence interval, 1.46, 2.46; P < .001). The groups had comparable improvements in postprocedural venous clinical severity scores and Heaviness, Aching, Swelling, Throbbing, and Itching scores (P = NS). CONCLUSIONS:Endovenous thermal ablation for patients with a history of DVT was effective. However, appropriate patient counseling regarding a heightened DVT risk, albeit still low, is critical. The decision to continue or withhold AC preoperatively should be tailored on a case-by-case basis.
PMID: 38677553
ISSN: 2213-3348
CID: 5657962

The Natural History and Long-Term Follow-Up of Splenic Artery Aneurysms

Zhang, Jason; Ratner, Molly; Harish, Keerthi B; Speranza, Giancarlo; Hartwell, C Austen; Rao, Abhishek; Garg, Karan; Maldonado, Thomas; Sadek, Mikel; Jacobowitz, Glenn; Rockman, Caron
OBJECTIVES/OBJECTIVE:Though splenic artery aneurysms (SAAs) are the most common visceral aneurysm, there is a paucity of literature on the behavior of these entities. The objective of this study was to review the natural history of patients with SAA. METHODS:This single-institution retrospective analysis studied patients with SAA diagnosed by CT imaging between 2015 and 2019, identified by our institutional radiology database. Imaging, demographic, and clinical data was obtained via the electronic medical record. The growth rate was calculated for patients with radiologic follow-up. RESULTS:The cohort consisted of 853 patients with 890 SAA, of which 692 were female (81.2%). There were 37 women (5.3%) of childbearing age (15-50 years). Mean age at diagnosis was 70.9 years (range: 28-100) years. Frequently observed medical comorbidities included hypertension (70.2%), hypercholesterolemia (54.7%), and prior smoking (32.2%). Imaging indications included abdominal pain (37.3%), unrelated follow-up (28.0%) and follow-up of a previously noted visceral artery aneurysm (8.6%). The mean diameter at diagnosis was 13.3±6.3mm. Anatomical locations included the splenic hilum (36.0%), distal splenic artery (30.3%), mid-splenic artery (23.9%), and proximal splenic artery (9.7%). Radiographically, the majority were saccular aneurysms (72.4%) with calcifications (88.5%). One patient (38-year-old female) was initially diagnosed at the time of rupture of a 25mm aneurysm; this patient underwent immediate endovascular intervention with no complications. The mean clinical follow-up among 812 patients was 4.1 ± 4.0 years and the mean radiological follow-up among 514 patients was 3.8 ± 6.8 years. Of the latter, 122 patients (23.7%) experienced growth. Aneurysm growth rates for initial sizes < 10mm (n=123), 10-19mm (n=353), 20-29mm (n=34), and >30mm (n=4) were 0.166 mm/yr, 0.172 mm/yr, 0.383 mm/yr, and 0.246 mm/yr, respectively. Of the entire cohort, 27 patients (3.2%) eventually underwent intervention (81.5% endovascular), with the most common indications including size/growth criteria (70.4%) and symptom development (18.5%). On multivariate analysis, only prior tobacco use was significantly associated with aneurysm growth (p=.028). CONCLUSIONS:The majority of SAAs in this cohort remained stable in size, with few patients requiring intervention over mean follow-up of 4 years. Current guidelines recommending treatment of asymptomatic aneurysms >30mm appear appropriate given their slow progression. Despite societal recommendations for intervention for all SAAs among women of childbearing age, only a minority underwent vascular surgical consultation and intervention in this series, indicating that these recommendations are likely not well known in the general medical community.
PMID: 38081394
ISSN: 1097-6809
CID: 5589102

Venous Ablation Procedures by Provider Type, Including Advanced Practice Providers

Wiske, Clay; Chervonski, Ethan; Rockman, Caron B; Jacobowitz, Glenn R; Sadek, Mikel
OBJECTIVE:The necessary training and certification of providers performing venous ablation has become a topic of debate in recent years. As venous interventions have shifted away from the hospital, the diversity of provider backgrounds has increased. We aimed to characterize superficial venous ablation practice patterns associated with different provider types. METHODS:We analyzed Medicare fee-for-service data from 2010 through 2018. Procedures were identified by their Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code and included radiofrequency ablation, endovenous laser ablation, chemical adhesive ablation (i.e., VenaSeal®), and mechanochemical ablation. These procedures were correlated with the practitioner type to identify provider-specific trends. RESULTS:Between 2010 and 2018, the number of ablation procedures rose by 107% from 114,197 to 236,558 per year (p<0.001). Most procedures were performed by surgeons without vascular board certification (28.7%, 95% CI [28.7, 28.8]), followed by vascular surgeons (27.1%, 95% CI [27.0, 27.2]). Traditionally non-interventional specialties, which exclude surgeons, cardiologists, and interventional radiologists, accounted for 14.1% (95% CI [14.1, 14.2]), and APPs accounted for 3.5% (95% CI [3.4, 3.5]) of all ablation procedures during the time frame. The total number of ablations increased by 9.7% annually (95% CI [9.7, 9.8]), whereas procedures performed by APPs grew by 62.0% annually (95% CI [61.6, 62.4]). There were significant differences between specialties in the use of non-thermal ablation modalities: APPs had the highest affinity for non-thermal ablation (OR 2.60, 95% CI [2.51, 2.69]). Cardiologists were also more likely to use non-thermal ablation (OR 1.62, 95% CI [1.59, 1.66]). Similarly, the uptake of new non-thermal technology (i.e., chemical adhesives) was greatest among APPs (OR 3.57, 95% CI [3.43, 3.70]) and cardiologists (OR 1.86, 95%,CI [1.81, 1.91]). Vascular surgeons were less likely to use non-thermal modalities (OR 0.95, 95% CI [0.92, 0.97]), including new non-thermal technology in the first year of availability (OR 0.93, 95% CI [0.90, 0.95]). CONCLUSIONS:Venous procedures have grown rapidly over the past decade, particularly as endovenous ablations have been performed by a wider practitioner base including APPs and non-interventionalists. Practice patterns differ by provider type, with APPs and cardiologists skewing more toward non-thermal modalities, including more rapid uptake of new non-thermal technology. Provider-specific biases for specific ablation modalities may reflect differences in training, skill set, the need for capital equipment, clinical privileges, or reimbursement. These data may help to inform training paradigms, allocation of resources, and evaluation of appropriateness in a real-world setting.
PMID: 38518987
ISSN: 2213-3348
CID: 5640942

Generative artificial intelligence chatbots may provide appropriate informational responses to common vascular surgery questions by patients

Chervonski, Ethan; Harish, Keerthi B; Rockman, Caron B; Sadek, Mikel; Teter, Katherine A; Jacobowitz, Glenn R; Berland, Todd L; Lohr, Joann; Moore, Colleen; Maldonado, Thomas S
OBJECTIVES/OBJECTIVE:Generative artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a promising tool to engage with patients. The objective of this study was to assess the quality of AI responses to common patient questions regarding vascular surgery disease processes. METHODS:OpenAI's ChatGPT-3.5 and Google Bard were queried with 24 mock patient questions spanning seven vascular surgery disease domains. Six experienced vascular surgery faculty at a tertiary academic center independently graded AI responses on their accuracy (rated 1-4 from completely inaccurate to completely accurate), completeness (rated 1-4 from totally incomplete to totally complete), and appropriateness (binary). Responses were also evaluated with three readability scales. RESULTS:> .05 for all analyses). CONCLUSIONS:AI offers a novel means of educating patients that avoids the inundation of information from "Dr Google" and the time barriers of physician-patient encounters. ChatGPT provides largely valid, though imperfect, responses to myriad patient questions at the expense of readability. While Bard responses are more readable and concise, their quality is poorer. Further research is warranted to better understand failure points for large language models in vascular surgery patient education.
PMID: 38500300
ISSN: 1708-539x
CID: 5640272

Duplex ultrasound and cross-sectional imaging in carotid artery occlusion diagnosis

Speranza, Giancarlo; Harish, Keerthi; Rockman, Caron; Sadek, Mikel; Jacobowitz, Glenn; Garg, Karan; Chang, Heepeel; Teter, Katherine; Maldonado, Thomas S
OBJECTIVE:Investigations into imaging modalities in the diagnosis of extracranial carotid artery occlusion (CAO) have raised questions about the inter-modality comparability of duplex ultrasound (DUS) and cross-sectional imaging (CSI). This study examines the relationship between DUS and CSI diagnoses of extracranial CAO. METHODS:This single-institution retrospective analysis studied patients with CAO diagnosed by DUS from 2010 to 2021. Patients were identified in our office-based accredited vascular laboratory database. Imaging and clinical data was obtained via our institutional electronic medical record. Primary outcome was discrepancy between DUS and CSI modalities. Secondary outcomes included incidence of stroke and intervention subsequent to CAO diagnosis. RESULTS:Of our 140-patient cohort, 95 patients (67.9%) had DUS follow-up (mean, 42.7 ± 31.3 months). At index duplex, 68.0% of individuals (n = 51) were asymptomatic. Seventy-five patients (53.6%) had CSI of the carotids after DUS CAO diagnosis; 18 (24%) underwent magnetic resonance imaging and 57 (76%) underwent computed tomography. Indications for CSI included follow-up of DUS findings of carotid stenosis/occlusion (44%), stroke/transient ischemic attack (16%), other symptoms (12%), preoperative evaluation (2.7%), unrelated pathology follow-up (9.3%), and outside institution imaging with unavailable indications (16%). When comparing patients with CSI and those without, there were no differences with regard to symptoms at diagnosis, prior neck interventions, or hypertension. There was a significant difference between cross-sectionally imaged and non-imaged patients in anti-hypertensive medications (72% vs 53.8%; P = .04). Despite initial DUS diagnoses of carotid occlusion, 10 patients (13.3%) ultimately had CSI indicating patent carotids. Four of these 10 patients had stenoses of ∼99% (with 1 string sign), four of 70% to 99%, one of 50% to 69%, and one of less than 50% on CSI. The majority of patients (70%) had CSI within 1 month of the index ultrasound. There were no significant relationships between imaging discrepancies and body mass index, heart failure, upper body edema, carotid artery calcification, and neck hardware. Eight individuals (10.7%) underwent ipsilateral revascularization; 62.5% (n = 5) were carotid endarterectomy procedures, and the remaining three procedures were a transcervical carotid revascularization, subclavian to internal carotid artery bypass, and transfemoral carotid artery stenting. Eight patients (10.7%) underwent contralateral revascularization, with the same distribution of procedures as those ipsilateral to occlusions. Two of the 10 patients with discrepancies underwent carotid endarterectomy, and one underwent carotid stenting. CONCLUSIONS:In our experience, duplex diagnosis of CAO is associated with a greater than 10% discordance when compared with CSI. These patients may benefit from closer surveillance as well as confirmatory computed tomography or magnetic resonance angiography. Further work is needed to determine the optimal diagnostic modality for CAO.
PMID: 37992947
ISSN: 1097-6809
CID: 5608712

The Effect of Ipsilateral Carotid Revascularization on Contralateral Carotid Duplex Parameters in Patients with Bilateral Carotid Stenosis

Ratner, Molly; Rockman, Caron; Chandra, Pratik; Cayne, Neal; Jacobowitz, Glenn; Lamparello, Patrick J; Maldonado, Thomas; Sadek, Mikel; Berland, Todd; Garg, Karan
BACKGROUND:Duplex-derived velocity measurements are often used to determine the need for carotid revascularization. There is evidence that severe ipsilateral carotid stenosis can cause artificially elevated velocities in the contralateral carotid artery, which may decrease following ipsilateral revascularization. The objective of this study was to determine if contralateral carotid artery duplex velocities decrease following ipsilateral carotid endarterectomy or stenting procedures. METHODS:This is a single institutional retrospective study of prospectively collected data on all patients who underwent carotid revascularization from 2013 to 2021. Patients with immediate preoperative and first postoperative Duplex scan within 4 months of carotid revascularization at our vascular laboratory were included for analysis. Patients with contralateral occlusion were excluded. Duplex criteria used to define moderate (50-69%) and severe (>70%) stenosis were systolic velocity ≥125 cm/sec and ≥230 cm/sec, respectively. RESULTS:Between 2013 and 2021, 129 patients with bilateral carotid stenosis underwent either carotid endarterectomy (98) or a stenting procedure (31). The majority of patients (90%) underwent intervention for severe stenosis. Preoperatively, the contralateral artery was categorized as severe in 30.4% patients. After ipsilateral carotid revascularization, 86 patients (67.2%) saw a decrease in the contralateral artery peak systolic velocity (PSV), while the remaining remained stable or increased. Fifty-four patients had a change in designated stenosis severity in the contralateral artery. Between the carotid endarterectomy and stenting cohorts, there was no significant difference in the proportion of patients whose contralateral velocity decreased (69.4% vs. 61.3%, P = 0.402). Patients with coronary artery disease and diabetes were significantly less likely to experience a decrease in the contralateral artery PSV after ipsilateral intervention (P = 0.018 and P = 0.033). CONCLUSIONS:In patients with bilateral carotid disease, ipsilateral revascularization can change the contralateral artery velocity and perceived disease severity. Most patients were noted to have a decrease in the contralateral artery PSV, although almost one-third either stayed stable or increased. On multivariable analysis, patients with coronary artery disease and diabetes were less likely to see a decrease in the contralateral artery PSV after intervention. Patients who are at risk for artificial elevation of the contralateral artery may warrant a re-evaluation of the contralateral artery after ipsilateral intervention. These patients are potentially better assessed with axial imaging, although further research is needed.
PMID: 37918660
ISSN: 1615-5947
CID: 5620402

Natural history of internal carotid artery stenosis progression

Harish, Keerthi B; Speranza, Giancarlo; Rockman, Caron B; Sadek, Mikel; Jacobowitz, Glenn R; Garg, Karan; Teter, Katherine A; Maldonado, Thomas S
OBJECTIVE:The aim of this study was to investigate the natural history of internal carotid artery (ICA) stenosis progression. METHODS:This single-institution retrospective cohort study analyzed patients diagnosed with ICA stenosis of 50% or greater on duplex ultrasound from 2015 to 2022. Subjects were drawn from our institutional Intersocietal Accreditation Commission-accredited noninterventional vascular laboratory database. Primary outcomes were incidences of disease progression, and stroke or revascularization after index study. Progression was defined as an increase in stenosis classification category. Imaging, demographic, and clinical data was obtained from our institutional electronic medical record via a database mining query. Cases were analyzed at the patient and artery levels, with severity corresponding to the greatest degree of ICA stenosis on index and follow-up studies. RESULTS:Of 577 arteries in 467 patients, mean cohort age was 73.5 ± 8.9 years at the time of the index study, and 45.0% (n = 210) were female. Patients were followed with duplex ultrasound for a mean of 42.2 ± 22.7 months. Of 577 arteries, 65.5% (n = 378) at the index imaging study had moderate (50%-69%) stenosis, 23.7% (n = 137) had severe (70%-99%) stenosis, and 10.7% (n = 62) were occluded. These three groups had significant differences in age, hypertension, hyperlipidemia prevalence, and proportion on best medical therapy. Of the 467-patient cohort, 56.5% (n = 264) were on best medical therapy, defined as smoking cessation, treatment with an antiplatelet agent, statin, and antihypertensive and glycemic agents as indicated. Mean time to progression for affected arteries was 28.0 ± 20.5 months. Of those arteries with nonocclusive disease at diagnosis, 21.3% (n = 123) progressed in their level of stenosis. Older age, diabetes, and a history of vasculitis were associated with stenosis progression, whereas antiplatelet agent use trended towards decreased progression rates. Of the 467 patients, 5.6% (n = 26) developed symptoms; of those, 38.5% (n = 10) had ischemic strokes, 26.9% (n = 7) had hemispheric transient ischemic attacks, 11.5% (n = 3) had amaurosis fugax, and 23.1% (n = 6) had other symptoms. A history of head and neck cancer was positively associated with symptom development. Of 577 affected arteries, 16.6% (n = 96) underwent intervention; 81% (n = 78) of interventions were for asymptomatic disease and 19% (n = 18) were for symptomatic disease. No patient-level factors were associated with risk of intervention. CONCLUSIONS:A significant number of carotid stenosis patients experience progression of disease. Physicians should consider long-term surveillance on all patients with carotid disease, with increased attention paid to those with risk factors for progression, particularly those with diabetes and a history of vasculitis.
PMID: 37925038
ISSN: 1097-6809
CID: 5607162

Management of endothermal heat-induced thrombosis

Tan, Matthew; Sadek, Mikel; Kabnick, Lowell; Parsi, Kurosh; Davies, Alun H; ,
PMID: 38047878
ISSN: 1758-1125
CID: 5595222

Effect of junctional reflux on the venous clinical severity score in patients with insufficiency of the great saphenous vein (JURY study)

Vemuri, Chandu; Gibson, Kathleen D; Pappas, Peter J; Sadek, Mikel; Ting, Windsor; Obi, Andrea T; Mouawad, Nicolas J; Etkin, Yana; Gasparis, Antonios P; McDonald, Tara; Sahoo, Shalini; Sorkin, John D; Lal, Brajesh K
OBJECTIVE:Effective treatment options are available for chronic venous insufficiency associated with superficial venous reflux. Although many patients with C2 and C3 disease based on the CEAP (Clinical-Etiological-Anatomical-Pathophysiological) classification have combined great saphenous vein (GSV) and saphenofemoral junction (SFJ) reflux, some may not have concomitant SFJ reflux. Several payors have determined that symptom severity in patients without SFJ reflux does not warrant treatment. In patients planned for venous ablation, we tested whether Venous Clinical Severity Scores (VCSS) are equivalent in those with GSV reflux alone compared with those with both GSV and SFJ reflux. METHODS:This cross-sectional study was conducted at 10 centers. Inclusion criteria were: candidate for endovenous ablation as determined by treating physician; 18 to 80 years of age; GSV reflux with or without SFJ reflux on ultrasound; and C2 or C3 disease. Exclusion criteria were prior deep vein thrombosis; prior vein ablation on the index limb; ilio-caval obstruction; and renal, hepatic, or heart failure requiring prior hospitalization. An a priori sample size was calculated. We used multiple linear regression (adjusted for patient characteristics) to compare differences in VCSS scores of the two groups at baseline, and to test whether scores were equivalent using a priori equivalence boundaries of +1 and -1. In secondary analyses, we tested differences in VCSS scores in patients with C2 and C3 disease separately. RESULTS:. The VCSS scores in patients with and without SFJ reflux were found to be equivalent; SFJ reflux was not a significant predictor of VCSS score; and mean VCSS scores did not differ significantly (6.4 vs 6.6, respectively, P = .40). In secondary subset analyses, VCSS scores were equivalent between C2 patients with and without SFJ reflux, and VCSS scores of C3 patients with SFJ reflux were lower than those without SFJ reflux. CONCLUSIONS:Symptom severity is equivalent in patients with GSV reflux with or without SFJ reflux. The absence of SFJ reflux alone should not determine the treatment paradigm in patients with symptomatic chronic venous insufficiency. Patients with GSV reflux who meet clinical criteria for treatment should have equivalent treatment regardless of whether or not they have SFJ reflux.
PMID: 37956904
ISSN: 2213-3348
CID: 5611032