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Open access

Occult lipomatosis of the nerve as part of macrodystrophia lipomatosa: illustrative case

Tomas Marek, Kimberly K. Amrami, and Robert J. Spinner

BACKGROUND

Macrodystrophia lipomatosa (MDL) is characterized by progressive overgrowth affecting soft tissues and bony structures and is part of lipomatous overgrowth syndromes. MDL has been associated with lipomatosis of the nerve (LN), an adipose lesion of nerve that has a pathognomonic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) appearance as well as a mutation in the PIK3CA gene. The authors present a case of occult LN in the setting of MDL.

OBSERVATIONS

A 2-year-old boy with progressive soft tissue overgrowth of his proximal right lower extremity was initially diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). At our institution, NF1 as well as other overgrowth syndromes including PTEN hamartoma tumor syndrome were excluded. He was diagnosed as having so-called MDL. Upon reinterpretation of the patient’s MRI studies, short-segment LN involving the proximal sciatic nerve and part of lumbosacral plexus was identified. He underwent 2 debulking/liposuction procedures for soft tissue overgrowth. Genetic testing of tissue revealed a mutation in PIK3CA.

LESSONS

Thorough clinical examination (for signs of overgrowth) as well as an MRI study of the entire neural pathway is a critical part of the diagnostic workup to evaluate for LN. The authors believe that an increasing association of LN, even when occult, will emerge that will explain many cases with marked nerve-territory overgrowth.

Open access

Delayed motor weakness following peripheral nerve schwannoma resection: illustrative cases

Rohin Singh and Robert J. Spinner

BACKGROUND

Delayed facial palsy (DFP) after vestibular schwannoma resection is a well-documented, yet poorly understood condition. The exact pathophysiological mechanisms of DFP are unknown, although diminished intraoperative nerve response has been shown to be a prognostic factor. To date, no such condition has been described in regard to peripheral nerve schwannomas.

OBSERVATIONS

Here the authors present the first reported cases of delayed motor weakness (DMW) after peripheral schwannoma resection of the ulnar nerve at the elbow and peroneal nerve in the popliteal fossa. Both patients presented with a mass lesion and radiating paresthesias and had normal motor function preoperatively. Immediately after surgical resection, the patients had full strength. Within 24 hours, both patients exhibited marked weakness that gradually resolved over the course of several weeks.

LESSONS

DMW after peripheral schwannoma resection is a rare condition likely akin to delayed facial nerve palsy after VS resection. The mechanism of this phenomenon remains unknown, although symptoms appear to self-resolve with time. A better understanding of the processes driving this condition may allow for therapies that can expedite and improve long-term outcomes.

Open access

Selective denervation for cervical dystonia

Megan M. J. Bauman, Nikita Lakomkin, and Robert J. Spinner

Cervical dystonia (spasmodic torticollis) is a condition that involves sustained, involuntary contraction of neck and shoulder muscles, leading to abnormal movements and head posture. The authors present the case of a 41-year-old man with severe right rotational torticollis for 1.5 years due to predominant right cervical paraspinal and left sternocleidomastoid muscle hyperactivity. Following failed medical management, the patient elected to undergo surgical treatment for his torticollis. In their video, the authors discuss the steps of selective denervation using a modified Bertrand procedure, highlighting the associated anatomy and surgical planes. At the 1.5-year follow-up, the patient had no pain and his head position remained straight.

The video can be found here: https://stream.cadmore.media/r10.3171/2022.9.FOCVID2291

Open access

Angiosarcoma arising in a schwannoma of the peripheral nervous system: illustrative case

Nikita Lakomkin, Jorge Torres-Mora, Eric J. Dozois, and Robert J. Spinner

BACKGROUND

Schwannomas of the peripheral nerves are benign tumors that can very rarely undergo malignant transformation. These lesions are particularly challenging to diagnose via noninvasive techniques but can have significant implications for treatment.

OBSERVATIONS

This is a case of a 70-year-old female with a prior history of a right sciatic notch tumor that was diagnosed as a conventional schwannoma via histology from an initial biopsy and subsequent surgical debulking. Unfortunately, she experienced significant worsening of her motor deficit, whereby her postoperative foot weakness progressed to complete foot drop in less than 2 years. In addition, she demonstrated significant radiological progression, with more than 1 to 2 cm of growth in each dimension at her subsequent evaluation, along with intractable right leg pain. An additional operation was performed to completely remove the 7 × 8 cm tumor, and histology demonstrated angiosarcoma within a schwannoma. There was no evidence of recurrence at 15 months, and the patient had significant improvement in her pain.

LESSONS

Rapidly worsening function and radiological progression are not typically seen with conventional benign nerve sheath tumors and should prompt consideration of other lesions. Angiosarcoma within schwannoma is a rare pathology and optimal therapies for these tumors in terms of surgical timing and adjuvant therapy are still unknown.

Open access

The value of high-resolution imaging in an occult peroneal intraneural ganglion cyst: illustrative case

Karina A. Lenartowicz, Kimberly K. Amrami, Jeffrey A. Strakowski, B. Matthew Howe, and Robert J. Spinner

BACKGROUND

Foot drop is a common complaint with a broad differential diagnosis making imaging a key part of the diagnostic workup. The authors present a patient with an occult peroneal intraneural ganglion cyst who underwent imaging with high-frequency ultrasound (US) and high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to highlight the role of such techniques in cases of peroneal neuropathy.

OBSERVATIONS

Intraneural ganglion cysts are emerging as a common cause of common peroneal neuropathy. Imaging with US and MRI is a valuable tool used to illustrate the pertinent anatomy and identify the articular branch joint connection and cyst as part of the surgical planning and definitive management.

LESSONS

Intraneural ganglion cysts can be small or nearly invisible and failure to appreciate the intraneural cyst can lead to symptom or cyst persistence or recurrence. High-resolution modalities can be useful in the diagnosis and surgical planning of difficult cases.

Free access

A mentorship model for neurosurgical training: the Mayo Clinic experience

Rohin Singh, Nicole M. De La Peña, Paola Suarez-Meade, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Oluwaseun O. Akinduro, Kaisorn L. Chaichana, Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, Bernard R. Bendok, Mohamad Bydon, Fredric B. Meyer, Robert J. Spinner, and David J. Daniels

Neurosurgical education is a continually developing field with an aim of training competent and compassionate surgeons who can care for the needs of their patients. The Mayo Clinic utilizes a unique mentorship model for neurosurgical training. In this paper, the authors detail the historical roots as well as the logistical and experiential characteristics of this teaching model.

This model was first established in the late 1890s by the Mayo brothers and then adopted by the Mayo Clinic Department of Neurological Surgery at its inception in 1919. It has since been implemented enterprise-wide at the Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona residency programs. The mentorship model is focused on honing resident skills through individualized attention and guidance from an attending physician. Each resident is closely mentored by a consultant during a 2- or 3-month rotation, which allows for exposure to more complex cases early in their training.

In this model, residents take ownership of their patients’ care, following them longitudinally during their hospital course with guided oversight from their mentors. During the chief year, residents have their own clinic, operating room (OR) schedule, and OR team and service nurse. In this model, chief residents conduct themselves more in the manner of an attending physician than a trainee but continue to have oversight from staff to provide a “safety net.” The longitudinal care of patients provided by the residents under the mentorship model is not only beneficial for the trainee and the hospital, but also has a positive impact on patient satisfaction and safety. The Mayo Clinic Mentorship Model is one of many educational models that has demonstrated itself to be an excellent approach for resident education.

Free access

Positive impact of the pandemic: the effect of post–COVID-19 virtual visit implementation on departmental efficiency and patient satisfaction in a quaternary care center

Zach Pennington, Giorgos D. Michalopoulos, Aaron J. Biedermann, Jeffrey R. Ziegler, Sherri L. Durst, Robert J. Spinner, Fredric B. Meyer, David J. Daniels, and Mohamad Bydon

OBJECTIVE

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has significantly changed clinical practice across US healthcare. Increased adoption of telemedicine has emerged as an alternative to in-person contact for patient-physician interactions. The aim of this study was to analyze the impact of telemedicine on workflow and care delivery from January 2019 to December 2021 in a neurosurgical department at a quaternary care center.

METHODS

Prospectively captured data on clinic appointment utilization, duration, and outcomes were queried. Visits were divided into in-person visits and telemedicine appointments, categorized as follow-up visits of previously surgically treated patients, internal consultations, new patient visits, and early postoperative returns after surgery. Appointment volume was compared pre- and postpandemic using March 2020 as the pandemic onset. Clinical efficiency was measured by time to appointment, rate of on-time appointments, proportion of appointments resulting in surgical intervention (surgical yield), and patient-reported satisfaction, the latter measured as the proportion of patients indicating “high likelihood to recommend practice.”

RESULTS

A total of 54,562 visits occurred, most commonly for follow-up for previously operated patients (51.8%), internal new patient referrals (24.5%), and external new patient referrals (19.8%). Total visit volume was stable pre- to postpandemic (1521.3 vs 1512, p = 0.917). However, in-person visits significantly decreased (1517/month vs 1220/month, p < 0.001), with a nadir in April 2020, while telemedicine appointment utilization increased significantly (0.3% vs 19.1% of all visits). Telemedicine utilization remained stable throughout the 1st calendar year following the pandemic. Telemedicine appointments were associated with shorter time to appointment than in-person visits both before and after the pandemic onset (0–5 days from appointment request: 60% vs 33% vs 29.8%, p < 0.001). Patients had on-time appointments in 87% of telemedicine encounters. Notably, telemedicine appointments resulted in surgery in 31.8% of internal consultations or new patient visits, a significantly lower rate than that for in-person visits (51.8%). After the widespread integration of telemedicine, patient satisfaction for all visits was higher than before the pandemic onset (85.9% vs 88.5%, p = 0.027).

CONCLUSIONS

Telemedicine use significantly increased following the pandemic onset, compensating for observed decreases in face-to-face visits. Utilization rates have remained stable, suggesting effective integration, and delays between referrals and appointments were lower than for in-person visits. Importantly, telemedicine integration was not associated with a decrease in overall patient satisfaction, although telemedicine appointments had a lower surgical yield. These data suggest that telemedicine smoothened the impact of the pandemic on clinical workflow and helped to maintain continuity and quality of outpatient care.

Free access

The spectrum of brachial plexopathy from perineural spread of breast cancer

Megan M. Jack, Brandon W. Smith, Stepan Capek, Tomas Marek, Jodi M. Carter, Stephen M. Broski, Kimberly K. Amrami, and Robert J. Spinner

OBJECTIVE

Perineural spread of breast cancer to the brachial plexus can lead to pain, sensory alterations, and upper-extremity weakness. Although rare, perineural spread is an often-misdiagnosed long-term complication following breast cancer diagnosis. The objective of this study was to critically review the clinical, radiological, and pathological findings of biopsy-proven perineural spread of breast cancer to the brachial plexus.

METHODS

This is a retrospective study from a single institution in which a total of 19 patients with brachial plexus involvement from perineural spread of breast cancer who underwent fascicular biopsy between 1999 and 2021 were identified. Clinical, radiographic, and pathological data were retrospectively collected. Descriptive statistics were calculated for the cohort.

RESULTS

The mean age of patients at the time of diagnosis of breast cancer perineural spread was 60.6 ± 11.5 years. The diagnosis of brachial plexopathy due to perineural spread was on average 12 years after the primary diagnosis of breast cancer. There was also a delay in diagnosis due to the rarity of this disease, with a mean time from initial symptom onset to diagnosis of perineural spread of 25 ± 30 months. All patients at the time of presentation had upper-extremity weakness and pain. Nearly all patients demonstrated T2 signal change and nodular so-called sugar-coating contrast enhancement on brachial plexus MRI. Similarly, all patients who underwent PET/MRI or PET/CT had increased FDG uptake in the involved brachial plexus. Breast cancer perineural spread has an overall poor prognosis, with 16 of 19 patients dying within 5.9 ± 3.0 years after diagnosis of perineural spread.

CONCLUSIONS

Perineural spread should be considered in patients with a history of breast cancer, even 10 years after primary diagnosis, especially in patients who present with arm pain, weakness, and/or sensory changes. Further diagnostic workup with electrodiagnostic studies; brachial plexus MRI, PET/CT, or PET/MRI; and possibly nerve biopsy is warranted to ensure accurate diagnosis.

Free access

Letter to the Editor. C5 nerve sheath tumors and new postoperative weakness

Lei Zhao, Liwei Peng, Peng Wang, and Weixin Li

Free access

Building and implementing an institutional registry for a data-driven national neurosurgical practice: experience from a multisite medical center

Mohamad Bydon, Anshit Goyal, Aaron Biedermann, Allie J. Canoy Illies, Travis Paul, Abdul Karim Ghaith, Bernard Bendok, Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, Robert J. Spinner, and Fredric B. Meyer

In an era when healthcare “value” remains a much-emphasized concept, measuring and reporting the quality of neurosurgical care and costs remains a challenge for large multisite health systems. Ensuring cohesion in outcomes across multiple sites is important to the development of a holistic competitive marketing strategy that seeks to promote “brand” performance characterized by a superior quality of patient care. This requires mechanisms for data collection and development of a single uniform outcomes measurement system site wide. Operationalizing a true multidisciplinary effort in this space requires intersection of a vast array of information technology and administrative resources along with the neurosurgeons who provide subject-matter expertise relevant to patient care. To measure neurosurgical quality and safety as well as improve payor contract negotiations, a practice analytics dashboard was created to allow summary visualization of operational indicators such as case volumes, quality outcomes, and relative value units and financial indicators such as total hospital costs and charges in order to provide a comprehensive overview of the “value” of surgical care. The current version of the dashboard summarizes these metrics by site, surgeon, and procedure for nearly 30,000 neurosurgical procedures that have been logged into the Mayo Clinic Enterprise Neurosurgery Registry since transition to the Epic electronic health record (EHR) system. In this article, the authors sought to review their experience in launching this EHR-linked data-driven neurosurgical practice initiative across a large, national multisite academic medical center.