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Jürgen Beck, Ulrich Hubbe, Jan-Helge Klingler, Roland Roelz, Luisa Mona Kraus, Florian Volz, Niklas Lützen, Horst Urbach, Kristin Kieselbach, and Christian Fung

OBJECTIVE

Spinal CSF leaks cause spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH). Surgical closure of spinal CSF leaks is the treatment of choice for persisting leaks. Surgical approaches vary, and there are no studies in which minimally invasive techniques were used. In this study, the authors aimed to detail the safety and feasibility of minimally invasive microsurgical sealing of spinal CSF leaks using nonexpandable tubular retractors.

METHODS

Consecutive patients with SIH and a confirmed spinal CSF leak treated at a single institution between April 2019 and December 2020 were included in the study. Surgery was performed via a dorsal 2.5-cm skin incision using nonexpandable tubular retractors and a tailored interlaminar fenestration and, if needed, a transdural approach. The primary outcome was successful sealing of the dura, and the secondary outcome was the occurrence of complications.

RESULTS

Fifty-eight patients, 65.5% of whom were female (median age 46 years [IQR 36–55 years]), with 38 ventral leaks, 17 lateral leaks, and 2 CSF venous fistulas were included. In 56 (96.6%) patients, the leak could be closed, and in 2 (3.4%) patients the leak was missed because of misinterpretation of the imaging studies. One of these patients underwent successful reoperation, and the other patient decided to undergo surgery at another institution. Two other patients had to undergo reoperation because of insufficient closure and a persisting leak. The rate of permanent neurological deficit was 1.7%, the revision rate for a persisting or recurring leak was 3.4%, and the overall revision rate was 10.3%. The rate of successful sealing during the primary closure attempt was 96.6% and 3.4% patients needed a secondary attempt. Clinical short-term outcome at discharge was unchanged in 14 patients and improved in 25 patients, and 19 patients had signs of rebound intracranial hypertension.

CONCLUSIONS

Minimally invasive surgery with tubular retractors and a tailored interlaminar fenestration and, if needed, a transdural approach is safe and effective for the treatment of spinal CSF leaks. The authors suggest performing a minimally invasive closure of spinal CSF leaks in specialized centers.

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*Shahab Aldin Sattari, Wuyang Yang, Risheng Xu, James Feghali, Rafael J. Tamargo, and Judy Huang

OBJECTIVE

Pediatric deep brain arteriovenous malformations (bAVMs) represent a unique management challenge given their higher cumulative risk of hemorrhage as well as a higher risk of treatment. Better understanding of hemorrhage risk in this patient population will lead to a better decision-making process for patient management.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed their institutional bAVM database from 1990 to 2019 and included patients younger than 21 years who had deep-seated bAVMs. They present the annual hemorrhage risk, during the natural history and after treatment, and functional outcomes.

RESULTS

Thirty-one pediatric patients were included in this study (13 males and 18 females) with a mean age of 11.8 (SD 4.4) years. The most frequent presenting symptoms were headache (54.8%), weakness (38.7%), and seizure (22.6%). The mean follow-up duration was 13.14 (SD 12.5) years, during which 7 (22.6%) AVMs were obliterated, 10 (32.3%) individuals experienced hemorrhage, and the modified Rankin Scale score worsened in 8 (25.8%) patients. The annual natural history risk of hemorrhage was 3.24% per patient, and the overall annual hemorrhage risk after treatment was 1.98% per patient. In particular, the risk was reduced to 0.64% per patient in the stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) group. Non-White race showed a trend of higher rupture at presentation (OR 5 [95% CI 0.84–41.68], p = 0.09). Female sex was associated with higher odds (OR 13.076 [95% CI 1.424–333.591], p = 0.048) and SRS was associated with lower odds (OR 0.122 [95% CI 0.011–0.862], p = 0.049) of follow-up hemorrhage.

CONCLUSIONS

Given the substantial cumulative risk of lifelong hemorrhagic stroke in pediatric patients, timely definitive treatment is warranted. SRS may be beneficial when the risk-benefit profile is deemed acceptable.

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William J. Ares, Brian T. Jankowitz, Peter Kan, Alejandro M. Spiotta, Peter Nakaji, Jason D. Wilson, Kyle M. Fargen, Edwin Ramos, Jody Leonardo, and Ramesh Grandhi

OBJECTIVE

Burnout and work-life balance have been noted to be problems for residents across all fields of medicine, including neurosurgery. No studies to date have evaluated how these factors may contribute to issues outside of the hospital, specifically residents’ home lives. This study aimed to evaluate the interplay between home life and work life of neurosurgical residents, specifically from the point of view of residents’ significant others.

METHODS

Online surveys were distributed to the significant others of neurosurgical residents at 12 US neurosurgery residencies. Residents’ partners were asked about relationship dynamics, their views on neurosurgery residency (work-life balance and burnout), and their views of neurosurgery as a career.

RESULTS

The majority of residents’ significant others (84%) reported being satisfied with their relationship. Significant others who reported dissatisfaction with their relationship were more likely to report frustration with work-life balance and more likely to report their resident partner as having higher levels of burnout.

CONCLUSIONS

From the perspective of neurosurgery residents’ significant others, higher perceived levels of burnout and lower satisfaction with work-life balance are correlated with lower levels of relationship satisfaction. These findings speak to the complex interplay of work life and home life and can be used to inform future interventions into improving the quality of life for both the resident and the significant other.

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MirHojjat Khorasanizadeh, Max Shutran, Clemens M. Schirmer, Mohamed M. Salem, Andrew J. Ringer, Ramesh Grandhi, Alim P. Mitha, Michael R. Levitt, Brian T. Jankowitz, Philipp Taussky, Ajith J. Thomas, Justin M. Moore, and Christopher S. Ogilvy

OBJECTIVE

Flow diverters have revolutionized the endovascular treatment of intracranial aneurysms. Here, the authors present the first large-scale North American multicenter experience using the Flow Redirection Endoluminal Device (FRED) in the treatment of cerebral aneurysms.

METHODS

Consecutive cerebral aneurysms treated with FRED at 7 North American centers between June 2020 and November 2021 were included. Data collected included patient demographic characteristics, aneurysm characteristics, periprocedural and long-term complications, modified Rankin Scale (mRS) scores, and radiological follow-up.

RESULTS

In total, 133 aneurysms in 116 patients were treated with 123 FRED deployment procedures and included in this study. One hundred twenty-six aneurysms (94.7%) were unruptured, 117 (88.0%) saccular, and 123 (92.5%) located in anterior circulation. The mean (range) aneurysm maximal width and neck width sizes were 7.2 (1.5–42.5) mm and 4.1 (1.0–15.1) mm, respectively. Successful FRED deployment was achieved in 122 procedures (99.2%). Adjunctive coiling was used in 4 procedures (3.3%). Radiological follow-up was available for 101 aneurysms at a median duration of 7.0 months. At last follow-up, complete occlusion was observed in 55.4% of patients, residual neck in 8.9%, and filling aneurysm in 35.6%; among cases with radiological follow-up duration > 10 months, these values were 21/43 (48.8%), 3/43 (7.0%), and 19/43 (44.2%), respectively. On multivariate regression analysis, age (OR 0.93, p = 0.001) and aneurysm neck size (OR 0.83, p = 0.048) were negatively correlated with odds of complete occlusion at latest follow-up. The retreatment rate was 6/124 (4.8%). The overall complication rate was 31/116 (26.7%). Parent vessel occlusion, covered branch occlusion, and in-stent stenosis were detected in 9/99 (9.1%), 6/63 (9.5%), and 15/99 (15.2%) cases, respectively. The FRED-related, symptomatic, thromboembolic, and hemorrhagic complication rates were 22.4%, 12.9%, 6.9%, and 0.9% respectively. The morbidity rate was 10/116 patients (8.6%). There was 1 death due to massive periprocedural internal carotid artery stroke, and 3.6% of the patients had an mRS score > 2 at the last follow-up (vs 0.9% at baseline).

CONCLUSIONS

As the first large-scale North American multicenter FRED experience, this study confirmed the ease of successful FRED deployment but suggested lower efficacy and a higher rate of complications than reported by previous European and South American studies on FRED and other flow-diverting devices. The authors recommend judicious use of this device until future studies can better elucidate the long-term outcomes of FRED treatment.

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Andrei Brînzeu and Marc Sindou

At the end of the 1950s, at the direction of Pierre Wertheimer, the first French professor of neurosurgery, the treatment of neurological and neurosurgical diseases for Lyon’s 2 million people was concentrated in a single center functioning as not only a hospital but also a campus for neuroscience. The ideas behind the structure revolve around concepts such as spatial unity, comprehensive specialized fields, a critical mass of patients, a structured training program, and essential cross-communication between areas in the same field. Through several generations of doctors, researchers, and professors, the Pierre Wertheimer Neurological and Neurosurgical Hospital in Lyon (NHL) has had an important impact on clinical practice, fundamental neuroscientific research, and specialist training. Under Wertheimer’s stewardship, functional neurosurgery became one of the fields of excellence at the NHL with contributions in pain surgery and physiology but also epilepsy surgery and surgery for spasticity. Typically, these contributions were the result of the collaboration of separate teams, ultimately laying the groundwork for a neuroscientific doctoral school. The large mass of patients treated at the NHL provided opportunities for other, more isolated insights, such as the classification of pineal tumors and contributions to interventional neuroradiology. The present work endeavors to illustrate the contributions of the NHL to neuroscience and discuss the background allowing for their occurrence.

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Mark C. Dougherty, Seiji B. Shibata, J. Jason Clark, Franklin J. Canady, Charles W. Yates, and Marlan R. Hansen

OBJECTIVE

Vestibular schwannomas (VSs) are benign nerve sheath tumors that result from mutation in the tumor suppressor gene NF2, with functional loss of the protein merlin. The authors have previously shown that c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) is constitutively active in human VS cells and plays a central role in their survival by suppressing accumulation of mitochondrial superoxides, implicating JNK inhibitors as a potential systemic treatment for VS. Thus, the authors hypothesized that the adenosine 5ʹ-triphosphate–competitive JNK inhibitor AS602801 would demonstrate antitumor activity in multiple VS models.

METHODS

Treatment with AS602801 was tested in primary human VS cultures, human VS xenografts, and a genetic mouse model of schwannoma (Postn-Cre;Nf2flox/flox). Primary human VS cell cultures were established from freshly obtained surgical tumor specimens; treatment group media was enriched with AS602801. VS xenograft tumors were established in male athymic nude mice from freshly collected human tumor. Four weeks postimplantation, a pretreatment MRI scan was obtained, followed by 65 days of AS602801 (n = 18) or vehicle control (n = 19) treatment. Posttreatment MRI scans were used to measure final tumor volume. Tumors were then harvested. Finally, Postn-Cre;Nf2flox/flox mice were treated with AS602801 (n = 10) or a vehicle (n = 13) for 65 days. Posttreatment auditory brainstem responses were obtained. Dorsal root ganglia from Postn-Cre;Nf2flox/flox mice were then harvested. In all models, schwannoma identity was confirmed with anti-S100 staining, cell proliferation was measured with the EdU assay, and cell death was measured with terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase–mediated dUTP nick-end labeling staining. All protocols were approved by the local institutional review board and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees.

RESULTS

Treatment with AS602801 decreased cell proliferation and increased apoptosis in primary human VS cultures. The systemic administration of AS602801 in mice with human VS xenografts reduced tumor volume and cell proliferation. Last, the AS602801-treated Postn-Cre;Nf2flox/flox mice demonstrated decreased cell proliferation in glial cells in the dorsal root ganglia. However, AS602801 did not significantly delay hearing loss in Postn-Cre;Nf2flox/flox mice up to 3 months posttreatment.

CONCLUSIONS

The data suggest that JNK inhibition with AS602801 suppresses growth of sporadic and neurofibromatosis type 2–associated VSs. As such, AS602801 is a potential systemic therapy for VS and warrants further investigation.

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Frederic A. Vallejo, Benjamin Schachner, Nathan VanderVeer-Harris, Adrian A. Torres, John Weng, Henry Chang, Robert Bollo, and John Ragheb

OBJECTIVE

Many pathways to positions of leadership exist within pediatric neurological surgery. The authors sought to investigate common trends in leadership among pediatric neurosurgery fellowship directors (FDs) and describe how formalized pediatric neurosurgical training arrived at its current state.

METHODS

Fellowship programs were identified using the Accreditation Council for Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellowships website. Demographic, training, membership, and research information was collected via email, telephone, curricula vitae, and online searches.

RESULTS

The authors’ survey was sent to all 35 identified FDs, and 21 responses were received. Response data were supplemented with curricula vitae and online data prior to analysis. FDs were predominantly male, self-identified predominantly as Caucasian, and had a mean age of 53 years. The mean duration from residency graduation until FD appointment was 13.4 years. The top training programs to produce future FDs were New York University and Washington University in St. Louis (residency) and Washington University in St. Louis (fellowship).

CONCLUSIONS

This study characterizes the current state of pediatric neurosurgery fellowship program leadership. The data serve as an important point of reference to compare with future leadership as well as contrast with neurosurgery and other surgical disciplines in general.

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Ryan S. Beyer, Andrew Nguyen, Nolan J. Brown, Julian L. Gendreau, Matthew J. Hatter, Omead Pooladzandi, and Martin H. Pham

OBJECTIVE

Spinal robotics for thoracolumbar procedures, predominantly employed for the insertion of pedicle screws, is currently an emerging topic in the literature. The use of robotics in instrumentation of the cervical spine has not been broadly explored. In this review, the authors aimed to coherently synthesize the existing literature of intraoperative robotic use in the cervical spine and explore considerations for future directions and developments in cervical spinal robotics.

METHODS

A literature search in the Web of Science, Scopus, and PubMed databases was performed for the purpose of retrieving all articles reporting on cervical spine surgery with the use of robotics. For the purposes of this study, randomized controlled trials, nonrandomized controlled trials, retrospective case series, and individual case reports were included. The Newcastle-Ottawa Scale was utilized to assess risk of bias of the studies included in the review. To present and synthesize results, data were extracted from the included articles and analyzed using the PyMARE library for effect-size meta-analysis.

RESULTS

On careful review, 6 articles published between 2016 and 2022 met the inclusion/exclusion criteria, including 1 randomized controlled trial, 1 nonrandomized controlled trial, 2 case series, and 2 case reports. These studies featured a total of 110 patients meeting the inclusion criteria (mean age 53.9 years, range 29–77 years; 64.5% males). A total of 482 cervical screws were placed with the use of a surgical robot, which yielded an average screw deviation of 0.95 mm. Cervical pedicle screws were the primary screw type used, at a rate of 78.6%. According to the Gertzbein-Robbins classification, 97.7% of screws in this review achieved a clinically acceptable grade. The average duration of surgery, blood loss, and postoperative length of stay were all decreased in minimally invasive robotic surgery relative to open procedures. Only 1 (0.9%) postoperative complication was reported, which was a surgical site infection, and the mean length of follow-up was 2.7 months. No mortality was reported.

CONCLUSIONS

Robot-assisted cervical screw placement is associated with acceptable rates of clinical grading, operative time, blood loss, and postoperative complications—all of which are equal to or improved relative to the metrics seen in the conventional use of fluoroscopy or computer-assisted navigation for cervical screw placement.

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Tim E. Darsaut, Elsa Magro, Michel W. Bojanowski, Chiraz Chaalala, Lorena Nico, Emma Bacchus, Ruby Klink, Daniela Iancu, Alain Weill, Daniel Roy, Jean-Francois Sabatier, Christophe Cognard, Anne-Christine Januel, Isabelle Pelissou-Guyotat, Omer Eker, Pierre-Hugues Roche, Thomas Graillon, Hervé Brunel, Francois Proust, Rémy Beaujeux, Sorin Aldea, Michel Piotin, Philippe Cornu, Eimad Shotar, Thomas Gaberel, Charlotte Barbier, Marine Le Corre, Vincent Costalat, Vincent Jecko, Xavier Barreau, Xavier Morandi, Jean-Yves Gauvrit, Stéphane Derrey, Chrysanthi Papagiannaki, Thanh N. Nguyen, Mohamad Abdalkader, Rabih G. Tawk, Thien Huynh, Geraldine Viard, Guylaine Gevry, Jean-Christophe Gentric, Jean Raymond, and

OBJECTIVE

The Treatment of Brain Arteriovenous Malformations Study (TOBAS) is a pragmatic study that includes 2 randomized trials and registries of treated or conservatively managed patients. The authors report the results of the surgical registry.

METHODS

TOBAS patients are managed according to an algorithm that combines clinical judgment and randomized allocation. For patients considered for curative treatment, clinicians selected from surgery, endovascular therapy, or radiation therapy as the primary curative method, and whether observation was a reasonable alternative. When surgery was selected and observation was deemed unreasonable, the patient was not included in the randomized controlled trial but placed in the surgical registry. The primary outcome of the trial was mRS score > 2 at 10 years (at last follow-up for the current report). Secondary outcomes include angiographic results, perioperative serious adverse events, and permanent treatment-related complications leading to mRS score > 2.

RESULTS

From June 2014 to May 2021, 1010 patients were recruited at 30 TOBAS centers. Surgery was selected for 229/512 patients (44%) considered for curative treatment; 77 (34%) were included in the surgery versus observation randomized trial and 152 (66%) were placed in the surgical registry. Surgical registry patients had 124/152 (82%) ruptured and 28/152 (18%) unruptured arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), with the majority categorized as low-grade Spetzler-Martin grade I–II AVM (118/152 [78%]). Thirteen patients were excluded, leaving 139 patients for analysis. Embolization was performed prior to surgery in 78/139 (56%) patients. Surgical angiographic cure was obtained in 123/139 all-grade (89%, 95% CI 82%–93%) and 105/110 low-grade (95%, 95% CI 90%–98%) AVM patients. At the mean follow-up of 18.1 months, 16 patients (12%, 95% CI 7%–18%) had reached the primary safety outcome of mRS score > 2, including 11/16 who had a baseline mRS score ≥ 3 due to previous AVM rupture. Serious adverse events occurred in 29 patients (21%, 95% CI 15%–28%). Permanent treatment-related complications leading to mRS score > 2 occurred in 6/139 patients (4%, 95% CI 2%–9%), 5 (83%) of whom had complications due to preoperative embolization.

CONCLUSIONS

The surgical treatment of brain AVMs in the TOBAS registry was curative in 88% of patients. The participation of more patients, surgeons, and centers in randomized trials is needed to definitively establish the role of surgery in the treatment of unruptured brain AVMs.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT02098252 (ClinicalTrials.gov)

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Michael J. Feldman, Alexander V. Ortiz, Steven G. Roth, Robert J. Dambrino IV, Aaron M. Yengo-Kahn, Rohan V. Chitale, and Lola B. Chambless

OBJECTIVE

Standardized letters of recommendation (SLORs) were introduced during the 2020–2021 neurosurgery residency application cycle, but suffered from poor interrater reliability and grade inflation. Changes were made to the SLOR template and utilization patterns in response to these shortcomings. The authors examined the second year of SLOR utilization. They hypothesized that grade inflation and interrater reliability would be improved from the first iteration. They also hypothesized that increased numbers of letters by single writers would correlate with broader rating distributions.

METHODS

This cross-sectional study analyzed all SLORs submitted to a single neurosurgery residency program over the 2021–2022 cycle. Data from 7 competency domains and the overall rating were recorded and stratified by academic category of the letter writer. Interrater reliability was evaluated using Krippendorff’s alpha. The frequency of letters written was evaluated using the Kruskal-Wallis H test.

RESULTS

Ninety percent of SLORs rated applicants among the top 25%, but there was a significant decrease in the usage of the top 1% and top 2%–5% ratings. Interrater reliability was poor across all competencies. Writers who completed 1 SLOR rated applicants higher and had a narrower range than those who completed multiple SLORs.

CONCLUSIONS

Changes in the format and subsequent utilization patterns of SLORs have slightly decreased grade inflation; however, interrater reliability remains poor. The most wide-ranging evaluators submitted the highest number of SLORs, suggesting that future evaluation and usage of SLORs should emphasize letter-writer characteristics and numbers of SLORs written. Overall, SLORs have been well and broadly accepted with subtle improvements in the second year of utilization.