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Einar Ottestad and Thomas J. Wilson

OBJECTIVE

Periscapular pain has a broad differential diagnosis. Dorsal scapular neuropathy is part of that differential diagnosis but is often forgotten by clinicians, leading to delayed diagnosis, chronic pain, and potentially worse outcomes. The objective of this study was to describe our method for diagnosis, surgical technique, intraoperative findings, and outcomes in consecutive patients undergoing dorsal scapular nerve (DSN) decompression.

METHODS

A retrospective cohort study was performed to compile and describe outcomes for consecutive patients (n = 21) who underwent DSN decompression by a single surgeon during the period between August 2018 and February 2021. The primary outcome was change in visual analog scale (VAS) score for periscapular pain between baseline and 6 months postoperatively. Secondary outcomes included change in VAS score for overall pain, change in Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) score, and change in the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (Zung SDS) between baseline and 6 and 12 months postoperatively.

RESULTS

Patients undergoing DSN decompression showed significant improvement in VAS score for periscapular pain between baseline and 6 months postoperatively (mean score 54.0 vs 26.8, respectively; p < 0.001). Fifteen of 21 patients (71%) had a good outcome (score improvement ≥ 20). Disability (as determined by DASH scores) was significantly improved at 6 and 12 months postoperatively. The only factor that was predictive of outcome was symptom duration, with longer symptom duration predicting a poor outcome.

CONCLUSIONS

Surgical treatment of dorsal scapular neuropathy is associated with significant improvements in pain and disability, and these improvements are durable. Morbidity associated with surgical treatment is low.

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Ziyad Makoshi, Nathaniel Toop, Luke G. F. Smith, Annie Drapeau, Jonathan Pindrik, Eric A. Sribnick, Jeffrey Leonard, and Ammar Shaikhouni

OBJECTIVE

Dural sealants are commonly used in posterior fossa decompression with duraplasty (PFDD) for Chiari malformation type I (CMI). Prior evidence suggests that combining certain sealants with some graft material is associated with an increased rate of complications. In 2018, the authors noted an increased rate of symptomatic pseudomeningocele and aseptic meningitis after PFDD in CMI patients. The authors utilized retrospective and prospective analyses to test the hypothesis that complication rates increase with the use or combination of certain sealants and grafts.

METHODS

The analysis was split into 2 periods. The authors retrospectively reviewed patients who underwent PFDD for CMI at their center between August 12, 2011, and December 31, 2018. The authors then eliminated use of DuraSeal on the basis of the retrospective analysis and prospectively examined complication rates from January 1, 2019, to August 4, 2021. The authors defined a complication as symptomatic pseudomeningocele, bacterial or aseptic meningitis, cerebrospinal fluid leak, subdural hygroma, hydrocephalus, surgical site infection, or wound dehiscence.

RESULTS

From 2011 to 2018, complications occurred in 24.5% of 110 patients. Sealant choice was correlated with complication rates: no sealant (0%), Tisseel (6%), and DuraSeal (15.3%) (p < 0.001). No difference in complication rate was noted on the basis of choice of graft material (p = 0.844). After eliminating DuraSeal, the authors followed 40 patients who underwent PFDD after 2018. The complication rate decreased to 12.5%. All complications after 2018 were associated with Tisseel.

CONCLUSIONS

At the authors’ single center, use of sealants in PFDD surgery for CMI, especially DuraSeal, was correlated with a higher complication rate. Eliminating DuraSeal led to a significant decrease in the rate of symptomatic pseudomeningocele and aseptic meningitis.

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Brin E. Freund, Elena Greco, Lela Okromelidze, Julio Mendez, William O. Tatum IV, Sanjeet S. Grewal, and Erik H. Middlebrooks

OBJECTIVE

The authors hypothesized that the proximity of deep brain stimulator contacts to the anterior thalamic nucleus–mammillothalamic tract (ANT-MMT) junction determines responsiveness to treatment with ANT deep brain stimulation (DBS) in drug-resistant epilepsy and conducted this study to test that hypothesis.

METHODS

This retrospective study evaluated patients who had undergone ANT DBS electrode implantation and whose devices were programmed to stimulate nearest the ANT-MMT junction based on direct MRI visualization. The proximity of the active electrode to the ANT and the ANT-MMT junction was compared between responders (≥ 50% reduction in seizure frequency) and nonresponders. Linear regression was performed to assess the percentage of seizure reduction and distance to both the ANT and the ANT-MMT junction.

RESULTS

Four (57.1%) of 7 patients had ≥ 50% reduction in seizures. All 4 responders had at least one contact within 1 mm of the ANT-MMT junction, whereas the 3 patients with < 50% seizure improvement did not have a contact within 1 mm of the ANT-MMT junction. Additionally, the 4 responders demonstrated contact positioning closer to the ANT-MMT junction than the 3 nonresponders (mean distance from MMT: 0.7 mm on the left and 0.6 mm on the right in responders vs 3.0 mm on the left and 2.3 mm on the right in nonresponders). However, proximity of the electrode contact to any point in the ANT nucleus did not correlate with seizure reduction. Greater seizure improvement was correlated with a contact position closer to the ANT-MMT junction (R2 = 0.62, p = 0.04). Seizure improvement was not significantly correlated with proximity of the contact to any ANT border (R2 = 0.24, p = 0.26).

CONCLUSIONS

Obtained using a combination of direct visualization and targeted programming of the ANT-MMT junction, data in this study support the hypothesis that proximity to the ANT alone does not correlate with seizure reduction in ANT DBS, whereas proximity to the ANT-MMT junction does. These findings support the importance of direct targeting in ANT DBS, as well as imaging-informed programming. Additionally, the authors provide supportive evidence for future prospective trials using ANT-MMT junction for direct surgical targeting.

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Nathan A. Shlobin, Christopher S. Graffeo, David L. Dornbos III, Debraj Mukherjee, Walavan Sivakumar, Jeremiah Johnson, and

OBJECTIVE

The neurosurgery fellowship application process is heterogenous. Therefore, the authors conducted a survey of individuals graduating from Committee on Advanced Subspecialty Training (CAST)–accredited fellowships in the past 5 years to examine 1) experiences with the fellowship application process, 2) perspectives on the process, 3) reasons for pursuing a given subspecialty and fellowship, and 4) post-fellowship practices.

METHODS

A survey querying demographics, experiences with and perspectives on the fellowship application process, and factors contributing to the pursuit of a given fellowship was distributed to individuals who had graduated from CAST-accredited fellowships in the past 5 years. The survey response period was May 22, 2021–June 22, 2021.

RESULTS

Of 273 unique individuals who had graduated from CAST-accredited fellowships in the past 5 years, 65 (29.7%) were included in this analysis. The most common postgraduate year (PGY) during which respondents applied for fellowship positions was PGY5 (43.8%), whereas the most common training level at which respondents accepted a fellowship position was PGY6 (46.9%), with a large degree of variability for both (range PGY4–PGY7). Only 43.1% respondents reported an application deadline for their fellowship. A total of 77.4% respondents received 1–2 fellowship position offers, and 13.4% indicated that there was a match process. In total, 64.5% respondents indicated that the fellowship offer timeline was mostly or very asynchronous. The time frame for applicants to decline or accept a fellowship offer was heterogeneous and mismatched among institutions. Respondents agreed that a more standardized application timeline would be beneficial (median response "agree"), and 83.1% of respondents indicated that PGY5 or PGY6 was the appropriate time to interview for a fellowship.

CONCLUSIONS

Respondents reported heterogeneous experiences in applying for a fellowship, indicated that a standardized application timeline including interviews at PGY5 or PGY6 would be beneficial, and preferred streamlining the fellowship application process.

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Jonathan J. Yun and John A. Jane Jr.

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Toshinori Hasegawa, Takenori Kato, Takehiro Naito, Akihiro Mizuno, Yuta Koketsu, Kento Hirayama, and Hirotaka Niwa

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was to evaluate whether endovascular embolization prior to stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) has a negative impact on nidus obliteration for patients with arteriovenous malformations (AVMs).

METHODS

A total of 704 eligible patients with AVM who did not undergo prior surgery or radiotherapy were evaluated. Of these patients, 593 were treated with SRS only, and 111 were treated with embolization followed by SRS (E+SRS). Most patients in the E+SRS group (88%) underwent embolization with n-butyl-2-cyanoacrylate. In the comparison of radiosurgical outcomes between patients treated with SRS only and E+SRS, these groups were matched in a 1:1 ratio using propensity score matching to eliminate differences in basic characteristics. The primary outcome was to compare the nidus obliteration rates between the SRS-only and E+SRS groups. The secondary outcomes were the comparison of cumulative hemorrhage rates and the incidence of cyst formation or chronic encapsulated hematoma after SRS between these groups.

RESULTS

In the unmatched cohorts, the actuarial 3-, 5-, and 8-year nidus obliteration rates after a single SRS session were 49.6%, 69.4%, and 74.1% in the SRS-only group, respectively, and 30.7%, 50.9%, and 68.6% in the E+SRS group, respectively (p = 0.001). In the matched cohort of 98 patients in each group, the rates were 47.1%, 62.0%, and 69.6% in the SRS-only group and 32.5%, 55.3%, and 75.0% in the E+SRS group, respectively (p = 0.24). There was no significant difference in either cumulative hemorrhage or the incidence of cyst formation or chronic encapsulated hematoma between the groups.

CONCLUSIONS

Pre-SRS embolization did not affect nidus obliteration rates, cumulative hemorrhage rates, or the incidence of cyst formation or chronic encapsulated hematoma as late adverse radiation effects in patients with AVM treated with SRS.

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Jorge A. Gonzalez-Martinez, Hussam Abou-Al-Shaar, Arka N. Mallela, Michael M. McDowell, Luke Henry, David T. Fernandes Cabral, James Sweat, Alexandra Urban, Joanna Fong, Niravkumar Barot, James F. Castellano, Vijayalakshmi Rajasekaran, Anto Bagic, Carl H. Snyderman, and Paul A. Gardner

OBJECTIVE

In mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE), the ideal surgical approach to achieve seizure freedom and minimize morbidity is an unsolved question. Selective approaches to mesial temporal structures often result in suboptimal seizure outcomes. The authors report the results of a pilot study intended to evaluate the clinical feasibility of using an endoscopic anterior transmaxillary (eATM) approach for minimally invasive management of MTLEs.

METHODS

The study is a prospectively collected case series of four consecutive patients who underwent the eATM approach for the treatment of MTLE and were followed for a minimum of 12 months. All participants underwent an epilepsy workup and surgical care at a tertiary referral comprehensive epilepsy center and had medically refractory epilepsy. The noninvasive evaluations and intracranial recordings of these patients confirmed the presence of anatomically restricted epileptogenic zones located in the mesial temporal structures. Data on seizure freedom at 1 year, neuropsychological outcomes, diffusion tractography, and adverse events were collected and analyzed.

RESULTS

By applying the eATM technique and approaching the far anterior temporal lobe regions, mesial-basal resections of the temporal polar areas and mesial temporal structures were successfully achieved in all patients (2 with left-sided approaches, 2 with right-sided approaches). No neurological complications or neuropsychological declines were observed. All 4 patients achieved Engel class Ia outcome up to the end of the follow-up period (19, 15, 14, and 12 months). One patient developed hypoesthesia in the left V2 distribution but there were no other adverse events. The low degree of white matter injury from the eATM approach was analyzed using high-definition fiber tractography in 1 patient as a putative mechanism for preserving neuropsychological function.

CONCLUSIONS

The described series demonstrates the feasibility and potential safety profile of a novel approach for medically refractory MTLE. The study affirms the feasibility of performing efficacious mesial temporal lobe resections through an eATM approach.

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Tyler T. Lazaro, Kalman A. Katlowitz, Patrick J. Karas, Visish M. Srinivasan, Ellen Walls, Gina Collier, Shaan M. Raza, Daniel J. Curry, Alexander E. Ropper, Alfonso Fuentes, Shankar P. Gopinath, Ganesh Rao, and Akash J. Patel

OBJECTIVE

Since the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) implemented duty-hour restrictions in 2003, many residency programs have adopted a night float system to comply with time constraints. However, some surgical subspecialities have been concerned that use of a night float system deprives residents of operative experience. In this study, the authors describe their training program’s transition to a night float system and its impact on resident operative experience.

METHODS

The authors conducted a single-program study of resident surgical case volume before and after implementing the night float system at 3 of their 5 hospitals from 2014 to 2020. The authors obtained surgical case numbers from the ACGME case log database.

RESULTS

Junior residents received a concentrated educational experience, whereas senior residents saw a significant decrease from 112 calls/year to 17. Logged cases significantly increased after implementation of the night float system (8846 vs 10,547, p = 0.04), whereas cases at non–night float hospitals remained the same. This increase was concurrent with an increase in hospital cases. This difference was mainly driven by senior resident cases (p = 0.010), as junior and chief residents did not show significant differences in logged cases (p > 0.40). Lead resident cases increased significantly after implementation of the night float system (6852 vs 8860, p = 0.04). When normalized for increased hospital cases, resident case increases were not statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS

Transitioning to a night float call system at the authors’ institution increased overall resident operative cases, particularly for lead resident surgeons. Based on the results of this study, the authors recommend the use of a night float call system to consolidate night calls, which increases junior resident–level educational opportunities and senior resident cases.

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Shigeru Yamaguchi, Michinari Okamoto, Yukitomo Ishi, Ryosuke Sawaya, Hiroaki Motegi, Minako Sugiyama, Taisuke Harada, Noriyuki Fujima, Takashi Mori, Takayuki Hashimoto, Emi Takakuwa, Atsushi Manabe, Kohsuke Kudo, Hidefumi Aoyama, and Miki Fujimura

OBJECTIVE

In patients with intracranial germ cell tumors, residual lesions are sometimes observed after completion of primary chemoradiotherapy. Although salvage resection of these end-of-treatment residual lesions is recommended for patients with nongerminomatous germ cell tumors, the necessity of early salvage resection for those with germinoma is not clear. The aim of this study was to investigate the frequency of residual germinoma lesions after primary chemoradiotherapy, as well as their management, long-term consequences, and prognosis.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed patients who were primarily treated for germinoma between 2002 and 2021. Residual lesions were evaluated with MRI with and without contrast enhancement within 2 weeks after chemoradiotherapy. The decision to perform salvage resection of residual lesions was at the discretion of the treating physicians. The change in appearance of residual lesions was assessed with serial MRI. Overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS), and recurrence pattern were also investigated.

RESULTS

Sixty-nine patients were treated with chemoradiotherapy for germinoma, with a mean follow-up period of 108 months. Residual lesions were radiologically observed in 30 patients (43.5%). Among these, 5 patients (3 with pineal lesions and 2 with basal ganglia lesions) underwent salvage resection. Pathological examination revealed teratomatous components in 3 patients, whereas no tumoral components were identified in 2 patients. One patient with a basal ganglia lesion showed worsening of hemiparesis postoperatively. The remaining 25 patients received watchful observation without surgical intervention. Chronological periodic radiological change in residual lesions was evaluated in 21 patients. One year after primary treatment, the size of the residual lesions was stable and had decreased in 10 and 11 patients, respectively. None of the lesions increased in size. The 10-year PFS and OS rates were 96.7% and 97.3% in patients without residual lesions (n = 39), and 87.1% and 100% in patients with residual lesions (n = 30), respectively. Presence of residual lesions had no significant effect on PFS or OS. All recurrences occurred at distant sites or via dissemination without progression of the primary tumor site, regardless of the presence of residual lesion.

CONCLUSIONS

End-of-treatment residual lesions are not rare in patients with germinoma, and these residual lesions seldom show progression. Because of the potential risk of surgical complications, the indication for early salvage surgery for residual lesions should be carefully determined. Watchful observation is recommended for the majority of these cases.