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Gabriel Zada, Henry W. S. Schroeder, Andrew S. Little, and Edward R. Laws Jr.

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David J. Cote, Sherry L. Iuliano, Michael P. Catalino, and Edward R. Laws Jr.


Perioperative management of patients with sellar lesions is complex, requiring input from a multidisciplinary team of specialists for ongoing management of both endocrinological and neurosurgical issues. Here, the authors reviewed the experience of a single multidisciplinary center over 10 years to identify key postoperative practices that ensure positive outcomes for patients with sellar lesions who undergo transsphenoidal surgery.


The authors performed a retrospective review of all transsphenoidal operations carried out by the senior author at a single center from April 2008 through November 2018. They included only adult patients and recorded perioperative management. They also reviewed the evolution of clinical practices for perioperative care at their institution to identify strategies for ensuring positive patient outcomes, and they reviewed the literature on select related topics.


In total, 1023 operations in 928 patients were reviewed. Of these, 712 operations were for pituitary adenomas (69.6%), and 122 were for Rathke cleft cysts (11.9%). The remainder included operations for craniopharyngiomas (3.6%), arachnoid cysts (1.7%), pituitary tumor apoplexy (1.0%), and other sellar pathologies (12.2%). Among the reviewed operations, the median hospital stay was 3 days (IQR 2–3). Patient management details during the pre-, intra-, and postoperative periods were identified, including both shared characteristics of all patients undergoing transsphenoidal surgery and unique characteristics that are specific to certain lesion types or patient populations.


Patients with sellar lesions who undergo transsphenoidal surgery require complex, multidisciplinary perioperative care to monitor for common adverse events and to improve outcomes, but there is a dearth of high-quality evidence guiding most perioperative practices. Here, the authors reviewed practices at their institution across more than 1000 transsphenoidal operations that may help ensure successful patient outcomes.

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Michael P. Catalino, Shun Yao, Deborah L. Green, Edward R. Laws Jr., Alexandra J. Golby, and Yanmei Tie

Neurosurgery has been at the forefront of a paradigm shift from a localizationist perspective to a network-based approach to brain mapping. Over the last 2 decades, we have seen dramatic improvements in the way we can image the human brain and noninvasively estimate the location of critical functional networks. In certain patients with brain tumors and epilepsy, intraoperative electrical stimulation has revealed direct links between these networks and their function. The focus of these techniques has rightfully been identification and preservation of so-called “eloquent” brain functions (i.e., motor and language), but there is building momentum for more extensive mapping of cognitive and emotional networks. In addition, there is growing interest in mapping these functions in patients with a broad range of neurosurgical diseases. Resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI) is a noninvasive imaging modality that is able to measure spontaneous low-frequency blood oxygen level–dependent signal fluctuations at rest to infer neuronal activity. Rs-fMRI may be able to map cognitive and emotional networks for individual patients. In this review, the authors give an overview of the rs-fMRI technique and associated cognitive and emotional resting-state networks, discuss the potential applications of rs-fMRI, and propose future directions for the mapping of cognition and emotion in neurosurgical patients.

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Hussam Abou-Al-Shaar, Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr, Hasan A. Zaidi, Eleanor Russell-Goldman, Rebecca D. Folkerth, Edward R. Laws Jr., and E. Antonio Chiocca

There is a wide group of lesions that may exist in the sellar and suprasellar regions. Embryologically, there is varying evidence that many of these entities may in fact represent a continuum of pathology deriving from a common ectodermal origin. The authors report a case of a concomitant suprasellar craniopharyngioma invading the third ventricle with a concurrent frontal lobe cystic dermoid tumor. A 21-year-old man presented to the authors' service with a 3-day history of worsening headache, nausea, vomiting, and blurry vision. Magnetic resonance imaging depicted a right frontal lobe lesion associated with a separate suprasellar cystic lesion invading the third ventricle. The patient underwent a right pterional craniotomy for resection of both lesions. Gross-total resection of the right frontal lesion was achieved, and subtotal resection of the suprasellar lesion was accomplished with some residual tumor adherent to the walls of the third ventricle. Histopathological examination of the resected right frontal lesion documented a diagnosis of dermoid cyst and, for the suprasellar lesion, a diagnosis of adamantinomatous craniopharyngioma. The occurrence of craniopharyngioma with dermoid cyst has not been reported in the literature before. Such an association might indeed suggest the previously reported hypothesis that these lesions represent a spectrum of ectodermally derived epithelial-lined cystic lesions.

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Hasan A. Zaidi, Kenneth De Los Reyes, Garni Barkhoudarian, Zachary N. Litvack, Wenya Linda Bi, Jordina Rincon-Torroella, Srinivasan Mukundan Jr., Ian F. Dunn, and Edward R. Laws Jr.


Endoscopic skull base surgery has become increasingly popular among the skull base surgery community, with improved illumination and angled visualization potentially improving tumor resection rates. Intraoperative MRI (iMRI) is used to detect residual disease during the course of the resection. This study is an investigation of the utility of 3-T iMRI in combination with transnasal endoscopy with regard to gross-total resection (GTR) of pituitary macroadenomas.


The authors retrospectively reviewed all endoscopic transsphenoidal operations performed in the Advanced Multimodality Image Guided Operating (AMIGO) suite from November 2011 to December 2014. Inclusion criteria were patients harboring presumed pituitary macroadenomas with optic nerve or chiasmal compression and visual loss, operated on by a single surgeon.


Of the 27 patients who underwent transsphenoidal resection in the AMIGO suite, 20 patients met the inclusion criteria. The endoscope alone, without the use of iMRI, would have correctly predicted extent of resection in 13 (65%) of 20 cases. Gross-total resection was achieved in 12 patients (60%) prior to MRI. Intraoperative MRI helped convert 1 STR and 4 NTRs to GTRs, increasing the number of GTRs from 12 (60%) to 16 (80%).


Despite advances in visualization provided by the endoscope, the incidence of residual disease can potentially place the patient at risk for additional surgery. The authors found that iMRI can be useful in detecting unexpected residual tumor. The cost-effectiveness of this tool is yet to be determined.

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Ryan Brewster, Wenya Linda Bi, Timothy R. Smith, William B. Gormley, Ian F. Dunn, and Edward R. Laws Jr.

Baseball maintains one of the highest impact injury rates in all athletics. A principal causative factor is the “beanball,” referring to a pitch thrown directly at a batter’s head. Frequent morbidities elicited demand for the development of protective gear development in the 20th century. In this setting, Dr. Walter Dandy was commissioned to design a “protective cap” in 1941. His invention became widely adopted by professional baseball and inspired subsequent generations of batting helmets. As a baseball aficionado since his youth, Walter Dandy identified a natural partnership between baseball and medical practice for the reduction of beaning-related brain injuries. This history further supports the unique position of neurosurgeons to leverage clinical insights, inform innovation, and expand service to society.

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Timothy R. Smith, M. Maher Hulou, Kevin T. Huang, Breno Nery, Samuel Miranda de Moura, David J. Cote, and Edward R. Laws


The purpose of this study was to describe complications associated with the endonasal, transsphenoidal approach for the treatment of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)–positive staining tumors (Cushing's disease [CD] and silent corticotroph adenomas [SCAs]) performed by 1 surgeon at a high-volume academic medical center.


Medical records from Brigham and Women's Hospital were retrospectively reviewed. Selected for study were 82 patients with CD who during April 2008–April 2014 had consecutively undergone transsphenoidal resection or who had subsequent pathological confirmation of ACTH-positive tumor staining. In addition to demographic, patient, tumor, and surgery characteristics, complications were evaluated. Complications of interest included syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion, diabetes insipidus (DI), CSF leakage, carotid artery injury, epistaxis, meningitis, and vision changes.


Of the 82 patients, 68 (82.9%) had CD and 14 (17.1%) had SCAs; 55 patients were female and 27 were male. Most common (n = 62 patients, 82.7%) were microadenomas, followed by macroadenomas (n = 13, 14.7%). A total of 31 (37.8%) patients underwent reoperation. Median follow-up time was 12.0 months (range 3–69 months). The most common diagnosis was ACTH-secreting (n = 68, 82.9%), followed by silent tumors/adenomas (n = 14, 17.1%). ACTH hyperplasia was found in 8 patients (9.8%). Of the 74 patients who had verified tumors, 12 (16.2%) had tumors with atypical features.

The overall (CD and SCA) rate of minor complications was 35.4%; the rate of major complications was 8.5% (n = 7). All permanent morbidity was associated with DI (n = 5, 6.1%). In 16 CD patients (23.5%), transient DI developed. Transient DI was more likely to develop in CD patients who had undergone a second operation (37.9%) than in those who had undergone a first operation only (12.8%, p < 0.05). Permanent DI developed in 4 CD patients (5.9%) and 1 SCA patient (7.1%). For 1 CD patient, intraoperative carotid artery injury required endovascular sacrifice of the injured artery, but the patient remained neurologically intact. For another CD patient, aseptic meningitis developed and was treated effectively with corticosteroids. One CD patient experienced major postoperative epistaxis requiring another operative procedure to achieve hemostasis. For 2 CD patients, development of sinus mucoceles was managed conservatively. For 1 SCA patient, an abdominal wound dehisced at the fat graft site. No patients experienced postoperative CSF leakage, visual impairment, or deep vein thrombosis.


Transsphenoidal surgery is the treatment of choice for patients with CD and other ACTH-positive staining tumors. Recent advances in endoscopic technology and increasing surgeon comfort with this technology are making transsphenoidal procedures safer, faster, and more effective. Serious complications are uncommon and can be managed successfully.

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Judith M. Wong, Angela M. Bader, Edward R. Laws, A. John Popp, and Atul A. Gawande

Neurosurgery is a high-risk specialty currently undertaking the pursuit of systematic approaches to reducing risk and to measuring and improving outcomes. The authors performed a review of patterns and frequencies of adverse events in neurosurgery as background for future efforts directed at the improvement of quality and safety in neurosurgery.

They found 6 categories of contributory factors in neurosurgical adverse events, categorizing the events as influenced by issues in surgical technique, perioperative medical management, use of and adherence to protocols, preoperative optimization, technology, and communication. There was a wide distribution of reported occurrence rates for many of the adverse events, in part due to the absence of definitive literature in this area and to the lack of standardized reporting systems.

On the basis of their analysis, the authors identified 5 priority recommendations for improving outcomes for neurosurgical patients at a population level: 1) development and implementation of a national registry for outcome data and monitoring; 2) full integration of the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist into the operating room workflow, which improves fundamental aspects of surgical care such as adherence to antibiotic protocols and communication within surgical teams; and 3–5) activity by neurosurgical societies to drive increased standardization for the safety of specialized equipment used by neurosurgeons (3), more widespread regionalization and/or subspecialization (4), and establishment of data-driven guidelines and protocols (5). The fraction of adverse events that might be avoided if proposed strategies to improve practice and decrease variability are fully adopted remains to be determined. The authors hope that this consolidation of what is currently known and practiced in neurosurgery, the application of relevant advances in other fields, and attention to proposed strategies will serve as a basis for informed and concerted efforts to improve outcomes and patient safety in neurosurgery.

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Judith M. Wong, John E. Ziewacz, Allen L. Ho, Jaykar R. Panchmatia, Angela M. Bader, Hugh J. Garton, Edward R. Laws, and Atul A. Gawande


As part of a project to devise evidence-based safety interventions for specialty surgery, the authors sought to review current evidence in CSF shunt surgery concerning the frequency of adverse events in practice, their patterns, and the state of knowledge regarding methods for their reduction. This review may also inform future and ongoing efforts for the advancement of neurosurgical quality.


The authors performed a PubMed search using search terms “cerebral shunt,” “cerebrospinal fluid shunt,” “CSF shunt,” “ventriculoperitoneal shunt,” “cerebral shunt AND complications,” “cerebrospinal fluid shunt AND complications,” “CSF shunt AND complications,” and “ventriculoperitoneal shunt AND complications.” Only papers that specifically discussed the relevant complication rates were included. Papers were chosen to be included to maximize the range of rates of occurrence for the adverse events reported.


In this review of the neurosurgery literature, the reported rate of mechanical malfunction ranged from 8% to 64%. The use of programmable valves has increased but remains of unproven benefit even in randomized trials. Infection was the second most common complication, with the rate ranging from 3% to 12% of shunt operations. A meta-analysis that included 17 randomized controlled trials of perioperative antibiotic prophylaxis demonstrated a decrease in shunt infection by half (OR 0.51, 95% CI 0.36–0.73). Similarly, use of detailed protocols including perioperative antibiotics, skin preparation, and limitation of OR personnel and operative time, among other steps, were shown in uncontrolled studies to decrease shunt infection by more than half.

Other adverse events included intraabdominal complications, with a reported incidence of 1% to 24%, intracerebral hemorrhage, reported to occur in 4% of cases, and perioperative epilepsy, with a reported association with shunt procedures ranging from 20% to 32%. Potential management strategies are reported but are largely without formal evaluation.


Surgery for CSF shunt placement or revision is associated with a high complication risk due primarily to mechanical issues and infection. Concerted efforts aimed at large-scale monitoring of neurosurgical complications and consistent quality improvement within these highlighted realms may significantly improve patient outcomes.