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Timothy R. Smith, M. Maher Hulou, Sandra C. Yan, David J. Cote, Brian V. Nahed, Maya A. Babu, Sunit Das, William B. Gormley, James T. Rutka, Edward R. Laws Jr. and Robert F. Heary

OBJECT

Recent studies have examined the impact of perceived medicolegal risk and compared how this perception impacts defensive practices within the US. To date, there have been no published data on the practice of defensive medicine among neurosurgeons in Canada.

METHODS

An online survey containing 44 questions was sent to 170 Canadian neurosurgeons and used to measure Canadian neurosurgeons’ perception of liability risk and their practice of defensive medicine. The survey included questions on the following domains: surgeon demographics, patient characteristics, type of physician practice, surgeon liability profile, policy coverage, defensive behaviors, and perception of the liability environment. Survey responses were analyzed and summarized using counts and percentages.

RESULTS

A total of 75 neurosurgeons completed the survey, achieving an overall response rate of 44.1%. Over one-third (36.5%) of Canadian neurosurgeons paid less than $5000 for insurance annually. The majority (87%) of Canadian neurosurgeons felt confident with their insurance coverage, and 60% reported that they rarely felt the need to practice defensive medicine. The majority of the respondents reported that the perceived medicolegal risk environment has no bearing on their preferred practice location. Only 1 in 5 respondent Canadian neurosurgeons (21.8%) reported viewing patients as a potential lawsuit. Only 4.9% of respondents would have selected a different career based on current medicolegal risk factors, and only 4.1% view the cost of annual malpractice insurance as a major burden.

CONCLUSIONS

Canadian neurosurgeons perceive their medicolegal risk environment as more favorable and their patients as less likely to sue than their counterparts in the US do. Overall, Canadian neurosurgeons engage in fewer defensive medical behaviors than previously reported in the US.

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Erin N. Kiehna, Elysa Widjaja, Stephanie Holowka, O. Carter Snead III, James Drake, Shelly K. Weiss, Ayako Ochi, Eric M. Thompson, Cristina Go, Hiroshi Otsubo, Elizabeth J. Donner and James T. Rutka

OBJECT

Hemispherectomy for unilateral, medically refractory epilepsy is associated with excellent long-term seizure control. However, for patients with recurrent seizures following disconnection, workup and investigation can be challenging, and surgical options may be limited. Few studies have examined the role of repeat hemispherotomy in these patients. The authors hypothesized that residual fiber connections between the hemispheres could be the underlying cause of recurrent epilepsy in these patients. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was used to test this hypothesis, and to target residual connections at reoperation using neuronavigation.

METHODS

The authors identified 8 patients with recurrent seizures following hemispherectomy who underwent surgery between 1995 and 2012. Prolonged video electroencephalography recordings documented persistent seizures arising from the affected hemisphere. In all patients, DTI demonstrated residual white matter association fibers connecting the hemispheres. A repeat craniotomy and neuronavigation-guided targeted disconnection of these residual fibers was performed. Engel class was used to determine outcome after surgery at a minimum of 2 years of follow-up.

RESULTS

Two patients underwent initial hemidecortication and 6 had periinsular hemispherotomy as their first procedures at a median age of 9.7 months. Initial pathologies included hemimegalencephaly (n = 4), multilobar cortical dysplasia (n = 3), and Rasmussen's encephalitis (n = 1). The mean duration of seizure freedom for the group after the initial procedure was 32.5 months (range 6–77 months). In all patients, DTI showed limited but definite residual connections between the 2 hemispheres, primarily across the rostrum/genu of the corpus callosum. The median age at reoperation was 6.8 years (range 1.3–14 years). The average time taken for reoperation was 3 hours (range 1.8–4.3 hours), with a mean blood loss of 150 ml (range 50–250 ml). One patient required a blood transfusion. Five patients are seizure free, and the remaining 3 patients are Engel Class II, with a minimum follow-up of 24 months for the group.

CONCLUSIONS

Repeat hemispherotomy is an option for consideration in patients with recurrent intractable epilepsy following failed surgery for catastrophic epilepsy. In conjunction with other modalities to establish seizure onset zones, advanced MRI and DTI sequences may be of value in identifying patients with residual connectivity between the affected and unaffected hemispheres. Targeted disconnection of these residual areas of connectivity using neuronavigation may result in improved seizure outcomes, with minimal and acceptable morbidity.