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David C. Lobb, Smruti K. Patel, Brian S. Pan, and Jesse Skoch

OBJECTIVE

Patients presenting with head shape changes phenotypical for craniosynostosis may have incomplete fusion of the involved sutures. The surgical literature is lacking in appropriate management strategies for these patients. In this paper, the authors evaluate their experience with a novel treatment strategy: suturectomy of only the fused portion followed by helmeting therapy in patients with skull deformity secondary to incomplete suture synostosis.

METHODS

Patients with craniosynostosis with incomplete suture fusion requiring operative intervention between 2018 and 2020 were included for evaluation. Patients were selected for partial suturectomy if the patent portion of the suture had a normal appearance. All patients underwent craniectomy of the involved portion of the synostosed suture. Intraoperative ultrasound was used to reassess the degree of fusion at the time of surgery and incision planning. A 2- to 3-cm strip craniectomy was performed under direct visualization through a single minimal access incision. Postoperative helmeting was utilized for all patients. Demographic and perioperative data were collected, including laser scan data in the form of cranial index (CI) and cranial vault asymmetry (CVA), defined as the difference between two diagonal measurements, from the frontozygomaticus to the opposite eurion.

RESULTS

Four males and 1 female with a mean age of 2.8 months (range 1.1–3.9 months) at presentation were included. All patients had incomplete sagittal synostosis (one patient also had an incomplete left lambdoid synostosis and another had an incomplete left coronal synostosis). The mean age at surgery was 3.5 months (range 2.0–4.7 months) without any major complications. All patients were compliant with postoperative helmeting. The average age at the last follow-up was 12.8 months (range 5.3–23.7 months) with a mean follow-up duration of 9.3 months (range 0.5–19.6 months). Final laser scan evaluations were available for 3 patients and showed an improvement of the CI from an average of 71.3 (range 70–73) to 84.3 (range 82–86). The CVA improved from an average of 9.67 mm (range 2–22 mm) to 1.67 mm (range 1–2 mm).

CONCLUSIONS

Minimally invasive direct excision of the involved portion of fused cranial sutures followed by helmet therapy for phenotypical craniosynostosis is a safe and effective treatment strategy. This technique is suitable for very young patients and appears to offer similar outcomes to complete suturectomy. Further studies are required to see if this approach reduces the deformity severity for patients requiring vault remodeling later in life.

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Smruti K. Patel, Jorge Zamorano-Fernández, Carlie McCoy, and Jesse Skoch

OBJECTIVE

External magnetic forces can have an impact on programmable valve mechanisms and potentially alter the opening pressure. As wearable technology has begun to permeate mainstream living, there is a clear need to provide information regarding safety of these devices for use near a programmable valve (PV). The aim of this study was to evaluate the magnetic fields of reference devices using smartphone-integrated magnetometers and compare the results with published shunt tolerances.

METHODS

Five smartphones from different manufacturers were used to evaluate the magnetic properties of various commonly used (n = 6) and newer-generation (n = 10) devices using measurements generated from the internal smartphone magnetometers. PV tolerance testing using calibrated magnets of varying field strengths was also performed by smartphone magnetometers.

RESULTS

All tested smartphone-integrated magnetometers had a factory sensor saturation point at around 5000 µT or 50 Gauss (G). This is well below the threshold at which a magnet can potentially deprogram a shunt, based on manufacturer reports as well as the authors’ experimental data with a threshold of more than 300 G. While many of the devices did saturate the smartphone sensors at the source, the magnetic flux density of the objects decreases significantly at 2 inches.

CONCLUSIONS

The existence of an upper limit on the magnetometers of all the smartphones used, although well below the published deprogramming threshold for modern programmable valves, does not allow us to give precise recommendations on those devices that saturate the sensor. Based on the authors’ experimental data using smartphone-integrated magnetometers, they concluded that devices that measure < 40 G can be used safely close to a PV.

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Smruti K. Patel, Yair M. Gozal, Mohamed S. Saleh, Justin L. Gibson, Michael Karsy, and George T. Mandybur

OBJECTIVE

Spinal cord stimulation has been shown to improve pain relief and reduce narcotic analgesic use in cases of complex refractory pain syndromes. However, a subset of patients ultimately undergoes removal of the spinal cord stimulator (SCS) system, presumably because of surgical complications or poor efficacy. This retrospective study addresses the paucity of evidence regarding risk factors and underlying causes of spinal cord stimulation failures that necessitate this explantation.

METHODS

In this retrospective single-center review, 129 patients underwent explantation of SCS hardware during a 9-year period (2005–2013) following initial placement at the authors’ institution or elsewhere. Medical history, including indication of implantation, device characteristics, revision history, and reported reasons for removal of hardware, were reviewed.

RESULTS

The 74 (57%) women and 55 (43%) men were a median of 49 years old (IQR 41–61 years) at explantation; the median time to explantation was 20 months (IQR 7.5–45.5 months). Thoracic or upper lumbar leads were placed in 89.9% of patients primarily for the diagnosis of postsurgical failed–back surgery syndrome (70.5%), chronic regional pain syndrome (14.7%), and neuropathic pain (8.5%). More than half of patients were legally disabled. Initial postoperative reduction in pain was reported in 81% of patients, and 37.8% returned to work. Among 15 patients with acute postsurgical complications (12 infections, 2 hemorrhages, 1 immediate paraplegia), the median time to removal was 2 months. Primary reasons for hardware removal were lack of stimulation efficacy (81%), electrode failure due to migration (14%), and allergic reactions to implanted hardware in 2 patients. The 72 patients who underwent formal psychiatric evaluation before implantation were affected by high rates of major depression (64%), anxiety (34%), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (12%), drug or alcohol abuse (12%), and physical or sexual abuse (22%).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors’ findings provide insight regarding the mechanisms of spinal cord stimulation failure that resulted in total removal of the implanted system. The relationship between spinal cord stimulation failure and certain psychiatric disorders, such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety, is highlighted. Ultimately, this work may shed light on potential avenues to reduce morbidity and improve patient outcomes.

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Smruti K. Patel, Brittany Staarmann, Alexander Heilman, Allie Mains, Jason Woodward, and Karin S. Bierbrauer

Spina bifida is the most common nonchromosomal birth defect, resulting in permanent disability of multiple organ systems, yet compatible with long-term survival. Important advances across various disciplines have now improved survival among the spina bifida population. Although the majority of individuals living with spina bifida are now adults, there are few publications in the neurosurgical literature regarding the care of adults with spina bifida, associated medical conditions, surgical interventions, and long-term complications. The major goals for transitioning adult patients with spina bifida are preservation of function and promotion of independence as well as general overall health. Nevertheless, many gaps exist in our knowledge and understanding of the complex needs of this aging patient population. The goal of this paper was to provide a comprehensive updated review of the literature regarding the challenges and considerations involved in the transitional care to adulthood for patients with spina bifida. Unique to this review, the authors provide a first-hand personal communication and interview with an adult patient with spina bifida that discusses many of these challenges with transition.

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Adel Elnashar, Smruti K. Patel, Almaz Kurbanov, Kseniya Zvereva, Jeffrey T. Keller, and Andrew W. Grande

OBJECTIVE

Percutaneous stereotactic radiofrequency rhizotomy (PSR) is often used to treat trigeminal neuralgia, a serious condition that results in lancinating, episodic facial pain. Thorough understanding of the microsurgical anatomy of the foramen ovale (FO) and its surrounding structures is required for efficient, effective, and safe use of this technique. This morphometric study compares anatomical and surgical orientations to identify the variations of the FO and assess cannulation difficulty.

METHODS

Bilateral foramina from 174 adult human dry skulls (348 foramina) were analyzed using anatomical and surgical orientations in photographs from standardized projections. Measurements were obtained for shape, size, adjacent structures, and morphometric variability effect on cannulation. The risk of potential injury to surrounding structures was also assessed.

RESULTS

The authors identified 6 distinctive shapes of the FO and 5 anomalous variants from the anatomical view, and 6 shapes from the surgical view. In measurements of surface area of this foramen obtained using the surgical view, loss (average 18.5% ± 5.7%) was significant compared with the anatomical view. Morphometrically, foramen size varied significantly and obstruction from a calcified pterygoalar ligament occurred in 7.8% of specimens. Importantly, 8% of foramina were difficult to cannulate, thus posing a 12% risk of inadvertent cannulation of the foramen lacerum.

CONCLUSIONS

Significant variability in the FO’s shape and size probably affected its safe and effective cannulation. Preoperative imaging by 3D head CT may be helpful in predicting ease of cannulation and in guiding treatment decisions, such as a percutaneous approach over microvascular decompression or radiosurgery.

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Nisha Giridharan, Smruti K. Patel, Amanda Ojugbeli, Aria Nouri, Peyman Shirani, Aaron W. Grossman, Joseph Cheng, Mario Zuccarello, and Charles J. Prestigiacomo

Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is a disease defined by elevated intracranial pressure without established etiology. Although there is now consensus on the definition of the disorder, its complex pathophysiology remains elusive. The most common clinical symptoms of IIH include headache and visual complaints. Many current theories regarding the etiology of IIH focus on increased secretion or decreased absorption of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and on cerebral venous outflow obstruction due to venous sinus stenosis. In addition, it has been postulated that obesity plays a role, given its prevalence in this population of patients. Several treatments, including optic nerve sheath fenestration, CSF diversion with ventriculoperitoneal or lumboperitoneal shunts, and more recently venous sinus stenting, have been described for medically refractory IIH. Despite the availability of these treatments, no guidelines or standard management algorithms exist for the treatment of this disorder. In this paper, the authors provide a review of the literature on IIH, its clinical presentation, pathophysiology, and evidence supporting treatment strategies, with a specific focus on the role of venous sinus stenting.

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Smruti K. Patel and James K. Liu

Neurenteric cysts are rare and benign lesions that consist of ectopic alimentary tissue residing in the central nervous system. They tend to occur most frequently in an intraspinal rather than intracranial location. Intracranial neurenteric cysts are a rare occurrence in the pediatric population. These lesions typically present as unilateral cystic structures in the lower cerebellopontine angle and craniocervical junction. To the authors' knowledge, there have been no reported cases of bilateral localization of intracranial neurenteric cysts. In this report, they present an unusual case of a 10-year-old girl who was found to have bilateral intracranial neurenteric cysts at the pontomedullary junction. The patient was successfully treated with staged, bilateral far-lateral transcondylar resection of the cysts. The authors also provide a brief overview of the literature describing intracranial neurenteric cysts in children.

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James K. Liu, Smruti K. Patel, Amanda J. Podolski, and Robert W. Jyung

Reconstruction of presigmoid dural defects after resection of acoustic neuromas via the translabyrinthine approach is paramount to prevent postoperative CSF leakage. However, primary dural reapproximation and achieving a watertight closure of the dural defect in this anatomical region are quite difficult. Standard closure techniques after the translabyrinthine approach often involve packing an abdominal fat graft that plugs the dural defect and mastoidectomy cavity. This technique, however, may pose the risk of direct compression of the fat graft on the facial nerve and brainstem. Nonetheless, even with the evolution in dural repair techniques, postoperative CSF leaks can still occur and provide a route for infection and meningitis. In this report, the authors describe a novel dural “sling” reconstruction technique using autologous fascia lata to repair presigmoid dural defects created after translabyrinthine resection of acoustic neuromas. The fascia lata is sewn to the edges of the presigmoid dural defect to create a sling to suspend the fat graft within the mastoidectomy defect. A titanium mesh plate embedded in porous polyethylene is secured over the mastoidectomy defect to apply pressure to the fat graft. In the authors' experience, this has been a successful technique for dural reconstruction after translabyrinthine removal of acoustic neuromas to prevent postoperative CSF leakage. There were no cases of CSF leakage in the first 8 patients treated using this technique. The operative details and preliminary results of this technique are presented.

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Smruti K. Patel, Qasim Husain, Jean Anderson Eloy, William T. Couldwell, and James K. Liu

Developed over a century ago, the transsphenoidal approach to access lesions of the pituitary gland and sella turcica has transformed the field of neurosurgery, largely due to the work of Oskar Hirsch and Harvey Cushing. Furthermore, its use and modification in the early 1900s was perhaps one of Cushing's greatest legacies to skull base surgery. However, Cushing, who had worked relentlessly to improve the transsphenoidal route to the pituitary region, abandoned the approach by 1929 in his pursuit to master transcranial approaches to the suprasellar region. Hirsch and a few other surgeons continued to perform transsphenoidal operations, but they were unable to maintain the popularity of the approach among their peers.

During a time when transsphenoidal surgery was on the brink of extinction, a critical lineage of 3 key surgeons—Norman Dott, Gerard Guiot, and Jules Hardy—would resurrect the art, each working to further improve the procedure. Dott, Cushing's apprentice from 1923 to 1924, brought his experiences with transsphenoidal surgery to Edinburgh, Scotland, and along the way, developed the lighted nasal speculum to provide better illumination in the narrow working area. Guiot, inspired by Dott, adopted his technique and used intraoperative radiofluoroscopic technique for image guidance. Hardy, a fellow of Guiot, from Montreal, Canada, revolutionized transsphenoidal microsurgery with the introduction of the binocular microscope and selective adenomectomy.

The teachings of these pioneers have endured over time and are now widely used by neurosurgeons worldwide. In this paper, we review the lineage and contributions of Dott, Guiot, and Hardy who served as crucial players in the preservation of transsphenoidal surgery.

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Smruti K. Patel, William T. Couldwell, and James K. Liu

Max Brödel is considered the father of modern medical illustration. This report reviews his contributions to neurosurgery as a medical illustrator.

Max Brödel, a young artist from Leipzig, Germany, was hired at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1894, where he illustrated an operative textbook of gynecology for Howard A. Kelly. Although Brödel did not have any formal medical training, he quickly acquired knowledge of anatomy, pathology, physiology, and surgery. Brödel's extraordinary illustrations were characterized by an aerial perspective that conveyed the surgeon's operative viewpoint and precise surgical anatomy. He masterfully incorporated tissue realism with cross-sectional anatomy to accentuate concepts while maintaining topographical accuracy. Brödel's reputation spread quickly and resulted in collaborations with prominent surgeons, such as Cushing, Halsted, and Dandy. Cushing, who also possessed artistic talent, became a pupil of Brödel and remained a very close friend.

In 1911, Brödel was appointed the director of the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine at Johns Hopkins, the first academic department of its kind in the world. For the next several decades, he trained generations of renowned medical illustrators. Just as Osler, Halsted, and Cushing passed their skills and knowledge to future leaders of medicine and surgery, Brödel did the same for the field of medical illustration. The advancement of neurosurgical education has been greatly facilitated by Max Brödel's artistic contributions. His unique ability to synthesize art and medicine resulted in timeless illustrations that remain indispensable to surgeons. The art produced by his legacy of illustrators continues to flourish in neurosurgical literature today.