Annual conferences, educational courses, and other meetings draw a diverse community of individuals, yet also create a unique environment without the traditional guard rails. Unlike events held at one's home institution, clear rules and jurisdiction have not been universally established. To promote the open exchange of ideas, as well as an environment conducive to professional growth of all participants, the leading neurosurgical professional organizations joined to delineate the expectations for anyone who participates in sponsored events. The One Neurosurgery Summit Taskforce on Professionalism and Harassment developed a foundational policy that establishes common expectations for behavior and a unified roadmap for the prompt response to untoward events. We hope that publishing this policy will inspire other medical organizations to establish their own meeting and conference policies. More importantly, we wish to bring greater attention to everyone's responsibility for ensuring a safe and respectful space for education, scientific debate, and networking during organized events.
Ellen L. Air, Katie O. Orrico, Deborah L. Benzil, Alan M. Scarrow, James R. Bean, Catherine A. Mazzola, Linda M. Liau, James T. Rutka, and Karin M. Muraszko
Catherine Veilleux, Nardin Samuel, Han Yan, Victoria Bass, Rabab Al-Shahrani, Ann Mansur, James T. Rutka, Gelareh Zadeh, Mojgan Hodaie, and Geneviève Milot
Although the past decades have seen a steady increase of women in medicine in general, women continue to represent a minority of the physician-training staff and workforce in neurosurgery in Canada and worldwide. As such, the aim of this study was to analyze the experiences of women faculty practicing neurosurgery across Canada to better understand and address the factors contributing to this disparity.
A historical, cross-sectional, and mixed-method analysis of survey responses was performed using survey results obtained from women attending neurosurgeons across Canada. A web-based survey platform was utilized to collect responses. Quantitative analyses were performed on the responses from the study questionnaire, including summary and comparative statistics. Qualitative analyses of free-text responses were performed using axial and open coding.
A total of 19 of 31 respondents (61.3%) completed the survey. Positive enabling factors for career success included supportive colleagues and work environment (52.6%); academic accomplishments, including publications and advanced degrees (36.8%); and advanced fellowship training (47.4%). Perceived barriers reported included inequalities with regard to career advancement opportunities (57.8%), conflicting professional and personal interests (57.8%), and lack of mentorship (36.8%). Quantitative analyses demonstrated emerging themes of an increased need for women mentors as well as support and recognition of the contributions to career advancement of personal and family-related factors.
This study represents, to the authors’ knowledge, the first analysis of factors influencing career success and satisfaction in women neurosurgeons across Canada. This study highlights several key factors contributing to the low representation of women in neurosurgery and identifies specific actionable items that can be addressed by training programs and institutions. In particular, female mentorship, opportunities for career advancement, and increased recognition and integration of personal and professional roles were highlighted as areas for future intervention. These findings will provide a framework for addressing these factors and improving the recruitment and retention of females in this specialty.
Mónica Patricia Herrera-Martinez, Ezequiel García-Ballestas, Ivan Lozada-Martinez, Daniela Torres-Llinás, and Luis Moscote-Salazar
Deborah L. Benzil, Karin M. Muraszko, Pranay Soni, Ellen L. Air, Katie O. Orrico, and James T. Rutka
The goal of this study was the creation and administration of a survey to assess the depth and breadth of sexual harassment across neurosurgery.
A survey was created to 1) assess perceived attitudes toward systemic issues that might be permissive of sexual harassment; 2) measure the reported prevalence and severity of sexual harassment; and 3) determine the populations at highest risk and those most likely to perpetrate sexual harassment. Demographic information was also included to facilitate further analysis. The SurveyMonkey platform was used, and a request to complete the survey was sent to all Society of Neurological Surgeons and Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) active and resident members as well as CNS transitional, emeritus, and inactive members. Data were analyzed using RStudio version 1.2.5019.
Nearly two-thirds of responders indicated having witnessed sexual harassment in some form (62%, n = 382). Males were overwhelmingly identified as the offenders in allegations of sexual harassment (72%), with individuals in a “superior position” identified as offenders in 86%. Less than one-third of responders addressed the incidents of sexual harassment when they happened (yes 31%, no 62%, unsure 7%). Of those who did report, most felt there was either no impact or a negative one (negative: 34%, no impact: 38%). Almost all (85%) cited barriers to taking action about sexual harassment, including retaliation/retribution (87%), impact on future career (85%), reputation concerns (72%), and associated stress (50%). Female neurosurgeons were statistically more likely than male neurosurgeons to report witnessing or experiencing sexual harassment, as well as assessing it as a problem.
This study demonstrates that neurosurgeons report significant sexual harassment across all ages and practice settings. Sexual harassment impacts both men and women, with more than half personally subjected to this behavior and two-thirds having witnessed it. Male dominance, a hierarchical environment, and a permissive environment remain prevalent within the neurosurgical community. This is not just a historical problem, but it continues today. A change of culture will be required for neurosurgery to shed this mantle, which must include zero tolerance of this behavior, new policies, awareness of unconscious bias, and commitment to best practices to enhance diversity. Above all, it will require that all neurosurgeons and neurosurgical leaders develop an awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace and establish consistent mechanisms to mitigate against its highly deleterious effects in the specialty.
Newton Cho, Vincent D. W. Nga, Raheel Ahmed, Jerry C. Ku, Pablo M. Munarriz, Prakash Muthusami, James T. Rutka, and Peter Dirks
Pediatric rolandic arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) present a treatment challenge given the lifetime risk of hemorrhage, rehemorrhage, and associated long-term morbidity. Microsurgical resection has been recommended as the optimal treatment for AVMs in general, but there is no dedicated literature on the outcomes of resection of pediatric rolandic AVMs. Here, the study objective was to review the outcomes of microsurgical resection of pediatric rolandic AVMs in the modern era, together with the utilization of surgical adjuncts including navigation, intraoperative angiography, and neurophysiological monitoring.
The authors performed a retrospective review of patients 18 years of age and younger with cerebral AVMs microsurgically treated between January 2000 and May 2016 at The Hospital for Sick Children. Only those patients with an AVM whose nidus was located within the rolandic region were analyzed. A descriptive analysis was performed to identify patient demographics, preoperative AVM characteristics, and postoperative obliteration rates and neurological complications.
A total of 279 AVMs were evaluated in the study period. Twenty-three of these AVMs were rolandic, and the median age in the 11 microsurgically treated cases was 11 years (range 1–17 years). AVM hemorrhage was the most common presentation, occurring in 8 patients (73%). Lesions were either Spetzler-Martin grade II (n = 8, 73%) or grade III (n = 3, 27%). The postoperative obliteration rate of AVMs was 100%. The mean imaging follow-up duration was 33 months (range 5–164 months). There was no documented recurrence of an AVM during follow-up. One patient developed a transient postoperative hemiparesis, while another patient developed right fingertip hyperesthesia.
Microsurgical resection of rolandic pediatric AVMs yields excellent AVM obliteration with minimal neurological morbidity in selected patients. The incorporation of surgical adjuncts, including neurophysiological monitoring and neuronavigation, allows accurate demarcation of functional cortex and enables effective resection.
Rafael Uribe-Cardenas, Andre E. Boyke, Justin T. Schwarz, Peter F. Morgenstern, Jeffrey P. Greenfield, Theodore H. Schwartz, James T. Rutka, James Drake, and Caitlin E. Hoffman
Early surgical intervention for pediatric refractory epilepsy is increasingly advocated as surgery has become safer and data have demonstrated improved outcomes with early seizure control. There is concern that the risks associated with staged invasive electroencephalography (EEG) in very young children outweigh the potential benefits. Here, the authors present a cohort of children with refractory epilepsy who were referred for invasive monitoring, and they evaluate the role and safety of staged invasive EEG in those 3 years old and younger.
The authors conducted a retrospective review of children 3 years and younger with epilepsy, who had been managed surgically at two institutions between 2001 and 2015. A cohort of pediatric patients older than 3 years of age was used for comparison. Demographics, seizure etiology, surgical management, surgical complications, and adverse events were recorded. Statistical analysis was completed using Stata version 13. A p < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Fisher’s exact test was used to compare proportions.
Ninety-four patients (45 patients aged ≤ 3 [47.9%]) and 208 procedures were included for analysis. Eighty-six procedures (41.3%) were performed in children younger than 3 years versus 122 in the older cohort (58.7%). Forty-two patients underwent grid placement (14 patients aged ≤ 3 [33.3%]); 3 of them developed complications associated with the implant (3/42 [7.14%]), none of whom were among the younger cohort. Across all procedures, 11 complications occurred in the younger cohort versus 5 in the older patients (11/86 [12.8%] vs 5/122 [4.1%], p = 0.032). Two adverse events occurred in the younger group versus 1 in the older group (2/86 [2.32%] vs 1/122 [0.82%], p = 0.571). Following grid placement, 13/14 younger patients underwent guided resections compared to 20/28 older patients (92.9% vs 71.4%, p = 0.23).
While overall complication rates were higher in the younger cohort, subdural grid placement was not associated with an increased risk of surgical complications in that population. Invasive electrocorticography informs management in very young children with refractory, localization-related epilepsy and should therefore be used when clinically indicated.