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Hirotaka Hasegawa, Jamie J. Van Gompel, W. Richard Marsh, Robert E. Wharen Jr., Richard S. Zimmerman, David B. Burkholder, Brian N. Lundstrom, Jeffrey W. Britton, and Fredric B. Meyer

OBJECTIVE

Surgical site infection (SSI) is a rare but significant complication after vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) placement. Treatment options range from antibiotic therapy alone to hardware removal. The optimal therapeutic strategy remains open to debate. Therefore, the authors conducted this retrospective multicenter analysis to provide insight into the optimal management of VNS-related SSI (VNS-SSI).

METHODS

Under institutional review board approval and utilizing an institutional database with 641 patients who had undergone 808 VNS-related placement surgeries and 31 patients who had undergone VNS-related hardware removal surgeries, the authors retrospectively analyzed VNS-SSI.

RESULTS

Sixteen cases of VNS-SSI were identified; 12 of them had undergone the original VNS placement procedure at the authors’ institutions. Thus, the incidence of VNS-SSI was calculated as 1.5%. The mean (± standard deviation) time from the most recent VNS-related surgeries to infection was 42 (± 27) days. Methicillin-sensitive staphylococcus was the usual causative bacteria (58%). Initial treatments included antibiotics with or without nonsurgical procedures (n = 6), nonremoval open surgeries for irrigation (n = 3), generator removal (n = 3), and total or near-total removal of hardware (n = 4). Although 2 patients were successfully treated with antibiotics alone or combined with generator removal, removal of both the generator and leads was eventually required in 14 patients. Mild swallowing difficulties and hoarseness occurred in 2 patients with eventual resolution.

CONCLUSIONS

Removal of the VNS including electrode leads combined with antibiotic administration is the definitive treatment but has a risk of causing dysphagia. If the surgeon finds dense scarring around the vagus nerve, the prudent approach is to snip the electrode close to the nerve as opposed to attempting to unwind the lead completely.

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Maria Peris-Celda, Soliman Oushy, Avital Perry, Christopher S. Graffeo, Lucas P. Carlstrom, Richard S. Zimmerman, Fredric B. Meyer, Bruce E. Pollock, and Michael J. Link

OBJECTIVE

Geniculate neuralgia (GN) is an uncommon craniofacial pain syndrome attributable to nervus intermedius (NI) dysfunction. Diagnosis and treatment can be challenging, due to the complex nature of ear sensory innervation, resulting in clinical overlap with trigeminal neuralgia (TN) and glossopharyngeal neuralgia (GPN).

METHODS

A retrospective review of a prospective neurosurgical database at our institution was performed, 2000–2017, with a corresponding systematic literature review. Pain outcomes were dichotomized as unfavorable for unchanged/worsened symptoms versus favorable if improved/resolved. Eight formalin-fixed brains were examined to describe NI at the brainstem.

RESULTS

Eleven patients were surgically treated for GN—9 primary, 2 reoperations. The median age was 48, 7 patients were female, and the median follow-up was 11 months (range 3–143). Seven had ≥ 2 probable cranial neuralgias. NI was sectioned in 9 and treated via microvascular decompression (MVD) in 2. Five patients underwent simultaneous treatment for TN (4 MVD; 1 rhizotomy) and 5 for GPN (3 MVD; 2 rhizotomy). Eleven reported symptomatic improvement (100%); 8 initially reported complete resolution (73%). Pain outcomes at last contact were favorable in 8 (73%)—all among the 9 primary operations (89% vs 0%, p = 0.054). Six prior series reported outcomes in 111 patients.

CONCLUSIONS

GN is rare, and diagnosis is confounded by symptomatic overlap with TN/GPN. Directed treatment of all possible neuralgias improved pain control in almost all primary operations. Repeat surgery seems a risk factor for an unfavorable outcome. NI is adherent to superomedial VIII at the brainstem; the intermediate/cisternal portion is optimal for visualization and sectioning.

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Sanjeet S. Grewal, Richard S. Zimmerman, Gregory Worrell, Benjamin H. Brinkmann, William O. Tatum, Amy Z. Crepeau, David A. Woodrum, Krzysztof R. Gorny, Joel P. Felmlee, Robert E. Watson, Joseph M. Hoxworth, Vivek Gupta, Prasanna Vibhute, Max R. Trenerry, Timothy J. Kaufmann, W. Richard Marsh, Robert E. Wharen Jr., and Jamie J. Van Gompel

OBJECTIVE

Although it is still early in its application, laser interstitial thermal therapy (LiTT) has increasingly been employed as a surgical option for patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy. This study aimed to describe mesial temporal lobe ablation volumes and seizure outcomes following LiTT across the Mayo Clinic’s 3 epilepsy surgery centers.

METHODS

This was a multi-site, single-institution, retrospective review of seizure outcomes and ablation volumes following LiTT for medically intractable mesial temporal lobe epilepsy between October 2011 and October 2015. Pre-ablation and post-ablation follow-up volumes of the hippocampus were measured using FreeSurfer, and the volume of ablated tissue was also measured on intraoperative MRI using a supervised spline-based edge detection algorithm. To determine seizure outcomes, results were compared between those patients who were seizure free and those who continued to experience seizures.

RESULTS

There were 23 patients who underwent mesial temporal LiTT within the study period. Fifteen patients (65%) had left-sided procedures. The median follow-up was 34 months (range 12–70 months). The mean ablation volume was 6888 mm3. Median hippocampal ablation was 65%, with a median amygdala ablation of 43%. At last follow-up, 11 (48%) of these patients were seizure free. There was no correlation between ablation volume and seizure freedom (p = 0.69). There was also no correlation between percent ablation of the amygdala (p = 0.28) or hippocampus (p = 0.82) and seizure outcomes. Twelve patients underwent formal testing with computational visual fields. Visual field changes were seen in 67% of patients who underwent testing. Comparing the 5 patients with clinically noticeable visual field deficits to the rest of the cohort showed no significant difference in ablation volume between those patients with visual field deficits and those without (p = 0.94). There were 11 patients with follow-up neuropsychological testing. Within this group, verbal learning retention was 76% in the patients with left-sided procedures and 89% in those with right-sided procedures.

CONCLUSIONS

In this study, there was no significant correlation between the ablation volume after LiTT and seizure outcomes. Visual field deficits were common in formally tested patients, much as in patients treated with open temporal lobectomy. Further studies are required to determine the role of amygdalohippocampal ablation.

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Mark K. Lyons, John L. D. Atkinson, Robert E. Wharen, H. Gordon Deen, Richard S. Zimmerman, and Susan M. Lemens

Object. The authors report a retrospective analysis of 194 patients surgically treated at their institutions for symptomatic lumbar synovial cysts from January 1974 to January 1996.

Methods. Patient characteristics including age, sex, symptoms, signs, and preoperative neuroimaging studies were reviewed. Surgical procedures, complications, results, and pathological findings were correlated with preoperative assessment. One hundred ninety-four patients were surgically treated for symptomatic lumbar synovial cysts. Eighty percent were diagnosed and treated between 1987 and 1996. There were 100 men and 94 women with an average age of 66 years (range 28–94 years). The most common symptoms were painful radiculopathy (85%) and neurogenic single or multiroot claudication (44%). However, sensory loss (43%) and motor weakness (27%) were also presenting symptoms. Eleven percent of patients had undergone previous lumbar surgery prior to being referred to the Mayo Clinic. Preoperative neurological examination demonstrated motor weakness (40%), sensory loss (45%), reflex changes (57%), and variants of cauda equina syndrome (13%). In 19% of patients, normal neurological status was demonstrated. There was equal left/right-sided laterality, and eight patients presented with bilateral synovial cysts. The most commonly affected level was L4–5 (64%). All patients underwent laminectomy and resection of the cyst. Concomitant fusion was performed in 18 patients in whom clinical evidence of instability had been observed. However, subsequent fusion was required in only four patients who developed symptomatic spondylolisthesis. Surgery-related complications included cerebrospinal fluid leak (three patients), discitis (one patient), epidural hematoma (one patient), seroma (one patient), and deep vein thrombosis (one patient). One patient died 3 days after surgery of cardiac dysrhythmia. Follow-up data obtained for at least 6 months postoperatively were available in 147 patients. Of these, 134 (91%) reported good relief of their pain and 82% experienced improvement in their motor deficits.

Conclusions. Lumbar synovial cysts are a more common cause of lumbar radicular pain than previously thought. Surgical removal of the cyst is a safe and effective treatment for symptomatic relief in patients with lumbar synovial cysts. A concomitant fusion procedure may be performed in select cases. In this study, only a few patients developed symptomatic spinal instability requiring a second operation.

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H. Gordon Deen, Richard S. Zimmerman, and Louis A. Lanza

✓ A method is described in which anterior fusion of the thoracic vertebral column is performed using a rib strut graft maintained on its vascular pedicle. This straightforward technique is useful in selected patients undergoing anterior thoracic fusion procedures and can be used in conjunction with other anterior spinal implants. By maintaining bone graft blood supply, this technique promotes an optimum fusion environment, which may enhance the speed of graft incorporation and the ultimate strength of the construct.

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H. Gordon Deen Jr, Richard S. Zimmerman, Mark K. Lyons, Malcolm C. McPhee, Joseph L. Verheijde, and Susan M. Lemens

✓ A prospective study of patients with neurogenic claudication and lumbar spinal stenosis was undertaken to determine whether measurement of exercise tolerance on the treadmill would be useful in defining baseline functional status and response to surgical treatment. Twenty patients with an average age of 73 years, all of whom had intractable neurogenic claudication and radiographically confirmed severe lumbar spinal stenosis, were studied. Lumbar decompressive laminectomy was performed in all patients. Preoperatively and 2 months postoperatively, quantitative assessment of ambulation was conducted on a treadmill at 0° ramp incline at two different speeds: 1.2 mph and the patient's preferred walking speed. The following information was recorded: time to first symptoms, time to severe symptoms, and nature of symptoms (leg pain, back pain, or generalized fatigue). The examination was stopped after 15 minutes or at the onset of severe symptoms.

In the preoperative 1.2-mph trial, the mean time to first symptoms was 2.68 minutes (median 1.31) and the mean time to severe symptoms was 5.47 minutes (median 3.42). In the postoperative trial at the same speed, 13 patients (65%) were able to walk symptom free for 15 minutes. The mean time to first symptoms was 11.12 minutes (median 15) and the mean time to severe symptoms was 11.81 minutes (median 15). Similar findings were recorded in the preferred walking—speed trials. There were no complications from the treadmill testing procedure. These findings indicate that exercise stress testing on a treadmill is a safe, easily administered, and quantifiable means of assessing baseline functional status and outcome following laminectomy in patients with symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis.

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H. Gordon Deen Jr., Richard S. Zimmerman, Scott K. Swanson, and Thayne R. Larson

✓ Lumbar spinal stenosis is a common problem in elderly patients. In its more advanced forms, it typically causes intractable leg pain, but many patients also manifest varying degrees of bladder dysfunction. The goal of lumbar decompressive laminectomy is relief of leg pain and paresthesias, yet some patients also achieve improvement in bladder function. This study prospectively investigated patients with lumbar spinal stenosis to determine whether laminectomy had any effect on urological function. Of the 20 patients in the study, 10 were men and 10 women (average age 70.9 years). All patients had severe lumbar stenosis affecting between two and four spinal segments, and all reported some degree of bladder dysfunction. Cystoscopy and urodynamic testing were completed preoperatively. A standard decompressive laminectomy was performed over the appropriate number of spinal segments. Urodynamic studies were repeated at 2 and 6 months postoperatively. At the 6-month follow-up review, bladder function was subjectively improved in 12 patients (60%) and unchanged in eight (40%). Postvoiding residual urine volume was the urodynamic factor most likely to be improved by laminectomy. In nine patients (45%), baseline postvoiding residual urine volume was elevated and all nine had improvement postoperatively. In the remaining 11 patients (55%), this urine volume was normal before and after surgery. Maximum urine flow rates also improved, but the results of cytometrography and electromyography, urine flow pattern, and bladder capacity were unchanged postoperatively. Cystoscopy detected previously undiagnosed malignancy of the lower urinary tract in two patients (10%). It is concluded that lumbar decompressive laminectomy can have a beneficial effect on bladder function in a significant number of patients with advanced lumbar spinal stenosis.

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Brian C. Fitzpatrick, Robert F. Spetzler, Jeffrey L. Ballard, and Richard S. Zimmerman

✓ The technique for cervical-to-petrous internal carotid artery saphenous vein bypass is described. This procedure was used in the treatment of three patients with high cervical or skull base vascular injuries. All grafts were patent on follow-up angiography.

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Robert F. Spetzler, Ronald W. Hargraves, Patrick W. McCormick, Joseph M. Zabramski, Richard A. Flom, and Richard S. Zimmerman

✓ The relationship between the size of an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) and its propensity to hemorrhage is unclear. Although nidus volume increases geometrically with respect to AVM diameter, hemorrhages are at least as common, in small AVM's compared to large AVM's. The authors prospectively evaluated 92 AVM's for nidus size, hematoma size, and arterial feeding pressure to determine if these variables influence the tendency to hemorrhage.

Small AVM's (diameter ≤ 3 cm) presented with hemorrhage significantly more often (p < 0.001) than large AVM's (diameter > 6 cm), the incidence being 82% versus 21%. Intraoperative arterial pressures were recorded from the main feeding vessel(s) in 24 of the 92 patients in this series: 10 presented with hemorrhage and 14 presented with other neurological symptoms. In the AVM's that had hemorrhaged, the mean difference between mean arterial blood pressure and the feeding artery pressure was 6.5 mm Hg (range 2 to 15 mm Hg). In the AVM's that did not rupture, this difference was 40 mm Hg (range 17 to 63 mm Hg). Smaller AVM's had significantly higher feeding artery pressures (p < 0.05) than did larger AVM's, and they were associated with large hemorrhages. It is suggested that differences in arterial feeding pressure may be responsible for the observed relationship between the size of AVM's and the frequency and severity of hemorrhage.

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Joseph M. Zabramski, Robert F. Spetzler, K. Stuart Lee, Stephen M. Papadopoulos, Edwin Bovill, Richard S. Zimmerman, and Joshua B. Bederson

✓ Recent laboratory studies have demonstrated that intracisternal administration of recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA) can facilitate the normal clearing of blood from the subarachnoid space and prevent or ameliorate delayed arterial spasm. The results of a preliminary Phase I trial of intracisternal rt-PA in 10 patients are reported with documented aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). All patients enrolled were classified as clinical Grade III or IV (according to Hunt and Hess) with thick clots or layers of blood in the basal cisterns and major cerebral fissures (Fisher Grade 3). Ventriculostomy and surgery for clipping of the aneurysms were performed within 48 hours of hemorrhage. In one patient, 10 mg rt-PA was instilled into the subarachnoid cisterns prior to closing the dura. In the remaining nine patients, a small silicone catheter was left in the subarachnoid space and rt-PA (5 mg in four cases or 1.5 mg (0.5 mg every 8 hours for three infusions) in five cases) was instilled 12 to 24 hours after surgery. Minor local bleeding complications were noted in all patients receiving 5 or 10 mg rt-PA. Oozing was noted at the operative incision site in four of five patients and at the ventriculostomy site in two patients. One patient developed a small epidural hematoma that was treated by delayed drainage. No bleeding complications were noted in the patients receiving the lower regimen of rt-PA (three infusions of 0.5 mg each). Serial coagulation studies demonstrated no evidence of systemic fibrinolysis. Analysis of cisternal cerebrospinal fluid samples revealed thrombolytic tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) levels for 24 to 48 hours. Follow-up cerebral angiography 7 to 8 days after rupture disclosed mild to moderate spasm in nine patients, while one patient with hemorrhage from a posterior inferior cerebellar artery aneurysm had severe focal spasm of the vertebral arteries that was not symptomatic. These results suggest that postoperative treatment with rt-PA may be effective in reducing the severity of delayed cerebral vasospasm. The results of serial t-PA levels suggest that the lower dosage regimen with divided dosages at 8-hour intervals is well tolerated and that even lower dosages may be effective. Further studies are clearly indicated.