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Cary D. Alberstone, Stephen L. Skirboll, Edward C. Benzel, John A. Sanders, Blaine L. Hart, Nevan G. Baldwin, Charles L. Tessman, John T. Davis and Roland R. Lee

Object. The availability of large-array biomagnetometers has led to advances in magnetoencephalography that permit scientists and clinicians to map selected brain functions onto magnetic resonance images. This merging of technologies is termed magnetic source (MS) imaging. The present study was undertaken to assess the role of MS imaging for the guidance of presurgical planning and intraoperative neurosurgical technique used in patients with intracranial mass lesions.

Methods. Twenty-six patients with intracranial mass lesions underwent a medical evaluation consisting of MS imaging, a clinical history, a neurological examination, and assessment with the Karnofsky Performance Scale. Magnetic source imaging was used to locate the somatosensory cortex in 25 patients, the visual cortex in six, and the auditory cortex in four. The distance between the lesion and the functional cortex was determined for each patient.

Twenty-one patients underwent a neurosurgical procedure. As a surgical adjunct, a frameless stereotactic navigational system was used in 17 cases and a standard stereotactic apparatus in four cases. Because of the results of their MS imaging examination, two patients were not offered surgery, four underwent a stereotactic biopsy procedure, 10 were treated with a subtotal surgical resection, and seven were treated with complete surgical resection. One patient deteriorated before a procedure could be scheduled and, therefore, was not offered surgery, and two patients were offered surgery but declined. Three patients experienced surgery-related complications.

Conclusions. Magnetic source imaging is an important noninvasive neurodiagnostic tool that provides critical information regarding the spatial relationship of a brain lesion to functional cortex. By providing this information, MS imaging facilitates a minimum-risk management strategy and helps guide operative neurosurgical technique in patients with intracranial mass lesions.

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Cary D. Alberstone, Edward C. Benzel and Deborah Garcia

Although trends in the marketplace demand for neurosurgeons should be of interest to neurosurgeons and prospective neurosurgeons, little data are available that accurately document these trends. A recent report published in the general medical journal Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) used the Conference Board help-wanted index to evaluate trends in physician marketplace demand. The authors of the JAMA study concluded that over the past 5 years there has been a significant fall in demand for specialist physicians. Because the discipline of neurosurgery was not included in the JAMA study, the authors of the present report attempt to evaluate the trend in the marketplace demand for neurosurgeons, using the same methodology of the JAMA study. The authors' data suggest that the conclusion of the JAMA study of steep declines in the demand for specialist physicians does not accurately reflect the job market for neurosurgeons, which in fact appears to be relatively stable. The present study attempts to document the stability of the neurosurgery market and outline the steps necessary to protect this market from existing threats.

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Sait Naderi, Cary D. Alberstone, Frederick W. Rupp, Edward C. Benzel and Nevan G. Baldwin

Forty-four patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy who underwent a ventral surgical approach were evaluated with respect to the results of surgery. The neurological status of the patients was categorized according to the modified Japanese Orthopedic Association scale (0-18). Three patients had a functional score of 8, one patient 9, five patients 10, five patients 11, seven patients 12, seven patients 13, seven patients 14, and nine patients had a functional score of 15, preoperatively. Twenty-three patients underwent a one-level corpectomy, 15 patients a two-level corpectomy, and six patients underwent a three-level corpectomy. Forty-one (93.1%) of the 44 patients underwent ventral cervical plate fixation. Complications among the 44 patients included graft-and instrumentation-related complications in seven cases, iliac crest donor-site infection in three cases, and respiratory complications in three cases. The follow-up periods ranged between 7 and 60 months (mean 42.3 months). Overall, the fusion rate was 97.72%. Three patients showed no functional change (6.8%), two patients were worse (4.5%), and 39 patients (88.6%) showed functional improvement in their score between +1 and +6 points (mean 2.16 points). There was no statistically significant difference in the functional improvement score in patients younger or older than 60 years old. The mean improvement in the functional score was found to be +2.857 ± 1.352, +2.400 ± 1.454, and +0.5000 ± 1.871 following one-level corpectomy, two-level, and three-level corpectomies, respectively. There were statistically significant differences in the neurological improvement observed between patients with one-level corpectomy and three-level corpectomy (p < 0.01), as well as between those with two-level and three-level corpectomy (p < 0.05). There was no statistically significant difference in the neurological outcome between patients with one-level and two-level corpectomy (p > 0.05). The results of this study demonstrate a high rate of solid bone fusion and a high rate of functional (neurological) improvement. Five patients underwent reoperation, predominantly for instrumentation failure. The use of instrumentation dictates careful consideration of the risk/benefit ratio associated with its use in each case.