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Alberto A. Uribe, Mirza N. Baig, Erika G. Puente, Adolfo Viloria, Ehud Mendel and Sergio D. Bergese

Postoperative visual loss (POVL) after spine surgery performed with the patient prone is a rare but devastating postoperative complication. The incidence and the mechanisms of visual loss after surgery are difficult to determine. The 4 recognized causes of POVL are ischemic optic neuropathy (approximately 89%), central retinal artery occlusion (approximately 11%), cortical infarction, and external ocular injury. There are very limited guidelines or protocols on the perioperative practice for “prone-position” surgeries. However, new devices have been designed to prevent mechanical ocular compression during prone-position spine surgeries. The authors used PubMed to perform a literature search for devices used in prone-position spine surgeries. A total of 7 devices was found; the authors explored these devices' features, advantages, and disadvantages. The cause of POVL seems to be a multifactorial problem with unclear pathophysiological mechanisms. Therefore, ocular compression is a critical factor, and eliminating any obvious compression to the eye with these devices could possibly prevent this devastating perioperative complication.

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Mirza N. Baig, Ali Raza, Moumen Asbahi and Scott Elton

Object

In this study, retrospective data analysis was performed to analyze the utility of head computed tomography (CT) scanning in the diagnosis of Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) in the pediatric population.

Methods

The authors conducted a retrospective review of radiology charts describing head CT results obtained at Columbus Children's Hospital between January 2004 and January 2005. The records were searched for the key words “Chiari,” “cerebellar ectopy,” or “tonsillar ectopy.” The exclusion criteria included patients with previously known Chiari malformation Type I or Type II or those who had undergone follow-up magnetic resonance (MR) imaging at other institutions. Head CT and MR images for the remaining patients were reviewed to verify accuracy.

Results

Of the 72 patients with suspicious findings of tonsillar ectopy on CT, only 37 (51.4%) had MR imaging findings consistent with CM-I. The tonsillar ectopy in these patients ranged from 3 mm to 17 mm below the foramen magnum.

Conclusions

The authors' findings indicate that incidental standard CT scans of the head have limited value in identifying CM-I.

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Mirza N. Baig, Martin Lubow, Phillip Immesoete, Sergio D. Bergese, Elsayed-Awad Hamdy and Ehud Mendel

✓In recent studies spinal surgery has replaced cardiac surgery as a leading cause of postoperative vision loss (POVL). Estimates of the incidence of POVL after spinal surgery range from 0.028 to 0.2%, but with advances in complex spinal instrumentation and the rise in annual spinal operations, POVL may see an ominous increase in its incidence. Postoperative vision loss is an uncommon but devastating complication, with unknown origin and pathogenesis. The authors undertook a literature review and summarize the current understanding of its pathophysiology, highlight the limitations of existing knowledge, and recommend practical guidelines for avoiding this devastating outcome.

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Chris S. Karas, Mirza N. Baig and Scott W. Elton

Object

The authors review all cases in which ventriculosubgaleal (VSG) shunts were placed at Columbus Children's Hospital for the treatment of posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus in order to assess the surgical procedure, effectiveness of surgery, and complications of cerebrospinal fluid diversion to the subgaleal space. The purpose of the review is to make a comparison between cases in which shunts were placed in the operating room (OR) and those in which they were placed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Considerations and complications specific to patient transport to the OR or surgical implantation in the NICU are discussed.

Methods

Seventeen infants with posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus were treated with VSG shunt placement over a period of 4 years. A retrospective analysis of these cases was performed to evaluate multiple aspects of the procedure. Specifically, the surgical procedure, duration of shunt function prior to shunt conversion, neuroimaging changes, operative complications, and risk of infection are discussed. The authors also performed a comparative analysis of shunt placement in the NICU and the OR.

Results

The length of the procedure was similar in the two locations. No differences in perioperative or intraoperative risks and no increased risk of infection were seen in either location in this pilot study. Interestingly, the mean lifespan of primary implants placed in the NICU (73 days) was longer than that of those placed in the OR (43 days).

Conclusions

Ventriculosubgaleal shunt placement offers a safe and effective temporary means of treating post-hemorrhagic hydrocephalus and can be reliably and safely performed at the bedside.

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Mirza N. Baig, Syed Saquib, Greg Christoforidis and Louis P. Caragine Jr.

✓Spinal hemangiomas can be categorized into three different groups based on location. Vertebral body (VB) heman-giomas are frequent incidental findings on magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. There is a subdivision of these with spinal epidural extension that have been reported in the literature. Spinal hemangiomas can also be epidural without VB involvement; these are extremely rare with few reported cases in the thoracic epidural spinal column. The diagnosis and imaging characteristics as well as the surgical tools used in gross-total resection of spinal epidural hemangioma are not well understood.

The authors present a detailed characterization of a spinal epidural hemangioma in a 30-year-old woman who presented with complaints of gradual onset of low-back pain that worsened over 1 year. The MR imaging findings indicated a large L2–S1 epidural spinal mass causing thecal sac compression. The patient underwent an L2–S1 laminectomy, and a vascular extradural mass was noted on the posterior aspect of the dura mater. Preoperative spinal angiography as well as intraoperative angiography was performed.

Total resection of the tumor was achieved using intraoperative embolization with sodium tetradecyl sulfate and microscopic dissection. The postoperative MR imaging findings and clinical outcome were excellent.

The findings and use of sodium tetradecyl sulfate in gross-total resection are discussed. The authors also review treatment modalities and demonstrate the utility and effectiveness of intraoperative sodium tetradecyl sulfate in gross-total resection of large difficult spinal epidural hemangiomas.

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Mirza N. Baig, Faheem Chishty, Phillip Immesoete and Chris S. Karas

✓The seat of consciousness has not always been thought to reside in the brain. Its “source” is as varied as the cultures of those who have sought it. At present, although most may agree that the central nervous system is held to be the root of individualism in much of Western philosophy, this has not always been the case, and this viewpoint is certainly not unanimously accepted across all cultures today.

In this paper the authors undertook a literary review of ancient texts of both Eastern and Western societies as well as modern writings on the organic counterpart to the soul. The authors have studied both ancient Greek and Roman material as well as Islamic and Eastern philosophy.

Several specific aspects of the human body have often been proposed as the seat of consciousness, not only in medical texts, but also within historical documents, poetry, legal proceedings, and religious literature. Among the most prominently proposed have been the heart and breath, favoring a cardiopulmonary seat of individualism. This understanding was by no means stagnant, but evolved over time, as did the role of the brain in the definition of what it means to be human.

Even in the 21st century, no clear consensus exists between or within communities, scientific or otherwise, on the brain's capacity for making us who we are. Perhaps, by its nature, our consciousness—and our awareness of our surroundings and ourselves—is a function of what surrounds us, and must therefore change as the world changes and as we change.