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Pasquale Gallina, Giancarlo Lastrucci, Saverio Caini and Beradino Porfirio

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Eva M. Wu, Tarek Y. El Ahmadieh, Benjamin Kafka, James P. Caruso, Om J. Neeley, Aaron R. Plitt, Salah G. Aoun, Daiwai Olson, Robert A. Ruchinskas, C. Munro Cullum, Babu G. Welch, H. Hunt Batjer and Jonathan A. White

OBJECTIVE

Objective assessment tests are commonly used to predict the response to ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunting in patients with normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH). Whether subjective reports of improvement after a lumbar drain (LD) trial can predict response to VP shunting remains controversial. The goal in this study was to compare clinical characteristics, complication rates, and shunt outcomes of objective and subjective LD responders who underwent VP shunt placement.

METHODS

This was a retrospective review of patients with NPH who underwent VP shunt placement after clinical improvement with the LD trial. Patients who responded after the LD trial were subclassified into objective LD responders and subjective LD responders. Clinical characteristics, complication rates, and shunt outcomes between the 2 groups were compared with chi-square test of independence and t-test.

RESULTS

A total of 116 patients received a VP shunt; 75 were objective LD responders and 41 were subjective LD responders. There was no statistically significant difference in patient characteristics between the 2 groups, except for a shorter length of stay after LD trial seen with subjective responders. The complication rates after LD trial and VP shunting were not significantly different between the 2 groups. Similarly, there was no significant difference in shunt response between objective and subjective LD responders. The mean duration of follow-up was 1.73 years.

CONCLUSIONS

Reports of subjective improvement after LD trial in patients with NPH can be a reliable predictor of shunt response. The currently used objective assessment scales may not be sensitive enough to detect subtle changes in symptomatology after LD trial.

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Eva M. Wu, Tarek Y. El Ahmadieh, Cameron M. McDougall, Salah G. Aoun, Nikhil Mehta, Om James Neeley, Aaron Plitt, Vin Shen Ban, Rafael Sillero, Jonathan A. White, H. Hunt Batjer and Babu G. Welch

OBJECTIVE

Endovascular embolization has been established as an adjuvant treatment strategy for brain arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). A growing body of literature has discussed curative embolization for select lesions. The transition of endovascular embolization from an adjunctive to a definitive treatment modality remains controversial. Here, the authors reviewed the literature to assess the lesional characteristics, technical factors, and angiographic and clinical outcomes of endovascular embolization of AVMs with intent to cure.

METHODS

Electronic databases—Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid Embase, and PubMed—were searched for studies in which there was evidence of AVMs treated using endovascular embolization with intent to cure. The primary outcomes of interest were angiographic obliteration immediately postembolization and at follow-up. The secondary outcomes of interest were complication rates. Descriptive statistics were used to calculate rates and means.

RESULTS

Fifteen studies with 597 patients and 598 AVMs treated with intent-to-cure embolization were included in this analysis. Thirty-four percent of AVMs were Spetzler-Martin grade III. Complete obliteration immediately postembolization was reported in 58.3% of AVMs that had complete treatment and in 45.8% of AVMs in the entire patient cohort. The overall clinical complication rate was 24.1%. The most common complication was hemorrhage, occurring in 9.7% of patients. Procedure-related mortality was 1.5%.

CONCLUSIONS

While endovascular embolization with intent to cure can be an option for select AVMs, the reported complication rates appear to be increased compared with those in studies in which adjunctive embolization was the goal. Given the high complication rate related to a primary embolization approach, the risks and benefits of such a treatment strategy should be discussed among a multidisciplinary team. Curative embolization of AVMs should be considered an unanticipated benefit of such therapy rather than a goal.

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Salah G. Aoun, Sonja E. Stutzman, Phuong-Uyen N. Vo, Tarek Y. El Ahmadieh, Mohamed Osman, Om Neeley, Aaron Plitt, James P. Caruso, Venkatesh Aiyagari, Folefac Atem, Babu G. Welch, Jonathan A. White, H. Hunt Batjer and Daiwai M. Olson

OBJECTIVE

Cerebral vasospasm causing delayed cerebral ischemia (DCI) is a source of significant morbidity after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Transcranial Doppler is used at most institutions to detect sonographic vasospasm but has poor positive predictive value for DCI. Automated assessment of the pupillary light reflex has been increasingly used as a reliable way of assessing pupillary reactivity, and the Neurological Pupil Index (NPi) has been shown to decrease hours prior to the clinical manifestation of ischemic injury or herniation syndromes. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of automated pupillometry in the setting of SAH, as a potential adjunct to TCD.

METHODS

Our analysis included patients that had been diagnosed with aneurysmal SAH and admitted to the neuro–intensive care unit of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center between November 2015 and June 2017. A dynamic infrared pupillometer was used for all pupillary measurements. An NPi value ranging from 3 to 5 was considered normal, and from 0 to 2.9 abnormal. Sonographic vasospasm was defined as middle cerebral artery velocities greater than 100 cm/sec with a Lindegaard ratio greater than 3 on either side on transcranial Doppler. Most patients had multiple NPi readings daily and we retained the lowest value for our analysis. We aimed to study the association between DCI and sonographic vasospasm, and DCI and NPi readings.

RESULTS

A total of 56 patients were included in the final analysis with 635 paired observations of daily TCD and NPi data. There was no statistically significant association between the NPi value and the presence of sonographic vasospasm. There was a significant association between DCI and sonographic vasospasm, χ2(1) = 6.4112, p = 0.0113, OR 1.6419 (95% CI 1.1163–2.4150), and between DCI and an abnormal decrease in NPi, χ2(1) = 38.4456, p < 0.001, OR 3.3930 (95% CI 2.2789–5.0517). Twelve patients experienced DCI, with 7 showing a decrease of their NPi to an abnormal range. This change occurred > 8 hours prior to the clinical decline 71.4% of the time. The NPi normalized in all patients after treatment of their vasospasm.

CONCLUSIONS

Isolated sonographic vasospasm does not seem to correlate with NPi changes, as the latter likely reflects an ischemic neurological injury. NPi changes are strongly associated with the advent of DCI and could be an early herald of clinical deterioration.

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Tarek Y. El Ahmadieh, Eva M. Wu, Benjamin Kafka, James P. Caruso, Om J. Neeley, Aaron Plitt, Salah G. Aoun, Daiwai M. Olson, Robert A. Ruchinskas, C. Munro Cullum, Samuel Barnett, Babu G. Welch, H. Hunt Batjer and Jonathan A. White

OBJECTIVE

A short-term lumbar drain (LD) trial is commonly used to assess the response of normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) patients to CSF diversion. However, it remains unknown whether the predictors of passing an LD trial match the predictors of improvement after ventriculoperitoneal shunting. The aim of this study was to examine outcomes, complication rates, and associations between predictors and outcomes after an LD trial in patients with NPH.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the records of 254 patients with probable NPH who underwent an LD trial between March 2008 and September 2017. Multivariate regression models were constructed to examine predictors of passing the LD trial. Complications associated with the LD trial procedure were recorded.

RESULTS

The mean patient age was 77 years and 56.7% were male. The mean durations of gait disturbance, cognitive decline, and urinary incontinence were 29 months, 32 months, and 28 months, respectively. Of the 254 patients, 30% and 16% reported objective and subjective improvement after the LD trial, respectively. Complications included a sheared LD catheter, meningitis, lumbar epidural abscess, CSF leak at insertion site, transient lower extremity numbness, slurred speech, refractory headaches, and hyponatremia. Multivariate analyses using MAX-R revealed that a prior history of stroke predicted worse outcomes, while disproportionate subarachnoid spaces (uneven enlargement of supratentorial spaces) predicted better outcomes after the LD trial (r2 = 0.12, p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

The LD trial is generally safe and well tolerated. The best predictors of passing the LD trial include a negative history of stroke and having disproportionate subarachnoid spaces.

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Bruno C. Flores, Jonathan A. White, H. Hunt Batjer and Duke S. Samson

OBJECTIVE

Paraclinoid internal carotid artery (ICA) aneurysms frequently require temporary occlusion to facilitate safe clipping. Brisk retrograde flow through the ophthalmic artery and cavernous ICA branches make simple trapping inadequate to soften the aneurysm. The retrograde suction decompression (RSD), or Dallas RSD, technique was described in 1990 in an attempt to overcome some of those treatment limitations. A frequent criticism of the RSD technique is an allegedly high risk of cervical ICA dissection. An endovascular modification was introduced in 1991 (endovascular RSD) but no studies have compared the 2 RSD variations.

METHODS

The authors performed a systematic review of MEDLINE/PubMed and Web of Science and identified all studies from 1990–2016 in which either Dallas RSD or endovascular RSD was used for treatment of paraclinoid aneurysms. A pooled analysis of the data was completed to identify important demographic and treatment-specific variables. The primary outcome measure was defined as successful aneurysm obliteration. Secondary outcome variables were divided into overall and RSD-specific morbidity and mortality rates.

RESULTS

Twenty-six RSD studies met the inclusion criteria (525 patients, 78.9% female). The mean patient age was 53.5 years. Most aneurysms were unruptured (56.6%) and giant (49%). The most common presentations were subarachnoid hemorrhage (43.6%) and vision changes (25.3%). The aneurysm obliteration rate was 95%. The mean temporary occlusion time was 12.7 minutes. Transient or permanent morbidity was seen in 19.9% of the patients. The RSD-specific complication rate was low (1.3%). The overall mortality rate was 4.2%, with 2 deaths (0.4%) attributable to the RSD technique itself. Good or fair outcome were reported in 90.7% of the patients.

Aneurysm obliteration rates were similar in the 2 subgroups (Dallas RSD 94.3%, endovascular RSD 96.3%, p = 0.33). Despite a higher frequency of complex (giant or ruptured) aneurysms, Dallas RSD was associated with lower RSD-related morbidity (0.6% vs 2.9%, p = 0.03), compared with the endovascular RSD subgroup. There was a trend toward higher mortality in the endovascular RSD subgroup (6.4% vs 3.1%, p = 0.08). The proportion of patients with poor neurological outcome at last follow-up was significantly higher in the endovascular RSD group (15.4% vs 7.2%, p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

The treatment of paraclinoid ICA aneurysms using the RSD technique is associated with high aneurysm obliteration rates, good long-term neurological outcome, and low RSD-related morbidity and mortality. Review of the RSD literature showed no evidence of a higher complication rate associated with the Dallas technique compared with similar endovascular methods. On a subgroup analysis of Dallas RSD and endovascular RSD, both groups achieved similar obliteration rates, but a lower RSD-related morbidity was seen in the Dallas technique subgroup. Twenty-five years after its initial publication, RSD remains a useful neurosurgical technique for the management of large and giant paraclinoid aneurysms.

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Jeffrey S. Beecher, Kristopher Lyon, Vin Shen Ban, Awais Vance, Cameron M. McDougall, Louis A. Whitworth, Jonathan A. White, Duke Samson, H. Hunt Batjer and Babu G. Welch

OBJECTIVE

Despite a hemorrhagic presentation, many patients with arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) do not require emergency resection. The timing of definitive management is not standardized in the cerebrovascular community. This study was designed to evaluate the safety of delaying AVM treatment in clinically stable patients with a new hemorrhagic presentation. The authors examined the rate of rehemorrhage or neurological decline in a cohort of patients with ruptured brain AVMs during a period of time posthemorrhage.

METHODS

Patients presenting to the authors’ institution from January 2000 to December 2015 with ruptured brain AVMs treated at least 4 weeks posthemorrhage were included in this analysis. Exclusion criteria were ruptured AVMs that required emergency surgery involving resection of the AVM, prior treatment of AVM at another institution, or treatment of lesions within 4 weeks for other reasons (subacute surgery). The primary outcome measure was time from initial hemorrhage to treatment failure (defined as rehemorrhage or neurological decline as a direct result of the AVM). Patient-days were calculated from the day of initial rupture until the day AVM treatment was initiated or treatment failed.

RESULTS

Of 102 ruptured AVMs in 102 patients meeting inclusion criteria, 7 (6.9%) failed the treatment paradigm. Six patients (5.8%) had a new hemorrhage within a median of 248 days (interquartile range 33–1364 days). The total “at risk” period was 18,740 patient-days, yielding a rehemorrhage rate of 11.5% per patient-year, or 0.96% per patient-month. Twelve (11.8%) of 102 patients were found to have an associated aneurysm. In this group there was a single (8.3%) new hemorrhage during a total at-risk period of 263 patient-days until the aneurysm was secured, yielding a rehemorrhage risk of 11.4% per patient-month.

CONCLUSIONS

It is the authors’ practice to rehabilitate patients after brain AVM rupture with a plan for elective treatment of the AVM. The present data are useful in that the findings quantify the risk of the authors’ treatment strategy. These findings indicate that delaying intervention for at least 4 weeks after the initial hemorrhage subjects the patient to a low (< 1%) risk of rehemorrhage. The authors modified the treatment paradigm when a high-risk feature, such as an associated intracranial aneurysm, was identified.

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H. Hunt Batjer and Vin Shen Ban

This AANS presidential address focuses on enduring values of the neurosurgical profession that transcend the current political climate. The address was delivered by Dr. Batjer during a US presidential election year, but the authors have intentionally avoided discussing the current chaos of the American health care system in the knowledge that many pressing issues will change depending on the outcome of the 2016 elections. Instead, they have chosen to focus on clarifying what neurosurgeons, and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, in particular, stand for; identifying important challenges to these fundamental principles and values; and proposing specific actions to address these challenges. The authors cite “de-professionalism” and commoditization of medicine as foremost among the threats that confront medicine and surgery today and suggest concrete action that can be taken to reverse these trends as well as steps that can be taken to address other significant challenges. They emphasize the importance of embracing exceptionalism and never compromising the standards that have characterized the profession of neurosurgery since its inception.

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Salah G. Aoun, Tarek Y. El Ahmadieh, Najib E. El Tecle, Marc R. Daou, Joseph G. Adel, Christine S. Park, H. Hunt Batjer and Bernard R. Bendok

OBJECT

Microsurgical skills remain an integral component of neurosurgical education. There is a need for an objective scale to assess microsurgical skills. The objective of this study was to assess the face and construct validity of a benchtraining microanastomosis module and an objective assessment scale, i.e., the Northwestern Objective Microanastomosis Assessment Tool (NOMAT).

METHODS

Medical students, neurosurgical residents, and postdoctoral research fellows at Northwestern University were enrolled in the study. Trainees were divided into 3 groups based on microsurgical experience: 1) experienced, 2) exposed, and 3) novices. Each trainee completed two end-to-end microanastomoses using a 1-mm and a 3-mm synthetic vessel. Two cameras were installed to capture procedural footage. One neurosurgeon blindly graded the performance of trainees using both objective and subjective methods to assess construct validity. Two neurosurgeons reviewed the contents of the simulation module to assess face validity.

RESULTS

Twenty-one trainees participated in the study, including 6 experienced, 6 exposed, and 9 novices. The mean NOMAT score for experienced trainees on the 1-mm module was 47.3/70 compared with 26.0/70 and 25.8/70 for exposed and novice trainees, respectively (p = 0.02). Using subjective grading, experienced trainees performed significantly better on the 1-mm module (64.2/100) compared with exposed or novice trainees (23.3/100 and 25.0/100, respectively; p = 0.02). No statistical difference between groups was noted for the 3-mm module with both NOMAT and subjective grading. Experienced trainees took less time to perform both tasks compared with the others.

CONCLUSIONS

Face and construct validities of the microanastomosis module were established. The scale and the microanastomosis module could help assess the microsurgical skills of neurosurgical trainees and serve as a basis for the creation of a microsurgical curriculum.