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Patrick M. Flanigan, Arman Jahangiri, Joshua L. Golubovsky, Jaret M. Karnuta, Francis J. May, Mitchel S. Berger and Manish K. Aghi

OBJECTIVE

The position of neurosurgery department chair undergoes constant evolution as the health care landscape changes. The authors’ aim in this paper was to characterize career attributes of neurosurgery department chairs in order to define temporal trends in qualities being sought in neurosurgical leaders. Specifically, they investigated the hypothesis that increased qualifications in the form of additional advanced degrees and research acumen are becoming more common in recently hired chairs, possibly related to the increased complexity of their role.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective study in which they collected data on 105 neurosurgeons who were neurosurgery department chairs as of December 31, 2016, at accredited academic institutions with a neurosurgery residency program in the United States. Descriptive data on the career of neurosurgery chairs, such as the residency program attended, primary subspecialty focus, and age at which they accepted their position as chair, were collected.

RESULTS

The median age and number of years in practice postresidency of neurosurgery chairs on acceptance of the position were 47 years (range 36–63 years) and 14 years (range 6–33 years), respectively, and 87% (n = 91) were first-time chairs. The median duration that chairs had been holding their positions as of December 31, 2016, was 10 years (range 1–34 years). The most common subspecialties were vascular (35%) and tumor/skull base (27%), although the tendency to hire from these specialties diminished over time (p = 0.02). More recently hired chairs were more likely to be older (p = 0.02), have more publications (p = 0.007), and have higher h-indices (p < 0.001) at the time of hire. Prior to being named chair, 13% (n = 14) had a PhD, 4% (n = 4) had an MBA, and 23% (n = 24) were awarded a National Institutes of Health R01 grant, tendencies that were stable over time (p = 0.09–0.23), although when additional degrees were analyzed as a binary variable, chairs hired in 2010 or after were more likely to have an MBA and/or PhD versus those hired before 2010 (26% vs 10%, p = 0.04). The 3 most common residency programs attended by the neurosurgery chairs were Massachusetts General Hospital (n = 8, 8%), University of California, San Francisco (n = 8, 8%), and University of Michigan (n = 6, 6%). Most chairs (n = 63, 61%) attended residency at the institution and/or were staff at the institution before they were named chair, a tendency that persisted over time (p = 0.86).

CONCLUSIONS

Most neurosurgery department chairs matriculated into the position before the age of 50 years and, despite selection processes usually involving a national search, most chairs had a previous affiliation with the department, a phenomenon that has been relatively stable over time. In recent years, a large increase has occurred in the proportion of chairs with additional advanced degrees and more extensive research experience, underscoring how neurosurgical leadership has come to require scientific skills and the ability to procure grants, as well as the financial skills needed to navigate the ever-changing financial health care landscape.

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Stephen T. Magill, Seunggu J. Han, Jing Li and Mitchel S. Berger

OBJECTIVE

Brain tumors involving the primary motor cortex are often deemed unresectable due to the potential neurological consequences that result from injury to this region. Nevertheless, we have challenged this dogma for many years and used asleep, as well as awake, intraoperative stimulation mapping to maximize extent of resection. It remains unclear whether these tumors can be resected with acceptable morbidity, whether performing the surgery with the patient awake or asleep impacts extent of resection, and how stimulation mapping influences outcomes.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review was performed on the senior author’s cohort to identify patients treated between 1998 and 2016 who underwent resection of tumors that were located within the primary motor cortex. Clinical notes, operative reports, and radiographic images were reviewed to identify intraoperative stimulation mapping findings and functional outcomes following tumor resection. Extent of resection was quantified volumetrically. Characteristics of patients were analyzed to identify factors associated with postoperative motor deficits.

RESULTS

Forty-nine patients underwent 53 resections of tumors located primarily within the motor cortex. Stimulation mapping was performed in all cases. Positive cortical sites for motor response were identified in 91% of cases, and subcortical sites in 74%. Awake craniotomy was performed in 65% of cases, while 35% were done under general anesthesia. The mean extent of resection was 91%. There was no statistically significant difference in extent of resection in cases done awake compared with those done under general anesthesia. New or worsened postoperative motor deficits occurred in 32 patients (60%), and 20 patients (38%) had a permanent deficit. Of the permanent deficits, 14 were mild, 4 were moderate, and 2 were severe (3.8% of cases). Decreased intraoperative motor response and diffusion restriction on postoperative MRI were associated with permanent deficit. Awake motor mapping surgery was associated with increased diffusion signal on postoperative MRI.

CONCLUSIONS

Resection of tumors from the primary motor cortex is associated with an increased risk of motor deficit, but most of these deficits are transient or mild and have little functional impact. Excellent extent of resection can be achieved with intraoperative stimulation mapping, suggesting that these tumors are indeed amenable to resection and should not be labeled unresectable. Injury to small perforating or en passage blood vessels was the most common cause of infarction that led to moderate or severe deficits. Awake motor mapping was not superior to mapping done under general anesthesia with regard to long-term functional outcome.

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Ramin A. Morshed, Jacob S. Young, Seunggu J. Han, Shawn L. Hervey-Jumper and Mitchel S. Berger

OBJECTIVE

Greater extent of resection (EOR) improves overall survival and progression-free survival for patients with low- and high-grade glioma. While resection for newly diagnosed insular gliomas can be performed with minimal morbidity, perioperative morbidity is not clearly defined for patients undergoing a repeat resection for recurrent insular gliomas. In this study the authors report on tumor characteristics, tumor EOR, and functional outcomes in patients undergoing reoperation for recurrent insular glioma.

METHODS

Adult patients with insular gliomas (WHO grades II–IV) who underwent index resection followed by reoperation were identified through the University of California San Francisco Brain Tumor Center. Treatment history and functional outcomes were collected retrospectively from the electronic medical record. Pre- and postoperative tumor volumes were quantified using software with region-of-interest analysis based on FLAIR and T1-weighted postgadolinium sequences from pre- and postoperative MRI.

RESULTS

Forty-four patients (63.6% male, 36.4% female) undergoing 49 reoperations for recurrent insular tumors were identified with a median follow-up of 741 days. Left- and right-sided tumors comprised 52.3% and 47.7% of the cohort, respectively. WHO grade II, III, and IV gliomas comprised 46.9%, 28.6%, and 24.5% of the cohort, respectively. Ninety-five percent (95.9%) of cases involved language and/or motor mapping. Median EOR of the insular component of grade II, III, and IV tumors were 82.1%, 75.0%, and 94.6%, respectively. EOR during reoperation was not impacted by Berger-Sanai insular zone or tumor side. At the time of reoperation, 44.9% of tumors demonstrated malignant transformation to a higher WHO grade. Ninety-day postoperative assessment confirmed that 91.5% of patients had no new postoperative deficit attributable to surgery. Of those with new deficits, 3 (6.4%) had a visual field cut and 1 (2.1%) had hemiparesis (strength grade 1–2/5). The presence of a new postoperative deficit did not vary with EOR.

CONCLUSIONS

Recurrent insular gliomas, regardless of insular zone and pathology, may be reoperated on with an overall acceptable degree of resection and safety despite their anatomical and functional complexities. The use of intraoperative mapping utilizing asleep or awake methods may reduce morbidity to acceptable rates despite prior surgery.

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Derek G. Southwell, Harjus S. Birk, Seunggu J. Han, Jing Li, Jeffrey W. Sall and Mitchel S. Berger

OBJECTIVE

Maximal safe resection is a primary objective in the management of gliomas. Despite this objective, surgeons and referring physicians may, on the basis of radiological studies alone, assume a glioma to be unresectable. Because imaging studies, including functional MRI, may not localize brain functions (such as language) with high fidelity, this simplistic approach may exclude some patients from what could be a safe resection. Intraoperative direct electrical stimulation (DES) allows for the accurate localization of functional areas, thereby enabling maximal resection of tumors, including those that may appear inoperable based solely on radiological studies. In this paper the authors describe the extent of resection (EOR) and functional outcomes following resections of tumors deemed inoperable by referring physicians and neurosurgeons.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively examined the cases of 58 adult patients who underwent glioma resection within 6 months of undergoing a brain biopsy of the same lesion at an outside hospital. All patients exhibited unifocal supratentorial disease and preoperative Karnofsky Performance Scale scores ≥ 70. The EOR and 6-month functional outcomes for this population were characterized.

RESULTS

Intraoperative DES mapping was performed on 96.6% (56 of 58) of patients. Nearly half of the patients (46.6%, 27 of 58) underwent an awake surgical procedure with DES. Overall, the mean EOR was 87.6% ± 13.6% (range 39.0%–100%). Gross-total resection (resection of more than 99% of the preoperative tumor volume) was achieved in 29.3% (17 of 58) of patients. Subtotal resection (95%–99% resection) and partial resection (PR; < 95% resection) were achieved in 12.1% (7 of 58) and 58.6% (34 of 58) of patients, respectively. Of the cases that involved PR, the mean EOR was 79.4% ± 12.2%. Six months after surgery, no patient was found to have a new postoperative neurological deficit. The majority of patients (89.7%, 52 of 58) were free of neurological deficits both pre- and postoperatively. The remainder of patients exhibited either residual but stable deficits (5.2%, 3 of 58) or complete correction of preoperative deficits (5.2%, 3 of 58).

CONCLUSIONS

The use of DES enabled maximal safe resections of gliomas deemed inoperable by referring neurosurgeons. With rare exceptions, tumor resectability cannot be determined solely by radiological studies.

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Mitchel S. Berger, Ilona V. Garner and Michael W. McDermott

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Seunggu J. Han, Ramin A. Morshed, Irene Troncon, Kesshi M. Jordan, Roland G. Henry, Shawn L. Hervey-Jumper and Mitchel S. Berger

OBJECTIVE

Herein, the authors report their experience with intraoperative stimulation mapping to locate the descending subcortical motor pathways in patients undergoing surgery for hemispheric gliomas within or adjacent to the rolandic cortex, with particular description of the morbidity and functional outcomes associated with this technique.

METHODS

This is a retrospective analysis of patients who, in the period between 1997 and 2016, had undergone resection of hemispheric perirolandic gliomas within or adjacent to descending motor pathways. Data regarding intraoperative stimulation mapping and patient postoperative neurological status were collected.

RESULTS

Of 702 patients, stimulation mapping identified the descending motor pathways in 300 cases (43%). A new or worsened motor deficit was seen postoperatively in 210 cases (30%). Among these 210 cases, there was improvement in motor function to baseline levels by 3 months postoperatively in 161 cases (77%), whereas the deficit remained in 49 cases (23%). The majority (65%) of long-term deficits (persisting beyond 3 months) were mild or moderate (antigravity strength or better). On multivariate analysis, patients in whom the subcortical motor pathways had been identified with stimulation mapping during surgery were more likely to develop an additional and/or worsened motor deficit postoperatively than were those in whom the subcortical pathways had not been found (45% vs 19%, respectively, p < 0.001). This difference remained when considering the likelihood of a long-term deficit (i.e., persisting > 3 months; 12% vs 3.2%, p < 0.001). A higher tumor grade and the presence of a preoperative motor deficit were also associated with higher rates of motor deficits persisting long-term. A region of restricted diffusion adjacent to the resection cavity was seen in 20 patients with long-term deficits (41%) and was more common in cases in which the motor pathways were not identified (69%). Long-term deficits that occur in settings in which the subcortical motor pathways are not identified seem in large part due to ischemic injury to descending tracts.

CONCLUSIONS

Stimulation mapping allows surgeons to identify the descending motor pathways during resection of tumors in perirolandic regions and to attain an acceptable rate of morbidity in these high-risk cases.

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Michael M. Safaee, Ramin A. Morshed, Jordan Spatz, Sujatha Sankaran, Mitchel S. Berger and Manish K. Aghi

OBJECTIVE

Interfacility neurosurgical transfers to tertiary care centers are driven by a number of variables, including lack of on-site coverage, limited available technology, insurance factors, and patient preference. The authors sought to assess the timing and necessity of surgery and compared transfers to their institution from emergency departments (ED) and inpatient units at other hospitals.

METHODS

Adult neurosurgical patients who were transferred to a single tertiary care center were analyzed over 12 months. Patients with traumatic injuries or those referred from skilled nursing facilities or rehabilitation centers were excluded.

RESULTS

A total of 504 transferred patients were included, with mean age 55 years (range 19–92 years); 53% of patients were women. Points of origin were ED in 54% cases and inpatient hospital unit in 46%, with a mean distance traveled for most patients of 119 miles. Broad diagnosis categories included brain tumors (n = 142, 28%), vascular lesions, including spontaneous and hypertensive intracerebral hemorrhage (n = 143, 28%), spinal lesions (n = 126, 25%), hydrocephalus (n = 45, 9%), wound complications (n = 29, 6%), and others (n = 19, 4%). Patients transferred from inpatient units had higher rates of surgical intervention (75% vs 57%, p < 0.001), whereas patients transferred from the ED had higher rates of urgent surgery (20% vs 8%, p < 0.001) and shorter mean time to surgery (3 vs 5 days, p < 0.001). Misdiagnosis rates were higher among ED referrals (11% vs 4%, p = 0.008). Across the same timeframe, patients undergoing elective admission (n = 1986) or admission from the authors’ own ED (n = 248) had significantly shorter lengths of stay (p < 0.001) and ICU days (p < 0.001) than transferred patients, as well as a significantly lower total cost ($44,412, $46,163, and $72,175, respectively; p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors present their 12-month experience from a single tertiary care center without Level I trauma designation. In this cohort, 65% of patients required surgery, but the rates were higher among inpatient referrals, and misdiagnosis rates were higher among ED transfers. These data suggest that admitting nonemergency patients to local hospitals may improve diagnostic accuracy of patients requiring urgent care, more precisely identify patients in need of transfer, and reduce costs. Referring facilities may lack necessary resources or expertise, and the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) obligates tertiary care centers to accept these patients under those circumstances. Telemedicine and integration of electronic medical records may help guide referring hospitals to pursue additional workup, which may eliminate the need for unnecessary transfer and provide additional cost savings.

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Ankush Chandra, Jonathan W. Rick, Cecilia Dalle Ore, Darryl Lau, Alan T. Nguyen, Diego Carrera, Alexander Bonte, Annette M. Molinaro, Philip V. Theodosopoulos, Michael W. McDermott, Mitchel S. Berger and Manish K. Aghi

OBJECTIVE

Glioblastoma (GBM) is an aggressive brain malignancy with a short overall patient survival, yet there remains significant heterogeneity in outcomes. Although access to health care has previously been linked to impact on prognosis in several malignancies, this question remains incompletely answered in GBM.

METHODS

This study was a retrospective analysis of 354 newly diagnosed patients with GBM who underwent first resection at the authors’ institution (2007–2015).

RESULTS

Of the 354 patients (median age 61 years, and 37.6% were females), 32 (9.0%) had no insurance, whereas 322 (91.0%) had insurance, of whom 131 (40.7%) had Medicare, 45 (14%) had Medicaid, and 146 (45.3%) had private insurance. On average, insured patients survived almost 2-fold longer (p < 0.0001) than those who were uninsured, whereas differences between specific insurance types did not influence survival. The adjusted hazard ratio (HR) for death was higher in uninsured patients (HR 2.27 [95% CI 1.49–3.33], p = 0.0003). Age, mean household income, tumor size at diagnosis, and extent of resection did not differ between insured and uninsured patients, but there was a disparity in primary care physician (PCP) status—none of the uninsured patients had PCPs, whereas 72% of insured patients had PCPs. Postoperative adjuvant treatment rates with temozolomide (TMZ) and radiation therapy (XRT) were significantly less in uninsured (TMZ in 56.3%, XRT in 56.3%) than in insured (TMZ in 75.2%, XRT in 79.2%; p = 0.02 and p = 0.003) patients. Insured patients receiving both agents had better prognosis than uninsured patients receiving the same treatment (9.1 vs 16.34 months; p = 0.025), suggesting that the survival effect in insured patients could only partly be explained by higher treatment rates. Moreover, having a PCP increased survival among the insured cohort (10.7 vs 16.1 months, HR 1.65 [95% CI 1.27–2.15]; p = 0.0001), which could be explained by significant differences in tumor diameter at initial diagnosis between patients with and without PCPs (4.3 vs 4.8 cm, p = 0.003), and a higher rate of clinical trial enrollment, suggesting a critical role of PCPs for a timelier diagnosis of GBM and proactive cancer care management.

CONCLUSIONS

Access to health care is a strong determinant of prognosis in newly diagnosed patients with GBM. Any type of insurance coverage and having a PCP improved prognosis in this patient cohort. Higher rates of treatment with TMZ plus XRT, clinical trial enrollment, fewer comorbidities, and early diagnosis may explain survival disparities. Lack of health insurance or a PCP are major challenges within the health care system, which, if improved upon, could favorably impact the prognosis of patients with GBM.

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Fara Dayani, Jacob S. Young, Alexander Bonte, Edward F. Chang, Philip Theodosopoulos, Michael W. McDermott, Mitchel S. Berger and Manish K. Aghi

OBJECTIVE

Butterfly glioblastoma (bGBM) is a rare type of GBM, characterized by a butterfly pattern on MRI studies because of its bihemispheric involvement and invasion of the corpus callosum (CC). There is a profound gap in the knowledge regarding the optimal treatment approach as well as the safety and survival benefits of resection in treating this aggressive brain tumor. In this retrospective study, authors add to our understanding of these tumors by identifying the clinical characteristics and outcomes of patients with bGBM.

METHODS

An institutional database was reviewed for GBM cases treated in the period from 2004 to 2014. Records were reviewed to identify adult patients with bGBM. Cases of GBM with invasion of the CC without involvement of the contralateral hemisphere and bilateral GBMs without involvement of the CC were excluded from the study. Patient and tumor characteristics were gleaned from the medical records, and volumetric analysis was performed using T1-weighted MRI studies.

RESULTS

From among 1746 cases of GBM, 39 cases of bGBM were identified. Patients had a mean age of 57.8 years at diagnosis. Headache and confusion were the most common presenting symptoms (48.7% and 33.3%, respectively). The median overall survival was 3.2 months from diagnosis with an overall 6-month survival rate of 38.1%. Age, Karnofsky Performance Status at diagnosis, preoperative tumor volume, postoperative tumor volume, and extent of resection were found to significantly impact survival in the univariate analysis. On multivariate analysis, preoperative tumor volume and treatment approach of resection versus biopsy were identified as independent prognostic factors regardless of the patient-specific characteristics of age and KPS at diagnosis. Resection and biopsy were performed in 35.9% and 64.1% of patients, respectively. Resection was found to confer a better prognosis than biopsy (HR 0.37, p = 0.009) with a minimum extent of resection of 86% to observe survival benefits (HR 0.054, p = 0.03). The rate of persistent neurological deficits from resection was 7.14%. Patients younger than 70 years had a better prognosis (HR 0.32, p = 0.003). Patients undergoing resection and receiving adjuvant chemoradiation had a better prognosis than patients who lacked one of the three treatment modalities (HR = 0.34, p = 0.015).

CONCLUSIONS

Resection of bGBM is associated with low persistent neurological deficits, with improvement in survival compared to biopsy. A more aggressive treatment approach involving aggressive resection and adjuvant chemoradiation has significant survival benefits and improves outcome.

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Joseph A. Osorio, Michael M. Safaee, Jennifer Viner, Sujatha Sankaran, Sarah Imershein, Ezekiel Adigun, Gabriela Weigel, Mitchel S. Berger and Michael W. McDermott

OBJECTIVE

The authors’ institution is in the top 5th percentile for hospital cost in the nation, and the neurointensive care unit (NICU) is one of the costliest units. The NICU is more expensive than other units because of lower staff/patient ratio and because of the equipment necessary to monitor patient care. The cost differential between the NICU and Neuro transitional care unit (NTCU) is $1504 per day. The goal of this study was to evaluate and to pilot a program to improve efficiency and lower cost by modifying the postoperative care of patients who have undergone a craniotomy, sending them to the NTCU as opposed to the NICU. Implementation of the pilot will expand and utilize neurosurgery beds available on the NTCU and reduce the burden on NICU beds for critically ill patient admissions.

METHODS

Ten patients who underwent craniotomy to treat supratentorial brain tumors were included. Prior to implementation of the pilot, inclusion criteria were designed for patient selection. Patients included were less than 65 years of age, had no comorbid conditions requiring postoperative intensive care unit (ICU) care, had a supratentorial meningioma less than 3 cm in size, had no intraoperative events, had routine extubation, and underwent surgery lasting fewer than 5 hours and had blood loss less than 500 ml. The Safe Transitions Pathway (STP) was started in August 2016.

RESULTS

Ten tumor patients have utilized the STP (5 convexity meningiomas, 2 metastatic tumors, 3 gliomas). Patients’ ages ranged from 29 to 75 years (median 49 years; an exception to the age limit of 65 years was made for one 75-year-old patient). Discharge from the hospital averaged 2.2 days postoperative, with 1 discharged on postoperative day (POD) 1, 7 discharged on POD 2, 1 discharged on POD 3, and 1 discharged on POD 4. Preliminary data indicate that quality and safety for patients following the STP (moving from the operating room [OR] to the neuro transitional care unit [OR-NTCU]) are no different from those of patients following the traditional OR-NICU pathway. No patients required escalation in level of nursing care, and there were no readmissions. This group has been followed for greater than 1 month, and there were no morbidities.

CONCLUSIONS

The STP is a new and efficient pathway for the postoperative care of neurosurgery patients. The STP has reduced hospital cost by $22,560 for the first 10 patients, and there were no morbidities. Since this pilot, the authors have expanded the pathway to include other surgical cases and now routinely schedule craniotomy patients for the (OR-NTCU) pathway. The potential cost reduction in one year could reach $500,000 if we reach our potential of 20 patients per month.