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Paul Klimo Jr., Cody L. Nesvick, Alberto Broniscer, Brent A. Orr and Asim F. Choudhri

OBJECT

Malignant tumors of the brainstem, excluding classic diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPGs), are a very rare, heterogeneous group of neoplasms that have been infrequently described in the literature. In this paper, the authors present their experiences with treating these unique cancers.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review was conducted to identify eligible cases over a 15-year period. All tumors involving the pons were, by consensus, felt not to be DIPGs based on their neuroimaging features. Demographic information, pathological specimens, neuroimaging characteristics, surgical and nonsurgical management plans, and survival data were gathered for analysis.

RESULTS

Between January 2000 and December 2014, 29 patients were identified. The mean age at diagnosis was 8.4 years (range 2 months to 25 years), and 17 (59%) patients were male. The most common presenting signs and symptoms were cranial neuropathies (n = 24; 83%), hemiparesis (n = 12; 41%), and ataxia or gait disturbance (n = 10; 34%). There were 18 glial and 11 embryonal tumors. Of the glial tumors, 5 were radiation-induced and 1 was a malignant transformation of a previously known low-grade tumor. Surgical intervention consisted of biopsy alone in 12 patients and some degree of resection in another 15 patients. Two tumors were diagnosed postmortem. The median overall survival for all patients was 196 days (range 15 to 3999 days). There are currently 5 (17%) patients who are still alive: 1 with an anaplastic astrocytoma and the remaining with embryonal tumors.

CONCLUSIONS

In general, malignant non-DIPG tumors of the brainstem carry a poor prognosis. However, maximal cytoreductive surgery may be an option for select patients with focal tumors. Long-term survival is possible in patients with nonmetastatic embryonal tumors after multimodal treatment, most importantly maximal resection.

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Garrett T. Venable, Cain S. Green, Zachary S. Smalley, E. Cydnie Bedford, Joseph S. Modica and Paul Klimo Jr.

OBJECT

Surgery for CSF diversion is the most common procedure performed by pediatric neurosurgeons. The failure rates for shunts remain frustratingly high, resulting in a burden to patients, families, providers, and healthcare systems. The goal of this study was to quantify the risk of a shunt malfunction in patients with an existing shunt who undergo an elective intradural operation.

METHODS

All elective intradural surgeries (cranial and spinal) at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital from January 2010 through June 2014 were reviewed to identify those patients who had a functional ventricular shunt at the time of surgery. Patient records were reviewed to collect demographic, surgical, clinical, radiological, and pathologic data, including all details related to any subsequent shunt revision surgery. The primary outcome was all-cause shunt revision (i.e., malfunction or infection) within 90 days of elective intradural surgery.

RESULTS

One hundred and fifty elective intradural surgeries were identified in 109 patients during the study period. There were 14 patients (12.8%, 13 male) who experienced 16 shunt malfunctions (10.7%) within 90 days of elective intradural surgery. These 14 patients underwent 13 craniotomies, 2 endoscopic fenestrations for loculated hydrocephalus, and 1 laminectomy for dorsal rhizotomy. Median time to failure was 9 days, with the shunts in half of our patients failing within 5 postoperative days. Those patients with failed shunts were younger (median 4.2 years [range 0.33–26 years] vs median 10 years [range 0.58–34 years]), had a shorter time interval from their previous shunt surgery (median 11 months [range 0–81 months] vs median 20 months [range 0–238 months]), and were more likely to have had intraventricular surgery (80.0% vs 60.3%).

CONCLUSIONS

This is the first study to quantify the risk of a shunt malfunction after elective intradural surgery. The 90-day all-cause shunt failure rate (per procedure) was 10.7%, with half of the failures occurring within the first 5 postoperative days. Possible risk factors for shunt malfunction after elective intradural surgeries are intraventricular surgical approach, shorter time since last shunt-related surgery, and young age.

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Joseph H. McAbee, Joseph Modica, Clinton J. Thompson, Alberto Broniscer, Brent Orr, Asim F. Choudhri, Frederick A. Boop and Paul Klimo Jr.

OBJECT

Cervicomedullary tumors (CMTs) represent a heterogeneous group of intrinsic neoplasms that are typically low grade and generally carry a good prognosis. This single-institution study was undertaken to document the outcomes and current treatment philosophy for these challenging neoplasms.

METHODS

The charts of all pediatric patients with CMTs who received treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital between January 1988 and May 2013 were retrospectively reviewed. Demographic, surgical, clinical, radiological, pathological, and survival data were collected. Treatment-free survival and overall survival were estimated, and predictors of recurrence were analyzed.

RESULTS

Thirty-one children (16 boys, 15 girls) with at least 12 months of follow-up data were identified. The median age at diagnosis was 6 years (range 7 months-17 years) and the median follow-up was 4.3 years. Low-grade tumors (Grade I or II) were present in 26 (84%) patients. Thirty patients underwent either a biopsy alone or resection, with the majority of patients undergoing biopsy only (n = 12, 39%) or subtotal resection (n = 14, 45%). Only 4 patients were treated solely with resection; 21 patients received radiotherapy alone or in combination with other treatments. Recurrent tumor developed in 14 children (45%) and 4 died as a result of their malignancy. A high-grade pathological type was the only independent variable that predicted recurrence. The 5- and 10-year treatment-free survival estimates are 64.7% and 45.3%, respectively. The 5- and 10-year overall survival estimate is 86.7%.

CONCLUSIONS

Children with CMTs typically have low-grade neoplasms and consequently long-term survival, but high risk of recurrence. Therapy should be directed at achieving local tumor control while preserving and even restoring neurological function.

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Douglas R. Taylor, Garrett T. Venable, G. Morgan Jones, Jacob R. Lepard, Mallory L. Roberts, Nabil Saleh, Said K. Sidiqi, Andrew Moore, Nickalus Khan, Nathan R. Selden, L. Madison Michael II and Paul Klimo Jr.

OBJECT

Various bibliometric indices based on the citations accumulated by scholarly articles, including the h-index, g-index, e-index, and Google’s i10-index, may be used to evaluate academic productivity in neurological surgery. The present article provides a comprehensive assessment of recent academic publishing output from 103 US neurosurgical residency programs and investigates intradepartmental publishing equality among faculty members.

METHODS

Each institution was considered a single entity, with the 5-year academic yield of every neurosurgical faculty member compiled to compute the following indices: ih(5), cumulative h, ig(5), ie(5), and i10(5) (based on publications and citations from 2009 through 2013). Intradepartmental comparison of productivity among faculty members yielded Gini coefficients for publications and citations. National and regional comparisons, institutional rankings, and intradepartmental publishing equality measures are presented.

RESULTS

The median numbers of departmental faculty, total publications and citations, ih(5), summed h, ig(5), ie(5), i10(5), and Gini coefficients for publications and citations were 13, 82, 716, 12, 144, 23, 16, 17, 0.57, and 0.71, respectively. The top 5 most academically productive neurosurgical programs based on ih(5)-index were University of California, San Francisco, University of California, Los Angeles, University of Pittsburgh, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and Johns Hopkins University. The Western US region was most academically productive and displayed greater intradepartmental publishing equality (median ih[5]-index = 18, median Ginipub = 0.56). In all regions, large departments with relative intradepartmental publishing equality tend to be the most academically productive. Multivariable logistic regression analysis identified the ih(5)-index as the only independent predictor of intradepartmental publishing equality (Ginipub ≤ 0.5 [OR 1.20, 95% CI 1.20–1.40, p = 0.03]).

CONCLUSIONS

The ih(5)-index is a novel, simple, and intuitive metric capable of accurately comparing the recent scholarly efforts of neurosurgical programs and accurately predicting intradepartmental publication equality. The ih(5)-index is relatively insensitive to factors such as isolated highly productive and/or no longer academically active senior faculty, which tend to distort other bibliometric indices and mask the accurate identification of currently productive academic environments. Institutional ranking by ih(5)-index may provide information of use to faculty and trainee applicants, research funding institutions, program leaders, and other stakeholders.

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Joseph H. McAbee, Brian T. Ragel, Shirley McCartney, G. Morgan Jones, L. Madison Michael II, Michael DeCuypere, Joseph S. Cheng, Frederick A. Boop and Paul Klimo Jr.

OBJECT

The object of this study was to identify and quantify predictors of burnout and career satisfaction among US neurosurgeons.

METHODS

All US members (3247) of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) were invited to participate in a survey between September and December 2012. Responses were evaluated through univariate analysis. Factors independently associated with burnout and career satisfaction were determined using multivariable logistic regression. Subgroup analysis of academic and nonacademic neurosurgeons was performed as well.

RESULTS

The survey response rate was 24% (783 members). The majority of respondents were male, 40–60 years old, in a stable relationship, with children, working in a group or university practice, and trained in a subspecialty. More than 80% of respondents reported being at least somewhat satisfied with their career, and 70% would choose a career in neurosurgery again; however, only 26% of neurosurgeons believed their professional lives would improve in the future, and 52% believed it would worsen. The overall burnout rate was 56.7%. Factors independently associated with both burnout and career satisfaction included achieving a balance between work and life outside the hospital (burnout OR 0.45, satisfaction OR 10.0) and anxiety over future earnings and/or health care reform (burnout OR 1.96, satisfaction OR 0.32). While the burnout rate for nonacademic neurosurgeons (62.9%) was higher than that for academic neurosurgeons (47.7%), academicians who had practiced for over 20 years were less likely to be satisfied with their careers.

CONCLUSIONS

The rates of burnout and career satisfaction were both high in this survey study of US neurosurgeons. The negative effects of burnout on the lives of surgeons, patients, and their families require further study and probably necessitate the development of interventional programs at local, regional, and even national levels.