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Michael J. Link, Douglas Kondziolka and Madjid Samii

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Christopher M. Bonfield and Douglas Kondziolka

Bill Masterton is the only man to die of injuries sustained in a National Hockey League (NHL) game. He remains the last fatality in any professional team sport involving a direct in-game injury in North America. While Masterton was originally thought to have suffered a fatal brain injury while being checked on the ice, later analysis of the case revealed evidence of second-impact syndrome and the effects of prior concussions. Masterton's death sparked both an immediate debate in the NHL on whether helmets should be compulsory and the NHL's first vote on mandatory helmet use. Although the subject of mandated helmet use met with resistance in the 10 years after Masterton's death, especially from hockey owners and coaches, the NHL finally legislated helmet use by all players entering the league beginning in the 1979–1980 season.

Several awards, including one recognizing the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey, have been created in memory of Masterton. However, his legacy extends far beyond the awards that bear his name. His death was the seminal event bringing head safety to the forefront of a game that was both unready and unwilling to accept change. An increase in mainstream media attention in recent years has led to unprecedented public awareness of brain injury and concussion in hockey and other sports. Advances in the diagnosis and treatment of head injury in sports have occurred recently, the impetus for which started over 45 years ago, when Bill Masterton died.

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Oren Berkowitz, Douglas Kondziolka, David Bissonette, Ajay Niranjan, Hideyuki Kano and L. Dade Lunsford

Object

The first North American 201 cobalt-60 source Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) device was introduced at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in 1987. The introduction of this innovative and largely untested surgical procedure prompted the desire to study patient outcomes and evaluate the effectiveness of this technique. The parallel advances in computer software and database technology led to the development of a registry to track patient outcomes at this center. The purpose of this study was to describe the registry's evolution and to evaluate its usefulness.

Methods

A team was created to develop a software database and tracking system to organize and retain information on the usage of GKS. All patients undergoing GKS were systematically entered into this database by a clinician familiar with the technology and the clinical indications. Information included patient demographics and diagnosis as well as the anatomical site of the target and details of the procedure.

Results

There are currently 11,738 patients in the database, which began to be used in August 1987. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has pioneered the evaluation and publication of the GKS technique and outcomes. Data derived from this computer database have facilitated the publication of more than 400 peer-reviewed manuscripts, more than 200 book chapters, 8 books, and more than 300 published abstracts and scientific presentations. The use of GKS has become a well-established surgical technique that has been performed more than 700,000 times around the world.

Conclusions

The development of a patient registry to track and analyze the use of GKS has given investigators the ability to study patient procedures and outcomes. The future of clinical medical research will rely on the ability of clinical centers to store and to share information.

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Anthony L. Asher, Paul C. McCormick and Douglas Kondziolka

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Douglas Kondziolka, Seyed H. Mousavi, Hideyuki Kano, John C. Flickinger and L. Dade Lunsford

Object

Management recommendations for patients with smaller-volume or newly diagnosed vestibular schwannomas (< 4 cm3) need to be based on an understanding of the anticipated natural history of the tumor and the side effects it produces. The natural history can then be compared with the risks and benefits of therapeutic intervention using a minimally invasive strategy such as stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS).

Methods

The authors reviewed the emerging literature stemming from recent recommendations to “wait and scan” (observation) and compared this strategy with published outcomes after early intervention using SRS or results from matched cohort studies of resection and SRS.

Results

Various retrospective studies indicate that vestibular schwannomas grow at a rate of 0–3.9 mm per year and double in volume between 1.65 and 4.4 years. Stereotactic radiosurgery arrests growth in up to 98% of patients when studied at intervals of 10–15 years. Most patients who select “wait and scan” note gradually decreasing hearing function leading to the loss of useful hearing by 5 years. In contrast, current studies indicate that 3–5 years after Gamma Knife surgery, 61%–80% of patients maintain useful hearing (speech discrimination score > 50%, pure tone average < 50).

Conclusions

Based on published data on both volume and hearing preservation for both strategies, the authors devised a management recommendation for patients with small vestibular schwannomas. When resection is not chosen by the patient, the authors believe that early SRS intervention, in contrast to observation, results in long-term tumor control and improved rates of hearing preservation.

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Edward A. Monaco III, Aftab A. Khan, Ajay Niranjan, Hideyuki Kano, Ramesh Grandhi, Douglas Kondziolka, John C. Flickinger and L. Dade Lunsford

Object

The authors performed a retrospective review of prospectively collected data to evaluate the safety and efficacy of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) for the treatment of patients harboring symptomatic solitary cavernous malformations (CMs) of the brainstem that bleed repeatedly and are high risk for resection.

Methods

Between 1988 and 2005, 68 patients (34 males and 34 females) with solitary, symptomatic CMs of the brainstem underwent Gamma Knife surgery. The mean patient age was 41.2 years, and all patients had suffered at least 2 symptomatic hemorrhages (range 2–12 events) before radiosurgery. Prior to SRS, 15 patients (22.1%) had undergone attempted resection. The mean volume of the malformation treated was 1.19 ml, and the mean prescribed marginal radiation dose was 16 Gy.

Results

The mean follow-up period was 5.2 years (range 0.6–12.4 years). The pre-SRS annual hemorrhage rate was 32.38%, or 125 hemorrhages, excluding the first hemorrhage, over a total of 386 patient-years. Following SRS, 11 hemorrhages were observed within the first 2 years of follow-up (8.22% annual hemorrhage rate) and 3 hemorrhages were observed in the period after the first 2 years of follow-up (1.37% annual hemorrhage rate). A significant reduction (p < 0.0001) in the risk of brainstem CM hemorrhages was observed following radiosurgical treatment, as well as in latency period of 2 years after SRS (p < 0.0447). Eight patients (11.8%) experienced new neurological deficits as a result of adverse radiation effects following SRS.

Conclusions

The results of this study support a role for the use of SRS for symptomatic CMs of the brainstem, as it is relatively safe and appears to reduce rebleeding rates in this high-surgical-risk location.

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Douglas Kondziolka, John C. Flickinger and L. Dade Lunsford

✓ Stereotactic radiosurgery is commonly used for selected patients with benign cranial base tumors. The goal of radiosurgery is cessation of tumor growth and preservation of neurological function. Over the last 2 decades, the technique of radiosurgery has evolved due to improved imaging, better radiosurgical devices and software, and the continued analysis of results. In this report, the authors discuss technical concepts and dose selection in skull base radiosurgery.

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Douglas Kondziolka and Lawrence Wechsler

✓ Stroke is a common cause of death and disability. The role of cellular transplantation to promote functional recovery has been explored. Preclinical studies first established the potential for cultured neuronal cells derived from a teratocarcinoma cell line to be tested for safety and efficacy in the treatment of human stroke. In animal models of stroke that caused reproducible learning and motor deficits, injection of neuronal cells resulted in a return of learning behavior retention time and motor function. In this report the authors review several current concepts for cellular repair, discuss important patient selection and surgical technique issues, and discuss plans for future experiments.

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Douglas Kondziolka and L. Dade Lunsford

Object

In the management of trigeminal neuralgia (TN), physicians seek rapid and long-lasting pain relief, together with preservation of trigeminal nerve function. Percutaneous retrogasserian glycerol rhizotomy (PRGR) offers distinct advantages over other available procedures. The aim of this report was to provide details of the PRGR procedure and its expected outcome.

Methods

The authors reviewed their experience with PRGR in 1174 patients to evaluate the procedural technique, results, and complications. Although it is clear that TN is not a static disorder but one characterized by remissions and recurrences, long-lasting pain relief was noted in 77% of patients, with 55% discontinuing all medications and 22% requiring some drug usage.

Conclusions

The authors discuss the role of PRGR in their practice, along with other procedures such as microvascular decompression and gamma knife surgery, for idiopathic or multiple sclerosis–related TN. They conclude that PRGR had distinct advantages over other procedures, which include eliminating the need for intraoperative confirmatory sensory testing, and a lower risk of facial sensory loss.

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Douglas Kondziolka, L. Dade Lunsford and John C. Flickinger

Management options for patients with vestibular schwannomas (acoustic neuromas) include observation, tumor resection, stereotactic radiosurgery, and fractionated radiotherapy. In this report the authors review their 15-year experience with radiosurgery and discuss indications and expectations in relation to the different approaches. They conducted a survey of neurosurgeons to determine management preferences in two different cases of intra- and extra-canalicular tumor presentations. Patient decisions must be based on quality information derived from peer-reviewed literature.