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Hussam Abou-Al-Shaar, Muhammad M. Abd-El-Barr, Hasan A. Zaidi, Eleanor Russell-Goldman, Rebecca D. Folkerth, Edward R. Laws Jr. and E. Antonio Chiocca

There is a wide group of lesions that may exist in the sellar and suprasellar regions. Embryologically, there is varying evidence that many of these entities may in fact represent a continuum of pathology deriving from a common ectodermal origin. The authors report a case of a concomitant suprasellar craniopharyngioma invading the third ventricle with a concurrent frontal lobe cystic dermoid tumor. A 21-year-old man presented to the authors' service with a 3-day history of worsening headache, nausea, vomiting, and blurry vision. Magnetic resonance imaging depicted a right frontal lobe lesion associated with a separate suprasellar cystic lesion invading the third ventricle. The patient underwent a right pterional craniotomy for resection of both lesions. Gross-total resection of the right frontal lesion was achieved, and subtotal resection of the suprasellar lesion was accomplished with some residual tumor adherent to the walls of the third ventricle. Histopathological examination of the resected right frontal lesion documented a diagnosis of dermoid cyst and, for the suprasellar lesion, a diagnosis of adamantinomatous craniopharyngioma. The occurrence of craniopharyngioma with dermoid cyst has not been reported in the literature before. Such an association might indeed suggest the previously reported hypothesis that these lesions represent a spectrum of ectodermally derived epithelial-lined cystic lesions.

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Hasan A. Zaidi, Kenneth De Los Reyes, Garni Barkhoudarian, Zachary N. Litvack, Wenya Linda Bi, Jordina Rincon-Torroella, Srinivasan Mukundan Jr., Ian F. Dunn and Edward R. Laws Jr.

OBJECTIVE

Endoscopic skull base surgery has become increasingly popular among the skull base surgery community, with improved illumination and angled visualization potentially improving tumor resection rates. Intraoperative MRI (iMRI) is used to detect residual disease during the course of the resection. This study is an investigation of the utility of 3-T iMRI in combination with transnasal endoscopy with regard to gross-total resection (GTR) of pituitary macroadenomas.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed all endoscopic transsphenoidal operations performed in the Advanced Multimodality Image Guided Operating (AMIGO) suite from November 2011 to December 2014. Inclusion criteria were patients harboring presumed pituitary macroadenomas with optic nerve or chiasmal compression and visual loss, operated on by a single surgeon.

RESULTS

Of the 27 patients who underwent transsphenoidal resection in the AMIGO suite, 20 patients met the inclusion criteria. The endoscope alone, without the use of iMRI, would have correctly predicted extent of resection in 13 (65%) of 20 cases. Gross-total resection was achieved in 12 patients (60%) prior to MRI. Intraoperative MRI helped convert 1 STR and 4 NTRs to GTRs, increasing the number of GTRs from 12 (60%) to 16 (80%).

CONCLUSIONS

Despite advances in visualization provided by the endoscope, the incidence of residual disease can potentially place the patient at risk for additional surgery. The authors found that iMRI can be useful in detecting unexpected residual tumor. The cost-effectiveness of this tool is yet to be determined.

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Ryan Brewster, Wenya Linda Bi, Timothy R. Smith, William B. Gormley, Ian F. Dunn and Edward R. Laws Jr.

Baseball maintains one of the highest impact injury rates in all athletics. A principal causative factor is the “beanball,” referring to a pitch thrown directly at a batter’s head. Frequent morbidities elicited demand for the development of protective gear development in the 20th century. In this setting, Dr. Walter Dandy was commissioned to design a “protective cap” in 1941. His invention became widely adopted by professional baseball and inspired subsequent generations of batting helmets. As a baseball aficionado since his youth, Walter Dandy identified a natural partnership between baseball and medical practice for the reduction of beaning-related brain injuries. This history further supports the unique position of neurosurgeons to leverage clinical insights, inform innovation, and expand service to society.

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Timothy R. Smith, M. Maher Hulou, Kevin T. Huang, Breno Nery, Samuel Miranda de Moura, David J. Cote and Edward R. Laws

OBJECT

The purpose of this study was to describe complications associated with the endonasal, transsphenoidal approach for the treatment of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)–positive staining tumors (Cushing's disease [CD] and silent corticotroph adenomas [SCAs]) performed by 1 surgeon at a high-volume academic medical center.

METHODS

Medical records from Brigham and Women's Hospital were retrospectively reviewed. Selected for study were 82 patients with CD who during April 2008–April 2014 had consecutively undergone transsphenoidal resection or who had subsequent pathological confirmation of ACTH-positive tumor staining. In addition to demographic, patient, tumor, and surgery characteristics, complications were evaluated. Complications of interest included syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion, diabetes insipidus (DI), CSF leakage, carotid artery injury, epistaxis, meningitis, and vision changes.

RESULTS

Of the 82 patients, 68 (82.9%) had CD and 14 (17.1%) had SCAs; 55 patients were female and 27 were male. Most common (n = 62 patients, 82.7%) were microadenomas, followed by macroadenomas (n = 13, 14.7%). A total of 31 (37.8%) patients underwent reoperation. Median follow-up time was 12.0 months (range 3–69 months). The most common diagnosis was ACTH-secreting (n = 68, 82.9%), followed by silent tumors/adenomas (n = 14, 17.1%). ACTH hyperplasia was found in 8 patients (9.8%). Of the 74 patients who had verified tumors, 12 (16.2%) had tumors with atypical features.

The overall (CD and SCA) rate of minor complications was 35.4%; the rate of major complications was 8.5% (n = 7). All permanent morbidity was associated with DI (n = 5, 6.1%). In 16 CD patients (23.5%), transient DI developed. Transient DI was more likely to develop in CD patients who had undergone a second operation (37.9%) than in those who had undergone a first operation only (12.8%, p < 0.05). Permanent DI developed in 4 CD patients (5.9%) and 1 SCA patient (7.1%). For 1 CD patient, intraoperative carotid artery injury required endovascular sacrifice of the injured artery, but the patient remained neurologically intact. For another CD patient, aseptic meningitis developed and was treated effectively with corticosteroids. One CD patient experienced major postoperative epistaxis requiring another operative procedure to achieve hemostasis. For 2 CD patients, development of sinus mucoceles was managed conservatively. For 1 SCA patient, an abdominal wound dehisced at the fat graft site. No patients experienced postoperative CSF leakage, visual impairment, or deep vein thrombosis.

CONCLUSIONS

Transsphenoidal surgery is the treatment of choice for patients with CD and other ACTH-positive staining tumors. Recent advances in endoscopic technology and increasing surgeon comfort with this technology are making transsphenoidal procedures safer, faster, and more effective. Serious complications are uncommon and can be managed successfully.

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Judith M. Wong, Angela M. Bader, Edward R. Laws, A. John Popp and Atul A. Gawande

Neurosurgery is a high-risk specialty currently undertaking the pursuit of systematic approaches to reducing risk and to measuring and improving outcomes. The authors performed a review of patterns and frequencies of adverse events in neurosurgery as background for future efforts directed at the improvement of quality and safety in neurosurgery.

They found 6 categories of contributory factors in neurosurgical adverse events, categorizing the events as influenced by issues in surgical technique, perioperative medical management, use of and adherence to protocols, preoperative optimization, technology, and communication. There was a wide distribution of reported occurrence rates for many of the adverse events, in part due to the absence of definitive literature in this area and to the lack of standardized reporting systems.

On the basis of their analysis, the authors identified 5 priority recommendations for improving outcomes for neurosurgical patients at a population level: 1) development and implementation of a national registry for outcome data and monitoring; 2) full integration of the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist into the operating room workflow, which improves fundamental aspects of surgical care such as adherence to antibiotic protocols and communication within surgical teams; and 3–5) activity by neurosurgical societies to drive increased standardization for the safety of specialized equipment used by neurosurgeons (3), more widespread regionalization and/or subspecialization (4), and establishment of data-driven guidelines and protocols (5). The fraction of adverse events that might be avoided if proposed strategies to improve practice and decrease variability are fully adopted remains to be determined. The authors hope that this consolidation of what is currently known and practiced in neurosurgery, the application of relevant advances in other fields, and attention to proposed strategies will serve as a basis for informed and concerted efforts to improve outcomes and patient safety in neurosurgery.

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Judith M. Wong, John E. Ziewacz, Allen L. Ho, Jaykar R. Panchmatia, Angela M. Bader, Hugh J. Garton, Edward R. Laws and Atul A. Gawande

Object

As part of a project to devise evidence-based safety interventions for specialty surgery, the authors sought to review current evidence in CSF shunt surgery concerning the frequency of adverse events in practice, their patterns, and the state of knowledge regarding methods for their reduction. This review may also inform future and ongoing efforts for the advancement of neurosurgical quality.

Methods

The authors performed a PubMed search using search terms “cerebral shunt,” “cerebrospinal fluid shunt,” “CSF shunt,” “ventriculoperitoneal shunt,” “cerebral shunt AND complications,” “cerebrospinal fluid shunt AND complications,” “CSF shunt AND complications,” and “ventriculoperitoneal shunt AND complications.” Only papers that specifically discussed the relevant complication rates were included. Papers were chosen to be included to maximize the range of rates of occurrence for the adverse events reported.

Results

In this review of the neurosurgery literature, the reported rate of mechanical malfunction ranged from 8% to 64%. The use of programmable valves has increased but remains of unproven benefit even in randomized trials. Infection was the second most common complication, with the rate ranging from 3% to 12% of shunt operations. A meta-analysis that included 17 randomized controlled trials of perioperative antibiotic prophylaxis demonstrated a decrease in shunt infection by half (OR 0.51, 95% CI 0.36–0.73). Similarly, use of detailed protocols including perioperative antibiotics, skin preparation, and limitation of OR personnel and operative time, among other steps, were shown in uncontrolled studies to decrease shunt infection by more than half.

Other adverse events included intraabdominal complications, with a reported incidence of 1% to 24%, intracerebral hemorrhage, reported to occur in 4% of cases, and perioperative epilepsy, with a reported association with shunt procedures ranging from 20% to 32%. Potential management strategies are reported but are largely without formal evaluation.

Conclusions

Surgery for CSF shunt placement or revision is associated with a high complication risk due primarily to mechanical issues and infection. Concerted efforts aimed at large-scale monitoring of neurosurgical complications and consistent quality improvement within these highlighted realms may significantly improve patient outcomes.

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Judith M. Wong, Jaykar R. Panchmatia, John E. Ziewacz, Angela M. Bader, Ian F. Dunn, Edward R. Laws and Atul A. Gawande

Object

Neurosurgery is a high-risk specialty currently undertaking the pursuit of systematic approaches to measuring and improving outcomes. As part of a project to devise evidence-based safety interventions for specialty surgery, the authors sought to review current evidence in cranial tumor resection concerning the frequency of adverse events in practice, their patterns, and current methods of reducing the occurrence of these events. This review represents part of a series of papers written to consolidate information about these events and preventive measures as part of an ongoing effort to ascertain the utility of devising system-wide policies and safety tools to improve neurosurgical practice.

Methods

The authors performed a PubMed search using search terms “intracranial neoplasm,” “cerebral tumor,” “cerebral meningioma,” “glioma,” and “complications” or “adverse events.” Only papers that specifically discussed the relevant complication rates were included. Papers were chosen to maximize the range of rates of occurrence for the reported adverse events.

Results

Review of the tumor neurosurgery literature showed that documented overall complication rates ranged from 9% to 40%, with overall mortality rates of 1.5%–16%. There was a wide range of types of adverse events overall. Deep venous thromboembolism (DVT) was the most common adverse event, with a reported incidence of 3%–26%. The presence of new or worsened neurological deficit was the second most common adverse event found in this review, with reported rates ranging from 0% for the series of meningioma cases with the lowest reported rate to 20% as the highest reported rate for treatment of eloquent glioma. Benign tumor recurrence was found to be a commonly reported adverse event following surgery for intracranial neoplasms. Rates varied depending on tumor type, tumor location, patient demographics, surgical technique, the surgeon's level of experience, degree of specialization, and changes in technology, but these effects remain unmeasured. The incidence on our review ranged from 2% for convexity meningiomas to 36% for basal meningiomas. Other relatively common complications were dural closure–related complications (1%–24%), postoperative peritumoral edema (2%–10%), early postoperative seizure (1%–12%), medical complications (6%–7%), wound infection (0%–4%), surgery-related hematoma (1%–2%), and wrong-site surgery.

Strategies to minimize risk of these events were evaluated. Prophylactic techniques for DVT have been widely demonstrated and confirmed, but adherence remains unstudied. The use of image guidance, intraoperative functional mapping, and real-time intraoperative MRI guidance can allow surgeons to maximize resection while preserving neurological function. Whether the extent of resection significantly correlates with improved overall outcomes remains controversial.

Discussion

A significant proportion of adverse events in intracranial neoplasm surgery may be avoidable by use of practices to encourage use of standardized protocols for DVT, seizure, and infection prophylaxis; intraoperative navigation among other steps; improved teamwork and communication; and concentrated volume and specialization. Systematic efforts to bundle such strategies may significantly improve patient outcomes.

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Gabriel Zada, Ning Lin and Edward R. Laws Jr.

Object

Growth patterns of pituitary adenomas have been observed to vary by histopathological subtype. The authors aimed to analyze variations in the patterns of extrasellar extension of nonfunctional macroadenomas (NFMAs) and growth hormone (GH)–secreting macroadenomas.

Methods

A retrospective review was conducted of data obtained in 75 patients who underwent transsphenoidal operations for histologically confirmed NFMAs (50 patients) and GH-secreting macroadenomas (25 patients) at the Brigham and Women's Hospital over an 18-month period. Patients with microadenomas and prior operations were excluded from the analysis. Preoperative MR images were reviewed to assess patterns of extrasellar extension in the varying tumor subtypes.

Results

The mean maximal tumor diameter in NFMAs and GH-secreting macroadenomas was 26 and 16 mm, respectively (p < 0.0001). Extension of the NFMAs occurred into the following regions: infrasellar, 23 patients (46%); suprasellar, 41 patients (82%); and cavernous sinus, 20 patients (40%). Extension of GH-macroadenomas occurred into the following regions: infrasellar, 18 patients (72%); suprasellar, 4 patients (16%); and cavernous sinus, 4 patients (16%). Compared with GH-adenomas, NFMAs were more likely to develop suprasellar extension (82% vs 16%, p < 0.0001), cavernous sinus extension (40% vs 16%, p = 0.04), and isolated suprasellar extension (30% vs 4%, p = 0.0145). GH-macroadenomas had higher overall rates of infrasellar extension (72% vs 46%, p < 0.05), and isolated infrasellar extension (52% vs 6%, p < 0.0001). Of the 13 GH-macroadenomas with isolated infrasellar extension, 5 (42%) met WHO criteria for atypical adenomas.

Conclusions

Substantial differences in extrasellar growth patterns were observed among varying histological subtypes of pituitary macroadenomas. Despite smaller tumor diameters, GH-macroadenomas demonstrated a proclivity for infrasellar extension, whereas NFMAs exhibited preferential extension into the suprasellar region.

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Gabriel Zada, Luigi M. Cavallo, Felice Esposito, Julio Cesar Fernandez-Jimenez, Anastasia Tasiou, Michelangelo De Angelis, Tullio Cafiero, Paolo Cappabianca and Edward R. Laws Jr.

Object

In addition to difficulties with anesthetic and medical management, transsphenoidal operations in patients with longstanding acromegaly are associated with inherent intraoperative challenges because of anatomical variations that occur frequently in these patients. The object of this study was to review the overall safety profile and anatomical/technical challenges associated with transsphenoidal surgery in patients with acromegaly.

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective analysis of 169 patients who underwent endoscopic transsphenoidal operations for growth hormone–secreting adenomas to assess the incidence of surgical complications. A review of frequently occurring anatomical challenges and operative strategies employed during each phase of the operation to address these particular issues was performed.

Results

Of 169 cases reviewed, there was no perioperative mortality. Internal carotid artery injury occurred in 1 patient (0.6%) with complex sinus anatomy, who remained neurologically intact following endovascular unilateral carotid artery occlusion. Other complications included: significant postoperative epistaxis (5 patients [3%]), transient diabetes insipidus (5 patients [3%]), delayed symptomatic hyponatremia (4 patients [2%]), CSF leak (2 patients [1%]), and pancreatitis (1 patient [0.6%]). Preoperative considerations in patients with acromegaly should include a cardiopulmonary evaluation and planning regarding intubation and other aspects of the anesthetic technique. During the nasal phase of the transsphenoidal operation, primary challenges include maintaining adequate visualization and hemostasis, which is frequently compromised by redundant, edematous nasal mucosa and bony hypertrophy of the septum and the nasal turbinates. During the sphenoid phase, adequate bony removal, optimization of working space, and correlation of imaging studies to intraoperative anatomy are major priorities. The sellar phase is frequently challenged by increased sellar floor thickness, distinct patterns of tumor extension and bony invasion, and anatomical variations in the caliber and course of the internal carotid artery. Specific operative techniques for addressing each of these intraoperative challenges are discussed.

Conclusions

Transsphenoidal surgery in patients with longstanding acromegaly frequently poses greater challenges than operations for other types of sellar lesions, yet these challenges may be safely and effectively overcome with the anticipation of specific issues and implementation of various intraoperative techniques.

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Pankaj K. Agarwalla, Gavin P. Dunn and Edward R. Laws

The contemporary management of projectile head injuries owes much to the lessons neurosurgeons have distilled from their experiences in war. Through early investigation and an increasingly detailed account of wartime clinical experience, neurosurgeons—including the field's early giants—began to gain a greater understanding not only of intracranial missile pathophysiology but also of appropriate management. In this paper, the authors trace the development of the principles of managing intracranial projectile injury from the Crimean War in the 19th century through the Vietnam War to provide a context that frames a summary of today's core management principles.