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Serge Marbacher, Alain Barth, Marlene Arnold and Rolf W. Seiler

✓Multiple spinal extradural meningeal cysts are rare. To the authors' knowledge, there have been only four reported cases in the world literature. The authors report a case of multiple spinal extradural meningeal cysts in a 31-year-old woman presenting with acute paraplegia. Magnetic resonance imaging of the thoracolumbar spine revealed multiple extradural cystic lesions extending from T-7 to T-8 and from T-12 to L-3. Intraoperative findings demonstrated a white, fibrous, and tense cyst filled with cerebrospinal fluid–like colorless fluid. Excision of the posterior wall of the symptomatic cyst was followed by immediate neurological improvement. The examination of the pathological specimen showed a thick duralike layer of collagen and an inner membrane of arachnoid that is often not found in these lesions. The final diagnosis was based on combined imaging, intraoperative, and histopathological findings. The authors review the literature and discuss the etiological, diagnostic, and therapeutic aspects of this lesion.

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Michael Reinert, Bon H. Verweij, Thomas Schaffner, George Mihalache, Gerhard Schroth, Rolf W. Seiler and Cornelis A. F. Tulleken


Patients with complex craniocerebral pathophysiologies such as giant cerebral aneurysms, skull base tumors, and/or carotid artery occlusive disease are candidates for a revascularization procedure to augment or preserve cerebral blood flow. However, the brain is susceptible to ischemia, and therefore the excimer laser–assisted nonocclusive anastomosis (ELANA) technique has been developed to overcome temporary occlusion. Harvesting autologous vessels of reasonable quality, which is necessary for this technique, may at times be problematic or impossible due to the underlying systemic vascular disease. The use of artificial vessels is therefore an alternative graft for revascularization. Note, however, that it is unknown to what degree these grafts are subject to occlusion using the ELANA anastomosis technique. Therefore, the authors studied the ELANA technique in combination with an expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) graft.


The experimental surgeries involved bypassing the abdominal aorta in the rabbit. Ten rabbits were subjected to operations representing 20 ePTFE graft–ELANA end-to-side anastomoses. Intraoperative blood flow, follow-up angiograms, and long-term histological characteristics were assessed 75, 125, and 180 days postoperatively. Angiography results proved long-term patency of ePTFE grafts in all animals at all time points studied. Data from the histological analysis showed minimal intimal reaction at the anastomosis site up to 180 days postoperatively. Endothelialization of the ePTFE graft was progressive over time.


The ELANA technique in combination with the ePTFE graft seems to have favorable attributes for end-to-side anastomoses and may be suitable for bypass procedures.

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Luigi Mariani, Benoit Schaller, Joachim Weis, Christoph Ozdoba and Rolf W. Seiler

✓ Esthesioneuroblastoma (olfactory neuroblastoma) is a rare, malignant neoplasm that typically arises in the nasal vault, invades adjacent tissues, and causes locoregional (cervical lymph nodes) and distant metastases. Only two cases of tumors arising in the sellar region that had the histological characteristics of esthesioneuroblastoma have been reported in the literature to date. The authors present the case of a 35-year-old woman with secondary amenorrhea and a rapidly growing tumor located in the adenohypophysis. After total removal of the lesion through a transseptal—transsphenoidal approach, the histological examination revealed an esthesioneuroblastoma Grade II/III according to Hyams. Considering the particular location of the lesion and the absence of residual tumor on postoperative magnetic resonance imaging, no adjuvant therapy was performed. The patient remained free from tumor recurrence 2 years postoperatively. Because all published cases of this esthestoneuroblastoma have been large neuroblastic tumors of the pituitary gland arising in middle-aged women, pituitary neuroblastoma might represent a rare, specific clinicopathological entity.

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Christian B. Bärlocher, Joachim K. Krauss and Rolf W. Seiler

Object. The authors conducted a prospective study to investigate the efficacy of kryorhizotomy, an alternative procedure for lumbar medial branch neurotomy, in the treatment of lumbar facet syndrome (LFS).

Methods. Fifty patients with chronic low-back pain, in whom pain was relieved by controlled diagnostic medial branch blocks of the lumbar zygapophyseal (facet) joints, underwent lumbar medial branch kryorhizotomy. Outcome was evaluated using the Visual Analog Pain Scales and assessment of work capacity. All outcome measures were repeated at 6 weeks, 6 months, and 1 year after surgery. At 1-year follow-up examination, 31 (62%) of 50 patients experienced a good response to lumbar facet kryorhizotomy. Good results with pain relief of 50% or more were obtained in 85% of patients without previous spinal surgery but only in 46% who had undergone previous spinal surgery. This difference was statistically significant. In five patients (16%) in whom a good initial benefit was observed but who experienced increased pain within 6 weeks after kryorhizotomy, the beneficial result was regained after an early repeated procedure. There were no side effects. Overall, 19 (38%) of 50 procedures were not considered successful. In six of these 19 cases a rigid stabilization of the involved segment provided permanent pain relief.

Conclusions. Based on this study, patients with LFS who have not undergone previous spinal surgery benefit significantly from percutaneous lumbar kryorhizotomy. Kryorhizotomy, which has virtually no risk, seems to be a valuable alternative technique to lumbar medial branch neurotomy.

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Raphael Guzman, Alain Barth, Karl-Olof Lövblad, Marwan El-Koussy, Joachim Weis, Gerhard Schroth and Rolf W. Seiler

Object. Brain abscesses and other purulent brain processes represent potentially life-threatening conditions for which immediate correct diagnosis is necessary to administer treatment. Distinguishing between cystic brain tumors and abscesses is often difficult using conventional imaging methods. The authors' goal was to study the ability of diffusion-weighted (DW) magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to differentiate between these two pathologies in patients within the clinical setting.

Methods. Diffusion-weighted MR imaging studies and calculation of the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values were completed in a consecutive series of 16 patients harboring surgically verified purulent brain processes. This study group included 11 patients with brain abscess (one patient had an additional subdural hematoma and another also had ventriculitis), two with subdural empyema, two with septic embolic disease, and one patient with ventriculitis. Data from these patients were compared with similar data obtained in 16 patients matched for age and sex, who harbored surgically verified neoplastic cystic brain tumors. In patients with brain abscess, subdural empyema, septic emboli, and ventriculitis, these lesions appeared hyperintense on DW MR images, whereas in patients with tumor, the lesion was visualized as a hypointense area. The ADC values calculated in patients with brain infections (mean 0.68 × 103 mm2/sec) were significantly lower than those measured in patients with neoplastic lesions (mean 1.63 × 103 mm2/sec; p < 0.05).

Conclusions. Diffusion-weighted MR imaging can be used to identify infectious brain lesions and can help to differentiate between brain abscess and cystic brain tumor, thus making it a strong additional imaging modality in the early diagnosis of central nervous system purulent brain processes.

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Christian B. Bärlocher, Alain Barth, Joachim K. Krauss, Ralph Binggeli and Rolf W. Seiler


The need for interbody fusion or stabilization after anterior cervical microdiscectomy is still debated. The objectives of this prospective randomized study were 1) to examine whether combined interbody fusion and stabilization is more beneficial than microdiscectomy only (MDO) and 2) if fusion is found to be more beneficial than MDO, to determine which is the best method of fusion by comparing the results achieved using autologous bone graft (ABG), polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) interposition, and threaded titanium cage (TTC).


A total of 125 patients with a single-level cervical disc disease were included in this prospective study. All patients were randomized and assigned to one of the four following groups: Group 1 (33 patients), MDO; Group 2 (30 patients), microdiscectomy followed by ABG; Group 3 (26 patients), microdiscectomy followed by injection of PMMA; and Group 4 (36 patients), microdiscectomy followed by placement of a TTC. Clinical outcome according to Odom criteria was summarized as 1) excellent and good or 2) satisfactory and poor. One-year follow-up examination was performed in 123 patients. Patients in the TTC group experienced a significantly better outcome 6 months after surgery (92% excellent and good results) compared with those in the MDO and ABG groups (72.7 and 66.6% excellent and good results, respectively). Twelve months after surgery there was still a significant difference in outcomes between the TTC group (94.4% excellent and good results) and the MDO group (75.5% excellent and good results). Outcome in patients treated with PMMA was comparable with that in those treated with TCC after 6 (91.6%) and 12 months (87.5%), but no segmental fusion was achieved. Differences compared with MDO and ABG were, however, not significant, which may be related to the smaller number of patients in the PMMA group.


Interbody cage-assisted fusion yields a significantly better short- and intermediate-term outcome than MDO in terms of return to work, radicular pain, Odom criteria, and earlier fusion. In addition, the advantages of interbody cages over ABG fusion included better results in terms of return to work, Odom criteria, and earlier fusion after 6 months. These results suggest that interbody cage–assisted fusion is a promising therapeutic option in patients with single-level disc disease. Polymethylmethacrylate seems to be a good alternative to interbody cage fusion but is hindered by the absence of immediate fusion.

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Rolf W. Seiler and Luigi Mariani

Object. Closure of the sella turcica after transsphenoidal surgery is mainly accomplished with autologous muscle fascia and fat or muscle; this requires a second surgical incision. The authors review the results of using resorbable vicryl patches, gelatin foam, and fibrin glue for sellar reconstruction.

Methods. A review was conducted of 376 consecutive patients who underwent surgery for pituitary adenomas, cysts, or subdiaphragmatic craniopharyngiomas in the sella turcica that the senior author (R.W.S.) had performed or directly supervised over the last 10 years. The sellar reconstruction was performed with a commercially available, synthetic absorbable patch composed of polyglactin 910/poly-p-dioxanone, gelatin foam, and fibrin glue. The patch is essentially resorbed in 2 to 3 months and replaced by fibrous collagen tissue. There were 117 small, 112 medium-sized, and 147 large lesions. The overall nonendocrine postoperative morbidity rate was 2.8%, and included visual deterioration, meningitis, secondary epistaxis, nasal septum complication, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leakage. Two patients with macroadenomas needed reoperation for persistent CSF leakage, which comprised 0.5% of the whole series or 0.8% of the 259 patients with medium-sized or large lesions. There was no mortality and no morbidity related to the implanted material, and in particular no delayed empty sella syndrome.

Conclusions. Closure of the sella turcica with a synthetic absorbable vicryl patch, gelatin foam, and fibrin glue after transsphenoidal surgery is safe and very effective in preventing postoperative CSF fistulas. The use of this technique obviates the need for a second surgical incision and shortens the operating time. Because of the progressive resorption of the substitute material, the interpretation of postoperative magnetic resonance studies was not significantly hindered.

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Christian B. Bärlocher and Rolf W. Seiler

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Urs D. Schmid and Rolf W. Seiler

✓ In 61 patients (38 adults and 23 children) with surgically treatable tumors of the posterior fossa and obstructive hydrocephalus the following treatment for hydrocephalus was employed: 1) a high dose of steroids was given after diagnosis; 2) a frontal ventricular catheter with a subcutaneous fluid reservoir (Rickham) was inserted within 2 to 5 days; 3) a temporary external ventricular drainage system was attached to the reservoir if, despite the steroids, intracranial pressure was over 30 cm H2O; and 4) tumor excision was performed within 5 days to reopen the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pathways. In view of the wide range of potential complications, it was decided not to use a shunt before craniotomy. A shunt was inserted only if the CSF pathways remained obstructed after tumor removal. With this regimen, 93% of all patients (100% of the adults and 83% of the children) were shunt-free after the operation, without fatal complications. The infection rate was 4.9%.

It was concluded that the severity of symptoms of raised intracranial pressure from hydrocephalus, the intraventricular pressure, and the size or location of the tumor prior to surgery do not have prognostic value as to which patients will require a shunt after surgery.

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Rolf W. Seiler, Peter Grolimund, Rune Aaslid, Peter Huber and Helge Nornes

✓ In 39 patients with a proven subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), the clinical status, the amount of subarachnoid blood on a computerized tomography scan obtained within 5 days after SAH, and the flow velocities (FV's) in both middle cerebral arteries (MCA's) measured by transcranial Doppler sonography were recorded daily and correlated. All patients had pathological FV's over 80 cm/sec between Day 4 and Day 10 after SAH. The side of the ruptured aneurysm showed higher FV's than did the unaffected side in cases of laterally localized aneurysms. Increase in FV preceded clinical manifestation of ischemia. A steep early increase of FV's portended severe ischemia and impending infarction. Maximum FV's in the range of 120 to 140 cm/sec were not critical and in no case led to brain infarction. Maximum FV's over 200 cm/sec were associated with a tendency for ischemia, but the patients may remain clinically asymptomatic. In cases of no or only a little blood in the basal cisterns, mean FV's in both MCA's increased only moderately whereas, with thick clots of subarachnoid blood, there was a steeper and higher increase of mean FV's.