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James P. Caruso and Jason P. Sheehan

At the peak of his career, Walter J. Freeman II was a celebrated physician and scientist. He served as the first chairman of the Department of Neurology at George Washington University and was a tireless advocate of surgical treatment for mental illness. His eccentric appearance, engaging personality during interviews, and theatrical demonstrations of his surgical techniques gained him substantial popularity with local and national media, and he performed more than 3000 prefrontal and transorbital lobotomies between 1930 and 1960. However, poor patient outcomes, unfavorable portrayals of the lobotomy in literature and film, and increased regulatory scrutiny contributed to the lobotomy’s decline in popularity. The development of antipsychotic medications eventually relegated the lobotomy to rare circumstances, and Freeman’s reputation deteriorated. Today, despite significant advancements in technique, oversight, and ethical scrutiny, neurosurgical treatment of mental illness still carries a degree of social stigma.

This review presents a historical account of Walter Freeman’s life and career, and the popularization of the lobotomy in the US. Additionally, the authors pay special attention to the influence of popular literature and film on the public’s perception of psychosurgery. Aided by an understanding of this pivotal period in medical history, neurosurgeons are poised to confront the ethical and sociological questions facing psychosurgery as it continues to evolve.

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James P. Caruso, Or Cohen-Inbar, Mark H. Bilsky, Peter C. Gerszten and Jason P. Sheehan

The management of metastatic spinal melanoma involves maximizing local control, preventing recurrence, and minimizing treatment-associated toxicity and spinal cord damage. Additionally, therapeutic measures should promote mechanical stability, facilitate rehabilitation, and promote quality of life. These objectives prove difficult to achieve given melanoma's elusive nature, radioresistant and chemoresistant histology, vascular character, and tendency for rapid and early metastasis. Different therapeutic modalities exist for metastatic spinal melanoma treatment, including resection (definitive, debulking, or stabilization procedures), stereotactic radiosurgery, and immunotherapeutic techniques, but no single treatment modality has proven fully effective. The authors present a conceptual overview and critique of these techniques, assessing their effectiveness, separately and combined, in the treatment of metastatic spinal melanoma. They provide an up-to-date guide for multidisciplinary treatment strategies. Protocols that incorporate specific, goal-defined surgery, immunotherapy, and stereotactic radiosurgery would be beneficial in efforts to maximize local control and minimize toxicity.

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Dale Ding, Robert M. Starke, John Hantzmon, Chun-Po Yen, Brian J. Williams and Jason P. Sheehan

Object

WHO Grade II and III intracranial meningiomas are uncommon, but they portend a significantly worse prognosis than their benign Grade I counterparts. The mainstay of current management is resection to obtain cytoreduction and histological tissue diagnosis. The timing and benefit of postoperative fractionated external beam radiation therapy and stereotactic radiosurgery remain controversial. The authors review the stereotactic radiosurgery outcomes for Grade II and III meningiomas.

Methods

A comprehensive literature search was performed using PubMed to identify all radiosurgery series reporting the treatment outcomes for Grade II and III meningiomas. Case reports and case series involving fewer than 10 patients were excluded.

Results

From 1998 to 2013, 19 radiosurgery series were published in which 647 Grade II and III meningiomas were treated. Median tumor volumes were 2.2–14.6 cm3. The median margin doses were 14–21 Gy, although generally the margin doses for Grade II meningiomas were 16–20 Gy and the margin doses for Grade III meningiomas were 18–22 Gy. The median 5-year PFS was 59% for Grade II tumors and 13% for Grade III tumors, which may have been affected by patient age, prior radiation therapy, tumor volume, and radiosurgical dose and timing. The median complication rate following radiosurgery was 8%.

Conclusions

The current data for radiosurgery suggest that it has a role in the management of residual or recurrent Grade II and III meningiomas. However, better studies are needed to fully define this role. Due to the relatively low prevalence of these tumors, it is unlikely that prospective studies will be feasible. As such, well-designed retrospective analyses may improve our understanding of the effect of radiosurgery on tumor recurrence and patient survival and the incidence and impact of treatment-induced complications.

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Jason P. Sheehan and Jay Jagannathan

Intracranial radiosurgery has been proved effective for the treatment of brain metastasis. The treatment of paraspinal and spinal metastasis with spinal radiosurgery represents a natural extension of the principles of intracranial radiosurgery. However, spinal radiosurgery is a far more complicated process than intracranial radiosurgery. Larger treatment volumes, numerous organs at risk, and the inability to utilize rigid, frame-based immobilization all contribute to the substantially more complex process of spinal radiosurgery.

Beyond the convenience of a shorter duration of treatment for the patient, spinal radiosurgery affords a greater biological equivalent dose to a metastatic lesion than conventional radiotherapy fractionation schemes. This appears to translate into a high rate of tumor control and fast pain relief for patients. The minimally invasive nature of this approach is consistent with trends in open spinal surgery and helps to maintain or improve a patient's quality of life. Spinal radiosurgery has expanded the neurosurgical treatment armamentarium for patients with spinal and paraspinal metastasis.

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Jason P. Sheehan, John A. Jane Jr., Dibyendu K. Ray and Howard P. Goodkin

✓ Although it is uncommon, pediatric brain abscess remains a serious, life-threatening neurological problem. Those with congenital heart disease, an ongoing infection, or an immunocompromised state are particularly at risk. The symptoms on presentation may include those associated with a space-occupying lesion in the brain, and neuroimaging has made the diagnosis of brain abscess more reliable. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are required to lessen neurological morbidity and the risk of death. Treatment includes medical management with appropriate and specific antimicrobials. Although the effectiveness of medical management has improved and some children may be treated with antimicrobial therapy alone, surgical evaluation remains an important component of the treatment algorithm for most pediatric patients.

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Corey Raffel

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Rupa Gopalan, Kasandra Dassoulas, Jessica Rainey, Jonathan H. Sherman and Jason P. Sheehan

✓ The management of craniopharyngioma involves balancing adequate reduction in tumor volume and prevention of recurrence while minimizing damage to delicate surrounding structures. Because of the lesion's proximity to the optic chiasm and its relationship to the hypothalamic–pituitary axis, morbidity rates following treatment can be high. Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) is now being considered as a viable method of providing tumor control while ensuring minimal side effects. The authors conducted a literature review of 10 studies in which GKS was used to treat craniopharyngioma; some lesions had been previously treated and some had not. The mean marginal dose ranged from 5 to 16.4 Gy (mean 12.3 Gy). Tumor control was achieved in 75% of cases overall and varied with tumor subtype (cystic, solid, mixed). Control was seen in 90% of solid, 80% of cystic, and 59% of mixed tumors. The overall morbidity rate resulting from radiosurgery was 4% and the overall mortality rate was 0.5%. These results suggest that GKS may provide a favorable benefit-to-risk profile for many patients with craniopharyngiomas.

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Jay Jagannathan, Jason P. Sheehan and John A. Jane Jr.

✓ The treatment of patients with Cushing disease and without magnetic resonance (MR) imaging evidence of Cushing disease (that is, negative MR imaging) is discussed in this paper. Magnetic resonance imaging is the diagnostic modality of choice in Cushing disease, but in up to 40% of these patients negative imaging can be caused by tumor-related factors and limitations in imaging techniques. In cases in which the MR imaging is negative, it is critical to make sure that the diagnosis of Cushing disease is correct. This can be accomplished by performing a complete laboratory and imaging workup, including dexamethasone suppression tests, imaging of the adrenal glands, and inferior petrosal sinus sampling when appropriate. If these evaluations suggest a pituitary source of the hypercortisolemia, then transsphenoidal surgery remains the treatment of choice. The authors favor the endoscopic approach because it gives a wider and more magnified view of the sella and allows inspection of the medial cavernous sinus walls. Radiosurgery is an effective treatment option in patients with persistent Cushing disease. When a target cannot be found on MR imaging, one can target the entire sellar region with radiosurgery.

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R. Webster Crowley, Nader Pouratian and Jason P. Sheehan

✓ Despite the implementation of increasingly aggressive surgery, chemotherapy, and fractionated radiotherapy for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), most therapeutic regimens have resulted in only modest improvements in patient survival. Gamma knife surgery (GKS) has become an indispensable tool in the primary and adjuvant management of many intracranial pathologies, including meningiomas, pituitary tumors, and arteriovenous malformations. Although it would seem that radiosurgical techniques, which produce steep radiation dose fall-off around the target, would not be well suited to treat these infiltrative lesions, a limited number of institutional series suggest that GKS might provide a survival benefit when used as part of the comprehensive management of GBM. This may largely be attributed to the observation that tumors typically recur within a 2-cm margin of the tumor resection cavity. Despite these encouraging results, enthusiasm for radiosurgery as a primary treatment for GBM is significantly tempered by the failure of the only randomized trial that has been conducted to yield any benefit for patients with GBM who were treated with radiosurgery. In this paper, the authors review the pathophysiological mechanisms of GKS and its applications for GBM management.

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Jason P. Sheehan, Douglas Kondziolka, John Flickinger and L. Dade Lunsford

Object

Nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas comprise approximately 30% of all pituitary tumors. The purpose of this retrospective study was to evaluate the efficacy and role of gamma knife surgery (GKS) in the treatment of these lesions.

Methods

The authors conducted a review of cases in which GKS was performed at the University of Pittsburgh between 1987 and 2001. Forty-six patients with nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas and with at least 6 months of follow-up data were identified. In 41 of these patients some form of prior treatment such as transsphenoidal resection, craniotomy and resection, or conventional radiation therapy had been conducted. Five patients were deemed ineligible for microsurgery, and GKS served as the primary treatment modality. Endocrinological, ophthalmological, and radiological responses were evaluated. The mean radiation dose to the margin was 16 Gy.

In all patients with microadenomas and 91% of those with macroadenomas tumor control was demonstrated after radiosurgery. Gamma knife surgery had essentially equal efficacy in terms of achieving tumor control in cases of adenomas with cavernous sinus invasion and suprasellar extension. No new endocrinopathies were noted following radiosurgery. In two patients, however, tumor growth and decline in visual function occurred.

Conclusions

Gamma knife surgery is safe and effective in treating nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas. Radiosurgery may serve as a primary treatment modality in some or as a salvage treatment in others. Treatment must be tailored to meet the patient's symptoms, overall health, and tumor morphometry.