The role of chief White House physician has traditionally been held by an individual with a background in a broad medical field, such as emergency medicine, family medicine, or internal medicine. Dr. Daniel Ruge, who served as the director of the Spinal Cord Injury Service for the Veterans Administration and was appointed during President Ronald Reagan’s first term, was the first neurosurgeon to become the chief White House physician. Aside from being the first neurosurgeon to serve in this capacity, Dr. Ruge also stands apart from others who have held this esteemed position because of how he handled Reagan’s care after an attempt was made on the then-president’s life. Instead of calling upon leading medical authorities of the time to care for the president, Dr. Ruge instead decided that Reagan should be treated as any trauma patient would be treated. Dr. Ruge’s actions after the assassination attempt on President Reagan resulted in the rapid, smooth recovery of the then-president. Daniel Ruge’s background, his high-profile roles and heavy responsibilities, and his critical decision-making are characteristics that make his role in the history of medicine and of neurosurgery unique.
A. Karim Ahmed, Eduardo Martinez-del-Campo and Nicholas Theodore
Nicholas Theodore, Paul M. Arnold and Ankit I. Mehta
Corinna C. Zygourakis, A. Karim Ahmed, Samuel Kalb, Alex M. Zhu, Ali Bydon, Neil R. Crawford and Nicholas Theodore
The Excelsius GPS (Globus Medical, Inc.) was approved by the FDA in 2017. This novel robot allows for real-time intraoperative imaging, registration, and direct screw insertion through a rigid external arm—without the need for interspinous clamps or K-wires. The authors present one of the first operative cases utilizing the Excelsius GPS robotic system in spinal surgery. A 75-year-old man presented with severe lower back pain and left leg radiculopathy. He had previously undergone 3 decompressive surgeries from L3 to L5, with evidence of instability and loss of sagittal balance. Robotic assistance was utilized to perform a revision decompression with instrumented fusion from L3 to S1. The usage of robotic assistance in spinal surgery may be an invaluable resource in minimally invasive cases, minimizing the need for fluoroscopy, or in those with abnormal anatomical landmarks.
The video can be found here: https://youtu.be/yVI-sJWf9Iw.
Corey T. Walker, M. Yashar S. Kalani, Mark E. Oppenlander, Jakub Godzik, Nikolay L. Martirosyan, Robert J. Standerfer and Nicholas Theodore
The authors report a novel paradigm for resection of the disc or dural complex to treat giant calcified transdural herniated thoracic discs, and they describe a technique for the repair of dural defects. These herniated thoracic discs are uncommon, complicated lesions that often require a multidisciplinary team for effective treatment. The intradural component must be removed to effectively decompress the spinal cord. The opening of the friable dura mater, which frequently adheres to the extradural component of the disc, can result in large defects and difficult-to-manage CSF leaks.
The authors performed a retrospective study of the technique and outcomes in patients with a transdural herniated disc treated at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center within a 4-year period between 2012 and 2015.
During the study period, 7 patients (mean age 56.1 years) presented to the department of neurosurgery with clinical symptoms consistent with myeloradiculopathy. In all cases, 2-level corpectomies of the involved levels were combined with circumferential resection of the dura and complete decompression of the spinal cord. The dural defect was repaired with an onlay dural patch, and a large piece of AlloDerm (LifeCell Corp) graft was sewn to close the pleural defect. Every patient had a perioperative lumbar drain placed for CSF diversion. No patient suffered neurological decline related to the surgery, and 3 patients experienced clinically significant improvement in function. Two patients developed an early postoperative CSF leak that required operative revision to oversew the defects.
This novel technique for decompression of the spinal cord by dural resection for the removal of giant calcified transdural herniated thoracic discs is safe and results in excellent decompression of the spinal cord. The technique becomes necessary when primary repair of the dura is not possible, and it can be used in cases in which the resection of pathology includes the dura.
Mark P. Garrett, Richard W. Williamson, Michael A. Bohl, C. Roger Bird and Nicholas Theodore
For a diagnosis of brain death (BD), ancillary testing is performed if patient factors prohibit a complete clinical examination and apnea test. The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) guidelines identify cerebral angiography (CA), cerebral scintigraphy, electroencephalography, and transcranial Doppler ultrasonography as accepted ancillary tests. CA is widely considered the gold standard of these, as it provides the most reliable assessment of intracranial blood flow. CT angiography (CTA) is a noninvasive and widely available study that is also capable of identifying absent or severely diminished intracranial blood flow, but it is not included among the AAN's accepted ancillary tests because of insufficient evidence demonstrating its reliability. The objective of this study was to assess the statistical performance of CTA in diagnosing BD, using clinical criteria alone or clinical criteria plus CA as the gold-standard comparisons.
The authors prospectively enrolled 22 adult patients undergoing workup for BD. All patients had cranial imaging and clinical examination results consistent with BD. In patients who met the AAN clinical criteria for BD, the authors performed CA and CTA so that both tests could be compared with the gold-standard clinical criteria. In cases that required ancillary testing, CA was performed as a confirmatory study, and CTA was then performed to compare against clinical criteria plus CA. Radiographic data were evaluated by an independent neuroradiologist. Test characteristics for CTA were calculated.
Four patients could not complete the standard BD workup and were excluded from analysis. Of the remaining 18 patients, 16 met AAN criteria for BD, 9 of whom required ancillary testing with CA. Of the 16 patients, 2 who also required CA ancillary testing were found to have persistent intracranial flow and were not declared brain dead at that time. These patients also underwent CTA; the results were concordant with the CA results. Six patients who were diagnosed with BD on the basis of clinical criteria alone also underwent CA, with 100% sensitivity. For all 18 patients included in the study, CTA had a sensitivity of 75%, a specificity of 100%, a positive predictive value of 100%, and a negative predictive value of 33%.
Clinical examination with or without CA remains the gold standard in BD testing. Studies assessing the statistical performance of CTA in BD testing should compare CTA to these gold standards. The statistical performance of CTA in BD testing is comparable to several of the nationally accepted ancillary tests. These data add to the growing medical literature supporting the use of CTA as a reliable ancillary test in BD testing.
Michael A. Mooney, Mark E. Oppenlander, U. Kumar Kakarla and Nicholas Theodore
Tumoral calcinosis is characterized by tumor-like deposition of calcium in periarticular soft tissue. Spinal involvement is rare, and perioperative diagnosis of tumoral calcinosis can be difficult because lesions may be confused with bony neoplasms. Symptoms of tumoral calcinosis result from bony involvement and/or direct compression of surrounding anatomical structures, for which treatment with surgical decompression can be highly successful. The craniovertebral junction is rarely affected by tumoral calcinosis, and patients with this condition may present with distinct symptoms. Herein, to their knowledge the authors present the first case of tumoral calcinosis affecting the craniovertebral junction in a patient who presented with severe dysphagia and required transoral decompression. Recognition of tumoral calcinosis by neurosurgeons is essential for facilitating diagnosis and treatment, and the transoral approach is an effective method for decompression in select patients.
Eduardo Martinez-del-Campo, Jay D. Turner, Hector Soriano-Baron, Anna G. U. S. Newcomb, Samuel Kalb and Nicholas Theodore
The authors assessed the rate of vertebral growth, curvature, and alignment for multilevel constructs in the cervical spine after occipitocervical fixation (OCF) in pediatric patients and compared these results with those in published reports of growth in normal children.
The authors assessed cervical spine radiographs and CT images of 18 patients who underwent occipitocervical arthrodesis. Measurements were made using postoperative and follow-up images available for 16 patients to determine cervical alignment (cervical spine alignment [CSA], C1–7 sagittal vertical axis [SVA], and C2–7 SVA) and curvature (cervical spine curvature [CSC] and C2–7 lordosis angle). Seventeen patients had postoperative and follow-up images available with which to measure vertebral body height (VBH), vertebral body width (VBW), and vertical growth percentage (VG%—that is, percentage change from postoperative to follow-up). Results for cervical spine growth were compared with normal parameters of 456 patients previously reported on in 2 studies.
Ten patients were girls and 8 were boys; their mean age was 6.7 ± 3.2 years. Constructs spanned occiput (Oc)–C2 (n = 2), Oc–C3 (n = 7), and Oc–C4 (n = 9). The mean duration of follow-up was 44.4 months (range 24–101 months). Comparison of postoperative to follow-up measures showed that the mean CSA increased by 1.8 ± 2.9 mm (p < 0.01); the mean C2–7 SVA and C1–7 SVA increased by 2.3 mm and 2.7 mm, respectively (p = 0.3); the mean CSC changed by −8.7° (p < 0.01) and the mean C2–7 lordosis angle changed by 2.6° (p = 0.5); and the cumulative mean VG% of the instrumented levels (C2–4) provided 51.5% of the total cervical growth (C2–7). The annual vertical growth rate was 4.4 mm/year. The VBW growth from C2–4 ranged from 13.9% to 16.6% (p < 0.001). The VBW of C-2 in instrumented patients appeared to be of a smaller diameter than that of normal patients, especially among those aged 5 to < 10 years and 10–15 years, with an increased diameter at the immediately inferior vertebral bodies compensating for the decreased width. No cervical deformation, malalignment, or detrimental clinical status was evident in any patient.
The craniovertebral junction and the upper cervical spine continue to present normal growth, curvature, and alignment parameters in children with OCF constructs spanning a distance as long as Oc–C4.