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  • Journal of Neurosurgery x
  • By Author: Benzel, Edward C. x
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Daniel Lubelski, Andrew T. Healy, Alan Friedman, Dyan Ferraris, Edward C. Benzel and Richard Schlenk

OBJECTIVE

Neurosurgery is among the most competitive residencies, as evidenced by the high number of applicants for relatively few positions. Although it is important to recruit candidates who have the intellectual capacity and drive to succeed, traditional objective selection criteria, such as US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) (also known as Step 1) score, number of publications, and class ranking, have not been shown to consistently predict clinical and academic success. Furthermore, these traditional objective parameters have not been associated with specific personality traits.

METHODS

The authors sought to determine the efficacy of a personality assessment in the selection of neurosurgery residents. Specifically, the aim was to determine the correlation between traditional measures used to evaluate an applicant (e.g., USMLE score, number of publications, MD/PhD status) and corresponding validated personality traits.

RESULTS

Fifty-four neurosurgery residency applicants were interviewed at the Cleveland Clinic during the 2014–2015 application cycle. No differences in validated personality scores were identified between the 46 MD applicants and 8 MD/PhD applicants. The mean USMLE score (± SD) was 252.3 ± 11.9, and those in the high-USMLE-score category (USMLE score ≥ 260) had a significantly lower “imaginative” score (a stress measure of eccentric thinking and impatience with those who think more slowly). The average number of publications per applicant was 8.6 ± 7.9, and there was a significant positive correlation (r = 0.339, p = 0.016) between greater number of publications and a higher “adjustment” score (a measure of being even-tempered, having composure under pressure). Significant negative correlations existed between the total number of publications and the “excitable” score (a measure of being emotionally volatile) (r = −0.299, p = 0.035) as well as the “skeptical” score (measure of being sensitive to criticism) (r = −0.325, p = 0.021). The average medical school rank was 25.8, and medical school rankings were positively correlated with the “imaginative” score (r = 0.287, p = 0.044).

CONCLUSIONS

This is the first study to investigate the use of personality scores in the selection of neurosurgical residents. The use of personality assessments has the potential to provide insight into an applicant's future behavior as a resident and beyond. This information may be useful in the selection of neurosurgical residents and can be further used to customize the teaching of residents and for enabling them to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses for self-improvement.

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James K. C. Liu, Varun R. Kshettry, Pablo F. Recinos, Kambiz Kamian, Richard P. Schlenk and Edward C. Benzel

Surgical education has been forced to evolve from the principles of its initial inception, in part due to external pressures brought about through changes in modern health care. Despite these pressures that can limit the surgical training experience, training programs are being held to higher standards of education to demonstrate and document trainee competency through core competencies and milestones. One of the methods used to augment the surgical training experience and to demonstrate trainee proficiency in technical skills is through a surgical skills laboratory. The authors have established a surgical skills laboratory by acquiring equipment and funding from nondepartmental resources, through institutional and private educational grants, along with product donations from industry. A separate educational curriculum for junior- and senior-level residents was devised and incorporated into the neurosurgical residency curriculum. The initial dissection curriculum focused on cranial approaches, with spine and peripheral nerve approaches added in subsequent years. The dissections were scheduled to maximize the use of cadaveric specimens, experimenting with techniques to best preserve the tissue for repeated uses. A survey of residents who participated in at least 1 year of the curriculum indicated that participation in the surgical skills laboratory translated into improved understanding of anatomical relationships and the development of technical skills that can be applied in the operating room. In addition to supplementing the technical training of surgical residents, a surgical skills laboratory with a dissection curriculum may be able to help provide uniformity of education across different neurosurgical training programs, as well as provide a tool to assess the progression of skills in surgical trainees.

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Adam J. Bartsch, Edward C. Benzel, Vincent J. Miele, Douglas R. Morr and Vikas Prakash

Object

In spite of ample literature pointing to rotational and combined impact dosage being key contributors to head and neck injury, boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) padding is still designed to primarily reduce cranium linear acceleration. The objects of this study were to quantify preliminary linear and rotational head impact dosage for selected boxing and MMA padding in response to hook punches; compute theoretical skull, brain, and neck injury risk metrics; and statistically compare the protective effect of various glove and head padding conditions.

Methods

An instrumented Hybrid III 50th percentile anthropomorphic test device (ATD) was struck in 54 pendulum impacts replicating hook punches at low (27–29 J) and high (54–58 J) energy. Five padding combinations were examined: unpadded (control), MMA glove–unpadded head, boxing glove–unpadded head, unpadded pendulum–boxing headgear, and boxing glove–boxing headgear. A total of 17 injury risk parameters were measured or calculated.

Results

All padding conditions reduced linear impact dosage. Other parameters significantly decreased, significantly increased, or were unaffected depending on padding condition. Of real-world conditions (MMA glove–bare head, boxing glove–bare head, and boxing glove–headgear), the boxing glove–headgear condition showed the most meaningful reduction in most of the parameters. In equivalent impacts, the MMA glove–bare head condition induced higher rotational dosage than the boxing glove–bare head condition. Finite element analysis indicated a risk of brain strain injury in spite of significant reduction of linear impact dosage.

Conclusions

In the replicated hook punch impacts, all padding conditions reduced linear but not rotational impact dosage. Head and neck dosage theoretically accumulates fastest in MMA and boxing bouts without use of protective headgear. The boxing glove–headgear condition provided the best overall reduction in impact dosage. More work is needed to develop improved protective padding to minimize linear and rotational impact dosage and develop next-generation standards for head and neck injury risk.

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David W. Beck and Darren S. Lovick

Object. Although advances in patient care have enabled surgeons to perform posterior lumbar decompression and fusion (PLDF), increased age remains a major concern when designing a treatment strategy. The authors conducted a study to evaluate if increased age has any effect on lumbar fusion surgery in terms of perioperative events.

Methods. This retrospective study comprised 129 patients (age range 25–91 years) with spondylolisthesis, lumbar stenosis and/or disc degeneration/herniation with instability, or unsuccessful results after a failed previous PLDF. The patients were stratified by age: those younger than 65 years of age (85 patients) and those at least 65 years of age (44 patients). The parameters reviewed included comorbid conditions, American Society of Anesthesiologists score, instrumentation technique (pedicle screws, a combination of pedicle screw fixation [PSF] and posterior lumbar interbody fusion [PLIF], or noninstrumented fusions), number of fused levels, operative time, estimated blood loss (EBL), complications, and hospital length of stay (LOS).

Fusion strategies in the elderly tended to be more conservative. Repeated operations and PSF/PLIF procedures were less frequent in the older age group. Older age did not result in increased complications, EBL, and operative time. Longer hospital LOS was observed in the older age group (7 ± 3.5 days) compared with the younger age group (5.5 ± 1.9 days) (p = 0.022).

Conclusions. Complications and perioperative events following PLDF in the elderly are comparable with those observed in younger patients. Withholding lumbar spine fusion solely based on advanced age is not warranted.

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Cary D. Alberstone, Stephen L. Skirboll, Edward C. Benzel, John A. Sanders, Blaine L. Hart, Nevan G. Baldwin, Charles L. Tessman, John T. Davis and Roland R. Lee

Object. The availability of large-array biomagnetometers has led to advances in magnetoencephalography that permit scientists and clinicians to map selected brain functions onto magnetic resonance images. This merging of technologies is termed magnetic source (MS) imaging. The present study was undertaken to assess the role of MS imaging for the guidance of presurgical planning and intraoperative neurosurgical technique used in patients with intracranial mass lesions.

Methods. Twenty-six patients with intracranial mass lesions underwent a medical evaluation consisting of MS imaging, a clinical history, a neurological examination, and assessment with the Karnofsky Performance Scale. Magnetic source imaging was used to locate the somatosensory cortex in 25 patients, the visual cortex in six, and the auditory cortex in four. The distance between the lesion and the functional cortex was determined for each patient.

Twenty-one patients underwent a neurosurgical procedure. As a surgical adjunct, a frameless stereotactic navigational system was used in 17 cases and a standard stereotactic apparatus in four cases. Because of the results of their MS imaging examination, two patients were not offered surgery, four underwent a stereotactic biopsy procedure, 10 were treated with a subtotal surgical resection, and seven were treated with complete surgical resection. One patient deteriorated before a procedure could be scheduled and, therefore, was not offered surgery, and two patients were offered surgery but declined. Three patients experienced surgery-related complications.

Conclusions. Magnetic source imaging is an important noninvasive neurodiagnostic tool that provides critical information regarding the spatial relationship of a brain lesion to functional cortex. By providing this information, MS imaging facilitates a minimum-risk management strategy and helps guide operative neurosurgical technique in patients with intracranial mass lesions.

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Edward C. Benzel, Blaine L. Hart, Perry A. Ball, Nevan G. Baldwin, William W. Orrison and Mary C. Espinosa

✓ Because it is often difficult to diagnose accurately the structurally intact cervical spine after acute trauma, a series of patients was evaluated with magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to assess its efficacy for the evaluation and clearance of the cervical spine in a trauma victim in the early posttrauma period. Ultralow-field MR imaging was used to evaluate 174 posttraumatic patients in whom physical findings indicated the potential for spine injury or minor radiographic findings indicated injury. This series includes only those patients who did not appear to harbor disruption of spinal integrity on the basis of a routine x-ray film. None had clinically obvious injury.

Of the 174 patients, 62 (36%) had soft-tissue abnormalities identified by MR imaging, including disc interspace disruption in 27 patients (four with ventral and dorsal ligamentous injury, three with ventral ligamentous injury alone, 18 with dorsal ligamentous injury alone, and two without ventral or dorsal ligamentous injury). Isolated ligamentous injury was observed in 35 patients (eight with ventral and dorsal ligamentous injury, five with ventral ligamentous injury alone, and 22 with dorsal ligamentous injury alone). One patient underwent a surgical fusion procedure, 35 patients (including the one treated surgically) were placed in a cervical collar for at least 1 month, and 27 patients were placed in a thermoplastic Minerva jacket for at least 2 months. All had a satisfactory outcome without evidence of instability.

The T2-weighted sagittal images were most useful in defining acute soft-tissue injury; axial images were of minimal assistance. Posttraumatic soft-tissue cervical spine injuries and disc herniations (most likely preexisting the trauma) are more common than expected. A negative MR image should be considered as confirmation of a negative or “cleared” subaxial cervical spine. Diagnostic and patient management algorithms may be appropriately tailored by this information. Thus, MR imaging is useful for early acute posttrauma assessment in a very select group of patients.

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