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David E. Connor Jr., Prashant Chittiboina and Anil Nanda

The authors trace the etymology and historical significance of galea or epicranial aponeurosis. In ancient Greece, galea referred to a helmet worn by soldiers, typically made of animal hide or leather. Throughout antiquity, physicians referred to all soft tissue between the skin and the skull as panniculus, a standard established by Galen of Pergamon. A manual of surgery in the Middle Ages referred to the entire scalp as a “great panicle that is called pericranium.” During the early Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci famously and stylistically analogized the dissection of the cranium with the peeling of an onion. Not until 1724 would the tendinous sheath connecting the frontalis and occipitalis muscles be defined as “Galea tendinosa cranii.” By 1741, the convention of referring to the galea as an aponeurosis was well established.

Harvey Cushing's wartime experiences at Army Base Hospital No. 5 reinforced the surgical significance of the galea. Operative mortality was significantly diminished due to “closure of the wounds with buried sutures in the galea.” This operative nuance was then passed from teacher to pupil and has now become one of the tenets of modern neurosurgical practice.

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David E. Connor Jr., Prashant Chittiboina, Gloria Caldito and Anil Nanda

Object

Spinal epidural abscess (SEA), once considered a rare occurrence, has showed a rapid increase in incidence over the past 20–30 years. Recent reports have advocated for conservative, nonoperative management of this devastating disorder with appropriate risk stratification. Crucial to a successful management strategy are decisive diagnosis, prompt intervention, and consistent follow-up care. The authors present a review of their institutional experience with operative and nonoperative management of SEA to assess morbidity and mortality and the accuracy of microbiological diagnosis.

Methods

A retrospective analysis of patient charts, microbiology reports, operative records, and radiology reports was performed on all cases involving patients admitted with the diagnosis of SEA between July 1998 and May 2009.

Results

Seventy-seven cases were reviewed (median patient age 51.4 years, range 17–78 years). Axial pain was the most common presenting symptom (67.5% of cases). Presenting signs included focal weakness (55.8%), radiculopathy (28.6%), and myelopathy (5.2%). Abscesses were localized to the lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spine, respectively, in 39 (50.6%), 20 (26.0%), and 18 (23.4%) of the patients. Peripheral blood cultures were negative in 32 (45.1%) of 71 patients. Surgical site or interventional biopsy cultures were diagnostic in 52 cases (78.8%), with concordant blood culture results in 36 (60.0%). Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was the most frequent isolate in 24 cases (31.2%). The mean time from admission to surgery was 5.5 days (range 0–42 days; within 72 hours in 66.7% of cases). Outcome data were available in 72 cases. At discharge, patient condition had improved or resolved in 57 cases (79.2%), improved minimally in 6 (8.3%), and showed no improvement or worsening in 9 (12.5%). Patient age and premorbid weakness were the only factors found to be significantly associated with outcome (p = 0.04 and 0.012, respectively).

Conclusions

These results strongly support immediate surgical decompression combined with appropriately tailored antibiotic therapy for the treatment of symptomatic SEA presenting with focal neurological deficit. The nonsuperiority discovered in other patient subsets may be due to allocation biases between surgically treated and nonsurgically treated cohorts. The present data demonstrate the accuracy of peripheral blood culture for the prediction of causative organisms and confirm patient age as a predictor of outcomes.

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Prashant Chittiboina, Helena Pasieka, Ashish Sonig, Papireddy Bollam, Christina Notarianni, Brian K. Willis and Anil Nanda

Object

Cerebrospinal fluid shunts in patients with posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus are prone to failure, with some patients at risk for multiple failures. The objective of this study was to identify factors leading to multiple failures.

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective analysis of cases of posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus requiring neurosurgical intervention between 1982 and 2010.

Results

In the 109 cases analyzed, 54% of the patients were male, their mean birth weight was 1223 g, and their mean head circumference 25.75 cm. The mean duration of follow-up was 6 years, and 9 patients died. Grade III intraventricular hemorrhage was seen in 47.7% and Grade IV in 43.1%. Initial use of a ventricular access device was needed in 65 patients (59.6%), but permanent CSF shunting was needed in 104 (95.4%). A total of 454 surgical procedures were performed, including 304 shunt revisions in 78 patients (71.6%). Detailed surgical notes were available for 261 of these procedures, and of these, 51% were proximal revisions, 13% distal revisions, and 17% total shunt revisions. Revision rates were not affected by catheter type, patient sex, presence of congenital anomalies, or type of hydrocephalus. Age of less than 30 days at the initial procedure was associated with decreased survival of the first shunt. Regression analysis revealed that lower estimated gestational age (EGA) and obstructive hydrocephalus were significant predictors of multiple shunt revisions.

Conclusions

We found a high rate of need for permanent CSF shunts (95.4%) in patients with posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus. Shunt revision was required in 71.6% of patients, with those with lower birth weight and EGA at a higher risk for revisions.

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Prashant Chittiboina, David E. Connor Jr. and Anil Nanda

Every neurosurgeon develops his or her own standard approach to common intracranial pathologies in terms of the order in which different stages are performed and which instruments are used to perform individual tasks. The majority of the basic steps in performing a craniotomy are learned through repetition and practice during residency training. Significant amounts of energy are devoted to mastering technical skills and developing an operative rhythm. What often receives little attention is the historical origin of the instruments that make the work possible. The Freer elevator represents a particularly interesting example. To people unfamiliar with the accomplishments of turn-of-the-century laryngologist Otto “Tiger” Freer, it can be assumed that the name of the instrument in one's hand is simply named for what it can do, that is, to “free” the nasal mucosa from the bony and cartilaginous septum during the transsphenoidal approach. The technique this master surgeon spent his life and career perfecting is now repeated almost daily by skull base neurosurgeons approaching pathologies from the inferior frontal lobe to the foramen magnum. In reviewing his life and work, the authors of this paper discovered an interesting creative process that led to the design of the eponymous instrument. Additionally, they discovered important advances toward the development of the transnasal approach and in our understanding of the anterior skull base. They present a historical perspective on the life and accomplishments of Dr. Freer and the ubiquitous surgical instrument that he invented and popularized.

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Jai Deep Thakur, Ashish Sonig, Prashant Chittiboina, Imad Saeed Khan, Rishi Wadhwa and Anil Nanda

Humphrey Ridley, M.D. (1653–1708), is a relatively unknown historical figure, belonging to the postmedieval era of neuroanatomical discovery. He was born in the market town of Mansfield, 14 miles from the county of Nottinghamshire, England. After studying at Merton College, Oxford, he pursued medicine at Leiden University in the Netherlands. In 1688, he was incorporated as an M.D. at Cambridge. Ridley authored the first original treatise in English language on neuroanatomy, The Anatomy of the Brain Containing its Mechanisms and Physiology: Together with Some New Discoveries and Corrections of Ancient and Modern Authors upon that Subject.

Ridley described the venous anatomy of the eponymous circular sinus in connection with the parasellar compartment. His methods were novel, unique, and effective. To appreciate the venous anatomy, he preferred to perform his anatomical dissections on recently executed criminals who had been hanged. These cadavers had considerable venous engorgement, which made the skull base venous anatomy clearer. To enhance the appearance of the cerebral vasculature further, he used tinged wax and quicksilver in the injections. He set up experimental models to answer questions definitively, in proving that the arachnoid mater is a separate meningeal layer. The first description of the subarachnoid cisterns, blood-brain barrier, and the fifth cranial nerve ganglion with its branches are also attributed to Ridley.

This historical vignette revisits Ridley's life and academic work that influenced neuroscience and neurosurgical understanding in its infancy. It is unfortunate that most of his novel contributions have gone unnoticed and uncited. The authors hope that this article will inform the neurosurgical community of Ridley's contributions to the field of neurosurgery.

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Ashish Sonig, Jai Deep Thakur, Prashant Chittiboina, Imad Saeed Khan and Anil Nanda

Object

Various factors have been reported in literature to be associated with the development of posttraumatic meningitis. There is a paucity of data regarding skull fractures and facial fractures leading to CSF leaks and their association with the development of meningitis. The primary objective of this study was to analyze the US Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) database to elucidate the factors associated with the development of posttraumatic meningitis. A secondary goal was to analyze the overall hospitalization cost related to posttraumatic meningitis and factors associated with that cost.

Methods

The NIS database was analyzed to identify patients admitted to hospitals with a diagnosis of head injury from 2005 through 2009. This data set was analyzed to assess the relationship of various clinical parameters that may affect the development of posttraumatic meningitis using binary logistic regression models. Additionally, the overall hospitalization cost for the head injury patients who did not undergo any neurosurgical intervention was further categorized into quartile groups, and a regression model was created to analyze various factors responsible for escalating the overall cost of the hospital stay.

Results

A total of 382,267 inpatient admissions for head injury were analyzed for the 2005–2009 period. Meningitis was reported in 0.2% of these cases (708 cases). Closed skull base fractures, open skull base fractures, cranial vault fractures, and maxillofacial fractures were reported in 20,524 (5.4%), 1089 (0.3%), 5064 (1.3%), and 88,649 (23.2%) patients, respectively. Among these patients with fractures, meningitis was noted in 0.17%, 0.18%, 0.05%, and 0.10% admissions, respectively. Cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea was reported in 453 head injury patients (0.1%) and CSF otorrhea in 582 (0.2%). Of the patients reported to have CSF rhinorrhea, 35 (7.7%) developed meningitis, whereas in the cohort with CSF otorrhea, 15 patients (2.6%) developed meningitis. Cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea (p < 0.001, OR 22.8, 95% CI 15.6–33.3), CSF otorrhea (p < 0.001, OR 9.2, 95% CI 5.2–16.09), and major neurosurgical procedures (p < 0.001, OR 5.6, 95% CI 4.8–6.5) were independent predictors of meningitis. Further, CSF rhinorrhea (p < 0.001, OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.6–2.7), CSF otorrhea (p < 0.001, OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.9–2.7), and posttraumatic meningitis (p < 0.001, OR 3.1, 95% CI 2.5–3.8) were independent factors responsible for escalating the cost of head injury in cases not requiring any major neurosurgical intervention.

Conclusions

Cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea and CSF otorrhea are independent predictors of posttraumatic meningitis. Furthermore, meningitis and CSF fistulas may independently lead to significantly increased cost of hospitalization in head injury patients not undergoing any major neurosurgical intervention.

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Prashant Chittiboina, David E. Connor Jr., Gloria Caldito, Joseph W. Quillin, Jon D. Wilson and Anil Nanda

Object

Some patients presenting with neurological symptoms and normal findings on imaging studies may harbor occult brain tumors that are undetectable on initial imaging. The purpose of this study was to analyze the cases of occult brain tumors reported in the literature and to determine their modes of presentation and time to diagnosis on imaging studies.

Methods

A review of the literature was performed using PubMed. The authors found 15 articles reporting on a total of 60 patients with occult tumors (including the authors' illustrative case).

Results

Seizures were the mode of initial presentation in a majority (61.7%) of patients. The initial imaging was CT scanning in 55% and MRI in 45%. The mean time to diagnosis for occult brain tumors was 10.3 months (median 4 months). The time to diagnosis (mean 7.5 months, median 3.2 months) was shorter (p = 0.046) among patients with seizures. Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) was found more frequently among patients with seizures (67.6% vs 34.8%, p = 0.013). The average time to diagnosis of GBM was shorter than the time to diagnosis of other tumors; the median time to diagnosis was 3.2 months for GBM and 6 months for other tumors (p = 0.04). There was no predilection for side or location of occult tumors. In adult patients, seizures may be predictive of left-sided tumors (p = 0.04).

Conclusions

Based on the results of this study, the authors found that in patients with occult brain tumors, the time to diagnosis is shorter among patients with seizures and also among those with GBM.

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Ali Nourbakhsh, Prashant Chittiboina, Prasad Vannemreddy, Anil Nanda and Bharat Guthikonda

Object

Transpedicular thoracic vertebrectomy (TTV) is a safe alternative to the more standard transthoracic approach. A TTV is most commonly used to address vertebral body fractures due to tumor or trauma.

Transpedicular reconstruction of the anterior column with cage/bone traditionally requires unilateral thoracic nerve root sacrifice. In a cadaveric model, the authors evaluated the feasibility of transpedicular anterior column reconstruction without nerve root sacrifice. If feasible, this may be a reasonable approach that could be extended to the lumbar spine where nerve root sacrifice is not an option.

Methods

A TTV was performed in 8 fixed cadaveric specimens. In each specimen, an alternate vertebra (either odd or even) was removed so that single-level reconstruction could be evaluated. The vertebrectomy included facetectomy, adjacent discectomies, and laminectomy; however, the nerve roots were preserved. The authors then evaluated the feasibility of inserting a titanium mesh cage (Medtronic Sofamor Danek) without neural sacrifice.

Results

Transpedicular anterior cage reconstruction could be safely performed at all levels of the thoracic spine without nerve root sacrifice. The internerve root space varied from 18 mm at T2–3 to 27 mm at T11–12; thus, the size of the cage that was used also varied with level.

Conclusions

Cage reconstruction of the anterior column could be safely performed via the transpedicular approach without nerve root sacrifice in this cadaveric study. Removal of the proximal part of the rib in addition to a standard laminectomy with transpedicular vertebrectomy provided an excellent corridor for anterior cage reconstruction at all levels of the thoracic spine without nerve root sacrifice.

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Prashant Chittiboina, Esther Wylen, Alan Ogden, Debi P. Mukherjee, Prasad Vannemreddy and Anil Nanda

Object

Surgical management of unstable traumatic spondylolisthesis of the axis includes both posterior and anterior fusion methods. The authors performed a biomechanical study to evaluate the relative stability of anterior fixation at C2–3 and posterior fixation of C-1 through C-3 in hangman's fractures.

Methods

Fresh-frozen cadaveric spine specimens (occipital level to T-2) were subjected to stepwise destabilization of the C1–2 complex, replicating a Type II hangman's fracture. Intact specimens, fractured specimens, and fractured specimens with either anterior screw and plate or posterior screw and rod fixation were each tested for stability. Each spine was subjected to separate right and left rotation, bending, flexion, and extension testing.

Results

Anterior fixation restored stiffness in flexion and extension movements to values greater than those for intact specimens. For other movement parameters, the values approximated those for intact specimens. Posterior fixation increased the stiffness to above those values seen for anterior fixation specimens.

Conclusions

In cadaveric spine specimens subjected to a Type II hangman's fracture, both anterior fixation at C2–3 and posterior fixation with C-1 lateral mass screws and C-2 and C-3 pedicle screws resulted in a consistent increase in stiffness, and hence in stability, over intact specimens.