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Virtual Meeting | January 29, 2021

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Pranish A. Kantak, Sarv Priya, Girish Bathla, Mario Zanaty, and Patrick W. Hitchon

BACKGROUND

Rotational vertebral artery insufficiency (RVAI), also known as bow hunter’s syndrome, is an uncommon cause of vertebrobasilar insufficiency that leads to signs of posterior circulation ischemia during head rotation. RVAI can be subdivided on the basis of the anatomical location of vertebral artery compression into atlantoaxial RVAI (pathology at C1-C2) or subaxial RVAI (pathology below C2). Typically, RVAI is only seen with contralateral vertebral artery pathologies, such as atherosclerosis, hypoplasia, or morphological atypia.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors present a unique case of atlantoaxial RVAI due to rotational instability, causing marked subluxation of the C1-C2 facet joints. This case is unique in both the mechanism of compression and the lack of contralateral vertebral artery pathology. The patient was successfully treated with posterior C1-C2 instrumentation and fusion.

LESSONS

When evaluating patients for RVAI, neurosurgeons should be aware of the variety of pathological causes, including rotational instability from facet joint subluxation. Due to the heterogeneous nature of the pathologies causing RVAI, care must be taken to decide if conservative management or surgical correction is the right course of action. Because of this heterogeneous nature, there is no set guideline for the treatment or management of RVAI.

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Stephanie M. Casillo, Anisha Venkatesh, Nallammai Muthiah, Nitin Agarwal, Teresa Scott, Rossana Romani, Laura L. Fernández, Sarita Aristizabal, Elizabeth E. Ginalis, Ahmad Ozair, Vivek Bhat, Arjumand Faruqi, Ankur Bajaj, Abhinav Arun Sonkar, Daniel S. Ikeda, E. Antonio Chiocca, Russell R. Lonser, Tracy E. Sutton, John M. McGregor, Gary L. Rea, Victoria A. Schunemann, Laura B. Ngwenya, Evan S. Marlin, Paul N. Porensky, Ammar Shaikhouni, Kristin Huntoon, David Dornbos III, Andrew B. Shaw, Ciarán J. Powers, Jacob M. Gluski, Lauren G. Culver, Alyssa M. Goodwin, Steven Ham, Neena I. Marupudi, Dhananjaya I. Bhat, Katherine M. Berry, Eva M. Wu, and Michael Y. Wang

We received so many biographies of women neurosurgery leaders for this issue that only a selection could be condensed here. In all of them, the essence of a leader shines through. Many are included as “first” of their country or color or other achievement. All of them are included as outstanding—in clinical, academic, and organized neurosurgery. Two defining features are tenacity and service. When faced with shocking discrimination, or numbing indifference, they ignored it or fought valiantly. When choosing their life’s work, they chose service, often of the most neglected—those with pain, trauma, and disability. These women inspire and point the way to a time when the term “women leaders” as an exception is unnecessary.

—Katharine J. Drummond, MD, on behalf of this month’s topic editors

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Catherine Veilleux, Nardin Samuel, Han Yan, Victoria Bass, Rabab Al-Shahrani, Ann Mansur, James T. Rutka, Gelareh Zadeh, Mojgan Hodaie, and Geneviève Milot

OBJECTIVE

Although the past decades have seen a steady increase of women in medicine in general, women continue to represent a minority of the physician-training staff and workforce in neurosurgery in Canada and worldwide. As such, the aim of this study was to analyze the experiences of women faculty practicing neurosurgery across Canada to better understand and address the factors contributing to this disparity.

METHODS

A historical, cross-sectional, and mixed-method analysis of survey responses was performed using survey results obtained from women attending neurosurgeons across Canada. A web-based survey platform was utilized to collect responses. Quantitative analyses were performed on the responses from the study questionnaire, including summary and comparative statistics. Qualitative analyses of free-text responses were performed using axial and open coding.

RESULTS

A total of 19 of 31 respondents (61.3%) completed the survey. Positive enabling factors for career success included supportive colleagues and work environment (52.6%); academic accomplishments, including publications and advanced degrees (36.8%); and advanced fellowship training (47.4%). Perceived barriers reported included inequalities with regard to career advancement opportunities (57.8%), conflicting professional and personal interests (57.8%), and lack of mentorship (36.8%). Quantitative analyses demonstrated emerging themes of an increased need for women mentors as well as support and recognition of the contributions to career advancement of personal and family-related factors.

CONCLUSIONS

This study represents, to the authors’ knowledge, the first analysis of factors influencing career success and satisfaction in women neurosurgeons across Canada. This study highlights several key factors contributing to the low representation of women in neurosurgery and identifies specific actionable items that can be addressed by training programs and institutions. In particular, female mentorship, opportunities for career advancement, and increased recognition and integration of personal and professional roles were highlighted as areas for future intervention. These findings will provide a framework for addressing these factors and improving the recruitment and retention of females in this specialty.

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Sarah Olson, Heidi McAlpine, Sarah A. Cain, Ruth Mitchell, Gemma Olsson, and Katharine J. Drummond

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Julie Woodfield, Phillip Correia Copley, Mark Hughes, and Ellie Edlmann

OBJECTIVE

Within neurosurgery, there are fewer women than men at all levels. The authors aimed to assess whether opportunities and representation within neurosurgery are proportional to the existing gender gap.

METHODS

The authors analyzed the program of the 2019 joint European Association of Neurosurgical Societies (EANS)/Society of British Neurological Surgeons (SBNS) conference to assess the proportions of presentations given through abstract submission and invitation by men and women. They compared proportions to the previous joint conference in 2007 and to the gender proportions of board-certified European neurosurgeons.

RESULTS

Women delivered 75/577 (13%) presentations at the 2019 EANS/SBNS conference: 54/283 (19%) abstract submissions and 21/294 (7%) invited presentations. Fifteen of 152 (10%) session chairs were women. This increased significantly from 4/121 (3%) presentations delivered by women in 2007. When only presentations given by neurosurgeons (residents or consultants) were analyzed, the proportion of female speakers increased from 1/111 (1%) in 2007 to 60/545 (11%) in 2019. Pediatrics was the subspecialty with the highest proportion of invited female speakers. Across subspecialties, there were no differences in gender proportions for presentations from abstract submissions. Across the top 5 participating European countries, the proportion of female invited speakers (8%) and chairs (8%) was half the proportion of female board-certified neurosurgeons (16%).

CONCLUSIONS

The proportion of women delivering invited presentations and chairing sessions at a European neurosurgical conference is lower than expected from the available pool of board-certified neurosurgeons. The proportion of women participating is higher through application (abstract submission) than through invitation. The higher proportion of presentations from abstract submission may reflect submission from a pool of trainees with a higher proportion of women. The authors suggest implementation of strategies that increase invited speakers from minority groups and have been shown to be effective in other disciplines, such as improving minority group representation in organizing committees.

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Claire Karekezi, Nqobile Thango, Salamat Ahuoiza Aliu-Ibrahim, Hajar Bechri, Espérance Maman You Broalet, Mouna Bougrine, Jebet Beverly Cheserem, Maguette Mbaye, Zarina Ali Shabhay, Nabila Tighilt, Souad Bakhti, and Najia El Abbadi

The number of women in the medical field has increased in Africa over the last few decades, yet the underrepresentation of women within neurosurgery has been a recurrent theme. Of all surgical disciplines, neurosurgery is among the least equitable, and the rate of increase in female surgeons lags behind other surgical disciplines such as general surgery. This historical review provides an overview of the history of women in neurosurgery and their current status on the African continent. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first article to provide such an overview.

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Alia Hdeib, Theresa Elder, Daria Krivosheya, Disep I. Ojukwu, Olindi Wijesekera, Dana Defta, Sharona Ben-Haim, and Deborah L. Benzil

In 2020, the Women in Neurosurgery (WINS) organization, a joint section of the AANS and Congress of Neurological Surgeons, celebrated 30 years since its inception. In this paper, the authors explore the history of WINS from its beginnings through its evolution over the past three decades. The achievements of the group are highlighted, as well as the broader achievements of the women in the neurosurgical community over this time period.

Open access

Suguru Nagamitsu, Natsue Kaneko, Toshikazu Nagatsuna, Hiroaki Yasuda, Manabu Urakawa, Masami Fujii, and Tetsuo Yamashita

BACKGROUND

Idiopathic dissecting cerebral aneurysms (IDCAs) are male dominant but are extremely rare in children. Many IDCAs in children are located in the posterior cerebral artery and the supraclinoid internal cervical artery. No cases of IDCA of the distal anterior cerebral artery (ACA) have been reported.

OBSERVATIONS

A previously healthy 7-month-old boy experienced afebrile seizures and presented at the authors’ hospital 1 week after the first seizure. He was not feeling well but had no neurological deficits. The authors diagnosed a ruptured aneurysm of the right distal ACA based on imaging results. He underwent emergency craniotomy to prevent re-rupture of the aneurysm. Using intraoperative indocyanine green videoangiography, the authors confirmed peripheral blood flow and then performed aneurysmectomy. Pathological examination of the aneurysm revealed a thickened intima, fragmentation of the internal elastic lamina, and a hematoma in the aneurysmal wall. The authors ultimately diagnosed IDCA because no cause was indicated, including a history of trauma. The boy recovered after surgery and was subsequently discharged with no complications.

LESSONS

The authors reported, for the first time, IDCA of the distal ACA in an infant. The trapping technique is often used for giant fusiform aneurysms in infants. Indocyanine green videoangiography is useful for evaluating peripheral blood flow during trapping in this case.