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Alberto Di Somma, Cristobal Langdon, Matteo de Notaris, Luis Reyes, Santiago Ortiz-Perez, Isam Alobid and Joaquim Enseñat

OBJECTIVE

Over the years, Meckel’s cave pathologies have been judged off-limits because of high rates of morbidity. Even though several studies have defined various surgical routes with tolerable morbidity and mortality rates, controversies related to the optimal avenue to treat different categories of Meckel’s cave and cavernous sinus neoplasms persist.

With unceasing energy to cultivate minimally invasive neurosurgical approaches, the endoscopic endonasal route has been tested, and the approach effectively performed, to provide a valid surgical window to these areas. In this dynamic and challenging scenario, another ventral endoscopic minimally invasive route—that is, the superior eyelid endoscopic transorbital approach—has been very recently proposed, and used in selected cases, to access the cavernous sinus and Meckel’s cave regions.

METHODS

The authors report the technical nuances of a combined and simultaneous endoscopic endonasal and transorbital surgical treatment of a patient with a Meckel’s cave schwannoma. The operation involved collaboration among neurosurgery, otorhinolaryngology, and ophthalmology (oculoplastic surgery). The patient recovered well, had no neurological deficits, and was discharged to home 3 days after surgery.

RESULTS

The multiportal combined route was proposed for the following reasons. The endonasal approach, considered to be more familiar to our skull base team, could allow control of possible damage of the internal carotid artery. From the endonasal perspective, the most inferior and medial portion of the tumor could be properly managed. Finally, the transorbital route, by means of opening the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus via the meningoorbital band, could allow control of the superolateral part of the tumor and, most importantly, could permit removal of the portion entering the posterior cranial fossa via the trigeminal pore. Simultaneous surgery with two surgical teams working together was planned in order to reduce operative time, hospital stay, and patient stress and discomfort, and to ensure “one-shot” complete tumor removal, with minimal or no complications.

CONCLUSIONS

This study represents the translation into the real surgical setting of recent anatomical contributions related to the novel endoscopic transorbital approach and its simultaneous integration with the endoscopic endonasal pathway. Accordingly, it may pave the way for future applications related to minimally invasive, multiportal endoscopic surgery for skull base tumors.

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Russell R. Lonser, Asad S. Akhter, Mirosław Zabek, J. Bradley Elder and Krystof S. Bankiewicz

Molecular biological insights have led to a fundamental understanding of the underlying genomic mechanisms of nervous system disease. These findings have resulted in the identification of therapeutic genes that can be packaged in viral capsids for the treatment of a variety of neurological conditions, including neurodegenerative, metabolic, and enzyme deficiency disorders. Recent data have demonstrated that gene-carrying viral vectors (most often adeno-associated viruses) can be effectively distributed by convection-enhanced delivery (CED) in a safe, reliable, targeted, and homogeneous manner across the blood-brain barrier. Critically, these vectors can be monitored using real-time MRI of a co-infused surrogate tracer to accurately predict vector distribution and transgene expression at the perfused site. The unique properties of CED of adeno-associated virus vectors allow for cell-specific transgene manipulation of the infused anatomical site and/or widespread interconnected sites via antero- and/or retrograde transport. The authors review the convective properties of viral vectors, associated technology, and clinical applications.

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Thomas J. Buell and Justin S. Smith

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Sebastian Siller, Caroline Zoellner, Manuel Fuetsch, Raimund Trabold, Joerg-Christian Tonn and Stefan Zausinger

OBJECTIVE

Since the 1970s, the operating microscope (OM) has been a standard for visualization and illumination of the surgical field in spinal microsurgery. However, due to its limitations (e.g., size, costliness, and the limited movability of the binocular lenses, in addition to discomfort experienced by surgeons due to the posture required), there are efforts to replace the OM with exoscopic video telescopes. The authors evaluated the feasibility of a new 3D exoscope as an alternative to the OM in spine surgeries.

METHODS

Patients with degenerative pathologies scheduled for single-level lumbar or cervical spinal surgery with use of a high-definition 3D exoscope were enrolled in a prospective cohort study between January 2019 and September 2019. Age-, sex-, body mass index–, and procedure-matched patients surgically treated with the assistance of the OM served as the control group. Operative baseline and postoperative outcome parameters were assessed. Periprocedural handling, visualization, and illumination by the exoscope, as well as surgeons’ comfort level in terms of posture, were scored using a questionnaire.

RESULTS

A 3D exoscope was used in 40 patients undergoing lumbar posterior decompression (LPD) and 20 patients undergoing anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF); an equal number of controls in whom an OM was used were studied. Compared with controls, there were no significant differences for mean operative time (ACDF: 132 vs 116 minutes; LPD: 112 vs 113 minutes) and blood loss (ACDF: 97 vs 93 ml; LPD: 109 vs 55 ml) as well as postoperative improvement of symptoms (ACDF/Neck Disability Index: p = 0.43; LPD/Oswestry Disability Index: p = 0.76). No intraoperative complications occurred in either group. According to the attending surgeon, the intraoperative handling of instruments was rated to be comparable to that of the OM, while the comfort level of the surgeon’s posture intraoperatively (especially during “undercutting” procedures) was rated as superior. In cases of ACDF procedures and long approaches, depth perception, image quality, and illumination were rated as inferior when compared with the OM. By contrast, for operating room nursing staff participating in 3D exoscope procedures, the visualization of intraoperative process flow and surgical situs was rated to be superior to the OM, especially for ACDF procedures.

CONCLUSIONS

A 3D exoscope seems to be a safe alternative for common spinal procedures with the unique advantage of excellent comfort for the surgical team, but the drawback is the still slightly inferior visualization/illumination quality compared with the OM.

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Kathrin Zimmerman, Bobby May, Katherine Barnes, Anastasia Arynchyna, Elizabeth N. Alford, Gustavo Chagoya, Caroline Arata Wessinger, Laura E. Dreer, Inmaculada Aban, James M. Johnston, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Jeffrey P. Blount and Brandon G. Rocque

OBJECTIVE

Hydrocephalus is a chronic medical condition that has a significant impact on children and their caregivers. The objective of this study was to measure the quality of life (QOL) of children with hydrocephalus, as assessed by both caregivers and patients.

METHODS

Pediatric patients with hydrocephalus and their caregivers were enrolled during routine neurosurgery clinic visits. The Hydrocephalus Outcomes Questionnaire (HOQ), a report of hydrocephalus-related QOL, was administered to both children with hydrocephalus (self-report) and their caregivers (proxy report about the child). Patients with hydrocephalus also completed measures of anxiety, depression, fatigue, traumatic stress, and headache. Caregivers completed a proxy report of child traumatic stress and a measure of caregiver burden. Demographic information was collected from administration of the Psychosocial Assessment Tool (version 2.0) and from the medical record. Child and caregiver HOQ scores were analyzed and correlated with clinical, demographic, and psychological variables.

RESULTS

The mean overall HOQ score (parent assessment of child QOL) was 0.68. HOQ Physical Health, Social-Emotional Health, and Cognitive Health subscore averages were 0.69, 0.73, and 0.54, respectively. The mean overall child self-assessment (cHOQ) score was 0.77, with cHOQ Physical Health, Social-Emotional Health, and Cognitive Health subscore means of 0.84, 0.79, and 0.66, respectively. Thirty-nine dyads were analyzed, in which both a child with hydrocephalus and his or her caregiver completed the cHOQ and HOQ. There was a positive correlation between parent and child scores (p < 0.004 for all subscores). Child scores were consistently higher than parent scores. Variables that showed association with caregiver-assessed QOL in at least one domain included child age, etiology of hydrocephalus, and history of endoscopic third ventriculostomy. There was a significant negative relationship (rho −0.48 to −0.60) between child-reported cHOQ score and child-reported measures of posttraumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. There was a similar significant relationship between caregiver report of child’s QOL (HOQ) and caregiver assessment of the child’s posttraumatic stress symptoms as well as their assessment of burden of care (rho = −0.59 and rho = −0.51, respectively). No relationship between parent-reported HOQ and child-reported psychosocial factors was significant. No clinical or demographic variables were associated with child self-assessed cHOQ.

CONCLUSIONS

Pediatric patients with hydrocephalus consistently rate their own QOL higher than their caregivers do. Psychological factors such as anxiety and posttraumatic stress may be associated with lower QOL. These findings warrant further exploration.

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Christopher Miller, Paige Lundy and Sarah Woodrow

OBJECTIVE

The burden of neurosurgical disease in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) has emerged as a significant factor in global health. Additionally, calls have been growing for first-world neurosurgeons to find ways to help address the international need. Allowing residents to pursue international elective opportunities in LMICs can help alleviate the burden while also providing unique educational opportunities. However, pursuing international work while in residency requires overcoming significant logistical and regulatory barriers. To better understand the general perspectives, perceived barriers, and current availability of international rotations, a survey was sent out to program directors at Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)–approved residencies.

METHODS

An anonymous survey was sent to all program directors at ACGME-approved residencies. The survey included branch points designed to separate programs into program directors with an existing international rotation, those interested in starting an international rotation, and those not interested in starting an international rotation. All participants were asked about the perceived value of international training and whether residents should be encouraged to train internationally on a 5-point Likert scale. The survey ended with open-response fields, encouraging thoughts on international rotations and overcoming barriers.

RESULTS

Forty-four percent of recipients (50/113) responded; of the 50 programs, 13 had an established international elective. Of programs without a rotation, 54% (20/37) noted that they were interested in starting an international elective. Key barriers to starting international training included funding, the Residency Review Committee approval process, call conflicts, and the establishment of international partners. Perceived learning opportunities included cultural awareness, unique pathology, ingenuity, physical examination skills, and diagnosis skills. The majority of respondents thought that international rotations were valuable (74%, 37/50) and that residents should be encouraged to pursue international educational opportunities (70%, 35/50). Program directors who maintained an existing international rotation or were interested in starting an international elective were more likely to perceive international rotations as valuable.

CONCLUSIONS

Recent calls from The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery for increased surgical interventions in the developing world have been expanded by neurosurgical leadership to include neurosurgical diseases. Resident involvement in international electives represents an opportunity to increase treatment of neurosurgical disease in LMICs and develop the next generation of international neurosurgeons. To increase opportunities for residents at international sites, attention should be focused on overcoming the practical and regulatory barriers at a local and national level.

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Fabio A. Frisoli, Joshua S. Catapano, Jacob F. Baranoski and Michael T. Lawton

The anterior and posterior communicating arteries are natural connections between arteries that enable different adjacent circulations to redistribute blood flow instantly in response to changing supply and demand. An analogous communication does not exist in the middle cerebral circulation. A middle communicating artery (MCoA) can be created microsurgically between separate middle cerebral artery (MCA) trunks, enabling flow to redistribute in response to changing supply and demand. The MCoA would draw blood flow from an adjacent circulation such as the external carotid circulation. The MCoA requires the application of fourth-generation techniques to reconstruct bi- and trifurcations after occluding complex MCA trunk aneurysms. In this report, the authors describe two recent cases of complex MCA bi- and trifurcation aneurysms in which the occluded efferent trunks were revascularized by creating an MCoA.

The first MCoA was created with a “double-barrel” superficial temporal artery–M2 segment bypass and end-to-end reimplantation of the middle and inferior MCA trunks. The second MCoA was created with an external carotid artery–radial artery graft–M2 segment interpositional bypass and end-to-side reimplantation of the inferior trunk onto the superior trunk. Both aneurysms were occluded, and both patients experienced good outcomes.

This report introduces the concept of the MCoA and demonstrates two variations. Angioarchitectural and technical elements include the donation of flow from an adjacent circulation, a communicating bypass, the application of fourth-generation bypass techniques, and a minimized ischemia time. The MCoA construct is ideally suited for rebuilding bi- and trifurcated anatomy after trapping or distally occluding complex MCA aneurysms.

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Pate J. Duddleston, Julian L. Gendreau, Kristen A. Little, Amber Andrews and Willard D. Thompson Jr.

Extraction of a bullet fragment seated in deep brain parenchyma utilizing a neuroendoscope has not been previously reported in the literature. The authors report the case of a 4-year-old patient who presented after a pellet gun injury with a projectile located 6 cm intracranially and lodged within the posterior thalamus and near the posterior limb of the internal capsule. Initial operative repair included repair of a CSF leak with duraplasty, minimal brain debridement, and elevation of a depressed skull fracture. Subsequent CT at 2 months postoperatively revealed migration of the deep intracranial pellet. This finding correlated with intermittent worsening neurological symptoms and signs. A rigid 3-mm neuroendoscope with CT stereotactic navigation was then used to remove the pellet fragment from the thalamus. The patient returned home with alleviation of clinical symptoms and an uneventful postoperative recovery. This case demonstrates that navigation-guided neuroendoscopy can be successfully used to remove projectile fragments from deep brain structures, especially when the migration is along the initial path of the bullet. This technique represents another low-risk curative option in the management of retained bullet fragments in gunshot wound injuries to the head.

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Simon Thorbjørn Sørensen, Rachid Bech-Azeddine, Søren Fruensgaard, Mikkel Østerheden Andersen and Leah Carreon

OBJECTIVE

Patients with lumbar disc herniation (LDH) typically present with lower-extremity radiculopathy. However, there are patients who have concomitant substantial back pain (BP) and are considered candidates for fusion. The purpose of this study was to determine if patients with LDH and substantial BP improve with discectomy alone.

METHODS

The DaneSpine database was used to identify 2399 patients with LDH and baseline BP visual analog scale (VAS) scores ≥ 50 who underwent a lumbar discectomy at one of 3 facilities between June 2010 and December 2017. Standard demographic and surgical variables and patient-reported outcomes, including BP and leg pain (LP) VAS scores (0–100), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and European Quality of Life–5 Dimensions Questionnaire (EQ-5D) at baseline and 12 months postoperatively, were collected.

RESULTS

A total of 1654 patients (69%) had 12-month data available, with a mean age of 48.7 years; 816 (49%) were male and the mean BMI was 27 kg/m2. At 12 months postoperatively, there were statistically significant improvements (p < 0.0001) in BP (72.6 to 36.9), LP (74.8 to 32.6), ODI (50.9 to 25.1), and EQ-5D (0.25 to 0.65) scores.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with LDH and LP and concomitant substantial BP can be counseled to expect improvement in their BP 12 months after surgery after a discectomy alone, as well as improvement in their LP.

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William B. Lo, Kyaw Z. Thant, Jameel Kaderbhai, Nicholas White, Hiroshi Nishikawa, Michael Stephen Dover, Martin Evans and Desiderio Rodrigues

OBJECTIVE

Children with syndromic, multisuture, and lambdoid craniosynostosis undergoing calvarial surgery often have Chiari malformation type I (CM-I) (or cerebellar tonsillar herniation). The optimal management of this patient group, including the surgical techniques and timing of surgery, remains uncertain. Posterior calvarial distraction (PCD) is an effective method to increase the supratentorial cranial volume and improve raised intracranial pressure in children with complex craniosynostosis. This study investigated the efficacy of PCD in posterior fossa (PF) volume expansion and treatment of CM-I and associated syringomyelia (syrinx) in this group of children.

METHODS

This retrospective study included patients who were surgically treated between 2006 and 2015. Over 10 years, 16 patients with multisuture synostosis, lambdoid synostosis, or craniosynostosis associated with a confirmed genetic syndrome, and a concurrent CM-I, were included. The mean age at the time of surgery was 5.1 years (range 8 months–18 years). Fourteen patients had pansynostosis and 2 had lambdoid synostosis. Eight had a confirmed syndromic diagnosis (Crouzon in 8, Apert in 4, Pfeiffer in 1, and Saethre-Chotzen in 1). Ten patients had raised intracranial pressure; 4 had syringomyelia.

RESULTS

The average clinical follow-up was 50 months (range 9–116 months). Clinically, 9 patients improved, 7 remained stable, and none deteriorated. The average distraction distance was 23 mm (range 16–28 mm). The PF anterior-posterior (AP) distance/width ratio increased from 0.73 to 0.80 mm (p = 0.0004). Although an osteotomy extending inferior to the torcula (compared with superior) was associated with a larger absolute PF AP distance increase (13 vs 6 mm, p = 0.028), such a difference was not demonstrable when the PF AP distance/width ratio was calculated. Overall, the mean tonsillar herniation improved from 9.3 to 6.0 mm (p = 0.011). Syrinx dimensions also improved in the AP (from 7.9 to 3.1 mm) and superior-inferior (from 203 to 136 mm) dimensions. No patients required further foramen magnum decompression for CM. Of the 16 patients, 2 had subsequent frontoorbital advancement and remodeling, of which 1 was for volume expansion and 1 was for cosmetic purposes. Two patients required CSF shunt insertion after PCD.

CONCLUSIONS

Following PCD, PF volume increased as well as supratentorial volume. This morphometric change was observed in osteotomies both inferior and superior to the torcula. The PF volume increase resulted in improvement of cerebellar tonsillar herniation and syrinx. PCD is an efficacious first-line, single-stage treatment for concurrent pansynostosis and lambdoid craniosynostosis, CM-I, and syrinx.