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Harsh Wadhwa, Sumedh S. Shah, Judy Shan, Justin Cheng, Angad S. Beniwal, Jia-Shu Chen, Sabraj A. Gill, Nikhil Mummaneni, Michael W. McDermott, Mitchel S. Berger, and Manish K. Aghi

OBJECTIVE

Neurosurgery is consistently one of the most competitive specialties for resident applicants. The emphasis on research in neurosurgery has led to an increasing number of publications by applicants seeking a successful residency match. The authors sought to produce a comprehensive analysis of research produced by neurosurgical applicants and to establish baseline data of neurosurgery applicant research productivity given the increased emphasis on research output for successful residency match.

METHODS

A retrospective review of publication volume for all neurosurgery interns in 2009, 2011, 2014, 2016, and 2018 was performed using PubMed and Google Scholar. Missing data rates were 11% (2009), 9% (2011), and < 5% (all others). The National Resident Matching Program report “Charting Outcomes in the Match” (ChOM) was interrogated for total research products (i.e., abstracts, presentations, and publications). The publication rates of interns at top 40 programs, students from top 20 medical schools, MD/PhD applicants, and applicants based on location of residency program and medical school were compared statistically against all others.

RESULTS

Total publications per neurosurgery intern (mean ± SD) based on PubMed and Google Scholar were 5.5 ± 0.6 in 2018 (1.7 ± 0.3, 2009; 2.1 ± 0.3, 2011; 2.6 ± 0.4, 2014; 3.8 ± 0.4, 2016), compared to 18.3 research products based on ChOM. In 2018, the mean numbers of publications were as follows: neurosurgery-specific publications per intern, 4.3 ± 0.6; first/last author publications, 2.1 ± 0.3; neurosurgical first/last author publications, 1.6 ± 0.2; basic science publications, 1.5 ± 0.2; and clinical research publications, 4.0 ± 0.5. Mean publication numbers among interns at top 40 programs were significantly higher than those of all other programs in every category (p < 0.001). Except for mean number of basic science publications (p = 0.1), the mean number of publications was higher for interns who attended a top 20 medical school than for those who did not (p < 0.05). Applicants with PhD degrees produced statistically more research in all categories (p < 0.05) except neurosurgery-specific (p = 0.07) and clinical research (p = 0.3). While there was no statistical difference in publication volume based on the geographical location of the residency program, students from medical schools in the Western US produced more research than all other regions (p < 0.01). Finally, research productivity did not correlate with likelihood of medical students staying at their home institution for residency.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found that the temporal trend toward increased total research products over time in neurosurgery applicants was driven mostly by increased nonindexed research (abstracts, presentations, chapters) rather than by increased peer-reviewed publications. While we also identified applicant-specific factors (MD/PhDs and applicants from the Western US) and an outcome (matching at research-focused institutions) associated with increased applicant publications, further work will be needed to determine the emphasis that programs and applicants will need to place on these publications.

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Srikantan Nagarajan, Heidi Kirsch, Peter Lin, Anne Findlay, Susanne Honma, and Mitchel S. Berger

Object

The goal of this study was to examine the sensitivity and specificity in preoperative localization of hand motor cortex by imaging regional event-related desynchronization (ERD) of brainwaves in the β frequency band (15–25 Hz) involved in self-paced movement.

Methods

Using magnetoencephalography (MEG), the authors measured ERD that occurred before self-paced unilateral index finger flexion in 66 patients with brain tumors, epilepsy, and arteriovenous malformations.

Results

The authors applied an adaptive spatial filtering algorithm to MEG data and found that peaks of the tomographic distribution of β-band ERD sources reliably localized hand motor cortex compared with electrical cortical stimulation. They also observed high specificity in estimating contralateral hand motor cortical representations relative to somatosensory cortex. Neither presence nor location of tumor changed the qualitative or quantitative location of motor cortex relative to somatosensory cortex.

Conclusions

An imaging protocol using ERD obtained by adaptive spatial filtering of MEG data can be used for extremely reliable preoperative localization of hand motor cortex.

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Derek G. Southwell, Harjus S. Birk, Seunggu J. Han, Jing Li, Jeffrey W. Sall, and Mitchel S. Berger

OBJECTIVE

Maximal safe resection is a primary objective in the management of gliomas. Despite this objective, surgeons and referring physicians may, on the basis of radiological studies alone, assume a glioma to be unresectable. Because imaging studies, including functional MRI, may not localize brain functions (such as language) with high fidelity, this simplistic approach may exclude some patients from what could be a safe resection. Intraoperative direct electrical stimulation (DES) allows for the accurate localization of functional areas, thereby enabling maximal resection of tumors, including those that may appear inoperable based solely on radiological studies. In this paper the authors describe the extent of resection (EOR) and functional outcomes following resections of tumors deemed inoperable by referring physicians and neurosurgeons.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively examined the cases of 58 adult patients who underwent glioma resection within 6 months of undergoing a brain biopsy of the same lesion at an outside hospital. All patients exhibited unifocal supratentorial disease and preoperative Karnofsky Performance Scale scores ≥ 70. The EOR and 6-month functional outcomes for this population were characterized.

RESULTS

Intraoperative DES mapping was performed on 96.6% (56 of 58) of patients. Nearly half of the patients (46.6%, 27 of 58) underwent an awake surgical procedure with DES. Overall, the mean EOR was 87.6% ± 13.6% (range 39.0%–100%). Gross-total resection (resection of more than 99% of the preoperative tumor volume) was achieved in 29.3% (17 of 58) of patients. Subtotal resection (95%–99% resection) and partial resection (PR; < 95% resection) were achieved in 12.1% (7 of 58) and 58.6% (34 of 58) of patients, respectively. Of the cases that involved PR, the mean EOR was 79.4% ± 12.2%. Six months after surgery, no patient was found to have a new postoperative neurological deficit. The majority of patients (89.7%, 52 of 58) were free of neurological deficits both pre- and postoperatively. The remainder of patients exhibited either residual but stable deficits (5.2%, 3 of 58) or complete correction of preoperative deficits (5.2%, 3 of 58).

CONCLUSIONS

The use of DES enabled maximal safe resections of gliomas deemed inoperable by referring neurosurgeons. With rare exceptions, tumor resectability cannot be determined solely by radiological studies.

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Andrew J. Gogos, Jacob S. Young, Matheus P. Pereira, Ramin A. Morshed, Matthew B. Potts, Shawn L. Hervey-Jumper, and Mitchel S. Berger

OBJECTIVE

Although most patients with low-grade glioma (LGG) present after a seizure, a small proportion is diagnosed after neuroimaging is performed for a sign or symptom unrelated to the tumor. While these tumors invariably grow, some surgeons argue for a watchful waiting approach. Here, the authors report on their experience in the surgical treatment of patients with incidental LGG (iLGG) and describe the neurological outcomes, survival, and complications.

METHODS

Relevant cases were identified from a prospective registry of patients undergoing glioma resection at the University of California, San Francisco, between 1997 and 2019. Cases were considered iLGG when the lesion was noted on imaging performed for a reason unrelated to the tumor. Demographic, clinical, pathological, and imaging data were extracted from the electronic medical record. Tumor volumes, growth, and extent of resection were calculated from pre- and postoperative volumetric FLAIR sequences.

RESULTS

One hundred thirteen of 657 (17.2%) first-time resections for LGG were for incidental lesions. The most common reasons for the discovery of an iLGG were headaches (without mass effect, 34.5%) or trauma (16.8%). Incidental tumors were no different from symptomatic lesions in terms of laterality or location, but they were significantly smaller (22.5 vs 57.5 cm3, p < 0.0001). There was no difference in diagnosis between patients with iLGG and those with symptomatic LGG (sLGG), incorporating both molecular and pathological data. The median preoperative observation time for iLGG was 3.1 months (range 1 month–12 years), and there was a median growth rate of 3.9 cm3/year. Complete resection of the FLAIR abnormality was achieved in 57% of patients with incidental lesions but only 23.8% of symptomatic lesions (p < 0.001), and the residual volumes were smaller for iLGGs (2.9 vs 13.5 cm3, p < 0.0001). Overall survival was significantly longer for patients with incidental tumors (median survival not reached for patients with iLGG vs 14.6 years for those with sLGG, p < 0.0001). There was a 4.4% rate of neurological deficits at 6 months.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors present the largest cohort of iLGGs. Patient age, tumor location, and molecular genetics were not different between iLGGs and sLGGs. Incidental tumors were smaller, a greater extent of resection could be achieved, and overall survival was improved compared to those for patients with sLGG. Operative morbidity and rates of neurological deficit were acceptably low; thus, the authors advocate upfront surgical intervention aimed at maximal safe resection for these incidentally discovered lesions.

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Jeffrey I. Berman, Mitchel S. Berger, Sungwon Chung, Srikantan S. Nagarajan, and Roland G. Henry

Object

Resecting brain tumors involves the risk of damaging the descending motor pathway. Diffusion tensor (DT)–imaged fiber tracking is a noninvasive magnetic resonance (MR) technique that can delineate the subcortical course of the motor pathway. The goal of this study was to use intraoperative subcortical stimulation mapping of the motor tract and magnetic source imaging to validate the utility of DT-imaged fiber tracking as a tool for presurgical planning.

Methods

Diffusion tensor-imaged fiber tracks of the motor tract were generated preoperatively in nine patients with gliomas. A mask of the resultant fiber tracks was overlaid on high-resolution T1- and T2-weighted anatomical MR images and used for stereotactic surgical navigation. Magnetic source imaging was performed in seven of the patients to identify functional somatosensory cortices. During resection, subcortical stimulation mapping of the motor pathway was performed within the white matter using a bipolar electrode.

Results

A total of 16 subcortical motor stimulations were stereotactically identified in nine patients. The mean distance between the stimulation sites and the DT-imaged fiber tracks was 8.7 ±3.1 mm (±standard deviation). The measured distance between subcortical stimulation sites and DT-imaged fiber tracks combines tracking technique errors and all errors encountered with stereotactic navigation.

Conclusions

Fiber tracks delineated using DT imaging can be used to identify the motor tract in deep white matter and define a safety margin around the tract.

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Michal T. Krauze, Ryuta Saito, Charles Noble, Matyas Tamas, John Bringas, John W. Park, Mitchel S. Berger, and Krystof Bankiewicz

Object. Clinical application of the convection-enhanced delivery (CED) technique is currently limited by low infusion speed and reflux of the delivered agent. The authors developed and evaluated a new step-design cannula to overcome present limitations and to introduce a rapid, reflux-free CED method for future clinical trials.

Methods. The CED of 0.4% trypan blue dye was performed in agarose gel to test cannula needles for distribution and reflux. Infusion rates ranging from 0.5 to 50 µl/minute were used. Agarose gel findings were translated into a study in rats and then in cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) by using trypan blue and liposomes to confirm the efficacy of the reflux-free step-design cannula in vivo.

Results of agarose gel studies showed reflux-free infusion with high flow rates using the step-design cannula. Data from the study in rats confirmed the agarose gel findings and also revealed increasing tissue damage at a flow rate above 5-µl/minute. Robust reflux-free delivery and distribution of liposomes was achieved using the step-design cannula in brains in both rats and nonhuman primates.

Conclusions. The authors developed a new step-design cannula for CED that effectively prevents reflux in vivo and maximizes the distribution of agents delivered in the brain. Data in the present study show reflux-free infusion with a constant volume of distribution in the rat brain over a broad range of flow rates. Reflux-free delivery of liposomes into nonhuman primate brain was also established using the cannula. This step-design cannula may allow reflux-free distribution and shorten the duration of infusion in future clinical applications of CED in humans.

Free access

Fara Dayani, Jacob S. Young, Alexander Bonte, Edward F. Chang, Philip Theodosopoulos, Michael W. McDermott, Mitchel S. Berger, and Manish K. Aghi

OBJECTIVE

Butterfly glioblastoma (bGBM) is a rare type of GBM, characterized by a butterfly pattern on MRI studies because of its bihemispheric involvement and invasion of the corpus callosum (CC). There is a profound gap in the knowledge regarding the optimal treatment approach as well as the safety and survival benefits of resection in treating this aggressive brain tumor. In this retrospective study, authors add to our understanding of these tumors by identifying the clinical characteristics and outcomes of patients with bGBM.

METHODS

An institutional database was reviewed for GBM cases treated in the period from 2004 to 2014. Records were reviewed to identify adult patients with bGBM. Cases of GBM with invasion of the CC without involvement of the contralateral hemisphere and bilateral GBMs without involvement of the CC were excluded from the study. Patient and tumor characteristics were gleaned from the medical records, and volumetric analysis was performed using T1-weighted MRI studies.

RESULTS

From among 1746 cases of GBM, 39 cases of bGBM were identified. Patients had a mean age of 57.8 years at diagnosis. Headache and confusion were the most common presenting symptoms (48.7% and 33.3%, respectively). The median overall survival was 3.2 months from diagnosis with an overall 6-month survival rate of 38.1%. Age, Karnofsky Performance Status at diagnosis, preoperative tumor volume, postoperative tumor volume, and extent of resection were found to significantly impact survival in the univariate analysis. On multivariate analysis, preoperative tumor volume and treatment approach of resection versus biopsy were identified as independent prognostic factors regardless of the patient-specific characteristics of age and KPS at diagnosis. Resection and biopsy were performed in 35.9% and 64.1% of patients, respectively. Resection was found to confer a better prognosis than biopsy (HR 0.37, p = 0.009) with a minimum extent of resection of 86% to observe survival benefits (HR 0.054, p = 0.03). The rate of persistent neurological deficits from resection was 7.14%. Patients younger than 70 years had a better prognosis (HR 0.32, p = 0.003). Patients undergoing resection and receiving adjuvant chemoradiation had a better prognosis than patients who lacked one of the three treatment modalities (HR = 0.34, p = 0.015).

CONCLUSIONS

Resection of bGBM is associated with low persistent neurological deficits, with improvement in survival compared to biopsy. A more aggressive treatment approach involving aggressive resection and adjuvant chemoradiation has significant survival benefits and improves outcome.

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Mitchel S. Berger, Jeffrey N. Bruce, Thomas C. Chen, and Gelareh Zadeh

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Alexander A. Aabedi, Sofia Kakaizada, Jacob S. Young, EunSeon Ahn, Daniel H. Weissman, Mitchel S. Berger, David Brang, and Shawn L. Hervey-Jumper

OBJECTIVE

Intraoperative tasks for awake language mapping are typically selected based on the language tracts that will likely be encountered during tumor resection. However, diminished attention and arousal secondary to perioperative sedatives may reduce a task’s usefulness for identifying eloquent cortex. For instance, accuracy in performing select language tasks may be high preoperatively but decline in the operating room. In the present study, the authors sought to identify language tasks that can be performed with high accuracy in both situational contexts so the neurosurgical team can be confident that speech errors committed during awake language mapping result from direct cortical stimulation to eloquent cortex, rather than from poor performance in general.

METHODS

We administered five language tasks to 44 patients: picture naming (PN), text reading (TR), auditory object naming (AN), repetition of 4-syllable words (4SYL), and production of syntactically intact sentences (SYNTAX). Performance was assessed using the 4-point scale of the quick aphasia battery 24 hours preoperatively and intraoperatively. We next determined whether or not accuracy on each task was higher preoperatively than intraoperatively. We also determined whether 1) intraoperative accuracy on a given task predicted intraoperative performance on the other tasks and 2) low preoperative accuracy on a task predicted a decrease in accuracy intraoperatively.

RESULTS

Relative to preoperative accuracy, intraoperative accuracy declined on PN (3.90 vs 3.82, p = 0.0001), 4SYL (3.96 vs 3.91, p = 0.0006), and SYNTAX (3.85 vs 3.67, p = 0.0001) but not on TR (3.96 vs 3.94, p = 0.13) or AN (3.70 vs 3.58, p = 0.058). Intraoperative accuracy on PN and AN independently predicted intraoperative accuracy on the remaining language tasks (p < 0.001 and p < 0.01, respectively). Finally, low preoperative accuracy on SYNTAX predicted a decrease in accuracy on this task intraoperatively (R = 0.36, p = 0.00002).

CONCLUSIONS

While TR lacks sensitivity in identifying language deficits at baseline, accuracy on TR is stable across testing settings. Baseline accuracy on the other four of our five language tasks was not predictive of intraoperative performance, signifying the need to repeat language tests prior to stimulation mapping to confirm reliability.

Free access

Andrew J. Gogos, Jacob S. Young, Matheus P. Pereira, Ramin A. Morshed, Matthew B. Potts, Shawn L. Hervey-Jumper, and Mitchel S. Berger

OBJECTIVE

Although most patients with low-grade glioma (LGG) present after a seizure, a small proportion is diagnosed after neuroimaging is performed for a sign or symptom unrelated to the tumor. While these tumors invariably grow, some surgeons argue for a watchful waiting approach. Here, the authors report on their experience in the surgical treatment of patients with incidental LGG (iLGG) and describe the neurological outcomes, survival, and complications.

METHODS

Relevant cases were identified from a prospective registry of patients undergoing glioma resection at the University of California, San Francisco, between 1997 and 2019. Cases were considered iLGG when the lesion was noted on imaging performed for a reason unrelated to the tumor. Demographic, clinical, pathological, and imaging data were extracted from the electronic medical record. Tumor volumes, growth, and extent of resection were calculated from pre- and postoperative volumetric FLAIR sequences.

RESULTS

One hundred thirteen of 657 (17.2%) first-time resections for LGG were for incidental lesions. The most common reasons for the discovery of an iLGG were headaches (without mass effect, 34.5%) or trauma (16.8%). Incidental tumors were no different from symptomatic lesions in terms of laterality or location, but they were significantly smaller (22.5 vs 57.5 cm3, p < 0.0001). There was no difference in diagnosis between patients with iLGG and those with symptomatic LGG (sLGG), incorporating both molecular and pathological data. The median preoperative observation time for iLGG was 3.1 months (range 1 month–12 years), and there was a median growth rate of 3.9 cm3/year. Complete resection of the FLAIR abnormality was achieved in 57% of patients with incidental lesions but only 23.8% of symptomatic lesions (p < 0.001), and the residual volumes were smaller for iLGGs (2.9 vs 13.5 cm3, p < 0.0001). Overall survival was significantly longer for patients with incidental tumors (median survival not reached for patients with iLGG vs 14.6 years for those with sLGG, p < 0.0001). There was a 4.4% rate of neurological deficits at 6 months.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors present the largest cohort of iLGGs. Patient age, tumor location, and molecular genetics were not different between iLGGs and sLGGs. Incidental tumors were smaller, a greater extent of resection could be achieved, and overall survival was improved compared to those for patients with sLGG. Operative morbidity and rates of neurological deficit were acceptably low; thus, the authors advocate upfront surgical intervention aimed at maximal safe resection for these incidentally discovered lesions.