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Mercury water and cauterizing stones: Nicolas André and tic douloureux

Jeffrey A. Brown, Catherine Coursaget, Mark C. Preul, and Devdutta Sangvai

✓ In his 1756 text, Observations pratiques sur les maladies de l'urèthre et sur plusiers faits convulsifs, Nicolas André coined the term “tic douloureux.” He believed that this pain originated from compression of facial sensory peripheral nerves. Using scientific observation and experimentation to confirm this hypothesis, he reproduced the tic pain and treated it by using careful efforts to remove adhesions from the nerve with a caustic solution of mercury water. Believing that recurrence of the pain was a result of early closure of the wound, with recompression of the nerve being the direct cause, André prevented recompression by ensuring open wound drainage. André's surgical technique of using cauterizing stones ensured that there was minimal blood loss and little danger of rebleeding and recompression of the nerve by an accumulated blood clot. His case reports include lengthy follow-up periods that documented the benefits of his procedures, which were confirmed by testimonials from uninvolved colleagues. Although remembered for the two words, “tic douloureux,” Nicolas André has long been ignored for his prescient treatment and scientific analysis of a disease for which the modern standard of care has only been defined during the last generation.

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Letter to the Editor. Sophisticated data acquisition and analytics in neurosurgery: beneficial but expect challenges

Nicolas I. Gonzalez-Romo and Mark C. Preul

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Arthur Roland Elvidge (1899–1985): contributions to the diagnosis of brain tumors and cerebrovascular disease

Mark C. Preul, William Feindel, T. Forcht Dagi, Joseph Stratford, and Gilles Bertrand

✓ The contributions of Arthur Elvidge (1899–1985), Wilder Penfield's first neurosurgical recruit, to the development of neurosurgery have been relatively neglected, although his work in brain tumors extended the previous work of Percival Bailey and Harvey Cushing. He published rigorous correlations of clinical and histological information and formulated a revised, modern nosology for neuroepithelial tumors, including a modern histological definition of glioblastoma multiforme. Well ahead of his time, he believed that glioblastoma was not strictly localized and was the first to comment that the tumor frequently showed “satellitosis.” He was the first neurosurgeon in North America to use angiography as a radiographic aid in the diagnosis of cerebrovascular disease. Having studied with Egas Moniz, he was the first to detail the use of angiographic examinations specifically for demonstrating cerebrovascular disorders, believing that it would make possible routine surgery of the intracranial blood vessels. Seeking to visualize all phases of angiography, he was the impetus behind the design of one of the first semi-automatic film changers. Elvidge and Egas Moniz made the first observations on thrombosis of the carotid vessels independently of each other. Elvidge elucidated the significance of embolic stroke and commented on the ischemic sequelae of subarachnoid hemorrhage. Besides his contributions to neurosurgery, he codiscovered the mode of transmission of poliomyelitis. Elvidge's soft-spoken manner, his dry wit and candor, mastery of the understatement, love of exotic travel, and consummate dedication to neurosurgery made him a favorite of patients, neurosurgery residents, nurses, and other hospital staff. His accomplishments and example as teacher and physician have become part of neurosurgery's growing legacy.

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Neurosurgeon as innovator: William V. Cone (1897–1959)

Mark C. Preul, Joseph Stratford, Gilles Bertrand, and William Feindel

✓ Neurosurgeons are well known for being productive researchers and innovators. Few, however, have possessed the prolific ingenuity of William Cone. In 1934, he and Wilder Penfield were cofounders of the Montreal Neurological Institute where, until 1959, he filled the twin roles of neurosurgeon-in-chief and neuropathologist.

Because he did not find writing easy, many of his technical inventions and refinements remained unpublished. His numerous innovations included the extensive use of twist-drill technique for biopsy, drainage for subdural hematoma and cerebral abscess, and ventriculography. In the mid-1940's, he developed power tools driven by nitrogen that led to the modern, universally used air-driven tool systems. He had a special interest in the treatment of spinal dysfunction, for which he invented the Cone-Barton skull-traction tongs along with the Cone spinal operating table. He also devised operative procedures for vertebral fracture-dislocation and craniospinal anomalies. For the maintenance of muscle tone in the paralyzed bladder, he constructed a tidal drainage system. He introduced and popularized ventriculoperitoneal shunting techniques and carried out some of the earliest experimental trials to treat brain infections with sulphonamide and antibiotic drugs. He designed his own set of surgical suction devices, bone rongeurs, and a personal suction “air-conditioning” system for each surgeon. He had a keen early interest in intracranial tumors, and also demonstrated on monkeys how subdural mass lesions caused pupillary dilation and mesial temporal lobe damage due to cerebral compression. His work for the military during World War II on effects of altitude on brain pressure remained classified for many years. The first clipping and excision of an intracranial aneurysm is attributed to Cone.

Although Penfield was known as “the Chief,” Cone was referred to as “the Boss.” His fervent dedication to provide total care to his patients was expressed in round-the-clock vigils; he did not separate “nursing” from “surgical” care. Ultimately, Cone's driving passion for perfection led in part to his tragic death. His accomplishments, inventions, and his example as teacher and physician have become part of neurosurgery's collective legacy.

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Intraoperative stereoscopic QuickTime Virtual Reality

Attila Balogh, Mark C. Preul, Mark Schornak, Michael Hickman, and Robert F. Spetzler

Object. The aim of this study was to acquire intraoperative images during neurosurgical procedures for later reconstruction into a stereoscopic image system (QuickTime Virtual Reality [QTVR]) that would improve visualization of complex neurosurgical procedures.

Methods. A robotic microscope and digital cameras were used to acquire left and right image pairs during cranial surgery; a grid system facilitated image acquisition with the microscope. The surgeon determined a field of interest and a target or pivot point for image acquisition. Images were processed with commercially available software and hardware. Two-dimensional (2D) or interlaced left and right 2D images were reconstructed into a standard or stereoscopic QTVR format. Standard QTVR images were produced if stereoscopy was not needed.

Intraoperative image sequences of regions of interest were captured in six patients. Relatively wide and deep dissections afford an opportunity for excellent QTVR production. Narrow or restricted surgical corridors can be reconstructed into the stereoscopic QTVR mode by using a keyhole mode of image acquisition. The stereoscopic effect is unimpressive with shallow or cortical surface dissections, which can be reconstructed into standard QTVR images.

Conclusions. The QTVR system depicts multiple views of the same anatomy from different angles. By tilting, panning, or rotating the reconstructed images, the user can view a virtual three-dimensional tour of a neurosurgical dissection, with images acquired intraoperatively. The stereoscopic QTVR format provides depth to the montage. The system recreates the dissection environment almost completely and provides a superior anatomical frame of reference compared with the images captured by still or video photography in the operating room.

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Virtual reality

Kim Burchiel

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Spinal angiolipomas

Report of three cases

Mark C. Preul, Richard Leblanc, Donatella Tampieri, Yves Robitaille, and Ronald Pokrupa

✓ Spinal angiolipomas are distinct, benign lesions composed of mature lipocytes admixed with abnormal blood vessels. Three new cases of spinal angiolipoma are presented and 34 previously reported cases are analyzed. The 37 total cases (23 females and 14 males) ranged in age from 17 to 73 years (mean 43 years; median 45 years). The mean age of the female patients was older than that for the males (45.0 vs. 41.6 years; p < 0.001, Student's t-test) and most were peri- or postmenopausal. Prior to diagnosis, 97% of the patients had weakness of the lower extremities, 94% had sensory dysfunction, 84% had hyperreflexia and spasticity, 51% had sphincter dysfunction, and 41% had back pain lasting from 1 to 180 months (mean 28 months). Five (22%) of the 23 female patients were pregnant and two had exhibited significant weight gain coincident with the onset of symptoms. The angiolipomas were extradural in 35 patients and intramedullary in two; seven of the extradural lesions infiltrated the surrounding bone. The tumors extended from C-6 to L-4 and had a predilection for the midthoracic region (53% of cases). Plain radiographs were abnormal in 11 (39%) of 28 patients and in all patients with bone infiltration. Myelograms were abnormal in 97% of 32 patients and showed a complete block in 63% of patients. Computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging revealed the fat-density lesions in all cases studied. There was vascular enhancement in three of five cases with contrast-infused CT and in the one case with gadolinium-infused MR imaging. All patients improved following resection of the epidural lesions and internal decompression of the intramedullary lesions.

It is concluded that spinal angiolipomas predominantly affect women. They involve the thoracic (especially the midthoracic) region, and produce symptoms and signs of spinal compression and, in some cases, bone erosion and pathological fractures. Their symptomatology can be exacerbated by pregnancy and weight gain, suggesting that vascular engorgement and the presence of obesity influence their evolution. Their preponderance in older, peri-, or postmenopausal women, and their clinical exacerbation in pregnant women support a role for hormonal influence. Magnetic resonance imaging is the investigation of choice for the diagnosis of these lesions. Surgery is universally successful in relieving symptoms.

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Rudolf Ludwig Karl Virchow: pathologist, physician, anthropologist, and politician

Implications of his work for the understanding of cerebrovascular pathology and stroke

Sam Safavi-Abbasi, Cassius Reis, Melanie C. Talley, Nicholas Theodore, Peter Nakaji, Robert F. Spetzler, and Mark C. Preul

✓ The history of apoplexy and descriptions of stroke symptoms date back to ancient times. It was not until the mid-nineteenth century, however, that the contributions of Rudolf Ludwig Karl Virchow, including his descriptions of the phenomena he called “embolism” and “thrombosis” as well as the origins of ischemia, changed the understanding of stroke. He suggested three main factors that conduce to venous thrombosis, which are now known as the Virchow triad. He also showed that portions of what he called a “thrombus” could detach and form an “embolus.” Thus, Virchow coined these terms to describe the pathogenesis of the disorder. It was also not until 1863 that Virchow recognized and differentiated almost all of the common types of intracranial malformations: telangiectatic venous malformations, arterial malformations, arteriovenous malformations, cystic angiomas (possibly what are now called hemangioblastomas), and transitional types of these lesions. This article is a review of the contributions of Rudolf Virchow to the current understanding of cerebrovascular pathology, and a summary of the life of this extraordinary personality in his many roles as physician, pathologist, anthropologist, ethnologist, and politician.

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Endogenous stem cell proliferation after central nervous system injury: alternative therapeutic options

Nicholas C. Bambakidis, Nicholas Theodore, Peter Nakaji, Adrian Harvey, Volker K. H. Sonntag, Mark C. Preul, and Robert H. Miller

The continuous regeneration of glial cells arising from endogenous stem cell populations in the central nervous system (CNS) occurs throughout life in mammals. In the ongoing research to apply stem cell therapy to neurological diseases, the capacity to harness the multipotential ability of endogenous stem cell populations has become apparent. Such cell populations proliferate in response to a variety of injury states in the CNS, but in the absence of a supportive microenvironment they contribute little to any significant behavioral recovery. In the authors' laboratory and elsewhere, recent research on the regenerative potential of these stem cells in disease states such as spinal cord injury has demonstrated that the cells' proliferative potential may be greatly upregulated in response to appropriate growth signals and exogenously applied trophic factors. Further understanding of the potential of such multipotent cells and the mechanisms responsible for creating a favorable microenvironment for them may lead to additional therapeutic alternatives in the setting of neurological diseases. These therapies would require no exogenous stem cell sources and thus would avoid the ethical and moral considerations regarding their use. In this review the authors provide a brief overview of the enhancement of endogenous stem cell proliferation following neurological insult.

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Letter to the Editor. Rendering unto Caesar: mini-pterional and mini-orbitozygomatic approaches

Eberval G. Figueiredo, Manoel J. Teixeira, and Leonardo C. Welling