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Direct brainstem recording of auditory evoked potentials during vestibular schwannoma resection: nuclear BAEP recording

Technical note and preliminary results

Cordula Matthies and Madjid Samii

✓ The usefulness of intraoperative monitoring in cerebellopontine angle surgery should be improved by obtaining faster and stronger brainstem auditory evoked potential (BAEP) responses. A new technique of direct recording at the brainstem has been developed, which is applicable to all tumor sizes. By placing a retractor with electrodes attached to its tip at the cerebellomedullary junction, the authors have recorded BAEP amplitudes that are 10 times greater than those recorded using the conventional technique. Only small sampling numbers (64–256 recordings) are required and are obtained in 5 to 15 seconds. The technique has been applied successfully in 34 patients who underwent vestibular schwannoma resections. It has also been tested in patients with intrameatal—extrameatal meningiomas and in those with vascular compressive disorders; there have been no false results. The advantages of this new technique are: 1) identification of BAEP components is easier and faster; 2) reliable BAEP responses are obtained in some cases in which conventional BAEP responses are lost or severely deformed; and 3) BAEP response deterioration and improvement are recognized earlier than would occur using the conventional technique. This last advantage provides the surgeon with a useful warning at a stage of surgery at which BAEP changes are still temporary and can be reversed. This method is different from other trials of intradural BAEP recordings in three respects: its use is not limited to particular tumor sizes; there is no interference with the surgical process; and, most important, the obtained responses correlate well with those of conventional BAEP responses, probably because the recording site is in the vicinity of the anterior cochlear nucleus. In conclusion, the chances of useful monitoring feedback with adequate adaptation of the microsurgical strategy are improved considerably.

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Frameless free-hand maneuvering of a small-diameter rigid-rod neuroendoscope with a working channel used during high-resolution imaging

Technical note

Shizuo Oi, Amir Samii, and Madjid Samii

P A newly designed small-diameter rigid-rod neuroendoscope was created to evaluate the applicability of free-hand maneuvering during high-resolution imaging. The neuroendoscope was designed as a light, handheld tool weighing 550 g. A 20-cm-long objective lens, 2 mm in diameter, is placed in the lower two thirds of the single-space lumen of an oval-shaped outer sheath, 16.5 mm long and 3.5 × 2.5 mm at maximum diameter. Included are microinstruments of 1.3-mm diameter for various neuroendoscopic procedures, including microscissors, biopsy forceps, grasping forceps, monopolar coagulator/cutting rod, and bipolar coagulator that can be introduced through the upper one third of the lumen.

Because the endoscope is held steady in the surgeon's left hand, with the handle gripped at the base, quick back-and-forth movements can be made along the long axis, via a peel-away sheath inserted to the ventricle, shifting of the endoscope tip to the side of the objective target will be minimal. Given the instrument's unified configuration, the surgeon will never lose orientation during maneuvering. Using the farthest right of three inlet/outlet orifices, the short and handy semiflexible microinstruments can be guided and controlled by the surgeon's right hand.

After experience in 66 cases in which various neuroendoscopic procedures yielded excellent operative outcomes (morbidity rate in complications related to the endoscopic procedure 0%; mortality rate 0%), the endoscope prototype was finalized in the ideal form for frameless maneuvering that uses a rigid-rod endoscope. The “gun-butt” holder for use with the operator's left hand provides stability and allows the endoscope to be handled with improved control. These new aspects of the neuroendoscope and surgical technique offer substantial improvement over the flexible-steerable fiberoptic endoscopes.

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Improved preservation of hearing and facial nerve function in vestibular schwannoma surgery via the retrosigmoid approach in a series of 200 patients

Madjid Samii, Venelin Gerganov, and Amir Samii


The aim of this study was to evaluate and present the results of current surgical treatment of vestibular schwannomas (VSs) and to report the refinements in the operative technique.


The authors performed a retrospective study of 200 consecutive patients who had undergone VS surgery over a 3-year period. Patient records, operative reports, follow-up data, and neuroradiological findings were analyzed. The main outcome measures were magnetic resonance imaging, neurological status, patient complaints, and surgical complications.

Complete tumor removal was achieved in 98% of patients. Anatomical preservation of the facial nerve was possible in 98.5% of patients. In patients treated for tumors with extension Classes T1, T2, and T3, the rate of facial nerve preservation was 100%. By the last follow-up examination, excellent or good facial nerve function had been achieved in 81% of the cases. By at least 1 year postsurgery, no patients had total facial palsy. In the patients with preserved hearing, the rate of anatomical preservation of the cochlear nerve was 84%. The overall rate of functional hearing preservation was 51%. There was no surgery-related permanent morbidity in this series of patients. Cerebrospinal fluid leakage was diagnosed in 2% of the patients. The mortality rate was 0%.


The goal of VS treatment should be total removal in one stage and preservation of neurological function, as they determine a patient’s quality of life. This goal can be safely and successfully achieved using the retrosigmoid approach.

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Microsurgical management of vestibular schwannoma after failed previous surgery

Madjid Samii, Hussam Metwali, and Venelin Gerganov


Microsurgical treatment of recurrent vestibular schwannoma (VS) is difficult and poses specific challenges. The authors report their experience with 53 cases of surgically treated recurrent VS. Outcome of these tumors was compared to that of primarily operated on VS. Special attention was given to the facial nerve functional outcome.


A retrospective analysis was performed of the patients who underwent surgery for recurrent VS at one institution from 2000 to 2013. The preoperative data, intraoperative findings, and outcome in terms of facial nerve function and improvement of the preoperative symptoms were analyzed and compared with those in a control group of 30 randomly selected patients with primarily operated on VS. A multivariate regression analysis was performed to test the factors that could affect the facial nerve outcome in each group.


Fifty-three consecutive patients underwent surgery for recurrent VS. Seventeen patients were previously operated on and received postoperative radiosurgery (Group A). Thirty-six patients were previously operated on but did not receive postoperative radiosurgery (Group B). The overall postoperative facial nerve function was significantly worse in Groups A and B in comparison with the control group (Group C). Interestingly, there was no significant difference in the facial nerve outcome among the 3 groups in patients who had good preoperative facial nerve function. The tumor size and the preoperative facial nerve function are variables that significantly affect the facial nerve outcome. Most of the patients showed improvement of the preoperative symptoms, such as trigeminal hypesthesia, gait disturbance, and headache.


Complete microsurgical tumor removal is the optimal management for patients with recurrent or regrowing VS. The procedure is safe, associated with favorable facial nerve outcome, and may also improve existing neurological symptoms.

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Brachial plexus palsy from nodular fasciitis with spontaneous recovery: implications for surgical management

Case illustration

Wolf Lüdemann, Lutz Dörner, Marcos Tatagiba, and Madjid Samii

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Duplicated abducent nerve and its course: microanatomical study and surgery-related considerations

Giorgio Iaconetta, Enrico Tessitore, and Madjid Samii

Object. The anatomy of the abducent nerve is well known; its duplication (ranging from 5 to 28.6%), however, has rarely been reported in the literature. The authors performed a microanatomical study in 100 cadaveric specimens (50 heads) to evaluate the prevalence of this phenomenon and to provide a clear anatomical description of the course and relationships of the nerve. The surgery-related implications of this rare anatomical variant will be highlighted.

Methods. The 50 human cadaveric heads (100 specimens) were embalmed in a 10% formalin solution for 3 weeks. Fifteen of them were injected with colored neoprene latex. A duplicated abducent nerve was found in eight specimens (8%). In two (25%) of these eight specimens the nerve originated at the pontomedullary sulcus as two independent trunks: in one case the superior trunk was thicker than the inferior and in the other it was thinner. In the other six cases (75%) the nerve originated as a single trunk, splitting in two trunks into the cisternal segment: in two of them the trunks ran below the Gruber ligament, whereas in four specimens one trunk ran below and one above it. In all the specimens, the duplicated nerves fused again into the cavernous sinus, just after the posterior genu of the internal carotid artery.

Conclusions. Although the presence of a duplicated abducent nerve is a rare finding, preoperative magnetic resonance imaging should be performed to rule out this possibility, thus tailoring the operation to avoid postoperative deficits.

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The sphenopetroclival venous gulf: a microanatomical study

Giorgio Iaconetta, Mario Fusco, and Madjid Samii

Object. The sphenopetroclival area is the border zone between the middle and posterior cranial fossa. Several authors have studied the microsurgical anatomy of this region and have furnished sometimes contradictory descriptions of this area, which still represents a great challenge for the neurosurgeon. On the basis of previous anatomical data reported in the literature, the authors undertook a new microanatomical analysis of the sphenopetroclival region and report their findings.

Methods. Twenty human cadaveric heads were used to reproduce, in the laboratory, different skull base approaches to expose the petroclival area. Measurements were taken in 40 specimens.

From this study has emerged the finding that the sphenopetroclival area is a venous space, which the authors have named the “sphenopetroclival venous gulf” (SPCVG). The SPCVG is filled anteriorly by blood from the cavernous sinus (lateral sellar compartment [LSC], medially by blood from the basilar plexus, and laterally by blood from the superior petrosal sinus; this venous gulf is drained by the inferior petrosal sinus. The SPCVG is comparable in shape to an irregular hedron figure. It contains the Dorello canal, the venous segment of the abducent nerve, and the superior sphenopetrosal (Gruber) ligament, the fibers of which are in anatomical continuity with those of the inferior sphenopetrosal (petrolingual) ligament, forming a “falciform ligament.”

Conclusions. The structures defining the posterior surface of the SPCVG may represent a helpful surgical corridor through which it is possible to approach the LSC via the posterior fossa. This conceptualization of the SPCVG is an attempt to define univocally the microanatomy of the sphenopetroclival region in its entirety.

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Surgery or Gamma Knife

Jeremy C. Ganz

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Brachial plexus injury: factors affecting functional outcome in spinal accessory nerve transfer for the restoration of elbow flexion

Amir Samii, Gustavo Adolpho Carvalho, and Madjid Samii

Object. Between 1994 and 1998, 44 nerve transfers were performed using a graft between a branch of the accessory nerve and musculocutaneous nerve to restore the flexion of the arm in patients with traumatic brachial plexus injuries. A retrospective study was conducted, including statistical evaluation of the following pre- and intraoperative parameters in 39 patients: 1) time interval between injury and surgery; and 2) length of the nerve graft used to connect the accessory and musculocutaneous nerves.

Methods. The postoperative follow-up interval ranged from 23 to 84 months, with a mean ± standard deviation of 36 ± 13 months. Reinnervation of the biceps muscle was achieved in 72% of the patients. Reinnervation of the musculocutaneous nerve was demonstrated in 86% of the patients who had undergone surgery within the first 6 months after injury, in 65% of the patients who had undergone surgery between 7 and 12 months after injury, and in only 50% of the patients who had undergone surgery 12 months after injury. A statistical comparison of the different preoperative time intervals (0–6 months compared with 7–12 months) showed a significantly better outcome in patients treated with early surgery (p < 0.05). An analysis of the impact of the length of the interposed nerve grafts revealed a statistically significant better outcome in patients with grafts 12 cm or shorter compared with that in patients with grafts longer than 12 cm (p < 0.005).

Conclusions. Together, these results demonstrated that outcome in patients who undergo accessory to musculocutaneous nerve neurotization for restoration of elbow flexion following brachial plexus injury is greatly dependent on the time interval between trauma and surgery and on the length of the nerve graft used.

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Vestibular schwannoma

Robert L. Martuza