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Martin H. Weiss

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William T. Couldwell, Peter Kan, and Martin H. Weiss

✓ The most common nonendocrine complication after transsphenoidal surgery is cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak. Many neurosurgeons have advocated the routine reconstruction of the floor of the sella turcica using autologous fat, muscle, fascia, and either cartilage or bone after transsphenoidal surgery to prevent postoperative CSF fistulas. However, the use of autologous grafting requires a second incision, prolongs operative time, and adds to the patient's postoperative discomfort. In addition, the presence of sellar packing may interfere with the interpretation of postoperative images. To avoid these disadvantages, the authors suggest that routine sellar reconstruction or closure after transsphenoidal surgery is unnecessary unless an intraoperative CSF leak is encountered. The incidence of postoperative CSF leakage in the patients reported on in this series is no higher than that reported by others, and no other complications such as pneu-matocele have been encountered in approximately 2700 patients in whom no intraoperative CSF leak was encountered. The authors conclude that routine closure of the floor of the sella turcica or sphenoid is unnecessary in the absence of intraoperative CSF leak.

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William T. Couldwell and Martin H. Weiss

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William T. Couldwell, Martin H. Weiss, and Edward R. Laws Jr


Whether the withdrawal of treatment in patients with nontumoral hyperprolactinemia, microprolactinomas, or macroprolactinomas is safe and effective has been unclear. We performed an observational, prospective study of cabergoline (a dopamine-receptor agonist) withdrawal in such patients.


The study population included 200 patients—25 patients with nontumoral hyperprolactinemia, 105 with microprolactinomas, and 70 with macroprolactinomas. Withdrawal of cabergoline was considered if prolactin levels were normal, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed no tumor (or tumor reduction of 50 percent or more, with the tumor at a distance of more than 5 mm from the optic chiasm, and no invasion of the cavernous sinuses or other critical areas), and if follow-up after withdrawal could be continued for at least 24 months.


Recurrence rates two to five years after the withdrawal of cabergoline were 24 percent in patients with nontumoral hyperprolactinemia, 31 percent in patients with microprolactinomas, and 36 percent in patients with macroprolactinomas. Renewed tumor growth did not occur in any patient; in 10 female patients (22 percent) and 7 male patients (39 percent) with recurrent hyperprolactinemia, gonadal dysfunction redeveloped. In all diagnostic groups, prolactin levels at the time of recurrence were significantly lower than at diagnosis (p < 0.001). The Kaplan–Meier estimated rate of recurrence at five years was higher among patients with macroprolactinomas and those with microprolactinomas who had small remnant tumors visible on MRI at the time of treatment withdrawal than among patients whose MRI scans showed no evidence of tumor at the time of withdrawal (patients with macroprolactinomas, 78 percent vs. 33 percent, P = 0.001; patients with microprolactinomas, 42 percent vs. 26 percent, P = 0.02).


Cabergoline can be safely withdrawn in patients with normalized prolactin levels and no evidence of tumor. However, because the length of follow-up in our study was insufficient to rule out a delayed increase in the size of the tumor, we suggest that patients be closely monitored, particularly those with macroprolactinomas, in whom renewed growth of the tumor may compromise vision.

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Mark Hornyak, Martin H. Weiss, Don H. Nelson, and William T. Couldwell

✓The appearance of an adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)–producing tumor after bilateral adrenalectomy for Cushing disease was first described by Nelson in 1958. The syndrome that now bears his name was characterized by hyperpigmentation, a sellar mass, and increased plasma ACTH levels. The treatment of Cushing disease has changed drastically since the 1950s, when the choice was adrenalectomy. Thus, the occurrence, diagnosis, and treatment of Nelson syndrome have changed as well. In the modern era of high-resolution neuroimaging, transsphenoidal microneu-rosurgery, and stereotactic radiosurgery, Nelson syndrome has become a rare entity. The authors describe the history of the diagnosis and treatment of Nelson syndrome. In light of the changes described, the authors believe this disease must be reevaluated in the contemporary era and a modern paradigm adopted.

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Christopher J. Stapleton, Charles Y. Liu, and Martin H. Weiss

Growth hormone (GH)–secreting pituitary adenomas represent a common source of GH excess in patients with acromegaly. Whereas surgical extirpation of the culprit lesion is considered first-line treatment, as many as 19% of patients develop recurrent symptoms due to regrowth of previously resected adenomatous tissue or to continued growth of the surgically inaccessible tumor. Although medical therapies that suppress GH production can be effective in the management of primary and recurrent acromegaly, these therapies are not curative, and lifelong treatment is required for hormonal control. Stereotactic radiosurgery has emerged as an effective adjunctive treatment modality, and is an appealing alternative to conventional fractionated radiation therapy. The authors reviewed the growing body of literature concerning the role of radiosurgical procedures in the treatment armamentarium of acromegaly, and identified more than 1350 patients across 45 case series. In this review, the authors report that radiosurgery offers true hormonal normalization in 17% to 82% of patients and tumor growth control in 37% to 100% of cases across all series, while minimizing adverse complications. As a result, stereotactic radiosurgery represents a safe and effective treatment option in the multimodal management of primary or recurrent acromegaly secondary to GH-secreting pituitary adenomas.

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Michael A. Lefkowitz, David R. Hinton, Martin H. Weiss, Steven L. Giannotta, and William T. Couldwell

The authors have retrospectively analyzed selected surgical and pathological observations made among a group of 20 patients harboring recurrent cranial base meningiomas in an attempt to reveal which factors may be important in predicting tumor recurrence. This cohort was compared with a group of 34 patients with cranial base meningiomas that underwent primary resection and in whom tumor recurrence has not been demonstrated over a median follow-up period of 33 months. Features analyzed included brain, cranial nerve, carotid artery, or muscle invasion as well as tumor cellularity, nucleolar prominence, cellular pleomorphism, and percentage of cells staining positive for the Ki-67 antigen. As expected, increased cellularity and tumor necrosis were relatively more prevalent in recurrent tumors. With regard to tumor type, atypical and anaplastic tumors were more common in the group of patients with recurrent tumor compared with the primary group (p < 0.02). As expected, increased cellularity was relatively more prominent in recurrent tumors. Invasion of muscle and bone (72%) was more frequently associated with recurrent tumors, suggesting that these characteristics may be important features of recurrent skull base meningiomas.

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Charles B. Stillerman, Thomas C. Chen, J. Diaz Day, William T. Couldwell, and Martin H. Weiss

A number of operative techniques have been described for the treatment of herniated thoracic discs. The transfacet pedicle-sparing approach allows for complete disc removal with limited spinal column disruption and soft-tissue dissection. Fifteen cadaveric spinal columns were used for evaluation of exposure, development of thoracic microdiscectomy instrumentation, and establishment of morphometric measurements. This approach was used to remove eight thoracic discs in six patients. Levels of herniation ranged from T-7 through T-11. Preoperatively, all patients had moderate to severe axial pain, and three (50%) of the six had radicular pain. Myelopathy was present in four (67%) of the six patients. Through a 4-cm opening, the ipsilateral paraspinal muscles were reflected, and a partial facetectomy was performed. The disc was then removed using specially designed microscopic instrumentation. Postoperatively, the radiculopathy resolved in all patients. Axial pain and myelopathy were completely resolved or significantly improved in all patients.

The minimal amount of bone resection and muscle dissection involved in the operation allows for: 1) decreased operative time and blood loss; 2) diminished perioperative pain; 3) shorter hospitalization time and faster return to premorbid activity; 4) avoidance of closed chest tube drainage; and 5) preservation of the integrity of the facet-pedicle complex, with potential for improvement in outcome related to axial pain. This technique appears best suited for the removal of all centrolateral discs, although it has been used successfully for treating a disc occupying nearly the entire ventral canal. The initial experience suggests that this approach may be used to safely remove appropriately selected thoracic disc herniations with good results.

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Mamoru Kittaka, Steven L. Giannotta, Vladimir Zelman, Jorge D. Correale, Christopher M. DeGiorgio, Martin H. Weiss, and Berislav V. Zlokovic

A reversible middle cerebral artery occlusion was performed in rats to determine whether nicardipine, a dihydropyridine voltage-sensitive Ca++ channel (VSCC) antagonist, exerts neuroprotective effects when administered 10 minutes following an ischemic insult, and if it does, whether this is due to its vasodilatory action and effect on cerebral blood flow (CBF) or to direct blockade of Ca++ entry into ischemic brain cells. An increase in the intracellular calcium, [Ca++]i, plays a major role in neuronal injury during cerebral ischemia. Although a large amount of Ca++ enters neurons through the VSCC during ischemia, inconsistent neuroprotective effects have been reported with the antagonists of the VSCC. An intraperitoneal injection of nicardipine (1.2 mg/kg) was administered to rats at 10 minutes after the onset of ischemia, and 8, 16, and 24 hours after occlusion. Cortical CBF was determined by laser-Doppler flowmetry. Neurological and neuropathological examinations were performed after 72 hours. Neuron-specific enolase, a specific marker for the incidence of neuronal injury, was measured in plasma. The CBF in the ischemic core and periphery, as well as brain temperature and physiological parameters, were not affected by nicardipine during occlusion or reperfusion. However, nicardipine treatment significantly improved motor neurological outcome by 32%, and the infarction and edema volume in the pallium as well as the edema volume in the striatum were significantly reduced by 28%, 37%, and 53%, respectively. Nicardipine also significantly reduced the neuron-specific enolase plasma levels by 50%, 42%, and 59% at 24, 48, and 72 hours after the occlusion, respectively. It is concluded that nicardipine may attenuate focal ischemic brain injury by exerting direct neuroprotective and antiedematous effects that do not depend on CBF.