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Taylor J. Abel, Timothy Walch, and Matthew A. Howard III

Advances in functional neurosurgery, including neuromodulation and more recently ultrasonic ablation of basal ganglia structures, have improved the quality of life for patients with debilitating movement disorders. What is little known, however, is that both of these neurosurgical advances, which remain on the cutting edge, have their origin in the pioneering work of Russell Meyers, whose contributions are documented in this paper. Meyers' published work and professional correspondence are reviewed, in addition to documents held by the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Iowa. Meyers was born in Brooklyn, New York, and received his neurosurgical training at hospitals in New York City under Jefferson Browder. In 1939, a chance encounter with a young woman with damaged bilateral ventral striata convinced Meyers that the caudate could be resected to treat Parkinsonism without disrupting consciousness. Shortly thereafter, he performed the first caudate resection for postencephalitic Parkinsonism. In 1946, Meyers became the first chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa), which led to the recruitment of 8 faculty members and the training of 18 residents during his tenure (1946–1963). Through collaboration with the Fry brothers at the University of Illinois, Meyers performed the first stereotactic ultrasonic ablations of deep brain structures to treat tremor, choreoathetosis, dystonia, intractable pain, and hypothalamic hamartoma. Meyers left academic neurosurgery in 1963 for reasons that are unclear, but he continued clinical neurosurgery work for several more years. Despite his early departure from academic medicine, Meyers' contributions to functional neurosurgery provided a lasting legacy that has improved the lives of many patients with movement disorders.

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Kai J. Miller, Taylor J. Abel, Adam O. Hebb, and Jeffrey G. Ojemann


Emerging research in evoked broadband electrocorticographic (ECoG) measurement from the cortical surface suggests that it might cleanly delineate the functional organization of cortex. The authors sought to demonstrate whether this could be done in a same-session, online manner to identify receptive and expressive language areas.


The authors assessed the efficacy of simple integration of “χ-band” (76–200 Hz) change in the ECoG signal by implementing a simple band-pass filter to estimate broadband spectral change. Following a brief (less than 10-second) period to characterize baseline activity, χ-band activity was integrated while 7 epileptic patients with implanted ECoG electrodes performed a verb-generation task.


While the patients were performing verb-generation or noun-reading tasks, cortical activation was consistently identified in primary mouth motor area, superior temporal gyrus, and Broca and Wernicke association areas. Maps were robust after a mean time of 47seconds (using an “activation overlap” measure). Correlation with electrocortical stimulation was not complete and was stronger for noun reading than verb generation.


Broadband ECoG changes can be captured online to identify eloquent cortex. This demonstrates the existence of a powerful new tool for functional mapping in the operative and chronic implant setting.

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Andrew J. Grossbach, Taylor J. Abel, Arnold H. Menezes, and Mathew A. Howard

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Abhineet Chowdhary, Taylor J. Abel, and Anthony M. Avellino

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Michael M. McDowell, Robert Kellogg, Jesse A. Goldstein, and Taylor J. Abel

Endoscopic suturectomy combined with supplementary techniques such as spring-assisted expansion and cranial molding helmets for the correction of craniosynostosis is growing in popularity due to the reduced scar burdened, decreased morbidity, and reduced overall cost. The authors present their technique for the correction of isolated coronal craniosynostosis. The use of dedicated endoscopic tools and lit endoscopes permits enhanced visualization and technical ability, particularly at the distal portions of the suturectomy, and may reduce operative time and cerebrospinal fluid leak risk.

The video can be found here:

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Michael M. McDowell, Daniela Ortega Peraza, and Taylor J. Abel

Awake craniotomies are a crucial tool for identifying eloquent cortex, but significant limitations frequently related to patient tolerance have limited their applicability in pediatric cases. The authors describe a comprehensive, longitudinal protocol developed in collaboration with a certified child life specialist (CCLS) in order to enhance patient experiences and develop resiliency related to the intraoperative portion of cases. This protocol includes preoperative conditioning, intraoperative support, and postoperative positive reinforcement and debriefing. A unique coping plan is developed for each prospective patient. With appropriate support, awake craniotomy may be applicable in a wider array of preadolescent and adolescent patients than has previously been possible. Future prospective studies are needed to validate this approach.

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Francis J. Jareczek, Marshall T. Holland, Matthew A. Howard III, Timothy Walch, and Taylor J. Abel

Neurosurgery for the treatment of psychological disorders has a checkered history in the United States. Prior to the advent of antipsychotic medications, individuals with severe mental illness were institutionalized and subjected to extreme therapies in an attempt to palliate their symptoms. Psychiatrist Walter Freeman first introduced psychosurgery, in the form of frontal lobotomy, as an intervention that could offer some hope to those patients in whom all other treatments had failed. Since that time, however, the use of psychosurgery in the United States has waxed and waned significantly, though literature describing its use is relatively sparse. In an effort to contribute to a better understanding of the evolution of psychosurgery, the authors describe the history of psychosurgery in the state of Iowa and particularly at the University of Iowa Department of Neurosurgery. An interesting aspect of psychosurgery at the University of Iowa is that these procedures have been nearly continuously active since Freeman introduced the lobotomy in the 1930s. Frontal lobotomies and transorbital leukotomies were performed by physicians in the state mental health institutions as well as by neurosurgeons at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (formerly known as the State University of Iowa Hospital). Though the early technique of frontal lobotomy quickly fell out of favor, the use of neurosurgery to treat select cases of intractable mental illness persisted as a collaborative treatment effort between psychiatrists and neurosurgeons at Iowa. Frontal lobotomies gave way to more targeted lesions such as anterior cingulotomies and to neuromodulation through deep brain stimulation. As knowledge of brain circuits and the pathophysiology underlying mental illness continues to grow, surgical intervention for psychiatric pathologies is likely to persist as a viable treatment option for select patients at the University of Iowa and in the larger medical community.

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Taylor J. Abel, Emma Losito, George M. Ibrahim, Eishi Asano, and James T. Rutka

Epileptic spasms (ES) are a common manifestation of intractable epilepsy in early life and can lead to devastating neurodevelopmental consequences. Epilepsy surgery for ES is challenging because of inherent difficulties in localizing the epileptogenic zone in affected infants and children. However, recent clinical series of resective neurosurgery for ES suggest that not only is surgery a viable option for appropriately selected patients, but postoperative seizure outcomes can be similar to those achieved in other types of focal epilepsy. Increased awareness of ES as a potentially focal epilepsy, along with advances in neuroimaging and invasive monitoring technologies, have led to the ability to surgically treat many patients with ES who were previously not considered surgical candidates. In this study, the authors review the current state of epilepsy surgery for ES. Specifically, they address how advances in neuroimaging and invasive monitoring have facilitated patient selection, presurgical evaluation, and ultimately, resection planning.

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Jenna R. Gale, Kamil W. Nowicki, Rachel M. Wolfe, Roberta K. Sefcik, and Taylor J. Abel

Arachnoid cysts are relatively common and benign intraarachnoid membrane outpouchings containing CSF-like fluid. The majority of arachnoid cysts remain stable and asymptomatic and do not require intervention in the pediatric population. Here, the authors present the first reported case of an infected arachnoid cyst in a pediatric patient resulting in severe vasospasm of the left terminal internal carotid artery, left A1 segment, and left M1 branches with a left middle cerebral artery infarct. Their experience suggests that close monitoring is warranted for this condition and that the pediatric population may be at higher risk for vasospasm.