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Mark Bernstein and Beverly C. Walters

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Miguel Marigil and Mark Bernstein

Technological breakthroughs along with modern application of awake craniotomy and new neuroanesthesia protocols have led to a progressive development in outpatient brain tumor surgery and improved surgical outcomes. As a result, outpatient neurosurgery has become a standard of care at the authors’ center due to its clinical benefits and impact on patient recovery and overall satisfaction. On the other hand, the financial savings derived from its application is also another favorable factor exerting influence on patients, health care systems, and society.

Although validated several years ago and with recent data supporting its application, outpatient brain tumor surgery has not gained the traction that it deserves, based on scientific skepticism and perceived potential for medicolegal issues. The goal of this review, based on the available literature and the senior author’s experience in outpatient brain tumor surgery, was to evaluate the most important aspects regarding indications, clinical outcomes, economic burden, and patient perceptions.

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Nir Lipsman, Mark Bernstein and Andres M. Lozano

There is an urgent need for an effective therapy for treatment-refractory mental illness. Trials ongoing globally that explore surgical treatment, such as deep brain stimulation, for refractory psychiatric disease have produced some promising early results. However, diverse inclusion criteria and variable methodological and ethical standards, combined with the sordid past of neuromodulation, confound trial interpretation and threaten the integrity of a new and emerging science. What is required is a standard of ethical practice, globally applied, for neurosurgical trials in psychiatry that protects patients and maintains a high ethical benchmark for clinicians and researchers to meet. With mental illness, as well as treatment resistance, reaching epidemic proportions, ethically and scientifically sound clinical trials will lead to effective and safe surgical treatments that will become vital components of the clinicians' armamentarium. Ethical criteria, such as the ones proposed here, need to be established now and applied in earnest if the field is to move forward and if patients with no other therapeutic options are to receive much-needed treatment.

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Adetunji A. Oremakinde and Mark Bernstein

Object

Error recording and monitoring is an important component of error prevention and quality assurance in the health sector given the huge impact of medical errors on the well-being of patients and the financial loss incurred by health institutions. With this in mind, assessing the effect of reporting errors should be a cause worth pursuing. The object in this study was to examine the null hypothesis that recording and publishing errors do not affect error patterns in a clinical practice.

Methods

Intraoperative errors and their characteristics were prospectively recorded between May 2000 and May 2013 in the neurosurgical practice of the senior author (M.B.). The error pattern observed between May 2000 and August 2006, which has been previously described (Group A), was compared with the error pattern observed between September 2006 and May 2013 (Group B).

Results

A total of 1108 cases in Group A and 974 cases in Group B were surgically treated. A total of 2684 errors were recorded in Group A, while 1892 errors were recorded in Group B. The ratios of cranial to spinal procedures performed in Groups A and B were 3:1 and 10:1, respectively, while the ratios of general to local anesthesia in the two groups were 2:1 and 1.3:1, respectively (p < 0.0001 for both). There was a significantly decreased proportion of cases with error (87% to 83%, p < 0.006), mean errors per case (2.4 to 1.9, p < 0.0001), proportion of error-related complications (16.7% to 5.5%, p < 0.002), and clinical impacts of error (2.7% to 1.0%, p < 0.0001) in Group B compared with Group A. Errors in Group B tended to be more preventable than those in Group A (85.8% vs 78.5%, p < 0.0001). A significant reduction was also noticed with most types of error. A descending trend in the mean errors per case was demonstrated from the years 2001 to 2012; however, an increased severity of errors (22.6% to 29.5%, p < 0.0001) was recorded in Group B compared with Group A.

Conclusions

Data in this study showed that the act of recording errors might alter behaviors, resulting in fewer errors.

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Jack P. Rock, Stephen Haines, Lawrence Recht, Mark Bernstein, Raymond Sawaya, Tom Mikkelsen and Jay Loeffler

Object

In January 1998 the Guidelines and Outcomes Committee of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) issued a charge for the development of evidence-based practice parameters focusing on the treatment of patients with single metastasis to the brain. The charge was imposed in response to the significant controversy surrounding questions relating to the optimal management strategies for patients with single brain metastasis.

Methods

A team consisting of physicians from the AANS, the American Academy of Neurology, and the American Association of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology convened and the literature was reviewed. Methodically drawing from the best of Class I, II, and III levels of available evidence, authors sought to determine how the literature addressed and disposed of the question of the optimal management for an adult with a known history of cancer and a single meta-static brain lesion. Framing the question in this specific manner allowed researchers to focus directly on treatment issues, without having to consider diagnostic issues.

Conclusions

The results of the evidence-based analysis demonstrated that there was insufficient information to establish standards of care. Data from the literature does, however, support a guideline stating that surgical resection accompanied by whole brain radiation therapy is associated with the best survival rate. Additional lower-quality evidence supports an option for management with radiosurgery.

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Joseph Bampoe, Paul Ritvo and Mark Bernstein

Quality-of-life assessments in neurooncology are becoming more relevant with the proliferation of intensive research into brain tumors and their therapy. In this review, the authors examined several aspects and problems associated with the past, present, and future applications of quality-of-life assessments in neurooncology.

The inadequacy of the almost exclusive use of physical functioning assessments, image-documented tumor response to therapy, and patient survival time as endpoints when evaluating therapeutic regimens is becoming increasingly apparent. In therapies in which outcome using traditional endpoints are only marginally different, specific (neurological) toxicity and social and psychological outcomes must be evaluated as well to determine valid treatment options. Also becoming widely accepted is the consideration of patient values of specific health states in justifying treatment resources. There is ongoing research in brain tumor patients to address these issues.

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Joao Paulo Almeida, Carlos Velásquez, Claire Karekezi, Miguel Marigil, Mojgan Hodaie, James T. Rutka and Mark Bernstein

OBJECTIVE

International collaborations between high-income (HICs) and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have been developed as an attempt to reduce the inequalities in surgical care around the world. In this paper the authors review different models for international surgical education and describe projects developed by the Division of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto in this field.

METHODS

The authors conducted a review of models of international surgical education reported in the literature in the last 15 years. Previous publications on global neurosurgery reported by the Division of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto were reviewed to exemplify the applications and challenges of international surgical collaborations.

RESULTS

The most common models for international surgical education and collaboration include international surgical missions, long-term international partnerships, fellowship training models, and online surgical education. Development of such collaborations involves different challenges, including limited time availability, scarce funding/resources, sociocultural barriers, ethical challenges, and lack of organizational support. Of note, evaluation of outcomes of international surgical projects remains limited, and the development and application of assessment tools, such as the recently proposed Framework for the Assessment of International Surgical Success (FAIRNeSS), is encouraged.

CONCLUSIONS

Actions to reduce inequality in surgical care should be implemented around the world. Different models can be used for bilateral exchange of knowledge and improvement of surgical care delivery in regions where there is poor access to surgical care. Implementation of global neurosurgery initiatives faces multiple limitations that can be ameliorated if systematic changes occur, such as the development of academic positions in global surgery, careful selection of participant centers, governmental and nongovernmental financial support, and routine application of outcome evaluation for international surgical collaborations.

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Jason S. Day, Michael C. Hurley, Mohamad Chmayssani, Rudy J. Rahme, Mark J. Alberts, Richard A. Bernstein, Guilherme Dabus, Ali Shaibani and Bernard R. Bendok

Object

Endovascular treatment of acute ischemic stroke delivers direct therapy at the site of an occluded cerebral artery and can be employed beyond the 3–4.5-hour window limit set for intravenous recombinant tissue plasminogen activator. In this paper, the authors report their experience with various endovascular therapies in acute ischemic stroke.

Methods

The authors conducted a retrospective review of their clinical database for acute ischemic stroke in large-vessel cerebral territories that underwent endovascular treatment between May 2005 and February 2009. Endovascular treatment was defined as pharmacological and/or mechanical intervention, angioplasty, stenting, or a combination of these methods. Admission National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale and the modified Rankin Scale scores were recorded. Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction (TIMI) scores of 0, 1, 2A, 2B, and 3 were used to define recanalization.

Results

Forty procedures were performed in 39 patients, with 1 patient having sequential bilateral strokes. Nine patients were lost to follow-up after discharge. Strokes in the carotid artery circulation occurred in 82.5% of cases, and those in the vertebral-basilar territory occurred in 17.5%. The Merci device was used in 22 (55%) of 40 procedures, and the Penumbra device in 9 (22.5%) of 40. Angioplasty was performed in 15 (37.5%) of 40 procedures, and intraarterial recombinant tissue plasminogen activator was administered in 23 (57.5%) of 40 procedures. In 23 (57.5%) of 40 cases, multiple recanalization methods were used. The recanalization rate for all methods was 60%. The recanalization rate from TIMI Score 0/1 occlusions was 71.4% (20 of 28). An estimated modified Rankin Scale score of ≤ 2 was obtained in 11 (36.7%) of 30 cases. The overall mortality rate was 26.7% (8 of 30). Intracerebral hemorrhage at 24 hours postprocedure was noted in 17 (42.5%) of 40 cases, 3 (7.5%) of which were symptomatic.

Conclusions

The authors' institution performs endovascular stroke treatment with a safety and efficacy profile comparable to those of other major endovascular stroke therapy studies. Recanalization was associated with an improved clinical outcome. Protocols to maximize efficient triage of patients and better documentation of stroke treatments can assist in further studies.

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George M. Ibrahim, Benjamin W. Barry, Aria Fallah, O. Carter Snead III, James M. Drake, James T. Rutka and Mark Bernstein

Epilepsy is a common childhood condition associated with a considerable medical and psychosocial burden. Children in whom medical treatment fails to reduce seizure burden represent an especially vulnerable patient population because prolonged, uncontrolled seizures are associated with poor developmental and neurocognitive outcomes. Surgical treatment in the form of cortical resection, functional disconnection, or neuromodulation may alleviate or significantly reduce the disease burden for a subset of these patients. However, there remains a dichotomy between the perceived benefits of surgery and the implementation of surgical strategies in the management of medically intractable epilepsy. The current paper presents an analysis of the bioethical implications of existing inequities in access to pediatric epilepsy surgery that result from inconsistent referral practices and discrepant evaluation techniques. The authors provide a basic bioethical framework composed of 5 primary expectations to inform public, institutional, and personal policies toward the provision of epilepsy surgery to afflicted children.