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Michael F. Stiefel and M. Sean Grady

The DNA-repair enzyme O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) inhibits the killing of tumor cells by alkylating agents. MGMT activity is controlled by a promoter; methylation of the promoter silences the gene in cancer, and the cells no longer produce MGMT. We examined gliomas to determine whether methylation of the MGMT promoter is related to the responsiveness of the tumor to alkylating agents. METHODS: We analyzed the MGMT promoter in tumor DNA by a methylation-specific polymerase-chain-reaction assay. The gliomas were obtained from patients who had been treated with carmustine (1,3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea, or BCNU). The molecular data were correlated with the clinical outcome. RESULTS: The MGMT promoter was methylated in gliomas from 19 of 47 patients (40 percent). This finding was associated with regression of the tumor and prolonged overall and disease-free survival. It was an independent and stronger prognostic factor than age, stage, tumor grade, or performance status. CONCLUSIONS: Methylation of the MGMT promoter in gliomas is a useful predictor of the responsiveness of the tumors to alkylating agents.

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Shervin R. Dashti, Humain Baharvahdat, Eric Sauvageau, Steven W. Chang, Michael F. Stiefel, Min S. Park, Robert F. Spetzler and Nicholas C. Bambakidis

✓ Brain abscess is a rare but very dangerous neurosurgical lesion. Prompt diagnosis and emergency surgical evacuation are the hallmarks of therapy. Brain abscess following ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke is a rare entity. These cases are often preceded by episodes of bacteremia, sepsis, and local infection. The authors report the case of a 30-year-old woman who presented with a cerebral abscess at the site of a recent intraparenchymal hemorrhage.

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Shervin R. Dashti, Humain Baharvahdat, Robert F. Spetzler, Eric Sauvageau, Steven W. Chang, Michael F. Stiefel, Min S. Park and Nicholas C. Bambakidis

Object

Postoperative infection after cranial surgery is a serious complication that requires immediate recognition and treatment. In certain cases such as postoperative meningitis, the patient can be treated with antibiotics only. In cases that involve a bone flap infection, subdural empyema, or cerebral abscess, however, reoperation is often needed. There has been significant disagreement regarding the incidence of postoperative central nervous system (CNS) infections following cranial surgery. In this paper the authors' goal was to perform a retrospective review of the incidence of CNS infection after cranial surgery at their institution. They focused their review on those patients who required repeated surgery to treat the infection.

Methods

The authors reviewed the medical records and imaging studies in all patients who underwent a craniotomy or stereotactic drainage for CNS infection over the past 10 years. Subgroup analysis was then performed in patients whose infection was a result of a previous cranial operation to determine the incidence, factors associated with infection, and the type of infectious organism. Patients treated nonoperatively (that is, those who received intravenous antibiotics for postoperative meningitis or cellulitis) were not included. Patients treated for wound infection without intracranial pus were also not included.

Results

During the study period from January 1997 through December 2007, ~ 16,540 cranial surgeries were performed by 25 neurosurgeons. These included elective as well as emergency and trauma cases. Of these cases 82 (0.5%) were performed to treat postoperative infection in 50 patients. All 50 patients underwent their original surgery at the authors' institution. The median age was 51 years (range 2–74 years). There were 26 male and 24 female patients.

The most common offending organism was methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus, which was found in 10 of 50 patients. Gram-negative rods were found in 15 patients. Multiple organisms were identified in specimens obtained in 5 patients. Six patients had negative cultures. Most craniotomies leading to subsequent infection were performed for tumors or other mass lesions (23 of 50 patients), followed by craniotomies for hemorrhage and vascular lesions. Almost half of the patients underwent > 1 cranial operation before presenting with infection.

Conclusions

Postoperative infection after cranial surgery is an important phenomenon that needs immediate recognition. Even with strict adherence to sterile techniques and administration of antibiotic prophylaxis, a small percentage of these patients will develop an infection severe enough to require reoperation.

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Adam S. Arthur, Philipp Taussky, Min S. Park, Michael F. Stiefel and Robert H. Rosenwasser