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Volker Seifert and Dietmar Stolke

Aneurysms of the basilar trunk and vertebrobasilar junction represent an exceptional challenge to the neurosurgeon. Surgical access to these deep and confined lesions is hampered by the direct proximity of highly vulnerable neural structures such as the brainstem and cranial nerves, as well as by the structure of the petrous bone, which blocks direct surgical approach to these aneurysms. A number of surgical tactics consisting of different supra- and infratentorial approaches have been applied over the years to gain access to these treacherous lesions. Only recently have lateral approaches, such as the anterior transpetrosal, the retrolabyrinthine-transsigmoidal, and the combined supra/infratentorial-posterior transpetrosal approaches, directed through parts of the petrous bone, been reported for surgery of basilar trunk and vertebrobasilar junction aneurysms. Because detailed reports of direct operative intervention using the transpetrosal route for these rare and difficult lesions are scarce, the authors present their surgical experiences in nine patients with basilar trunk and vertebrobasilar junction aneurysms, in whom they operated via the supra/infratentorial-posterior transpetrosal approach. In eight patients, including one with a giant partially thrombosed basilar trunk aneurysm, direct clipping of the aneurysm via the transpetrosal route was possible. In one patient with a giant vertebrobasilar junction aneurysm, the completely calcified aneurysm sac was resected after occlusion of the vertebral artery. In total, one patient died and another experienced postoperative accentuation of preexisting cranial nerve deficits. Two patients had transient cerebrospinal fluid leakage, and the postoperative course was uneventful in the remaining seven. Postoperative angiography demonstrated complete aneurysm clipping in eight patients and relief of preoperative brainstem compression in the patient with the giant vertebrobasilar junction aneurysm. It is concluded that the supra/infratentorial-posterior transpetrosal approach allows excellent access to the basilar artery trunk and vertebrobasilar junction and can be considered the approach of choice to selected aneurysms located in this area.

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Juergen Konczalla, Sepide Kashefiolasl, Nina Brawanski, Christian Senft, Volker Seifert and Johannes Platz

OBJECT

Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is usually caused by a ruptured intracranial aneurysm, but in some patients no source of hemorrhage can be detected. More recent data showed increasing numbers of cases of spontaneous nonaneurysmal SAH (NASAH). The aim of this study was to analyze factors, especially the use of antithrombotic medications such as systemic anticoagulation or antiplatelet agents (aCPs), influencing the increasing numbers of cases of NASAH and the clinical outcome.

METHODS

Between 1999 and 2013, 214 patients who were admitted to the authors’ institution suffered from NASAH, 14% of all patients with SAH. Outcome was assessed according to the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) at 6 months. Risk factors were identified based on the outcome.

RESULTS

The number of patients with NASAH increased significantly in the last 15 years of the study period. There was a statistically significant increase in the rate of nonperimesencephalic (NPM)-SAH occurrence and aCP use, while the proportion of elderly patients remained stable. Favorable outcome (mRS 0–2) was achieved in 85% of cases, but patients treated with aCPs had a significantly higher risk for an unfavorable outcome. Further analysis showed that elderly patients, and especially the subgroup with a Fisher Grade 3 bleeding pattern, had a high risk for an unfavorable outcome, whereas the subgroup of NPM-SAH without a Fisher Grade 3 bleeding pattern had a favorable outcome, similar to perimesencephalic (PM)-SAH.

CONCLUSIONS

Over the years, a significant increase in the number of patients with NASAH has been observed. Also, the rate of aCP use has increased significantly. Risk factors for an unfavorable outcome were age > 65 years, Fisher Grade 3 bleeding pattern, and aCP use. Both “PM-SAH” and “NPM-SAH without a Fisher Grade 3 bleeding pattern” had excellent outcomes. Patients with NASAH and a Fisher Grade 3 bleeding pattern had a significantly higher risk for an unfavorable outcome and death. Therefore, for further investigations, NPM-SAH should be stratified into patients with or without a Fisher Grade 3 bleeding pattern. Also, cases of spontaneous SAH should be stratified into NASAH and aneurysmal SAH.

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Sae-Yeon Won, Daniel Dubinski, Markus Bruder, Adriano Cattani, Volker Seifert and Juergen Konczalla

OBJECTIVE

Isolated acute subdural hematoma (aSDH) is increasing in older populations and so is the use of oral anticoagulant therapy (OAT). The dramatic increase of OAT—with direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) as well as with conventional anticoagulants—is leading to changes in the care of patients who present with aSDH while receiving OAT. The purpose of this study was to determine the management and outcome of patients being treated with OAT at the time of aSDH presentation.

METHODS

In this single-center, retrospective study, the authors analyzed 116 consecutive cases involving patients with aSDH treated from January 2007 to June 2016. The following parameters were assessed: patient characteristics, admission status, anticoagulation status, perioperative management, comorbidities, clinical course, and outcome as determined at discharge and through 6 months of follow-up. Oral anticoagulants were classified as thrombocyte inhibitors, vitamin K antagonists, and DOACs. Patients were stratified based on which type of medication they were taking, and subgroup analyses were performed. Predictors of unfavorable outcome at discharge and follow-up were identified.

RESULTS

Of 116 patients, 74 (64%) had been following an OAT regimen at presentation with aSDH. The patients who were taking oral anticoagulants (OAT group) were significantly older (OR 12.5), more often comatose 24 hours postoperatively (OR 2.4), and more often had ≥ 4 comorbidities (OR 3.2) than patients who were not taking oral anticoagulants (no-OAT group). Accordingly, the rate of unfavorable outcome was significantly higher in patients in the OAT group, both at discharge (OR 2.3) and at follow-up (OR 2.2). Of the patients in the OAT group, 37.8% were taking a thrombocyte inhibitor, 54.1% a vitamin K antagonist, and 8.1% DOACs. In all cases, OAT was stopped on discovery of aSDH. For reversal of anticoagulation, patients who were taking a thrombocyte inhibitor received desmopressin 0.4 μg/kg, 1–2 g tranexamic acid, and preoperative transfusion with 2 units of platelets. Patients following other oral anticoagulant regimens received 50 IU/kg of prothrombin complex concentrates and 10 mg of vitamin K. There was no significant difference in the rebleeding rate between the OAT and no-OAT groups. The in-hospital mortality rate was significantly higher for patients who were taking a thrombocyte inhibitor (OR 3.3), whereas patients who were taking a vitamin K antagonist had a significantly higher 6-month mortality rate (OR 2.7). Patients taking DOACs showed a tendency toward unfavorable outcome, with higher mortality rates than patients on conventional OAT or patients in the vitamin K antagonist subgroup. Independent predictors for unfavorable outcome at discharge were comatose status 24 hours after surgery (OR 93.2), rebleeding (OR 9.8), respiratory disease (OR 4.1), and infection (OR 11.1) (Nagelkerke R2 = 0.684). Independent predictors for unfavorable outcome at follow-up were comatose status 24 hours after surgery (OR 12.7), rebleeding (OR 3.1), age ≥ 70 years (OR 3.1), and 6 or more comorbidities (OR 3.1, Nagelkerke R2 = 0.466). OAT itself was not an independent predictor for worse outcome.

CONCLUSIONS

An OAT regimen at the time of presentation with aSDH is associated with increased mortality rates and unfavorable outcome at discharge and follow-up. Thrombocyte inhibitor treatment was associated with increased short-term mortality, whereas vitamin K antagonist treatment was associated with increased long-term mortality. In particular, patients on DOACs were seriously affected, showing more unfavorable outcomes at discharge as well as at follow-up. The suggested medical treatment for aSDH in both OAT and no-OAT patients seems to be effective and reasonable, with comparable rebleeding and favorable outcome rates in the 2 groups. In addition, prior OAT is not a predictor for aSDH outcome.

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Ági Oszvald, Hartmut Vatter, Christian Byhahn, Volker Seifert and Erdem Güresir

Object

Quality and safety are basic concerns in any medical practice. Especially in daily surgical practice, with increasing turnover and shortened procedure times, attention to these topics needs to be assured. Starting in 2007, the authors used a perioperative checklist in all elective procedures and extended the checklist in January 2011 according to the so-called team time-out principles, with additional assessment of patient identity and the planned surgical procedure performed immediately before skin incision, including the emergency cases.

Methods

The advanced perioperative checklist includes parts for patient identification, preoperative assessments, team time-out, postoperative treatment, and imaging controls. All parts are signed by the responsible physician except for the team time-out, which is performed and signed by the theater nurse on behalf of the surgeon immediately before skin incision.

Results

Between January 2007 and December 2010, 1 wrong-sided bur hole in an emergency case and 1 wrong-sided lumbar approach in an elective case (of 8795 surgical procedures) occurred in the authors' department. Using the advanced perioperative checklist including the team time-out principles, no error occurred in 3595 surgical procedures (January 2011–June 2012). In the authors' department all team members appreciate the chance to focus on the patient, the surgical procedure, and expected difficulties. The number of incomplete checklists and of patients not being transferred into the operating room was lowered significantly (p = 0.002) after implementing the advanced perioperative checklist.

Conclusions

In the authors' daily experience, the advanced perioperative checklist developed according to the team time-out principles improves preoperative workup and the focus of the entire team. The focus is drawn to the procedure, expected difficulties of the surgery, and special needs in the treatment of the particular patient. Especially in emergency situations, the team time-out synchronizes the involved team members and helps to improve patient safety.

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Stephan Dützmann, Florian Geßler, Gerhard Marquardt, Volker Seifert and Christian Senft

Object

The authors performed a study to evaluate whether preoperative assessment of prothrombin time (PT) is mandatory in patients undergoing routinely planned neurosurgical procedures.

Methods

The charts of all patients admitted to general wards of the authors' department for routinely planned surgery (excluding trauma and ICU patients) between 2006 and 2010 were retrospectively reviewed. The authors assessed preoperative PT and the clinical courses of all patients, with special consideration for patients receiving coagulation factor substitution. All cases involving hemorrhagic complications were analyzed in detail with regard to pre- and postoperative PT abnormalities. Prothrombin time was expressed as the international normalized ratio, and values greater than 1.28 were regarded as elevated.

Results

Clinical courses and PT values of 4310 patients were reviewed. Of these, 33 patients (0.7%) suffered hemorrhagic complications requiring repeat surgery. Thirty-one patients (94%) had a normal PT before the initial operation, while 2 patients had slightly elevated PT values of 1.33 and 1.65, which were anticipated based on the patient's history. In the latter 2 cases, surgery was performed without prior correction of PT. Preoperatively, PT was elevated in 78 patients (1.8%). In 73 (93.6%) of the 78 patients, the PT elevation was expected and explained by each patient's medical history. In only 5 (0.1%) of 4310 patients did we find an unexpected PT elevation (mean 1.53, range 1.37–1.74). All 5 patients underwent surgery without complications, while 2 had received coagulation factor substitution preoperatively, as requested by the surgeon, because of an estimated risk of bleeding complications. None of the 5 patients received coagulation factor substitution postoperatively, and later detailed laboratory studies ruled out single coagulation factor deficiencies. There was no statistically significant association between preoperatively elevated PT levels and the occurrence of hemorrhagic complications (p = 0.12). Before the second procedure but not before the initial operation, 4 (12%) of the 33 patients had elevated PT.

Conclusions

The findings suggest that the value of preoperative PT testing is limited in patients in whom a normal history can be ascertained. Close postoperative PT control is necessary in every neurosurgical patient, and better tests need to be developed to identify patients who are prone to hemorrhagic complications.

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Markus Bruder, Adriano Cattani, Florian Gessler, Christian Droste, Matthias Setzer, Volker Seifert and Gerhard Marquardt

OBJECTIVE

Synovial cysts of the spine are rare lesions, predominantly arising in the lumbar region. Despite their generally benign behavior, they can cause severe symptoms due to compression of neural structures in the spinal canal. Treatment strategies are still a matter of discussion. The authors performed a single-center survey and literature search focusing on long-term results after minimally invasive surgery.

METHODS

A total of 141 consecutive patients treated for synovial cysts of the lumbar spine between 1997 and 2014 in the authors’ department were analyzed. Medical reports with regard to signs and symptoms, operative findings, complications, and short-term outcome were reviewed. Assessment of long-term outcome was performed with a standardized telephone questionnaire based on the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI). Furthermore, patients were questioned about persisting pain, symptoms, and further operative procedures, if any. Subjective satisfaction was classified as excellent, good, fair, or poor based on the Macnab classification.

RESULTS

The approach most often used for synovial cyst treatment was partial hemilaminectomy in 70%; hemilaminectomy was necessary in 27%. At short-term follow-up, the presence of severe and moderate leg pain had decreased from 93% to 5%. The presence of low-back pain decreased from 90% to 5%. Rates of motor and sensory deficits were reduced from 40% to 14% and from 45% to 6%, respectively. The follow-up rate was 58%, and the mean follow-up period was 9.3 years. Both leg pain and low-back pain were still absent in 78%. Outcome based on the Macnab classification was excellent in 80%, good in 14%, fair in 1%, and poor in 5%. According to the ODI, 78% of patients had no or only minimal disability, 16% had moderate disability, and 6% had severe disability at the time of follow-up. In this cohort, 7% needed surgery due to cyst recurrence, and 9% required a delayed stabilization procedure after the initial operation.

CONCLUSIONS

Surgical treatment with resection of the cyst provides favorable results in outcome. Excellent or good outcome persisting for a long-term follow-up period can be achieved in the vast majority of cases. Complication rates are low despite an increased risk of dural injury. With facet-sparing techniques, the stability of the segment can be preserved, and resection of spinal synovial cysts does not necessarily require segmental fusion.

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Matthias Setzer, Hartmut Vatter, Gerhard Marquardt, Volker Seifert and Frank D. Vrionis

Object

In this report, the authors describe their experience in the surgical management of spinal meningiomas at two neurosurgical centers. The results of a literature review are also presented.

Methods

Eighty consecutive patients (22 men and 58 women) with spinal meningiomas who had undergone an operation at two specific neurosurgical centers were included in this study. Functional outcomes were evaluated using univariate and multivariate analyses. A review of the literature yielded an additional 651 patients with spinal meningiomas from 9 large studies.

Results

On multivariate analysis, the variable of a poor preoperative neurological state (p < 0.02, odds ratio [OR] 13.6, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.6–71.4) and invasion of the arachnoid/pia mater (p < 0.03, OR 15.2, 95% CI 2.5–90.4) were independent predictors of a poor outcome, whereas invasion of the arachnoid/pia (p < 0.02, OR 8.9, 95% CI 2.2–35) and duration of symptoms (p < 0.001, OR 1.12/month, 95% CI 1.05–1.2) predicted no improvement (stable or deteriorated condition). The Cox proportional hazards regression analysis showed three significant predictor variables for recurrence: invasion of the arachnoid/pia (p < 0.05; hazard ratio [HR] 1.8, 95% CI 1.2–3.6), Simpson resection grade (p < 0.012, HR 6.8, 95% CI 1.5–3.0), and histological tumor grade (Grade I; p < 0.001, HR 0.001–0.17).

Conclusions

Because of the excellent outcome of surgery for benign spinal meningiomas and the association between duration of symptoms and neurological compromise with a poor functional outcome, early operation is the treatment of choice. In cases of malignant transformation, adjuvant therapies must be considered.

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Johannes Platz, Erdem Güresir, Marlies Wagner, Volker Seifert and Juergen Konczalla

OBJECTIVE

Delayed cerebral ischemia (DCI) has a major impact on the outcome of patients suffering from aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). The aim of this study was to assess the influence of an additional intracerebral hematoma (ICH) on the occurrence of DCI.

METHODS

The authors conducted a single-center retrospective analysis of cases of SAH involving patients treated between 2006 and 2011. Patients who died or were transferred to another institution within 10 days after SAH without the occurrence of DCI were excluded from the analysis.

RESULTS

Additional ICH was present in 123 (24.4%) of 504 included patients (66.7% female). ICH was classified as frontal in 72 patients, temporal in 24, and perisylvian in 27. DCI occurred in 183 patients (36.3%). A total of 59 (32.2%) of these 183 patients presented with additional ICH, compared with 64 (19.9%) of the 321 without DCI (p = 0.002). In addition, DCI was detected significantly more frequently in patients with higher World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS) grades.

The authors compared the original and modified Fisher Scales with respect to the occurrence of DCI. The modified Fisher Scale (mFS) was superior to the original Fisher Scale (oFS) in predicting DCI. Furthermore, they suggest a new classification based on the mFS, which demonstrates the impact of additional ICH on the occurrence of DCI.

After the different scales were corrected for age, sex, WFNS score, and aneurysm site, the oFS no longer was predictive for the occurrence of DCI, while the new scale demonstrated a superior capacity for prediction as compared with the mFS.

CONCLUSIONS

Additional ICH was associated with an increased risk of DCI in this study. Furthermore, adding the presence or absence of ICH to the mFS improved the identification of patients at the highest risk for the development of DCI. Thus, a simple adjustment of the mFS might help to identify patients at high risk for DCI.

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Sae-Yeon Won, Daniel Dubinski, Nina Brawanski, Adam Strzelczyk, Volker Seifert, Thomas M. Freiman and Juergen Konczalla

OBJECTIVE

Acute subdural hematoma (aSDH) is a common disease increasing in prevalence given the demographic growth of the aging population. Yet, the benefit of surgical treatment for aSDH and the subsequent functional outcome in elderly patients (age ≥ 80 years) remain unclear. Therefore, the aims of this study were to evaluate the incidence of aSDH in patients 80 years or older, determine overall functional outcome, identify predictors of an unfavorable or favorable outcome, and establish specific risk factors for seizures.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively analyzed patients 80 years and older who presented with isolated aSDH in the past 10 years at their institution. The following parameters were assessed: baseline characteristics, clinical status on admission and 24 hours after surgery, and clinical course. Functional outcome was assessed at discharge and the 3-month follow-up (FU).

RESULTS

In the period from January 2007 to December 2016, 165 patients with aSDH were admitted to the authors’ institution. Sixty-eight patients (41.2%) were 80 years old or older, and the mean age overall was 85 years (range 80–96 years). The incidence of aSDH in the elderly had significantly increased over past decade, with more than 50% of patients admitted to our institution for aSDH now being 80 years or older. The overall mortality rate was 28% at discharge and 48% at the FU. Independent predictors of an unfavorable outcome at discharge were a GCS score ≤ 8 at 24 hours after operation (p < 0.001) and pneumonia (p < 0.02). At the FU, a GCS score ≤ 8 at 24 hours after operation (p < 0.001) and cumulative comorbidities (≥ 5; p < 0.05) were significant independent predictors. All patients with more than 6 comorbidities had died by the FU. Surgical treatment in comatose compared to noncomatose patients had statistically significant, higher mortality rates at discharge and the FU. Still, 23% of the comatose patients and more than 50% of the noncomatose patients had a favorable outcome at the FU (p = 0.06).

CONCLUSIONS

The number of octo- and nonagenarians with aSDH significantly increased over the last decade. These patients can achieve a favorable outcome, especially those with a noncomatose status and fewer than 5 comorbidities. Surgical and nonsurgical treatment of octo- and nonagenarians during and after discharge should be optimized to increase clinical improvement.

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Florian Gessler, Haitham Mutlak, Karima Tizi, Christian Senft, Matthias Setzer, Volker Seifert and Lutz Weise

OBJECTIVE

The value of postoperative epidural analgesia after major spinal surgery is well established. Thus far, the use of patient-controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA) has been denied to patients undergoing debridement and instrumentation in spondylodiscitis, with the risk of increased postoperative pain resulting in prolonged recovery. The value of PCEA with special regard to infectious complications remains to be clarified. The present study examined the value of postoperative PCEA in comparison with intravenous analgesia in patients with spondylodiscitis undergoing posterior spinal surgery.

METHODS

Thirty-two patients treated surgically for spondylodiscitis of the thoracic and lumbar spine were prospectively included in a database and retrospectively reviewed for this study. Postoperative antibiotic treatment, functional capacity, pain levels, side effects, and complications were documented. Sixteen patients were given patient-demanded intravenous analgesia (PIA) followed by 16 patients assigned to PCEA. If PCEA was applied, the insertion of an epidural catheter was performed under the direct visual guidance of the surgeon at the end of the surgery.

RESULTS

Three patients intended for PCEA treatment were excluded due to predefined exclusion criteria. Postoperative pain was significantly lower in the PCEA group during the first 48 hours after surgery (p = 0.03). As determined by the trunk control test conducted at 8 (p < 0.001), 24 (p = 0.004), 48 (p = 0.015), 72 (p = 0.0031), and 96 hours (p < 0.001), patients in the PCEA treatment group displayed significantly increased mobilization capacity compared with those of the PIA group. Time until normal accomplishment of all mobilization maneuvers was reduced in the PCEA group compared with that in the PIA group (p = 0.04). No differences in complication rates were observed between the 2 groups (p = 0.52).

CONCLUSIONS

PCEA may reduce postoperative pain and lead to earlier achievement of functional capacity at a low complication rate in patients with surgically treated lumbar and thoracic spondylodiscitis.