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Michael J. Rauzzino, R. Shane Tubbs, Eben Alexander III, Paul A. Grabb and W. Jerry Oakes


Neurenteric cysts are infrequently reported congenital abnormalities believed to be derived from an abnormal connection between the primitive endoderm and ectoderm. The authors report a series of 13 patients treated over a 50-year period.


Of the 13 patients, seven were female and six were male. Their ages at presentation ranged widely from 5 weeks to 52 years of age. Children presented more commonly with cutaneous stigmata of occult spinal dysraphism (OSD) whereas adults presented primarily with pain. Neurological deficit as a presenting symptom was less common in our series, a finding that reflects the slow growth of these lesions. In all but one patient some form of vertebral anomaly was associated with the cystic lesions, including two patients with Klippel–Feil abnormalities. There was a high incidence of associated forms of OSD including split cord malformation, lipoma, dermal sinus tract, and tethered spinal cord. In previous reports the authors have suggested that neurenteric cysts are more common in the cervical region and in a position ventral to the cord. In the present series these cysts most commonly occurred as intradural, extramedullary masses in the thoracolumbar region, situated dorsal to the spinal cord. The median follow-up period was 7.5 years, and postoperative outcome reflected a patient's preoperative neurological status; in no patient was outcome worsened due to surgery.


Complete excision of the neurenteric cyst remains the treatment of choice, as subtotal excision is associated with recurrence.

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Eben Alexander Jr.

✓ Preparation for surgical care of the wounded in a two-theater war was extensive and skillfully organized by Michael DeBakey, one of the prime advisors to the Surgeon General of the Army, and by his colleague, Eli Ginzberg, Ph.D. Some of the ways in which this organization was carried out are described.

Although the number of neurosurgeons who can recall any involvement of neurosurgery in World War II is diminishing, there remain a significant number who do remember such involvement, many of whom have helped to provide information for this article.

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Dennis C. Shrieve, Eben Alexander III, Peter McL. Black, Patrick Y. Wen, Howard A. Fine, Hanne M. Kooy and Jay S. Loeffler

Object. To assess the value of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) as adjunct therapy in patients suffering from glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the authors analyzed their experience with 78 patients.

Methods. Between June 1988 and January 1995, 78 patients underwent SRS as part of their initial treatment for GBM. All patients had undergone initial surgery or biopsy confirming the diagnosis of GBM and received conventional external beam radiotherapy. Stereotactic radiosurgery was performed using a dedicated 6-MV stereotactic linear accelerator. Thirteen patients were alive at the time of analysis with a median follow-up period of 40.8 months. The median length of actuarial survival for all patients was 19.9 months. Twelve- and 24-month survival rates were 88.5% and 35.9%, respectively. Patient age and Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) class were significant prognostic indicators according to univariate analysis (p < 0.05). Twenty-three patients aged younger than 40 years had a median survival time of 48.6 months compared with 55 older patients who had 18.2 months (p < 0.001). Patients in this series fell into RTOG Classes III (27 patients), IV (29 patients), or V (22 patients). Class III patients had a median survival time of 29.5 months following diagnosis; this was significantly longer than median survival times for Classes IV and V, which were 19.2 and 18.2 months, respectively (p = 0.001). Only patient age (< 40 years) was a significant prognostic factor according to multivariate analysis. Acute complications were unusual and limited to exacerbation of existing symptoms. There were no new neuropathies secondary to SRS. Thirty-nine patients (50%) underwent reoperation for symptomatic necrosis or recurrent tumor. The rate of reoperation at 24 months following SRS was 54.8%.

Conclusions. The addition of a radiosurgery boost appears to confer a survival advantage to selected patients.

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Richard B. Schwartz, B. Leonard Holman, Joseph F. Polak, Basem M. Garada, Marc S. Schwartz, Rebecca Folkerth, Paulo A. Carvalho, Jay S. Loeffler, Dennis C. Shrieve, Peter McL. Black and Eben Alexander III

Object. The study was conducted to determine the association between dual-isotope single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) scanning and histopathological findings of tumor recurrence and survival in patients treated with high-dose radiotherapy for glioblastoma multiforme.

Methods. Studies in which SPECT with 201Tl and 99mTc-hexamethypropyleneamine oxime (HMPAO) were used were performed 1 day before reoperation in 47 patients with glioblastoma multiforme who had previously been treated by surgery and high-dose radiotherapy. Maximum uptake of 201Tl in the lesion was expressed as a ratio to that in the contralateral scalp, and uptake of 99mTc-HMPAO was expressed as a ratio to that in the cerebellar cortex. Patients were stratified into groups based on the maximum radioisotope uptake values in their tumor beds. The significance of differences in patient gender, histological characteristics of tissue at reoperation, and SPECT uptake group with respect to 1-year survival was elucidated by using the chi-square statistic. Comparisons of patient ages and time to tumor recurrence as functions of 1-year survival were made using the t-test.

Survival data at 1 year were presented according to the Kaplan—Meier method, and the significance of potential differences was evaluated using the log-rank method. The effects of different variables (tumor type, time to recurrence, and SPECT grouping) on long-term survival were evaluated using Cox proportional models that controlled for age and gender.

All patients in Group I (201Tl ratio < 2 and 99mTc-HMPAO ratio < 0.5) showed radiation changes in their biopsy specimens: they had an 83.3% 1-year survival rate. Group II patients (201T1 ratio < 2 and 99mTc-HMPAO ratio of ≥ 0.5 or 201Tl ratio between 2 and 3.5 regardless of 99mTc-HMPAO ratio) had predominantly infiltrating tumor (66.6%); they had a 29.2% 1-year survival rate. Almost all of the patients in Group III (201Tl ratio > 3.5 and 99mTc-HMPAO ratio ≥ 0.5) had solid tumor (88.2%) and they had a 6.7% 1-year survival rate. Histological data were associated with 1-year survival (p < 0.01); however, SPECT grouping was more closely associated with 1-year survival (p < 0.001) and was the only variable significantly associated with long-term survival (p < 0.005).

Conclusions. Dual-isotope SPECT data correlate with histopathological findings made at reoperation and with survival in patients with malignant gliomas after surgical and high-dose radiation therapy.

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Claudia Martin, Eben Alexander III, Terry Wong, Richard Schwartz, Ferenc Jolesz and Peter McL. Black

Radical resection of low-grade gliomas can decrease the incidence of recurrence, the time to tumor progression, and the incidence of malignant transformation. The authors present a series of 25 patients who underwent craniotomy and resection of low-grade tumor in an intraoperative magnetic resonance (MR) imager. This is an open configuration 0.5-tesla imager developed by The Brigham and Women's Hospital and General Electric, in which a patient can be placed to undergo surgery. Gross-total removal was accomplished under real-time image guidance. These intraoperative images allow definitive localization and targeting of the lesions and accommodate anatomical changes that may occur during surgery. The authors consistently found that the extent of abnormality seen on the intraoperatively obtained films of resection was larger than that apparent in the surgical field of view alone. Intraoperative imaging made accurate surgical identification of these abnormal areas and subsequent resection possible. Patients with tumors adjacent to or within motor or language cortex underwent resection while awake, with monitoring of neurological function. In these cases, an aggressive resection without increased neurological morbidity was accomplished using the image guidance in conjunction with serial testing. A 1-month postoperative MR image was obtained in all patients. These correlated with the final intraoperative images obtained after the resection was completed. Only one patient had a mild postoperative deficit that remained at the 1-month follow-up examination. As the long-term outcome in patients with low-grade gliomas has been shown to correspond to the degree of resection, surgical resection in which intraoperative MR imaging guidance is used can be an invaluable modality in the treatment of these tumors.

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Richard B. Schwartz, B. Leonard Holman, Basem M. Garada, Paulo A. Carvalho, Rebecca Folkerth, Marc S. Schwartz, Jay S. Loeffler, Dennis C. Shrieve, Joseph F. Polak, Peter McL. Black and Eben Alexander III

This study was conducted to determine the sensitivity of dual-isotope single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) in predicting tumor recurrence and survival in patients treated with high-dose radiotherapy for malignant gliomas.

Studies using SPECT with thallium-201 (Tl-201) and technetium-99m (Tc-99m) hexamethypropyleneamine oxime (HMPAO) in 50 consecutive patients with malignant astrocytomas treated by surgery and high-dose radiotherapy were performed 1 day before reoperation. Maximum uptake of Tl-201 in the lesion was expressed as a ratio to that of the contralateral scalp, and uptake of Tc-99m HMPAO was expressed as a ratio to that of the cerebellar cortex. Patients were stratified into groups based on maximum radioisotope uptake values in their tumor beds. Differences in tumor histopathology at reoperation and 1-year survival between SPECT groups were determined by using chi-square analysis.

The majority of patients in Group IA (Tl-201 ratio less than 2 or Tc-99m HMPAO ratio less than 0.5) showed radiation changes in their biopsy specimens (85.7%); they had an 85.7% 1-year survival rate. Group II (Tl-201 ratio between 2 and 3.5) had predominantly infiltrating tumor (78.6%); they had a 42% 1-year survival rate. Almost all of the patients in Group III (Tl-201 ratio greater than 3.5) had solid tumor (93.3%) and they had a 6.7% 1-year survival. Survival and pathological data differed significantly among groups (p less than 0.009).

Dual-isotope SPECT data correlates with histological findings on reoperation and postoperative survival in patients with malignant gliomas.

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Michael Schulder, Jay S. Loeffler, Anthony E. Howes, Eben Alexander III and Peter McL. Black

✓ Harvey Cushing performed over 2000 operations on patients with brain tumors, including 832 for gliomas. He implanted radioactive radium needles, known as a “radium bomb,” in a small number of these patients. He was not impressed with the results and did not pursue this method of treatment in a serious way. The authors present here Cushing's little-known experience with brachytherapy and discuss the reasons for his lack of interest in this technique, despite his advocacy of radiotherapy for certain lesions. An interesting perspective is offered for contemporary neurosurgeons involved in the treatment of brain tumors with cranial irradiation.

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Eben Alexander III, Hanne M. Kooy, Marcel van Herk, Marc Schwartz, Patrick D. Barnes, Nancy Tarbell, Robert V. Mulkern, Edward J. Holupka and Jay S. Loeffler

✓ Distortions of the magnetic field, such as those caused by susceptibility artifacts and peripheral magnetic field warping, can limit geometric precision in the use of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in stereotactic procedures. The authors have routinely found systematic error in MR stereotactic coordinates with a median of 4 mm compared to computerized tomography (CT) coordinates. This error may place critical neural structures in jeopardy in some procedures. A description is given of an image fusion technique that uses a chamfer matching algorithm; the advantages of MR imaging in anatomical definition are combined with the geometric precision of CT, while eliminating most of the anatomical spatial distortion of stereotactic MR imaging.

A stereotactic radiosurgical case is presented in which the use of MR localization alone would have led to both irradiation of vital neural structures outside the desired target volume and underdose of the intended target volume. The image fusion approach allows for the use of MR imaging, combined with stereotactic CT, as a reliable localizing technique for stereotactic neurosurgery and radiosurgery.