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  • Author or Editor: Mark Bernstein x
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Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Abhijit Guha, Andres Lozano and Mark Bernstein

Object. Many neurosurgeons routinely obtain computerized tomography (CT) scans to rule out hemorrhage in patients after stereotactic procedures. In the present prospective study, the authors investigated the rate of silent hemorrhage and delayed deterioration after stereotactic biopsy sampling and the role of postbiopsy CT scanning.

Methods. A subset of patients (the last 102 of approximately 800 patients) who underwent stereotactic brain biopsies at the Toronto Hospital prospectively underwent routine postoperative CT scanning within hours of the biopsy procedure. Their medical charts and CT scans were then reviewed.

A postoperative CT scan was obtained in 102 patients (aged 17–87 years) who underwent stereotactic biopsy between June 1994 and September 1996. Sixty-one patients (59.8%) exhibited hemorrhages, mostly intracerebral (54.9%), on the immediate postoperative scan. Only six of these patients were clinically suspected to have suffered a hemorrhage based on immediate postoperative neurological deficit; in the remaining 55 (53.9%) of 102 patients, the hemorrhage was clinically silent and unsuspected. Among the clinically silent intracerebral hemorrhages, 22 measured less than 5 mm, 20 between 5 and 10 mm, five between 10 and 30 mm, and four between 30 and 40 mm. Of the 55 patients with clinically silent hemorrhages, only three demonstrated a delayed neurological deficit (one case of seizure and two cases of progressive loss of consciousness) and these all occurred within the first 2 postoperative days. Of the neurologically well patients in whom no hemorrhage was demonstrated on initial postoperative CT scan, none experienced delayed deterioration.

Conclusions. Clinically silent hemorrhage after stereotactic biopsy is very common. However, the authors did not find that knowledge of its existence ultimately affected individual patient management or outcome. The authors, therefore, suggest that the most important role of postoperative CT scanning is to screen for those neurologically well patients with no hemorrhage. These patients could safely be discharged on the same day they underwent biopsy.

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Shobhan Vachhrajani, Charbel Fawaz, David Mathieu, Cynthia Ménard, Michael D. Cusimano, Fred Gentili, Mojgan Hodaie, Brendan Kenny, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Normand Laperriere, Michael Schwartz, May Tsao and Mark Bernstein


Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) is used to treat benign and malignant brain tumors, arteriovenous malformations, trigeminal neuralgia, and other conditions. Patients experience reduced neurological morbidity from GKS compared with open microneurosurgery, but risks of radiation injury and technical limitations persist. The authors report treatment complications from the early experience of 2 Canadian GKS programs in Toronto and Sherbrooke.


In Toronto, a prospective administrative database was searched for adverse events and incomplete treatment administrations. In Sherbrooke, data were acquired by chart review. Patients were accrued until August 1, 2007, and a total of 973 patients were included in this report.


During the radiosurgical procedure, 19 patients (2%) suffered anxiety or syncopal episodes, and 2 patients suffered acute coronary events. Treatments were incompletely administered in 12 patients (1.2%). Severe pain was a delayed complication: 8 patients suffered unexpected headaches, and 9 patients developed severe facial pain. New motor deficits developed in 11 patients, including edema-induced ataxia in 4 and one case of facial weakness after treatment of a vestibular schwannoma. Four patients required shunt placement for symptomatic hydrocephalus, and 16 patients suffered delayed seizures.


Gamma Knife surgery is a minimally invasive treatment modality for many intracranial diseases. Treatment is not risk free, and some patients will develop complications; these are likely to decrease as institutional experience matures. Expanding availability and indications necessitate discussion of these risks with patients considering treatment.