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Kiarash Shahlaie, Joseph C. Watson and Daniel R. Benson

✓ Ivan Petrovich Pavlov and Harvey William Cushing were two of the most prominent neuroscientists of the early 20th century. Their contributions helped advance the understanding of the brain and its disorders, and propelled neuroscience into a new era of research and treatment. Although separated geographically and culturally, Pavlov and Cushing exchanged letters and followed one another's careers from afar. They met only a few times, during international scientific gatherings in the US and abroad. These encounters were captured in journal entries, letters, and photographs, and provide a glimpse into the lives of these two great men and the history of neuroscience at the turn of the last century.

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Krista Keachie, Kiarash Shahlaie and J. Paul Muizelaar

Significant progress has been made in lumbar and cervical disc replacement therapy. Several cervical disc prostheses have recently gained FDA approval. Although arthroplasty has not been previously described in the thoracic spine, selected patients with long-segment fusion to the level of C-7 have altered cervicothoracic and upper thoracic biomechanics and may benefit from motion-preservation therapy for T1–2 disc herniation. Currently, FDA-approved prostheses are indicated only for patients with single-level degenerative disc disease between C-3 and C-7 and no history of cervical arthrodesis.

The authors describe a 52-year-old woman who had previously undergone C3–7 fusion and returned 4 years later with symptoms of C-8 myeloradiculopathy and radiological evidence of T1–2 degenerative disc disease. She underwent T1–2 arthroplasty in which a Prestige artificial cervical disc was placed via an anterior cervicothoracic approach. Motion at C7–T1 and T1–2 was preserved, and the patient made an excellent clinical recovery.

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Nonmissile penetrating spinal injury

Case report and review of the literature

Kiarash Shahlaie, Dongwoo John Chang and John T. Anderson

✓ Nonmissile penetrating spinal injuries (NMPSIs) are rare, even among the population of patients treated in large trauma centers. Patients who present with retained foreign body fragments due to stabbings represent an even smaller subset of NMPSI, and their optimal management is unclear.

The authors report the case of a 42-year-old man who presented to the University of California at Davis Medical Center with a retained knife blade after suffering a stab wound to the lower thoracic spine. They discuss this case in the context of a literature review and propose management options for patients with NMPSIs in whom fragments are retained.

A search of PubMed was undertaken for articles published between 1950 and 2006; the authors found 21 case reports and eight case series in the English-language literature but discovered no published guidelines on the management of cases of NMPSI with retained fragments.

After clinicians undertake appropriate initial trauma evaluation and resuscitation, they should obtain plain x-ray films and computerized tomography scans to delineate the anatomical details of the retained foreign body in relation to the stab wound. Neurosurgical consultation should be undertaken in all patients with an NMPSI, whether or not foreign body fragments are present. Surgical removal of a retained foreign body is generally recommended in these patients because the fragments may lead to a worse neurological outcome. Perioperative antibiotic therapy may be beneficial, but the result depends on the nature of the penetrating agent. There is no documentation in the literature to support the use of steroid agents in patients with NMPSIs.

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Darrin J. Lee, Marike Zwienenberg-Lee, Masud Seyal and Kiarash Shahlaie


Accurate placement of intracranial depth and subdural electrodes is important in evaluating patients with medically refractory epilepsy for possible resection. Confirming electrode locations on postoperative CT scans does not allow for immediate replacement of malpositioned electrodes, and thus revision surgery is required in select cases. Intraoperative CT (iCT) using the Medtronic O-arm device has been performed to detect electrode locations in deep brain stimulation surgery, but its application in epilepsy surgery has not been explored. In the present study, the authors describe their institutional experience in using the O-arm to facilitate accurate placement of intracranial electrodes for epilepsy monitoring.


In this retrospective study, the authors evaluated consecutive patients who had undergone subdural and/or depth electrode implantation for epilepsy monitoring between November 2010 and September 2012. The O-arm device is used to obtain iCT images, which are then merged with the preoperative planning MRI studies and reviewed by the surgical team to confirm final positioning. Minor modifications in patient positioning and operative field preparation are necessary to safely incorporate the O-arm device into routine intracranial electrode implantation surgery. The device does not obstruct surgeon access for bur hole or craniotomy surgery. Depth and subdural electrode locations are easily identified on iCT, which merge with MRI studies without difficulty, allowing the epilepsy surgical team to intraoperatively confirm lead locations.


Depth and subdural electrodes were implanted in 10 consecutive patients by using routine surgical techniques together with preoperative stereotactic planning and intraoperative neuronavigation. No wound infections or other surgical complications occurred. In one patient, the hippocampal depth electrode was believed to be in a suboptimal position and was repositioned before final wound closure. Additionally, 4 strip electrodes were replaced due to suboptimal positioning. Postoperative CT scans did not differ from iCT studies in the first 3 patients in the series and thus were not obtained in the final 7 patients. Overall, operative time was extended by approximately 10–15 minutes for O-arm positioning, less than 1 minute for image acquisition, and approximately 10 minutes for image transfer, fusion, and intraoperative analysis (total time 21–26 minutes).


The O-arm device can be easily incorporated into routine intracranial electrode implantation surgery in standard-sized operating rooms. The technique provides accurate 3D visualization of depth and subdural electrode contacts, and the intraoperative images can be easily merged with preoperative MRI studies to confirm lead positions before final wound closure. Intraoperative CT obviates the need for routine postoperative CT and has the potential to improve the accuracy of intracranial electroencephalography recordings and may reduce the necessity for revision surgery.

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Edward E. Kerr, Ewa Borys, Matthew Bobinski and Kiarash Shahlaie

Calcifying pseudoneoplasms of the neuraxis are rare, poorly understood masses that may arise throughout the CNS. Although these lesions are generally considered benign and noninfiltrative, reports exist that document growth of these masses on serial plain radiographs. The authors report a case of a posterior fossa calcifying pseudoneoplasm of the neuraxis demonstrating interval development of peritumoral edema on serial MRI. Their findings suggest that these lesions may sometimes behave in a more aggressive manner than commonly thought.

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Kiarash Shahlaie, Jonathan Hartman, Garth H. Utter and Rudolph J. Schrot

✓Patients with Chiari malformation (CM) Type I typically experience chronic, slowly progressive symptoms. Rarely, however, do they suffer acute neurological deterioration following an iatrogenic decrease in caudal cerebrospinal fluid pressure due to, for example, a lumbar puncture. To our knowledge, acute neurological deterioration following missile spinal injury in CM has not been previously described.

The authors report on a 16-year-old girl who was shot in the abdomen and lumbar spine. Although neurologically intact on initial workup, she developed precipitous quadriplegia and apnea in a delayed fashion. Tonsillar herniation with medullary compression and cerebellar infarction was diagnosed on magnetic resonance imaging. Suboccipital decompression resulted in significant neurological improvement. Well-formed tonsillar ectopia diagnosed at surgery suggested a preexisting CM.

The authors conclude that missile spinal trauma can precipitate medullary compression and acute neurological decline, especially in patients with preexisting tonsillar ectopia. Immediate operative decompression to relieve impaction at the cervicomedullary junction can result in significant neurological recovery.

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Ripul R. Panchal, Huy T. Duong, Kiarash Shahlaie and Kee D. Kim

Posterior neck deformity with an unsightly crater-like defect may result after cervicothoracic laminectomies. The authors present a new technique, spinous process reconstruction, to address this problem. A 64-year-old man presented with progressive quadriparesis secondary to cervical spondylotic myelopathy. Previously he had undergone multiple neck surgeries including cervicothoracic decompressive laminectomy. Postoperatively, he developed severe craniocervical spinal deformity and a large painful concave surgical defect in the neck. The authors performed craniocervical decompression and craniocervicothoracic instrumented stabilization. At the same time, cervicothoracic spinous process reconstruction was performed using titanium mesh to address the defect. Cervicothoracic decompressive laminectomy results in varying degrees of neck defect with resulting unsightly and an often painful surgical wound defect despite an appropriate multilayer closure. The presented spinous process reconstruction is a simple technique to address this problem with good clinical outcome.

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Azeem O. Oladunjoye, Rudolph J. Schrot, Marike Zwienenberg-Lee, J. Paul Muizelaar and Kiarash Shahlaie


Decompressive craniectomy plays an important role in the management of patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and stroke. Risks of decompressive craniectomy include those associated with cranioplasty, and may be related to adhesions that develop between the brain surface and overlying scalp and temporalis muscle. The authors report their institutional experience using a multilayered technique (collagen and gelatin film barriers) to facilitate safe and rapid cranioplasty following decompressive craniectomy.


The authors conducted a retrospective chart review of 62 consecutive adult and pediatric patients who underwent decompressive craniectomy and subsequent cranioplasty between December 2007 and January 2011. Diagnoses included TBI, ischemic stroke, intraparenchymal hemorrhage, or subarachnoid hemorrhage. A detailed review of clinical charts was performed, including anesthesia records and radiographic study results.


The majority of patients underwent unilateral hemicraniectomy (n = 56), with indications for surgery including midline shift (n = 37) or elevated intracranial pressure (n = 25). Multilayered decompressive craniectomy was safe and easy to perform, and was associated with a low complication rate, minimal operative time, and limited blood loss.


Decompressive craniectomy repair using an absorbable gelatin film barrier facilitates subsequent cranioplasty by preventing adhesions between intracranial contents and the overlying galea aponeurotica and temporalis muscle fascia. This technique makes cranioplasty dissection faster and potentially safer, which may improve clinical outcomes. The indications for gelatin film should be expanded to include placement in the epidural space after craniectomy.

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Kiarash Shahlaie and Griffith R. Harsh IV