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  • Author or Editor: Nicholas C. Bambakidis x
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L. Fernando Gonzalez, Sepideh Amin-Hanjani, Nicholas C. Bambakidis and Robert F. Spetzler

Posterior circulation lesions constitute approximately 10% of all intracranial aneurysms. Their distribution includes the basilar artery (BA) bifurcation, superior cerebellar artery, posterior inferior cerebellar artery, and anterior inferior cerebellar artery. The specific features of a patient's aneurysm and superb anatomical knowledge help the surgeon to choose the most appropriate approach and to tailor it to the patient's situation. The main principle that must be applied is maximization of bone resection. This allows the surgeon to work within a wider corridor, which facilitates the use of surgical instruments and minimizes retraction of the brain.

The management of aneurysms within the posterior circulation requires expertise in skull base and vascular surgery. Endovascular treatments have become increasingly important, but in this paper the authors focus on the surgical management of these difficult aneurysms. The paper is divided into three parts: the first section is a brief review of the anatomy of the BA; the second part is a review of the techniques associated with the management of posterior fossa aneurysms; and in the third section the authors describe the different approaches, their nuances and indications based on the location of the aneurysm, and its relationship to the surrounding bone (especially the clivus, dorsum sellae, and the free edge of the petrous apex).

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Nicholas C. Bambakidis, L. Fernando Gonzalez, Sepideh Amin-Hanjani, Vivek R. Deshmukh, Randall W. Porter, Philip C. Daspit and Robert F. Spetzler

Combined approaches to the skull base provide maximal exposure of the complex and eloquent anatomical structures contained within the posterior fossa. Common to these combined exposures are variable degrees of petrous bone removal. Understanding the advantages of each approach is critical when attempting to balance increases in operative exposure against the risk of potential complications. Despite their risks, aggressive combined exposures to the posterior fossa enable the greatest degree of visualization of the anatomy. Consequently, surgeons can approach lesions with maximal margins of safety, which cannot otherwise be realized. To minimize morbidity in all cases, the approach chosen must be applied individually, depending on the lesion and the patient's characteristics.

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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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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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Sam Safavi-Abbasi, Joseph M. Zabramski, Pushpa Deshmukh, Cassius V. Reis, Nicholas C. Bambakidis, Nicholas Theodore, Neil R. Crawford, Robert F. Spetzler and Mark C. Preul

Object

The authors quantitatively assessed the effects of balloon inflation as a model of tumor compression on the brainstem, cranial nerves, and clivus by measuring the working area, angle of attack, and brain shift associated with the retrosigmoid approach.

Methods

Six silicone-injected cadaveric heads were dissected bilaterally via the retrosigmoid approach. Quantitative data were generated, including key anatomical points on the skull base and brainstem. All parameters were measured before and after inflation of a balloon catheter (inflation volume 4.8 ml, diameter 20 mm) intended to mimic tumor compression.

Results

Balloon inflation significantly shifted (p < 0.001) the brainstem and cranial nerve foramina (mean [± standard deviation] displacement of upper brainstem, 10.2 ± 3.7 mm; trigeminal nerve exit, 6.99 ± 2.38 mm; facial nerve exit, 9.52 ± 4.13 mm; and lower brainstem, 13.63 ± 8.45 mm). The area of exposure at the petroclivus was significantly greater with balloon inflation than without (change, 316.26 ± 166.75 mm2; p < 0.0001). Before and after balloon inflation, there was no significant difference in the angles of attack at the origin of the trigeminal nerve (p > 0.5).

Conclusions

This study adds an experimental component to the emerging field of quantitative neurosurgical anatomy. Balloon inflation can be used to model the effects of a mass lesion. The tumor simulation created “natural” retraction and an opening toward the upper clivus. The findings may be helpful in selecting a surgical approach to increase the working space for resection of certain extraaxial tumors.

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Nicholas C. Bambakidis, John Butler, Eric M. Horn, Xukui Wang, Mark C. Preul, Nicholas Theodore, Robert F. Spetzler and Volker K. H. Sonntag

✓ The development of an acute traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) inevitably leads to a complex cascade of ischemia and inflammation that results in significant scar tissue formation. The development of such scar tissue provides a severe impediment to neural regeneration and healing with restoration of function. A multimodal approach to treatment is required because SCIs occur with differing levels of severity and over different lengths of time. To achieve significant breakthroughs in outcomes, such approaches must combine both neuroprotective and neuroregenerative treatments. Novel techniques modulating endogenous stem cells demonstrate great promise in promoting neuroregeneration and restoring function.

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Nicholas C. Bambakidis, Eric M. Horn, Peter Nakaji, Nicholas Theodore, Elizabeth Bless, Tammy Dellovade, Chiyuan Ma, Xukui Wang, Mark C. Preul, Stephen W. Coons, Robert F. Spetzler and Volker K. H. Sonntag

Object

Sonic hedgehog (Shh) is a glycoprotein molecule that upregulates the transcription factor Gli1. The Shh protein plays a critical role in the proliferation of endogenous neural precursor cells when directly injected into the spinal cord after a spinal cord injury in adult rodents. Small-molecule agonists of the hedgehog (Hh) pathway were used in an attempt to reproduce these findings through intravenous administration.

Methods

The expression of Gli1 was measured in rat spinal cord after the intravenous administration of an Hh agonist. Ten adult rats received a moderate contusion and were treated with either an Hh agonist (10 mg/kg, intravenously) or vehicle (5 rodents per group) 1 hour and 4 days after injury. The rats were killed 5 days postinjury. Tissue samples were immediately placed in fixative. Samples were immunohistochemically stained for neural precursor cells, and these cells were counted.

Results

Systemic dosing with an Hh agonist significantly upregulated Gli1 expression in the spinal cord (p < 0.005). After spinal contusion, animals treated with the Hh agonist had significantly more nestin-positive neural precursor cells around the rim of the lesion cavity than in vehicle-treated controls (means ± SDs, 46.9 ± 12.9 vs 20.9 ± 8.3 cells/hpf, respectively, p < 0.005). There was no significant difference in the area of white matter injury between the groups.

Conclusions

An intravenous Hh agonist at doses that upregulate spinal cord Gli1 transcription also increases the population of neural precursor cells after spinal cord injury in adult rats. These data support previous findings based on injections of Shh protein directly into the spinal cord.