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Sam Safavi-Abbasi, Timothy B. Mapstone, Jacob B. Archer, Christopher Wilson, Nicholas Theodore, Robert F. Spetzler and Mark C. Preul

An understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of tethered cord syndrome (TCS) and modern management strategies have only developed within the past few decades. Current understanding of this entity first began with the understanding and management of spina bifida; this later led to the gradual recognition of spina bifida occulta and the symptoms associated with tethering of the filum terminale. In the 17th century, Dutch anatomists provided the first descriptions and initiated surgical management efforts for spina bifida. In the 19th century, the term “spina bifida occulta” was coined and various presentations of spinal dysraphism were appreciated. The association of urinary, cutaneous, and skeletal abnormalities with spinal dysraphism was recognized in the 20th century. Early in the 20th century, some physicians began to suspect that traction on the conus medullaris caused myelodysplasia-related symptoms and that prophylactic surgical management could prevent the occurrence of clinical manifestations. It was not, however, until later in the 20th century that the term “tethered spinal cord” and the modern management of TCS were introduced. This gradual advancement in understanding at a time before the development of modern imaging modalities illustrates how, over the centuries, anatomists, pathologists, neurologists, and surgeons used clinical examination, a high level of suspicion, and interest in the subtle and overt clinical appearances of spinal dysraphism and TCS to advance understanding of pathophysiology, clinical appearance, and treatment of this entity. With the availability of modern imaging, spinal dysraphism can now be diagnosed and treated as early as the intrauterine stage.

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Nikolay L. Martirosyan, M. Yashar S. Kalani, G. Michael Lemole Jr., Robert F. Spetzler, Mark C. Preul and Nicholas Theodore

OBJECT

The arterial basket of the conus medullaris (ABCM) consists of 1 or 2 arteries arising from the anterior spinal artery (ASA) and circumferentially connecting the ASA and the posterior spinal arteries (PSAs). The arterial basket can be involved in arteriovenous fistulas and arteriovenous malformations of the conus. In this article, the authors describe the microsurgical anatomy of the ABCM with emphasis on its morphometric parameters and important role in the intrinsic blood supply of the conus medullaris.

METHODS

The authors performed microsurgical dissections on 16 formalin-fixed human spinal cords harvested within 24 hours of death. The course, diameter, and branching angles of the arteries comprising the ABCM were then identified and measured. In addition, histological sections were obtained to identify perforating vessels arising from the ABCM.

RESULTS

The ASA tapers as it nears the conus medullaris (mean preconus diameter 0.7 ± 0.12 mm vs mean conus diameter 0.38 ± 0.08 mm). The ASA forms an anastomotic basket with the posterior spinal artery (PSA) via anastomotic branches. In most of the specimens (n= 13, 81.3%), bilateral arteries formed connections between the ASA and PSA. However, in the remaining specimens (n= 3, 18.7%), a unilateral right-sided anastomotic artery was identified. The mean diameter of the right ABCM branch was 0.49 ± 0.13 mm, and the mean diameter of the left branch was 0.53 ± 0.14 mm. The mean branching angles of the arteries forming the anastomotic basket were 95.9° ± 36.6° and 90° ± 34.3° for the right- and left-sided arteries, respectively. In cases of bilateral arterial anastomoses between the ASA and PSA, the mean distance between the origins of the arteries was 4.5 ± 3.3 mm. Histological analysis revealed numerous perforating vessels supplying tissue of the conus medullaris.

CONCLUSIONS

The ABCM is a critical anastomotic connection between the ASA and PSA, which play an important role in the intrinsic blood supply of the conus medullaris. The ABCM provides an important compensatory function in the blood supply of the spinal cord. Its involvement in conus medullaris vascular malformations makes it a critical anatomical structure.

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Nikolay L. Martirosyan, Jeanne S. Feuerstein, Nicholas Theodore, Daniel D. Cavalcanti, Robert F. Spetzler and Mark C. Preul

The authors present a review of spinal cord blood supply, discussing the anatomy of the vascular system and physiological aspects of blood flow regulation in normal and injured spinal cords. Unique anatomical functional properties of vessels and blood supply determine the susceptibility of the spinal cord to damage, especially ischemia. Spinal cord injury (SCI), for example, complicating thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm repair is associated with ischemic trauma. The rate of this devastating complication has been decreased significantly by instituting physiological methods of protection. Traumatic SCI causes complex changes in spinal cord blood flow, which are closely related to the severity of injury. Manipulating physiological parameters such as mean arterial blood pressure and intrathecal pressure may be beneficial for patients with an SCI. Studying the physiopathological processes of the spinal cord under vascular compromise remains challenging because of its central role in almost all of the body's hemodynamic and neurofunctional processes.

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Rudolf Ludwig Karl Virchow: pathologist, physician, anthropologist, and politician

Implications of his work for the understanding of cerebrovascular pathology and stroke

Sam Safavi-Abbasi, Cassius Reis, Melanie C. Talley, Nicholas Theodore, Peter Nakaji, Robert F. Spetzler and Mark C. Preul

✓ The history of apoplexy and descriptions of stroke symptoms date back to ancient times. It was not until the mid-nineteenth century, however, that the contributions of Rudolf Ludwig Karl Virchow, including his descriptions of the phenomena he called “embolism” and “thrombosis” as well as the origins of ischemia, changed the understanding of stroke. He suggested three main factors that conduce to venous thrombosis, which are now known as the Virchow triad. He also showed that portions of what he called a “thrombus” could detach and form an “embolus.” Thus, Virchow coined these terms to describe the pathogenesis of the disorder. It was also not until 1863 that Virchow recognized and differentiated almost all of the common types of intracranial malformations: telangiectatic venous malformations, arterial malformations, arteriovenous malformations, cystic angiomas (possibly what are now called hemangioblastomas), and transitional types of these lesions. This article is a review of the contributions of Rudolf Virchow to the current understanding of cerebrovascular pathology, and a summary of the life of this extraordinary personality in his many roles as physician, pathologist, anthropologist, ethnologist, and politician.

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Eric M. Horn, Nicholas Theodore, Rachid Assina, Robert F. Spetzler, Volker K. H. Sonntag and Mark C. Preul

Object

Venous stasis and intrathecal hypertension are believed to play a significant role in the hypoperfusion present in the spinal cord following injury. Lowering the intrathecal pressure via cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) drainage has been effective in treating spinal cord ischemia during aorta surgery. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether CSF drainage increases spinal cord perfusion and improves outcome after spinal injury in an animal model.

Methods

Anesthetized adult rabbits were subjected to a severe contusion spinal cord injury (SCI). Cerebrospinal fluid was then drained via a catheter to lower the intrathecal pressure by 10 mm Hg. Tissue perfusion was assessed at the site of injury, and values obtained before and after CSF drainage were compared. Two other cohorts of animals were subjected to SCI: 1 group subsequently underwent CSF drainage and the other did not. Results of histological analysis, motor evoked potential and motor function testing were compared between the 2 cohorts at 4 weeks postinjury.

Results

Cerebrospinal fluid drainage led to no significant improvement in spinal cord tissue perfusion. Four weeks after injury, the animals that underwent CSF drainage demonstrated significantly smaller areas of tissue damage at the injury site. There were no differences in motor evoked potentials or motor score outcomes at 4 weeks postinjury.

Conclusions

Cerebrospinal fluid drainage effectively lowers intrathecal pressure and decreases the amount of tissue damage in an animal model of spinal cord injury. Further studies are needed to determine whether different draining regimens can improve motor or electrophysiological outcomes.

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Patrick P. Han, Nicholas Theodore, Randall W. Porter, Paul W. Detwiler, MichaeL T. Lawton and Robert F. Spetzler

✓ The authors report a patient in whom a subdural hematoma developed from a Type I spinal arteriovenous malformation (AVM). The patient became symptomatic with back pain, and magnetic resonance imaging revealed a spinal subdural hematoma. Selective spinal angiography, however, failed to demonstrate a pathological process. The patient underwent exploratory laminoplasty that revealed a subdural extraarachnoid hematoma with an underlying Type I spinal AVM, which was surgically obliterated. The patient recovered completely. Subdural hematomas that affect the spine are rare. Although a negative result was obtained using selective spinal angiography, exploratory surgery should be considered for the evacuation of a subdural hematoma and possibly for the definitive treatment of a spinal AVM.

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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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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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Daniel D. Cavalcanti, Nikolay L. Martirosyan, Ketan Verma, Sam Safavi-Abbasi, Randall W. Porter, Nicholas Theodore, Volker K. H. Sonntag, Curtis A. Dickman and Robert F. Spetzler

Object

Schwannomas occupying the craniocervical junction (CCJ) are rare and usually originate from the jugular foramen, hypoglossal nerves, and C-1 and C-2 nerves. Although they may have different origins, they may share the same symptoms, surgical approaches, and complications. An extension of these lesions along the posterior fossa cisterns, foramina, and spinal canal—usually involving various cranial nerves (CNs) and the vertebral and cerebellar arteries—poses a surgical challenge. The primary goals of both surgical and radiosurgical management of schwannomas in the CCJ are the preservation and restoration of function of the lower CNs, and of hearing and facial nerve function. The origins of schwannomas in the CCJ and their clinical presentation, surgical management, adjuvant stereotactic radiosurgery, and outcomes in 36 patients treated at Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) are presented.

Methods

Between 1989 and 2009, 36 patients (mean age 43.6 years, range 17–68 years) with craniocervical schwannomas underwent surgical resection at BNI. The records were reviewed retrospectively regarding clinical presentation, radiographic assessment, surgical approaches, adjuvant therapies, and follow-up outcomes.

Results

Headache or neck pain was present in 72.2% of patients. Cranial nerve impairments, mainly involving the vagus nerve, were present in 14 patients (38.9%). Motor deficits were found in 27.8% of the patients. Sixteen tumors were intra- and extradural, 15 were intradural, and 5 were extradural. Gross-total resection was achieved in 25 patients (69.4%). Adjunctive radiosurgery was used in the management of residual tumor in 8 patients; tumor control was ultimately obtained in all cases.

Conclusions

Surgical removal, which is the treatment of choice, is curative when schwannomas in the CCJ are excised completely. The far-lateral approach and its variations are our preferred approaches for managing these lesions. Most common complications involve deficits of the lower CNs, and their early recognition and rehabilitation are needed. Stereotactic radiosurgery, an important tool for the management of these tumors as adjuvant therapy, can help decrease morbidity rates.