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Jens Fichtner, Erdem Güresir, Volker Seifert and Andreas Raabe

Object

Catheter-related infection of CSF is a potentially life-threatening complication of external ventricular drainage (EVD). When using EVD catheters, contact between the ventricular system and skin surface occurs and CSF infection is possible. The aim of this analysis was to compare the efficacy of silver-bearing EVD catheters for reducing the incidence of infection with standard nonimpregnated EVD catheters in neurosurgical patients with acute hydrocephalus.

Methods

Two hundred thirty-one consecutive patients were retrospectively reviewed. Of these, 164 were enrolled in the final analysis. Six patient charts were incomplete or missing, 15 patients were excluded because of catheter insertion within the previous 30 days, 6 because of a suspected CSF infection before ventriculostomy, 7 because the catheter was removed < 24 hours after insertion, and 33 patients because of the requirement of bilateral ventriculostomy. The control group with standard nonimpregnated EVD catheters consisted of 90 patients. The study group with silver-bearing EVDs consisted of 74 patients. For assessing the primary outcome, the authors recorded all CSF samples and liquor cell counts routinely obtained in sterile fashion. After removal of the catheters, they also reviewed microbiology reports of the removed catheters to assess colonization of the catheter tips.

Results

The occurrence of a positive CSF culture, colonization of the catheter tip, or liquor pleocytosis (white blood cell count > 4/μl) was ~ 2 times less in the study group with silver-bearing EVD catheters than that in the control group (18.9% compared with 33.7%, p = 0.04). Positive CSF cultures alone occurred 2 times less frequently for microorganisms in the study group (2.7% compared with 4.7%, p = 0.55). Silver-bearing catheters were 4 times less likely to become colonized as nonimpregnated EVDs (1.4% compared with 5.8%, p = 0.14). Liquor pleocytosis was half as likely in the study group (17.6% compared with 30.2%, p = 0.06).

Conclusions

Although of limited sample size and thus underpowered for subgroup analysis, this analysis indicates that EVD catheters impregnated with silver nanoparticles and an insoluble silver salt may reduce the risk of catheter-related infections in neurosurgical patients.

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Matthias Setzer, Ryan D. Murtagh, F. Reed Murtagh, Mohammed Eleraky, Surbhi Jain, Gerhard Marquardt, Volker Seifert and Frank D. Vrionis

Object

The aim of this retrospective study was to evaluate the predictive value of diffusion tensor (DT) imaging with respect to resectability of intramedullary spinal cord tumors and to determine the concordance of this method with intraoperative surgical findings.

Methods

Diffusion tensor imaging was performed in 14 patients with intramedullary lesions of the spinal cord at different levels using a 3-T magnet. Routine MR imaging scans were also obtained, including unenhanced and enhanced T1-weighted images and T2-weighted images. Patients were classified according to the fiber course with respect to the lesion and their lesions were rated as resectable or nonresectable. These results were compared with the surgical findings (existence vs absence of cleavage plane). The interrater reliability was calculated using the κ coefficient of Cohen.

Results

Of the 14 patients (7 male, 7 female; mean age 49.2 ± 15.5 years), 13 had tumors (8 ependymomas, 2 lymphomas, and 3 astrocytoma). One lesion was proven to be a multiple sclerosis plaque during further diagnostic workup. The lesions could be classified into 3 types according to the fiber course. In Type 1 (5 cases) fibers did not pass through the solid lesion. In Type 2 (3 cases) some fibers crossed the lesion, but most of the lesion volume did not contain fibers. In Type 3 (6 cases) the fibers were completely encased by tumor. Based on these results, 6 tumors were considered resectable, 7 were not. During surgery, 7 tumors showed a good cleavage plane, 6 did not. The interrater reliability (Cohen κ) was calculated as 0.83 (p < 0.003), which is considered to represent substantial agreement. The mean duration of follow-up was 12.0 ± 2.9. The median McCormick grade at the end of follow-up was II.

Conclusions

These preliminary data suggest that DT imaging in patients with spinal cord tumors is capable of predicting the resectability of the lesion. A further prospective study is needed to confirm these results and any effect on patient outcome.

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Erdem Güresir, Hartmut Vatter, Patrick Schuss, Ági Oszvald, Andreas Raabe, Volker Seifert and Jürgen Beck

Object

The object of this study was to describe the rapid closure technique in decompressive craniectomy without duraplasty and its use in a large cohort of consecutive patients.

Methods

Between 1999 and 2008, supratentorial rapid closure decompressive craniectomy (RCDC) was performed 341 times in 318 patients at the authors' institution. Cases were stratified as 1) traumatic brain injury, 2) subarachnoid hemorrhage, 3) intracerebral hemorrhage, 4) cerebral infarction, and 5) other. A large bone flap was removed and the dura mater was opened in a stellate fashion. Duraplasty was not performed—that is, the dura was not sutured, and a dural substitute was neither sutured in nor layed on. The dura and exposed brain tissue were covered with hemostyptic material (Surgicel). Surgical time and complications of this procedure including follow-up (> 6 months) were recorded. After 3–6 months cranioplasty was performed, and, again, surgical time and any complications were recorded.

Results

Rapid closure decompressive craniectomy was feasible in all cases. Complications included superficial wound healing disturbance (3.5% of procedures), abscess (2.6%) and CSF fistula (0.6%); the mean surgical time (± SD) was 69 ± 20 minutes. Cranioplasty was performed in 196 cases; the mean interval (± SD) from craniectomy to cranioplasty was 118 ± 40 days. Complications of cranioplasty included epidural hematoma (4.1%), abscess (2.6%), wound healing disturbance (6.1%), and CSF fistula (1%).

Compared with the results reported in the literature for decompressive craniectomy with duraplasty followed by cranioplasty, there were no significant differences in the frequency of complications. However, surgical time for RCDC was significantly shorter (69 ± 20 vs 129 ± 43 minutes, p < 0.0001).

Conclusions

The present analysis of the largest series reported to date reveals that the rapid closure technique is feasible and safe in decompressive craniectomy. The surgical time is significantly shorter without increased complication rates or additional complications. Cranioplasty after a RCDC procedure was also feasible, fast, safe and not impaired by the RCDC technique.

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Patrick Schuss, Erdem Güresir, Joachim Berkefeld, Volker Seifert and Hartmut Vatter

Object

Intracranial aneurysms of the anterior circulation might become symptomatic by causing visual deficits. The influence of treatment modality on improvement is still unclear. The objective of this study was to analyze the recovery of visual deficits caused by the mass effect of intracranial aneurysms after surgical clipping or endovascular treatment.

Methods

Between June 1999 and December 2009, 20 patients with unruptured intracranial aneurysms causing visual dysfunction due to compression of the optical nerve were treated at the authors' institution. Visual deficits were recorded at admission and at follow-up. To evaluate a larger number of patients, MEDLINE was searched for published studies involving visual disturbance caused by an aneurysm. A multivariate analysis was performed to find independent predictors for favorable visual outcome.

Results

Nine (75%) of 12 patients treated surgically achieved improvement of visual symptoms, compared with 3 (38%) of 8 patients treated endovascularly. A literature review, including the current series, revealed a total of 165 patients with UIAs causing visual dysfunction. Surgical treatment was associated with a significantly higher rate of visual improvement (p = 0.002) compared with endovascular treatment. According to the multivariate analysis, surgical clipping was the only variable significantly associated with improvement of visual outcome (p = 0.02).

Conclusions

Aneurysm-related visual dysfunction developed from direct mechanical compression may improve after surgical clipping and endovascular coiling. However, based on the present series combined with pooled analysis of data from the literature, the only factor significantly associated with improvement of visual dysfunction was surgical clipping.

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Andrew E. Sloan

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Ági Oszvald, Erdem Güresir, Matthias Setzer, Hartmut Vatter, Christian Senft, Volker Seifert and Kea Franz

Object

The objective of this study was to analyze whether age influences the outcome of patients with glioblastoma and whether elderly patients with glioblastoma can tolerate the same aggressive treatment as younger patients.

Methods

Data from 361 consecutive patients with newly diagnosed cerebral glioblastoma (2000–2006) who underwent regular follow-up evaluation from initial diagnosis until death were prospectively entered into a database. Patients underwent resection (complete, subtotal, or partial) or biopsy, depending on tumor size, location, and Karnofsky Performance Scale score. Following surgery, all patients underwent adjuvant treatment consisting of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or combined treatment. Patients older than 65 years of age were defined as elderly (146 total).

Results

Two hundred thirty-four patients underwent tumor resection (complete 26%, subtotal 29%, and partial 45%). One hundred twenty-seven underwent biopsy. Mean patient age was 61 years, and overall survival was 11.6 ± 12.1 months. The overall survival of elderly patients (9.1 ± 11.6 months) was significantly lower than that of younger patients (14.9 ± 16.7 months; p = 0.0001). Stratifying between resection or biopsy, age was a negative prognostic factor in patients undergoing biopsy (4.0 ± 7.1 vs 7.9 ± 8.7 months; p = 0.007), but not in patients undergoing tumor resection (13.0 ± 8.5 vs 13.3 ± 14.5 months; p = 0.86). Survival of elderly patients undergoing complete tumor resection was 17.7 ± 8.1 months.

Conclusions

In this series of patients with glioblastoma, age was a prognostic factor in patients undergoing biopsy, but not in patients undergoing resection. Tumor location and patient clinical status may prohibit extensive resection, but resection should not be withheld from patients only on the basis of age. In elderly patients with glioblastoma, undergoing resection to the extent feasible, followed by adjuvant therapies, is warranted.

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Giuseppe Lanzino

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Erdem Güresir, Patrick Schuss, Volker Seifert and Hartmut Vatter

Object

Resolution of oculomotor nerve palsy (ONP) after clipping of posterior communicating artery (PCoA) aneurysms has been well documented. However, whether additional decompression of the oculomotor nerve via aneurysm sac dissection or resection is superior to pure aneurysm clipping is the subject of much debate. Therefore, the objective in the present investigation was to analyze the influence of surgical strategy—specifically, clipping with or without aneurysm dissection—on ONP resolution.

Methods

Between June 1999 and December 2010, 18 consecutive patients with ruptured and unruptured PCoA aneurysms causing ONP were treated at the authors' institution. Oculomotor nerve palsy was evaluated on admission and at follow-up. The electronic database MEDLINE was searched for additional data in published studies of PCoA aneurysms causing ONP. Two reviewers independently extracted data.

Results

Overall, 8 studies from the literature review and 6 patients in the current series (121 PCoA aneurysms) met the study inclusion criteria. Ninety-four aneurysms were treated with simple aneurysm neck clipping and 27 with clipping plus aneurysm sac decompression. The surgical strategy, simple aneurysm neck clipping versus clipping plus oculomotor nerve decompression, had no effect on full ONP resolution on univariate (p = 0.5) and multivariate analyses. On multivariate analysis, patients with incomplete ONP at admission were more likely to have full resolution of the palsy than were those with complete ONP at admission (p = 0.03, OR = 4.2, 95% CI 1.1–16).

Conclusions

Data in the present study indicated that ONP caused by PCoA aneurysms improves after clipping without and with oculomotor nerve decompression. The resolution of ONP is inversely associated with the initial severity of ONP.

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Stephan Dützmann, Florian Geßler, Gerhard Marquardt, Volker Seifert and Christian Senft

Object

The authors performed a study to evaluate whether preoperative assessment of prothrombin time (PT) is mandatory in patients undergoing routinely planned neurosurgical procedures.

Methods

The charts of all patients admitted to general wards of the authors' department for routinely planned surgery (excluding trauma and ICU patients) between 2006 and 2010 were retrospectively reviewed. The authors assessed preoperative PT and the clinical courses of all patients, with special consideration for patients receiving coagulation factor substitution. All cases involving hemorrhagic complications were analyzed in detail with regard to pre- and postoperative PT abnormalities. Prothrombin time was expressed as the international normalized ratio, and values greater than 1.28 were regarded as elevated.

Results

Clinical courses and PT values of 4310 patients were reviewed. Of these, 33 patients (0.7%) suffered hemorrhagic complications requiring repeat surgery. Thirty-one patients (94%) had a normal PT before the initial operation, while 2 patients had slightly elevated PT values of 1.33 and 1.65, which were anticipated based on the patient's history. In the latter 2 cases, surgery was performed without prior correction of PT. Preoperatively, PT was elevated in 78 patients (1.8%). In 73 (93.6%) of the 78 patients, the PT elevation was expected and explained by each patient's medical history. In only 5 (0.1%) of 4310 patients did we find an unexpected PT elevation (mean 1.53, range 1.37–1.74). All 5 patients underwent surgery without complications, while 2 had received coagulation factor substitution preoperatively, as requested by the surgeon, because of an estimated risk of bleeding complications. None of the 5 patients received coagulation factor substitution postoperatively, and later detailed laboratory studies ruled out single coagulation factor deficiencies. There was no statistically significant association between preoperatively elevated PT levels and the occurrence of hemorrhagic complications (p = 0.12). Before the second procedure but not before the initial operation, 4 (12%) of the 33 patients had elevated PT.

Conclusions

The findings suggest that the value of preoperative PT testing is limited in patients in whom a normal history can be ascertained. Close postoperative PT control is necessary in every neurosurgical patient, and better tests need to be developed to identify patients who are prone to hemorrhagic complications.

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Ági Oszvald, Hartmut Vatter, Christian Byhahn, Volker Seifert and Erdem Güresir

Object

Quality and safety are basic concerns in any medical practice. Especially in daily surgical practice, with increasing turnover and shortened procedure times, attention to these topics needs to be assured. Starting in 2007, the authors used a perioperative checklist in all elective procedures and extended the checklist in January 2011 according to the so-called team time-out principles, with additional assessment of patient identity and the planned surgical procedure performed immediately before skin incision, including the emergency cases.

Methods

The advanced perioperative checklist includes parts for patient identification, preoperative assessments, team time-out, postoperative treatment, and imaging controls. All parts are signed by the responsible physician except for the team time-out, which is performed and signed by the theater nurse on behalf of the surgeon immediately before skin incision.

Results

Between January 2007 and December 2010, 1 wrong-sided bur hole in an emergency case and 1 wrong-sided lumbar approach in an elective case (of 8795 surgical procedures) occurred in the authors' department. Using the advanced perioperative checklist including the team time-out principles, no error occurred in 3595 surgical procedures (January 2011–June 2012). In the authors' department all team members appreciate the chance to focus on the patient, the surgical procedure, and expected difficulties. The number of incomplete checklists and of patients not being transferred into the operating room was lowered significantly (p = 0.002) after implementing the advanced perioperative checklist.

Conclusions

In the authors' daily experience, the advanced perioperative checklist developed according to the team time-out principles improves preoperative workup and the focus of the entire team. The focus is drawn to the procedure, expected difficulties of the surgery, and special needs in the treatment of the particular patient. Especially in emergency situations, the team time-out synchronizes the involved team members and helps to improve patient safety.