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Giovanni Raffa, Maria Catena Quattropani and Antonino Germanò

Maximal safe resection is the modern goal for surgery of intrinsic brain tumors located in or close to brain eloquent areas. Nowadays different neuroimaging techniques provide important anatomical and functional information regarding the brain functional organization that can be used to plan a customized surgical strategy to preserve functional networks, and to increase the extent of tumor resection. Among these techniques, navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) has recently gained great favor among the neurosurgical community for preoperative mapping and planning prior to brain tumor surgery. It represents an advanced neuroimaging technique based on the neurophysiological mapping of the functional cortical brain organization. Moreover, it can be combined with other neuroimaging techniques such as diffusion tensor imaging tractography, thus providing a reliable reconstruction of brain eloquent networks. Consequently, nTMS mapping may provide reliable noninvasive brain functional mapping, anticipating information that otherwise may be available to neurosurgeons only in the operating theater by using direct electrical stimulation. The authors describe the reliability and usefulness of the preoperative nTMS-based approach in neurosurgical practice, and briefly discuss their experience using nTMS as well as currently available evidence in the literature supporting its clinical use. In particular, special attention is reserved for the discussion of the role of nTMS as a novel tool for the preoperative neurophysiological mapping of motor and language networks prior to surgery of intrinsic brain tumors located in or close to eloquent networks, as well as for future and promising applications of nTMS in neurosurgical practice.

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Antonino Germanò, Claudia Imperatore, Domenico d'Avella, Giovanni Costa and Francesco Tomasello

Object. The radical scavenger (±)-N,N′-propylenedinicotinamide (AVS) was shown recently to ameliorate delayed neurological deficits resulting from ischemia in patients who have had an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of AVS administration after experimental SAH on 1) behavioral deficits; 2) angiographically confirmed basilar artery (BA) spasm; and 3) blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability changes.

Methods. These parameters were measured by 1) using a battery of well-characterized chronic assessment tasks over a 5-day observation period; 2) assessing in vivo the mean vessel diameter 2 days after SAH; and 3) evaluating the extravasation of protein-bound Evans Blue dye by using a spectrophotofluorimetric technique 2 days after SAH. Groups of eight to 10 rats received injections of 400 µl of autologous blood into the cisterna magna. Within 5 minutes after the surgical procedures were completed the rats were treated with an intravenously administered continuous infusion of saline (Group III) or AVS (1 mg/kg/minutes, Group IV). Results were compared with those in sham-operated animals treated with intravenously administered saline (Group I) or AVS (Group II). The AVS-treated rats had significantly improved balance beam scores on Days 1 to 2 (p < 0.05), shorter beam traverse times on Day 1 (p < 0.05), and better beam walking performance on Days 1 to 4 (p < 0.01), but no significant effect was seen in terms of SAH-related changes in body weight. Treatment with AVS also attenuated the SAH-induced BA spasm (p < 0.05) and decreased BBB permeability changes in frontal, temporal, parietal, occipital, and cerebellar cortices, and in the subcortical and cerebellar gray matter and brainstem (p < 0.01).

Conclusions. These results demonstrate useful antivasospastic and brain-protective actions of AVS after induction of experimental SAH and provide support for observations of beneficial effects of AVS made in the clinical setting.

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Giovanni La Rosa, Antonino Germanò, Alfredo Conti, Fabio Cacciola, Gerardo Caruso and Francesco Tomasello

Surgery for adult patients with lumbar and lumbosacral spondylolisthesis is reserved for those with intractable radiculopathy, claudication, or symptomatic spinal instability. Internal fixation, in which posterior fusion, transpedicular screw fixation, and implantation of titanium devices are performed, has been advocated to improve fusion rates and clinical results. Fourteen consecutive patients with Grade II to III lumbar and lumbosacral spondylolisthesis who underwent posterior decompression, reduction, autologous posterior facet joint arthrodesis, and SOCON-SRI implantation are retrospectively reviewed.

All patients underwent complete preoperative clinical and neuroradiological evaluation. Treatment consisted of posterior decompressive surgery and implantation of the SOCON-SRI system (transpedicular screws, prebent longitudinal rods, and one locking-screw clamps). Distraction of the interbody space and rotation were performed to achieve an optimum spinal realignment. The facet joints were fused by using autologous bone graft. The authors obtained detailed clinical, functional, economic, and neuroradiological follow-up data for up to 14 months (range 8–18 months).

The efficacy of the treatment was evaluated by comparing pre- and postoperative data. Pain was decreased in all cases, neurological dysfunction ameliorated in 50%, and functional and economic status was improved in 78% and 100%, respectively. No cases of fusion failure or instrumentation-related complications occurred. The authors describe their results of treating patients with spondylolisthesis in the light of the rationale for surgery and the more recent pertinent literature.

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Anterior thoracic intradural arachnoid cysts

Case report and review of the literature

Gerardo Caruso, Antonino Germanò, Mariella Caffo, Massimo Belvedere, Giovanni La Rosa, Oreste De Divitiis and Francesco Tomasello

Anterior thoracic intradural arachnoid cysts (ATIACs) are a rare cause of spinal cord and nerve root compression, for which different treatment strategies have been proposed. Although ATIAC represents a well-known clinical entity, the choice of surgical method has not been uniform, and no study has been specifically designed to compare the results of the different treatment options adopted.

The authors report the case of a 40-year old man with a 1-year history of dorsal pain, weakness in the lower extremities, gait disturbance, and mild sexual and urinary dysfunction. On neurological examination spastic paraparesis, lower-extremity hypertonia, and hypesthesia below T-2 were demonstrated. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed the presence of an ATIAC at the T-2 level. The patient underwent complete microsurgical removal of the cyst.

The authors conducted a Medline search of the relevant literature from 1966 to 1998 and also obtained data on other cases in which patients underwent surgical treatment of ATIAC. The literature search yielded five such cases. Treatment strategies were complete excision and fenestration followed by placement of a shunt. In addition, one case was characterized by intraoperative cyst rupture during retraction of the spinal cord.

Correct preoperative workup coupled with microneurosurgical technique allow for successful removal of the lesion and excellent outcome. Based on the literature review and the results in our case, the complete excision of ATIAC is associated with an excellent outcome, which is different from results achieved using other surgical strategies.

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Antonino Scibilia, Carmen Terranova, Vincenzo Rizzo, Giovanni Raffa, Adolfo Morelli, Felice Esposito, Raffaella Mallamace, Gaetano Buda, Alfredo Conti, Angelo Quartarone and Antonino Germanò

Spinal tumor (ST) surgery carries the risk of new neurological deficits in the postoperative period. Intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring and mapping (IONM) represents an effective method of identifying and monitoring in real time the functional integrity of both the spinal cord (SC) and the nerve roots (NRs). Despite consensus favoring the use of IONM in ST surgery, in this era of evidence-based medicine, there is still a need to demonstrate the effective role of IONM in ST surgery in achieving an oncological cure, optimizing patient safety, and considering medicolegal aspects. Thus, neurosurgeons are asked to establish which techniques are considered indispensable. In the present study, the authors focused on the rationale for and the accuracy (sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values) of IONM in ST surgery in light of more recent evidence in the literature, with specific emphasis on the role of IONM in reducing the incidence of postoperative neurological deficits. This review confirms the role of IONM as a useful tool in the workup for ST surgery. Individual monitoring and mapping techniques are clearly not sufficient to account for the complex function of the SC and NRs. Conversely, multimodal IONM is highly sensitive and specific for anticipating neurological injury during ST surgery and represents an important tool for preserving neuronal structures and achieving an optimal postoperative functional outcome.

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Giovanni Raffa, Thomas Picht, Antonino Scibilia, Judith Rösler, Johannes Rein, Alfredo Conti, Giuseppe Ricciardo, Salvatore Massimiliano Cardali, Peter Vajkoczy and Antonino Germanò


Surgical treatment of convexity meningiomas is usually considered a low-risk procedure. Nevertheless, the risk of postoperative motor deficits is higher (7.1%–24.7% of all cases) for lesions located in the rolandic region, especially when an arachnoidal cleavage plane with the motor pathway is not identifiable. The authors analyzed the possible role of navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) for planning resection of rolandic meningiomas and predicting the presence or lack of an intraoperative arachnoidal cleavage plane as well as the postoperative motor outcome.


Clinical data were retrospectively collected from surgical cases involving patients affected by convexity, parasagittal, or falx meningiomas involving the rolandic region, who received preoperative nTMS mapping of the motor cortex (M1) and nTMS-based diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) fiber tracking of the corticospinal tract before surgery at 2 different neurosurgical centers. Surgeons’ self-reported evaluation of the impact of nTMS-based mapping on surgical strategy was analyzed. Moreover, the nTMS mapping accuracy was evaluated in comparison with intraoperative neurophysiological mapping (IONM). Lastly, we assessed the role of nTMS as well as other pre- and intraoperative parameters for predicting the patients’ motor outcome and the presence or absence of an intraoperative arachnoidal cleavage plane.


Forty-seven patients were included in this study. The nTMS-based planning was considered useful in 89.3% of cases, and a change of the surgical strategy was observed in 42.5% of cases. The agreement of nTMS-based planning and IONM-based strategy in 35 patients was 94.2%. A new permanent motor deficit occurred in 8.5% of cases (4 of 47). A higher resting motor threshold (RMT) and the lack of an intraoperative arachnoidal cleavage plane were the only independent predictors of a poor motor outcome (p = 0.04 and p = 0.02, respectively). Moreover, a higher RMT and perilesional edema also predicted the lack of an arachnoidal cleavage plane (p = 0.01 and p = 0.03, respectively). Preoperative motor status, T2 cleft sign, contrast-enhancement pattern, and tumor volume had no predictive value.


nTMS-based motor mapping is a useful tool for presurgical assessment of rolandic meningiomas, especially when a clear cleavage plane with M1 is not present. Moreover, the RMT can indicate the presence or absence of an intraoperative cleavage plane and predict the motor outcome, thereby helping to identify high-risk patients before surgery.

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Alfredo Conti, Antonio Pontoriero, Giuseppe K. Ricciardi, Francesca Granata, Sergio Vinci, Filippo F. Angileri, Stefano Pergolizzi, Concetta Alafaci, Vincenzo Rizzo, Angelo Quartarone, Antonino Germanò, Roberto Israel Foroni, Costantino De Renzis and Francesco Tomasello


The integration of state-of-the-art neuroimaging into treatment planning may increase the therapeutic potential of stereotactic radiosurgery. Functional neuroimaging, including functional MRI, navigated brain stimulation, and diffusion tensor imaging–based tractography, may guide the orientation of radiation beams to decrease the dose to critical cortical and subcortical areas. The authors describe their method of integrating functional neuroimaging technology into radiosurgical treatment planning using the CyberKnife radiosurgery system.


The records of all patients who had undergone radiosurgery for brain lesions at the CyberKnife Center of the University of Messina, Italy, between July 2010 and July 2012 were analyzed. Among patients with brain lesions in critical areas, treatment planning with the integration of functional neuroimaging was performed in 25 patients. Morphological and functional imaging data sets were coregistered using the Multiplan dedicated treatment planning system. Treatment planning was initially based on morphological data; radiation dose distribution was then corrected in relation to the functionally relevant cortical and subcortical areas. The change in radiation dose distribution was then calculated.


The data sets could be easily and reliably integrated into the Cyberknife treatment planning. Using an inverse planning algorithm, the authors achieved an average 17% reduction in the radiation dose to functional areas. Further gain in terms of dose sparing compromised other important treatment parameters, including target coverage, conformality index, and number of monitor units. No neurological deficit due to radiation was recorded at the short-term follow-up.


Radiosurgery treatments rely on the quality of neuroimaging. The integration of functional data allows a reduction in radiation doses to functional organs at risk, including critical cortical areas, subcortical tracts, and vascular structures. The relative simplicity of integrating functional neuroimaging into radiosurgery warrants further research to implement, standardize, and identify the limits of this procedure.

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Alberto Cacciola, Antonio Pontoriero, Giuseppe Iatì, Alfredo Conti, Antonino Germanò, Francesca Granata and Stefano Pergolizzi

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Tamara Ius, Teresa Somma, Roberto Altieri, Filippo Flavio Angileri, Giuseppe Maria Barbagallo, Paolo Cappabianca, Francesco Certo, Fabio Cofano, Alessandro D’Elia, Giuseppe Maria Della Pepa, Vincenzo Esposito, Marco Maria Fontanella, Antonino Germanò, Diego Garbossa, Miriam Isola, Giuseppe La Rocca, Francesco Maiuri, Alessandro Olivi, Pier Paolo Panciani, Fabrizio Pignotti, Miran Skrap, Giannantonio Spena and Giovanni Sabatino


Approximately half of glioblastoma (GBM) cases develop in geriatric patients, and this trend is destined to increase with the aging of the population. The optimal strategy for management of GBM in elderly patients remains controversial. The aim of this study was to assess the role of surgery in the elderly (≥ 65 years old) based on clinical, molecular, and imaging data routinely available in neurosurgical departments and to assess a prognostic survival score that could be helpful in stratifying the prognosis for elderly GBM patients.


Clinical, radiological, surgical, and molecular data were retrospectively analyzed in 322 patients with GBM from 9 neurosurgical centers. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to identify predictors of survival. A random forest approach (classification and regression tree [CART] analysis) was utilized to create the prognostic survival score.


Survival analysis showed that overall survival (OS) was influenced by age as a continuous variable (p = 0.018), MGMT (p = 0.012), extent of resection (EOR; p = 0.002), and preoperative tumor growth pattern (evaluated with the preoperative T1/T2 MRI index; p = 0.002). CART analysis was used to create the prognostic survival score, forming six different survival groups on the basis of tumor volumetric, surgical, and molecular features. Terminal nodes with similar hazard ratios were grouped together to form a final diagram composed of five classes with different OSs (p < 0.0001). EOR was the most robust influencing factor in the algorithm hierarchy, while age appeared at the third node of the CART algorithm. The ability of the prognostic survival score to predict death was determined by a Harrell’s c-index of 0.75 (95% CI 0.76–0.81).


The CART algorithm provided a promising, thorough, and new clinical prognostic survival score for elderly surgical patients with GBM. The prognostic survival score can be useful to stratify survival risk in elderly GBM patients with different surgical, radiological, and molecular profiles, thus assisting physicians in daily clinical management. The preliminary model, however, requires validation with future prospective investigations. Practical recommendations for clinicians/surgeons would strengthen the quality of the study; e.g., surgery can be considered as a first therapeutic option in the workflow of elderly patients with GBM, especially when the preoperative estimated EOR is greater than 80%.