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  • Author or Editor: Christian Wirtz x
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Andrej Pala, Fadi Awad, Michael Braun, Michal Hlavac, Arthur Wunderlich, Bernd Schmitz, Christian Rainer Wirtz and Jan Coburger


The gold standard for evaluation of ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt position, dislocation, or disconnection is conventional radiography. Yet, assessment with this modality can be challenging because of low image quality and can result in repetitive radiation exposure with high fluctuation in the radiation dose. Recently, CT-based radiation doses have been significantly reduced by using low-dose protocols. Thus, whole-body low-dose CT (LDCT) has become applicable for routine use in VP shunt evaluation. The authors here compared image quality and approximate radiation dose between radiography and LDCT in patients with implanted VP shunt systems.


Ventriculoperitoneal shunt systems have been investigated with LDCT scanning at the authors’ department since 2015. A consecutive series of 57 patients (70 investigations) treated between 2015 and 2016 was retrospectively assessed. A historical patient cohort that had been evaluated with radiography was compared with the LDCT patients in terms of radiation dose and image quality. Three independent observers evaluated projection of the valve pressure level and correct intraperitoneal position, as well as complete shunt projection, using a Likert-type scale of 1–5, where 1 indicated “not assessable” and 5 meant “assessable with high accuracy.” Descriptive statistics and the Mann-Whitney U-test were used for analysis.


Twenty-seven radiographs (38.6%) and 43 LDCT scans (61.4%) were analyzed. The median dose-length product (DLP) of the LDCT scans was 100 mGy·cm (range 59.9–183 mGy·cm). The median total dose-area product (DAP) of the radiographic images was 3177 mGy·cm2 (range 641–13,833 mGy·cm2). The estimated effective dose (EED) was significantly lower with the LDCT scan (p < 0.001). The median EED was 4.93 and 1.90 mSv for radiographs and LDCT, respectively. Significantly better identification of the abdominal position of the distal shunt catheter was achieved with LDCT (p < 0.001). Simultaneously, significantly improved visualization of the entire shunt system was realized with this technique (p < 0.001). On the contrary, identification of the valve settings was significantly worse with LDCT (p < 0.001).


Whole-body LDCT scanning allows good visualization of the distal catheter after VP shunt placement. Despite the fact that only a rough estimation of effective doses is possible in a direct comparison of LDCT and radiography, the data showed that shunt assessment via LDCT does not lead to greater radiation exposure. Thus, especially in difficult anatomical conditions, as in patients who have undergone multiple intraabdominal surgeries, have a high BMI, or are immobile, the use of LDCT shunt evaluation has high clinical value. Further data are needed to determine the value of LDCT for the evaluation of complications or radiation dose in pediatric patients.

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Jan Coburger, Ralph König, Klaus Seitz, Ute Bäzner, Christian Rainer Wirtz and Michal Hlavac


Intraoperative MRI (iMRI) provides updated information for neuronavigational purposes and assessments on the status of resection during transsphenoidal surgery (TSS). The high-field technique additionally provides information about vascular structures at risk and precise information about extrasellar residual tumor, making it readily available during the procedure. The imaging, however, extends the duration of surgery. To evaluate the benefit of this technique, the authors conducted a retrospective study to compare postoperative outcome and residual tumor in patients who underwent conventional microsurgical TSS with and without iMRI.


A total of 143 patients were assessed. A cohort of 67 patients who had undergone surgery before introduction of iMRI was compared with 76 patients who had undergone surgery since iMRI became routine in TSS at the authors' institution. Residual tumor, complications, hormone dependency, biochemical remission rates, and improvement of vision were assessed at 6-month follow-up. A volumetric evaluation of residual tumor was performed in cases of parasellar tumor extension.


The majority of patients in both groups suffered from nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas. At the 6-month follow-up assessment, vision improved in 31% of patients who underwent iMRI-assisted surgery versus 23% in the conventional group. One instance of postoperative intrasellar bleeding was found in the conventional group. No major complications were found in the iMRI group. Minor complications were seen in 9% of patients in the iMRI group and in 5% of those in the conventional group. No differences between groups were found for hormone dependency and biochemical remission rates. Time of surgery was significantly lower in the conventional treatment group. Overall a residual tumor was found after surgery in 35% of the iMRI group, and 41% of the conventional surgery group harbored a residual tumor. Total resection was achieved as intended significantly more often in the iMRI group (91%) than in the conventional group (73%) (p < 0.034). Patients with a planned subtotal resection showed higher mean volumes of residual tumor in the conventional group. There was a significantly lower incidence of intrasellar tumor remnants in the iMRI group than in the conventional group. Progression-free survival after 30 months was higher according to Kaplan-Meier analysis with the use of iMRI, but a statistically significant difference could not be shown.


The use of high-field iMRI leads to a significantly higher rate of complete resection. In parasellar tumors a lower residual volume and a significantly lower rate of intrasellar tumor remnants were shown with the technique. So far, long-term follow-up is limited for iMRI. However, after 2 years Kaplan-Meier analyses show a distinctly higher progression-free survival in the iMRI group. No significant benefit of iMRI was found for biochemical remission rates and improvement of vision. Even though the surgical time was longer with the adjunct use of iMRI, it did not increase the complication rate significantly. The authors therefore recommend routine use of high-field iMRI for pituitary surgery, if this technique is available at the particular center.

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Ralph W. Koenig, Thomas E. Schmidt, Christian P. G. Heinen, Christian R. Wirtz, Thomas Kretschmer, Gregor Antoniadis and Maria T. Pedro


Surgical treatment of nerve lesions in continuity remains difficult, even in the most experienced hands. The regenerative potential of those injuries can be evaluated by intraoperative electrophysiological studies and/or intraneural dissection. The present study examines the value of intraoperative high-frequency ultrasound as an imaging tool for decision making in the management of traumatic nerve lesions in continuity.


Intraoperative high-frequency ultrasound was applied to 19 traumatic or iatrogenic nerve lesions of differing extents. The information obtained was correlated with intraoperative electrophysiological, microsurgical intraneural dissection, and histopathological findings in resected nerve segments.


The intraoperative application of high-resolution, high-frequency ultrasound enabled morphological examination of nerve lesions in continuity, with good image quality. The assessment of the severity of the underlying nerve injury matched perfectly with the judgment obtained from intraoperative electrophysiological studies. Both intraneural nerve dissection and neuropathological examination of the resected nerve segments confirmed the sonographic findings. In addition, intraoperative ultrasound proved to be very time efficient.


With intraoperative ultrasound, the extent of traumatic peripheral nerve lesions can be examined morphologically for the first time. It is a promising, noninvasive method that seems capable of assessing the type (intraneural/perineural) and grade of nerve fibrosis. Therefore, in combination with intraoperative neurophysiological studies, intraoperative high-resolution ultrasound may represent a major tool for noninvasive assessment of the regenerative potential of a nerve lesion.