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Mark Bernstein and Beverly C. Walters

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Miguel Marigil and Mark Bernstein

Technological breakthroughs along with modern application of awake craniotomy and new neuroanesthesia protocols have led to a progressive development in outpatient brain tumor surgery and improved surgical outcomes. As a result, outpatient neurosurgery has become a standard of care at the authors’ center due to its clinical benefits and impact on patient recovery and overall satisfaction. On the other hand, the financial savings derived from its application is also another favorable factor exerting influence on patients, health care systems, and society.

Although validated several years ago and with recent data supporting its application, outpatient brain tumor surgery has not gained the traction that it deserves, based on scientific skepticism and perceived potential for medicolegal issues. The goal of this review, based on the available literature and the senior author’s experience in outpatient brain tumor surgery, was to evaluate the most important aspects regarding indications, clinical outcomes, economic burden, and patient perceptions.

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Parisa Nicole Fallah and Mark Bernstein

OBJECTIVE

There is a global lack of access to surgical care, and this issue disproportionately affects those in low- and middle-income countries. Global surgery academic collaborations (GSACs) between surgeons in high-income countries and those in low- and middle-income countries are one possible sustainable way to address the global surgical need. The objective of this study was to examine the barriers to participation in GSACs and to suggest ways to increase involvement.

METHODS

A convenience sample of 86 surgeons, anesthesiologists, other physicians, residents, fellows, and nurses from the US, Canada, and Norway was used. Participants were all health care providers from multiple specialties and multiple academic centers with varied involvement in GSACs. More than half of the participants were neurosurgeons. Participants were interviewed in person or over Skype in Toronto over the course of 2 months by using a predetermined set of open-ended questions. Thematic content analysis was used to evaluate the participants’ responses.

RESULTS

Based on the data, 3 main themes arose that pointed to individual, community, and system barriers for involvement in GSACs. Individual barriers included loss of income, family commitments, young career, responsibility to local patients, skepticism of global surgery efforts, ethical concerns, and safety concerns. Community barriers included insufficient mentorship and lack of support from colleagues. System barriers included lack of time, minimal academic recognition, insufficient awareness, insufficient administrative support and organization, and low political and funding support.

CONCLUSIONS

Steps can be taken to address some of these barriers and to increase the involvement of surgeons from high-income countries in GSACs. This could lead to a necessary scale-up of global surgery efforts that may help increase worldwide access to surgical care.

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Thomas J. Zwimpfer and Mark Bernstein

✓ The hallmark of concussion injuries of the nervous system is the rapid and complete resolution of neurological deficits. Cerebral concussion has been well studied, both clinically and experimentally. In comparison, spinal cord concussion (SCC) is poorly understood. The clinical and radiological features of 19 SCC injuries in the general population are presented. Spinal cord injuries were classified as concussions if they met three criteria: 1) spinal trauma immediately preceded the onset of neurological deficits; 2) neurological deficits were consistent with spinal cord involvement at the level of injury; and 3) complete neurological recovery occurred within 72 hours after injury.

Most cases involved young males, injured during athletics or due to falls. Concussion occurred at the two most unstable spinal regions, 16 involving the cervical spinal and three the thoracolumbar junction. Fifteen cases presented with combined sensorimotor deficits, while four exhibited only sensory disturbances. Many patients showed signs of recovery with the first few hours after injury and most had completely recovered within 24 hours. Only one case involved an unstable spinal injury. There was no evidence of ligamentous instability, spinal stenosis, or canal encroachment in the remaining 18 cases. Two patients, both children, suffered recurrent SCC injuries. No delayed deterioration or permanent cord injuries occurred.

Spinal abnormalities that would predispose the spinal cord to a compressive injury were present in only one of the 19 cases. This suggests that, as opposed to direct cord compression, SCC may be the result of an indirect cord injury. Possible mechanisms are discussed.

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Mark Bernstein

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Ralph G. Dacey Jr.

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Michael D. Taylor and Mark Bernstein

Object. Awake craniotomy was performed as the standard surgical approach to supratentorial intraaxial tumors, regardless of the involvement of eloquent cortex, in a prospective trial of 200 patients surgically treated by the same surgeon at a single institution.

Methods. Patient presentations, comorbid conditions, tumor locations, and the histological characteristics of lesions were recorded. Brain mapping was possible in 195 (97.5%) of 200 patients. The total number of patients sustaining complications was 33 for an overall complication rate of 16.5%. There were two deaths in this series, for a mortality rate of 1%. New postoperative neurological deficits were seen in 13% of the patients, but these were permanent in only 4.5% of them. Complication rates were higher in patients who had gliomas or preoperative neurological deficits and in those who had undergone prior radiation therapy or surgery. No patient who entered the operating room neurologically intact sustained a permanent neurological deficit postoperatively. Of the most recent 50 patients treated, three (6%) required a stay in the intensive care unit, and the median total hospital stay was 1 day.

Conclusions. Use of awake craniotomy can result in a considerable reduction in resource utilization without compromising patient care by minimizing intensive care time and total hospital stay. Awake craniotomy is a practical and effective standard surgical approach to supratentorial tumors with a low complication rate, and provides an excellent alternative to craniotomy performed with the patient in the state of general anesthesia because it allows the opportunity for brain mapping and avoids general anesthesia.

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Abdul Al-Anazi and Mark Bernstein

✓ Ommaya reservoirs are used primarily for the repeated injection of intrathecal chemotherapy for leptomeningeal metastasis from hematopoietic and solid malignancies. Insertion of this device in a relatively large nondisplaced ventricle is not a difficult task, but challenges arise when the ventricle is small and/or displaced. Different techniques have been developed to overcome this difficulty, most of which include the use of stereotactic frames. Further improvements would be beneficial.

The technique described in this paper depends on a stereotactic frame; however, the modification proposed by the authors removes the arc system from the surgical field before the actual surgical procedure is begun. Removal of the arc improves access to the surgical field as well as preparation and draping of the surgical site and minimizes potential breaks in sterile technique, which ultimately reduces the incidence of infection. A twist-drill hole along the path of the chosen trajectory becomes an external guide for the ventricular catheter. The technique is easy, user friendly, and results in an unencumbered sterile field and reliable cannulation of small ventricles.

A simple stereotactic technique for Ommaya reservoir insertion has been described. It should lower the chance of infection in this group of patients, most of whom have suppressed immune systems.

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Kamal B. Balkhoyor and Mark Bernstein

✓ Spontaneous involution of pilocytic astrocytoma has been reported in children, particularly in those with neurofibromatosis Type 1. However, this rare occurrence has not been documented in adults. In this report the authors describe two cases of adults with pilocytic astrocytoma. One patient had a tumor in the thalamus and the other in the hypothalamus and optic chiasm; both patients underwent partial resection of the tumor. The initial magnetic resonance (MR) images demonstrated reduction in size of the tumors, and subsequent MR images obtained several months later revealed marked further involution with reduction in size and enhancement. The possible mechanisms for this uncommon occurrence are discussed.