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Ajay K. Bindal, Rajesh K. Bindal, Kenneth R. Hess, Almon Shiu, Samuel J. Hassenbusch, Wei Ming Shi and Raymond Sawaya

✓ Surgery and radiosurgery are effective treatment modalities for brain metastasis. To compare the results of these treatment modalities, the authors followed 31 patients treated by radiosurgery and 62 patients treated by surgery who were retrospectively matched. Patients were matched according to the following criteria: histological characteristics of the primary tumor, extent of systemic disease, preoperative Karnofsky Performance Scale score, time to brain metastasis, number of brain metastases, and patient age and sex. For patients treated by radiosurgery, the median size of the treated lesion was 1.96 cm3 (range 0.41–8.25 cm3) and the median dose was 20 Gy (range 12–22 Gy). The median survival was 7.5 months for patients treated by radiosurgery and 16.4 months for those treated by surgery; this difference was found to be statistically significant using both univariate (p = 0.0018) and multivariate (p = 0.0009) analyses. The difference in survival was due to a higher rate of mortality from brain metastasis in the radiosurgery group than in the surgery group (p < 0.0001) and not due to a difference in the rate of death from systemic disease (p = 0.28). Log-rank analysis showed that the higher mortality rate found in the radiosurgery group was due to a greater progression rate of the radiosurgically treated lesions (p = 0.0001) and not due to the development of new brain metastasis (p = 0.75).

On the basis of their data, the authors conclude that surgery is superior to radiosurgery in the treatment of brain metastasis. Patients who undergo surgical treatment survive longer and have a better local control. The data lead the authors to suggest that the indications for radiosurgery should be limited to surgically inaccessible metastatic tumors or patients in poor medical condition. Surgery should remain the treatment of choice whenever possible.

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Samuel J. Hassenbusch, Michael Stanton-Hicks, Derek Schoppa, James G. Walsh and Edward C. Covington

✓ This prospective, consecutive series describes peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) for treatment of severe reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) or complex regional pain syndrome, in patients with symptoms entirely or mainly in the distribution of one major peripheral nerve. Plate-type electrodes were placed surgically on affected nerves and tested for 2 to 4 days. Programmable generators were implanted if 50% or more pain reduction and objective improvement in physical changes were achieved. Patients were followed for 2 to 4 years and a disinterested third-party interviewer performed final patient evaluations. Of 32 patients tested, 30 (94%) underwent permanent PNS placement. Long-term good or fair relief was experienced in 19 (63%) of 30 patients. In successfully treated patients, allodynic and spontaneous pain was reduced on a scale of 10 from 8.3 ± 0.3 preimplantation to 3.5 ± 0.4 (mean ± standard error of the mean) at latest follow up (p < 0.001). Changes in vasomotor tone and patient activity levels were markedly improved but motor weakness and trophic changes showed less improvement. Six (20%) of the 30 patients undergoing PNS placement returned to part-time or full-time work after being unemployed prestimulator implantation. Initial involvement of more than one major peripheral nerve correlated with a poor or no relief rating (p < 0.01). Operative modifications that minimize technical complications are described. This study indicates that PNS can provide good relief for RSD that is limited to the distribution of one major nerve.

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Samuel J. Hassenbusch, Prem K. Pillay, Michelle Magdinec, Kathleen Currie, Janet W. Bay, Edward C. Covington and Marian Z. Tomaszewski

✓ In the past, pain control for chronic pain syndromes using narcotic infusion has been carried out primarily via the intrathecal (subarachnoid) route. This report presents one of the first large series of terminally ill cancer patients with intractable pain treated with continuous epidural morphine infusions by means of implanted pumps and epidural spinal catheters. The purpose of the study was to demonstrate that the epidural route is effective with minimal complications, and that screening with temporary epidural catheter infusions results in a high rate of subsequent pain relief. A multidisciplinary team (neurosurgeon, anesthesiologists, psychiatrists, oncologists, and nurse clinicians) evaluated and treated all of the patients studied. Percutaneous placement of temporary epidural catheters for a trial assessment was performed by the anesthesiologists. Pain evaluations were conducted independently by psychiatrists using both verbal and visual analog scales. From 1982 to 1988, 41 (59.4%) of 69 patients evaluated for eligibility experienced good pain control during trial assessment and were subsequently implanted with Infusaid infusion pumps. Preinfusion pain analog values were 8.6 ± 0.3 and postimplantation values at 1 month were 3.8 ± 0.4 (p < 0.001). Over this same 1-month period, requirements of systemic morphine equivalents decreased by 79.3% with epidural infusions as compared to preinfusion requirements (p < 0.001 ). There were no instances of epidural scarring, respiratory depression, epidural infections, meningitis, or catheter blockage. One patient developed apparent drug tolerance and three patients required further catheter manipulations. This series strongly suggests that significant reductions in cancer pain can be obtained with few complications and a low morphine tolerance rate using chronic epidural morphine infusion. Anesthesiology and psychiatry input, along with temporary catheter infusion screening and quantitative pain evaluations using analog scales, are essential.

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Xiang Y. Han, Jeffrey S. Weinberg, Sujit S. Prabhu, Samuel J. Hassenbusch, Gregory N. Fuller, Jeffrey J. Tarrand and Dimitrios P. Kontoyiannis

Object. The cases of five patients with fusobacterial brain abscess are presented. The authors discuss their attempt to determine the pathogenesis.

Methods. The clinical and microbiological features of five cases of fusobacterial brain abscess are reviewed. Isolates of 2031 Fusobacterium spp. and other anaerobes collected (1989–2002) at our institution were analyzed and compared for incidences and isolation sources. The findings were correlated with extensive literature on the subject.

The five patients were men between 45 and 74 years of age. All experienced an insidious onset of the disease and probable hematogenous seeding of the organism(s). One patient had a monomicrobic Fusobacterium necrophorum abscess, whereas the others had polymicrobic F. nucleatum abscesses. Despite surgery and a regimen of antibiotic medications and dexamethasone, three patients experienced a paradoxical deterioration 3 days postoperatively that necessitated reevacuation of the lesion. The evacuants observed at that time contained numerous leukocytes but no microorganisms, suggesting intensified inflammation as the likely cause of deterioration. This explanation is supported by literature that fusobacteria strongly activate neutrophils. An analysis of the 2031 anaerobes from blood, wounds, and abscesses showed the considerable virulence of Fusobacterium spp., which were able to enter and/or sustain themselves in the blood circulation. This pattern was similar to that of Clostridium spp., but different from those of Peptostreptococcus spp., Bacteroides spp., and Prevotella spp., which were less invasive but more abundant.

Conclusions. Some fusobacterial brain abscesses may be associated with a paradoxical postoperative deterioration, which is probably due to intensified inflammation following treatment. The blood-borne dissemination and invasive behavior of fusobacteria likely initiate such a brain abscess, and further seeding of other synergic bacteria leads to a polymicrobic abscess.

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Anita Mahajan, Ian E. McCutcheon, Dima Suki, Eric L. Chang, Samuel J. Hassenbusch, Jeffrey S. Weinberg, Almon Shiu, Moshe H. Maor and Shiao Y. Woo

Object. The role of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) for recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) was evaluated in a case—control study.

Methods. All patients who underwent SRS for recurrent GBM before March 2003 formed the case group. A control group of patients who did not undergo SRS was created from an institutional database, and each case was matched for known prognostic factors in GBM. The medical and neuroimaging records of all the patients were reviewed, and survival and treatment outcomes were recorded.

The case and control groups were well matched with regard to demographics and pre-SRS interventions. In the control group, the date on which magnetic resonance imaging identified a recurrent lesion that would have been eligible for SRS was deemed the “SRS” date. The number of surgeries performed in the control group was statistically higher than that in the case group. The median duration of overall survival from diagnosis was 26 months in the case group and 23 months in the control group. From the date of SRS or “SRS”, the median duration of survival was 11 months in the case group and 10 months in the control group, a difference that was not statistically significant.

Conclusions. It appears that a subgroup of patients with GBMs has a higher than expected median survival duration despite the initial prognostic factors. In patients with localized recurrences, survival may be prolonged by applying aggressive local disease management by using either SRS or resection to equal advantage.

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Michel Lacroix, Dima Abi-Said, Daryl R. Fourney, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Weiming Shi, Franco DeMonte, Frederick F. Lang, Ian E. McCutcheon, Samuel J. Hassenbusch, Eric Holland, Kenneth Hess, Christopher Michael, Daniel Miller and Raymond Sawaya

Object. The extent of tumor resection that should be undertaken in patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) remains controversial. The purpose of this study was to identify significant independent predictors of survival in these patients and to determine whether the extent of resection was associated with increased survival time.

Methods. The authors retrospectively analyzed 416 consecutive patients with histologically proven GBM who underwent tumor resection at the authors' institution between June 1993 and June 1999. Volumetric data and other tumor characteristics identified on magnetic resonance (MR) imaging were collected prospectively.

Conclusions. Five independent predictors of survival were identified: age, Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) score, extent of resection, and the degree of necrosis and enhancement on preoperative MR imaging studies. A significant survival advantage was associated with resection of 98% or more of the tumor volume (median survival 13 months, 95% confidence interval [CI] 11.4–14.6 months), compared with 8.8 months (95% CI 7.4–10.2 months; p < 0.0001) for resections of less than 98%. Using an outcome scale ranging from 0 to 5 based on age, KPS score, and tumor necrosis on MR imaging, we observed significantly longer survival in patients with lower scores (1–3) who underwent aggressive resections, and a trend toward slightly longer survival was found in patients with higher scores (4–5). Gross-total tumor resection is associated with longer survival in patients with GBM, especially when other predictive variables are favorable.