Cervical cord neurapraxia is a common sports-related injury. It is defined as a transient neurological deficit following trauma localizing to the cervical spinal cord and can be caused by hyperextension, hyperflexion, or axial load mechanisms. Symptoms usually last less than 15 minutes, but can persist up to 48 hours in adults and as long as 5 days in children. While a strong causal relationship exists between cervical spine stenosis and cervical cord neurapraxia in adult patients, this association has not been observed in children. Likewise, while repeated episodes of neurapraxia can be commonplace in adult patients, recurrences have not been reported in the pediatric population. Treatment is usually supportive, but in adults with focal cervical lesions or instability, surgery is an option. Surgery for neurapraxia in children is rarely indicated.
Aaron J. Clark, Kurtis I. Auguste, and Peter P. Sun
Adib Adnan Abla, Aaron J. Clark, and Michael T. Lawton
In this video, we illustrate a right far-lateral craniotomy for resection of a 13-mm cavernous malformation of the pons in a healthy 53-year-old female patient presenting with diplopia and right 6th nerve palsy. The cavernous malformation was surrounded by normal pons, but was within 1 mm of the pontomedullary sulcus. The lesion was exposed from below through a far lateral craniotomy and accessed through the vasoaccessory triangle, superior to olivary nucleus and 12th cranial nerve. The alternative retrosigmoid craniotomy would have involved significant transgression of the middle cerebellar peduncle. The patient had gross-total resection and some temporary increase in her abducens nerve palsy without any complication.
The video can be found here: http://youtu.be/f14RR3CHQkw.
Michael M. Safaee, Aaron J. Clark, Jan-Karl Burkhardt, Ethan A. Winkler, and Michael T. Lawton
Spinal dural arteriovenous fistulas (dAVFs) are rare vascular abnormalities caused by arteriovenous shunting. They often form at the dural root sleeve between a radicular feeding artery and draining medullary vein causing venous congestion and edema, decreased perfusion, and ischemia of the spinal cord. Treatment consists of either surgical ligation of the draining vein or selective embolization via an endovascular approach. There is a paucity of data on which modality provides more durable and effective outcomes.
The authors performed a retrospective review of a prospectively maintained database by the senior author to assess clinical outcomes in patients undergoing surgical treatment of spinal dAVFs. Preoperative and postoperative motor and Aminoff-Logue Scale (ALS) scores were collected.
A total of 41 patients with 44 spinal dAVFs were identified, with a mean patient age of 64 years. The mean symptom duration was 14 months, with weakness (82%), urinary symptoms (47%), and sensory symptoms (29%) at presentation. The fistula locations were as follows: 30 thoracic, 9 lumbar, 3 sacral, and 2 cervical. Five patients had normal motor and ALS scores at presentation. Among the remaining 36 patients with motor deficits or abnormal gait and micturition at presentation, 78% experienced an improvement while the remaining 22% continued to be stable. There was a trend toward improved outcomes in patients with shorter symptom duration; mean symptom duration among patients with clinical improvement was 13 months compared with 22 months among those without improvement. Additionally, rates of improvement were higher for lower thoracic and lumbosacral dAVFs (85% and 83%) compared with those in the upper thoracic spine (57%). No patient developed recurrent fistulas or worsening neurological deficits.
Surgery is associated with excellent outcomes in the treatment of spinal dAVFs. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical, with a trend toward improved outcomes. No patient in this study had fistula recurrence or worsening of symptoms. Among patients with abnormal motor or ALS scores, 78% improved after surgery. Therapeutic embolization is an option for some lesions, but for cases with unfavorable anatomy where embolization is not feasible, surgery is a safe option associated with high success.
Aaron J. Clark, Michael M. Safaee, Nickalus R. Khan, Matthew T. Brown, and Kevin T. Foley
Microendoscopic discectomy is a minimally invasive surgery technique that was initially described in 1997. It allows surgeons to work with 2 hands through a small-diameter, operating table–mounted tubular retractor, and to apply standard microsurgical techniques in which a small skin incision and minimal muscle dissection are used. Whether the surgeon chooses to use an endoscope or a microscope for visualization, the technique uses the same type of retractor and is thus called tubular microdiscectomy. The goal in this study was to review the current literature, examine the level of evidence supporting tubular microdiscectomy, and describe surgical techniques for complication avoidance.
The authors performed a systematic PubMed review using the terms “microdiscectomy trial,” “tubular and open microdiscectomy,” “microendoscopic open discectomy,” and “minimally invasive open microdiscectomy OR microdiskectomy.” Of 317 references, 10 manuscripts were included for analysis based on study design, relevance, and appropriate comparison of open to tubular discectomy.
Similar and very favorable clinical outcomes can be expected from tubular and standard microdiscectomy. Studies have demonstrated equivalent operating times for both procedures, with lower blood loss and shorter hospital stays associated with tubular microdiscectomy. Furthermore, postoperative analgesic usage has been shown to be significantly lower after tubular microdiscectomy. Overall rates of complications are no different for tubular and standard microdiscectomy.
Prospective randomized trials have been used to evaluate outcomes of common minimally invasive lumbar spine procedures. For lumbar discectomy, Level I evidence supports equivalently good outcomes for tubular microdiscectomy compared with standard microdiscectomy. Likewise, Level I data indicate similar safety profiles and may indicate lower blood loss for tubular microdiscectomy. Future studies should examine the comparative value of these procedures.
William B. Feldman, Aaron J. Clark, Michael Safaee, Christopher P. Ames, and Andrew T. Parsa
Myxopapillary ependymomas (MPEs) are rare WHO Grade I tumors found in the conus medullaris, cauda equina, and filum terminale. Treatment generally consists of resection with or without adjuvant radiotherapy. Evidence-based guidelines for surgical management are lacking due to the rarity of this tumor.
An English-language PubMed search was performed using the key words “myxopapillary” and “ependymoma.” Reports describing fewer than 3 patients or those lacking data on the extent of resection or radiotherapy were excluded. A total of 28 articles describing 475 patients met the authors' inclusion criteria. Patients were grouped by extent of resection and whether or not they underwent adjuvant radiotherapy. Differences in recurrence rates were assessed by chi-square test.
The overall recurrence rate was 15.5% in patients treated by gross-total resection (GTR) and 32.6% in patients treated by subtotal resection (STR), irrespective of whether they underwent adjuvant therapy (p < 0.001). Regardless of the extent of resection, adjuvant radiotherapy was not associated with a decrease in recurrence rates. The overall recurrence rate was 15.6% in patients who underwent GTR and radiotherapy compared with 15.9% in patients who underwent GTR alone (p = 0.58), and it was 29.3% in patients who underwent STR and radiotherapy compared with 35.1% in those who underwent STR alone (p = 0.53). The difference between recurrence rates for patients who underwent GTR alone versus STR and radiotherapy was statistically significant (p = 0.02). Subgroup analysis demonstrated significantly higher recurrence rates in pediatric patients compared with adults (40.5% vs 23.4%, respectively; p = 0.02). Even in the setting of GTR alone, recurrence rates were higher in pediatric patients (65% vs 7.6%; p < 0.001).
Gross-total resection alone is associated with decreased recurrence rates compared with STR with or without radiotherapy. The authors' results suggest that treatment goals should include attempted GTR whenever possible. The observation that children benefitted from radiation therapy to a greater extent than did adults suggests that biological differences between tumors in these patient populations warrants more rigorous scientific studies.
Aaron J. Clark, Rachel A. Kuperman, Kurtis I. Auguste, and Peter P. Sun
Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is used as palliation for adult and pediatric patients with intractable epilepsy who are not candidates for curative resection. Although the treatment is generally safe, complications can occur intraoperatively, perioperatively, and in a delayed time frame. In the literature, there are 2 reports of pediatric patients with implanted VNS units who had refractory bradycardia that resolved after the stimulation was turned off. The authors report the case of a 13-year-old boy with a history of vagus nerve stimulator placement at 2 years of age, who developed intractable episodic bradycardia that persisted despite the cessation of VNS and whose imaging results suggested vagus nerve tethering by the leads. He was subsequently taken to the operating room for exploration, where it was confirmed that the stimulator lead was exerting traction on the vagus nerve, which was displaced from the carotid sheath. After the vagus nerve was untethered and the leads were replaced, the bradycardia eventually resolved with continual effective VNS therapy. When placing a VNS unit in a very young child, accommodations must be made for years of expected growth. Delayed intractable bradycardia can result from a vagus nerve under traction by tethered stimulator leads.
Michael E. Ivan, Michael E. Sughrue, Aaron J. Clark, Ari J. Kane, Derick Aranda, Igor J. Barani, and Andrew T. Parsa
Because of the rarity of glomus jugulare tumors, a variety of treatment paradigms are currently used. There is no consensus regarding the optimal management to control tumor burden while minimizing treatment-related morbidity. In this study, the authors assessed data collected from 869 patients with glomus jugulare tumors from the published literature to identify treatment variables that impacted clinical outcomes and tumor control rates.
A comprehensive search of the English-language literature identified 109 studies that collectively described outcomes for patients with glomus jugulare tumors. Univariate comparisons of demographic information between treatment cohorts were performed to detect differences in the sex distribution, age, and Fisch class of tumors among various treatment modalities. Meta-analyses were performed on calculated rates of recurrence and cranial neuropathy after subtotal resection (STR), gross-total resection (GTR), STR with adjuvant postoperative radiosurgery (STR+SRS), and stereotactic radiosurgery alone (SRS).
The authors identified 869 patients who met their inclusion criteria. In these studies, the length of follow-up ranged from 6 to 256 months. Patients treated with STR were observed for 72 ± 7.9 months and had a tumor control rate of 69% (95% CI 57%–82%). Those who underwent GTR had a follow-up of 88 ± 5.0 months and a tumor control rate of 86% (95% CI 81%–91%). Those treated with STR+SRS were observed for 96 ± 4.4 months and had a tumor control rate of 71% (95% CI 53%–83%). Patients undergoing SRS alone had a follow-up of 71 ± 4.9 months and a tumor control rate of 95% (95% CI 92%–99%). The authors' analysis found that patients undergoing SRS had the lowest rates of recurrence of these 4 cohorts, and therefore, these patients experienced the most favorable rates of tumor control (p < 0.01). Patients who underwent GTR sustained worse rates of cranial nerve (CN) deficits with regard to CNs IX–XI than those who underwent SRS alone; however, the rates of CN XII deficits were comparable.
The authors' analysis is limited by the quality and accuracy of these studies and may reflect source study biases, as it is impossible to control for the quality of the data reported in the literature. Finally, due to the diverse range of data presentation, the authors found that they were limited in their ability to study and control for certain variables. Some of these limitations should be minimized with their use of meta-analysis methods, which statistically evaluate and adjust for between-study heterogeneity. These results provide the impetus to initiate a prospective study, appropriately controlling for variables that can confound the retrospective analyses that largely comprise the existing literature.
Arman Jahangiri, Aaron J. Clark, Seunggu J. Han, Sandeep Kunwar, Lewis S. Blevins Jr., and Manish K. Aghi
Pituitary apoplexy is associated with worse outcomes than are pituitary adenomas detected without acute clinical deterioration. The association between pituitary apoplexy and socioeconomic factors that may limit access to health care has not been examined in prior studies.
This study involved retrospectively evaluating data obtained in all patients who underwent surgery for nonfunctioning pituitary adenoma causing visual symptoms between January 2003 and July 2012 at the University of California, San Francisco. Patients were grouped into those who presented with apoplexy and those who did not (“no apoplexy”). The 2 groups were compared with respect to annual household income, employment status, health insurance status, and whether or not the patient had a primary health care provider. Associations between categorical variables were analyzed by chi-square test and continuous variables by Student t-test. Multivariate logistic regression was also performed.
One hundred thirty-five patients were identified, 18 of whom presented with apoplexy. There were significantly more unmarried patients and emergency room presentations in the apoplexy group than in the “no apoplexy” group. There was a nonsignificant trend toward lower mean household income in the apoplexy group. Lack of health insurance and lack of a primary health care provider were both highly significantly associated with apoplexy. In a multivariate analysis including marital status, emergency room presentation, income, insurance status, and primary health care provider status as variables, lack of insurance remained associated with apoplexy (OR 11.6; 95% CI 1.9–70.3; p = 0.008).
The data suggest that patients with limited access to health care may be more likely to present with pituitary apoplexy than those with adequate access.
Tene A. Cage, Aaron J. Clark, Derick Aranda, Nalin Gupta, Peter P. Sun, Andrew T. Parsa, and Kurtis I. Auguste
Ependymoma is the third most common primary brain tumor in children. Tumors are classified according to the WHO pathological grading system. Prior studies have shown high levels of variability in patient outcomes within and across pathological grades. The authors reviewed the results from the published literature on intracranial ependymomas in children to describe clinical outcomes as they relate to treatment modality, associated mortality, and associated progression-free survival (PFS).
A search of English language peer-reviewed articles describing patients 18 years of age or younger with intracranial ependymomas yielded data on 182 patients. These patients had undergone treatment for ependymoma with 1 of 5 modalities: 1) gross-total resection (GTR), 2) GTR as well as external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), 3) subtotal resection (STR), 4) STR as well as EBRT, or 5) radiosurgery. Mortality and outcome data were analyzed for time to tumor progression in patients treated with 1 of these 5 treatment modalities.
Of these 182 patients, 69% had supratentorial ependymomas and 31% presented with infratentorial lesions. Regardless of tumor location or pathological grade, STR was associated with the highest rates of mortality. In contrast, GTR was associated with the lowest rates of mortality, the best overall survival, and the longest PFS. Children with WHO Grade II ependymomas had lower mortality rates when treated more aggressively with GTR. However, patients with WHO Grade III tumors had slightly better survival outcomes after a less aggressive surgical debulking (STR+EBRT) when compared with GTR.
Mortality, PFS, and overall survival vary in pediatric patients with intracranial ependymomas. Pathological classification, tumor location, and method of treatment play a role in outcomes. In this study, GTR was associated with the best overall and PFS rates. Patients with WHO Grade II tumors had better overall survival after GTR+EBRT and better PFS after GTR alone. Patients with WHO Grade III tumors had better overall survival after STR+EBRT. Patients with infratentorial tumors had improved overall survival compared with those with supratentorial tumors. Progression-free survival was best in those patients with infratentorial tumors following STR+EBRT. Consideration of all of these factors is important when counseling families on treatment options.
A systematic review
Aaron J. Clark, Tene A. Cage, Derick Aranda, Andrew T. Parsa, Kurtis I. Auguste, and Nalin Gupta
Craniopharyngiomas are benign tumors but their close anatomical relationship with critical neurological, endocrine, and vascular structures makes gross-total resection (GTR) with minimal morbidity difficult to achieve. Currently, there is controversy regarding the extent, timing, and modality of treatment for pediatric craniopharyngioma.
The authors performed a systematic review of the published literature on pediatric craniopharyngioma to determine patterns of clinical practice and the reported outcomes of standard treatment strategies. This yielded 109 studies, which contained data describing extent of resection for a total of 531 patients. Differences in outcome were examined based upon extent of resection and choice of radiation treatment.
Gross-total resection was associated with increased rates of new endocrine dysfunction (OR 5.4, p < 0.001), panhypopituitarism (OR 7.8, p = 0.006), and new neurological deficits (OR 9.9, p = 0.03) compared with biopsy procedures. Subtotal resection (STR) was not associated with an increased rate of new neurological deficits. Gross-total was associated with increased rates of diabetes insipidus (OR 7.7, p = 0.05) compared with the combination of STR and radiotherapy (RT). The addition of RT to STR was associated with increased rates of panhypopituitarism (OR 9.9, p = 0.01) but otherwise similar rates of morbidities.
Although subject to the limitations of a literature review, this report suggests that GTR is associated with increased rates of endocrinopathies compared with STR + RT, and this should be considered when planning goals of surgery.