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Editorial: Lateral mass screws

Paul M. Arnold

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Congenital hypoplasia or aplasia of the lumbosacral pedicle as an unusual cause of spondylolisthesis in the pediatric age group

Case report

Akash J. Patel, Sudhakar Vadivelu, Sohum K. Desai, and Andrew Jea

The authors describe rare cases of congenital hypoplasia of the L-5 pedicles and the congenital absence of the left S-1 pedicle in 2 young girls, respectively, including the presentation, diagnosis, and treatment. Moreover, they review the literature on this clinical entity. The patients presented with intractable chronic low-back pain. Plain radiographs and 2D CT scanning revealed the presence of the aforementioned anomalies. Degenerative changes to adjacent level and contralateral facet joints were thought to be the result of overload and instability and seemed to have led to spondylolisthesis, micromotion at L-5 and S-1, and subsequent low-back pain. The pediatric patients were treated with posterior instrumented fusion with good functional outcomes at a minimum 3-month follow-up. To the best of the authors' knowledge, these are the first reports of intractable low-back pain and spondylolisthesis accompanied by hypoplastic-aplastic pedicles at the lumbosacral junction in children.

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Neurosurgical “pearls” and neurosurgical evidence

E. Antonio Chiocca

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Open reduction and internal fixation for angulated, unstable odontoid synchondrosis fractures in children: a safe alternative to halo fixation?

Report of 2 cases

Daniel H. Fulkerson, Steven W. Hwang, Akash J. Patel, and Andrew Jea

External orthosis is the accepted and historical management of odontoid synchondrosis fractures; however, this conservative therapy carries a significant complication and fracture nonunion rate among young children. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the authors' own experience in the context of the literature, to explore surgical fixation as a primary treatment for unstable fractures. The authors retrospectively reviewed 2 cases of unstable odontoid synchondrosis fractures treated at their institution; both showed radiographic progression of deformity and subsequently underwent an open surgical reduction and fusion. A literature review was conducted to compare the authors' management strategy with those in published data. External orthosis for treatment of odontoid synchondrosis fractures has a strong history of success. However, in the literature, patients treated with a halo orthosis had a 43.3% rate of complications and an 11.4% risk of nonunion. There are radiographic findings that suggest instability, such as severe angulation and displacement of the odontoid process. Both patients in the present report underwent successful fusion without complication, as documented on CT scans obtained 3 months after surgery. Given the high rate of fusion attained with conservative therapy, it is recommended for most synchondrosis fractures. However, there is a recognized subgroup of synchondrosis fractures with severe angulation (> 30°) and displacement suggestive of significant ligamentous injury. In these patients, surgical fixation may be a safe and efficacious alternative to halo orthosis as the primary treatment.

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Surgical outcome for focal cortical dysplasia: an analysis of recent surgical series

A review

Joshua J. Chern, Akash J. Patel, Andrew Jea, Daniel J. Curry, and Youssef G. Comair


Focal cortical dysplasia (FCD) is an important cause of intractable epilepsy and is at times treatable by resection. The now widespread use of MR imaging and recent advancement of functional imaging have increased the number of patients undergoing surgical treatment for FCD. The objective of this review is to critically examine and to provide a summary of surgical series on FCD published since 2000.


Studies concerning surgery for FCD were identified from MEDLINE and references of selected articles and book chapters. Data from these included studies were summarized and analyzed to identify factors correlated with seizure outcome.


Sixteen studies were identified, and 469 patients met our selection criteria. Seizure-free outcome at 1-year postoperatively was achieved in 59.7% of the patients. Children and adults were equally likely to benefit from the surgery. Complete resection (OR 13.7, 95% CI 6.68–28.1; p < 0.0001) and temporal location (OR 2.15, 95% CI 1.26–3.69; p = 0.0073) were two positive prognostic indicators of seizure-free outcome. Utilization of invasive monitoring did not affect the chance of seizure remission, but firm conclusions could not be drawn because patients were not randomized.


The advancement of modern imaging has transformed the process of surgical candidate selection for partial epilepsy due to FCD. Patients from recent surgical series were more homogeneous in their clinical presentations and might represent FCD as an independent pathological entity. This likely explained the improved surgical outcome for this group of patients. These reports also documented the increased utilization of functional imaging, but their efficacy needs to be verified with further studies.

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Assessment of the impact of comorbidities on perioperative complications in pediatric neurosurgery

Clinical article

Akash J. Patel, Ahilan Sivaganesan, Robert J. Bollo, Alison Brayton, Thomas G. Luerssen, and Andrew Jea


Recent attempts to control health care costs focus on reducing or eliminating payments for complications, hospital-acquired conditions, and provider preventable conditions, with payment restrictions applied uniformly. A patient's preexisting comorbidities likely influence the perioperative complication incidence. This relationship has not previously been examined in pediatric neurosurgery.


The authors conducted a retrospective assessment of prospectively collected relevant patient comorbidities and morbidity and mortality events at a large pediatric neurosurgical unit over a 5-year period. The authors examined the impact of specific comorbidities and the cumulative effect of multiple comorbidities on complication incidence.


A total of 1990 patients underwent 3195 procedures at the authors' institution during the 5-year study period. Overall, 396 complications were analyzed; 298 patients (15.0%) experienced at least one complication. One or more comorbidities were present in 45.9% of patients. Renal comorbidities were clearly associated with the increased incidence of complications (p = 0.02), and they were specifically associated with infection (p = 0.006). Neurological comorbidities had a borderline association with complications (p = 0.05), and they were specifically associated with death (p = 0.037). A patient's having more comorbidities did not correlate with an increased risk of a perioperative complication (p = 0.8275).


The complication incidence in pediatric neurosurgery is variable and may be influenced by the type of neurosurgical procedure and patient-related factors. While patient-related factors beyond the control of the provider can significantly impact complications and hospital-acquired conditions in pediatric neurosurgery, an increasing number of comorbidities do not correlate with an increased risk of complications per patient.

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Disseminated intracranial juvenile xanthogranulomatosis in a neonate without cutaneous lesions

Case report

Loyola V. Gressot, Akash J. Patel, Robert J. Bollo, Carrie A. Mohila, and Andrew Jea

Juvenile xanthogranuloma (JXG) is a rare disease that is part of a spectrum of histiocytic dendritic cell disorders. The authors report an unusual case of a 6-week-old male who presented with seizures. Neuroimaging revealed disseminated intracranial disease involving the optic apparatus, basal ganglia, lateral ventricles, and brainstem. The patient did not have any cutaneous lesions or evidence of extracranial disease. The patient underwent open biopsy of a large right midbrain lesion; pathology was consistent with JXG. He underwent postoperative chemotherapy and is doing well 7 months after surgery with regression of the intracranial lesions. To the best of the authors' knowledge, this is the first report of a neonate with disseminated intracranial JXG without cutaneous stigmata.

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Letter to the Editor. Social media in neurosurgery recruitment during COVID-19 and beyond

Nolan J. Brown, Chidinma M. Wilson, and Donald K. E. Detchou

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Editorial: Presentation to publication

Travis S. Tierney and Andres M. Lozano

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Predicting surgical decision-making in vestibular schwannoma using tree-based machine learning

Ron Gadot, Adrish Anand, Benjamin D. Lovin, Alex D. Sweeney, and Akash J. Patel


Vestibular schwannomas (VSs) are the most common neoplasm of the cerebellopontine angle in adults. Though these lesions are generally slow growing, their growth patterns and associated symptoms can be unpredictable, which may complicate the decision to pursue conservative management versus active intervention. Additionally, surgical decision-making can be controversial because of limited high-quality evidence and multiple quality-of-life considerations. Machine learning (ML) is a powerful tool that utilizes data sets to essentialize multidimensional clinical processes. In this study, the authors trained multiple tree-based ML algorithms to predict the decision for active treatment versus MRI surveillance of VS in a single institutional cohort. In doing so, they sought to assess which preoperative variables carried the most weight in driving the decision for intervention and could be used to guide future surgical decision-making through an evidence-based approach.


The authors reviewed the records of patients who had undergone evaluation by neurosurgery and otolaryngology with subsequent active treatment (resection or radiation) for unilateral VS in the period from 2009 to 2021, as well as those of patients who had been evaluated for VS and were managed conservatively throughout 2021. Clinical presentation, radiographic data, and management plans were abstracted from each patient record from the time of first evaluation until the last follow-up or surgery. Each encounter with the patient was treated as an instance involving a management decision that depended on demographics, symptoms, and tumor profile. Decision tree and random forest classifiers were trained and tested to predict the decision for treatment versus imaging surveillance on the basis of unseen data using an 80/20 pseudorandom split. Predictor variables were tuned to maximize performance based on lowest Gini impurity indices. Model performance was optimized using fivefold cross-validation.


One hundred twenty-four patients with 198 rendered decisions concerning management were included in the study. In the decision tree analysis, only a maximum tumor dimension threshold of 1.6 cm and progressive symptoms were required to predict the decision for treatment with 85% accuracy. Optimizing maximum dimension thresholds and including age at presentation boosted accuracy to 88%. Random forest analysis (n = 500 trees) predicted the decision for treatment with 80% accuracy. Factors with the highest variable importance based on multiple measures of importance, including mean minimal conditional depth and largest Gini impurity reduction, were maximum tumor dimension, age at presentation, Koos grade, and progressive symptoms at presentation.


Tree-based ML was used to predict which factors drive the decision for active treatment of VS with 80%–88% accuracy. The most important factors were maximum tumor dimension, age at presentation, Koos grade, and progressive symptoms. These results can assist in surgical decision-making and patient counseling. They also demonstrate the power of ML algorithms in extracting useful insights from limited data sets.