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Vijay M. Ravindra, Andrea Brock, Al-Wala Awad, Ricky Kalra and Meic H. Schmidt

OBJECTIVE

Treatment advances have resulted in improved survival for many cancer types, and this, in turn, has led to an increased incidence of metastatic disease, specifically to the vertebral column. Surgical decompression and stabilization prior to radiation therapy have been shown to improve functional outcomes, but anterior access to the thoracolumbar junction may involve open thoracotomy, which can cause significant morbidity. The authors describe the treatment of 12 patients in whom a mini-open thoracoscopic-assisted approach (mini-open TAA) to the thoracolumbar junction was used to treat metastatic disease, with an analysis of outcomes.

METHODS

The authors reviewed a retrospective cohort of patients treated for thoracolumbar junction metastatic disease with mini-open TAA between 2004 and 2016. Data collection included operative time, estimated blood loss, length of stay, follow-up duration, and pre- and postoperative visual analog scale scores and Frankel grades.

RESULTS

Twelve patients underwent a mini-open TAA procedure for metastatic disease at the thoracolumbar junction. The mean age of patients was 59 years (range 53–77 years), mean estimated blood loss was 613 ml, and the mean duration of the mini-open TAA procedure was 234 minutes (3.8 hours). The median length of stay in the hospital was 7.5 days (range 5–21 days). All 12 patients had significant improvement in their postoperative pain scores in comparison with their preoperative pain scores (p < 0.001). No patients suffered from worsening neurological function after surgery, and of 7 patients who presented with neurological dysfunction, 6 (86%) had an improvement in their Frankel grade after surgery. No patients experienced delayed hardware failure requiring reoperation over a mean follow-up of 10 months (range 1–45 months).

CONCLUSIONS

The mini-open TAA to the thoracolumbar junction for metastatic disease is a durable procedure that has a reduced morbidity rate compared with traditional open thoracotomy for ventral decompression and fusion. It compares well with traditional and novel posterior approaches to the thoracolumbar junction. The authors found a significant improvement in preoperative pain and neurological symptoms that supports greater use of the mini-open TAA for the treatment of complex metastatic disease at the thoracolumbar junction.

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Al-Wala Awad, Craig Kilburg, Michael Karsy, William T. Couldwell and Philipp Taussky

OBJECTIVE

The Pipeline embolization device (PED) is a self-expanding mesh stent that diverts blood flow away from an aneurysm; it has been successfully used to treat aneurysms of the proximal internal carotid artery (ICA). PEDs have a remarkable ability to alter regional blood flow along the tortuous segments of the ICA and were incidentally found to alter the angle of the anterior genu after treatment. The authors quantified these changes and explored their implications as they relate to treatment effect.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed cases of aneurysms treated with a PED between the ophthalmic and posterior communicating arteries from 2012 through 2015. The angles of the anterior genu were measured on the lateral projections of cerebral angiograms obtained before and after treatment with a PED. The angles of the anterior genu of patients without aneurysms were used as normal controls.

RESULTS

Thirty-eight patients were identified who had been treated with a PED; 34 (89.5%) had complete obliteration and 4 (10.5%) had persistence of their aneurysm at last follow-up (mean 11.3 months). After treatment, 32 patients had an increase, 3 had a decrease, and 3 had no change in the angle of the anterior genu. The average measured angle of the anterior genu was 36.7° before treatment and 44.3° after treatment (p < 0.0001). The average angle of the anterior genu of control patients was 43.32° (vs 36.7° for the preoperative angle in the patients with aneurysms, p < 0.057). The average change in the angle of patients with postoperative Raymond scores of 1 was 9.10°, as compared with 1.25° in patients with postoperative Raymond scores > 1 (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Treatment with a PED significantly changes the angle of the anterior genu. An average change of 9.1° was associated with complete obliteration of treated aneurysms. These findings have important implications for the treatment and management of cerebral aneurysm.

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Nam K. Yoon, Al-Wala Awad, M. Yashar S. Kalani, Philipp Taussky and Min S. Park

Atherosclerotic disease of the cerebral vasculature is a major cause of stroke worldwide. Atherosclerosis that is refractory to best medical management may require revascularization. In these instances, endovascular treatment provides a popular and safe alternative to open surgical techniques. The authors provide an overview of stent technology in the treatment of ischemic stroke, discussing the major studies evaluating stenting for extracranial carotid artery, vertebral artery, and intracranial atherosclerotic disease. The authors describe the commonly used stents with respect to their individual characteristics and technical limitations. Current and future developments in stent technology are also discussed, with areas for further innovation and clinical research.

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David S. Xu, Al-Wala Awad, Chad Mehalechko, Jeffrey R. Wilson, Lynn S. Ashby, Stephen W. Coons and Nader Sanai

OBJECTIVE

Seizures are the most common presenting symptom of newly diagnosed WHO Grade II gliomas (low-grade glioma [LGG]) and significantly impair quality of life. Although gross-total resection of LGG is associated with better seizure control, it remains unclear whether an extent of resection (EOR) “threshold” exists for long-term seizure control. Specifically, what proportion of FLAIR-positive tissue in patients with newly diagnosed LGG must be removed to achieve Engel Class I seizure freedom? To clarify the EOR threshold for long-term seizure control, the authors analyzed data from a consecutive series of patients with newly diagnosed LGG who presented with seizures and subsequently underwent microsurgical resection.

METHODS

The authors identified consecutive patients with newly diagnosed LGG who presented with seizures and were treated at the Barrow Neurological Institute between 2002 and 2012. Patients were dichotomized into those who were seizure free postoperatively and those who were not. The EOR was calculated by quantitative comparison of pre- and postoperative MRI. Univariate analysis of these 2 groups included the chi-square test and the Mann-Whitney U-test, and a multivariate logistic regression was constructed to predict the impact of multiple independent variables on the likelihood of postoperative seizure freedom. To determine a threshold of EOR that optimizes seizure freedom, a receiver operating characteristic curve was plotted and the optimal point of discrimination was determined.

RESULTS

Data from 128 patients were analyzed (male/female ratio 1.37:1; mean age 40.8 years). All 128 patients presented with seizures, usually generalized (n = 57, 44.5%) or simple partial (n = 57, 44.5%). The median EOR was 90.0%. Of 128 patients, 46 (35.9%) had 100% volumetric tumor resection, 64 (50.0%) had 90%–99% volumetric tumor resection, and 11 (8.6%) had 80%–89% volumetric tumor resection. Postoperatively, 105 (82%) patients were seizure free (Engel Class I); 23 (18%) were not (Engel Classes II–IV). The proportion of seizure-free patients increased in proportion to the EOR. Predictive variables included in the regression model were preoperative Karnofsky Performance Scale score, seizure type, time from diagnosis to surgery, preoperative number of antiepileptic drugs, and EOR. Only EOR significantly affected the likelihood of postoperative Engel Class I status (OR 11.5, 95% CI 2.4–55.6; p = 0.002). The receiver operating characteristic curve generated based on Engel Class I status showed a sensitivity of 0.65 and 1 – specificity of 0.175, corresponding to an EOR of 80%.

CONCLUSIONS

For adult patients with LGG who suffer seizures, the results suggest that seizure freedom can be attained when EOR > 80% is achieved. Improvements in both the proportion of seizure-free patients and the durability of seizure freedom were observed beyond this 80% threshold. Interestingly, this putative EOR seizure-freedom threshold closely approximates that reported for the overall survival benefit in newly diagnosed hemispheric LGGs, suggesting that a minimum level of residual tumor burden is necessary for both disease and symptomatic progression.

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Vijay M. Ravindra, Rajiv R. Iyer, Al-Wala Awad, Robert J. Bollo, Huirong Zhu and Douglas L. Brockmeyer

OBJECTIVE

The authors’ objective was to better understand the anatomical load-bearing relationship between the atlantooccipital joint and the upper cervical spine and its influence on the clinical behavior of patients with Chiari malformation type I (CM-I) and craniocervical pathology.

METHODS

In a single-center prospective study of patients younger than 18 years with CM-I from 2015 through 2017 (mean age 9.91 years), the authors measured the occipital condyle–C2 sagittal vertebral alignment (C–C2SVA; defined as the position of a plumb line from the midpoint of the occiput (C0)–C1 joint relative to the posterior aspect of the C2–3 disc space), the pB–C2 (a line perpendicular to a line from the basion to the posteroinferior aspect of the C2 body on sagittal MRI), and the CXA (clivoaxial angle). Control data from 30 patients without CM-I (mean age 8.97 years) were used for comparison. The primary outcome was the need for anterior odontoid resection and/or occipitocervical fusion with or without odontoid reduction. The secondary outcome was the need for two or more Chiari-related operations.

RESULTS

Of the 60 consecutive patients with CM-I identified, 7 underwent anterior odontoid resection or occipitocervical fusion and 10 underwent ≥ 2 decompressive procedures. The mean C–C2SVA was greater in the overall CM-I group versus controls (3.68 vs 0.13 mm, p < 0.0001), as was the pB–C2 (7.7 vs 6.4 mm, p = 0.0092); the CXA was smaller (136° vs 148°, p < 0.0001). A C–C2SVA ≥ 5 mm was found in 35% of CM-I children and 3.3% of controls (p = 0.0006). The sensitivities and specificities for requiring ventral decompression/occipitocervical fusion were 100% and 74%, respectively, for C–C2SVA ≥ 5 mm; 71% and 94%, respectively, for CXA < 125°; and 71% and 75%, respectively, for pB–C2 ≥ 9 mm. The sensitivities and specificities for the need for ≥ 2 decompressive procedures were 60% and 70%, respectively, for C–C2SVA ≥ 5 mm; 50% and 94%, respectively, for CXA < 125°; and 60% and 76%, respectively, for pB–C2 ≥ 9 mm. The log-rank test demonstrated significant differences between C–C2SVA groups (p = 0.0007) for the primary outcome. A kappa value of 0.73 for C–C2SVA between raters indicated substantial agreement.

CONCLUSIONS

A novel screening measurement for craniocervical bony relationships, the C–C2SVA, is described. A significant difference in C–C2SVA between CM-I patients and controls was found. A C–C2SVA ≥ 5 mm is highly predictive of the need for occipitocervical fusion/ventral decompression in patients with CM-I. Further validation of this screening measurement is needed.

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Hasan A. Zaidi, Al-Wala Awad, Michael A. Bohl, Kristina Chapple, Laura Knecht, Heidi Jahnke, William L. White and Andrew S. Little

OBJECT

The comparative efficacy of microscopic and fully endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery for pituitary adenomas has not been well studied despite the adoption of fully endoscopic surgery by many pituitary centers. The influence of surgeon experience has also not been examined in this setting. The authors therefore compared the extent of tumor resection (EOR) and the endocrine outcomes of 1 very experienced surgeon performing a microscopic transsphenoidal surgery technique with those of a less experienced surgeon using a fully endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery technique for resection of nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas in a concurrent series of patients.

METHODS

Post hoc analysis was conducted of a cohort of adult patients prospectively enrolled in a pituitary adenoma quality-of-life study between October 2011 and June 2014. Patients were followed up for 6 months after surgery. Patients were treated either by a less experienced surgeon (100 independent cases) who practices fully endoscopic surgery exclusively or by a very experienced surgeon (1800 independent cases) who practices microscopic surgery exclusively. Patient demographic characteristics, tumor characteristics, hypopituitarism, complications, and length of hospital stay were analyzed. Tumor volumes and EOR were determined by formal volumetric analysis involving manual segmentation of MR images performed before surgery and within 6 months after surgery. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine predictors of EOR.

RESULTS

Fifty-five patients underwent fully endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery, and 80 patients underwent fully microscopic transsphenoidal surgery. The baseline characteristics of the 2 treatment groups were well matched. EOR was similar between the endoscopic and microscopic groups, respectively, as estimated by gross-total resection rate (78.2% vs 81.3%, p = 0.67), percentage of tumor resected (99.2% vs 98.7%, p = 0.42), and volume of residual tumor (0.12 cm3 vs 0.20 cm3, p = 0.41). Multivariate modeling suggested that preoperative tumor volume was the most important predictor of EOR (p = 0.001). No difference was found in the development of anterior gland dysfunction (p > 0.14), but there was a higher incidence of permanent posterior gland dysfunction in the microscopic group (p = 0.04). Combined rates of major complications and unplanned readmissions were lower in the endoscopic group (p = 0.02), but individual complications were not significantly different.

CONCLUSIONS

A less experienced surgeon using a fully endoscopic technique was able to achieve outcomes similar to those of a very experienced surgeon using a microscopic technique in a cohort of patients with nonfunctioning tumors smaller than 60 cm3. The study raises the provocative notion that certain advantages afforded by the fully endoscopic technique may impact the learning curve in pituitary surgery for nonfunctioning adenomas.

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David A. Wilson, Al-Wala Awad, David Brachman, Stephen W. Coons, Heyoung McBride, Emad Youssef, Peter Nakaji, Andrew G. Shetter, Kris A. Smith, Robert F. Spetzler and Nader Sanai

Object

The optimal management of pineocytomas remains controversial. Although the value of complete microsurgical removal is well accepted, gross-total resection is not always feasible. Data regarding the role of postoperative adjuvant stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) for residual disease is limited and conflicting. Here, the authors review the largest single-institution experience with multimodal pineocytoma management in an effort to quantify the utility of adjuvant radiosurgical treatment of residual disease.

Methods

The medical records and radiographic studies for all patients with histologically confirmed pineocytoma at the Barrow Neurological Institute between 1999 and 2011 were retrospectively reviewed. Clinical and radiographic data, including the volumetric extent of resection, were collected retrospectively, and Kaplan-Meier analysis was used to identify progression-free survival.

Results

Fourteen adults with newly diagnosed pineocytomas were surgically treated in the period from 1999 to 2011. The median clinical and radiographic follow-ups were 44 and 53 months, respectively. Twelve patients (86%) underwent microsurgical removal and 2 (14%) underwent endoscopic biopsy. Five patients (36%) had complete resections and 9 (64%) demonstrated residual disease. Three patients (21%) presented with radiographic recurrence at a median interval of 43 months after initial treatment (range 13–83 months). At the time of recurrence, the median preoperative tumor volume was 2.6 cm3. Adjuvant SRS was used to treat 3 subtotally resected tumors (33%) following initial presentation and 2 (66%) at the time of recurrence. Among patients with subtotally resected tumors, progression-free survival was significantly longer (p < 0.05) for those who did as compared with those who did not undergo adjuvant radiosurgery. To date, no patient who underwent adjuvant radiosurgery has demonstrated radiographic or clinical evidence of disease progression.

Conclusions

Microsurgical removal remains the definitive treatment for pineocytomas, yet residual disease can be effectively controlled using adjuvant SRS.

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Al-Wala Awad, Karam Moon, Nam Yoon, Marcus D. Mazur, M. Yashar S. Kalani, Philipp Taussky, Cameron G. McDougall, Felipe C. Albuquerque and Min S. Park

OBJECTIVE

Flow diversion has proven to be an efficacious means of treating cerebral aneurysms that are refractory to other therapeutic means. Patients with tandem aneurysms treated with flow diversion have been included in larger, previously reported series; however, there are no dedicated reports on using this technique during a single session to treat this unique subset of patients. Therefore, the authors analyzed the outcomes of patients who had undergone single-session flow diversion for the treatment of tandem aneurysms.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective review of flow diversion with the Pipeline embolization device (PED) for the treatment of tandem aneurysms in a single session at 2 participating medical centers: University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona. Patient demographic data, aneurysm characteristics, treatment strategy and results, complications, and follow-up data were collected from the medical record and analyzed.

RESULTS

Between January 2011 and December 2015, 17 patients (12 female, 5 male) with a total of 38 aneurysms (mean size 4.7 ± 2.7 mm, mean ± SD) were treated. Sixteen patients had aneurysms in the anterior circulation, and 1 patient had tandem aneurysms in the posterior circulation. Twelve patients underwent only placement of a PED, whereas 5 underwent adjunctive coil embolization of at least 1 aneurysm. One PED was used in each of 9 patients, and 2 PEDs were required in each of 8 patients. There were 2 intraprocedural complications; however, in both instances, the patients were asymptomatic at the last follow-up. The follow-up imaging studies were available for 15 patients at a mean of 7 months after treatment (216 days, range 0–540 days). The mean initial Raymond score after treatment was 2.7 ± 0.7, and the mean final score was 1.3 ± 0.7.

CONCLUSIONS

In this series, the use of flow diversion for the treatment of tandem cerebral aneurysms had an acceptable safety profile, indicating that it should be considered as an effective therapy for this complicated subset of patients. Further prospective studies must be performed before more definitive conclusions can be made.