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Bradley A. Dengler, Shane A. Hawksworth, Laura Berardo, Ian McDougall, and Alexander M. Papanastassiou

OBJECTIVE

The predator scent model of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) produces prolonged abnormal anxiety and avoidance-like behaviors. Increased basolateral amygdala activity has been shown to correlate with severity of PTSD symptoms in human studies. Modulation of this increased amygdala activity by deep brain stimulation led to improved symptoms in prior studies that used a foot shock model of inducing PTSD. The predator scent model is a different technique that induces long-lasting avoidance behavioral responses by exposing the animal to an inescapable scent of one of its predators. The authors hypothesize that high-frequency stimulation of the bilateral basolateral amygdala will decrease avoidance and anxiety-like behaviors in a predator scent rodent model of PTSD.

METHODS

Rodents underwent cat urine exposure in a place preference protocol. Avoidance in the place preference paradigm and anxiety-like behavior in the elevated plus maze were measured before and after high-frequency stimulation.

RESULTS

Predator scent exposure resulted in long-term significant avoidance behavior in rodents. Bilateral stimulation significantly decreased avoidance behavior in rodents compared to no stimulation following predator scent exposure. There were no significant differences in anxiety behaviors on the elevated plus maze between stimulated and unstimulated cohorts.

CONCLUSIONS

Bilateral stimulation of the basolateral amygdala leads to decreased avoidance behavior compared to controls in a predator scent model of PTSD.

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Laura Berardo, Christina Gerges, James Wright, Amber Stout, Hamid Shah, Alexander Papanastassiou, Kristopher Kimmell, and in affiliation with the Council of State Neurosurgical Societies (CSNS)

OBJECTIVE

Neurosurgeon burnout is a serious and prevalent issue that has been shown to impact professionalism, physician health, and patient outcomes. Interventions targeting physician burnout primarily focus on improving physician wellness. Many academic neurosurgery programs have established wellness curricula to combat burnout and improve wellness. No official recommendations exist for establishing a wellness program that effectively targets sources of burnout. The aim of this review was to examine measures of burnout and report objective results of wellness interventions for neurosurgical faculty and residents.

METHODS

Two systematic literature reviews were performed in parallel, in accordance with PRISMA 2009 guidelines. Following removal of duplicates, a query of PubMed/MEDLINE, Scopus, Ovid, Cochrane, and EMBASE databases yielded 134 resident-related articles and 208 faculty-related articles for abstract screening. After abstract screening, 17 articles with a primary focus of resident wellness and 10 with a focus on faculty wellness met criteria for full-text screening. Of the total 27 screened articles, 9 (6 resident, 2 faculty, 1 both resident and faculty) met criteria and were included in the final analysis. Article quality was assessed using the Joanna Briggs Institute critical appraisal tools for cohort studies.

RESULTS

Included studies reported burnout rates for neurosurgery residents of 30%–67%. Work-life imbalance, imbalance of duties, inadequate operative exposure, and hostile faculty were contributors to burnout. The 2 included studies reported burnout rates for neurosurgery faculty members of 27% and 56.7%. Psychosocial stressors, relational stressors, and financial uncertainty were generally associated with increased feelings of burnout. Of the 4 studies reporting on outcomes of wellness initiatives included in this review, 3 reported a positive impact of the wellness interventions and 1 study reported no significant improvement after implementing a wellness initiative.

CONCLUSIONS

Burnout among neurosurgical faculty and residents is prevalent and permeates the daily lives of neurosurgeons, negatively affecting patient outcomes, career satisfaction, and quality of life. Many neurosurgery programs have instituted wellness programs to combat burnout, but few have published evidence of improvement after implementation. While studies have shown that residents and faculty recognize the importance of wellness and look favorably on such initiatives, very few studies have reported objective outcomes.

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S. Andrew Josephson, Alexander M. Papanastassiou, Mitchel S. Berger, Nicholas M. Barbaro, Michael W. McDermott, Joan F. Hilton, Bruce L. Miller, and Michael D. Geschwind

Object

Obtaining brain biopsy specimens is often the diagnostic test of last resort for patients with unexplained neurological conditions, particularly those with a rapidly deteriorating neurological course. The goals of this analysis were to determine the diagnostic sensitivity of brain biopsy specimens in these types of patients and retrospectively identify features of these disorders that may have enabled an earlier diagnosis, which may prevent the need for diagnostic brain biopsy procedures in the future.

Methods

The authors reviewed the case records of all brain biopsy procedures that had been performed at a single tertiary care institution between January 1993 and April 2002 in 171 patients. Patients with HIV or nonlymphomatous brain tumors were excluded from this analysis because the utility of brain biopsy specimens for these conditions has been determined from previous studies. A subgroup analysis of this cohort was performed in the 64 patients who had comprehensive medical records and a clinical syndrome involving a progressively deteriorating neurological condition of less than 1 year in duration.

The overall sensitivity of brain biopsy procedures for diagnostic purposes in the cohort was 65% (111 of 171 patients). The two most common diagnoses in the subgroup with rapidly deteriorating neurological conditions were primary central nervous system (CNS) B-cell lymphoma in 20.3% (13 patients) and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease in 15.6% (10 patients), followed by viral encephalitis in 14.1% (nine patients) and CNS vasculitis in 9.4% (six patients). Clinical symptoms and laboratory data were compared among the diagnostic groups.

Conclusions

These results will help guide the evaluation of patients with neurological conditions that are difficult to diagnose and will provide a foundation for further prospective studies.