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Roberto C. Heros

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Giovanni La Rosa, Antonino Germanò, Alfredo Conti, Fabio Cacciola, Gerardo Caruso and Francesco Tomasello

Surgery for adult patients with lumbar and lumbosacral spondylolisthesis is reserved for those with intractable radiculopathy, claudication, or symptomatic spinal instability. Internal fixation, in which posterior fusion, transpedicular screw fixation, and implantation of titanium devices are performed, has been advocated to improve fusion rates and clinical results. Fourteen consecutive patients with Grade II to III lumbar and lumbosacral spondylolisthesis who underwent posterior decompression, reduction, autologous posterior facet joint arthrodesis, and SOCON-SRI implantation are retrospectively reviewed.

All patients underwent complete preoperative clinical and neuroradiological evaluation. Treatment consisted of posterior decompressive surgery and implantation of the SOCON-SRI system (transpedicular screws, prebent longitudinal rods, and one locking-screw clamps). Distraction of the interbody space and rotation were performed to achieve an optimum spinal realignment. The facet joints were fused by using autologous bone graft. The authors obtained detailed clinical, functional, economic, and neuroradiological follow-up data for up to 14 months (range 8–18 months).

The efficacy of the treatment was evaluated by comparing pre- and postoperative data. Pain was decreased in all cases, neurological dysfunction ameliorated in 50%, and functional and economic status was improved in 78% and 100%, respectively. No cases of fusion failure or instrumentation-related complications occurred. The authors describe their results of treating patients with spondylolisthesis in the light of the rationale for surgery and the more recent pertinent literature.

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Filippo F. Angileri, Salvatore Cardali, Alfredo Conti, Giovanni Raffa and Francesco Tomasello

Object

Telemedicine provides a new approach to improve stroke care in community settings, delivering acute stroke expertise to hospitals in rural areas. Given the controversies in many aspects of the treatment of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) and the lack of guidelines, a prompt neurosurgical second opinion may facilitate the treatment of patients with ICH. Here, the authors' 8-year experience with the use of telemedicine in the management of ICH is reported.

Methods

The medical records of patients with ICH treated through a telemedicine system in the district of Messina, Italy, between June 2003 and June 2011 were retrospectively reviewed. Neuroradiological and clinical data for patients were transmitted through a high-technology “hub-and-spoke” telemedicine network. Neurosurgical teleconsulting (at the hub) was available for 7 peripheral hospitals (spokes) serving about 700,000 people. The authors analyzed 1) the time between peripheral hospital admission and the specialized second opinion consultation, 2) primary and secondary transfers to the authors' neurosurgery department, and 3) the treatments (surgical or medical) of patients transferred to the hub.

Results

The telemedicine network was used to treat more than 2800 patients, 733 with ICH. A neurosurgical consultation was provided in 38 minutes versus 160 minutes for a consultation without telemedicine. One hundred seventy-six (24%) of 733 patients were primarily transferred to the hub. Ninety-five patients (13%) underwent surgical treatment. The remaining 81 patients (11%) underwent neurointensive care. Eight (1.4%) of 557 patients treated at the spokes needed a secondary transfer for surgical treatment because of a worsening clinical condition and/or CT findings. Considering secondary and inappropriate transfers, the interpretation of data was correct in 96.5% of cases.

Conclusions

Telemedicine allowed rapid visualization of neuroradiological and clinical data, providing neurosurgical expertise to community hospitals on demand and within minutes. It allowed the treatment of patients at peripheral hospitals and optimized resources. A small percentage of patients treated at the peripheral hospitals had secondary deterioration. Telemedicine allowed fast patient transfer when necessary and provided improved accuracy in patient care.

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Domenico Gerardo Iacopino, Maria Giusa, Alfredo Conti, Salvatore Cardali and Francesco Tomasello

The authors describe a case of spinal arteriovenous fistula (AVF) treated by a microvauscular Doppler–assisted surgical interruption of the arterialized vein. Microvascular Doppler monitoring represents a valid, widely available, non-invasive tool that enables identification, through flow spectrum analysis, of components of this type of vascular malformation. In this case because the location of the fistula was identified prior to opening the dura only minimally invasive surgery was required. Direct recordings of the arterialized draining vein and the nidus of the fistula demonstrated a pathological spectrum caused by the arterial supply and the disturbed venous outflow in which a high-resistance flow pattern and low diastolic flow resembling an arterial-like flow velocity were observed. The fistula was obliterated by interruption of the draining vein, and Doppler measurements provided information on flow velocity changes in the medullary veins from an arterial to a venous pattern. The absence of any residual flow in the AVF confirmed successful hemodynamic treatment.

Intraoperative microvascular Doppler recording during surgical closure of spinal AVF is a widely available and reliable monitoring modality that helps to produce excellent clinical results.

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Francesco Tomasello, Alfredo Conti, Salvatore Cardali and Filippo Flavio Angileri

Object

Surgical treatment of parasagittal meningiomas is challenging. Preserving the venous outflow is the key point, but this may preclude radical resection. Different surgical strategies have been proposed. To contribute to the debate on the optimal strategy for treating these tumors, a single-institutional, single-surgeon series of patients with parasagittal meningiomas was analyzed and the available literature reviewed.

Methods

Clinical charts of patients with parasagittal meningioma, managed at the University of Messina between 1988 and 2008, were retrospectively reviewed. A microsurgical resection, the goal of which was to preserve the venous outflow, was performed. Only if the superior sagittal sinus (SSS) was angiographically occluded, but if alternative venous outflow was clearly recognized, was the tumor resected, together with the sinus without further flow restoration. A MEDLINE review of the literature published between 1955 and 2011 was performed.

Results

Long-term follow-up (mean 80 months) data obtained in 67 patients with meningiomas involving the SSS were analyzed. The recurrence rate was 10.4%; the morbidity and mortality rates were 10.4% and 4.5%, respectively. The authors identified in the literature 19 relevant studies on this issue, and based on their review of the literature, there is no evidence that aggressive management offers an advantage in terms of recurrence rate.

Conclusions

Analysis of the data obtained in the 67 patients confirmed good outcome and long-term tumor control following a surgical strategy aimed to preserve venous outflow. These findings and the results of the authors' analysis of the literature emphasize that the goal of radical tumor resection should be balanced by an awareness of the increased surgical risk attendant on aggressive management of the SSS and bridging veins.

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Giovanni La Rosa, Fabio Cacciola, Alfredo Conti, Salvatore Cardali, Domenico La Torre, Nicola Maria Gambadauro and Francesco Tomasello

Object

Clinical and radiographic results in 30 consecutive patients who underwent posterior lumbar fixation and posterior facet joint or posterior interbody fusion for Meyerding Grade II/III spondylolisthesis were assessed: 1) to address the suitability of a dynamic stabilization; and 2) to investigate whether there are differences in terms of clinical and functional results and biomechanical properties between these two types of arthrodesis.

Methods

Between June 1998 and April 2000, 16 patients underwent posterior interfacet fusion and implantation of the SOCON-SRI system. In 14 patients posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) and placement of the same system were performed. Clinical, economic, functional, and radiographic data were recorded pre- and postoperatively.

The average changes in the Prolo Scale economic and functional scores were 1.25 and 1.62, respectively, in patients who underwent posterior fusion; the average measured preoperative vertebral slippage was 47.8% (range 30–65%), and postoperatively it was 18.5% (range 15–25%). In patients in whom PLIF was performed, the average changes in economic and functional score were 1.21 and 1.36, respectively, and the average preoperative vertebral slippage was 43.5% (range 30–55%) compared with 20% (range 15–25%) postoperatively.

Conclusions

The use of a segmental pedicle screw fixation with the SOCON-SRI system successfully combines the goal of solid fusion with the requirements of nerve root decompression. When the two fusion techniques were compared, an overall superior reliability and resistance of the systems was associated with the PLIF procedure (p = 0.04) but clinical outcomes did not differ greatly (p ≥ 0.05).

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Amedeo Calisto, Georg Dorfmüller, Martine Fohlen, Christine Bulteau, Alfredo Conti and Olivier Delalande

Object

Hypothalamic hamartomas (HH) may induce drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE), thereby requiring surgical treatment. Conventionally, treatment is aimed at removing the lesion, but a disconnection procedure has been shown to be safer and at least as effective. The thulium laser (Revolix) has been recently introduced in urological endoscopy because of its ability to deliver a smooth cut with good control of the extent of tissue damage. The authors sought to analyze the safety and efficacy of the thulium 2-μm laser applied through navigated, robot-assisted endoscopy in disconnection surgery for HHs.

Methods

Twenty patients with HH who were drug resistant were treated during a 12-month period. Conventional disconnection by monopolar coagulation (endoscopic electrode) was performed in 13 patients, and thulium laser disconnection was performed in the remaining 7 patients. The endoscope was inserted into the ventricle contralateral to the attachment of the HH on the third ventricular wall. Results in terms of safety, efficacy, and ease of use of the instrument were analyzed.

Results

All 20 patients achieved a satisfactory postoperative Engel score (Classes I–III). At 12 months, the Engel class was I or II in 8 of 13 patients (61.5%) who underwent monopolar coagulation and in 6 of 7 patients (85.7%) who underwent laser disconnection (p = 0.04). Seven of 13 patients (53.8%) who underwent monopolar coagulator disconnection and 2 of 7 patients (28.6%) who underwent laser disconnection had immediate postoperative complications. At the 3-month follow-up, only 2 patients (15.4%) treated by coagulation still experienced mild surgery-related recent memory deficits. No complications persisted at the 12-month follow-up.

Conclusions

The disconnection procedure is a safe and effective treatment strategy to treat drug-resistant epilepsy in patients with HHs. With the limitations of initial experience and a short-term follow-up, it appears that the thulium 2-μm laser has the technical features to replace the standard coagulation in this procedure.

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Domenico G. Iacopino, Alfredo Conti, Calogero Battaglia, Clotilde Siliotti, Tullio Lucanto, Letterio B. Santamaria and Francesco Tomasello

Object. Nitrous oxide has an adverse effect on cerebrovascular hemodynamics. Increased intracranial pressure, cerebral blood flow (CBF), cerebral metabolic rate of O2 (CMRO2), and reduced autoregulation indices have been reported, but their magnitudes are still being debated.

This study was designed to evaluate the effect of N2O on CBF and autoregulatory indexes during N2O—sevoflurane anesthesia in a prospective randomized controlled series of patients.

Methods. Two groups of 20 patients were studied on the basis of the use of N2O in the anesthetic gas mixture. The transient hyperemic response test, which relies on transcranial Doppler ultrasound techniques, was used to assess cerebral hemodynamics.

The time-averaged mean flow velocity, considered to be an index of actual CBF, increased significantly (p < 0.001) after introduction of N2O. The hyperemic response, considered as the index of autoregulatory potential, decreased significantly after introduction of N2O into the gas mixture (p < 0.001).

Conclusions. The increase in CBF and the reduction in autoregulatory indices suggest caution in using N2O during sevoflurane anesthesia, especially in patients with reduced autoregulatory reserve and during neurosurgical interventions. Transcranial Doppler ultrasonography is an efficacious method to evaluate the effects of anesthetic agents on CBF.

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Giovanni La Rosa, Domenico d'Avella, Alfredo Conti, Salvatore Cardali, Domenico La Torre, Fabio Cacciola, Marcello Longo and Francesco Tomasello

✓ Spinal epidural hematomas (SEHs) are uncommon complications of traumatic injury to the spine. Emergency surgical evacuation is the standard treatment. Although it is recognized in the literature, the possibility of nonsurgical treatment of traumatic SEH is far from being codified. The authors report excellent outcomes in four conservatively managed patients who had sustained a severe spine injury with fracture of the lumbar vertebral body and in whom traumatic SEHs were diagnosed by magnetic resonance imaging. Although in the authors' experience a good spontaneous outcome in this subgroup of minimally symptomatic patients harboring moderate-sized SEHs has been achieved, further studies are necessary to understand the real spectrum of nonsurgical treatment of such lesions.

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Giovanni La Rosa, Domenico d'Avella, Alfredo Conti, Salvatore Cardali, Domenico La Torre, Fabio Cacciola, Marcello Longo and Francesco Tomasello

Spinal epidural hematomas (SEHs) are uncommon complications caused by traumatic injuries to the spine. Emergency surgical evacuation is the standard treatment. Although recognized in the literature, the possibility of nonsurgical treatment of traumatic SEHs is far from being codified. The authors report on the treatment of four patients whose traumatic SEHs were diagnosed by magnetic resonance (MRI) imaging and managed conservatively with excellent results.

All patients had suffered severe spine injury with fracture of a lumbar vertebral body, were admitted within 12 hours of trauma, and exhibited only minimal neurological disturbances on admission. Magnetic resonance imaging studies were performed within 24 hours of trauma. Hematomas appeared isointense/slightly hyperintense on T1- and heterogeneous on T2-weighted MR images. Clot thickness varied between 0.8 cm and 1 cm, width between 1 cm and 1.8 cm, and length between 2.7 and 9 cm. In light of each patient's fairly good neurological condition a conservative approach was taken. In all cases serial MR imaging documented progressive clot resolution, which was completed within 8 to 10 days of trauma. At discharge all patients were neurologically intact.

The conservative treatment option of traumatic SEH should be reserved for exceptional cases whose deficits are minimal, when neurological deterioration is followed by early and sustained spontaneous recovery, and when there are clear medical contraindications for surgery. The results of the present study confirm that nonsurgical treatment is feasible in a subgroup of minimally symptomatic patients who harbor moderate-sized SEHs. Although the authors' experience shows a good spontaneous outcome of some traumatic SEH, further studies are necessary to understand the real spectrum of nonsurgical treatment of such lesions.