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Rudolf Fahlbusch and Amir Samii

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Shizuo Oi, Amir Samii and Madjid Samii

P A newly designed small-diameter rigid-rod neuroendoscope was created to evaluate the applicability of free-hand maneuvering during high-resolution imaging. The neuroendoscope was designed as a light, handheld tool weighing 550 g. A 20-cm-long objective lens, 2 mm in diameter, is placed in the lower two thirds of the single-space lumen of an oval-shaped outer sheath, 16.5 mm long and 3.5 × 2.5 mm at maximum diameter. Included are microinstruments of 1.3-mm diameter for various neuroendoscopic procedures, including microscissors, biopsy forceps, grasping forceps, monopolar coagulator/cutting rod, and bipolar coagulator that can be introduced through the upper one third of the lumen.

Because the endoscope is held steady in the surgeon's left hand, with the handle gripped at the base, quick back-and-forth movements can be made along the long axis, via a peel-away sheath inserted to the ventricle, shifting of the endoscope tip to the side of the objective target will be minimal. Given the instrument's unified configuration, the surgeon will never lose orientation during maneuvering. Using the farthest right of three inlet/outlet orifices, the short and handy semiflexible microinstruments can be guided and controlled by the surgeon's right hand.

After experience in 66 cases in which various neuroendoscopic procedures yielded excellent operative outcomes (morbidity rate in complications related to the endoscopic procedure 0%; mortality rate 0%), the endoscope prototype was finalized in the ideal form for frameless maneuvering that uses a rigid-rod endoscope. The “gun-butt” holder for use with the operator's left hand provides stability and allows the endoscope to be handled with improved control. These new aspects of the neuroendoscope and surgical technique offer substantial improvement over the flexible-steerable fiberoptic endoscopes.

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Amir Samii, Gustavo Adolpho Carvalho and Madjid Samii

Object. Between 1994 and 1998, 44 nerve transfers were performed using a graft between a branch of the accessory nerve and musculocutaneous nerve to restore the flexion of the arm in patients with traumatic brachial plexus injuries. A retrospective study was conducted, including statistical evaluation of the following pre- and intraoperative parameters in 39 patients: 1) time interval between injury and surgery; and 2) length of the nerve graft used to connect the accessory and musculocutaneous nerves.

Methods. The postoperative follow-up interval ranged from 23 to 84 months, with a mean ± standard deviation of 36 ± 13 months. Reinnervation of the biceps muscle was achieved in 72% of the patients. Reinnervation of the musculocutaneous nerve was demonstrated in 86% of the patients who had undergone surgery within the first 6 months after injury, in 65% of the patients who had undergone surgery between 7 and 12 months after injury, and in only 50% of the patients who had undergone surgery 12 months after injury. A statistical comparison of the different preoperative time intervals (0–6 months compared with 7–12 months) showed a significantly better outcome in patients treated with early surgery (p < 0.05). An analysis of the impact of the length of the interposed nerve grafts revealed a statistically significant better outcome in patients with grafts 12 cm or shorter compared with that in patients with grafts longer than 12 cm (p < 0.005).

Conclusions. Together, these results demonstrated that outcome in patients who undergo accessory to musculocutaneous nerve neurotization for restoration of elbow flexion following brachial plexus injury is greatly dependent on the time interval between trauma and surgery and on the length of the nerve graft used.

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Madjid Samii, Venelin M. Gerganov and Amir Samii

Object

The authors evaluated the outcome of radical surgery in a consecutive series of patients with giant vestibular schwannomas (VSs).

Methods

Fifty patients with VSs > 4.0 cm in maximal extrameatal diameter were included in this retrospective study (Group A). The group was compared with a matched group of 167 patients with VSs < 3.9 cm (Group B). In all cases the retrosigmoid approach was used. Outcome measures included completeness of tumor removal, facial nerve function, hearing, and the surgery-related complication rate.

Results

The mean tumor size in Group A was 4.4 cm and that in Group B was 2.3 cm. Total removal was achieved in all Group A patients and in 97.6% of Group B patients. The anatomical integrity of the facial nerve was preserved in 92% in Group A and in 98.8% in Group B. At last follow-up 75% of the patients with giant VSs had excellent or good facial nerve function, 19% had fair function, and 6% had poor function. In 33% of patients (3 cases) with good preoperative hearing level, it was preserved. Newly developed lower cranial nerve dysfunction occurred in 3 patients but proved to be temporary in 2 of them. A CSF leak developed in 6% of those who not previously undergone surgery. Compared with Group B, a significant difference was found only in the rates of the following parameters: excellent facial nerve function, useful and good hearing, lower cranial nerve dysfunction, and blood collection (p < 0.05). The perioperative mortality rate in both groups was 0%.

Conclusions

In patients with a giant VS, total tumor removal can be achieved via the retrosigmoid approach with a 0% mortality rate and low morbidity rate, especially with regards to facial nerve function. In selected cases even hearing preservation is possible. Tumor size significantly correlates with postoperative outcome.

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Madjid Samii, Venelin Gerganov and Amir Samii

Object

The aim of this study was to evaluate and present the results of current surgical treatment of vestibular schwannomas (VSs) and to report the refinements in the operative technique.

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective study of 200 consecutive patients who had undergone VS surgery over a 3-year period. Patient records, operative reports, follow-up data, and neuroradiological findings were analyzed. The main outcome measures were magnetic resonance imaging, neurological status, patient complaints, and surgical complications.

Complete tumor removal was achieved in 98% of patients. Anatomical preservation of the facial nerve was possible in 98.5% of patients. In patients treated for tumors with extension Classes T1, T2, and T3, the rate of facial nerve preservation was 100%. By the last follow-up examination, excellent or good facial nerve function had been achieved in 81% of the cases. By at least 1 year postsurgery, no patients had total facial palsy. In the patients with preserved hearing, the rate of anatomical preservation of the cochlear nerve was 84%. The overall rate of functional hearing preservation was 51%. There was no surgery-related permanent morbidity in this series of patients. Cerebrospinal fluid leakage was diagnosed in 2% of the patients. The mortality rate was 0%.

Conclusions

The goal of VS treatment should be total removal in one stage and preservation of neurological function, as they determine a patient’s quality of life. This goal can be safely and successfully achieved using the retrosigmoid approach.

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Venelin M. Gerganov, Mario Giordano, Amir Samii and Madjid Samii

Object

An increasing number of patients with vestibular schwannomas (VSs) are being treated with radiosurgery. Treatment failure or secondary regrowth after radiosurgery, however, has been observed in 2%–9% of patients. In large tumors that compress the brainstem and in patients who experience rapid neurological deterioration, surgical removal is the only reasonable management option.

Methods

The authors evaluated the relevance of previous radiosurgery for the outcome of surgery in a series of 28 patients with VS. The cohort was further subdivided into Group A (radiosurgery prior to surgery) and Group B (partial tumor removal followed by radiosurgery prior to current surgery). The functional and general outcomes in these 2 groups were compared with those in a control group (no previous treatment, matched characteristics).

Results

There were 15 patients in Group A, 13 in Group B, and 30 in the control group. The indications for surgery were sustained tumor enlargement and progression of neurological symptoms in 12 patients, sustained tumor enlargement in 15 patients, and worsening of neurological symptoms without evidence of tumor growth in 1 patient. Total tumor removal was achieved in all patients in Groups A and B and in 96.7% of those in the control group. There were no deaths in any group. Although no significant differences in the neurological morbidity or complication rates after surgery were noted, the risk of new cranial nerve deficits and CSF leakage was highest in patients in Group B. Patients who underwent previous radiosurgical treatment (Groups A and B) tended to be at higher risk of developing postoperative hematomas in the tumor bed or cerebellum. The rate of facial nerve anatomical preservation was highest in those patients who were not treated previously (93.3%) and decreased to 86.7% in the patients in Group A and to 61.5% in those in Group B. Facial nerve function at follow-up was found to correlate to the previous treatment; excellent or good function was seen in 87% of the patients from the control group, 78% of those in Group A, and 68% of those in Group B.

Conclusions

Complete microsurgical removal of VSs after failed radiosurgery is possible with an acceptable morbidity rate. The functional outcome, however, tends to be worse than in nontreated patients. Surgery after previous partial tumor removal and radiosurgery is most challenging and related to worse outcome.

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Robert L. Martuza

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Donald P. Becker

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Venelin M. Gerganov, Mario Giordano, Madjid Samii and Amir Samii

Object

The reliable preoperative visualization of facial nerve location in relation to vestibular schwannoma (VS) would allow surgeons to plan tumor removal accordingly and may increase the safety of surgery. In this prospective study, the authors attempted to validate the reliability of facial nerve diffusion tensor (DT) imaging–based fiber tracking in a series of patients with large VSs. Furthermore, the authors evaluated the potential of this visualization technique to predict the morphological shape of the facial nerve (tumor compression–related flattening of the nerve).

Methods

Diffusion tensor imaging and anatomical images (constructive interference in steady state) were acquired in a series of 22 consecutive patients with large VSs and postprocessed with navigational software to obtain facial nerve fiber tracking. The location of the cerebellopontine angle (CPA) part of the nerve in relation to the tumor was recorded during surgery by the surgeon, who was blinded to the results of the fiber tracking. A correlative analysis was performed of the imaging-based location of the nerve compared with its in situ position in relation to the VS.

Results

Fibers corresponding to the anatomical location and course of the facial nerve from the brainstem to the internal auditory meatus were identified with the DT imaging–based fiber tracking technique in all 22 cases. The location of the CPA segment of the facial nerve in relation to the VS determined during surgery corresponded to the location of the fibers, predicted by the DT imaging–based fiber tracking, in 20 (90.9%) of the 22 patients. No DT imaging–based fiber tracking correlates were found with the 2 morphological types of the nerve (compact or flat).

Conclusions

The current study of patients with large VSs has shown that the position of the facial nerve in relation to the tumor can be predicted reliably (in 91%) using DT imaging–based fiber tracking. These are preliminary results that need further verification in a larger series.

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Venelin Gerganov, Hussam Metwali, Amir Samii, Rudolf Fahlbusch and Madjid Samii

Object

An extensive craniopharyngioma is a tumor that extends into multiple compartments (subarachnoid spaces) and attains a size larger than 4 cm. A wide spectrum of approaches and strategies has been used for resection of such craniopharyngiomas. In this report the authors focused on the feasibility and efficacy of microsurgical resection of extensive craniopharyngiomas using a frontolateral approach.

Methods

A retrospective analysis was performed on 16 patients with extensive craniopharyngiomas who underwent operations using a frontolateral approach at one institution. The preoperative and postoperative clinical and radiological data, as well as the operative videos, were reviewed. The main focus of the review was the extent of radical tumor removal, early postoperative outcome, and approach-related complications.

Results

Gross-total resection of craniopharyngioma was achieved in 14 (87.5%) of 16 cases. Early after surgery (within 3 months), 1 patient showed improvement in hormonal status, while in the remaining 15 patients it worsened. No major neurological morbidity was observed. Two patients experienced temporary psychotic disorders. Visual function improved in 6 patients and remained unchanged in 9. One patient experienced a new bitemporal hemianopsia. Three patients with features of short-term memory disturbances at presentation did show improvement after surgery. There were no deaths or significant approach-related morbidity in this patient series. Only 1 patient required revision surgery for a CSF leak.

Conclusions

The safe and simple frontolateral approach provides adequate access even to extensive craniopharyngiomas and enables their complete removal with a reasonable morbidity and approach-related complication rate.