Andrew A. Fanous and William T. Couldwell
Ancient Egyptians were pioneers in many fields, including medicine and surgery. Our modern knowledge of anatomy, pathology, and surgical techniques stems from discoveries and observations made by Egyptian physicians and embalmers. In the realm of neurosurgery, ancient Egyptians were the first to elucidate cerebral and cranial anatomy, the first to describe evidence for the role of the spinal cord in the transmission of information from the brain to the extremities, and the first to invent surgical techniques such as trepanning and stitching. In addition, the transnasal approach to skull base and intracranial structures was first devised by Egyptian embalmers to excerebrate the cranial vault during mummification. In this historical vignette, the authors examine paleoradiological and other evidence from ancient Egyptian skulls and mummies of all periods, from the Old Kingdom to Greco-Roman Egypt, to shed light on the development of transnasal surgery in this ancient civilization. The authors confirm earlier observations concerning the laterality of this technique, suggesting that ancient Egyptian excerebration techniques penetrated the skull base mostly on the left side. They also suggest that the original technique used to access the skull base in ancient Egypt was a transethmoidal one, which later evolved to follow a transsphenoidal route similar to the one used today to gain access to pituitary lesions.
Andrew A. Fanous, Puneet Gupta and Veetai Li
Dermoid cysts are rare lesions of the CNS with a slow rate of growth. For this reason, they are rarely discovered during infancy. Although benign, these cysts may be associated with devastating complications due to mass effect or meningitis. The discovery of completely asymptomatic dermoid cysts in the pediatric population is exceedingly rare; however, correct and prompt diagnosis is crucial for early surgical treatment to minimize morbidity and mortality. The authors report the unique case of a posterior fossa dermoid cyst discovered in a 5-month-old girl and monitored for 2.5 years with serial imaging studies before performing a resection. The imaging characteristics of dermoid cysts are reviewed, and the challenges associated with the radiographic diagnosis of such lesions are discussed. Analyzing the growth of this particular cyst on MRI allowed comment, for the first time to the authors' knowledge, regarding the growth rate of dermoid cysts. Unlike true tumors, which grow in an exponential pattern, the dermoid cyst in the reported case exhibited a linear growth pattern. The increase in volume followed the classic appearance of a cuboid sequence, which is also consistent with linear growth in all 3 dimensions.
Andrew A. Fanous, Patrick K. Jowdy, Lindsay J. Lipinski, Lucia L. Balos and Veetai Li
Cavernous hemangiomas are benign congenital vascular abnormalities. Intracerebral cavernous hemangiomas have an appreciable risk of spontaneous hemorrhage. Little is known as to whether head trauma increases the risk of bleeding for these lesions. In this study, the authors present a case series of 3 patients with posttraumatic nonspontaneous hemorrhage of intracerebral cavernous malformations (CMs). For the first time, to the authors' knowledge, they propose that trauma might constitute a risk factor for acute hemorrhage in intracerebral cavernomas.
The authors reviewed the charts of all patients with a new diagnosis of intracerebral cavernoma at their pediatric hospital between 2010 and 2014. Patients with a history of head trauma prior to presentation were subsequently studied to identify features common to these posttraumatic, hemorrhage-prone lesions.
A history of head trauma was identified in 3 of 19 cases. These 3 patients presented with seizures and/or headaches and were found to have acute hemorrhage within a cavernous hemangioma. None of these patients had any history of abnormal neurological symptoms. All 3 abnormal vascular lesions had associated developmental venous anomalies (DVAs). The 3 patients underwent resection of their respective vascular abnormalities, and the diagnosis of cavernous hemangioma was confirmed with postsurgical tissue pathology. All 3 patients had complete resolution of symptoms following complete excision of their lesions.
Trauma may represent a risk factor for acute hemorrhage in patients with CMs. The presence of associated DVAs may represent a risk factor for posttraumatic hemorrhage of cavernomas. Excision should be considered in such cases, if feasible.