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Anthony J. Caputy and Alfred J. Luessenhop

✓ One-hundred patients who had undergone decompressive surgery for lumbar stenosis between 1980 and 1985 were evaluated as to their long-term outcome. Four patients with postfusion stenosis were included. A 5-year follow-up period was achieved in 88 patients. The mean age was 67 years, and 80% were over 60 years of age. There was a high incidence of coexisting medical diseases, but the principal disability was lumbar stenosis with neurological involvement. Results were categorized as either a surgical success or a failure. depending upon the achievement of preset goals within the context of lifestyle and needs. There were no perioperative complications.

Initially there was a high incidence of success, but recurrence of neurological involvement and persistence of low-back pain led to an increasing number of failures. By 5 years this number had reached 27% of the available population pool, suggesting that the failure rate could reach 50% within the projected life expectancies of most patients. Of the 26 failures, 16 were secondary to renewed neurological involvement, which occurred at new levels of stenosis in eight and recurrence of stenosis at operative levels in eight. Reoperation was successful in 12 of these 16 patients, but two required a third operation.

The incidence of spondylolisthesis at 5 years was higher in the surgical failures (12 of 26 patients) than in the surgical successes (16 of 64). Spondylolisthetic stenosis tended to recur within a few years following decompression. To forestall recurrences, it is suggested that stabilization be carried out at levels of spondylolisthetic stenosis and the initial decompression include adjacent levels of threatening symptomatic stenosis. However, the heterogenicity of this patient population, with varying patterns and levels of symptomatic stenosis, precludes application of rigid surgical protocols.

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Timothy G. Burke and Anthony J. Caputy

Thoracic disc herniation has always carried with it the potential for serious adverse neurological consequences if not treated appropriately. The authors review the historical evolution of treatment for thoracic disc herniation from the early surgical series using dorsal approaches (which were known to involve a significant risk of paraplegia) to later surgical series in which lateral and then ventral approaches to the disc were increasingly emphasized, with significant improvement in patient outcome.

The evolution of minimally invasive thoracoscopic techniques is discussed, together with the results of several surgical series demonstrating significant reductions in morbidity compared with more traditional methods. The technique of thoracoscopic discectomy is presented in detail.

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Joshua J. Wind, Anthony J. Caputy and Fabio Roberti

Encephaloceles are pathological herniations of brain parenchyma through congenital or acquired osseus-dural defects of the skull base or cranial vault. Although encephaloceles are known as rare conditions, several surgical reports and clinical series focusing on spontaneous encephaloceles of the temporal lobe may be found in the otological, maxillofacial, radiological, and neurosurgical literature. A variety of symptoms such as occult or symptomatic CSF fistulas, recurrent meningitis, middle ear effusions or infections, conductive hearing loss, and medically intractable epilepsy have been described in patients harboring spontaneous encephaloceles of middle cranial fossa origin. Both open procedures and endoscopic techniques have been advocated for the treatment of such conditions. The authors discuss the pathogenesis, diagnostic assessment, and therapeutic management of spontaneous temporal lobe encephaloceles. Although diagnosis and treatment may differ on a case-by-case basis, review of the available literature suggests that spontaneous encephaloceles of middle cranial fossa origin are a more common pathology than previously believed. In particular, spontaneous cases of posteroinferior encephaloceles involving the tegmen tympani and the middle ear have been very well described in the medical literature.

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P. Benjamin Kerr, Anthony J. Caputy and Norman H. Horwitz

The brain has been known to be the center of voluntary movement, sensation, and intelligence for centuries. Nevertheless, it was not until the latter third of the 19th century that the functions of its different areas were discovered. It was the labor of several key men that made possible the accurate localization and, furthermore, the resection of brain neoplasms.

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Anthony J. Caputy, Caple A. Spence, Ghassan K. Bejjani and Alfred J. Luessenhop

The authors undertook a review of the literature and analysis of the local surgical experience for lumbar stenosis to define the role of simultaneous arthrodesis in the treatment of patients undergoing decompression for spinal stenosis. The restrained use of spinal fusion is recommended in spinal stenosis surgery because of the coexisting medical problems in the elderly patient population and the higher associated complication rate with spinal fusion and instrumentation. A spinal fusion is recommended when decompression is performed in an area of segmental instability as manifested by gross movement on flexion-extension radiographs; when the decompression coincides with an area of degenerative instability, as with scoliosis or spondylolisthesis; or when the decompression creates an iatrogenic instability by the disruption of the posterior elements. The use of spine instrumentation as an adjunct to fusion is recommended when an area of degenerative instability shows evident gross instability or has had additional destabilizing procedures, such as a discectomy or a facetectomy. Spinal fusion is not recommended for a routine decompressive laminectomy for lumbar stenosis or in the case of stable degenerative deformities. New fusion techniques may improve the outcome and decrease the morbidity associated with contemporary methods of spinal fusion and instrumentation.

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Richard M. Young, Vikram Prasad, Joshua J. Wind, Wayne Olan and Anthony J. Caputy

Accurately localizing a spine level in the thoracic spine is often not easily achieved with the existing imaging modalities available in the operating room. The coordination of the preoperative imaging pathology with intraoperative imaging is even more difficult in patients with challenging anatomy. Using standard percutaneous techniques, the authors placed a radiopaque embolization coil into the pedicle of interest under biplanar fluoroscopy in 1 patient. Thoracic spine MRI along with scout MRI was then performed to confirm coil marker placement in relation to the actual spine pathology prior to surgical intervention. No complications were observed during placement of the radiopaque marker. Intraoperatively, the marker was immediately and easily visualized, leading to a confident identification of the correct thoracic spinal level. The preoperative placement of a radiopaque marker into the vertebral pedicle of the identified pathological level combined with postplacement MRI verification provides an advantage over previously proposed techniques in the literature.

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Anthony J. Caputy, David C. McCullough, Herbert J. Manz, Kathleen Patterson and Mary Kathryn Hammock

✓ The clinical, therapeutic, and histological features of 54 patients with medulloblastoma were analyzed retrospectively by a multivariate approach with regard to prognosis. The overall 5-year survival rate was 60%, with 48% of patients free of recurrence at 5 years. Cell differentiation, when present, was associated with a significantly longer recurrence-free period. Seventy-two percent of patients with the histological finding of cell differentiation were recurrence-free at 5 years. A marginally significant increase in the 5-year survival rate was also seen in association with differentiation. Only 34% of the patients whose tumor exhibited necrosis were alive at 5 years.

There was no statistically significant difference in 5-year survival for children under 3 years of age or for the group of children aged 5 years or under. However, a significantly larger fraction (72%) of the group aged 5 years or under had a recurrence-free period of 5 years or more. Other factors including sex, extent of surgical resection, Chang tumor stage, posterior fossa radiation dose, and adjuvant chemotherapy did not influence prognosis.