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Ben A. Strickland, Christina Sayama, Valentina Briceño, Sandi K. Lam, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

OBJECT

In a previous study, the authors reported on their experience with the use of sublaminar polyester bands as part of segmental spinal constructs. However, the risk of neurological complications with sublaminar passage of instrumentation, such as spinal cord injury, limits the use of this technique. The present study reports the novel use of subtransverse process polyester bands in posterior instrumented spinal fusions of the thoracic and lumbar spines and sacrum or ilium in 4 patients.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the demographic and procedural data of patients who had undergone posterior instrumented fusion using subtransverse process polyester bands.

RESULTS

Four patients, ranging in age from 11 to 22 years, underwent posterior instrumented fusion for neuromuscular scoliosis (3 patients) and thoracic hyperkyphosis (1 patient). There were 3 instances of transverse process fracture, with application and tensioning of the polyester band in 1 patient. Importantly, there was no instance of spinal cord injury with subtransverse process passage of the polyester band. The lessons learned from this technique are discussed.

CONCLUSIONS

This study has shown the “Eleghia” technique of passing subtransverse process bands to be a technically straightforward and neurologically safe method of spinal fixation. Pedicle screws, laminar/pedicle/transverse process hooks, and sublaminar metal wires/bands have been incorporated into posterior spinal constructs; they have been widely reported and used in the thoracic and lumbar spines and sacrum or ilium with varying success. This report demonstrates the promising results of hybrid posterior spinal constructs that include the Eleghia technique of passing subtransverse process polyester bands. This technique incorporates technical ease with minimal risk of neurological injury and biomechanical stability.

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Kristine Ravina, Ben A. Strickland, Robert C. Rennert, Joseph N. Carey and Jonathan J. Russin

Graft stenosis and occlusion remain formidable complications in cerebral revascularization procedures, which can lead to significant morbidity and mortality. Graft vasospasm can result in early postoperative graft stenosis and occlusion and is believed to be at least partially mediated through adrenergic pathways. Despite various published treatment protocols, there is no single effective spasmolytic agent. Multiple factors, including anatomical and physiological variability in revascularization conduits, patient age, and comorbidities, have been associated with graft vasospasm pathogenesis and response to spasmolytics. The ideal spasmolytic agent thus likely needs to target multiple pathways to exert a generalizable therapeutic effect. Botulinum toxin (BTX)–A is a powerful neurotoxin widely used in clinical practice for the treatment of a variety of spastic conditions. Although its commonly described paradigm of cholinergic neural transmission blockade has been widely accepted, evidence for other mechanisms of action including inhibition of adrenergic transmission have been described in animal studies. Recently, the first pilot study demonstrating clinical use of BTX-A for cerebral revascularization graft spasm prevention has been reported. In this review, the mechanistic basis and potential future clinical role of BTX-A in graft vasospasm prevention is discussed.

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Ben A. Strickland, Ian E. McCutcheon, Indro Chakrabarti, Laurence D. Rhines and Jeffrey S. Weinberg

OBJECTIVE

Metastasis to the spinal cord is rare, and optimal management of this disease is unclear. The authors investigated this issue by analyzing the results of surgical treatment of spinal intramedullary metastasis (IM) at a major cancer center.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 13 patients who underwent surgery for IM. Patients had renal cell carcinoma (n = 4), breast carcinoma (n = 3), melanoma (n = 2), non–small cell lung cancer (n = 1), sarcoma (n = 1), adenoid cystic carcinoma (n = 1), and cervical cancer (n = 1). Cerebrospinal fluid was collected before surgery in 11 patients, and was negative for malignant cells, as was MRI of the neuraxis. Eleven patients presented with neurological function equivalent to Frankel Grade D.

RESULTS

Radiographic gross-total resection was achieved in 9 patients, and tumor eventually recurred locally in 3 of those 9 (33%). Leptomeningeal disease was diagnosed in 4 patients after surgery. In the immediate postoperative period, neurological function in 6 patients deteriorated to Frankel Grade C. At 2 months, only 2 patients remained at Grade C, 8 were at Grade D, and 1 had improved to Grade E. One patient developed postoperative hematoma resulting in Frankel Grade A. Radiotherapy was delivered in 8 patients postoperatively. The median survival after spine surgery was 6.5 months. Three patients are still living.

CONCLUSIONS

Surgery was performed as a last option to preserve neurological function in patients with IM. In most patients, neurological function returned during the immediate postoperative period and was preserved for the patients’ remaining lifetime. The data suggest that surgery can be effective in preventing further decline in selected patients with progressive neurological deficit.

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Shane Shahrestani, Alexander M. Ballatori, Xiao T. Chen, Andy Ton, Ben A. Strickland, Andrew Brunswick and Gabriel Zada

OBJECTIVE

Pituitary adenomas (PAs) are among the most common intracranial tumors. Understanding the clinical effects of various modifiable risk factors (MRFs) and nonmodifiable risk factors (NMRFs) is important in guiding proper treatment, yet there is limited evidence outlining the influence of MRFs and NMRFs on outcomes of PA resection. The aim of this study was to analyze MRFs and NMRFs in patients undergoing resection for PAs.

METHODS

Using the 2016 and 2017 National Readmission Database, the authors identified a cohort of 9472 patients undergoing microscopic or endoscopic resection of a PA. Patients with nonoverlapping MRFs and NMRFs were analyzed for length of stay (LOS), hospital cost, readmission rates, and postoperative complications. From the original cohort, a subset of 373 frail patients (as defined by the Johns Hopkins Frailty Index) were identified and propensity matched to nonfrail patients. Statistical analysis included 1-way ANOVA, Tukey multiple comparisons of means, odds ratios, Wald testing, and unpaired Welch 2-sample t-tests to compare complications, outcomes, and costs between each cohort. Perioperative outcomes and hospital readmission rates were tracked, and predictive algorithms were developed to establish precise relationships between relevant risk factors and neurosurgical outcomes.

RESULTS

Malnourished patients had significantly longer LOSs when compared to nonmalnourished patients (p < 0.001). There was a significant positive correlation between the number of MRFs and readmission at 90 days (p = 0.012) and 180 days (p = 0.020). Obese patients had higher rates of postoperative neurological injury at the 30-day follow-up (p = 0.048) compared to patients with normal BMI. Within this NMRF cohort, frail patients were found to have significantly increased hospital LOS (p < 0.001) and total inpatient costs compared to nonfrail patients (p < 0.001). Predictive analytics showed that frail patients had significantly higher readmission rates at both 90-day (p < 0.001) and 180-day follow-ups (p < 0.001). Lastly, rates of acute postsurgical infection were higher in frail patients compared to nonfrail patients (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

These findings suggest that both MRFs and NMRFs negatively affect the perioperative outcomes following PA resection. Notable risk factors including malnutrition, obesity, elevated lipid panels, and frailty make patients more prone to prolonged LOS, higher inpatient costs, and readmission. Further prospective research with longitudinal data is required to precisely pinpoint the effects of various risk factors on the outcomes of pituitary surgery.

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Anna Jackanich, Sherwin Tavakol, Ben A. Strickland, Martin Rutkowski, Dina Kamel, John D. Carmichael, Martin Weiss and Gabriel Zada

OBJECTIVE

Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysfunction is a well-documented complication of transsphenoidal craniotomy (TSC) for sellar lesions. The authors aimed to assess their multidisciplinary approach to the diagnosis and treatment of postoperative hypocortisolemia utilizing conservative screening methods.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective review of 257 patients who underwent TSC for pituitary adenoma (PA) or Rathke cleft cyst (RCC) at the University of Southern California between 2012 and 2017. Patients with preoperative adrenal insufficiency, Cushing’s disease, or < 3 months of postoperative follow-up were excluded. Patient demographics, pathology, tumor characteristics, and complications were recorded. Postoperative day 1 (POD1) morning serum cortisol was assessed in all patients. Hypocortisolemia on POD1 (serum cortisol < 5 μg/dl) prompted a 7 am cortisol level measurement on POD 2 (POD2). Clinical signs and symptoms of hypocortisolemia were consistently monitored. After two serum cortisol levels < 5 μg/dl, or one serum level < 5 μg/dl plus a high clinical suspicion for HPA dysfunction, high-risk patients received glucocorticoid supplementation.

RESULTS

Data on 165 patients were included in the analysis; there were 101 women (61.2%) and 64 men (38.7%). Preoperative diagnoses included nonfunctional adenoma (n = 97, 58.7%), growth hormone–secreting adenoma (n = 37, 22.4%), RCC (n = 18, 10.9%), prolactinoma (n = 8, 4.8%), and other (n = 5, 3.0%). One hundred thirty-eight patients (63.0%) had either suprasellar extension or cavernous sinus invasion. POD1 hypocortisolemia was diagnosed in 8 patients (4.8%). Of these patients, 2 (1.2%) were clinically asymptomatic and had normalized POD2 cortisol levels. Six patients (3.6%) had clinical symptoms and POD2 cortisol levels confirming HPA axis deficiency. Of these 6 patients treated with early glucocorticoid replacement, 2 patients recovered HPA axis function during follow-up, making the incidence of new, permanent HPA axis deficiency 2.5%.

CONCLUSIONS

In the authors’ institutional review, all patients warranting postoperative glucocorticoid replacement had both complicated surgical courses and associated clinical symptoms of hypocortisolemia. The authors’ algorithm of withholding steroids until patients demonstrate clear evidence of postoperative hypocortisolemia is safe and clinically efficacious. Their data further suggest that routine postoperative cortisol screening may not be necessary following an uncomplicated operative resection, with gland preservation and the absence of clinical symptoms indicative of HPA dysfunction.

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Sandi Lam, Thomas G. Luerssen, Caroline Hadley, Bradley Daniels, Ben A. Strickland, Jim Brookshier and I-Wen Pan

OBJECTIVE

This study aimed to examine factors associated with adherence to recommended treatment among pediatric patients with positional skull deformity by reviewing a single-institution experience (2007–2014) with the treatment of positional plagiocephaly.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review was conducted. Risk factors, treatment for positional head shape deformity, and parent-reported adherence were recorded. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to assess the impact of patient clinical and demographic characteristics on adherence.

RESULTS

A total of 991 patients under age 12 months were evaluated for positional skull deformity at the Texas Children's Hospital Cranial Deformity Clinic between 2007 and 2014. According to an age- and risk factor–based treatment algorithm, patients were recommended for repositioning, physical therapy, or cranial orthosis therapy or crossover from repositioning/physical therapy into cranial orthosis therapy. The patients' average chronological age at presentation was 6.2 months; 69.3% were male. The majority were white (40.7%) or Hispanic (32.6%); 38.7% had commercial insurance and 37.9% had Medicaid. The most common initial recommended treatment was repositioning or physical therapy; 85.7% of patients were adherent to the initial recommended treatment.

Univariate analysis showed differences in adherence rates among subgroups. Children's families with Medicaid were less likely to be adherent to treatment recommendations (adherence rate, 80.2%). Families with commercial insurance were more likely to be adherent to the recommended treatment (89.6%). Multivariate logistic regression confirmed that factors associated with parent-reported adherence to recommended treatment included primary insurance payer, diagnosis (plagiocephaly vs brachycephaly), and the nature of the recommended treatment. Families were less likely to be adherent if they had Medicaid, a child with a diagnosis of brachycephaly, or were initially recommended for cranial orthosis therapy than families with commercial insurance, a child with a diagnosis of plagiocephaly, or an initial recommendation for repositioning or physical therapy.

Factors associated with treatment completion included corrected age, insurance, diagnosis, recommended treatment, and distance to provider from patient's residence. Patients with commercial insurance (OR 1.49, 95% CI 1.10–2.02, p = 0.009), those diagnosed with both brachycephaly and plagiocephaly (OR 2.26, 95% CI 1.31–3.90, p = 0.003), those recommended for treatment with cranial orthosis (OR 4.55, 95% CI = 3.24–6.38, p < 0.001), and those living in proximity to the provider (OR 1.40, 95% CI 1.00–1.96, p = 0.047) were more likely to complete treatment.

CONCLUSIONS

Insurance type, degree of head shape deformity, and types of recommended treatment appear to affect rates of adherence to recommended treatments for positional skull deformation.

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Sandi Lam, I-Wen Pan, Ben A. Strickland, Caroline Hadley, Bradley Daniels, Jim Brookshier and Thomas G. Luerssen

OBJECTIVE

Following institution of the Back to Sleep Campaign, the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome decreased while the prevalence of positional skull deformation increased dramatically. The management of positional deformity is controversial, and treatment recommendations and outcomes reporting are variable. The authors reviewed their institutional experience (2008–2014) with the treatment of positional plagiocephaly to explore factors associated with measured improvement.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review was conducted with risk factors and treatment for positional head shape deformity recorded. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to assess the impact of these variables on the change in measured oblique diagonal difference (ODD) on head shape surface scanning pre- and posttreatment.

RESULTS

A total of 991 infants aged less than 1 year were evaluated for cranial positional deformity in a dedicated clinical program. The most common deformity was occipital plagiocephaly (69.5%), followed by occipital brachycephaly (18.4%) or a combination of both deformities (12.1%). Recommended treatment included repositioning (RP), physical therapy (PT) if indicated, or orthotic treatment with a customized cranial orthosis (CO) according to an age- and risk factor–dependent algorithm that the authors developed for this clinic. Of the 991 eligible patients, 884 returned for at least 1 follow-up appointment. A total of 552 patients were followed to completion of their treatment and had a full set of records for analysis: these patients had pre- and posttreatment 2D surface scanner evaluations. The average presenting age was 6.2 months (corrected for prematurity for treatment considerations). Of the 991 patients, 543 (54.8%) had RP or PT as first recommended treatment. Of these 543 patients, 137 (25.2%) transitioned to helmet therapy after the condition did not improve over 4–8 weeks. In the remaining cases, RP/PT had already failed before the patients were seen in this program, and the starting treatment recommendation was CO. At the end of treatment, the measured improvements in ODD were 36.7%, 33.5%, and 15.1% for patients receiving CO, RP/PT/CO, and RP/PT, respectively. Univariate analysis showed that sex, race, insurance, diagnosis, sleep position preference, torticollis history, and multiple gestation were not significantly associated with magnitude of ODD change during treatment. On multivariate analysis, corrected age at presentation and type of treatment received were significantly associated with magnitude of ODD change. Orthotic treatment corresponded with the largest ODD change, while the RP/PT group had the least change in ODD. Earlier age at presentation corresponded with larger ODD change.

CONCLUSIONS

Earlier age at presentation and type of treatment impact the degree of measured deformational head shape correction in positional plagiocephaly. This retrospective study suggests that treatment with a custom CO can result in more improvement in objective measurements of head shape.

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Kristine Ravina, Ben A. Strickland, Robert C. Rennert, Vance Fredrickson, Joshua Bakhsheshian, Mark Chien, William Mack, Arun Amar and Jonathan J. Russin

Fusiform aneurysms of the vertebral artery (VA) involving the posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA) origin are uncommon and challenging. The anterior spinal artery (ASA) commonly originates from a unilateral ramus just distal to the PICA. Occlusion of an unpaired ASA can result in bilateral medial medullary syndrome. The authors propose a treatment paradigm for ASA preservation based on the artery’s proximity to fusiform VA aneurysms, and they present 3 representative cases. In the first case, they performed a V3-PICA bypass using an interposition graft and then performed endovascular coil embolization of the parent VA. A complete occlusion of the aneurysm and VA was complicated by ASA thrombosis. The subsequent cases were treated with PICA-PICA bypass and subsequent endovascular embolization of the VA. Filling of the sole angiographic ASA remote from the aneurysm was preserved in both cases. The anatomy of the ASA is the most critical determinant of treatment recommendations for fusiform VA aneurysms involving PICA. When the ASA originates from the aneurysm, proximal occlusion with or without a PICA bypass is suggested. In cases in which the ASA is removed from the aneurysm, the authors recommend revascularization followed by endovascular sacrifice. When the aneurysm is immediately adjacent to the ASA, revascularization and open trapping should be considered.

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Kristine Ravina, Robert C. Rennert, Ben A. Strickland, Mark Chien, Joseph N. Carey and Jonathan J. Russin

Moyamoya disease (MMD) is a progressive, idiopathic cerebrovascular occlusive disease. Various revascularization techniques including direct, indirect, and combined microvascular bypasses have been described. This article presents a modified revascularization technique for MMD utilizing a pedicled temporoparietal fascial flap (TPFF) for combined revascularization. This technique combines a large area of coverage for indirect revascularization with the benefits of a direct bypass. The pedicled TPFF also benefits from intact venous drainage to minimize the risk of flap swelling that could result in complications from mass effect.

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Ben A. Strickland, Robert C. Rennert, Joshua Bakhsheshian, Sebina Bulic, Adrian J. Correa, Arun Amar, Joseph Carey and Jonathan J. Russin

Surgical revascularization continues to play an important role in the management of complex intracranial aneurysms and ischemic cerebrovascular disease. Graft spasm is a common complication of bypass procedures and can result in ischemia or graft thrombosis. The authors here report on the first clinical use of botulinum toxin to prevent graft spasm following extracranial-intracranial (EC-IC) bypass. This technique was used in 3 EC-IC bypass surgeries, 2 for symptomatic carotid artery occlusions and 1 for a ruptured basilar tip aneurysm. In all 3 cases, the harvested graft was treated ex vivo with botulinum toxin before the anastomosis was performed. Post-bypass vascular imaging demonstrated patency and the absence of spasm in all grafts. Histopathological analyses of treated vessels did not show any immediate endothelial or vessel wall damage. Postoperative angiograms were without graft spasm in all cases. Botulinum toxin may be a reasonable option for preventing graft spasm and maintaining patency in cerebral revascularization procedures.