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Benjamin D. Fox, Akash Patel, Dima Suki and Ganesh Rao

Object

Metastatic sarcoma to the brain is rare and represents a therapeutic challenge due to its relative resistance to radio- and chemotherapy. Resection has traditionally been the mainstay of treatment. The authors reviewed a series of patients with metastatic sarcoma to the brain treated surgically to determine outcomes and identify predictors of survival in these patients.

Methods

A retrospective review of prospectively collected data was undertaken on patients undergoing surgery between 1993 and 2005 for metastatic sarcoma to the brain at The University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Results

During the study period, 62 patients underwent 84 operations for metastatic sarcoma to the brain. The median postoperative overall and progression-free survival rates were 7.5 and 4.7 months, respectively. Fifty-nine (95%) of 62 patients had a gross-total resection. The 30-day mortality rate was 4.2%. The Karnofsky Performance Scale scores at discharge from the hospital and 3 months postoperatively were the same or improved in 50 (85%) of 59 and 26 (51%) of 51, respectively. Overall postcraniotomy survival was 62% at 6 months, 39% at 1 year, 21% at 2 years, and 8% at 5 years. In multivariate and univariate analysis, control of systemic disease, and sarcomas originating from bone, cartilage, or soft tissue were predictors of survival. Patients with control of systemic disease had survival advantage when compared with those who did not. In patients with alveolar soft-part sarcoma, there was a significantly increased survival advantage compared with all other histological subgroups.

Conclusions

The authors' results suggest that in selected patients, resection of metastatic sarcoma to the brain is associated with a relatively low risk of operative death and results in improvement in neurological function. Patients with systemic control of their primary disease and certain histological subtypes (specifically alveolar soft-part sarcoma) have improved overall and progression-free survival.

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Michele R. Aizenberg, Benjamin D. Fox, Dima Suki, Ian E. McCutcheon, Ganesh Rao and Laurence D. Rhines

Object

Patients presenting with spinal metastases from unknown primary tumors (UPTs) are rare. The authors reviewed their surgical experience to evaluate outcomes and identify predictors of survival in these patients.

Methods

This study is a retrospective analysis of patients undergoing surgery for metastatic spine disease from UPTs between June 1993 and February 2007 at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Results

Fifty-one patients undergoing 52 surgical procedures were identified. The median age at spine surgery was 60 years. The median survival from time of diagnosis was 15.8 months (95% CI 8.1–23.6) and it was 8.1 months (95% CI 1.6–14.7) from time of spine surgery. Postoperative neurological function (Frankel score) was the same or improved in 94% of patients. At presentation, 77% had extraspinal disease, which was associated with poorer survival (6.4 vs 18.1 months; p = 0.041). Multiple sites (vs a single site) of spine disease did not impact survival (12.7 vs 8.7 months; p = 0.50). Patients with noncervical spinal disease survived longer than those with cervical disease (11.8 vs 6.4 months, respectively; p = 0.029). Complete versus incomplete resection at index surgery had no impact on survival duration (p > 0.5) or local recurrence (p = 1.0). Identification of a primary cancer was achieved in 31% of patients.

Conclusions

This is the first reported surgical series of patients with an unknown source of spinal metastases. The authors found that multiple sites of spinal disease did not influence survival; however, the presence of extraspinal disease had a negative impact. The extent of resection had no effect on survival duration or local recurrence. With an overall median survival of 8.1 months following surgery, aggressive evaluation and treatment of patients with metastatic disease of the spine from an unknown primary source is warranted.

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Akash J. Patel, Dima Suki, Mustafa Aziz Hatiboglu, Vikas Y. Rao, Benjamin D. Fox and Raymond Sawaya

OBJECT

Brain metastases are the most common intracranial neoplasms and are on the increase. As radiation side effects are increasingly better understood, more patients are being treated with surgery alone with varying outcomes. The authors previously reported that en bloc resection of a single brain metastasis was associated with decreased incidences of leptomeningeal disease and local recurrence compared with piecemeal resection. However, en bloc resection is often feared to cause an increased incidence of postoperative complications. This study aimed to answer this question.

METHODS

The authors reviewed data from patients with a previously untreated single brain metastasis, who were treated with resection at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (1993–2012). Data related to the patient, tumor, and methods of resection were obtained. Discharge Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) scores and 30-day postoperative complications were noted. Complications were considered major when they persisted for longer than 30 days, resulted in hospitalization or prolongation of hospital stay, required aggressive treatment, and/or were life threatening.

RESULTS

During the study period, 1033 eligible patients were identified. The median age was 58 years, 83% had a KPS score greater than 70, and 81% were symptomatic at surgery. Sixty-two percent of the patients underwent en bloc resection of their tumor, and 38% underwent piecemeal resection. There were significant differences between the 2 groups in terms of preoperative tumor volume, tumor functional grade, and symptoms at presentation, among others. The overall complication rates were 13% for patients undergoing en bloc resection and 19% for patients undergoing piecemeal resection (p = 0.007). The incidences of major complications and neurological complications were also significantly different. There was a trend in the same direction for major neurological complications, although it was not significant. Among patients undergoing piecemeal resection of tumors in eloquent cortex, 24% had complications (13% had major, 18% had neurological, 9% had major neurological, and 13% had select neurological complications; 4% died within 1 month of surgery). Among those undergoing en bloc resection of such tumors, 11% had complications (6% had major, 8% had neurological, 4% had major neurological, and 4% had select neurological; 2% died within 1 month of surgery). The differences in overall, major, neurological, and select neurological complications were statistically significant, but 1-month mortality and major neurological complications were not. In addition, within subcategories of tumor volume, the incidence of various complications was generally higher for patients undergoing piecemeal resection than for those undergoing en bloc resection.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors' results indicate that postoperative complication rates are not increased by en bloc resection, including for lesions in eloquent brain regions or for large tumors. This gives credence to the idea that en bloc resection of brain metastases, when feasible, is at least as safe as piecemeal resection.

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Benjamin D. Fox, Bartley D. Mitchell, Akash J. Patel, Katherine Relyea, Shankar P. Gopinath, Claudio Tatsui and Bruce L. Ehni

Convexity meningiomas are common tumors encountered by neurosurgeons. Retracting, grasping, and mobilizing large convexity meningiomas can be difficult and awkward as well as place unwanted forces on surrounding neurovascular structures. The authors present a safe alternative to traditional retraction and manipulation methods by using a modified bulb syringe connected to standard surgical suction to function as a vacuum retractor. This technique allows for rapid, safe, en bloc resection of large convexity meningiomas with little to no pressure on the surrounding brain. The authors present an illustrative case and describe and discuss the technique.

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Benjamin D. Fox, Vikram V. Nayar, Keyne K. Johnson, Andrew Jea, Daniel Curry, Thomas G. Luerssen and William E. Whitehead

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Akash J. Patel, Jacob Cherian, Benjamin D. Fox, William E. Whitehead, Daniel J. Curry, Thomas G. Luerssen and Andrew Jea

Object

National and international meetings, such as the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) meetings, provide a central location for the gathering and dissemination of research. The purpose of this study was to determine the publication rates of both oral and poster presentations at CNS and AANS meetings in peer-reviewed journals.

Methods

The authors reviewed all accepted abstracts, presented as either oral or poster presentations, at the CNS and AANS meetings from 2003 to 2005. This information was then used to search PubMed to determine the rate of publication of the abstracts presented at the meetings. Abstracts were considered published if the data presented at the meeting was identical to that in the publication.

Results

The overall publication rate was 32.48% (1243 of 3827 abstracts). On average, 41.28% of oral presentations and 29.03% of poster presentations were eventually published. Of those studies eventually published, 98.71% were published within 5 years of presentation at the meeting. Published abstracts were published most frequently in the Journal of Neurosurgery and Neurosurgery.

Conclusions

Approximately one-third of all presentations at the annual CNS and AANS meetings will be published in peer-reviewed, MEDLINE-indexed journals. These meetings are excellent forums for neurosurgical practitioners to be exposed to current research. Oral presentations have a significantly higher rate of eventual publication compared with poster presentations, reflecting their higher quality. The Journal of Neurosurgery and Neurosurgery have been the main outlets of neurosurgical research from these meetings.

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Benjamin D. Fox, Hassan H. Amhaz, Akash J. Patel, Daniel H. Fulkerson, Dima Suki, Andrew Jea and Raymond E. Sawaya

Object

Medical student exposure to neurosurgery is limited. To improve the educational interactions between neurosurgeons and medical students as well as neurosurgical medical student rotations or clerkships (NSCs) we must first understand the current status.

Methods

Two questionnaires were sent, one to every neurosurgery course coordinator or director at each US neurosurgery residency program (99 questionnaires) and one to the associated parent medical school dean's office (91 questionnaires), to assess the current status of NSCs and the involvement of neurosurgeons at their respective institutions.

Results

We received responses from 86 (87%) of 99 neurosurgery course coordinators or directors and 64 (70%) of 91 medical school deans' offices. Most NSCs do not have didactic lectures (53 [62%] of 86 NSCs), provide their medical students with a syllabus or educational handouts (53 [62%] of 86), or have a recommended/required textbook (77 [90%] of 86). The most common method of evaluating students in NSCs is a subjective performance evaluation. Of 64 medical school deans, 38 (59%) felt that neurosurgery should not be a required rotation. Neurosurgical rotations or clerkships are primarily offered to students in their 4th year of medical school, which may be too late for appropriate timing of residency applications. Only 21 (33%) of 64 NSCs offer neurosurgery rotations to 3rd-year students.

Conclusions

There is significant room for improvement in the neurosurgeon-to–medical student interactions in both the NSCs and during the didactic years of medical school.

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Iman Feiz-Erfan, Benjamin D. Fox, Remi Nader, Dima Suki, Indro Chakrabarti, Ehud Mendel, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Ganesh Rao and Laurence D. Rhines

Object

Hematogenous metastases to the sacrum can produce significant pain and lead to spinal instability. The object of this study was to evaluate the palliative benefit of surgery in patients with these metastases.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed all cases involving patients undergoing surgery for metastatic disease to the sacrum at a single tertiary cancer center between 1993 and 2005.

Results

Twenty-five patients (21 men, 4 women) were identified as having undergone sacral surgery for hematogenous metastatic disease during the study period. Their median age was 57 years (range 25–71 years). The indications for surgery included palliation of pain (in 24 cases), need for diagnosis (in 1 case), and spinal instability (in 3 cases). The most common primary disease was renal cell carcinoma.

Complications occurred in 10 patients (40%). The median overall survival was 11 months (95% CI 5.4–16.6 months). The median time from the initial diagnosis to the diagnosis of metastatic disease in the sacrum was 14 months (95% CI 0.0–29.3 months). The numerical pain scores (scale 0–10) were improved from a median of 8 preoperatively to a median of 3 postoperatively at 90 days, 6 months, and 1 year (p < 0.01). Postoperative modified Frankel grades improved in 8 cases, worsened in 3 (due to disease progression), and remained unchanged in 14 (p = 0.19). Among patients with renal cell carcinoma, the median overall survival was better in those in whom the sacrum was the sole site of metastatic disease than in those with multiple sites of metastatic disease (16 vs 9 months, respectively; p = 0.053).

Conclusions

Surgery is effective to palliate pain with acceptable morbidity in patients with metastatic disease to the sacrum. In the subgroup of patients with renal cell carcinoma, those with the sacrum as their solitary site of metastatic disease demonstrated improved survival.

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Brian J. Williams, Benjamin D. Fox, Daniel M. Sciubba, Dima Suki, Shi Ming Tu, Deborah Kuban, Ziya L. Gokaslan, Laurence D. Rhines and Ganesh Rao

Object

Significant improvements in neurological function and pain relief are the benefits of aggressive surgical management of spinal metastatic disease. However, there is limited literature regarding the management of tumors with specific histological features. In this study, a series of patients undergoing spinal surgery for metastatic prostate cancer were reviewed to identify predictors of survival and functional outcome.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed the records of all patients who were treated with surgery for prostate cancer metastases to the spine between 1993 and 2005 at a single institution. Particular attention was given to initial presentation, operative management, clinical and neurological outcomes, and factors associated with complications and overall survival.

Results

Forty-four patients underwent a total of 47 procedures. The median age at spinal metastasis was 66 years (range 50–84 years). Twenty-four patients had received previous external-beam radiation to the site of spinal involvement, with a median dose of 70 Gy (range 30–74 Gy). Frankel scores on discharge were significantly improved when compared with preoperative scores (p = 0.001). Preoperatively, 32 patients (73%) were walking and 33 (75%) were continent. On discharge, 36 (86%) of 42 patients were walking, and 37 (88%) of 42 were continent. Preoperatively, 40 patients (91%) were taking narcotics, with a median morphine equivalent dose of 21.5 mg/day, and 28 patients (64%) were taking steroids, with a median dose of 16 mg/day. At discharge, the median postoperative morphine equivalent dose was 12 mg/day, and the median steroid dose was 0 mg/day (p < 0.001). Complications occurred in 15 (32%) of 47 procedures, with 9 (19%) considered major, and there were 4 deaths within 30 days of surgery. The median overall survival was 5.4 months. Gleason score (p = 0.002), total number of metastases (p = 0.001), and the degree of spinal canal compression (p = 0.001) were independent predictors of survival. Age ≥ 65 years at the time of surgery was an independent predictor of a postoperative complication (p = 0.005).

Conclusions

In selected patients with prostate cancer metastases to the spine, aggressive surgical decompression and spinal reconstruction is a useful treatment option. The results show that on average, neurological outcome is improved and use of analgesics is reduced. Gleason score, metastatic burden, and degree of spinal canal compression may be associated with survival following surgery, and thus should be considered carefully prior to opting for surgical management.

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Brian J. Williams, Dima Suki, Benjamin D. Fox, Christopher E. Pelloski, Marcos V. C. Maldaun, Raymond E. Sawaya, Frederick F. Lang and Ganesh Rao

Object

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is commonly used to treat brain metastases. Complications associated with this treatment are underreported. The authors reviewed a large series of patients who underwent SRS for brain metastases to identify complications and factors predicting their occurrence.

Methods

Prospectively collected clinical data from 273 patients undergoing SRS for 1 or 2 brain metastases at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center between June 1993 and December 2004 were reviewed. Patients who had received prior treatment for their tumor, including whole-brain radiation, SRS, or surgery, were excluded from the study. Data on adverse neurological and nonneurological outcomes following treatment were collected.

Results

Three hundred sixteen lesions were treated. Complications were associated with 127 (40%) of 316 treated lesions. New neurological complications were associated with 101 (32%) of 316 lesions. The onset of seizure was the most common complication, occurring in 41 (13%) of 316 SRS cases. On multivariate analysis, progressing primary cancer (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.4, 95% CI 1.6–3.6, p < 0.001), tumor location in eloquent cortex (HR = 2.3, 95% CI 1.6–3.4, p < 0.001), and lower (< 15 Gy) SRS dose (HR = 2.1, 95% CI 1.1–4.2, p = 0.04) were significantly associated with new complications. On multivariate analysis, a tumor location in the eloquent cortex (HR = 2.5, 95% CI 1.6–3.8, p < 0.001) and progressing primary cancer (HR = 1.6, 95% CI 1.1–2.5, p = 0.03) were significantly associated with new neurological complications.

Conclusions

The authors showed that new neurological and nonneurological complications were associated with 40% of SRS treatments for brain metastases. Patients with lesions in functional brain regions have a significantly increased risk of treatment-related complications.