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Editorial. Out-of-court system: a fair fast track to savings of time and money

Sandeep Kandregula and Bharat Guthikonda

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Vagal nerve stimulation for the treatment of medically refractory epilepsy: a review of the current literature

David E. Connor Jr., Menarvia Nixon, Anil Nanda, and Bharat Guthikonda

Object

The authors conducted a study to evaluate the published results of vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) for medically refractory seizures according to evidence-based criteria.

Methods

The authors performed a review of available literature published between 1980 and 2010. Inclusion criteria for articles included more than 10 patients evaluated, average follow-up of 1 or more years, inclusion of medically refractory epilepsy, and consistent preoperative surgical evaluation. Articles were divided into 4 classes of evidence according to criteria established by the American Academy of Neurology.

Results

A total of 70 publications were reviewed, of which 20 were selected for review based on inclusion and exclusion criteria. There were 2 articles that provided Class I evidence, 7 that met criteria for Class II evidence, and 11 that provided Class III evidence.

The majority of evidence supports VNS usage in partial epilepsy with a seizure reduction of 50% or more in the majority of cases and freedom from seizure in 6%–27% of patients who responded to stimulation. High stimulation with a gradual increase in VNS stimulation over the first 6 weeks to 3 months postoperatively is well supported by Class I and II data. Predictors of positive response included absence of bilateral interictal epileptiform activity and cortical malformations.

Conclusions

Vagal nerve stimulation is a safe and effective alternative for adult and pediatric populations with epilepsy refractory to medical and other surgical management.

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Neuromodulation in intractable pain management: outcomes and predictors of revisions of spinal cord stimulators

Shyamal C. Bir, Subhas Konar, Tanmoy Maiti, Anil Nanda, and Bharat Guthikonda

OBJECTIVE

Spinal cord stimulators (SCSs) appear to be safe and efficacious for chronic intractable back pain. Although there are many reports on percutaneous SCSs, there are very few studies on outcomes of paddle lead SCSs. In addition, the predictors of requirement for SCS revision have not been well established. Here, the authors review the outcome of a case series and attempt to identify the predictors of SCS revisions.

METHODS

The clinical and radiological information of 141 patients with intractable chronic pain who underwent SCS implantation within the past 20 years was retrospectively reviewed. Paddle lead SCSs were used in this series. Statistical analysis was conducted using Kaplan-Meier curves and Cox proportional-hazards regression.

RESULTS

Among 141 cases, 90 (64%) did not require any revision after SCS implantations. Removal of the SCS was required in 14 patients. The average pain score was significantly reduced (preimplantation score of 8 vs postimplantation score of 1.38; p < 0.0001). Younger age, male sex, obesity, a preimplantation pain score ≥ 8, and the presence of neuromuscular pain were identified as predictors of the overall requirement for SCS revision. However, only a preimplantation pain score ≥ 8 was identified as a predictor of early failure of the SCS.

CONCLUSIONS

Implantation of a paddle lead SCS is a relatively less invasive, safe, and effective procedure for patients with intractable back pain. Revision of the procedure depends on many factors, including younger age, male sex, associated neuromuscular pain, and severity of the pain. Therefore, patients with these factors, for whom implantation of an SCS is planned, should be closely followed for the possible requirement for revision.

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Jacques Jean Lhermitte and the syndrome of peduncular hallucinosis

Jennifer A. Kosty, Juan Mejia-Munne, Rimal Dossani, Amey Savardekar, and Bharat Guthikonda

Jacques Jean Lhermitte (1877–1959) was among the most accomplished neurologists of the 20th century. In addition to working as a clinician and instructor, he authored more than 800 papers and 16 books on neurology, neuropathology, psychiatry, and mystical phenomena. In addition to the well-known “Lhermitte’s sign,” an electrical shock–like sensation caused by spinal cord irritation in demyelinating disease, Lhermitte was a pioneer in the study of the relationship between the physical substance of the brain and the experience of the mind. A fascinating example of this is the syndrome of peduncular hallucinosis, characterized by vivid visual hallucinations occurring in fully lucid patients. This syndrome, which was initially described as the result of a midbrain insult, also may occur with injury to the thalamus or pons. It has been reported as a presenting symptom of various tumors and as a complication of neurosurgical procedures. Here, the authors review the life of Lhermitte and provide a historical review of the syndrome of peduncular hallucinosis.

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Feasibility of thoracic nerve root preservation in posterior transpedicular vertebrectomy with anterior column cage insertion: a cadaveric study

Laboratory investigation

Ali Nourbakhsh, Prashant Chittiboina, Prasad Vannemreddy, Anil Nanda, and Bharat Guthikonda

Object

Transpedicular thoracic vertebrectomy (TTV) is a safe alternative to the more standard transthoracic approach. A TTV is most commonly used to address vertebral body fractures due to tumor or trauma.

Transpedicular reconstruction of the anterior column with cage/bone traditionally requires unilateral thoracic nerve root sacrifice. In a cadaveric model, the authors evaluated the feasibility of transpedicular anterior column reconstruction without nerve root sacrifice. If feasible, this may be a reasonable approach that could be extended to the lumbar spine where nerve root sacrifice is not an option.

Methods

A TTV was performed in 8 fixed cadaveric specimens. In each specimen, an alternate vertebra (either odd or even) was removed so that single-level reconstruction could be evaluated. The vertebrectomy included facetectomy, adjacent discectomies, and laminectomy; however, the nerve roots were preserved. The authors then evaluated the feasibility of inserting a titanium mesh cage (Medtronic Sofamor Danek) without neural sacrifice.

Results

Transpedicular anterior cage reconstruction could be safely performed at all levels of the thoracic spine without nerve root sacrifice. The internerve root space varied from 18 mm at T2–3 to 27 mm at T11–12; thus, the size of the cage that was used also varied with level.

Conclusions

Cage reconstruction of the anterior column could be safely performed via the transpedicular approach without nerve root sacrifice in this cadaveric study. Removal of the proximal part of the rib in addition to a standard laminectomy with transpedicular vertebrectomy provided an excellent corridor for anterior cage reconstruction at all levels of the thoracic spine without nerve root sacrifice.

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Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease: updated diagnostic criteria, treatment algorithm, and the utility of brain biopsy

Marc Manix, Piyush Kalakoti, Miriam Henry, Jai Thakur, Richard Menger, Bharat Guthikonda, and Anil Nanda

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare neurodegenerative condition with a rapid disease course and a mortality rate of 100%. Several forms of the disease have been described, and the most common is the sporadic type. The most challenging aspect of this disease is its diagnosis—the gold standard for definitive diagnosis is considered to be histopatho-logical confirmation—but newer tests are providing means for an antemortem diagnosis in ways less invasive than brain biopsy. Imaging studies, electroencephalography, and biomarkers are used in conjunction with the clinical picture to try to make the diagnosis of CJD without brain tissue samples, and all of these are reviewed in this article. The current diagnostic criteria are limited; test sensitivity and specificity varies with the genetics of the disease as well as the clinical stage. Physicians may be unsure of all diagnostic testing available, and may order outdated tests or prematurely request a brain biopsy when the diagnostic workup is incomplete. The authors review CJD, discuss the role of brain biopsy in this patient population, provide a diagnostic pathway for the patient presenting with rapidly progressive dementia, and propose newer diagnostic criteria.

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Woodrow Wilson’s hidden stroke of 1919: the impact of patient-physician confidentiality on United States foreign policy

Richard P. Menger, Christopher M. Storey, Bharat Guthikonda, Symeon Missios, Anil Nanda, and John M. Cooper

World War I catapulted the United States from traditional isolationism to international involvement in a major European conflict. Woodrow Wilson envisaged a permanent American imprint on democracy in world affairs through participation in the League of Nations. Amid these defining events, Wilson suffered a major ischemic stroke on October 2, 1919, which left him incapacitated. What was probably his fourth and most devastating stroke was diagnosed and treated by his friend and personal physician, Admiral Cary Grayson. Grayson, who had tremendous personal and professional loyalty to Wilson, kept the severity of the stroke hidden from Congress, the American people, and even the president himself. During a cabinet briefing, Grayson formally refused to sign a document of disability and was reluctant to address the subject of presidential succession. Wilson was essentially incapacitated and hemiplegic, yet he remained an active president and all messages were relayed directly through his wife, Edith. Patient-physician confidentiality superseded national security amid the backdrop of friendship and political power on the eve of a pivotal juncture in the history of American foreign policy.

It was in part because of the absence of Woodrow Wilson’s vocal and unwavering support that the United States did not join the League of Nations and distanced itself from the international stage. The League of Nations would later prove powerless without American support and was unable to thwart the rise and advance of Adolf Hitler. Only after World War II did the United States assume its global leadership role and realize Wilson’s visionary, yet contentious, groundwork for a Pax Americana.

The authors describe Woodrow Wilson’s stroke, the historical implications of his health decline, and its impact on United States foreign policy.

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Neurosurgery value and quality in the context of the Affordable Care Act: a policy perspective

Richard P. Menger, Bharat Guthikonda, Christopher M. Storey, Anil Nanda, Matthew McGirt, and Anthony Asher

Neurosurgeons provide direct individualized care to patients. However, the majority of regulations affecting the relative value of patient-related care are drafted by policy experts whose focus is typically system- and population-based. A central, prospectively gathered, national outcomes-related database serves as neurosurgery’s best opportunity to bring patient-centered outcomes to the policy arena.

In this study the authors analyze the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the determination of quality and value in neurosurgery care through the scope, language, and terminology of policy experts. The methods by which the ACA came into law and the subsequent quality implications this legislation has for neurosurgery will be discussed. The necessity of neurosurgical patient-oriented clinical registries will be discussed in the context of imminent and dramatic reforms related to medical cost containment.

In the policy debate moving forward, the strength of neurosurgery’s argument will rest on data, unity, and proactiveness. The National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database (N2QOD) allows neurosurgeons to generate objective data on specialty-specific value and quality determinations; it allows neurosurgeons to bring the patient-physician interaction to the policy debate.

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Repair of middle fossa cerebrospinal fluid leaks using a novel combination of materials: technical note

Cedric D. Shorter, David E. Connor Jr., Jai Deep Thakur, Gale Gardner, Anil Nanda, and Bharat Guthikonda

Object

Methods for repairing middle fossa CSF (MFCSF) leaks have varied and yielded mixed results. The objective of this study was to evaluate the safety and durability of the authors' repair technique using a novel combination of 3 synthetic materials.

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective case review of patients treated for CSF leaks between January 2009 and September 2011. Eight patients were found to have undergone middle fossa craniotomies for CSF leaks. Inclusion criteria for the study included age greater than 18 years, neuroimaging-documented temporal bone defect, and symptoms consistent with CSF leaks or gross CSF otorrhea. Seven patients, 3 men and 4 women, met the inclusion criteria, and their charts were reviewed. Hydroxyapatite cement, collagen-based dural substitute matrix, and polyethylene glycol hydrogel sealant were used in all patients for the repair.

Results

In all patients the MFCSF leaks were successfully repaired. Initial presenting symptoms included CSF otorrhea in 4 patients (57.1%), hearing loss in 3 (42.9%), and CSF rhinorrhea in 1 (14.3%). The mean follow-up duration was 12 months (range 5–33 months). In 1 patient an epidural hematoma developed at the operative site on postoperative Day 2, and in another patient a superficial wound dehiscence occurred on postoperative Day 48. During the follow-up period, the authors found no evidence of wound infections, neurovascular damage, or CSF leakage requiring reoperation.

Conclusions

The middle fossa approach involving a combination of hydroxyapatite cement, collagen-based dural substitute matrix, and polyethylene glycol hydrogel sealant is a safe, effective method for repairing MFCSF leaks. The combination of synthetic materials provides an alternative to existing materials for skull base surgeons.

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Insights into potential targeted nonsurgical therapies for the treatment of moyamoya disease

Dylan Goehner, Sandeep Kandregula, Christopher P. Carroll, Mario Zuccarello, Bharat Guthikonda, and Jennifer A. Kosty

Since its initial description in 1957 as an idiopathic disease, moyamoya disease has proved challenging to treat. Although the basic pathophysiology of this disease involves narrowing of the terminal carotid artery with compensatory angiogenesis, the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying these changes are far more complex. In this article, the authors review the literature on the molecular and cellular pathophysiology of moyamoya disease with an emphasis on potential therapeutic targets.