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Alexander W. L. Gerard, Jignesh Tailor, Catia Gradil, Bhaskar Thakur and Bassel Zebian

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Anmol Pandey, Bhaskar Thakur, Florence Hogg, Christian Brogna, Jamie Logan, Roopen Arya, Richard Gullan, Ranjeev Bhangoo and Keyoumars Ashkan

OBJECTIVE

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a major cause of morbidity in patients undergoing neurosurgical intervention. The authors postulate that the introduction of a routine preoperative deep vein thrombosis (DVT) screening protocol for patients undergoing neurosurgical intervention for brain tumors would result in a more effective diagnosis of DVT in this high-risk subgroup, and subsequent appropriate management of the condition would reduce pulmonary embolism (PE) rates and improve patient outcomes.

METHODS

The authors conducted a prospective study of 115 adult patients who were undergoing surgical intervention for a brain tumor. All patients underwent preoperative lower-limb Doppler ultrasonography scanning for DVT screening. Patients with confirmed DVT underwent a period of anticoagulation therapy, which was stopped prior to surgery. An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter was inserted to cover the perioperative period during which anticoagulation therapy was avoided due to bleeding risk before restarting the therapy at a later date. Patients underwent follow-up performed by a neurooncology multidisciplinary team, and subsequent complications and outcomes were recorded.

RESULTS

Seven (6%) of the 115 screened patients had DVT. Of these patients, one developed postoperative PE, and another had bilateral DVT postoperatively. None of the patients without preoperative DVT developed VTE postoperatively. Age, symptoms of DVT, and previous history of VTE were significantly higher in the group with preoperative DVT. There were no deaths and no complications from the anticoagulation or IVC filter insertion.

CONCLUSIONS

Preoperative screening for DVT is a worthwhile endeavor in patients undergoing neurosurgical intervention. A multidisciplinary approach in management of anticoagulation and IVC filter insertion is safe and can minimize further VTE in such patients.

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Soumya Mukherjee, Bhaskar Thakur, Dolin Bhagawati, Dimpu Bhagawati, Samira Akmal, Vasileios Arzoglou, John Yeh and Habib Ellamushi

Object

The authors assess the utility of routine biopsy at vertebroplasty for vertebral compression fracture (VCF) as a tool in the early detection of malignancy in presumed benign VCF.

Methods

A prospective observational study was conducted on a cohort of consecutive patients undergoing vertebroplasty over a 5-year period between April 2006 and March 2011 at the Royal London Hospital. Polymethylmethacrylate cement injection was used in every procedure. Intraoperative vertebral body biopsy was performed routinely at every level of VCF. Pain visual analog scale (VAS) scores, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores, analgesic usage, and complications were recorded preoperatively and at 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 6 months, and 1 year postoperatively.

Results

A total of 202 levels were augmented in 147 patients. The most common levels augmented were T-12 (17%), L-1 (18%), and L-4 (10%). Analysis of 184 routine vertebral biopsies in 135 patients revealed that in 86 patients with presumed osteoporosis and no prior cancer diagnosis, 4 (4.7%) had a malignant VCF. In 20 known cancer patients presumed to be in remission, 2 (10%) had a malignant VCF. Routine vertebral biopsy returned an overall cancer diagnosis rate of 5.5% (6 of 109) when combining the 2 groups (patients with no prior history of cancer or cancer thought to be in remission). In these 6 patients, history, examination, laboratory tests, and preprocedure imaging all failed to suggest malignancy diagnosed at routine biopsy. Significant reductions in pain VAS and ODI scores were evident at Day 1 and were sustained at up to 1 year postoperatively (p < 0.001). They were not dependent on the level of fracture (T3–10, T11–L2, or L3–S1) (p > 0.05), number of levels treated (single level, 2 levels, or > 2 levels) (p > 0.05), or etiology of VCF (p > 0.05). The complication rate was 6% (9 of 147). There were 5 deaths, none of which were directly related to surgery.

Conclusions

Routine vertebral biopsy performed at vertebroplasty may demonstrate cancer-related VCFs in unsuspected patients with no previous cancer diagnosis or active malignancy in patients previously thought to be in remission. This early diagnosis of cancer or relapsed disease will play an important role in expediting patients' subsequent cancer management. In cases of multiple-level VCF, the authors advocate biopsy at each level to maximize the diagnostic yield from the specimens and to avoid missing a malignancy at a single level.