Thomas Willis established neurology as a distinct discipline and made significant original contributions to many related fields including anatomy, pathology, cardiology, endocrinology, and gastroenterology. He is most remembered for his work in elucidating the function and anatomy of the circle of Willis. Willis' accomplishments and research methods can be credited in large part to his unconventional medical education which did not include traditional teachings, but rather emphasized learning through clinical practice. Although Willis was not the first to describe the arterial circle, he was the first to describe its function and provide a complete, undisputed illustration through his own innovative use of dye studies. The Willis classification of cranial nerves was still in use over 100 years after its original description. He has also described several disease entities and named many brain structures. Willis' accomplishments in comparative anatomy and understanding the pathophysiology of various diseases through original multidisciplinary experimental work in a clinical setting reveal that he was a true pioneer in translational research.
Setti S. Rengachary, Andrew Xavier, Sunil Manjila, Usha Smerdon, Brandon Parker, Suzan Hadwan and Murali Guthikonda
Sunil Manjila, Setti Rengachary, Andrew R. Xavier, Brandon Parker and Murali Guthikonda
The history of modern psychosurgery has been written in several ways, weaving around many pioneers in the field during the 19th century. Often neglected in this history is Gottlieb Burckhardt (1836–1907), who performed the first psychosurgical procedures as early as 1888, several decades before the work of Egas Moniz (1874–1955). The unconventional and original case series of Burckhardt, who claimed success in 50% of patients (3 of 6), had met with overt criticism from his contemporary medical colleagues. The authors describe 2 illustrative cases of cortical extirpation performed by Burckhardt and review his pioneering case series for surgical outcome, despite the ambiguity in postoperative evaluation criteria. Although Burckhardt discontinued the project after publication of his surgical results in 1891, neurosurgeons around the world continued to investigate psychosurgery and revitalized his ideas in 1910; psychosurgery subsequently developed into a full-fledged neurosurgical specialty.
Sunil Manjila, Nivin Haroon, Brandon Parker, Andrew R. Xavier, Murali Guthikonda and Setti S. Rengachary
The artery of Adamkiewicz is an important radiculomedullary artery supplying the spinal cord, especially the lumbar enlargement. Anatomical knowledge of this artery is important for avoiding serious neurological complications during surgery performed in this region—for neurosurgeons and interventional radiologists treating intramedullary tumors and spinal arteriovenous malformations, traumatologists performing spinal fusions, thoracic surgeons treating aortic aneurysms, and urologists and pediatric surgeons conducting retroperitoneal dissections. However, the biography of the talented Polish pathologist Albert Adamkiewicz, after whom the landmark artery is named, has not been described adequately in the existing neurosurgical literature. The authors bring to light the historical perspective of the eponymic artery and provide a recapitulation of other significant contributions made by Adamkiewicz, mostly involving the nervous system. His research papers on the histology of neuronal tissues and neurodegenerative diseases had high scientific merit, but the discovery of the anticancer antitoxin “cancroin” and his postulation of a cancer-causing parasite he named “Coccidium sarcolytus” met with harsh criticism and eventually led to his ill fame. The biography is supplemented with a brief overview of the important surgical implications of the artery of Adamkiewicz.
Owoicho Adogwa, Scott L. Parker, Brandon J. Davis, Oran Aaronson, Clinton Devin, Joseph S. Cheng and Matthew J. McGirt
Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) for spondylolisthesis-associated back and leg pain is associated with improvement in pain, disability, and quality of life. However, given the rising health care costs associated with spinal fusion procedures and varying results of recent cost-utility studies, the cost-effectiveness of TLIF remains unclear. The authors set out to assess the comprehensive costs of TLIF at their institution and to determine its cost-effectiveness in the treatment of degenerative spondylolisthesis.
Forty-five patients undergoing TLIF for Grade I degenerative spondylolisthesis–associated back and leg pain after 6–12 months of conservative therapy were included. The authors assessed the 2-year back pain visual analog scale (VAS) score, leg pain VAS score, Oswestry Disability Index, and total back-related medical resource utilization, missed work, and health-state values (quality-adjusted life years [QALYs], calculated from EQ-5D with US valuation). Two-year resource use was multiplied by unit costs based on Medicare national allowable payment amounts (direct cost), and patient and caregiver workday losses were multiplied by the self-reported gross-of-tax wage rate (indirect cost). The mean total 2-year cost per QALY gained after TLIF was assessed.
Compared with preoperative health states reported after at least 6 months of medical management, a significant improvement in back pain VAS score, leg pain VAS score, and Oswestry Disability Index was observed 2 years after TLIF, with a mean 2-year gain of 0.86 QALYs. The mean ± SD total 2-year cost of TLIF was $36,836 ± $11,800 (surgery cost, $21,311 ± $2800; outpatient resource utilization cost, $3940 ± $2720; indirect cost, $11,584 ± $11,363). Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion was associated with a mean 2-year cost per QALY gained of $42,854.
Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion improved pain, disability, and quality of life in patients with degenerative spondylolisthesis–associated back and leg pain. The total cost per QALY gained for TLIF was $42,854 when evaluated 2 years after surgery with Medicare fees, suggesting that TLIF is a cost-effective treatment of lumbar spondylolisthesis.