Incidental vertebral lesions on imaging of the spine are commonly encountered in clinical practice. Contributing factors include the aging population, the increasing prevalence of back pain, and increased usage of MR imaging. Additionally, refinements in CT and MR imaging have increased the number of demonstrable lesions. The management of incidental findings varies among practitioners and commonly depends more on practice style than on data or guidelines. In this article we review incidental findings within the vertebral column and review management of these lesions, based on available Class III data.
Jean-Valery C. E. Coumans and Brian P. Walcott
Brian P. Walcott, Navid Redjal, and Jean-Valery C. E. Coumans
Neurosurgical patients are at a high risk for infectious sequelae following operations. For neurosurgery in particular, the risk of surgical site infection has a unique implication given the proximity of the CSF and the CNS. Patient factors contribute to some degree; for example, cancer and trauma are often associated with impaired nutritional status, known risk factors for infection. Additionally, care-based factors for infection must also be considered, such as the length of surgery, the administration of steroids, and tissue devascularization (such as a craniotomy bone flap). When postoperative infection does occur, attention is commonly focused on potential lapses in surgical “sterility.” Evidence suggests that the surgical field is not free of microorganisms. The authors propose a paradigm shift in the nomenclature of the surgical field from “sterile” to “clean.” Continued efforts aimed at optimizing immune capacity and host defenses to combat potential infection are warranted.
Brian P. Walcott, Jonathan J. Russin, Robin Babadjouni, and William J. Mack
This is the case of a man in his 40s who suffered sudden collapse into a deep coma as a result of a ruptured arteriovenous malformation (AVM) feeding artery aneurysm within the lateral ventricle. The ruptured aneurysm was successfully treated with Onyx embolization of the feeding pedicle. The AVM and the feeding artery aneurysm were then removed via a transcallosal approach. This case highlights the utility of interrogating the AVM with microcatheterization of the feeding pedicles in order to define the exact anatomical features necessary for treatment planning. It also reviews the anatomy of the choroidal fissure.
The video can be found here: https://youtu.be/UeqFzhTRU1Q.
Brian P. Walcott, Jean-Valery C. E. Coumans, and Kristopher T. Kahle
Disorders of the spine are common in clinical medicine, and spine surgery is being performed with increasing frequency in the US. Although many patients with an established diagnosis of a true surgically treatable lesion are referred to a neurosurgeon, the evaluation of patients with spinal disorders can be complex and fraught with diagnostic pitfalls. While “common conditions are common,” astute clinical acumen and vigilance are necessary to identify lesions that masquerade as surgically treatable spine disease that can lead to erroneous diagnosis and treatment. In this review, the authors discuss musculoskeletal, peripheral nerve, metabolic, infectious, inflammatory, and vascular conditions that mimic the syndromes produced by surgical lesions. It is possible that nonsurgical and surgical conditions coexist at times, complicating treatment plans and natural histories. Awareness of these diagnoses can help reduce diagnostic error, thereby avoiding the morbidity and expense associated with an unnecessary operation.
Andrew Q. Le, Brian P. Walcott, Navid Redjal, and Jean-Valery Coumans
Jugular foramen syndrome is a condition characterized by unilateral paresis of cranial nerves IX, X, and XI in the setting of extrinsic compression. Here, the authors describe the case of a giant cervical osteophyte resulting in compression of the jugular foramen. A 74-year-old man who presented with progressive dysphagia and dysarthria was found to have right-sided tongue deviation, left palatal droop, and hypophonia. His dysphagia had progressed to the point that he had lost 25 kg over a 4-month period, necessitating a gastrostomy to maintain adequate nutrition. He underwent extensive workup for his dysphagia with several normal radiographic studies. Ultimately, CT scanning and postcontrast MRI revealed a posterior osteophyte arising from the C1–2 joint space and projecting into the right jugular foramen. This resulted in a jugular foramen syndrome in addition to delayed filling of the patient's right internal jugular vein distal to the osteophyte. Although rare, a posterior cervical osteophyte should be considered in cases of jugular foramen syndrome.
Wael F. Asaad, Brian P. Walcott, Brian V. Nahed, and Christopher S. Ogilvy
Brainstem cavernous malformations (CMs) are complex lesions associated with hemorrhage and neurological deficit. In this review, the authors describe the anatomical nuances relating to the operative techniques for these challenging lesions. The resection of brainstem CMs in properly selected patients has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of rehemorrhage and can be achieved relatively safely in experienced hands.
Jean-Valery Coumans, Brian P. Walcott, William E. Butler, Brian V. Nahed, and Kristopher T. Kahle
Resolution of syringomyelia is common following hindbrain decompression for Chiari malformation, yet little is known about the kinetics governing this process. The authors sought to establish the volumetric rate of syringomyelia resolution.
A retrospective cohort of patients undergoing hindbrain decompression for a Chiari malformation Type I with preoperative cervical or thoracic syringomyelia was identified. Patients were included in the study if they had at least 3 neuroimaging studies that detailed the entirety of their preoperative syringomyelia over a minimum of 6 months postoperatively. The authors reconstructed the MR images in 3 dimensions and calculated the volume of the syringomyelia. They plotted the syringomyelia volume over time and constructed regression models using the method of least squares. The Akaike information criterion and Bayesian information criterion were used to calculate the relative goodness of fit. The coefficients of determination R 2 (unadjusted and adjusted) were calculated to describe the proportion of variability in each individual data set accounted for by the statistical model.
Two patients were identified as meeting inclusion criteria. Plots of the least-squares best fit were identified as 4.01459e −0.0180804 x and 13.2556e −0.00615859 x. Decay of the syringomyelia followed an exponential model in both patients (R2 = 0.989582 and 0.948864).
Three-dimensional analysis of syringomyelia resolution over time enables the kinetics to be estimated. This technique is yet to be validated in a large cohort. Because syringomyelia is the final common pathway for a number of different pathological processes, it is possible that this exponential only applies to syringomyelia related to treatment of Chiari malformation Type I.
Manuel Ferreira Jr., Brian P. Walcott, Brian V. Nahed, and Laligam N. Sekhar
Hemifacial spasm (HFS) is caused by arterial or venous compression of cranial nerve VII at its root exit zone. Traditionally, microvascular decompression of the facial nerve has been an effective treatment for posterior inferior and anterior inferior cerebellar artery as well as venous compression. The traditional technique involves Teflon felt or another construct to cushion the offending vessel from the facial nerve, or cautery and division of the offending vein. However, using this technique for severe vertebral artery (VA) compression can be ineffective and fraught with complications. The authors report the use of a new technique of VA pexy to the petrous or clival dura mater in patients with HFS attributed to a severely ectatic and tortuous VA, and detail the results in a series of patients.
Six patients with HFS due to VA compression underwent a retrosigmoid craniotomy, combined with a far-lateral approach in some patients. On identification of the site of VA compression, the vessel was mobilized adequately for the decompression. Great care was taken to avoid kinking the perforating vessels arising from the VA. Two 8-0 nylon sutures were passed through to the wall of the VA and then through the clival or petrous dura, and then tied to alleviate compression on cranial nerve VII.
Patients were followed for at least 1 year postoperatively (mean 2.7 years, range 1–4 years). All 6 patients had complete resolution of their HFS. Facial function was tested postoperatively, and was stable when compared with the preoperative baseline. Two of the 3 patients with preoperative tinnitus had resolution of this symptom after the procedure. Postoperative imaging demonstrated VA decompression of the facial nerve and no evidence of stroke in all patients. One patient suffered from hearing loss, another developed a postoperative transient unilateral vocal cord paralysis, and a third patient developed a pseudomeningocele that resolved with the placement of a lumbar drain.
Hemifacial spasm and other neurovascular syndromes are effectively treated by repositioning the compressing artery. Careful study of the preoperative MR images may identify a select group of patients with HFS due to an ectatic VA. Rather than traditional decompression with only pledget placement, these patients may benefit from a VA pexy to provide an effective, safe, and durable resolution of their symptoms while minimizing surgical complications.
Brandyn Castro, Brian P. Walcott, Navid Redjal, Jean-Valery Coumans, and Brian V. Nahed
Frontal sinus fractures are heterogeneous, and management of these fractures is often modified based on injury pattern and institutional experience. The optimal initial treatment of frontal sinus fractures is controversial. Treatment strategies are aimed at correcting cosmetic deformity, as well as at preventing delayed complications, including CSF fistulas, mucocele formation, and infection. Existing treatment options include observation, reconstruction, obliteration, cranialization, or a combination thereof. Modalities for treatment encompass both open surgical approaches and endoscopic techniques. In the absence of Class I data, the authors review the existing literature related to treatment strategies of frontal sinus fractures, particularly as they relate to CSF fistulas, to provide recommendations based on the best available evidence.
Brian P. Walcott, Brian V. Nahed, Kristopher T. Kahle, Navid Redjal, and Jean-Valery Coumans
Previous methods to determine stroke prevalence, such as nationwide surveys, are labor-intensive endeavors. Recent advances in search engine query analytics have led to a new metric for disease surveillance to evaluate symptomatic phenomenon, such as influenza. The authors hypothesized that the use of search engine query data can determine the prevalence of stroke.
The Google Insights for Search database was accessed to analyze anonymized search engine query data. The authors' search strategy utilized common search queries used when attempting either to identify the signs and symptoms of a stroke or to perform stroke education. The search logic was as follows: (stroke signs + stroke symptoms + mini stroke − heat) from January 1, 2005, to December 31, 2010.
The relative number of searches performed (the interest level) for this search logic was established for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. A Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient was calculated from the statespecific stroke prevalence data previously reported.
Web search engine interest level was available for all 50 states and the District of Columbia over the time period for January 1, 2005–December 31, 2010. The interest level was highest in Alabama and Tennessee (100 and 96, respectively) and lowest in California and Virginia (58 and 53, respectively). The Pearson correlation coefficient (r) was calculated to be 0.47 (p = 0.0005, 2-tailed).
Search engine query data analysis allows for the determination of relative stroke prevalence. Further investigation will reveal the reliability of this metric to determine temporal pattern analysis and prevalence in this and other symptomatic diseases.