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Manuel Ferreira Jr., Brian P. Walcott, Brian V. Nahed and Laligam N. Sekhar

Object

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

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Eugene J. Vaios, Brian V. Nahed, Alona Muzikansky, Amir T. Fathi and Jorg Dietrich

OBJECTIVE

Glioblastoma (GBM) is a highly aggressive malignancy that requires a multidisciplinary therapeutic approach of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, but therapy is frequently limited by side effects. The most common adverse effect of chemotherapy with temozolomide (TMZ) is myelosuppression. It remains unclear whether the degree of bone-marrow suppression might serve as a biomarker for treatment outcome. The aim of the current study was to investigate whether the degree of bone-marrow toxicity in patients treated with TMZ correlates with overall survival (OS) and MRI-based time to progression (progression-free survival [PFS]).

METHODS

Complete blood counts and clinical and imaging information were collected retrospectively from 86 cases involving GBM patients who had completed both radiation therapy and at least 6 monthly cycles of chemotherapy with TMZ.

RESULTS

Using a multivariate Cox proportional hazard model, it was observed that MGMT promoter methylation, wild-type EGFR, younger patient age at diagnosis, and treatment-induced decreases in white blood cell counts were associated with improved OS. The 2-year survival rate was 25% and 58% for patients with increases and decreases, respectively, in white blood cell counts from baseline over 6 months of TMZ treatment. Consistent with the literature, IDH mutation and MGMT promoter methylation were associated with better PFS and OS. IDH mutation and MGMT promoter methylation were not correlated with changes in peripheral red blood cell or white blood cell counts.

CONCLUSIONS

Decreases in white blood cell counts might serve as a potential biomarker for OS and PFS in malignant glioma patients treated with radiation therapy and TMZ. It remains unclear whether treatment-induced changes in white blood cell counts correlate with drug-induced antitumor activity or represent an independent factor of the altered local and systemic tumor environment. Additional studies will be needed to determine dose dependence for chemotherapy based upon peripheral blood counts.

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Brian V. Nahed, Aneela Darbar, Robert Doiron, Ali Saad, Caroline D. Robson and Edward R. Smith

✓Choroid plexus cysts are common and typically asymptomatic abnormal folds of the epithelial lining of the choroid plexus. Rarely, these cysts may gradually enlarge and cause outflow obstruction of cerebrospinal fluid. The authors present a case of a large choroid plexus cyst causing acute hydrocephalus in a previously healthy 2-year-old boy. The patient presented with markedly declining mental status, vomiting, and bradycardia over the course of several hours. Computed tomography scans demonstrated enlarged lateral and third ventricles with sulcal effacement, but no obvious mass lesions or hemorrhage. There was no antecedent illness or trauma. A right frontal external ventricular drain was placed in the patient, resulting in decompression of only the right lateral ventricle. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging demonstrated a lobulated cyst arising from the choroid plexus of the left lateral ventricle and herniating through the foramen of Monro into the third ventricle, occluding both the foramen of Monro and the cerebral aqueduct. The patient underwent an endoscopic fenestration of the cyst, and histological results confirmed that it was a choroid plexus cyst. Postoperative MR imaging showed a marked reduction in the cyst size. The cyst was no longer in the third ventricle, the foramen of Monro and the aqueduct were patent, and the ventricles were decompressed. The patient was discharged home with no deficits. To the authors' knowledge, there are no previous reports of a choroid plexus cyst causing acute hydrocephalus due to herniation into the third ventricle. This case is illustrative because it describes this entity for the first time, and more importantly highlights the need to obtain a diagnosis when a patient presents with acute hydrocephalus without a clear cause.

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Aaron A. Cohen-Gadol, Brian V. Nahed, Jennifer R. Voorhees, Cormac O. Maher and Dennis D. Spencer

✓Although Harvey Cushing is best known for his role in developing surgical treatments for tumors of the central nervous system, he performed diverse neurosurgical procedures throughout his career, both at The Johns Hopkins Hospital (1886–1912) and at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (1912–1932). His unique and innovative approach to the treatment of myelomeningoceles associated with hydrocephalus, displayed early in his career, is characteristic of his attempts to circumvent the technical limitations of his time in the management of neurosurgical problems. In this report, the authors discuss the evolution of Cushing's technique in the treatment of myelomeningoceles through two illustrative patient records.

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Brian P. Walcott, Brian V. Nahed, Kristopher T. Kahle, Ann-Christine Duhaime, Nutan Sharma and Emad N. Eskandar

Generalized dystonic syndromes may escalate into persistent episodes of generalized dystonia known as status dystonicus that can be life-threatening due to dystonia-induced rhabdomyolysis and/or respiratory compromise. Treatment of these conditions usually entails parenteral infusion of antispasmodic agents and sedatives and occasionally necessitates a medically induced coma for symptom control. The authors report a series of 3 children who presented with medically intractable, life-threatening status dystonicus and were successfully treated with bilateral pallidal deep brain stimulation. Bilateral globus pallidus internus stimulation appears to be effective in the urgent treatment of medically refractory and life-threatening movement disorders.

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Ahmed J. Awad, Brian P. Walcott, Christopher J. Stapleton, Vijay Yanamadala, Brian V. Nahed and Jean-Valery Coumans

Dabigatran etexilate (Pradaxa) is a novel oral anticoagulant that has gained FDA approval for the prevention of ischemic stroke and systemic embolism in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation. In randomized trials, the incidence of hemorrhagic events has been demonstrated to be lower in patients treated with dabigatran compared with the traditional anticoagulant warfarin. However, dabigatran does not have reliable laboratory tests to measure levels of anticoagulation and there is no pharmacological antidote. These drawbacks are challenging in the setting of intracerebral hemorrhage. In this article, the authors provide background information on dabigatran, review the existing anecdotal experiences with treating intracerebral hemorrhage related to dabigatran therapy, present a case study of intracranial hemorrhage in a patient being treated with dabigatran, and suggest clinical management strategies. The development of reversal agents is urgently needed given the growing number of patients treated with this medication.

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Linda W. Xu, Amy Li, Christian Swinney, Maya Babu, Anand Veeravagu, Stacey Quintero Wolfe, Brian V. Nahed and John K. Ratliff

OBJECTIVE

Recently, 2 surgeon rating websites (Consumers' Checkbook and ProPublica) were published to allow the public to compare surgeons through identifying surgeon volume and complication rates. Among neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons, only cervical and lumbar spine, hip, and knee procedures were included in this assessment.

METHODS

The authors examined the methodology of each website to assess potential sources of inaccuracy. Each online tool was queried for reports on neurosurgeons specializing in spine surgery and orthopedic surgeons specializing in spine, hip, or knee surgery. Surgeons were chosen from top-ranked hospitals in the US, as recorded by a national consumer publication ranking system, within the fields of neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery. The results were compared for accuracy and surgeon representation, and the results of the 2 websites were also compared.

RESULTS

The methodology of each site was found to have opportunities for bias and limited risk adjustment. The end points assessed by each site were actually not complications, but proxies of complication occurrence. A search of 510 surgeons (401 orthopedic surgeons [79%] and 109 neurosurgeons [21%]) showed that only 28% and 56% of surgeons had data represented on Consumers' Checkbook and ProPublica, respectively. There was a significantly higher chance of finding surgeon data on ProPublica (p < 0.001). Of the surgeons from top-ranked programs with data available, 17% were quoted to have high complication rates, 13% with lower volume than other surgeons, and 79% had a 3-star out of 5-star rating. There was no significant correlation found between the number of stars a surgeon received on Consumers' Checkbook and his or her adjusted complication rate on ProPublica.

CONCLUSIONS

Both the Consumers' Checkbook and ProPublica websites have significant methodological issues. Neither site assessed complication occurrence, but rather readmissions or prolonged length of stay. Risk adjustment was limited or nonexistent. A substantial number of neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons from top-ranked hospitals have no ratings on either site, or have data that suggests they are low-volume surgeons or have higher complication rates. Consumers' Checkbook and ProPublica produced different results with little correlation between the 2 websites in how surgeons were graded. Given the significant methodological issues, incomplete data, and lack of appropriate risk stratification of patients, the featured websites may provide erroneous information to the public.

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Brian V. Nahed, Manuel Ferreira Jr., Matthew R. Naunheim, Kristopher T. Kahle, Mark R. Proctor and Edward R. Smith

Clinical and radiographic evidence of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH)-related vasospasm is rare in children and has not been reported in infants. In this report the authors present the case of a 22-month-old child who developed clinically symptomatic, radiographically identifiable vasospasm after traumatic SAH. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first report of vasospasm associated with SAH in a child this young. This 22-month-old boy fell and had a dense SAH. He had a history of surgically corrected craniosynostosis and nonsymptomatic ventriculomegaly. The boy was evaluated for occult vascular lesions using imaging; none were found and normal vessel caliber was noted. Ten days later, the child developed left-sided weakness and a right middle cerebral artery infarct was identified. Evaluation disclosed significant intracranial vasospasm. This diagnosis was supported by findings on CT angiography, transcranial Doppler ultrasonography, MR imaging, and conventional angiography. The child was treated using intraarterial verapamil with a good result, as well as with conventional intensive care measures to reduce vasospasm. This report documents the first known case of intracranial vasospasm with stroke after SAH in a patient under the age of 2 years. This finding is important because it demonstrates that the entity of SAH-associated vasospasm can affect the very young, widening the spectrum of ages susceptible to this condition. This case is also important because it demonstrates that even very young children can respond to conventional therapeutic interventions such as intraarterial verapamil. Thus, clinicians need to be alert to the possibility of vasospasm as a potential diagnosis when evaluating young children with SAH.

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Brian P. Walcott, Churl-Su Kwon, Sameer A. Sheth, Corey R. Fehnel, Robert M. Koffie, Wael F. Asaad, Brian V. Nahed and Jean-Valery Coumans

Object

Decompressive craniectomy mandates subsequent cranioplasty. Complications of cranioplasty may be independent of the initial craniectomy, or they may be contingent upon the craniectomy. Authors of this study aimed to identify surgery- and patient-specific risk factors related to the development of surgical site infection and other complications following cranioplasty.

Methods

A consecutive cohort of patients of all ages and both sexes who had undergone cranioplasty following craniectomy for stroke or trauma at a single institution in the period from May 2004 to May 2012 was retrospectively established. Patients who had undergone craniectomy for infectious lesions or neoplasia were excluded. A logistic regression analysis was performed to model and predict determinants related to infection following cranioplasty.

Results

Two hundred thirty-nine patients met the study criteria. The overall rate of complication following cranioplasty was 23.85% (57 patients). Complications included, predominantly, surgical site infection, hydrocephalus, and new-onset seizures. Logistic regression analysis identified previous reoperation (OR 3.25, 95% CI 1.30–8.11, p = 0.01) and therapeutic indication for stroke (OR 2.45, 95% CI 1.11–5.39, p = 0.03) as significantly associated with the development of cranioplasty infection. Patient age, location of cranioplasty, presence of an intracranial device, bone flap preservation method, cranioplasty material, booking method, and time interval > 90 days between initial craniectomy and cranioplasty were not predictive of the development of cranioplasty infection.

Conclusions

Cranioplasty complications are common. Cranioplasty infection rates are predicted by reoperation following craniectomy and therapeutic indication (stroke). These variables may be associated with patient-centered risk factors that increase cranioplasty infection risk.

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Brian P. Walcott, Jonathan B. Neal, Sameer A. Sheth, Kristopher T. Kahle, Emad N. Eskandar, Jean-Valery Coumans and Brian V. Nahed

Object

Dural closure with synthetic grafts has been suggested to contribute to the incidence of infection and CSF leak. The objective of this study was to assess the contribution of choice of dural closure material, as well as other factors, to the incidence of infection and CSF leak.

Methods

A retrospective, consecutive cohort study of adult patients undergoing elective craniotomy was established between April 2010 and March 2011 at a single center. Exclusion criteria consisted of trauma, bur hole placement alone, and temporary CSF fluid diversion.

Results

Three hundred ninety-nine patients were included (mean follow-up 396.6 days). Nonautologous (synthetic) dural substitute was more likely to be used (n = 106) in cases of reoperation (p = 0.001). Seventeen patients developed a surgical site infection and 12 patients developed a CSF leak. Multivariate logistic regression modeling identified estimated blood loss (OR 1.002, 95% CI 1.001–1.003; p < 0.001) and cigarette smoking (OR 2.198, 95% CI 1.109–4.238; p = 0.019) as significant predictors of infection. Synthetic dural graft was not a predictor of infection in multivariate analysis. Infratentorial surgery (OR 4.348, 95% CI 1.234–16.722; p = 0.024) and more than 8 days of postoperative corticosteroid treatment (OR 3.886, 95% CI 1.052–16.607; p = 0.048) were significant predictors for the development of CSF leak. Synthetic dural graft was associated with a lower likelihood of CSF leak (OR 0.072, 95% CI 0.003–0.552; p = 0.036).

Conclusions

The use of synthetic dural closure material is not associated with surgical site infection and is associated with a reduced incidence of CSF leak. Modifiable risk factors exist for craniotomy complications that warrant vigilance and further study.