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Carlo Brembilla, Luigi Andrea Lanterna, Emanuele Costi, and Claudio Bernucci

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Claudio Bernucci, Andrea Fanti, Pierlorenzo Veiceschi, Emanuele Costi, Angelo Mirco Sicignano, and Carlo Brembilla

In this tumultuous time, the entire world has been shaken up by the COVID-19 outbreak. Italy has had one of the highest infection-related mortality rates. Bergamo, a city in eastern Lombardy, was among the most affected. Here, the authors describe the main healthcare actions taken at their institution to stem the crisis, with particular concern regarding the fate of their neurosurgery department. Among the different topics, the authors particularly focus on the retraining of neurosurgeons, organization of activities, and what should be the role of neurosurgeons during a pandemic.

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Carlo Brembilla, Luigi Andrea Lanterna, Andrea Risso, Enrico Bombana, Paolo Gritti, Rosangela Trezzi, Giuseppe Bonaldi, and Francesco Biroli

With the increasingly widespread illicit use of cocaine, a broad spectrum of clinical pathologies related to this form of drug abuse is emerging. The most frequently used method of administration of powdered cocaine is intranasal inhalation, or “snorting.” Consequently, adverse effects of cocaine on the nasal tract are common. Habitual nasal insufflations of cocaine can cause mucosal lesions. If cocaine use becomes chronic and compulsive, progressive damage of the mucosa and perichondrium leads to ischemic necrosis of the septal cartilage and perforation of the nasal septum. Occasionally, cocaine-induced lesions cause extensive destruction of the osteocartilaginous structures of the nose, sinuses, and palate and can mimic other diseases such as tumors, infections, and immunological diseases. In the literature currently available, involvement of the craniovertebral junction in the cocaine-induced midline destructive lesions (CIMDLs) has never been reported.

The present case concerns a 44-year-old man who presented with long-standing symptoms including nasal obstruction, epistaxis, dysphagia, nasal reflux, and severe neck pain. A diagnosis of CIMDL was made in light of the patient’s history and the findings on physical and endoscopic examinations, imaging studies, and laboratory testing. Involvement of the craniovertebral junction in the destructive process was evident. For neurosurgical treatment, the authors considered the high grade of atlantoaxial instability, the poorly understood cocaine-induced lesions of the spine and their potential evolution overtime, as well as cocaine abusers’ poor compliance. The patient underwent posterior craniovertebral fixation. Understanding, classifying, and treating cocaine-induced lesions involving the craniovertebral junction are a challenge.

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Carlo Brembilla, Luigi Andrea Lanterna, Virginio Bonito, Margherita Gardinetti, Gianluigi Dorelli, Angela Dele Rampini, Paolo Gritti, and Claudio Bernucci

Superficial siderosis of the central nervous system (SSCNS) is an uncommon and often unrecognized disorder that results from recurrent and persistent bleeding into the subarachnoid space. Currently, there is no effective treatment for SSCNS. The identification and surgical resolution of the cause of bleeding remains the most reliable method of treatment, but the cause of bleeding is often not apparent. The identified sources of recurrent bleeding have typically included neoplasms, vascular malformations, brachial plexus or nerve root injury or avulsion, and previous head and spinal surgery. An association between recurrent bleeding in the CNS and dural abnormalities in the spine has recently been suggested. Dural tears have been identified in relation to a protruding disc or osteophyte. Also in these patients, the exact mechanism of bleeding remains unknown because of a lack of objective surgical data, even in patients who undergo neurosurgical procedures.

The present case concerns a 48-year-old man who presented with longstanding symptoms of mild hearing loss and mild gait ataxia. A diagnosis of SSCNS was made in light of the patient’s history and the findings on physical examination, imaging, and laboratory testing. MRI and CT detected a small calcific osteophyte in the anterior epidural space of T8–9. The patient underwent surgical removal of the bone spur and dural tear repair. During the surgery, the authors detected a perforating artery, which was on the osteophyte, that was bleeding into the subarachnoid space. This case shows a possible mechanism of chronic bleeding from an osteophyte into the subarachnoid space. In the literature currently available, a perforating artery on an osteophyte bleeding into the subarachnoid space has never been described in SSCNS.

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Luigi A. Lanterna, Carlo Brembilla, and Paolo Gritti