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Carlo Efisio Marras, Michele Rizzi, Flavio Villani, Giuseppe Messina, Francesco Deleo, Roberto Cordella, and Angelo Franzini

Hypothalamic hamartomas (HHs) are developmental malformations associated with a range of neurological problems, including intractable seizures. There is increasing evidence of the epileptogenicity of the hamartoma and of the inhomogeneous distribution of the epileptic abnormalities within the malformation. The management strategy for treatment and results differ according to the insertion plane and the extension of the malformation into the hypothalamus. Cases characterized by extensive involvement of the hypothalamus are particularly challenging.

The authors describe the case of a patient with drug-resistant epilepsy and a large hypothalamic hamartoma with an extensive area of attachment. The patient underwent implantation of 2 deep brain electrodes. The intraoperative recording showed a synchronous interictal epileptic discharge in the left temporal lobe and on the left side of the lesion. The patient was treated with chronic high-frequency stimulation. No side effects due to the stimulation were reported. At 18 months' follow-up, a reduction in complex partial seizure frequency was reported, but no significant reduction in overall seizure frequency was noticed (p = 0.14, t-test).

The authors report on neurophysiological studies of the relationship between HH and epilepsy, and also discuss the literature on chronic high-frequency stimulation, including its rationale and the results of chronic stimulation of various targets for the treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy due to HH.

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Michele Rizzi, Andrea Trezza, Giuseppe Messina, Alessandro De Benedictis, Angelo Franzini, and Carlo Efisio Marras

Neurological surgery offers an opportunity to study brain functions, through either resection or implanted neuromodulation devices. Pathological aggressive behavior in patients with intellectual disability is a frequent condition that is difficult to treat using either supportive care or pharmacological therapy. The bulk of the laboratory studies performed throughout the 19th century enabled the formulation of hypotheses on brain circuits involved in the generation of emotions. Aggressive behavior was also studied extensively. Lesional radiofrequency surgery of the posterior hypothalamus, which peaked in the 1970s, was shown to be an effective therapy in many reported series. As with other surgical procedures for the treatment of psychiatric disorders, however, this therapy was abandoned for many reasons, including the risk of its misuse. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) offers the possibility of treating neurological and psychoaffective disorders through relatively reversible and adaptable therapy. Deep brain stimulation of the posterior hypothalamus was proposed and performed successfully in 2005 as a treatment for aggressive behavior. Other groups reported positive outcomes using target and parameter settings similar to those of the original study. Both the lesional and DBS approaches enabled researchers to explore the role of the posterior hypothalamus (or posterior hypothalamic area) in the autonomic and emotional systems.

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Alessandro De Benedictis, Andrea Trezza, Andrea Carai, Elisabetta Genovese, Emidio Procaccini, Raffaella Messina, Franco Randi, Silvia Cossu, Giacomo Esposito, Paolo Palma, Paolina Amante, Michele Rizzi, and Carlo Efisio Marras


During the last 3 decades, robotic technology has rapidly spread across several surgical fields due to the continuous evolution of its versatility, stability, dexterity, and haptic properties. Neurosurgery pioneered the development of robotics, with the aim of improving the quality of several procedures requiring a high degree of accuracy and safety. Moreover, robot-guided approaches are of special interest in pediatric patients, who often have altered anatomy and challenging relationships between the diseased and eloquent structures. Nevertheless, the use of robots has been rarely reported in children. In this work, the authors describe their experience using the ROSA device (Robotized Stereotactic Assistant) in the neurosurgical management of a pediatric population.


Between 2011 and 2016, 116 children underwent ROSA-assisted procedures for a variety of diseases (epilepsy, brain tumors, intra- or extraventricular and tumor cysts, obstructive hydrocephalus, and movement and behavioral disorders). Each patient received accurate preoperative planning of optimal trajectories, intraoperative frameless registration, surgical treatment using specific instruments held by the robotic arm, and postoperative CT or MR imaging.


The authors performed 128 consecutive surgeries, including implantation of 386 electrodes for stereo-electroencephalography (36 procedures), neuroendoscopy (42 procedures), stereotactic biopsy (26 procedures), pallidotomy (12 procedures), shunt placement (6 procedures), deep brain stimulation procedures (3 procedures), and stereotactic cyst aspiration (3 procedures). For each procedure, the authors analyzed and discussed accuracy, timing, and complications.


To the best their knowledge, the authors present the largest reported series of pediatric neurosurgical cases assisted by robotic support. The ROSA system provided improved safety and feasibility of minimally invasive approaches, thus optimizing the surgical result, while minimizing postoperative morbidity.