Although attempts to develop stereotactic approaches to intracranial surgery started in the late 19th century with Dittmar, Zernov, and more famously, Horsley and Clarke, widespread use of the technique for human brain surgery started in the second part of the 20th century. Remarkably, a significant similar surgical procedure had already been performed in the late 19th century by Gaston Contremoulins in France and has remained unknown. Contremoulins used the principles of modern stereotaxy in association with radiography for the first time, allowing the successful removal of intracranial bullets in 2 patients. This surgical premiere, greatly acknowledged in the popular French newspaper L’Illustration in 1897, received little scientific or governmental interest at the time, as it emanated from a young self-taught scientist without official medical education. This surgical innovation was only made possible financially by popular crowdfunding and, despite widespread military use during World War I, with 37,780 patients having benefited from this technique for intra- or extracranial foreign bodies, it never attracted academic or neurosurgical consideration. The authors of this paper describe the historical context of stereotactic developments and the personal history of Contremoulins, who worked in the department of experimental physiology of the French Academy of Sciences led by Étienne-Jules Marey in Paris, and later devoted himself to radiography and radioprotection. The authors also give precise information about his original stereotactic tool “the bullet finder” (“le chercheur de projectiles”) and its key concepts.
Pierre Bourdillon, Caroline Apra and Marc Lévêque
Pierre Bourdillon, Caroline Apra, Marc Lévêque and Fabien Vinckier
Contrary to common psychosurgical practice in the 1950s, Dr. Jean Talairach had the intuition, based on clinical experience, that the brain connectome and neuroplasticity had a role to play in psychosurgery. Due to the remarkable progress of pharmacology at that time and to the technical limits of neurosurgery, these concepts were not put into practice. Currently, these concepts are being confirmed by modern techniques such as neuroimaging and computational neurosciences, and could pave the way for therapeutic innovation in psychiatry.
Psychosurgery commonly uses a localizationist approach, based on the idea that a lesion to a specific area is responsible for a deficit opposite to its function. To psychosurgeons such as Walter Freeman, who performed extensive lesions causing apparently inevitable deficit, Talairach answered with clinical data: complex psychic functions cannot be described that simply, because the same lesion does not provoke the same deficit in different patients. Moreover, cognitive impairment did not always follow efficacious psychosurgery. Talairach suggested that selectively destructing part of a network could open the door to a new organization, and that early psychotherapy could encourage this psychoplasticity. Talairach did not have the opportunity to put these concepts into practice in psychiatric diseases because of the sudden availability of neuroleptics, but connectomics and neuroplasticity gave rise to major advances in intraparenchymal neurosurgery, from epilepsy to low-grade glioma. In psychiatry, alongside long-standing theories implicating focal lesions and diffuse pathological processes, neuroimaging techniques are currently being developed. In mentally healthy individuals, combining diffusion tensor imaging with functional MRI, magnetoencephalography, and electroencephalography allows the determination of a comprehensive map of neural connections in the brain on many spatial scales, the so-called connectome. Ultimately, global neurocomputational models could predict physiological activity, behavior, and subjective feeling, and describe neuropsychiatric disorders.
Connectomic studies comparing psychiatric patients with controls have already confirmed the early intuitions of Talairach. As a striking example, massive dysconnectivity has been found in schizophrenia, leading some authors to propose a “dysconnection hypothesis.” Alterations of the connectome have also been demonstrated in obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. Furthermore, normalization of the functional dysconnectivity has been observed following clinical improvement in several therapeutic interventions, from psychotherapy to pharmacological treatments. Provided that mental disorders result from abnormal structural or functional wiring, targeted psychosurgery would require that one be able: 1) to identify the pathological network involved in a given patient; 2) to use neurostimulation to safely create a reversible and durable alteration, mimicking a lesion, in a network compatible with neuroplasticity; and 3) to predict which functional lesion would result in adapted neuronal plasticity and/or to guide neuronal plasticity to promote recovery. All these conditions, already suggested by Talairach, could now be achievable considering modern biomarkers and surgical progress.
Caroline Apra, Karima Mokhtari, Philippe Cornu, Matthieu Peyre and Michel Kalamarides
Meningeal solitary fibrous tumors/hemangiopericytomas (MSFTs/HPCs) are rare intracranial tumors resembling meningiomas. Their classification was redefined in 2016 by the World Health Organization (WHO) as benign Grade I fibrohyaline type, intermediate Grade II hypercellular type, and malignant highly mitotic Grade III. This grouping is based on common histological features and identification of a common NAB2-STAT6 fusion.
The authors retrospectively identified 49 cases of MSFT/HPC. Clinical data were obtained from the medical records, and all cases were analyzed according to this new 2016 WHO grading classification in order to identify malignant transformations.
Recurrent surgery was performed in 18 (37%) of 49 patients. Malignant progression was identified in 5 (28%) of these 18 cases, with 3 Grade I and 2 Grade II tumors progressing to Grade III, 3–13 years after the initial surgery. Of 31 Grade III tumors treated in this case series, 16% (5/31) were proved to be malignant progressions from lower-grade tumors.
Low-grade MSFTs/HPCs can transform into higher grades as shown in this first report of such progression. This is a decisive argument in favor of a common identity for MSFT and meningeal HPC. High-grade MSFTs/HPCs tend to recur more often and be associated with reduced overall survival. Malignant progression could be one mechanism explaining some recurrences or metastases, and justifying long-term follow-up, even for patients with Grade I tumors.
Giacomo Bertolini, Francesco Restelli, Morgan Broggi and Paolo Ferroli
Caroline Apra, Owais Kotbi, Guillaume Turc, Robert Corns, Mélanie Pagès, Raphaëlle Souillard-Scémama, Edouard Dezamis, Eduardo Parraga, Jean-François Meder, Xavier Sauvageon, Bertrand Devaux, Catherine Oppenheim and Johan Pallud
There are no guidelines for the management of postoperative lateral sinus thrombosis following posterior fossa surgery. Introducing treatment-dose anticoagulant therapy during the immediate postoperative period increases the risk of intracranial bleeding. This study assessed the incidence of and risk factors associated with postoperative lateral sinus thrombosis and the complications related to thrombosis and/or anticoagulation.
This study was a retrospective monocentric analysis of adult patients who underwent surgical removal of a posterior fossa space-occupying lesion with available postoperative imaging. Postoperative lateral sinus thrombosis was defined as a T2* hypointensity within the venous sinus and/or a filling defect on postcontrast MRI or CT scan.
Among 180 patients, 12 (6.7%; 95% CI 3.0–10.4) were found to have lateral sinus thrombosis on postoperative imaging, none of whom were symptomatic. Unadjusted risk factors for postoperative lateral sinus thrombosis were a history of deep venous thrombosis (p = 0.016), oral contraceptive pill (p = 0.004), midline surgical approach (p = 0.035), and surgical exposure of the sinus (p < 0.001). Seven of the patients (58.3%) with a postoperative lateral sinus thrombosis received immediate treatment-dose anticoagulant therapy. Lateral sinus recanalization occurred radiologically at a mean time of 272 ± 23 days in 85.7% of patients (6 of 7) undergoing treatment-dose anticoagulant therapy and in 20% of patients (1 of 5) not receiving treatment-dose anticoagulant therapy. Postoperative complications occurred in 56.2% of patients (9 of 16) who received treatment-dose curative anticoagulant therapy and in 27% of patients (45 of 164) who did not.
Incidental radiological lateral sinus thrombosis following posterior fossa surgery has an incidence of 6.7%. To further define the benefit-to-risk ratio of a treatment-dose anticoagulant therapy, a prospective trial should be considered.