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Charles B. Wilson

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A decade of pituitary microsurgery

The Herbert Olivecrona Lecture

Charles B. Wilson

✓ The author reviews his experience with surgical treatment of 1000 pituitary tumors, the majority of which were endocrine-active. The criteria of grading, the microsurgical technique used, and the postoperative results are presented. The mortality rate was 0.2% overall, with no deaths in the group of 774 patients with endocrine-active adenomas.

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Charles B. Wilson

✓ The author reviews the molecular genetics, pathology, and cell kinetics of meningiomas and the role that regional multiplicity in the dura mater may play in their recurrence. Malignant and radiation-induced meningiomas are discussed, with summaries of series of 60 patients with frankly malignant lesions treated over a period of 22 years at the University of California, San Francisco, and of 10 patients with meningiomas induced by high-dose radiation therapy. Reviewing a 23-year series of 140 patients with subtotally removed meningiomas who were treated postoperatively with radiation, the author recommends that, with meticulous technique, irradiation is effective in preventing the regrowth of subtotally removed benign meningiomas and of all malignant meningiomas. Adoption of both the microscopical cytological grading system proposed by Jääskeläinen's group in Helsinki and the classification of operations proposed by Donald Simpson is also recommended. Wide removal of dura adjacent to meningioma reduces the risk of recurrence, and determination of the bromodeoxyuridine labeling index provides a valid basis for planning treatment and follow-up evaluations. Increased awareness is necessary for early recognition of radiation-induced meningiomas in patients at risk for developing such tumors. For meningiomas in such sites as the parasellar region and the posterior fossa, conservative removal of tumor followed by irradiation is advocated in preference to a radical operation that may cause neurological injury without being curative.

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Charles S. Cobbs and Charles B. Wilson

✓ The authors present a rare entity, an intrasellar cavernous hemangioma that on neuroimages mimicked a nonfunctioning pituitary macroadenoma in a patient with a known orbital hemangioma. Such lesions can grow extraaxially within the dural sinuses, particularly the cavernous sinus, and present like tumors. A better understanding of the neuroimaging, clinical, and anatomical features of these lesions may prevent difficulties in management.

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Joshua B. Bederson and Charles B. Wilson

✓ Outcome after 252 posterior fossa explorations for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia was determined by a retrospective review. Patients with distortion of the fifth nerve root caused by extrinsic vascular compression underwent microvascular decompression, those with no compression underwent partial sensory rhizotomy, and those with vascular contact but no distortion of the nerve root underwent decompression and rhizotomy. The mean follow-up period was 5.1 years. An excellent (75%) or good (8%) clinical outcome was achieved in 208 patients; 13 patients (5%) experienced little or no pain relief. Thirty-one patients (12%) suffered recurrent trigeminal neuralgia an average of 1.9 pain-free years after operation; recurrence continued at a rate of approximately 2% per year thereafter. Reoperation for recurrent or persistent pain provided excellent or good results in 85% of reoperated patients, but partial sensory rhizotomy was required in most of these patients. Outcome was affected by previous surgical procedures. A previous percutaneous radiofrequency lesion was associated with a significantly greater incidence of fifth nerve complications and a worse outcome after posterior fossa exploration. Because of this finding, the authors recommend that percutaneous radiofrequency rhizolysis be reserved for patients who have failed posterior fossa exploration or who are not candidates for surgery. Patients with compressive nerve root distortion and a short duration of symptoms before surgery had a significantly better outcome than patients with a longer duration of symptoms. In contrast, there was no relationship between the duration of symptoms and outcome of patients without nerve root distortion. Vascular decompression may cause dysfunction of the trigeminal system in tic douloureux, but in patients who remain untreated for long periods an intrinsic abnormality develops that may perpetuate pain even after microvascular decompression. Posterior fossa exploration is recommended as the procedure of choice for patients with trigeminal neuralgia who are surgical candidates.

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David S. Baskin and Charles B. Wilson

✓ Thirty-eight patients underwent transsphenoidal microsurgical treatment of non-neoplastic intrasellar cysts: 36 had cyst drainage and biopsy of the cyst wall, and in two the cyst was totally removed. Surgical morbidity was 8%. The mean follow-up time was 46.3 months; 100% patient follow-up evaluation was achieved. Sixteen female patients (mean age 24.6 years) had pars intermedia cysts: 88% had menstrual irregularities, 63% had galactorrhea, 31% had headache, and 56% had hyperprolactinemia. Within these groups, menstrual cycles returned in 86%, galactorrhea ceased in 90%, headaches resolved in 80%, and serum prolactin levels were restored to normal in 66%. Eight females and three males had Rathke's cleft cysts (mean age 34.0 years): of these 11 patients, 91% had headaches and 18% had hyperprolactinemia; of the eight females, 63% had amenorrhea and 63% had galactorrhea. Within these groups, serum prolactin levels normalized in 50%, and 80% noted reduced headache. Of the females, 80% had return of menses and 50% noted cessation of galactorrhea. Six males and two females had arachnoid cysts (mean age 42.2 years): 50% had headaches; 50% were asymptomatic. Preoperatively, 50% of these patients had hypothyroidism and 25% had adrenal hypofunction. Postoperatively, 75% of patients with headache noted improvement, and 33% of patients with abnormal thyroid function had normal function. Adrenal function did not improve. Three patients had an intrasellar cysticercosis cyst, epidermoid cyst, and postoperative cyst, respectively. All had evidence of partial hypopituitarism; none improved postoperatively. The results indicate that different types of pituitary cysts produce different clinical syndromes, and suggest that simple transsphenoidal drainage and partial removal of the cyst wall can provide safe and effective therapy.

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Neil A. Martin and Charles B. Wilson

✓ In a consecutive operative series of 115 intracranial arteriovenous malformations (AVM's), 16 occupied the medial occipital region. Typically, the patients with medial occipital AVM's presented with bleeding, often accompanied by homonymous visual field deficit, or with migrainous headache. The malformations were supplied principally by branches of the posterior cerebral artery. Through an occipital craniotomy, a surgical approach along the junction of the falx and tentorium provided access to the arteries feeding the AVM and facilitated excision of the malformation. There were no deaths in the series. The incidence of visual field deficit after the operation varied, but in only five cases was the visual field worsened postoperatively. All patients who had a history of intractable headache were cured or improved after surgery. These lesions are favorably situated for surgical treatment.

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Charles B. Wilson and William Markesbery

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Takao Hoshino and Charles B. Wilson

✓ The authors review and discuss the basic concepts of cell kinetics as applied to brain tumors. Uncontrolled growth of a neoplasm represents an expanding tumor cell population. Four growth parameters characterize the behavior of a neoplastic population: cell cycle time, growth fraction, tumor doubling time, and cell loss. The concept of provisionally nondividing cells explains the disparity between cell cycle time and tumor doubling time. Human gliomas, like many non-neural solid tumors, contain variable proportions of actively proliferating and nonproliferating tumor cells; this ratio is expressed by the growth fraction. The major kinetic difference between glioblastomas and differentiated astrocytomas resides in their respective growth fractions, in all likelihood an inherent biological characteristic of each tumor. Glioblastoma proliferates at a rapid rate, and only a high rate of cell loss prevents this tumor from doubling its volume in less than 1 week. The selection of drugs and design of drug schedules for treatment of glioblastomas should be made with the knowledge that 60% to 70% of the cells in this tumor are resting (nonproliferating). If experience with other solid tumors is any guide, judicious selection and combined use of drugs according to kinetically sound schedules will produce more effective chemotherapy of brain tumors.