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Peter D. Angevine, Christopher Kellner, Raqeeb M. Haque, and Paul C. McCormick

Object

Access to the ventral intradural spinal canal may be required for treatment of a variety of lesions affecting the spinal cord and adjacent intradural structures. Adequate exposure is usually achieved through a standard posterior laminectomy or posterolateral approaches, although formal anterior approaches are used to access lesions in the subaxial cervical spine. Modifications of the standard posterior exposure as well as ventral or ventrolateral approaches are increasingly being used for treating intradural spinal pathologies. In this study, the authors review their experience with 35 consecutive cases of ventral intradural spinal lesions.

Methods

Only patients with intradural lesions located completely ventral to the dentate ligament attachments were included in this retrospective study. Patients with the following lesions were excluded from the study: lesions at the level of the filum terminale/cauda equina, lesions with any component that extended dorsally to the dentate ligament, or lesions with extradural extension (that is, dumbbell tumors) below the C-2 level. Between January 2000 and September 2009, a total of 35 patients (age range 17–72 years, mean 42.6 years) with ventral intradural spinal pathology underwent surgery at the authors' institution.

Results

There were 28 intradural extramedullary mass lesions: 15 meningiomas, 12 solitary schwannomas, and 1 neuroenteric cyst. Surgical approaches to these lesions included 23 posterior or posterolateral approaches, 4 anterior approaches with corpectomy followed by tumor resection and reconstruction, and 1 lateral transforaminal resection. No patient had evidence of instability at follow-up, which ranged from 6 months to 8 years in duration. One patient had worsened spinal cord function following surgery. There were 7 patients with intramedullary lesions: 2 hemangioblastomas, 2 cavernous malformations, 2 perimedullary fistulas, and 1 astrocytoma. All but 1 were superficial pia-based lesions arising ventral to the dentate ligament. Five of the 6 pia-based lesions were successfully resected via a standard posterior laminectomy, partial facetectomy with dentate section, and spinal cord rotation. One midline pial lesion was successfully removed with a minimally invasive retropleural thoracotomy. The astrocytoma was resected through an anterior cervical corpectomy, which was followed by instrumented reconstruction. There were no significant complications or neurological morbidity at follow-up (range 9 months–6 years).

Conclusions

Most intradural spinal lesions can be treated with contemporary microsurgical techniques with long-term control or cure of the lesion and preservation of neurological function. Standard posterior approaches provide adequate exposure to safely remove the vast majority of these lesions without the need for a potentially destabilizing resection of the facet or pedicle. Posterior exposures with varying degrees of lateral bone resection, dentate ligament division, and gentle cord rotation may also provide adequate exposure for safe removal of nonmidline ventrolateral superficial pial presenting spinal cord lesions. Nevertheless, in certain cases of ventral intradural lesions, anterior approaches are necessary and should be considered under appropriate circumstances.

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Ivan S. Kotchetkov, Brian Y. Hwang, Geoffrey Appelboom, Christopher P. Kellner, and E. Sander Connolly Jr.

Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are devices that acquire and transform neural signals into actions intended by the user. These devices have been a rapidly developing area of research over the past 2 decades, and the military has made significant contributions to these efforts. Presently, BCIs can provide humans with rudimentary control over computer systems and robotic devices. Continued advances in BCI technology are especially pertinent in the military setting, given the potential for therapeutic applications to restore function after combat injury, and for the evolving use of BCI devices in military operations and performance enhancement. Neurosurgeons will play a central role in the further development and implementation of BCIs, but they will also have to navigate important ethical questions in the translation of this highly promising technology. In the following commentary the authors discuss realistic expectations for BCI use in the military and underscore the intersection of the neurosurgeon's civic and clinical duty to care for those who serve their country.

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Andrew F. Ducruet, Christopher P. Kellner, E. Sander Connolly Jr., and Philip M. Meyers

Developmental venous anomalies (DVAs) represent a rare cause of intraparenchymal hemorrhage. This case demonstrates an unusual DVA associated with venous hypertension, arteriovenous shunting, and a ruptured transitional aneurysm. The authors describe the first use of embolization as a treatment method for an unstable ruptured transitional aneurysm associated with a DVA. This 33-year-old man suffered acute onset of headache, gait ataxia, and left hemiparesis. Computed tomography brain scans demonstrated a deep paramedian right frontal intraparenchymal hemorrhage. No cavernous malformation was apparent on MR imaging. Diagnostic angiography revealed arteriovenous shunting from the right anterior and middle cerebral arteries to a large DVA with an associated arteriovenous fistula, with a 3-mm aneurysm in the transition from pericallosal artery to the collecting vein. Both surgical and endovascular treatment options were considered. The patient underwent repeat angiography on hospital Day 7, at which time the aneurysm had increased to 5 mm, and endovascular treatment was selected. Acrylic occlusion of the aneurysm was performed and confirmed angiographically. The patient's neurological symptoms resolved throughout the hospital stay, and he remains symptom free in the 10 months since treatment. Developmental venous anomalies are not usually associated with arteriovenous shunting and aneurysms as a source of intraparenchymal hemorrhage. Endovascular occlusion of the aneurysm without blockage of physiologically necessary venous structures is a possible method of treatment for this complex mixed vascular lesion, and has proven safe and effective in this patient. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first presentation of this situation in the literature.

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Jack J. Haslett, Lindsey A. LaBelle, Xiangnan Zhang, J Mocco, Joshua Bederson, and Christopher P. Kellner

OBJECTIVE

Carotid artery disease is a common illness that can pose a significant risk if left untreated. Treatment via carotid endarterectomy (CEA) or carotid artery stenting (CAS) can also lead to complications. Given the risk of adverse events related to treating, or failing to treat, carotid artery disease, this is a possible area for litigation. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the medicolegal factors involved in treating patients suffering carotid artery disease and to compare litigation related to CEA and CAS.

METHODS

Three large legal databases were used to search for jury verdicts and settlements in cases related to untreated carotid artery disease, CEA, and CAS. Search terms included “endarterectomy,” “medical malpractice,” “carotid,” “stenosis,” “stenting,” “stent,” and combinations of those words. Three types of cases were considered relevant: 1) cases in which the primary allegation was negligence performing a CEA or perioperative care (CEA-related cases); 2) cases in which the primary allegation was negligence performing a CAS or perioperative care (CAS-related cases); and 3) cases in which the plaintiff alleged that a CEA or CAS should have been performed (failure-to-treat [FTT] cases).

RESULTS

One hundred fifty-four CEA-related cases, 3 CAS-related cases, and 67 FTT cases were identified. Cases resulted in 133 verdicts for the defense (59%), 64 settlements (29%), and 27 plaintiff verdicts (12%). The average payout in cases that were settled outside of court was $1,097,430 and the average payout in cases that went to trial and resulted in a plaintiff verdict was $2,438,253. Common allegations included a failure to diagnose and treat carotid artery disease in a timely manner, treating with inappropriate indications, procedural error, negligent postprocedural management, and lack of informed consent. Allegations of a failure to timely treat known carotid artery disease were likely to lead to a payout (60% of cases involved a payout). Allegations of procedural error, specifically where the resultant injury was nerve injury, were relatively less likely to lead to a payout (28% of cases involved a payout).

CONCLUSIONS

Both diagnosing and treating carotid artery disease has serious medicolegal implications and risks. In cases resulting in a plaintiff verdict, the payouts were significantly higher than cases resolved outside the courtroom. Knowledge of common allegations in diagnosing and treating carotid artery disease as well as performing CEA and CAS may benefit neurosurgeons. The lack of CAS-related litigation suggests these procedures may entail a lower risk of litigation compared to CEA, even accounting for the difference in the frequency of both procedures.

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Eric S. Sussman, Christopher P. Kellner, Eric Nelson, Michael M. McDowell, Samuel S. Bruce, Rachel A. Bruce, Zong Zhuang, and E. Sander Connolly Jr.

Object

Ventriculostomy—the placement of an external ventricular drain (EVD)—is a common procedure performed in patients with acute neurological injury. Although generally considered a low-risk intervention, recent studies have cited higher rates of hemorrhagic complications than those previously reported. The authors sought to determine the rate of postventriculostomy hemorrhage in a cohort of patients with intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) and to identify predictors of hemorrhagic complications of EVD placement.

Methods

Patients with ICH who underwent EVD placement and had both pre- and postprocedural imaging available for analysis were included in this study. Relevant data were prospectively collected for each patient who satisfied inclusion criteria. Variables with a p < 0.20 on univariate analyses were included in a stepwise logistic regression model to identify predictors of postventriculostomy hemorrhage.

Results

Sixty-nine patients were eligible for this analysis. Postventriculostomy hemorrhage occurred in 31.9% of patients. Among all patients with intraparenchymal hemorrhage, the mean hemorrhage volume was 0.66 ± 1.06 cm3. Stratified according to ventricular catheter diameter, patients treated with smaller-diameter catheters had a significantly greater mean hemorrhage volume than patients treated with larger-diameter catheters (0.84 ± 1.2 cm3 vs 0.14 ± 0.12 cm3, p = 0.049). Postventriculostomy hemorrhage was clinically significant in only 1 patient (1.4%). Overall, postventriculostomy hemorrhage was not associated with functional outcome or mortality at either discharge or 90 days. In the multivariate model, an age > 75 years was the only independent predictor of EVD-associated hemorrhage.

Conclusions

Advanced age is predictive of EVD-related hemorrhage in patients with ICH. While postventriculostomy hemorrhage is common, it appears to be of minor clinical significance in the majority of patients.

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Alexander G. Chartrain, Ahmed J. Awad, Justin R. Mascitelli, Hazem Shoirah, Thomas J. Oxley, Rui Feng, Matthew Gallitto, Reade De Leacy, Johanna T. Fifi, and Christopher P. Kellner

Endovascular thrombectomy device improvements in recent years have served a pivotal role in improving the success and safety of the thrombectomy procedure. As the intervention gains widespread use, developers have focused on maximizing the reperfusion rates and reducing procedural complications associated with these devices. This has led to a boom in device development. This review will cover novel and emerging technologies developed for endovascular thrombectomy.

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Roberta K. Sefcik, Nicholas L. Opie, Sam E. John, Christopher P. Kellner, J Mocco, and Thomas J. Oxley

Current standard practice requires an invasive approach to the recording of electroencephalography (EEG) for epilepsy surgery, deep brain stimulation (DBS), and brain-machine interfaces (BMIs). The development of endovascular techniques offers a minimally invasive route to recording EEG from deep brain structures. This historical perspective aims to describe the technical progress in endovascular EEG by reviewing the first endovascular recordings made using a wire electrode, which was followed by the development of nanowire and catheter recordings and, finally, the most recent progress in stent-electrode recordings. The technical progress in device technology over time and the development of the ability to record chronic intravenous EEG from electrode arrays is described. Future applications for the use of endovascular EEG in the preoperative and operative management of epilepsy surgery are then discussed, followed by the possibility of the technique's future application in minimally invasive operative approaches to DBS and BMI.

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Michael M. McDowell, Christopher P. Kellner, Sunjay M. Barton, Charles B. Mikell, Eric S. Sussman, Simon G. Heuts, and E. Sander Connolly

In this report, the authors sought to summarize existing literature to provide an overview of the currently available techniques and to critically assess the evidence for or against their application in intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) for management, prognostication, and research. Functional imaging in ICH represents a potential major step forward in the ability of physicians to assess patients suffering from this devastating illness due to the advantages over standing imaging modalities focused on general tissue structure alone, but its use is highly controversial due to the relative paucity of literature and the lack of consolidation of the predominantly small data sets that are currently in existence. Current data support that diffusion tensor imaging and tractography, diffusion-perfusion weighted MRI techniques, and functional MRI all possess major potential in the areas of highlighting motor deficits, motor recovery, and network reorganization. Novel clinical studies designed to objectively assess the value of each of these modalities on a wider scale in conjunction with other methods of investigation and management will allow for their rapid incorporation into standard practice.

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Eric J. Heyer, Christopher P. Kellner, Hani R. Malone, Samuel S. Bruce, Joanna L. Mergeche, Justin T. Ward, and E. Sander Connolly Jr.

Object

The role of genetic polymorphisms in the neurological outcome of patients after carotid endarterectomy (CEA) remains unclear. There are single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that predispose patients to postoperative cognitive dysfunction (CD). We aim to assess the predictability of three complement cascade-related SNPs for CD in patients having CEAs.

Methods

In 252 patients undergoing CEA, genotyping was performed for the following polymorphisms: complement component 5 (C5) rs17611, mannose-binding lectin 2 (MBL2) rs7096206, and complement factor H (CFH) rs1061170. Differences among genotypes were analyzed via the chi-square test. Patients were evaluated with a neuropsychometric battery for CD 1 day and 1 month after CEA. A multiple logistic regression model was created. All variables with univariate p < 0.20 were included in the final model.

Results

The C5 genotypes A/G (OR 0.26, 95% CI 0.11–0.60, p = 0.002) and G/G (OR 0.22, 95% CI 0.09–0.52, p < 0.001) were significantly associated with lower odds of exhibiting CD at 1 day after CEA compared with A/A. The CFH genotypes C/T (OR 3.37, 95% CI 1.69–6.92, p < 0.001) and C/C (OR 3.67, 95% CI 1.30–10.06, p = 0.012) were significantly associated with higher odds of exhibiting CD at 1 day after CEA compared with T/T. Statin use was also significantly associated with lower odds of exhibiting CD at 1 day after CEA (OR 0.43, 95% CI 0.22–0.84, p = 0.01). No SNPs were significantly associated with CD at 1 month after CEA.

Conclusions

The presence of a deleterious allele in the C5 and CFH SNPs may predispose patients to exhibit CD after CEA. This finding supports previous data demonstrating that the complement cascade system may play an important role in the development of CD. These findings warrant further investigation.

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Christopher P. Kellner, Raqeeb M. Haque, Philip M. Meyers, Sean D. Lavine, E. Sander Connolly Jr., and Robert A. Solomon

Object

Complex aneurysms of the basilar artery (BA) apex can be successfully treated using surgical occlusion of the proximal BA. Since the introduction of the Guglielmi detachable coil in 1991, the focus on treating BA aneurysms has been on using endovascular techniques. Outcomes with endovascular techniques have been less than optimal for large and complex aneurysms. The authors therefore report on their current 22-year experience with surgical BA occlusion for complex BA aneurysms and long-term outcome.

Methods

Fifteen patients underwent surgical BA occlusion at Columbia University Medical Center for complex basilar apex aneurysms between 1987 and 2009. The clinical records of each patient were reviewed for details of presentation, hospital course, operative intervention, and outcome.

Results

Postoperatively, all patient encounters were recorded at discharge, at the 1-month and 1-year follow-up evaluations, and at long-term outcome. Twelve (80%) of 15 patients experienced no new postoperative neurological deficits. Three patients presenting with severe neurological impairment (modified Rankin Scale [mRS] score > 3) made excellent recoveries (mRS Scores 1–2) at long-term follow-up. One patient died, 1 suffered a stroke during the postoperative angiogram which resulted in hemiparesis, and 1 suffered internuclear ophthalmoplegia which resolved by the 1-month follow-up. Long-term follow-up occurred at an average of 3 ± 4.5 years, ranging from 2 months (for a recently treated patient) to 18 years. The average mRS score at long-term follow-up was 1 ± 1.5. No patient experienced postoperative hemorrhage, rebleeding, or delayed neurological deterioration.

Conclusions

Surgical occlusion of the BA is an effective treatment option offering a high rate of angiographic cure in a single procedure for patients with complex BA aneurysms. The ability to surgically perform point occlusion of the BA without impairment of brainstem perforators, while maintaining collateral blood flow to the posterior circulation branch vessels, may provide an advantage compared with endovascular treatments.