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Joseph R. Linzey, Christopher S. Graffeo, Justin Z. Wang, Ali S. Haider and Naif M. Alotaibi

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Tyler S. Cole and Robert F. Spetzler

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Christopher S. Graffeo, Avital Perry, Ross C. Puffer, Lucas P. Carlstrom, Wendy Chang, Grant W. Mallory and Michelle J. Clarke

OBJECTIVE

Type II odontoid fracture is a common injury among elderly patients, particularly given their predisposition toward low-energy falls. Previous studies have demonstrated a survival advantage following early surgery among patients older than 65 years, yet octogenarians represent a medically distinct and rapidly growing population. The authors compared operative and nonoperative management in patients older than 79 years.

METHODS

A single-center prospectively maintained trauma database was reviewed using ICD-9 codes to identify octogenarians with C-2 cervical fractures between 1998 and 2014. Cervical CT images were independently reviewed by blinded neurosurgeons to confirm a Type II fracture pattern. Prospectively recorded outcomes included Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) score, Injury Severity Score (ISS), additional cervical fracture, and cord injury. Primary end points were mortality at 30 days and at 1 year. Statistical tests included the Student t-test, chi-square test, Fisher's exact test, Kaplan-Meier test, and Cox proportional hazard.

RESULTS

A total of 111 patients met inclusion criteria (94 nonoperative and 17 operative [15 posterior and 2 anterior]). Mortality data were available for 100% of patients. The mean age was 87 years (range 80–104 years). Additional cervical fracture, spinal cord injury, GCS score, AIS score, and ISS were not associated with either management strategy at the time of presentation. The mean time to death or last follow-up was 22 months (range 0–129 months) and was nonsignificant between operative and nonoperative groups (p = 0.3). Overall mortality was 13% in-hospital, 26% at 30 days, and 41% at 1 year. Nonoperative and operative mortality rates were not significant at any time point (12% vs 18%, p = 0.5 [in-hospital]; 27% vs 24%, p = 0.8 [30-day]; and 41% vs 41%, p = 1.0 [1-year]). Kaplan-Meier analysis did not demonstrate a survival advantage for either management strategy. Spinal cord injury, GCS score, AIS score, and ISS were significantly associated with 30-day and 1-year mortality; however, Cox modeling was not significant for any variable. Additional cervical fracture was not associated with increased mortality. The rate of nonhome disposition was not significant between the groups.

CONCLUSIONS

Type II odontoid fracture is associated with high morbidity among octogenarians, with 41% 1-year mortality independent of intervention—a dramatic decrease from actuarial survival rates for all 80-, 90-, and 100-year-old Americans. Poor outcome is associated with spinal cord injury, GCS score, AIS score, and ISS.

Open access

Avital Perry, Thomas J. Sorenson, Christopher S. Graffeo, Colin L. Driscoll and Michael J. Link

Cavernous malformations (CMs) are low-pressure, focal, vascular lesions that may occur within the brainstem and require treatment, which can be a substantial challenge. Herein, we demonstrate the surgical resection of a hemorrhaged brainstem CM through a posterior petrosectomy approach. After dissection of the overlying vascular and meningeal structures, a safe entry zone into the brainstem is identified based on local anatomy and intraoperative neuronavigation. Small ultrasound probes can also be useful for obtaining real-time intraoperative feedback. The CM is internally debulked and resected in a piecemeal fashion through an opening smaller than the CM itself. As brainstem CMs are challenging lesions, knowledge of several surgical nuances and adoption of careful microsurgical techniques are requisite for success.

The video can be found here: https://youtu.be/szB6YpzkuCo.

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Jenna Meyer, Avital Perry, Soliman Oushy, Christopher S. Graffeo, Lucas P. Carlstrom and Fredric B. Meyer

Pediatric pituitary adenomas (PPAs) are rare neoplasms with a propensity for unusual presentations and an aggressive clinical course. Here, the authors describe 6 highly atypical PPAs to highlight this tendency and discuss unexpected management challenges.

A 14-year-old girl presented with acute hemiparesis and aphasia. MRI revealed a pituitary macroadenoma causing internal carotid artery invasion/obliteration without acute apoplexy, which was treated via emergent transsphenoidal resection (TSR). Another 14-year-old girl developed precocious galactorrhea due to macroprolactinoma, which was medically managed. Several years later, she re-presented with acute, severe, bitemporal hemianopia during her third trimester of pregnancy, requiring emergent induction of labor followed by TSR. A 13-year-old boy was incidentally diagnosed with a prolactinoma after routine orthodontic radiographs captured a subtly abnormal sella. An 18-year-old male self-diagnosed pituitary gigantism through a school report on pituitary disease. A 17-year-old boy was diagnosed with Cushing disease by his basketball coach, a former endocrinologist. A 12-year-old girl with growth arrest and weight gain was diagnosed with Cushing disease, which was initially treated via TSR but subsequently recurred and ultimately required 12 operations, 5 radiation treatments involving 3 modalities, bilateral adrenalectomy, and chemotherapy. Despite these efforts, she ultimately died from pituitary carcinoma.

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Hirokazu Takami, Christopher S. Graffeo, Avital Perry, Caterina Giannini and David J. Daniels

OBJECTIVE

Intracranial germ cell tumors (iGCTs) often arise at the neurohypophysis, their second most common origination, following the pineal region. Neurohypophyseal iGCTs present with stereotypical symptoms, including pituitary dysfunction and visual field deficit, due to their suprasellar location. The goal of this study was to present a large, longitudinal single-institution experience with neurohypophyseal iGCTs to better understand their natural history and identify opportunities for further improvement in treatment outcomes.

METHODS

This is a retrospective, single-institution cohort study of neurohypophyseal iGCTs treated between 1988 and 2017, with a focus on the epidemiology, presentation, natural history, and treatment.

RESULTS

Thirty-five neurosurgically managed patients met inclusion criteria; the median age was 18 years (3 months to 49 years), and 74% of patients were male (n = 26). Thirty-one tumors were germinomas, and 4 were nongerminomatous iGCTs. Presenting symptoms included pituitary insufficiency in 76% (n = 25), visual deficit in 45% (n = 15), and diabetes insipidus (DI) in 61% (n = 20) of patients. Index symptoms included isolated DI in 10 (36%), isolated hormone deficiency in 14 (50%), and concomitant DI and hormone deficiency symptoms in 4 (14%). Radiographic diagnostic latency was common, occurring at a median of 363 days (range 9–2626 days) after onset of the first symptoms and was significantly associated with both DI and hormone deficiency as the index symptoms (no DI vs DI: 360 vs 1083 days, p = 0.009; no hormone deficiency vs hormone deficiency: 245 vs 953 days, p = 0.004). Biochemical abnormalities were heterogeneous; each pituitary axis was dysfunctional in at least 1 patient, with most patients demonstrating at least 2 abnormalities, and pretreatment dysfunction demonstrating a nonsignificant trend toward association with long-term posttreatment hormone supplementation. Among germinomas, whole-brain or whole-ventricle radiotherapy demonstrated significantly improved progression-free and overall survival compared with local therapy (p = 0.009 and p = 0.004, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

Neurohypophyseal iGCTs are insidious tumors that may pose a diagnostic dilemma, as evidenced by the prolonged latency before radiographic confirmation. Serial imaging and close endocrine follow-up are recommended in patients with a characteristic clinical syndrome and negative imaging, due to the propensity for radiographic latency. Pretreatment biochemical abnormalities may indicate higher risk of posttreatment pituitary insufficiency, and all patients should receive careful endocrine follow-up. Local radiotherapy is prone to treatment failure, while whole-ventricle treatment is associated with improved survival in germinomas.

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Maria Peris-Celda, Avital Perry, Lucas P. Carlstrom, Christopher S. Graffeo, Colin L. W. Driscoll and Michael J. Link

OBJECTIVE

Middle fossa surgery is challenging, and reliable surgical landmarks are essential to perform accurate and safe surgery. Although many descriptions of the middle fossa components have been published, a clinically practical description of this very complex anatomical region is lacking. Small structure arrangements in this area are often not well visualized or accurately demarcated with neuronavigation systems. The objective is to describe a “roadmap” of key surgical reference points and landmarks during middle fossa surgery to help the surgeon predict where critical structures will be located.

METHODS

The authors studied 40 dry skulls (80 sides) obtained from the anatomical board at their institution. Measurements of anatomical structures in the middle fossa were made with a digital caliper and a protractor, taking as reference the middle point of the external auditory canal (MEAC). The results were statistically analyzed.

RESULTS

The petrous part of the temporal bone was found at a mean of 16 mm anterior and 24 mm posterior to the MEAC. In 87% and 99% of the sides, the foramen ovale and foramen spinosum, respectively, were encountered deep to the zygomatic root. The posterior aspect of the greater superficial petrosal nerve (GSPN) groove was a mean of 6 mm anterior and 25 mm medial to the MEAC, nearly parallel to the petrous ridge. The main axis of the IAC projected to the root of the zygoma in all cases. The internal auditory canal (IAC) porus was found 5.5 mm lateral and 4.5 mm deep to the lateral aspect of the trigeminal impression along the petrous ridge (mean measurement values). A projection from this point to the middle aspect of the root of the zygoma, being posterior to the GSPN groove, could estimate the orientation of the IAC.

CONCLUSIONS

In middle fossa approaches, the external acoustic canal is a reliable reference before skin incision, whereas the zygomatic root becomes important after the skin incision. Deep structures can be related to these 2 anatomical structures. An easy method to predict the location of the IAC in surgery is described. Careful study of the preoperative imaging is essential to adapt this knowledge to the individual anatomy of the patient.

Free access

Avital Perry, Christopher S. Graffeo, Lucas P. Carlstrom, William J. Anding, Michael J. Link and Leonardo Rangel-Castilla

OBJECTIVE

Sylvian fissure dissection following subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is a challenging but fundamental skill in microneurosurgery, and one that has become increasingly difficult to develop during residency, given the overarching management trends. The authors describe a novel rodent model for simulation of sylvian fissure dissection and cerebrovascular bypass under SAH conditions.

METHODS

A standardized microvascular anastomosis model comprising rat femoral arteries and veins was used for the experimental framework. In the experimental protocol, following exposure and skeletonization of the vessels, extensive, superficial (1- to 2-mm) soft-tissue debridement was conducted and followed by wound closure and delayed reexploration at intervals of 7, 14, and 28 days. Two residents dissected 1 rat each per time point (n = 6 rats), completing vessel skeletonization followed by end-to-end artery/vein anastomoses. Videos were reviewed postprocedure to assess scar score and relative difficulty of dissection by blinded raters using 4-point Likert scales.

RESULTS

At all time points, vessels were markedly invested in friable scar, and exposure was subjectively assessed as a reasonable surrogate for sylvian fissure dissection under SAH conditions. Scar score and relative difficulty of dissection both indicated 14 days as the most challenging time point.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors’ experimental model of femoral vessel skeletonization, circumferential superficial soft-tissue injury, and delayed reexploration provides a novel approximation of sylvian fissure dissection and cerebrovascular bypass under SAH conditions. The optimal reexploration interval appears to be 7–14 days. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first model of SAH simulation for microsurgical training, particularly in a live animal system.

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Hirokazu Takami, Christoph M. Prummer, Christopher S. Graffeo, Maria Peris-Celda, Caterina Giannini, Colin L. Driscoll and Michael J. Link

Glioblastoma (GBM) of the internal auditory canal (IAC) is exceedingly rare, with only 3 prior cases reported in the literature. The authors present the fourth case of cerebellopontine angle (CPA) and IAC GBM, and the first in which the lesion mimicked a vestibular schwannoma (VS) early in its natural history. A 55-year-old man presented with tinnitus, hearing loss, and imbalance. MRI identified a left IAC/CPA lesion measuring 8 mm, most consistent with a benign VS. Over the subsequent 4 months he developed facial weakness. The tumor grew remarkably to 24 mm and surgery was recommended; the main preoperative diagnosis was malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST). Resection proceeded via a translabyrinthine approach with resection of cranial nerves VII and VIII, followed by facial-hypoglossal nerve anastomosis. Intraoperative frozen section suggested malignant spindle cell neoplasm, but final histopathological and molecular testing confirmed the lesion to be a GBM. The authors report the first case in which absence of any brainstem interface effectively excluded a primary parenchymal tumor, in particular GBM, from the differential diagnosis. Given the dramatic differences in treatment and prognoses between malignant glioma and MPNST, this case emphasizes the importance of surgical intervention on an aggressively growing lesion, which provides both the best probability of local control and the critical tissue diagnosis.

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Scott L. Zuckerman, Natalie Limoges, Aaron M. Yengo-Kahn, Christopher S. Graffeo, Lola B. Chambless, Rohan Chitale, J Mocco and Susan Durham

OBJECTIVE

Residency interviews are integral to the recruitment process yet imperfect. Through surveys of neurosurgery residency applicants, the authors describe interview content and the perceived utility and stress of topics from the applicant’s perspective.

METHODS

All 2018–2019 neurosurgery resident applicants applying to three particular programs were surveyed. Across 10 interview topics, survey questions assessed topic frequency and the applicant’s opinion of the utility and stress of each topic (Likert scale 1–5). Analyses included descriptive statistics, Spearman’s rank correlation, and logistic regression.

RESULTS

One hundred thirty-three of 265 surveyed US residency applicants (50%) responded. Extracurricular activities, research, future career, non-medicine interests, and small talk were discussed in all interviews. The least frequent topics included neurosurgical knowledge assessment (79%) and manual dexterity tests (45%). The most useful topics according to respondents were future career objectives (4.78 ± 0.49) and prior research (4.76 ± 0.50); the least useful were neurosurgical knowledge assessment (2.67 ± 1.09) and manual dexterity tests (2.95 ± 1.05). The most stressful topics were neurosurgical knowledge assessment (3.66 ± 1.23) and ethical/behavioral scenarios (2.94 ± 1.28). The utility and stress of manual dexterity tests and neurosurgical knowledge assessments were inversely correlated (r = −0.40, p < 0.01; r = −0.36, p < 0.01), whereas no such correlation existed for ethical/behavioral questions (r = −0.12, p = 0.18), indicating that ethical/behavioral questions may have been stressful but were potentially useful topics. Respondents who attended ≥ 15 interviews were more likely to be asked about the three most stressful topics (each p < 0.05). Respondents with children were less likely to be asked about ethical/behavioral scenarios (OR 0.13, 95% CI 0.03–0.52, p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

Applicants found several of the most frequently discussed topics to be less useful, indicating a potential disconnect between applicant opinion and the faculty’s preferred questions. Ethical/behavioral scenarios were rated as stressful but still useful, representing a potentially worthwhile type of question. These data provide several avenues for potential standardization and improvement of the interview process.