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Carlo Brembilla, Luigi Andrea Lanterna, Emanuele Costi, and Claudio Bernucci

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Claudio Bernucci, Andrea Fanti, Pierlorenzo Veiceschi, Emanuele Costi, Angelo Mirco Sicignano, and Carlo Brembilla

In this tumultuous time, the entire world has been shaken up by the COVID-19 outbreak. Italy has had one of the highest infection-related mortality rates. Bergamo, a city in eastern Lombardy, was among the most affected. Here, the authors describe the main healthcare actions taken at their institution to stem the crisis, with particular concern regarding the fate of their neurosurgery department. Among the different topics, the authors particularly focus on the retraining of neurosurgeons, organization of activities, and what should be the role of neurosurgeons during a pandemic.

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Carlo Brembilla, Luigi Andrea Lanterna, Virginio Bonito, Margherita Gardinetti, Gianluigi Dorelli, Angela Dele Rampini, Paolo Gritti, and Claudio Bernucci

Superficial siderosis of the central nervous system (SSCNS) is an uncommon and often unrecognized disorder that results from recurrent and persistent bleeding into the subarachnoid space. Currently, there is no effective treatment for SSCNS. The identification and surgical resolution of the cause of bleeding remains the most reliable method of treatment, but the cause of bleeding is often not apparent. The identified sources of recurrent bleeding have typically included neoplasms, vascular malformations, brachial plexus or nerve root injury or avulsion, and previous head and spinal surgery. An association between recurrent bleeding in the CNS and dural abnormalities in the spine has recently been suggested. Dural tears have been identified in relation to a protruding disc or osteophyte. Also in these patients, the exact mechanism of bleeding remains unknown because of a lack of objective surgical data, even in patients who undergo neurosurgical procedures.

The present case concerns a 48-year-old man who presented with longstanding symptoms of mild hearing loss and mild gait ataxia. A diagnosis of SSCNS was made in light of the patient’s history and the findings on physical examination, imaging, and laboratory testing. MRI and CT detected a small calcific osteophyte in the anterior epidural space of T8–9. The patient underwent surgical removal of the bone spur and dural tear repair. During the surgery, the authors detected a perforating artery, which was on the osteophyte, that was bleeding into the subarachnoid space. This case shows a possible mechanism of chronic bleeding from an osteophyte into the subarachnoid space. In the literature currently available, a perforating artery on an osteophyte bleeding into the subarachnoid space has never been described in SSCNS.

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Federica Beretta, Norberto Andaluz, Chiraz Chalaala, Claudio Bernucci, Leo Salud, and Mario Zuccarello


Minimally invasive approaches have been proposed for the treatment of anterior cranial base pathology. Whereas earlier studies have quantified surgical exposure by referring to the opening on the surface, this cadaveric morphometric study redefines the concept of working area by examining the deep exposures afforded by several different approaches. Specifically, the authors systematically quantify and compare the operative exposure afforded by the pterional, supraorbital, and transorbital keyhole approaches to the sellar, suprasellar, and perisellar regions, including the anterior communicating artery complex.


Pterional, supraorbital, and transorbital approaches were sequentially performed in 5 embalmed cadaveric heads on both sides. Preoperative and postoperative CT scans were obtained for frameless stereotactic navigation and measurements. Using reproducible anatomical landmarks, 6 triangles were defined to systematically measure the working area, depth of the surgical window, and angle of observation for each approach. Areas of the triangles were calculated using the Heron mathematical formula based on stereotactic navigation measurements. Ten sets of data were analyzed.


The pterional, supraorbital, and transorbital keyhole approaches provided progressively increasing working areas. The transorbital approach was associated with significantly increased exposure when compared with the pterional approach (p < 0.01). The transorbital approach was associated with a shallower depth of the surgical window when compared with either the supraorbital (p < 0.05) or pterional (p < 0.01) approach. The angle of basal view increased 56.6% with the transorbital approach (p < 0.001) when compared with the supraorbital approach. The transorbital route provided greater exposure on deeply located midline and contralateral structures.


In refining the concept of working area as deep rather than superficial in the surgical field, the authors quantified the 6 triangles whose boundaries were relative to the target structures to be exposed in the approach. The authors' morphometric findings support the use of the supraorbital and transorbital approaches as a valid alternative to the pterional approach for the treatment of sellar and perisellar pathology. The transorbital approach combines the advantages of minimal invasiveness with those of cranial base techniques.

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Francesco Doglietto, Marika Vezzoli, Antonio Biroli, Giorgio Saraceno, Luca Zanin, Marta Pertichetti, Stefano Calza, Edoardo Agosti, Jahard Mijail Aliaga Arias, Roberto Assietti, Silvio Bellocchi, Claudio Bernucci, Simona Bistazzoni, Daniele Bongetta, Andrea Fanti, Antonio Fioravanti, Alessandro Fiorindi, Alberto Franzin, Davide Locatelli, Raffaelino Pugliese, Elena Roca, Giovanni Marco Sicuri, Roberto Stefini, Martina Venturini, Oscar Vivaldi, Costanza Zattra, Cesare Zoia, and Marco Maria Fontanella


The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many countries into lockdown and has led to the postponement of nonurgent neurosurgical procedures. Although stress has been investigated during this pandemic, there are no reports on anxiety in neurosurgical patients undergoing nonurgent surgical procedures.


Neurosurgical patients admitted to hospitals in eastern Lombardy for nonurgent surgery after the lockdown prospectively completed a pre- and postoperative structured questionnaire. Recorded data included demographics, pathology, time on surgical waiting list, anxiety related to COVID-19, primary pathology and surgery, safety perception during hospital admission before and after surgery, and surgical outcomes. Anxiety was measured with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Descriptive statistics were computed on the different variables and data were stratified according to pathology (oncological vs nononcological). Three different models were used to investigate which variables had the greatest impact on anxiety, oncological patients, and safety perception, respectively. Because the variables (Xs) were of a different nature (qualitative and quantitative), mostly asymmetrical, and related to outcome (Y) by nonlinear relationships, a machine learning approach composed of three steps (1, random forest growing; 2, relative variable importance measure; and 3, partial dependence plots) was chosen.


One hundred twenty-three patients from 10 different hospitals were included in the study. None of the patients developed COVID-19 after surgery. State and trait anxiety were reported by 30.3% and 18.9% of patients, respectively. Higher values of state anxiety were documented in oncological compared to nononcological patients (46.7% vs 25%; p = 0.055). Anxiety was strongly associated with worry about primary pathology, surgery, disease worsening, and with stress during waiting time, as expected. Worry about positivity to SARS-CoV-2, however, was the strongest factor associated with anxiety, even though none of the patients were infected. Neuro-oncological disease was associated with state anxiety and with worry about surgery and COVID-19. Increased bed distance and availability of hand sanitizer were associated with a feeling of safety.


These data underline the importance of psychological support, especially for neuro-oncological patients, during a pandemic.