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D. Ryan Ormond and Costas G. Hadjipanayis

The history of neurosurgery is filled with descriptions of brave surgeons performing surgery against great odds in an attempt to improve outcomes in their patients. In the distant past, most neurosurgical procedures were limited to trephination, and this was sometimes performed for unclear reasons. Beginning in the Renaissance and accelerating through the middle and late 19th century, a greater understanding of cerebral localization, antisepsis, anesthesia, and hemostasis led to an era of great expansion in neurosurgical approaches and techniques. During this process, frontotemporal approaches were also developed and refined over time. Progress often depended on the technical advances of scientists coupled with the innovative ideas and courage of pioneering surgeons. A better understanding of this history provides insight into where we originated as a specialty and in what directions we may go in the future. This review considers the historical events enabling the development of neurosurgery as a specialty, and how this relates to the development of frontotemporal approaches.

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Aaron A. Cohen-Gadol, David W. Roberts and Costas G. Hadjipanayis

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Costas G. Hadjipanayis, Douglas Kondziolka, John C. Flickinger and L. Dade Lunsford

Object

This study was conducted to examine the role of radiosurgery in the management of patients with recurrent or unresectable low-grade astrocytomas.

Methods

During a 13-year interval, 49 patients underwent stereotactic radiosurgery as part of multimodal treatment of their recurrent or unresectable low-grade astrocytomas. Thirty-seven of these patients (median age 14 years) harbored pilocytic astrocytomas and 12 patients harbored World Health Organization (WHO) Grade II fibrillary astrocytomas (median age 25 years). Tumors involved the brainstem in 22 cases, cerebellum in four, thalamus in six, temporal lobe in five, frontal lobe in four, and parietal lobe in three, as well as the hypothalamus, corpus callosum, insular cortex, optic tract, and third ventricle in one patient each. Each diagnosis was confirmed with the aid of stereotactic biopsy sampling in 17 patients, open biopsy sampling in five, partial resection in 13, and near-total resection in 14. Multimodal treatment included fractionated radiotherapy in 14 patients, stereotactic intracavitary irradiation in five, chemotherapy in two, cyst drainage in eight, ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement in five, and additional cytoreductive surgery in five. Tumor volumes ranged from 0.42 to 45.1 cm3. The median radiosurgical dose to the tumor margin was 15 Gy (range 9.6–22.5 Gy).

After radiosurgery, serial neuroimaging demonstrated complete tumor resolution in 11 patients, reduced tumor volume in 12, stable tumor volume in 10, and delayed tumor progression in 16. No procedure-related death was encountered. Forty-five of 49 patients are alive at a median follow-up period of 32 months after radiosurgery and 63 months after diagnosis. Sixteen patients participated in follow-up review for more than 60 months. Three patients died of local tumor progression.

Conclusions

Stereotactic radiosurgery is a potential alternative or adjunctive intervention in the management of selected patients with pilocytic or WHO Grade II fibrillary astrocytomas, usually performed for small-volume tumors in an attempt to avoid larger-field fractionated radiotherapy.