Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) was approved by the US FDA in 1997 as an adjunctive treatment for medically refractory epilepsy. It is considered for use in patients who are poor candidates for resection or those in whom resection has failed. However, disagreement regarding the utility of VNS in epilepsy continues because of the variability in benefit reported across clinical studies. Moreover, although VNS was approved only for adults and adolescents with partial epilepsy, its efficacy in children and in patients with generalized epilepsy remains unclear. The authors performed the first meta-analysis of VNS efficacy in epilepsy, identifying 74 clinical studies with 3321 patients suffering from intractable epilepsy. These studies included 3 blinded, randomized controlled trials (Class I evidence); 2 nonblinded, randomized controlled trials (Class II evidence); 10 prospective studies (Class III evidence); and numerous retrospective studies. After VNS, seizure frequency was reduced by an average of 45%, with a 36% reduction in seizures at 3–12 months after surgery and a 51% reduction after > 1 year of therapy. At the last follow-up, seizures were reduced by 50% or more in approximately 50% of the patients, and VNS predicted a ≥ 50% reduction in seizures with a main effects OR of 1.83 (95% CI 1.80–1.86). Patients with generalized epilepsy and children benefited significantly from VNS despite their exclusion from initial approval of the device. Furthermore, posttraumatic epilepsy and tuberous sclerosis were positive predictors of a favorable outcome. In conclusion, VNS is an effective and relatively safe adjunctive therapy in patients with medically refractory epilepsy not amenable to resection. However, it is important to recognize that complete seizure freedom is rarely achieved using VNS and that a quarter of patients do not receive any benefit from therapy.
Dario J. Englot, Edward F. Chang and Kurtis I. Auguste
Adib Adnan Abla, Dario J. Englot and Michael T. Lawton
In this operative video, we demonstrate the approach to a 10-mm distal left vertebral artery and proximal basilar artery blister aneurysm in a 62-year-old male presenting with subarachnoid hemorrhage. He initially underwent clipping of the ruptured ACoA aneurysm and two incidental right MCA aneurysms. Ten days later, the posterior circulation aneurysms were clipped through an extended retrosigmoid approach, working between cranial nerves 9–11 inferiorly and 7–8 superiorly. The vertebral artery was accessible from its dural entry site to the vertebrobasilar junction with the rostral limit of the exposure at the level of the tentorium. He underwent uneventful clipping of all aneurysms without postoperative morbidity.
The video can be found here: http://youtu.be/O0lF0gkFZxc.
Seunggu J. Han, Dario J. Englot, Helen Kim and Michael T. Lawton
The surgical management of brainstem arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) might benefit from the definition of anatomical subtypes and refinements of resection techniques. Many brainstem AVMs sit extrinsically on pia mater rather than intrinsically in the parenchyma, allowing treatment by occluding feeding arteries circumferentially, interrupting draining veins after arteriovenous shunting is eliminated, and leaving the obliterated nidus behind. The authors report here the largest series of brainstem AVMs to define 6 subtypes, assess this “occlusion in situ” technique, and analyze the microsurgical results.
Brainstem AVMs were categorized as 1 of 6 types: anterior midbrain, posterior midbrain, anterior pontine, lateral pontine, anterior medullary, and lateral medullary AVMs. Data from a prospectively maintained AVM registry were reviewed to evaluate multidisciplinary treatment results.
During a 15-year period, the authors treated 29 patients with brainstem AVMs located in the midbrain (1 anterior and 6 posterior), pons (6 anterior and 7 lateral), and medulla (1 anterior and 8 lateral). The nidus was pial in 26 cases and parenchymal in 3 cases. Twenty-three patients (79%) presented with hemorrhage. Brainstem AVMs were either resected (18 patients, 62%) or occluded in situ (11 patients, 38%). All lateral pontine AVMs were resected, and the occlusion in situ rate was highest with anterior pontine AVMs (83%). Angiography confirmed complete obliteration in 26 patients (89.6%). The surgical mortality rate was 6.9%, and the rate of permanent neurological deterioration was 13.8%. At follow-up (mean 1.3 years), good outcomes (modified Rankin Scale [mRS] score ≤ 2) were observed in 18 patients (66.7%) and poor outcomes (mRS score of 3–5) were observed in 9 patients (33.3%). The mRS scores in 21 patients (77.8%) were unchanged or improved. The best outcomes were observed with lateral pontine (100%) and lateral medullary (75%) AVMs, and the rate of worsening/death was greatest with posterior midbrain and anterior pontine AVMs (50% each).
Brainstem AVMs can be differentiated by their location in the brainstem (midbrain, pons, or medulla) and the surface on which they are based (anterior, posterior, or lateral). Anatomical subtypes can help the neurosurgeon determine how to advise patients, with lateral subtypes being a favorable surgical indication along with extrinsic pial location and hemorrhagic presentation. Most AVMs are dissected with the intention to resect them, and occlusion in situ is reserved for those AVMs that do not separate cleanly from the brainstem, that penetrate into the parenchyma, or are more anterior in location, where it is difficult to visualize and preserve perforating arteries (anterior pontine and lateral medullary AVMs). Although surgical morbidity is considerable, surgery results in a better obliteration rate than nonoperative management and is indicated in highly selected patients with high rerupture risks.
Dario J. Englot, Seunggu J. Han, Michael T. Lawton and Edward F. Chang
Seizures are the most common presenting symptom of supratentorial cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) and progress to medically refractory epilepsy in 40% of patients. Predictors of seizure freedom in the resection of CCMs are incompletely understood.
The authors systematically reviewed the published literature on seizure freedom following the resection of supratentorial CCMs in patients presenting with seizures. Seizure outcomes were stratified across 12 potential prognostic variables. A total of 1226 patients with supratentorial CCMs causing seizures were identified across 31 predominantly retrospective studies; 361 patients had medically refractory epilepsy.
Seventy-five percent of the patients were seizure free after microsurgical lesion removal, whereas 25% continued to have seizures. All patients had had preoperative seizures and > 6 months of postoperative follow-up. Modifiable predictors of postoperative seizure freedom included gross-total resection (OR 36.6, 95% CI 8.5–157.5) and surgery within 1 year of symptom onset (OR 1.83, 95% CI 1.30–2.58). Additional prognostic indicators of a favorable outcome were a CCM size < 1.5 cm (OR 15.4, 95% CI 5.2–45.4), the absence of multiple CCMs (OR 2.02, 95% CI 1.13–3.60), medically controlled seizures (OR 2.38, 95% CI 1.29–4.39), and the lack of secondarily generalized seizures (OR 3.33, 95% CI 2.09–5.30). Other factors, including extended resection of the hemosiderin ring, were not significantly predictive.
In the surgical treatment of supratentorial CCMs, gross-total resection and early operative intervention may improve seizure outcome. While surgery should not be considered the first-line treatment for CCM-related epilepsy, it is important to understand the variables associated with seizure freedom in CCM resection given the considerable morbidity and diminished quality of life associated with epilepsy.
Dario J. Englot, Stephen T. Magill, Seunggu J. Han, Edward F. Chang, Mitchel S. Berger and Michael W. McDermott
Meningioma is the most common benign intracranial tumor, and patients with supratentorial meningioma frequently suffer from seizures. The rates and predictors of seizures in patients with meningioma have been significantly under-studied, even in comparison with other brain tumor types. Improved strategies for the prediction, treatment, and prevention of seizures in patients with meningioma is an important goal, because tumor-related epilepsy significantly impacts patient quality of life.
The authors performed a systematic review of PubMed for manuscripts published between January 1980 and September 2014, examining rates of pre- and postoperative seizures in supratentorial meningioma, and evaluating potential predictors of seizures with separate meta-analyses.
The authors identified 39 observational case series for inclusion in the study, but no controlled trials. Preoperative seizures were observed in 29.2% of 4709 patients with supratentorial meningioma, and were significantly predicted by male sex (OR 1.74, 95% CI 1.30–2.34); an absence of headache (OR 1.77, 95% CI 1.04–3.25); peritumoral edema (OR 7.48, 95% CI 6.13–9.47); and non–skull base location (OR 1.77, 95% CI 1.04–3.25). After surgery, seizure freedom was achieved in 69.3% of 703 patients with preoperative epilepsy, and was more than twice as likely in those without peritumoral edema, although an insufficient number of studies were available for formal meta-analysis of this association. Of 1085 individuals without preoperative epilepsy who underwent resection, new postoperative seizures were seen in 12.3% of patients. No difference in the rate of new postoperative seizures was observed with or without perioperative prophylactic anticonvulsants.
Seizures are common in supratentorial meningioma, particularly in tumors associated with brain edema, and seizure freedom is a critical treatment goal. Favorable seizure control can be achieved with resection, but evidence does not support routine use of prophylactic anticonvulsants in patients without seizures. Limitations associated with systematic review and meta-analysis should be considered when interpreting these results.
Bornali Kundu, Andrea A. Brock, Dario J. Englot, Christopher R. Butson and John D. Rolston
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a looming epidemic, growing most rapidly in the elderly population. Some of the most devastating sequelae of TBI are related to depressed levels of consciousness (e.g., coma, minimally conscious state) or deficits in executive function. To date, pharmacological and rehabilitative therapies to treat these sequelae are limited. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been used to treat a number of pathologies, including Parkinson disease, essential tremor, and epilepsy. Animal and clinical research shows that targets addressing depressed levels of consciousness include components of the ascending reticular activating system and areas of the thalamus. Targets for improving executive function are more varied and include areas that modulate attention and memory, such as the frontal and prefrontal cortex, fornix, nucleus accumbens, internal capsule, thalamus, and some brainstem nuclei. The authors review the literature addressing the use of DBS to treat higher-order cognitive dysfunction and disorders of consciousness in TBI patients, while also offering suggestions on directions for future research.
Dario J. Englot, Jonathan D. Breshears, Peter P. Sun, Edward F. Chang and Kurtis I. Auguste
While temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is the most common epilepsy syndrome in adults, seizures in children are more often extratemporal in origin. Extra–temporal lobe epilepsy (ETLE) in pediatric patients is often medically refractory, leading to significantly diminished quality of life. Seizure outcomes after resective surgery for pediatric ETLE vary tremendously in the literature, given diverse patient and epilepsy characteristics and small sample sizes. The authors performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies including 10 or more pediatric patients (age ≤ 19 years) published over the last 20 years examining seizure outcomes after resective surgery for ETLE, excluding hemispherectomy. Thirty-six studies were examined. These 36 studies included 1259 pediatric patients who underwent resective surgery for ETLE. Seizure freedom (Engel Class I outcome) was achieved in 704 (56%) of these 1259 patients postoperatively, and 555 patients (44%) continued to have seizures (Engel Class II–IV outcome). Shorter epilepsy duration (≤ 7 years, the median value in this study) was more predictive of seizure freedom than longer (> 7 years) seizure history (odds ratio [OR] 1.52, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.07–2.14), suggesting that earlier intervention may be beneficial. Also, lesional epilepsy was associated with better seizure outcomes than nonlesional epilepsy (OR 1.34, 95% CI 1.19–1.49). Other predictors of seizure freedom included an absence of generalized seizures (OR 1.61, 95% CI 1.18–2.35) and localizing ictal electroencephalographic findings (OR 1.55, 95% CI 1.24–1.93). In conclusion, seizure outcomes after resective surgery for pediatric ETLE are less favorable than those associated with temporal lobectomy, but seizure freedom may be more common with earlier intervention and lesional epilepsy etiology. Children with continued debilitating seizures despite failure of multiple medication trials should be referred to a comprehensive pediatric epilepsy center for further medical and surgical evaluation.
Alvin Y. Chan, John D. Rolston, Brian Lee, Sumeet Vadera and Dario J. Englot
Corpus callosotomy is a palliative surgery for drug-resistant epilepsy that reduces the severity and frequency of generalized seizures by disconnecting the two cerebral hemispheres. Unlike with resection, seizure outcomes remain poorly understood. The authors systematically reviewed the literature and performed a meta-analysis to investigate rates and predictors of complete seizure freedom and freedom from drop attacks after corpus callosotomy.
PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus were queried for primary studies examining seizure outcomes after corpus callosotomy published over 30 years. Rates of complete seizure freedom or drop attack freedom were recorded. Variables showing a potential relationship to seizure outcome on preliminary analysis were subjected to formal meta-analysis.
The authors identified 1742 eligible patients from 58 included studies. Overall, the rates of complete seizure freedom and drop attack freedom after corpus callosotomy were 18.8% and 55.3%, respectively. Complete seizure freedom was significantly predicted by the presence of infantile spasms (OR 3.86, 95% CI 1.13–13.23), normal MRI findings (OR 4.63, 95% CI 1.75–12.25), and shorter epilepsy duration (OR 2.57, 95% CI 1.23–5.38). Freedom from drop attacks was predicted by complete over partial callosotomy (OR 2.90, 95% CI 1.07–7.83) and idiopathic over known epilepsy etiology (OR 2.84, 95% CI 1.35–5.99).
The authors report the first systematic review and meta-analysis of seizure outcomes in both adults and children after corpus callosotomy for epilepsy. Approximately one-half of patients become free from drop attacks, and one-fifth achieve complete seizure freedom after surgery. Some predictors of favorable outcome differ from those in resective epilepsy surgery.
Dario J. Englot, Mitchel S. Berger, Nicholas M. Barbaro and Edward F. Chang
Seizures are the most frequent presenting symptom in patients with low-grade gliomas (LGGs), and significantly influence quality of life if they are uncontrolled. Achieving freedom from seizures is of utmost importance in surgical planning, but the factors associated with seizure control remain incompletely understood.
The authors performed a systematic literature review of seizure outcomes after resection of LGGs causing seizures, examining 773 patients across 20 published series. Rates of seizure freedom were stratified across 7 variables: patient age, tumor location, preoperative seizure control with medication, seizure semiology, epilepsy duration, extent of resection, and the use of intraoperative electrocorticography (ECoG).
Gross-total resection was most predictive of complete seizure freedom, when compared with subtotal resection (OR 3.41, 95% CI 2.36–4.93). Other predictors of seizure freedom included preoperative seizure control on antiepileptic medication (OR 2.12, 95% CI 1.33–3.38) and duration of seizures of ≤ 1 year (OR 1.85, 95% CI 1.22–2.79). Patients with simple partial seizure semiology achieved seizure freedom less often than those with complex partial, generalized, or mixed seizure types (OR 0.46, 95% CI 0.26–0.80). No significant differences in seizure outcome were observed between adults versus children, patients with temporal lobe versus extratemporal tumors, or with the use of intraoperative ECoG.
Seizure control is one of the most important considerations in planning surgery for low-grade brain tumors. Gross-total resection is a critical factor in achieving seizure freedom.