Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 20 items for

  • Author or Editor: Deborah L. Benzil x
  • All content x
Clear All Modify Search
Restricted access

Changing our culture

Special topic

Deborah L. Benzil

Today, a great challenge of our profession is to envision how we will deliver exemplary neurosurgical care in the future. To accomplish this requires anticipating how economic, political, and societal influences will affect our ability to provide the highest quality of patient care in an arena that will look increasingly different from today's world of medicine. Already, our profession is battling a relentless assault as numerous sectors implement change that impacts us and our community every day. Surviving this requires an effective strategy that will involve significant cultural change. To accomplish this, neurosurgery must take an honest look inward and then commit to being the agents of positive cultural change.

Such a path will not be easy but should reap important benefits for all of neurosurgery and our patients. Several practical and proven strategies can help us to realize the rewards of changing our culture. Vital to this process is understanding that effecting behavioral change will increase the likelihood of achieving sustainable cultural change. Innovation and diversity are crucial to encourage and reward when trying to effect meaningful cultural change, while appreciating the power of a “Tipping Point” strategy will also reap significant benefits.

As a profession, if we adopt these strategies and tactics we can lead our profession to proceed in improvement, and as individuals we can use the spirit that drove us into neurosurgery to become the agents of an enduring and meaningful cultural change that will benefit our patients and us.

Free access

Douglas Kondziolka and Linda M. Liau

Full access

Susan R. Durham, Katelyn Donaldson, M. Sean Grady, and Deborah L. Benzil

OBJECTIVE

With nearly half of graduating US medical students being female, it is imperative to understand why females typically make up less than 20% of the neurosurgery applicant pool, a number that has changed very slowly over the past several decades. Organized neurosurgery has strongly indicated the desire to overcome the underrepresentation of women, and it is critical to explore whether females are at a disadvantage during the residency application process, one of the first steps in a neurosurgical career. To date, there are no published studies on specific applicant characteristics, including gender, that are associated with match outcome among neurosurgery resident applicants. The purpose of this study is to determine which characteristics of neurosurgery residency applicants, including gender, are associated with a successful match outcome.

METHODS

De-identified neurosurgical resident applicant data obtained from the San Francisco Fellowship and Residency Matching Service for the years 1990–2007 were analyzed. Applicant characteristics including gender, medical school attended, year of application, United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) Step 1 score, Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) status, and match outcome were available for study.

RESULTS

Of the total 3426 applicants studied, 473 (13.8%) applicants were female and 2953 (86.2%) were male. Two thousand four hundred forty-eight (71.5%) applicants successfully matched. USMLE Step 1 score was the strongest predictor of match outcome with scores > 245 having an OR of 20.84 (95% CI 10.31–42.12) compared with those scoring < 215. The mean USMLE Step 1 score for applicants who successfully matched was 233.2 and was 210.8 for those applicants who did not match (p < 0.001). Medical school rank was also associated with match outcome (p < 0.001). AOA status was not significantly associated with match outcome. Female gender was associated with significantly lower odds of matching in both simple (OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.48–0.72) and multivariate analyses (OR 0.57, 95% CI 0.34–0.94 CI). USMLE Step 1 scores were significantly lower for females compared to males with a mean score of 230.1 for males and 221.5 for females (p < 0.001). There was no significant difference in medical school ranking or AOA status when stratified by applicant gender.

CONCLUSIONS

The limited historical applicant data from 1990–2007 suggests that USMLE Step 1 score is the best predictor of match outcome, although applicant gender may also play a role.

Full access

James K. Liu, Scott Forman, Chitti R. Moorthy, and Deborah L. Benzil

Optic nerve sheath meningiomas (ONSMs) represent 1 to 2% of all meningiomas and one third of all optic nerve tumors. The management of ONSMs is controversial. Traditional surgical removal often results in postoperative blindness in the affected eye and thus has been abandoned as a treatment option in most patients. Surgery may be unnecessarily aggressive, especially if the patient has useful vision. When these tumors are left untreated, however, ensuing progressive visual impairment may lead to complete blindness. More recently, radiotherapy has gained wider acceptance as a treatment for these lesions. The authors of some reports have suggested that fractionated stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) may be the best option for treating primary ONSMs. In patients with documented progressive visual deterioration, fractionated SRS may be effective in improving or stabilizing remaining functional vision. The authors review the clinical presentation, radiographic characteristics, and management of ONSMs, emphasizing the use of fractionated SRS.

Restricted access

Kaushik Das, Deborah L. Benzil, Richard L. Rovit, Raj Murali, and William T. Couldwell

✓ Irving S. Cooper (1922–1985), the son of a salesman, worked his way through high school, college, and medical school to become one of the pioneers in functional neurosurgery. He developed several novel techniques for the surgical management of Parkinson's disease and other crippling movement disorders. A keen interest in the physiology of movement disorders was kindled by his doctoral research and continued during his neurosurgical training. He began to apply this knowledge to surgical practice in 1952 when he began his faculty career as Assistant Professor of Surgery at New York University. At the time, surgical treatment of parkinsonian tremor focused on various techniques used to interrupt the pyramidal tract. During a subtemporal approach for a cerebral pedunculotomy, he inadvertently injured and, subsequently, was forced to occlude the anterior choroidal artery. Much to Cooper's surprise, following emergence from anesthesia the patient's tremor and rigidity were abolished without any residual hemiparesis. This serendipitous observation, together with Meyer's earlier work on the role of the basal ganglia in motor control, helped focus surgical efforts on targets within the basal ganglia and, subsequently, within the thalamus to alleviate the movement disorders associated with Parkinson's disease. While at New York University, Cooper developed chemopallidectomy and, later at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx (1954–1977), he used cryothalamectomy as a surgical technique for primary control of tremor in patients with Parkinson's disease. Cooper authored many original papers on surgical techniques and several textbooks on the lives of patients afflicted with Parkinson's disease and other crippling movement disorders. Although considered controversial, this fascinating and complex neurosurgeon made significant contributions to this field.

Restricted access

Salvador Espinoza, Mehran Saboori, Scott Forman, Chitti R. Moorthy, and Deborah L. Benzil

✓ Thyroid-related ophthalmopathy (TRO), a debilitating condition involving a range of visual and orbital symptoms, occurs in up to 40% of patients with Graves disease. The goals of treatment include correcting thyroid dysfunction, relieving ocular pain, preserving vision, and improving cosmetic appearance. Options for therapy include symptomatic treatment, glucocorticoid medication, radiation therapy, and surgery. Traditional radiation treatment uses small opposed bilateral fields consisting of retrobulbar volumes and customized blocks to shield periorbital structures. The combination of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and stereotactic technology facilitates the administration of radiation to patients suffering from TRO and provides greater safety and efficacy than traditional treatment. The authors present the case of a patient with severe TRO whose symptoms resolved rapidly after treatment with stereotactic IMRT. The outcome in this case supports stereotactic IMRT as an effective treatment option for patients with TRO who also undergo radiation therapy.

Restricted access

Deborah L. Benzil, Mehran Saboori, Alon Y. Mogilner, Ronald Rocchio, and Chitti R. Moorthy

Object. The extension of stereotactic radiosurgery treatment of tumors of the spine has the potential to benefit many patients. As in the early days of cranial stereotactic radiosurgery, however, dose-related efficacy and toxicity are not well understood. The authors report their initial experience with stereotactic radiosurgery of the spine with attention to dose, efficacy, and toxicity.

Methods. All patients who underwent stereotactic radiosurgery of the spine were treated using the Novalis unit at Westchester Medical Center between December 2001 and January 2004 are included in a database consisting of demographics on disease, dose, outcome, and complications. A total of 31 patients (12 men, 19 women; mean age 61 years, median age 63 years) received treatment for 35 tumors. Tumor types included 26 metastases (12 lung, nine breast, five other) and nine primary tumors (four intradural, five extradural). Thoracic tumors were most common (17 metastases and four primary) followed by lumbar tumors (four metastases and four primary). Lesions were treated to the 85 to 90% isodose line with spinal cord doses being less than 50%. The dose per fraction and total dose were selected on the basis of previous treatment (particularly radiation exposure), size of lesion, and proximity to critical structures.

Conclusions. Rapid and significant pain relief was achieved after stereotactic radiosurgery in 32 of 34 treated tumors. In patients treated for metastases, pain was relieved within 72 hours and remained reduced 3 months later. Pain relief was achieved with a single dose as low as 500 cGy. Spinal cord isodoses were less than 50% in all patients except those with intradural tumors (mean single dose to spinal cord 268 cGy and mean total dose to spinal cord 689 cGy). Two patients experienced transient radiculitis (both with a biological equivalent dose (BED) > 60 Gy). One patient who suffered multiple recurrences of a conus ependymoma had permanent neurological deterioration after initial improvement. Pathological evaluation of this lesion at surgery revealed radiation necrosis with some residual/recurrent tumor. No patient experienced other organ toxicity.

Stereotactic radiosurgery of the spine is safe at the doses used and provides effective pain relief. In this study, BEDs greater than 60 Gy were associated with an increased risk of radiculitis.

Full access

R. Loch Macdonald

Free access

Deborah L. Benzil, Karin M. Muraszko, Pranay Soni, Ellen L. Air, Katie O. Orrico, and James T. Rutka

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was the creation and administration of a survey to assess the depth and breadth of sexual harassment across neurosurgery.

METHODS

A survey was created to 1) assess perceived attitudes toward systemic issues that might be permissive of sexual harassment; 2) measure the reported prevalence and severity of sexual harassment; and 3) determine the populations at highest risk and those most likely to perpetrate sexual harassment. Demographic information was also included to facilitate further analysis. The SurveyMonkey platform was used, and a request to complete the survey was sent to all Society of Neurological Surgeons and Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) active and resident members as well as CNS transitional, emeritus, and inactive members. Data were analyzed using RStudio version 1.2.5019.

RESULTS

Nearly two-thirds of responders indicated having witnessed sexual harassment in some form (62%, n = 382). Males were overwhelmingly identified as the offenders in allegations of sexual harassment (72%), with individuals in a “superior position” identified as offenders in 86%. Less than one-third of responders addressed the incidents of sexual harassment when they happened (yes 31%, no 62%, unsure 7%). Of those who did report, most felt there was either no impact or a negative one (negative: 34%, no impact: 38%). Almost all (85%) cited barriers to taking action about sexual harassment, including retaliation/retribution (87%), impact on future career (85%), reputation concerns (72%), and associated stress (50%). Female neurosurgeons were statistically more likely than male neurosurgeons to report witnessing or experiencing sexual harassment, as well as assessing it as a problem.

CONCLUSIONS

This study demonstrates that neurosurgeons report significant sexual harassment across all ages and practice settings. Sexual harassment impacts both men and women, with more than half personally subjected to this behavior and two-thirds having witnessed it. Male dominance, a hierarchical environment, and a permissive environment remain prevalent within the neurosurgical community. This is not just a historical problem, but it continues today. A change of culture will be required for neurosurgery to shed this mantle, which must include zero tolerance of this behavior, new policies, awareness of unconscious bias, and commitment to best practices to enhance diversity. Above all, it will require that all neurosurgeons and neurosurgical leaders develop an awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace and establish consistent mechanisms to mitigate against its highly deleterious effects in the specialty.

Restricted access

Uma V. Mahajan, Harsh Wadhwa, Parastou Fatemi, Samantha Xu, Judy Shan, Deborah L. Benzil, and Corinna C. Zygourakis

OBJECTIVE

Publications are key for advancement within academia. Although women are underrepresented in academic neurosurgery, the rates of women entering residency, achieving board certification, and publishing papers are increasing. The goal of this study was to assess the current status of women in academic neurosurgery publications. Specifically, this study sought to 1) survey female authorship rates in the Journal of Neurosurgery (JNS [not including JNS: Spine or JNS: Pediatrics]) and Neurosurgery from 2010 to 2019; 2) analyze whether double-blind peer review (started in Neurosurgery in 2011) altered female authorship rates relative to single-blind review (JNS); and 3) evaluate how female authorship rates compared with the number of women entering neurosurgery residency and obtaining neurosurgery board certification.

METHODS

Genders of the first and last authors for JNS and Neurosurgery articles from 2010 to 2019 were obtained. Data were also gathered on the number and percentage of women entering neurosurgery residency and women obtaining American Board of Neurological Surgeons (ABNS) certification between 2010 and 2019.

RESULTS

Women accounted for 13.4% (n = 570) of first authors and 6.8% (n = 240) of last authors in JNS and Neurosurgery publications. No difference in rates of women publishing existed between the two journals (first authors: 13.0% JNS vs 13.9% Neurosurgery, p = 0.29; last authors: 7.3% JNS vs 6.0% Neurosurgery, p = 0.25). No difference existed between women first or last authors in Neurosurgery before and after initiation of double-blind review (p = 0.066). Significant concordance existed between the gender of first and last authors: in publications with a woman last author, the odds of the first author being a woman was increased by twofold (OR 2.14 [95% CI 1.43–3.13], p = 0.0001). Women represented a lower proportion of authors of invited papers (8.6% of first authors and 3.1% of last authors were women) compared with noninvited papers (14.1% of first authors and 7.4% of last authors were women) (first authors: OR 0.576 [95% CI 0.410–0.794], p = 0.0004; last authors: OR 0.407 [95% CI 0.198–0.751], p = 0.001). The proportion of women US last authors (7.4%) mirrors the percentage of board-certified women neurosurgeons (5.4% in 2010 and 6.8% in 2019), while the percentage of women US first authors (14.3%) is less than that for women entering neurosurgical residency (11.2% in 2009 and 23.6% in 2018).

CONCLUSIONS

This is the first report of female authorship in the neurosurgical literature. The authors found that single- versus double-blind peer review did not impact female authorship rates at two top neurosurgical journals.