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Lennart Heimer: concepts of the ventral striatum and extended amygdala

W. Jeff Elias, Dibyendu Kumar Ray, and John A. Jane Sr.

Dr. Lennart Heimer, the famous neuroanatomist of Swedish descent, died last year but left a legacy that will impact the neurosciences and potentially psychosurgery for years to come. He developed an anatomical technique for demonstrating the terminal boutons that helped to delineate basal forebrain anatomy. During these studies, he realized the relationship of basal forebrain structures to the limbic system, thus initiating the concept of the ventral striatum and parallel basal ganglia circuitry.

Heimer excelled as a teacher as well and honed his brain dissection technique to one of the most effective tools for understanding neuroanatomy. His legendary sessions with neurosurgical residents resulted in his recognition as one of the world’s leading fiber tract dissectors. His gentle, engaging manner has been documented in several media formats.

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Gamma Knife surgery for lymphocytic hypophysitis

Case report

Dibyendu Kumar Ray, Chun Po Yen, Mary Lee Vance, Edward R. Laws, Beatriz Lopes, and Jason P. Sheehan

Lymphocytic hypophysitis is a relatively uncommon autoimmune inflammatory disorder affecting the pituitary gland. It most frequently occurs in women of child-bearing age. The authors report on their experience with a patient who presented with diplopia and marked enlargement of the pituitary gland. She underwent transsphenoidal surgery, and histopathological analysis confirmed the diagnosis of lymphocytic hypophysitis. The disease proved refractory to resection, and any attempt at withdrawal of corticosteroid therapy resulted in a return of the patient's symptoms and enlargement of the sellar contents.

The patient underwent Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) to the sella and both cavernous sinuses. After GKS, the patient was able to discontinue steroid therapy without return of her symptoms. Follow-up MR images demonstrated no evidence of recurrence of lymphocytic hypophysitis.

For persistent lymphocytic hypophysitis, GKS is a reasonable treatment option.

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Gamma Knife radiosurgery for trigeminal neuralgia: the impact of magnetic resonance imaging–detected vascular impingement of the affected nerve

Clinical article

Jason P. Sheehan, Dibyendu Kumar Ray, Stephen Monteith, Chun Po Yen, James Lesnick, Ronald Kersh, and David Schlesinger


Trigeminal neuralgia is believed to be related to vascular compression of the affected nerve. Radiosurgery has been shown to be reasonably effective for treatment of medically refractory trigeminal neuralgia. This study explores the rate of occurrence of MR imaging–demonstrated vascular impingement of the affected nerve and the extent to which vascular impingement affects pain relief in a population of trigeminal neuralgia patients undergoing Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS).


The authors performed a retrospective analysis of 106 cases involving patients treated for typical trigeminal neuralgia using GKRS. Patients with or without single-vessel impingement on CISS MR imaging sequences and with no previous surgery were included in the study. Pain relief was assessed according to the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) pain intensity score at the last follow-up. Degree of impingement, nerve diameter preand post-impingement, isocenter placement, and dose to the point of maximum impingement were evaluated in relation to the improvement of BNI score.


The overall median follow-up period was 31 months. Overall, a BNI pain score of 1 was achieved in 59.4% of patients at last follow-up. Vessel impingement was seen in 63 patients (59%). There was no significant difference in pain relief between those with and without vascular impingement following GKRS (p > 0.05).

In those with vascular impingement on MR imaging, the median fraction of vessel impingement was 0.3 (range 0.04–0.59). The median dose to the site of maximum impingement was 42 Gy (range 2.9–79 Gy). Increased dose (p = 0.019) and closer proximity of the isocenter to the site of maximum vessel impingement (p = 0.012) correlated in a statistically significant fashion with improved BNI scores in those demonstrating vascular impingement on the GKRS planning MR imaging


Vascular impingement of the affected nerve was seen in the majority of patients with trigeminal neuralgia. Overall pain relief following GKRS was comparable in those with and without evidence of vascular compression on MR imaging. In subgroup analysis of those with MR imaging evidence of vessel impingement of the affected trigeminal nerve, pain relief correlated with a higher dose to the point of contact between the impinging vessel and the trigeminal nerve. Such a finding may point to vascular changes affording at least some degree of relief following GKRS for trigeminal neuralgia.

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Gamma Knife radiosurgery to the surgical cavity following resection of brain metastases

Clinical article

Jay Jagannathan, Chun-Po Yen, Dibyendu Kumar Ray, David Schlesinger, Rod J. Oskouian, Nader Pouratian, Mark E. Shaffrey, James Larner, and Jason P. Sheehan


This study evaluated the efficacy of postoperative Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) to the tumor cavity following gross-total resection of a brain metastasis.


A retrospective review was conducted of 700 patients who were treated for brain metastases using GKS. Forty-seven patients with pathologically confirmed metastatic disease underwent GKS to the postoperative resection cavity following gross-total resection of the tumor. Patients who underwent subtotal resection or who had visible tumor in the resection cavity on the postresection neuroimaging study (either CT or MR imaging with and without contrast administration) were excluded. Radiographic and clinical follow-up was assessed using clinic visits and MR imaging. The radiographic end point was defined as tumor growth control (no tumor growth regarding the resection cavity, and stable or decreasing tumor size for the other metastatic targets). Clinical end points were defined as functional status (assessed prospectively using the Karnofsky Performance Scale) and survival. Primary tumor pathology was consistent with lung cancer in 19 cases (40%), melanoma in 10 cases (21%), renal cell carcinoma in 7 cases (15%), breast cancer in 7 cases (15%), and gastrointestinal malignancies in 4 cases (9%). The mean duration between resection and radiosurgery was 15 days (range 2–115 days). The mean volume of the treated cavity was 10.5 cm3 (range 1.75–35.45 cm3), and the mean dose to the cavity margin was 19 Gy. In addition to the resection cavity, 34 patients (72%) underwent GKS for 116 synchronous metastases observed at the time of the initial radiosurgery.


The mean radiographic follow-up duration was 14 months (median 10 months, range 4–37 months). Local tumor control at the site of the surgical cavity was achieved in 44 patients (94%), and tumor recurrence at the surgical site was statistically related to the volume of the surgical cavity (p = 0.04). During follow-up, 34 patients (72%) underwent additional radiosurgery for 140 new (metachronous) metastases. At the most recent follow-up evaluation, 11 patients (23%) were alive, whereas 36 patients had died (mean duration until death 12 months, median 10 months). Patients who showed good systemic control of their primary tumor tended to have longer survival durations than those who did not (p = 0.004). At the last clinical follow-up evaluation, the mean Karnofsky Performance Scale score for the overall group was 78 (median 80, range 40–100).


Radiosurgery appears to be effective in terms of providing local tumor control at the resection cavity following resection of a brain metastasis, and in the treatment of synchronous and metachronous tumors. These data suggest that radiosurgery can be used to prevent recurrence following gross-total resection of a brain metastasis.