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Editorial

Toward the revaluation of radiosurgery

Douglas Kondziolka

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Zane Schnurman and Douglas Kondziolka

Understanding how the relevant medical community accepts new therapies is vital to patients, physicians, and society. Increasingly, focus is placed on how medical innovations are evaluated. But recognizing when a treatment has become accepted practice—essentially, acceptance by the scientific community—remains a challenge and a barrierto investigating treatment development. This report aims to demonstrate the theory, method, and limitations of a model for measuring a new metric that the authors term “progressive scholarly acceptance.”

A model was developed to identify when the scientific community has accepted an innovation, by observing when researchers have moved beyond the initial study of efficacy.

This model could enable further investigations into the methods and influences of treatment development.

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Zane Schnurman and Douglas Kondziolka

OBJECT

Patients, practitioners, payers, and regulators are advocating for reform in how medical advances are evaluated. Because surgery does not adhere to a standardized developmental pathway, how the medical community accepts a procedure remains unclear. The authors developed a new model, using publication data and patterns, that quantifies this process. Using this technique, the authors identified common archetypes and influences on neurosurgical progress from idea inception to acceptance.

METHODS

Seven neurosurgical procedures developed in the past 15–25 years were used as developmental case studies (endovascular coil, deep brain stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, 1,3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-l-nitrosourea wafer, and 3 radiosurgery procedures), and the literature on each topic was evaluated. A new metric the authors termed “progressive scholarly acceptance” (PSA) was used as an end point for community acceptance. PSA was reached when the number of investigations that refine or improve a procedure eclipsed the total number of reports assessing initial efficacy. Report characteristics, including the number of patients studied, study design, and number of authoring groups from the first report to the point of PSA, were assessed.

RESULTS

Publication data implicated factors that had an outsized influence on acceptance. First, procedural accessibility to investigators was found to influence the number of reports, number of patients studied, and number of authoring groups contributing. Barriers to accessibility included target disease rarity, regulatory restrictions, and cost. Second, the ease or difficulty in applying a randomized controlled trial had an impact on study design. Based on these 2 factors, 3 developmental archetypes were characterized to generally describe the development of surgery.

CONCLUSIONS

Common surgical development archetypes can be described based on factors that impact investigative methods, data accumulation, and ultimate acceptance by society. The approach and proposed terminologies in this report could inform future procedural development as well as any attempts to regulate surgical innovation.

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Douglas S. Kondziolka

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David W. Roberts

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Christopher M. Bonfield and Douglas Kondziolka

Bill Masterton is the only man to die of injuries sustained in a National Hockey League (NHL) game. He remains the last fatality in any professional team sport involving a direct in-game injury in North America. While Masterton was originally thought to have suffered a fatal brain injury while being checked on the ice, later analysis of the case revealed evidence of second-impact syndrome and the effects of prior concussions. Masterton's death sparked both an immediate debate in the NHL on whether helmets should be compulsory and the NHL's first vote on mandatory helmet use. Although the subject of mandated helmet use met with resistance in the 10 years after Masterton's death, especially from hockey owners and coaches, the NHL finally legislated helmet use by all players entering the league beginning in the 1979–1980 season.

Several awards, including one recognizing the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey, have been created in memory of Masterton. However, his legacy extends far beyond the awards that bear his name. His death was the seminal event bringing head safety to the forefront of a game that was both unready and unwilling to accept change. An increase in mainstream media attention in recent years has led to unprecedented public awareness of brain injury and concussion in hockey and other sports. Advances in the diagnosis and treatment of head injury in sports have occurred recently, the impetus for which started over 45 years ago, when Bill Masterton died.

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Editorial

The value of a postoperative computed tomography scan

Douglas Kondziolka

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Douglas Kondziolka

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W. Jeffrey Elias