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Editorial. Neuroprotective effectiveness

Julia E. Alexander and E. Sander Connolly Jr.

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Editorial: Brain sag

E. Sander Connolly Jr.

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Editorial: Effect of atorvastatin

E. Sander Connolly Jr.

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Editorial: Health insurance status and stroke

E. Sander Connolly Jr.

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A review of current and future medical therapies for cerebral vasospasm following aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage

J Mocco, Brad E. Zacharia, Ricardo J. Komotar, and E. Sander Connolly Jr.

✓In an effort to help clarify the current state of medical therapy for cerebral vasospasm, the authors reviewed the relevant literature on the established medical therapies used for cerebral vasospasm following aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), and they discuss burgeoning areas of investigation. Despite advances in the treatment of aneurysmal SAH, cerebral vasospasm remains a common complication and has been correlated with a 1.5- to threefold increase in death during the first 2 weeks after hemorrhage. A number of medical, pharmacological, and surgical therapies are currently in use or being investigated in an attempt to reverse cerebral vasospasm, but only a few have proven to be useful. Although much has been elucidated regarding its pathophysiology, the treatment of cerebral vasospasm remains a dilemma. Although a poor understanding of SAH-induced cerebral vasospasm pathophysiology has, to date, hampered the development of therapeutic interventions, current research efforts promise the eventual production of new medical therapies.

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Carotid-cavernous fistulas

Jason A. Ellis, Hannah Goldstein, E. Sander Connolly Jr., and Philip M. Meyers

Carotid-cavernous fistulas (CCFs) are vascular shunts allowing blood to flow from the carotid artery into the cavernous sinus. The characteristic clinical features seen in patients with CCFs are the sequelae of hemodynamic dysfunction within the cavernous sinus. Once routinely treated with open surgical procedures, including carotid ligation or trapping and cavernous sinus exploration, endovascular therapy is now the treatment modality of choice in many cases. The authors provide a review of CCFs, detailing the current classification and clinical management of these lesions. Therapeutic options including conservative management, open surgery, endovascular intervention, and radiosurgical therapy are presented. The complications and treatment results as reported in the contemporary literature are also reviewed.

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Editorial: A new definition of postconcussive syndrome

E. Sander Connolly Jr. and Richard G. Ellenbogen

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Editorial: Early subarachnoid hemorrhage

E. Sander Connolly Jr.

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Middle cerebral artery pulsatility index and cognitive improvement after carotid endarterectomy for symptomatic stenosis

Clinical article

Eric J. Heyer, Joanna L. Mergeche, and E. Sander Connolly Jr.

Object

Transcranial Doppler (TCD) is frequently used to evaluate peripheral cerebral resistance and cerebral blood flow (CBF) in the middle cerebral artery prior to and during carotid endarterectomy (CEA). Patients with symptomatic carotid artery stenosis may have reduced peripheral cerebral resistance to compensate for inadequate CBF. The authors aim to determine whether symptomatic patients with reduced peripheral cerebral resistance prior to CEA demonstrate increased CBF and cognitive improvement as early as 1 day after CEA.

Methods

Fifty-three patients with symptomatic CEA were included in this observational study. All patients underwent neuropsychometric evaluation 24 hours or less preoperatively and 1 day postoperatively. The MCA was evaluated using TCD for CBF mean velocity (MV) and pulsatility index (PI). Pulsatility index ≤ 0.80 was used as a cutoff for reduced peripheral cerebral resistance.

Results

Significantly more patients with baseline PI ≤ 0.80 exhibited cognitive improvement 1 day after CEA than those with PI > 0.80 (35.0% vs 6.1%, p = 0.007). Patients with cognitive improvement had a significantly greater increase in CBF MV than patients without cognitive improvement (13.4 ± 17.1 cm/sec vs 4.3 ± 9.9 cm/sec, p = 0.03). In multivariate regression model, a baseline PI ≤ 0.80 was significantly associated with increased odds of cognitive improvement (OR 7.32 [1.40–59.49], p = 0.02).

Conclusions

Symptomatic CEA patients with reduced peripheral cerebral resistance, measured as PI ≤ 0.80, are likely to have increased CBF and improved cognitive performance as early as 1 day after CEA for symptomatic carotid artery stenosis. Revascularization in this cohort may afford benefits beyond prevention of future stroke. Clinical trial registration no: NCT00597883 (ClinicalTrials.gov).

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Assessment of the “July Effect”: outcomes after early resident transition in adult neurosurgery

Bryan A. Lieber, Geoffrey Appelboom, Blake E. S. Taylor, Hani Malone, Nitin Agarwal, and E. Sander Connolly Jr.

OBJECT

Each July, 4th-year medical students become 1st-year resident physicians and have much greater responsibility in making management decisions. In addition, incumbent residents and fellows advance to their next postgraduate year and face greater challenges. It has been suggested that among patients who have resident physicians as members of their neurosurgical team, this transition may be associated with increased rates of morbidity and mortality, a phenomenon known as the “July Effect.” In this study, the authors compared morbidity and mortality rates between the initial and later months of the academic year to determine whether there is truly a July Effect that has an impact on this patient population.

METHODS

The authors compared 30-day postoperative outcomes of neurosurgery performed by surgical teams that included resident physicians in training during the first academic quarter (Q1, July through September) with outcomes of neurosurgery performed with resident participation during the final academic quarter (Q4, April through June), using 2006–2012 data from the prospectively collected American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) database. Regression analyses were performed on outcome data that included mortality, surgical complications, and medical complications, which were graded as mild or severe. To determine whether a July Effect was present in subgroups, secondary analyses were performed to analyze the association of outcomes with each major neurosurgical subspecialty, the postgraduate year of the operating resident, and the academic quarter during which the surgery was performed. To control for possible seasonal trends in certain diseases, the authors compared patient outcomes at academic medical centers to those at community-based hospitals, where procedures were not performed by residents. In addition, the efficiency of academic centers was compared to that of community centers in terms of operative duration and total length of hospital stay.

RESULTS

Overall, there were no statistically significant differences in mortality, morbidity, or efficiency between the earlier and later quarters of the academic year, a finding that also held true among neurosurgical subspecialties and among postgraduate levels of training. There was, however, a slight increase in intraoperative transfusions associated with the transitional period in July (6.41% of procedures in Q4 compared to 7.99% in Q1 of the prior calendar year; p = 0.0005), which primarily occurred in cases involving junior (2nd- to 4th-year) residents. In addition, there was an increased rate of reoperation (1.73% in Q4 to 2.19% in Q1; p < 0.0001) observed mainly among senior (5th- to 7th-year) residents in the early academic months and not paralleled in our community cohort.

CONCLUSIONS

There is minimal evidence for a significant July Effect in adult neurosurgery. Our results suggest that, overall, the current resident training system provides enough guidance and support during this challenging transition period.