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Elizabeth Carroll and Ariane Lewis

In this historical vignette, the authors discuss the prevention of surgical site infections (SSIs) after brain surgery from the prehistoric period to the present. Although the mechanism for infection was not fully understood until the 19th century, records demonstrate that as early as 10,000 bc, practitioners used gold, a biocidal material, for cranioplasties and attempted to approximate wounds by tying a patient’s hair across the incision. Written records from the Egyptian and Babylonian period depict the process of soaking head dressings in alcohol, an antibacterial agent. In the Greek and Early Byzantine period, Hippocrates argued against the formation of pus in wounds and continued to champion the use of wine in wound management. In the 16th century, intracranial silver drains were first utilized in an effort to prevent postoperative infections. The turning point of SSI prevention was in 1867, when Joseph Lister illustrated the connection between Louis Pasteur’s discovery of the fermentation process and the suppuration of wounds. Today, there are ongoing investigations and debates about the optimal techniques to prevent SSI after brain surgery. Although tremendous progress in the field of SSI prevention since the prehistoric period has been made, SSI continues to affect morbidity and mortality after brain surgery.

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Rona S. Carroll, Jianping Zhang, Kathleen Dashner, Madhabananda Sar, Elizabeth M. Wilson and Peter McL. Black

✓ The predominance of meningiomas in females, the accelerated growth of these tumors during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and during pregnancy, and the association between meningiomas and breast cancer have led to a number of studies examining the potential role of steroids in the growth of meningiomas. The possibility that androgens play a role in meningioma proliferation has been suggested by a small number of investigators. The aim of this study was to examine the expression of androgen receptor messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) and correlate it using immunochemistry with the nuclear localization of androgen receptor in a large number of meningiomas. Thirty-nine meningiomas were examined by Northern blot analysis for the presence of measurable amounts of androgen receptor mRNA and eight of these were analyzed by immunohistochemistry for receptor protein. Sixty-seven percent of the meningiomas expressed androgen receptor mRNA. There was a marked predominance of women among the patients whose tumors expressed androgen receptor; 69% were women and 31% were men. The immunohistochemical data correlated with Northern blot analysis of mRNA. The staining was predominantly nuclear, suggesting that the androgen receptor resides in a location that can activate gene expression.