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Steven D. Chang, David P. Martin, Elizabeth Lee and John R. Adler Jr.


In patients with chordomas the lesions often recur. Furthermore, the location of some chordomas within the base of the skull and the cervical spine can prevent complete resection from being achieved. Previous series have shown that stereotactic radiosurgery can be used as a treatment for residual chordomas with good overall results. The authors review their experience in using linear accelerator (LINAC) stereotactic radiosurgery to treat patients with recurrent and/or residual cranial base and cervical chordomas.


Ten patients with chordomas (eight with cranial base and two with cervical lesions [below C-2]) underwent LINAC stereotactic radiosurgery. The mean patient age was 49 years (range 30–73 years). There were seven men and three women. Three patients had undergone one prior surgery, five had undergone two previous surgeries, and two had undergone three prior operations. The mean radiation dose was 19.4 Gy (range 18–24 Gy), and the maximum intratumoral dose averaged 27 Gy (range 24.1–33.1 Gy). The mean secondary collimator size was 14.4 mm (range 7.5–20 mm). The volume of the tumor treated ranged from 1.1 to 21.5 ml. In five patients a standard frame-based LINAC radiosurgery system was used, whereas in the other five the CyberKnife, a frameless image-guided LINAC radiosurgical system, was used. All patients were available for follow-up review, which averaged 4 years (range 1–9 years). Over the course of follow up, one chordoma (10%) was smaller in size, seven were stable, and two chordomas progressed (one in a patient who underwent reoperation and a second course of stereotactic radiosurgery, and the second in a patient who underwent reoperation alone). There were no new neurological deficits noted following radiosurgery in the eight of 10 patients in whom there was no tumor progression, and no patient developed radiation-induced necrosis.


Stereotactic radiosurgery can be used to treat patients with recurrent or residual chordomas with excellent tumor control rates. Longer follow-up review in larger series is warranted to confirm these findings.

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Robert F. Spetzler, Neil Martin, Mark N. Hadley, Richard A. Thompson, Elizabeth Wilkinson and Peter A. Raudzens

✓ Carotid endarterectomy has the potential to improve on the natural history of untreated carotid artery disease with respect to subsequent infarction in symptomatic patients with causative angiographic lesions. This benefit of a reduced risk of stroke can be realized only if the perioperative morbidity and mortality rates are kept low. An approach to symptomatic carotid artery bifurcation disease is outlined, with a defined protocol of microsurgical endarterectomy utilizing barbiturate protection during the period of potential focal temporary cerebral ischemia. This protocol includes preoperative antiplatelet therapy, barbiturate anesthesia, the avoidance of an internal shunt, the use of the operating microscope, and strict control of postoperative hypertension. A series of 200 consecutive endarterectomies performed within this protocol in 180 patients and the resultant combined permanent morbidity and mortality rate of 1.5% are reported.

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Paul Vespa, Mayumi Prins, Elizabeth Ronne-Engstrom, Michael Caron, Ehud Shalmon, David A. Hovda, Neil A. Martin and Donald P. Becker

Object. To determine the extent and duration of change in extracellular glutamate levels after human traumatic brain injury (TBI), 17 severely brain injured adults underwent implantation of a cerebral microdialysis probe and systematic sampling was conducted for 1 to 9 days postinjury.

Methods. A total of 772 hourly microdialysis samples were obtained in 17 patients (median Glasgow Coma Scale score 5 ± 2.5, mean age 39.4 ± 20.4 years). The mean (± standard deviation) glutamate levels in the dialysate were evaluated for 9 days, during which the mean peak concentration reached 25.4 ± 13.7 (µM on postinjury Day 3. In each patient transient elevations in glutamate were seen each day. However, these elevations were most commonly seen on Day 3. In all patients there was a mean of 4.5 ± 2.5 transient elevations in glutamate lasting a mean duration of 4.4 ± 4.9 hours. These increases were seen in conjunction with seizure activity. However, in many seizure-free patients the increase in extracellular glutamate occurred when cerebral perfusion pressure was less than 70 mm Hg (p < 0.001). Given the potential injury-induced uncoupling of cerebral blood flow and metabolism after TBI, these increases in extracellular glutamate may reflect a degree of enhanced cellular crisis, which in severe head injury in humans appears to last up to 9 days.

Conclusions. Extracellular neurochemical measurements of excitatory amino acids may provide a marker for secondary insults that can compound human TBI.

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Robert F. Spetzler, Neil A. Martin, L. Philip Carter, Richard A. Flom, Peter A. Raudzens and Elizabeth Wilkinson

✓ A series of 20 patients with giant arteriovenous malformations (AVM's) managed with staged embolization and surgical resection is presented. Complete excision was accomplished in 18 of these patients. There were no deaths and only three complications, of which one was disabling. Further evidence for the presence of low perfusion surrounding the AVM, emphasizing the risk of normal perfusion pressure breakthrough, is provided by cortical perfusion pressure, cortical cerebral blood flow (CBF), and stable xenon computerized tomography CBF measurements.

The staged approach to giant AVM management is a proposed method to render AVM's that were previously considered inoperable or marginally operable into totally excisable lesions, while maintaining an acceptable level of morbidity and mortality.

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Ranbir Ahluwalia, Patrick Bass, Laura Flynn, Elizabeth Martin, Heather Riordan, Alice Lawrence and Robert P. Naftel

Combined dorsal and ventral rhizotomy is an effective treatment for patients with concurrent spasticity and dystonia, with the preponderance of complaints relating to their lower extremities. This operative approach provides definitive relief of hypertonia and should be considered after less-invasive techniques have been exhausted. Previously, the surgery has been described through an L1–S1 laminoplasty. In this series, 7 patients underwent a conus-level laminectomy for performing a lumbar dorsal and ventral rhizotomy. Technical challenges included identifying the appropriate-level ventral roots and performing the procedure in children with significant scoliosis. Techniques are described to overcome these obstacles. The technique was found to be safe, with no infections, CSF leaks, or neurogenic bladders.

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R. Shane Tubbs, Elizabeth C. Tyler-Kabara, Alan C. Aikens, Justin P. Martin, Leslie L. Weed, E. George Salter and W. Jerry Oakes

Object. There is a paucity of literature regarding the surgical anatomy of the quadrangular space (QS), which is a potential site of entrapment for the axillary nerve. Muscle hypertrophy of this geometrical area and fascial bands within it have been implicated in compression of the axillary nerve.

Methods. Fifteen human cadavers (30 sides) were dissected for this study. Measurements of the QS and its contents were made. The mean height of this space was 2.5 cm and the mean width 2.5 cm; its mean depth was 1.5 cm. The axillary nerve was always the most superior structure in the space, and in all cases the nerve and artery hugged the surgical neck of the humerus just superior to the origin of the lateral head of the triceps brachii muscle. This arrangement placed the axillary nerve in the upper lateral portion of the QS in all cadaveric specimens. The nerve branched into its muscular components within this space in 10 sides (33%) and posterior to it in 20 sides (66%). The cutaneous component of the axillary nerve branched from the main trunk of the nerve posterior to the QS in all specimens. Fascial bands were found in this space in 27 (90%) of 30 sides.

Conclusions. Knowledge of the anatomy of the QS may aid the surgeon who wishes to explore and decompress the axillary nerve within this geometrical confine.

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R. Shane Tubbs, Elizabeth C. Tyler-Kabara, Alan C. Aikens, Justin P. Martin, Leslie L. Weed, E. George Salter and W. Jerry Oakes

Object. There is a paucity of literature regarding the surgical anatomy of the dorsal scapular nerve (DSN). The aim of this study was to elucidate the relationship of this nerve to surrounding anatomical structures.

Methods. Ten formalin-fixed human cadavers (20 sides) were dissected, and measurements made between the DSN and related structures. The nerve pierced the middle scalene muscle at a mean distance of 3 cm from its origin from the cervical spine and was more or less centrally located at this exit site. It lay a mean distance of 1.5 cm medial to the vertebral border of the scapula between the serratus posterior superior, posterior scalene, and levator scapulae muscles. It was found to have a mean distance of 2.5 cm medial to the spinal accessory nerve as it traveled on the anterior border of the trapezius muscle. The nerve intertwined the dorsal scapular artery in all specimens and was found along the anterior border of the rhomboid muscles. On 19 sides the DSN originated solely from the C-5 spinal nerve, and on one side it arose from the C-5 and C-6 spinal nerves.

Conclusions. Knowledge of the anatomy of the DSN will aid the surgeon who wishes to explore and decompress this structure.

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Albert Moghrabi, Henry S. Friedman, David M. Ashley, Krystal S. Bottom, Tracy Kerby, Elizabeth Stewart, Carol Bruggers, James M. Provenzale, Martin Champagne, Linda Hershon, Melody Watral, Janis Ryan, Karima Rasheed, Shelley Lovell, David Korones, Herbert Fuchs, Timothy George, Roger E. McLendon, Allan H. Friedman, Edward Buckley and Darryl C. Longee

In this study, the authors sought to investigate the response rate and toxicity of carboplatin in patients with progressive low-grade glioma (LGG). Thirty-two patients with progressive LGG were treated with carboplatin at a dosage of 560 mg/m2. Treatment was given at 4-week intervals and continued until the disease progressed, unacceptable toxicity supervened, or for 12 additional courses after achieving maximal response. Patients with stable disease were treated with a total of 12 cycles. All patients were treated as outpatients. Patients were evaluated for response to treatment and toxicity.

All patients received a minimum of two cycles of carboplatin, and were examined for response. A partial response was achieved in nine patients (28%) and a minimal response in two (6%), for an overall response rate of 34% (11 of 32 patients). Eighteen patients (56%) had stable disease. A partial response was achieved in the nine patients after a median of six cycles (range 4-11 cycles), a minimal response was achieved in the two patients after five cycles. Glioma progression was noted in three patients after three, five, and five cycles, respectively. The 11 patients in whom some response was achieved had either an optic pathway tumor or a juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma. Twenty-six of the 32 patients had those characteristics, making the response rate in that group 42% (11 of 26 patients). Thirty-two patients received a total of 387 cycles of chemotherapy. Hematological toxicity was moderate. Twenty-one patients developed thrombocytopenia (platelet count < 50,000/μl); three patients required one platelet transfusion each. Nine patients developed neutropenia (absolute neutrophil count < 500/μl); one developed fever and required administration of antibiotic agents. One dose adjustment in each of the patients prevented further thrombocytopenia and neutropenia. Two patients with stable disease died of respiratory complications. One patient developed Grade III ototoxicity after receiving five cycles, one patient developed hypersensitivity to carboplatin, and none developed nephrotoxicity.

Carboplatin given at a dosage of 560 mg/m2 every 4 weeks has activity in patients with progressive LGG. This drug regimen is relatively simple and well tolerated. Further investigation and longer follow-up study are warranted.