Ellen L. Air, Jill L. Ostrem, Terence D. Sanger, and Philip A. Starr
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an established technique for the treatment of several movement disorders in adults. However, the technical approach, complications, and results of DBS in children have not been well documented.
A database of DBS implantations performed at a single institution, prospectively established in 1998, was reviewed for patients who received DBS prior to the age of 18. Diagnoses, surgical technique, and complications were noted. Outcomes were assessed using standard rating scales of neurological function.
Of 815 patients undergoing DBS implantation over a 12-year period, 31 were children (mean age at surgery 13.2 years old, range 4–17 years old). Diagnoses included the following: DYT1 primary dystonia (autosomal dominant, Tor1AΔGAG mutation, 10 cases), non-DYT1 primary dystonia (3 cases), secondary dystonia (11 cases), neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation (NBIA, 3 cases), levodopa-responsive parkinsonism (2 cases), Lesch-Nyhan disease (1 case), and glutaric aciduria Type 1 (1 case). Six children ages 15–17 years old underwent awake microelectrode-guided surgery. For 25 children operated under general anesthesia, the surgical technique evolved from microelectrode-guided surgery to image-guided surgeries using real-time intraoperative MR imaging or CT for lead location confirmation. Complications included 5 hardware infections, all in children younger than 10 years old. At 1 year after implantation, patients with DYT1 dystonia had a mean improvement in the Burke-Fahn-Marsden Dystonia Rating Scale movement subscore of 75%, while those with secondary dystonia had only small improvements. Outcomes in the 3 children with NBIA were disappointing.
Results of DBS in children with primary and secondary dystonias were similar to those in adults, with excellent results for DYT1 dystonia in children without fixed orthopedic deformity and much more modest results in secondary dystonia. In contrast to reported experience in adults with NBIA, these results in children with NBIA were poor. Infection risk was highest in the youngest patients.
Deborah L. Benzil, Karin M. Muraszko, Pranay Soni, Ellen L. Air, Katie O. Orrico, and James T. Rutka
The goal of this study was the creation and administration of a survey to assess the depth and breadth of sexual harassment across neurosurgery.
A survey was created to 1) assess perceived attitudes toward systemic issues that might be permissive of sexual harassment; 2) measure the reported prevalence and severity of sexual harassment; and 3) determine the populations at highest risk and those most likely to perpetrate sexual harassment. Demographic information was also included to facilitate further analysis. The SurveyMonkey platform was used, and a request to complete the survey was sent to all Society of Neurological Surgeons and Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) active and resident members as well as CNS transitional, emeritus, and inactive members. Data were analyzed using RStudio version 1.2.5019.
Nearly two-thirds of responders indicated having witnessed sexual harassment in some form (62%, n = 382). Males were overwhelmingly identified as the offenders in allegations of sexual harassment (72%), with individuals in a “superior position” identified as offenders in 86%. Less than one-third of responders addressed the incidents of sexual harassment when they happened (yes 31%, no 62%, unsure 7%). Of those who did report, most felt there was either no impact or a negative one (negative: 34%, no impact: 38%). Almost all (85%) cited barriers to taking action about sexual harassment, including retaliation/retribution (87%), impact on future career (85%), reputation concerns (72%), and associated stress (50%). Female neurosurgeons were statistically more likely than male neurosurgeons to report witnessing or experiencing sexual harassment, as well as assessing it as a problem.
This study demonstrates that neurosurgeons report significant sexual harassment across all ages and practice settings. Sexual harassment impacts both men and women, with more than half personally subjected to this behavior and two-thirds having witnessed it. Male dominance, a hierarchical environment, and a permissive environment remain prevalent within the neurosurgical community. This is not just a historical problem, but it continues today. A change of culture will be required for neurosurgery to shed this mantle, which must include zero tolerance of this behavior, new policies, awareness of unconscious bias, and commitment to best practices to enhance diversity. Above all, it will require that all neurosurgeons and neurosurgical leaders develop an awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace and establish consistent mechanisms to mitigate against its highly deleterious effects in the specialty.
Ellen L. Air, James L. Leach, Ronald E. Warnick, and Christopher M. McPherson
Frameless stereotactic biopsy has been shown in multiple studies to be a safe and effective tool for the diagnosis of brain lesions. However, no study has directly evaluated its safety in lesions located in eloquent regions in comparison with noneloquent locations. In this study, the authors determine whether an increased risk of neurological decline is associated with biopsy of lesions in eloquent regions of the brain.
Medical records, including imaging studies, were reviewed for 284 cases in which frameless stereotactic biopsy procedures were performed by 19 neurosurgeons at 7 institutions between January 2000 and December 2006. Lesion location was classified as eloquent or noneloquent in each patient. The incidence of neurological decline was calculated for each group.
During the study period, 160 of the 284 biopsies predominately involved eloquent regions of the brain. In evaluation of the complication rate with respect to biopsy site, neurological decline occurred in 9 (5.6%) of 160 biopsies in eloquent brain areas and 10 (8.1%) of 124 biopsies in noneloquent regions; this difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.416). A higher number of needle passes was associated with the presence of a postoperative hemorrhage at the biopsy site, although not with a change in the result of neurological examination.
Frameless stereotactic biopsy of lesions located in eloquent brain regions is as safe and effective as biopsy of lesions in noneloquent regions. Therefore, with careful planning, frameless stereotactic biopsy remains a valuable and safe tool for diagnosis of brain lesions, independent of lesion location.
Katelyn Donaldson, Katherine E. Callahan, Aaron Gelinne, Wyll Everett, S. Elizabeth Ames, Ellen L. Air, and Susan R. Durham
Neurosurgery continues to be one of the medical specialties with the lowest representation of females in both the resident and faculty workforce. Currently, there are limited available data on the gender distribution of faculty and residents in Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)–accredited neurosurgery training programs. This information is critical to accurately measure the results of any effort to improve both the recruitment and retention of women in neurosurgery. The objective of the current study was to define the current gender distribution of faculty and residents in ACGME-accredited neurosurgery training programs.
Data publicly available through institutional and supplemental websites for neurosurgical faculty and residents at ACGME-accredited programs were analyzed for the 2017–2018 academic year. Data collected for faculty included gender, age, year of residency graduation, academic rank, h-index, American Board of Neurological Surgery certification status, and leadership positions. Resident data included gender and postgraduate year of training.
Among the 109 ACGME-accredited neurosurgical residency programs included in this study, there were 1350 residents in training, of whom 18.2% were female and 81.8% were male. There are 1320 faculty, of whom 8.7% were female and 91.3% were male. Fifty-eight programs (53.2%) had both female faculty and residents, 35 programs (32.1%) had female residents and no female faculty, 4 programs (3.7%) had female faculty and no female residents, and 6 programs (5.5%) lacked both female residents and faculty. Six programs (5.5%) had incomplete data. Female faculty were younger, had lower h-indices, and were less likely to be board certified and attain positions of higher academic rank and leadership.
This study serves to provide a current snapshot of gender diversity in ACGME-accredited neurosurgery training programs. While there are still fewer female neurosurgeons achieving positions of higher academic rank and serving in leadership positions than male neurosurgeons, the authors’ findings suggest that this is likely due to the small number of women in the neurosurgical field who are the farthest away from residency graduation and serves to highlight the significant progress that has been made toward achieving greater gender diversity in the neurosurgical workforce.
Ellen L. Air, Yashar M. Ghomri, Rachana Tyagi, Andrew W. Grande, Kerry Crone, and Francesco T. Mangano
Vagal nerve stimulators (VNSs) have been used successfully to treat medically refractory epilepsy. Although their efficacy is well established, appropriate management of infections is less clearly defined. In the authors' experience, patients who have gained a benefit from VNS implantation have been reluctant to have the device removed. The authors therefore sought conservative management options to salvage infected VNS systems.
The authors performed a retrospective review of 191 (93 female and 98 male) consecutive patients in whom VNS systems were placed between 2000 and 2007.
They identified 10 infections (5.2%). In 9 of 10 patients the cultured organism was Staphylococcus aureus. Three (30%) of 10 patients underwent early removal (within 1 month) of the VNS as the initial treatment. The remaining 7 patients were initially treated with antibiotics. Two (28.6%) of these patients were successfully treated using antibiotics without VNS removal. Patients in whom conservative treatment failed were given cephalexin as first-line antibiotic treatment. All patients recovered completely regardless of treatment regimen.
This study confirms the low rate of infection associated with VNS placement and suggests that, in the case of infection, treatment without removal is a viable option. However, the authors' data suggest that oral antibiotics are not the best first-line therapy.
Mónica Patricia Herrera-Martinez, Ezequiel García-Ballestas, Ivan Lozada-Martinez, Daniela Torres-Llinás, and Luis Moscote-Salazar
Ellen L. Air, Katie O. Orrico, Deborah L. Benzil, Alan M. Scarrow, James R. Bean, Catherine A. Mazzola, Linda M. Liau, James T. Rutka, and Karin M. Muraszko
Annual conferences, educational courses, and other meetings draw a diverse community of individuals, yet also create a unique environment without the traditional guard rails. Unlike events held at one's home institution, clear rules and jurisdiction have not been universally established. To promote the open exchange of ideas, as well as an environment conducive to professional growth of all participants, the leading neurosurgical professional organizations joined to delineate the expectations for anyone who participates in sponsored events. The One Neurosurgery Summit Taskforce on Professionalism and Harassment developed a foundational policy that establishes common expectations for behavior and a unified roadmap for the prompt response to untoward events. We hope that publishing this policy will inspire other medical organizations to establish their own meeting and conference policies. More importantly, we wish to bring greater attention to everyone's responsibility for ensuring a safe and respectful space for education, scientific debate, and networking during organized events.
Kevin Reinard, David R. Nerenz, Azam Basheer, Rizwan Tahir, Timothy Jelsema, Lonni Schultz, Ghaus Malik, Ellen L. Air, and Jason M. Schwalb
A number of studies have documented inequalities in care and outcomes for a variety of clinical conditions. The authors sought to identify racial and socioeconomic disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of trigeminal neuralgia (TN), as well as the potential underlying reasons for those disparities, which could serve as areas of focus for future quality improvement initiatives.
The medical records of patients with an ICD-9 code of 350.1, signifying a diagnosis of TN, at the Henry Ford Medical Group (HFMG) in the period from 2006 to 2012 were searched, and clinical and socioeconomic data were retrospectively reviewed. Analyses were conducted to assess potential racial differences in subspecialty referral patterns and the specific type of treatment modality undertaken for patients with TN.
The authors identified 652 patients eligible for analysis. Compared with white patients, black patients were less likely to undergo percutaneous ablative procedures, stereotactic radiosurgery, or microvascular decompression (p < 0.001). However, there was no difference in the likelihood of blacks and whites undergoing a procedure once they had seen a neurosurgeon (67% vs 70%, respectively; p = 0.712). Blacks and whites were equally likely to be seen by a neurologist or neurosurgeon if they were initially seen in either the emergency room (38% vs 37%, p = 0.879) or internal medicine (48% vs 50%, p = 0.806). Among patients diagnosed (268 patients) after the 2008 publication of the European Federation of Neurological Societies and the American Academy of Neurology guidelines for medical therapy for TN, fewer than 50% were on medications sanctioned by the guidelines, and there were no statistically significant racial disparities between white and black patients (p = 0.060).
According to data from a large database from one of the nation's largest comprehensive health care systems, there were significant racial disparities in the likelihood of a patient undergoing a procedure for TN. This appeared to stem from outside HFMG from a difference in referral patterns to the neurologists and neurosurgeons.
Ellen L. Air, Weihong Yuan, Scott K. Holland, Blaise V. Jones, Karin Bierbrauer, Mekibib Altaye, and Francesco T. Mangano
The goal in this study was to compare the integrity of white matter before and after ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt insertion by evaluating the anisotropic diffusion properties with the aid of diffusion tensor (DT) imaging in young children with hydrocephalus.
The authors retrospectively identified 10 children with hydrocephalus who underwent both pre- and postoperative DT imaging studies. The DT imaging parameters (fractional anisotropy [FA], mean diffusivity, axial diffusivity, and radial diffusivity) were computed and compared longitudinally in the splenium and genu of the corpus callosum (gCC) and in the anterior and posterior limbs of the internal capsule (PLIC). The patients' values on DT imaging at the pre- and postshunt stages were compared with the corresponding age-matched controls as well as with a large cohort of healthy children in the database.
In the gCC, 7 of 10 children had abnormally low preoperative FA values, 6 of which normalized postoperatively. All 3 of the 10 children who had normal preoperative FA values had normal FA values postoperatively as well. In the PLIC, 7 of 10 children had abnormally high FA values, 6 of which normalized postoperatively, whereas the other one had abnormally low postoperative FA. Of the remaining 3 children, 2 had abnormally low preoperative FA values in the PLIC; this normalized in 1 patient after surgery. The other child had a normal preoperative FA value that became abnormally low postoperatively. When comparing the presurgery frequency of abnormally low, normal, and abnormally high FA values to those postsurgery, there was a statistically significant longitudinal difference in both gCC (p = 0.02) and PLIC (p = 0.002).
In this first longitudinal DT imaging study of young children with hydrocephalus, DT imaging anisotropy yielded abnormal results in several white matter regions of the brain, and trended toward normalization following VP shunt placement.
Ron Levy and Andres M. Lozano