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Elvis J. Hermann, Hans-Holger Capelle, Christoph A. Tschan, and Joachim K. Krauss

Object

Ventricular catheter shunt malfunction is the most common reason for shunt revision. Optimal ventricular catheter placement can be exceedingly difficult in patients with small ventricles or abnormal ventricular anatomy. Particularly in children and in premature infants with small head size, satisfactory positioning of the ventricular catheter can be a challenge. Navigation with electromagnetic tracking technology is an attractive and innovative therapeutic option. In this study, the authors demonstrate the advantages of using this technology for shunt placement in children.

Methods

Twenty-six children ranging in age from 4 days to 14 years (mean 3.8 years) with hydrocephalus and difficult ventricular anatomy or slit ventricles underwent electromagnetic-guided neuronavigated intraventricular catheter placement in a total of 29 procedures.

Results

The single-coil technology allows one to use flexible instruments, in this case the ventricular catheter stylet, to be tracked at the tip. Head movement during the operative procedure is possible without loss of navigation precision. The intraoperative catheter placement documented by screenshots correlated exactly with the position on the postoperative CT scan. There was no need for repeated ventricular punctures. There were no operative complications. Postoperatively, all children had accurate shunt placement. The overall shunt failure rate in our group was 15%, including 3 shunt infections (after 1 month, 5 months, and 10 months) requiring operative revision and 1 distal shunt failure. There were no proximal shunt malfunctions during follow-up (mean 23.5 months).

Conclusions

The electromagnetic-guided neuronavigation system enables safe and optimal catheter placement, especially in children and premature infants, alleviating the need for repeated cannulation attempts for ventricular puncture. In contrast to stereotactic techniques and conventional neuronavigation, there is no need for sharp head fixation using a Mayfield clamp. This technique may present the possibility of reducing proximal shunt failure rates and costs for hydrocephalus treatment in this age cohort.

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Matthias Setzer, Frank D. Vrionis, Elvis J. Hermann, Volker Seifert, and Gerhard Marquardt

Object

The authors examined a possible association between apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene polymorphism and the outcome after anterior microsurgical decompression in patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM).

Methods

The authors conducted a prospective study of 60 consecutive patients (40 men, 20 women) with CSM who underwent anterior microsurgical decompression. The patients ranged in age from 26 to 86 years (mean 61.5 ± 14.6 years). Neurological deficits were classified according to the modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association Scale. Mean follow-up was 18.8 ± 4.6 months and APOE genotyping was carried out by isolation of DNA from venous blood samples. The APOE genotypes were determined by polymerase chain reaction followed by restriction enzyme digestion and polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of digested fragments. Categorical variables were analyzed with the chi-square test, continuous data with the Mann-Whitney U-test, and for multiple groups with the Kruskal-Wallis H-test. A backward stepwise binary logistic regression analysis was performed to determine the effect of APOE in a multivariate model.

Results

Of the 60 patients with CSM, 35 (58.3%) improved and 25 (41.7%) did not improve or suffered deterioration (no-improvement group). In the improvement group 5 patients (8.3%) possessed the ε4 allele compared with 16 patients (26.7%) in the no-improvement group (p = 0.002, OR 3.3, 95% CI 1.7–6.1). In a multivariate model, the occurrence of the ε4 allele was a significant independent predictor for no improvement after anterior decompression and fusion (p = 0.004, OR 8.6, 95% CI 5.1–20.6).

Conclusions

The results of this study show that APOE gene polymorphism influences the short-term outcome of CSM patients after surgical decompressive and stabilizing therapy in the way that the presence of the APOE ε4 allele is an independent predictor for a no improvement. The presence of APOE may explain in part the different responses to operative therapies in patients with cervical myelopathy.

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Christoph A. Tschan, Elvis J. Hermann, Wolfgang Wagner, Joachim K. Krauss, and Joachim M. K. Oertel

Object

Waterjet dissection has been shown to separate tissues of different resistance, with preservation of blood vessels. In cranioplasty, separation of subcutaneous tissue and dura mater is often difficult to achieve because the various tissue layers strongly adhere to each other after decompressive craniotomy. In the present study, the potential advantages and drawbacks of the waterjet technique in cranioplasty after craniectomy and duraplasty are addressed.

Methods

The waterjet effect on fresh human cadaveric dura mater specimens as well as on several dural repair patches was tested in vitro under standardized conditions, with waterjet pressures up to 80 bar. Subsequently, 8 pediatric patients (5 boys, 3 girls; mean age 9.9 years, range 1.2–16.7 years) who had been subjected to decompressive craniectomy (7 with duraplasty including bovine pericardium as a dural substitute, 1 without duraplasty in congenital craniosynostosis) underwent waterjet cranioplasty. The waterjet was used to separate the galea and the dura mater. The technique was applied tangentially between the dura and the galea, with different pressure levels up to 50 bar.

Results

In vitro, fresh cadaveric human dura mater as well as 2 different dural repair substitutes showed a very high resistance to waterjet dissection up to 80 bar. The human dura and the various substitutes were dissected only after long-lasting exposure to the waterjet. Human dura was perforated at pressures of 60 bar and higher. Bovine pericardium dural substitute was perforated at pressures of 55 bar and higher. Artificial nonabsorbable polyesterurethane dural substitute was dissected at pressures of 60 bar and higher. In the clinical setting, the waterjet was able to separate galea and dura with minimal bleeding. No blood transfusion was required. Dissection of scarred tissue was possible by a waterjet of 40 bar pressure. Tissue layers were stretched and separated by the waterjet dissection, and a very reliable hemostasis resulted. This resulted in an effective reduction of bleeding, with < 60 ml blood loss in 7 of the 8 cases. Neither a dural tear nor a perforation of any duraplasty occurred during operative preparation. There were no operative or postoperative complications.

Conclusions

The experimental and clinical data show that waterjet separation of dura mater, dural substitute, and galea can be performed with a high level of safety to avoid dural tears. The waterjet dissection stretches tissue layers, which results in a reliable hemostasis effect. This potentially results in an effective reduction of surgical blood loss, which should be the focus of further studies.

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Shadi Al-Afif, Hesham Elkayekh, Mazin Omer, Hans E. Heissler, Dirk Scheinichen, Thomas Palmaers, Makoto Nakamura, Elvis J. Hermann, Madjid Samii, and Joachim K. Krauss

OBJECTIVE

Routine use of the semisitting position, which offers several advantages, remains a matter of debate. Venous air embolism (VAE) is a potentially serious complication associated with the semisitting position. In this study, the authors aimed to investigate the safety of the semisitting position by analyzing data over a 20-year period.

METHODS

The incidence of VAE and its perioperative management were analyzed retrospectively in a consecutive series of 740 patients who underwent surgery between 1996 and 2016. The occurrence of VAE was defined by detection of bubbles on transthoracic Doppler echocardiography (TTDE) or transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) studies, a decrease of end-tidal CO2 (ETCO2) by 4 mm Hg or more, and/or an unexplained drop in systolic arterial blood pressure (≥ 10 mm Hg). From 1996 until 2013 TTDE was used, and from 2013 on TEE was used. The possible risk factors for VAE and its impact on surgical performance were analyzed.

RESULTS

There were 404 women and 336 men with a mean age at surgery of 49 years (range 1–87 years). Surgery was performed for infratentorial lesions in 709 patients (95.8%), supratentorial lesions in 17 (2.3%), and cervical lesions in 14 (1.9%). The most frequent pathology was vestibular schwannoma. TEE had a higher sensitivity than TTDE. While TEE detected VAE in 40.5% of patients, TTDE had a detection rate of 11.8%. Overall, VAE was detected in 119 patients (16.1%) intraoperatively. In all of these patients, VAE was apparent on TTDE or TEE. Of those, 23 patients also had a decrease of ETCO2, 18 had a drop in blood pressure, and 23 had combined decreases in ETCO2 and blood pressure. VAE was detected in 24% of patients during craniotomy before opening the dura mater, in 67% during tumor resection, and in 9% during wound closure. No risk factors were identified for the occurrence of VAE. Two patients had serious complications due to VAE. Surgical performance in vestibular schwannoma surgery was not affected by the presence of VAE.

CONCLUSIONS

This study shows that the semisitting position is overall safe and that VAE can be managed effectively. Persistent morbidity is very rare. The authors suggest that the semisitting position should continue to have a place in the standard armamentarium of neurological surgery.