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Renato Spaziante and Enrico de Divitiis

✓ Inversion and prolapse into the sella of the superior capsule and the diaphragma sellae is the only condition that warrants, at least macroscopically, radical removal of tumors with suprasellar extension operated on via the transsphenoidal route. If this does not occur spontaneously, air can be introduced into the subarachnoid space through a lumbar spinal catheter to produce forced dissection of the suprasellar cisterns and collapse of the tumor capsule (“pumping technique”). This method permits complete removal of the neoplastic tissue. In a series of 124 transsphenoidal operations for tumors with suprasellar extension, spontaneous descent of the capsule occurred in only 26 cases. Forced dissection using air distension of the cisterns was carried out in 88 cases, with complete success in 56 cases, partial success in 20, and no effect in 12. There were no complications or unwanted side effects in any patient.

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Paolo Cappabianca, Luigi Maria Cavallo, AnnaMaria Colao and Enrico de Divitiis

Object. To assess postoperative complications related to the surgical procedure, a retrospective analysis was conducted in a series of 146 consecutively treated patients who underwent an endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal approach to the sellar region for resection of pituitary adenomas between January 1997 and July 2001.

Methods. Complications were divided into groups (nasofacial, sphenoid sinus, sella turcica, supra or parasellar, and endocrine complications) according to the anatomical structures and the systems involved. Overall, a decreased incidence of complications has been observed, compared with large historical series of the traditional microsurgical transsphenoidal approach, likely because of the overview inside the anatomy facilitated by the endoscope, and the decreased surgical trauma.

Conclusions. Transsphenoidal surgery, either microscopic or endoscopic, is a safe procedure in experienced hands, but serious complications still occur and must be reduced as much as possible. Additional improvement can be expected with greater experience and new technical developments. A coordinated team effort with other dedicated colleagues from different specialties is advised.

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Franco Caputi, Renato Spaziante, Enrico de Divitiis and Blaine S. Nashold Jr.

✓ The fissure separating the motor from the sensory cortex and the substantia gelatinosa capping the posterior horn of the spinal cord are still known by the name of the Italian anatomist Rolando. Luigi Rolando was born in Turin, Italy, in 1773 and died in 1831. His life was not easy, the first of his problems being the death of his father when Rolando was still very young. Three people were to be influential in his life and career: Father Maffei, his maternal uncle who raised him; Dr. Cigna, the anatomy professor who discovered his talent; and Dr. Anformi, a general practitioner who introduced him to the practice of medicine and to the best circles of the city.

Forced to leave Turin by the Napoleonic invasion of the country, Rolando first stopped in Florence, where he learned about anatomical dissection, drawing, and engraving and studied the appearance of nervous tissue under the microscope. Later he went to Sardinia where, although cut off from European cultural circles, he developed his major theories. Rolando pioneered the idea that brain functions could be differentiated and located in specific areas and discovered the fixed pattern of cerebral convolutions, highlighting motor and sensory gyri. He demonstrated the complexity of the central gray matter of the spinal cord, describing the “substantia gelatinosa,” and he deduced that nervous structures are connected in a network of nervous fibers linked by electrical impulses.

Rolando had to struggle for recognition, however, as the priority of his discoveries was challenged by the almost contemporaneous work of Gall and Spurzheim on cerebral localization and of Flourens on cerebellar function. Nevertheless, his efforts contributed greatly to the clarification of brain function. His observations on nervous anatomy have been especially accurate, as shown by the nomenclature “fissure of Rolando” and “substantia gelatinosa of Rolando.”

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Enrico de Divitiis, Felice Esposito, Paolo Cappabianca, Luigi M. Cavallo, Oreste de Divitiis and Isabella Esposito


The extended transnasal approach, a recent surgical advancements for the ventral skull base, allows excellent midline access to and visibility of the anterior cranial fossa, which was previously thought to be approachable only via a transcranial route. The extended transnasal approach allows early decompression of the optic canals, obviates the need for brain retraction, and reduces neurovascular manipulation.


Between 2004 and 2007, 11 consecutive patients underwent transnasal resection of anterior cranial fossa meningiomas—4 olfactory groove (OGM) and 7 tuberculum sellae (TSM) meningiomas. Age at surgery, sex, symptoms, and imaging studies were reviewed. Tumor size and tumor extension were estimated, and the anteroposterior, vertical, and horizontal diameters were measred on MR images. Medical records, surgical complications, and outcomes of the patients were collected.


A gross-total removal of the lesion was achieved in 10 patients (91%), and in 1 patient with a TSM only a near-total (> 90%) resection was possible. Four patients with preoperative visual function defect had a complete recovery, whereas 3 patients experienced a transient worsening of vision, fully recovered within few days. In 3 patients (2 with TSMs and 1 with an OGM), a postoperative CSF leak occurred, requiring a endoscopic surgery for skull base defect repair. Another patient (a case involving a TSM) developed transient diabetes insipidus. The operative time ranged from 6 to 10 hours in the OGM group and from 4.5 to 9 hours in the TSM group. The mean duration of the hospital stay was 13.5 and 10 days in the OGM and TSM groups, respectively. Six patients (3 with OGMs and 3 with TSMs) required a blood transfusion. Surgery-related death occurred in 1 patient with TSM, in whom the tumor was successfully removed.


The technique offers a minimally invasive route to the midline anterior skull base, allowing the surgeon to avoid using brain retraction and reducing manipulation of the large vessels and optic apparatus; hastens postoperative recovery; and improves patient compliance. Further assessment and refinement are required, particularly because of the potential risk of CSF leakage. Other studies and longer follow-up periods are necessary to ascertain the benefits of the technique.

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Jean Paul Constans, Jean François Meder, Enrico De Divitiis, Renato Donzelli and Francesco Maiuri

✓ The authors describe two cases of giant intradiploic epidermoid cysts of the cranial vault in which there was massive intracranial extension causing signs of neurological involvement. The very slow growth and the benign histological nature of these tumors explain their long preoperative evolution and the mild neurological signs in some cases. Roentgenographic and computerized tomography findings permit a correct diagnosis. Complete removal of these cysts and their capsules can be easily accomplished, despite their large size. Total removal of these cysts is associated with a very good long-term prognosis.