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Fatih Yakar, Sahin Hanalioglu, Balkan Sahin, Emrah Egemen, Umit A. Dere, İlker Kiraz, M. Erdal Coskun and Gokmen Kahilogullari

OBJECTIVE

Neurosurgery training programs aim to train specialists. In addition, they are expected to equip the residents with necessary knowledge and skills for academic development. This study aims to gain insights into academic productivity after neurosurgeons graduated from residency training in Turkey.

METHODS

An electronic survey was sent to all Turkish Neurosurgical Society members (n = 1662 neurosurgeons) between September and November 2019. The number of participants was 289 (17.4%). Participants were divided into subgroups based on three main factors: training institution type (university hospital [UH] vs training and research hospital [TRH]), training institution annual case volume (low [< 1000 or inadequate cranial/spinal case numbers] vs high [> 1000 and adequate cranial/spinal case numbers]), and training program accreditation status (accredited vs nonaccredited).

RESULTS

The majority of the participants (64.7%) graduated from the UHs. Those trained at UHs (vs TRHs) and high- (vs low-) volume centers had their dissertations more frequently published in Science Citation Index/Science Citation Index–Expanded journals, gave more oral presentations after residency, had higher h-indices, had higher rates of reviewership for academic journals, and had greater participation in projects with grant support. In addition, graduates of accredited programs reported more PhD degrees than those of nonaccredited programs.

CONCLUSIONS

Neurosurgeons trained in higher-case-volume, accredited programs, mostly in the UHs, performed better in terms of scientific activities and productivity in Turkey. Strong research emphasis and supportive measures should be instituted to increase academic performance during and after residency training.

Free access

Kunal Varshneya, Adrian J. Rodrigues, Zachary A. Medress, Martin N. Stienen, Gerald A. Grant, John K. Ratliff and Anand Veeravagu

OBJECTIVE

Skull fractures are common after blunt pediatric head trauma. CSF leaks are a rare but serious complication of skull fractures; however, little evidence exists on the risk of developing a CSF leak following skull fracture in the pediatric population. In this epidemiological study, the authors investigated the risk factors of CSF leaks and their impact on pediatric skull fracture outcomes.

METHODS

The authors queried the MarketScan database (2007–2015), identifying pediatric patients (age < 18 years) with a diagnosis of skull fracture and CSF leak. Skull fractures were disaggregated by location (base, vault, facial) and severity (open, closed, multiple, concomitant cerebral or vascular injury). Descriptive statistics and hypothesis testing were used to compare baseline characteristics, complications, quality metrics, and costs.

RESULTS

The authors identified 13,861 pediatric patients admitted with a skull fracture, of whom 1.46% (n = 202) developed a CSF leak. Among patients with a skull fracture and a CSF leak, 118 (58.4%) presented with otorrhea and 84 (41.6%) presented with rhinorrhea. Patients who developed CSF leaks were older (10.4 years vs 8.7 years, p < 0.0001) and more commonly had skull base (n = 183) and multiple (n = 22) skull fractures (p < 0.05). These patients also more frequently underwent a neurosurgical intervention (24.8% vs 9.6%, p < 0.0001). Compared with the non–CSF leak population, patients with a CSF leak had longer average hospitalizations (9.6 days vs 3.7 days, p < 0.0001) and higher rates of neurological deficits (5.0% vs 0.7%, p < 0.0001; OR 7.0; 95% CI 3.6–13.6), meningitis (5.5% vs 0.3%, p < 0.0001; OR 22.4; 95% CI 11.2–44.9), nonroutine discharge (6.9% vs 2.5%, p < 0.0001; OR 2.9; 95% CI 1.7–5.0), and readmission (24.7% vs 8.5%, p < 0.0001; OR 3.4; 95% CI 2.5–4.7). Total costs at 90 days for patients with a CSF leak averaged $81,206, compared with $32,831 for patients without a CSF leak (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

The authors found that CSF leaks occurred in 1.46% of pediatric patients with skull fractures and that skull fractures were associated with significantly increased rates of neurosurgical intervention and risks of meningitis, hospital readmission, and neurological deficits at 90 days. Pediatric patients with skull fractures also experienced longer average hospitalizations and greater healthcare costs at presentation and at 90 days.

Free access

Robert E. Harbaugh, Anthony L. Asher, Kevin M. Cockroft, John Knightly and Ganesalingam Narenthiran

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Anita M. Klukowska, Marc L. Schröder, Martin N. Stienen and Victor E. Staartjes

OBJECTIVE

The five-repetition sit-to-stand (5R-STS) test provides a new dimension of clinical assessment by capturing objective functional impairment (OFI). Through the utilization of data from two prospective studies, the authors sought to evaluate the concurrent validity of the proposed 5R-STS baseline severity stratification (BSS) for OFI with the following levels based on time to completion in seconds: none, ≤ 10.4; mild, 10.5–15.2; moderate, 15.3–22.0; and severe, > 22.0 seconds.

METHODS

Patients with degenerative diseases of the spine performed the 5R-STS test and completed visual analog scales (VASs) for back and leg pain, the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ), and EQ-5D questionnaires. The degree of OFI severity was assessed based on the previously proposed BSS, and its association with patient-reported scales was evaluated using ANOVA as well as crude and adjusted linear regression models.

RESULTS

Our sample included 240 patients, of whom 101 exhibited no OFI, whereas 80, 34, and 25 were judged to have mild, moderate, and severe OFI, respectively. A higher baseline severity was strongly associated with loss of working ability (p < 0.001), as well as results of all patient-reported scales (p ≤ 0.001), with the exception of the VAS for leg pain (p = 0.556). Crude and adjusted regression analyses corroborated these findings, although only patients with moderate and severe OFI as judged by using the 5R-STS BSS demonstrated clinically relevant differences compared with patients without OFI.

CONCLUSIONS

The degree of OFI—based on the 5R-STS BSS—is strongly associated with measures of back pain, subjective functional impairment, and health-related quality of life. However, leg pain severity is not reflected within the dimension of OFI measured by the 5R-STS. The proposed BSS appears to be a concurrently valid and clinically relevant measure of OFI in patients with degenerative spinal pathologies.

Free access

Martin N. Stienen, Nicolai Maldaner, Holger Joswig, Marco V. Corniola, David Bellut, Peter Prömmel, Luca Regli, Astrid Weyerbrock, Karl Schaller and Oliver P. Gautschi

OBJECTIVE

Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) are standard of care for the assessment of functional impairment. Subjective outcome measures are increasingly complemented by objective ones, such as the “Timed Up and Go” (TUG) test. Currently, only a few studies report pre- and postoperative TUG test assessments in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS).

METHODS

A prospective two-center database was reviewed to identify patients with LSS who underwent lumbar decompression with or without fusion. The subjective functional status was estimated using PROMs for pain (visual analog scale [VAS]), disability (Roland-Morris Disability Index [RMDI] and Oswestry Disability Index [ODI]), and health-related quality of life (HRQoL; 12-Item Short-Form Physical Component Summary [SF-12 PCS] and the EQ-5D) preoperatively, as well as on postoperative day 3 (D3) and week 6 (W6). Objective functional impairment (OFI) was measured using age- and sex-standardized TUG test results.

RESULTS

Sixty-four patients (n = 32 [50%] male, mean age 66.8 ± 11.7 years) were included. Preoperatively, they reported a mean VAS back pain score of 4.1 ± 2.7, VAS leg pain score of 5.4 ± 2.7, RMDI of 10.4 ± 5.3, ODI of 41.9 ± 16.2, SF-12 PCS score of 32.7 ± 8.3, and an EQ-5D index of 0.517 ± 0.226. The preoperative rates of severe, moderate, and mild OFI were 4.7% (n = 3), 12.5% (n = 8), and 7.8% (n = 5), respectively, and the mean OFI T-score was 116.3 ± 23.7. At W6, 60 (93.8%) of 64 patients had a TUG test result within the normal population range (no OFI); 3 patients (4.7%) had mild and 1 patient (1.6%) severe OFI. The mean W6 OFI T-score was significantly decreased (103.1 ± 13.6; p < 0.001). Correspondingly, the PROMs showed a decrease in subjective VAS back pain (1.6 ± 1.7, p < 0.001) and leg pain (1.0 ± 1.8, p < 0.001) scores, disability (RMDI 5.3 ± 4.7, p < 0.001; ODI 21.3 ± 16.1, p < 0.001), and increase in HRQoL (SF-12 PCS 40.1 ± 8.3, p < 0.001; EQ-5D 0.737 ± 0.192, p < 0.001) at W6. The W6 responder status (clinically meaningful improvement) ranged between 81.3% (VAS leg pain) and 29.7% (EQ-5D index) of patients.

CONCLUSIONS

The TUG test is a quick and easily applicable tool that reliably measures OFI in patients with LSS. Objective tests incorporating longer walking time should be considered if OFI is suspected but fails to be proven by the TUG test, taking into account that neurogenic claudication may not clinically manifest during the brief TUG examination. Objective tests do not replace the subjective PROM-based assessment, but add valuable information to a comprehensive patient evaluation.

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Michael D. Staudt, Holger Joswig, Gwynedd E. Pickett, Keith W. MacDougall and Andrew G. Parrent

OBJECTIVE

The prevalence of trigeminal neuralgia (TN) in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS-TN) is higher than in the general population (idiopathic TN [ITN]). Glycerol rhizotomy (GR) is a percutaneous lesioning surgery commonly performed for the treatment of medically refractory TN. While treatment for acute pain relief is excellent, long-term pain relief is poorer. The object of this study was to assess the efficacy of percutaneous retrogasserian GR for the treatment of MS-TN versus ITN.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review was performed, identifying 219 patients who had undergone 401 GR procedures from 1983 to 2018 at a single academic institution. All patients were diagnosed with medically refractory MS-TN (182 procedures) or ITN (219 procedures). The primary outcome measures of interest were immediate pain relief and time to pain recurrence following initial and repeat GR procedures. Secondary outcomes included medication usage and presence of periprocedural hypesthesia.

RESULTS

The initial pain-free response rate was similar between groups (p = 0.726): MS-TN initial GR 89.6%; MS-TN repeat GR 91.9%; ITN initial GR 89.6%; ITN repeat GR 87.0%. The median time to recurrence after initial GR was similar between MS-TN (2.7 ± 1.3 years) and ITN (2.1 ± 0.6 years) patients (p = 0.87). However, there was a statistically significant difference in the time to recurrence after repeat GR between MS-TN (2.3 ± 0.5 years) and ITN patients (1.2 ± 0.2 years; p < 0.05). The presence of periprocedural hypesthesia was highly predictive of pain-free survival (p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with MS-TN achieve meaningful pain relief following GR, with an efficacy comparable to that following GR in patients with ITN. Initial and subsequent GR procedures are equally efficacious.

Free access

Julia Velz, Flavio Vasella, Kevin Akeret, Sandra F. Dias, Elisabeth Jehli, Oliver Bozinov, Luca Regli, Menno R. Germans and Martin N. Stienen

OBJECTIVE

Skin depressions may appear as undesired effects after burr-hole trepanation for the evacuation of chronic subdural hematomas (cSDH). Placement of burr-hole covers to reconstruct skull defects can prevent skin depressions, with the potential to improve the aesthetic result and patient satisfaction. The perception of the relevance of this practice, however, appears to vary substantially among neurosurgeons. The authors aimed to identify current practice variations with regard to the application of burr-hole covers after trepanation for cSDH.

METHODS

An electronic survey containing 12 questions was sent to resident and faculty neurosurgeons practicing in different parts of the world, as identified by an Internet search. All responses completed between September 2018 and December 2018 were considered. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression were used to analyze the data.

RESULTS

A total of 604 responses were obtained, of which 576 (95.4%) provided complete data. The respondents’ mean age was 42.4 years (SD 10.5), and 86.5% were male. The sample consisted of residents, fellows, junior/senior consultants, and department chairs from 79 countries (77.4% Europe, 11.8% Asia, 5.4% America, 3.5% Africa, and 1.9% Australasia). Skin depressions were considered a relevant issue by 31.6%, and 76.0% indicated that patients complain about skin depressions more or less frequently. Burr-hole covers are placed by 28.1% in the context of cSDH evacuation more or less frequently. The most frequent reasons for not placing a burr-hole cover were the lack of proven benefit (34.8%), followed by additional costs (21.9%), technical difficulty (19.9%), and fear of increased complications (4.9%). Most respondents (77.5%) stated that they would consider placing burr-hole covers in the future if there was evidence for superiority of the practice. The use of burr-hole covers varied substantially across countries, but a country’s gross domestic product per capita was not associated with their placement.

CONCLUSIONS

Only a minority of neurosurgeons place burr-hole covers after trepanation for cSDH on a regular basis, even though the majority of participants reported complaints from patients regarding postoperative skin depressions. There are significant differences in the patterns of care among countries. Class I evidence with regard to patient satisfaction and safety of burr-hole cover placement is likely to have an impact on future cSDH management.

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Martin N. Stienen, Oliver P. Gautschi, Victor E. Staartjes, Nicolai Maldaner, Marketa Sosnova, Allen L. Ho, Anand Veeravagu, Atman Desai, Corinna C. Zygourakis, Jon Park, Luca Regli and John K. Ratliff

OBJECTIVE

Objective functional measures such as the 6-minute walking test (6WT) are increasingly applied to evaluate patients with degenerative diseases of the lumbar spine before and after (surgical) treatment. However, the traditional 6WT is cumbersome to apply, as it requires specialized in-hospital infrastructure and personnel. The authors set out to compare 6-minute walking distance (6WD) measurements obtained with a newly developed smartphone application (app) and those obtained with the gold-standard distance wheel (DW).

METHODS

The authors developed a free iOS- and Android-based smartphone app that allows patients to measure the 6WD in their home environment using global positioning system (GPS) coordinates. In a laboratory setting, the authors obtained 6WD measurements over a range of smartphone models, testing environments, and walking patterns and speeds. The main outcome was the relative measurement error (rME; in percent of 6WD), with |rME| < 7.5% defined as reliable. The intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) for agreement between app- and DW-based 6WD was calculated.

RESULTS

Measurements (n = 406) were reliable with all smartphone types in neighborhood, nature, and city environments (without high buildings), as well as with unspecified, straight, continuous, and stop-and-go walking patterns (ICC = 0.97, 95% CI 0.97–0.98, p < 0.001). Measurements were unreliable indoors, in city areas with high buildings, and for predominantly rectangular walking courses. Walking speed had an influence on the ME, with worse accuracy (2% higher rME) for every kilometer per hour slower walking pace (95% CI 1.4%–2.5%, p < 0.001). Mathematical adjustment of the app-based 6WD for velocity-dependent error mitigated the rME (p < 0.011), attenuated velocity dependence (p = 0.362), and had a positive effect on accuracy (ICC = 0.98, 95% CI 0.98–0.99, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

The new, free, spine-specific 6WT smartphone app measures the 6WD conveniently by using GPS coordinates, empowering patients to independently determine their functional status before and after (surgical) treatment. Measurements of 6WD obtained for the target population under the recommended circumstances are highly reliable.

Free access

Güliz Acker, Anne Kluge, Mathias Lukas, Alfredo Conti, Diana Pasemann, Franziska Meinert, Phuong Thuy Anh Nguyen, Claudius Jelgersma, Franziska Loebel, Volker Budach, Peter Vajkoczy, Christian Furth, Alexander D. J. Baur and Carolin Senger

OBJECTIVE

For stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) planning, precise contouring of tumor boundaries and organs at risk is of utmost importance. Correct interpretation of standard neuroimaging (i.e., CT and MRI) can be challenging after previous surgeries or in cases of skull base lesions with complex shapes. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of 68Ga-DOTATOC PET/MRI on treatment planning for image-guided SRS by CyberKnife.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively identified 11 meningioma treatments in 10 patients who received a 68Ga-DOTATOC PET/MRI prior to SRS. The planning target volume (PTV) used for the patients’ treatment was defined as the reference standard. This was contoured by a treating radiosurgeon (RS0) using fused planning CT and PET/MRI data sets. The same tumors were then contoured by another experienced radiosurgeon (RS1) and by a less-experienced radiosurgeon (RS2), both blinded to PET data sets. A comparison of target volumes with focus on volume-based metrics and distance to critical structures was performed. RS1 and RS2 also filled in a questionnaire analyzing the confidence level and the subjective need for the implementation of PET data sets for contouring.

RESULTS

Analysis showed a subjective personal preference for PET/MRI in all cases for both radiosurgeons, particularly in proximity to critical structures. The analysis of the planning volumes per physician showed significantly smaller RS2-PTV in comparison to RS1-PTV and to RS0-PTV, whereas the median volumes were comparable between RS1-PTV and RS2-PTV (median: RS0: 4.3 cm3 [IQR 3.4–6.5 cm3] and RS1: 4.5 cm3 [IQR 2.7–6 cm3] vs RS2: 2.6 cm3 [IQR 2–5 cm3]; p = 0.003). This was also reflected in the best spatial congruency between the 2 experienced physicians (RS0 and RS1). The percentage of the left-out volume contoured by RS1 and RS2 compared to RS0 with PET/MRI demonstrated a relevant left-out-volume portion in both cases with greater extent for the less-experienced radiosurgeon (RS2) (RS1: 19.1% [IQR 8.5%–22%] vs RS2: 40.2% [IQR 34.2%–53%]). No significant differences were detected regarding investigated critical structures.

CONCLUSIONS

This study demonstrated a relevant impact of PET/MRI on target volume delineation of meningiomas. The extent was highly dependent on the experience of the treating physician. This preliminary study supports the relevance of 68Ga-DOTATOC PET/MRI as a tool for radiosurgical treatment planning of meningiomas.

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Victor E. Staartjes, Morgan Broggi, Costanza Maria Zattra, Flavio Vasella, Julia Velz, Silvia Schiavolin, Carlo Serra, Jiri Bartek Jr., Alexander Fletcher-Sandersjöö, Petter Förander, Darius Kalasauskas, Mirjam Renovanz, Florian Ringel, Konstantin R. Brawanski, Johannes Kerschbaumer, Christian F. Freyschlag, Asgeir S. Jakola, Kristin Sjåvik, Ole Solheim, Bawarjan Schatlo, Alexandra Sachkova, Hans Christoph Bock, Abdelhalim Hussein, Veit Rohde, Marike L. D. Broekman, Claudine O. Nogarede, Cynthia M. C. Lemmens, Julius M. Kernbach, Georg Neuloh, Oliver Bozinov, Niklaus Krayenbühl, Johannes Sarnthein, Paolo Ferroli, Luca Regli, Martin N. Stienen and FEBNS

OBJECTIVE

Decision-making for intracranial tumor surgery requires balancing the oncological benefit against the risk for resection-related impairment. Risk estimates are commonly based on subjective experience and generalized numbers from the literature, but even experienced surgeons overestimate functional outcome after surgery. Today, there is no reliable and objective way to preoperatively predict an individual patient’s risk of experiencing any functional impairment.

METHODS

The authors developed a prediction model for functional impairment at 3 to 6 months after microsurgical resection, defined as a decrease in Karnofsky Performance Status of ≥ 10 points. Two prospective registries in Switzerland and Italy were used for development. External validation was performed in 7 cohorts from Sweden, Norway, Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands. Age, sex, prior surgery, tumor histology and maximum diameter, expected major brain vessel or cranial nerve manipulation, resection in eloquent areas and the posterior fossa, and surgical approach were recorded. Discrimination and calibration metrics were evaluated.

RESULTS

In the development (2437 patients, 48.2% male; mean age ± SD: 55 ± 15 years) and external validation (2427 patients, 42.4% male; mean age ± SD: 58 ± 13 years) cohorts, functional impairment rates were 21.5% and 28.5%, respectively. In the development cohort, area under the curve (AUC) values of 0.72 (95% CI 0.69–0.74) were observed. In the pooled external validation cohort, the AUC was 0.72 (95% CI 0.69–0.74), confirming generalizability. Calibration plots indicated fair calibration in both cohorts. The tool has been incorporated into a web-based application available at https://neurosurgery.shinyapps.io/impairment/.

CONCLUSIONS

Functional impairment after intracranial tumor surgery remains extraordinarily difficult to predict, although machine learning can help quantify risk. This externally validated prediction tool can serve as the basis for case-by-case discussions and risk-to-benefit estimation of surgical treatment in the individual patient.