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Michael S. Rallo, Omar Ashraf, Fareed Jumah, Gaurav Gupta, and Anil Nanda


Engagement in research and scholarship is considered a hallmark of neurosurgical training. However, the participation of neurosurgical trainees in this experience has only recently been analyzed and described in the United States, with little, if any, data available regarding the research environment in neurosurgical training programs across the globe. Here, the authors set out to identify requirements for research involvement and to quantify publication rates in leading neurosurgical journals throughout various nations across the globe.


The first aim was to identify the research requirements set by relevant program-accrediting and/or board-certifying agencies via query of the literature and published guidelines. For the second part of the study, the authors attempted to determine each country’s neurosurgical research productivity by quantifying publications in the various large international neurosurgical journals—World Neurosurgery, Journal of Neurosurgery, and Neurosurgery—via a structured search of PubMed.


Data on neurosurgical training requirements addressing research were available for 54 (28.1%) of 192 countries. Specific research requirements were identified for 39 countries, partial requirements for 8, and no requirements for 7. Surprisingly, the authors observed a trend of increased average research productivity with the absence of designated research requirements, although this finding is not unprecedented in the literature.


A variety of countries of various sizes and neurosurgical workforce densities across the globe have instituted research requirements during training and/or prior to board certification in neurosurgery. These requirements range in intensity from 1 publication or presentation to the completion of a thesis or dissertation and occur at various time points throughout training. While these requirements do not correlate directly to national research productivity, they may provide a foundation for developing countries to establish a culture of excellence in research.

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Bharath Raju, Fareed Jumah, Vinayak Narayan, Anika Sonig, Hai Sun, and Anil Nanda

The earliest evidence of man’s attempts in communicating ideas and emotions can be seen on cave walls and ceilings from the prehistoric era. Ingenuity, as well as the development of tools, allowed clay tablets to become the preferred method of documentation, then papyrus and eventually the codex. As civilizations advanced to develop structured systems of writing, knowledge became a power available to only those who were literate. As the search to understand the intricacies of the human brain moved forward, so did the demand for teaching the next generation of physicians. The different methods of distributing information were forced to advance, lest the civilization falls behind. Here, the authors present a historical perspective on the evolution of the mediums of illustration and knowledge dissemination through the lens of neurosurgery. They highlight how the medium of choice transitioned from primitive clay pots to cutting-edge virtual reality technology, aiding in the propagation of medical literature from generation to generation across the centuries.

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Travis Quinoa, Fareed Jumah, Vinayak Narayan, Zhenggang Xiong, Anil Nanda, and Simon Hanft

Central nervous system infections in immunosuppressed patients are rare but potentially lethal complications that require swift diagnoses and intervention. While the differential diagnosis for new lesions on neuroradiological imaging of immunosuppressed patients typically includes infections and neoplasms, image-based heuristics to differentiate the two has been shown to have variable reliability.

The authors describe 2 rare CNS infections in immunocompromised patients with atypical physical and radiological presentations. In the first case, a 59-year-old man, who had recently undergone a renal transplantation, was found to have multifocal Nocardia amikacinitolerans abscesses masquerading as neoplasms on diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI); in the second case, a 33-year-old man with suspected recurrent Hodgkin’s lymphoma was found to have a nonpyogenic abscess with cytomegalovirus (CMV) encephalitis.

As per review of the literature, this appears to be the first case of brain abscess caused by N. amikacinitolerans, a recently isolated superbug. Despite confirmation through brain biopsy later on in case 1, the initial radiological appearance was atypical, showing subtle diffusion restriction on DWI. Similarly, the authors present a case of CMV encephalitis that presented as a ring-enhancing lesion, which is extremely rare. Both cases draw attention to the reliability of neuroimaging in differentiating an abscess from a neoplasm.

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Bharath Raju, Fareed Jumah, Omar Ashraf, Vinayak Narayan, Gaurav Gupta, Hai Sun, Patrick Hilden, and Anil Nanda

Big data has transformed into a trend phrase in healthcare and neurosurgery, becoming a pervasive and inescapable phrase in everyday life. The upsurge in big data applications is a direct consequence of the drastic boom in information technology as well as the growing number of internet-connected devices called the Internet of Things in healthcare. Compared with business, marketing, and other sectors, healthcare applications are lagging due to a lack of technical knowledge among healthcare workers, technological limitations in acquiring and analyzing the data, and improper governance of healthcare big data. Despite these limitations, the medical literature is flooded with big data–related articles, and most of these are filled with abstruse terminologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, artificial neural network, and algorithm. Many of the recent articles are restricted to neurosurgical registries, creating a false impression that big data is synonymous with registries. Others advocate that the utilization of big data will be the panacea to all healthcare problems and research in the future. Without a proper understanding of these principles, it becomes easy to get lost without the ability to differentiate hype from reality. To that end, the authors give a brief narrative of big data analysis in neurosurgery and review its applications, limitations, and the challenges it presents for neurosurgeons and healthcare professionals naive to this field. Awareness of these basic concepts will allow neurosurgeons to understand the literature regarding big data, enabling them to make better decisions and deliver personalized care.