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Fernando L. Vale, Edwin L. Bradley and Winfield S. Fisher III

✓ The incidence of chronic hydrocephalus requiring shunting after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is not precisely known. The authors investigated whether the need for ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunting can be predicted by initial Hunt and Hess grade or Fisher computerized tomography score. One hundred eight patients who presented with SAH and underwent 116 surgical procedures for aneurysm clipping were evaluated retrospectively to determine the incidence of chronic hydrocephalus. Chronic hydrocephalus was defined as clinically and radiographically demonstrated hydrocephalus that lasted 2 weeks or longer after the original hemorrhage and that required shunting. All SAH patients were managed in a similar fashion with induced hypervolemia, relative hemodilution, and hypertension complemented by a course of calcium channel blockers. The majority of patients underwent perioperative extracranial ventricular drainage to allow intraoperative brain relaxation and to assist intracranial pressure management. The overall mortality rate of the study group was 17%. Of the surviving patients, 20% underwent VP shunt placement secondary to chronic hydrocephalus. There were no statistically significant relationships between chronic hydrocephalus and patient age or gender, aneurysm type and size, or use of a perioperative drain. There was a high clinical correlation between chronic hydrocephalus and admission Hunt and Hess grades and Fisher grades (p < 0.05). All of the patients who survived a second bleeding episode and almost 46% of the patients who presented with intraventricular hemorrhage required placement of a VP shunt. The authors present predictive tables of chronic hydrocephalus based on the patient's admission Hunt and Hess grade and Fisher classification.

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Fernando L. Vale, Jennifer Burns, Amie B. Jackson and Mark N. Hadley

✓ The optimal management of acute spinal cord injuries remains to be defined. The authors prospectively applied resuscitation principles of volume expansion and blood pressure maintenance to 77 patients who presented with acute neurological deficits as a result of spinal cord injuries occurring from C-1 through T-12 in an effort to maintain spinal cord blood flow and prevent secondary injury. According to the Intensive Care Unit protocol, all patients were managed by using Swan—Ganz and arterial blood pressure catheters and were treated with immobilization and fracture reduction as indicated. Intravenous fluids, colloid, and vasopressors were administered as necessary to maintain mean arterial blood pressure above 85 mm Hg. Surgery was performed for decompression and stabilization, and fusion in selected cases. Sixty-four patients have been followed at least 12 months postinjury by means of detailed neurological assessments and functional ability evaluations.

Sixty percent of patients with complete cervical spinal cord injuries improved at least one Frankel or American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) grade at the last follow-up review. Thirty percent regained the ability to walk and 20% had return of bladder function 1 year postinjury.

Thirty-three percent of the patients with complete thoracic spinal cord injuries improved at least one Frankel or ASIA grade. Approximately 10% of the patients regained the ability to walk and had return of bladder function.

As of the 12-month follow-up review, 92% of patients demonstrated clinical improvement after sustaining incomplete cervical spinal cord injuries compared to their initial neurological status. Ninety-two percent regained the ability to walk and 88% regained bladder function.

Eighty-eight percent of patients with incomplete thoracic spinal cord injuries demonstrated significant improvements in neurological function 1 year postinjury. Eighty-eight percent were able to walk and 63% had return of bladder function.

The authors conclude that the enhanced neurological outcome that was observed in patients after spinal cord injury in this study was in addition to, and/or distinct from, any potential benefit provided by surgery. Early and aggressive medical management (volume resuscitation and blood pressure augmentation) of patients with acute spinal cord injuries optimizes the potential for neurological recovery after sustaining trauma.

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Fernando L. Vale, Winfield S. Fisher III, William D. Jordan Jr., Cheryl A. Palmer and Jiri Vitek

✓ Carotid endarterectomy (CEA) is the treatment of choice for asymptomatic and symptomatic disease causing greater than 60% internal carotid artery (ICA) stenosis. Recently, percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA) with stent placement has been investigated as a therapeutic option for the treatment of ICA stenosis. In this report the authors document CEA performed after PTA with stent placement and describe the pathological findings.

A standard CEA was performed. The surgical intervention was more difficult secondary to the following variables: the length of the exposure necessary to dissect out the metallic stent, the difficulty with opening and cutting the artery, and the care required to remove the stent to avoid vessel wall perforation. Pathological examination of the specimen demonstrated classic atherosclerotic changes revealing persistence of native disease. The metallic stent was embedded within the plaque. Many questions remain unanswered regarding the physiological and biological changes that occur in the carotid vessel wall after PTA with stent placement. It is concluded that CEA of a stent-containing carotid artery is feasible and should be considered as an alternative when recurrent stenosis occurs after PTA.

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Fernando L. Vale, Jennifer Burns, Amie B. Jackson and Mark N. Hadley

The optimal management of acute spinal cord injuries remains to be defined. The authors prospectively applied resuscitation principles of volume expansion and blood pressure maintenance to 77 patients who presented with acute neurological deficits as a result of spinal cord injuries occurring from C-1 through T-12 in an effort to maintain spinal cord blood flow and prevent secondary injury. According to the Intensive Care Unit protocol, all patients were managed by Swan-Ganz and arterial blood pressure catheters and were treated with immobilization and fracture reduction as indicated. Intravenous fluids, colloid, and vasopressors were administered as necessary to maintain mean arterial blood pressure above 85 mm Hg. Surgery was performed for decompression and stabilization, and fusion in selected cases. Sixty-four patients have been followed at least 12 months postinjury by means of detailed neurological assessments and functional ability evaluations.

Sixty percent of patients with complete cervical spinal cord injuries improved at least one Frankel or American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) grade at the last follow-up review. Thirty percent regained the ability to walk and 20% had return of bladder function 1 year postinjury.

Thirty-three percent of the patients with complete thoracic spinal cord injuries improved at least one Frankel or ASIA grade. Approximately 10% of the patients regained the ability to walk and had return of bladder function.

As of the 12-month follow-up review, 92% of patients demonstrated clinical improvement after sustaining incomplete cervical spinal cord injuries compared to their initial neurological status. Ninety-two percent regained the ability to walk and 88% regained bladder function.

Eighty-eight percent of patients with incomplete thoracic spinal cord injuries demonstrated significant improvements in neurological function 1 year postinjury. Eighty-eight percent were able to walk and 63% had return of bladder function.

The authors conclude that the enhanced neurological outcome that was observed in patients after spinal cord injury in this study was in addition to, and/or distinct from, any potential benefit provided by surgery. Early and aggressive medical management (volume resuscitation and blood pressure augmentation) of patients with acute spinal cord injuries optimizes the potential for neurological recovery after sustaining trauma.

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Fernando L. Vale, Mark Oliver and David W. Cahill

For more than 50 years occipitocervical fusion has been performed for the management of craniocervical instability. Despite advances in technology, craniocervical fixation continues to be a technical challenge to the spine surgeon. The complex anatomy of the region and the frequent need for anterior and/or posterior decompressive procedures represent a mechanical disadvantage and are associated with a high failure rate. Numerous methods for spinal fixation have been developed, but none has gained widespread popularity. The use of plates and screws to obtain rigid fixation of the craniocervical junction is desirable because it allows correction of deformity, provides immediate stability, and precludes cranial settling. The technique is demanding and sometimes fraught with complications. Since 1992, the senior author (D.W.C.) has used a rigid plating technique to treat patients with craniocervical instability. This procedure proved more difficult than expected, and the operative procedure has evolved as experience has been gained.

The authors present a series of 24 patients and describe a technique that, in their experience, decreased the complication rate and improved the fusion rate. The technique involves a custom-designed "T-plate" that is attached to the midline occipital bone and to the cervical spine with lateral mass plates.

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Fernando L. Vale, Mark Oliver and David W. Cahill

Object. Despite 50 years of neurosurgical experience, occipitocervical fusion continues to present a technical challenge to the surgeon. Traditional nonrigid techniques applied in the occiput and cervical spine often fail secondary to postsurgical cranial settling or rotational deformity. Unlike widely used nonrigid and semirigid techniques, rigid fixation of the craniocervical junction should allow correction of deformity in any plane, provide immediate stability without need for external orthosis, and prevent cranial settling.

Methods. Since 1992, the senior author (D.W.C.) has used a rigid plate and screw fixation system for occipitocervical fusions. The technique proved to be more difficult than expected, and the procedure has evolved as experience was gained. The authors present a series of 24 patients and a technique that now involves the use of a custom-designed T-plate that is attached to the midline occipital “keel” at one end and to the spine at the other end by means of screw-fixed plates.

Conclusions. Although it is still evolving, the current technique for obtaining rigid occipitocervical fixation allows for immediate rigidity and stability of the spine without the use of an external orthosis (that is, in the absence of osteoporosis), may be extended to any level of the spine, may be used in the absence of posterior elements, prevents postsurgical cranial settling and restenosis, facilitates reduction of the spinal deformity in any plane, and sometimes eliminates the need for an anterior (transoral) decompressive procedure.

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Elias Dakwar, Jaypal Reddy, Fernando L. Vale and Juan S. Uribe

✓ Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic, progressive inflammatory rheumatic disease involving primarily the sacroiliac joints and the axial skeleton. The main clinical features are back pain and progressive stiffness of the spine. Oligoarthritis of the hips and shoulders, enthesopathy, and anterior uveitis are common, and involvement of the heart and lungs is rare. The current understanding of the pathogenesis of this disorder is limited. Despite the strong association between human leukocyte antigen B27 (HLA-B27) and susceptibility to AS reported over the past 30 years, the exact pathogenic role of HLA-B27 in AS and other spondyloarthropathies has yet to be determined. The authors present a review of the literature pertaining to the pathogenesis of AS over the past several decades.

Ankylosing spondylitis is a polygenic disorder, with HLA-B27 playing a critical causative role in its pathogenesis. Animal studies of the immunobiology of HLA-B27 have provided significant insight into the pathogenic role of HLA-B27. The search for the antigenic peptide to support the “arthritogenic peptide” hypothesis has been disappointing. Over the past decade there has been increasing interest in the critical role of the misfolding and unfolded protein response of the heavy chain HLA-B27 in the modulation of the inflammatory response. Although there have been significant new findings in the understanding of the pathogenesis of AS, the exact mechanisms have yet to be identified. There is considerable optimism that additional susceptibility genes, predisposing factors, and regulators of the inflammatory process will be identified that will provide avenues for future treatment.

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Ali A. Baaj, Selim R. Benbadis, William O. Tatum and Fernando L. Vale

Object

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) plays a significant role in the treatment of intractable epilepsy. The goal of this study was to analyze trends in the use of VNS for epilepsy in the US by using a nationwide database.

Methods

Data for patients undergoing VNS were obtained from the nationwide inpatient sample for the years 1998–2005. Trends regarding number of procedures, length of stay (LOS), hospital charges, patient sex, and payer information were retrieved and analyzed.

Results

The number of VNS procedures for epilepsy increased between 1998 and 2003 but decreased in the subsequent 2 years. The LOS and hospital charges showed yearly increases. Female patients underwent VNS implantation more than males did, and most procedures were performed in the 18- to 64-year-old age group. The combination of Medicare and Medicaid provided most of the funding for VNS from 2002 through 2005. The VNS procedures were performed mostly in teaching hospitals.

Conclusions

Trends from a national database reveal consistent use of VNS for intractable epilepsy. Greater use of the procedure appears to be reflected in the female population, and the procedure has been performed most often at tertiary care teaching hospitals, where a comprehensive evaluation for all forms of therapy is arguably best able to target appropriate patients for appropriate therapies. With the recent application of VNS to target populations without epilepsy, such as patients with refractory depression, the trend of continued use of this treatment for epilepsy appears likely.

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Juan S. Uribe and Fernando L. Vale

Object

In this retrospective review, the authors examine the clinical characteristics, diagnosis, and outcome of surgery in 25 consecutive patients with mesial basal temporal lobe (MBTL) tumors. A limited access approach to the inferior temporal gyrus (ITG) was used.

Methods

Patients with MBTL tumors were identified from the epilepsy and tumor surgery database at the authors' institution. Intraaxial tumors localized to the mesial basal structures, and without involvement of the cortical surface of the temporal lobe, temporal stem, and basal ganglia were included. Preoperative and postoperative MR images were obtained in all patients. The mean follow-up period was 24 months (range 9–36 months). Preoperative symptoms, neurological deficits, outcomes, surgical complications, and a technical description of the approach are discussed.

Results

Intraaxial MBTL tumors in 25 patients (mean age 44 years, range 8–76 years) were resected using a limited access approach via the ITG. The largest groups of tumors were high-grade gliomas and dysembryoblastic neuroepithelial tumors (8 in each group), followed by oligodendrogliomas, cerebral metastases, and gangliogliomas. Seizures, headaches, and disorientation were the most common preoperative symptoms. Postoperative MR images demonstrated gross-total resection in all cases. There were 2 surgical complications (a superficial wound infection and a transient frontalis branch palsy). There were no permanent neurological complications or significant new hemianoptic defects.

Conclusions

A limited access ITG approach performed with intraoperative image guidance offers an alternative corridor for resection of MBTL tumors (Schramm Type A). This approach may be technically less demanding than the transsylvian or subtemporal approach. Gross-total resection is feasible utilizing this approach and compares favorably with other, more classical approaches.