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Rudolf Fahlbusch, Alexandra Golby, Francesco Prada and Gabriel Zada

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Andrej Šteňo, Viktor Matejčík and Juraj Šteňo

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Ignazio G. Vetrano, Francesco Prada, Ilaria F. Nataloni, Massimiliano Del Bene, Francesco Dimeco and Laura G. Valentini

Hemangioblastomas are benign, highly vascularized intramedullary lesions that may also extend into the intradural space. Surgery represents the standard therapy, with the goal of obtaining complete resection even at the risk of neurological morbidity. MRI is the gold standard for diagnosis and assessment of intramedullary tumors. Nevertheless, sometimes MRI may not accurately differentiate between different types of intramedullary tumors, in particular if they are associated with syringes or intra- and peritumoral cysts. This could subsequently affect surgical strategies. Intraoperative ultrasound (ioUS) has become in the last few years a very useful tool for use during neurosurgical procedures. Various ioUS modalities such as B-mode and Doppler have been applied during neurosurgical procedures. On the other hand, the use of contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) is not yet well defined and standardized in this field. We report a case of a young patient harboring a cervicothoracic intramedullary tumor, for which the preoperative neuroradiologi-cal diagnosis was in favor of a diffuse astrocytoma with nodular components whereas ioUS demonstrated 3 distinct intramedullary nodules. CEUS showed highly vascularized lesions, compatible with hemangioblastomas. These findings, particularly those obtained with CEUS, allowed better definition of the lesions for diagnosis, enhanced understanding of the physiopathological aspects, and permitted the localization of all 3 nodules, thus limiting spinal cord manipulation and allowing complete resection of the lesions, with an uneventful postoperative neurological course.

To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of the use of intraoperative CEUS in a case of intramedullary hemangioblastoma.

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Manuela Caroli, Marco Locatelli, Francesco Prada, Federica Beretta, Filippo Martinelli-Boneschi, Rolando Campanella and Cesare Arienta

Object. A grading system, called the Clinical—Radiological Grading System (CRGS), has been developed to standardize surgical indications in elderly patients harboring intracranial meningiomas. Patients with a score lower than 10 had a bad prognosis regardless of surgical treatment, those with a score between 10 and 12 had a prognosis positively influenced by surgery, and those with a score higher than 12 had a good prognosis regardless of surgical treatment. The authors performed a prospective cross-sectional study to validate further the use of the CRGS as a clinical tool to orientate surgical decision making in elderly patients and to explore prognostic factors of survival.

Methods. From 1990 to 2000 the authors consecutively recruited and surgically treated 90 patients 70 years of age or older with neuroimaging findings of intracranial meningiomas and a preoperative evaluation based on the CRGS.

The surgical mortality rate, which covers deaths within 3 months after surgical intervention, was 7.8%, and the 1-year mortality rate was 15.6%.

Female sex and a higher CRGS score were associated with a higher probability of survival. Among the different subset items of the CRGS score, no peritumoral edema for surgical survival and no concomitant diseases for 1-year survival provide the strongest predictive contribution, even if not at a statistically significant level.

Conclusions. The CRGS score is a useful and practical tool for the selection of elderly patients affected by intracranial meningiomas as surgical candidates. A CRGS score higher than 10 and female sex are good prognostic factors of survival, whereas age is not a contraindication to surgery.

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Andrea Franzini, Giuseppe Messina, Vincenzo Levi, Antonio D’Ammando, Roberto Cordella, Shayan Moosa, Francesco Prada and Angelo Franzini

OBJECTIVE

Central poststroke neuropathic pain is a debilitating syndrome that is often resistant to medical therapies. Surgical measures include motor cortex stimulation and deep brain stimulation (DBS), which have been used to relieve pain. The aim of this study was to retrospectively assess the safety and long-term efficacy of DBS of the posterior limb of the internal capsule for relieving central poststroke neuropathic pain and associated spasticity affecting the lower limb.

METHODS

Clinical and surgical data were retrospectively collected and analyzed in all patients who had undergone DBS of the posterior limb of the internal capsule to address central poststroke neuropathic pain refractory to conservative measures. In addition, long-term pain intensity and level of satisfaction gained from stimulation were assessed. Pain was evaluated using the visual analog scale (VAS). Information on gait improvement was obtained from medical records, neurological examination, and interview.

RESULTS

Four patients have undergone the procedure since 2001. No mortality or morbidity related to the surgery was recorded. In three patients, stimulation of the posterior limb of the internal capsule resulted in long-term pain relief; in a fourth patient, the procedure failed to produce any long-lasting positive effect. Two patients obtained a reduction in spasticity and improved motor capability. Before surgery, the mean VAS score was 9 (range 8–10). In the immediate postoperative period and within 1 week after the DBS system had been turned on, the mean VAS score was significantly lower at a mean of 3 (range 0–6). After a mean follow-up of 5.88 years, the mean VAS score was still reduced at 5.5 (range 3–8). The mean percentage of long-term pain reduction was 38.13%.

CONCLUSIONS

This series suggests that stimulation of the posterior limb of the internal capsule is safe and effective in treating patients with chronic neuropathic pain affecting the lower limb. The procedure may be a more targeted treatment method than motor cortex stimulation or other neuromodulation techniques in the subset of patients whose pain and spasticity are referred to the lower limbs.

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Francesco Prada, Massimiliano Del Bene, Riccardo Fornaro, Ignazio G. Vetrano, Alberto Martegani, Luca Aiani, Luca Maria Sconfienza, Giovanni Mauri, Luigi Solbiati, Bianca Pollo and Francesco DiMeco

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study was to assess the capability of contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) to identify residual tumor mass during glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) surgery, to increase the extent of resection.

METHODS

The authors prospectively evaluated 10 patients who underwent surgery for GBM removal with navigated ultrasound guidance. Navigated B-mode and CEUS were performed prior to resection, during resection, and after complete tumor resection. Areas suspected for residual tumors on B-mode and CEUS studies were localized within the surgical field with navigated ultrasound and samples were sent separately for histopathological analysis to confirm tumor presence.

RESULTS

In all cases tumor remnants were visualized as hyperechoic areas on B-mode, highlighted as CEUS-positive areas, and confirmed as tumoral areas on histopathological analysis. In 1 case only, CEUS partially failed to demonstrate residual tumor because the residual hyperechoic area was devascularized prior to ultrasound contrast agent injection. In all cases CEUS enhanced B-mode findings.

CONCLUSIONS

As has already been shown in other neoplastic lesions in other organs, CEUS is extremely specific in the identification of residual tumor. The ability of CEUS to distinguish between tumor and artifacts or normal brain on B-mode is based on its capacity to show the vascularization degree and not the echogenicity of the tissues. Therefore, CEUS can play a decisive role in the process of maximizing GBM resection.

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Andrea Saladino, Massimo Lamperti, Antonella Mangraviti, Federico G. Legnani, Francesco U. Prada, Cecilia Casali, Luigi Caputi, Paola Borrelli and Francesco DiMeco

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to analyze the incidence of the primary complications related to positioning or surgery and their impact on neurological outcome in a consecutive series of patients undergoing elective surgery in the semisitting position.

METHODS

The authors prospectively collected and retrospectively analyzed data from adult patients undergoing elective surgery in the semisitting position for a cranial disease. Patients were managed perioperatively according to a standard institutional protocol, a standardized stepwise positioning, and surgical maneuvers to decrease the risk of venous air embolism (VAE) and other complications. Intraoperative and postoperative complications were recorded. Neurointensive care unit (NICU) length of stay (LOS) and hospital LOS were the intermediate endpoints. Neurological outcome was the primary endpoint as determined by the modified Rankin scale (mRS) score at 6 months after surgery.

RESULTS

Four hundred twenty-five patients were included in the analysis. VAE occurred in 90 cases (21%) and it made no significant statistical difference in NICU LOS, hospital LOS, and neurological outcome. No complication was directly related to the semisitting position, although 46 patients (11%) experienced at least 1 surgery-related complication and NICU LOS and hospital LOS were significantly prolonged in this group. Neurological outcome was significantly worse for patients with complications (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

Even in the presence of intraoperative VAE, the semisitting position was not related to an increased risk of postoperative deficits and can represent a safe additional option for the benefit of specific surgical and patient needs.

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Francesco Prada, Massimiliano Del Bene, Giovanni Mauri, Massimo Lamperti, Davide Vailati, Carla Richetta, Marco Saini, Davide Santuari, M. Yashar S. Kalani and Francesco DiMeco

The relevance of the cerebral venous system is often underestimated during neurosurgical procedures. Damage to this draining system can have catastrophic implications for the patient. Surgical decision-making and planning must consider each component of the venous compartment, from the medullary draining vein to the dural sinuses and extracranial veins. Intraoperative ultrasound (ioUS) permits the real-time study of venous compartments using different modalities, thus allowing complete characterization of their anatomical and functional features. The B-mode (brightness mode) offers a high-resolution anatomical representation of veins and their relationships with lesions. Doppler modalities (color, power, spectral) allow the study of blood flow and identification of vessels to distinguish their functional characteristics. Contrast-enhanced US allows one to perform real-time angiosonography showing both the functional and the anatomical aspects of vessels.

In this technical report, the authors demonstrate the different applications of multimodal ioUS in neurosurgery for identifying the anatomical and functional characteristics of the venous compartment. They discuss the general principles and technical nuances of ioUS and analyze their potential implications for the study of various venous districts during neurosurgical procedures.

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Tony R. Wang, Aaron E. Bond, Robert F. Dallapiazza, Aaron Blanke, David Tilden, Thomas E. Huerta, Shayan Moosa, Francesco U. Prada and W. Jeffrey Elias

Although the use of focused ultrasound (FUS) in neurosurgery dates to the 1950s, its clinical utility was limited by the need for a craniotomy to create an acoustic window. Recent technological advances have enabled efficient transcranial delivery of US. Moreover, US is now coupled with MRI to ensure precise energy delivery and monitoring. Thus, MRI-guided transcranial FUS lesioning is now being investigated for myriad neurological and psychiatric disorders. Among the first transcranial FUS treatments is thalamotomy for the treatment of various tremors. The authors provide a technical overview of FUS thalamotomy for tremor as well as important lessons learned during their experience with this emerging technology.

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Antonio Di Ieva, Manfred Tschabitscher, Francesco Prada, Paolo Gaetani, Enrico Aimar, Patrizia Pisano, Daniel Levi, Nicola Nicassio, Salvatore Serra, Flavio Tancioni, Massimo Arosio and Riccardo Rodriguez y Baena

✓Guido da Vigevano was an Italian physician and engineer who lived in the 13th and 14th centuries. He was the first scientist who used pictures to illustrate his anatomical descriptions, developing for the first time a close relationship between anatomical studies and artistic drawings. This was further developed in the Renaissance.

In his textbook Anathomia are displayed six plates showing for the first time neuroanatomical structures and techniques: dissection of the head by means of trephination, and depictions of the meninges, cerebrum, and spinal cord. On the surface of the brain painting it is possible to recognize a vague patterning of cortical convolutions. Ventricles are also described and shown. This book constituted the first attempt in the history of neuroscience to illustrate an anatomical description with schematic pictures to achieve a better understanding of such complex structures.