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Andrea Szelényi, Lorenzo Bello, Hugues Duffau, Enrica Fava, Guenther C. Feigl, Miroslav Galanda, Georg Neuloh, Francesco Signorelli, and Francesco Sala

There is increasing evidence that the extent of tumor removal in low-grade glioma surgery is related to patient survival time. Thus, the goal of resecting the largest amount of tumor possible without leading to permanent neurological sequelae is a challenge for the neurosurgeon. Electrical stimulation of the brain to detect cortical and axonal areas involved in motor, language, and cognitive function and located within the tumor or along its boundaries has become an essential tool in combination with awake craniotomy. Based on a literature review, discussions within the European Low-Grade Glioma Group, and illustrative clinical experience, the authors of this paper provide an overview for neurosurgeons, neurophysiologists, linguists, and anesthesiologists as well as those new to the field about the stimulation techniques currently being used for mapping sensorimotor, language, and cognitive function in awake surgery for low-grade glioma. The paper is intended to help the understanding of these techniques and facilitate a comparison of results between users.

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Fabio Raneri, Oriela Rustemi, Giampaolo Zambon, Giulia Del Moro, Salima Magrini, Yuri Ceccaroni, Elisabetta Basso, Francesco Volpin, Martina Cappelletti, Jacopo Lardani, Stefano Ferraresi, Franco Guida, Franco Chioffi, Giampietro Pinna, Giuseppe Canova, Domenico d’Avella, Francesco Sala, and Lorenzo Volpin

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study was to analyze the effect of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak and of the subsequent lockdown on the neurosurgical services of the Veneto region in Italy compared to the previous 4 years.

METHODS

A survey was conducted in all 6 neurosurgical departments in the Veneto region to collect data about surgical, inpatient care and endovascular procedures during the month of March for each year from 2016 to 2020. Safety measures to avoid infection from SARS-CoV-2 and any COVID-19 cases reported among neurosurgical patients or staff members were considered.

RESULTS

The mean number of neurosurgical admissions for the month of March over the 2016–2019 period was 663, whereas in March 2020 admissions decreased by 42%. Emergency admissions decreased by 23%. The average number of neurosurgical procedures was 697, and declined by 30% (range −10% to −51% in individual centers). Emergency procedures decreased in the same period by 23%. Subarachnoid hemorrhage and spontaneous intracerebral hemorrhage both decreased in Veneto—by 25% and 22%, respectively. Coiling for unruptured aneurysm, coiling for ruptured aneurysm, and surgery for ruptured aneurysm or arteriovenous malformation diminished by 49%, 27%, and 78%, respectively. Endovascular procedures for acute ischemic stroke (AIS) increased by 33% in 2020 (28 procedures in total). There was a slight decrease (8%) in brain tumor surgeries. Neurosurgical admissions decreased by 25% and 35% for head trauma and spinal trauma, respectively, while surgical procedures for head trauma diminished by 19% and procedures for spinal trauma declined by 26%. Admissions and surgical treatments for degenerative spine were halved. Eleven healthcare workers and 8 patients were infected in the acute phase of the pandemic.

CONCLUSIONS

This multicenter study describes the effects of a COVID-19 outbreak on neurosurgical activities in a vast region in Italy. Remodulation of neurosurgical activities has resulted in a significant reduction of elective and emergency surgeries compared to previous years. Most likely this is a combined result of cancellation of elective and postponable surgeries, increase of conservative management, increase in social restrictions, and in patients’ fear of accessing hospitals. Curiously, only endovascular procedures for AIS have increased, possibly due to reduced physical activity or increased thrombosis in SARS-CoV-2. The confounding effect of thrombectomy increase over time cannot be excluded. No conclusion can be drawn on AIS incidence. Active monitoring with nasopharyngeal swabs, wearing face masks, and using separate pathways for infected patients reduce the risk of infection.

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Mony Benifla, Francesco Sala, John Jane Jr., Hiroshi Otsubo, Ayako Ochi, James Drake, Shelly Weiss, Elizabeth Donner, Ayataka Fujimoto, Stephanie Holowka, Elysa Widjaja, O. Carter Snead III, Mary Lou Smith, Mandeep S. Tamber, and James T. Rutka

Object

The authors undertook this study to review their experience with cortical resections in the rolandic region in children with intractable epilepsy.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed the medical records obtained in 22 children with intractable epilepsy arising from the rolandic region. All patients underwent preoperative electroencephalography (EEG), MR imaging, prolonged video-EEG recordings, functional MR imaging, magnetoencephalography, and in some instances PET/SPECT studies. In 21 patients invasive subdural grid and depth electrode monitoring was performed. Resection of the epileptogenic zones in the rolandic region was undertaken in all cases. Seizure outcome was graded according to the Engel classification. Functional outcome was determined using validated outcome scores.

Results

There were 10 girls and 12 boys, whose mean age at seizure onset was 3.2 years. The mean age at surgery was 10 years. Seizure duration prior to surgery was a mean of 7.4 years. Nine patients had preoperative hemiparesis. Neuropsychological testing revealed impairment in some domains in 19 patients in whom evaluation was possible. Magnetic resonance imaging abnormalities were identified in 19 patients. Magnetoencephalography was performed in all patients and showed perirolandic spike clusters on the affected side in 20 patients. The mean duration of invasive monitoring was 4.2 days. The mean number of seizures during the period of invasive monitoring was 17. All patients underwent resection that involved primary motor and/or sensory cortex. The most common pathological entity encountered was cortical dysplasia, in 13 children. Immediately postoperatively, 20 patients had differing degrees of hemiparesis, from mild to severe. The hemiparesis improved in all affected patients by 3–6 months postoperatively. With a mean follow-up of 4.1 years (minimum 2 years), seizure outcome in 14 children (64%) was Engel Class I and seizure outcome in 4 (18%) was Engel Class II. In this series, seizure outcome following perirolandic resection was intimately related to the child's age at the time of surgery. By univariate logistic regression analysis, age at surgery was a statistically significant factor predicting seizure outcome (p < 0.024).

Conclusions

Resection of rolandic cortex for intractable epilepsy is possible with expected morbidity. Accurate mapping of regions of functional cortex and epileptogenic zones may lead to improved seizure outcome in children with intractable rolandic epilepsy. It is important to counsel patients and families preoperatively to prepare them for possible worsened functional outcome involving motor, sensory and/or language pathways.