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  • Author or Editor: Francesco Vergani x
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Francesco Vergani, Christopher M. Morris, Patrick Mitchell and Hugues Duffau

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in the study of white matter anatomy, both with the use of postmortem dissections and diffusion tensor imaging tractography. One of the precursors in the study of white matter anatomy was Raymond de Vieussens (1641–1716), a French anatomist born in Le Vigan. He studied medicine at the University of Montpellier in southern France, one of the most ancient and lively schools of medicine in Europe. In 1684 Vieussens published his masterpiece, the Neurographia Universalis, which is still considered one of the most complete and accurate descriptions of the nervous system provided in the 17th century. He described the white matter of the centrum ovale and was the first to demonstrate the continuity of the white matter fibers from the centrum ovale to the brainstem. He also described the dentate nuclei, the pyramids, and the olivary nuclei. According to the theory of Galen, Vieussens considered that the function of the white matter was to convey the “animal spirit” from the centrum ovale to the spinal cord. Although neglected, Vieussens' contribution to the study of white matter is relevant. His pioneering work showed that the white matter is not a homogeneous substance, but rather a complex structure rich in fibers that are interconnected with different parts of the brain. These initial results paved the way to advancements observed in later centuries that eventually led to modern hodology.

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Francesco Marchi, Francesco Vergani, Iacopo Chiavacci, Richard Gullan and Keyoumars Ashkan

This paper retraces the fundamental achievements of Geoffrey Knight (1906–1994), a British neurosurgeon and a pioneer in the field of psychosurgery. His career developed in the 1950s and 1960s, when—following the unregulated practice of frontal lobotomies—strong criticism arose in the medical community and in the general public against psychosurgery. Geoffrey Knight's clinical research focused on identifying new, selective targets to limit the side effects of psychosurgery while improving the outcome of patients affected by mental disorders. Following the example of William Beecher Scoville, he initially developed restricted orbital undercutting as a less invasive alternative to standard frontal lobotomy. He then developed stereotactic subcaudate tractotomy, with the use of an original stereotactic device. Knight stressed the importance of the anatomy and neurophysiology of the structures targeted in subcaudate tractotomy, with particular regard to the fibers connecting the anterior cingulate region, the amygdala, the orbitofrontal cortex, and the hypothalamus. Of interest, the role of these white matter connections has been recently recognized in deep brain stimulation for major depression and anorexia nervosa. This is perhaps the most enduring legacy of Knight to the field of psychosurgery. He refined frontal leucotomies by selecting a restricted target at the center of a network that plays a crucial role in controlling mood disorders. He then developed a safe, minimally invasive stereotactic operation to reach this target. His work, well ahead of his time, still represents a valid reference on which to build future clinical experience in the modern era of neuromodulation for psychiatric diseases.

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Ayesha Sunil Mirchandani, Ahmad Beyh, José Pedro Lavrador, Henrietta Howells, Flavio Dell’Acqua and Francesco Vergani

OBJECTIVE

This prospective case-control study was conducted to examine whether spherical deconvolution (SD) can unveil microstructural abnormalities in the corticospinal tract (CST) caused by IDH-mutant gliomas. To determine the significance of abnormal microstructure, the authors investigated the correlation between diffusion parameters and neurophysiological data collected with navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS).

METHODS

Twenty participants (10 patients and 10 healthy controls) were recruited. Diffusion-weighted images were acquired on a 3-T MRI scanner using a cardiac-gated single-shot spin echo echo-planar imaging multiband sequence (TE 80 msec, TR 4000 msec) along 90 diffusion directions with a b-value of 2500 sec/mm2 (FOV 256 × 256 mm). Diffusion tensor imaging tractography and SD tractography were performed with deterministic tracking. The anterior portion of the ipsilateral superior peduncle and the precentral gyrus were used as regions of interest to delineate the CST. Diffusion indices were extracted and analyzed for significant differences between hemispheres in patients and between patient and control groups. A navigated brain stimulation system was used to deliver TMS pulses at hotspots at which motor evoked potentials (MEPs) for the abductor pollicis brevis, first digital interosseous, and abductor digiti minimi muscles are best elicited in patients and healthy controls. Functional measurements such as resting motor threshold (rMT), amplitude of MEPs, and latency of MEPs were noted. Significant differences between hemispheres in patients and between patients and controls were statistically analyzed. The Spearman rank correlation was used to investigate correlations between diffusion indices and functional measurements.

RESULTS

The hindrance modulated orientational anisotropy (HMOA), measured with SD tractography, is lower in the hemisphere ipsilateral to glioma (p = 0.028). The rMT in the hemisphere ipsilateral to a glioma is significantly greater than that in the contralateral hemisphere (p = 0.038). All measurements contralateral to the glioma, except for the mean amplitude of MEPs (p = 0.001), are similar to those of healthy controls. Mean diffusivity and axial diffusivity from SD tractography are positively correlated with rMT in the hemisphere ipsilateral to glioma (p = 0.02 and 0.006, respectively). The interhemispheric difference in HMOA and rMT is correlated in glioma patients (p = 0.007).

CONCLUSIONS

SD tractography can demonstrate microstructural abnormality within the CST of patients with IDH1-mutant gliomas that correlates to the functional abnormality measured with nTMS.

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José Pedro Lavrador, Prajwal Ghimire, Richard Gullan, Keyoumars Ashkan, Francesco Vergani and Ranjeev Singh Bhangoo

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Elena Pirola, Francesco Vergani, Paolo Casiraghi, Eugenio Biagio Leone, Paolo Guerra and Erik Pietro Sganzerla

Phosphaturic mesenchymal tumors that cause the paraneoplastic syndrome known as oncogenic osteomalacia are rare. The authors report on the case of a 57-year-old man with a history of osteomalacia and in whom was diagnosed a thoracic spine tumor at the T-4 level. Complete tumor resection was accomplished. The histological diagnosis was phosphaturic mesenchymal tumor (mixed connective tissue variant). After lesion removal, the paraneoplastic syndrome resolved. At the 24-month follow-up, no recurrence of the disease was observed. The clinical presentation, surgical technique, and follow-up in this case were reviewed in detail.

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José Pedro Lavrador, Shami Acharya, Anastasios Giamouriadis, Francesco Vergani, Keyoumars Ashkan and Ranjeev Bhangoo