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Francis J. Jareczek, Marshall T. Holland, Matthew A. Howard III, Timothy Walch and Taylor J. Abel

Neurosurgery for the treatment of psychological disorders has a checkered history in the United States. Prior to the advent of antipsychotic medications, individuals with severe mental illness were institutionalized and subjected to extreme therapies in an attempt to palliate their symptoms. Psychiatrist Walter Freeman first introduced psychosurgery, in the form of frontal lobotomy, as an intervention that could offer some hope to those patients in whom all other treatments had failed. Since that time, however, the use of psychosurgery in the United States has waxed and waned significantly, though literature describing its use is relatively sparse. In an effort to contribute to a better understanding of the evolution of psychosurgery, the authors describe the history of psychosurgery in the state of Iowa and particularly at the University of Iowa Department of Neurosurgery. An interesting aspect of psychosurgery at the University of Iowa is that these procedures have been nearly continuously active since Freeman introduced the lobotomy in the 1930s. Frontal lobotomies and transorbital leukotomies were performed by physicians in the state mental health institutions as well as by neurosurgeons at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (formerly known as the State University of Iowa Hospital). Though the early technique of frontal lobotomy quickly fell out of favor, the use of neurosurgery to treat select cases of intractable mental illness persisted as a collaborative treatment effort between psychiatrists and neurosurgeons at Iowa. Frontal lobotomies gave way to more targeted lesions such as anterior cingulotomies and to neuromodulation through deep brain stimulation. As knowledge of brain circuits and the pathophysiology underlying mental illness continues to grow, surgical intervention for psychiatric pathologies is likely to persist as a viable treatment option for select patients at the University of Iowa and in the larger medical community.

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Kingsley O. Abode-Iyamah, Hsiu-Yin Chiang, Royce W. Woodroffe, Brian Park, Francis J. Jareczek, Yasunori Nagahama, Nolan Winslow, Loreen A. Herwaldt and Jeremy D. W. Greenlee

OBJECTIVE

Deep brain stimulation is an effective surgical treatment for managing some neurological and psychiatric disorders. Infection related to the deep brain stimulator (DBS) hardware causes significant morbidity: hardware explantation may be required; initial disease symptoms such as tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesia may recur; and the medication requirements for adequate disease management may increase. These morbidities are of particular concern given that published DBS-related infection rates have been as high as 23%. To date, however, the key risk factors for and the potential preventive measures against these infections remain largely uncharacterized. In this study, the authors endeavored to identify possible risk factors for DBS-related infection and analyze the efficacy of prophylactic intrawound vancomycin powder (VP).

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective cohort study of patients who had undergone primary DBS implantation at a single institution in the period from December 2005 through September 2015 to identify possible risk factors for surgical site infection (SSI) and to assess the impact of perioperative (before, during, and after surgery) prophylactic antibiotics on the SSI rate. They also evaluated the effect of a change in the National Healthcare Safety Network’s definition of SSI on the number of infections detected. Statistical analyses were performed using the 2-sample t-test, the Wilcoxon rank-sum test, the chi-square test, Fisher’s exact test, or logistic regression, as appropriate for the variables examined.

RESULTS

Four hundred sixty-four electrodes were placed in 242 adults during 245 primary procedures over approximately 10.5 years; most patients underwent bilateral electrode implantation. Among the 245 procedures, 9 SSIs (3.7%) occurred within 90 days and 16 (6.5%) occurred within 1 year of DBS placement. Gram-positive bacteria were the most common etiological agents. Most patient- and procedure-related characteristics did not differ between those who had acquired an SSI and those who had not. The rate of SSIs among patients who had received intrawound VP was only 3.3% compared with 9.7% among those who had not received topical VP (OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.10–1.02, p = 0.04). After controlling for patient sex, the association between VP and decreased SSI risk did not reach the predetermined level of significance (adjusted OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.10–1.03, p = 0.06). The SSI rates were similar after staged and unstaged implantations.

CONCLUSIONS

While most patient-related and procedure-related factors assessed in this study were not associated with the risk for an SSI, the data did suggest that intrawound VP may help to reduce the SSI risk after DBS implantation. Furthermore, given the implications of SSI after DBS surgery and the frequency of infections occurring more than 90 days after implantation, continued follow-up for at least 1 year after such a procedure is prudent to establish the true burden of these infections and to properly treat them when they do occur.