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The shipboard Beirut terrorist bombing experience: a historical account and recommendations for preparedness in events of mass neurological injuries

Zachary S. Hubbard, Fraser Henderson Jr., Rocco A. Armonda, Alejandro M. Spiotta, Robert Rosenbaum, and Fraser Henderson Sr.

On a Sunday morning at 06:22 on October 23, 1983, in Beirut, Lebanon, a semitrailer filled with TNT sped through the guarded barrier into the ground floor of the Civilian Aviation Authority and exploded, killing and wounding US Marines from the 1st Battalion 8th Regiment (2nd Division), as well as the battalion surgeon and deployed corpsmen. The truck bomb explosion, estimated to be the equivalent of 21,000 lbs of TNT, and regarded as the largest nonnuclear explosion since World War II, caused what was then the most lethal single-day death toll for the US Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. Considerable neurological injury resulted from the bombing. Of the 112 survivors, 37 had head injuries, 2 had spinal cord injuries, and 9 had peripheral nerve injuries. Concussion, scalp laceration, and skull fracture were the most common cranial injuries.

Within minutes of the explosion, the Commander Task Force 61/62 Mass Casualty Plan was implemented by personnel aboard the USS Iwo Jima. The wounded were triaged according to standard protocol at the time. Senator Humphreys, chairman of the Preparedness Committee and a corpsman in the Korean War, commented that he had never seen such a well-executed evolution. This was the result of meticulous preparation that included training not only of the medical personnel but also of volunteers from the ship’s company, frequent drilling with other shipboard units, coordination of resources throughout the ship, the presence of a meticulous senior enlisted man who carefully registered each of the wounded, the presence of trained security forces, and a drilled and functioning communication system.

Viewed through the lens of a neurosurgeon, the 1983 bombings and mass casualty event impart important lessons in preparedness. Medical personnel should be trained specifically to handle the kinds of injuries anticipated and should rehearse the mass casualty event on a regular basis using mock-up patients. Neurosurgery staff should participate in training and planning for events alongside other clinicians. Training of nurses, corpsmen, and also nonmedical personnel is essential. In a large-scale evolution, nonmedical personnel may monitor vital signs, work as scribes or stretcher bearers, and run messages. It is incumbent upon medical providers and neurosurgeons in particular to be aware of the potential for mass casualty events and to make necessary preparations.

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Phanor L. Perot Jr.: South Carolina’s father of academic neurosurgery

Fraser Henderson Jr., Fraser Henderson Sr., Zachary Hubbard, David L. Semenoff, Alejandro M. Spiotta, and Sunil J. Patel

Phanor Leonidas Perot Jr., MD, PhD (1928–2011), was a gifted educator and pioneer of academic neurosurgery in South Carolina. As neurosurgical resident and then as a junior faculty member at the Montreal Neurological Institute, he advanced understandings of both epilepsy and spinal cord injury under Wilder Penfield, William Cone, and Theodore Rasmussen. In 1968, he moved to Charleston to lead neurosurgery. From his time spent with master physicians such as Isidor Ravdin and Wilder Penfield, Perot himself became “the ultimate teacher." His research spanned the fields of epilepsy to torticollis to spinal trauma, focusing the most on the basic pathophysiology of spinal cord damage elucidated through somatosensory evoked potentials. His research was distinguished by generous grant funding. By the time he stepped down as chairman in 1997, the division of neurosurgery had become a department and he had served as president of the American Academy of Neurological Surgery and the Society of Neurological Surgeons. Perot taught prolifically at the bedside, and considered the residency program at the Medical University of South Carolina his greatest achievement. Although Dr. Perot never fully retired, he also enjoyed active hobbies of fly-fishing, traveling, and hunting, until his death on February 2, 2011. He influenced many and earned his role in history as the father of academic neurosurgery in South Carolina.

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Tractography and the connectome in neurosurgical treatment of gliomas: the premise, the progress, and the potential

Fraser Henderson Jr., Kalil G. Abdullah, Ragini Verma, and Steven Brem

The ability of diffusion tensor MRI to detect the preferential diffusion of water in cerebral white matter tracts enables neurosurgeons to noninvasively visualize the relationship of lesions to functional neural pathways. Although viewed as a research tool in its infancy, diffusion tractography has evolved into a neurosurgical tool with applications in glioma surgery that are enhanced by evolutions in crossing fiber visualization, edema correction, and automated tract identification. In this paper the current literature supporting the use of tractography in brain tumor surgery is summarized, highlighting important clinical studies on the application of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) for preoperative planning of glioma resection, and risk assessment to analyze postoperative outcomes. The key methods of tractography in current practice and crucial white matter fiber bundles are summarized. After a review of the physical basis of DTI and post-DTI tractography, the authors discuss the methodologies with which to adapt DT image processing for surgical planning, as well as the potential of connectomic imaging to facilitate a network approach to oncofunctional optimization in glioma surgery.

Open access

Qualitative head-to-head comparison of headlamp and microscope for visualizing 5-ALA fluorescence during resection of glioblastoma

Fraser Henderson Jr., Evgenii Belykh, Alexander D. Ramos, and Theodore H. Schwartz

Fluorescence-guided surgery (FGS) for high-grade gliomas using 5-aminolevulinic acid has become a new standard of care for neurosurgeons in several countries. In this video the authors present the case of a man with glioblastoma who underwent FGS in which similar images of the operative field were acquired alternating between the microscope and a new commercially available headlight, facilitating the comparison of visualization quality between the two devices. The authors also review some of the principles of fluorescence-guidance surgery that may explain the improved brightness and contrast that they observed when using the headlamp versus the microscope.

The video can be found here:

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Letter to the Editor. A resident's view of Penfield's Montreal Neurological Institute

Byron Bailey, Cristian Vera, and Fraser Henderson Jr.

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Endonasal transsphenoidal surgery for planum sphenoidale versus tuberculum sellae meningiomas

Fraser Henderson Jr., Brett E. Youngerman, Sumit N. Niogi, Tyler Alexander, Abtin Tabaee, Ashutosh Kacker, Vijay K. Anand, and Theodore H. Schwartz


The aim of this study was to determine if the distinction between planum sphenoidale (PS) and tuberculum sellae (TS) meningiomas is clinically meaningful and impacts the results of the endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA).


A consecutive series of patients who were 18 years of age or older and underwent EEA for newly diagnosed grade I PS meningiomas (PSMs) and TS meningiomas (TSMs) between October 2007 and May 2021 were included. The PS and TS were distinguished by drawing a line passing through the center of the TS and perpendicular to the PS on postcontrast T1-weighted MRI. Probabilistic heatmaps were created to display the actual distribution of tumor volumes. Tumor volume, extent of resection (EOR), visual outcome, and complications were assessed.


The 47 tumors were distributed in a smooth continuum. Using an arbitrary definition, 24 (51%) were PSMs and 23 (49%) were TSMs. The mean volume of PSMs was 5.6 cm3 compared with 4.5 cm3 for TSMs. Canal invasion was present in 87.5% of PSMs and 52% of TSMs. GTR was achieved in 38 (84%) of 45 cases in which it was the goal, slightly less frequently for PSMs (78%) compared with TSMs (91%), although the difference was not significant. Th mean EOR was 99% ± 2% for PSMs and 98% ± 11% for TSMs. Neither the suprasellar notch angle nor the percentage of tumor above the PS impacted the rate of GTR. After a median follow-up of 28.5 months (range 0.1–131 months), there were 2 (5%) recurrences after GTR (n = 38) both of which occurred in patients with PSMs. Forty-two (89%) patients presented with preoperative impaired vision. Postoperative vision was stable or improved in 96% of patients with PSMs and 91% of patients with TSMs. CSF leakage occurred in 4 (16.6%) patients with a PSM, which resolved with only lumbar drainage, and in 1 (4.3%) patient with a TSM, which required reoperation.


PSM and TSMs arise in a smooth distribution, making the distinction arbitrary. Those classified as PSMs were larger and more likely to invade the optic canals. Surgical outcome for both locations was similar, slightly favoring TSMs. The arbitrary distinction between PSMs and TSMs is less useful at predicting outcome than the lateral extent of the tumor, regardless of the site of origin.

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Attitudes and opinions of US neurosurgical residents toward research and scholarship: a national survey

Michael Karsy, Fraser Henderson Jr., Steven Tenny, Jian Guan, Jeremy W. Amps, Allan H. Friedman, Alejandro M. Spiotta, Sunil Patel, John R. W. Kestle, Randy L. Jensen, and William T. Couldwell


The analysis of resident research productivity in neurosurgery has gained significant recent interest. Resident scholarly output affects departmental productivity, recruitment of future residents, and likelihood of future research careers. To maintain and improve opportunities for resident research, the authors evaluated factors that affect resident attitudes toward neurosurgical research on a national level.


An online survey was distributed to all US neurosurgical residents. Questions assessed interest in research, perceived departmental support of research, and resident-perceived limitations in pursuing research. Residents were stratified based on number of publications above the median (AM; ≥ 14) or below the median (BM; < 14) for evaluation of factors influencing productivity.


A total of 278 resident responses from 82 US residency programs in 30 states were included (a 20% overall response rate). Residents predominantly desired future academic positions (53.2%), followed by private practice with some research (40.3%). Residents reported a mean ± SD of 11 ± 14 publications, which increased with postgraduate year level. The most common type of research involved retrospective cohort studies (24%) followed by laboratory/benchtop (19%) and case reports (18%). Residents as a group spent on average 14.1 ± 18.5 hours (median 7.0 hours) a week on research. Most residents (53.6%) had ≥ 12 months of protected research time. Mentorship (92.4%), research exposure (89.9%), and early interest in science (78.4%) had the greatest impact on interest in research while the most limiting factors were time (91.0%), call scheduling (47.1%), and funding/grants (37.1%). AM residents cited research exposure (p = 0.003), neurosurgery conference exposure (p = 0.02), formal research training prior to residency (p = 0.03), internal funding sources (p = 0.05), and software support (p = 0.02) as most important for their productivity. Moreover, more productive residents applied and received a higher number of < $10,000 and ≥ $10,000 grants (p < 0.05). A majority of residents (82.4%) agreed or strongly agreed with pursuing research throughout their professional careers. Overall, about half of residents (49.6%) were encouraged toward continued neurosurgical research, while the rest were neutral (36.7%) or discouraged (13.7%). Free-text responses helped to identify solutions on a departmental, regional, and national level that could increase interest in neurosurgical research.


This survey evaluates various factors affecting resident views toward research, which may also be seen in other specialties. Residents remain enthusiastic about neurosurgical research and offer several solutions to the ever-scarce commodities of time and funding within academic medicine.

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Endonasal, supraorbital, and transorbital approaches: minimal access endoscope-assisted surgical approaches for meningiomas in the anterior and middle cranial fossae

Joseph A. Carnevale, Abhinav Pandey, Cristopher Ramirez-Loera, Jacob L. Goldberg, Evan D. Bander, Fraser Henderson Jr., Sumit N. Niogi, Abtin Tabaee, Ashutosh Kacker, Vijay K. Anand, Andrew Kim, Apostolos John Tsiouris, Kyle J. Godfrey, and Theodore H. Schwartz


Minimally invasive endoscope-assisted approaches to the anterior skull base offer an alternative to traditional open craniotomies. Given the restrictive operative corridor, appropriate case selection is critical for success. In this paper, the authors present the results of three different minimal access approaches to meningiomas of the anterior and middle fossae and examine the differences in the target areas considered appropriate for each approach, as well as the outcomes, to determine whether the surgical goals were achieved.


A consecutive series of the endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA), supraorbital approach (SOA), or transorbital approach (TOA) for newly diagnosed meningiomas of the anterior and middle fossa skull base between 2007 and 2022 were examined. Probabilistic heat maps were created to display the distribution of tumor volumes for each approach. Gross-total resection (GTR), extent of resection, visual and olfactory outcomes, and postoperative complications were assessed.


Of 525 patients who had meningioma resection, 88 (16.7%) were included in this study. EEA was performed for planum sphenoidale and tuberculum sellae meningiomas (n = 44), SOA for olfactory groove and anterior clinoid meningiomas (n = 36), and TOA for spheno-orbital and middle fossa meningiomas (n = 8). The largest tumors were treated using SOA (mean volume 28 ± 29 cm3), followed by TOA (mean volume 10 ± 10 cm3) and EEA (mean volume 9 ± 8 cm3) (p = 0.024). Most cases (91%) were WHO grade I. GTR was achieved in 84% of patients (n = 74), which was similar to the rates for EEA (84%) and SOA (92%), but lower than that for TOA (50%) (p = 0.002), the latter attributable to spheno-orbital (GTR: 33%) not middle fossa (GTR: 100%) tumors. There were 7 (8%) CSF leaks: 5 (11%) from EEA, 1 (3%) from SOA, and 1 (13%) from TOA (p = 0.326). All resolved with lumbar drainage except for 1 EEA leak that required a reoperation.


Minimally invasive approaches for anterior and middle fossa skull base meningiomas require careful case selection. GTR rates are equally high for all approaches except for spheno-orbital meningiomas, where alleviation of proptosis and not GTR is the primary goal of surgery. New anosmia was most common after EEA.