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REVIEWER'S COMMENTS ON ARTICLE 1

Continuous intraoperative electromyographic monitoring of cranial nerves during resection of fourth ventricular tumors in children. Paul A. Grabb, A. Leland Albright, Robert J. Sclabassi, and Ian F. Pollack

Fred J. Epstein

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The First Harold and JoAnn Hoffman Endowed Lecture

Fred J. Epstein and with Joshua Horwitz

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The plated bayonet: a new instrument to facilitate surgery for intra-axial neoplasms of the spinal cord and brain stem

Technical note

Fred J. Epstein and Memet Ozek

✓ A new instrument for use in surgically treating intra-axial neoplasms of the spinal cord and brain stem is described. The plated bayonet allows neoplastic tissue in the spinal cord to be separated from functioning neural elements without perforating the adjacent spinal cord. In addition, the plated bayonet facilitates exposure through the very small incision necessary to remove tumors of the brain stem without damaging cranial nerves or other vital structures.

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Adult intramedullary spinal cord ependymomas: the result of surgery in 38 patients

Fred J. Epstein, Jean-Pierre Farmer, and Diana Freed

✓ Thirty-eight patients underwent surgery for an intramedullary spinal cord ependymoma. In 37 patients, postoperative magnetic resonance imaging confirmed that the tumor was totally removed. The morbidity of surgery was directly related to the preoperative neurological condition. Patients who were normal or nearly normal preoperatively were rarely worse after surgery, and those who had significant disability preoperatively were at greatest risk of being more impaired after surgery. There has been no tumor recurrence in any patient after a mean follow-up period of 24 months, and radiation therapy has not been employed as a surgical adjunct.

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Brain-stem glioma growth patterns

Fred J. Epstein and Jean-Pierre Farmer

✓ During the last decade, several authors have reported that certain brain-stem gliomas may be associated with a better prognosis than others. In this paper, retrospective correlations between the pathological findings and the magnetic resonance (MR) imaging appearance of 88 brain-stem gliomas are established. The authors propose an anatomical hypothesis that helps identify glioma growth patterns in general and that clarifies why cervicomedullary, dorsally exophytic, and focal tumors have a more favorable prognosis. According to this hypothesis, growth of benign gliomas of the brain stem is guided by secondary structures such as the pia, fiber tracts, and the ependyma, which in turn leads to stereotypical growth patterns that are clearly identified on MR images. The authors believe that this hypothesis, in conjunction with clinical data, may help establish selection criteria for the surgical treatment of specific brain-stem lesions.

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Spinal Cord Tumors in Children

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Intraoperative ultrasonography: an important surgical adjunct for intramedullary tumors

Fred J. Epstein, Jean-Pierre Farmer, and Steven J. Schneider

✓ The echographic characteristics of 186 suspected intramedullary spinal cord tumors were reviewed. Ultrasonography was found to be specific in distinguishing the tumor type, the extent of the lesion, and the presence and type of associated cysts. Ultrasonography greatly facilitates the selection of respective sites for the placement of a myelotomy, and for initiation of the resection. Additionally, this indispensable adjunct provides ongoing images that allow the preoperative plan to be precisely followed in a surgical field where anatomical landmarks are limited and the margin for error is minimal.

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Motor-evoked potential monitoring for intramedullary spinal cord tumor surgery: correlation of clinical and neurophysiological data in a series of 100 consecutive procedures

Karl F. Kothbauer, Vedran Deletis, and Fred J. Epstein

Resection of intramedullary spinal cord tumors carries a high risk for surgical damage to the motor pathways. This surgery is therefore optimal for testing the performance of intraoperative motor evoked potential (MEP) monitoring. This report attempts to provide evidence for the accurate representation of patients' pre- and postoperative motor status by combined epidural and muscle MEP monitoring during intramedullary surgery.

The authors used transcranial electrical motor cortex stimulation to elicit MEPs, which were recorded from the spinal cord (with an epidural electrode) and from limb target muscles (thenar, anterior tibial) with needle electrodes. The amplitude of the epidural MEPs and the presence or absence of muscle MEPs were the parameters for MEP interpretation. A retrospective analysis was performed on data from the resection of 100 consecutive intramedullary tumors and MEP data were compared with the pre- and postoperative motor status.

Intraoperative monitoring was feasible in all patients without severe preoperative motor deficits. Preoperatively paraplegic patients had no recordable MEPs. The sensitivity of muscle MEPs to detect postoperative motor deficits was 100% and its specificity was 91%. There was no instance in which a patient with stable MEPs developed a motor deficit postoperatively. Intraoperative MEPs adequately represented the motor status of patients undergoing surgery for intramedullary tumors. Because deterioration of the motor status was transient in all cases, it can be considered that impairment of the functional integrity of the motor pathways was detected before permanent deficits occurred.

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Adult intramedullary astrocytomas of the spinal cord

Fred J. Epstein, Jean-Pierre Farmer, and Diana Freed

✓ In this series, 25 adult patients with intramedullary astrocytomas were treated by radical excision alone. Six patients proved to have anaplastic astrocytoma; five of them died within approximately 2 years and the sixth has demonstrated disease progression. The other 19 patients were diagnosed as having low-grade astrocytoma (16 cases) or ganglioglioma (three cases); two of these had advanced preoperative neurological disability and died of medical complications. Fifteen of the remaining 17 patients have no clinical evidence of tumor recurrence after a mean follow-up period of 50.2 months; the other two have a small residual neoplasm that demonstrates no progression. Of these 17 patients, seven had previously received radiation therapy, but had clear evidence of tumor growth subsequently.

This experience suggests that surgery is not beneficial for anaplastic spinal astrocytoma. However, in cases of low-grade tumor, radical excision is associated with minimal morbidity and an excellent long-term prognosis when carried out before significant disability occurs.

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Optimal wound closure after tethered cord correction

Technical note

Barry M. Zide, Fred J. Epstein, and Jeffrey Wisoff

✓ A technique of wound closure following tethered cord correction is presented that significantly reduces the incidence of cerebrospinal fluid collections in the subcutaneous space. In over 60 cases, the described method of fascia and skin closure has lessened wound problems to a minimal level. Patient hospitalization time has also been greatly diminished.