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Fred J. Epstein, Alan S. Fleischer, Gerald M. Hochwald and Joseph Ransohoff

✓ The authors report the cases of two shunt-dependent children with recurring ventricular catheter obstruction treated by subtemporal craniectomy with excellent results. It is suggested that the procedure permits some dilatation of the ipsilateral ventricle which in turn makes future catheter obstruction less likely.

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Fred J. Epstein, Donald Wood-Smith, John M. Converse, M. Vallo Benjamin, Melvin H. Becker and Joseph Ransohoff

✓ The authors present their experience in the surgical treatment of 66 patients with craniofacial anomalies, and discuss selection of patients, surgical technique, complications, and results.

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

✓ Fifty-eight patients with previously irradiated intramedullary spinal cord astrocytomas underwent laminectomy for radical excision of their tumors. A high incidence of postoperative cutaneous cerebrospinal fluid fistulas and large pseudomeningoceles following routine closure prompted the development of an alternative method of wound closure using mobilized musculofascial flaps. The authors describe the surgical techniques and pitfalls to be avoided during the closure of complicated laminectomy wounds.

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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.

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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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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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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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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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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.