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Robert W. Bina, G. Michael Lemole Jr. and Travis M. Dumont

Within neurosurgery, the national mandate of the 2003 duty hour restrictions (DHR) by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has been controversial. Ensuring the proper education and psychological well-being of residents while fulfilling the primary purpose of patient care has generated much debate. Most medical disciplines have developed strategies that address service needs while meeting educational goals. Additionally, there are numerous studies from those disciplines; however, they are not specifically relevant to the needs of a neurosurgical residency. The recent implementation of the 2011 DHR specifically aimed at limiting interns to 16-hourduty shifts has proven controversial and challenging across the nation for neurosurgical residencies—again bringing education and service needs into conflict.

In this report the current literature on DHR is reviewed, with special attention paid to neurosurgical residencies, discussing resident fatigue, technical training, and patient safety. Where appropriate, other specialty studies have been included. The authors believe that a one-size-fits-all approach to residency training mandated by the ACGME is not appropriate for the training of neurosurgical residents. In the authors’ opinion, an arbitrary timeline designed to limit resident fatigue limits patient care and technical training, and has not improved patient safety.

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Walter Montanera

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Vernard S. Fennell, Nikolay L. Martirosyan, Sheri K. Palejwala, G. Michael Lemole Jr. and Travis M. Dumont


Endovascular treatment of cerebrovascular pathology, particularly aneurysms, is becoming more prevalent. There is a wide variety in clinical background and training of physicians who treat cerebrovascular pathology through endovascular means. The impact of clinical training background on patient outcomes is not well documented.


The authors conducted a retrospective analysis of a large national database, the University HealthSystem Consortium, that was queried in the years 2009–2013. Cases of both unruptured cerebral aneurysms and subarachnoid hemorrhage treated by endovascular obliteration were studied. Outcome measures of morbidity and mortality were evaluated according to the specialty of the treating physician.


Elective embolization of an unruptured aneurysm was the procedure code and primary diagnosis, respectively, for 12,400 cases. Patients with at least 1 complication were reported in 799 cases (6.4%). Deaths were reported in 193 cases (1.6%). Complications and deaths were varied by specialty; the highest incidence of complications (11.1%) and deaths (3.0%) were reported by neurologists. The fewest complications were reported by neurosurgeons (5.4%; 1.4% deaths), with a higher incidence of complications reported in cases performed by neurologists (p < 0.0001 for both complications and deaths) and to a lesser degree interventional radiologists (p = 0.0093 for complications). Subarachnoid hemorrhage was the primary diagnosis and procedure for 8197 cases. At least 1 complication was reported in 2385 cases (29%) and deaths in 983 cases (12%). The number of complications and deaths varied among specialties. The highest incidence of complications (34%) and deaths (13.5%) in subarachnoid hemorrhage was in cases performed by neurologists. The fewest complications were in cases by neurosurgeons (27%), with a higher incidence of complications in cases performed by neurologists (34%, p < 0.0001), and a trend of increased complications with interventional radiologists (30%, p < 0.0676). The lowest incidence of mortality was in cases performed by neurosurgeons (11.5%), with a significantly higher incidence of mortality in cases performed by neurologists (13.5%, p = 0.0372). Mortality rates did not reach statistical significance with respect to interventional radiologists (12.1%, p = 0.4884).


Physicians of varied training types and backgrounds use endovascular treatment of ruptured and unruptured intracerebral aneurysms. In this study there was a statistically significant finding that neurosurgically trained physicians may demonstrate improved outcomes with respect to endovascular treatment of unruptured aneurysms in this cohort. This finding warrants further investigation.

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G. Michael Lemole Jr., Jeffrey S. Henn, Joseph M. Zabramski and Robert F. Spetzler

✓ The orbitozygomatic craniotomy is one of the workhorse approaches of skull base surgery, providing wide, multidirectional access to the anterior and middle cranial fossae as well as the basilar apex. Complete removal of the orbitozygomatic bar increases the angles of exposure, decreases the working depth of the surgical field, and minimizes brain retraction. In many cases, however, only a portion of the exposure provided by the full orbitozygomatic approach is needed. Tailoring the extent of the bone resection to the specific lesion being treated can help lower approach-related morbidity while maintaining its advantages. The authors describe the technical details of the supraorbital and subtemporal modified orbitozygomatic approaches and discuss the surgical indications for their use.

Modifications to the orbitozygomatic approach are an example of the ongoing adaptation of skull base procedures to general neurosurgical practice.

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G. Michael Lemole Jr., Jeffrey Henn, Sam Javedan, Vivek Deshmukh and Robert F. Spetzler

✓ Cerebral revascularization is often required for the surgical treatment of complex intracranial aneurysms. In certain anatomical locations, vascular anatomy and redundancy make in situ bypass possible. The authors present four patients who underwent revascularization performed using the rarely reported posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA)—PICA in situ bypass after their aneurysms had been trapped.

At Barrow Neurological Institute, between 1991 and the present, four male patients underwent PICA—PICA bypasses to treat aneurysms involving the vertebral artery, the PICA, or both. The mean age of these patients was 34 years (range 5–49 years). Follow-up studies revealed patent bypasses and no evidence of infarction. Patient outcomes were excellent or good.

Multiple surgical techniques have been described for revascularization of at-risk cerebral territories. Often, the blood supply must be derived from extracranial sources through a mobilized pedicle or interposited graft. Certain anatomical locations such as the vertebrobasilar junction, the anterior circle of Willis, and the middle cerebral artery bifurcation are amenable to in situ bypass because there is vessel redundancy or proximity to the contralateral analogous vessel. The advantages of an in situ bypass include one suture line, a short bypass distance, and a close match with the caliber of the recipient graft. Although technically challenging, this technique can be successful and should be considered for appropriate candidates.

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Nikolay L. Martirosyan, M. Yashar S. Kalani, G. Michael Lemole Jr., Robert F. Spetzler, Mark C. Preul and Nicholas Theodore


The arterial basket of the conus medullaris (ABCM) consists of 1 or 2 arteries arising from the anterior spinal artery (ASA) and circumferentially connecting the ASA and the posterior spinal arteries (PSAs). The arterial basket can be involved in arteriovenous fistulas and arteriovenous malformations of the conus. In this article, the authors describe the microsurgical anatomy of the ABCM with emphasis on its morphometric parameters and important role in the intrinsic blood supply of the conus medullaris.


The authors performed microsurgical dissections on 16 formalin-fixed human spinal cords harvested within 24 hours of death. The course, diameter, and branching angles of the arteries comprising the ABCM were then identified and measured. In addition, histological sections were obtained to identify perforating vessels arising from the ABCM.


The ASA tapers as it nears the conus medullaris (mean preconus diameter 0.7 ± 0.12 mm vs mean conus diameter 0.38 ± 0.08 mm). The ASA forms an anastomotic basket with the posterior spinal artery (PSA) via anastomotic branches. In most of the specimens (n= 13, 81.3%), bilateral arteries formed connections between the ASA and PSA. However, in the remaining specimens (n= 3, 18.7%), a unilateral right-sided anastomotic artery was identified. The mean diameter of the right ABCM branch was 0.49 ± 0.13 mm, and the mean diameter of the left branch was 0.53 ± 0.14 mm. The mean branching angles of the arteries forming the anastomotic basket were 95.9° ± 36.6° and 90° ± 34.3° for the right- and left-sided arteries, respectively. In cases of bilateral arterial anastomoses between the ASA and PSA, the mean distance between the origins of the arteries was 4.5 ± 3.3 mm. Histological analysis revealed numerous perforating vessels supplying tissue of the conus medullaris.


The ABCM is a critical anastomotic connection between the ASA and PSA, which play an important role in the intrinsic blood supply of the conus medullaris. The ABCM provides an important compensatory function in the blood supply of the spinal cord. Its involvement in conus medullaris vascular malformations makes it a critical anatomical structure.

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P. Pat Banerjee, Cristian J. Luciano, G. Michael Lemole Jr., Fady T. Charbel and Michael Y. Oh


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of ventriculostomy catheter placement on a head- and hand-tracked high-resolution and high-performance virtual reality and haptic technology workstation.


Seventy-eight fellows and residents performed simulated ventriculostomy catheter placement on an ImmersiveTouch system. The virtual catheter was placed into a virtual patient's head derived from a computed tomography data set. Participants were allowed one attempt each. The distance from the tip of the catheter to the Monro foramen was measured.


The mean distance (± standard deviation) from the final position of the catheter tip to the Monro foramen was 16.09 mm (± 7.85 mm).


The accuracy of virtual ventriculostomy catheter placement achieved by participants using the simulator is comparable to the accuracy reported in a recent retrospective evaluation of free-hand ventriculostomy placements in which the mean distance from the catheter tip to the Monro foramen was 16 mm (± 9.6 mm).

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Jeffrey S. Henn, G. Michael Lemole Jr., Mauro A. T. Ferreira, L. Fernando Gonzalez, Mark Schornak, Mark C. Preul and Robert F. Spetzler

✓ The goal of this study was to develop a new method for neurosurgical education based on interactive stereoscopic virtual reality (ISVR). Interactive stereoscopic virtual reality can be used to recreate the three-dimensional (3D) experience of neurosurgical approaches much more realistically than standard educational methods. The demonstration of complex 3D relationships is unrivaled and easily combined with interactive learning and multimedia capabilities.

Interactive stereoscopic virtual reality permits the accurate recreation of neurosurgical approaches through integration of several forms of stereoscopic multimedia (video, interactive anatomy, and computer-rendered animations). The content explored using ISVR is obtained through a combination of approach-based cadaver dissections, live surgical images and videos, and computer-rendered animations. These media are combined through an interactive software interface to demonstrate key aspects of a neurosurgical approach (for example, patient positioning, draping, incision, individual surgical steps, alternative steps, relevant anatomy). The ISVR platform is designed for use on a desktop personal computer with newly developed, inexpensive, platform-independent shutter glasses.

Interactive stereoscopic virtual reality has been used to capture the anatomy and methods of several neurosurgical approaches. In this paper the authors report their experience with ISVR and describe its potential advantages. The success of a neurosurgical approach is contingent on the mastery of complex, 3D anatomy. A new technology for neurosurgical education, ISVR can improve understanding and speed the learning process. It is an effective tool for neurosurgical education, bridging the substantial gap between textbooks and intraoperative training.