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Jonathan G. Thomas, Ganesh Rao, Yvonne Kew and Sujit S. Prabhu

OBJECTIVE

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and deadly malignant primary brain tumor. Better surgical therapies are needed for newly diagnosed GBMs that are difficult to resect and for GBMs that recur despite standard therapies. The authors reviewed their institutional experience of using laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) for the treatment of newly diagnosed or recurrent GBMs.

METHODS

This study reports on the pre-LITT characteristics and post-LITT outcomes of 8 patients with newly diagnosed GBMs and 13 patients with recurrent GBM who underwent LITT.

RESULTS

Compared with the group with recurrent GBMs, the patients with newly diagnosed GBMs who underwent LITT tended to be older (60.8 vs 48.9 years), harbored larger tumors (22.4 vs 14.6 cm3), and a greater proportion had IDH wild-type GBMs. In the newly diagnosed GBM group, the median progression-free survival and the median survival after the procedure were 2 months and 8 months, respectively, and no patient demonstrated radiographic shrinkage of the tumor on follow-up imaging. In the 13 patients with recurrent GBM, 5 demonstrated a response to LITT, with radiographic shrinkage of the tumor following ablation. The median progression-free survival was 5 months, and the median survival was greater than 7 months.

CONCLUSIONS

In carefully selected patients with recurrent GBM, LITT may be an effective alternative to surgery as a salvage treatment. Its role in the treatment of newly diagnosed unresectable GBMs is not established yet and requires further study.

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Ganesh Rao, Robert Bohinski, Iman Feiz-Erfan and Laurence D. Rhines

✓The retroperitoneal surgical approach has gained acceptance as a way to access the ventral aspect of the lumbar spine. Visualization is often limited, however, by the psoas muscle, which lies along the posterolateral aspect of the spine. Improved visualization is often attempted by retracting the muscle from the wound, which generally pulls the muscle laterally from the spine but not posteriorly, which is desirable for a better exposure of the spine, particularly the neural elements. In this paper, the authors describe a simple, atraumatic technique for retraction of the psoas muscle that allows excellent visualization of the spine.

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Benjamin D. Fox, Akash Patel, Dima Suki and Ganesh Rao

Object

Metastatic sarcoma to the brain is rare and represents a therapeutic challenge due to its relative resistance to radio- and chemotherapy. Resection has traditionally been the mainstay of treatment. The authors reviewed a series of patients with metastatic sarcoma to the brain treated surgically to determine outcomes and identify predictors of survival in these patients.

Methods

A retrospective review of prospectively collected data was undertaken on patients undergoing surgery between 1993 and 2005 for metastatic sarcoma to the brain at The University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Results

During the study period, 62 patients underwent 84 operations for metastatic sarcoma to the brain. The median postoperative overall and progression-free survival rates were 7.5 and 4.7 months, respectively. Fifty-nine (95%) of 62 patients had a gross-total resection. The 30-day mortality rate was 4.2%. The Karnofsky Performance Scale scores at discharge from the hospital and 3 months postoperatively were the same or improved in 50 (85%) of 59 and 26 (51%) of 51, respectively. Overall postcraniotomy survival was 62% at 6 months, 39% at 1 year, 21% at 2 years, and 8% at 5 years. In multivariate and univariate analysis, control of systemic disease, and sarcomas originating from bone, cartilage, or soft tissue were predictors of survival. Patients with control of systemic disease had survival advantage when compared with those who did not. In patients with alveolar soft-part sarcoma, there was a significantly increased survival advantage compared with all other histological subgroups.

Conclusions

The authors' results suggest that in selected patients, resection of metastatic sarcoma to the brain is associated with a relatively low risk of operative death and results in improvement in neurological function. Patients with systemic control of their primary disease and certain histological subtypes (specifically alveolar soft-part sarcoma) have improved overall and progression-free survival.

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Claudio E. Tatsui, Ganesh Rao and Laurence D. Rhines

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Ganesh Rao, Darrel S. Brodke, Matthew Rondina and Andrew T. Dailey

Object. To validate computerized tomography (CT) scanning as a tool to assess the accuracy of thoracic pedicle screw placement, the authors compared its accuracy with that of direct visualization in instrumented cadaveric spine specimens.

Methods. A grading scale was devised to score the placement of the pedicle screw. The grades ranged from 0 to 3 depending on the extent to which the pedicle had been violated. One hundred fifty-five pedicles were fitted with instrumentation in eight cadaveric spines. A single observer graded the appearance of the screw based on CT scans (3-mm axial sections with 1-mm overlap) and direct visualization of the specimen. The authors arrived at a Kappa value of 0.51, which suggested only moderate agreement between the two measurement techniques. Whereas CT had a positive predictive value of 95%, it had a negative predictive value of 62%.

Conclusions. The authors thus conclude that although CT scanning is the most valid tool to assess the accuracy of thoracic pedicle screw placement, it tends to overestimate the number of misplaced screws.

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Ganesh Rao, Adam S. Arthur and Ronald I. Apfelbaum

✓ Fractures of the craniocervical junction are common in victims of high-speed motor vehicle accidents; indeed, injury to this area is often fatal. The authors present the unusual case of a young woman who sustained a circumferential fracture of the craniocervical junction. Despite significant trauma to this area, she suffered remarkably minor neurological impairment and made an excellent recovery. Her injuries, treatment, and outcome, as well as a review of the literature with regard to injuries at the craniocervical junction, are discussed.

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Oren N. Gottfried, Ganesh Rao, Richard C. E. Anderson, Gary L. Hedlund and Douglas L. Brockmeyer

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Nerve sheath tumors involving the sacrum

Case report and classification scheme

Paul Klimo Jr., Ganesh Rao, Richard H. Schmidt and Meic H. Schmidt

Nerve sheath tumors that involve the sacrum are rare. Delayed presentation is common because of their slow-growing nature, the permissive surrounding anatomical environment, and nonspecific symptoms. Consequently, these tumors are usually of considerable size at the time of diagnosis.

The authors discuss a case of a sacral nerve sheath tumor. They also propose a classification scheme for these tumors based on their location with respect to the sacrum into three types (Types I–III). Type I tumors are confined to the sacrum; Type II originate within the sacrum but then locally metastasize through the anterior and posterior sacral walls into the presacral and subcutaneous spaces, respectively; and Type III are located primarily in the presacral/retroperitoneal area. The overwhelming majority of sacral nerve sheath tumors are schwannomas. Neurofibromas and malignant nerve sheath tumors are exceedingly rare. Regardless of their histological features, the goal of treatment is complete excision. Adjuvant radiotherapy may be used in patients in whom resection was subtotal. Approaches to the sacrum can generally be classified as anterior or posterior. Type I tumors may be resected via a posterior approach alone, Type III may require an anterior approach, and Type II tumors usually require combined anterior–posterior surgery.

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Paul Klimo Jr., Peter Kan, Ganesh Rao, Ronald Apfelbaum and Douglas Brockmeyer

Object

The most contentious issue in the management of os odontoideum surrounds the decision to attempt atlantoaxial fusion in patients with asymptomatic lesions. The authors examined the clinical presentation and outcome in patients with os odontoideum who underwent surgical stabilization, with an emphasis on 3 patients who initially received conservative treatment and suffered delayed neurological injury.

Methods

Seventy-eight patients (mean age 20.5 years; median 15 years) were identified in a 17-year retrospective review. The median follow-up period was 14 months (range 1–115 months). Neck pain was the most common symptom (64%), and 56% of patients presented after traumatic injury. Eighteen patients had neurological signs or symptoms at presentation, and an additional 15 had a history of intermittent or prior neurological symptoms. Fifteen patients had undergone ≥ 1 attempt at atlantoaxial fusion elsewhere.

Results

Seventy-seven patients underwent posterior fusion and rigid screw fixation combined with a graft/wire construct: 75 had C1–2 fusion and 2 had occipitocervical fusion. One patient had an odontoid screw placed. Fusion was achieved in all patients at a median of 4.8 months (range 2–17 months). Approximately 90% of patients had resolution or improvement of their neck pain or neurological symptoms.

Conclusions

The authors believe that patients with os odontoideum are at risk for future spinal cord compromise. Forty-four percent of our patients had myelopathic symptoms at referral, and 3 had significant neurological deterioration when a known os odontoideum was left untreated. This risk of late neurological deterioration should be considered when counseling patients. Stabilization using internal screw fixation techniques resulted in 100% fusion, whereas 15% of patients had previously undergone unsuccessful wire and external bracing attempts.

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Ganesh Rao, Chul S. Ha, Indro Chakrabarti, Iman Feiz-Erfan, Ehud Mendel and Laurence D. Rhines

Object

Metastases of multiple myeloma often occur in the cervical spine. These metastases may cause pain and associated spinal instability. The authors report the results of radiotherapy and surgical treatment for myeloma involving the cervical spine. The results of radiation therapy for multiple myeloma metastases to the cervical spine that cause clinical or radiographically documented instability have not been reported previously.

Methods

A retrospective chart review of patients with multiple myeloma metastases to the cervical spine was undertaken. Between 1993 and 2005, 35 patients were treated with external-beam radiation and/or surgical stabilization at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Nineteen of 20 patients with sufficient follow-up data experienced resolution of their pain when treated with radiation without surgical intervention. Twenty-three patients had evidence of spinal instability on radiographic images; 15 of these were treated with radiation alone. Of these, 10 had sufficient follow-up data, and none showed any clinical progression of instability. Radiographic follow-up images demonstrated an arrest of further progression of instability and, in some cases, healing of pathological fractures by means of radiation alone.

Conclusions

The results of this series suggest that, in selected cases, external-beam radiation for multiple myeloma metastases to the cervical spine is an effective palliative treatment, even in cases involving clinical or radiographically documented instability.