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Ivan S. Kotchetkov, Brian Y. Hwang, Geoffrey Appelboom, Christopher P. Kellner and E. Sander Connolly Jr.

Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are devices that acquire and transform neural signals into actions intended by the user. These devices have been a rapidly developing area of research over the past 2 decades, and the military has made significant contributions to these efforts. Presently, BCIs can provide humans with rudimentary control over computer systems and robotic devices. Continued advances in BCI technology are especially pertinent in the military setting, given the potential for therapeutic applications to restore function after combat injury, and for the evolving use of BCI devices in military operations and performance enhancement. Neurosurgeons will play a central role in the further development and implementation of BCIs, but they will also have to navigate important ethical questions in the translation of this highly promising technology. In the following commentary the authors discuss realistic expectations for BCI use in the military and underscore the intersection of the neurosurgeon's civic and clinical duty to care for those who serve their country.

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Bryan A. Lieber, Geoffrey Appelboom, Blake E. S. Taylor, Hani Malone, Nitin Agarwal and E. Sander Connolly Jr.

OBJECT

Each July, 4th-year medical students become 1st-year resident physicians and have much greater responsibility in making management decisions. In addition, incumbent residents and fellows advance to their next postgraduate year and face greater challenges. It has been suggested that among patients who have resident physicians as members of their neurosurgical team, this transition may be associated with increased rates of morbidity and mortality, a phenomenon known as the “July Effect.” In this study, the authors compared morbidity and mortality rates between the initial and later months of the academic year to determine whether there is truly a July Effect that has an impact on this patient population.

METHODS

The authors compared 30-day postoperative outcomes of neurosurgery performed by surgical teams that included resident physicians in training during the first academic quarter (Q1, July through September) with outcomes of neurosurgery performed with resident participation during the final academic quarter (Q4, April through June), using 2006–2012 data from the prospectively collected American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) database. Regression analyses were performed on outcome data that included mortality, surgical complications, and medical complications, which were graded as mild or severe. To determine whether a July Effect was present in subgroups, secondary analyses were performed to analyze the association of outcomes with each major neurosurgical subspecialty, the postgraduate year of the operating resident, and the academic quarter during which the surgery was performed. To control for possible seasonal trends in certain diseases, the authors compared patient outcomes at academic medical centers to those at community-based hospitals, where procedures were not performed by residents. In addition, the efficiency of academic centers was compared to that of community centers in terms of operative duration and total length of hospital stay.

RESULTS

Overall, there were no statistically significant differences in mortality, morbidity, or efficiency between the earlier and later quarters of the academic year, a finding that also held true among neurosurgical subspecialties and among postgraduate levels of training. There was, however, a slight increase in intraoperative transfusions associated with the transitional period in July (6.41% of procedures in Q4 compared to 7.99% in Q1 of the prior calendar year; p = 0.0005), which primarily occurred in cases involving junior (2nd- to 4th-year) residents. In addition, there was an increased rate of reoperation (1.73% in Q4 to 2.19% in Q1; p < 0.0001) observed mainly among senior (5th- to 7th-year) residents in the early academic months and not paralleled in our community cohort.

CONCLUSIONS

There is minimal evidence for a significant July Effect in adult neurosurgery. Our results suggest that, overall, the current resident training system provides enough guidance and support during this challenging transition period.

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Brian Y. Hwang, Samuel S. Bruce, Geoffrey Appelboom, Matthew A. Piazza, Amanda M. Carpenter, Paul R. Gigante, Christopher P. Kellner, Andrew F. Ducruet, Michael A. Kellner, Rajeev Deb-Sen, Kerry A. Vaughan, Philip M. Meyers and E. Sander Connolly Jr.

Object

Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) associated with intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) is an independent predictor of poor outcome. Clinical methods for evaluating IVH, however, are not well established. This study sought to determine the best IVH grading scale by evaluating the predictive accuracies of IVH, Graeb, and LeRoux scores in an independent cohort of ICH patients with IVH. Subacute IVH dynamics as well as the impact of external ventricular drain (EVD) placement on IVH and outcome were also investigated.

Methods

A consecutive cohort of 142 primary ICH patients with IVH was admitted to Columbia University Medical Center between February 2009 and February 2011. Baseline demographics, clinical presentation, and hospital course were prospectively recorded. Admission CT scans performed within 24 hours of onset were reviewed for ICH location, hematoma volume, and presence of IVH. Intraventricular hemorrhage was categorized according to IVH, Graeb, and LeRoux scores. For each patient, the last scan performed within 6 days of ictus was similarly evaluated. Outcomes at discharge were assessed using the modified Rankin Scale (mRS). Receiver operating characteristic analysis was used to determine the predictive accuracies of the grading scales for poor outcome (mRS score ≥ 3).

Results

Seventy-three primary ICH patients (51%) had IVH. Median admission IVH, Graeb, and LeRoux scores were 13, 6, and 8, respectively. Median IVH, Graeb and LeRoux scores decreased to 9 (p = 0.005), 4 (p = 0.002), and 4 (p = 0.003), respectively, within 6 days of ictus. Poor outcome was noted in 55 patients (75%). Areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve were similar among the IVH, Graeb, and LeRoux scores (0.745, 0.743, and 0.744, respectively) and within 6 days postictus (0.765, 0.722, 0.723, respectively). Moreover, the IVH, Graeb, and LeRoux scores had similar maximum Youden Indices both at admission (0.515 vs 0.477 vs 0.440, respectively) and within 6 days postictus (0.515 vs 0.339 vs 0.365, respectively). Patients who received EVDs had higher mean IVH volumes (23 ± 26 ml vs 9 ± 11 ml, p = 0.003) and increased incidence of Glasgow Coma Scale scores < 8 (67% vs 38%, p = 0.015) and hydrocephalus (82% vs 50%, p = 0.004) at admission but had similar outcome as those who did not receive an EVD.

Conclusions

The IVH, Graeb, and LeRoux scores predict outcome well with similarly good accuracy in ICH patients with IVH when assessed at admission and within 6 days after hemorrhage. Therefore, any of one of the scores would be equally useful for assessing IVH severity and risk-stratifying ICH patients with regard to outcome. These results suggest that EVD placement may be beneficial for patients with severe IVH, who have particularly poor prognosis at admission, but a randomized clinical trial is needed to conclusively demonstrate its therapeutic value.

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Bryan A. Lieber, Geoffrey Appelboom, Blake E. Taylor, Franklin D. Lowy, Eliza M. Bruce, Adam M. Sonabend, Christopher Kellner, E. Sander Connolly Jr. and Jeffrey N. Bruce

OBJECT

Preoperative corticosteroids and chemotherapy are frequently prescribed for patients undergoing cranial neurosurgery but may pose a risk of postoperative infection. Postoperative surgical-site infections (SSIs) have significant morbidity and mortality, dramatically increase the length and cost of hospitalization, and are a major cause of 30-day readmission. In patients undergoing cranial neurosurgery, there is a lack of data on the role of patient-specific risk factors in the development of SSIs. The authors of this study sought to determine whether chemotherapy and prolonged steroid use before surgery increase the risk of an SSI at postoperative Day 30.

METHODS

Using the national prospectively collected American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) database for 2006–2012, the authors calculated the rates of superficial, deep-incisional, and organ-space SSIs at postoperative Day 30 for neurosurgery patients who had undergone chemotherapy or had significant steroid use within 30 days before undergoing cranial surgery. Trauma patients, patients younger than 18 years, and patients with a preoperative infection were excluded. Univariate analysis was performed for 25 variables considered risk factors for superficial and organ-space SSIs. To identify independent predictors of SSIs, the authors then conducted a multivariate analysis in which they controlled for duration of operation, wound class, white blood cell count, and other potential confounders that were significant on the univariate analysis.

RESULTS

A total of 8215 patients who had undergone cranial surgery were identified. There were 158 SSIs at 30 days (frequency 1.92%), of which 52 were superficial, 27 were deep-incisional, and 79 were organ-space infections. Preoperative chemotherapy was an independent predictor of organ-space SSIs in the multivariate model (OR 5.20, 95% CI 2.33–11.62, p < 0.0001), as was corticosteroid use (OR 1.86, 95% CI 1.03–3.37, p = 0.04), but neither was a predictor of superficial or deep-incisional SSIs. Other independent predictors of organ-space SSIs were longer duration of operation (OR 1.16), wound class of ≥ 2 (clean-contaminated and further contaminated) (OR 3.17), and morbid obesity (body mass index ≥ 40 kg/m2) (OR 3.05). Among superficial SSIs, wound class of 3 (contaminated) (OR 6.89), operative duration (OR 1.13), and infratentorial surgical approach (OR 2.20) were predictors.

CONCLUSIONS

Preoperative chemotherapy and corticosteroid use are independent predictors of organ-space SSIs, even when data are controlled for leukopenia. This indicates that the disease process in organ-space SSIs may differ from that in superficial SSIs. In effect, this study provides one of the largest analyses of risk factors for SSIs after cranial surgery. The results suggest that, in certain circumstances, modulation of preoperative chemotherapy or steroid regimens may reduce the risk of organ-space SSIs and should be considered in the preoperative care of this population. Future studies are needed to determine optimal timing and dosing of these medications.

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Geoffrey Appelboom, Stephen D. Zoller, Matthew A. Piazza, Caroline Szpalski, Samuel S. Bruce, Michael M. McDowell, Kerry A. Vaughan, Brad E. Zacharia, Zachary Hickman, Anthony D'Ambrosio, Neil A. Feldstein and Richard C. E. Anderson

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the current leading cause of death in children over 1 year of age. Adequate management and care of pediatric patients is critical to ensure the best functional outcome in this population. In their controversial trial, Cooper et al. concluded that decompressive craniectomy following TBI did not improve clinical outcome of the analyzed adult population. While the study did not target pediatric populations, the results do raise important and timely clinical questions regarding the effectiveness of decompressive surgery in pediatric patients. There is still a paucity of evidence regarding the effectiveness of this therapy in a pediatric population, and there is an especially noticeable knowledge gap surrounding age-stratified interventions in pediatric trauma. The purposes of this review are to first explore the anatomical variations between pediatric and adult populations in the setting of TBI. Second, the authors assess how these differences between adult and pediatric populations could translate into differences in the impact of decompressive surgery following TBI.

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Amy A. Ishkanian, Margy E. McCullough-Hicks, Geoffrey Appelboom, Matthew A. Piazza, Brian Y. Hwang, Samuel S. Bruce, Lindsay M. Hannan, E. Sander Connolly, Sean D. Lavine and Philip M. Meyers

Outcome after intraarterial therapy (IAT) for acute ischemic stroke remains variable, suggesting that improved patient selection is needed to better identify patients likely to benefit from treatment. The authors evaluate the predictive accuracies of the Houston IAT (HIAT) and the Totaled Health Risks in Vascular Events (THRIVE) scores in an independent cohort and review the existing literature detailing additional predictive factors to be used in patient selection for IAT. They reviewed their center's endovascular records from January 2004 to July 2010 and identified patients who had acute ischemic stroke and underwent IAT. They calculated individual HIAT and THRIVE scores using patient age, admission National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score, admission glucose level, and medical history. The scores' predictive accuracies for good outcome (discharge modified Rankin Scale score ≤ 3) were analyzed using receiver operating characteristics analysis. The THRIVE score predicts poor outcome after IAT with reasonable accuracy and may perform better than the HIAT score. Nevertheless, both measures may have significant clinical utility; further validation in larger cohorts that accounts for differences in patient demographic characteristics, variation in time-to-treatment, and center preferences with respect to IAT modalities is needed. Additional patient predictive factors have been reported but not yet incorporated into predictive scales; the authors suggest the need for additional data analysis to determine the independent predictive value of patient admission NIHSS score, age, admission hyperglycemia, patient comorbidities, thrombus burden, collateral flow, time to treatment, and baseline neuroimaging findings.

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Richard C. E. Anderson, Michael M. McDowell, Christopher P. Kellner, Geoffrey Appelboom, Samuel S. Bruce, Ivan S. Kotchetkov, Raqeeb Haque, Neil A. Feldstein, E. Sander Connolly Jr., Robert A. Solomon, Philip M. Meyers and Sean D. Lavine

Object

Conventional cerebral angiography and treatment for ruptured arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) in children are often performed in a delayed fashion. In adults, current literature suggests that AVM-associated aneurysms may be more likely to hemorrhage than isolated AVMs, which often leads to earlier angiography and endovascular treatment of associated aneurysms. The nature of AVM-associated aneurysms in the pediatric population is virtually unknown. In this report, the authors investigate the relationship of associated aneurysms in a large group of children with AVMs.

Methods

Seventy-seven pediatric patients (≤ 21 years old) with AVMs were treated at the Columbia University Medical Center between 1991 and 2010. Medical records and imaging studies were retrospectively reviewed, and associated aneurysms were classified as arterial, intranidal, or venous in location. Clinical presentation and outcome variables were compared between children with and without AVM-associated aneurysms.

Results

A total of 30 AVM-associated aneurysms were found in 22 children (29% incidence). Eleven were arterial, 9 intranidal, and 10 were venous in location. There was no significant difference in the rate of hemorrhage (p = 0.91) between children with isolated AVMs (35 of 55 [64%]) and children with AVM-associated aneurysms (13 of 22 [59%]). However, of the 11 children with AVM-associated aneurysms in an arterial location, 10 presented with hemorrhage (91%). An association with hemorrhage was significant in univariate analysis (p = 0.045) but not in multivariate analysis (p = 0.37).

Conclusions

Associated aneurysms are present in nearly a third of children with AVMs, and when arterially located, are more likely to present with hemorrhage. These data suggest that early angiography with endovascular treatment of arterial-based aneurysms in children with AVMs may be indicated.

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Amit Ayer, Alexander Campbell, Geoffrey Appelboom, Brian Y. Hwang, Michael McDowell, Matthew Piazza, Neil A. Feldstein and Richard C. E. Anderson

In this report, the evidence, mechanisms, and rationale for the practice of artificial cranial deformation (ACD) in ancient Peru and during Akhenaten's reign in the 18th dynasty in Egypt (1375–1358 BCE) are reviewed. The authors argue that insufficient attention has been given to the sociopolitical implications of the practice in both regions. While evidence from ancient Peru is widespread and complex, there are comparatively fewer examples of deformed crania from the period of Akhenaten's rule. Nevertheless, Akhenaten's own deformity, the skull of the so-called “Younger Lady” mummy, and Tutankhamen's skull all evince some degree of plagiocephaly, suggesting the need for further research using evidence from depictions of the royal family in reliefs and busts. Following the anthropological review, a neurosurgical focus is directed to instances of plagiocephaly in modern medicine, with special attention to the conditions' etiology, consequences, and treatment. Novel clinical studies on varying modes of treatment will also be studied, together forming a comprehensive review of ACD, both in the past and present.