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George Stranjalis and Evangelos Singounas

✓In this study the authors examine the historical tradition as well as current features of neurosurgery in Greece and compare the available data with international standards. In particular, they describe the organizational structure of neurosurgery with reference to manpower, unit distribution, training, and qualification. They discuss problems such as overproduction of neurosurgeons and the poor control of training and qualification procedures in the neurosurgical profession.

The findings are examined in a critical way and solutions are proposed that could improve the present situation.

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Triantafyllos Bouras, George Stranjalis and Damianos E. Sakas

✓The authors report on the case of a young man with a mild head injury and an isolated palsy of voluntary facial movements, attributed to a midbrain traumatic hematoma. This exception to the generally accepted conjunction between brainstem contusion and poor prognosis pertains to a special entity of midbrain laceration due to hyperextension of the head, with minimal influence on the level of consciousness. The clinical presentation of this lesion with facial palsy sparing emotion-related movement has rarely been described and offers a clue for exploring the neuroanatomy of facial movement.

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George Stranjalis, Evangelos Singounas, Iosif Boutsikakis and George Saroglou

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Evangelia Liouta, Christos Koutsarnakis, Faidon Liakos and George Stranjalis

OBJECT

Current recommendations stress the need for cognitive parameters to be integrated in the evaluation of outcomes for intracranial meningioma surgery. The aim of this prospective study was to examine neurocognitive function in meningioma patients pre- and postoperatively.

METHODS

Patients with skull base (anterior and middle fossa) and convexity (anterior and posterior) meningiomas (n = 54) underwent neuropsychological examination prior to and 1 year after surgery. A control group (n = 52) of healthy volunteers matched for age, sex, and education underwent the same examination. Assessments included executive, memory, and motor functions with standardized testing. Patients with convexity meningiomas were clinically assessed for parietal association cortex functions.

RESULTS

All patients performed significantly worse (p < 0.05) in most neurocognitive domains than controls. The skull base group showed more disturbances in memory than the convexity group (p < 0.05). The anterior convexity group showed more deficits in executive function than the posterior convexity group, which presented with parietal association cortex deficits. Verbal deficits were more pronounced in the left hemisphere than in the right hemisphere. Patients with a large tumor (> 4 cm) had more severe neurocognitive deficits than those with a small tumor (< 4 cm). Postoperatively, patients showed no deterioration in neurocognitive function. Instead, significant improvement (p < 0.05) was observed in some executive, motor, and parietal association cortex functions.

CONCLUSIONS

According to the authors’ findings, intracranial meningiomas may cause neurocognitive deficits in patients. Surgery does not cause a deterioration in cognitive function; instead, it may lead to improvements in some functions. Permanent neuropsychological postoperative deficits should be interpreted as tumor-induced rather than due to surgery.

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Aristotelis V. Kalyvas, Theodosis Kalamatianos, Mantha Pantazi, Georgios D. Lianos, George Stranjalis and George A. Alexiou

OBJECTIVE

Congenital hydrocephalus (CH) is one of the most frequent CNS congenital malformations, representing an entity with serious pathological consequences. Although several studies have previously assessed child-related risk factors associated with CH development, there is a gap of knowledge on maternal environmental risk factors related to CH. The authors have systematically assessed extrinsic factors in the maternal environment that potentially confer an increased risk of CH development.

METHODS

The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, and EMBASE were systematically searched for works published between 1966 and December 2015 to identify all relevant articles published in English. Only studies that investigated environmental risk factors concerning the mother—either during gestation or pregestationally—were included.

RESULTS

In total, 13 studies (5 cohorts, 3 case series, 3 case-control studies, 1 meta-analysis, and 1 case report) meeting the inclusion criteria were identified. Maternal medication or alcohol use during gestation; lifestyle modifiable maternal pathologies such as obesity, diabetes, or hypertension; lack of prenatal care; and a low socioeconomic status were identified as significant maternal environmental risk factors for CH development. Maternal infections and trauma to the mother during pregnancy have also been highlighted as potential mother-related risk factors for CH.

CONCLUSIONS

Congenital hydrocephalus is an important cause of serious infant health disability that can lead to health inequalities among adults. The present study identified several maternal environmental risk factors for CH, thus yielding important scientific information relevant to prevention of some CH cases. However, further research is warranted to confirm the impact of the identified factors and examine their underlying behavioral and/or biological basis, leading to the generation of suitable prevention strategies.

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Christos Koutsarnakis, Aristotelis V. Kalyvas, Spyridon Komaitis, Faidon Liakos, Georgios P. Skandalakis, Christos Anagnostopoulos and George Stranjalis

OBJECTIVE

The authors investigated the specific topographic relationship of the optic radiation fibers to the roof and floor of the ventricular atrium because the current literature is ambiguous.

METHODS

Thirty-five normal, adult, formalin-fixed cerebral hemispheres and 30 focused MRI slices at the level of the atrium were included in the study. The correlative anatomy of the optic radiation with regard to the atrial roof and floor was investigated in 15 specimens, each through focused fiber microdissections. The remaining 5 hemispheres were explored with particular emphasis on the trajectory of the collateral sulcus in relation to the floor of the atrium. In addition, the trajectory of the collateral sulcus was evaluated in 30 MRI scans.

RESULTS

The atrial roof was observed to be devoid of optic radiations in all studied hemispheres, whereas the atrial floor was seen to harbor optic fibers on its lateral part. Moreover, the trajectory of the intraparietal sulcus, when followed, was always seen to correspond to the roof of the atrium, thus avoiding the optic pathway, whereas that of the collateral sulcus was found to lead to either the lateral atrial floor or outside the ventricle in 88% of the cases, therefore hitting the visual pathway.

CONCLUSIONS

Operative corridors accessing the ventricular atrium should be carefully tailored through detailed preoperative planning and effective use of intraoperative navigation to increase patient safety and enhance the surgeon’s maneuverability. The authors strongly emphasize the significance of accurate anatomical knowledge.

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Damianos E. Sakas, Ioannis G. Panourias, George Stranjalis, Maria P. Stefanatou, Nikos Maratheftis and Nikos Bontozoglou

✓The authors present the case of a 52-year-old female patient with a 6-year history of intractable paroxysmal otalgia. Preoperative magnetic resonance (MR) angiography demonstrated an anterior inferior cerebellar artery loop compressing the intermediate nerve in the seventh/eighth cranial nerve complex inside the internal auditory canal. The pain resolved completely after a microvascular decompression via a retromastoid craniotomy. To the best of the authors' knowledge, the combined neuroimaging and intraoperative findings of this case provide a unique demonstration that vascular compression of the intermediate nerve can be the exclusive cause of paroxysmal otalgia. Magnetic resonance imaging and MR angiography can establish the causative mechanism and distinguish this otalgia due to vascular compression of the intermediate nerve from other pain syndromes that are designated as geniculate neuralgia (GN). The present case indicates that intermediate nerve neuralgia is a distinct syndrome of neurovascular conflict and a variant of GN. The causative classification of GN should be reexamined with the use of advanced MR imaging.

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Nikolaos Sakellaridis and Christos Kelesis

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Triantafyllos Bouras, George Stranjalis, Maria Loufardaki, Ilias Sourtzis, Lampis C. Stavrinou and Damianos E. Sakas

Object

This is a retrospective long-term outcome study of results after laminectomy for lumbar spinal stenosis in an elderly group of patients. The study was designed to evaluate possible demographic, comorbidity, and clinical prognosticators for pain reduction and functional improvement in this population. Because the assessment of functional outcome in the elderly is complicated by several specific factors, the use of outcome measurement parameters should be revised and refined. Moreover, despite numerous relevant studies, the results of various techniques remain equivocal, particularly among the elderly, which renders the implementation of focused studies necessary. New data could be used to refine patient selection and choice of technique to improve prognosis.

Methods

During a 5-year period, lumbar laminectomies were performed in 182 elderly patients. Of these 182, 125 patients (68.8%) were followed up for a mean period of 60.8 months. The outcome was assessed by means of pain visual analog scale (VAS) pain score, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and patient satisfaction questionnaire, and results were correlated to demographic (age, sex), comorbidity (Charlson Comorbidity Index, diabetes, depression, and history of lumbar spine surgery), and clinical (main preoperative complaint, preoperative VAS score, and ODI) factors.

Results

In terms of the VAS score, 106 patients (84.8%) exhibited improvement at follow-up. The corresponding ODI improvement rate was 69.6% (87 patients). The mean VAS and ODI differences were 5.1 and 29.1, respectively. One hundred two patients (81.6%) were satisfied with the results of the operation. Univariate analysis for possible prognostic factors revealed the significant influence of low-back pain on VAS score (p = 0.024) and ODI (p < 0.001) not improving, while the ODI was also affected by sex (females had a poorer outcome [p = 0.019]). In contrast, patient satisfaction was not related to any of the preoperative parameters recorded; nevertheless, it was strongly related to all functional measurements on follow-up.

Conclusions

Considering the methodological issues of such studies, particularly in elderly patients, the authors conclude that the ODI is more sensitive than the VAS score in assessing prognostic value and that patient satisfaction is difficult to prognosticate, underscoring the particularities that this population presents regarding functionality assessment. Considering the prognostic value of preoperative factors, a negative influence of low-back pain and female sex is reported.

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Christos Koutsarnakis, Faidon Liakos, Evangelia Liouta, Konstantinos Themistoklis, Damianos Sakas and George Stranjalis

OBJECT

The cerebral isthmus is the white matter area located between the periinsular sulcus and the lateral ventricle. Studies demonstrating the fiber tract and topographic anatomy of this entity are lacking in current neurosurgical literature. Hence, the authors’ primary aim was to describe the microsurgical white matter anatomy of the cerebral isthmus by using the fiber dissection technique, and they discuss its functional significance. In addition, they sought to investigate its possible surgical utility in approaching lesions located in or adjacent to the lateral ventricle.

METHODS

This study was divided into 2 parts and included 30 formalin-fixed cerebral hemispheres, 5 of which were injected with colored silicone. In the first part, 15 uncolored specimens underwent the Klinger’s procedure and were dissected in a lateromedial direction at the level of the superior, inferior, and anterior isthmuses, and 10 were used for coronal and axial cuts. In the second part, the injected specimens were used to investigate the surgical significance of the superior isthmus in accessing the frontal horn of the lateral ventricle.

RESULTS

The microsurgical anatomy of the anterior, superior, and inferior cerebral isthmuses was carefully studied and recorded both in terms of topographic and fiber tract anatomy. In addition, the potential role of the proximal part of the superior isthmus as an alternative safe surgical corridor to the anterior part of the lateral ventricle was investigated.

CONCLUSIONS

Using the fiber dissection technique along with coronal and axial cuts in cadaveric brain specimens remains a cornerstone in the acquisition of thorough anatomical knowledge of narrow white matter areas such as the cerebral isthmus. The surgical significance of the superior isthmus in approaching the frontal horn of the lateral ventricle is stressed, but further studies must be carried out to elucidate its role in ventricular surgery.