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Gerhard M. Friehs, Oskar Schröttner and Gerhard Pendl

✓ The lateral spinothalamic tract, located in the anterolateral quadrant of the white matter of the spinal cord, is one of the most important structures in transmitting pain within the central nervous system. It has been known for almost a century that destruction of fibers in this tract results in analgesia contralateral to the lesion. The effectiveness and clinical importance of interruption of the lateral spinothalamic tract has been proven in many studies. Today cordotomies are still a useful neurosurgical treatment modality, especially when pain can no longer be sufficiently controlled by analgesic drugs. Although analgesia on the contralateral side is the desired effect, one must also expect to cause disturbance in temperature sensation when performing a cordotomy.

The authors' observations showed that after a cordotomy the dermatome level of analgesia can be variable within certain limits, which is in accordance with the literature. Surprisingly, however, the loss of temperature sensation may differ significantly from the loss of pain sensation. It was also found to be possible to perform a successful cordotomy without altering the sensation of temperature at all. This indicates that pain and temperature sensations may be conducted via separate pathways. Possible mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are discussed.

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Bernhard Sutter, Adam Arthur, Jeffrey Laurent, James Chadduck, Gerhard Friehs, Georg Clarici and Gerhard Pendl

Surgical treatment of intrameduallary spinal cord metastases (ISCM) has become increasingly effective in recent years. The advent of new imaging techniques combined with an enhanced understanding of the natural history of these tumors has improved the effectiveness of the available treatment options. The authors present three new cases of ISCM successfully treated with surgery. A review of 129 cases found in the literature is also discussed. Characteristic symptomology and presentation are reviewed with an eye toward improving diagnostic methodology. The natural history of ISCM is divided into three phases. Surgical intervention should be used early in phase 2.

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Gerhard M. Friehs, Joseph Legat, Zhen Zheng, Gerhard Pendl and Georg C. Noren

In order to determine the effectiveness of gamma knife (GK) radiosurgery in patients with malignant melanoma metastases, the authors conducted a prospective multicenter study. :Forty-five patients with a total of 96 lesions were treated and followed to measure survival time, tumor control rate, and Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) score. The mean survival time was 8.7 months (median 4.2 months), and tumor control was achieved in 86% of lesions. When obtained, the median preoperative KPS of 80 was maintained at a median of 80 post-GK treatment.

The authors found GK treatment for metastases of malignant melanoma to be highly effective in controlling tumor growth. Survival rates obtained after GK treatment were found to be superior to historically obtained data concerning external beam radiotherapy follow up. Radiosurgery with the GK can therefore be considered a good primary treatment option for metastatic brain disease of malignant melanoma.

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Zhen Zheng, Douglas Shearer, Georg Norén, Prakash Chougule and Gerhard Friehs

✓ This study was conducted to evaluate the geometric distortion of angiographic images created from a commonly used digital x-ray imaging system and the performance of a commercially available distortion-correction computer program.

A 12 × 12 × 12—cm wood phantom was constructed. Lead shots, 2 mm in diameter, were attached to the surfaces of the phantom. The phantom was then placed inside the angiographic localizer. Cut films (frontal and lateral analog films) of the phantom were obtained. The films were analyzed using GammaPlan target series 4.12. The same procedure was repeated with a digital x-ray imaging system equipped with a computer program to correct the geometric distortion. The distortion of the two sets of digital images was evaluated using the coordinates of the lead shots from the cut films as references.

The coordinates of all lead shots obtained from digital images and corrected by the computer program coincided within 0.5 mm of those obtained from cut films. The average difference is 0.28 mm with a standard deviation of 0.01 mm. On the other hand, the coordinates obtained from digital images with and without correction can differ by as much as 3.4 mm. The average difference is 1.53 mm, with a standard deviation of 0.67 mm.

The investigated computer program can reduce the geometric distortion of digital images from a commonly used x-ray imaging system to less than 0.5 mm. Therefore, they are suitable for the localization of arteriovenous malformations and other vascular targets in gamma knife radiosurgery.

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Steven T. Cobery, Georg Noren, Gerhard M. Friehs, Prakash Chougule, Zhen Zheng, Mel H. Epstein and William Taylor

✓ The authors investigated the use of gamma knife surgery (GKS) in the treatment of central neurocytoma, a usually benign primary brain tumor of the lateral and third ventricles. Four patients with subtotally resected or recurrent central neurocytomas were retrospectively studied. The prescription isodose was 9 to 13 Gy to the 30 to 50% peripheral isodose line. Pre- and postoperative magnetic resonance (MR) images were compared to determine the volume reduction following GKS. Follow-up review included annual MR imaging and clinical evaluation by a neurosurgeon. Follow-up periods ranged from 12 to 99 months.

Marked reduction in tumor size was seen in all four patients; the decrease in tumor volume for each was 48%, 72%, 81%, and 77%, respectively, at the last follow-up review. None of the four patients required additional treatment and none experienced a decline in neurological function during the follow-up period. No complications have been noted in any of these patients to date. Even though there have been few observations and follow-up time has been limited, because of the consistency of the response and the lack of observed side effects, GKS may be the treatment of choice for subtotally resected and recurrent central neurocytomas.

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Vasilios A. Zerris, Georg C. Noren, William A. Shucart, Jeff Rogg and Gerhard M. Friehs

Object. The authors undertook a study to identify magnetic resonance (MR) imaging techniques that can be used reliably during gamma knife surgery (GKS) to identify the trigeminal nerve, surrounding vasculature, and areas of compression.

Methods. Preoperative visualization of the trigeminal nerve and surrounding vasculature as well as targeting the area of vascular compression may increase the effectiveness of GKS for trigeminal neuralgia. During the past years our gamma knife centers have researched different MR imaging sequences with regard to their ability to visualize cranial nerves and vascular structures. Constructive interference in steady-state (CISS) fusion imaging with three-dimensional gradient echo sequences (3D-Flash) was found to be of greatest value in the authors' 25 most recent patients.

In 24 (96%) out of the 25 patients, the fifth cranial nerve, surrounding vessels, and areas of compression could be reliably identified using CISS/3D-Flash. The MR images were acceptable despite patients' history of microvascular decompression, radiofrequency (RF) ablation, or concomitant disease. In one of 25 patients with a history of multiple RF lesions, the visualization was inadequate due to severe trigeminal nerve atrophy.

Conclusions. The CISS/3D-Flash fusion imaging has become the preferred imaging method at the authors' institutions during GKS for trigeminal neuralgia. It affords the best visualization of the trigeminal nerve, surrounding vasculature, and the precise location of vascular compression.

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Scott L. Rauch, Darin D. Dougherty, Donald Malone, Ali Rezai, Gerhard Friehs, Alan J. Fischman, Nathaniel M. Alpert, Suzanne N. Haber, Paul H. Stypulkowski, Mark T. Rise, Steven A. Rasmussen and Benjamin D. Greenberg

Object

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the ventral [anterior internal] capsule/ventral striatum (VC/VS) is under investigation as an alternative to anterior capsulotomy for severe obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). In neuroimaging studies of patients with OCD, dysfunction in the orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate cortex, striatum, and thalamus has been identified; and modulation of activity in this circuit has been observed following successful nonsurgical treatment. The purpose of the current study was to test hypotheses regarding changes in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) during acute DBS at the VC/VS target in patients with OCD who were participating in a clinical DBS trial.

Methods

Six patients enrolled in a DBS trial for OCD underwent positron emission tomography to measure rCBF; the rCBF measured during acute DBS at high frequency was then compared with those measured during DBS at low frequency and off (control) conditions. On the basis of neuroanatomical knowledge about the VC/VS and neuroimaging data on OCD, the authors predicted that acute DBS at this target would result in modulation of activity within the implicated frontal–basal ganglia–thalamic circuit. Data were analyzed using statistical parametric mapping.

In a comparison of acute high-frequency DBS with control conditions, the authors found significant activation of the orbitofrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, striatum, globus pallidus, and thalamus.

Conclusions

Acute DBS at the VC/VS target is associated with activation of the circuitry implicated in OCD. Further studies will be necessary to replicate these findings and to determine the neural effects associated with chronic VC/VS DBS. Moreover, additional data are needed to investigate whether pretreatment imaging profiles can be used to predict a patient’s subsequent clinical response to chronic DBS.

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Gerhard M. Friehs, Michael C. Park, Marc A. Goldman, Vasilios A. Zerris, Georg Norén and Prakash Sampath

✓ Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) with the Gamma Knife and linear accelerator has revolutionized neurosurgery over the past 20 years. The most common indications for radiosurgery today are tumors and arteriovenous malformations of the brain. Functional indications such as treatment of movement disorders or intractable pain only contribute a small percentage of treated patients. Although SRS is the only noninvasive form of treatment for functional disorders, it also has some limitations: neurophysiological confirmation of the target structure is not possible, and one therefore must rely exclusively on anatomical targeting. Furthermore, lesion sizes may vary, and shielding adjacent radiosensitive neural structures may be difficult or impossible.

The most common indication for functional SRS is the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia. Radiosurgical treatment for epilepsy and certain psychiatric illnesses is performed in several centers as part of strict research protocols, and radiosurgical pallidotomy or medial thalamotomy is no longer recommended due to the high risk of complications. Radiosurgical ventrolateral thalamotomy for the treatment of tremor in patients with Parkinson disease or multiple sclerosis, as well as in the treatment of essential tremor, may be indicated for a select group of patients with advanced age, significant medical conditions that preclude treatment with open surgery, or patients who must receive anticoagulation therapy. A promising new application of SRS is high-dose radiosurgery delivered to the pituitary stalk. This treatment has already been successfully performed in several centers around the world to treat severe pain in patients with end-stage cancer.