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  • Author or Editor: Gregory G. Heuer x
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Michael F. Stiefel, Gregory G. Heuer, Michelle J. Smith, Stephanie Bloom, Eileen Maloney-Wilensky, Vincente H. Gracias, M. Sean Grady and Peter D. Leroux

Object. Medically intractable intracranial hypertension is a major cause of morbidity and mortality after severe brain injury. One potential treatment for intracranial hypertension is decompressive hemicraniectomy (DCH). Whether and when to use DCH, however, remain unclear. The authors therefore studied the effects of DCH on cerebral O2 to develop a better understanding of the effects of this treatment on the recovery from injury and disease.

Methods. The study focused on seven patients (mean age 30.6 ± 9.7 years) admitted to the hospital after traumatic brain injury (five patients) or subarachnoid hemorrhage (two patients) as part of a prospective observational database at a Level I trauma center. At admission the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score was 6 or less in all patients. Patients received continuous monitoring of intracranial pressure (ICP), cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP), blood pressure, and arterial O2 saturation. Cerebral oxygenation was measured using the commercially available Licox Brain Tissue Oxygen Monitoring System manufactured by Integra NeuroSciences. A DCH was performed when the patient's ICP remained elevated despite maximal medical management.

Conclusions. All patients tolerated DCH without complications. Before the operation, the mean ICP was elevated in all patients (26 ± 4 mm Hg), despite maximal medical management. After surgery, there was an immediate and sustained decrease in ICP (19 ± 11 mm Hg) and an increase in CPP (81 ± 17 mm Hg). Following DCH, cerebral oxygenation improved from a mean of 21.2 ± 13.8 mm Hg to 45.5 ± 25.4 mm Hg, a 114.8% increase. The change in brain tissue O2 and the change in ICP after DCH demonstrated only a modest relationship (r2 = 0.3). These results indicate that the use of DCH in the treatment of severe brain injury is associated with a significant improvement in brain O2.

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Gregory G. Heuer, Michelle J. Smith, J. Paul Elliott, H. Richard Winn and Peter D. Leroux

Object. Increased intracranial pressure (ICP) is well known to affect adversely patients with head injury. In contrast, the variables associated with ICP following aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) and their impact on outcome have been less intensely studied.

Methods. In this retrospective study the authors reviewed a prospective observational database cataloging the treatment details in 433 patients with SAH who had undergone surgical occlusion of an aneurysm as well as ICP monitoring. All 433 patients underwent postoperative ICP monitoring, whereas only 146 (33.7%) underwent both pre- and postoperative ICP monitoring.

The mean maximal ICP was 24.9 ± 17.3 mm Hg (mean ± standard deviation). During their hospital stay, 234 patients (54%) had elevated ICP (> 20 mm Hg), including 136 of those (48.7%) with a good clinical grade (Hunt and Hess Grades I–III) and 98 (63.6%) of the 154 patients with a poor grade (Hunt and Hess Grades IV and V) on admission. An increased mean maximal ICP was associated with several admission variables: worse Hunt and Hess clinical grade (p < 0.0001), a lower Glasgow Coma Scale (GSC) motor score (p < 0.0001); worse SAH grade based on results of computerized tomography studies (p < 0.0001); intracerebral hemorrhage (p = 0.024); severity of intraventricular hemorrhage (p < 0.0001); and rebleeding (p = 0.0048). Both intraoperative cerebral swelling (p = 0.0017) and postoperative GCS score (p < 0.0001) were significantly associated with a raised ICP. Variables such as patient age, aneurysm size, symptomatic vasospasm, intraoperative aneurysm rupture, and secondary cerebral insults such as hypoxia were not associated with raised ICP. Increased ICP adversely affected outcome: 71.9% of patients with normal ICP demonstrated favorable 6-month outcomes postoperatively, whereas 63.5% of patients with ICP between 20 and 50 mm Hg and 33.3% with ICP greater than 50 mm Hg demonstrated favorable outcomes. Among 21 patients whose raised ICP did not respond to mannitol therapy, all experienced a poor outcome and 95.2% died. Among 145 patients whose elevated ICP responded to mannitol, 66.9% had a favorable outcome and only 20.7% were dead 6 months after surgery (p < 0.0001). According to results of multivariate analysis, however, ICP was not an independent outcome predictor (odds ratio 1.26, 95% confidence interval 0.28–5.68).

Conclusions. Increased ICP is common after SAH, even in patients with a good clinical grade. Elevated ICP post-SAH is associated with a worse patient outcome, particularly if ICP does not respond to treatment. This association, however, may depend more on the overall severity of the SAH than on ICP alone.

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Michael F. Stiefel, Gregory G. Heuer, John M. Abrahams, Stephanie Bloom, Michelle J. Smith, Eileen Maloney-Wilensky, M. Sean Grady and Peter D. Leroux

Object. Nimodipine has been shown to improve neurological outcome after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH); the mechanism of this improvement, however, is uncertain. In addition, adverse systemic effects such as hypotension have been described. The authors investigated the effect of nimodipine on brain tissue PO2.

Methods. Patients in whom Hunt and Hess Grade IV or V SAH had occurred who underwent aneurysm occlusion and had stable blood pressure were prospectively evaluated using continuous brain tissue PO2 monitoring. Nimodipine (60 mg) was delivered through a nasogastric or Dobhoff tube every 4 hours. Data were obtained from 11 patients and measurements of brain tissue PO2, intracranial pressure (ICP), mean arterial blood pressure (MABP), and cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP) were recorded every 15 minutes.

Nimodipine resulted in a significant reduction in brain tissue PO2 in seven (64%) of 11 patients. The baseline PO2 before nimodipine administration was 38.4 ± 10.9 mm Hg. The baseline MABP and CPP were 90 ± 20 and 84 ± 19 mm Hg, respectively. The greatest reduction in brain tissue PO2 occurred 15 minutes after administration, when the mean pressure was 26.9 ± 7.7 mm Hg (p < 0.05). The PO2 remained suppressed at 30 minutes (27.5 ± 7.7 mm Hg [p < 0.05]) and at 60 minutes (29.7 ± 11.1 mm Hg [p < 0.05]) after nimodipine administration but returned to baseline levels 2 hours later. In the seven patients in whom brain tissue PO2 decreased, other physiological variables such as arterial saturation, end-tidal CO2, heart rate, MABP, ICP, and CPP did not demonstrate any association with the nimodipine-induced reduction in PO2. In four patients PO2 remained stable and none of these patients had a significant increase in brain tissue PO2.

Conclusions. Although nimodipine use is associated with improved outcome following SAH, in some patients it can temporarily reduce brain tissue PO2.

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Gregory G. Heuer, Kareem A. Zaghloul, Richard Roberts, Michael F. Stiefel and Phillip B. Storm

✓ Coil migration is a rare but potentially serious complication of endovascular procedures. Occasionally coils can be retrieved via endovascular techniques. The authors describe the microsurgical management of a case in which endovascular techniques failed. A 2-year-old girl with pulmonary atresia and a Blalock–Taussig shunt underwent attempted endovascular closure of the shunt with Gianturco steel coils. During deployment, a coil was lost in the aorta and an angiogram showed that it had lodged in the proximal M1 segment of the middle cerebral artery. The coil could not be retrieved by endovascular techniques, and the patient was taken to the operating room to undergo a craniotomy. After the sylvian fissure was split, the coil was visible through the vessel wall. Temporary clips were placed on the proximal M1 and the proximal M2 segments, trapping the coil. A small arteriotomy was performed, the coil was removed, and the arteriotomy was closed. A cerebral angiogram showed excellent perfusion with no dissections. The patient’s motor examination demonstrated a mild hemiparesis on the left with no tremulousness. Coil migration can be treated by microsurgical techniques in pediatric patients with a good clinical outcome.

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H. Isaac Chen, Gregory G. Heuer, Kareem Zaghloul, Scott L. Simon, John B. Weigele and M. Sean Grady

✓Vertebral hemangiomas are common entities that rarely present with neurological deficits. The authors report the unusual case of a large L-3 vertebral hemangioma with epidural extension in a 27-year-old woman who presented with hip flexor and quadriceps weakness, foot drop, and leg pain. The characteristics of the mass on magnetic resonance imaging suggested an aggressive, hypervascular lesion. The patient underwent embolization of the lesion followed by direct intralesional injection of ethanol. Significant resolution of clinical symptoms was observed immediately after the procedure and at her follow-up visits. Follow-up imaging studies obtained 9 months after the procedure also documented a considerable reduction in the size of the hemangioma with minimal loss of vertebral height and a mild kyphosis at the affected level. On repeated imaging studies obtained 21 months postoperatively, the size of the hemangioma and the degree of vertebral body compression were stable. As demonstrated in this case, patients with vertebral hemangiomas can present with acute nerve root compression and signs and symptoms similar to those of disc herniation. Vertebral hemangiomas can be treated effectively with interventional techniques such as embolization and ethanol injection.

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Gregory G. Heuer, Michael F. Stiefel, Robert L. Bailey and James M. Schuster

✓Spinal ependymomas are a common type of primary spinal cord neoplasm that frequently occurs in the lumbar spine. The authors report on two patients who presented with acute neurological decline after hemorrhage into ependymomas of the filum terminale. Both were transferred to the authors' institution because of diagnostic uncertainty and a concern about possible intradural vascular abnormalities. Both patients underwent lumbar laminectomies for tumor resection. The pathological finding in each case was myxopapillary ependymoma. Both patients made a significant recovery and were ambulatory and continent at follow-up review. These cases illustrate the rare but clinically significant incidence of acute neurological decline caused by hemorrhagic cauda equina ependymomas, including the potential for delayed diagnosis and treatment.

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Kareem A. Zaghloul, Gregory G. Heuer, Marta D. Guttenberg, Eileen M. Shore, Frederick S. Kaplan and Phillip B. Storm

✓ Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) is a rare, autosomal dominant disorder characterized by congenital malformation of the great toes and episodes of soft tissue swelling that lead to progressive heterotopic ossification. The genetic cause of FOP was recently discovered to be a recurrent missense activating mutation in the activin A type I receptor, a bone morphogenetic protein type I receptor in all classically affected individuals worldwide. The authors present a child with the classic features of previously undiagnosed FOP who developed a paraspinal soft-tissue mass after a lumbar puncture for a fever workup. Excision of the mass resulted in a massive inflammatory response leading to progression of heterotopic ossification. Awareness of the classic clinical features of FOP prior to the appearance of heterotopic ossification can prompt early clinical diagnosis and confirmation through genetic testing, thus avoiding interventions that lead to irreversible iatrogenic harm.

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Cranial fetus in fetu

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Gregory G. Heuer, Erin S. Schwartz and Phillip B. Storm

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Gregory G. Heuer, Brandon C. Gabel, Deb A. Bhowmick, Michael F. Stiefel, Robert W. Hurst and James M. Schuster

✓Spinal arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs) are relatively uncommon lesions that are often diagnosed in a delayed fashion. The authors present a cause of a symptomatic high-flow AVF that developed in a patient after traumatic injury to the upper cervical spine. The patient presented to the trauma bay after a motor vehicle collision, and was found to have a C-2 fracture involving the transverse foramen. Although the patient was neurologically intact on presentation, 6 hours after admission weakness developed on his left side. Imaging studies demonstrated complete transection of the distal cervical aspect of the right vertebral artery (VA) at the base of C-2, with antegrade and retrograde flow into a direct AVF, resulting in early filling of the right internal jugular vein and other external draining veins. The patient was treated endovascularly with coil occlusion of the VA both proximal and distal to the transection. The patient's weakness improved over the next 7 days. At the 12-week follow-up examination, the patient's fractures had healed and he was neurologically intact.

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Gregory G. Heuer, Douglas A. Hardesty, Kareem A. Zaghloul, Erin M. Simon Schwartz, A. Reghan Foley and Phillip B. Storm

Schizencephaly is a rare congenital cortical brain malformation defined by unilateral or bilateral clefts of the cerebral hemispheres. These malformations are often associated with medically intractable epilepsy. Surgical solutions include lesionectomy, lobectomy, or hemispherectomy. The authors describe the case of an anatomic hemispherectomy for medically intractable epilepsy in an 8-year-old boy with a large schizencephalic cleft. Seven years prior to his epilepsy surgery, the patient underwent placement of a ventriculoperitoneal shunt for communicating hydrocephalus that resulted in severe left-to-right shift. Subsequently, medically refractory epilepsy developed and the patient underwent an anatomic hemispherectomy for seizure control. The preoperative brain shift remained after the surgery, although the patient tolerated the procedure well and was seizure free postoperatively. Anatomic hemispherectomy is a viable option for treating medically intractable epilepsy in a schizencephalic pediatric patient—even one with considerable brain shift.