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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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Eric J. Heyer, Christopher P. Kellner, Hani R. Malone, Samuel S. Bruce, Joanna L. Mergeche, Justin T. Ward and E. Sander Connolly Jr.

Object

The role of genetic polymorphisms in the neurological outcome of patients after carotid endarterectomy (CEA) remains unclear. There are single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that predispose patients to postoperative cognitive dysfunction (CD). We aim to assess the predictability of three complement cascade-related SNPs for CD in patients having CEAs.

Methods

In 252 patients undergoing CEA, genotyping was performed for the following polymorphisms: complement component 5 (C5) rs17611, mannose-binding lectin 2 (MBL2) rs7096206, and complement factor H (CFH) rs1061170. Differences among genotypes were analyzed via the chi-square test. Patients were evaluated with a neuropsychometric battery for CD 1 day and 1 month after CEA. A multiple logistic regression model was created. All variables with univariate p < 0.20 were included in the final model.

Results

The C5 genotypes A/G (OR 0.26, 95% CI 0.11–0.60, p = 0.002) and G/G (OR 0.22, 95% CI 0.09–0.52, p < 0.001) were significantly associated with lower odds of exhibiting CD at 1 day after CEA compared with A/A. The CFH genotypes C/T (OR 3.37, 95% CI 1.69–6.92, p < 0.001) and C/C (OR 3.67, 95% CI 1.30–10.06, p = 0.012) were significantly associated with higher odds of exhibiting CD at 1 day after CEA compared with T/T. Statin use was also significantly associated with lower odds of exhibiting CD at 1 day after CEA (OR 0.43, 95% CI 0.22–0.84, p = 0.01). No SNPs were significantly associated with CD at 1 month after CEA.

Conclusions

The presence of a deleterious allele in the C5 and CFH SNPs may predispose patients to exhibit CD after CEA. This finding supports previous data demonstrating that the complement cascade system may play an important role in the development of CD. These findings warrant further investigation.

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Raqeeb M. Haque, Hani R. Malone, Martin W. Bauknight, Michael A. Kellner, Alfred T. Ogden, John H. Martin, Kurenai Tanji and Christopher J. Winfree

Object

Despite extensive study, no meaningful progress has been made in encouraging healing and recovery across the site of spinal cord injury (SCI) in humans. Spinal cord bypass surgery is an unconventional strategy in which intact peripheral nerves rostral to the level of injury are transferred into the spinal cord below the injury. This report details the feasibility of using spinal accessory nerves to bypass cervical SCI and intercostal nerves to bypass thoracolumbar SCI in human cadavers.

Methods

Twenty-three human cadavers underwent cervical and/or lumbar laminectomy and dural opening to expose the cervical cord and/or conus medullaris. Spinal accessory nerves were harvested from the Erb point to the origin of the nerve's first major branch into the trapezius. Intercostal nerves from the T6–12 levels were dissected from the lateral border of paraspinal muscles to the posterior axillary line. The distal ends of dissected nerves were then transferred medially and sequentially inserted 4 mm deep into the ipsilateral cervical cord (spinal accessory nerve) or conus medullaris (intercostals). The length of each transferred nerve was measured, and representative distal and proximal cross-sections were preserved for axonal counting.

Results

Spinal accessory nerves were consistently of sufficient length to be transferred to caudal cervical spinal cord levels (C4–8). Similarly, intercostal nerves (from T-7 to T-12) were of sufficient length to be transferred in a tension-free manner to the conus medullaris. Spinal accessory data revealed an average harvested nerve length of 15.85 cm with the average length needed to reach C4–8 of 4.7, 5.9, 6.5, 7.1, and 7.8 cm. The average length of available intercostal nerve from each thoracic level compared with the average length required to reach the conus medullaris in a tension-free manner was determined to be as follows (available, required in cm): T-7 (18.0, 14.5), T-8 (18.7, 11.7), T-9 (18.8, 9.0), T-10 (19.6, 7.0), T-11 (18.8, 4.6), and T-12 (15.8, 1.5). The number of myelinated axons present on cross-sectional analysis predictably decreased along both spinal accessory and intercostal nerves as they coursed distally.

Conclusions

Both spinal accessory and intercostal nerves, accessible from a posterior approach in the prone position, can be successfully harvested and transferred to their respective targets in the cervical spinal cord and conus medullaris. As expected, the number of axons available to grow into the spinal cord diminishes distally along each nerve. To maximize axon “bandwidth” in nerve bypass procedures, the most proximal section of the nerve that can be transferred in a tension-free manner to a spinal level caudal to the level of injury should be implanted. This study supports the feasibility of SAN and intercostal nerve transfer as a means of treating SCI and may assist in the preoperative selection of candidates for future human clinical trials of cervical and thoracolumbar SCI bypass surgery.

Free access

Randy S. D'Amico, Matei A. Banu, Petros Petridis, Alexandra S. Bercow, Hani Malone, Moshe Praver, Tony J. C. Wang, Steven R. Isaacson and Michael B. Sisti

OBJECTIVE

Advanced microsurgical techniques contribute to reduced morbidity and improved surgical management of meningiomas arising within the cerebellopontine angle (CPA). However, the goal of surgery has evolved to preserve the quality of the patient's life, even if it means leaving residual tumor. Concurrently, Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS) has become an acceptable and effective treatment modality for newly diagnosed, recurrent, or progressive meningiomas of the CPA. The authors review their institutional experience with CPA meningiomas treated with GKRS, surgery, or a combination of surgery and GKRS. They specifically focus on rates of facial nerve preservation and characterize specific anatomical features of tumor location with respect to the internal auditory canal (IAC).

METHODS

Medical records of 76 patients with radiographic evidence or a postoperative diagnosis of CPA meningioma, treated by a single surgeon between 1992 and 2016, were retrospectively reviewed. Patients with CPA meningiomas smaller than 2.5 cm in greatest dimension were treated with GKRS, while patients with tumors 2.5 cm or larger underwent facial nerve–sparing microsurgical resection where appropriate. Various patient, clinical, and tumor data were gathered. Anatomical features of the tumor origin as seen on preoperative imaging confirmed by intraoperative investigation were evaluated for prognostic significance. Facial nerve preservation rates were evaluated.

RESULTS

According to our treatment paradigm, 51 (67.1%) patients underwent microsurgical resection and 25 (32.9%) patients underwent GKRS. Gross-total resection (GTR) was achieved in 34 (66.7%) patients, and subtotal resection (STR) in 17 (33.3%) patients. Tumors recurred in 12 (23.5%) patients initially treated surgically, requiring additional surgery and/or GKRS. Facial nerve function was unchanged or improved in 68 (89.5%) patients. Worsening facial nerve function occurred in 8 (10.5%) patients, all of whom had undergone microsurgical resection. Upfront treatment with GKRS for CPA meningiomas smaller than 2.5 cm was associated with preservation of facial nerve function in all patients over a median follow-up of 46 months, regardless of IAC invasion and tumor origin. Anatomical origin was associated with extent of resection but did not correlate with postoperative facial nerve function. Tumor size, extent of resection, and the presence of an arachnoid plane separating the tumor and the contents of the IAC were associated with postoperative facial nerve outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS

CPA meningiomas remain challenging lesions to treat, given their proximity to critical neurovascular structures. GKRS is a safe and effective option for managing CPA meningiomas smaller than 2.5 cm without associated mass effect or acute neurological symptoms. Maximal safe resection with preservation of neurological function can be performed for tumors 2.5 cm or larger without significant risk of facial nerve dysfunction, and, when combined with GKRS for recurrence and/or progression, provides excellent disease control. Anatomical features of the tumor origin offer critical insights for optimizing facial nerve preservation in this cohort.

Free access

Justin A. Neira, Timothy H. Ung, Jennifer S. Sims, Hani R. Malone, Daniel S. Chow, Jorge L. Samanamud, George J. Zanazzi, Xiaotao Guo, Stephen G. Bowden, Binsheng Zhao, Sameer A. Sheth, Guy M. McKhann II, Michael B. Sisti, Peter Canoll, Randy S. D'Amico and Jeffrey N. Bruce

OBJECTIVE

Extent of resection is an important prognostic factor in patients undergoing surgery for glioblastoma (GBM). Recent evidence suggests that intravenously administered fluorescein sodium associates with tumor tissue, facilitating safe maximal resection of GBM. In this study, the authors evaluate the safety and utility of intraoperative fluorescein guidance for the prediction of histopathological alteration both in the contrast-enhancing (CE) regions, where this relationship has been established, and into the non-CE (NCE), diffusely infiltrated margins.

METHODS

Thirty-two patients received fluorescein sodium (3 mg/kg) intravenously prior to resection. Fluorescence was intraoperatively visualized using a Zeiss Pentero surgical microscope equipped with a YELLOW 560 filter. Stereotactically localized biopsy specimens were acquired from CE and NCE regions based on preoperative MRI in conjunction with neuronavigation. The fluorescence intensity of these specimens was subjectively classified in real time with subsequent quantitative image analysis, histopathological evaluation of localized biopsy specimens, and radiological volumetric assessment of the extent of resection.

RESULTS

Bright fluorescence was observed in all GBMs and localized to the CE regions and portions of the NCE margins of the tumors, thus serving as a visual guide during resection. Gross-total resection (GTR) was achieved in 84% of the patients with an average resected volume of 95%, and this rate was higher among patients for whom GTR was the surgical goal (GTR achieved in 93.1% of patients, average resected volume of 99.7%). Intraoperative fluorescein staining correlated with histopathological alteration in both CE and NCE regions, with positive predictive values by subjective fluorescence evaluation greater than 96% in NCE regions.

CONCLUSIONS

Intraoperative administration of fluorescein provides an easily visualized marker for glioma pathology in both CE and NCE regions of GBM. These findings support the use of fluorescein as a microsurgical adjunct for guiding GBM resection to facilitate safe maximal removal.