Harith Akram, Bilal Mirza, Neil Kitchen and Joanna M. Zakrzewska
The aim of this study was to design a checklist with a scoring system for reporting on studies of surgical interventions for trigeminal neuralgia (TN) and to validate it by a review of the recent literature.
A checklist with a scoring system, the Surgical Trigeminal Neuralgia Score (STNS), was devised partially based on the validated STrengthening the Reporting of OBservational studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) criteria and customized for TN after a literature review and then applied to a series of articles. These articles were identified using a prespecified MEDLINE and Embase search covering the period from 2008 to 2010. Of the 584 articles found, 59 were studies of interventional procedures for TN that fulfilled the inclusion criteria and 56 could be obtained in full. The STNS was then applied independently by 3 of the authors.
The maximum STNS came to 30, and was reliable and reproducible when used by the 3 authors who performed the scoring. The range of scores was 6–23.5, with a mean of 14 for all the journals. The impact factor scores of the journals in which the papers were published ranged from 0 to 4.8. Twenty-four of the studies were published in the Journal of Neurosurgery or in Neurosurgery. Studies published in neurosurgical journals ranked higher on the STNS scale than those published in nonneurosurgical journals. There was no statistically significant correlation between STNS and impact factors. Stereotactic radiosurgery (n = 25) and microvascular decompression (n = 15) were the most commonly reported procedures.
The diagnostic criteria were stated in 35% of the studies, and 4 studies reported subtypes of TN. An increasing number of studies (46%) used the recommended Kaplan-Meier methodology for pain survival outcomes. The follow-up period was unclear in 8 studies, and 26 reported follow-ups of more than 5 years. Complications were reported fairly consistently but the temporal course was not always indicated. Direct interview, telephone conversation, and questionnaires were used to measure outcomes. Independent assessment of outcome was only clearly stated in 7 studies. Only 2 studies used the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey to measure quality of life and 4 studies reported on the severity of preoperative pain. The Barrow Neurological Institute pain questionnaire was the most commonly used outcome measure (n = 13), followed by the visual analog scale.
Similar to the STROBE criteria that provide a checklist of items that should be included in reports of observational studies in general, the authors' suggested checklist for the STNS could help editors and reviewers ensure that quality reports are published, and could prove useful for colleagues when reporting their results specifically on the surgical management of TN. It would help the patient and clinicians make a decision about selecting the appropriate neurosurgical procedure.
Alexander A. Khalessi and Steven Giannotta
Fiona A. Wilkes, Harith Akram, Jonathan A. Hyam, Neil D. Kitchen, Marwan I. Hariz and Ludvic Zrinzo
Bibliometrics are the methods used to quantitatively analyze scientific literature. In this study, bibliometrics were used to quantify the scientific output of neurosurgical departments throughout Great Britain and Ireland.
A list of neurosurgical departments was obtained from the Society of British Neurological Surgeons website. Individual departments were contacted for an up-to-date list of consultant (attending) neurosurgeons practicing in these departments. Scopus was used to determine the h-index and m-quotient for each neurosurgeon. Indices were measured by surgeon and by departmental mean and total. Additional information was collected about the surgeon's sex, title, listed superspecialties, higher research degrees, and year of medical qualification.
Data were analyzed for 315 neurosurgeons (25 female). The median h-index and m-quotient were 6.00 and 0.41, respectively. These were significantly higher for professors (h-index 21.50; m-quotient 0.71) and for those with an additional MD or PhD (11.0; 0.57). There was no significant difference in h-index, m-quotient, or higher research degrees between the sexes. However, none of the 16 British neurosurgery professors were female. Neurosurgeons who specialized in functional/epilepsy surgery ranked highest in terms of publication productivity. The 5 top-scoring departments were those in Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge; St. George's Hospital, London; Great Ormond Street Hospital, London; National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London; and John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford.
The h-index is a useful bibliometric marker, particularly when comparing between studies and individuals. The m-quotient reduces bias toward established researchers. British academic neurosurgeons face considerable challenges, and women remain underrepresented in both clinical and academic neurosurgery in Britain and Ireland.
Joshua Pepper, Lara Meliak, Harith Akram, Jonathan Hyam, Catherine Milabo, Joseph Candelario, Thomas Foltynie, Patricia Limousin, Carmel Curtis, Marwan Hariz and Ludvic Zrinzo
Infection of deep brain stimulation (DBS) hardware has a significant impact on patient morbidity. Previous experience suggests that infection rates appear to be higher after implantable pulse generator (IPG) replacement surgery than after the de novo DBS procedure. In this study the authors examine the effect of a change in practice during DBS IPG replacements at their institution.
Starting in January 2012, patient screening for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and, and where necessary, eradication was performed prior to elective DBS IPG change. Moreover, topical vancomycin was placed in the IPG pocket during surgery. The authors then prospectively examined the infection rate in patients undergoing DBS IPG replacement at their center over a 3-year period with at least 9 months of follow-up.
The total incidence of infection in this prospective consecutive series of 101 IPG replacement procedures was 0%, with a mean follow-up duration of 24 ± 11 months. This was significantly lower than the authors' previously published historical control group, prior to implementing the change in practice, where the infection rate for IPG replacement was 8.5% (8/94 procedures; p = 0.003).
This study suggests that a change in clinical practice can significantly lower infection rates in patients undergoing DBS IPG replacement. These simple measures can minimize unnecessary surgery, loss of benefit from chronic stimulation, and costly hardware replacement, further improving the cost efficacy of DBS therapies.