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Effects of an external ventricular drain alert protocol on venticulostomy placement time in the emergency department

Henry Chang, Michael A. Silva, Alexander Giner, Selina Ancheta, José G. Romano, Ricardo Komotar, and Iahn Cajigas


Timely ventriculostomy placement is critical in the management of neurosurgical emergencies. Prompt external ventricular drain (EVD) placement has been shown to improve long-term patient outcomes and decrease the length of ICU and hospital stays. Successful and efficient EVD placement requires seamless coordination among multiple healthcare teams. In this study, the authors sought to identify factors favoring delayed ventriculostomy via a quality improvement initiative and to implement changes to expedite EVD placement.


Through process mapping, root cause analysis, and interviews with staff, the authors identified the lack of a standardized mechanism for alerting necessary healthcare teams as a major contributor to delays in EVD placement. In December 2019, an EVD alert system was developed to automatically initiate an EVD placement protocol and to alert the neurosurgery department, pharmacy, core laboratory, and nursing staff to prepare for EVD placement. The time to EVD placement was tracked prospectively using time stamps in the electronic medical record.


A total of 20 patients who underwent EVD placement between December 2019 and April 2021, during the EVD alert protocol initiation, and 18 preprotocol control patients (January 2018 to December 2019) met study inclusion criteria and were included in the analysis. The mean time to EVD placement in the control group was 71.88 minutes compared with 50.3 minutes in the EVD alert group (two-tailed t-test, p = 0.025). The median time to EVD placement was 64 minutes in the control group compared with 52 minutes in the EVD alert group (rank-sum test, p = 0.0184). All patients from each cohort exhibited behavior typical of stable processes, with no violation of Shewhart rules and no special cause variations on statistical process control charts.


A quality improvement framework helped identify sources of delays to EVD placement in the emergency department. An automated EVD alert system was a simple intervention that significantly reduced the time to EVD placement in the emergency department and can be easily implemented at other institutions to improve patient care.

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Surgical management of quadrigeminal cistern arachnoid cysts: case series and literature review

Michael A. Silva, Henry Chang, John Weng, Nicole E. Hernandez, Ashish H. Shah, Shelly Wang, Toba Niazi, and John Ragheb


Quadrigeminal cistern arachnoid cysts (QACs) are congenital lesions that can cause pineal region compression and obstructive hydrocephalus when sufficiently large. Management of these cysts is controversial and rates of reintervention are high. Given the limited data on the management of QACs, the authors retrospectively reviewed 20 years of cases managed at their institution and performed a literature review on this topic.


The authors performed a retrospective analysis of patients treated for QAC at their institution between 2001 and 2021. They also performed a literature review of studies published between 1980 and 2021 that reported at least 5 patients treated for QACs. Patient characteristics, radiographic findings, management course, and postoperative follow-up data were collected and analyzed.


A total of 12 patients treated for a QAC at the authors’ institution met the inclusion criteria for analysis. Median age was 9 months, mean cyst size was 5.1 cm, and 83% of patients had hydrocephalus. Initial treatment was endoscopic fenestration in 92% of these patients, 27% of whom had an endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) performed concurrently. Reintervention was required in 42% of patients. Cases that required reintervention had a statistically significant lower median age at the initial intervention (5 months) than the cases that did not require reintervention (24.33 months; p = 0.018). There were no major complications. At a mean follow-up of 5.42 years, 83% of patients had improvement or resolution of their symptoms. A literature review revealed 7 studies that met the inclusion criteria, totaling 108 patients with a mean age of 8.8 years. Eighty-seven percent of patients had hydrocephalus at presentation. Ninety-two percent of patients were initially treated with endoscopic fenestration, 44% of whom underwent concurrent ETV. Complications occurred in 17.6% of cases, and reintervention was required in 30.6% of cases. The most frequent reason for reintervention was untreated or unresolved hydrocephalus after the initial procedure.


Endoscopic fenestration is the most common treatment for QACs. While generally safe and effective, there is a high rate of reintervention after initial treatment of QACs, which may be associated with a younger age at the first intervention. Additionally, identifying patients who require initial treatment of hydrocephalus is critically important, as the literature suggests that untreated hydrocephalus is a common cause of reintervention.

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A snapshot of contemporary leadership at pediatric neurosurgery fellowships

Frederic A. Vallejo, Benjamin Schachner, Nathan VanderVeer-Harris, Adrian A. Torres, John Weng, Henry Chang, Robert Bollo, and John Ragheb


Many pathways to positions of leadership exist within pediatric neurological surgery. The authors sought to investigate common trends in leadership among pediatric neurosurgery fellowship directors (FDs) and describe how formalized pediatric neurosurgical training arrived at its current state.


Fellowship programs were identified using the Accreditation Council for Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellowships website. Demographic, training, membership, and research information was collected via email, telephone, curricula vitae, and online searches.


The authors’ survey was sent to all 35 identified FDs, and 21 responses were received. Response data were supplemented with curricula vitae and online data prior to analysis. FDs were predominantly male, self-identified predominantly as Caucasian, and had a mean age of 53 years. The mean duration from residency graduation until FD appointment was 13.4 years. The top training programs to produce future FDs were New York University and Washington University in St. Louis (residency) and Washington University in St. Louis (fellowship).


This study characterizes the current state of pediatric neurosurgery fellowship program leadership. The data serve as an important point of reference to compare with future leadership as well as contrast with neurosurgery and other surgical disciplines in general.

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Survival following surgery and prognostic factors for recently diagnosed malignant glioma: data from the Glioma Outcomes Project

Edward R. Laws, Ian F. Parney, Wei Huang, Fred Anderson, Angel M. Morris, Anthony Asher, Kevin O. Lillehei, Mark Bernstein, Henry Brem, Andrew Sloan, Mitchel S. Berger, Susan Chang, and Glioma Outcomes Investigators

Object. The Glioma Outcomes Project represents a contemporary analysis of the management of malignant (Grade III and Grade IV/GBM) gliomas in North America. This observational database was used to evaluate the influence of resection, as opposed to biopsy, on patient outcome as measured by the length of survival. Attempts were made to reduce the impact of selection bias by repeating the data analysis after omitting patients with major negative prognostic factors.

Methods. Outcome data from 788 patients accrued from multiple sites over a 4-year period (1997–2001) were analyzed with the primary outcome measure being length of survival. Of these, 565 patients with recent diagnoses formed the basis of the present analysis. Patients were systematically followed up until death or up to 24 months after enrollment in the study, and survival data were correlated with the histopathological grade and location of the tumor, the extent of surgery, the patient's performance status, and demographic factors.

The median length of survival was 40.9 weeks for patients with recently diagnosed GBMs. The true median length of survival for patients with Grade III gliomas was not reached, although there was a 58% survival rate at 104 weeks. In multivariate analysis, resection rather than biopsy (p < 0.0001), age 60 years or younger (p < 0.0001), and a Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) score of 70 or greater (p = 0.0004) were associated with a prolonged survival time for patients with Grade III or IV gliomas. The prognostic value of resection compared with biopsy was maintained (p < 0.0001), even after eliminating patients considered to be “poor risk” (those with age > 60 years, KPS score < 70, or presence of multifocal tumors), who may have been overrepresented in the biopsy group. Survival “tails” at 24 months were 58% for Grade III gliomas and 11% for GBMs.

Conclusions. These data provide Class II evidence to support tumor grade, patient's age, and patient's functional status as prognostic factors for survival in individuals with recently diagnosed malignant gliomas. Resection (compared with biopsy) is also a strong prognostic factor; however, no quantitative attempt was made to assess the true extent of the resection.

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Perioperative complications and neurological outcomes of first and second craniotomies among patients enrolled in the Glioma Outcome Project

Susan M. Chang, Ian F. Parney, Michael Mcdermott, Fred G. Barker II, Meic H. Schmidt, Wei Huang, Edward R. Laws Jr., Kevin O. Lillehei, Mark Bernstein, Henry Brem, Andrew E. Sloan, Mitchel Berger, and the Glioma Outcomes Investigators

Object. In many new clinical trials of patients with malignant gliomas surgical intervention is incorporated as an integral part of tumor-directed interstitial therapies such as gene therapy, biodegradable wafer placement, and immunotherapy. Assessment of toxicity is a major component of evaluating these novel therapeutic interventions, but this must be done in light of known complication rates of craniotomy for tumor resection. Factors predicting neurological outcome would also be helpful for patient selection for surgically based clinical trials.

Methods. The Glioma Outcome Project is a prospectively compiled database containing information on 788 patients with malignant gliomas that captured clinical practice patterns and patient outcomes. Patients in this series who underwent their first or second craniotomy were analyzed separately for presenting symptoms, tumor and patient characteristics, and perioperative complications. Preoperative and intraoperative factors possibly related to neurological outcome were evaluated.

There were 408 patients who underwent first craniotomies (C1 group) and 91 patients who underwent second ones (C2 group). Both groups had similar patient and tumor characteristics except for their median age (55 years in the C1 group compared with 50 years in the C2 group; p = 0.006). Headache was more common at presentation in the C1 group, whereas papilledema and an altered level of consciousness were more common at presentation in patients undergoing second surgeries. Perioperative complications occurred in 24% of patients in the C1 group and 33% of patients in the C2 group (p = 0.1). Most patients were the same or better neurologically after surgery, but more patients in the C2 group (18%) displayed a worsened neurological status than those in the C1 group (8%; p = 0.007). The Karnofsky Performance Scale score and, in patients in the C2 group, tumor size were important neurological outcome predictors. Regional complications occurred at similar rates in both groups. Systemic infections occurred more frequently in the C2 group (4.4 compared with 0%; p < 0.0001) as did depression (20 compared with 11%; p = 0.02). The perioperative mortality rate was 1.5% for the C1 group and 2.2% for the C2 group (p = not significant). The median length of the hospital stay was 4 days in each group.

Conclusions. Perioperative complications occur slightly more often following a second craniotomy for malignant glioma than after the first craniotomy. This should be considered when evaluating toxicities from intraoperative local therapies requiring craniotomy. Nevertheless, most patients are neurologically stable or improved after either their first or second craniotomy. This data set may serve as a benchmark for neurosurgeons and others in a discussion of operative risks in patients with malignant gliomas.

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Evaluating syntactic comprehension during awake intraoperative cortical stimulation mapping

Marco Riva, Stephen M. Wilson, Ruofan Cai, Antonella Castellano, Kesshi M. Jordan, Roland G. Henry, Maria Luisa Gorno Tempini, Mitchel S. Berger, and Edward F. Chang


Electrocortical stimulation mapping (ECS) is widely used to identify essential language areas, but sentence-level processing has rarely been investigated.


While undergoing awake surgery in the dominant left hemisphere, 6 subjects were asked to comprehend sentences varying in their demands on syntactic processing.


In all 6 subjects, stimulation of the inferior frontal gyrus disrupted comprehension of passive sentences, which critically depend on syntactic processing to correctly assign grammatical roles, without disrupting comprehension of simpler tasks. In 4 of the 6 subjects, these sites were localized to the pars opercularis. Sentence comprehension was also disrupted by stimulation of other perisylvian sites, but in a more variable manner.


These findings suggest that there may be language regions that differentially contribute to sentence processing and which therefore are best identified using sentence-level tasks. The functional consequences of resecting these sites remain to be investigated.

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Serial proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy imaging of glioblastoma multiforme after brachytherapy

Lawrence L. Wald, Sarah J. Nelson, Mark R. Day, Susan E. Noworolski, Roland G. Henry, Steven L. Huhn, Susan Chang, Michael D. Prados, Penny K. Sneed, David A. Larson, William M. Wara, Michael McDermott, William P. Dillon, Phillip H. Gutin, and Daniel B. Vigneron

✓ The utility of three-dimensional (3-D) proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) imaging for detecting metabolic changes after brain tumor therapy was assessed in a serial study of 58 total examinations of 12 patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) who received brachytherapy.

Individual proton spectra from the 3-D array of spectra encompassing the lesion showed dramatic differences in spectral patterns indicative of radiation necrosis, recurrent or residual tumor, or normal brain. The 1H-MRS imaging data demonstrated significant differences between suspected residual or recurrent tumor and contrast-enhancing radiation-induced necrosis. Regions of abnormally high choline (Cho) levels, consistent with viable tumor, were detected beyond the regions of contrast enhancement for all 12 gliomas.

Changes in the serial 1H-MRS imaging data were observed, reflecting an altered metabolism following treatment. These changes included the significant reduction in Cho levels after therapy, indicating the transformation of tumor to necrotic tissue. For patients who demonstrated subsequent clinical progression, an increase in Cho levels was observed in regions that previously appeared either normal or necrotic. Several patients showed regional variations in response to brachytherapy as evaluated by 1H-MRS imaging.

This study demonstrates the potential of noninvasive 3-D 1H-MRS imaging to discriminate between the formation of contrast-enhancing radiation necrosis and residual or recurrent tumor following brachytherapy. This modality may also allow better definition of tumor extent prior to brachytherapy by detecting the presence of abnormal metabolite levels in nonenhancing regions of solid tumor.

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Poor drug distribution as a possible explanation for the results of the PRECISE trial

Clinical article

John H. Sampson, Gary Archer, Christoph Pedain, Eva Wembacher-Schröder, Manfred Westphal, Sandeep Kunwar, Michael A. Vogelbaum, April Coan, James E. Herndon II, Raghu Raghavan, Martin L. Brady, David A. Reardon, Allan H. Friedman, Henry S. Friedman, M. Inmaculada Rodríguez-Ponce, Susan M. Chang, Stephan Mittermeyer, David Croteau, Raj K. Puri, and PRECISE Trial Investigators


Convection-enhanced delivery (CED) is a novel intracerebral drug delivery technique with considerable promise for delivering therapeutic agents throughout the CNS. Despite this promise, Phase III clinical trials employing CED have failed to meet clinical end points. Although this may be due to inactive agents or a failure to rigorously validate drug targets, the authors have previously demonstrated that catheter positioning plays a major role in drug distribution using this technique. The purpose of the present work was to retrospectively analyze the expected drug distribution based on catheter positioning data available from the CED arm of the PRECISE trial.


Data on catheter positioning from all patients randomized to the CED arm of the PRECISE trial were available for analyses. BrainLAB iPlan Flow software was used to estimate the expected drug distribution.


Only 49.8% of catheters met all positioning criteria. Still, catheter positioning score (hazard ratio 0.93, p = 0.043) and the number of optimally positioned catheters (hazard ratio 0.72, p = 0.038) had a significant effect on progression-free survival. Estimated coverage of relevant target volumes was low, however, with only 20.1% of the 2-cm penumbra surrounding the resection cavity covered on average. Although tumor location and resection cavity volume had no effect on coverage volume, estimations of drug delivery to relevant target volumes did correlate well with catheter score (p < 0.003), and optimally positioned catheters had larger coverage volumes (p < 0.002). Only overall survival (p = 0.006) was higher for investigators considered experienced after adjusting for patient age and Karnofsky Performance Scale score.


The potential efficacy of drugs delivered by CED may be severely constrained by ineffective delivery in many patients. Routine use of software algorithms and alternative catheter designs and infusion parameters may improve the efficacy of drugs delivered by CED.

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Oral Presentations 2016 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting Chicago, IL • April 30–May 4, 2016

Published online April 1, 2016; DOI: 10.3171/2016.4.JNS.AANS2016abstracts

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Oral Presentations

2010 AANS Annual Meeting Philadelphia, Pennsylvania May 1–5, 2010