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Aaron A. Cohen-Gadol, J. Bradley White, James J. Lynch, Gary M. Miller and William E. Krauss

Object. Thoracic synovial cysts (TSCs) are rare and are usually the subject of case reports. The authors studied the clinical manifestations, radiological aspects, and surgical treatment in a series of patients at their institution who harbored TSCs. They also review the literature to discuss the potential factors involved in the pathogenesis of this lesion.

Methods. A database search of 16,000 patients who underwent decompressive spine surgery at the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN) between 1976 and 2003 disclosed nine patients (0.06%) in whom a diagnosis of TSC had been made. All patients were men. The mean age at presentation was 73 ± 5 years and mean duration of symptoms was 5 ± 3 months. The mean duration of follow up was 4 ± 3 years.

The patients had no history of trauma or spine surgery. All patients had spastic paraparesis; two had urinary difficulties. Detailed neurological examination revealed myelopathy and radiculopathy with a sensory level of T10—L4. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed bilateral cysts in four patients and unilateral lesions in five. Three of the cysts were at the T-10 interspace, seven at the T-11 interspace, and three at the T-12 interspace. Seven cysts were on the right and six were on the left. Computerized tomography myelography performed in five patients revealed a gas bubble in the TSC in two patients. All patients underwent laminectomy/partial facetectomy, excision of the cyst, and decompression of the thecal sac and nerve root without any complications. None of these patients underwent a fusion. Eight patients (89%) experienced moderate to excellent relief of their preoperative signs and symptoms and one patient (11%) remained stable. There was no evidence of cyst recurrence at the site of surgery or other spinal segments at follow-up examination in any patient.

Conclusions. When compared with their lumbar and cervical spine counterparts, TSCs are exceedingly rare. Their rarity may be explained by the decreased mobility of the thoracic spinal segments. The origin of TSCs is more likely degenerative rather than traumatic. Based on their experience and the follow-up duration, surgery provided durable relief from symptoms.

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J. Bradley White, Gary M. Miller, Kennith F. Layton and William E. Krauss

Object

Enhancement of pathological entities in the central nervous system is a common finding when the blood–brain barrier has been compromised. In the brain, the presence or absence of gadolinium enhancement is often an indicator of tumor invasiveness and/or grade. In the spinal cord, however, contrast enhancement has been shown in all tumor types, regardless of grade. In this study the authors explore the incidence of nonenhancing tumors of the spinal cord and the clinical course of patients with these lesions.

Methods

A retrospective analysis was conducted in which investigators examined the patterns of enhancement of histologically proven intramedullary spinal cord tumors that had been evaluated at the Mayo Clinic between 1998 and 2002. The tumors that did not enhance were the subject of this report.

Results

A total of 130 patients with intramedullary tumors were evaluated. Of those, 11 patients (9%) had tumors that did not enhance. Histologically, a majority of tumors were astrocytomas (eight low-grade and two high-grade lesions); one tumor was a subependymoma. Morphologically, most of the tumors were diffuse and none had associated cysts. Tumors spanned from two to seven levels and were located throughout the spinal cord (four cervical, three cervicothoracic, one thoracic, and three thoracolumbar). Biopsy procedures were performed in eight patients, subtotal resection was performed in two, and gross-total resection in one. After a mean follow-up period of 19 months, tumors remained stable in eight patients but progressed in three, two of whom died.

Conclusions

A number of intramedullary spinal cord tumors will not enhance after addition of contrast agents. The absence of enhancement does not imply the absence of tumor.

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J. Bradley White, David G. Piepgras, Bernd W. Scheithauer and Joseph E. Parisi

Object

Spontaneous intracerebral hemorrhage is an uncommon but recognized initial presenting sign of both primary and metastatic brain tumors. The rate of tumor-related intracranial hemorrhage is variably reported from < 1 to 14.6%. Hemorrhage in primary gliomas occurs in 3.7–7.2% of gliomas, mainly in glioblastoma muliforme and oligodendroglioma with low-grade astrocytomas accounting for < 1%. Hemorrhage associated with pilocytic astrocytomas (PAs) is only sporadically reported. The authors report on a series of patients in whom PAs presenting as hemorrhages prompted them to examine the incidence of bleeding in these tumors.

Methods

Cases involving a confirmed tissue diagnosis of PA from 1994–2005 were reviewed retrospectively. The authors included only patients with evidence of hemorrhage on computed tomography and/or magnetic resonance imaging seen prior to biopsy or resection and in the absence of trauma or other vascular pathological entities.

Results

In 138 patients with histologically proven PAs, the mean age at diagnosis was 23 years. In 11 patients (8%; 5 male and 6 female) there was evidence of hemorrhage at presentation. There were no locations more susceptible to hemorrhage than any other, although no bleeding occurred within the cerebellum. All but 1 patient was treated with a gross-total resection.

Conclusions

Hemorrhage in association with PAs likely results from the frequently observed abnormal vasculature in these tumors, occurs with a greater frequency than previously thought, and should be considered in the differential diagnosis of spontaneous intracerebral hemorrhage.

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J. Bradley White, Bernd W. Scheithauer, Kimberly K. Amrami, Dusica Babovic-Vuksanovic and Robert J. Spinner

✓The authors present clinical, imaging, and histological features of two adult patients found to harbor a conventional schwannoma contiguous with a deep plexiform schwannoma. One patient had neurofibromatosis (NF) Type 2 (NF2), and both intracranial (bilateral oculomotor, trigeminal, acoustic, and hypoglossal schwannomas as well as meningiomas) and intraspinal (schwannomas and meningiomas) lesions. The proximal forearm lesions consisted of a conventional schwannoma and an underlying plexiform component. The second patient, who did not have NF2, presented with a similar enlarging mass in the distal arm; two contiguous lesions were resected. Both patients exhibited distinct, readily identifiable, magnetic resonance imaging features. Plexiform schwannomas are rare lesions that occur sporadically or, on occasion, in association with NF2 or meningiomas with or without multiple schwannomas. The authors believe that a more careful examination of patients with NF2 may show that these people have a higher incidence of plexiform schwannoma than previously thought. Pathological confirmation is crucial in distinguishing plexiform schwannomas from plexiform neurofibromas, because the latter are directly associated with NF1 and have a significant tendency to undergo malignant transformation. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first report of a conventional schwannoma contiguous with a deep plexiform schwannoma.

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Michelle J. Clarke, Todd A. Patrick, J. Bradley White, Harry J. Cloft, William E. Krauss, E. P. Lindell and David G. Piepgras

Object

Although nontraumatic spinal arteriovenous malformations and fistulas (AVMs and AVFs) restricted to the epidural space are rare, they can lead to significant neurological morbidity. Careful diagnostic imaging is essential to their detection and the delineation of the pathological anatomy. Aggressive endovascular and open operative treatment can provide arrest and reversal of neurological deficits.

Methods

The authors report on 6 cases of extradural AVMs/AVFs causing progressive myelopathy. Clinical findings, diagnostic evaluation, treatment, and outcome are discussed. Special consideration is given to the anatomy of the lesions and the operative techniques used to treat them. A review of the literature concerning extradural vascular malformations is also presented.

Results

All 6 cases of extradural AVMs had an extradural fistulous location with intradural medullary venous drainage. These cases illustrate progressive myelopathy through cord venous congestion (hypertension) that can be caused by an extradural nidus or fistula. In 4 cases, a large epidural lake was identified on angiography. At surgery, the epidural lake was obliterated and medullary drainage interrupted. All patients had stabilization of their neurological deficits and successful obliteration of the AVM/AVF was obtained.

Conclusions

Extradural AVMs and AVFs are a poorly described entity with published clinical experience limited to sporadic case reports and small series. Although these lesions have a purely extradural location of arteriovenous shunting and early venous drainage, they can be responsible for acute and progressive neurological symptoms similar to those caused by their dural-based intradural counterparts. With careful imaging recognition of the pathological anatomy, surgical and endovascular techniques can be used for the treatment of extradural AVMs affording effective and durable obliteration with stabilization or reversal of neurological symptoms. Venous drainage directly correlates the pathologic mechanisms of presentation. Specific attention must be paid intraoperatively to the epidural lake common to both variants so that recurrence is avoided.

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Aaron A. Cohen-Gadol, Brian G. Wilhelmi, Frederic Collignon, J. Bradley White, Jeffrey W. Britton, Denise M. Cambier, Teresa J. H. Christianson, W. Richard Marsh, Fredric B. Meyer and Gregory D. Cascino

Object

The authors reviewed the long-term outcome of focal resection in a large group of patients who had intractable partial nonlesional epilepsy, including mesial temporal lobe sclerosis (MTS), and who were treated consecutively at a single institution. The goal of this study was to evaluate the long-term efficacy of epilepsy surgery and the preoperative factors associated with seizure outcome.

Methods

This retrospective analysis included 399 consecutive patients who underwent epilepsy surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, between 1988 and 1996. The mean age of the patients at surgery was 32 ± 12 years (range 3–69 years), and the mean age at seizure onset was 12 ± 11 years (range 0–55 years). There were 214 female (54%) and 185 male (46%) patients. The mean duration of epilepsy was 20 ±12 years (range 1–56 years). The preceding values are given as the mean ± standard deviation.

Of the 399 patients, 237 (59%) had a history of complex partial seizures, 119 (30%) had generalized seizures, 26 (6%) had simple partial seizures, and 17 (4%) had experienced a combination of these. Preoperative evaluation included a routine and video-electroencephalography recordings, magnetic resonance imaging of the head according to the seizure protocol, neuropsychological testing, and a sodium amobarbital study. Patients with an undefined epileptogenic focus and discordant preoperative studies underwent an intracranial study. The mean duration of follow up was 6.2 ± 4.5 years (range 0.6–15.7 years). Seizure outcome was categorized based on the modified Engel classification. Time-to-event analysis was performed using Kaplan–Meier curves and Cox regression models to evaluate the risk factors associated with outcomes.

Among these patients, 372 (93%) underwent temporal and 27 (7%) had extratemporal resection of their epileptogenic focus. Histopathological examination of the resected specimens revealed MTS in 113 patients (28%), gliosis in 237 (59%), and normal findings in 49 (12%). Based on the Kaplan–Meier analysis, the probability of an Engel Class I outcome (seizure free, auras, or seizures related only to medication withdrawal) for the overall patient group was 81% (95% confidence interval [CI] 77–85%) at 6 months, 78% (CI 74–82%) at 1 year, 76% (CI 72–80%) at 2 years, 74% (CI 69–78%) at 5 years, and 72% (CI 67–77%) at 10 years postoperatively. The rate of Class I outcomes remained 72% for 73 patients with more than 10 years of follow up. If a patient was in Class I at 1 year postoperatively, the probability of seizure remission at 10 years postoperatively was 92% (95% CI 89–96%); almost all seizures occurred during the 1st year after surgery. Factors predictive of poor outcome from surgery were normal pathological findings in resected tissue (p = 0.038), male sex (p = 0.035), previous surgery (p < 0.001), and an extratemporal origin of seizures (p < 0.001).

Conclusions

The response to epilepsy surgery during the 1st follow-up year is a reliable indicator of the long-term Engel Class I postoperative outcome. This finding may have important implications for patient counseling and postoperative discontinuation of anticonvulsant medications.

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Sohum Desai, Jonathan A. Friedman, Joseph Hlavin, Rudy P. Briner, L. Gerard Toussaint III, J. Bradley White and Alexander Van Amerogen

The authors present a unique case of a patient with communicating hydrocephalus and repeated ventriculoperitoneal shunt obstructions resulting from mucin-secreting enterogenous cell deposits at the cervicomedullary junction. Pathological examinations revealed that these cellular deposits lacked characteristic cystic architecture and the patient had no history of previous cyst with dissemination. Because of the repeated shunt obstructions and inability to surgically resect the lesion in its entirety, the authors elected radiation therapy to the cervicomedullary junction, encompassing the radiological abnormality. As of this writing, the patient has remained at neurological baseline and has not required further shunt revisions for obstruction.