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Scott Seaman, Paul Nelson, Jacob Alexander, Andrew Swift and James Fick

The authors present the case of a 53-year-old man who was referred with disabling retching provoked by left arm abduction. At the time of his initial evaluation, a cervical MRI study was available for review and revealed an anatomical variation of the ipsilateral juxtamedullary vertebrobasilar junction. After brain imaging revealed contact of the medulla by a dolichoectatic vertebral artery at the dorsal root entry zone of the glossopharyngeal and vagus nerves, the patient was successfully treated by microvascular decompression of the brainstem and cranial nerves. This case demonstrates how a dolichoectatic vertebral artery—a common anatomical variation that typically has no clinical consequence—should be considered in cases of cranial nerve dysfunction.

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Jacob Rosenstein, Alexander Dah-Jium Wang, Lindsay Symon and Mikio Suzuki

✓ The relationship between central conduction time (CCT) and hemispheric cerebral blood flow (CBF) has been examined in 20 patients presenting with subarachnoid hemorrhage. A total of 63 combined CCT/CBF recordings were performed at various times throughout the hospital course of these patients, and the findings were correlated to clinical status. The initial-slope index of the CBF (CBFisi) was found to correlate well with clinical grade, and a gradation in flow was noted between the different neurological grades. Patients in Grades I and II (Hunt and Hess classification) had the highest flows (mean CBFisi = 47.2 ± 8.1); Grade III patients had intermediate flows (mean CBFisi = 39.6 ± 7.8); and Grade IV patients had the lowest flows (mean CBFisi = 32.0 ± 6.4).

While CCT tended to become increasingly prolonged with worsening grade, a significant difference could not be demonstrated between Grade I, II, and III patients. Only when Grade IV status was reached was the CCT significantly prolonged. When CBFisi and CCT were examined, a threshold relationship was noted between CBFisi and CCT prolongation. At flow values above 30, little change was noted in CCT, and CCT remained in the normal range. However, at flow values below 30, CCT became increasingly prolonged as blood flow diminished. The degree of CCT prolongation appeared to be directly proportional to the degree of blood flow diminution at flows below threshold.

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Fara Dayani, Jacob S. Young, Alexander Bonte, Edward F. Chang, Philip Theodosopoulos, Michael W. McDermott, Mitchel S. Berger and Manish K. Aghi

OBJECTIVE

Butterfly glioblastoma (bGBM) is a rare type of GBM, characterized by a butterfly pattern on MRI studies because of its bihemispheric involvement and invasion of the corpus callosum (CC). There is a profound gap in the knowledge regarding the optimal treatment approach as well as the safety and survival benefits of resection in treating this aggressive brain tumor. In this retrospective study, authors add to our understanding of these tumors by identifying the clinical characteristics and outcomes of patients with bGBM.

METHODS

An institutional database was reviewed for GBM cases treated in the period from 2004 to 2014. Records were reviewed to identify adult patients with bGBM. Cases of GBM with invasion of the CC without involvement of the contralateral hemisphere and bilateral GBMs without involvement of the CC were excluded from the study. Patient and tumor characteristics were gleaned from the medical records, and volumetric analysis was performed using T1-weighted MRI studies.

RESULTS

From among 1746 cases of GBM, 39 cases of bGBM were identified. Patients had a mean age of 57.8 years at diagnosis. Headache and confusion were the most common presenting symptoms (48.7% and 33.3%, respectively). The median overall survival was 3.2 months from diagnosis with an overall 6-month survival rate of 38.1%. Age, Karnofsky Performance Status at diagnosis, preoperative tumor volume, postoperative tumor volume, and extent of resection were found to significantly impact survival in the univariate analysis. On multivariate analysis, preoperative tumor volume and treatment approach of resection versus biopsy were identified as independent prognostic factors regardless of the patient-specific characteristics of age and KPS at diagnosis. Resection and biopsy were performed in 35.9% and 64.1% of patients, respectively. Resection was found to confer a better prognosis than biopsy (HR 0.37, p = 0.009) with a minimum extent of resection of 86% to observe survival benefits (HR 0.054, p = 0.03). The rate of persistent neurological deficits from resection was 7.14%. Patients younger than 70 years had a better prognosis (HR 0.32, p = 0.003). Patients undergoing resection and receiving adjuvant chemoradiation had a better prognosis than patients who lacked one of the three treatment modalities (HR = 0.34, p = 0.015).

CONCLUSIONS

Resection of bGBM is associated with low persistent neurological deficits, with improvement in survival compared to biopsy. A more aggressive treatment approach involving aggressive resection and adjuvant chemoradiation has significant survival benefits and improves outcome.

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Alexander P. Marston, Jeffrey T. Jacob, Matthew L. Carlson, Bruce E. Pollock, Colin L. W. Driscoll and Michael J. Link

OBJECTIVE

Over the last 30 years, stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) has become an established noninvasive treatment alternative for small- to medium-sized vestibular schwannoma (VS). This study aims to further define long-term SRS tumor control in patients with documented pretreatment tumor growth for whom conservative observation failed.

METHODS

A prospective clinical database was queried, and patients with sporadic VS who elected initial observation and subsequently underwent SRS after documented tumor growth between 2004 and 2014 were identified. Posttreatment tumor growth or shrinkage was determined by a ≥ 2-mm increase or decrease in maximum linear dimension, respectively.

RESULTS

Sixty-eight patients met study inclusion criteria. The median pre- and posttreatment observation periods were 16 and 43.5 months, respectively. The median dose to the tumor margin was 13 Gy (range 12–14 Gy), and the median maximum dose was 26 Gy (range 24–28 Gy). At the time of treatment, 59 tumors exhibited extracanalicular (EC) extension, and 9 were intracanalicular (IC). Of the 59 EC VSs, 50 (85%) remained stable or decreased in size following treatment, and 9 (15%) enlarged by > 2 mm. Among EC tumors, the median pretreatment tumor growth rate was 2.08 mm/year for tumors that decreased or were stable, compared with 3.26 mm/year for tumors that grew following SRS (p = 0.009). Patients who demonstrated a pretreatment growth rate of < 2.5 mm/year exhibited a 97% tumor control rate, compared with 69% for those demonstrating ≥ 2.5 mm/year of growth prior to SRS (p = 0.007). No other analyzed variables were found to predict tumor growth following SRS.

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, SRS administered using a marginal dose between 12–14 Gy is highly effective in treating VSs in which initial observation fails. Tumor control is achieved in 97% of VSs that exhibit slow (< 2.5 mm/year) pretreatment growth; however, SRS is less successful in treating tumors exhibiting rapid growth (≥ 2.5 mm/year).

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Alexander Baethmann, Klaus Maier-Hauff, Ludwig Schürer, Manfred Lange, Christine Guggenbichler, Wolfgang Vogt, Karl Jacob and Oliver Kempski

✓ The pathophysiological potential of mediator substances in manifestations of secondary brain damage is attracting increased attention. This is particularly true of the excitatory transmitters glutamate and arachidonic acid. Noxious properties of these compounds in central nervous tissue have been demonstrated. The current study was performed to determine whether glutamate and arachidonate are released in brain tissue secondary to focal trauma. For this purpose, a cold injury of exposed cerebral cortex was induced in cats. Marked accumulation of glutamate was observed in interstitially drained edema fluid, reaching 10 to 15 times the level that was assessed in normal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) prior to trauma. The extracellular release of glutamate was further dramatically enhanced by a critical decrease of the cerebral perfusion pressure due to a malignant increase of intracranial pressure. Under these conditions, glutamate concentrations 1000 to 1500 times normal levels accumulated in vasogenic edema fluid, demonstrating a relationship between the extent of the release of glutamate in damaged brain and the severity of the insult. Although under normal conditions glutamate concentrations in plasma were considerably higher than in the interstitial fluid, the pronounced increase of glutamate in this compartment due to trauma cannot be explained by transport of the compound together with the plasma-like edema from the intravascular space.

Corresponding findings were obtained for free fatty acid concentrations in edema fluid. Almost all fatty acids that were studied had a significantly higher concentration in edema fluid than in normal CSF obtained as a control prior to trauma. However, contrary to the findings for glutamate, fatty acid concentrations in edema fluid were lower than in plasma. Accumulation of fatty acids in vasogenic edema fluid might, therefore, have resulted from uptake of the material together with edema fluid through the breached blood-brain barrier. Arachidonic acid was an exception. Its concentrations were significantly higher in edema fluid than in plasma, suggesting that it was released from cerebral parenchyma as the underlying mechanism of its extracellular accumulation.

The current observations provide further support for a mediator function of glutamate and arachidonic acid in acute traumatic lesions of the brain. Quantitative assessment of the release of highly active mediator substances in brain tissue may facilitate analysis of the therapeutic efficiency of specific treatment aimed at interfering with the release or pathological function of mediators of secondary brain damage.

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Brian J. McHugh, Jacob F. Baranoski, Ajay Malhotra, Alexander O. Vortmeyer, Gordon Sze and Charles C. Duncan

Intracranial infantile hemangiopericytomas (HPCs) are exceedingly rare lesions. Only 11 cases have been previously reported in the literature. As such, little is known about the etiology, long-term prognosis, and optimal treatment paradigm. Clinically, they are consistently less aggressive than those in adults. The authors present the case of a 2-month-old boy with an intracranial HPC, review the available literature, discuss the evolving concepts of what defines an HPC, and offer a potential explanation to how HPC histology might relate to the clinical behavior of these lesions.

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Alexander A. Aabedi, EunSeon Ahn, Sofia Kakaizada, Claudia Valdivia, Jacob S. Young, Heather Hervey-Jumper, Eric Zhang, Oren Sagher, Daniel H. Weissman, David Brang and Shawn L. Hervey-Jumper

OBJECTIVE

Maximal safe tumor resection in language areas of the brain relies on a patient’s ability to perform intraoperative language tasks. Assessing the performance of these tasks during awake craniotomies allows the neurosurgeon to identify and preserve brain regions that are critical for language processing. However, receiving sedation and analgesia just prior to experiencing an awake craniotomy may reduce a patient’s wakefulness, leading to transient language and/or cognitive impairments that do not completely subside before language testing begins. At present, the degree to which wakefulness influences intraoperative language task performance is unclear. Therefore, the authors sought to determine whether any of 5 brief measures of wakefulness predicts such performance during awake craniotomies for glioma resection.

METHODS

The authors recruited 21 patients with dominant hemisphere low- and high-grade gliomas. Each patient performed baseline wakefulness measures in addition to picture-naming and text-reading language tasks 24 hours before undergoing an awake craniotomy. The patients performed these same tasks again in the operating room following the cessation of anesthesia medications. The authors then conducted statistical analyses to investigate potential relationships between wakefulness measures and language task performance.

RESULTS

Relative to baseline, performance on 3 of the 4 objective wakefulness measures (rapid counting, button pressing, and vigilance) declined in the operating room. Moreover, these declines appeared in the complete absence of self-reported changes in arousal. Performance on language tasks similarly declined in the intraoperative setting, with patients experiencing greater declines in picture naming than in text reading. Finally, performance declines on rapid counting and vigilance wakefulness tasks predicted performance declines on the picture-naming task.

CONCLUSIONS

Current subjective methods for assessing wakefulness during awake craniotomies may be insufficient. The administration of objective measures of wakefulness just prior to language task administration may help to ensure that patients are ready for testing. It may also allow neurosurgeons to identify patients who are at risk for poor intraoperative performance.