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James L. West, Kyle M. Fargen, Wesley Hsu, Charles L. Branch Jr. and Daniel E. Couture

Global access to neurosurgical care is still a work in progress, with many patients in low-income countries not able to access potentially lifesaving neurosurgical procedures. “Big Data” is an increasingly popular data collection and analytical technique predicated on collecting large amounts of data across multiple data sources and types for future analysis. The potential applications of Big Data to global outreach neurosurgery are myriad: from assessing the overall burden of neurosurgical disease to planning cost-effective improvements in access to neurosurgical care, and collecting data on conditions which are rare in developed countries. Although some global neurosurgical outreach programs have intelligently implemented Big Data principles in their global neurosurgery initiatives already, there is still significant progress that remains to be made. Big Data has the potential to drive the efficient improvement of access to neurosurgical care across low- and medium-income countries.

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James L. West, Madison Arnel, Atilio E. Palma, John Frino, Alexander K. Powers and Daniel E. Couture


Spine surgery is less common in children than adults. These surgeries, like all others, are subject to complications such as bleeding, infection, and CSF leak. The rate of incidental durotomy in the pediatric population, and its associated complications, has scarcely been reported in the literature.


This is a retrospective chart review of all pediatric patients operated on at Wake Forest Baptist Health from 2012 to 2017 who underwent spine surgeries. The authors excluded any procedures with intended durotomy, such as tethered cord release or spinal cord tumor resection.


From 2012 to 2017, 318 pediatric patients underwent surgery for a variety of indications, including adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (51.9%), neuromuscular scoliosis (27.4%), thoracolumbar fracture (2.83%), and other non–fusion-related indications (3.77%). Of these patients, the average age was 14.1 years, and 71.0% were female. There were 6 total incidental durotomies, resulting in an overall incidence of 1.9%. The incidence was 18.5% in revision operations, compared to 0.34% for index surgeries. Comparison of the revision cohort to the durotomy cohort revealed a trend toward increased length of stay, operative time, and blood loss; however, the trends were not statistically significant. The pedicle probe was implicated in 3 cases and the exact cause was not ascertained in the remaining 3 cases. The 3 durotomies caused by pedicle probe were treated with bone wax; 1 was treated with dry Gelfoam application and 2 were treated with primary repair. Only 1 patient had a persistent leak postoperatively that eventually required wound revision.


Incidental durotomy is an uncommon occurrence in the pediatric spinal surgery population. The majority occurred during placement of pedicle screws, and they were easily treated with bone wax at the time of surgery. Awareness of the incidence, predisposing factors, and treatment options is important in preventing complications and disability.

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Keyan A. Peterson, Christofer D. Burnette, Kyle M. Fargen, Patrick A. Brown, James L. West, Stephen B. Tatter and Stacey Q. Wolfe

The authors report the case of a 30-year-old female patient with suspected Cushing’s disease with an anatomical variation of hypoplastic inferior petrosal sinuses and nearly exclusive anterior drainage from the cavernous sinus, who underwent external jugular venous blood sampling with successful disease confirmation and microadenoma localization. The patient presented with signs and symptoms consistent with Cushing’s syndrome, but with discordant preliminary diagnostic testing. She underwent attempted bilateral inferior petrosal sinus sampling; however, she had hypoplastic inferior petrosal sinuses bilaterally and predominantly anterior drainage from the cavernous sinus into the external jugular circulation. Given this finding, the decision was made to proceed with external jugular venous access and sampling in addition to internal jugular venous sampling. A positive adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) response to corticotropin-releasing factor was obtained in the right external jugular vein alone, suggesting a right-sided pituitary microadenoma as the cause of her Cushing’s disease. The patient subsequently underwent a transsphenoidal hypophysectomy that confirmed the presence of a right-sided ACTH-secreting microadenoma, which was successfully resected. She was hypocortisolemic on discharge and has had no signs of recurrence or relapse at 6 months postoperation.

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James L. West, Michael H. Soike, Jaclyn J. Renfrow, Michael D. Chan, Adrian W. Laxton and Stephen B. Tatter


Rathke’s cleft cysts (RCCs) are benign lesions of the sella turcica that usually come to neurosurgical attention due to compression of the optic apparatus (OA) and headaches. Treatment options for these lesions include observation, aspiration of cyst contents, or open resection of the cyst with the cyst wall. All of these options involve the potential for cyst recurrence or enlargement. In this study the authors report on a potential new therapeutic option for RCCs, i.e., stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS).


A retrospective review was conducted of 5 patients with histologically confirmed, multiply recurrent RCCs who were treated with single-fraction SRS at a tertiary referral academic medical center.


The total cohort consisted of 5 female patients with an average age of 31.8 years. The most common presenting symptom was headache followed by blurry vision. The symptoms were present on average for 7 months before intervention. The median number of surgeries prior to radiosurgery was 2. The average volume of lesion treated was 0.34 cm3. The median SRS dose was 12.5 Gy prescribed to the 50% isodose line with an average prescription coverage of 96.6%. The median dose to the OA was 5 Gy. At last follow-up, 3 of 5 cysts had completely regressed, 1 had regressed by more than 50% but was still present, and 1 was stable, with an overall mean follow-up duration of 34.2 months. There were no neurological, endocrinological, or visual complications attributable to SRS during the follow-up period.


RCCs can be a challenging clinical entity to treat, especially when they are multiply recurrent. In patients with an average of 2 previous surgeries for resection, a single SRS session prevented recurrence universally, with an average follow-up of almost 3 years. These results indicate that further investigation of the treatment of RCCs with SRS is indicated.

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Jason P. Sheehan, Robert M. Starke, Hideyuki Kano, Anthony M. Kaufmann, David Mathieu, Fred A. Zeiler, Michael West, Samuel T. Chao, Gandhi Varma, Veronica L. S. Chiang, James B. Yu, Heyoung L. McBride, Peter Nakaji, Emad Youssef, Norissa Honea, Stephen Rush, Douglas Kondziolka, John Y. K. Lee, Robert L. Bailey, Sandeep Kunwar, Paula Petti and L. Dade Lunsford


Parasellar and sellar meningiomas are challenging tumors owing in part to their proximity to important neurovascular and endocrine structures. Complete resection can be associated with significant morbidity, and incomplete resections are common. In this study, the authors evaluated the outcomes of parasellar and sellar meningiomas managed with Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS) both as an adjunct to microsurgical removal or conventional radiation therapy and as a primary treatment modality.


A multicenter study of patients with benign sellar and parasellar meningiomas was conducted through the North American Gamma Knife Consortium. For the period spanning 1988 to 2011 at 10 centers, the authors identified all patients with sellar and/or parasellar meningiomas treated with GKRS. Patients were also required to have a minimum of 6 months of imaging and clinical follow-up after GKRS. Factors predictive of new neurological deficits following GKRS were assessed via univariate and multivariate analyses. Kaplan-Meier analysis and Cox multivariate regression analysis were used to assess factors predictive of tumor progression.


The authors identified 763 patients with sellar and/or parasellar meningiomas treated with GKRS. Patients were assessed clinically and with neuroimaging at routine intervals following GKRS. There were 567 females (74.3%) and 196 males (25.7%) with a median age of 56 years (range 8–90 years). Three hundred fifty-five patients (50.7%) had undergone at least one resection before GKRS, and 3.8% had undergone prior radiation therapy. The median follow-up after GKRS was 66.7 months (range 6–216 months). At the last follow-up, tumor volumes remained stable or decreased in 90.2% of patients. Actuarial progression-free survival rates at 3, 5, 8, and 10 years were 98%, 95%, 88%, and 82%, respectively. More than one prior surgery, prior radiation therapy, or a tumor margin dose < 13 Gy significantly increased the likelihood of tumor progression after GKRS.

At the last clinical follow-up, 86.2% of patients demonstrated no change or improvement in their neurological condition, whereas 13.8% of patients experienced symptom progression. New or worsening cranial nerve deficits were seen in 9.6% of patients, with cranial nerve (CN) V being the most adversely affected nerve. Functional improvements in CNs, especially in CNs V and VI, were observed in 34% of patients with preexisting deficits. New or worsened endocrinopathies were demonstrated in 1.6% of patients; hypothyroidism was the most frequent deficiency. Unfavorable outcome with tumor growth and accompanying neurological decline was statistically more likely in patients with larger tumor volumes (p = 0.022) and more than 1 prior surgery (p = 0.021).


Gamma Knife radiosurgery provides a high rate of tumor control for patients with parasellar or sellar meningiomas, and tumor control is accompanied by neurological preservation or improvement in most patients.