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James M. Markert, Donald M. Coen, Amy Malick, Toshihiro Mineta and Robert L. Martuza

✓ Despite aggressive therapy, many nervous system neoplasms, including malignant gliomas, medulloblastomas, malignant meningiomas, and neurofibrosarcomas, maintain high mortality rates. The authors recently utilized a thymidine kinase-negative herpes simplex-1 mutant virus, dlsptk, with reduced neurovirulence, for the effective treatment of malignant human gliomas in cell culture and in nude mouse in vivo models. The range of human nervous system tumors that might be responsive to viral therapy is now expanded. Three medulloblastoma, four malignant or atypical meningioma, and five neurofibrosarcoma cell lines or early-passage tumors were treated with the dlsptk virus in cell culture. A cell death rate of at least 99% was evident in every tumor tested for at least one multiplicity of infection within 14 days after treatment. Control tumor cell cultures remained viable. To test dlsptk therapy in vivo, the authors treated human medulloblastoma subcutaneous xenografts with two doses of dlsptk. Mean growth ratios were significantly inhibited in the treated group when compared to control tumors, and there was a significant number of tumor regressions in the treated animals. Similar results were seen with human malignant meningioma xenografts in a subrenal capsule study. These results encourage the further investigation of viral therapy in the treatment of a broad spectrum of nervous system tumors refractory to conventional treatment methods.

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Matthew C. Davis, Elizabeth N. Kuhn, Bonita S. Agee, Robert A. Oster and James M. Markert


Many neurosurgical training programs have moved from a 24-hour resident call system to a night float system, but the impact on outcomes is unclear. Here, the authors compare length of stay (LOS) for neurosurgical patients admitted before and after initiation of a night float system at a tertiary care training hospital.


The neurosurgical residency at the University of Alabama at Birmingham transitioned from 24-hour call to a night float resident coverage system in July 2013. In this cohort study, all patients admitted to the neurosurgical service for 1 year before and 1 year after this transition were compared with respect to hospital and ICU LOSs, adjusted for potential confounders.


A total of 4619 patients were included. In the initial bivariate analysis, night float was associated with increased ICU LOS (p = 0.032) and no change in overall LOS (p = 0.65). However, coincident with the transition to a night float system was an increased frequency of resident service transitions, which were highly associated with hospital LOS (p < 0.01) and ICU LOS (p < 0.01). After adjusting for resident service transitions, initiation of the night float system was associated with decreased hospital LOS (p = 0.047) and no change in ICU LOS (p = 0.35).


This study suggests that a dedicated night float resident may improve night-to-night continuity of care and decrease hospital LOS, but caution must be exercised when initiation of night float results in increased resident service transitions.

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Elizabeth N. Kuhn, Matthew C. Davis, Bonita S. Agee, Robert A. Oster and James M. Markert


Handoffs and services changes are potentially modifiable sources of medical error and delays in transition of care. This cohort study assessed the relationship between resident service handoffs and length of stay for neurosurgical patients.


All patients admitted to the University of Alabama at Birmingham neurosurgical service between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2014, were retrospectively identified. A service handoff was defined as any point when a resident handed off coverage of a service for longer than 1 weekend. A conditional probability distribution was constructed to adjust length of stay for the increasing probability of a random handoff. The Student t-test and ANCOVA were used to assess relationships between resident service handoffs and length of hospital stay, adjusted for potential confounders.


A total of 3038 patients met eligibility criteria and were included in the statistical analyses. Adjusted length of hospital stay (5.32 vs 3.53 adjusted days) and length of ICU stay (4.38 vs 2.96 adjusted days) were both longer for patients who experienced a service handoff, with no difference in mortality. In the ANCOVA model, resident service handoff remained predictive of both length of hospital stay (p < 0.001) and length of ICU stay (p < 0.001).


Occurrence of a resident service handoff is an independent predictor of length of hospital and ICU stay in neurosurgical patients. This finding is novel in the neurosurgical literature. Future research might identify mechanisms for improving continuity of care and mitigating the effect of resident handoffs on patient outcomes.

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Blake E. Pearson, James M. Markert, Winfield S. Fisher, Barton L. Guthrie, John B. Fiveash, Cheryl A. Palmer and Kristen Riley


The World Health Organization (WHO) reclassified atypical meningiomas in 2000, creating a more clear and broadly accepted definition. In this paper, the authors evaluated the pathological and clinical transition period for atypical meningiomas according to the implementation of the new WHO grading system at their institution.


A total of 471 meningiomas occurring in 440 patients between 1994 and 2006 were retrospectively reviewed to determine changes in diagnostic rates, postoperative treatment trends, and early outcomes.


Between 1994 and 2000, the incidence of the atypical meningiomas ranged from 0 to 3/year, or 4.4% of the meningiomas detected during the entire period. After 2002, the annual percentage of atypical meningiomas rose over a 2-year period, leveling off at between 32.7 and 35.5% between 2004 and 2006. The authors also found a recent trend toward increased use of adjuvant radiation therapy for incompletely resected atypical meningiomas. Prior to 2003, 18.7% were treated with this therapy; after 2003, 34.4% of lesions received this treatment. Incompletely resected tumors were treated with some form of radiation 76% of the time. In cases of complete resection, most patients were not given adjuvant therapy but were expectantly managed by close monitoring using serial imaging and by receiving immediate treatment for tumor recurrence. The overall recurrence rate for expectantly managed tumors was 9% over 28.2 months, and 75% of recurrences responded to delayed radiation therapy.


The authors documented a significant change in the proportion of meningiomas designated as atypical during a transition period from 2002 to 2004, and propose a conservative strategy for the use of radiation therapy in atypical meningiomas.