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James Mcinerney and Perry A. Ball

Nucleus pulposus herniations are far less common in the thoracic spine than at the cervical and lumbar regions. Traditionally, diagnosis of thoracic disc herniations has been challenging because the signs and symptoms are often subtle early in their course. As a result, delays in diagnoses are common. Because they are uncommon as well as difficult to diagnosis, the neurosurgical community has sparse data on which to base good clinical decision making for the treatment of these herniations.

In this review the authors seek to place the phenomenon of thoracic disc disease into the context of its pathophysiology. After a careful evaluation of the available clinical, pathological, and basic science data, a case is made that the cause of nucleus pulposus herniations in the thoracic spine is similar to those occurring in the lumbar and cervical regions. The lower incidence of herniations is ascribed primarily to the reduced allowable flexion at the thoracic level compared with the lumbar and cervical levels. To a lesser extent, the contribution of the ribs to weight-bearing may also play a role.

Further review of clinical data suggests that thoracic disc herniations, like herniated cervical and lumbar discs, may be asymptomatic and may respond to conservative therapy. Similarly, good surgery-related results have been reported for herniated thoracic discs, despite the more challenging nature of the surgical procedure.

The authors conclude that treatment strategies for thoracic disc herniations may logically and appropriately follow those commonly used for the cervical and lumbar levels.

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Nicholas J. Brandmeir, James McInerney and Brad E. Zacharia

Over the last several years, laser interstitial thermotherapy (LITT) has gained wide acceptance for the treatment of a myriad of cranial lesions. A wide variety of techniques for placement of the laser fiber have been reported with a spectrum of perceived benefits and drawbacks. The authors present the first report of a customized 3D printed stereotactic frame for LITT.

Approximately 1 week prior to surgery, 3–4 skull fiducials were placed after each of 5 patients received a local anesthetic as an outpatient. Radiographs with these fiducials were then used to create a trajectory to the lesion that would be treated with LITT. After the plan was completed, software was used to render a customized frame. On the day of surgery, the frame was attached to the implanted skull fiducials and the LITT catheter was placed. This procedure was carried out in 5 consecutive patients. In 2 patients, a needle biopsy was also performed.

Intraoperative and postoperative imaging studies confirmed the accurate placement of the LITT catheter and the lesion created. Mean operating room time for all patients was 45 minutes but only 26 minutes when excluding the cases in which a biopsy was performed.

To the best of the authors' knowledge, this is the first report of the use of a specific system, the STarFix microTargeting system, for use with LITT and brain biopsy. This system offers several advantages including fast operating times, extensive preoperative planning, no need for cranial fixation, and no need for frame or fiducial placement on the day of surgery. The accuracy of the system combined with these advantages may make this a preferred stereotactic method for LITT, especially in centers where LITT is performed in a diagnostic MRI suite.

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John Y. K. Lee, Ajay Niranjan, James McInerney, Douglas Kondziolka, John C. Flickinger and L. Dade Lunsford

Object. To evaluate long-term outcomes of patients who have undergone stereotactic radiosurgery for cavernous sinus meningiomas, the authors retrospectively reviewed their 14-year experience with these cases.

Methods. One hundred seventy-six patients harbored meningiomas centered within the cavernous sinus. Seventeen patients were lost to follow-up review, leaving 159 analyzable patients, in whom 164 procedures were performed. Seventy-six patients (48%) underwent adjuvant radiosurgery after one or more attempts at surgical resection. Eighty-three patients (52%) underwent primary radiosurgery. Two patients (1%) had previously received fractionated external-beam radiation therapy. Four patients (2%) harbored histologically verified atypical or malignant meningiomas. Conformal multiple isocenter gamma knife surgery was performed. The median dose applied to the tumor margin was 13 Gy.

Neurological status improved in 46 patients (29%), remained stable in 99 (62%), and eventually worsened in 14 (9%). Adverse effects of radiation occurred after 11 procedures (6.7%). Tumor volumes decreased in 54 patients (34%), remained stable in 96 (60%), and increased in nine (6%). The actuarial tumor control rate for patients with typical meningiomas was 93.1 ± 3.3% at both 5 and 10 years. For the 83 patients who underwent radiosurgery as their sole treatment, the actuarial tumor control rate at 5 years was 96.9 ± 3%.

Conclusions. Stereotactic radiosurgery provided safe and effective management of cavernous sinus meningiomas. We believe it is the preferred management strategy for tumors of suitable volume (average tumor diameter ≤ 3 cm or volume ≤ 15 cm3).

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James McInerney, David A. Gould, John D. Birkmeyer and Robert E. Harbaugh


Asymptomatic intracranial arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) represent a clinically challenging problem because of the complex decision making that must be undertaken prior to beginning any type of treatment. In addition, the relative infrequency of these lesions means that there is relatively little experience reported in the literature. The authors use a decision-analysis technique to model the considerations that go into determining the treatment of these lesions in an effort to quantify the various risks and overall benefits conferred by the following three treatment strategies: observation/natural history, microsurgery, and stereotactic radiosurgery.


The authors conducted a thorough literature search to elucidate the risks and outcomes associated with each treatment option. These values were used to build and run a comprehensive Markov model to determine a base-case analysis. All of the input variables were also subjected to sensitivity analysis to identify the most influential input variables and the crossover points in which favored strategies changed.

The base-case analysis suggested that microsurgery was the favored treatment option because this hypothetical cohort accumulated 21.53 quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) over the course of the model compared with the 16.97 QALYs and 16.40 QALYs for stereotctic radiosurgery and observation, respectively. Sensitivity analysis demonstrated that overall major neurological morbidity and mortality were the most influential input variables both perioperatively and during the radiosurgical “latent” period (that is, up to 2 years posttreatment). The maximum acceptable perioperative combined major neurological morbidity and mortality rate was 6.8%. The latent period combined major neurological morbidity and mortality would need to be 0.7% to make radiosurgery favorable in this analysis.


Results of this decision analysis model suggest that microsurgery in the hands of experienced cerebrovascular surgeons, who can expect a less than 6.8% combined rate of major neurological morbidity and mortality, offers patients a greater overall quality of life over time.

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Mark D. Meadowcroft, Timothy K. Cooper, Sebastian Rupprecht, Thaddeus C. Wright, Elizabeth E. Neely, Michele Ferenci, Weimin Kang, Qing X. Yang, Robert E. Harbaugh, James R. Connor and James McInerney


Intracranial aneurysms are vascular abnormalities associated with neurological morbidity and mortality due to risk of rupture. In addition, many aneurysm treatments have associated risk profiles that can preclude the prophylactic treatment of asymptomatic lesions. Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS) is a standard treatment for trigeminal neuralgia, tumors, and arteriovenous malformations. Aneurysms associated with arteriovenous malformations have been noted to resolve after treatment of the malformation. The aim of this study was to determine the efficacy of GKRS treatment in a saccular aneurysm animal model.


Aneurysms were surgically produced using an elastase-induced aneurysm model in the right common carotid artery of 10 New Zealand white rabbits. Following initial observation for 4 years, each rabbit aneurysm was treated with a conformal GKRS isodose of 25 Gy to the 50% margin. Longitudinal MRI studies obtained over 2 years and terminal measures obtained at multiple time points were used to track aneurysm size and shape index modifications.


Aneurysms did not rupture or involute during the observation period. Whole aneurysm and blood volume averages decreased with a linear trend, at rates of 1.7% and 1.6% per month, respectively, over 24 months. Aneurysm wall percent volume increased linearly at a rate of 0.3% per month, indicating a relative thickening of the aneurysm wall during occlusion. Nonsphericity of the average volume, aspect ratio, and isoperimetric ratio of whole aneurysm volume all remained constant. Histopathological samples demonstrated progressive reduction in aneurysm size and wall thickening, with subintimal fibrosis. Consistent shape indices demonstrate stable aneurysm patency and maintenance of minimal rupture risk following treatment.


The data indicate that GKRS targeted to saccular aneurysms is associated with histopathological changes and linear reduction of aneurysm size over time. The results suggest that GKRS may be a viable, minimally invasive treatment option for intracranial aneurysm obliteration.

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Jason G. Mandell, Kenneth L. Hill, Dan T. D. Nguyen, Kevin W. Moser, Robert E. Harbaugh, James McInerney, Brian Kaaya Nsubuga, John K. Mugamba, Derek Johnson, Benjamin C. Warf, Warren Boling, Andrew G. Webb and Steven J. Schiff


The incidence of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) due to mesial temporal sclerosis (MTS) can be high in developing countries. Current diagnosis of MTS relies on structural MRI, which is generally unavailable in developing world settings. Given widespread effects on temporal lobe structure beyond hippocampal atrophy in TLE, the authors propose that CT volumetric analysis can be used in patient selection to help predict outcomes following resection.


Ten pediatric patients received preoperative CT scans and temporal resections at the CURE Children's Hospital of Uganda. Engel classification of seizure control was determined 12 months postoperatively. Temporal lobe volumes were measured from CT and from normative MR images using the Cavalieri method. Whole brain and fluid volumes were measured using particle filter segmentation. Linear discrimination analysis (LDA) was used to classify seizure outcome by temporal lobe volumes and normalized brain volume.


Epilepsy patients showed normal to small brain volumes and small temporal lobes bilaterally. A multivariate measure of the volume of each temporal lobe separated patients who were seizure free (Engel Class IA) from those with incomplete seizure control (Engel Class IB/IIB) with LDA (p < 0.01). Temporal lobe volumes also separate normal subjects, patients with Engel Class IA outcomes, and patients with Class IB/IIB outcomes (p < 0.01). Additionally, the authors demonstrated that age-normalized whole brain volume, in combination with temporal lobe volumes, may further improve outcome prediction (p < 0.01).


This study shows strong evidence that temporal lobe and brain volume can be predictive of seizure outcome following temporal lobe resection, and that volumetric CT analysis of the temporal lobe may be feasible in lieu of structural MRI when the latter is unavailable. Furthermore, since the authors' methods are modality independent, these findings suggest that temporal lobe and normative brain volumes may further be useful in the selection of patients for temporal lobe resection when structural MRI is available.

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Yi-Chieh Hung, Cheng-Chia Lee, Huai-che Yang, Nasser Mohammed, Kathryn N. Kearns, Ahmed M. Nabeel, Khaled Abdel Karim, Reem M. Emad Eldin, Amr M. N. El-Shehaby, Wael A. Reda, Sameh R. Tawadros, Roman Liscak, Jana Jezkova, L. Dade Lunsford, Hideyuki Kano, Nathaniel D. Sisterson, Roberto Martínez Álvarez, Nuria E. Martínez Moreno, Douglas Kondziolka, John G. Golfinos, Inga Grills, Andrew Thompson, Hamid Borghei-Razavi, Tanmoy Kumar Maiti, Gene H. Barnett, James McInerney, Brad E. Zacharia, Zhiyuan Xu and Jason P. Sheehan


The most common functioning pituitary adenoma is prolactinoma. Patients with medically refractory or residual/recurrent tumors that are not amenable to resection can be treated with stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). The aim of this multicenter study was to evaluate the role of SRS for treating prolactinomas.


This retrospective study included prolactinomas treated with SRS between 1997 and 2016 at ten institutions. Patients’ clinical and treatment parameters were investigated. Patients were considered to be in endocrine remission when they had a normal level of prolactin (PRL) without requiring dopamine agonist medications. Endocrine control was defined as endocrine remission or a controlled PRL level ≤ 30 ng/ml with dopamine agonist therapy. Other outcomes were evaluated including new-onset hormone deficiency, tumor recurrence, and new neurological complications.


The study cohort comprised 289 patients. The endocrine remission rates were 28%, 41%, and 54% at 3, 5, and 8 years after SRS, respectively. Following SRS, 25% of patients (72/289) had new hormone deficiency. Sixty-three percent of the patients (127/201) with available data attained endocrine control. Three percent of patients (9/269) had a new visual complication after SRS. Five percent of the patients (13/285) were recorded as having tumor progression. A pretreatment PRL level ≤ 270 ng/ml was a predictor of endocrine remission (p = 0.005, adjusted HR 0.487). An increasing margin dose resulted in better endocrine control after SRS (p = 0.033, adjusted OR 1.087).


In patients with medically refractory prolactinomas or a residual/recurrent prolactinoma, SRS affords remarkable therapeutic effects in endocrine remission, endocrine control, and tumor control. New-onset hypopituitarism is the most common adverse event.