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James Wright, Christina Huang Wright, and Warren R. Selman

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James M. Wright, Alankrita Raghavan, Christina H. Wright, Berje Shammassian, Yifei Duan, Martha Sajatovic, and Warren R. Selman

OBJECTIVE

Informed consent, when performed appropriately, serves many roles beyond simply obtaining the prerequisite medicolegal paperwork to perform a surgery. Prior studies have suggested that patient understanding is poor when verbal communication is the sole means of education. Virtual reality platforms have proven effective in enhancing medical education. No studies exist that have demonstrated the utility of virtual reality–facilitated informed consent (VR-IC) in improving the physician-patient alliance. The aim of this study was to determine the utility of VR-IC among patients providing consent for surgery and the impact of this educational and information technology–based strategy on enhancing the physician-patient alliance, patient satisfaction, and resident-physician perception of the consent process.

METHODS

Prospective, single-site, pre- and postconsent surveys were administered to assess patient and resident perception of informed consent performed with the aid of VR-IC at a large tertiary academic medical center in the US. Participants were adult patients (n = 50) undergoing elective surgery for tumor resection and neurosurgical residents (n = 19) who obtained patient informed consent for these surgical procedures. Outcome measures included scores on the Patient-Doctor Relationship Questionnaire (PDRQ-9), the modified Satisfaction with Simulation Experience Scale, and the Maslach Burnout Inventory. Patient pre- and postconsent data were recorded in real time using a secure online research data platform (REDCap).

RESULTS

A total of 48 patients and 2 family members provided consent using VR-IC and completed the surveys pre- and postconsent; 47.9% of patients were women. The mean patient age was 57.5 years. There was a statistically significant improvement from pre- to post–VR-IC consent in patient satisfaction scores. Measures of patient-physician alliance, trust, and understanding of their illness all increased. Among the 19 trainees, perceived comfort and preparedness with the informed consent process significantly improved.

CONCLUSIONS

VR-IC led to improved patient satisfaction, patient-physician alliance, and patient understanding of their illness as measured by the PDRQ-9. Using VR-IC contributed to residents’ increased comfort in the consent-gathering process and handling patient questions. In an era in which satisfaction scores are directly linked with hospital and service-line outcomes and reimbursement, positive results from VR-IC may augment physician and hospital satisfaction scores in addition to increasing measures of trust between physicians and patients.

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James Wright, Jessey Chugh, Christina Huang Wright, Fernando Alonso, Alia Hdeib, Haley Gittleman, Jill Barnholtz-Sloan, and Andrew E. Sloan

OBJECTIVE

Laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT), sometimes referred to as “stereotactic laser ablation,” has demonstrated utility in a subset of high-risk surgical patients with difficult to access (DTA) intracranial neoplasms. However, the treatment of tumors larger than 10 cm3 is associated with suboptimal outcomes and morbidity. This may limit the utility of LITT in dealing with precisely those large or deep tumors that are most difficult to treat with conventional approaches. Recently, several groups have reported on minimally invasive transsulcal approaches utilizing tubular retracting systems. However, these approaches have been primarily used for intraventricular or paraventricular lesions, and subtotal resections have been reported for intraparenchymal lesions. Here, the authors describe a combined approach of LITT followed by minimally invasive transsulcal resection for large and DTA tumors.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed the results of LITT immediately followed by minimally invasive, transsulcal, transportal resection in 10 consecutive patients with unilateral, DTA malignant tumors > 10 cm3. The patients, 5 males and 5 females, had a median age of 65 years. Eight patients had glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), 1 had a previously treated GBM with radiation necrosis, and 1 had a melanoma brain metastasis. The median tumor volume treated was 38.0 cm3.

RESULTS

The median tumor volume treated to the yellow thermal dose threshold (TDT) line was 83% (range 76%–92%), the median tumor volume treated to the blue TDT line was 73% (range 60%–87%), and the median extent of resection was 93% (range 84%–100%). Two patients suffered mild postoperative neurological deficits, one transiently. Four patients have died since this analysis and 6 remain alive. Median progression-free survival was 280 days, and median overall survival was 482 days.

CONCLUSIONS

Laser interstitial thermal therapy followed by minimally invasive transsulcal resection, reported here for the first time, is a novel option for patients with large, DTA, malignant brain neoplasms. There were no unexpected neurological complications in this series, and operative characteristics improved as surgeon experience increased. Further studies are needed to elucidate any differences in survival or quality of life metrics.

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Stereotaxic Surgery for Parkinsonism

A Method of Evaluation and Clinical Results

Grant Levin, Bertram Feinstein, E. James Kreul, W. Watson Alberts, and Elwood W. Wright Jr.

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Christina Huang Wright, James Wright, Louisa Onyewadume, Alankrita Raghavan, Isaac Lapite, Antonio Casco-Zuleta, Carlito Lagman, Martha Sajatovic, and Tiffany R. Hodges

OBJECTIVE

Spinal metastases from primary intracranial glioblastoma (GBM) are infrequently reported, and the disease has yet to be well characterized. A more accurate description of its clinical presentation and patient survival may improve understanding of this pathology, guide patient care, and advocate for increased inclusion in GBM research. The authors sought to describe the clinical presentation, treatment patterns, and survival in patients with drop metastases secondary to primary intracranial GBM.

METHODS

A systematic review was performed using the PRISMA guidelines. PubMed/MEDLINE, Scopus, Web of Science, and Cochrane databases were queried for abstracts that included patients with primary intracranial GBM and metastases to the spinal axis. Descriptive statistics were used to evaluate characteristics of the primary brain lesion, timing of spinal metastases, clinical symptoms, anatomical location of the metastases, and survival and treatment parameters. Kaplan-Meier analysis and log-rank analysis of the survival curves were performed for selected subgroups.

RESULTS

Of 1225 abstracts that resulted from the search, 51 articles were selected, yielding 86 subjects. The patients’ mean age was 46.78 years and 59.74% were male. The most common symptom was lumbago or cervicalgia (90.24%), and this was followed by paraparesis (86.00%). The actuarial median survival after the detection of spinal metastases was 2.8 months and the mean survival was 2.72 months (95% CI 2.59–4.85), with a 1-year cumulative survival probability of 2.7% (95% CI 0.51%–8.33%). A diagnosis of leptomeningeal disease, present in 53.54% of the patients, was correlated, and significantly worse survival was on log-rank analysis in patients with leptomeningeal disease (p = 0.0046; median survival 2.5 months [95% CI 2–3] vs 4.0 months [95% CI 2–6]).

CONCLUSIONS

This study established baseline characteristics of GBMs metastatic to the spinal axis. The prognosis is poor, though these results will provide patients and clinicians with more accurate survival estimates. The quality of studies reporting on this disease pathology is still limited. There is significant need for improved reporting methods for spinal metastases, either through enrollment of these patients in clinical trials or through increased granularity of coding for metastatic central nervous system diseases in cancer databases.

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Christina Huang Wright, James Wright, Gino Cioffi, Alia Hdeib, Manish K. Kasliwal, Carol Kruchko, Jill S. Barnholtz-Sloan, and Andrew E. Sloan

OBJECTIVE

Chordomas of the spine and sacrum are a rare but debilitating cancer and require complex multidisciplinary care. Studies of other such rare cancers have demonstrated an association of high-volume and/or multidisciplinary centers with improved outcomes and survival. Such an association has been proposed for chordomas, but evidence to support this claim is lacking. The authors performed a study to investigate if treatment facility type is associated with patterns of care and survival for patients with spinal and sacral chordomas by assessing records from a US-based cancer database.

METHODS

In this observational retrospective cohort study, the authors identified 1266 patients from the National Cancer Database with vertebral column or sacral chordomas diagnosed between 2004 and 2015. The primary study outcome was overall survival, and secondary outcomes included odds of receiving treatment and time to treatment, defined as radiation therapy, surgery, and/or any treatment, including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or participation in clinical trials. The results were adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, level of education, income, and Charlson/Deyo score.

RESULTS

Of the 1266 patients identified, the mean age at diagnosis was 59.70 years (SD 16.2 years), and the patients were predominantly male (n = 791 [62.50%]). Patients treated at community cancer programs demonstrated an increased risk of death (HR 1.98, 95% CI 1.13–3.47, p = 0.018) when compared to patients treated at academic/research programs (ARPs). The median survival was longest for those treated at ARPs (131.45 months) compared to community cancer programs (79.34 months, 95% CI 48.99–123.17) and comprehensive community cancer programs (CCCPs) (109.34 months, 95% CI 84.76–131.45); 5-year survival rates were 76.08%, 52.71%, and 61.57%, respectively. Patients treated at community cancer programs and CCCPs were less likely to receive any treatment compared to those treated at ARPs (OR 6.05, 95% CI 2.62–13.95, p < 0.0001; OR 3.74, 95% CI 2.23–6.28, p < 0.0001, respectively). Patients treated at CCCPs and community cancer programs were less likely to receive surgery than those treated at ARPs (OR 2.69, 95% CI 1.82–3.97, p = 0.010; OR = 2.64, 95% CI 1.22–5.71, p = 0.014, respectively). Patients were more likely to receive any treatment (OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.40–0.87, p = 0.007) and surgery (OR 0.58, 95% CI 0.38–0.88, p < 0.0001) within 30 days at a CCCP compared to an ARP. There were no differences in odds of receiving radiation therapy or time to radiation by facility type.

CONCLUSIONS

Clinical care at an ARP is associated with increased odds of receiving treatment that is associated with improved overall survival for patients with spinal and sacral chordomas, suggesting that ARPs provide the most comprehensive specialized care for patients with this rare and devastating oncological disease.

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Laura Berardo, Christina Gerges, James Wright, Amber Stout, Hamid Shah, Alexander Papanastassiou, Kristopher Kimmell, and in affiliation with the Council of State Neurosurgical Societies (CSNS)

OBJECTIVE

Neurosurgeon burnout is a serious and prevalent issue that has been shown to impact professionalism, physician health, and patient outcomes. Interventions targeting physician burnout primarily focus on improving physician wellness. Many academic neurosurgery programs have established wellness curricula to combat burnout and improve wellness. No official recommendations exist for establishing a wellness program that effectively targets sources of burnout. The aim of this review was to examine measures of burnout and report objective results of wellness interventions for neurosurgical faculty and residents.

METHODS

Two systematic literature reviews were performed in parallel, in accordance with PRISMA 2009 guidelines. Following removal of duplicates, a query of PubMed/MEDLINE, Scopus, Ovid, Cochrane, and EMBASE databases yielded 134 resident-related articles and 208 faculty-related articles for abstract screening. After abstract screening, 17 articles with a primary focus of resident wellness and 10 with a focus on faculty wellness met criteria for full-text screening. Of the total 27 screened articles, 9 (6 resident, 2 faculty, 1 both resident and faculty) met criteria and were included in the final analysis. Article quality was assessed using the Joanna Briggs Institute critical appraisal tools for cohort studies.

RESULTS

Included studies reported burnout rates for neurosurgery residents of 30%–67%. Work-life imbalance, imbalance of duties, inadequate operative exposure, and hostile faculty were contributors to burnout. The 2 included studies reported burnout rates for neurosurgery faculty members of 27% and 56.7%. Psychosocial stressors, relational stressors, and financial uncertainty were generally associated with increased feelings of burnout. Of the 4 studies reporting on outcomes of wellness initiatives included in this review, 3 reported a positive impact of the wellness interventions and 1 study reported no significant improvement after implementing a wellness initiative.

CONCLUSIONS

Burnout among neurosurgical faculty and residents is prevalent and permeates the daily lives of neurosurgeons, negatively affecting patient outcomes, career satisfaction, and quality of life. Many neurosurgery programs have instituted wellness programs to combat burnout, but few have published evidence of improvement after implementation. While studies have shown that residents and faculty recognize the importance of wellness and look favorably on such initiatives, very few studies have reported objective outcomes.

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James M. Wright, Michael D. Staudt, Andrea Alonso, Jonathan P. Miller, and Andrew E. Sloan

The authors describe the case of a 22-month-old boy who presented with gelastic seizures and developmental delay. Magnetic resonance imaging and video-electroencephalography monitoring revealed a primarily intraventricular hypothalamic hamartoma and gelastic seizures occurring 20–30 times daily. The patient was treated with various regimens of antiepileptic medications for 16 months, but the seizures remained medically intractable. At 3 years of age, he underwent stereotactic laser ablation with an aim of disconnection of the lesion. The procedure was performed with the NeuroBlate SideFire probe. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first reported use of this technology for this procedure and serves as proof of concept. There were no perioperative complications, and 2 years postprocedure, the patient remains seizure free with marked behavioral and cognitive improvements.

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James M. Wright, Christina L. Huang, Rahul Sharma, Sunil Manjila, Feng Xu, Barbara Dabb, and Nicholas C. Bambakidis

Since the first surgery for an intracranial aneurysm in 1931, neurological surgeons have long strived to determine the optimal methods of surgical correction. Significant challenges of aneurysm clipping include intraoperative rupture and complex dome morphology. Hypothermia, cardiopulmonary bypass, pharmacologically induced hypotension, and cardiac standstill are a few of the methodologies historically and currently employed in the management of these issues. In the 1980s, significant advances in pharmacology and anesthesiology led to the use of agents such as adenosine for chemically induced hypotension and eventually complete circulatory arrest. Since the institution of the use of these agents, the traditional methods of circulatory arrest under conditions of hypothermia and cardiopulmonary bypass have fallen out of favor. However, there still exists a subset of technically difficult aneurysms for which cardiac standstill, both chemical and hypothermic, remains a viable therapeutic option. In this paper, the authors describe the history of cardiac standstill by both hypothermic and chemically induced means as well as provide examples in which these techniques are still necessary.

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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

OBJECTIVE

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.

METHODS

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.

RESULTS

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.

CONCLUSIONS

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.