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Domagoj Coric, John A. Wilson and David L. Kelly Jr

✓ Current treatment regimens for hangman's fracture, or traumatic spondylolisthesis of the axis, emphasize rigid immobilization using a halo orthosis. A retrospective study was undertaken to assess the safety and efficacy of nonrigid immobilization in the treatment of these fractures.

Records of 64 patients with hangman's fracture treated over a 19-year period (1975–1994) at one institution were reviewed. Thirty-nine of these patients presented with a displacement of C-2 onto C-3 measuring less than 6 mm and no contiguous cervical fractures. All these patients were treated with nonrigid immobilization, consisting primarily of a Philadelphia hard collar worn for 10 to 14 weeks; all showed stable fracture healing on follow-up flexion—extension radiographs. None of the patients experienced neurological sequelae or significant disability at follow-up review.

The results of this series indicate that the majority of patients with hangman's fractures, including all patients with displacement measuring less than 6 mm and no contiguous fractures, may be treated successfully with nonrigid immobilization. This management regimen avoids the increased morbidity and cost associated with rigid immobilization using a halo orthosis.

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Editorial

Stereotactic radiosurgery coding and reimbursement

John A. Wilson and R. Patrick Jacob

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Domagoj Coric, Charles L. Branch Jr., John A. Wilson and James C. Robinson

✓ A case is reported of a vertebral artery-to-epidural venous plexus fistula as a complication of posterior atlantoaxial facet screw fixation. The use of transarticular screws to stabilize the C1–2 joint has become an increasingly popular fixation technique, most notably for atlantoaxial instability due to trauma or rheumatoid disease. Despite the fact that this approach is technically challenging, there have been few reports of complications associated with C1–2 transarticular fixation. Although damage to the vertebral artery is a documented hazard of transarticular fixation at this level, a symptomatic arteriovenous fistula resulting from the procedure has not been described previously. The etiology, presentation, and treatment of this unusual complication are discussed.

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John A. Wilson, Sam Bowen, Charles L. Branch Jr. and J. Wayne Meredith

Anterior fixation devices for the thoracolumbar spine have gained wide acceptance as viable alternatives to long-segment posterior fixation in cases of thoracolumbar spine trauma. This review was undertaken to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the Synthes anterior thoracolumbar locking plate (ATLP) system.

Over a 3-year period, 31 patients with unstable traumatic fractures of the thoracolumbar spine underwent corpectomy, placement of a structural bone graft, and anterior fixation in which the Synthes ATLP system was used. Long-term follow-up data were obtained in 29 patients. Two patients were lost to follow up, one at 4 months and the other at 1 year. In the remaining patients, the average length of follow up was 20 months. In all patients radiographic evidence of solid bone fusion was demonstrated on follow-up plain x-ray films, and there were no signs or symptoms of pseudarthrosis. No patient suffered neurological deterioration as a result of surgery, and there was relatively little morbidity associated with this plating system. To date, none of the patients in this study has developed any delayed complications related to the fixation device. In one patient, who had sustained a severe flexion injury, loosening of the anterior fixation device occurred, and the patient developed progressive kyphosis, which required a posterior stabilization procedure.

These results appear slightly better than those obtained in published studies in which other anterior plating systems were used, indicating that this system is safe and effective in the treatment of unstable fractures of the thoracolumbar spine.

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Adam S. Arthur, Stephanie A. Wilson, Sanat Dixit and John D. Barr

Object

The authors present a retrospective analysis of their initial experience with the recently developed MicroVention HydroCoil to treat patients with cerebral aneurysms. Unlike the bare metal coils initially available for endovascular treatment of aneurysms, HydroCoils have a layer of hydrogel polymer surrounding a platinum metallic core. The hydrogel polymer expands soon after making contact with blood. The expanded hydrogel polymer provides increased volumetric filling compared with bare metal coils and offers a more biocompatible surface, as demonstrated in animal models.

Methods

Over a 17-month period, the authors used HydroCoils to treat 30 patients with 33 aneurysms. All patients had been treated at least 6 months prior to data analysis. Initial treatment results as well as records of clinical and angiographic follow up were reviewed. Six-month posttreatment angiograms were available for 25 patients.

Conclusions

The HydroCoils were implanted with few complications. On angiographic follow up, a clearly defined radiolucent separation of the coils from the parent artery was noted in many of the aneurysms treated. The authors have not previously observed angiographically demonstrated lucencies separating the coils from the parent artery. This frequent, but not consistent, appearance on follow-up angiograms obtained in this study indicates that HydroCoils support significant neointimal formation across the neck of treated aneurysms. The preliminary results indicate that HydroCoils can be used safely and effectively to treat aneurysms and that these devices may allow for improved aneurysm filling.

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Omar Tanweer, Taylor A. Wilson, Stephen P. Kalhorn, John G. Golfinos, Paul P. Huang and Douglas Kondziolka

OBJECT

Physicians are often solicited by patients or colleagues for clinical recommendations they would make for themselves if faced by a clinical situation. The act of making a recommendation can alter the clinical course being taken. The authors sought to understand this dynamic across different neurosurgical scenarios by examining how neurosurgeons value the procedures that they offer.

METHODS

The authors conducted an online survey using the Congress of Neurological Surgeons listserv in May 2013. Respondents were randomized to answer either as the surgeon or as the patient. Questions encompassed an array of distinct neurosurgical scenarios. Data on practice parameters and experience levels were also collected.

RESULTS

Of the 534 survey responses, 279 responded as the “neurosurgeon” and 255 as the “patient.” For both vestibular schwannoma and arteriovenous malformation management, more respondents chose resection for their patient but radiosurgery for themselves (p = 0.002 and p = 0.001, respectively). Aneurysm coiling was chosen more often than clipping, but those whose practice was ≥ 30% open cerebrovascular neurosurgery were less likely to choose coiling. Overall, neurosurgeons who focus predominantly on tumors were more aggressive in managing the glioma, vestibular schwannoma, arteriovenous malformation, and trauma. Neurosurgeons more than 10 years out of residency were less likely to recommend surgery for management of spinal pain, aneurysm, arteriovenous malformation, and trauma scenarios.

CONCLUSIONS

In the majority of cases, altering the role of the surgeon did not change the decision to pursue treatment. In certain clinical scenarios, however, neurosurgeons chose treatment options for themselves that were different from what they would have chosen for (or recommended to) their patients. For the management of vestibular schwannomas, arteriovenous malformations, intracranial aneurysms, and hypertensive hemorrhages, responses favored less invasive interventions when the surgeon was the patient. These findings are likely a result of cognitive biases, previous training, experience, areas of expertise, and personal values.

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Joshua B. Bederson, Griffith R. Harsh IV, John A. Walker and Charles B. Wilson

✓ The authors report a case in which bilateral cystic temporal lobe necrosis developed after treatment of nasopharyngeal lymphoepithelioma with 7000 cGy of external beam radiation. The patient presented with an isolated memory deficit that was documented by neuropsychological testing. After fenestration and internal shunting of both cysts, there was striking resolution of the lesions and of the memory deficit.

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Jeffrey A. Steinberg, Jayson Sack, Bayard Wilson, David Weingarten, Bob Carter, Alexander Khalessi, Sharona Ben-Haim and John Alksne

OBJECTIVE

Trigeminal neuralgia is a debilitating pain disorder most often caused by arterial compression of the trigeminal nerve, although there are other etiologies. Microvascular decompression (MVD) remains the most definitive treatment for this disorder, with cure rates reported between 60% and 80%. Traditional MVD techniques involve a retrosigmoid craniotomy with placement of an inert foreign material, such as Teflon, between the nerve and compressive vessel. Recurrence of trigeminal neuralgia after MVD has been associated with vessel migration, adhesion formation, and arterial pulsation against the Teflon abutting the nerve. Additionally, foreign materials such as Teflon have been reported to trigger inflammatory responses, resulting in recurrence of trigeminal pain. An alternative method for decompression involves the use of a sling to transpose the compressive vessel away from the nerve. Results of various sling techniques as a decompressive strategy are limited to small series and case reports. In this study, the authors present their experience utilizing a tentorial sling for MVD in patients with trigeminal neuralgia.

METHODS

Institutional review board approval was obtained in order to contact patients who underwent MVD for trigeminal neuralgia via the tentorial sling technique. Clinical outcomes were assessed utilizing the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) pain intensity score immediately after surgery and at the time of the study.

RESULTS

The tentorial sling technique was performed in 45 patients undergoing MVD for trigeminal neuralgia. In 41 of these patients, this procedure was their first decompressive surgery. Immediate postoperative relief of pain (BNI score I) was achieved in 80% of patients undergoing their first decompressive procedure. At last follow-up, 73% of these patients remained pain free. Three patients experienced recurrent trigeminal pain, with surgical exploration demonstrating an intact tentorial sling. The complication rate was 6.6%.

CONCLUSIONS

Transposition techniques for MVD have been described previously in small series and case reports. This study represents the largest experience in which the utilization of a tentorial sling for MVD in patients with trigeminal neuralgia is described. The technique represents a novel method for decompression of the trigeminal nerve by transposition of the offending vessel without the use of foreign material. Although the authors’ preliminary results parallel the historical cure rate, further outcome data are required to assess long-term durability of this method.