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James Feghali, Yangyiran Xie, Yuxi Chen, Sean Li and Judy Huang

OBJECTIVE

The Chiari Severity Index (CSI) and points-based algorithm of Thakar et al. are two prognostic tools that have been developed to predict the likelihood of improvement after suboccipital decompression in adult patients with Chiari malformation type I (CM-I). This study aimed to externally validate and critically evaluate these algorithms in the interest of guiding the development of improved prediction systems.

METHODS

A consecutive cohort of CM-I patients undergoing suboccipital decompression between September 2006 and September 2018 were included. The CSI and Thakar point score were computed for all patients, and associations with improvement were analyzed. The ability of both prediction systems to predict improvement as measured by different Chicago Chiari Outcome Scale (CCOS) cutoffs was assessed using receiver operating curve analysis. Post hoc correlations between the algorithms and different CCOS subcomponents were also assessed.

RESULTS

The surgical cohort was composed of 149 adult CM-I patients, of whom 39 (26%) had a syrinx. Most patients experienced improvement after surgery (80% CCOS ≥ 13; 96% CCOS ≥ 11). The proportion of patients improving decreased with increasing CSI, but the results were not statistically significant (p = 0.246). No statistically significant difference in the mean Thakar point score was identified between improved and nonimproved patients using both CCOS cutoffs (p = 0.246 for a cutoff of 13 and p = 0.480 for a cutoff of 11). The CSI had a poor ability in identifying improved patients at a CCOS cutoff of 13 (area under the curve [AUC] 0.582) and 11 (AUC 0.646). The Thakar point score similarly had poor discrimination at a cutoff of 13 (AUC 0.467) and 11 (AUC 0.646). Neither algorithm had significant correlation with any of the CCOS subcomponents except for CSI and nonpain symptom improvement (coefficient = −0.273, p = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Previously published algorithms failed to provide prediction value with regard to clinically meaningful improvement following suboccipital decompression in adult CM-I patients. Future models and practical scoring systems are still required to improve the decision-making process.

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James Feghali, Yuxi Chen, Yangyiran Xie, Christopher Chen and Judy Huang

OBJECTIVE

The effect of depression on outcomes in Chiari malformation type I (CM-1) is unclear. The authors sought to determine whether depression affects outcome in a surgical cohort of CM-1 patients by using a validated outcome assessment tool, the Chicago Chiari Outcome Scale (CCOS).

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective analysis of a prospectively maintained database of 149 adult CM-1 patients undergoing suboccipital decompression with duraplasty and cranioplasty. Baseline presentation characteristics and composite as well as subcomponent CCOS scores at last follow-up were compared between depressed and nondepressed patients. Outcome comparisons included both a univariable analysis and a logistic regression model adjusting for several covariates.

RESULTS

The prevalence of depression in the study cohort was 28% (41/149). Baseline demographic and imaging characteristics were similar between the 2 patient groups. Dizziness (p = 0.019) and imbalance (p = 0.015) were significantly more common among depressed patients, but clinical symptoms and severity were otherwise comparable. On univariable analysis, depressed patients were significantly less likely to experience improvement in pain symptoms (OR 0.14, 95% CI 0.03–0.61, p = 0.003) and functionality (OR 0.17, 95% CI 0.03–0.99, p = 0.049). No significant difference was identified in complications, nonpain symptom improvement, or overall composite CCOS improvement. Similar results were obtained on multivariable analysis controlling for several covariates.

CONCLUSIONS

Depression is independently associated with poor surgical outcome in adult CM-1 patients, namely when evaluating improvement in pain symptoms and functionality. Optimizing the management of depression preoperatively and ensuring follow-up for psychiatric comorbidity in the postoperative period may possibly lead to improved outcomes.

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Matthew J. McGirt, Giannina L. Garces Ambrossi, Judy Huang and Rafael J. Tamargo

Object

Vasospasm is the major cause of disability and death after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH). Although the results of 2 randomized clinical trials demonstrated that statin decreases the incidence of symptomatic cerebral vasospasm after aSAH, retrospective studies have failed to confirm this. The authors conducted a prospective observational study to determine whether a standardized regimen of simvastatin would reduce the incidence of cerebral vasospasm and improve neurological outcomes in patients with aSAH.

Methods

Since 1991, all patients with aSAH admitted to the authors' institution have been prospectively followed up with standardized outcomes recording. Starting in September 2005, all patients admitted with aSAH were given enteral simvastatin (80 mg/day for 14 days) in addition to the standard care. The incidence of symptomatic cerebral vasospasm, length of hospitalization, in-hospital mortality rate, and discharge Glasgow Outcome Scale scores in these 170 patients were compared to data obtained in 170 consecutive patients who underwent treatment in our unit prior to the introduction of statin therapy.

Results

The 5-year study period included 340 consecutively treated patients (170 who received statins and 170 who did not). Patients who received simvastatin therapy were more frequently male (29 vs 20%) and had a smaller median aneurysm diameter (6 vs 7 mm). Baseline characteristics were otherwise similar between the cohorts. There were no differences in the incidence of symptomatic vasospasm (25.3 vs 30.5%; p = 0.277), in-hospital mortality rate (18 vs 15%; p = 0.468), length of hospitalization (21 ± 15 vs 19 ± 12 days; p = 0.281), or poor outcome at discharge (Glasgow Outcome Scale Scores 1–2: 21.7 vs 18.2%; p = 0.416) between the simvastatin and nonstatin cohorts. There were no statin-related complications.

Conclusions

The uniform introduction of simvastatin did not reduce the incidence of symptomatic cerebral vasospasm, death, or poor outcome in patients with aSAH. Simvastatin was well tolerated, but its benefit may be less than has been previously reported.

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Andrew S. Luksik, Tomas Garzon-Muvdi, Wuyang Yang, Judy Huang and George I. Jallo

OBJECTIVE

Intramedullary spinal cord tumors comprise 1%–10% of all childhood central nervous system neoplasms, with astrocytomas representing the most common subtype. Due to their rarity and poor prognosis, large population-based studies are needed to assess the epidemiology and survival risk factors associated with these tumors in the hope of improving outcome. The authors undertook this retrospective study to explore factors that may influence survival in pediatric patients with spinal cord astrocytomas.

METHODS

Utilizing the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, a prospective cancer registry, the authors retrospectively assessed survival in histologically confirmed, primary spinal cord astrocytomas in patients 21 years of age and younger. Survival was described with Kaplan-Meyer curves, and a multivariate regression analysis was used to assess the association of several variables with survival while controlling for confounding variables.

RESULTS

This analysis of 348 cases showed that age (hazard ratio [HR] 1.05, 95% CI 1.01–1.09, p = 0.017), nonwhite race (HR 1.74, 95% CI 1.11–2.74, p = 0.014), high-grade tumor status (HR 14.67, 95% CI 6.69–32.14, p < 0.001), distant or invasive extension of the tumor (HR 2.37, 95% CI 1.02–5.49, p = 0.046), and radiation therapy (HR 3.74, 95% CI 2.18–6.41, p < 0.001) were associated with decreased survival. Partial resection (HR 0.37, 95% CI 0.16–0.83, p = 0.017) and gross-total resection (HR 0.39, 95% CI 0.16–0.95, p = 0.039) were associated with improved survival.

CONCLUSIONS

Younger age appears to be protective, while high-grade tumors have a much worse prognosis. Early diagnosis and access to surgery appears necessary for improving outcomes, while radiation therapy has an unclear role. There is still much to learn about this disease in the hope of curing children with the misfortune of having one of these rare tumors.

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Adham M. Khalafallah, Adrian E. Jimenez, Rafael J. Tamargo, Timothy Witham, Judy Huang, Henry Brem and Debraj Mukherjee

OBJECTIVE

Previous authors have investigated many factors that predict an academic neurosurgical career over private practice, including attainment of a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and number of publications. Research has yet to demonstrate whether a master’s degree predicts an academic neurosurgical career. This study quantifies the association between obtaining a Master of Science (MS), Master of Public Health (MPH), or Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree and pursuing a career in academic neurosurgery.

METHODS

Public data on neurosurgeons who had graduated from Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)–accredited residency programs in the period from 1949 to 2019 were collected from residency and professional websites. Residency graduates with a PhD were excluded to isolate the effect of only having a master’s degree. A position was considered “academic” if it was affiliated with a hospital that had a neurosurgery residency program; other positions were considered nonacademic. Bivariate analyses were performed with Fisher’s exact test. Multivariate analysis was performed using a logistic regression model.

RESULTS

Within our database of neurosurgery residency alumni, there were 47 (4.1%) who held an MS degree, 31 (2.7%) who held an MPH, and 10 (0.9%) who held an MBA. In bivariate analyses, neurosurgeons with MS degrees were significantly more likely to pursue academic careers (OR 2.65, p = 0.0014, 95% CI 1.40–5.20), whereas neurosurgeons with an MPH (OR 1.41, p = 0.36, 95% CI 0.64–3.08) or an MBA (OR 1.00, p = 1.00, 95% CI 0.21–4.26) were not. In the multivariate analysis, an MS degree was independently associated with an academic career (OR 2.48, p = 0.0079, 95% CI 1.28–4.93). Moreover, postresidency h indices of 1 (OR 1.44, p = 0.048, 95% CI 1.00–2.07), 2–3 (OR 2.76, p = 2.01 × 10−8, 95% CI 1.94–3.94), and ≥ 4 (OR 4.88, p < 2.00 × 10−16, 95% CI 3.43–6.99) were all significantly associated with increased odds of pursuing an academic career. Notably, having between 1 and 11 months of protected research time was significantly associated with decreased odds of pursuing academic neurosurgery (OR 0.46, p = 0.049, 95% CI 0.21–0.98).

CONCLUSIONS

Neurosurgery residency graduates with MS degrees are more likely to pursue academic neurosurgical careers relative to their non-MS counterparts. Such findings may be used to help predict residency graduates’ future potential in academic neurosurgery.

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Adham M. Khalafallah, Adrian E. Jimenez, Justin M. Caplan, Cameron G. McDougall, Judy Huang, Debraj Mukherjee and Rafael J. Tamargo

OBJECTIVE

Although previous studies have explored factors that predict an academic career among neurosurgery residents in general, such predictors have yet to be determined within specific neurosurgical subspecialties. The authors report on predictors they identified as correlating with academic placement among fellowship-trained vascular neurosurgeons.

METHODS

A database was created that included all physicians who graduated from ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education)–accredited neurosurgery residency programs between 1960 and 2018 using publicly available online data. Neurosurgeons who completed either open vascular or endovascular fellowships were identified. Subsequent employment of vascular or endovascular neurosurgeons in academic centers was determined. A position was considered academic if the hospital of employment was affiliated with a neurosurgery residency program; all other positions were considered non-academic. Bivariate analyses were conducted using Fisher’s exact test or the Mann-Whitney U-test, and multivariate analysis was performed using a logistic regression model.

RESULTS

A total of 83 open vascular neurosurgeons and 115 endovascular neurosurgeons were identified. In both cohorts, the majority of neurosurgeons were employed in academic positions after training. In bivariate analysis, only 2 factors were significantly associated with a career in academic neurosurgery for open vascular neurosurgeons: 1) an h-index of ≥ 2 during residency (OR 3.71, p = 0.016), and 2) attending a top 10 residency program based on U.S. News and World Report rankings (OR 4.35, p = 0.030). In bivariate analysis, among endovascular neurosurgeons, having an h-index of ≥ 2 during residency (OR 4.35, p = 0.0085) and attending a residency program affiliated with a top 10 U.S. News and World Report medical school (OR 2.97, p = 0.029) were significantly associated with an academic career. In multivariate analysis, for both open vascular and endovascular neurosurgeons, an h-index of ≥ 2 during residency was independently predictive of an academic career. Attending a residency program affiliated with a top 10 U.S. News and World Report medical school independently predicted an academic career among endovascular neurosurgeons only.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors report that an h-index of ≥ 2 during residency predicts pursuit of an academic career among vascular and endovascular neurosurgeons. Additionally, attendance of a residency program affiliated with a top research medical school independently predicts an academic career trajectory among endovascular neurosurgeons. This result may be useful to identify and mentor residents interested in academic vascular neurosurgery.

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Sakibul Huq, Adham M. Khalafallah, David Botros, Adrian E. Jimenez, Shravika Lam, Judy Huang and Debraj Mukherjee

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Patrick B. Senatus, Shearwood McClelland III, Kurenai Tanji, Alexander Khandji, Judy Huang and Neil Feldstein

P Cerebellar glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a rare entity in adults and an extremely rare entity in children. Approximately 30 cases have been reported in the literature. The authors report the case of a histologically confirmed cerebellar GBM presenting initially as supra- and infratentorial gliomatosis cerebri. Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis had been diagnosed in the patient and that diagnosis remained until near the end of his treatment. This case underscores the need for recognizing the clinical presentation of gliomatosis cerebri and multifocal GBM in the pediatric subpopulation thought to harbor demyelinating disease.

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Daniel Lubelski, Roy Xiao, Debraj Mukherjee, William W. Ashley, Timothy Witham, Henry Brem, Judy Huang and Stacey Quintero Wolfe

OBJECTIVE

Neurosurgery seeks to attract the best and brightest medical students; however, there is often a lack of early exposure to the field, among other possible barriers. The authors sought to identify successful practices that can be implemented to improve medical student recruitment to neurosurgery.

METHODS

United States neurosurgery residency program directors were surveyed to determine the number of medical student rotators and medical students matching into a neurosurgery residency from their programs between 2010 and 2016. Program directors were asked about the ways their respective institutions integrated medical students into departmental clinical and research activities.

RESULTS

Complete responses were received from 30/110 institutions. Fifty-two percent of the institutions had neurosurgery didactic lectures for 1st- and 2nd-year medical students (MS1/2), and 87% had didactics for MS3/4. Seventy-seven percent of departments had a neurosurgery interest group, which was the most common method used to integrate medical students into the department. Other forms of outreach included formal mentorship programs (53%), lecture series (57%), and neurosurgery anatomy labs (40%). Seventy-three percent of programs provided research opportunities to medical students, and 57% indicated that the schools had a formal research requirement. On average, 3 medical students did a rotation in each neurosurgery department and 1 matched into neurosurgery each year. However, there was substantial variability among programs. Over the 2010–2016 period, the responding institutions matched as many as 4% of the graduating class into neurosurgery per year, whereas others matched 0%–1%. Departments that matched a greater (≥ 1% per year) number of medical students into neurosurgery were significantly more likely to have a neurosurgery interest group and formal research requirements. A greater percentage of high-matching programs had neurosurgery mentorship programs, lecture series, and cadaver training opportunities compared to the other institutions.

CONCLUSIONS

In recent decades, the number of applicants to neurosurgery has decreased. A major deterrent may be the delayed exposure of medical students to neurosurgery. Institutions with early preclinical exposure, active neurosurgery interest groups, research opportunities, and strong mentorship recruit and match more students into neurosurgery. Implementing such initiatives on a national level may increase the number of highly qualified medical students pursuing neurosurgery.

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James Feghali, Risheng Xu, Wuyang Yang, Jason Liew, Rafael J. Tamargo, Elisabeth B. Marsh and Judy Huang

OBJECTIVE

The authors aimed to determine whether differences exist in presentation and natural history when comparing Asian patients with moyamoya disease (MMD) to those of other ethnicities in North America.

METHODS

A database of 137 patients with MMD presenting to their institution between 1994 and 2015 was reviewed. Baseline characteristics and outcome variables, including stroke and functional outcome, were compared between Asian and non-Asian patients. Unadjusted Kaplan-Meier survival analysis and adjusted Cox regression models were used to compare stroke-free survival and stroke hazard after diagnosis among hemispheres of both racial groups. The analysis was stratified by age group, and censoring was performed until last follow-up or at the time of surgery. Because the relative rate of stroke changed between Asian and non-Asian adults after 1.5 years of follow-up, a time-segmented analysis focusing on the period 1.5 years after diagnosis was performed.

RESULTS

The cohort comprised 23% (31/137) Asian and 77% (106/137) non-Asian patients with MMD with a bimodal age distribution. Non-Asian patients had a higher prevalence of increased BMI (p = 0.02) and smoking (p = 0.04). Among patients who presented with stroke (n = 90), hemorrhage was significantly more common among Asians (p = 0.02). The natural history analysis included 250 hemispheres: 67 pediatric and 183 adult hemispheres. The overall mean follow-up duration since diagnosis was 3.3 years. Among adults, Asian patients had a higher incidence of stroke (8.0 per 100 person-years vs 3.0 per 100 person-years) over a mean follow-up of 3.3 years, but results were not statistically significant (p = 0.45). In the period beginning 1.5 years after diagnosis, Asian adults had a significantly higher hazard of stroke over a mean follow-up of 7.7 years, while controlling for sex, hypertension, and stroke before diagnosis (hazard ratio 8.8, p = 0.02). Among pediatric patients, Asians also had a higher stroke incidence (10.0 per 100 person-years vs 3.5 per 100 person-years) over a mean follow-up of 3.2 years; however, results did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.40). Functional outcome was similar between both ethnic groups at last follow-up (p = 0.57).

CONCLUSIONS

This study suggests a comparatively more progressive course of MMD in Asians. Further studies are required to fully characterize the phenotypic distinctions between different races and underlying pathophysiological mechanisms.