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Julia Velz, Flavio Vasella, Kevin Akeret, Sandra F. Dias, Elisabeth Jehli, Oliver Bozinov, Luca Regli, Menno R. Germans and Martin N. Stienen

OBJECTIVE

Skin depressions may appear as undesired effects after burr-hole trepanation for the evacuation of chronic subdural hematomas (cSDH). Placement of burr-hole covers to reconstruct skull defects can prevent skin depressions, with the potential to improve the aesthetic result and patient satisfaction. The perception of the relevance of this practice, however, appears to vary substantially among neurosurgeons. The authors aimed to identify current practice variations with regard to the application of burr-hole covers after trepanation for cSDH.

METHODS

An electronic survey containing 12 questions was sent to resident and faculty neurosurgeons practicing in different parts of the world, as identified by an Internet search. All responses completed between September 2018 and December 2018 were considered. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression were used to analyze the data.

RESULTS

A total of 604 responses were obtained, of which 576 (95.4%) provided complete data. The respondents’ mean age was 42.4 years (SD 10.5), and 86.5% were male. The sample consisted of residents, fellows, junior/senior consultants, and department chairs from 79 countries (77.4% Europe, 11.8% Asia, 5.4% America, 3.5% Africa, and 1.9% Australasia). Skin depressions were considered a relevant issue by 31.6%, and 76.0% indicated that patients complain about skin depressions more or less frequently. Burr-hole covers are placed by 28.1% in the context of cSDH evacuation more or less frequently. The most frequent reasons for not placing a burr-hole cover were the lack of proven benefit (34.8%), followed by additional costs (21.9%), technical difficulty (19.9%), and fear of increased complications (4.9%). Most respondents (77.5%) stated that they would consider placing burr-hole covers in the future if there was evidence for superiority of the practice. The use of burr-hole covers varied substantially across countries, but a country’s gross domestic product per capita was not associated with their placement.

CONCLUSIONS

Only a minority of neurosurgeons place burr-hole covers after trepanation for cSDH on a regular basis, even though the majority of participants reported complaints from patients regarding postoperative skin depressions. There are significant differences in the patterns of care among countries. Class I evidence with regard to patient satisfaction and safety of burr-hole cover placement is likely to have an impact on future cSDH management.

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Victor E. Staartjes, Morgan Broggi, Costanza Maria Zattra, Flavio Vasella, Julia Velz, Silvia Schiavolin, Carlo Serra, Jiri Bartek Jr., Alexander Fletcher-Sandersjöö, Petter Förander, Darius Kalasauskas, Mirjam Renovanz, Florian Ringel, Konstantin R. Brawanski, Johannes Kerschbaumer, Christian F. Freyschlag, Asgeir S. Jakola, Kristin Sjåvik, Ole Solheim, Bawarjan Schatlo, Alexandra Sachkova, Hans Christoph Bock, Abdelhalim Hussein, Veit Rohde, Marike L. D. Broekman, Claudine O. Nogarede, Cynthia M. C. Lemmens, Julius M. Kernbach, Georg Neuloh, Oliver Bozinov, Niklaus Krayenbühl, Johannes Sarnthein, Paolo Ferroli, Luca Regli, Martin N. Stienen and FEBNS

OBJECTIVE

Decision-making for intracranial tumor surgery requires balancing the oncological benefit against the risk for resection-related impairment. Risk estimates are commonly based on subjective experience and generalized numbers from the literature, but even experienced surgeons overestimate functional outcome after surgery. Today, there is no reliable and objective way to preoperatively predict an individual patient’s risk of experiencing any functional impairment.

METHODS

The authors developed a prediction model for functional impairment at 3 to 6 months after microsurgical resection, defined as a decrease in Karnofsky Performance Status of ≥ 10 points. Two prospective registries in Switzerland and Italy were used for development. External validation was performed in 7 cohorts from Sweden, Norway, Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands. Age, sex, prior surgery, tumor histology and maximum diameter, expected major brain vessel or cranial nerve manipulation, resection in eloquent areas and the posterior fossa, and surgical approach were recorded. Discrimination and calibration metrics were evaluated.

RESULTS

In the development (2437 patients, 48.2% male; mean age ± SD: 55 ± 15 years) and external validation (2427 patients, 42.4% male; mean age ± SD: 58 ± 13 years) cohorts, functional impairment rates were 21.5% and 28.5%, respectively. In the development cohort, area under the curve (AUC) values of 0.72 (95% CI 0.69–0.74) were observed. In the pooled external validation cohort, the AUC was 0.72 (95% CI 0.69–0.74), confirming generalizability. Calibration plots indicated fair calibration in both cohorts. The tool has been incorporated into a web-based application available at https://neurosurgery.shinyapps.io/impairment/.

CONCLUSIONS

Functional impairment after intracranial tumor surgery remains extraordinarily difficult to predict, although machine learning can help quantify risk. This externally validated prediction tool can serve as the basis for case-by-case discussions and risk-to-benefit estimation of surgical treatment in the individual patient.