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Kathryn M. Van Abel, Matthew L. Carlson, Colin L. Driscoll, Brian A. Neff and Michael J. Link

Object

The authors' objective was 2-fold: 1) to compare outcomes of microsurgical resection for vestibular schwannoma (VS) between patients aged 70 years or older and patients younger than 70 years and 2) to test the hypothesis that symptomatic tumors in elderly patients represent a more aggressive variant of VS than those in younger adults, resulting in increased morbidity and a higher rate of recurrence after subtotal resection (STR).

Methods

A retrospective matched cohort study was conducted. Patients aged 70 years or older who had undergone microsurgical resection of VS were matched to adult patients younger than 70 years; the matching was performed on the basis of surgical approach, completeness of resection, and tumor size. Associations between clinical, radiographic, and surgical data and postoperative outcome were analyzed using conditional logistic regression.

Results

Twenty patients aged 70 years or older (mean age ± SD 75.9 ± 5.3, range 70–86 years) were identified and matched to a cohort of younger adult patients (mean age ± SD 55.7 ± 13.8, range 25–69 years). The mean tumor size in both groups was approximately 3 cm. Overall, the elderly patients had a poorer preoperative American Society of Anesthesiology physical status score (p = 0.038), were more likely to report imbalance (OR 9.61, p = 0.016), and more commonly exhibited compromised balance and coordination (OR 9.61, p = 0.016) than patients in the younger cohort.

There were no differences between the 2 cohorts in perioperative complications (p = 0.26) or facial nerve function (p > 0.5) at any time. The elderly patients were 13 times more likely to have long-term postoperative imbalance (OR 13.00, p = 0.013) than the younger patients. Overall, 9 tumors recurred among 32 patients undergoing STR; 6 of these patients underwent additional interventions (stereotactic radiosurgery in 5 patients and microsurgery in 1) and showed no evidence of tumor progression at the last follow-up. The median growth rate of the recurrent tumor in the 6 elderly patients was 4.8 mm/year (range 2.1–14.9 mm/year) and, in the 3 control patients, 2.2 mm/year (range 1.9–4.0 mm/year). Overall, the mortality data showed a trend toward statistical significance (p = 0.068) with a higher risk of death in the elderly.

Conclusions

As the number of elderly patients with VS increases, microsurgical resection will remain an important management option for these patients. Despite a poorer preoperative physical status in elderly patients, their morbidity profiles are similar to those in adult patients younger than 70 years. However, elderly patients may require longer convalescence due to prolonged postoperative imbalance. Not surprisingly, overall diminished functional reserve and advanced comorbidities may increase the mortality risk associated with surgical intervention in the elderly patients. Finally, there was a high risk of further tumor growth following STR in the elderly patients (6 [37.5%] of 16), underscoring the need for close postoperative radiological surveillance and consideration of early stereotactic radiosurgery for the tumor remnant following the STR.

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Patrick R. Maloney, Meghan E. Murphy, Molly J. Sullan, Kathryn M. Van Abel, Shelagh A. Cofer, John C. Cheville and Nicholas M. Wetjen

Split cord malformation (SCM) is a rare abnormality of notochord development. The majority of cases occur in the thoracolumbar region, with more than 30 cases of cervical SCM reported. The clinical impact of SCMs involving the cervical cord is therefore largely unknown. In addition, the concomitant finding of brainstem involvement is presumably incompatible with life in the majority of patients, resulting in a paucity of data regarding this clinical scenario. In this paper the authors present the first case, to their knowledge, of an incomplete cervical SCM involving the brainstem and discuss its clinical impact, diagnosis, and management.

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Matthew L. Carlson, Kathryn M. Van Abel, William R. Schmitt, Colin L. W. Driscoll, Brian A. Neff, John I. Lane and Michael J. Link

Object

The authors describe the unique occurrence of nodular enhancement within the fundus of the internal auditory canal (IAC) lateral to the preoperative radiological tumor margin following gross-total vestibular schwannoma (VS) resection.

Methods

The nature of the study was a retrospective chart review of records. The authors reviewed the cases of all patients who underwent microsurgical resection of a VS between January 2000 and January 2010 at a single tertiary referral center. Patients with incomplete resection, neurofibromatosis Type 2, and those with fewer than 2 postoperative MR images available for review were excluded.

Postsurgical patients with IAC enhancement located lateral to the preoperative imaging–delineated tumor margin were identified. Lesion morphology was characterized on serial MR imaging studies. Clinical follow-up and outcomes were recorded.

Results

Over the past decade, 350 patients underwent microsurgical VS resection. Of these, 16 patients met study criteria and were found to have postsurgical enhancement in the distal aspect of the IAC lateral to the imaging limits of the preoperative tumor margin on the first postoperative MR imaging study (37.5% women, median age 45 years). Initial MR imaging was performed at a mean of 3.1 months following surgery, and the mean radiological follow-up duration was 39.8 months (range 16.4–101.9 months). None of the 16 patients developed recurrence during the follow-up course.

Conclusions

In contrast to previous publications that have reported a high rate of recurrence in cases involving nodular enhancement within the original tumor bed, postoperative enhancement in the IAC lateral to the original tumor margin appears to carry much less risk for tumor recurrence. These findings may be helpful when counseling patients on the recommended frequency of postoperative follow-up imaging.

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Christopher S. Graffeo, Kathryn M. Van Abel, Jonathan M. Morris, Matthew L. Carlson, Jamie J. Van Gompel, Eric J. Moore, Daniel L. Price, Jan L. Kasperbauer, Jeffrey R. Janus, Kerry D. Olsen and Michael J. Link

OBJECTIVE

Vagus nerve and sympathetic chain cervical schwannomas (VNCSs and SCCSs) are benign nerve sheath tumors that arise in the head and neck. Despite similar presentations that make accurate preoperative diagnosis more difficult, the potential for morbidity following resection is significantly higher for patients with VNCS. Therefore, the authors analyzed a retrospective case series and performed a comparative analysis of the literature to establish diagnostic criteria to facilitate more accurate preoperative diagnoses.

METHODS

The authors conducted a blinded review of imaging studies from retrospectively collected, operatively confirmed cases of VNCS and SCCS. They also performed a systematic review of published series that reported patient-specific preoperative imaging findings in VNCS or SCCS.

RESULTS

Nine patients with VNCS and 11 with SCCS were identified. In the study cohort, splaying of the internal carotid artery (ICA) and internal jugular vein (IJV) did not significantly predict the nerve of origin (p = 0.06); however, medial and lateral ICA displacement were significantly associated with VNCS and SCCS, respectively (p = 0.01 and p = 0.003, respectively). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that ICA and IJV splaying with medial ICA displacement carried an 86% probability of VNCS (p = 0.001), while the absence of splaying with lateral ICA displacement carried a 91% probability of SCCS (p = 0.006). The presence of vocal cord symptoms or peripheral enhancement significantly augmented the predictive probability of VNCS, as did Horner's syndrome or homogeneous enhancement for SCCS.

A review of the literature produced 25 publications that incorporated a total of 106 patients, including the present series. Splaying of the ICA and IJV was significantly, but not uniquely, associated with VNCS (p < 0.0001); multivariate analysis demonstrated that ICA and IJV splaying with medial ICA displacement carries a 75% probability of VNCS (p < 0.0001), while the absence of such splaying with lateral ICA displacement carries an 87% probability of SCCS (p = 0.0003).

CONCLUSIONS

ICA and IJV splaying frequently predicts VNCS; however, this finding is also commonly observed in SCCS and, among the 9 cases in the present study, was observed more often than previously reported. When congruent with splaying, medial or lateral ICA displacement significantly enhances the reliability of preoperative predictions, empowering more accurate prognostication.

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Kathryn M. Van Abel, Grant W. Mallory, Jan L. Kasperbauer, M.D., Eric J. Moore, Daniel L. Price, Erin K. O’Brien, Kerry D. Olsen, William E. Krauss, Michelle J. Clarke, Mark E. Jentoft and Jamie J. Van Gompel

Object

Swallowing dysfunction is common following transoral (TO) odontoidectomy. Preliminary experience with newer endoscopic transnasal (TN) approaches suggests that dysphagia may be reduced with this alternative. However, the reasons for this are unclear. The authors hypothesized that the TN approach results in less disruption of the pharyngeal plexus and anatomical structures associated with swallowing. The authors investigate the histological and gross surgical anatomical relationship between pharyngeal plexus innervation of the upper aerodigestive tract and the surgical approaches used (TN and TO). They also review the TN literature to evaluate swallowing outcomes following this approach.

Methods

Seven cadaveric specimens were used for histological (n = 3) and gross anatomical (n = 4) examination of the pharyngeal plexus with the TO and TN surgical approaches. Particular attention was given to identifying the location of cranial nerves (CNs) IX and X and the sympathetic chain and their contributions to the pharyngeal plexus. S100 staining was performed to assess for the presence of neural tissue in proximity to the midline, and fiber density counts were performed within 1 cm of midline. The relationship between the pharyngeal plexus, clivus, and upper cervical spine (C1-3) was defined.

Results

Histological analysis revealed the presence of pharyngeal plexus fibers in the midline and a significant reduction in paramedian fiber density from C-2 to the lower clivus (p < 0.001). None of these paramedian fibers, however, could be visualized with gross inspection or layer-by-layer dissection. Laterally based primary pharyngeal plexus nerves were identified by tracing their origins from CNs IX and X and the sympathetic chain at the skull base and following them to the pharyngeal musculature. In addition, the authors found 15 studies presenting 52 patients undergoing TN odontoidectomy. Of these patients, only 48 had been swallowing preoperatively. When looking only at this population, 83% (40 of 48) were swallowing by Day 3 and 92% (44 of 48) were swallowing by Day 7.

Conclusions

Despite the midline approach, both TO and TN approaches may injure a portion of the pharyngeal plexus. By limiting the TN incision to above the palatal plane, the surgeon avoids the high-density neural plexus found in the oropharyngeal wall and limits injury to oropharyngeal musculature involved in swallowing. This may explain the decreased incidence of postoperative dysphagia seen in TN approaches. However, further clinical investigation is warranted.

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Grant W. Mallory, Grigoriy Arutyunyan, Meghan E. Murphy, Kathryn M. Van Abel, Elvis Francois, Nicholas M. Wetjen, Jeremy L. Fogelson, Erin K. O'Brien, Michelle J. Clarke, Laurence J. Eckel and Jamie J. Van Gompel

OBJECT

Endoscopic approaches to the anterior craniocervical junction are increasing in frequency. Choice of oral versus endoscopic endonasal approach to the odontoid often depends on the relationship of the C1–2 complex to the hard palate. However, it is not known how this relevant anatomy changes with age. We hypothesize that there is a dynamic relationship of C-2 and the hard palate, which changes with age, and potentially affects the choice of surgical approach. The aim of this study was to characterize the relationship of C-2 relative to the hard palate with respect to age and sex.

METHODS

Emergency department billing and trauma records from 2008 to 2014 were reviewed for patients of all ages who underwent cervical or maxillofacial CT as part of a trauma evaluation for closed head injury. Patients who had a CT scan that allowed adequate visualization of the hard palate, opisthion, and upper cervical spine (C-1 and C-2) were included. Patients who had cervical or displaced facial/skull base fractures, a history of rheumatoid arthritis, or craniofacial anomalies were excluded. The distance from McGregor's palatooccipital line to the midpoint of the inferior endplate of C-2 (McL–C2) was measured on midsagittal CT scans. Patients were grouped by decile of age and by sex. A 1-way ANOVA was performed with each respective grouping.

RESULTS

Ultimately, 483 patients (29% female) were included. The mean age was 46 ± 24 years. The majority of patients studied were in the 2nd through 8th decades of life (85%). Significant variation was found between McL–C2 and decile of age (p < 0.001) and sex (p < 0.001). The mean McL–C2 was 27 mm in the 1st decade of life compared with the population mean of 37 mm. The mean McL–C2 was also noted to be smaller in females (mean difference 4.8 mm, p < 0.0001). Both decile of age (p = 0.0009) and sex (p < 0.0001) were independently correlated with McL–C2 on multivariate analysis.

CONCLUSIONS

The relationship of C-2 and the hard palate significantly varies with respect to age and sex, descending relative to the hard palate a full centimeter on average in adulthood. These findings may have relevance in determining optimal surgical approaches for addressing pathology involving the anterior craniocervical junction.