Patients with brain tumors are at considerable risk for the formation of venous thromboemboli. One method of preventing these complications is mechanical prophylaxis in which an external pneumatic compression device and graduated elastic compression stockings are used. Evidence indicates that these devices prevent deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) by limiting venous stasis and increasing fibrinolytic activity at both the local and systemic levels. The authors present evidence for the occurrence of both mechanisms and discuss the use of mechanical compression in the setting of surgery for brain tumors. They also present data proving the efficacy of these devices in patients who undergo craniotomy with motor mapping for resection of glioma and in whom the contralateral leg receives no prophylaxis. Finally, they comment on the use of anticoagulation therapy both in addition to and in place of mechanical prophylaxis.
Kurtis I. Auguste, Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, and Mitchel S. Berger
Salvage of infected craniotomy bone flaps with the wash-in, wash-out indwelling antibiotic irrigation system
Technical note and case series of 12 patients
Kurtis I. Auguste and Michael W. McDermott
When complicated by infection, craniotomy bone flaps are commonly removed, discarded, and delayed cranioplasty is performed. This treatment paradigm is costly, carries the risks associated with additional surgery, and may cause cosmetic deformities. The authors present their experience with an indwelling antibiotic irrigation system used for the sterilization and salvage of infected bone flaps as an alternative to their removal and replacement.
The authors retrospectively reviewed the medical records for 12 patients with bone flap infections following craniotomy who received treatment with the wash-in, wash-out indwelling antibiotic irrigation system. Infected flaps were removed and scrubbed with povidone–iodine solution and soaked in 1.5% hydrogen peroxide while the wound was debrided. The bone flaps were returned to the skull and the irrigation system was installed. Antibiotic medication was infused through the system for a mean of 5 days. Intravenous antibiotic therapy was continued for 2 weeks and oral antibiotics for 3 months postoperatively. Wound checks were performed at clinic follow-up visits, and there was a mean follow-up period of 13 months. Eleven of the 12 patients who had undergone placement of the bone flap irrigation system experienced complete resolution of the infection. In five patients there was involvement of the nasal sinus cavities, and in four there was a history of radiation treatment. In the one patient whose infection recurred, there was both involvement of the nasal sinuses and a history of extensive radiation treatment.
Infected bone flaps can be salvaged, thus avoiding the cost, risk, and possible disfigurement associated with flap removal and delayed cranioplasty. Although prior radiation treatment and involvement of the nasal sinuses may interfere with wound healing and clearance of the infection, these factors should not preclude the use of irrigation with antibiotic agents for bone flap salvage.
Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, Kurtis I. Auguste, and Michael T. Lawton
Aaron J. Clark, Kurtis I. Auguste, and Peter P. Sun
Cervical cord neurapraxia is a common sports-related injury. It is defined as a transient neurological deficit following trauma localizing to the cervical spinal cord and can be caused by hyperextension, hyperflexion, or axial load mechanisms. Symptoms usually last less than 15 minutes, but can persist up to 48 hours in adults and as long as 5 days in children. While a strong causal relationship exists between cervical spine stenosis and cervical cord neurapraxia in adult patients, this association has not been observed in children. Likewise, while repeated episodes of neurapraxia can be commonplace in adult patients, recurrences have not been reported in the pediatric population. Treatment is usually supportive, but in adults with focal cervical lesions or instability, surgery is an option. Surgery for neurapraxia in children is rarely indicated.
Kurtis I. Auguste, Marcus L. Ware, and Michael T. Lawton
The azygos or undivided anterior cerebral artery (ACA) is a rare variant, and aneurysms associated with this variant are particularly rare. Most reported azygos ACA aneurysms are saccular, but the authors encountered four patients with this variant who had nonsaccular aneurysms. A review of the management of these lesions and this morphological distinction is presented.
A retrospective review of patients with aneurysms treated over a 6-year period identified five Type I (according to the Baptista classification) azygos ACA lesions, of which four were nonsaccular. Aneurysms associated with other ACA variants (Baptista Types II and III) were excluded.
Azygos ACA aneurysms accounted for 0.5% of all treated lesions and 1.7% of all ACA and anterior communicating artery aneurysms. One lesion in this series was located proximally at the azygos ACA origin, and three were located distally. All four aneurysms were large (>10 mm in diameter), and two were thrombotic. All aneurysms were treated with microsurgical clip occlusion.
Azygos ACA aneurysms are rare, and may have unusual nonsaccular anatomy (for example, fusiform shape, broad base, complex branching, and/or thrombus in the lumen). The nonsaccular morphology of these aneurysms may render them unsuitable for endovascular coil placement, and may complicate their microsurgical management.
Dario J. Englot, Edward F. Chang, and Kurtis I. Auguste
Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) was approved by the US FDA in 1997 as an adjunctive treatment for medically refractory epilepsy. It is considered for use in patients who are poor candidates for resection or those in whom resection has failed. However, disagreement regarding the utility of VNS in epilepsy continues because of the variability in benefit reported across clinical studies. Moreover, although VNS was approved only for adults and adolescents with partial epilepsy, its efficacy in children and in patients with generalized epilepsy remains unclear. The authors performed the first meta-analysis of VNS efficacy in epilepsy, identifying 74 clinical studies with 3321 patients suffering from intractable epilepsy. These studies included 3 blinded, randomized controlled trials (Class I evidence); 2 nonblinded, randomized controlled trials (Class II evidence); 10 prospective studies (Class III evidence); and numerous retrospective studies. After VNS, seizure frequency was reduced by an average of 45%, with a 36% reduction in seizures at 3–12 months after surgery and a 51% reduction after > 1 year of therapy. At the last follow-up, seizures were reduced by 50% or more in approximately 50% of the patients, and VNS predicted a ≥ 50% reduction in seizures with a main effects OR of 1.83 (95% CI 1.80–1.86). Patients with generalized epilepsy and children benefited significantly from VNS despite their exclusion from initial approval of the device. Furthermore, posttraumatic epilepsy and tuberous sclerosis were positive predictors of a favorable outcome. In conclusion, VNS is an effective and relatively safe adjunctive therapy in patients with medically refractory epilepsy not amenable to resection. However, it is important to recognize that complete seizure freedom is rarely achieved using VNS and that a quarter of patients do not receive any benefit from therapy.
Kurtis I. Auguste, Cynthia Chin, Frank L. Acosta, and Christopher P. Ames
Expandable cylindrical cages (ECCs) have been utilized successfully to reconstruct the thoracic and lumbar spine. Their advantages include ease of insertion, reduced endplate trauma, direct application/maintenance of interbody distraction force, and one-step kyphosis correction. The authors present their experience with ECCs in the reconstruction of the cervical spine in patients with various pathological conditions.
Data obtained in 22 patients were reviewed retrospectively. A standard anterior cervical corpectomy was performed in all cases. Local vertebral body bone was harvested for use as graft material. Patients underwent pre- and postoperative assessment involving the visual analog scale (VAS), Nurick grading system for determining myelopathy disability, and radiographic studies to determine cervical kyphosis/lordosis and cage subsidence. Fusion was defined as the absence of motion on flexion–extension x-ray films.
Sixteen patients presented with spondylotic myelopathy, two with osteomyelitis, two with fracture, one with tumor metastasis, and one with severe stenosis. Fourteen patients underwent supplemental posterior spinal fusion, seven underwent single-level corpectomy, and 15 patients underwent multilevel corpectomy. No perioperative complications occurred. The mean follow-up period was 22 months. In 11 patients with preexisting kyphosis (mean deformity +19°), the mean correction was 22°. There was no statistically significant difference in subsidence between single- and multilevel corpectomy or between 360º fusion and anterior fusion alone. The VAS scores improved by 35%, and the Nurick grade improved by 31%. The fusion rate was 100%.
The preliminary results support the use of ECCs in the cervical spine in the treatment of patients with various disease processes. No significant subsidence was noted, and pain and functional scores improved in all cases. Expandable cylindrical cages appear to be well suited for cervical reconstruction and for correcting sagittal malalignment.
Doris D. Wang, Kenneth W. Martin, Kurtis I. Auguste, and Peter P. Sun
Disorders of CSF dynamics such as syringomyelia and obstructive hydrocephalus can be caused by thin mobile obstructive lesions not visible on traditional MRI sequences. New imaging techniques with balanced steady-state free precession (bSSFP) and dynamic imaging with bSSFP cine allow visualization of these pulsatile structures within the CSF space. The authors present 2 cases involving pediatric patients—one who developed presumed idiopathic syringomyelia and one with presumed communicating hydrocephalus in association with Pfeiffer syndrome—who harbored thin dynamic obstructive lesions seen on bSSFP cine studies using 1.5-T MRI.
In combination with traditional CSF cine studies and bSSFP, bSSFP cine sequence was able to detect dynamic membranous adhesions not seen on traditional MRI sequences. These previously undetectable lesions on traditional MRI sequences were the etiology of CSF obstruction, and tailored surgical approaches were performed to avoid shunting in both patients. These reports demonstrate the clinical utility for using these novel imaging tools for the detection of thin adhesions and dynamic lesions in the central nervous system. Balanced SSFP cine sequences can supplement conventional MR modalities to identify these otherwise poorly visualized lesions responsible for presumed communicating hydrocephalus or idiopathic syringomyelia.
Dario J. Englot, Jonathan D. Breshears, Peter P. Sun, Edward F. Chang, and Kurtis I. Auguste
While temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is the most common epilepsy syndrome in adults, seizures in children are more often extratemporal in origin. Extra–temporal lobe epilepsy (ETLE) in pediatric patients is often medically refractory, leading to significantly diminished quality of life. Seizure outcomes after resective surgery for pediatric ETLE vary tremendously in the literature, given diverse patient and epilepsy characteristics and small sample sizes. The authors performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies including 10 or more pediatric patients (age ≤ 19 years) published over the last 20 years examining seizure outcomes after resective surgery for ETLE, excluding hemispherectomy. Thirty-six studies were examined. These 36 studies included 1259 pediatric patients who underwent resective surgery for ETLE. Seizure freedom (Engel Class I outcome) was achieved in 704 (56%) of these 1259 patients postoperatively, and 555 patients (44%) continued to have seizures (Engel Class II–IV outcome). Shorter epilepsy duration (≤ 7 years, the median value in this study) was more predictive of seizure freedom than longer (> 7 years) seizure history (odds ratio [OR] 1.52, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.07–2.14), suggesting that earlier intervention may be beneficial. Also, lesional epilepsy was associated with better seizure outcomes than nonlesional epilepsy (OR 1.34, 95% CI 1.19–1.49). Other predictors of seizure freedom included an absence of generalized seizures (OR 1.61, 95% CI 1.18–2.35) and localizing ictal electroencephalographic findings (OR 1.55, 95% CI 1.24–1.93). In conclusion, seizure outcomes after resective surgery for pediatric ETLE are less favorable than those associated with temporal lobectomy, but seizure freedom may be more common with earlier intervention and lesional epilepsy etiology. Children with continued debilitating seizures despite failure of multiple medication trials should be referred to a comprehensive pediatric epilepsy center for further medical and surgical evaluation.
Aaron J. Clark, Rachel A. Kuperman, Kurtis I. Auguste, and Peter P. Sun
Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is used as palliation for adult and pediatric patients with intractable epilepsy who are not candidates for curative resection. Although the treatment is generally safe, complications can occur intraoperatively, perioperatively, and in a delayed time frame. In the literature, there are 2 reports of pediatric patients with implanted VNS units who had refractory bradycardia that resolved after the stimulation was turned off. The authors report the case of a 13-year-old boy with a history of vagus nerve stimulator placement at 2 years of age, who developed intractable episodic bradycardia that persisted despite the cessation of VNS and whose imaging results suggested vagus nerve tethering by the leads. He was subsequently taken to the operating room for exploration, where it was confirmed that the stimulator lead was exerting traction on the vagus nerve, which was displaced from the carotid sheath. After the vagus nerve was untethered and the leads were replaced, the bradycardia eventually resolved with continual effective VNS therapy. When placing a VNS unit in a very young child, accommodations must be made for years of expected growth. Delayed intractable bradycardia can result from a vagus nerve under traction by tethered stimulator leads.