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Cordula Matthies and Madjid Samii

✓ The usefulness of intraoperative monitoring in cerebellopontine angle surgery should be improved by obtaining faster and stronger brainstem auditory evoked potential (BAEP) responses. A new technique of direct recording at the brainstem has been developed, which is applicable to all tumor sizes. By placing a retractor with electrodes attached to its tip at the cerebellomedullary junction, the authors have recorded BAEP amplitudes that are 10 times greater than those recorded using the conventional technique. Only small sampling numbers (64–256 recordings) are required and are obtained in 5 to 15 seconds. The technique has been applied successfully in 34 patients who underwent vestibular schwannoma resections. It has also been tested in patients with intrameatal—extrameatal meningiomas and in those with vascular compressive disorders; there have been no false results. The advantages of this new technique are: 1) identification of BAEP components is easier and faster; 2) reliable BAEP responses are obtained in some cases in which conventional BAEP responses are lost or severely deformed; and 3) BAEP response deterioration and improvement are recognized earlier than would occur using the conventional technique. This last advantage provides the surgeon with a useful warning at a stage of surgery at which BAEP changes are still temporary and can be reversed. This method is different from other trials of intradural BAEP recordings in three respects: its use is not limited to particular tumor sizes; there is no interference with the surgical process; and, most important, the obtained responses correlate well with those of conventional BAEP responses, probably because the recording site is in the vicinity of the anterior cochlear nucleus. In conclusion, the chances of useful monitoring feedback with adequate adaptation of the microsurgical strategy are improved considerably.

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Shizuo Oi, Amir Samii, and Madjid Samii

P A newly designed small-diameter rigid-rod neuroendoscope was created to evaluate the applicability of free-hand maneuvering during high-resolution imaging. The neuroendoscope was designed as a light, handheld tool weighing 550 g. A 20-cm-long objective lens, 2 mm in diameter, is placed in the lower two thirds of the single-space lumen of an oval-shaped outer sheath, 16.5 mm long and 3.5 × 2.5 mm at maximum diameter. Included are microinstruments of 1.3-mm diameter for various neuroendoscopic procedures, including microscissors, biopsy forceps, grasping forceps, monopolar coagulator/cutting rod, and bipolar coagulator that can be introduced through the upper one third of the lumen.

Because the endoscope is held steady in the surgeon's left hand, with the handle gripped at the base, quick back-and-forth movements can be made along the long axis, via a peel-away sheath inserted to the ventricle, shifting of the endoscope tip to the side of the objective target will be minimal. Given the instrument's unified configuration, the surgeon will never lose orientation during maneuvering. Using the farthest right of three inlet/outlet orifices, the short and handy semiflexible microinstruments can be guided and controlled by the surgeon's right hand.

After experience in 66 cases in which various neuroendoscopic procedures yielded excellent operative outcomes (morbidity rate in complications related to the endoscopic procedure 0%; mortality rate 0%), the endoscope prototype was finalized in the ideal form for frameless maneuvering that uses a rigid-rod endoscope. The “gun-butt” holder for use with the operator's left hand provides stability and allows the endoscope to be handled with improved control. These new aspects of the neuroendoscope and surgical technique offer substantial improvement over the flexible-steerable fiberoptic endoscopes.

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Madjid Samii, Venelin M. Gerganov, and Amir Samii


The authors evaluated the outcome of radical surgery in a consecutive series of patients with giant vestibular schwannomas (VSs).


Fifty patients with VSs > 4.0 cm in maximal extrameatal diameter were included in this retrospective study (Group A). The group was compared with a matched group of 167 patients with VSs < 3.9 cm (Group B). In all cases the retrosigmoid approach was used. Outcome measures included completeness of tumor removal, facial nerve function, hearing, and the surgery-related complication rate.


The mean tumor size in Group A was 4.4 cm and that in Group B was 2.3 cm. Total removal was achieved in all Group A patients and in 97.6% of Group B patients. The anatomical integrity of the facial nerve was preserved in 92% in Group A and in 98.8% in Group B. At last follow-up 75% of the patients with giant VSs had excellent or good facial nerve function, 19% had fair function, and 6% had poor function. In 33% of patients (3 cases) with good preoperative hearing level, it was preserved. Newly developed lower cranial nerve dysfunction occurred in 3 patients but proved to be temporary in 2 of them. A CSF leak developed in 6% of those who not previously undergone surgery. Compared with Group B, a significant difference was found only in the rates of the following parameters: excellent facial nerve function, useful and good hearing, lower cranial nerve dysfunction, and blood collection (p < 0.05). The perioperative mortality rate in both groups was 0%.


In patients with a giant VS, total tumor removal can be achieved via the retrosigmoid approach with a 0% mortality rate and low morbidity rate, especially with regards to facial nerve function. In selected cases even hearing preservation is possible. Tumor size significantly correlates with postoperative outcome.

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Amir Samii, Gustavo Adolpho Carvalho, and Madjid Samii

Object. Between 1994 and 1998, 44 nerve transfers were performed using a graft between a branch of the accessory nerve and musculocutaneous nerve to restore the flexion of the arm in patients with traumatic brachial plexus injuries. A retrospective study was conducted, including statistical evaluation of the following pre- and intraoperative parameters in 39 patients: 1) time interval between injury and surgery; and 2) length of the nerve graft used to connect the accessory and musculocutaneous nerves.

Methods. The postoperative follow-up interval ranged from 23 to 84 months, with a mean ± standard deviation of 36 ± 13 months. Reinnervation of the biceps muscle was achieved in 72% of the patients. Reinnervation of the musculocutaneous nerve was demonstrated in 86% of the patients who had undergone surgery within the first 6 months after injury, in 65% of the patients who had undergone surgery between 7 and 12 months after injury, and in only 50% of the patients who had undergone surgery 12 months after injury. A statistical comparison of the different preoperative time intervals (0–6 months compared with 7–12 months) showed a significantly better outcome in patients treated with early surgery (p < 0.05). An analysis of the impact of the length of the interposed nerve grafts revealed a statistically significant better outcome in patients with grafts 12 cm or shorter compared with that in patients with grafts longer than 12 cm (p < 0.005).

Conclusions. Together, these results demonstrated that outcome in patients who undergo accessory to musculocutaneous nerve neurotization for restoration of elbow flexion following brachial plexus injury is greatly dependent on the time interval between trauma and surgery and on the length of the nerve graft used.

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Madjid Samii, Venelin Gerganov, and Amir Samii


The aim of this study was to evaluate and present the results of current surgical treatment of vestibular schwannomas (VSs) and to report the refinements in the operative technique.


The authors performed a retrospective study of 200 consecutive patients who had undergone VS surgery over a 3-year period. Patient records, operative reports, follow-up data, and neuroradiological findings were analyzed. The main outcome measures were magnetic resonance imaging, neurological status, patient complaints, and surgical complications.

Complete tumor removal was achieved in 98% of patients. Anatomical preservation of the facial nerve was possible in 98.5% of patients. In patients treated for tumors with extension Classes T1, T2, and T3, the rate of facial nerve preservation was 100%. By the last follow-up examination, excellent or good facial nerve function had been achieved in 81% of the cases. By at least 1 year postsurgery, no patients had total facial palsy. In the patients with preserved hearing, the rate of anatomical preservation of the cochlear nerve was 84%. The overall rate of functional hearing preservation was 51%. There was no surgery-related permanent morbidity in this series of patients. Cerebrospinal fluid leakage was diagnosed in 2% of the patients. The mortality rate was 0%.


The goal of VS treatment should be total removal in one stage and preservation of neurological function, as they determine a patient’s quality of life. This goal can be safely and successfully achieved using the retrosigmoid approach.

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Giorgio Iaconetta, Mario Fusco, and Madjid Samii

Object. The sphenopetroclival area is the border zone between the middle and posterior cranial fossa. Several authors have studied the microsurgical anatomy of this region and have furnished sometimes contradictory descriptions of this area, which still represents a great challenge for the neurosurgeon. On the basis of previous anatomical data reported in the literature, the authors undertook a new microanatomical analysis of the sphenopetroclival region and report their findings.

Methods. Twenty human cadaveric heads were used to reproduce, in the laboratory, different skull base approaches to expose the petroclival area. Measurements were taken in 40 specimens.

From this study has emerged the finding that the sphenopetroclival area is a venous space, which the authors have named the “sphenopetroclival venous gulf” (SPCVG). The SPCVG is filled anteriorly by blood from the cavernous sinus (lateral sellar compartment [LSC], medially by blood from the basilar plexus, and laterally by blood from the superior petrosal sinus; this venous gulf is drained by the inferior petrosal sinus. The SPCVG is comparable in shape to an irregular hedron figure. It contains the Dorello canal, the venous segment of the abducent nerve, and the superior sphenopetrosal (Gruber) ligament, the fibers of which are in anatomical continuity with those of the inferior sphenopetrosal (petrolingual) ligament, forming a “falciform ligament.”

Conclusions. The structures defining the posterior surface of the SPCVG may represent a helpful surgical corridor through which it is possible to approach the LSC via the posterior fossa. This conceptualization of the SPCVG is an attempt to define univocally the microanatomy of the sphenopetroclival region in its entirety.

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Wolf Lüdemann, Lutz Dörner, Marcos Tatagiba, and Madjid Samii

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Madjid Samii, Marcos Tatagiba, and Gustavo A. Carvalho

Object. The goal of this study was to determine whether some petroclival tumors can be safely and efficiently treated using a modified retrosigmoid petrosal approach that is called the retrosigmoid intradural suprameatal approach (RISA).

Methods. The RISA was introduced in 1983, and since that time 12 patients harboring petroclival meningiomas have been treated using this technique. The RISA includes a retrosigmoid craniotomy and drilling of the suprameatus petrous bone, which is located above and anterior to the internal auditory meatus, thus providing access to Meckel's cave and the middle fossa.

Radical tumor resection (Simpson Grade I or II) was achieved in nine (75%) of the 12 patients. Two patients underwent subtotal resection (Simpson Grade III), and one patient underwent complete resection of tumor at the posterior fossa with subtotal resection at the middle fossa. There were no deaths or severe complications in this series; all patients did well postoperatively, being independent at the time of their last follow-up examinations (mean 5.6 years). Neurological deficits included facial paresis in one patient and worsening of hearing in two patients.

Conclusions. Theapproach described here is a useful modification of the retrosigmoid approach, which allows resection of large petroclival tumors without the need for supratentorial craniotomies. Although technically meticulous, this approach is not time-consuming; it is safe and can produce good results. This is the first report on the use of this approach for petroclival meningiomas.

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Giorgio Iaconetta, Enrico Tessitore, and Madjid Samii

Object. The anatomy of the abducent nerve is well known; its duplication (ranging from 5 to 28.6%), however, has rarely been reported in the literature. The authors performed a microanatomical study in 100 cadaveric specimens (50 heads) to evaluate the prevalence of this phenomenon and to provide a clear anatomical description of the course and relationships of the nerve. The surgery-related implications of this rare anatomical variant will be highlighted.

Methods. The 50 human cadaveric heads (100 specimens) were embalmed in a 10% formalin solution for 3 weeks. Fifteen of them were injected with colored neoprene latex. A duplicated abducent nerve was found in eight specimens (8%). In two (25%) of these eight specimens the nerve originated at the pontomedullary sulcus as two independent trunks: in one case the superior trunk was thicker than the inferior and in the other it was thinner. In the other six cases (75%) the nerve originated as a single trunk, splitting in two trunks into the cisternal segment: in two of them the trunks ran below the Gruber ligament, whereas in four specimens one trunk ran below and one above it. In all the specimens, the duplicated nerves fused again into the cavernous sinus, just after the posterior genu of the internal carotid artery.

Conclusions. Although the presence of a duplicated abducent nerve is a rare finding, preoperative magnetic resonance imaging should be performed to rule out this possibility, thus tailoring the operation to avoid postoperative deficits.

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Jörg Klekamp, Giorgio Iaconetta, Ulrich Batzdorf, and Madjid Samii

Object. Syringomyelia is often linked to pathological lesions of the foramen magnum. The most common cause is hindbrain herniation, usually referred to as Chiari I or II malformation. Foramen magnum arachnoiditis without either Chiari I or II malformation is a rare cause of syringomyelia. The authors undertook a retrospective analysis of 21 patients with foramen magnum arachnoiditis (FMA) and syringomyelia treated between 1978 and 2000 to determine clinical course and optimum management.

Methods. In the review of records, 21 patients with FMA and syringomyelia were documented. A stable clinical course was demonstrated in three patients in whom surgery was not performed, and one patient refused surgical intervention. Seventeen patients underwent 23 operations to treat progressive neurological disease. Of these 23 operations, 18 involved opening of the foramen magnum, arachnoid dissection, and placement of a large dural graft. One patient underwent insertion of a ventriculoperitoneal shunt for treatment of accompanying hydrocephalus, one patient received a cystoperitoneal shunt for an accompanying arachnoid cyst; two syringoperitoneal and one syringosubarachnoid shunts were also inserted. Hospital and outpatient files, neuroimaging studies, and intraoperative photographic and video material were analyzed. Additional follow-up information was obtained by telephone interview and questionnaires.

Standard and cardiac-gated magnetic resonance imaging studies are the diagnostic procedures of choice in these patients. Sensory disturbances, dysesthesias, and pain were the only symptoms likely to improve after foramen magnum surgery. Motor weakness and gait disturbances, which were severe in a considerable number of patients, and swallowing disorders tended to remain unchanged. As a consequence of the rather severe arachnoid lesions in most patients, clinical recurrences were observed in 57% over a 5-year period.

Conclusions. Surgery for FMA and syringomyelia has to provide clear cerebrospinal fluid pathways between the cerebellopontine cisterns, spinal canal, and fourth ventricle. If this can be achieved successfully, the syrinx decreases in size and the clinical course of the patient may even improve. In patients with severe and widespread areas of arachnoiditis, however, multiple operations may be required at least to stabilize the clinical course.