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Lukas Bobinski, Marc Levivier, and John M. Duff

The treatment of craniocervical instability caused by diverse conditions remains challenging. Different techniques have been described to stabilize the craniocervical junction. The authors present 2 cases in which tumoral destruction of the C-1 lateral mass caused craniocervical instability. A one-stage occipitoaxial spinal interarticular stabilization (OASIS) technique with titanium cages and posterior occipitocervical instrumentation was used to reconstruct the C-1 lateral mass and stabilize the craniocervical junction. The ipsilateral vertebral artery was preserved.

The OASIS technique offers single-stage tumor resection, C-1 lateral mass reconstruction, and stabilization with a loadsharing construct. It could be an option in the treatment of select cases of C-1 lateral mass failure.

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Marc Levivier, Rafael E. Carrillo, Rémi Charrier, André Martin, and Jean-Philippe Thiran


The authors developed a new, real-time interactive inverse planning approach, based on a fully convex framework, to be used for Gamma Knife radiosurgery.


The convex framework is based on the precomputation of a dictionary composed of the individual dose distributions of all possible shots, considering all their possible locations, sizes, and shapes inside the target volume. The convex problem is solved to determine the plan, i.e., which shots and with which weights, that will actually be used, considering a sparsity constraint on the shots to fulfill the constraints while minimizing the beam-on time. The system is called IntuitivePlan and allows data to be transferred from generated dose plans into the Gamma Knife treatment planning software for further dosimetry evaluation.


The system has been very efficiently implemented, and an optimal plan is usually obtained in less than 1 to 2 minutes, depending on the complexity of the problem, on a desktop computer or in only a few minutes on a high-end laptop. Dosimetry data from 5 cases, 2 meningiomas and 3 vestibular schwannomas, were generated with IntuitivePlan. Results of evaluation of the dosimetry characteristics are very satisfactory and adequate in terms of conformity, selectivity, gradient, protection of organs at risk, and treatment time.


The possibility of using optimal, interactive real-time inverse planning in conjunction with the Leksell Gamma Knife opens new perspectives in radiosurgery, especially considering the potential use of the full capabilities of the latest generations of the Leksell Gamma Knife. This approach gives new users the possibility of using the system for easier and quicker access to good-quality plans with a shorter technical training period and opens avenues for new planning strategies for expert users. The use of a convex optimization approach allows an optimal plan to be provided in a very short processing time. This way, innovative graphical user interfaces can be developed, allowing the user to interact directly with the planning system to graphically define the desired dose map and to modify on-the-fly the dose map by moving, in a very user-friendly manner, the isodose surfaces of an initial plan. Further independent quantitative prospective evaluation comparing inverse planned and forward planned cases is warranted to validate this novel and promising treatment planning approach.

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Nicolas Massager, José Lorenzoni, Daniel Devriendt, Françoise Desmedt, Jacques Brotchi, and Marc Levivier

Object. Gamma knife surgery (GKS) has emerged as a suitable treatment of pharmacologically resistant idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia. The optimal radiation dose and target for this therapy, however, remain to be defined. The authors analyzed the results of GKS in which a high dose of radiation and a distal target was used, to determine the best parameters for this treatment.

Methods. The authors evaluated results in 47 patients who were treated with this approach. All patients underwent clinical and magnetic resonance imaging examinations at 6 weeks, 6 months, and 1 year post-GKS. Fifteen potential prognostic factors associated with favorable pain control were studied.

The mean follow-up period was 16 months (range 6–42 months). The initial pain relief was excellent (100% pain control) in 32 patients, good (90–99% pain control) in seven patients, fair (50–89% pain control) in three patients, and poor (< 50% pain control) in five patients. The actuarial curve of pain relief displayed a 59% rate of excellent pain control and a 71% excellent or good pain control at 42 months after radiosurgery. Radiosurgery-induced facial numbness was bothersome for two patients and mild for 18 patients. Three prognostic factors were found to be statistically significant factors for successful pain relief: a shorter distance between the target and the brainstem, a higher radiation dose delivered to the brainstem, and the development of a facial sensory disturbance after radiosurgery.

Conclusions. To optimize pain control and minimize complications of this therapy, we recommend that the nerve be targeted at a distance of 5 to 8 mm from the brainstem.

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Benoit Pirotte, Nicolay Gabrovsky, Nicolas Massager, Marc Levivier, Philippe David, and Jacques Brotchi


The authors conducted a study to determine the surgery-related results and outcomes in patients with synovial cysts of the lumbar spine. They emphasize several specific characteristics useful in clinical management.


Forty-six consecutive patients with 54 lumbar synovial cysts underwent surgery between 1990 and 2001. A retrospective analysis of the clinical presentation and follow-up data, radiological findings, and surgical techniques was performed. Clinical presentation was dominated by acute or subacute sciatic pain. No specific symptom allowed differentiation of synovial cyst from a lumbar disc herniation. Computerized tomography scanning aided in establishing the correct diagnosis in 19 of 30 cases and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging did so in all cases. Three of the 46 patients presented with bilateral lumbar synovial cysts. The L4–5 level was affected in 61%, and radiological signs of disc degeneration/spondylosis were observed in 54% of the patients. Immediate symptom relief without local recurrence was obtained by complete microsurgical excision in which bipolar coagulation was used to remove the synovial membrane and in which the interapophysial joint was preserved. During the 1st postoperative year, a newly formed symptomatic synovial cyst developed on the contralateral side or at a superior vertebral level in five patients. They underwent surgery; results were good and there was no recurrence.


The findings in this series suggest that synovial cysts can occur at multiple lumbar sites within a short period of time and could be predisposed to developing in certain individuals, predominantly in women older than 40 years of age. Postoperative follow up is recommended and MR imaging mandatory in cases of recurrent sciatica.

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Nicolas Massager, Jean Régis, Douglas Kondziolka, Théodore Njee, and Marc Levivier

Object. This study was undertaken to assess the efficacy and safety of gamma knife radiosurgery (GKS) for the treatment of arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) located within the brainstem.

Methods. The results of GKS performed in 87 patients with brainstem AVMs at two centers with experienced physicians are reviewed. The mean patient age was 37 years and the population included 19 children. The male/female ratio was 56:31. The malformation was located in the upper brainstem in 52 patients. Seventy-four percent of the patients had suffered a hemorrhage before GKS. For 70% of the patients no other treatment had been proposed before GKS. The mean AVM volume was 1.3 cm3. The lesions were treated with one to eight isocenters, with a margin dose ranging between 11.5 Gy and 30 Gy. The mean clinical follow-up period was 3.2 years. Ninety-five percent of the patients improved or remained neurologically stable. Rebleeding occurred in three patients at 3, 6, and 16 months, respectively, after GKS. Two patients in whom rebleeding occured recovered, and one died. The AVM obliteration rate was 63% at 2 years and 73% at 3 years after GKS. A second GKS was performed in six patients in whom only partial obliteration was demonstrated on angiography 3 years after the first procedure.

Conclusions. Gamma knife radiosurgery may be a valuable first-choice therapy for the treatment of AVMs located within the brainstem.

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György T. Szeifert, Nicolas Massager, Jacques Brotchi, and Marc Levivier

Object. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate positron emission tomography (PET), histological, and immunohistochemical data supporting the notion of morphological redifferentiation in a malignant astrocytic tumor after gamma knife radiosurgery (GKS).

Methods. The 11C- methionine-PET activity, Ki-67 labeling index (LI), and p53 protein expression were examined using immunohistochemical methods to assess tumor proliferative capacity. Tissue samples were obtained before and after radiosurgery in a patient with a malignant (Grade III) cerebellar astrocytoma.

Positron emission tomography scans obtained 5.5 months following radiosurgery were suggestive of decreased tumor proliferative capacity and radionecrosis. Histological examination of tumor tissue removed 42 months before GKS was characteristic of a diffuse Grade III astrocytoma in every part of the resected tumor. Similar material removed 6 months after GKS was consistent with a Grade II astrocytoma in the great majority of the resected tumor.

Conclusions. Histopathological examination showed positive phenotypic modification (redifferentiation) consistent with a Grade II astrocytoma in the majority of tumor specimens after radiosurgery. After GKS both the Ki-67 LI and p53 reaction decreased considerably as did 11C methionine uptake. Because p53 is one of the essential genes involved in the radiation response, mutations induced by the ionizing effect of gamma rays might promote partial repair of this gene's tumor suppressor function.

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Daniele Starnoni, Roy Thomas Daniel, Constantin Tuleasca, Mercy George, Marc Levivier, and Mahmoud Messerer


During the last decade, the primary objective for large vestibular schwannoma (VS) management has progressively shifted, from tumor excision to nerve preservation by using a combined microsurgical and radiosurgical approach. The aim of this study was to provide a systematic review and meta-analysis of the available literature regarding the combined strategy of subtotal resection (STR) followed by stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) for large VSs.


The authors performed a systematic review and meta-analysis in compliance with the PRISMA guidelines for article identification and inclusion using the PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane databases. Established inclusion criteria were used to screen all identified relevant articles published before September 2017 without backward date limit.


The authors included 9 studies (248 patients). With a weighted mean follow-up of 46 months (range 28–68.8 months), the pooled rate of overall tumor control was 93.9% (95% CI 91.0%–96.8%). Salvage treatment (second STR and/or SRS) was necessary in only 13 (5.24%) of 18 patients who experienced initial treatment failure. According to the House-Brackmann (HB) grading scale, functional facial nerve preservation (HB grade I–II) was achieved in 96.1% of patients (95% CI 93.7%–98.5%). Serviceable hearing after the combined approach was preserved in 59.9% (95% CI 36.5%–83.2%).


A combined approach of STR followed by SRS was shown to have excellent clinical and functional outcomes while still achieving a tumor control rate comparable to that obtained with a total resection. Longer-term follow-up and larger patient cohorts are necessary to fully evaluate the rate of tumor control achieved with this approach.