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Francesco Doglietto, Andrea Bolzoni Villaret, Roberto Stefini, Piero Nicolai, Marco Maria Fontanella, Giorgio Lofrese, and Giulio Maira

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Luigi Maria Cavallo, Diego Mazzatenta, Elena d’Avella, Domenico Catapano, Marco Maria Fontanella, Davide Locatelli, Davide Luglietto, Davide Milani, Domenico Solari, Marco Vindigni, Francesco Zenga, Gianluigi Zona, and Paolo Cappabianca

OBJECTIVE

In the last 2 decades, the endoscopic endonasal approach in the treatment of clival chordomas has evolved to be a viable strategy to achieve maximal safe resection of this tumor. Here, the authors present a multicentric national study, intending to analyze the evolution of this approach over a 20-year time frame and its contribution in the treatment of clival chordomas.

METHODS

Clival chordoma cases surgically treated between 1999 and 2018 at 10 Italian neurosurgical departments were included in this retrospective study. Clinical, radiological, and surgical findings, adjuvant therapy, and outcomes were evaluated and compared according to classification in the treatment eras from 1999 to 2008 and from 2009 to 2018.

RESULTS

One hundred eighty-two surgical procedures were reviewed, with an increase in case load since 2009. The endoscopic endonasal transclival approach (EETA) was performed in 151 of 182 cases (83.0%) and other approaches were performed in 31 cases (17%). There was an increment in the use of EETA, neuronavigation, and Doppler ultrasound after 2008. The overall postoperative complication rate was 14.3% (26 of 182 cases) consisting of 9 CSF leaks (4.9%), 7 intracranial hemorrhages (3.8%), 5 cases of meningitis (2.7%), and 5 cerebral ischemic injuries (2.7%). Gross-total resection (GTR) was achieved in 93 of 182 cases (51.1%). Extent of resection (EOR) improved in the second era of the study. Signs and/or symptoms at presentation worsened in 27 cases (14.8%), and the Katz Index worsened in 10 cases (5.5%). Previous treatment, dural involvement, EETA, and intraoperative Doppler ultrasound correlated with GTR. Patients received adjuvant proton beam radiation in 115 of 182 cases (63.2%), which was administered more in the latter era. Five-year progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were 62.3% and 73.5%, respectively. GTR, EETA, proton beam therapy, and the chondroid subtype correlated with a better survival rate. The mean follow-up was 62 months.

CONCLUSIONS

Through multicentric data collection, this study encompasses the largest series in the literature of clival chordomas surgically treated through an EETA. An increase in the use of this approach was found among Italian neurosurgical departments together with an improved extent of resection over time. The satisfactory rate of GTR was marked by low surgical morbidity and the preservation of patient quality of life. Surgical outcome was reinforced, in terms of PFS and OS, by the use of proton beam therapy, which was increasingly performed along the period of study.

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Tamara Ius, Teresa Somma, Roberto Altieri, Filippo Flavio Angileri, Giuseppe Maria Barbagallo, Paolo Cappabianca, Francesco Certo, Fabio Cofano, Alessandro D’Elia, Giuseppe Maria Della Pepa, Vincenzo Esposito, Marco Maria Fontanella, Antonino Germanò, Diego Garbossa, Miriam Isola, Giuseppe La Rocca, Francesco Maiuri, Alessandro Olivi, Pier Paolo Panciani, Fabrizio Pignotti, Miran Skrap, Giannantonio Spena, and Giovanni Sabatino

OBJECTIVE

Approximately half of glioblastoma (GBM) cases develop in geriatric patients, and this trend is destined to increase with the aging of the population. The optimal strategy for management of GBM in elderly patients remains controversial. The aim of this study was to assess the role of surgery in the elderly (≥ 65 years old) based on clinical, molecular, and imaging data routinely available in neurosurgical departments and to assess a prognostic survival score that could be helpful in stratifying the prognosis for elderly GBM patients.

METHODS

Clinical, radiological, surgical, and molecular data were retrospectively analyzed in 322 patients with GBM from 9 neurosurgical centers. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to identify predictors of survival. A random forest approach (classification and regression tree [CART] analysis) was utilized to create the prognostic survival score.

RESULTS

Survival analysis showed that overall survival (OS) was influenced by age as a continuous variable (p = 0.018), MGMT (p = 0.012), extent of resection (EOR; p = 0.002), and preoperative tumor growth pattern (evaluated with the preoperative T1/T2 MRI index; p = 0.002). CART analysis was used to create the prognostic survival score, forming six different survival groups on the basis of tumor volumetric, surgical, and molecular features. Terminal nodes with similar hazard ratios were grouped together to form a final diagram composed of five classes with different OSs (p < 0.0001). EOR was the most robust influencing factor in the algorithm hierarchy, while age appeared at the third node of the CART algorithm. The ability of the prognostic survival score to predict death was determined by a Harrell’s c-index of 0.75 (95% CI 0.76–0.81).

CONCLUSIONS

The CART algorithm provided a promising, thorough, and new clinical prognostic survival score for elderly surgical patients with GBM. The prognostic survival score can be useful to stratify survival risk in elderly GBM patients with different surgical, radiological, and molecular profiles, thus assisting physicians in daily clinical management. The preliminary model, however, requires validation with future prospective investigations. Practical recommendations for clinicians/surgeons would strengthen the quality of the study; e.g., surgery can be considered as a first therapeutic option in the workflow of elderly patients with GBM, especially when the preoperative estimated EOR is greater than 80%.

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Francesco Doglietto, Marika Vezzoli, Antonio Biroli, Giorgio Saraceno, Luca Zanin, Marta Pertichetti, Stefano Calza, Edoardo Agosti, Jahard Mijail Aliaga Arias, Roberto Assietti, Silvio Bellocchi, Claudio Bernucci, Simona Bistazzoni, Daniele Bongetta, Andrea Fanti, Antonio Fioravanti, Alessandro Fiorindi, Alberto Franzin, Davide Locatelli, Raffaelino Pugliese, Elena Roca, Giovanni Marco Sicuri, Roberto Stefini, Martina Venturini, Oscar Vivaldi, Costanza Zattra, Cesare Zoia, and Marco Maria Fontanella

OBJECTIVE

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many countries into lockdown and has led to the postponement of nonurgent neurosurgical procedures. Although stress has been investigated during this pandemic, there are no reports on anxiety in neurosurgical patients undergoing nonurgent surgical procedures.

METHODS

Neurosurgical patients admitted to hospitals in eastern Lombardy for nonurgent surgery after the lockdown prospectively completed a pre- and postoperative structured questionnaire. Recorded data included demographics, pathology, time on surgical waiting list, anxiety related to COVID-19, primary pathology and surgery, safety perception during hospital admission before and after surgery, and surgical outcomes. Anxiety was measured with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Descriptive statistics were computed on the different variables and data were stratified according to pathology (oncological vs nononcological). Three different models were used to investigate which variables had the greatest impact on anxiety, oncological patients, and safety perception, respectively. Because the variables (Xs) were of a different nature (qualitative and quantitative), mostly asymmetrical, and related to outcome (Y) by nonlinear relationships, a machine learning approach composed of three steps (1, random forest growing; 2, relative variable importance measure; and 3, partial dependence plots) was chosen.

RESULTS

One hundred twenty-three patients from 10 different hospitals were included in the study. None of the patients developed COVID-19 after surgery. State and trait anxiety were reported by 30.3% and 18.9% of patients, respectively. Higher values of state anxiety were documented in oncological compared to nononcological patients (46.7% vs 25%; p = 0.055). Anxiety was strongly associated with worry about primary pathology, surgery, disease worsening, and with stress during waiting time, as expected. Worry about positivity to SARS-CoV-2, however, was the strongest factor associated with anxiety, even though none of the patients were infected. Neuro-oncological disease was associated with state anxiety and with worry about surgery and COVID-19. Increased bed distance and availability of hand sanitizer were associated with a feeling of safety.

CONCLUSIONS

These data underline the importance of psychological support, especially for neuro-oncological patients, during a pandemic.