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Miguel Marigil and Mark Bernstein

Technological breakthroughs along with modern application of awake craniotomy and new neuroanesthesia protocols have led to a progressive development in outpatient brain tumor surgery and improved surgical outcomes. As a result, outpatient neurosurgery has become a standard of care at the authors’ center due to its clinical benefits and impact on patient recovery and overall satisfaction. On the other hand, the financial savings derived from its application is also another favorable factor exerting influence on patients, health care systems, and society.

Although validated several years ago and with recent data supporting its application, outpatient brain tumor surgery has not gained the traction that it deserves, based on scientific skepticism and perceived potential for medicolegal issues. The goal of this review, based on the available literature and the senior author’s experience in outpatient brain tumor surgery, was to evaluate the most important aspects regarding indications, clinical outcomes, economic burden, and patient perceptions.

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Mark Bernstein and Beverly C. Walters

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Michael D. Taylor and Mark Bernstein

Object. Awake craniotomy was performed as the standard surgical approach to supratentorial intraaxial tumors, regardless of the involvement of eloquent cortex, in a prospective trial of 200 patients surgically treated by the same surgeon at a single institution.

Methods. Patient presentations, comorbid conditions, tumor locations, and the histological characteristics of lesions were recorded. Brain mapping was possible in 195 (97.5%) of 200 patients. The total number of patients sustaining complications was 33 for an overall complication rate of 16.5%. There were two deaths in this series, for a mortality rate of 1%. New postoperative neurological deficits were seen in 13% of the patients, but these were permanent in only 4.5% of them. Complication rates were higher in patients who had gliomas or preoperative neurological deficits and in those who had undergone prior radiation therapy or surgery. No patient who entered the operating room neurologically intact sustained a permanent neurological deficit postoperatively. Of the most recent 50 patients treated, three (6%) required a stay in the intensive care unit, and the median total hospital stay was 1 day.

Conclusions. Use of awake craniotomy can result in a considerable reduction in resource utilization without compromising patient care by minimizing intensive care time and total hospital stay. Awake craniotomy is a practical and effective standard surgical approach to supratentorial tumors with a low complication rate, and provides an excellent alternative to craniotomy performed with the patient in the state of general anesthesia because it allows the opportunity for brain mapping and avoids general anesthesia.

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Abdul Al-Anazi and Mark Bernstein

✓ Ommaya reservoirs are used primarily for the repeated injection of intrathecal chemotherapy for leptomeningeal metastasis from hematopoietic and solid malignancies. Insertion of this device in a relatively large nondisplaced ventricle is not a difficult task, but challenges arise when the ventricle is small and/or displaced. Different techniques have been developed to overcome this difficulty, most of which include the use of stereotactic frames. Further improvements would be beneficial.

The technique described in this paper depends on a stereotactic frame; however, the modification proposed by the authors removes the arc system from the surgical field before the actual surgical procedure is begun. Removal of the arc improves access to the surgical field as well as preparation and draping of the surgical site and minimizes potential breaks in sterile technique, which ultimately reduces the incidence of infection. A twist-drill hole along the path of the chosen trajectory becomes an external guide for the ventricular catheter. The technique is easy, user friendly, and results in an unencumbered sterile field and reliable cannulation of small ventricles.

A simple stereotactic technique for Ommaya reservoir insertion has been described. It should lower the chance of infection in this group of patients, most of whom have suppressed immune systems.

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Parisa Nicole Fallah and Mark Bernstein

OBJECTIVE

There is a global lack of access to surgical care, and this issue disproportionately affects those in low- and middle-income countries. Global surgery academic collaborations (GSACs) between surgeons in high-income countries and those in low- and middle-income countries are one possible sustainable way to address the global surgical need. The objective of this study was to examine the barriers to participation in GSACs and to suggest ways to increase involvement.

METHODS

A convenience sample of 86 surgeons, anesthesiologists, other physicians, residents, fellows, and nurses from the US, Canada, and Norway was used. Participants were all health care providers from multiple specialties and multiple academic centers with varied involvement in GSACs. More than half of the participants were neurosurgeons. Participants were interviewed in person or over Skype in Toronto over the course of 2 months by using a predetermined set of open-ended questions. Thematic content analysis was used to evaluate the participants’ responses.

RESULTS

Based on the data, 3 main themes arose that pointed to individual, community, and system barriers for involvement in GSACs. Individual barriers included loss of income, family commitments, young career, responsibility to local patients, skepticism of global surgery efforts, ethical concerns, and safety concerns. Community barriers included insufficient mentorship and lack of support from colleagues. System barriers included lack of time, minimal academic recognition, insufficient awareness, insufficient administrative support and organization, and low political and funding support.

CONCLUSIONS

Steps can be taken to address some of these barriers and to increase the involvement of surgeons from high-income countries in GSACs. This could lead to a necessary scale-up of global surgery efforts that may help increase worldwide access to surgical care.

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Ralph G. Dacey Jr.

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Parisa Nicole Fallah and Mark Bernstein

OBJECTIVE

There is a global lack of access to surgical care, and this issue disproportionately affects those in low- and middle-income countries. Global surgery academic collaborations (GSACs) between surgeons in high-income countries and those in low- and middle-income countries are one possible sustainable way to address the global surgical need. The objective of this study was to examine the barriers to participation in GSACs and to suggest ways to increase involvement.

METHODS

A convenience sample of 86 surgeons, anesthesiologists, other physicians, residents, fellows, and nurses from the US, Canada, and Norway was used. Participants were all health care providers from multiple specialties and multiple academic centers with varied involvement in GSACs. More than half of the participants were neurosurgeons. Participants were interviewed in person or over Skype in Toronto over the course of 2 months by using a predetermined set of open-ended questions. Thematic content analysis was used to evaluate the participants’ responses.

RESULTS

Based on the data, 3 main themes arose that pointed to individual, community, and system barriers for involvement in GSACs. Individual barriers included loss of income, family commitments, young career, responsibility to local patients, skepticism of global surgery efforts, ethical concerns, and safety concerns. Community barriers included insufficient mentorship and lack of support from colleagues. System barriers included lack of time, minimal academic recognition, insufficient awareness, insufficient administrative support and organization, and low political and funding support.

CONCLUSIONS

Steps can be taken to address some of these barriers and to increase the involvement of surgeons from high-income countries in GSACs. This could lead to a necessary scale-up of global surgery efforts that may help increase worldwide access to surgical care.

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Kamal B. Balkhoyor and Mark Bernstein

✓ Spontaneous involution of pilocytic astrocytoma has been reported in children, particularly in those with neurofibromatosis Type 1. However, this rare occurrence has not been documented in adults. In this report the authors describe two cases of adults with pilocytic astrocytoma. One patient had a tumor in the thalamus and the other in the hypothalamus and optic chiasm; both patients underwent partial resection of the tumor. The initial magnetic resonance (MR) images demonstrated reduction in size of the tumors, and subsequent MR images obtained several months later revealed marked further involution with reduction in size and enhancement. The possible mechanisms for this uncommon occurrence are discussed.

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Hirokazu Takami, Nikki Khoshnood and Mark Bernstein

OBJECTIVE

Awake surgery is becoming more standard and widely practiced for neurosurgical cases, including but not limited to brain tumors. The optimal selection of patients who can tolerate awake surgery remains a challenge. The authors performed an updated cohort study, with particular attention to preoperative clinical and imaging characteristics that may have an impact on the viability of awake craniotomy in individual patients.

METHODS

The authors conducted a single-institution cohort study of 609 awake craniotomies performed in 562 patients. All craniotomies were performed by the same surgeon at Toronto Western Hospital during the period from 2006 to 2018. Analyses of preoperative clinical and imaging characteristics that may have an impact on the viability of awake craniotomy in individual patients were performed.

RESULTS

Twenty-one patients were recorded as having experienced intraoperative adverse events necessitating deeper sedation, which made the surgery no longer “awake.” In 2 of these patients, conversion to general anesthesia was performed. The adverse events included emotional intolerance of awake surgery (n = 13), air embolism (n = 3), generalized seizure (n = 4), and unexpected subarachnoid hemorrhage (n = 1). Preoperative cognitive decline, dysphasia, and low performance status, as indicated by the Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) score, were significantly associated with emotional intolerance on univariate analysis. Only a preoperative KPS score < 70 was significantly associated with this event on multivariate analysis (p = 0.0057). Compared with patients who did not experience intraoperative adverse events, patients who did were more likely to undergo inpatient admission (p = 0.0004 for all cases; p = 0.0036 for cases originally planned as day surgery), longer hospital stay (p < 0.0001), and discharge to a location other than home (p = 0.032).

CONCLUSIONS

Preoperative physical status was found to be the most decisive factor in predicting whether patients can tolerate an awake craniotomy without complications, whereas older age and history of psychiatric treatment were not necessarily associated with adverse events. Patients who had intraoperative adverse events often had reduced chances of same-day discharge and discharge to home. Preoperative careful selection of patients who are most likely to tolerate the procedure is the key to success for awake surgery.