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Matthew A. Howard III, Matthew B. Dobbs, Tereasa M. Simonson, William E. LaVelle and Mark A. Granner

✓ As computer-interactive technologies become more widely used in neurosurgery, radiology, and radiation therapy, the need for an optimum skull fiducial marker system increases. In the past, intracranial localization methods required precisely machined metal frames and rigid pin fixation to the skull. Recently, this function has been performed using “frameless” computer-based systems that calculate brain position relative to a series of external reference points, the most accurate of which are screwed directly into the skull. A penetrating fiducial marker system, however, is not well suited for applications requiring multiple volume registrations over an extended time period. We describe a new skull fiducial marker system that attaches to the maxillary teeth and can be used repeatedly on different occasions. A curved bar, known as a Banana Bar (BB) extends backward from a custom mouthpiece around the side of the patient's head; the bar contains sites of attachment for screw-in radiographic fiducial markers. Repositioning accuracy was quantitated using a photographic technique. A BB prototype was constructed and tested in three subjects. The BB weighs less than 100 g and can be comfortably held in position for up to 30 minutes. It takes less than 1 minute to screw in the mouthpiece and only seconds to secure the BB to the teeth. One hundred twenty photographic measurements were analyzed from 60 repositionings over a minimum 3-week period. Standard deviations for the measurement series ranged from 0.29 to 0.86 mm. Results suggest that the BB may be an inexpensive, efficient, and accurate method for providing the external reference points needed for a wide range of emerging computer-interactive applications.

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Gabe Haller, Brooke Sadler, Timothy Kuensting, Nivan Lakshman, Jacob K. Greenberg, Jennifer M. Strahle, Tae Sung Park, Matthew B. Dobbs, Christina A. Gurnett and David D. Limbrick Jr.

OBJECTIVE

Chiari I malformation (CM-I) has traditionally been defined by measuring the position of the cerebellar tonsils relative to the foramen magnum. The relationships of tonsillar position to clinical presentation, syringomyelia, scoliosis, and the use of posterior fossa decompression (PFD) surgery have been studied extensively and yielded inconsistent results. Obex position has been proposed as a useful adjunctive descriptor for CM-I and may be associated with clinical disease severity.

METHODS

A retrospective chart review was performed of 442 CM-I patients with MRI who presented for clinical evaluation between 2003 and 2018. Clinical and radiological variables were measured for all patients, including presence/location of headaches, Chiari Severity Index (CSI) grade, tonsil position, obex position, clival canal angle, pB-C2 distance, occipitalization of the atlas, basilar invagination, syringomyelia, syrinx diameter, scoliosis, and use of PFD. Radiological measurements were then used to predict clinical characteristics using regression and survival analyses, with performing PFD, the presence of a syrinx, and scoliosis as outcome variables.

RESULTS

Among the radiological measurements, tonsil position, obex position, and syringomyelia were each independently associated with use of PFD. Together, obex position, tonsil position, and syringomyelia (area under the curve [AUC] 89%) or obex position and tonsil position (AUC 85.4%) were more strongly associated with use of PFD than tonsil position alone (AUC 76%) (Pdiff = 3.4 × 10−6 and 6 × 10−4, respectively) but were only slightly more associated than obex position alone (AUC 82%) (Pdiff = 0.01 and 0.18, respectively). Additionally, obex position was significantly associated with occipital headaches, CSI grade, syringomyelia, and scoliosis, independent of tonsil position. Tonsil position was associated with each of these traits when analyzed alone but did not remain significantly associated with use of PFD when included in multivariate analyses with obex position.

CONCLUSIONS

Compared with tonsil position alone, obex position is more strongly associated with symptomatic CM-I, as measured by presence of a syrinx, scoliosis, or use of PFD surgery. These results support the role of obex position as a useful radiological measurement to inform the evaluation and potentially the management of CM-I.