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Michael J. Glantz, Marc C. Chamberlin and Beverly C. Walters

Innovative approaches to the treatment of neoplastic meningitis are being widely tested. Unfortunately, research on diagnostic strategies and outcome measures on which any advances in treatment ultimately depend, has not been avidly pursued.

A critical review of the literature on neoplastic meningitis published since 1978 was undertaken by using MEDLINE and other English language databases. All articles addressing the issues of diagnostic or response criteria were included. Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) were emphasized. Prospectively collected data from the authors' institution correlating the results of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) cytological examinations with Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) score are also discussed.

Twenty-six studies (representing 1208 patients) fulfilled search criteria. Only three were RCTs. Cerebrospinal fluid cytology was the sole diagnostic criterion in two-thirds of studies. The results of CSF cytological examination alone or in combination with other clinical or laboratory endpoints constituted the primary outcome measure in 85%. Few studies attempted to address known deficiencies in the reliability and validity of these measures, and correlation between measures was poor. Quality of life was never used as a primary outcome measure.

All currently available measurements, including CSF cytology, biochemistry, immunological, and molecular markers, neuroimaging studies, clinical examination, and survival, suffer from poor sensitivity and/or specificity, and often correlate poorly with each other. Although CSF cytological examination, performed according to a rigorous, research-supported protocol, may be the optimum diagnostic and outcome measure at this time, additional research is a prerequisite for any further advances in the clinical care of patients with neoplastic meningitis.

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Russell Payne, Zeinab Nasralah, Emily Sieg, Elias B. Rizk, Michael Glantz and Kimberly Harbaugh

OBJECTIVE

A thorough understanding of anatomy is critical for successful carpal tunnel release. Several texts depict the median nerve (MN) as taking a course parallel to the long axis of the forearm (LAF). The authors report on their attempt to formally assess the course of the MN as it travels to the carpal tunnel in the distal wrist and discuss its potential clinical significance.

METHODS

The width of the wrist, the distance from the radial wrist to the MN, and the distance from the distal volar wrist crease to the point where the MN emerges between the flexor carpi radialis (FCR) tendon and the flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS) tendons were recorded during cadaveric dissection of 76 wrist specimens. The presence or absence of palmaris longus was documented. Finally, the angles between the MN and FCR tendon and between the MN and the LAF were measured using ImageJ.

RESULTS

The relative position of the MN at the distal wrist crease, as determined by the ratio of the distance from the MN to the radial wrist divided by wrist width, revealed a mean value of 0.48, indicating that the nerve was usually located just radial to midline. The mean distance between the distal wrist crease and the MN's emergence was 34.6 mm. The mean angle between the MN and the FCR tendon was 14.1°. The angle between the MN and the LAF had a mean value of 8.8° (range 0.0°–32.2°). The nerve was parallel to the LAF in only 10.7% of the studied wrists. Palmaris longus was absent in 14 (18.4%) of the 76 wrists.

CONCLUSIONS

The MN takes an angular approach to the carpal tunnel in the distal wrist in the vast majority of cases. This newly described finding will be useful to both clinicians and anatomists.

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Michael Glantz and Nicholas Brandmeir

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Griffin R. Baum, Kristopher G. Hooten, Dennis T. Lockney, Kyle M. Fargen, Nefize Turan, Gustavo Pradilla, Gregory J. A. Murad, Robert E. Harbaugh, Michael Glantz and The EVD Best Practice Team

OBJECTIVE

While guidelines exist for many neurosurgical procedures, external ventricular drain (EVD) insertion has yet to be standardized. The goal of this study was to survey the neurosurgical community and determine the most frequent EVD insertion practices. The hypothesis was that there would be no standard practices identified for EVD insertion or methods to avoid EVD-associated infections.

METHODS

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons membership database was queried for all eligible neurosurgeons. A 16-question, multiple-choice format survey was created and sent to 7217 recipients. The responses were collected electronically, and the descriptive results were tabulated. Data were analyzed using the chi-square test.

RESULTS

In total, 1143 respondents (15.8%) completed the survey, and 705 respondents (61.6%) reported tracking EVD infections at their institution. The most common self-reported infection rate ranged from 1% to 3% (56.1% of participants), and 19.7% of respondents reported a 0% infection rate. In total, 451 respondents (42.7%) indicated that their institution utilizes a formal protocol for EVD placement. If a respondent's institution had a protocol, only 258 respondents (36.1%) always complied with the protocol. Protocol utilization for EVD insertion was significantly more frequent among residents, in academic/hybrid centers, in ICU settings, and if the institution tracked EVD-associated infection rates (p < 0.05). A self-reported 0% infection rate was significantly more commonly associated with a higher level of training (e.g., attending physicians), private center settings, a clinician performing 6 to 10 EVD insertions within the previous 12 months, and prophylactic continuous antibiotic utilization (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

This survey demonstrated heterogeneity in the practices for EVD insertion. No standard practices have been proposed or adopted by the neurosurgical community for EVD insertion or complication avoidance. These results highlight the need for the nationwide standardization of technique and complication prevention measures.

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Ning Lin, Ian F. Dunn, Michael Glantz, Dana L. Allison, Randy Jensen, Mark D. Johnson, Robert M. Friedlander and Santosh Kesari

Object

Neoplastic meningitis (NM) is a debilitating and increasingly frequent neurological complication of cancer characterized by infiltration of tumor cells into the leptomeninges and the subarachnoid space. Although NM is rarely curable, combined intrathecal chemotherapy and focal radiation can improve disease-related symptoms and survival. Hydrocephalus occurs in a significant proportion of patients, is associated with poor prognosis and reduced quality of life, and usually precludes the use of intrathecal therapy.

Methods

Since January of 2005, the authors have used a combined treatment approach for patients with both NM and hydrocephalus that employs a subcutaneously placed reservoir connected in series to an on/off valve and a ventriculoperitoneal shunt for both diversion of CSF and injection of intrathecal chemotherapy. They conducted a retrospective, case-controlled study from 2 independent institutions to review their experience.

Results

Twenty-four patients with NM and hydrocephalus underwent placement of a CSF reservoir-on/off valve-ventriculoperitoneal shunt (RO-VPS) construct. There was no perioperative mortality, and there were only 2 minor complications. One shunt failure and no shunt-associated infections were observed over a median of 28 weeks of follow-up. Symptomatic improvement and improved performance status were seen in 20 patients (83.3%) and were sustained over 6 months. Eighteen patients received intraventricular chemotherapy without unexpected toxicity, and cytological responses were found in 11 patients (61.1%). Median progression-free and overall survival was 14 and 31 weeks, respectively. Compared with a contemporaneous comparison group of 24 demographically matched patients with NM who underwent CSF reservoir placement only, those who received RO-VPS constructs (p = 0.02) and had primary diagnosis of breast cancer (p = 0.04) had significant advantage in overall survival.

Conclusions

A combined RO-VPS system is safe and practical to install, results in symptomatic improvement in most patients, and allows uncomplicated and effective administration of intrathecal chemotherapy in patients with NM. Cerebrospinal fluid diversion surgery should be considered in NM patients in conjunction with intrathecal and systemic treatments.