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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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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.