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Joseph C. T. Chen, Javad Rahimian, Michael R. Girvigian and Michael J. Miller

✓ Radiosurgery has emerged as an indispensable component of the multidisciplinary approach to neoplastic, functional, and vascular diseases of the central nervous system. In recent years, a number of newly developed integrated systems have been introduced for radiosurgery and fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy treatments. These modern systems extend the flexibility of radiosurgical treatment in allowing the use of frameless image-guided radiation delivery as well as high-precision fractionated treatments. The Novalis linear accelerator system demonstrates adequate precision and reliability for cranial and extracranial radiosurgery, including functional treatments utilizing either frame-based or frameless image-guided methods.

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Matthew J. Mcgirt, Graeme Woodworth, George Thomas, Neil Miller, Michael Williams and Daniele Rigamonti

Object. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunts effectively reverse symptoms of pseudotumor cerebri postoperatively, but long-term outcome has not been investigated. Lumboperitoneal (LP) shunts are the mainstay of CSF shunts for pseudotumor cerebri; however, image-guided stereotaxy and neuroendoscopy now allow effective placement of a ventricular catheter without causing ventriculomegaly in these cases. To date it remains unknown if CSF shunts provide long-term relief from pseudotumor cerebri and whether a ventricular shunt is better than an LP shunt. The authors investigated these possibilities.

Methods. The authors reviewed the records of all shunt placement procedures that were performed for intractable headache due to pseudotumor cerebri at one institution between 1973 and 2003. Using proportional hazards regression analysis, predictors of treatment failure (continued headache despite a properly functioning shunt) were assessed, and shunt revision and complication rates were compared between LP and ventricular (ventriculoperitoneal [VP] or ventriculoatrial [VAT]) shunts.

Forty-two patients underwent 115 shunt placement procedures: 79 in which an LP shunt was used and 36 in which a VP or VAT shunt was used. Forty patients (95%) experienced a significant improvement in their headaches immediately after the shunt was inserted. Severe headache recurred despite a properly functioning shunt in eight (19%) and 20 (48%) patients by 12 and 36 months, respectively, after the initial shunt placement surgery. Seventeen patients without papilledema and 19 patients in whom preoperative symptoms had occurred for longer than 2 years experienced recurrent headache, making patients with papilledema or long-term symptoms fivefold (relative risk [RR] 5.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.5–17.8; p < 0.01) or 2.5-fold (RR 2.51, 95% CI 1.01–9.39; p = 0.05) more likely to experience headache recurrence, respectively. In contrast to VP or VAT shunts, LP shunts were associated with a 2.5-fold increased risk of shunt revision (RR 2.5, 95% CI 1.5–4.3; p < 0.001) due to a threefold increased risk of shunt obstruction (RR 3, 95% CI 1.5–5.7; p < 0.005), but there were similar risks between the two types of shunts for overdrainage (RR 2.3, 95% CI 0.8–7.9; p = 0.22), distal catheter migration (RR 2.1, 95% CI 0.3–19.3; p = 0.55), and shunt infection (RR 1.3, 95% CI 0.3–13.2; p = 0.75).

Conclusions. Based on their 30-year experience in the treatment of these patients, the authors found that CSF shunts were extremely effective in the acute treatment of pseudotumor cerebri—associated intractable headache, providing long-term relief in the majority of patients. Lack of papilledema and long-standing symptoms were risk factors for treatment failure. The use of ventricular shunts for pseudotumor cerebri was associated with a lower risk of shunt obstruction and revision than the use of LP shunts. Using ventricular shunts in patients with papilledema or symptoms lasting less than 2 years should be considered for those with pseudotumor cerebri—associated intractable headache.

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Aaron A. Cohen-Gadol, J. Michael Homan, Edward R. Laws, John L. D. Atkinson and Ross H. Miller

✓ Mayo Clinic founders, William J. Mayo and Charles H. Mayo, and Harvey W. Cushing were among the most significant pioneers of modern American surgery. A review of their personal correspondence reveals a special relationship among these three individuals, particularly between William Mayo and Cushing. Their interactions within the Society of Clinical Surgery initiated their close personal and professional association, which would endure for 39 years. William Mayo strongly supported Cushing's efforts to develop the specialty of neurological surgery, and Cushing sought Mayo's advice in making important career-related decisions. Their supportive friendship and professional alliance remains an example for future generations of neurological surgeons.

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Jason K. Chu, Brandon A. Miller, Michael P. Bazylewicz, John F. Holbrook and Joshua J. Chern

Subarachnoid-pleural fistulas (SPFs) are rare clinical entities that occur after severe thoracic trauma or iatrogenic injury during anterolateral approaches to the spine. Treatment of these fistulas often entails open repair of the dural defect. The authors present the case of an SPF in a 2-year-old female after a penetrating injury to the chest. The diagnosis of an SPF was suspected given the high chest tube output and was confirmed with a positive β2-transferrin test of the chest tube fluid, as well as visualization of dural defects on MRI. The dural defects were successfully repaired with CT-guided percutaneous epidural injection of fibrin glue alone. This case represents the youngest pediatric patient with a traumatic SPF to be treated percutaneously. This technique can be safely used in pediatric patients, offers several advantages over open surgical repair, and could be considered as an alternative first-line therapy for the obliteration of SPFs.

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Charles A. Miller, Jason H. Boulter, Daniel J. Coughlin, Michael K. Rosner, Chris J. Neal and Michael S. Dirks

OBJECTIVE

Symptomatic cervical spondylosis with or without radiculopathy can ground an active-duty military pilot if left untreated. Surgically treated cervical spondylosis may be a waiverable condition and allow return to flying status, but a waiver is based on expert opinion and not on recent published data. Previous studies on rates of return to active duty status following anterior cervical spine surgery have not differentiated these rates among military specialty occupations. No studies to date have documented the successful return of US military active-duty pilots who have undergone anterior cervical spine surgery with cervical fusion, disc replacement, or a combination of the two. The aim of this study was to identify the rate of return to an active duty flight status among US military pilots who had undergone anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) or total disc replacement (TDR) for symptomatic cervical spondylosis.

METHODS

The authors performed a single-center retrospective review of all active duty pilots who had undergone either ACDF or TDR at a military hospital between January 2010 and June 2017. Descriptive statistics were calculated for both groups to evaluate demographics with specific attention to preoperative flight stats, days to recommended clearance by neurosurgery, and days to return to active duty flight status.

RESULTS

Authors identified a total of 812 cases of anterior cervical surgery performed between January 1, 2010, and June 1, 2017, among active duty, reserves, dependents, and Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs patients. There were 581 ACDFs and 231 TDRs. After screening for military occupation and active duty status, there were a total of 22 active duty pilots, among whom were 4 ACDFs, 17 TDRs, and 2 hybrid constructs. One patient required a second surgery. Six (27.3%) of the 22 pilots were nearing the end of their career and electively retired within a year of surgery. Of the remaining 16 pilots, 11 (68.8%) returned to active duty flying status. The average time to be released by the neurosurgeon was 128 days, and the time to return to flying was 287 days. The average follow-up period was 12.3 months.

CONCLUSIONS

Adhering to military service-specific waiver guidelines, military pilots may return to active duty flight status after undergoing ACDF or TDR for symptomatic cervical spondylosis.

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Joseph C. T. Chen, Darlene M. Bugoci, Michael R. Girvigian, Michael J. Miller, Alonso Arellano and Javad Rahimian

Object

Radiosurgery is an important and well-accepted method in the management of brain metastases. Using conventional frame-based techniques, high lesional control rates are expected. The introduction of image-guided techniques allows for improved patient comfort and workflow. Some controversy exists as to the accuracy of imageguided techniques and consequently the impact they might have on control of brain metastases (as opposed to the level of control achieved with frame-based methods). The authors describe their initial 15-month experience with image-guided radiosurgery (IGRS) using Novalis with ExacTrac for management of brain metastases.

Methods

The authors reviewed the cases of brain metastasis treated by means of IGRS in their tertiary regional radiation oncology service over a 15-month period. During the study period 54 patients (median age 57.9 years) harboring 108 metastases were treated with IGRS. The median time from cancer diagnosis to development of brain metastasis was 12 months (range 0–144 months). The median tumor volume was 0.98 cm3 (range 0.03–19.07 cm3). The median prescribed dose was 18 Gy to the 80% isodose line (range 14–20 Gy). Lesions were followed with postradiosurgery MR imaging every 2–3 months following treatment.

Results

The median follow-up period was 9 months (range 0–20 months). Median actuarial survival was 8.6 months following IGRS. Eight patients with 18 lesions died within the first 2 months after the procedure, before scheduled follow-up imaging. Thus 90 lesions (in 46 patients) were followed up with imaging studies. Lesions that were unchanged or reduced in size were considered to be under control. The 6-month actuarial lesion control rate was 88%. Smaller lesions (< 1 cm3) had a statistically improved likelihood of complete imaging response (loss of all contrast-enhancement p = 0.01).

Conclusions

Image-guided radiosurgical treatment of brain metastases resulted in high rates of tumor control comparable to control rates reported for frame-based methods. High control rates were seen for small lesions in which spatial precision in dose delivery is critical. These data suggests that in regard to lesion control, IGRS using Novalis with ExacTrac is equivalent to frame-based radiosurgery methods.

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Javad Rahimian, Joseph C. Chen, Ajay A. Rao, Michael R. Girvigian, Michael J. Miller and Hugh E. Greathouse

Object. Stringent geometrical accuracy and precision are required in the stereotactic radiosurgical treatment of patients. Accurate targeting is especially important when treating a patient in a single fraction of a very high radiation dose (90 Gy) to a small target such as that used in the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia (3 to 4—mm diameter). The purpose of this study was to determine the inaccuracies in each step of the procedure including imaging, fusion, treatment planning, and finally the treatment. The authors implemented a detailed quality-assurance program.

Methods. Overall geometrical accuracy of the Novalis stereotactic system was evaluated using a Radionics Geometric Phantom Chamber. The phantom has several magnetic resonance (MR) and computerized tomography (CT) imaging—friendly objects of various shapes and sizes. Axial 1-mm-thick MR and CT images of the phantom were acquired using a T1-weighted three-dimensional spoiled gradient recalled pulse sequence and the CT scanning protocols used clinically in patients. The absolute errors due to MR image distortion, CT scan resolution, and the image fusion inaccuracies were measured knowing the exact physical dimensions of the objects in the phantom. The isocentric accuracy of the Novalis gantry and the patient support system was measured using the Winston—Lutz test. Because inaccuracies are cumulative, to calculate the system's overall spatial accuracy, the root mean square (RMS) of all the errors was calculated. To validate the accuracy of the technique, a 1.5-mm-diameter spherical marker taped on top of a radiochromic film was fixed parallel to the x–z plane of the stereotactic coordinate system inside the phantom. The marker was defined as a target on the CT images, and seven noncoplanar circular arcs were used to treat the target on the film. The calculated system RMS value was then correlated with the position of the target and the highest density on the radiochromic film.

The mean spatial errors due to image fusion and MR imaging were 0.41 ± 0.3 and 0.22 ± 0.1 mm, respectively. Gantry and couch isocentricities were 0.3 ± 0.1 and 0.6 ± 0.15 mm, respectively. The system overall RMS values were 0.9 and 0.6 mm with and without the couch errors included, respectively (isocenter variations due to couch rotation are microadjusted between couch positions). The positional verification of the marker was within 0.7 ± 0.1 mm of the highest optical density on the radiochromic film, correlating well with the system's overall RMS value. The overall mean system deviation was 0.32 ± 0.42 mm.

Conclusions. The highest spatial errors were caused by image fusion and gantry rotation. A comprehensive quality-assurance program was developed for the authors' stereotactic radiosurgery program that includes medical imaging, linear accelerator mechanical isocentricity, and treatment delivery. For a successful treatment of trigeminal neuralgia with a 4-mm cone, the overall RMS value of equal to or less than 1 mm must be guaranteed.

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Chris J. Neal, Kara Mandell, Ellen Tasikas, John J. Delaney, Charles A. Miller, Cody D. Schlaff and Michael K. Rosner

OBJECTIVE

Adult spinal deformity surgery is an effective way of treating pain and disability, but little research has been done to evaluate the costs associated with changes in health outcome measures. This study determined the change in quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and the cost per QALY in patients undergoing spinal deformity surgery in the unique environment of a military healthcare system (MHS).

METHODS

Patients were enrolled between 2011 and 2017. Patients were eligible to participate if they were undergoing a thoracolumbar spinal fusion spanning more than 6 levels to treat an underlying deformity. Patients completed the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) prior to surgery and 6 and 12 months after surgery. The authors used paired t-tests to compare SF-36 Physical Component Summary (PCS) scores between baseline and postsurgery. To estimate the cost per QALY of complex spine surgery in this population, the authors extended the change in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) between baseline and follow-up over 5 years. Data on the cost of surgery were obtained from the MHS and include all facility and physician costs.

RESULTS

HRQOL and surgical data were available for 49 of 91 eligible patients. Thirty-one patients met additional criteria allowing for cost-effectiveness analysis. Over 12 months, patients demonstrated significant improvement (p < 0.01) in SF-36 PCS scores. A majority of patients met the minimum clinically important difference (MCID; 83.7%) and substantive clinical benefit threshold (SCBT; 83.7%). The average change in QALY was an increase of 0.08. Extended across 5 years, including the 3.5% discounting per year, study participants increased their QALYs by 0.39, resulting in an average cost per QALY of $181,649.20. Nineteen percent of patients met the < $100,000/QALY threshold with half of the patients meeting the < $100,000/QALY mark by 10 years. A sensitivity analysis showed that patients who scored below 60 on their preoperative SF-36 PCS had an average increase in QALYs of 0.10 per year or 0.47 over 5 years.

CONCLUSIONS

With a 5-year extended analysis, patients who receive spinal deformity surgery in the MHS increased their QALYs by 0.39, with 19% of patients meeting the $100,000/QALY threshold. The majority of patients met the threshold for MCID and SCBT at 1 year postoperatively. Consideration of preoperative functional status (SF-36 PCS score < 60) may be an important factor in determining which patients benefit the most from spinal deformity surgery.