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Michelle J. Clarke and Fredric B. Meyer

✓The mathematical modeling of hydrocephalus is a relatively young field. The discipline evolved from Hakim's initial description of the brain as a water-filled sponge. Nagashima and colleagues subsequently translated this description into a computer-driven model by defining five important system rules. A number of researchers have since criticized and refined the method, providing additional system constraints or alternative approaches. Such efforts have led to an increased understanding of ventricular shape change and the development of periventricular lucency on imaging studies. However, severe limitations exist, precluding the use of the mathematical model to influence the operative decisions of practicing surgeons. In this paper, the authors explore the history, limitations, and future of the mathematical model of hydrocephalus.

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Very low pressure hydrocephalus

Report of two cases

Michelle J. Clarke, Cormac O. Maher, Georgia Nothdurft and Fredric Meyer

✓ Low-pressure hydrocephalus is an extremely rare condition. Authors of the few previous reports on this subject have suggested that symptoms are gradual in onset and successfully treated. In this report the authors presented two unique cases of very low pressure hydrocephalus in which the patients experienced rapid deterioration requiring negative-pressure cerebrospinal fluid drainage to achieve the best possible neurological function; outcomes in both patients ultimately were poor. The constellation of findings suggests that this may be a distinct clinical entity.

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Michelle J. Clarke, Andrew B. Foy, Nicholas Wetjen and Corey Raffel

Object

Subependymal giant cell astrocytomas (SEGAs) are a common manifestation of tuberous sclerosis (TS). These evolving tumors have a propensity to cause obstructive hydrocephalus, usually due to obstruction at the level of the foramen of Monro. Differentiating SEGAs from subependymal nodules (SENs) before obstruction occurs may improve the morbidity associated with these tumors. In this study the authors' aim was to determine imaging characteristics of proven tumors in a single-center pediatric population.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed all records and images obtained in patients with TS in whom results of biopsy sampling had proven that their tumors were SEGAs. Time to presentation, signs and symptoms at presentation, and imaging characteristics of the evolving tumors were noted. Twelve patients with 14 SEGAs proven by the results of biopsy sampling were reviewed. Resection was recommended for symptomatic and neuroimaging evidence of hydrocephalus (41%), tumor growth without evidence of hydrocephalus (33%), and for poorly controlled seizures (25%). The mean diameter of the tumors at the time of resection was 1.9 cm (range 0.3–4 cm), and no tumor recurred. Because of the pathological and radiographic continuum of SENs and SEGAs, it remains difficult to predict whether and when a given lesion will progress. Tumor growth and contrast enhancement are the most common signs of progression on neuroimages, and may be seen prior to the development of obstructive hydrocephalus.

Conclusions

Patients with SENs and SEGAs should undergo follow-up neuroimaging at yearly intervals, and if lesions show signs of progression (contrast enhancement or growth), these intervals should be shortened and consideration given to early resection.

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Deena M. Nasr, Waleed Brinjikji, Michelle J. Clarke and Giuseppe Lanzino

OBJECTIVE

Spinal epidural arteriovenous fistulas (SEDAVFs) constitute a rare but treatable cause of vascular myelopathy and are a different subtype from the more common Type I spinal dural AVFs. The purpose of this study was to review a consecutive series of SEDAVFs from a single institution and report on the clinical presentations, functional status, and treatment outcomes.

METHODS

The authors identified all SEDAVFs treated at their institution from 2005 to 2015. SEDAVFs were defined as spinal AVFs in which the fistulous connection occurred in the epidural venous plexus. The clinical presentation, functional status, immediate treatment outcomes, and long-term neurological outcomes were analyzed.

RESULTS

Twenty-four patients with SEDAVFs were included in this study. The patients' mean age at presentation was 66.9 years. The most common presenting symptoms were pain and numbness (22 patients, 91.7%), followed by lower-extremity weakness (21 patients, 87.5%). The mean duration of symptoms prior to diagnosis was 11.8 months. Eighteen patients (75.0%) were treated with endovascular therapy alone, 4 (16.7) with surgery, and 2 (8.3%) with a combination of techniques. There was 1 major treatment-related complication (4.2%). Fifteen patients (62.5%) had improvement in disability, and 12 patients (54.5%) had improvement in sensory symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS

SEDAVFs often present with lower-extremity motor dysfunction and sensory symptoms. With the availability of newer liquid embolic agents, these lesions can be effectively treated with endovascular techniques. Surgery is also effective at treating these lesions, especially in situations where endovascular embolization fails or is not safe and in patients presenting with mass effect from compressive varices.

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Wilson P. Daugherty, Michelle J. Clarke, Harry J. Cloft and Giuseppe L. Lanzino

Intracranial aneurysms in the pediatric population are relatively rare entities. Immunocompromised patients (often from HIV/AIDS or pharmacological immunosuppression) represent a significant fraction of children with cerebral aneurysms. One proposed mechanism of aneurysm formation in these patients is from direct infection of the affected arteries. In this study, the authors report on a case of a 14-year-old girl with common variable immunodeficiency with T-cell dysfunction and a CSF polymerase chain reaction test positive for varicella-zoster virus who underwent evaluation for carotid and basilar artery fusiform aneurysms.

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Michelle J. Clarke, James Guzzo, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ziya Gokaslan and James H. Black III

Iatrogenic aortic injuries are a potentially devastating complication of spine surgery. In instrumented cases, injuries may occur in the perioperative period due to iatrogenic vessel injury, or they may occur years later as prominent implants erode or penetrate major vessels. The authors present a case of a 71-year-old man in whom a thoracic pedicle screw was found perforating the thoracic aorta during routine follow-up 6 months after surgery. Due to the risk of future complications, the screw was removed while simultaneously delivering an endovascular aortic stent to gain vascular control. Surgical considerations and potential technical limitations are discussed.

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Jennifer S. McDonald, Michelle J. Clarke, Gregory A. Helm and David F. Kallmes

Object

The presence of a “July effect,” where the influx of new residents and fellows at teaching hospitals every July may negatively affect patient care and outcomes, is widely debated. The authors used the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) to identify all cases of spinal surgery and examine outcomes among patients who underwent surgery in July compared with those who underwent surgery in other months.

Methods

Spinal surgery hospitalizations from 2001 to 2008 were identified in the NIS by extracting relevant ICD-9 codes. Rates of in-hospital mortality, discharge to a long-term care facility, and postoperative complications were compared between admission months and between teaching and nonteaching hospitals using the Wilcoxon rank-sum test, Fisher exact test, and multivariate regression analysis.

Results

Compared with patients admitted in other months, patients who were admitted to teaching hospitals in July for spinal surgery showed a similar likelihood of in-hospital mortality (OR 0.94 [95% CI 0.78–1.11], p = 0.46), reaction to implanted device/instrumentation (OR 0.88 [95% CI 0.77–1.02], p = 0.09), and postoperative wound dehiscence (OR 1.12 [95% CI 0.94–1.33], p = 0.25). A significantly higher likelihood of discharge to a long-term care facility (OR 1.03 [95% CI 1.00–1.07], p = 0.0467) and postoperative infection (OR 1.11 [95% CI 1.05–1.17], p = 0.0341) was observed in teaching hospitals in July compared with other months; however, incidence rates were similar regardless of admission month. Higher-risk patients (Charlson score ≥ 2) admitted to teaching hospitals in July had a similar likelihood of all outcomes regardless of admission month.

Conclusions

This study of nationwide hospitalizations demonstrates that the influx of new residents and fellows in July has a negligible effect on periprocedural outcomes following spinal surgery.

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Michelle J. Clarke, Dana Erickson, M. Regina Castro and John L. D. Atkinson

Object

Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)–secreting pituitary adenomas are rare, representing < 2% of all pituitary adenomas.

Methods

The authors conducted a retrospective analysis of patients with TSH-secreting or clinically silent TSH-immunostaining pituitary tumors among all pituitary adenomas followed at their institution between 1987 and 2003. Patient records, including clinical, imaging, and pathological and surgical characteristics were reviewed. Twenty-one patients (6 women and 15 men; mean age 46 years, range 26–73 years) were identified. Of these, 10 patients had a history of clinical hyperthyroidism, of whom 7 had undergone ablative thyroid procedures (thyroid surgery/131I ablation) prior to the diagnosis of pituitary adenoma. Ten patients had elevated TSH preoperatively. Seven patients presented with headache, and 8 presented with visual field defects. All patients underwent imaging, of which 19 were available for imaging review. Sixteen patients had macroadenomas.

Results

Of the 21 patients, 18 underwent transsphenoidal surgery at the authors' institution, 2 patients underwent transsphenoidal surgery at another facility, and 1 was treated medically. Patients with TSH-secreting tumors were defined as in remission after surgery if they had no residual adenoma on imaging and had biochemical evidence of hypo-or euthyroidism. Patients with TSH-immunostaining tumors were considered in remission if they had no residual tumor. Of these 18 patients, 9 (50%) were in remission following surgery. Seven patients had residual tumor; 2 of these patients underwent further transsphenoidal resection, 1 underwent a craniotomy, and 4 underwent postoperative radiation therapy (2 conventional radiation therapy, 1 Gamma Knife surgery, and 1 had both types of radiation treatment). Two patients had persistently elevated TSH levels despite the lack of evidence of residual tumor. On pathological analysis and immunostaining of the surgical specimen, 17 patients had samples that stained positively for TSH, 8 for α-subunit, 10 for growth hormone, 7 for prolactin, 2 for adrenocorticotrophic hormone, and 1 for follicle-stimulating hormone/luteinizing hormone. Eleven patients (61%) ultimately required thyroid hormone replacement therapy, and 5 (24%) required additional pituitary hormone replacement. Of these, 2 patients required treatment for new anterior pituitary dysfunction as a complication of surgery, and 2 patients with preoperative partial anterior pituitary dysfunction developed complete panhypopituitarism. One patient had transient diabetes insipidus. The remainder had no change in pituitary function from their preoperative state.

Conclusions

Thyroid-stimulating hormone–secreting pituitary lesions are often delayed in diagnosis, are frequently macroadenomas and plurihormonal in terms of their pathological characteristics, have a heterogeneous clinical picture, and are difficult to treat. An experienced team approach will optimize results in the management of these uncommon lesions.

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Ross C. Puffer, Ryan Planchard, Grant W. Mallory and Michelle J. Clarke

OBJECT

Health care-related costs after lumbar spine surgery vary depending on procedure type and patient characteristics. Age, body mass index (BMI), number of spinal levels, and presence of comorbidities probably have significant effects on overall costs. The present study assessed the impact of patient characteristics on hospital costs in patients undergoing elective lumbar decompressive spine surgery.

METHODS

This study was a retrospective review of elective lumbar decompression surgeries, with a focus on specific patient characteristics to determine which factors drive postoperative, hospital-related costs. Records between January 2010 and July 2012 were searched retrospectively. Only elective lumbar decompressions including discectomy or laminectomy were included. Cost data were obtained using a database that allows standardization of a list of hospital costs to the fiscal year 2013–2014. The relationship between cost and patient factors including age, BMI, and American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Physical Status Classification System grade were analyzed using Student t-tests, ANOVA, and multivariate regression analyses.

RESULTS

There were 1201 patients included in the analysis, with a mean age of 61.6 years. Sixty percent of patients in the study were male. Laminectomies were performed in 557 patients (46%) and discectomies in 644 (54%). Laminectomies led to an increased hospital stay of 1.4 days (p < 0.001) and increased hospital costs by $1523 (p < 0.001) when compared with discectomies. For laminectomies, age, BMI, ASA grade, number of levels, and durotomy all led to significantly increased hospital costs and length of stay on univariate analysis, but ASA grade and presence of a durotomy did not maintain significance on multivariate analysis for hospital costs. For a laminectomy, patient age ≥ 65 years was associated with a 0.6-day increased length of stay and a $945 increase in hospital costs when compared with patient age < 65 years (p < 0.001). A durotomy during a laminectomy increased length of stay by 1.0 day and increased hospital costs by $1382 (p < 0.03). For discectomies, age, ASA grade, and durotomy were significantly associated with increased hospital costs on univariate analysis, but BMI was not. Only age and presence of a durotomy maintained significance on multivariate analysis. There was a significant increase in hospital length of stay in patients undergoing discectomy with increasing age, BMI, ASA grade, and presence of a durotomy on univariate analysis. However, only age and presence of a durotomy maintained significance on multivariate analysis. For discectomies, age ≥ 65 years was associated with a 0.7-day increased length of stay (p < 0.001) and an increase of $931 in postoperative hospital costs (p < 0.01) when compared with age < 65 years.

CONCLUSIONS

Patient factors such as age, BMI, and comorbidities have significant and measurable effects on the postoperative hospital costs of elective lumbar decompression spinal surgeries. Knowledge of how these factors affect costs will become important as reimbursement models change.