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Nardin Samuel, Christina L. Goldstein, Carlo Santaguida and Michael G. Fehlings

Spinal cord herniation is a relatively rare but increasingly recognized clinical entity, with fewer than 200 cases reported in the literature to date. The etiology of this condition remains unknown, and surgery is used as the primary treatment to correct the herniation and consequent spinal cord compromise. Some patients without clinical progression have been treated with nonoperative measures, including careful follow-up and symptomatic physical therapy. To date, however, there has been no published report on the resolution of spinal cord herniation without surgical intervention.

The patient in the featured case is a 58-year-old man who presented with mild thoracic myelopathy and imaging findings consistent with idiopathic spinal cord herniation. Surprisingly, updated MRI studies, obtained to better delineate the pathology, showed spontaneous resolution of the herniation. Subsequent MRI 6 months later revealed continued resolution of the previous spinal cord herniation.

This is the first report of spontaneous resolution of a spinal cord herniation in the literature. At present, the treatment of this disorder is individualized, with microsurgical correction used in patients with progressive neurological impairment. The featured case highlights the potential variability in the natural history of this condition and supports considering an initial trial of nonoperative management for patients with mild, nonprogressive neurological deficits.

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Nardin Samuel, Mohammed F. Shamji and Mark Bernstein

OBJECT

Neurosurgical patients bear a varying degree of anxiety when confronted with having to undergo surgery or even visit with a neurosurgeon in consultation. Previous studies have suggested that patient perceptions can heavily influence the patient-physician encounter. Accordingly, a better understanding of these perceptions can marshal our knowledge regarding strategies for improving patient-physician interactions during such an apprehensive time. The aim of the present study was to qualitatively examine patient values and preferences for a neurosurgeon who participates in extraclinical activities (i.e., a “neurosurgeon+”) and understand the factors that influence these perceptions.

METHODS

Semistructured face-to-face interviews with 47 neurosurgical patients were conducted. Patients were recruited from the Toronto Western Hospital neurosurgery clinics for cranial and spinal conditions. Descriptive summary statistics were used to characterize the study participants. Family members were encouraged to contribute to the interviews. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and subjected to thematic analysis by using open and axial coding.

RESULTS

Patients generally indicated that they want to feel confident in their neurosurgeon. A number of factors contribute to this confidence, including a strong positive referral from another physician. Patients are inclined to search for information pertaining to the qualifications of neurosurgeons online, and a perception of the neurosurgeon’s adeptness given his or her qualifications is important for patients. Although there were some differences in patient values between those in the cranial and spinal groups, overall, neurosurgical patients tend to positively view their neurosurgeon’s involvement in extraclinical duties.

CONCLUSIONS

This study details the first comprehensive clinical qualitative study of patient perceptions of neurosurgeons and provides a descriptive framework for understanding patient values in this clinical domain.

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Nardin Samuel, Lindsay Tetreault, Carlo Santaguida, Anick Nater, Nizar Moayeri, Eric M. Massicotte and Michael G. Fehlings

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to identify clinically relevant predictors of progression-free survival and functional outcomes in patients who underwent surgery for intramedullary spinal cord tumors (ISCTs).

METHODS

An institutional spinal tumor registry and billing records were reviewed to identify adult patients who underwent resection of ISCTs between 1993 and 2014. Extensive data were collected from patient charts and operative notes, including demographic information, extent of resection, tumor pathology, and functional and oncological outcomes. Survival analysis was used to determine important predictors of progression-free survival. Logistic regression analysis was used to evaluate the association between an “optimal” functional outcome on the Frankel or McCormick scale at 1-year follow-up and various clinical and surgical characteristics.

RESULTS

The consecutive case series consisted of 63 patients (50.79% female) who underwent resection of ISCTs. The mean age of patients was 41.92 ± 14.36 years (range 17.60–75.40 years). Complete microsurgical resection, defined as no evidence of tumor on initial postoperative imaging, was achieved in 34 cases (54.84%) of the 62 patients for whom this information was available. On univariate analysis, the most significant predictor of progression-free survival was tumor histology (p = 0.0027). Patients with Grade I/II astrocytomas were more likely to have tumor progression than patients with WHO Grade II ependymomas (HR 8.03, 95% CI 2.07–31.11, p = 0.0026) and myxopapillary ependymomas (HR 8.01, 95% CI 1.44–44.34, p = 0.017). Furthermore, patients who underwent radical or subtotal resection were more likely to have tumor progression than those who underwent complete resection (HR 3.46, 95% CI 1.23–9.73, p = 0.018). Multivariate analysis revealed that tumor pathology was the only significant predictor of tumor progression. On univariate analysis, the most significant predictors of an “optimal” outcome on the Frankel scale were age (OR 0.94, 95% CI 0.89–0.98, p = 0.0062), preoperative Frankel grade (OR 4.84, 95% CI 1.33–17.63, p = 0.017), McCormick score (OR 0.22, 95% CI 0.084–0.57, p = 0.0018), and region of spinal cord (cervical vs conus: OR 0.067, 95% CI 0.012–0.38, p = 0.0023; and thoracic vs conus: OR 0.015: 95% CI 0.001–0.20, p = 0.0013). Age, tumor pathology, and region were also important predictors of 1-year McCormick scores.

CONCLUSIONS

Extent of tumor resection and histopathology are significant predictors of progression-free survival following resection of ISCTs. Important predictors of functional outcomes include tumor histology, region of spinal cord in which the tumor is present, age, and preoperative functional status.

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Naif M. Alotaibi, Ghassan Awad Elkarim, Nardin Samuel, Oliver G. S. Ayling, Daipayan Guha, Aria Fallah, Abdulrahman Aldakkan, Blessing N. R. Jaja, Airton Leonardo de Oliveira Manoel, George M. Ibrahim and R. Loch Macdonald

OBJECTIVE

Patients with poor-grade aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) (World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies Grade IV or V) are often considered for decompressive craniectomy (DC) as a rescue therapy for refractory intracranial hypertension. The authors performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the impact of DC on functional outcome and death in patients after poor-grade aSAH.

METHODS

A systematic review and meta-analysis were performed in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Articles were identified through the Ovid Medline, Embase, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library databases from inception to October 2015. Only studies dedicated to patients with poor-grade aSAH were included. Primary outcomes were death and functional outcome assessed at any time period. Patients were grouped as having a favorable outcome (modified Rankin Scale [mRS] Scores 1–3, Glasgow Outcome Scale [GOS] Scores 4 and 5, extended Glasgow Outcome Scale [GOSE] Scores 5–8) or unfavorable outcome (mRS Scores 4–6, GOS Scores 1–3, GOSE Scores 1–4). Pooled estimates of event rates and odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals were calculated using the random-effects model.

RESULTS

Fifteen studies encompassing 407 patients were included in the meta-analysis (all observational cohorts). The pooled event rate for poor outcome across all studies was 61.2% (95% CI 52%–69%) and for death was 27.8% (95% CI 21%–35%) at a median of 12 months after aSAH. Primary (or early) DC resulted in a lower overall event rate for unfavorable outcome than secondary (or delayed) DC (47.5% [95% CI 31%–64%] vs 74.4% [95% CI 43%–91%], respectively). Among studies with comparison groups, there was a trend toward a reduced mortality rate 1–3 months after discharge among patients who did not undergo DC (OR 0.58 [95% CI 0.27–1.25]; p = 0.168). However, this trend was not sustained at the 1-year follow-up (OR 1.09 [95% CI 0.55–2.13]; p = 0.79).

CONCLUSIONS

Results of this study summarize the best evidence available in the literature for DC in patients with poor-grade aSAH. DC is associated with high rates of unfavorable outcome and death. Because of the lack of robust control groups in a majority of the studies, the effect of DC on functional outcomes versus that of other interventions for refractory intracranial hypertension is still unknown. A randomized trial is needed.

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Ghassan Awad Elkarim, Naif M. Alotaibi, Nardin Samuel, Shelly Wang, George M. Ibrahim, Aria Fallah, Alexander G. Weil and Abhaya V. Kulkarni

OBJECTIVE

A recent survey has shown that caregivers of children with shunt-treated hydrocephalus frequently use social media networks for support and information gathering. The objective of this study is to describe and assess social media utilization among users interested in hydrocephalus.

METHODS

Publicly accessible accounts and videos dedicated to the topic of hydrocephalus were comprehensively searched across 3 social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) throughout March 2016. Summary statistics were calculated on standard metrics of social media popularity. A categorization framework to describe the purpose of pages, groups, accounts, channels, and videos was developed following the screening of 100 titles. Categorized data were analyzed using nonparametric tests for statistical significance.

RESULTS

The authors’ search identified 30 Facebook pages, 213 Facebook groups, 17 Twitter accounts, and 253 YouTube videos. These platforms were run by patients, caregivers, nonprofit foundations, and patient support groups. Most accounts were from the United States (n = 196), followed by the United Kingdom (n = 31), Canada (n = 17), India (n = 15), and Germany (n = 12). The earliest accounts were created in 2007, and a peak of 65 new accounts were created in 2011. The total number of users in Facebook pages exceeded those in Facebook groups (p < 0.001). The majority of users in Facebook groups were in private groups, in contrast to public groups (p < 0.001). The YouTube videos with the highest median number of views were for surgical products and treatment procedures.

CONCLUSIONS

This study presents novel observations into the characteristics of social media use in the topic of hydrocephalus. Users interested in hydrocephalus seek privacy for support communications and are attracted to treatment procedure and surgical products videos. These findings provide insight into potential avenues of hydrocephalus outreach, support, or advocacy in social media.

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Nardin Samuel and Ivan Radovanovic

OBJECTIVE

Despite the prevalence and impact of intracranial aneurysms (IAs), the molecular basis of their pathogenesis remains largely unknown. Moreover, there is a dearth of clinically validated biomarkers to efficiently screen patients with IAs and prognosticate risk for rupture. The aim of this study was to survey the literature to systematically identify the spectrum of genetic aberrations that have been identified in IA formation and risk of rupture.

METHODS

A literature search was performed using the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) system of databases including PubMed, EMBASE, and Google Scholar. Relevant studies that reported on genetic analyses of IAs, rupture risk, and long-term outcomes were included in the qualitative analysis.

RESULTS

A total of 114 studies were reviewed and 65 were included in the qualitative synthesis. There are several well-established mendelian syndromes that confer risk to IAs, with variable frequency. Linkage analyses, genome-wide association studies, candidate gene studies, and exome sequencing identify several recurrent polymorphic variants at candidate loci, and genes associated with the risk of aneurysm formation and rupture, including ANRIL (CDKN2B-AS1, 9p21), ARGHEF17 (11q13), ELN (7q11), SERPINA3 (14q32), and SOX17 (8q11). In addition, polymorphisms in eNOS/NOS3 (7q36) may serve as predictive markers for outcomes following intracranial aneurysm rupture. Genetic aberrations identified to date converge on posited molecular mechanisms involved in vascular remodeling, with strong implications for an associated immune-mediated inflammatory response.

CONCLUSIONS

Comprehensive studies of IA formation and rupture have identified candidate risk variants and loci; however, further genome-wide analyses are needed to identify high-confidence genetic aberrations. The literature supports a role for several risk loci in aneurysm formation and rupture with putative candidate genes. A thorough understanding of the genetic basis governing risk of IA development and the resultant aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage may aid in screening, clinical management, and risk stratification of these patients, and it may also enable identification of putative mechanisms for future drug development.

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Nardin Samuel and Mitchel Berger