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Open access

Ketan Yerneni, Harsh Wadhwa, Parastou Fatemi, and Corinna C. Zygourakis


“Conversion disorder” refers to bodily dysfunction characterized by either sensory or motor neurological symptoms that are unexplainable by a medical condition. Given their somatosensory context, such disorders often require extensive medical evaluation, and the diagnosis can only be made after structural disease is excluded or fails to account for the severity and/or spectrum of the patient’s deficits.


The authors briefly review functional psychiatric disorders and discuss the comprehensive workup of a patient with a functional postoperative neurological deficit, drawing from their recent experience with a patient who presented with conversion disorder immediately after undergoing anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.


Conversion disorder has been found to be associated with bodily stress, requiring surgeons to be aware of this condition in the postoperative setting. This is especially true in neurosurgery, given the overlap of true neurological pathology, postoperative complications, and manifestations of conversion disorder. Although accurately diagnosing and managing patients with conversion disorder remains challenging, an understanding of the multifactorial nature of its etiology can help clinicians develop a methodical approach to this condition.

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Uma V. Mahajan, Harsh Wadhwa, Parastou Fatemi, Samantha Xu, Judy Shan, Deborah L. Benzil, and Corinna C. Zygourakis


Publications are key for advancement within academia. Although women are underrepresented in academic neurosurgery, the rates of women entering residency, achieving board certification, and publishing papers are increasing. The goal of this study was to assess the current status of women in academic neurosurgery publications. Specifically, this study sought to 1) survey female authorship rates in the Journal of Neurosurgery (JNS [not including JNS: Spine or JNS: Pediatrics]) and Neurosurgery from 2010 to 2019; 2) analyze whether double-blind peer review (started in Neurosurgery in 2011) altered female authorship rates relative to single-blind review (JNS); and 3) evaluate how female authorship rates compared with the number of women entering neurosurgery residency and obtaining neurosurgery board certification.


Genders of the first and last authors for JNS and Neurosurgery articles from 2010 to 2019 were obtained. Data were also gathered on the number and percentage of women entering neurosurgery residency and women obtaining American Board of Neurological Surgeons (ABNS) certification between 2010 and 2019.


Women accounted for 13.4% (n = 570) of first authors and 6.8% (n = 240) of last authors in JNS and Neurosurgery publications. No difference in rates of women publishing existed between the two journals (first authors: 13.0% JNS vs 13.9% Neurosurgery, p = 0.29; last authors: 7.3% JNS vs 6.0% Neurosurgery, p = 0.25). No difference existed between women first or last authors in Neurosurgery before and after initiation of double-blind review (p = 0.066). Significant concordance existed between the gender of first and last authors: in publications with a woman last author, the odds of the first author being a woman was increased by twofold (OR 2.14 [95% CI 1.43–3.13], p = 0.0001). Women represented a lower proportion of authors of invited papers (8.6% of first authors and 3.1% of last authors were women) compared with noninvited papers (14.1% of first authors and 7.4% of last authors were women) (first authors: OR 0.576 [95% CI 0.410–0.794], p = 0.0004; last authors: OR 0.407 [95% CI 0.198–0.751], p = 0.001). The proportion of women US last authors (7.4%) mirrors the percentage of board-certified women neurosurgeons (5.4% in 2010 and 6.8% in 2019), while the percentage of women US first authors (14.3%) is less than that for women entering neurosurgical residency (11.2% in 2009 and 23.6% in 2018).


This is the first report of female authorship in the neurosurgical literature. The authors found that single- versus double-blind peer review did not impact female authorship rates at two top neurosurgical journals.

Free access

Kunal Varshneya, Rayyan T. Jokhai, Parastou Fatemi, Martin N. Stienen, Zachary A. Medress, Allen L. Ho, John K. Ratliff, and Anand Veeravagu


This was a retrospective cohort study in which the authors used a nationally representative administrative database. Their goal was to identify the risk factors for reoperation in Medicare patients undergoing primary thoracolumbar adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery. Previous literature reports estimate that 20% of patients undergoing thoracolumbar ASD correction undergo revision surgery within 2 years. Most published data discuss risk factors for revision surgery in the general population, but these have not been explored specifically in the Medicare population.


Using the MarketScan Medicare Supplemental database, the authors identified patients who were diagnosed with a spinal deformity and underwent ASD surgery between 2007 and 2015. The interactions of patient demographics, surgical factors, and medical factors with revision surgery were investigated during the 2 years following primary ASD surgery. The authors excluded patients without Medicare insurance and those with any prior history of trauma or tumor.


Included in the data set were 2564 patients enrolled in Medicare who underwent ASD surgery between 2007 and 2015. The mean age at diagnosis with spinal deformity was 71.5 years. A majority of patients (68.5%) were female. Within 2 years of follow-up, 661 (25.8%) patients underwent reoperation. Preoperative osteoporosis (OR 1.58, p < 0.0001), congestive heart failure (OR 1.35, p = 0.0161), and paraplegia (OR 2.41, p < 0.0001) independently increased odds of revision surgery. The use of intraoperative bone morphogenetic protein was protective against reoperation (OR 0.71, p = 0.0371). Among 90-day postoperative complications, a wound complication was the strongest predictor of undergoing repeat surgery (OR 2.85, p = 0.0061). The development of a pulmonary embolism also increased the odds of repeat surgery (OR 1.84, p = 0.0435).


Approximately one-quarter of Medicare patients with ASD who underwent surgery required an additional spinal surgery within 2 years. Baseline comorbidities such as osteoporosis, congestive heart failure, and paraplegia, as well as short-term complications such as pulmonary embolism and wound complications significantly increased the odds of repeat surgery.

Free access

Owoicho Adogwa, Isaac O. Karikari, Kevin R. Carr, Max Krucoff, Divya Ajay, Parastou Fatemi, Edgar L. Perez, Joseph S. Cheng, Carlos A. Bagley, and Robert E. Isaacs


A spinal epidural abscess (SEA) is a rare but severe infection requiring prompt recognition and management. The incidence of SEA has doubled in the past decade, owing to an aging population and to increased use of spinal instrumentation and vascular access. The optimal management of SEAs in patients 50 years of age and older remains a matter of considerable debate. In an older patient population with multiple comorbidities, whether intravenous antibiotics alone or in combination with surgery lead to superior outcomes remains unknown. The present study retrospectively analyzes cases of SEAs, in patients 50 years of age and older, treated at Duke University Medical Center over the past 15 years.


Eighty-two patients underwent treatment for a spinal epidural abscess between 1999 and 2013. There were 46 men and 36 women, whose overall mean age (± SD) was 65 ± 8.58 years (range 50–82 years). The mean duration of clinical follow-up was 41.38 ± 86.48 weeks. Thirty patients (37%) underwent surgery for removal of the abscess, whereas 52 (63%) were treated more conservatively, undergoing CT-guided aspiration or receiving antibiotics alone based on the results of blood cultures. The correlation between pretreatment variables and outcomes was evaluated in a multivariate regression analysis.


Back pain and severe motor deficits were the most common presenting symptoms. Compared with baseline neurological status, the majority of patients (68%) reported being neurologically “better” or “unchanged.” Twelve patients (15%) had a good outcome (7 [23%] treated operatively vs 5 [10%] treated nonoperatively, p = 0.03), while clinical status in 41 patients (50%) remained unchanged (10 [33%] treated operatively vs 31 [60%] treated nonoperatively, p = 0.01). Overall, 20 patients (25%) died (9 [30%] treated operatively vs 11 [21%] treated nonoperatively, p = 0.43). In a multivariate logistic regression model, an increasing baseline level of pain, the presence of paraplegia or quadriplegia on initial presentation, and a dorsally located SEA were independently associated with poor outcomes.


The results of the study suggest that in patients 50 years of age and older, early surgical decompression combined with intravenous antimicrobial therapy was not associated with superior clinical outcomes when compared with intravenous antimicrobial therapy alone.