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Pasquale De Bonis, Angelo Pompucci, Annunziato Mangiola, Q. Giorgio D'Alessandris, Luigi Rigante and Carmelo Anile

Object

It is generally believed that the outcome of traumatic brain injury is not improved by decompressive craniectomy in patients older than 30–50 years. A literature search was performed to assess the level of evidence with respect to the effect of age on outcome in these cases.

Methods

References were identified by PubMed searches of journal articles published between 1995 and December 2008. The inclusion criteria were as follows: 1) clinical series including adults; and 2) focus on age as a prognostic factor. Technical notes and laboratory investigations were excluded.

Results

Fourteen English-language articles were finally selected. In 5 of the 14 studies, the authors performed no statistical analysis. In 6 studies they concluded that age was not significantly related to outcome (with 1 of these studies showing a correlation between age and outcome only after 65 years). Three studies showed a correlation between age and outcome.

Conclusions

With respect to age and effectiveness of decompressive craniectomy, there are no robust data to establish any degree of core evidence and the referred age thresholds are arbitrary.

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Luca Massimi, Pasquale De Bonis, Giuseppe Esposito, Federica Novegno, Benedetta Pettorini, Gianpiero Tamburrini, Massimo Caldarelli and Concezio Di Rocco

Scalp masses are not infrequently encountered in daily clinical practice. They are represented by a wide spectrum of different clinical entities and are usually managed by an excision or by simple observation. Although it happens rarely, head lumps may hide an underlying cranioencephalic malformation that has to be preoperatively diagnosed to perform an appropriate treatment.

Cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are not included among the intracranial malformations connected with a scalp mass. The authors report on the unusual case of a child harboring a complex intracranial AVM that initially presented as a small scalp mass. Actually, this young boy came to the authors' attention just for a small, soft, pulsatile, and reducible mass of the vertex that produced a circumscribed bone erosion. The presence of macrocranium and venous engorgement of the face, however, suggested the presence of an intracranial “mass.” The neuroimaging investigations pointed out a temporal AVM causing dilation of the intracranial sinuses and ectasia of the vein of the scalp; one of the veins was appreciable as a lump on the vertex.

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Carmelo Anile, Pasquale De Bonis, Alessio Albanese, Alessandro Di Chirico, Annunziato Mangiola, Gianpaolo Petrella and Pietro Santini

Object

The ability to predict outcome after shunt placement in patients with idiopathic normal-pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) represents a challenge. To date, no single diagnostic tool or combination of tools has proved capable of reliably predicting whether the condition of a patient with suspected NPH will improve after a shunting procedure. In this paper, the authors report their experience with 120 patients with the goal of identifying CSF hydrodynamics criteria capable of selecting patients with idiopathic NPH. Specifically, they focused on the comparison between CSF-outflow resistance (R-out) and intracranial elastance (IE).

Methods

Between January 1977 and December 2005, 120 patients in whom idiopathic NPH had been diagnosed (on the basis of clinical findings and imaging) underwent CSF hydrodynamics evaluation based on an intraventricular infusion test. Ninety-six patients underwent CSF shunt placement: 32 between 1977 and 1989 (Group I) on the basis of purely clinical and radiological criteria; 44 between 1990 and 2002 (Group II) on the basis of the same criteria as Group I and because they had an IE slope > 0.25; and 20 between 2003 and 2005 (Group III) on the basis of the same criteria as Group II but with an IE slope ≥ 0.30. Outcomes were evaluated by means of both Stein-Langfitt and Larsson scores. Patients' conditions were considered improved when there was a stable decrease (at 6- and 12-month follow-up) of at least 1 point in the Stein-Langfitt score and 2 points in the Larsson score.

Results

Group I: while no statistically significant difference in mean R-out value between improved and unimproved cases was observed, a clear-cut IE slope value of 0.25 differentiated very sharply between unimproved and improved cases. Group II: R-out values in the 2 unimproved cases were 20 and 47 mm Hg/ml/min, respectively. The mean IE slope in the improved cases was 0.56 (range 0.30–1.4), while the IE slopes in the 2 unimproved cases were 0.26 and 0.27. Group III: the mean IE slope was 0.51 (range 0.31–0.7). The conditions of all patients improved after shunting. A significant reduction of the Evans ratio was observed in 34 (40.5%) of the 84 improved cases and in none of the unimproved cases.

Conclusions

Our strategy based on the analysis of CSF pulse pressure parameters seems to have a great accuracy in predicting surgical outcome in clinical practice.

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Giorgio Lofrese, Francesco Cultrera, Jacopo Visani, Nicola Nicassio, Walid Ibn Essayed, Roberto Donati, Michele Alessandro Cavallo and Pasquale De Bonis

Vertebral artery injury (VAI) is a potential catastrophic complication of Goel and Harms C1–C2 posterior arthrodesis. Meticulous study of preoperative spinal CT angiography together with neuronavigation plays a fundamental role in avoiding VAI. Doppler ultrasonography may be an additional intraoperative tool, providing real-time identification of the vertebral artery (VA) and thus helping its preservation.

Thirty-three consecutive patients with unstable odontoid fractures underwent Goel and Harms C1–C2 posterior arthrodesis. Surgery was performed with the aid of lateral fluoroscopic control in 16 cases (control group) that was supplemented by Doppler ultrasonography in 17 cases (Doppler group). Two patients in each group had a C1 ponticulus posticus. In the Doppler group, Doppler probing was performed during lateral subperiosteal muscle dissection, stepwise drilling, and tapping. Blood flow velocity in the V3 segment of the VA was recorded before and after posterior arthrodesis. All patients had a 12-month outpatient follow-up, and outcome was assessed using the Smiley-Webster Pain Scale. Neither VAI nor postoperative neurological impairments were observed in the Doppler group. In the control group, VAIs occurred in the 2 patients with C1 ponticulus posticus. In the Doppler group, 1 patient needed intra- and postoperative blood transfusions, and no difference in terms of Doppler signal or VA blood flow velocity was detected before and after C1–C2 posterior arthrodesis. In the control group, 3 patients needed intra- and postoperative blood transfusions.

Useful in supporting fluoroscopy-assisted procedures, intraoperative Doppler may play a significant role even during surgeries in which neuronavigation is used, reducing the chance of a mismatch between the view on the neuronavigation screen and the actual course of the VA in the operative field and supplying the additional data of blood flow velocity.