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Vasant Garg, Christos Kosmas, Peter C. Young, Uday Kiran Togaru, and Mark R. Robbin


Vertebral osteomyelitis has been reported to occur in approximately 0.2–2 cases per 100,000 annually. Elevated laboratory values such as erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein suggest inflammatory etiologies. Different imaging modalities, from radiography and CT scanning to nuclear medicine imaging and contrastenhanced MRI, can be employed to evaluate for osteomyelitis. Although MRI has a strong sensitivity and specificity for vertebral osteomyelitis, obtaining histological and microbiological samples remains the gold standard in diagnosis. Therapy can be geared toward the specific pathogen cultured, thereby preventing the need surgical intervention in the majority of cases. However, recent reports have questioned the percentage yield of image-guided percutaneous biopsy even when there is a high clinical suspicion for vertebral osteomyelitis.


After obtaining institutional review board approval, the authors performed a chart review of patients who had undergone image-guided percutaneous bone biopsies at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Data were filtered for patients in whom a biopsy sample of a vertebral body/disc was obtained. A total of 213 procedures were performed, of which clinicians indicated a concern for infection in 84, infection or neoplasm in 13, and a noninfectious etiology (the majority being neoplasms) in the remaining 116.


Histological examination provided positive results in 25 (41.0%) of the 61 samples collected for suspected cases of osteomyelitis. Microbiology samples were less predictive, with only 16 of the 84 samples collected, or 19.0%, yielding a positive result. In 10 patients there were positive blood and/or urine cultures. Of these, 8 samples (80%) demonstrated the same pathogen identified by biopsy (for the remaining 2 positive systemic cultures, no pathogen was identified by the percutaneous intervention). In other words, half of the 16 cases that provided microbiological results from biopsy demonstrated the same results by systemic cultures. However, 89 (76.7%) of the 116 samples collected with the primary concern of neoplasm yielded results.


Image-guided percutaneous biopsy for vertebral osteomyelitis demonstrates an extremely low probability of identifying specific microbes. Blood or urine cultures concurrently identified culprit pathogens in 50% of positive biopsy cultures. Therefore, in only 8 (9.5%) of 84 biopsies did the biopsy results provide additional information to clinicians as to the pathological microorganism present and how treatment might need to be adjusted.

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Thomas B. Crotty, Bernd W. Scheithauer, William F. Young Jr., Dudley H. Davis, Edward G. Shaw, Gary M. Miller, and Peter C. Burger

✓ Two distinct clinicopathological variants of craniopharyngioma exist: the classic adamantinomatous type and a recently described papillary form that predominates in adults and reportedly behaves in a less aggressive manner. The present study describes the clinicopathological features of 48 patients with papillary craniopharyngioma treated at the Mayo Clinic between 1910 and 1994. An additional four tumors were found to have histological features of both adamantinomatous and papillary craniopharyngioma. Whereas adamantinomatous tumors typically occur in adolescent patients, the mean age of the 48 patients (23 males and 25 females) with papillary craniopharyngioma was 44.7 years (range 10 to 74 years). Presenting clinical features included visual impairment (84%), headache (68%), and pituitary insufficiency (anterior 42%; posterior 27%). Preoperative computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in 17 patients typically revealed a noncalcified, partially cystic mass that enhanced peripherally and contained mural nodules (67%). Many (41%) of the lesions involved or extended into the third ventricle on imaging. At first surgery, gross total tumor removal was achieved in 17 patients (36%) and subtotal resection in 30 patients (64%) in whom tumor resection was attempted. Tumor recurrence was noted in two patients who underwent gross total removal. Tumor-free survival rates of 100% and 78% were obtained in patients who underwent gross total and subtotal resection at initial surgery, respectively. Postoperative radiation therapy was beneficial to patients having undergone a subtotal resection, with an increase in tumor-free survival from 26% to 86%.

Aside from well-documented morphological distinctions, papillary craniopharyngiomas differ from adamantinomatous tumors in several important respects. These include the almost exclusive occurrence of papillary tumors in adulthood and their more uniform appearance on both CT and MR imaging. However, a preliminary analysis of our data suggests there are no significant differences between the two lesions with respect to resectability, efficacy of radiation therapy, and overall survival.

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Vasant Garg, Christos Kosmas, Enambir S. Josan, Sasan Partovi, Nicholas Bhojwani, Nathan Fergus, Peter C. Young, and Mark R. Robbin


Recent articles have identified the poor diagnostic yield of percutaneous needle biopsy for vertebral osteomyelitis. The current study aimed to confirm the higher accuracy of CT-guided spinal biopsy for vertebral neoplasms and to identify which biopsy technique provides the highest yield.


Over a 9-year period, the radiology department at University Hospitals Case Medical Center performed 222 CT-guided biopsies of vertebral lesions, of which clinicians indicated a concern for vertebral neoplasms in 122 patients. A retrospective chart review was performed to confirm the higher sensitivity of the percutaneous intervention for vertebral neoplasms.


A core sample was obtained for all 122 biopsies of concern (100.0%). Only 6 cases (4.9%) were reported as nondiagnostic per histological sampling, and 12 cases (9.8%) were negative for disease. The question of vertebral neoplastic involvement warrants follow-up, and the current study was able to determine the subsequent diagnosis of each lesion. Of the 122 total, 94 (77.0%) core samples provided true-positive results, and the sensitivity of core biopsy measured 87.9%. The technical approach did not demonstrate any significant difference in diagnostic yield. However, when the vertebral cortex was initially pierced with a coaxial bone biopsy system and subsequently a 14-gauge spring-loaded cutting biopsy needle was coaxially advanced into lytic lesions, 14 true positives were obtained with a corresponding sensitivity of 100.0%.


This study confirms the higher sensitivity of image-guided percutaneous needle biopsy for vertebral neoplasms. In addition, it demonstrates how the use of a novel cutting needle biopsy approach, performed coaxially through a core biopsy track, provides the highest yield.

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Ronald F. Young, Anne Shumway-Cook, Sandra S. Vermeulen, Peter Grimm, John Blasko, Allen Posewitz, William A. Burkhart, and Robert C. Goiney

Object. To increase knowledge of the safety and efficacy of the use of gamma knife radiosurgery in patients with movement disorders, the authors describe their own experience in this field and include blinded independent assessments of their results.

Methods. Fifty-five patients underwent radiosurgical placement of lesions either in the thalamus (27 patients) or globus pallidus (28 patients) for treatment of movement disorders. Patients were evaluated pre- and postoperatively by a team of observers skilled in the assessment of gait and movement disorders who were blinded to the procedure performed. The observers were not associated with the surgical team and concomitantly and blindly also assessed a group of 11 control patients with Parkinson's disease who did not undergo any surgical procedures. All stereotactic lesions were made with the Leksell gamma unit using the 4-mm secondary collimator helmet and a single isocenter with maximum doses from 120 to 160 Gy. Clinical follow-up evaluation indicated that 88% of patients who underwent thalamotomy became tremor free or nearly tremor free. Statistically significant improvements in performance were noted in the independent assessments of Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) scores in the patients undergoing thalamotomy. Of patients undergoing pallidotomy who had exhibited levodopainduced dyskinesias, 85.7% had total or near-total relief of that symptom. Clinical assessment indicated improvements in bradykinesia and rigidity in 64.3% of patients who underwent pallidotomy. Independent blinded assessments did not reveal statistically significant improvements in Hoehn and Yahr scores or UPDRS scores. On the other hand, 64.7% of patients showed improvements in subscores of the UPDRS, including activities of daily living (58%), total contralateral score (58%), and contralateral motor scores (47%). Total ipsilateral score and ipsilateral motor scores were both improved in 59% of patients. One (1.8%) of 55 patients experienced a homonymous hemianopsia 9 months after pallidotomy due to an unexpectedly large lesion. No other complications of any kind were seen. Neuropsychological test scores that were obtained for the combined pallidotomy and thalamotomy treatment groups preoperatively and at 6 months postoperatively demonstrated an absence of cognitive morbidity. Follow-up neuroimaging confirmed correct lesion location in all patients, with a mean maximum deviation from the planned target of 1 mm in the vertical axis. Measurements of lesions at regular intervals on postoperative magnetic resonance images demonstrated considerable variability in lesion volumes. The safety and efficacy of functional lesions made with the gamma knife appear to be similar to those made with the assistance of electrophysiological guidance with open functional stereotactic procedures.

Conclusions. Functional lesions may be made safely and accurately using gamma knife radiosurgical techniques. The efficacy is equivalent to that reported for open techniques that use radiofrequency lesioning methods with electrophysiological guidance. Complications are very infrequent with the radiosurgical method. The use of functional radiosurgical lesioning to treat movement disorders is particularly attractive in older patients and in those with major systemic diseases or coagulopathies; its use in the general movement disorder population seems reasonable as well.

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Thomas A. Gaffey, Bernd W. Scheithauer, Ricardo V. Lloyd, Peter C. Burger, Peter Robbins, Forouzandeh Fereidooni, Eva Horvath, Kalman Kovacs, Takao Kuroki, William F. Young Jr., Thomas J. Sebo, Darren L. Riehle, and Allan J. Belzberg

✓ To understand the relationship between pituitary adenoma and carcinoma, four adrenocorticotropic hormone—producing pituitary adenomas and corresponding metastatic carcinomas were studied. All were functional macroadenomas (three cases of Nelson syndrome and one of Cushing disease) that initially invaded the sella turcica and occurred in women ranging in age from 17 to 66 years (mean 45 years). Metastases (two craniospinal and two systemic) occurred after latency periods of 6 to 13 years. Histological specimens were immunostained for pituitary hormones, Ki-67 antigen (MIB-1), p53 and p27 proteins, D-type cyclins, and glucocorticoid receptor messenger (m)RNA. The DNA content of the specimens was assessed using Feulgen stain. Reactivities were quantified by digital image analysis. Primary/recurrent lesions and metastatic tumors differed according to their respective mean mitotic indices (1.2/10 hpf compared with 4.3/10 hpf), MIB-1 labeling (1.7% compared with 8%), p53 staining (37.3% compared with 49.9%), and p27 labeling (48% compared with 25%). Cyclin D3 immunoreactivity provided no prognostically significant information. Glucocorticoid receptor mRNA was detected in all cases. Results of a ploidy analysis were variable and nonprognostic. In keeping with the 2000 World Health Organization classification of endocrine neoplasms, our findings support the concept that primary tumors that exhibit mitotic activity, an increased (> 3%) MIB-1 labeling index, and/or p53 immunoreactivity should be termed “atypical adenomas” to denote their aggressive potential and the possibility of future malignant transformation.