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Raj Murali and Richard L. Rovit

✓ The indications, advantages, complications, and benefits of peripheral neurectomy in patients with trigeminal neuralgia were studied in detail in 40 patients treated between 1982 and 1991. Twenty-eight patients had previously received radiofrequency thermocoagulation; peripheral neurectomy was performed for pain recurrence. These patients had excellent or good pain relief for at least 5 years postsurgery. Of the 12 patients who had peripheral neurectomy as their only procedure, seven had an excellent result and five had a good result. Five of the patients had recurrence of pain after 2 years but responded well to a second neurectomy. Elderly patients who experienced pain in the first and second divisions of the trigeminal distributions were the best candidates. Peripheral neurectomy is an effective, safe procedure for elderly patients who suffer from trigeminal neuralgia and have a limited life span.

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Tunneled lumbar drain

Technical note

Michael Hahn, Raj Murali and William T. Couldwell

✓ The authors report a simple and rapid procedure for tunneling a lumbar drain subcutaneously to facilitate chronic cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) drainage. A standard lumbar puncture (LP) is performed with a large-bore Tuohy needle (14- to 16-gauge), the drainage catheter is advanced into the subarachnoid space, and the needle is removed. The free Tuohy needle is then passed from a lateral position and brought out through the initial LP site. The free catheter is fed through the needle, and the needle is removed. The drain is attached to an external drainage bag in the usual manner. The authors have found this method particularly useful in some skull base and spinal surgical applications in which longer term continuous CSF drainage is desired.

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Large anterior skull base lesions presenting with obstructive sleep apnea

Report of two cases and review of the literature

Raj Murali, Philippe Douyon and Ibrahim Omeis

✓ Patients with sleep apnea often are treated by sleep disorder specialists and are studied in a sleep laboratory. The authors present two such patients who ultimately were found to harbor large benign anterior skull base lesions that caused their obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The first patient had a massive pituitary tumor and had undergone a tracheostomy before the lesion was diagnosed. The second patient had a large frontoethmoidal encephalocele that was diagnosed at the same time as a recommendation for continuous positive airway pressure therapy was being considered. Such therapy in the presence of an encephalocele can be dangerous and even fatal. Although there are case reports of tumors causing OSA, nearly all of these lesions have been large pharyngeal lipomas (some of which were palpable in the neck during physical examination) or growth hormone—secreting pituitary adenomas. The patients reported here were completely unaware of the presence of these large lesions until imaging studies and/or nasal endoscopy were performed. These cases illustrate the need to perform nasopharyngeal endoscopy and also to obtain magnetic resonance images of the head before prescribing therapy for OSA. Neurosurgeons must be aware that large skull base lesions sometimes present only with OSA.

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Kaushik Das, Ahmed Elmogy and Raj Murali

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Carolyn A. Martin, Raj Murali and Sunil S. Trasi

✓ A case of spinal cord sarcoidosis is presented. Diagnosis was established from a biopsy of the hilar lymph node. The patient was successfully treated with corticosteroid drugs. The literature is reviewed and the deleterious effect of surgery is stressed.

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Kiran Musunuru, Virany Huynh Hillard and Raj Murali

✓ The simultaneous presence of cavernous malformations in the brain and spinal cord is a very rare finding and is typically associated with familial cavernous malformations. Although they are uncommon, various skin lesions can manifest in patients with familial cavernous malformations. The authors report on a 60-year-old man in whom more than 100 lesions consistent in appearance with cavernous malformations, including several intramedullary spinal cord lesions, were found throughout the neuraxis. This patient also displayed prominent café-au-lait skin lesions, but had no additional signs of neurofibromatosis or other neurocutaneous disorders. Analysis of his DNA revealed a novel mutation in the KRIT1/CCM1 gene, thereby confirming the diagnosis of familial cavernous malformation. The presence of these lesions in every major compartment of this patient's central nervous system underscores their indiscriminate nature and the need to screen throughout the neuraxis in patients in whom familial cavernous malformations are suspected. The findings in this case add to the growing list of skin lesions associated with genetically confirmed familial cavernous malformations. In patients presenting with seizures, focal neurological deficits, or hemorrhagic stroke, the presence of unusual skin lesions should prompt consideration of familial cavernous malformations, and appropriate screening should be performed.

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Raj Murali and Fred Epstein

✓ Three cases of suprasellar arachnoid cysts in children are described. The importance of differentiating such a lesion from a dilated third ventricle is stressed. The value of computerized tomography with Conray ventriculography in preoperative diagnosis, symptomatology, and choice of treatment are discussed.

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John Braca, Mark Hornyak and Raj Murali

✓ Marfan syndrome, hemifacial spasm, and Chiari malformation are all relatively rare and seemingly separate entities. Marfan syndrome is caused by a defect in the gene that encodes fibrillin and leads to weakness of the artery wall. Hemifacial spasm results from compression of the facial nerve by an abnormal artery. Chiari malformation is characterized by a small posterior fossa. The authors report the case of a patient with Marfan syndrome who presented with hemifacial spasm and was also found to have a Chiari malformation Type I. The patient's Chiari malformation and hemifacial spasm were successfully treated by performing suboccipital and microvascular decompression surgeries, respectively. The pathophysiological characteristics of Marfan syndrome, hemifacial spasm, and Chiari malformation are discussed, and the authors propose a link between these conditions in this patient. The authors hypothesize that the patient's Marfan syndrome contributed to the abnormal shape of his vertebral artery and that, given the lack of space in his crowded posterior fossa due to the Chiari malformation, the artery caused compression of his facial nerve, resulting in hemifacial spasm.

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Janine Keuskamp, Raj Murali and Kuo H. Chao

Object

Because oral calcium channel blockers appear to reduce the severity of cerebral vasospasm after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), interest in their application intraarterially has emerged for cases in which noninvasive means of alleviating vasospasm are unsuccessful. Studies to date have been limited to the administration of low intraarterial doses because of concerns about hemodynamic stability and changes in intracranial pressure. These doses, although effective in cases of milder vasospasm, were inadequate in severe cases. The authors present a series of 10 patients with cerebral vasospasm who underwent 12 procedures in which they received ≥ 20 mg of intraarterial verapamil per procedure.

Methods

A retrospective review was undertaken of all patients who underwent endovascular treatment for cerebral vasospasm due to aneurysmal SAH by the senior author between February 2005 and October 2006. Ten patients were identified who had undergone a total of 12 procedures during which ≥20 mg of intraarterial verapamil had been administered. From angiography reports, anesthesia records, and nursing records, we obtained pre- and postverapamil mean arterial blood pressures (MABPs), heart rates, intracranial pressures (ICPs) (when available), and visible changes in the degree of vasospasm.

Results

No statistically significant changes in MABP, heart rate, or ICP were observed after administration of ≥ 20 mg of intraarterial verapamil, and the degree of improvement in vasospasm was statistically significant based on our grading system. No correlation was found between the change in hemodynamic parameters and the total dose of verapamil.

Conclusions

This study indicates that high-dose intraarterial verapamil may be used to treat cerebral vasospasm without compromising hemodynamic stability or increasing ICP.