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Isaac Josh Abecassis, Rajeev D. Sen, Richard G. Ellenbogen and Laligam N. Sekhar

OBJECTIVE

A variety of factors contribute to an increasingly challenging environment for neurological surgery residents to develop psychomotor skills in microsurgical technique solely from operative training. While adjunct training modalities such as cadaver dissection and surgical simulation are embraced and practiced at our institution, there are no formal educational milestones defined to help residents develop, measure, and advance their microsurgical psychomotor skills in a stepwise fashion when outside the hospital environment. The objective of this report is to describe an efficient and convenient “home microsurgery lab” (HML) assembled and tested by the authors with the goal of supporting a personalized stepwise advancement of microsurgical psychomotor skills.

METHODS

The authors reviewed the literature on previously published simulation practice models and designed adjunct learning modules utilizing the HML. Five milestones were developed for achieving proficiency with each graduated exercise, referencing the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) guidelines. The HML setup was then piloted with 2 neurosurgical trainees.

RESULTS

The total cost for assembling the HML was approximately $850. Techniques for which training was provided included microinstrument handling, tissue dissection, suturing, and microanastomoses. Five designated competency levels were developed, and training exercises were proposed for each competency level.

CONCLUSIONS

The HML offers a unique, entirely home-based, affordable adjunct to the operative neurosurgical education mandated by the ACGME operative case logs, while respecting resident hospital-based education hours. The HML provides surgical simulation with specific milestones, which may improve confidence and the microsurgical psychomotor skills required to perform microsurgery, regardless of case type.

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Rajeev D. Sen, Carolina Gesteira Benjamin, Howard A. Riina and Donato Pacione

The authors report on an 81-year-old woman with a pathologic hangman's fracture secondary to a complex arteriovenous fistula (AVF). The patient presented with severe, unremitting neck pain and was found to have fractures bilaterally through the pars interarticularis of C-2 with significant anterior subluxation of C-2 over C-3 along with widening of the left transverse foramen. Due to an abnormally appearing left vertebral artery (VA) on CT angiography, the patient underwent conventional angiography, which revealed a complex AVF stemming from the left VA at the level of C-2 with dilated posterior cervical veins and a large venous varix. Given the radiographic evidence of bone remodeling and the chronicity of the AVF, it is believed that the C-2 vertebra was weakened over time by the pulsatile and compressive force of the vascular malformation eventually leading to fracture with minimal stress. Coil embolization of the AVF was performed followed by surgical fixation of C-1 to C-4. This case highlights the importance of investigating an underlying disease process in patients who present with significant spinal fractures in the absence of trauma.

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Saqib Hasan, Lynn B. McGrath Jr., Rajeev D. Sen, Jason K. Barber and Christoph P. Hofstetter

OBJECTIVE

The management of lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) with concurrent scoliosis and/or spondylolisthesis remains controversial. Full-endoscopic unilateral laminotomy for bilateral decompression (ULBD) facilitates neural decompression while preserving stabilizing osseoligamentous structures and may be uniquely suited for the treatment of LSS with concurrent mild to moderate degenerative deformity. The safety and efficacy of full-endoscopic versus minimally invasive surgery (MIS) ULBD in this patient population is studied here for the first time.

METHODS

A retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data was conducted on 45 consecutive LSS patients with concurrent scoliosis (≥ 10° coronal Cobb angle) and/or spondylolisthesis (≥ 3 mm). Patient demographics, operative details, complications, and imaging characteristics were reviewed. Outcomes were quantified using back and leg visual analog scale (VAS) scores and the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) at 2 weeks, 3 months, and 1 year.

RESULTS

A total of 26 patients underwent full-endoscopic and 19 underwent MIS-ULBD with an average follow-up period of 12 months. The endoscopic cohort experienced a significantly shorter hospital length of stay (p = 0.014) and fewer adverse events (p = 0.010). Both cohorts experienced significant improvements in VAS and ODI scores at all time points (p < 0.001), but the endoscopic cohort demonstrated significantly better early ODI scores (p = 0.024).

CONCLUSIONS

Endoscopic and MIS-ULBD result in similar functional outcomes for LSS with mild to moderate deformity, while the endoscopic approach demonstrates a favorable rate of complications. Further studies are required to better delineate the characteristics of spinal deformities amenable to this approach and the durability of functional results.

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Carolina Gesteira Benjamin, Rajeev D. Sen, John G. Golfinos, Chandra Sen, J. Thomas Roland Jr., Sean McMenomey and Donato Pacione

OBJECTIVE

Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) is a known complication of surgeries near the major dural venous sinuses. While the majority of CVSTs are asymptomatic, severe sinus thromboses can have devastating consequences. The objective of this study was to prospectively evaluate the true incidence and risk factors associated with postoperative CVST and comment on management strategies.

METHODS

A prospective study of 74 patients who underwent a retrosigmoid, translabyrinthine, or suboccipital approach for posterior fossa tumors, or a supratentorial craniotomy for parasagittal/falcine tumors, was performed. All patients underwent pre- and postoperative imaging to evaluate sinus patency. Demographic, clinical, and operative data were collected. Statistical analysis was performed to identify incidence and risk factors.

RESULTS

Twenty-four (32.4%) of 74 patients had postoperative MR venograms confirming CVST, and all were asymptomatic. No risk factors, including age (p = 0.352), BMI (p = 0.454), sex (p = 0.955), surgical approach (p = 0.909), length of surgery (p = 0.785), fluid balance (p = 0.943), mannitol use (p = 0.136), tumor type (p = 0.46, p = 0.321), or extent of resection (p = 0.253), were statistically correlated with thrombosis. All patients were treated conservatively, with only 1 patient receiving intravenous fluids. There were no instances of venous infarctions, hemorrhages, or neurological deficits. The rate of CSF leakage was significantly higher in the thrombosis group than in the nonthrombosis group (p = 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

This prospective study shows that the radiographic incidence of postoperative CVST is higher than that previously reported in retrospective studies. In the absence of symptoms, these thromboses can be treated conservatively. While no risk factors were identified, there may be an association between postoperative CVST and CSF leak.

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Brian Y. Hwang, Samuel S. Bruce, Geoffrey Appelboom, Matthew A. Piazza, Amanda M. Carpenter, Paul R. Gigante, Christopher P. Kellner, Andrew F. Ducruet, Michael A. Kellner, Rajeev Deb-Sen, Kerry A. Vaughan, Philip M. Meyers and E. Sander Connolly Jr.

Object

Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) associated with intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) is an independent predictor of poor outcome. Clinical methods for evaluating IVH, however, are not well established. This study sought to determine the best IVH grading scale by evaluating the predictive accuracies of IVH, Graeb, and LeRoux scores in an independent cohort of ICH patients with IVH. Subacute IVH dynamics as well as the impact of external ventricular drain (EVD) placement on IVH and outcome were also investigated.

Methods

A consecutive cohort of 142 primary ICH patients with IVH was admitted to Columbia University Medical Center between February 2009 and February 2011. Baseline demographics, clinical presentation, and hospital course were prospectively recorded. Admission CT scans performed within 24 hours of onset were reviewed for ICH location, hematoma volume, and presence of IVH. Intraventricular hemorrhage was categorized according to IVH, Graeb, and LeRoux scores. For each patient, the last scan performed within 6 days of ictus was similarly evaluated. Outcomes at discharge were assessed using the modified Rankin Scale (mRS). Receiver operating characteristic analysis was used to determine the predictive accuracies of the grading scales for poor outcome (mRS score ≥ 3).

Results

Seventy-three primary ICH patients (51%) had IVH. Median admission IVH, Graeb, and LeRoux scores were 13, 6, and 8, respectively. Median IVH, Graeb and LeRoux scores decreased to 9 (p = 0.005), 4 (p = 0.002), and 4 (p = 0.003), respectively, within 6 days of ictus. Poor outcome was noted in 55 patients (75%). Areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve were similar among the IVH, Graeb, and LeRoux scores (0.745, 0.743, and 0.744, respectively) and within 6 days postictus (0.765, 0.722, 0.723, respectively). Moreover, the IVH, Graeb, and LeRoux scores had similar maximum Youden Indices both at admission (0.515 vs 0.477 vs 0.440, respectively) and within 6 days postictus (0.515 vs 0.339 vs 0.365, respectively). Patients who received EVDs had higher mean IVH volumes (23 ± 26 ml vs 9 ± 11 ml, p = 0.003) and increased incidence of Glasgow Coma Scale scores < 8 (67% vs 38%, p = 0.015) and hydrocephalus (82% vs 50%, p = 0.004) at admission but had similar outcome as those who did not receive an EVD.

Conclusions

The IVH, Graeb, and LeRoux scores predict outcome well with similarly good accuracy in ICH patients with IVH when assessed at admission and within 6 days after hemorrhage. Therefore, any of one of the scores would be equally useful for assessing IVH severity and risk-stratifying ICH patients with regard to outcome. These results suggest that EVD placement may be beneficial for patients with severe IVH, who have particularly poor prognosis at admission, but a randomized clinical trial is needed to conclusively demonstrate its therapeutic value.