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Wouter I. Schievink, Reid C. Thompson and William H. Yong

✓ A primary or systemic arteriopathy is frequently suspected in patients with spontaneous cerebral or cervical artery dissections. The authors report on two patients with such dissections accompanied by angiolipomatosis, a previously unreported association, and propose a common developmental defect in these patients.

A 50-year-old man with subcutaneous angiolipomatosis developed painful monocular blindness. Angiography studies revealed a spontaneous extracranial internal carotid artery (ICA) dissection and an ipsilateral fusiform intracranial ICA aneurysm. The ICA dissection was treated with aspirin, and after 6 months a craniotomy was performed. The aneurysm was found to be fusiform; it involved the entire supraclinoid portion of the ICA, and was wrapped with cotton. A 49-year-old man with a congenitally bicuspid aortic valve and subcutaneous angiolipomatosis developed posterior neck pain. Magnetic resonance imaging and angiography demonstrated a fusiform distal vertebral artery aneurysm. A craniotomy was performed and the aneurysm was found to incorporate the posterior inferior cerebellar artery as well as a perforating artery; the lesion was wrapped with cotton.

The tunica media of the arteries of the head and neck as well as the aortic valvular cusps are derived from neural crest cells, and angiolipomatosis has been associated with tumors of neural crest derivation. These associations indicate that a neural crest disorder may be the underlying abnormality in these patients.

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Moneeb Ehtesham, Charles B. Stevenson and Reid C. Thompson

The prognosis for patients with malignant glioma, which is the most common primary intracranial neoplasm, remains dismal despite significant progress in neurooncological therapies and technology. This is largely due to the inability of current treatment strategies to address the highly invasive nature of this disease. Malignant glial cells often disseminate throughout the brain, making it exceedingly difficult to target and treat all intracranial neoplastic foci, with the result that tumor recurrence is inevitable despite aggressive surgery and adjuvant radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy. The use of neural stem cells (NSCs) as delivery vehicles for tumor-toxic molecules represents the first experimental strategy aimed specifically at targeting disseminated tumor pockets. Investigators have demonstrated that NSCs possess robust tropism for infiltrating tumor cells, and that they can be used to deliver therapeutic agents directly to tumor satellites, with significant therapeutic benefit. With the aim of developing these findings into a clinically viable technology that would not be hindered by ethical and tissue rejection–related concerns, the use of adult tissue–derived stem cells has recently been explored. These technologies represent important progress in the development of a treatment strategy that can specifically target disseminated neoplastic pockets within the brain. Despite encouraging results in preclinical models, however, there are significant impediments that must be overcome prior to clinical implementation of this strategy. Key among these are an inadequate understanding of the specific tropic mechanisms that govern NSC migration toward invasive tumor, and the need to refine the processes used to generate tumor-tropic stem cells from adult tissues so that this can be accomplished in a clinically practicable fashion. Despite these limitations, the use of stem cell therapies for brain tumors holds significant promise and may emerge as an important therapeutic modality for patients with malignant glioma.

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Charles B. Stevenson, Mahlon D. Johnson and Reid C. Thompson

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Wouter I. Schievink, Reid C. Thompson, Christopher T. Loh and M. Marcel Maya

✓ An excruciating headache of instantaneous onset, or thunderclap headache, may be caused by a variety of serious disorders, including aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, pituitary apoplexy, and carotid artery or vertebral artery dissection. The authors describe a patient with this type of headache who was found to have a spontaneous retroclival hematoma.

A 49-year-old woman experienced an instantaneous excruciating headache. Results of computerized tomography (CT) scans of the head were normal, but on examination of the cerebrospinal fluid xanthochromia was found. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the cervical spine revealed a retroclival hematoma. Three cerebral angiographic studies did not reveal the source of the hemorrhage and a repeated MR image demonstrated resolution of the hematoma. The patient made an uneventful recovery.

Spontaneous retroclival hematoma is an exceedingly rare type of intracranial hemorrhage and may be associated with normal findings on CT scans. Spontaneous retroclival hematoma should be included in the differential diagnosis of thunderclap headache.

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Michael C. Dewan, Reid C. Thompson, Steven N. Kalkanis, Fred G. Barker II and Constantinos G. Hadjipanayis

OBJECTIVE

Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) are often administered prophylactically following brain tumor resection. With conflicting evidence and unestablished guidelines, however, the nature of this practice among tumor surgeons is unknown.

METHODS

On November 24, 2015, a REDCap (Research Electronic Database Capture) survey was sent to members of the AANS/CNS Section on Tumors to query practice patterns.

RESULTS

Responses were received from 144 individuals, including 18.8% of board-certified neurosurgeons surveyed (across 86 institutions, 16 countries, and 5 continents). The majority reported practicing in an academic setting (85%) as a tumor specialist (71%). Sixty-three percent reported always or almost always prescribing AED prophylaxis postoperatively in patients with a supratentorial brain tumor without a prior seizure history. Meanwhile, 9% prescribed occasionally and 28% rarely prescribed AED prophylaxis. The most common agent was levetiracetam (85%). The duration of seizure prophylaxis varied widely: 25% of surgeons administered prophylaxis for 7 days, 16% for 2 weeks, 21% for 2 to 6 weeks, and 13% for longer than 6 weeks. Most surgeons (61%) believed that tumor pathology influences epileptogenicity, with high-grade glioma (39%), low-grade glioma (31%), and metastases (24%) carrying the greatest seizure risk. While the majority used prophylaxis, 62% did not believe or were unsure if prophylactic AEDs reduced seizures postoperatively. The vast majority (82%) stated that a well-designed randomized trial would help guide their future clinical decision making.

CONCLUSIONS

Wide knowledge and practice gaps exist regarding the frequency, duration, and setting of AED prophylaxis for seizure-naive patients undergoing brain tumor resection. Acceptance of universal practice guidelines on this topic is unlikely until higher-level evidence supporting or refuting the value of modern seizure prophylaxis is demonstrated.

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Michael C. Dewan, Gabrielle A. White-Dzuro, Philip R. Brinson, Reid C. Thompson and Lola B. Chambless

OBJECTIVE

Seizures are among the most common perioperative complications in patients undergoing craniotomy for brain tumor resection and have been associated with increased disease progression and decreased survival. Little evidence exists regarding the relationship between postoperative seizures and hospital quality measures, including length of stay (LOS), disposition, and readmission. The authors sought to address these questions by analyzing a glioma population over 15 years.

METHODS

A retrospective cohort study was used to evaluate the outcomes of patients who experienced a postoperative seizure. Patients with glioma who underwent craniotomy for resection between 1998 and 2013 were enrolled in the institutional tumor registry. Basic data, including demographics and comorbidities, were recorded in addition to hospitalization details and complications. Seizures were diagnosed by clinical examination, observation, and electroencephalography. The Student t-test and chi-square test were used to analyze differences in the means between continuous and categorical variables, respectively. Multivariate logistic and linear regression was used to compare multiple clinical variables against hospital quality metrics and survival figures, respectively.

RESULTS

In total, 342 patients with glioma underwent craniotomy for first-time resection. The mean age was 51.0 ± 17.3 years, 192 (56.1%) patients were male, and the median survival time for all grades was 15.4 months (range 6.2–24.0 months). High-grade glioma (Grade III or IV) was seen in 71.9% of patients. Perioperative antiepileptic drugs were administered to 88% of patients. Eighteen (5.3%) patients experienced a seizure within 14 days postoperatively, and 9 (50%) of these patients experienced first-time seizures. The mean time to the first postoperative seizure was 4.3 days (range 0–13 days). There was no significant association between tumor grade and the rate of perioperative seizure (Grade I, 0%; II, 7.0%; III, 6.1%; IV, 5.2%; p = 0.665). A single ictal episode occurred in 11 patients, while 3 patients experienced 2 seizures and 4 patients developed 3 or more seizures. Compared with their seizure-free counterparts, patients who experienced a perioperative seizure had an increased average hospital (6.8 vs 3.6 days, p = 0.032) and ICU LOS (5.4 vs 2.3 days; p < 0.041). Seventy-five percent of seizure-free patients were discharged home in comparison with 55.6% of seizure patients (p = 0.068). Patients with a postoperative seizure were significantly more likely to visit the emergency department within 90 days (44.4% vs 19.0%; OR 3.41 [95% CI 1.29–9.02], p = 0.009) and more likely to be readmitted within 90 days (50.0% vs 18.4%; OR 4.45 [95% CI 1.69–11.70], p = 0.001). In addition, seizure-free patients had a longer median overall survival (15.6 months [interquartile range 6.6–24.4 months] vs 3.0 months [interquartile range 1.0–25.0 months]; p = 0.013).

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with perioperative seizures following glioma resection required longer hospital and ICU LOS, were readmitted at higher rates than seizure-free patients, and experienced shorter overall survival. Biological and clinical factors that predispose to the development of seizures after glioma surgery portend a worse outcome. Efforts to identify these factors and reduce the risk of postoperative seizure should remain a priority among neurosurgical oncologists.

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Jonathan A. Forbes, Andrea A. Brock, Mayshan Ghiassi, Reid C. Thompson, David S. Haynes and Betty S. Tsai

Jugulotympanic paragangliomas were first described approximately 75 years ago. Since that time, there has been considerable evolution in knowledge of tumor biology, methods of classification, and appropriate management strategies. This paper attempts to summarize these gains in information.

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Matthew L. Carlson, William R. Copeland III, Colin L. Driscoll, Michael J. Link, David S. Haynes, Reid C. Thompson, Kyle D. Weaver and George B. Wanna

Object

The goals of this study were to report the clinical presentation, radiographic findings, operative strategy, and outcomes among patients with temporal bone encephaloceles and cerebrospinal fluid fistulas (CSFFs) and to identify clinical variables associated with surgical outcome.

Methods

A retrospective case series including all patients who underwent a middle fossa craniotomy or combined mastoid–middle cranial fossa repair of encephalocele and/or CSFF between 2000 and 2012 was accrued from 2 tertiary academic referral centers.

Results

Eighty-nine consecutive surgeries (86 patients, 59.3% women) were included. The mean age at time of surgery was 52.3 years, and the left side was affected in 53.9% of cases. The mean delay between symptom onset and diagnosis was 35.4 months, and the most common presenting symptoms were hearing loss (92.1%) and persistent ipsilateral otorrhea (73.0%). Few reported a history of intracranial infection (6.7%) or seizures (2.2%).

Thirteen (14.6%) of 89 cases had a history of major head trauma, 23 (25.8%) were associated with chronic ear disease without prior operation, 17 (19.1%) occurred following tympanomastoidectomy, and 1 (1.1%) developed in a patient with a cerebral aqueduct cyst resulting in obstructive hydrocephalus. The remaining 35 cases (39.3%) were considered spontaneous. Among all patients, the mean body mass index (BMI) was 35.3 kg/m2, and 46.4% exhibited empty sella syndrome. Patients with spontaneous lesions were statistically significantly older (p = 0.007) and were more commonly female (p = 0.048) compared with those with nonspontaneous pathology. Additionally, those with spontaneous lesions had a greater BMI than those with nonspontaneous disease (p = 0.102), although this difference did not achieve statistical significance.

Thirty-two surgeries (36.0%) involved a middle fossa craniotomy alone, whereas 57 (64.0%) involved a combined mastoid–middle fossa repair. There were 7 recurrences (7.9%); 2 patients with recurrence developed meningitis. The use of artificial titanium mesh was statistically associated with the development of recurrent CSFF (p = 0.004), postoperative wound infection (p = 0.039), and meningitis (p = 0.014). Also notable, 6 of the 7 cases with recurrence had evidence of intracranial hypertension. When the 11 cases that involved using titanium mesh were excluded, 96.2% of patients whose lesions were reconstructed with an autologous multilayer repair had neither recurrent CSFF nor meningitis at the last follow-up.

Conclusions

Patients with temporal bone encephalocele and CSFF commonly present with persistent otorrhea and conductive hearing loss mimicking chronic middle ear disease, which likely contributes to a delay in diagnosis. There is a high prevalence of obesity among this patient population, which may play a role in the pathogenesis of primary and recurrent disease. A middle fossa craniotomy or a combined mastoid–middle fossa approach incorporating a multilayer autologous tissue technique is a safe and reliable method of repair that may be particularly useful for large or multifocal defects. Defect reconstruction using artificial titanium mesh should generally be avoided given increased risks of recurrence and postoperative meningitis.

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Robert J. Dambrino IV, Scott L. Zuckerman, Bradley S. Guidry, Henry J. Domenico, Reid C. Thompson, Mitchell B. Galloway, James W. Pichert and William O. Cooper

OBJECTIVE

The number of unsolicited patient complaints (UPCs) about surgeons correlates with surgical complications and malpractice claims. Using a large, national patient complaint database, the authors sought to do the following: 1) compare the rates of UPCs for neurosurgeons to those for other physicians, 2) analyze the risk of UPCs with individual neurosurgeon characteristics, and 3) describe the types of UPCs made about neurosurgeons.

METHODS

Patient and family complaint reports among 36,265 physicians, including 423 neurosurgeons, 8292 other surgeons, and 27,550 nonsurgeons who practiced at 33 medical centers (22 academic and 11 regional) from January 1, 2014, to December 31, 2017, were coded with a previously validated Patient Advocacy Reporting System (PARS) algorithm.

RESULTS

Among 423 neurosurgeons, 93% were male, and most (71%) practiced in academic medical centers. Neurosurgical subspecialties included general practice (25%), spine (25%), tumor (16%), vascular (13%), functional (10%), and pediatrics (10%). Neurosurgeons had more average total UPCs per physician (8.68; 95% CI 7.68–9.67) than nonsurgeons (3.40; 95% CI 3.33–3.47) and other surgeons (5.01; 95% CI 4.85–5.17; p < 0.001). In addition, a significantly higher percentage of neurosurgeons received at least one UPC (71.6%; 95% CI 67.3%–75.9%) than did nonsurgeons (50.2%; 95% CI 49.6%–50.8%) and other surgeons (58.2%; 95% CI 57.1%–59.3%; p < 0.001). Factors most associated with increased average UPCs were younger age, measured as median medical school graduation year (1990.5 in the 0-UPC group vs 1993 in the 14+-UPC group, p = 0.009) and spine subspecialty (13.4 mean UPCs in spine vs 7.9 mean UPCs in other specialties, 95% CI 2.3–8.5, p < 0.001). No difference in complaints was seen in those who graduated from non-US versus US medical schools (p = 0.605). The most common complaint types were related to issues surrounding care and treatment, communication, and accessibility, each of which was significantly more common for neurosurgeons than other surgical specialties (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Neurosurgeons were more likely to generate UPCs than other surgical specialties, and almost 3 out of 4 neurosurgeons (71.6%) had at least one UPC during the study period. Prior studies have shown that feedback to physicians about behavior can result in fewer UPCs. These results suggest that neurosurgeons have opportunities to reduce complaints and potentially improve the overall quality of care delivered.