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Francesco Marchi, Francesco Vergani, Iacopo Chiavacci, Richard Gullan, and Keyoumars Ashkan

This paper retraces the fundamental achievements of Geoffrey Knight (1906–1994), a British neurosurgeon and a pioneer in the field of psychosurgery. His career developed in the 1950s and 1960s, when—following the unregulated practice of frontal lobotomies—strong criticism arose in the medical community and in the general public against psychosurgery. Geoffrey Knight's clinical research focused on identifying new, selective targets to limit the side effects of psychosurgery while improving the outcome of patients affected by mental disorders. Following the example of William Beecher Scoville, he initially developed restricted orbital undercutting as a less invasive alternative to standard frontal lobotomy. He then developed stereotactic subcaudate tractotomy, with the use of an original stereotactic device. Knight stressed the importance of the anatomy and neurophysiology of the structures targeted in subcaudate tractotomy, with particular regard to the fibers connecting the anterior cingulate region, the amygdala, the orbitofrontal cortex, and the hypothalamus. Of interest, the role of these white matter connections has been recently recognized in deep brain stimulation for major depression and anorexia nervosa. This is perhaps the most enduring legacy of Knight to the field of psychosurgery. He refined frontal leucotomies by selecting a restricted target at the center of a network that plays a crucial role in controlling mood disorders. He then developed a safe, minimally invasive stereotactic operation to reach this target. His work, well ahead of his time, still represents a valid reference on which to build future clinical experience in the modern era of neuromodulation for psychiatric diseases.

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Saj A. Hussain, Bhupal Chitnavis, Stephen Connor, Anthony J. Strong, and Richard W. Gullan

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José Pedro Lavrador, Prajwal Ghimire, Richard Gullan, Keyoumars Ashkan, Francesco Vergani, and Ranjeev Singh Bhangoo

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José P. Lavrador, Graeme Pang, Francesco Vergani, Ranjeev Bhangoo, Richard Gullan, and Keyoumars Ashkan

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Giuseppe M. V. Barbagallo, Laurence A. G. Marshman, Carl Hardwidge, and Richard W. Gullan

✓ The authors present two cases of thoracic idiopathic spinal cord herniation (TISCH) occurring at the vertebral body (VB) level in whom adequate surgical reduction failed to reverse symptoms. In the second case, in which TISCH occurred into a VB cavity, presentation was atypical (subacute spinal cord syndrome) and there was persistent postoperative deterioration.

In both cases, adequate surgical reduction was achieved via a posterior midthoracic laminectomy, and reduction was maintained by closure of the anterior dural defect by using prosthetic material.

Thoracic idiopathic spinal cord herniation occurring at a VB level may be technically well treated by surgical reduction, but the outcome appears less predictable. Herniation that occurs directly into a VB cavity may form a distinct subgroup in which the presentation is atypical and the prognosis worse.

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Bhupal Chitnavis, Giuseppe Barbagallo, Richard Selway, Ronan Dardis, Ahmed Hussain, and Richard Gullan

Object. The authors undertook a study to assess the value of posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) in which carbon fiber cages (CFCs) were placed in patients undergoing revision disc surgery for symptoms suggesting neural compression with low-back pain.

Methods. The authors followed their first 50 patients for a maximum of 5 years and a minimum of 6 months after implantation of the CFCs. Patients in whom magnetic resonance (MR) imaging demonstrated “simple” recurrent herniation did not undergo PLIF. Surgery was performed in patients with symptoms of neural root compression, tension signs, and back pain with focal disc degeneration and nerve root distortion depicted on MR imaging compatible with clinical signs and symptoms. In 40 patients (80%) pedicle screws were not used. Clinical outcome was assessed using the Prolo Functional Economic Outcome Rating scale. Fusion outcome was assessed using an established classification.

Symptoms in 46 patients (92%) improved after surgery, and given their outcomes, 45 (90%) would have undergone the same surgery again. Two thirds of patients experienced good or excellent outcomes (Prolo score ≥ 8) at early and late follow up. There was no difference in clinical outcome between those in whom pedicle screws were and were not implanted (p = 0.83, Mann—Whitney U-test). The fusion rate at 2 years postsurgery was 95%. There were minimal complications, and no patients fared worse after surgery. No patient has undergone additional surgical treratment of the fused intervertebral space.

Conclusions. In this difficult group of patients the aim remains to improve symptoms but not cure the disease. A high fusion rate is possible when using the CFCs. Clinical success depends on selecting patients in whom radiological and clinical criteria accord. Pedicle screws are not necessary if facet joints are preserved, and high fusion rates and clinical success are possible without them.

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Anmol Pandey, Bhaskar Thakur, Florence Hogg, Christian Brogna, Jamie Logan, Roopen Arya, Richard Gullan, Ranjeev Bhangoo, and Keyoumars Ashkan


Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a major cause of morbidity in patients undergoing neurosurgical intervention. The authors postulate that the introduction of a routine preoperative deep vein thrombosis (DVT) screening protocol for patients undergoing neurosurgical intervention for brain tumors would result in a more effective diagnosis of DVT in this high-risk subgroup, and subsequent appropriate management of the condition would reduce pulmonary embolism (PE) rates and improve patient outcomes.


The authors conducted a prospective study of 115 adult patients who were undergoing surgical intervention for a brain tumor. All patients underwent preoperative lower-limb Doppler ultrasonography scanning for DVT screening. Patients with confirmed DVT underwent a period of anticoagulation therapy, which was stopped prior to surgery. An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter was inserted to cover the perioperative period during which anticoagulation therapy was avoided due to bleeding risk before restarting the therapy at a later date. Patients underwent follow-up performed by a neurooncology multidisciplinary team, and subsequent complications and outcomes were recorded.


Seven (6%) of the 115 screened patients had DVT. Of these patients, one developed postoperative PE, and another had bilateral DVT postoperatively. None of the patients without preoperative DVT developed VTE postoperatively. Age, symptoms of DVT, and previous history of VTE were significantly higher in the group with preoperative DVT. There were no deaths and no complications from the anticoagulation or IVC filter insertion.


Preoperative screening for DVT is a worthwhile endeavor in patients undergoing neurosurgical intervention. A multidisciplinary approach in management of anticoagulation and IVC filter insertion is safe and can minimize further VTE in such patients.