✓ Basilar artery (BA) injury has been reported in a number of cases as a major complication of third ventriculostomy for hydrocephalus. This report describes the deployment of a pulsed-wave microvascular Doppler probe through the endoscope to locate the BA complex and subsequently to select a safe zone for perforation of the third ventricular floor. This procedure is quick and easily learned, and it is hoped that it can decrease the risk of vascular injury during third ventriculostomy.
Richard H. Schmidt
Paul Klimo Jr. and Richard H. Schmidt
✓The elucidation of predictive factors of cerebral vasospasm following aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is a major area of both clinical and basic science research. It is becoming clear that many factors contribute to this phenomenon. The most consistent predictor of vasospasm has been the amount of SAH seen on the postictal computed tomography scan. Over the last 30 years, it has become clear that the greater the amount of blood within the basal cisterns, the greater the risk of vasospasm. To evaluate this risk, various grading schemes have been proposed, from simple to elaborate, the most widely known being the Fisher scale. Most recently, volumetric quantification and clearance models have provided the most detailed analysis. Intraventricular hemorrhage, although not supported as strongly as cisternal SAH, has also been shown to be a risk factor for vasospasm.
Case report and classification scheme
Paul Klimo Jr., Ganesh Rao, Richard H. Schmidt and Meic H. Schmidt
Nerve sheath tumors that involve the sacrum are rare. Delayed presentation is common because of their slow-growing nature, the permissive surrounding anatomical environment, and nonspecific symptoms. Consequently, these tumors are usually of considerable size at the time of diagnosis.
The authors discuss a case of a sacral nerve sheath tumor. They also propose a classification scheme for these tumors based on their location with respect to the sacrum into three types (Types I–III). Type I tumors are confined to the sacrum; Type II originate within the sacrum but then locally metastasize through the anterior and posterior sacral walls into the presacral and subcutaneous spaces, respectively; and Type III are located primarily in the presacral/retroperitoneal area. The overwhelming majority of sacral nerve sheath tumors are schwannomas. Neurofibromas and malignant nerve sheath tumors are exceedingly rare. Regardless of their histological features, the goal of treatment is complete excision. Adjuvant radiotherapy may be used in patients in whom resection was subtotal. Approaches to the sacrum can generally be classified as anterior or posterior. Type I tumors may be resected via a posterior approach alone, Type III may require an anterior approach, and Type II tumors usually require combined anterior–posterior surgery.
Sarah T. Garber, Walavan Sivakumar and Richard H. Schmidt
Dabigatran etexilate is an oral anticoagulant that acts as a direct, competitive thrombin inhibitor. Large randomized clinical trials have shown higher doses of dabigatran (150 mg taken twice daily) to be superior to warfarin in terms of stroke and systemic embolism rates in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation. As a result, in 2010 the US FDA approved the use of dabigatran for the prevention of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with atrial fibrillation. Dabigatran is especially attractive in the outpatient setting because patients do not require routine monitoring with prothrombin times or international normalized ratios. To date, no effective reversal agent for dabigatran in the event of catastrophic hemorrhage has been identified. The authors report a case of an elderly patient, being treated with dabigatran for atrial fibrillation, who presented with a rapidly expanding intracranial hemorrhage after a ground-level fall. This case highlights an impending neurosurgical quandary of complications secondary to this new anticoagulation agent and suggests potential options for management.
Richard K. Cavender and John H. Schmidt III
✓ A unique case of monozygotic triplets, each of whom exhibits variable degrees of tonsillar ectopia, is reported. Patient X presented with a Chiari I malformation and associated syringomyelia; examination of patients Y and Z showed 4 mm and 2.5 mm of tonsillar ectopia, respectively. No such case has been reported in the literature. The discussion defines the current magnetic resonance criteria for diagnosis of hindbrain malformations and addresses the question of whether these disorders represent a spectrum or separate disease entities, with specific emphasis on genetic predisposition. Due to the 100% concordance in this case the presence of a common hereditary factor in the etiology of these malformations is highly suggested.
Richard H. Schmidt and M. Sean Grady
✓ Disturbances in memory, concentration, and problem solving are common after even mild to moderate traumatic brain injury. Because these functions are mediated in part by forebrain cholinergic and catecholaminergic innervation, in this study the authors sought to determine if experimental concussive injury produces detectable morphological damage to these systems.
Fluid-percussion head injury, sufficient to cause a 13- to 14-minute loss of righting reflex, was produced in rats that had been anesthetized with halothane. Injury was delivered either at midline or 2 mm off midline and compared with appropriate sham-injured controls. After 11 to 15 days, the rat brains were stained in serial sections for choline acetyltransferase, tyrosine hydroxylase, dopamine β-hydroxylase, acetylcholinesterase, and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase. Cell counts were determined for the entire population of ventrobasal forebrain cholinergic cells. Midline injury produced a bilateral loss of cholinergic neurons averaging 36% in area Ch1 (medial septal nucleus), 45% in Ch2 (nucleus of the diagonal band of Broca), and 41% in Ch4 (nucleus basalis of Meynart), (p ≤ 0.05). Lateralized injury resulted in cholinergic neuron loss of similar magnitude ipsilaterally (p ≤ 0.05), but a smaller contralateral loss of between 11% and 28%. No loss of neurons was detected in the pontomesencephalic cholinergic groups Ch5 and Ch6. There was no visible effect of head injury on forebrain dopamine or noradrenergic innervation.
A significant and apparently selective loss of ventrobasal forebrain cholinergic neurons following brief concussive injury in rats is demonstrated in this study. This type of injury is known to produce significant disturbance in cognitive tasks linked to neocortical and hippocampal cholinergic function. It remains to be determined how this neuron loss occurs, whether it can be prevented with neuroprotective agents, how it affects innervation in target tissues, and whether it occurs in human victims of traumatic brain injury.
Amin Amini and Richard H. Schmidt
Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) has gained popularity and has become the treatment of choice for certain pediatric and adult hydrocephalic conditions. The authors report their experience with 36 adult patients and evaluate the long-term outcome and safety of ETV. They discuss several improvements to the surgical techniques that they have developed based on their experience, including the use of intraoperative Doppler imaging before fenestration to trace the location of vessels underlying the floor of the third ventricle. They also report the use of a Rickham reservoir and endoventricular stent in selected cases and discuss the indications for their use. In cases of obstructive hydrocephalus due to congenital or acquired aqueductal stenosis in adults, the success rate of ETV in avoidance of shunt placement is 72%. Twenty-two percent of the patients in this series in whom ETV was initially successful later experienced closure of the fenestration and recurrent symptoms at a mean interval of 3.75 years. Thus, in patients who undergo this treatment, long-term periodic follow-up review should be performed.
Richard H. Schmidt, M. Sean Grady, Wendy Cohen, Sanford Wright and H. Richard Winn
✓ The case is presented of a young woman with acute cauda equina syndrome from a ruptured aneurysm in the sacral canal. The lesion was associated with pathological enlargement of the lateral sacral arteries bilaterally, which presumably occurred to provide cross-pelvic collateral flow in response to the diversion of the right internal iliac artery for renal transplantation. The patient presented with signs and symptoms of spontaneous spinal epidural hemorrhage. The radiographic features of this lesion are described. In addition to angiography and partial embolization of the vascular supply, contrast-enhanced high-resolution computerized tomography was essential in the diagnosis and treatment of this unique aneurysm.
Lewis L. Levy, Ludwig H. Segerberg, Richard P. Schmidt, Richard C. Turrell and Ephraim Roseman
Paul Klimo Jr., John R. W. Kestle, Joel D. MacDonald and Richard H. Schmidt
Cerebral vasospasm after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) continues to be a major source of morbidity in patients despite significant clinical and basic science research. Efforts to prevent vasospasm by removing spasmogens from the subarachnoid space have produced mixed results. The authors hypothesize that lumbar cisternal drainage can remove blood from the basal subarachnoid spaces more effectively than an external ventricular drain (EVD). This nonrandomized, controlled-cohort study was undertaken to evaluate the effectiveness of a lumbar drain in patients with SAH compared with those in whom an EVD or no form of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) drainage was used to prevent the development of clinical vasospasm and its sequelae.
The authors collected data on 266 patients with nontraumatic SAH who were admitted to the University of Utah Health Sciences Center between January 1994 and January 2003. Of these, 167 met the study entry criteria. The treatment group consisted of 81 patients in whom a lumbar drain had been placed for CSF shunting, whereas the control group was composed of 86 patients who received no form of CSF drainage or who were treated solely with an EVD. Primary outcome measures were as follows: 1) clinically evident vasospasm; 2) the need for endovascular intervention; 3) vasospasm-induced infarction; 4) disposition at time of discharge; and 5) Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) score at 1 to 3 months postdischarge. Secondary outcomes included length of stay and the need for CSF shunting.
The presence of a lumbar drain conferred a statistically significant protective and beneficial effect across all outcome measures, reducing the incidence of clinical vasospasm from 51 to 17%, the need for angioplasty from 45 to 17%, and the occurrence of vasospastic infarction from 27 to 7% (all p ≤ 0.001–0.008). Patients in the treatment group were more likely to be discharged home (54% compared with 25%, p = 0.002) and to have a GOS score of 5 at follow up (71% compared with 35%, p < 0.001). The mean number of days spent in the intensive care unit and in the hospital overall was also fewer in the treatment group. A similar degree of benefit was found in patients with different Fisher grades and regardless of whether an EVD was needed on presentation, both by subgroup analysis and multivariate logistic regression modeling. There was no statistical difference between the groups in terms of patients requiring a shunt. Complications with lumbar drains were rare and yielded no permanent sequelae.
Shunting of CSF through a lumbar drain after an SAH markedly reduces the risk of clinically evident vasospasm and its sequelae, shortens hospital stay, and improves outcome. Its beneficial effects are probably mediated through the removal of spasmogens that exist in the CSF. The results of this study warrant a randomized clinical trial, which is currently under way.