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Francesco Doglietto, Andrea Bolzoni Villaret, Roberto Stefini, Piero Nicolai, Marco Maria Fontanella, Giorgio Lofrese, and Giulio Maira

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Marco Cenzato, Alberto Debernardi, Roberto Stefini, Giuseppe D'Aliberti, Maurizio Piparo, Giuseppe Talamonti, Matteo Coppini, and Pietro Versari

The aim of this study is to review the clinical outcome of patients treated for spinal dural arteriovenous malformations and investigate the presence of pretreatment indicators of outcome after short- and midterm follow-up. The authors retrospectively reviewed the records of 65 consecutive patients treated either surgically or endovascularly in 3 neurosurgery departments between 1989 and 2009. After treatment, 80% of patients reported improvement of at least 1 symptom. Motor symptoms improved more than sensory disorders, pain, or sphincter impairment. Spinal dural arteriovenous fistulas at the thoracic level, and in particular at the lower level, responded better than those in other spinal areas. Spinal dural arteriovenous fistula is a rare pathology with a malignant course that should be treated aggressively. This study appears to confirm that neurological status before treatment, anatomical location of the fistula, and symptoms at presentation are all factors that can predict outcome. Early diagnosis of spinal dural arteriovenous malformations in the lower thoracic area in patients with an Aminoff scale score < 3 was associated with the most favorable outcome.

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Nicola Latronico, Frank A. Rasulo, Daniela Recupero, Andrea Beindorf, Paolo Liberini, Roberto Stefini, and Andrea Candiani

✓ The authors describe a patient with severe head injury and sepsis who became acutely quadriplegic 3 days postinjury because of a critical illness polyneuropathy (CIP) and critical illness myopathy (CIM), which resolved rapidly after treatment of the underlying infection.

In only 3 days the patient developed septic shock together with flaccid quadriplegia and absent deep tendon reflexes with no clinical or radiological evidence of central nervous system deterioration. Neurophysiological studies showed an acute axonal sensorimotor polyneuropathy, whereas the clinical course strongly suggested a concurrent myopathy. A severe Staphylococcus epidermidis infection accompanied by bacteremia was treated and the patient recovered fully within a few days.

Although the case described here is unique because of its very early onset and rapid resolution, CIP and CIM are frequent complications of sepsis and multiple organ failure. The authors suggest that severely head injured patients with sepsis should be evaluated for CIP and CIM when presenting with unexplained muscle weakness or paralysis.

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Roberto Stefini, Emanuela Catenacci, Simone Piva, Silvano Sozzani, Alessandra Valerio, Riccardo Bergomi, Marco Cenzato, Pietro Mortini, and Nicola Latronico


The clinical outcome of patients with severe head injuries is still critically dependent on their secondary injuries. Although hypoxia and hypotension appear to mediate a substantial proportion of secondary injuries, many studies associate secondary brain injury with neuroinflammatory responses. Chemokines have been detected in the cerebrospinal fluid but not in the brain tissue of patients with head trauma. This study was performed to determine if chemokines were expressed in pericontusional brain tissue in patients with moderate or severe head trauma who underwent surgical evacuation of their brain contusions.


Twelve patients with posttraumatic cerebral contusion requiring a surgical evacuation were studied. A 20- to 40-mg sample of white matter was removed from the surgical cavity in the pericontusional area. Two patients undergoing elective surgery for clip ligation of an unruptured aneurysm were used as controls. The median interval from trauma to biopsy procedure was 44 hours (range 3–360 hours). Total RNA was isolated from these samples and a ribonuclease protection assay was performed to measure the mRNA levels of several chemokines: CCL2, CCL3, CCL4, CCL5, CXCL8, CXCL10, and XCL1.


The CCL2, a monocyte chemoattractant produced by activated astrocytes, was the most strongly expressed chemokine, followed by CXCL8, CCL3, and CCL4. The chemokines CXCL10 and CCL5 were expressed at very low levels, and XCL1 was not detected.


Chemokine activation occurs early after moderate or severe head trauma and is maintained for several days after trauma. This event may contribute to neuroinflammatory exacerbation of posttraumatic brain damage in the pericontusional brain tissue.

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Marco Cenzato, Davide Colistra, Giorgia Iacopino, Christian Raftopoulos, Ulrich Sure, Marcos Tatagiba, Robert F. Spetzler, Alexander N. Konovalov, Andriy Smolanka, Volodymir Smolanka, Roberto Stefini, Carlo Bortolotti, Paolo Ferroli, Giampietro Pinna, Angelo Franzini, Philipp Dammann, Georgios Naros, Davide Boeris, Paolo Mantovani, Domenico Lizio, Mariangela Piano, and Enrica Fava


In this paper, the authors aimed to illustrate how Holmes tremor (HT) can occur as a delayed complication after brainstem cavernoma resection despite strict adherence to the safe entry zones (SEZs).


After operating on 2 patients with brainstem cavernoma at the Great Metropolitan Hospital Niguarda in Milan and noticing a similar pathological pattern postoperatively, the authors asked 10 different neurosurgery centers around the world to identify similar cases, and a total of 20 were gathered from among 1274 cases of brainstem cavernomas. They evaluated the tremor, cavernoma location, surgical approach, and SEZ for every case. For the 2 cases at their center, they also performed electromyographic and accelerometric recordings of the tremor and evaluated the post-operative tractographic representation of the neuronal pathways involved in the tremorigenesis. After gathering data on all 1274 brainstem cavernomas, they performed a statistical analysis to determine if the location of the cavernoma is a potential predicting factor for the onset of HT.


From the analysis of all 20 cases with HT, it emerged that this highly debilitating tremor can occur as a delayed complication in patients whose postoperative clinical course has been excellent and in whom surgical access has strictly adhered to the SEZs. Three of the patients were subsequently effectively treated with deep brain stimulation (DBS), which resulted in complete or almost complete tremor regression. From the statistical analysis of all 1274 brainstem cavernomas, it was determined that a cavernoma location in the midbrain was significantly associated with the onset of HT (p < 0.0005).


Despite strict adherence to SEZs, the use of intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring, and the immediate success of a resective surgery, HT, a severe neurological disorder, can occur as a delayed complication after resection of brainstem cavernomas. A cavernoma location in the midbrain is a significant predictive factor for the onset of HT. Further anatomical and neurophysiological studies will be necessary to find clues to prevent this complication.

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Francesco Doglietto, Marika Vezzoli, Antonio Biroli, Giorgio Saraceno, Luca Zanin, Marta Pertichetti, Stefano Calza, Edoardo Agosti, Jahard Mijail Aliaga Arias, Roberto Assietti, Silvio Bellocchi, Claudio Bernucci, Simona Bistazzoni, Daniele Bongetta, Andrea Fanti, Antonio Fioravanti, Alessandro Fiorindi, Alberto Franzin, Davide Locatelli, Raffaelino Pugliese, Elena Roca, Giovanni Marco Sicuri, Roberto Stefini, Martina Venturini, Oscar Vivaldi, Costanza Zattra, Cesare Zoia, and Marco Maria Fontanella


The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many countries into lockdown and has led to the postponement of nonurgent neurosurgical procedures. Although stress has been investigated during this pandemic, there are no reports on anxiety in neurosurgical patients undergoing nonurgent surgical procedures.


Neurosurgical patients admitted to hospitals in eastern Lombardy for nonurgent surgery after the lockdown prospectively completed a pre- and postoperative structured questionnaire. Recorded data included demographics, pathology, time on surgical waiting list, anxiety related to COVID-19, primary pathology and surgery, safety perception during hospital admission before and after surgery, and surgical outcomes. Anxiety was measured with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Descriptive statistics were computed on the different variables and data were stratified according to pathology (oncological vs nononcological). Three different models were used to investigate which variables had the greatest impact on anxiety, oncological patients, and safety perception, respectively. Because the variables (Xs) were of a different nature (qualitative and quantitative), mostly asymmetrical, and related to outcome (Y) by nonlinear relationships, a machine learning approach composed of three steps (1, random forest growing; 2, relative variable importance measure; and 3, partial dependence plots) was chosen.


One hundred twenty-three patients from 10 different hospitals were included in the study. None of the patients developed COVID-19 after surgery. State and trait anxiety were reported by 30.3% and 18.9% of patients, respectively. Higher values of state anxiety were documented in oncological compared to nononcological patients (46.7% vs 25%; p = 0.055). Anxiety was strongly associated with worry about primary pathology, surgery, disease worsening, and with stress during waiting time, as expected. Worry about positivity to SARS-CoV-2, however, was the strongest factor associated with anxiety, even though none of the patients were infected. Neuro-oncological disease was associated with state anxiety and with worry about surgery and COVID-19. Increased bed distance and availability of hand sanitizer were associated with a feeling of safety.


These data underline the importance of psychological support, especially for neuro-oncological patients, during a pandemic.