Many neurosurgical conditions are incurable, leading to disability or severe symptoms, poor quality of life, and distress for patients and families. The field of neuropalliative care (NPC) addresses the palliative care (PC) needs of individuals living with neurological conditions. Neurosurgeons play an important role within multidisciplinary NPC teams because of their understanding of the natural history of and treatment strategies for neurosurgical conditions, longitudinal patient-physician relationships, and responsibility for neurosurgical emergencies. Moreover, patients with neurosurgical conditions have unique PC needs given the trajectories of neurosurgical diseases, the realities of prognostication, psychosocial factors, communication strategies, and human behavior. PC improves outcomes among neurosurgical patients. Despite the importance of NPC, neurosurgeons often lack formal training in PC skills, which include identifying patients who require PC, assessing a patient’s understanding and preferences regarding illness, educating patients, building trust, managing symptoms, addressing family and caregiver needs, discussing end-of-life care, and recognizing when to refer patients to specialists. The future of NPC involves increasing awareness of the approach’s importance, delineating priorities for neurosurgeons with regard to NPC, increasing emphasis on PC skills during training and practice, expanding research efforts, and adjusting reimbursement structures to incentivize the provision of NPC by neurosurgeons.
Nathan A. Shlobin, Roxanna M. Garcia, and Mark Bernstein
Roxanna M. Garcia, Taemin Oh, Tyler S. Cole, Benjamin K. Hendricks, and Michael T. Lawton
Proximity of brainstem cavernous malformations (BSCMs) to tracts and cranial nerve nuclei make it costly to transgress normal tissue in accessing the lesion or disrupting normal tissue adjacent to the lesion in the separation plane. This interplay between tissue sensitivity and extreme eloquence makes it difficult to avoid leaving a remnant on occasion. Recurrences require operative intervention, which may increase morbidity, lengthen recovery, and add to overall costs. An approximately 20-year experience with patients with recurrent BSCM lesions following primary microsurgical resection was reviewed.
A prospectively maintained database of 802 patients who underwent microsurgical resection of cerebral cavernous malformations during 1997–2018 was queried to identify 213 patients with BSCMs. A retrospective chart review was conducted for patients with recurrent BSCM after primary resection who required a second surgery.
Fourteen of 213 patients (6.6%) underwent repeat resection for recurrent BSCM. Thirty-four hemorrhagic events were observed among these 14 patients over 576 patient-years (recurrent hemorrhage rate, 5.9% per year; median discrete hemorrhagic events, 2; median time to rehemorrhage, 897 days). BSCM occurred in the pons in 10 cases, midbrain in 2 cases, and medulla in 2 cases. A blind spot in the operative corridor was the most common cause of residual BSCM (9 patients). All recurrent BSCMs were removed completely, although 2 patients each required 2 operations to treat recurrence. Twelve patients had unchanged or improved modified Rankin Scale scores at last clinical evaluation compared with admission, and 2 patients had worse scores. Recurrence was more common among patients who were operated on in the first versus the second half of the series (8.5% vs 4.7%).
The 6.6% rate of BSCM recurrence requiring reoperation reflects the fine lines between complete resection and recurrence and between safe and harmful surgery. The detection of remnants is difficult postoperatively and remains so even at 6 months when the resection bed has healed. The 5.9% annual hemorrhage risk associated with recurrent BSCM in this experience is consistent with that reported for unoperated BSCMs. The right-angle method helps to anticipate blind spots and meticulously inspect the resection cavity for residual BSCM during surgery. A low percentage of recurrent BSCM (5%–10%) ensures ongoing effort toward an acceptable balance of safety and completeness.
Rebecca Y. Du, Melissa A. LoPresti, Roxanna M. García, and Sandi Lam
Road traffic accidents are the most frequent cause of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), particularly among young populations worldwide. Helmets are proven to prevent injuries; however, estimates of helmet compliance are low globally. Surgical/critical care management of TBI is often used to treat these injuries, but primary prevention should be recommended. A key component in promoting TBI prevention among pediatric and young populations is through helmet legislation. The authors investigated helmet policies for motorcycles and bicycles globally to provide recommendations for how related legislation may impact TBI and guide advocacy in pediatric neurosurgery.
The authors conducted a systematic review of helmet laws and/or policies by using the National Library of Medicine PubMed and SCOPUS databases. Additional articles were identified using citation searches of key publications. Abstracts from articles of all sources were read and selected for full-text review. Details of relevant full articles were extracted and analyzed for the following: bibliographic data, study aim, design and duration, study participants, intervention characteristics, and intervention effect data.
Of 618 search results, 53 full-text articles were analyzed for recommendations. Helmet legislation is associated with increased helmet use among bicyclists and decreased road traffic accident–related head injuries and fatalities among motorcyclists and bicyclists. Laws are more effective if comprehensive and inclusive of the following: both primary riders and passengers, all age groups, all modes of transportation made safer by helmets, a proper use clause, and standardized helmet quality measures. Cultural, socioeconomic, and infrastructural circumstances are important as well, and legislation must consider enforcement mechanisms with penalties significant enough to incentivize behavioral changes, but proportional to community socioeconomic status.
Compulsory use laws are the optimal primary intervention; however, concurrent programs to support financial access to helmets, change cultural attitudes, increase health literacy, and improve road infrastructure will augment legislative benefits. Pediatric neurosurgeons are caretakers of children suffering from TBI. Although extensive study has explored the surgical management of TBI, the authors believe that primary prevention is instrumental to improving outcomes and reducing injury. All helmet laws are not equal; based on these findings, a comprehensive, context-specific approach is the key to success, especially in resource-limited countries.
Edoardo Agosti, Francesco Doglietto, and Marco M. Fontanella
Edoardo Agosti, Francesco Doglietto, and Marco M. Fontanella
Rebecca A. Reynolds, Arnold Bhebhe, Roxanna M. Garcia, Shilin Zhao, Sandi Lam, Kachinga Sichizya, and Chevis N. Shannon
Hydrocephalus is a global disease that disproportionally impacts low- and middle-income countries. Limited data are available from sub-Saharan Africa. This study aims to be the first to describe pediatric hydrocephalus epidemiology and outcomes in Lusaka, Zambia.
This retrospective cohort study included patients < 18 years of age who underwent surgical treatment for hydrocephalus at Beit-CURE Hospital and the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia, from August 2017 to May 2019. Surgeries included ventriculoperitoneal shunt insertions, revisions, and endoscopic third ventriculostomies (ETVs) with or without choroid plexus cauterization (CPC). A descriptive analysis of patient demographics, clinical presentation, and etiologies was summarized, followed by a multivariable analysis of mortality and 90-day complications.
A total of 378 patients met the inclusion criteria. The median age at first surgery was 5.5 (IQR 3.1, 12.7) months, and 51% of patients were female (n = 193). The most common presenting symptom was irritability (65%, n = 247), followed by oculomotor abnormalities (54%, n = 204). Postinfectious hydrocephalus was the predominant etiology (65%, n = 226/347), and 9% had a myelomeningocele (n = 32/347). It was the first hydrocephalus surgery for 87% (n = 309) and, of that group, 15% underwent ETV/CPC (n = 45). Severe hydrocephalus was common, with 42% of head circumferences more than 6 cm above the 97th percentile (n = 111). The median follow-up duration was 33 (IQR 4, 117) days. The complication rate was 20% (n = 76), with infection being most common (n = 29). Overall, 7% of the patients died (n = 26). Postoperative complication was significantly associated with mortality (χ2 = 81.2, p < 0.001) with infections and CSF leaks showing the strongest association (χ2 = 14.6 and 15.2, respectively, p < 0.001). On adjusted multivariable analysis, shunt revisions were more likely to have a complication than ETV/CPC or primary shunt insertions (OR 2.45 [95% CI 1.26–4.76], p = 0.008), and the presence of any postoperative complication was the only significant predictor of mortality (OR 42.9 [95% CI 12.3–149.1], p < 0.001).
Pediatric postinfectious hydrocephalus is the most common etiology of hydrocephalus in Lusaka, Zambia, which is similar to other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Most children present late with neglected hydrocephalus. Shunt revision procedures are more prone to complication than ETV/CPC or primary shunt insertion, and postoperative complications represent a significant predictor of mortality in this population.
Pedram Golnari, Pouya Nazari, Roxanna M. Garcia, Hannah Weiss, Ali Shaibani, Michael C. Hurley, Sameer A. Ansari, Matthew B. Potts, and Babak S. Jahromi
Adoption of endovascular treatment (EVT) and other advances in aneurysm care have shifted practice patterns of cerebral aneurysm treatment over the past 2 decades in the US. The objective of this study was to determine whether resulting trends in volumes, outcomes, and complications have matured in general practice or continue to evolve.
Data were obtained from the National Inpatient Sample from 1993 to 2015. ICD-9 codes were used to estimate annual volumes, outcomes, and complications following treatment of ruptured and unruptured aneurysms. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to estimate risk ratios for complications and outcomes. Trends in time were assessed utilizing annual percentage change (APC).
The authors found a nearly 5-fold increase in annual admissions with diagnoses of unruptured aneurysms, whereas SAH volume increased less than 50%. Clipping ruptured aneurysms steadily declined (APC −0.86%, p = 0.69 until 1999, then −6.22%, p < 0.001 thereafter), whereas clipping unruptured aneurysms slightly increased (APC 2.02%, p < 0.001). EVT tripled in 2002–2004 and steadily increased thereafter (APC 7.22%, p < 0.001 and 5.85%, p = 0.01 for unruptured and ruptured aneurysms, respectively). Despite a 3-fold increase in both diagnosis and treatment of unruptured aneurysms, the incidence of SAH remained steady at 12 per 100,000 persons per year (APC 0.04%, p = 0.83). In contrast, SAH severity increased over time, as did patient age and comorbidities (all p < 0.001). SAH led to nonroutine discharge more frequently over time after both EVT and clipping (APC 1.24% and 1.10%, respectively), although mortality decreased during the same time (APC −2.48% and −1.44%, respectively). Complications were more frequent after clipping than EVT, but this differential risk diminished during the study period and was less perceptible in ruptured aneurysms. The proportion of patients discharged home after treatment of unruptured aneurysms was significantly lower (p < 0.001) after clipping (69.3%–79.5%) than EVT (88.3%–93.3%); both proportions changed minimally since 1998 (APC −0.39%, p = 0.02, and APC −0.11%, p = 0.14, respectively).
EVT volume markedly increased for ruptured and unruptured aneurysms from 1993 to 2015, whereas clipping decreased for ruptured and slightly increased for unruptured aneurysms. The incidence of SAH remained unchanged despite increased diagnosis and treatment of unruptured aneurysms. In ruptured aneurysms, SAH severity has increased over time, as have age, comorbidities, and nonroutine discharges. In contrast, routine discharge after treatment of unruptured aneurysms remains largely unchanged since 1998 and remains lower with clipping.
Gail Rosseau, Walter D. Johnson, Kee B. Park, Peter J. Hutchinson, Laura Lippa, Russell Andrews, Franco Servadei, and Roxanna M. Garcia
Global neurosurgery is the practice of neurosurgery with the primary purpose of delivering timely, safe, and affordable neurosurgical care to all who need it. This field is led by neurosurgeons, and global neurosurgery sessions are now part of every major international neurosurgical meeting. The World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS) is working to coordinate activities and align all related activities for greater impact. This report updates the contributions made by the WFNS-WHO Liaison Committee at the most recent World Health Assembly (WHA) in 2019. The WHA is a decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), attended by its 194 Member States. The WFNS has maintained official relations as a nongovernmental organization with the WHO for over 30 years, and this year 15 neurosurgical delegates attended events during the WHA. Participation by neurosurgeons continues to grow as many WHA events focused on global surgery have intrinsically involved neurosurgical leadership and participation. This year, resolution WHA72.31, entitled “Emergency and trauma care, Emergency care systems for universal health coverage: ensuring timely care for the acutely ill and injured,” was passed. This resolution provides further opportunities for neurosurgical advocacy as the landscape of global surgery gains recognition and momentum.
Aaron J. Clark, Roxanna M. Garcia, Malla K. Keefe, Tyler R. Koski, Michael K. Rosner, Justin S. Smith, Joseph S. Cheng, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Paul C. McCormick, and Christopher P. Ames
Adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery is increasing in the spinal neurosurgeon's practice.
A survey of neurosurgeon AANS membership assessed the deformity knowledge base and impact of current training, education, and practice experience to identify opportunities for improved education. Eleven questions developed and agreed upon by experienced spinal deformity surgeons tested ASD knowledge and were subgrouped into 5 categories: 1) radiology/spinopelvic alignment, 2) health-related quality of life, 3) surgical indications, 4) operative technique, and 5) clinical evaluation. Chi-square analysis was used to compare differences based on participant demographic characteristics (years of practice, spinal surgery fellowship training, percentage of practice comprising spinal surgery).
Responses were received from 1456 neurosurgeons. Of these respondents, 57% had practiced less than 10 years, 20% had completed a spine fellowship, and 32% devoted more than 75% of their practice to spine. The overall correct answer percentage was 42%. Radiology/spinal pelvic alignment questions had the lowest percentage of correct answers (38%), while clinical evaluation and surgical indications questions had the highest percentage (44%). More than 10 years in practice, completion of a spine fellowship, and more than 75% spine practice were associated with greater overall percentage correct (p < 0.001). More than 10 years in practice was significantly associated with increased percentage of correct answers in 4 of 5 categories. Spine fellowship and more than 75% spine practice were significantly associated with increased percentage correct in all categories. Interestingly, the highest error was seen in risk for postoperative coronal imbalance, with a very low rate of correct responses (15%) and not significantly improved with fellowship (18%, p = 0.08).
The results of this survey suggest that ASD knowledge could be improved in neurosurgery. Knowledge may be augmented with neurosurgical experience, spinal surgery fellowships, and spinal specialization. Neurosurgical education should particularly focus on radiology/spinal pelvic alignment, especially pelvic obliquity and coronal imbalance and operative techniques for ASD.