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James J. Zhou, Tsinsue Chen, S. Harrison Farber, Andrew G. Shetter and Francisco A. Ponce


The field of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for epilepsy has grown tremendously since its inception in the 1970s and 1980s. The goal of this review is to identify and evaluate all studies published on the topic of open-loop DBS for epilepsy over the past decade (2008 to present).


A PubMed search was conducted to identify all articles reporting clinical outcomes of open-loop DBS for the treatment of epilepsy published since January 1, 2008. The following composite search terms were used: (“epilepsy” [MeSH] OR “seizures” [MeSH] OR “kindling, neurologic” [MeSH] OR epilep* OR seizure* OR convuls*) AND (“deep brain stimulation” [MeSH] OR “deep brain stimulation” OR “DBS”) OR (“electric stimulation therapy” [MeSH] OR “electric stimulation therapy” OR “implantable neurostimulators” [MeSH]).


The authors identified 41 studies that met the criteria for inclusion. The anterior nucleus of the thalamus, centromedian nucleus of the thalamus, and hippocampus were the most frequently evaluated targets. Among the 41 articles, 19 reported on stimulation of the anterior nucleus of the thalamus, 6 evaluated stimulation of the centromedian nucleus of the thalamus, and 9 evaluated stimulation of the hippocampus. The remaining 7 articles reported on the evaluation of alternative DBS targets, including the posterior hypothalamus, subthalamic nucleus, ventral intermediate nucleus of the thalamus, nucleus accumbens, caudal zone incerta, mammillothalamic tract, and fornix. The authors evaluated each study for overall epilepsy response rates as well as adverse events and other significant, nonepilepsy outcomes.


Level I evidence supports the safety and efficacy of stimulating the anterior nucleus of the thalamus and the hippocampus for the treatment of medically refractory epilepsy. Level III and IV evidence supports stimulation of other targets for epilepsy. Ongoing research into the efficacy, adverse effects, and mechanisms of open-loop DBS continues to expand the knowledge supporting the use of these treatment modalities in patients with refractory epilepsy.

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Corey T. Walker, S. Harrison Farber, Tyler S. Cole, David S. Xu, Jakub Godzik, Alexander C. Whiting, Cory Hartman, Randall W. Porter, Jay D. Turner and Juan Uribe


Minimally invasive anterolateral retroperitoneal approaches for lumbar interbody arthrodesis have distinct advantages attractive to spine surgeons. Prepsoas or transpsoas trajectories can be employed with differing complication profiles because of the inherent anatomical differences encountered in each approach. The evidence comparing them remains limited because of poor quality data. Here, the authors sought to systematically review the available literature and perform a meta-analysis comparing the two techniques.


A systematic review and meta-analysis was performed according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. A database search was used to identify eligible studies. Prepsoas and transpsoas studies were compiled, and each study was assessed for inclusion criteria. Complication rates were recorded and compared between approach groups. Studies incorporating an analysis of postoperative subsidence and pseudarthrosis rates were also assessed and compared.


For the prepsoas studies, 20 studies for the complications analysis and 8 studies for the pseudarthrosis outcomes analysis were included. For the transpsoas studies, 39 studies for the complications analysis and 19 studies for the pseudarthrosis outcomes analysis were included. For the complications analysis, 1874 patients treated via the prepsoas approach and 4607 treated with the transpsoas approach were included. In the transpsoas group, there was a higher rate of transient sensory symptoms (21.7% vs 8.7%, p = 0.002), transient hip flexor weakness (19.7% vs 5.7%, p < 0.001), and permanent neurological weakness (2.8% vs 1.0%, p = 0.005). A higher rate of sympathetic nerve injury was seen in the prepsoas group (5.4% vs 0.0%, p = 0.03). Of the nonneurological complications, major vascular injury was significantly higher in the prepsoas approach (1.8% vs 0.4%, p = 0.01). There was no difference in urological or peritoneal/bowel injury, postoperative ileus, or hematomas (all p > 0.05). A higher infection rate was noted for the transpsoas group (3.1% vs 1.1%, p = 0.01). With regard to postoperative fusion outcomes, similar rates of subsidence (12.2% prepsoas vs 13.8% transpsoas, p = 0.78) and pseudarthrosis (9.9% vs 7.5%, respectively, p = 0.57) were seen between the groups at the last follow-up.


Complication rates vary for the prepsoas and transpsoas approaches owing to the variable retroperitoneal anatomy encountered during surgical dissection. While the risks of a lasting motor deficit and transient sensory disturbances are higher for the transpsoas approach, there is a reciprocal reduction in the risks of major vascular injury and sympathetic nerve injury. These results can facilitate informed decision-making and tailored surgical planning regarding the choice of minimally invasive anterolateral access to the spine.

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Scott L. Parker, Anubhav G. Amin, S. Harrison Farber, Matthew J. McGirt, Daniel M. Sciubba, Jean-Paul Wolinsky, Ali Bydon, Ziya L. Gokaslan and Timothy F. Witham


Pedicle screws provide efficient stabilization along all 3 columns of the spine, but they can be technically demanding to place, with malposition rates ranging from 5% to 10%. Intraoperative electromyographic (EMG) monitoring has the capacity to objectively identify a screw breaching the medial pedicle cortex that is in proximity to a nerve root. The purpose of this study is to describe and evaluate the authors' 7-year institutional experience with intraoperative EMG monitoring during placement of lumbar pedicle screws and to determine the clinical utility of intraoperative EMG monitoring.


The authors retrospectively studied 2450 consecutive lumbar pedicle screws placed in 418 patients from June 2002 through June 2009. All screws were inserted using a free-hand technique and anatomical landmarks, stimulated at 10.0 mA, and evaluated with CT scanning within 48 hours postoperatively. Medial pedicle screw breach was defined as having greater than 25% of the screw diameter extend outside of the pedicle, as confirmed on CT scanning or intraoperatively by a positive EMG response indicating a medial breach. The sensitivity and specificity of intraoperative EMG monitoring in detecting the presence of a medial screw breach was evaluated based on the following definitions: 1) true positive (a positive response to EMG stimulation confirmed as a breach intraoperatively or on postoperative CT scans); 2) false positive (positive response to EMG stimulation confirmed as a correctly positioned screw on postoperative CT scans); 3) true negative (no response to EMG stimulation confirmed as a correctly positioned screw on postoperative CT scans); or 4) false negative (no response to EMG stimulation but confirmed as a breach on postoperative CT scans).


One hundred fifteen pedicle screws (4.7%) showed positive stimulation during intraoperative EMG monitoring. At stimulation thresholds less than 5.0, 5.0–8.0, and > 8.0 mA, the specificity of a positive response was 99.9%, 97.9%, and 95.9%, respectively. The sensitivity of a positive response at these thresholds was only 43.4%, 69.6%, and 69.6%, respectively. At a threshold less than 5.0 mA, 91% of screws with a positive EMG response were confirmed as true medial breaches. However, at thresholds of 5.0–8.0 mA or greater than 8.0 mA, a positive EMG response was associated with 89% and 100% false positives (no breaches), respectively.


When using intraoperative EMG monitoring, a positive response at screw stimulation thresholds less than 5.0 mA was highly specific for a medial pedicle screw breach but was poorly sensitive. A positive response to stimulation thresholds greater 5.0 mA was associated with a very high rate of false positives. The authors' experience suggests that pedicle screws showing positive stimulation below 5.0 mA warrants intraoperative investigation for malpositioning while responses at higher thresholds are less reliable at accurately representing a medial breach.

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S. Harrison Farber, Steven Thomas, Gary Pace and Shivanand P. Lad

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Oral Presentations

2010 AANS Annual Meeting Philadelphia, Pennsylvania May 1–5, 2010