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Sam Safavi-Abbasi, Adrian J. Maurer and Craig H. Rabb

The use of minimally invasive tubular retractor microsurgery for treatment of multilevel spinal epidural abscess is described. This technique was used in 3 cases, and excellent results were achieved. The authors conclude that multilevel spinal epidural abscesses can be safely and effectively managed using microsurgery via a minimally invasive tubular retractor system.

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Paul Foreman, Sam Safavi-Abbasi, Melanie C. Talley, Lindsay Boeckman and Timothy B. Mapstone

Object

The authors debate the optimal management for Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) while sharing their experience with posterior fossa decompression and duraplasty (PFDD).

Methods

The charts of 48 consecutive pediatric patients surgically treated for CM-I were retrospectively reviewed.

Results

Patients ranged in age from 2 to 17 years with an average age of 9.8 years. The most common presentations were headache, affecting 34 patients (71%), and pain (neck, back, or extremities), affecting 21 patients (44%). Twenty-seven patients (56%) had a syrinx. All 48 patients underwent PFDD utilizing acellular tissue matrix. The average hospital stay overall was 3.56 days, whereas the average stay for patients with (29 [60%] of 48) or without (19 [40%] of 48) scoliosis and/or syringomyelia was 3.72 and 3.32 days, respectively. The odds of a patient having a hospital stay of 4 or more days was nearly 3 times greater in patients with scoliosis and/or syringomyelia as compared with patients without either condition (OR 2.73, 95% CI 0.74–10.11, p = 0.1330). The average hospital stay for patients 0–8 years of age was 3.29 days; and for those 9–17 years of age, 3.78 days. The odds of a patient having a hospital stay of 4 or more days was nearly 4 times greater in 9- to 17-year-olds as compared with 0- to 8-year-olds (OR 3.73, 95% CI 1.03–13.52, p = 0.0455). Forty patients (89%) experienced early improvement in their signs and symptoms following PFDD. There were 2 revision PFDDs (4%).

Conclusions

Posterior fossa decompression and duraplasty is a safe and effective surgical option in the management of pediatric CM-I.

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Seref Dogan, Sam Safavi-Abbasi, Nicholas Theodore, Eric Horn, Harold L. Rekate and Volker K. H. Sonntag

Object

In this study the authors evaluated the mechanisms and patterns of injury and the factors affecting management and outcome of pediatric subaxial cervical spine injuries (C3–7).

Methods

Fifty-one pediatric patients (38 boys and 13 girls; mean age 12.4 years, range 10 months–16 years) with subaxial cervical spine injuries were reviewed retrospectively. Motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) were the most common cause of injury. Overall, 12% presented with a dislocation, 63% with a fracture, 19% with a fracture–dislocation, and 6% with a ligamentous injury. The most frequently injured level was C6–7 (33%); C3–4 (6%) was least frequently involved. Sixty-four percent of patients were neurologically intact, 16% had incomplete spinal cord injuries (SCIs), 14% had complete SCIs, and three patients (6%) died after admission and before assessment. Treatment was conservative in 64%: seven (13%) wore a halo vest and 26 (51%) wore a rigid cervical orthosis. Surgery was performed in the other 18 patients (36%), with the breakdown as follows: 15 (30%) underwent an anterior approach, two (4%) had posterior approaches, and one (2%) had a combined approach. Postoperatively, four patients (8%) who had a neurological deficit improved. The overall mortality rate was 8%; all deaths were related to MVAs. There were no surgery-related deaths or complications.

Conclusions

Subaxial cervical spine injuries are common in children 9 to 16 years of age, and occur principally between C-5 and C-7. Multilevel injury is more common in children 8 years of age and older than in younger children and infants. Most patients with subaxial cervical spine injuries can be treated conservatively. Both anterior and posterior approaches are safe and effective.

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Madjid Samii, Andrei Koerbel, Sam Safavi-Abbasi, Federico Di Rocco, Amir Samii and Alireza Gharabaghi

✓ Increasing rates of facial and cochlear nerve preservation after vestibular schwannoma surgery have been achieved in the last 30 years. However, the management of a partially or completely damaged facial nerve remains an important issue. In such a case, several immediate or delayed repair techniques have been used.

On the basis of recent studies of successful end-to-side neurorrhaphy, the authors applied this technique in a patient with an anatomically preserved but partially injured facial nerve during vestibular schwannoma surgery. The authors interposed a sural nerve graft to reinforce the facial nerve whose partial anatomical continuity had been preserved. On follow-up examinations 18 months after surgery, satisfactory cosmetic results for facial nerve function were observed.

The end-to-side interposed nerve graft appears to be a reasonable alternative in cases of partial facial nerve injury, and might be a future therapeutic option for other cranial nerve injuries.

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Andrei Koerbel, Alireza Gharabaghi, Sam Safavi-Abbasi, Marcos Tatagiba and Madjid Samii

The extraordinary improvement of patient outcome after surgical treatment for vestibular schwannomas is relatively recent and has occurred mainly over the last 30 years. The introduction of microsurgical techniques has resulted in increasing degrees of precise anatomical and functional preservation of the facial and cochlear nerves. An expanded microsurgical technique accompanied by continuous electrophysiological monitoring has resulted in marked changes in the primary goals for this surgery. Whereas in the past the primary goal of vestibular schwannoma management was to preserve the patient's life, the objective in vestibular schwannoma treatment today is to preserve neurological function.

Long-term follow-up examinations show negligible recurrence rates, indicating that the aim of preservation of nerve function does not limit the completeness of tumor removal with modern neurosurgical techniques. Despite these advances in preserving the anatomical integrity of, for example, the cochlear nerve, losses of function and even deafness may occur postoperatively in some cases. Current biological and technical research in experimental and clinical settings addresses these problems. In this article, the authors report in detail the developments achieved in vestibular schwannoma surgery and the great clinicians to whom these results can be credited.

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Sam Safavi-Abbasi, Timothy B. Mapstone, Jacob B. Archer, Christopher Wilson, Nicholas Theodore, Robert F. Spetzler and Mark C. Preul

An understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of tethered cord syndrome (TCS) and modern management strategies have only developed within the past few decades. Current understanding of this entity first began with the understanding and management of spina bifida; this later led to the gradual recognition of spina bifida occulta and the symptoms associated with tethering of the filum terminale. In the 17th century, Dutch anatomists provided the first descriptions and initiated surgical management efforts for spina bifida. In the 19th century, the term “spina bifida occulta” was coined and various presentations of spinal dysraphism were appreciated. The association of urinary, cutaneous, and skeletal abnormalities with spinal dysraphism was recognized in the 20th century. Early in the 20th century, some physicians began to suspect that traction on the conus medullaris caused myelodysplasia-related symptoms and that prophylactic surgical management could prevent the occurrence of clinical manifestations. It was not, however, until later in the 20th century that the term “tethered spinal cord” and the modern management of TCS were introduced. This gradual advancement in understanding at a time before the development of modern imaging modalities illustrates how, over the centuries, anatomists, pathologists, neurologists, and surgeons used clinical examination, a high level of suspicion, and interest in the subtle and overt clinical appearances of spinal dysraphism and TCS to advance understanding of pathophysiology, clinical appearance, and treatment of this entity. With the availability of modern imaging, spinal dysraphism can now be diagnosed and treated as early as the intrauterine stage.

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Sam Safavi-Abbasi, Iman Feiz-Erfan, Robert F. Spetzler, Louis Kim, Seref Dogan, Randall W. Porter and Volker K. H. Sonntag

✓There is growing evidence to suggest that pregnancy may increase the risk of hemorrhage from cavernous malformations (CMs). In the present case, a 21-year-old primigravida was admitted to the authors' neurosurgical service after a cesarean section. Three weeks before admission she had experienced rapidly progressive bilateral lower-extremity paresthesias. Spinal magnetic resonance (MR) imaging revealed the presence of an intramedullary thoracic lesion. On T2-weighted MR images, heterogeneous signal intensity with a rim of decreased intensity was demonstrated in the spine. The mass was successfully resected, and 1 year later the patient's symptoms had resolved completely. This is the fourth reported case of a spinal intramedullary CM that became symptomatic during pregnancy. The pathogenesis and management of this entity are reviewed.