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Brandon M. Lehrich, Nolan J. Brown, Shane Shahrestani, Ronald Sahyouni, and Frank P. K. Hsu

Dr. James Tait Goodrich was an internationally renowned pediatric neurosurgeon who pioneered the neurosurgical procedures for the multistage separation of craniopagus twins. As of March 2020, 59 craniopagus separations had been performed in the world, with Goodrich having performed 7 of these operations. He was the single most experienced surgeon in the field on this complex craniofacial disorder. Goodrich was a humble individual who rapidly rose through the ranks of academic neurosurgery, eventually serving as Director of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York. In this historical vignette, the authors provide context into the history of and sociocultural attitudes toward conjoined twins; the epidemiology and classification of craniopagus twins; the beginnings of surgery in craniopagus twins; Goodrich’s neurosurgical contributions toward advancing treatment for this complex craniofacial anomaly; and vignettes of Goodrich’s unique clinical cases that made mainstream news coverage.

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Shane Shahrestani, Alexander M. Ballatori, Xiao T. Chen, Andy Ton, Ben A. Strickland, Andrew Brunswick, and Gabriel Zada

OBJECTIVE

Pituitary adenomas (PAs) are among the most common intracranial tumors. Understanding the clinical effects of various modifiable risk factors (MRFs) and nonmodifiable risk factors (NMRFs) is important in guiding proper treatment, yet there is limited evidence outlining the influence of MRFs and NMRFs on outcomes of PA resection. The aim of this study was to analyze MRFs and NMRFs in patients undergoing resection for PAs.

METHODS

Using the 2016 and 2017 National Readmission Database, the authors identified a cohort of 9472 patients undergoing microscopic or endoscopic resection of a PA. Patients with nonoverlapping MRFs and NMRFs were analyzed for length of stay (LOS), hospital cost, readmission rates, and postoperative complications. From the original cohort, a subset of 373 frail patients (as defined by the Johns Hopkins Frailty Index) were identified and propensity matched to nonfrail patients. Statistical analysis included 1-way ANOVA, Tukey multiple comparisons of means, odds ratios, Wald testing, and unpaired Welch 2-sample t-tests to compare complications, outcomes, and costs between each cohort. Perioperative outcomes and hospital readmission rates were tracked, and predictive algorithms were developed to establish precise relationships between relevant risk factors and neurosurgical outcomes.

RESULTS

Malnourished patients had significantly longer LOSs when compared to nonmalnourished patients (p < 0.001). There was a significant positive correlation between the number of MRFs and readmission at 90 days (p = 0.012) and 180 days (p = 0.020). Obese patients had higher rates of postoperative neurological injury at the 30-day follow-up (p = 0.048) compared to patients with normal BMI. Within this NMRF cohort, frail patients were found to have significantly increased hospital LOS (p < 0.001) and total inpatient costs compared to nonfrail patients (p < 0.001). Predictive analytics showed that frail patients had significantly higher readmission rates at both 90-day (p < 0.001) and 180-day follow-ups (p < 0.001). Lastly, rates of acute postsurgical infection were higher in frail patients compared to nonfrail patients (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

These findings suggest that both MRFs and NMRFs negatively affect the perioperative outcomes following PA resection. Notable risk factors including malnutrition, obesity, elevated lipid panels, and frailty make patients more prone to prolonged LOS, higher inpatient costs, and readmission. Further prospective research with longitudinal data is required to precisely pinpoint the effects of various risk factors on the outcomes of pituitary surgery.

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Shane Shahrestani, Ben A. Strickland, Joshua Bakhsheshian, William J. Mack, Arthur W. Toga, Nerses Sanossian, Yu-Chong Tai, and Gabriel Zada

OBJECTIVE

Spontaneous intracerebral hemorrhage occurs in an estimated 10% of stroke patients, with high rates of associated mortality. Portable diagnostic technologies that can quickly and noninvasively detect hemorrhagic stroke may prevent unnecessary delay in patient care and help rapidly triage patients with ischemic versus hemorrhagic stroke. As such, the authors aimed to develop a rapid and portable eddy current damping (ECD) hemorrhagic stroke sensor for proposed in-field diagnosis of hemorrhagic stroke.

METHODS

A tricoil ECD sensor with microtesla-level magnetic field strengths was constructed. Sixteen gelatin brain models with identical electrical properties to live brain tissue were developed and placed within phantom skull replicas, and saline was diluted to the conductivity of blood and placed within the brain to simulate a hemorrhage. The ECD sensor was used to detect modeled hemorrhages on benchtop models. Data were saved and plotted as a filtered heatmap to represent the lesion location. The individuals performing the scanning were blinded to the bleed location, and sensors were tangentially rotated around the skull models to localize blood. Data were also used to create heatmap images using MATLAB software.

RESULTS

The sensor was portable (11.4-cm maximum diameter), compact, and cost roughly $100 to manufacture. Scanning time was 2.43 minutes, and heatmap images of the lesion were produced in near real time. The ECD sensor accurately predicted the location of a modeled hemorrhage in all (n = 16) benchtop experiments with excellent spatial resolution.

CONCLUSIONS

Benchtop experiments demonstrated the proof of concept of the ECD sensor for rapid transcranial hemorrhagic stroke diagnosis. Future studies with live human participants are warranted to fully establish the feasibility findings derived from this study.

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Nolan J. Brown, Shane Shahrestani, Brian V. Lien, Seth C. Ransom, Ali R. Tafreshi, Ryan Chase Ransom, and Ronald Sahyouni

OBJECTIVE

Cervical angina, or pseudoangina pectoris, is a noncardiac syndrome of chest pain that often mimics angina pectoris but is a disease of the spine. Diagnosis of cervical angina can be difficult and is often overlooked, although once identified, it can be successfully managed through conservative therapies and/or a variety of surgical interventions. Ultimately, cervical angina is an important component of the list of differential diagnoses in noncardiac chest pain. In the present study, the authors report the first comprehensive systematic review of the range of cervical and thoracic pathologies associated with cervical angina, as well as the different treatment methods used to manage this condition.

METHODS

A systematic review was performed according to PRISMA guidelines and using PubMed, Web of Science, and Cochrane databases from database inception to April 29, 2020, to identify studies describing spinal pathologies related to cervical angina. The following Boolean search was performed: (“cervical” OR “thoracic”) AND (“angina” OR “chest pain”) AND (“herniation” OR “OPLL”). Variables extracted included patient demographics, cervical angina pain location, pathology and duration of symptoms, treatment and/or management method, and posttreatment pain relief.

RESULTS

Upon careful screening, 22 articles published between 1976 and 2020 met the study’s inclusion/exclusion criteria, including 5 case series, 12 case reports, and 5 retrospective cohort studies. These studies featured a total of 1100 patients, of which 95 met inclusion criteria (mean patient age 51.7 years, age range 24–86 years; 53.6% male). Collectively, symptom durations ranged from 1.5 days to 90 months. Cervical herniation (72.6%) accounted for the majority of cervical angina cases, and surgical interventions (84.4%) predominated over physical therapy (13.0%) and medical management strategies (9.1%). Every patient assessed at follow-up reported relief from symptoms related to cervical angina.

CONCLUSIONS

Cervical angina is a noncardiac syndrome of chest pain associated with a broad range of cervical and thoracic spinal pathologies, the most common of which is cervical disc herniation. Although difficult to diagnose, it can be successfully treated when identified through first-line conservative management or surgical interventions in refractory cases.

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Alexander Micko, Benjamin I. Rapoport, Brett E. Youngerman, Reginald P. Fong, Jennifer Kosty, Andrew Brunswick, Shane Shahrestani, Gabriel Zada, and Theodore H. Schwartz

OBJECTIVE

Incomplete resection of skull base pathology may result in local tumor recurrence. This study investigates the utility of 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) fluorescence during endoscopic endonasal approaches (EEAs) to increase visibility of pathologic tissue.

METHODS

This retrospective multicenter series comprises patients with planned resection of an anterior skull base lesion who received preoperative 5-ALA at two tertiary care centers. Diagnostic use of a blue light endoscope was performed during EEA for all cases. Demographic and tumor characteristics as well as fluorescence status, quality, and homogeneity were assessed for each skull base pathology.

RESULTS

Twenty-eight skull base pathologies underwent blue-light EEA with preoperative 5-ALA, including 15 pituitary adenomas (54%), 4 meningiomas (14%), 3 craniopharyngiomas (11%), 2 Rathke’s cleft cysts (7%), as well as plasmacytoma, esthesioneuroblastoma, and sinonasal squamous cell carcinoma. Of these, 6 (21%) of 28 showed invasive growth into surrounding structures such as dura, bone, or compartments of the cavernous sinus. Tumor fluorescence was detected in 2 cases (7%), with strong fluorescence in 1 tuberculum sellae meningioma and vague fluorescence in 1 pituicytoma. In all other cases fluorescence was absent. Faint fluorescence of the normal pituitary gland was seen in 1 (7%) of 15 cases. A comparison between the particular tumor entities as well as a correlation between invasiveness, WHO grade, Ki-67, and positive fluorescence did not show any significant association.

CONCLUSIONS

With the possible exception of meningiomas, 5-ALA fluorescence has limited utility in the majority of endonasal skull base surgeries, although other pathology may be worth investigating.

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Shane Shahrestani, Brandon M. Lehrich, Ali R. Tafreshi, Nolan J. Brown, Brian V. Lien, Seth Ransom, Ryan C. Ransom, Alexander M. Ballatori, Andy Ton, Xiao T. Chen, and Ronald Sahyouni

OBJECTIVE

Frailty is a clinical state of increased vulnerability due to age-associated decline and has been well established as a perioperative risk factor. Geriatric patients have a higher risk of frailty, higher incidence of brain cancer, and increased postoperative complication rates compared to nongeriatric patients. Yet, literature describing the effects of frailty on short- and long-term complications in geriatric patients is limited. In this study, the authors evaluate the effects of frailty in geriatric patients receiving cranial neurosurgery for a primary CNS neoplasm.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective cohort study of geriatric patients receiving cranial neurosurgery for a primary CNS neoplasm between 2010 and 2017 by using the Nationwide Readmission Database. Demographics and frailty were queried at primary admission, and readmissions were analyzed at 30-, 90-, and 180-day intervals. Complications of interest included infection, anemia, infarction, kidney injury, CSF leak, urinary tract infection, and mortality. Nearest-neighbor propensity score matching for demographics was implemented to identify nonfrail control patients with similar diagnoses and procedures. The analysis used Welch two-sample t-tests for continuous variables and chi-square test with odds ratios.

RESULTS

A total of 6713 frail patients and 6629 nonfrail patients were identified at primary admission. At primary admission, frail geriatric patients undergoing cranial neurosurgery had increased odds of developing acute posthemorrhagic anemia (OR 1.56, 95% CI 1.23–1.98; p = 0.00020); acute infection (OR 3.16, 95% CI 1.70–6.36; p = 0.00022); acute kidney injury (OR 1.32, 95% CI 1.07–1.62; p = 0.0088); urinary tract infection prior to discharge (OR 1.97, 95% CI 1.71–2.29; p < 0.0001); acute postoperative cerebral infarction (OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.17–2.11; p = 0.0026); and mortality (OR 1.64, 95% CI 1.22–2.24; p = 0.0012) compared to nonfrail geriatric patients receiving the same procedure. In addition, frail patients had a significantly increased inpatient length of stay (p < 0.0001) and all-payer hospital cost (p < 0.0001) compared to nonfrail patients at the time of primary admission. However, no significant difference was found between frail and nonfrail patients with regard to rates of infection, thromboembolism, CSF leak, dural tear, cerebral infarction, acute kidney injury, and mortality at all readmission time points.

CONCLUSIONS

Frailty may significantly increase the risks of short-term acute complications in geriatric patients receiving cranial neurosurgery for a primary CNS neoplasm. Long-term analysis revealed no significant difference in complications between frail and nonfrail patients. Further research is warranted to understand the effects and timeline of frailty in geriatric patients.

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Shane Shahrestani, Danielle Wishart, Sung Min J. Han, Ben A. Strickland, Joshua Bakhsheshian, William J. Mack, Arthur W. Toga, Nerses Sanossian, Yu-Chong Tai, and Gabriel Zada

OBJECTIVE

Stroke is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Current diagnostic modalities include CT and MRI. Over the last decade, novel technologies to facilitate stroke diagnosis, with the hope of shortening time to treatment and reducing rates of morbidity and mortality, have been developed. The authors conducted a systematic review to identify studies reporting on next-generation point-of-care stroke diagnostic technologies described within the last decade.

METHODS

A systematic review was performed according to PRISMA guidelines to identify studies reporting noninvasive stroke diagnostics. The QUADAS-2 (Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies-2) tool was utilized to assess risk of bias. PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus databases were utilized. Primary outcomes assessed included accuracy and timing compared with standard imaging, potential risks or complications, potential limitations, cost of the technology, size/portability, and range/size of detection.

RESULTS

Of the 2646 reviewed articles, 19 studies met the inclusion criteria and included the following modalities of noninvasive stoke detection: microwave technology (6 studies, 31.6%), electroencephalography (EEG; 4 studies, 21.1%), ultrasonography (3 studies, 15.8%), near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS; 2 studies, 10.5%), portable MRI devices (2 studies, 10.5%), volumetric impedance phase-shift spectroscopy (VIPS; 1 study, 5.3%), and eddy current damping (1 study, 5.3%). Notable medical devices that accurately predicted stroke in this review were EEG-based diagnosis, with a maximum sensitivity of 91.7% for predicting a stroke, microwave-based diagnosis, with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.88 for differentiating ischemic stroke and intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), ultrasound with an AUC of 0.92, VIPS with an AUC of 0.93, and portable MRI with a diagnostic accuracy similar to that of traditional MRI. NIRS offers significant potential for more superficially located hemorrhage but is limited in detecting deep-seated ICH (2.5-cm scanning depth).

CONCLUSIONS

As technology and computational resources have advanced, several novel point-of-care medical devices show promise in facilitating rapid stroke diagnosis, with the potential for improving time to treatment and informing prehospital stroke triage.

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Nolan J. Brown, Elliot H. Choi, Julian L. Gendreau, Vera Ong, Alexander Himstead, Brian V. Lien, Shane Shahrestani, Seth C. Ransom, Katelynn Tran, Ali R. Tafreshi, Ronald Sahyouni, Alvin Chan, and Michael Y. Oh

OBJECTIVE

Tranexamic acid (TXA) is an antifibrinolytic agent associated with reduced blood loss and mortality in a wide range of procedures, including spine surgery, traumatic brain injury, and craniosynostosis. Despite this wide use, the safety and efficacy of TXA in spine surgery has been considered controversial due to a relative scarcity of literature and lack of statistical power in reported studies. However, if TXA can be shown to reduce blood loss in laminectomy with fusion and posterior instrumentation, more surgeons may include it in their armamentarium. The authors aimed to conduct an up-to-date systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy of TXA in reducing blood loss in laminectomy and fusion with posterior instrumentation.

METHODS

A systematic review and meta-analysis, abiding by PRISMA guidelines, was performed by searching the databases of PubMed, Web of Science, and Cochrane. These platforms were queried for all studies reporting the use of TXA in laminectomy and fusion with posterior instrumentation. Variables retrieved included patient demographics, surgical indications, involved spinal levels, type of laminectomy performed, TXA administration dose, TXA route of administration, operative duration, blood loss, blood transfusion rate, postoperative hemoglobin level, and perioperative complications. Heterogeneity across studies was evaluated using a chi-square test, Cochran’s Q test, and I2 test performed with R statistical programming software.

RESULTS

A total of 7 articles were included in the qualitative study, while 6 articles featuring 411 patients underwent statistical analysis. The most common route of administration for TXA was intravenous with 15 mg/kg administered preoperatively. After the beginning of surgery, TXA administration patterns were varied among studies. Blood transfusions were increased in non-TXA cohorts compared to TXA cohorts. Patients administered TXA demonstrated a significant reduction in blood loss (mean difference −218.44 mL; 95% CI −379.34 to −57.53; p = 0.018). TXA administration was not associated with statistically significant reductions in operative durations. There were no adverse events reported in either the TXA or non-TXA patient cohorts.

CONCLUSIONS

TXA can significantly reduce perioperative blood loss in cervical, thoracic, and lumbar laminectomy and fusion procedures, while demonstrating a minimal complication profile.

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Daniel A. Donoho, Dhiraj J. Pangal, Guillaume Kugener, Martin Rutkowski, Alexander Micko, Shane Shahrestani, Andrew Brunswick, Michael Minneti, Bozena B. Wrobel, and Gabriel Zada

OBJECTIVE

Internal carotid artery injury (ICAI) is a rare, life-threatening complication of endoscopic endonasal approaches that will be encountered by most skull base neurosurgeons and otolaryngologists. Rates of surgical proficiency for managing ICAI are not known, and the role of simulation to improve performance has not been studied on a nationwide scale.

METHODS

Attending and resident neurosurgery and otorhinolaryngology surgeons (n = 177) were recruited from multicenter regional and national training courses to assess training outcomes and validity at scale of a prospective educational intervention to improve surgeon technical skills using a previously validated, perfused human cadaveric simulator. Participants attempted an initial trial (T1) of simulated ICAI control using their preferred technique. An educational intervention including personalized instruction was performed. Participants attempted a second trial (T2). Task success (dichotomous), time to hemostasis (TTH), estimated blood loss (EBL), and surgeon heart rate were measured.

RESULTS

Participant rating scales confirmed that the simulation retained face and construct validity across eight instructional settings. Trial success (ICAI control) improved from 56% in T1 to 90% in T2 (p < 0.0001). EBL and TTH decreased by 37% and 38%, respectively (p < 0.0001). Postintervention resident surgeon performance (TTH, EBL, and success rate) was superior to preintervention attending surgeon performance. The most improved quartile of participants achieved 62% improvement in TTH and 73% improvement in EBL, with trial success improvement from 25.6% in T1 to 100% in T2 (p < 0.0001). Baseline surgeon confidence was uncorrelated with T1 success, while posttraining confidence correlated with T2 success. Tachycardia was measured in 57% of surgeon participants, but was attenuated during T2, consistent with development of resiliency.

CONCLUSIONS

Prior to training, many attending and most resident surgeons could not manage the rare, life-threatening intraoperative complication of ICAI. A simulated educational intervention significantly improved surgeon performance and remained valid when deployed at scale. Simulation also promoted the development of favorable cognitive skills (accurate perception of skill and resiliency). Rare, life-threatening intraoperative complications may be optimal targets for educational interventions using surgical simulation.

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Ben A. Strickland, Shane Shahrestani, Robert G. Briggs, Anna Jackanich, Sherwin Tavakol, Kyle Hurth, Mark S. Shiroishi, Chia-Shang J. Liu, John D. Carmichael, Martin Weiss, and Gabriel Zada

OBJECTIVE

Silent corticotroph adenomas (SCAs) are a distinct subtype of nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas (NFAs) that demonstrate positive immunohistochemistry for adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) without causing Cushing’s disease. SCAs are hypothesized to exhibit more aggressive behavior than standard NFAs. The authors analyzed their institution’s surgical experience with SCAs in an effort to characterize rates of invasion, postoperative clinical outcomes, and patterns of disease recurrence and progression. The secondary objectives were to define the best treatment strategies in the event of tumor recurrence and progression.

METHODS

A retrospective analysis of patients treated at the authors’ institution identified 100 patients with SCAs and 841 patients with NFAs of other subtypes who were treated surgically from 2000 to 2019. Patient demographics, tumor characteristics, surgical and neuroimaging data, rates of endocrinopathy, and neurological outcomes were recorded. Cohorts of patients with SCAs and patients with standard NFAs were compared with regard to these characteristics and outcomes.

RESULTS

The SCA cohort presented with cranial neuropathy (13% vs 5.7%, p = 0.0051) and headache (53% vs 42.3%, p = 0.042) compared to the NFA cohort, despite similar rates of apoplexy. The SCA cohort included a higher proportion of women (SCA 60% vs NFA 45.8%, p = 0.0071) and younger age at presentation (SCA 50.5 ± 13.3 vs NFA 54.6 ± 14.9 years of age, p = 0.0082). Reoperations were comparable between the cohorts (SCA 16% vs NFA 15.7%, p = 0.98). Preoperative pituitary function was comparable between the cohorts with the exception of higher rates of preoperative panhypopituitarism in NFA patients (2% vs 6.1%, respectively; p = 0.0033). The mean tumor diameter in SCA patients was 24 ± 10.8 mm compared to 26 ± 11.3 mm in NFA patients (p = 0.05). Rates of cavernous sinus invasion were higher in the SCA group (56% vs 49.7%), although this result did not reach statistical significance. There were no significant differences in extent of resection, intraoperative CSF leak rates, endocrine or neurological outcomes, or postoperative complications. Ki-67 rates were significantly increased in the SCA cohort (2.88 ± 2.79) compared to the NFA cohort (1.94 ± 1.99) (p = 0.015). Although no differences in overall rates of progression or recurrence were noted, SCAs had a significantly lower progression-free survival (24.5 vs 51.1 months, p = 0.0011). Among the SCA cohort, progression was noted despite the use of adjuvant radiosurgery in 33% (n = 4/12) of treated tumors. Adequate tumor control was not achieved in half (n = 6) of the SCA progression cohort despite radiosurgery or multiple resections.

CONCLUSIONS

In this study, to the authors’ knowledge the largest surgical series to assess outcomes in SCAs to date, the findings suggest that SCAs are more biologically aggressive tumors than standard NFAs. The progression-free survival duration of patients with SCAs is only about half that of patients with other NFAs. Therefore, close neuroimaging and clinical follow-up are warranted in patients with SCAs, and residual disease should be considered for early postoperative adjuvant radiosurgery, particularly in younger patients.