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Ravi Sharma, Varidh Katiyar, Priya Narwal, Shashank S. Kale, and Ashish Suri

OBJECTIVE

The longer learning curve and smaller margin of error make nontraditional, or "out of operating room" simulation training, essential in neurosurgery. In this study, the authors propose an evaluation system for residents combining both task-based and procedure-based exercises and also present the perception of residents regarding its utility.

METHODS

Residents were evaluated using a combination of task-based and virtual reality (VR)–based exercises. The results were analyzed in terms of the seniority of the residents as well as their laboratory credits. Questionnaire-based feedback was sought from the residents regarding the utility of this evaluation system incorporating the VR-based exercises.

RESULTS

A total of 35 residents were included in this study and were divided into 3 groups according to seniority. There were 11 residents in groups 1 and 3 and 13 residents in group 2. On the overall assessment of microsuturing skills including both 4-0 and 10-0 microsuturing, the suturing skills of groups 2 and 3 were observed to be better than those of group 1 (p = 0.0014). Additionally, it was found that microsuturing scores improved significantly with the increasing laboratory credits (R2 = 0.72, p < 0.001), and this was found to be the most significant for group 1 residents (R2 = 0.85, p < 0.001). Group 3 residents performed significantly better than the other two groups in both straight (p = 0.02) and diagonal (p = 0.042) ring transfer tasks, but there was no significant difference between group 1 and group 2 residents (p = 0.35). Endoscopic evaluation points were also found to be positively correlated with previous laboratory training (p = 0.002); however, for the individual seniority groups, the correlation failed to reach statistical significance. The 3 seniority groups performed similarly in the cranial and spinal VR modules. Group 3 residents showed significant disagreement with the utility of the VR platform for improving surgical dexterity (p = 0.027) and improving the understanding of surgical procedures (p = 0.034). Similarly, there was greater disagreement for VR-based evaluation to identify target areas of improvement among the senior residents (groups 2 and 3), but it did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.194).

CONCLUSIONS

The combination of task- and procedure-based assessment of trainees using physical and VR simulation models can supplement the existing neurosurgery curriculum. The currently available VR-based simulations are useful in the early years of training, but they need significant improvement to offer beneficial learning opportunities to senior trainees.

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Chinmaya Dash, Kanwaljeet Garg, and Shashank S. Kale

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Pankaj K. Singh, Mohit Agrawal, Dattaraj Sawarkar, Amandeep Kumar, Satish Verma, Ramesh Doddamani, P. Sarat Chandra, and Shashank S. Kale

Hangman’s fracture, also known as traumatic spondylolisthesis of the axis, causes widening of the neural canal and thus a low rate of neurological deficits. This low rate is one of the reasons it is neglected and patients present with late neurological deficits. In an effort to preserve motion at the C1–2 joint, the authors devised a new technique of bilateral C2 pedicle reconstruction. They describe the first two cases in the literature of an old hangman’s fracture with resorbed C2 pedicles due to chronic fracture, in which bilateral C2 pedicles were reconstructed. One of the two cases (case 2) is the first reported case of severe C2–3 spondyloptosis with C2 displaced up to the level of C4. Case 1 had a follow up of 21 months, while case 2 had a follow up of 12 months. Both patients experienced neurological improvement with evidence of fusion and artificial pedicle formation at last follow-up. Bilateral C2 pedicle reconstruction is a feasible technique that can be used with a good outcome in select patients.

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Varidh Katiyar, Ravi Sharma, Vivek Tandon, Revanth Goda, Akshay Ganeshkumar, Ashish Suri, P. Sarat Chandra, and Shashank S. Kale

OBJECTIVE

The authors aimed to evaluate the impact of age and frailty on the surgical outcomes of patients with glioblastoma (GBM) and to assess caregivers’ perceptions regarding postdischarge care and challenges faced in the developing country of India.

METHODS

This was a retrospective study of patients with histopathologically proven GBM from 2009 to 2018. Data regarding the clinical and radiological characteristics as well as surgical outcomes were collected from the institute’s electronic database. Taking Indian demographics into account, the authors used the cutoff age of 60 years to define patients as elderly. Frailty was estimated using the 11-point modified frailty index (mFI-11). Patients were divided into three groups: robust, with an mFI score of 0; moderately frail, with an mFI score of 1 or 2; and severely frail, with an mFI score ≥ 3. A questionnaire-based survey was done to assess caregivers’ perceptions about postdischarge care.

RESULTS

Of the 276 patients, there were 93 (33.7%) elderly patients and 183 (66.3%) young or middle-aged patients. The proportion of severely frail patients was significantly more in the elderly group (38.7%) than in the young or middle-aged group (28.4%) (p < 0.001). The authors performed univariate and multivariate analysis of associations of different short-term outcomes with age, sex, frailty, and Charlson Comorbidity Index. On the multivariate analysis, only frailty was found to be a significant predictor for in-hospital mortality, postoperative complications, and length of hospital and ICU stay (p < 0.001). On Cox regression analysis, the severely frail group was found to have a significantly lower overall survival rate compared with the moderately frail (p = 0.001) and robust groups (p < 0.001). With the increase in frailty, there was a concomitant increase in the requirement for readmissions (p = 0.003), postdischarge specialist care (p = 0.001), and help from extrafamilial sources (p < 0.001). Greater dissatisfaction with psychosocial and financial support among the caregivers of severely frail patients was seen as they found themselves ill-equipped to provide postdischarge care at home (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Frailty is a better predictor of poorer surgical outcomes than chronological age in terms of duration of hospital and ICU stay, postoperative complications, and in-hospital mortality. It also adds to the psychosocial and financial burdens of the caregivers, making postdischarge care challenging.

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Amol Raheja, Shashwat Mishra, Kanwaljeet Garg, Varidh Katiyar, Ravi Sharma, Vivek Tandon, Revanth Goda, Ashish Suri, and Shashank S. Kale

OBJECTIVE

Extracorporeal telescopes (exoscopes) have been the latest addition to the neurosurgeons’ armamentarium, acting as a bridge between operating microscopes and endoscopes. However, to the authors’ knowledge there are no published preclinical laboratory studies of the accuracy, efficiency, and dexterity of neurosurgical training for the use of 2D or 3D exoscopes compared with microscopes.

METHODS

In a controlled experimental setup, 22 participating neurosurgery residents performed simple (2D) and complex (3D) motor tasks with three visualization tools in alternating sequence: a 2D exoscope, 3D exoscope, and microscope, using a block randomization model based on the neurosurgeons’ prior training experience (novice, intermediate, and senior: n = 6, 12, and 4, respectively). Performance scores (PS; including error and efficiency scores) and dexterity scores (DS) were calculated to objectify the accuracy, efficiency, and finesse of task performance. Repeated measures ANOVA analysis was used to compare the PS, DS, and cumulative scores (CS) of candidates using the three visualization aids. Bland-Altman plots and intraclass correlation coefficients were generated to quantify intraobserver and interobserver agreement for DS. Subgroup analysis was performed to assess the impact of participants’ prior training. A postexercise survey was conducted to assess the comfort level (on a 10-point analog scale) of the participants while using each visualization tool for performing the suturing task.

RESULTS

PS, DS, and CS were significantly impacted by the visualization tool utilized for 2D motor tasks (p < 0.001 for each), with the microscope faring better than the 2D exoscope (p = 0.04) or 3D exoscope (p = 0.008). The PS for the 3D object transfer task was significantly influenced by the visualization aid used (p = 0.007), with the microscope and 3D exoscope faring better than the 2D exoscope (p = 0.04 for both). The visualization instrument used significantly affected the DS and CS for the suturing task (p < 0.001 for both), with the microscope again scoring better than the 2D exoscope (p < 0.001) or 3D exoscope (p = 0.005). The impact of the visualization aid was more apparent in participants with a shorter duration of residency (novice, p = 0.03; intermediate, p = 0.0004). Participants also felt the greatest operational comfort while working with a microscope, 3D exoscope, and 2D exoscope, in that order (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

Compared with 3D and 2D exoscopes, an operating microscope provides better dexterity and performance and a greater operational comfort level for neurosurgeons while they are performing 2D or 3D motor tasks. For performing complex 3D motor tasks, 3D exoscopes offer selective advantages in dexterity, performance, and operational comfort level over 2D exoscopes. The relative impact of visualization aids on surgical proficiency gradually weakens as the participants’ residency duration increases.

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Govindaraju Lakshmi Prasad, Manish Singh Sharma, Shashank S. Kale, Deepak Agrawal, Manmohan Singh, and Bhawani Shankar Sharma

OBJECTIVE

Of the intracranial schwannomas, those arising from the vestibular nerves are the most common. Abducens nerve (AN) schwannomas are very rare, and there is limited literature on their optimal management. Therapeutic options include surgery and/or stereotactic radiosurgery. The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS) in these sixth cranial nerve (CN) schwannomas.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective analysis of patients who had undergone GKRS for intracranial tumors at their institute in the period from 2003 to 2010. Inclusion criteria were as follows: isolated AN paresis on presentation, a lesion along the course of the sixth CN, and imaging features characteristic of a schwannoma. Patients with other CN deficits and neurofibromatosis Type 2 were excluded. Symptomatic improvement was defined as the resolution of or an improvement in diplopia noted on a subjective basis or as an improvement in lateral eyeball excursion noted objectively on follow-up. A reduction in tumor volume by at least 20%, as noted by comparing the pre- and post-GKRS images, was deemed significant.

RESULTS

Six patients with a mean age of 37.1 years (range 17–55 years) underwent primary GKRS. There were 2 prepontine cistern, 3 cavernous sinus, and 1 cisterno-cavernous tumor. The mean duration of symptoms was 6.1 months (range 3–12 months). The mean tumor volume was 3.3 cm3 (range 1.5–4.8 cm3). The mean tumor margin radiation dose was 12.5 Gy (range 12–14 Gy), while the median margin dose was 12 Gy (50% isodose line). The median number of isocenters used was 5 (range 4–8). The brainstem received an average 8.35-Gy radiation dosage (range 5.5–11 Gy). The mean follow-up duration was 44.3 months (range 24–78 months). Symptoms remained stable in 1 patient, improved in 3, and resolved in 2 (total improvement 83%). Magnetic resonance imaging at the last follow-up showed a stable tumor size in 3 patients (50%) and a reduction in the other 3. Thus, the tumor control rate achieved was 100%. No new CN deficits were noted.

CONCLUSIONS

Abducens nerve schwannomas are rare intracranial tumors. They can be cavernous, cisternal, or cisterno-cavernous in location. Excellent tumor control rates and symptomatic improvement can be achieved with GKRS, which appears to be a safe and effective, minimally invasive modality for the treatment of such lesions. Therefore, it is reasonable to consider GKRS as the initial treatment of choice for this rare pathology. Long-term follow-up will be essential for further recommendations.

Free access

Narendra Kumar, Varidh Katiyar, Kokkula Praneeth, Ravi Sharma, Priya Narwal, Amol Raheja, Vivek Tandon, Shashwat Mishra, Kanwaljeet Garg, Ashish Suri, P. Sarat Chandra, and Shashank S. Kale

OBJECTIVE

The adoption of telemedicine became a necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic because patients found commuting to be difficult owing to travel restrictions. Initially, audio-based teleconsultations were provided. Later, on the basis of the feedback of patients and caregivers, the authors started to provide video-based teleconsultations via WhatsApp. The authors subsequently surveyed the patients and caregivers to determine their satisfaction levels with telemedicine services.

METHODS

An anonymized telephone survey of patients who had participated in teleconsultation was conducted with a structured questionnaire. The responses were analyzed and their correlations with the perceived benefits and limitations of audio and video teleconsultation were determined.

RESULTS

Three hundred respondents were included in the first round of surveys, of whom 250 (83.3%) consented to video teleconsultation. Among the respondents who participated in both audio and video teleconsultations (n = 250), paired analysis showed that video teleconsultation was perceived as better in terms of providing easier access to healthcare services (p < 0.001), saving time (p < 0.001), and satisfaction with the way patient needs were conveyed to healthcare providers (p = 0.023), as well as in terms of adequacy of addressing healthcare needs (p < 0.001) and consequently providing a higher rate of overall satisfaction (p < 0.001). For both audio and video teleconsultation, overall patient satisfaction was significantly related to only previous exposure to WhatsApp. However, for video consultation, longer call duration (p = 0.023) was an important independent factor. Video teleconsultation was preferable to face-to-face consultation irrespective of educational status, but higher education was associated with preference for video teleconsultation.

CONCLUSIONS

Both audio and video teleconsultation are viable cost-effective surrogates for in-person physical neurosurgical consultation. Although audio teleconsultation is more user-friendly and is not restricted by educational status, video teleconsultation trumps the former owing to a more efficient and satisfactory doctor-to-patient interface.

Free access

Amol Raheja, Nitish Agarwal, Sarita Mohapatra, Vivek Tandon, Sachin Anil Borkar, P. Sarat Chandra, Shashank S. Kale, and Ashish Suri

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted healthcare systems globally. The need of the hour is the development of effective strategies for protecting the lives of healthcare providers (HCPs) and judicious triage for optimal utilization of human and hospital resources. During this pandemic, neurosurgery, like other specialties, must transform, innovate, and adopt new guidelines and safety protocols for reducing the risk of cross-infection of HCPs without compromising patient care. In this article, the authors discuss the current neurosurgical practice guidelines at a high-volume tertiary care referral hospital in India and compare them with international guidelines and global consensus for neurosurgery practice in the COVID-19 era. Additionally, the authors highlight some of the modifications incorporated into their clinical practice, including those for stratification of neurosurgical cases, patient triaging based on COVID-19 testing, optimal manpower management, infrastructure reorganization, evolving modules for resident training, and innovations in operating guidelines. The authors recommend the use of their blueprint for stratification of neurosurgical cases, including their protocol for algorithmic patient triage and management and their template for manpower allocation to COVID-19 duty, as a replicable model for efficient healthcare delivery.

Restricted access

Manish Kumar Kasliwal, Shashank Sharad Kale, Aditya Gupta, Narayanam Anantha Sai Kiran, Manish Singh Sharma, Bhawani Shanker Sharma, and Ashok K. Mahapatra

Object

Although the effects of Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) on the risk of hemorrhage are poorly understood, a certain subset of patients does suffer bleeding after GKS. This study was undertaken to analyze the outcome of patients sustaining hemorrhage after GKS; it is the most feared complication of radiosurgical management of cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs).

Methods

Between May 1997 and June 2006, 494 cerebral AVMs in 489 patients were treated using a Leksell Gamma Knife Model B, and follow-up evaluations were conducted until June 2007 at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. Fourteen patients who sustained a hemorrhage after GKS formed the study group. In most of these patients conservative management was chosen.

Results

The mortality rate was 0% and there was a 7% risk of sustaining a severe deficit following rebleeding after GKS. None of the patients sustained rebleeding after complete obliteration. Patients with Spetzler-Martin Grade III or less had increased chances of hemorrhage after GKS (p < 0.002). The presence of deep venous drainage, aneurysm, venous hypertension, or periventricular location on angiography was common in patients with hemorrhage after GKS.

Conclusions

The risk of hemorrhage that remains following GKS for cerebral AVMs is highest in the 1st year after treatment. The present study showed a relatively good outcome even in cases with hemorrhage following GKS, with no deaths and minimal morbidity, further substantiating the safety and efficacy of the procedure.