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Sebastian Siller, Rami Kasem, Thomas-Nikolaus Witt, Joerg-Christian Tonn and Stefan Zausinger

OBJECTIVE

Various neurological diseases are known to cause progressive painless paresis of the upper limbs. In this study the authors describe the previously unspecified syndrome of compression-induced painless cervical radiculopathy with predominant motor deficit and muscular atrophy, and highlight the clinical and radiological characteristics and outcomes after surgery for this rare syndrome, along with its neurological differential diagnoses.

METHODS

Medical records of 788 patients undergoing surgical decompression due to degenerative cervical spine diseases between 2005 and 2014 were assessed. Among those patients, 31 (3.9%, male to female ratio 4.8 to 1, mean age 60 years) presented with painless compressive cervical motor radiculopathy due to neuroforaminal stenosis without signs of myelopathy; long-term evaluation was available in 23 patients with 49 symptomatic foraminal stenoses. Clinical, imaging, and operative findings as well as the long-term course of paresis and quality of life were analyzed.

RESULTS

Presenting symptoms (mean duration 13.3 months) included a defining progressive flaccid radicular paresis (median grade 3/5) without any history of radiating pain (100%) and a concomitant muscular atrophy (78%); 83% of the patients were smokers and 17% patients had diabetes. Imaging revealed a predominantly anterior nerve root compression at the neuroforaminal entrance in 98% of stenoses. Thirty stenoses (11 patients) were initially decompressed via an anterior surgical approach and 19 stenoses (12 patients) via a posterior surgical approach. Overall reoperation rate due to new or recurrent stenoses was 22%, with time to reoperation shorter in smokers (p = 0.033). Independently of the surgical procedure chosen, long-term follow-up (mean 3.9 years) revealed a stable or improved paresis in 87% of the patients (median grade 4/5) and an excellent general performance and quality of life.

CONCLUSIONS

Painless cervical motor radiculopathy predominantly occurs due to focal compression of the anterior nerve root at the neuroforaminal entrance. Surgical decompression is effective in stabilizing or improving motor function with a resulting favorable long-term outcome.

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Sebastian Siller, Andrea Szelényi, Lisa Herlitz, Joerg Christian Tonn and Stefan Zausinger

OBJECTIVE

Spinal cord hemangioblastomas are rare benign tumors developing either sporadically or as part of von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease. Generally, resection is the treatment of choice. However, the significance of intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring (IONM) for resection and postoperative outcome is still controversial. The authors analyzed the surgical and clinical courses of patients who had undergone resection of spinal cord hemangioblastoma, with special attention to preoperative imaging, the use of IONM, and short- and long-term outcomes.

METHODS

A series of 24 patients (male/female 1:1, lesion sporadic/associated with VHL 2.4:1) who had undergone 26 operations for the resection of 27 spinal cord hemangioblastomas was analyzed. All patients had undergone pre- and postoperative contrast-enhanced MRI. In all cases, microsurgical tumor removal had been performed under continuous IONM of both somatosensory and transcranial motor evoked potentials as well as electromyographic recording. Clinical characteristics, imaging findings, and operative records were retrospectively analyzed. Outcome parameters included short- and long-term status as regards sensorimotor deficits and a questionnaire on general performance, patient satisfaction, and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) at the end of the follow-up period. The impact of IONM findings on postoperative deficits and outcome parameters as well as risk factors affecting functional prognosis was statistically assessed.

RESULTS

Preoperative symptoms (mean duration 16.2 ± 22.0 months) included sensory changes (100.0%), pain (66.7%), spinal ataxia (66.7%), motor deficit (41.7%), and bladder/bowel dysfunction (12.5%). Average age at the first operation was 36.8 ± 12.8 years. Most tumors (21 intramedullary, 6 intra- and/or extramedullary) were located dorsally (92.6%) and cervically (77.8%) and were accompanied by peritumoral edema and/or syringomyelia (81.5%). Tumor resection was achieved via laminectomy for 15 tumors, hemilaminectomy for 5, laminoplasty for 6, and interlaminar approach for 1. Gross-total resection was accomplished for 26 tumors (96.3%) with no local tumor recurrence during follow-up. Intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring was nonpathological in 11 operations (42.3%) and pathological in 15 (57.7%). Patients with nonpathological IONM had significantly fewer new sensorimotor deficits (p = 0.005). Long-term follow-up evaluation (mean 7.9 ± 4.0 years postoperatively, 7 patients lost to follow-up) revealed a stable or improved McCormick myelopathy grade in 88.2% of the patients, and 88.2% reported a stable or improved overall outcome according to Odom's criteria. Long-term general performance was excellent with 88.2% having a WHO/Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) Performance Status grade ≤ 1, 76.5% a Karnofsky Performance Scale score ≥ 80, and 70.6% a Barthel Index (BI) of 100. The mean ODI (11.4% ± 12.5%) indicated only minimal disability. There was a significant correlation between pathological IONM findings and a worse long-term status according to the BI and ODI (p = 0.011 and 0.024, respectively). Additionally, VHL disease was a risk factor affecting functional prognosis (p = 0.044).

CONCLUSIONS

Microsurgical removal of spinal cord hemangioblastomas with IONM facilitates a satisfying long-term outcome for patients. Nonpathological IONM findings are associated with a lower risk of new sensorimotor deficits and correlate with a better overall long-term outcome. von Hippel–Lindau disease is a risk factor for a worse long-term prognosis.

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Sebastian Siller, Caroline Zoellner, Manuel Fuetsch, Raimund Trabold, Joerg-Christian Tonn and Stefan Zausinger

OBJECTIVE

Since the 1970s, the operating microscope (OM) has been a standard for visualization and illumination of the surgical field in spinal microsurgery. However, due to its limitations (e.g., size, costliness, and the limited movability of the binocular lenses, in addition to discomfort experienced by surgeons due to the posture required), there are efforts to replace the OM with exoscopic video telescopes. The authors evaluated the feasibility of a new 3D exoscope as an alternative to the OM in spine surgeries.

METHODS

Patients with degenerative pathologies scheduled for single-level lumbar or cervical spinal surgery with use of a high-definition 3D exoscope were enrolled in a prospective cohort study between January 2019 and September 2019. Age-, sex-, body mass index–, and procedure-matched patients surgically treated with the assistance of the OM served as the control group. Operative baseline and postoperative outcome parameters were assessed. Periprocedural handling, visualization, and illumination by the exoscope, as well as surgeons’ comfort level in terms of posture, were scored using a questionnaire.

RESULTS

A 3D exoscope was used in 40 patients undergoing lumbar posterior decompression (LPD) and 20 patients undergoing anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF); an equal number of controls in whom an OM was used were studied. Compared with controls, there were no significant differences for mean operative time (ACDF: 132 vs 116 minutes; LPD: 112 vs 113 minutes) and blood loss (ACDF: 97 vs 93 ml; LPD: 109 vs 55 ml) as well as postoperative improvement of symptoms (ACDF/Neck Disability Index: p = 0.43; LPD/Oswestry Disability Index: p = 0.76). No intraoperative complications occurred in either group. According to the attending surgeon, the intraoperative handling of instruments was rated to be comparable to that of the OM, while the comfort level of the surgeon’s posture intraoperatively (especially during “undercutting” procedures) was rated as superior. In cases of ACDF procedures and long approaches, depth perception, image quality, and illumination were rated as inferior when compared with the OM. By contrast, for operating room nursing staff participating in 3D exoscope procedures, the visualization of intraoperative process flow and surgical situs was rated to be superior to the OM, especially for ACDF procedures.

CONCLUSIONS

A 3D exoscope seems to be a safe alternative for common spinal procedures with the unique advantage of excellent comfort for the surgical team, but the drawback is the still slightly inferior visualization/illumination quality compared with the OM.

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Thomas Westermaier, Stefan Zausinger, Alexander Baethmann, Hans-Jakob Steiger and Robert Schmid-Elsaesser

Object. Mild-to-moderate hypothermia is increasingly used for neuroprotection in humans. However, it is unknown whether administration of barbiturate medications in burst-suppressive doses—the gold standard of neuroprotection during neurovascular procedures—provides an additional protective effect under hypothermic conditions. The authors conducted the present study to answer this question.

Methods. Thirty-two Sprague—Dawley rats were subjected to 90 minutes of middle cerebral artery occlusion and randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups: 1) normothermic controls; 2) methohexital treatment (burst suppression); 3) induction of mild hypothermia (33°C); and 4) induction of mild hypothermia plus methohexital treatment (burst suppression). Local cerebral blood flow was continuously monitored using bilateral laser Doppler flowmetry and electroencephalography. Functional deficits were quantified and recorded during daily neurological examinations. Infarct volumes were assessed histologically after 7 days. Methohexital treatment, mild hypothermia, and mild hypothermia plus methohexital treatment reduced infarct volumes by 32%, 71%, and 66%, respectively, compared with normothermic controls. Furthermore, mild hypothermia therapy provided the best functional outcome, which was not improved by additional barbiturate therapy.

Conclusions. The results of this study indicate that barbiturate-induced burst suppression is not required to achieve maximum neuroprotection under mild hypothermic conditions. The magnitude of protection afforded by barbiturates alone appears to be modest compared with that provided by mild hypothermia.

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Christian Schichor, Walter Rachinger, Dominik Morhard, Stefan Zausinger, Thomas J. Heigl, Maximilian Reiser and Jörg-Christian Tonn

Object

In vascular neurosurgery, there is a demand for intraoperative imaging of blood vessels as well as for rapid information about critical impairment of brain perfusion. This study was conducted to analyze the feasibility of intraoperative CT angiography and brain perfusion mapping using an up-to-date multislice CT scanner in a prospective pilot series.

Methods

Ten patients with unruptured aneurysms underwent intraoperative scanning with a 40-slice sliding-gantry CT scanner. Multimodal CT acquisition was obtained in 8 patients consisting of dynamic perfusion CT (PCT) scanning followed by intracranial CT angiography. Two of these patients underwent CT angiography and PCT 2 times in 1 session as a control after repositioning cerebral aneurysm clips. In another 2 patients, CT angiography was performed alone. The quality of all imaging obtained was assessed in a blinded consensus reading performed by an experienced neurosurgeon and an experienced neuroradiologist. A 6-point scoring system ranging from excellent to insufficient was used for quality evaluation of PCT and CT angiography.

Results

In 9 of 10 PCT data sets, the quality was rated excellent or good. In the remaining case, the quality was rated insufficient for diagnostic evaluation due to major streak artifacts induced by the titanium pins of the head clamp. In this particular case, the quality of the related CT angiography was rated good and sufficient for intraoperative decision making. The quality of all 12 CT angiography data sets was rated excellent or good. In 1 patient with an anterior communicating artery aneurysm, PCT scanning led to a repositioning of the clip because of an ischemic pattern of the perfusion parameter maps due to clip stenosis of an artery. The subsequent PCT scan obtained in this patient revealed an improved perfusion of the related vascular territory, and follow-up MR imaging showed only minor ischemia of the anterior cerebral artery territory.

Conclusions

Intraoperative CT angiography and PCT scanning were shown to be feasible with short acquisition time, little interference with the surgical workflow, and very good diagnostic imaging quality. Thus, these modalities might be very helpful in vascular neurosurgery. Having demonstrated their feasibility, the impact of these methods on patients' outcomes has now to be analyzed prospectively in a larger series.

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Mathias Kunz, Gernot Schulte-Altedorneburg, Eberhard Uhl, Robert Schmid-Elsaesser, Karsten Schöller and Stefan Zausinger

Object

Endoscopic third ventriculostomy is the treatment of choice in patients with obstructive hydrocephalus caused by aqueductal stenosis. The authors examined the clinical course and results of surgical treatment for obstructive hydrocephalus with pre- and postoperative refined constructive interference in steady-state (CISS) MR imaging.

Methods

Forty patients with obstructive hydrocephalus underwent pre- and postoperative 3D-CISS imaging and clinical evaluation. Radiological findings were correlated with intraoperative observations of the thickness and transparency of the floor of the third ventricle and the patient's postoperative clinical course.

Results

Three-dimensional CISS MR imaging provides precise visualization of the basilar/posterior cerebral artery, its distance to the clivus, the diameter of the foramen of Monro, and the extension of and thickness of the floor of the third ventricle. In 71% of patients a flow void was detectable postoperatively on the ventriculostomy. In this group 81.5% had strong and 14.8% moderate clinical benefit, and 3.7% required secondary shunt placement. In the remaining 29% of the patients without a visible flow void, strong improvement was seen in 54.5%, moderate improvement in 18.2%, and stoma failure occurred in 27.3% (p = 0.094). Radiological measurements of the thickness of the third ventricle floor correlated with intraoperative findings (r = 0.35, p = 0.029). Comparison of outcomes showed a statistically significant tendency for a better outcome in patients with thin and easily perforated third ventricle floors (p = 0.04).

Conclusions

Endoscopic ventriculostomy in patients with obstructive hydrocephalus is safe and mostly successful, and 3D-CISS MR imaging seems to be a valuable diagnostic method for precisely identifying the anatomy of relevant structures. Furthermore, 3D-CISS MR imaging allows judgment of the thickness of the third ventricle floor and display of the ventriculostomy/flow void, which are predictive for intraoperative course and clinical outcome.

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Serge C. Thal, Sonja Sporer, Mariusz Klopotowski, Simone E. Thal, Johannes Woitzik, Robert Schmid-Elsaesser, Nikolaus Plesnila and Stefan Zausinger

Object

Global cerebral edema is an independent risk factor for early death and poor outcome after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). In the present study, the time course of brain edema formation, neurological deficits, and neuronal cell loss were investigated in the rat filament SAH model.

Methods

Brain water content and neurological deficits were determined in rats randomized to sham (1-, 24-, or 48-hour survival), SAH by endovascular perforation (1-, 24-, or 48-hour survival), or no surgery (control). The neuronal cell count (CA1–3) was quantified in a separate set of SAH (6-, 24-, 48-, or 72-hour survival) and shamoperated animals.

Results

Brain water content increased significantly 24 (80.2 ± 0.4% [SAH] vs 79.2 ± 0.1% [sham]) and 48 hours (79.8 ± 0.2% [SAH] vs 79.3 ± 0.1% [sham]) after SAH. The neuroscore was significantly worse after SAH (33 ± 15 [24 hours after SAH] vs 0 ± 0 points [sham]) and correlated with the extent of brain edema formation (r = 0.96, p < 0.001). No hippocampal damage was present up to 72 hours after SAH.

Conclusions

Brain water content and neurological dysfunction reached a maximum at 24 hours after SAH. This time point, therefore, seems to be optimal to test the effects of therapeutic interventions on brain edema formation. Neuronal cell loss was not present in CA1–3 up to 72 hours of SAH. Therefore, morphological damage needs to be evaluated at later time points.

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Walter Rachinger, Sabina Eigenbrod, Stephan Dützmann, Matthias Simon, Guenther C. Feigl, Natalia Kremenevskaja, Hans Kretzschmar, Stefan Zausinger, Friedrich-Wilhelm Kreth, Niklas Thon and Jörg-Christian Tonn

Object

Chordomas of the skull base are rare and locally invasive and have a poor prognosis. The aim of this retrospective multicenter study was to evaluate the current pattern of care and clinical course and to identify prognostic factors.

Methods

A total of 47 patients (26 men; mean age 48.5 years) treated in 5 centers were included. Histology was centrally reviewed; additionally, semiquantitative N- and E-cadherin expression analysis was performed. Prognostic factors were obtained from multivariate regression models. For survival analysis the Kaplan-Meier method was used.

Results

The median follow-up period was 5.2 years. Complete resection, incomplete resection, and extended biopsy were performed in 14.9%, 80.9%, and 4.3% of patients, respectively. Surgical morbidity was not associated with extent of resection. Adjuvant radiation therapy was performed in 30 (63.8%) of 47 patients. The median progression-free survival (PFS) was 7.3 years. Complete resection prolonged median overall survival (OS) (p = 0.04). Male patients presented with worse PFS (4.8 years vs 9.8 years; p = 0.04) and OS (8.3 years vs not reached; p = 0.03) even though complete resection was exclusively achieved in the male subpopulation. Multivariate analysis confirmed male sex as the most important risk factor for tumor progression (p = 0.04) and death (p = 0.02). Age, duration of symptoms, initial Karnofsky Performance Scale score, brainstem compression, involvement of the petrous bone, infiltration of the dura mater, modality and dose of radiation therapy, and the E- and N-cadherin expression patterns did not gain prognostic relevance.

Conclusions

In skull base chordomas, male patients bear a higher risk of progressive disease and death. Male patients might benefit from more aggressive adjuvant therapy and/or from a closer follow-up schedule.

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