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Rib fixation for flail chest physiology and the facilitation of safe prone spinal surgery: illustrative case

Jeffrey E. Wessell, Matheus P. Pereira, Evert A. Eriksson, and Stephen P. Kalhorn


Spine fractures are frequently associated with additional injuries in the trauma setting, with chest wall trauma being particularly common. Limited literature exists on the management of flail chest physiology with concurrent unstable spinal injury. The authors present a case in which flail chest physiology precluded safe prone surgery and after rib fixation the patient tolerated spinal fixation without further issue.


Flail chest physiology can cause cardiovascular decompensation in the prone position. Stabilization of the chest wall addresses this instability allowing for safe prone spinal surgery.


Chest wall fixation should be considered in select cases of flail chest physiology prior to stabilization of the spinal column in the prone position. Further research is necessary to identify patients that are at highest risk to not tolerate prone surgery.

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Cystic choroid plexus papilloma in the cavum septum pellucidum

Case report

Alexander Tuchman, Stephen P. Kalhorn, Irina Mikolaenko, and Jeffrey H. Wisoff

A choroid plexus papilloma is a rare CNS neoplasm arising from the neuroepithelial lining of the choroid plexus. A third ventricular location of a choroid plexus papilloma is rare compared with the more common sites in the lateral and fourth ventricles. Cystic choroid plexus papilloma represents an infrequent subtype that may present diagnostic ambiguity. The authors present a case of cystic choroid plexus papilloma within a cavum septum pellucidum that radiographically mimicked neurocysticercosis.

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Idiopathic bilateral stenosis of the foramina of Monro treated using endoscopic foraminoplasty and septostomy

Stephen P. Kalhorn, Russell G. Strom, and David H. Harter

Hydrocephalus caused by stenosis of the foramen of Monro is rare. The authors describe a 28-year-old female patient with bilateral foraminal stenosis treated using endoscopic septostomy and unilateral foraminal balloon plasty (foraminoplasty). The patient's hydrocephalus and symptoms resolved postoperatively. Endoscopic strategies may be employed as first-line therapy in this condition.

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Neurosurgical decision making: personal and professional preferences

Omar Tanweer, Taylor A. Wilson, Stephen P. Kalhorn, John G. Golfinos, Paul P. Huang, and Douglas Kondziolka


Physicians are often solicited by patients or colleagues for clinical recommendations they would make for themselves if faced by a clinical situation. The act of making a recommendation can alter the clinical course being taken. The authors sought to understand this dynamic across different neurosurgical scenarios by examining how neurosurgeons value the procedures that they offer.


The authors conducted an online survey using the Congress of Neurological Surgeons listserv in May 2013. Respondents were randomized to answer either as the surgeon or as the patient. Questions encompassed an array of distinct neurosurgical scenarios. Data on practice parameters and experience levels were also collected.


Of the 534 survey responses, 279 responded as the “neurosurgeon” and 255 as the “patient.” For both vestibular schwannoma and arteriovenous malformation management, more respondents chose resection for their patient but radiosurgery for themselves (p = 0.002 and p = 0.001, respectively). Aneurysm coiling was chosen more often than clipping, but those whose practice was ≥ 30% open cerebrovascular neurosurgery were less likely to choose coiling. Overall, neurosurgeons who focus predominantly on tumors were more aggressive in managing the glioma, vestibular schwannoma, arteriovenous malformation, and trauma. Neurosurgeons more than 10 years out of residency were less likely to recommend surgery for management of spinal pain, aneurysm, arteriovenous malformation, and trauma scenarios.


In the majority of cases, altering the role of the surgeon did not change the decision to pursue treatment. In certain clinical scenarios, however, neurosurgeons chose treatment options for themselves that were different from what they would have chosen for (or recommended to) their patients. For the management of vestibular schwannomas, arteriovenous malformations, intracranial aneurysms, and hypertensive hemorrhages, responses favored less invasive interventions when the surgeon was the patient. These findings are likely a result of cognitive biases, previous training, experience, areas of expertise, and personal values.

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Metameric thoracic lesion: report of a rare case and a guide to management

Case report

Stephen P. Kalhorn, Anthony K. Frempong-Boadu, Irina Mikolaenko, Tibor Becske, and David H. Harter

Metameric lesions of the spine are rare. The authors present a case of patient with a complex metameric vascular lesion of the thoracic spine and describe a management strategy for this entity.

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Ultrasonic spine surgery for every thoracic disc herniation: a 43-patient case series and technical note demonstrating safety and efficacy using a partial transpedicular thoracic discectomy with ultrasonic aspiration and ultrasound guidance

Brian F. Saway, Mohammed Alshareef, Orgest Lajthia, Coby Cunningham, Chelsea Shope, Jaime L. Martinez, and Stephen P. Kalhorn


Thoracic disc herniations (TDHs) are a challenging pathology. A variety of surgical techniques have been used to achieve spinal cord decompression. This series elucidates the versatility, efficacy, and safety of the partial transpedicular approach with the use of intraoperative ultrasound and ultrasonic aspiration for resection of TDHs of various sizes, locations, and consistencies. This technique can be deployed to safely remove all TDHs.


A retrospective review was performed of patients who underwent a thoracic discectomy via the partial transpedicular approach between January 2014 and December 2020 by a single surgeon. Variables reviewed included demographics, perioperative imaging, and functional outcome scores.


A total of 43 patients (53.5% female) underwent 54 discectomies. The most common presenting symptoms were myelopathy (86%), motor weakness (72%), and sensory deficit (65%) with a symptom duration of 10.4 ± 11.6 months. A total of 21 (38.9%) discs were fully calcified on imaging and 15 (27.8%) were partially calcified. A total of 36 (66.7%) were giant TDHs (> 40% canal compromise). The average operative time was 197.2 ± 77.1 minutes with an average blood loss of 238.8 ± 250 ml. Six patients required ICU stays. Hospital length of stay was 4.40 ± 3.4 days. Of patients with follow-up MRI, 38 of 40 (95%) disc levels demonstrated < 20% residual disc. Postoperative Frankel scores (> 3 months) were maintained or improved for all patients, with 28 (65.1%) patients having an increase of 1 grade or more on their Frankel score. Six (14%) patients required repeat surgery, 2 of which were due to reherniation, 2 were from adjacent-level herniation, and 2 others were from wound problems. Patients with calcified TDHs had similar improvement in Frankel grade compared to patients without calcified TDH. Additionally, improvement in intraoperative neuromonitoring was associated with a greater improvement in Frankel grade.


The authors demonstrate a minimally disruptive, posterior approach that uses intraoperative ultrasound and ultrasonic aspiration with excellent outcomes and a complication profile similar to or better than other reported case series. This posterior approach is a valuable complement to the spine surgeon’s arsenal for the confident tackling of all TDHs.

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Epilepsy surgery and tuberous sclerosis complex: special considerations

A review

Robert J. Bollo, Stephen P. Kalhorn, Chad Carlson, Veronique Haegeli, Orrin Devinsky, and Howard L. Weiner

Epilepsy surgery for medically refractory seizures among patients with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a well-accepted treatment option. Many epilepsy centers around the world have published their experience over the past several years, supporting the idea that the best seizure control is obtained when a single tuber and associated epileptogenic zone is documented and targeted surgically. Recent advances in imaging and physiological techniques that reveal the epileptogenic zone have been used successfully in children with TSC who are being evaluated for surgery. As a result, a number of different surgical strategies have emerged, each reflecting the experience, strengths, and referral biases of the individual treating teams. Experience suggests that some patients with TSC who present with seizures that are difficult to localize and do not meet the classic selection criteria for epilepsy surgery may, nevertheless, benefit from sugery. Tuberectomy alone is often not sufficient for obtaining seizure control. Intracranial electrode recordings performed in a large number of children with TSC undergoing epilepsy surgery have raised new questions about the relationship of the cortical tuber to the epileptogenic zone in TSC. A careful assessment of the risks and benefits of any surgical strategy, compared with those associated with continued refractory epilepsy, should be considered by the treating team in conjunction with the patient's family. Epilepsy surgery has not only benefited many children with TSC, but it also facilitates the understanding of epileptogenesis in TSC.

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Oral Presentations 2014 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting San Francisco, California • April 5–9, 2014

Published online June 1, 2015; DOI: 10.3171/2015.6.JNS.AANS2014abstracts