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Thomas A. Duff and Ross Levine

✓ A patient with bitemporal hemianopsia was found to have an enlarged optic chiasm. Biopsy of the intrachiasmatic tissue revealed craniopharyngioma.

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Hong-Lei Yi, Michael Faloon, Stuart Changoor, Thomas Ross and Oheneba Boachie-Adjei

OBJECTIVE

Achieving fusion at the lumbosacral junction poses many technical challenges. No data exist in the literature comparing radiographic or clinical outcomes between the different surgical techniques of transsacral fixation (TSF) with rods and transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) in conjunction with iliac fixation. The purpose of this study was to compare the clinical outcomes and radiographic fusions of TSF to TLIF in patients with adult spinal deformity undergoing long fusions across the lumbosacral junction.

METHODS

Patients with primary adult spinal deformity who underwent long fusions from the thoracic spine across the lumbosacral junction with different approaches of interbody fusion at the L5–S1 level were reviewed. Patients were subdivided by approach (TSF vs TLIF). Fusion status at L5–S1 was evaluated by multiple radiographs and/or CT scans. Scoliotic curve changes were also evaluated preoperatively and at final follow-up. Clinical outcomes were assessed by Scoliosis Research Society Outcome Instrument 22 and Oswestry Disability Index scores.

RESULTS

A total of 36 patients were included in the analysis. There were 18 patients in the TSF group and 18 patients in the TLIF group. A mean of 14.00 levels were fused in the TSF group and 10.94 in the TLIF group (p = 0.01). Both groups demonstrated significant postoperative radiographic improvement in coronal parameters. The fusion rates for TSF and TLIF groups were 100% and 88.9%, respectively (p < 0.05). Eight patients in the TSF group had pelvic fixation with unilateral iliac screws, compared to 15 patients in the TLIF group (p = 0.015). No statistical differences in patients’ reported outcomes were seen between groups.

CONCLUSIONS

Despite similar clinical and radiographic outcomes between both groups, TSF required fewer iliac screws to augment stability of the lumbosacral junction while achieving a higher rate of fusion. This study suggests that TSF may decrease potential instrument-related complications requiring revision while decreasing operating room time and implant-related costs.

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Sung C. Choi, Thomas Y. Barnes, Ross Bullock, Teresa A. Germanson, Anthony Marmarou and Harold F. Young

✓ The authors present data describing the temporal progress of 786 severely head-injured patients from discharge to 12 months postinjury. Changes in outcome over time are characterized and the effects on these changes of patient age, Glasgow Coma Scale score, pupillary response, and type of injury are investigated. The feasibility of using these factors and the outcome at 3 months postinjury to predict the outcome at 6 months posttrauma is explored via logistic regression analysis. The data indicate that a significant proportion of patients improve continuously during the first 6 months after injury; outcome tends to stabilize thereafter, which suggests that the response at this time may be the appropriate end point for clinical trials in severe head injury. Dichotomized outcomes are predictable with approximately 94% accuracy at 6 months postinjury; therefore, missing outcomes may safely be replaced by the corresponding predicted outcomes. The findings also indicate striking improvement over time in patients who are in a vegetative state at discharge, suggesting that decisions regarding withdrawal of supportive care should be postponed until 6 months after injury in these patients.

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Jed A. Hartings, Steven Vidgeon, Anthony J. Strong, Chris Zacko, Achala Vagal, Norberto Andaluz, Thomas Ridder, Richard Stanger, Martin Fabricius, Bruce Mathern, Clemens Pahl, Christos M. Tolias and M. Ross Bullock

Object

Mass lesions from traumatic brain injury (TBI) often require surgical evacuation as a life-saving measure and to improve outcomes, but optimal timing and surgical technique, including decompressive craniectomy, have not been fully defined. The authors compared neurosurgical approaches in the treatment of TBI at 2 academic medical centers to document variations in real-world practice and evaluate the efficacies of different approaches on postsurgical course and long-term outcome.

Methods

Patients 18 years of age or older who required neurosurgical lesion evacuation or decompression for TBI were enrolled in the Co-Operative Studies on Brain Injury Depolarizations (COSBID) at King's College Hospital (KCH, n = 27) and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU, n = 24) from July 2004 to March 2010. Subdural electrode strips were placed at the time of surgery for subsequent electrocorticographic monitoring of spreading depolarizations; injury characteristics, physiological monitoring data, and 6-month outcomes were collected prospectively. CT scans and medical records were reviewed retrospectively to determine lesion characteristics, surgical indications, and procedures performed.

Results

Patients enrolled at KCH were significantly older than those enrolled at VCU (48 vs 34 years, p < 0.01) and falls were more commonly the cause of TBI in the KCH group than in the VCU group. Otherwise, KCH and VCU patients had similar prognoses, lesion types (subdural hematomas: 30%–35%; parenchymal contusions: 48%–52%), signs of mass effect (midline shift ≥ 5 mm: 43%–52%), and preoperative intracranial pressure (ICP). At VCU, however, surgeries were performed earlier (median 0.51 vs 0.83 days posttrauma, p < 0.05), bone flaps were larger (mean 82 vs 53 cm2, p < 0.001), and craniectomies were more common (performed in 75% vs 44% of cases, p < 0.05). Postoperatively, maximum ICP values were lower at VCU (mean 22.5 vs 31.4 mm Hg, p < 0.01). Differences in incidence of spreading depolarizations (KCH: 63%, VCU: 42%, p = 0.13) and poor outcomes (KCH: 54%, VCU: 33%, p = 0.14) were not significant. In a subgroup analysis of only those patients who underwent early (< 24 hours) lesion evacuation (KCH: n = 14; VCU: n = 16), however, VCU patients fared significantly better. In the VCU patients, bone flaps were larger (mean 85 vs 48 cm2 at KCH, p < 0.001), spreading depolarizations were less common (31% vs 86% at KCH, p < 0.01), postoperative ICP values were lower (mean: 20.8 vs 30.2 mm Hg at KCH, p < 0.05), and good outcomes were more common (69% vs 29% at KCH, p < 0.05). Spreading depolarizations were the only significant predictor of outcome in multivariate analysis.

Conclusions

This comparative-effectiveness study provides evidence for major practice variation in surgical management of severe TBI. Although ages differed between the 2 cohorts, the results suggest that a more aggressive approach, including earlier surgery, larger craniotomy, and removal of bone flap, may reduce ICP, prevent cortical spreading depolarizations, and improve outcomes. In particular, patients requiring evacuation of subdural hematomas and contusions may benefit from decompressive craniectomy in conjunction with lesion evacuation, even when elevated ICP is not a factor in the decision to perform surgery.