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Nathan Todnem, Khoi D. Nguyen, Vamsi Reddy, Dayton Grogan, Taylor Waitt and Cargill H. Alleyne Jr.

OBJECTIVE

External ventricular drain (EVD) placement is one of first cranial procedures neurosurgery residents are expected to perform independently. While proper training improves patient outcomes, there are few options for practicing EVD placement prior to placing the EVD in patients in a clinical setting. Proposed solutions to this include using cadaveric models and virtual simulations, but barriers exist with these as well in regard to authenticity. EVD simulators using virtual reality technologies are a promising new technique for training, but the cost of these devices poses a barrier to general/widespread accessibility among smaller programs or underserved hospitals. The authors desribe a novel, yet simple, and cost-effective technique (less than $5 per mold) for developing a brain model constructed of homemade ballistics gelatin that can be used for teaching and practicing the placement of EVD.

METHODS

A brain model is made with ballistics gelatin using an anatomically correct skull model as a mold. A 3D-printed ventricular system model is used to create a mold of an anatomically correct ventricular system in the brain model. A group of medical students (n = 10) were given a basic presentation about EVD placement, including standard landmarks and placement techniques, and were also shown a demonstration of EVD placement on the brain model. They were then allowed to perform an EVD placement using the brain model. The students were surveyed on their experience with using the brain model, including usability and practicality of the model. Accuracy of EVD placement by each student was also assessed, with adequate position of catheter tip being in the ipsilateral frontal horn.

RESULTS

The final product is fairly inexpensive and easy to make. It is soft enough to pass a catheter through, but it is also firm enough to maintain its shape, including a cavity representing the lateral ventricles. The dense gelatin holds the catheter in its final resting position, while the two halves are separated and inspected. All participants in the test group of medical students reported that the brain model was easy to use, helped them understand the steps and technique of EVD placement, and provided good feedback on the ideal position of ventricular catheters. All of the participants in the group had adequate positioning of their ventricular catheters after one attempt.

CONCLUSIONS

The presented brain model is easy to replicate, inexpensive, anatomically accurate, and provides a medium for neurosurgeons to teach and practice ventricular catheter placement in a risk-free environment.

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Vamsi Reddy, Arjun Gupta, Michael D. White, Raghav Gupta, Prateek Agarwal, Arpan V. Prabhu, Bryan Lieber, Yue-Fang Chang and Nitin Agarwal

OBJECTIVE

Publication metrics such as the Hirsch index (h-index) are often used to evaluate and compare research productivity in academia. The h-index is not a field-normalized statistic and can therefore be dependent on overall rates of publication and citation within specific fields. Thus, a metric that adjusts for this while measuring individual contributions would be preferable. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has developed a new, field-normalized, article-level metric called the “relative citation ratio” (RCR) that can be used to more accurately compare author productivity between fields. The mean RCR is calculated as the total number of citations per year of a publication divided by the average field-specific citations per year, whereas the weighted RCR is the sum of all article-level RCR scores over an author’s career. The present study was performed to determine how various factors, such as academic rank, career duration, a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree, and sex, impact the RCR to analyze research productivity among academic neurosurgeons.

METHODS

A retrospective data analysis was performed using the iCite database. All physician faculty affiliated with Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)–accredited neurological surgery programs were eligible for analysis. Sex, career duration, academic rank, additional degrees, total publications, mean RCR, and weighted RCR were collected for each individual. Mean RCR and weighted RCR were compared between variables to assess patterns of analysis by using SAS software version 9.4.

RESULTS

A total of 1687 neurosurgery faculty members from 125 institutions were included in the analysis. Advanced academic rank, longer career duration, and PhD acquisition were all associated with increased mean and weighted RCRs. Male sex was associated with having an increased weighted RCR but not an increased mean RCR score. Overall, neurological surgeons were highly productive, with a median RCR of 1.37 (IQR 0.93–1.97) and a median weighted RCR of 28.56 (IQR 7.99–85.65).

CONCLUSIONS

The RCR and its derivatives are new metrics that help fill in the gaps of other indices for research output. Here, the authors found that advanced academic rank, longer career duration, and PhD acquisition were all associated with increased mean and weighted RCRs. Male sex was associated with having an increased weighted, but not mean, RCR score, most likely because of historically unequal opportunities for women within the field. Furthermore, the data showed that current academic neurosurgeons are exceptionally productive compared to both physicians in other specialties and the general scientific community.