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Varun R. Kshettry, Nina Z. Moore, and Mark Bain

This video demonstrates the diagnosis and surgical ligation of a C1 dural arteriovenous fistula via a far lateral, transcondylar approach. The patient’s dural arteriovenous fistula was identified by MRI signal changes in the spinal cord and a cerebrospinal angiogram demonstrating an abnormal hypertrophied early venous drainage pattern suggestive of a C1 vessel origin. Indocyanine green was used to verify surgical treatment of the fistula intraoperatively. A postoperative angiogram and MR image demonstrate fistula occlusion and resolution of the spinal cord edema. Anatomic details and technical nuances of the approach are demonstrated.

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Open access

Krishna C. Joshi, Hamid Borghei-Razavi, and Varun R. Kshettry

Brainstem cavernomas are benign, angiographically occult, low-flow lesions and constitute 18%–35% of intracranial cavernomas., They are known to have an annual rupture risk of 2%–6%,, and once symptomatic, they frequently cause progressive neurological morbidity. A 22-year-old lady presented with progressive profound neurologic deficits from three distinct hemorrhages over 2 months. Surgery was indicated given the aggressive natural history, and the lesion now presented to the surface with displacement of corticospinal tracts noted on diffusion tensor imaging., We describe a surgical technique via an orbitozygomatic transsylvian pretemporal approach with uncal resection to open the oculomotor-tentorial window and resect the lesion.

The video can be found here:

Free access

Varun R. Kshettry, Joung H. Lee, and Mario Ammirati

Interest in studying the anatomy of the abducent nerve arose from early clinical experience with abducent palsy seen in middle ear infection. Primo Dorello, an Italian anatomist working in Rome in the early 1900s, studied the anatomy of the petroclival region to formulate his own explanation of this pathological entity. His work led to his being credited with the discovery of the canal that bears his name, although this structure had been described 50 years previously by Wenzel Leopold Gruber. Renewed interest in the anatomy of this region arose due to advances in surgical approaches to tumors of the petroclival region and the need to explain the abducent palsies seen in trauma, intracranial hypotension, and aneurysms. The advent of the surgical microscope has allowed more detailed anatomical studies, and numerous articles have been published in the last 2 decades. The current article highlights the historical development of the study of the Dorello canal. A review of the anatomical studies of this structure is provided, followed by a brief overview of clinical considerations.

Free access

Patrick Flanigan, Varun R. Kshettry, and Edward C. Benzel

Cranioplasty is a unique procedure with a rich history. Since ancient times, a diverse array of materials from coconut shells to gold plates has been used for the repair of cranial defects. More recently, World War II greatly increased the demand for cranioplasty procedures and renewed interest in the search for a suitable synthetic material for cranioprostheses. Experimental evidence revealed that tantalum was biologically inert to acid and oxidative stresses. In fact, the observation that tantalum did not absorb acid resulted in the metal being named after Tantalus, the Greek mythological figure who was condemned to a pool of water in the Underworld that would recede when he tried to take a drink. In clinical use, malleability facilitated a single-stage cosmetic repair of cranial defects. Tantalum became the preferred cranioplasty material for more than 1000 procedures performed during World War II. In fact, its use was rapidly adopted in the civilian population. During World War II and the heyday of tantalum cranioplasty, there was a rapid evolution in prosthesis implantation and fixation techniques significantly shaping how cranioplasties are performed today. Several years after the war, acrylic emerged as the cranioplasty material of choice. It had several clear advantages over its metallic counterparts. Titanium, which was less radiopaque and had a more optimal thermal conductivity profile (less thermally conductive), eventually supplanted tantalum as the most common metallic cranioplasty material. While tantalum cranioplasty was popular for only a decade, it represented a significant breakthrough in synthetic cranioplasty. The experiences of wartime neurosurgeons with tantalum cranioplasty played a pivotal role in the evolution of modern cranioplasty techniques and ultimately led to a heightened understanding of the necessary attributes of an ideal synthetic cranioplasty material. Indeed, the history of tantalum cranioplasty serves as a model for innovative thinking and adaptive technology development.

Free access

Balint Otvos, Varun R. Kshettry, and Edward C. Benzel

In 1919, it was observed that intravascular osmolar shifts could collapse the thecal sac and diminish the ability to withdraw CSF from the lumbar cistern. This led to the notion that hyperosmolar compounds could ameliorate brain swelling. Since then, various therapeutic interventions have been used for the reduction of intracranial pressure and brain volume.

Urea was first used as an osmotic agent for the reduction of brain volume in 1950. It was associated with greater efficacy and consistency than alternatives such as hyperosmolar glucose. Its use became the standard of clinical practice by 1957, in both the intensive care unit and operating room, to reduce intracranial pressure and brain bulk and was the first hyperosmolar compound to have widespread use. However, the prime of urea was rather short lived. Reports of side effects and complications associated with urea emerged. These included coagulopathy, hemoglobinuria, electrocardiography changes, tissue necrosis with extravasation, and a significant potential for rebound intracranial hypertension.

Mannitol was introduced in 1961 as a comparable and potentially superior alternative to urea. However, mannitol was initially purported to be less effective at rapidly reducing intracranial pressure. The debate over the two compounds continued for a decade until mannitol eventually replaced urea by the late 1960s and early 1970s as the hyperosmolar agent of choice due to the ease of preparation, chemical stability, and decreased side effect profile.

Although urea is not currently the standard of care today, its rise and eventual replacement by mannitol played a seminal role in both our understanding of cerebral edema and the establishment of strategies for its management.

Restricted access

Sumeet Vadera, Varun R. Kshettry, Patricia Klaas, and William Bingaman


Temporal lobe epilepsy is an uncommon clinical syndrome in the pediatric population. The most common underlying pathologies include low-grade gliomas, cortical dysplasia, and, less commonly, hippocampal sclerosis (HS). There is a paucity of data on neuropsychological and seizure-free outcomes in these patients after temporal lobectomy. In this study, the authors reviewed their seizure-free and neuropsychological outcomes after temporal lobectomy for pediatric HS.


The authors retrospectively reviewed the medical records of pediatric patients with HS who underwent anterior temporal lobectomy and amygdalohippocampectomy between 1998 and 2011 at the Cleveland Clinic. Results of neuropsychological assessment before and after surgery and seizure-free outcome at last follow-up were obtained.


Forty-five patients met the inclusion criteria. Thirty-four (76%) patients had pathology of HS alone and 10 (22%) had HS and cortical dysplasia. The mean duration of follow-up was 60.2 months. Eighty-four percent of patients had postoperative Engel Class I or II outcomes. Neuropsychological outcomes remained unchanged or minimally improved postoperatively.


Seizure-free outcomes in pediatric HS are similar to historical rates in adult HS. Neuropsychological assessments remain stable after temporal lobectomy. Standard temporal lobectomy should be considered in pediatric patients with medically intractable epilepsy secondary to HS.

Full access

Varun R. Kshettry, Stefan A. Mindea, and H. Hunt Batjer

✓Cranial injuries were among the earliest neurosurgical problems faced by ancient physicians and surgeons. In this review, the authors trace the development of neurosurgical theory and practice for the treatment of cranial injuries beginning from the earliest ancient evidence available to the collapse of the Greco–Roman civilizations. The earliest neurosurgical procedure was trephination, which modern scientists believe was used to treat skull fractures in some civilizations. The Egyptian papyri of Edwin Smith provide a thorough description of 27 head injuries with astute observations of clinical signs and symptoms, but little information on the treatment of these injuries. Hippocrates offered the first classification of skull fractures and discussion of which types required trephining, in addition to refining this technique. Hippocrates was also the first to understand the basis of increased intracranial pressure. After Hippocrates, the physicians of the Alexandrian school provided further insight into the clinical evaluation of patients with head trauma, including the rudiments of a Glasgow Coma Scale. Finally, Galen of Pergamon, a physician to fallen gladiators, substantially contributed to the understanding of the neuroanatomy and physiology. He also described his own classification system for skull fractures and further refined the surgical technique of trephination. From the study of these important ancient figures, it is clearly evident that the knowledge and experience gained from the management of cranial injuries has laid the foundation not only for how these injuries are managed today, but also for the development of the field of neurosurgery.

Free access

Jack Hou, Varun R. Kshettry, Warren R. Selman, and Nicholas C. Bambakidis

Meningioma is the second most common type of adult intracranial neoplasm. A substantial subset of patients present with peritumoral brain edema (PTBE), which can cause significant morbidity via mass effect, complicate surgical management, and impact the safety of stereotactic radiosurgery. Recent studies suggest a close relationship between vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) expression and PTBE development in meningiomas. The authors performed a systematic review of the literature on the pathogenesis of PTBE in meningiomas, the effectiveness of steroid therapy, the role played by VEGF-A, and the current clinical evidence for antiangiogenic therapy to treat peritumoral brain edema. Mounting evidence suggests VEGF-A is secreted directly by meningioma cells to induce angiogenesis and edemagenesis of tumoral as well as peritumoral brain tissue. The VEGF-A cascade results in recruitment of cerebral-pial vessels and disruption of the tumor-brain barrier, which appear to be requisite for VEGF-A to have an edemagenic effect. Results of preliminary clinical studies suggest VEGF-directed therapy has modest activity against recurrent and progressive meningioma growth but can alleviate PTBE in some patients. A comprehensive understanding of the VEGF-A pathway and its modulators may hold the key to an effective therapeutic approach to treating PTBE associated with meningiomas. Further clinical trials with larger patient cohorts and longer follow-up periods are warranted to confirm the efficacy of VEGF-directed therapy.

Free access

James K. C. Liu, Varun R. Kshettry, Pablo F. Recinos, Kambiz Kamian, Richard P. Schlenk, and Edward C. Benzel

Surgical education has been forced to evolve from the principles of its initial inception, in part due to external pressures brought about through changes in modern health care. Despite these pressures that can limit the surgical training experience, training programs are being held to higher standards of education to demonstrate and document trainee competency through core competencies and milestones. One of the methods used to augment the surgical training experience and to demonstrate trainee proficiency in technical skills is through a surgical skills laboratory. The authors have established a surgical skills laboratory by acquiring equipment and funding from nondepartmental resources, through institutional and private educational grants, along with product donations from industry. A separate educational curriculum for junior- and senior-level residents was devised and incorporated into the neurosurgical residency curriculum. The initial dissection curriculum focused on cranial approaches, with spine and peripheral nerve approaches added in subsequent years. The dissections were scheduled to maximize the use of cadaveric specimens, experimenting with techniques to best preserve the tissue for repeated uses. A survey of residents who participated in at least 1 year of the curriculum indicated that participation in the surgical skills laboratory translated into improved understanding of anatomical relationships and the development of technical skills that can be applied in the operating room. In addition to supplementing the technical training of surgical residents, a surgical skills laboratory with a dissection curriculum may be able to help provide uniformity of education across different neurosurgical training programs, as well as provide a tool to assess the progression of skills in surgical trainees.

Open access

Joao Paulo Almeida, Zachary Cappello, Hamid Borghei-Razavi, Pablo F. Recinos, Raj Sindwani, and Varun R. Kshettry

Petroclival chondrosarcomas are a formidable surgical challenge given the close relationship to critical neurovascular structures. The endoscopic endonasal approach can be utilized for many petroclival chondrosarcomas. However, tumors that extend to the inferior petrous apex require working behind the internal carotid artery (ICA). We present a case of a 33-year-old with a 1-year history of complete abducens palsy, with imaging showing an enhancing mass centered at the left petroclival fissure and inferior petrous apex behind the paraclival carotid artery and extending down into the nasopharynx abutting the cervical ICA. In this video, we describe the surgical steps of the endoscopic endonasal translacerum approach with ICA skeletonization and mobilization. We also highlight the relevant surgical anatomy with anatomical dissections to supplement the surgical video. The patient did well without complications. Postoperative MRI demonstrated complete resection and pathology revealed grade II chondrosarcoma. He underwent adjuvant proton beam radiotherapy.

The video can be found here: