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H. Hunt Batjer and Vin Shen Ban

This AANS presidential address focuses on enduring values of the neurosurgical profession that transcend the current political climate. The address was delivered by Dr. Batjer during a US presidential election year, but the authors have intentionally avoided discussing the current chaos of the American health care system in the knowledge that many pressing issues will change depending on the outcome of the 2016 elections. Instead, they have chosen to focus on clarifying what neurosurgeons, and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, in particular, stand for; identifying important challenges to these fundamental principles and values; and proposing specific actions to address these challenges. The authors cite “de-professionalism” and commoditization of medicine as foremost among the threats that confront medicine and surgery today and suggest concrete action that can be taken to reverse these trends as well as steps that can be taken to address other significant challenges. They emphasize the importance of embracing exceptionalism and never compromising the standards that have characterized the profession of neurosurgery since its inception.

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Vin Shen Ban, Christopher J. Madden, Julian E. Bailes, H. Hunt Batjer and Russell R. Lonser

Recently, the pathobiology, causes, associated factors, incidence and prevalence, and natural history of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) have been debated. Data from retrospective case series and high-profile media reports have fueled public fear and affected the medical community's understanding of the role of sports-related traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the development of CTE. There are a number of limitations posed by the current evidence that can lead to confusion within the public and scientific community. In this paper, the authors address common questions surrounding the science of CTE and propose future research directions.

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Vin Shen Ban, Julian E. Bailes, Mitchel S. Berger, Alexander R. Vaccaro and H. Hunt Batjer

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Cameron M. McDougall, Vin Shen Ban, Jeffrey Beecher, Lee Pride and Babu G. Welch

OBJECTIVE

The role of venous sinus stenting (VSS) for idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is not well understood. The aim of this systematic review is to attempt to identify subsets of patients with IIH who will benefit from VSS based on the pressure gradients of their venous sinus stenosis.

METHODS

MEDLINE/PubMed was searched for studies reporting venous pressure gradients across the stenotic segment of the venous sinus, pre- and post-stent pressure gradients, and clinical outcomes after VSS. Findings are reported according to the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines.

RESULTS

From 32 eligible studies, a total of 186 patients were included in the analysis. Patients who had favorable outcomes had higher mean pressure gradients (22.8 ± 11.5 mm Hg vs 17.4 ± 8.0 mm Hg, p = 0.033) and higher changes in pressure gradients after stent placement (19.4 ± 10.0 mm Hg vs 12.0 ± 6.0 mm Hg, p = 0.006) compared with those with unfavorable outcomes. The post-stent pressure gradients between the 2 groups were not significantly different (2.8 ± 4.0 mm Hg vs 2.7 ± 2.0 mm Hg, p = 0.934). In a multivariate stepwise logistic regression controlling for age, sex, body mass index, CSF opening pressure, pre-stent pressure gradient, and post-stent pressure gradient, the change in pressure gradient with stent placement was found to be an independent predictor of favorable outcome (p = 0.028). Using a pressure gradient of 21 as a cutoff, 81/86 (94.2%) of patients with a gradient > 21 achieved favorable outcomes, compared with 82/100 (82.0%) of patients with a gradient ≤ 21 (p = 0.022).

CONCLUSIONS

There appears to be a relationship between the pressure gradient of venous sinus stenosis and the success of VSS in IIH. A randomized controlled trial would help elucidate this relationship and potentially guide patient selection.

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Jeffrey S. Beecher, Kristopher Lyon, Vin Shen Ban, Awais Vance, Cameron M. McDougall, Louis A. Whitworth, Jonathan A. White, Duke Samson, H. Hunt Batjer and Babu G. Welch

OBJECTIVE

Despite a hemorrhagic presentation, many patients with arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) do not require emergency resection. The timing of definitive management is not standardized in the cerebrovascular community. This study was designed to evaluate the safety of delaying AVM treatment in clinically stable patients with a new hemorrhagic presentation. The authors examined the rate of rehemorrhage or neurological decline in a cohort of patients with ruptured brain AVMs during a period of time posthemorrhage.

METHODS

Patients presenting to the authors’ institution from January 2000 to December 2015 with ruptured brain AVMs treated at least 4 weeks posthemorrhage were included in this analysis. Exclusion criteria were ruptured AVMs that required emergency surgery involving resection of the AVM, prior treatment of AVM at another institution, or treatment of lesions within 4 weeks for other reasons (subacute surgery). The primary outcome measure was time from initial hemorrhage to treatment failure (defined as rehemorrhage or neurological decline as a direct result of the AVM). Patient-days were calculated from the day of initial rupture until the day AVM treatment was initiated or treatment failed.

RESULTS

Of 102 ruptured AVMs in 102 patients meeting inclusion criteria, 7 (6.9%) failed the treatment paradigm. Six patients (5.8%) had a new hemorrhage within a median of 248 days (interquartile range 33–1364 days). The total “at risk” period was 18,740 patient-days, yielding a rehemorrhage rate of 11.5% per patient-year, or 0.96% per patient-month. Twelve (11.8%) of 102 patients were found to have an associated aneurysm. In this group there was a single (8.3%) new hemorrhage during a total at-risk period of 263 patient-days until the aneurysm was secured, yielding a rehemorrhage risk of 11.4% per patient-month.

CONCLUSIONS

It is the authors’ practice to rehabilitate patients after brain AVM rupture with a plan for elective treatment of the AVM. The present data are useful in that the findings quantify the risk of the authors’ treatment strategy. These findings indicate that delaying intervention for at least 4 weeks after the initial hemorrhage subjects the patient to a low (< 1%) risk of rehemorrhage. The authors modified the treatment paradigm when a high-risk feature, such as an associated intracranial aneurysm, was identified.

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Peter Kan, Visish M. Srinivasan, Nnenna Mbabuike, Rabih G. Tawk, Vin Shen Ban, Babu G. Welch, Maxim Mokin, Bartley D. Mitchell, Ajit Puri, Mandy J. Binning and Edward Duckworth

The Pipeline Embolization Device (PED) was approved for the treatment of intracranial aneurysms from the petrous to the superior hypophyseal segment of the internal carotid artery. However, since its approval, its use for treatment of intracranial aneurysms in other locations and non-sidewall aneurysms has grown tremendously. The authors report on a cohort of 15 patients with 16 cerebral aneurysms that incorporated an end vessel with no significant distal collaterals, which were treated with the PED. The cohort includes 7 posterior communicating artery aneurysms, 5 ophthalmic artery aneurysms, 1 superior cerebellar artery aneurysm, 1 anterior inferior cerebellar artery aneurysm, and 2 middle cerebral artery aneurysms. None of the aneurysms achieved significant occlusion at the last follow-up evaluation (mean 24 months). Based on these observations, the authors do not recommend the use of flow diverters for the treatment of this subset of cerebral aneurysms.

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Eva M. Wu, Tarek Y. El Ahmadieh, Cameron M. McDougall, Salah G. Aoun, Nikhil Mehta, Om James Neeley, Aaron Plitt, Vin Shen Ban, Rafael Sillero, Jonathan A. White, H. Hunt Batjer and Babu G. Welch

OBJECTIVE

Endovascular embolization has been established as an adjuvant treatment strategy for brain arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). A growing body of literature has discussed curative embolization for select lesions. The transition of endovascular embolization from an adjunctive to a definitive treatment modality remains controversial. Here, the authors reviewed the literature to assess the lesional characteristics, technical factors, and angiographic and clinical outcomes of endovascular embolization of AVMs with intent to cure.

METHODS

Electronic databases—Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid Embase, and PubMed—were searched for studies in which there was evidence of AVMs treated using endovascular embolization with intent to cure. The primary outcomes of interest were angiographic obliteration immediately postembolization and at follow-up. The secondary outcomes of interest were complication rates. Descriptive statistics were used to calculate rates and means.

RESULTS

Fifteen studies with 597 patients and 598 AVMs treated with intent-to-cure embolization were included in this analysis. Thirty-four percent of AVMs were Spetzler-Martin grade III. Complete obliteration immediately postembolization was reported in 58.3% of AVMs that had complete treatment and in 45.8% of AVMs in the entire patient cohort. The overall clinical complication rate was 24.1%. The most common complication was hemorrhage, occurring in 9.7% of patients. Procedure-related mortality was 1.5%.

CONCLUSIONS

While endovascular embolization with intent to cure can be an option for select AVMs, the reported complication rates appear to be increased compared with those in studies in which adjunctive embolization was the goal. Given the high complication rate related to a primary embolization approach, the risks and benefits of such a treatment strategy should be discussed among a multidisciplinary team. Curative embolization of AVMs should be considered an unanticipated benefit of such therapy rather than a goal.

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Salah G. Aoun, Valery Peinado Reyes, Tarek Y. El Ahmadieh, Matthew Davies, Ankur R. Patel, Vin Shen Ban, Aaron Plitt, Najib E. El Tecle, Jessica R. Moreno, Jack Raisanen and Carlos A. Bagley

OBJECTIVE

Axial low-back pain is a disease of epidemic proportions that exerts a heavy global toll on the active workforce and results in more than half a trillion dollars in annual costs. Stem cell injections are being increasingly advertised as a restorative solution for various degenerative diseases and are becoming more affordable and attainable by the public. There have been multiple reports in the media of these injections being easily available abroad outside of clinical trials, but scientific evidence supporting them remains scarce. The authors present a case of a serious complication after a stem cell injection for back pain and provide a systematic review of the literature of the efficacy of this treatment as well as the associated risks and complications.

METHODS

A systematic review of the literature was performed using the PubMed, Google Scholar, and Scopus online electronic databases to identify articles reporting stem cell injections for axial back pain in accordance with the PRISMA guidelines. The primary focus was on outcomes and complications. A case of glial hyperplasia of the roots of the cauda equina directly related to stem cell injections performed abroad is also reported.

RESULTS

The authors identified 14 publications (including a total of 147 patients) that met the search criteria. Three of the articles presented data for the same patient population with different durations of follow-up and were thus analyzed as a single study, reducing the total number of studies to 12. In these 12 studies, follow-up periods ranged from 6 months to 6 years, with 50% having a follow-up period of 1 year or less. Most studies reported favorable outcomes, although 36% used subjective measures. There was a tendency for pain relief to wane after 6 months to 2 years, with patients seeking a surgical solution. Only 1 study was a randomized controlled trial (RCT).

CONCLUSIONS

There are still insufficient data to support stem cell injections for back pain. Additional RCTs with long-term follow-up are necessary before statements can be made regarding the efficacy and safety.