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Da Li, Yu-Ming Jiao, Liang Wang, Fu-Xin Lin, Jun Wu, Xian-Zeng Tong, Shuo Wang, and Yong Cao

OBJECTIVE

Surgical management of brainstem lesions is challenging due to the highly compact, eloquent anatomy of the brainstem. This study aimed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of preoperative diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and diffusion tensor tractography (DTT) in brainstem cavernous malformations (CMs).

METHODS

A prospective randomized controlled clinical trial was performed by using stratified blocked randomization. The primary eligibility criterion of the study was being a surgical candidate for brainstem CMs (with informed consent). The study enrolled 23 patients who underwent preoperative DTI/DTT and 24 patients who did not (the control group). The pre- and postoperative muscle strength of both limbs and modified Rankin Scale (mRS) scores were evaluated. Muscle strength of any limb at 12 months after surgery at the clinic visit was the primary outcome; worsened muscle strength was considered to be a poor outcome. Outcome assessors were blinded to patient management. This study reports the preliminary results of the interim analysis.

RESULTS

The cohort included 47 patients (22 women) with a mean age of 35.7 years. The clinical baselines between these 2 groups were not significantly different. In the DTI/DTT group, the corticospinal tract was affected in 17 patients (73.9%): it was displaced, deformed/partially interrupted, or completely interrupted in 6, 7, and 4 patients, respectively. The surgical approach and brainstem entry point were adjusted in 3 patients (13.0%) based on DTI/DTT data. The surgical morbidity of the DTI/DTT group (7/23, 30.4%) was significantly lower than that of the control group (19/24, 79.2%, p = 0.001). At 12 months, the mean mRS score (1.1, p = 0.034) and percentage of patients with worsened motor deficits (4.3%, p = 0.006) were significantly lower in the DTI/DTT group than in the control group (1.7% and 37.5%). Multivariate logistic regression identified the absence of preoperative DTI/DTT (OR 0.06, 95% CI 0.01–0.73, p = 0.028) and use of the 2-point method (OR 4.15, 95% CI 1.38–12.49, p = 0.011) as independent adverse factors for a worsened motor deficit. The multivariate model found a significant correlation between poor mRS score and both an increased preoperative mRS score (t = 3.559, p = 0.001) and absence of preoperative DTI/DTT (t = −2.747, p = 0.009).

CONCLUSIONS

DTI/DTT noninvasively allowed for visualization of the anatomical relationship between vital tracts and pathologies as well as facilitated the brainstem surgical approach and entry-point decision making. The technique was valuable for complex neurosurgical planning to reduce morbidity. Nonetheless, DTI/DTT data should be interpreted cautiously.

■ CLASSIFICATION OF EVIDENCE Type of question: therapeutic; study design: randomized controlled trial; evidence: class I.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT01758211 (ClinicalTrials.gov)

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Xian-Li Lv, You-Xiang Li, Ai-Hua Liu, Ming Lv, Peng Jiang, Jing-Bo Zhang, and Zhong-Xue Wu

✓The authors present the case of a patient with a direct carotid artery–cavernous sinus fistula caused by head trauma in whom a self-expanding covered stent was successfully used to obliterate the fistula. However, at the 9-month follow-up an angiogram revealed a complex caroticocavernous fistula that was completely obliterated with Onyx 18 transarterially.

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Halinder S. Mangat, Xian Wu, Linda M. Gerber, Hamisi K. Shabani, Albert Lazaro, Andreas Leidinger, Maria M. Santos, Paul H. McClelland, Hanna Schenck, Pascal Joackim, Japhet G. Ngerageza, Franziska Schmidt, Philip E. Stieg, and Roger Hartl

OBJECTIVE

Given the high burden of neurotrauma in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), in this observational study, the authors evaluated the treatment and outcomes of patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) accessing care at the national neurosurgical institute in Tanzania.

METHODS

A neurotrauma registry was established at Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute, Dar-es-Salaam, and patients with severe TBI admitted within 24 hours of injury were included. Detailed emergency department and subsequent medical and surgical management of patients was recorded. Two-week mortality was measured and compared with estimates of predicted mortality computed with admission clinical variables using the Corticoid Randomisation After Significant Head Injury (CRASH) core model.

RESULTS

In total, 462 patients (mean age 33.9 years) with severe TBI were enrolled over 4.5 years; 89% of patients were male. The mean time to arrival to the hospital after injury was 8 hours; 48.7% of patients had advanced airway management in the emergency department, 55% underwent cranial CT scanning, and 19.9% underwent surgical intervention. Tiered medical therapies for intracranial hypertension were used in less than 50% of patients. The observed 2-week mortality was 67%, which was 24% higher than expected based on the CRASH core model.

CONCLUSIONS

The 2-week mortality from severe TBI at a tertiary referral center in Tanzania was 67%, which was significantly higher than the predicted estimates. The higher mortality was related to gaps in the continuum of care of patients with severe TBI, including cardiorespiratory monitoring, resuscitation, neuroimaging, and surgical rates, along with lower rates of utilization of available medical therapies. In ongoing work, the authors are attempting to identify reasons associated with the gaps in care to implement programmatic improvements. Capacity building by twinning provides an avenue for acquiring data to accurately estimate local needs and direct programmatic education and interventions to reduce excess in-hospital mortality from TBI.