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Cover Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics

AXIN1 mutations in nonsyndromic craniosynostosis

Andrew T. Timberlake, Kshipra Hemal, Jonas A. Gustafson, Le Thi Hao, Irene Valenzuela, Anne Slavotinek, Michael L. Cunningham, Kristopher T. Kahle, Richard P. Lifton, and John A. Persing

OBJECTIVE

Occurring once in every 2000 live births, craniosynostosis (CS) is the most frequent cranial birth defect. Although the genetic etiologies of syndromic CS cases are well defined, the genetic cause of most nonsyndromic cases remains unknown.

METHODS

The authors analyzed exome or RNA sequencing data from 876 children with nonsyndromic CS, including 291 case-parent trios and 585 additional probands. The authors also utilized the GeneMatcher platform and the Gabriella Miller Kids First genome sequencing project to identify additional CS patients with AXIN1 mutations.

RESULTS

The authors describe 11 patients with nonsyndromic CS harboring rare, damaging mutations in AXIN1, an inhibitor of Wnt signaling. AXIN1 regulates signaling upstream of key mediators of osteoblast differentiation. Three of the 6 mutations identified in trios occurred de novo in the proband, while 3 were transmitted from unaffected parents. Patients with nonsyndromic CS were highly enriched for mutations in AXIN1 compared to both expectation (p = 0.0008) and exome sequencing data from > 76,000 healthy controls (p = 2.3 × 10−6), surpassing the thresholds for genome-wide significance.

CONCLUSIONS

These findings describe the first phenotype associated with mutations in AXIN1, with mutations identified in approximately 1% of nonsyndromic CS cases. The results strengthen the existing link between Wnt signaling and maintenance of cranial suture patency and have implications for genetic testing in families with CS.

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Cover Journal of Neurosurgery

Brain tumor surgery guided by navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation mapping for arithmetic calculation

Camilla Bonaudo, Agnese Pedone, Federico Capelli, Benedetta Gori, Fabrizio Baldanzi, Francesca Fedi, Simone Troiano, Antonio Maiorelli, Giulia Masi, Cristiana Martinelli, Edoardo Pieropan, Elisa Castaldi, Nicole Amanda Capialbi, Shani Enderage Don, Francesca Battista, Luca Campagnaro, Giovanni Muscas, Andrea Amadori, Enrico Fainardi, Riccardo Carrai, Antonello Grippo, and Alessandro Della Puppa

OBJECTIVE

The onco-functional balance represents the primary goal in neuro-oncology. The increasing use of navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) allows the noninvasive characterization of cortical functional anatomy, and its reliability for motor and language mapping has previously been validated. Calculation and arithmetic processing has not been studied with nTMS so far. In this study, the authors present their preliminary data concerning nTMS calculation.

METHODS

The authors designed a monocentric prospective study, adopting an internal protocol to use nTMS for preoperative planning, including arithmetic processing. When awake surgery was possible, according to the patients’ conditions, nTMS points were used to guide direct cortical stimulation (DCS), i.e., the gold standard for cortical mapping. Navigated TMS–based tractography was used for surgical planning. Statistical analyses on the nTMS and DCS points were performed.

RESULTS

From February 2021 to October 2023, 61 procedures for nTMS calculation mapping were performed. The clinical evaluation, including pre- and postoperative evaluations (3 months after surgery), demonstrated a good clinical outcome with preservation of arithmetic function and recovery (92.8% of patients). Between the awake and asleep surgery groups, the postoperative clinical results were comparable at the 3-month follow-up, with > 90% of the patients achieving improved calculation function. The surgical strategy adopted was aimed at sparing nTMS positive points in asleep procedures, whereas nTMS and DCS positive points were not removed in awake procedures. Overall, 62% of the positive points for calculation functions were exposed by craniotomy and 85% were spared during surgery. None of the patients developed nTMS-related seizures. Diffusion tensor imaging fiber tracking based on nTMS positive points for calculation was used. The white matter fiber tracts involved in calculation functions were the arcuate fasciculus (56%) and frontal aslant tract (22%). When nTMS and DCS points were compared in awake surgery (n = 10 patients), a sensitivity of 31.71%, specificity of 85.76%, positive predictive value of 22.41%, negative predictive value of 90.64%, and accuracy of approximately 69% were achieved.

CONCLUSIONS

Based on the authors’ preliminary data, nTMS can be an advantageous tool to study cognitive functions, aimed at minimizing neurological impairment. The postoperative clinical outcome for patients who underwent operation with nTMS was very good. Considering these results, nTMS has proved to be a feasible method to map cognitive areas including those for calculation functions. Further analyses are needed to validate these data. Finally, other cognitive functions (e.g., visuospatial) may be explored with nTMS.

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Cover Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine

Contribution of changes in the spinal cord and brain to the onset and progression of hand clumsiness symptoms in cervical spondylotic myelopathy

Yan Li, Jianchao Chang, Kun Zhu, Siya Zhang, Junxun Zuo, Bingyong Xie, Haoyu Ni, Jiyuan Yao, Zhibin Xu, Sicheng Bian, Tingfei Yan, Xianyong Wu, Senlin Chen, Weiming Jin, Ying Wang, Peng Xu, Peiwen Song, Yuanyuan Wu, Cailiang Shen, Jiajia Zhu, Yongqiang Yu, and Fulong Dong

OBJECTIVE

Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) stands as the most prevalent form of spinal cord injury, frequently prompting various changes in both the brain and spinal cord. However, the precise nature of these changes within the brains and spinal cords of CSM patients experiencing hand clumsiness (HCL) symptoms has remained elusive. The authors aimed to scrutinize these alterations and explore potential links between these changes and the onset of HCL symptoms.

METHODS

Using the modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association (mJOA) scale, the authors classified CSM patients into two groups: those without HCL and those with HCL. The authors performed voxel-wise z-score transformation amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations (zALFF) and resting-state functional connectivity (FC) evaluations in the brain. Additionally, they used the Spinal Cord Toolbox to calculate the fractional anisotropy (FA) of spinal cord tracts. The analysis also encompassed an examination of the correlation of these measures with improvements in mJOA scores.

RESULTS

Significant disparities in zALFF values surfaced in the right calcarine, right cuneus, right precuneus, right middle occipital gyrus (MOG), right superior occipital gyrus (SOG), and right superior parietal gyrus (SPG) between healthy controls (HC), patients without HCL, and patients with HCL, primarily within the visual cortex. In the patient group, patients with HCL displayed reduced FC between the right calcarine, right MOG, right SOG, right SPG, right SFG, bilateral MFG, and left median cingulate and paracingulate gyri when compared with patients without HCL. Moreover, significant differences in FA values of the corticospinal tract (CST) and reticulospinal tract (REST) at the C2 level emerged among HC, patients without HCL, and patients with HCL. Notably, zALFF, FC, and FA values in specific brain regions and spinal cord tracts exhibited correlations with mJOA upper-extremity scores. Additionally, FA values of the CST and REST correlated with zALFF values in the right calcarine, right MOG, right SOG, and right SPG.

CONCLUSIONS

Alterations within brain regions associated with the visual cortex, the fronto-parietal-occipital attention network, and spinal cord pathways appear to play a substantial role in the emergence and progression of HCL symptoms. Furthermore, the existence of a potential connection between the spinal cord and the brain suggests that this link might be related to the clinical symptoms of CSM.

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Cover Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics

Effect of vagus nerve stimulation on emergency department utilization in children with drug-resistant epilepsy: a retrospective cohort study

Nallammai Muthiah, Hope M. Reecher, and Taylor J. Abel

OBJECTIVE

Epilepsy affects approximately 470,000 children in the United States. The estimated median incidence is 50.4 cases per 100,000 persons per year. There are approximately 3.1 million seizure-related emergency department (ED) visits per year among children. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is a treatment option for drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE). While its primary goal is to decrease seizure burden, VNS may decrease seizure intensity and improve quality of life. The authors assessed whether VNS decreased the number of seizure-related ED visits in a cohort of children with DRE.

METHODS

The authors performed a retrospective chart review of pediatric patients (aged 0–21 years) who underwent implantation of a vagus nerve stimulator between January 2009 and January 2020 at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. They used paired t-tests to assess differences in the number of ED visits 2 years before versus 2 years after VNS device implantation. Univariable linear regression analyses were used to test associations of preoperative characteristics with change in the number of ED visits following vagus nerve stimulator insertion.

RESULTS

This study included 240 patients. Compared with patients without seizure-related ED visits before VNS, patients with ≥ 1 ED visits were younger in age at first VNS surgery (9.5 vs 10.8 years), had a shorter epilepsy duration before VNS surgery (5.8 vs 7.4 years), had a later year of device implantation (2014 vs 2012), and on average took more antiseizure medications (ASMs; 2.4 vs 2.1). There was no significant difference between the total number of seizure-related ED visits pre– versus post–VNS surgery (1.72 vs 1.59, p = 0.50), and no difference in status epilepticus–related visits (0.59 vs 0.46, p = 0.17). Univariable linear regression analyses revealed a mean change in ED visits of +0.3 for each year prior to 2022 and −0.5 for each additional ASM that patients took before vagus nerve stimulator insertion.

CONCLUSIONS

This single-institution analysis demonstrated no significant change in the number of seizure-related ED visits within 2 years following VNS device implantation. Earlier VNS surgery was associated with more seizure-related ED visits after device insertion, suggesting that medical management and center experience may play a role in decreasing seizure-related ED visits. A greater number of ASMs was associated with fewer seizure-related ED visits after VNS device insertion, suggesting the role of medical management, patient baseline seizure threshold, and caregiver comfort with at-home seizure management.

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Cover Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine

Incidence of radiographic and clinically significant pneumothorax or hemothorax after thoracic discectomy via mini-open lateral retropleural approach without prophylactic chest tube placement

Nima Alan, S. Harrison Farber, James J. Zhou, Steve S. Cho, Luke K. O’Neill, Robert K. Dugan, Kate L. Petty, Juan Pablo Leal Isaza, Jay D. Turner, Laura A. Snyder, and Juan S. Uribe

OBJECTIVE

The mini-open lateral retropleural (MO-LRP) approach is an effective option for surgically treating thoracic disc herniations, but the approach raises concerns for pneumothorax (PTX). However, chest tube placement causes insertion site tenderness, necessitates consultation services, increases radiation exposure (requires multiple radiographs), delays the progression of care, and increases narcotic requirements. This study examined the incidence of radiographic and clinically significant PTX and hemothorax (HTX) after the MO-LRP approach, without the placement of a prophylactic chest tube, for thoracic disc herniation.

METHODS

This study was a single-institution retrospective evaluation of consecutive cases from 2017 to 2022. Electronic medical records were reviewed, including postoperative chest radiographs, radiology and operative reports, and postoperative notes. The presence of PTX or HTX was determined on chest radiographs obtained in all patients immediately after surgery, with interval radiographs if either was present. The size was categorized as large (≥ 3 cm) or small (< 3 cm) based on guidelines of the American College of Chest Physicians. PTX or HTX was considered clinically significant if it required intervention.

RESULTS

Thirty patients underwent thoracic discectomy via the MO-LRP approach. All patients were included. Twenty patients were men (67%), and 10 (33%) were women. The patients ranged in age from 25 to 74 years. The most commonly treated level was T11–12 (n = 11, 37%). Intraoperative violation of parietal pleura occurred in 5 patients (17%). No patient had prophylactic chest tube placement. Fifteen patients (50%) had PTX on postoperative chest radiographs; 2 patients had large PTXs, and 13 had small PTXs. Both patients with large PTXs had expansion on repeat radiographs and were treated with chest tube insertion. Of the 13 patients with a small PTX, 1 required 100% oxygen using a nonrebreather mask; the remainder were asymptomatic. One patient, who had no abnormal findings on the immediate postoperative chest radiograph, developed an incidental HTX on postoperative day 6 and was treated with chest tube insertion. Thus, 3 patients (10%) required a chest tube: 2 for expanding PTX and 1 for delayed HTX.

CONCLUSIONS

Most patients who undergo thoracic discectomy via the MO-LRP approach do not develop clinically significant PTX or HTX. PTX and HTX in this patient population should be treated with a chest tube only when there are postoperative clinical and radiographic indications.

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Cover Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine

Letter to the Editor. The spectrum of particulate matter exposure in neurosurgical procedures

Sanjeev Sreenivasan and Michael Schulder

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Cover Journal of Neurosurgery

Predictors of unexplained early neurological deterioration after thrombectomy for posterior circulation infarction: a reanalysis of the BASILAR study

Zheng Dai, Daoyou Cheng, Daizhou Peng, Chunxin Wang, Yaoyu Tian, Dahong Yang, Xiang Liu, Jie Yang, Jinrong Hu, Fengli Li, Wenjie Zi, and Chuming Huang

OBJECTIVE

The efficacy of endovascular thrombectomy in patients with posterior circulation ischemic stroke remains controversial. Early neurological deterioration (END) as an important predictor of poor outcome is poorly understood, except in cases of symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage, recanalization failure, and malignant cerebral edema. The objective of this study was to assess predictors of unexplained END (UnEND) after endovascular thrombectomy.

METHODS

The BASILAR study is a multicenter prospective observational study in which 647 patients with vertebrobasilar occlusion on imaging within 24 hours of stroke onset and who underwent endovascular treatment were enrolled, of whom 477 who had undergone successful recanalization were included in this study. Multivariate analysis was used to identify the predictors of UnEND, defined as a ≥ 4-point increase in National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score at 24 hours after endovascular thrombectomy.

RESULTS

Among the 477 eligible patients included, UnEND occurred in 86 (18%) patients. The predictors of UnEND were stress hyperglycemic ratio (SHR) (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.1–4.6; p = 0.031), baseline NIHSS score (OR 0.9, 95% CI 0.83–0.95; p = 0.001), and asymptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage (aICH) (OR 5.9, 95% CI 1.7–20.0; p = 0.004). The occurrence rate of a favorable outcome, defined as a modified Rankin Scale score of 0–2 at 90 days, was lower in the UnEND group (5.8% vs 47.6%, p < 0.001) compared with the group without END, and the UnEND group had higher mortality at 90 days (66.3% vs 27.4%, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

UnEND may be associated with poor outcome after endovascular thrombectomy in patients with acute vertebrobasilar occlusion. Some modifiable factors such as SHR and aICH could be targeted to improve the efficacy of endovascular thrombectomy.

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Cover Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics

Reduction cranioplasty for hydrocephalic macrocephaly: a systematic review of surgical outcomes

Steven P. Moura, Alexandra D. Center, Manasa Kalluri, Jessica Blum, Ellen C. Shaffrey, Samuel Lee, Jinggang J. Ng, Bermans J. Iskandar, Catharine B. Garland, and Daniel Y. Cho

OBJECTIVE

Hydrocephalic macrocephaly can result in poor psychosocial development, positioning difficulties, skin breakdown, and poor cosmesis. Although reduction cranioplasty can address these sequelae, the postoperative outcomes, complications, and mortality risk of reduction cranioplasty are not well understood given the rarity of hydrocephalic macrocephaly. Therefore, the primary objective of this systematic review was to evaluate the surgical outcomes of reduction cranioplasty for the treatment of hydrocephalic macrocephaly.

METHODS

A systematic review was performed using the PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science databases while following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Two independent reviewers screened 350 studies; 27 studies reporting surgical outcomes on reduction cranioplasty for hydrocephalic macrocephaly met inclusion criteria. Data on study design, patient demographics, operative details, and surgical outcomes were collected.

RESULTS

There were 65 reduction cranioplasties among the 27 included studies. Eighteen (66.7%) studies presented level V evidence, 7 (25.9%) presented level IV evidence, and 2 (7.4%) presented level III evidence. Following reduction cranioplasty, there was improvement in postoperative head positioning in 23 (85.2%) studies, improvement in postoperative cosmesis in 22 (81.5%) studies, and improvement in global postoperative neurological functioning in 20 (74.1%) studies. The median estimated blood loss was 633 mL (range 20–2600 mL). Shunt revisions were the most common complication, reported in 9 (47.4%) of the 19 studies assessing complications. Of the 65 patients, there was a mortality rate of 6.2% (n = 4).

CONCLUSIONS

The majority of the included studies reported improvement in head size, head positioning, cranial cosmesis, and global neurological functioning following reduction cranioplasty for hydrocephalic macrocephaly. However, the prevalence of lower-level evidence, risk of blood loss, complications, and mortality indicates the need for a serious discussion of surgical indication, an experienced team, and thorough perioperative planning to perform these complex surgeries.

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Cover Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine

Single-stage correction of severe scoliosis with syringomyelia: performed with traction assistance without prophylactic neurosurgical decompression

Li Zhang, Xiaobing Tian, Zhi Zhao, Yingsong Wang, Ninghui Zhao, Tao Li, Haonan Wang, and Jingming Xie

OBJECTIVE

There is still controversy about whether it is necessary to perform prophylactic neurosurgical decompression for severe scoliosis (SS) with syringomyelia (SM) to reduce the risk of neurological complications during subsequent spinal correction. This study aimed to explore the safety and effectiveness of using traction-assisted single-stage spinal correction as a treatment for patients who had SS with SM (SS-SM).

METHODS

The patients who had SS-SM without previous neurosurgical intervention and who underwent traction-assisted single-stage posterior spinal correction at a single center were included, and the initial, posttraction, and postoperative clinical data were reviewed. Based on preoperative MRI, the included patients were divided into two categories: those with versus those without Chiari malformation type I (CM-I–related SM [CS] vs idiopathic SM [IS]), and those with a moderate syrinx (MS) versus those with a large syrinx (LS). Different groups’ traction and operation contributions were calculated for comparisons (CS vs IS, MS vs LS).

RESULTS

A total of 28 patients were included. The initial mean major scoliosis was 101.0° with a mean flexibility of 21.4%. After the operation, the mean total correction rate for scoliosis was 63.9%. The mean traction and operation contributions were 61.5% and 38.5%, respectively. Most of the patients (75%) underwent spinal corrections without 3-column osteotomies, and only 1 patient reported postoperative regional numbness without motor deficits. No differences were found in the mean total correction rates, traction, and operation contributions when comparing CS versus IS and MS versus LS with the comparable initial clinical data (p > 0.05). More than 50% of the total corrections were achieved by preoperative traction in all groups.

CONCLUSIONS

Traction-assisted single-stage spinal correction can safely and effectively correct SS-SM without prophylactic neurosurgical decompression under strict patient selection. Additionally, traction can achieve more than half of the final spinal correction, even for patients with varying sizes of SMs.

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Cover Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics

Treatment of hydrocephalus following fetal repair of myelomeningocele: comparing endoscopic third ventriculostomy with choroid plexus cauterization to ventricular shunting

Justine Izah, Joseline Haizel-Cobbina, Shilin Zhao, E. Haley Vance, Michelle Dunlap, Stephen R. Gannon, Campbell Liles, Aaron M. Yengo-Kahn, Matthew E. Pontell, Robert P. Naftel, John C. Wellons III, and Michael C. Dewan

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was to compare clinical and craniometric outcomes of patients treated for hydrocephalus following fetal myelomeningocele repair (fMMR) via a ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS) or endoscopic third ventriculostomy with choroid plexus cauterization (ETV/CPC).

METHODS

This was a retrospective cohort study of children who were treated for hydrocephalus following fMMR via VPS or ETV with or without CPC (ETV ± CPC) at Vanderbilt between 2012 and 2021. The primary outcomes were treatment failure and time to failure (TTF). Secondary outcomes included changes in hydrocephalus metrics (fronto-occipital horn ratio [FOHR] and head circumference measurements) and healthcare resource utilization (number of hospital admissions, clinic visits, and neuroimaging findings).

RESULTS

Among 88 patients who underwent fMMR, 37 (42%) required permanent CSF diversion, of whom 19 received treatment at the authors’ institution. Twelve patients underwent ETV ± CPC, and 7 underwent VPS placement at a median corrected age of 23 weeks versus 1 week (p = 0.002). The preoperative median head circumference percentiles and z-scores for patients in the ETV ± CPC cohort were similar to those of the VPS cohort (percentiles: 98.5 vs 94.0, p = 0.064; z-scores: 2.32 vs 1.60, p = 0.111). There was no difference in preoperative median FOHR measurements between the two cohorts (0.57 vs 0.59, p = 0.53). At 6 months postoperatively, the median head circumference percentile and z-score for the ETV ± CPC cohort remained similar between the two cohorts (percentiles: 98.0 vs 67.5, p = 0.315; z-scores: 2.12 vs 0.52, p = 0.307). There was no difference in the change in FOHR (−0.06 vs −0.09, p = 0.37) and change in head circumference percentile (−1.33 vs −28.6, p = 0.058) between the cohorts 6 months after the index CSF diversion procedure. One patient in the ETV ± CPC cohort experienced a seizure and a nonoperative subdural hemorrhage postoperatively; no other complications were observed. Six of the 7 patients in the VPS cohort required shunt revision with a median TTF of 9.8 months while 2 of the 12 ETV ± CPC patients required a repeat ETV at a median of 17.5 months (86% vs 17%, p = 0.013). The median number of hydrocephalus-related hospital readmissions was significantly lower in the ETV ± CPC cohort than in the VPS cohort (0 vs 1, p = 0.006). The ETV ± CPC cohort had fewer CT scans (0 vs 2, p = 0.004) and radiographs (0 vs 2, p < 0.001) than the VPS cohort.

CONCLUSIONS

In a single-center cohort, hydrocephalic fMMR patients treated via ETV ± CPC remained shunt free, while a majority of patients receiving an upfront shunt required revision. This is the first study comparing ETV ± CPC with VPS in the fMMR hydrocephalus population. While larger, multicenter studies are needed, these results suggest that ETV/CPC may be a preferred means of CSF diversion following fMMR.