Neurosurgery Blog


Daily bibliographic review of the Neurosurgery Department. La Fe University Hospital. Valencia, Spain

Cerebral Revascularization for Aneurysms in the Flow-Diverter Era

Neurosurgery 80:759–768, 2017

Cerebral bypass has been an important tool in the treatment of complex intracranial aneurysms. The recent advent of flow-diverting stents (FDS) has expanded the capacity for endovascular arterial reconstruction.

OBJECTIVE: We investigated how the advent of FDS has impacted the application and outcomes of cerebral bypass in the treatment of intracranial aneurysms.

METHODS: We reviewed a consecutive series of cerebral bypasses during aneurysm surgery over the course of 10 years. FDS were in active use during the last 5 years of this series. We compared the clinical characteristics, surgical technique, and outcomes of patients who required cerebral bypass for aneurysm treatment during the preflow diversion era (PreFD) with those of the postflow diversion era (PostFD).

RESULTS: We treated 1061 aneurysms in the PreFD era (from July 2005 through June 2010) and 1348 in the PostFD era (from July 2010 through June 2015). Eighty-five PreFD patients (8%) and 45 PostFD patients (3%) were treated with cerebral bypass. PreFD patients had better baseline functional status compared to PostFD patients with average preoperative modified Rankin Scale score of 0.55 in PreFDand 1.18 in PostFD.

CONCLUSION: After the introduction of FDS, cerebral bypass was performed in a lower proportion of patients with aneurysms. Patients selected for bypass in the flow-diverter era had worse preoperative modified Rankin Scale scores indicating a greater complexity of the patients. Cerebral bypass in well-selected patients and revascularization remains an important technique in vascular neurosurgery. It is also useful as a rescue technique after failed FDS treatment of aneurysms.

Microelectrode recording findings within the tractography-defined ventral intermediate nucleus

J Neurosurg 126:1669–1675, 2017

The ventral intermediate nucleus (VIM) of the thalamus is not visible on structural MRI. Therefore, direct VIM targeting methods for stereotactic tremor surgery are desirable. The authors previously described a direct targeting method for visualizing the VIM and its structural connectivity using deterministic tractography. In this combined electrophysiology and imaging study, the authors investigated the electrophysiology within this tractography-defined VIM (T-VIM).

METHODS Thalamic neurons were classified based on their relative location to the T-VIM: dorsal, within, and ventral to the T-VIM. The authors identified the movement-responsive cells (kinesthetic and tremor cells), performed spike analysis (firing rate and burst index), and local field potential analysis (area under the curve for 13–30 Hz). Tremor efficacy in response to microstimulation along the electrode trajectory was also assessed in relation to the T-VIM.

RESULTS Seventy-three cells from a total of 9 microelectrode tracks were included for this analysis. Movement-responsive cells (20 kinesthetic cells and 26 tremor cells) were identified throughout the electrode trajectories. The mean firing rate and burst index of cells (n = 27) within the T-VIM are 18.8 ± 9.8 Hz and 4.5 ± 5.4, respectively. Significant local field potential beta power was identified within the T-VIM (area under the curve for 13–30 Hz = 6.6 ± 7.7) with a trend toward higher beta power in the dorsal T-VIM. The most significant reduction in tremor was also observed in the dorsal T-VIM.

CONCLUSIONS The electrophysiological findings within the VIM thalamus defined by tractography, or T-VIM, correspond with the known microelectrode recording characteristics of the VIM in patients with tremor.

Is there an inherited anatomical conformation favoring aneurysmal formation of the anterior communicating artery?

J Neurosurg 126:1598–1605, 2017

The pathophysiological mechanisms responsible for the formation of intracranial aneurysms (IAs) remain only partially elucidated. However, current evidence suggests a genetic component. The purpose of this study was to investigate the specific anatomical variations in the arterial complex that are associated with the presence of anterior communicating artery (ACoA) aneurysms in the familial forms of IAs.

METHODS This multicenter study investigated bifurcation IAs in patients who had a sporadic ACoA IA without a family history of IA (SACAA group), in patients who had an ACoA IA with a family history of IA (FACAA group), and in their healthy first-degree relatives (HFDRs). Through the use of MR angiography (MRA) reconstructions, the symmetry of the A1 segments and the angle between the A1 and A2 segments were analyzed on 3D models for each group. These measurements were then compared among the 3 groups.

RESULTS Twenty-four patients with SACAA, 24 patients with FACAA, and 20 HFDRs were included in the study. Asymmetrical configuration of the A1 segments was more frequent in the FACAA group than in the HFDR group (p = 0.002). The aneurysm-side A1-A2 angle was lower in the FACAA group (p = 0.003) and SACAA group (p = 0.007) than in the HFDR group. On the contralateral side, there was no difference in A1-A2 angles between groups.

CONCLUSIONS The anatomical shape of the ACoA complex seems to be similarly associated with the presence of ACoA IAs in both the FACAA and SACAA groups. This highlights the role played by hemodynamic constraints in aneurysm formation and questions the hypothesis of the hereditary character of these anatomical shapes.

Efficacy of primary microvascular decompression versus subsequent microvascular decompression for trigeminal neuralgia

J Neurosurg 126:1691–1697, 2017

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is characterized by intermittent, paroxysmal, and lancinating pain along the distribution of the trigeminal nerve. Microvascular decompression (MVD) directly addresses compression of the trigeminal nerve. The purpose of this study was to determine whether patients undergoing MVD as their first surgical intervention experience greater pain control than patients who undergo subsequent MVD.

METHODS A retrospective review of patient records from 1998 to 2015 identified a total of 942 patients with TN and 500 patients who underwent MVD. After excluding several cases, 306 patients underwent MVD as their first surgical intervention and 175 patients underwent subsequent MVD. Demographics and clinicopathological data and outcomes were obtained for analysis.

RESULTS In patients who underwent subsequent MVD, surgical intervention was performed at an older age (55.22 vs 49.98 years old, p < 0.0001) and the duration of symptoms was greater (7.22 vs 4.45 years, p < 0.0001) than for patients in whom MVD was their first surgical intervention. Patients who underwent initial MVD had improved pain relief and no improvement in pain rates compared with those who had subsequent MVD (95.8% and 4.2% vs 90.3% and 9.7%, respectively, p = 0.0041). Patients who underwent initial MVD had significantly lower rates of facial numbness in the pre- and postoperative periods compared with patients who underwent subsequent MVD (p < 0.0001). The number of complications in both groups was similar (p = 0.4572).

CONCLUSIONS The results demonstrate that patients who underwent other procedures prior to MVD had less pain relief and a higher incidence of facial numbness despite rates of complications similar to patients who underwent MVD as their first surgical intervention.

The expanded trans/supraorbital approach for large space-occupying lesions of the anterior fossa

Acta Neurochir (2017) 159:881–887

The supraorbital rim often interferes with the required upward movement of the instruments for resection of large frontal-lobe tumours through a classic supraorbital craniotomy. Here, we present the expanded trans/supraorbital approach to overcome these limitations.

Methods After an eyebrow skin incision, a one-piece bone flap was created incorporating the orbital rim and roof. Basal extension of the craniotomy allowed for a better intracranial visualisation with improved manoeuvrability and angulation of the instruments without using brain retraction.

Conclusions This approach poses a feasible alternative to large frontal craniotomies for frontal-lobe tumours, for which a regular supraorbital craniotomy is insufficient.

Probabilistic versus deterministic tractography for delineation of the cortico-subthalamic hyperdirect pathway in patients with Parkinson disease selected for deep brain stimulation

J Neurosurg 126:1657–1668, 2017

Diffusion-weighted MRI (DWI) and tractography allows noninvasive mapping of the structural connections of the brain, and may provide important information for neurosurgical planning. The hyperdirect pathway, connecting the subthalamic nucleus (STN) with the motor cortex, is assumed to play a key role in mediating the effects of deep brain stimulation (DBS), which is an effective but poorly understood treatment for Parkinson disease. This study aimed to apply recent methodological advances in DWI acquisition and analysis to the delineation of the hyperdirect pathway in patients with Parkinson disease selected for surgery.

METHODS High spatial and angular resolution DWI data were acquired preoperatively from 5 patients with Parkinson disease undergoing DBS. The authors compared the delineated hyperdirect pathways and associated STN target maps generated by 2 different tractography methods: a tensor-based deterministic method, typically available in clinical settings, and an advanced probabilistic method based on constrained spherical deconvolution. In addition, 10 highresolution data sets with the same scanning parameters were acquired from a healthy control participant to assess the robustness of the tractography results.

RESULTS Both tractography approaches identified connections between the ipsilateral motor cortex and the STN. However, the 2 methods provided substantially different target regions in the STN, with the target center of gravity differing by > 1.4 mm on average. The probabilistic method (based on constrained spherical deconvolution) plausibly reconstructed a continuous set of connections from the motor cortex, terminating in the dorsolateral region of the STN. In contrast, the tensor-based method reconstructed a comparatively sparser and more variable subset of connections. Furthermore, across the control scans, the probabilistic method identified considerably more consistent targeting regions within the STN compared with the deterministic tensor-based method, which demonstrated a 1.9–2.4 times higher variation.

CONCLUSIONS These data provide a strong impetus for the use of a robust probabilistic tractography framework based on constrained spherical deconvolution, or similar advanced DWI models, in clinical settings. The inherent limitations and demonstrated inaccuracy of the tensor-based method leave it questionable for use in high-precision stereotactic DBS surgery. The authors have also described a straightforward method for importing tractography-derived information into any clinical neuronavigation system, based on the generation of track-density images.

Does Intrawound Vancomycin Application During Spine Surgery Create Vancomycin-Resistant Organism?

Neurosurgery (2017) 80 (5): 746-753

Surgical site infection (SSI) following spine surgery is a morbid and expensive complication. The use of intrawound vancomycin is emerging as a solution to reduce SSI. The development of vancomycin-resistant pathogens is an understandable concern.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the occurrence of vancomycin-resistant SSI in patients with and without use of intrawound vancomycin.

METHODS: Patients undergoing elective spine surgery were dichotomized based on whether intrawound vancomycin was applied. Outcome was occurrence of SSI requiring return to the operating room within postoperative 90 days. The intrawound culture and vancomycin minimal inhibitory concentrations (MIC) were reviewed. Analyses were conducted to compare the pathogen profile and MIC for vancomycin in patients who received vancomycin and those who did not.

RESULTS: Of the total 2802 patients, 43% (n = 1215) had intrawound vancomycin application during the index surgery. The use of vancomycin was associated with significantly lower deep SSI rates (1.6% [n = 20] vs 2.5% [n = 40], P = .02). The occurrence of Staphylococcus aureus SSI was significantly lower in the patients who had application of intrawound vancomycin (32% vs 65%, P = .003). None of the patients who had application of intrawound vancomycin powder, and subsequently developed an S aureus SSI, demonstrated pathogens with resistance to vancomycin. All patients had MIC < 2 μg/mL, the vancomycin susceptibility threshold. The occurrence of gram-negative SSI (28% vs 7%) and culture negative fluid collection (16% vs 5%) was higher in the vancomycin cohort.

CONCLUSIONS: The use of intrawound vancomycin during the index spine surgery was protective against SSI following spine surgery. The application of intrawound vancomycin during index surgery does not appear to create vancomycin-resistant organisms in the event of an SSI.

Variability of intraoperative electrostimulation parameters in conscious individuals: language cortex

J Neurosurg 126:1641–1652, 2017

Electrostimulation in awake brain mapping is widely used to guide tumor removal, but methodologies can differ substantially across institutions. The authors studied electrostimulation brain mapping data to characterize the variability of the current intensity threshold across patients and the effect of its variations on the number, type, and surface area of the essential language areas detected.

METHODS Over 7 years, the authors prospectively studied 100 adult patients who were undergoing intraoperative brain mapping during resection of left hemisphere tumors. In all 100 cases, the same protocol of electrostimulation brain mapping (a controlled naming task—bipolar stimulation with biphasic square wave pulses of 1-msec duration and 60-Hz trains, maximum train duration 6 sec) and electrocorticography was used to detect essential language areas.

RESULTS The minimum positive thresholds of stimulation varied from patient to patient; the mean minimum intensity required to detect interference was 4.46 mA (range 1.5–9 mA), and in a substantial proportion of sites (13.5%) interference was detected only at intensities above 6 mA. The threshold varied within a given patient for different naming areas in 22% of cases. Stimulation of the same naming area with greater intensities led to slight changes in the type of response in 19% of cases and different types of responses in 4.5%. Naming sites detected were located in subcentimeter cortical areas (50% were less than 20 mm2), but their extent varied with the intensity of stimulation. During a brain mapping session, the same intensity of stimulation reproduced the same type of interference in 94% of the cases. There was no statistically significant difference between the mean stimulation intensities required to produce interfereince in the left inferior frontal lobe (Broca’s area), the supramarginal gyri, and the posterior temporal region.

CONCLUSIONS Intrasubject and intersubject variations of the minimum thresholds of positive naming areas and changes in the type of response and in the size of these areas according to the intensity used may limit the interpretation of data from electrostimulation in awake brain mapping. To optimize the identification of language areas during electrostimulation brain mapping, it is important to use different intensities of stimulation at the maximum possible currents, avoiding afterdischarges. This could refine the clinical results and scientific data derived from these mapping sessions.

Seizure outcomes of temporal lobe epilepsy surgery in patients with normal MRI and without specific histopathology

Acta Neurochir (2017) 159:757–766

Seizure outcome following surgery in pharmacoresistant temporal lobe epilepsy patients with normal magnetic resonance imaging and normal or non-specific histopathology is not sufficiently presented in the literature.

Methods In a retrospective design, we reviewed data of 263 patients who had undergone temporal lobe epilepsy surgery and identified 26 (9.9%) who met the inclusion criteria. Seizure outcomes were determined at 2-year follow-up. Potential predictors of Engel class I (satisfactory outcome) were identified by logistic regression analyses.

Results Engel class I outcome was achieved in 61.5% of patients, 50% being completely seizure free (Engel class IA outcome). The strongest predictors of satisfactory outcome were typical ictal seizure semiology (p = 0.048) and localised ictal discharges on scalp EEG (p = 0.036).

Conclusion Surgery might be an effective treatment choice for the majority of these patients, although outcomes are less favourable than in patients with magnetic resonance imaging defined lesional temporal lobe epilepsy. Typical ictal seizure semiology and localised ictal discharges on scalp EEG were predictors of Engel class I outcome.

Cystic Craniopharyngiomas: Microsurgical or Stereotactic Treatment?

Neurosurgery (2017) 80 (5): 733-743

Prognosis and treatment of cystic craniopharyngiomas are poorly defined.

OBJECTIVE: To analyze progression-free survival (PFS) and safety profile of cystic craniopharyngiomas undergoing resection or minimally invasive drainage procedures. We compared further outcome measurements for cystic and solid tumors undergoing resection to elucidate the impact of the initial tumor composition on both PFS and the toxicity profile.

METHODS: All patients with craniopharyngiomas consecutively treated between 1999 and 2014 were included. A treatment decision in favor of microsurgery or stereotactic treatment was made interdisciplinarily. For stereotactic drainage, a catheter was implanted, allowing both permanent upstream (into ventricular spaces) and downstream (into prepontine cistern) drainage. Study endpoints were tumor progression, functional outcome, and treatment toxicity. Functional endocrinological and visual outcome analyses referred to data obtained preoperatively and 6 weeks after treatment. The Kaplan-Meier method was used for survival analysis. Prognostic factors were obtained from proportional hazard models.

RESULTS: Seventy-nine patients were included. The distribution of clinical and tumor-related data was well balanced among patients with solid (n = 35) and cystic (n = 44) tumors and those undergoing microsurgical or stereotactic treatment. Cystic tumors had shorter PFS (5-year PFS: 53.6% vs 66.8%, P= .10) and needed significantly more therapeutic interventions, which was independent of the initial treatment mode. The endocrinological deterioration rate was high for both solid and cystic tumors after microsurgery (59.4% and 85.7%, respectively), whereas it was significantly lower for cystic tumors undergoing stereotactic treatment (23.1%, P < .001).

CONCLUSION: Stereotactic bidirectional drainage of cystic craniopharyngiomas is effective and provides a better endocrinological outcome than conventional microsurgery.

An assessment of the most reliable method to estimate the sagittal alignment of the cervical spine

J Neurosurg Spine 26:572–576, 2017

Although there is increasing recognition of the importance of cervical spinal sagittal balance, there is a lack of consensus as to the optimal method to accurately assess the cervical sagittal alignment. Cervical alignment is important for surgical decision making. Sagittal balance of the cervical spine is generally assessed using one of two methods; namely, measuring the angle between C-2 and C-7, and drawing a line between C-2 and C-7. Here, the best method to assess sagittal alignment of the cervical spine is investigated.

METHODS Data from 138 patients enrolled in a randomized controlled trial (Procon) were analyzed. Two investigators independently measured the angle between C-2 and C-7 by using Harrison’s posterior tangent method, and also estimated the shape of the sagittal curve by using a modified Toyama method. The mean angles of each quantitative assessment of the sagittal alignment were calculated and the results were compared. The interrater reliability for both methods was estimated using Cronbach’s alpha.

RESULTS For both methods the interrater reliability was high: for the posterior tangent method it was 0.907 and for the modified Toyama technique it was 0.984. For a lordotic cervical spine, defined by the modified Toyama method, the mean angle (defined by Harrison’s posterior tangent method) was 23.4° ± 9.9° (range 0.4°–52.4°), for a kyphotic cervical spine it was -2.2° ± 9.2° (range -16.1° to 16.9°), and for a straight cervical spine it was 10.5° ± 8.2° (range -11° to 36°).

CONCLUSIONS An absolute measurement of the angle between C-2 and C-7 does not unequivocally define the sagittal cervical alignment. As can be seen from the minimum and maximum values, even a positive angle between C-2 and C-7 could be present in a kyphotic spine. For this purpose, the modified Toyama method (drawing a line from the posterior inferior part of the vertebral body of C-2 to the posterior upper part of the vertebral body of C-7 without any measurements) is a better tool for a global assessment of cervical sagittal alignment. Clinical trial registration no.: ISRCTN41681847 (

Comparison of posterior fossa volumes and clinical outcomes after decompression of Chiari malformation Type I

J Neurosurg Pediatr 19:511–517, 2017

Previous studies have indicated an association of Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) and a small posterior fossa. Most of these studies have been limited by 2D quantitative methods, and more recent studies utilizing 3D methodologies are time-intensive with manual segmentation. The authors sought to develop a more automated tool to calculate the 3D posterior fossa volume, and correlate its changes after decompression with surgical outcomes.

METHODS A semiautomated segmentation program was developed, and used to compare the pre- and postoperative volumes of the posterior cranial fossa (PCF) and the CSF spaces (cisterna magna, prepontine cistern, and fourth ventricle) in a cohort of pediatric patients with CM-I. Volume changes were correlated with postoperative symptomatic improvements in headache, syrinx, tonsillar descent, cervicomedullary kinking, and overall surgical success.

RESULTS Forty-two pediatric patients were included in this study. The mean percentage increase in PCF volume was significantly greater in patients who showed clinical improvement versus no improvement in headache (5.89% vs 1.54%, p < 0.05) and tonsillar descent (6.52% vs 2.57%, p < 0.05). Overall clinical success was associated with a larger postoperative PCF volume increase (p < 0.05). These clinical improvements were also significantly associated with a larger increase in the volume of the cisterna magna (p < 0.05). The increase in the caudal portion of the posterior fossa volume was also larger in patients who showed improvement in syrinx (6.63% vs 2.58%, p < 0.05) and cervicomedullary kinking (9.24% vs 3.79%, p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS A greater increase in the postoperative PCF volume, and specifically an increase in the cisterna magna volume, was associated with a greater likelihood of clinical improvements in headache and tonsillar descent in patients with CM-I. Larger increases in the caudal portion of the posterior fossa volume were also associated with a greater likelihood of improvement in syrinx and cervicomedullary kinking.


Is lumbar facet fusion biomechanically equivalent to lumbar posterolateral onlay fusion?

J Neurosurg Spine 26:586–593, 2017

This study was designed with the following research objectives: 1) to determine the efficacy of facet fusion with recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein–2 (rhBMP-2) on an absorbable collagen sponge (ACS) in an ovine lumbar facet fusion model; 2) to radiographically and histologically compare the efficacy of lumbar facet fusion with rhBMP-2/ACS to facet fusion with an iliac crest bone graft (ICBG); and 3) to biomechanically compare lumbar facet fusion with rhBMP-2/ACS to lumbar posterolateral fusion (PLF) with ICBG.

METHODS The efficacies of the 3 treatments to induce fusion were evaluated in an instrumented ovine lumbar fusion model. Eight sheep had 10 cm3/side ICBG placed as an onlay graft for PLF at L2–3. At the adjacent L3–4 level, 0.5 cm3/ side ICBG was placed for facet fusion. Finally, 0.5 cm3/side rhBMP-2/ACS (0.43 mg/ml) was placed for facet fusion at L4–5. CT scans were obtained at 2, 4, and 6 months postoperatively with 2 reviewers conducting an evaluation of the 6-month results for all treated spinal levels. All 8 sheep were killed at 6 months, and all posterolateral instrumentation was removed at this time. The spines were then sectioned through L3–4 to allow for nondestructive unconstrained bio- mechanical testing of the L2–3 and L4–5 segments. All treated spinal levels were analyzed using undecalcified histology with corresponding microradiography. Statistical comparisons were made between the treatment groups.

RESULTS The PLF with ICBG (ICBG PLF group) and the rhBMP-2 facet fusion (rhBMP-2 Facet group) treatment groups demonstrated similar levels of stiffness, with the rhBMP-2 Facet group having on average slightly higher stiffness in all 6 loading directions. All 8 levels in the autograft facet fusion treatment group demonstrated CT radiographic and histological fusion. All 8 levels in the rhBMP-2 Facet group showed bilateral CT radiographic and histological fusion. Six of 16 rhBMP-2/ACS-treated facet defects demonstrated small intraosseous hematomas or seromas. Four of the 8 levels (50%) in the ICBG PLF treatment group demonstrated bilateral histological fusion. Three of 8 levels in the ICBG PLF treatment group showed unilateral fusion. One of the 8 levels in the ICBG PLF treatment group demonstrated bilateral histological nonfusion.

CONCLUSIONS Both rhBMP-2/ACS and autograft demonstrated 100% efficacy when used for facet fusion in the instrumented ovine model. However, the ICBG PLF treatment group only demonstrated a 50% bilateral fusion rate. Biomechanically, the ICBG PLF and rhBMP-2 Facet groups demonstrated similar stiffness in all 6 loading directions, with the rhBMP-2 Facet group having on average slightly higher stiffness in all directions.

Novel method for dynamic control of intracranial pressure

J Neurosurg 126:1629–1640, 2017

Intracranial pressure (ICP) pulsations are generally considered a passive result of the pulsatility of blood flow. Active experimental modification of ICP pulsations would allow investigation of potential active effects on blood and CSF flow and potentially create a new platform for the treatment of acute and chronic low blood flow states as well as a method of CSF substance clearance and delivery. This study presents a novel method and device for altering the ICP waveform via cardiac-gated volume changes.

METHODS The novel device used in this experiment (named Cadence) consists of a small air-filled inelastic balloon (approximately 1.0 ml) implanted into the intracranial space and connected to an external programmable pump, triggered by an R-wave detector. Balloons were implanted into the epidural space above 1 of the hemispheres of 19 canines for up to 10 hours. When activated, the balloons were programed to cyclically inflate with the cardiac cycle with variable delay, phase, and volume. The ICP response was measured in both hemispheres. Additionally, cerebral blood flow (heat diffusion and laser Doppler) was studied in 16 canines.

RESULTS This system, depending on the inflation pattern of the balloon, allowed a flattening of the ICP waveform, increase in the ICP waveform amplitude, or phase shift of the wave. This occurred with small mean ICP changes, typically around ± 2 mm Hg (15%). Bilateral ICP effects were observed with activation of the device: balloon inflation at each systole increased the systolic ICP pulse (up to 16 mm Hg, 1200%) and deflation at systole decreased or even inverted the systolic ICP pulse (-0.5 to -19 mm Hg, -5% to -1600%) in a dose-(balloon volume) dependent fashion. No aphysiological or deleterious effects on systemic pressure (≤ ±10 mm Hg; 13% change in mean pressure) or cardiac rate (≤ ± 17 beats per minute; 16% change) were observed during up to 4 hours of balloon activity.

CONCLUSIONS The results of these initial studies using an intracranially implanted, cardiac-gated, volume-oscillating balloon suggest the Cadence device can be used to modify ICP pulsations, without physiologically deleterious effects on mean ICP, systemic vascular effects, or brain injury. This device and technique may be used to study the role of ICP pulsatility in intracranial hemo- and hydrodynamic processes and introduces the creation of a potential platform of a cardiac-gated system for treatment of acute and chronic low blood flow states, and diseases requiring augmentation of CSF substance clearance or delivery.

Surgical treatment of anterior cranial fossa dural arterio-venous fistulas (DAVFs)

Acta Neurochir (2017) 159:823–830

Anterior cranial fossa dural arterio-venous fistulas (DAVFs) represent 6% of all intracranial DAVFs; characteristically they show an aggressive behaviour with high risk of intracranial haemorrhage. Peculiar anatomical features, such as feeding by the ethmoidal arteries and the pattern of venous drainage (frequently with varices that mimic aneurysmal dilatation), can be evaluated in detail only by digital subtraction angiography (DSA), which represents the Bgold standard^ in the diagnosis of such cranial fistulas. Recent technological developments in endovascular management of this type of DAVF have partially reduced the morbidity risk related to this modality of treatment. Our purpose is to present our experience in the surgical management of 14 patients with anterior cranial fossa DAVFs, with attention paid to the possible role of preoperative embolisation in these cases and to the surgical technique.

Method Between 1999 and 2015, 14 patients with anterior cranial fossa DAVFs were submitted to surgery in two neurosurgical departments; the mean age was 63 years old; nine DAVFs caused intracranial haemorrhage (subarachnoid haemorrhage in three cases, intracerebral haemorrhage in six cases). Pre-operative embolisation was attempted in an early case and was successfully done in one recent case. In all patients, the surgical approach chosen was a pterional craniotomy with a lowmargin on the frontal bone in order to gain the exposure of the anterior cranial fossa and especially of the olphactory groove region; the resection of the falx at its insertion on the crista galli was needed in five cases in order to get access to the contralateral afferent vessels. Cauterisation of all the dural feeders on and around the lamina cribrosa was needed in all cases; venous dilatations were evident in eight patients (in seven out of nine patients with ruptured DAVF and in one out of five patients with unrupturedDAVF) andwere removed in all cases. One patient harboured an ophthalmic artery aneurysm, which was excluded by clipping.

Results One patient died 5 days after surgery due to the severity of the pre-operative haemorrhage. Postoperative DSA showed the disappearance of the DAVF and of the venous pseudo-aneurysms in all cases. Clinical outcome was favourable (without neurological deficits) in 11 patients; three patients presented an unfavourable clinical outcome, due to the severity of the initial haemorrhage.

Conclusions Surgical exclusion of the anterior cranial fossa DAVFs still represents the gold standard for such lesions, due to low post-operative morbidity and to complete protection against future rebleedings; endovascular techniques may help the surgeon in complex cases.

A novel miniature robotic device for frameless implantation of depth electrodes in refractory epilepsy

J Neurosurg 126:1622–1628, 2017

The authors’ group recently published a novel technique for a navigation-guided frameless stereotactic approach for the placement of depth electrodes in epilepsy patients. To improve the accuracy of the trajectory and enhance the procedural workflow, the authors implemented the iSys1 miniature robotic device in the present study into this routine.

METHODS As a first step, a preclinical phantom study was performed using a human skull model, and the accuracy and timing between 5 electrodes implanted with the manual technique and 5 with the aid of the robot were compared. After this phantom study showed an increased accuracy with robot-assisted electrode placement and confirmed the robot’s ability to maintain stability despite the rotational forces and the leverage effect from drilling and screwing, patients were enrolled and analyzed for robot-assisted depth electrode placement at the authors’ institution from January 2014 to December 2015. All procedures were performed with the S7 Surgical Navigation System with Synergy Cranial software and the iSys1 miniature robotic device.

RESULTS Ninety-three electrodes were implanted in 16 patients (median age 33 years, range 3–55 years; 9 females, 7 males). The authors saw a significant increase in accuracy compared with their manual technique, with a median deviation from the planned entry and target points of 1.3 mm (range 0.1–3.4 mm) and 1.5 mm (range 0.3–6.7 mm), respectively. For the last 5 patients (31 electrodes) of this series the authors modified their technique in placing a guide for implantation of depth electrodes (GIDE) on the bone and saw a significant further increase in the accuracy at the entry point to 1.18 ± 0.5 mm (mean ± SD) compared with 1.54 ± 0.8 mm for the first 11 patients (p = 0.021). The median length of the trajectories was 45.4 mm (range 19–102.6 mm). The mean duration of depth electrode placement from the start of trajectory alignment to fixation of the electrode was 15.7 minutes (range 8.5–26.6 minutes), which was significantly faster than with the manual technique. In 12 patients, depth electrode placement was combined with subdural electrode placement. The procedure was well tolerated in all patients. The authors did not encounter any case of hemorrhage or neurological deficit related to the electrode placement. In 1 patient with a psoriasis vulgaris, a superficial wound infection was encountered. Adequate physiological recordings were obtained from all electrodes. No additional electrodes had to be implanted because of misplacement.

CONCLUSIONS The iSys1 robotic device is a versatile and easy to use tool for frameless implantation of depth electrodes for the treatment of epilepsy. It increased the accuracy of the authors’ manual technique by 60% at the entry point and over 30% at the target. It further enhanced and expedited the authors’ procedural workflow.

Guidelines for the Clinical Management of Cerebral Cavernous Malformations

Neurosurgery 80:665–680, 2017

Despite many publications about cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs), controversy remains regarding diagnostic and management strategies.

OBJECTIVE: To develop guidelines for CCM management.

METHODS: The Angioma Alliance (, the patient support group in the United States advocating on behalf of patients and research in CCM, convened a multidisciplinary writing group comprising expert CCM clinicians to help summarize the existing literature related to the clinical care of CCM, focusing on 5 topics: (1) epidemiology and natural history, (2) genetic testing and counseling, (3) diagnostic criteria and radiology standards, (4) neurosurgical considerations, and (5) neurological considerations. The group reviewed literature, rated evidence, developed recommendations, and established consensus, controversies, and knowledge gaps according to a prespecified protocol.

RESULTS: Of 1270 publications published between January 1, 1983 and September 31, 2014, we selected 98 based on methodological criteria, and identified 38 additional recent or relevant publications. Topic authors used these publications to summarize current knowledge and arrive at 23 consensus management recommendations, which we rated by class (size of effect) and level (estimate of certainty) according to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association criteria. No recommendation was level A (because of the absence of randomized controlled trials), 11 (48%)were level B, and 12 (52%) were level C. Recommendations were class I in 8 (35%), class II in 10 (43%), and class III in 5 (22%).

CONCLUSION: Current evidence supports recommendations for the management of CCM, but their generally low levels and classes mandate further research to better inform clinical practice and update these recommendations. The complete recommendations document, including the criteria for selecting reference citations, a more detailed justification of the respective recommendations, and a summary of controversies and knowledge gaps, was similarly peer reviewed and is available on line

Endoscopic versus microscopic microvascular decompression for trigeminal neuralgia

J Neurosurg 126:1676–1684, 2017

Endoscopic surgery has revolutionized surgery of the ventral skull base but has not yet been widely adopted for use in the cerebellopontine angle. Given the relatively normal anatomy of the cerebellopontine angle in patients with trigeminal neuralgia (TN), the authors hypothesized that a fully endoscopic microvascular decompression (E-MVD) might provide pain outcomes equivalent to those of microscopic MVD (M-MVD) but with fewer complications.

METHODS The authors conducted a single-institution, single-surgeon retrospective study with patients treated in the period of 2006–2013. Before surgery, all patients completed a questionnaire that included a validated multidimensional pain-outcome tool, the Penn Facial Pain Scale (PFPS, formerly known as Brief Pain Inventory–Facial), an 11-point scale that measures pain intensity, interference with general activities of daily living (ADLs), and facial-specific ADLs. Using a standardized script, independent research assistants conducted follow-up telephone interviews.

RESULTS In total, 167 patients were available for follow-ups (66.5% female; 93 patients underwent M-MVD and 74 underwent E-MVD). Preoperative characteristics (i.e., TN classification, PFPS components, and medication use) were similar for the 2 surgical groups except for 2 variables. Patients in the M-MVD group had slightly higher incidence of V3 pain, and the 2 groups differed in the date of surgery and hence in the length of follow-up (2.4 years for the M-MVD group and 1.3 years for the E-MVD group, p < 0.05). There was a trend toward not finding neurovascular conflict at the time of surgery more frequently in the M-MVD than in the E-MVD group (11% vs 7%, p = 0.052). Internal neurolysis was more often performed in the E-MVD group (26% vs 7%, p = 0.001). The 2 groups did not significantly differ in the length of the MVD procedure (approximately 2 hours). Self-reported headaches at 1 month postoperatively were present in 21% of the patients in the M-MVD group versus 7% in the E-MVD group (p = 0.01). Pain outcomes at the most recent followup were equivalent, with patients reporting a 5- to 6-point (70%–80%) improvement in pain intensity, a 5-point (85%) improvement in pain interference with ADLs, and a 6-point (85%) improvement in interference with facial-specific ADLs. Actuarial freedom from pain recurrence was equivalent in the 2 groups, with 80% pain control at 3 years.

CONCLUSIONS Both the fully endoscopic MVD and the conventional M-MVD appear to provide patients with equivalent pain outcomes. Complication rates were also similar between the groups, with the exception of the rate of headaches, which was significantly lower in the E-MVD group 1 month postoperatively.

Lumbar Fusion for Degenerative Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Neurosurgery 80:701–715, 2017

Due to uncertain evidence, lumbar fusion for degenerative indications is associated with the greatest measured practice variation of any surgical procedure.

OBJECTIVE: To summarize the current evidence on the comparative safety and efficacy of lumbar fusion, decompression-alone, or nonoperative care for degenerative indications.

METHODS: A systematic review was conducted using PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (up to June 30, 2016). Comparative studies reporting validated measures of safety or efficacy were included. Treatment effects were calculated through DerSimonian and Laird random effects models.

RESULTS: The literature search yielded 65 studies (19 randomized controlled trials, 16 prospective cohort studies, 15 retrospective cohort studies, and 15 registries) enrolling a total of 302 620 patients. Disability, pain, and patient satisfaction following fusion, decompression-alone, or nonoperative care were dependent on surgical indications and study methodology. Relative to decompression-alone, the risk of reoperation following fusion was increased for spinal stenosis (relative risk [RR] 1.17, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.06-1.28) and decreased for spondylolisthesis (RR 0.75, 95% CI 0.68-0.83). Among patients with spinal stenosis, complications were more frequent following fusion (RR 1.87, 95% CI 1.18-2.96). Mortality was not significantly associated with any treatment modality.

CONCLUSION: Positive clinical change was greatest in patients undergoing fusion for spondylolisthesis while complications and the risk of reoperation limited the benefit of fusion for spinal stenosis. The relative safety and efficacy of fusion for chronic low back pain suggests careful patient selection is required (PROSPERO International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews number, CRD42015020153).


The Use of Vancomycin Powder for Surgical Prophylaxis Following Craniotomy

Neurosurgery 80:754–758, 2017

Intrawound vancomycin powder has been studied extensively in spinal fusion surgeries and been found to reduce rates of surgical site infections (SSIs) significantly. Despite its success in spinal surgeries, topical vancomycin has not been extensively studied with respect to cranial neurosurgery.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy of intrawound topical vancomycin for prevention of SSIs following open craniotomies.

METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed a large series of 350 patients from 2011 to 2015 in a pre/postintervention study of use of topical vancomycin to reduce postoperative craniotomy infection rates. We had a preintervention control group of 225 patients and a postintervention group of 125 patients that received intrawound topical vancomycin.

RESULTS: Our preintervention incidence of SSI was 2.2% and this was significantly reduced to 0% following introduction of topical vancomycin (P < .5). An ad hoc cost analysis suggested a cost savings of $59 965 with the use of topical vancomycin for craniotomies.

CONCLUSION: Our study found a significant reduction in SSI rates after introduction of topical vancomycin. Thus, this simple intervention should be considered in all open craniotomy patients as both infection prophylaxis and a potential cost saving intervention.

Neurosurgery Department. “La Fe” University Hospital. Valencia, Spain


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