Neurosurgery Blog


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

Surgical resection of skull-base chordomas: experience in case selection for surgical approach according to anatomical compartments and review of the literature

Acta Neurochir (2017) 159:1835–1845

Chordoma is a rare bony malignancy known to have a high rate of local recurrence after surgery. The best treatment paradigm is still being evaluated. We report our experience and review the literature. We emphasize on the difference between endoscopic and open craniotomy in regard to the anatomical compartment harboring the tumor, the limitations of the approaches and the rate of surgical resection.

Method: We retrospectively collected all patients with skullbase chordomas operated on between 2004 and 2014. Detailed radiological description of the compartments being occupied by the tumor and the degree of surgical resection is discussed.

Results: Eighteen patients were operated on in our facility for skull-base chordoma. Seventeen endoscopic surgeries were done in 15 patients, and 7 craniotomies were done in 5 patients. The mean age was 48.9 years (±19.8 years). When reviewing the anatomical compartments, we found that the most common were the upper clivus (95.6%) and lower clivus (58.3%), left cavernous sinus (66.7%) and petrous apex (∼60%). Most of the patients had intradural tumor involvement (70.8%). In all craniotomy cases, there was residual tumor in multiple compartments. In the endoscopic cases, the most difficult compartments for total resection were the lower clivus, and lateral extensions to the petrous apex or cavernous sinus.

Conclusions: Our experience shows that the endoscopic approach is a good option for midline tumors without significant lateral extension. In cases with very lateral or lower extensions, additional approaches should be added trying to achieve complete resection.

Pelvic retroversion: a compensatory mechanism for lumbar stenosis

J Neurosurg Spine 27:137–144, 2017

The flexed posture of the proximal (L1–3) or distal (L4–S1) lumbar spine increases the diameter of the spinal canal and neuroforamina and can relieve symptoms of neurogenic claudication. Distal lumbar flexion can result in pelvic retroversion; therefore, in cases of flexible sagittal imbalance, pelvic retroversion may be compensatory for lumbar stenosis and not solely compensatory for the sagittal imbalance as previously thought. The authors investigate underlying causes for pelvic retroversion in patients with flexible sagittal imbalance.

METHODS One hundred thirty-eight patients with sagittal imbalance who underwent a total of 148 fusion procedures of the thoracolumbar spine were identified from a prospective clinical database. Radiographic parameters were obtained from images preoperatively, intraoperatively, and at 6-month and 2-year follow-up. A cohort of 24 patients with flexible sagittal imbalance was identified and individually matched with a control cohort of 23 patients with fixed deformities. Flexible deformities were defined as a 10° change in lumbar lordosis between weight-bearing and non–weight-bearing images. Pelvic retroversion was quantified as the ratio of pelvic tilt (PT) to pelvic incidence (PI).

RESULTS The average difference between lumbar lordosis on supine MR images and standing radiographs was 15° in the flexible cohort. Sixty-eight percent of the patients in the flexible cohort were diagnosed preoperatively with lumbar stenosis compared with only 22% in the fixed sagittal imbalance cohort (p = 0.0032). There was no difference between the flexible and fixed cohorts with regard to C-2 sagittal vertical axis (SVA) (p = 0.95) or C-7 SVA (p = 0.43). When assessing for postural compensation by pelvic retroversion in the stenotic patients and nonstenotic patients, the PT/PI ratio was found to be significantly greater in the patients with stenosis (p = 0.019).

CONCLUSIONS For flexible sagittal imbalance, preoperative attention should be given to the root cause of the sagittal misalignment, which could be compensation for lumbar stenosis. Pelvic retroversion can be compensatory for both the lumbar stenosis as well as for sagittal imbalance.


Open versus percutaneous instrumentation in thoracolumbar fractures

J Neurosurg Spine 27:235–241, 2017

Percutaneous instrumentation in thoracolumbar fractures is intended to decrease paravertebral muscle damage by avoiding dissection. The aim of this study was to compare muscles at instrumented levels in patients who were treated by open or percutaneous surgery.

METHODS Twenty-seven patients underwent open instrumentation, and 65 were treated percutaneously. A standardized MRI protocol using axial T1-weighted sequences was performed at a minimum 1-year follow-up after implant removal. Two independent observers measured cross-sectional areas (CSAs, in cm2) and region of interest (ROI) signal intensity (in pixels) of paravertebral muscles by using OsiriX at the fracture level, and at cranial and caudal instrumented pedicle levels. An interobserver comparison was made using the Bland-Altman method. Reference ROI muscle was assessed in the psoas and ROI fat subcutaneously. The ratio ROI-CSA/ROI-fat was compared for patients treated with open versus percutaneous procedures by using a linear mixed model. A linear regression analyzed additional factors: age, sex, body mass index (BMI), Pfirrmann grade of adjacent discs, and duration of instrumentation in situ.

RESULTS The interobserver agreement was good for all CSAs. The average CSA for the entire spine was 15.7 cm2 in the open surgery group and 18.5 cm2 in the percutaneous group (p = 0.0234). The average ROI-fat and ROI-muscle signal intensities were comparable: 497.1 versus 483.9 pixels for ROI-fat and 120.4 versus 111.7 pixels for ROI-muscle in open versus percutaneous groups. The ROI-CSA varied between 154 and 226 for open, and between 154 and 195 for percutaneous procedures, depending on instrumented levels. A significant difference of the ROI-CSA/ROI-fat ratio (0.4 vs 0.3) was present at fracture levels T12–L1 (p = 0.0329) and at adjacent cranial (p = 0.0139) and caudal (p = 0.0100) instrumented levels. Differences were not significant at thoracic levels. When adjusting based on age, BMI, and Pfirrmann grade, a significant difference between open and percutaneous procedures regarding the ROI-CSA/ROI-fat ratio was present in the lumbar spine (p < 0.01). Sex and duration of instrumentation had no significant influence.

CONCLUSIONS Percutaneous instrumentation decreased muscle atrophy compared with open surgery. The MRI signal differences for T-12 and L-1 fractures indicated less fat infiltration within CSAs in patients who received percutaneous treatment. Differences were not evidenced at thoracic levels, where CSAs were smaller. Fat infiltration was not significantly different at lumbar levels with either procedure in elderly patients with associated discopathy and higher BMI. In younger patients, there was less fat infiltration of lumbar paravertebral muscles with percutaneous procedures.


Trigeminal nerve contrast enhancement after radiosurgery

J Neurosurg 127:219–225, 2017

Contrast enhancement of the retrogasserian trigeminal nerve on MRI scans frequently develops after radiosurgical ablation for the management of medically refractory trigeminal neuralgia (TN). The authors sought to evaluate the clinical significance of this imaging finding in patients who underwent a second radiosurgical procedure for recurrent TN.

METHODS During a 22-year period, 360 patients underwent Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) as their first surgical procedure for TN at the authors’ center. The authors retrospectively analyzed the data from 59 patients (mean age 72 years, range 33–89 years) who underwent repeat SRS for recurrent pain at a median of 30 months (range 6–146 months) after the first SRS. The isocenter was 4 mm, and the median maximum doses for the first and second procedures were 80 Gy and 70 Gy, respectively. A neuroradiologist and a neurosurgeon blinded to the treated side evaluated the presence of nerve contrast enhancement on MRI series at the time of the repeat procedure. The authors correlated the presence of this imaging change with clinical outcomes. Pain outcomes and development of trigeminal sensory dysfunction were evaluated with the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) Pain Scale and BNI Numbness Scale, respectively. The mean length of follow-up after the second SRS was 58 months (95% CI 49–68 months).

RESULTS At the time of the repeat SRS, contrast enhancement of the trigeminal nerve on MRI scans was observed in 31 patients (53%). Five years after the SRS, patients with this enhancement had lower actuarial rates of complete pain relief after the repeat SRS (27% [95% CI 7%–47%]) than patients without the enhancement (76% [95% CI 58%–94%]) (p < 0.001). At the 5-year follow-up, patients with the contrast enhancement also had a higher risk for trigeminal sensory loss after repeat SRS (75% [95% CI 59%–91%]) than patients without contrast enhancement (26% [95% CI 10%–42%]) (p = 0.001). Dysesthetic pain after repeat SRS was observed for 8 patients with and for 2 patients without contrast enhancement.

CONCLUSIONS Trigeminal nerve contrast enhancement on MRI scans observed at the time of a repeat SRS for TN was associated with less satisfactory pain control and more frequently detected facial sensory loss. Residual contrast enhancement at the time of a repeat SRS may warrant consideration of dose reduction or further separation of the radiosurgical targets.

Early diffusion-weighted MRI lesions after treatment of unruptured intracranial aneurysms:

J Neurosurg 126:1070–1078, 2017

Diffusion-weighted MRI was used to assess periprocedural lesion load after repair of unruptured intracranial aneurysms (UIA) by microsurgical clipping (MC) and endovascular coiling (EC).

METHODS Patients with UIA were assigned to undergo MC or EC according to interdisciplinary consensus and underwent diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) 1 day before and 1 day after aneurysm treatment. Newly detected lesions by DWI after treatment were the primary end point of this prospective study. Lesions detected by DWI were categorized as follows: A) 1–3 DWI spots < 10 mm, B) > 3 DWI spots < 10 mm, C) single DWI lesion > 10 mm, or D) DWI lesion related to surgical access.

RESULTS Between 2010 and 2014, 99 cases were included. Sixty-two UIA were treated by MC and 37 by EC. There were no significant differences between groups in age, sex, aneurysm size, occurrence of multiple aneurysms in 1 patient, or presence of lesions detected by DWI before treatment. Aneurysms treated by EC were significantly more often located in the posterior circulation (p < 0.001). Diffusion-weighted MRI detected new lesions in 27 (43.5%) and 20 (54.1%) patients after MC and EC, respectively (not significant). The pattern of lesions detected by DWI varied significantly between groups (p < 0.001). Microembolic lesions (A and B) found on DWI were detected more frequently after EC (A, 14 cases; B, 5 cases) than after MC (A, 5 cases), whereas C and D were rare after EC (C, 1 case) and occurred more often after MC (C, 12 cases and D, 10 cases). No procedure-related unfavorable outcomes were detected.

CONCLUSIONS According to the specific techniques, lesion patterns differ between MC and EC, whereas the frequency of new lesions found on DWI is similar after occlusion of UIA. In general, the lesion load was low in both groups, and lesions were clinically silent. Clinical trial registration no.: NCT01490463 (

Volumetric growth rates of meningioma and its correlation with histological diagnosis and clinical outcome

Acta Neurochir (2017) 159:435–445

Tumour growth has been used to successfully predict progression-free survival in low-grade glioma. This systematic review sought to establish the evidence base regarding the correlation of volumetric growth rates with histological diagnosis and potential to predict clinical outcome in patients with meningioma.

Methods This systematic review was conducted according to the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines. Databases were searched for full text English articles analysing volumetric growth rates in patients with a meningioma.

Results Four retrospective cohort studies were accepted, demonstrating limited evidence of significantly different tumour doubling rates and shapes of growth curves between benign and atypical meningiomas. Heterogeneity of patient characteristics and timing of volumetric assessment, both pre- and post-operatively, limited pooled analysis of the data. No studies performed statistical analysis to demonstrate the clinical utility of growth rates in predicting clinical outcome.

Conclusion This systematic review provides limited evidence in support of the use of volumetric growth rates in meningioma to predict histological diagnosis and clinical outcome to guide future monitoring and treatment.

Results of surgery in symptomatic non-hydrocephalic pineal cysts

Acta Neurochir (2017) 159:349–361

We have previously proposed that pineal cysts (PCs) may result in crowding of the pineal recess, causing symptoms due to compression of the internal cerebral veins and central venous hypertension. In the present study, we compared clinical outcome of different treatment modalities in symptomatic individuals with non-hydrocephalic PCs.

Methods The study included all patients managed surgically for non-hydrocephalic PCs in our Department of Neurosurgery over a 10-year period. We applied a questionnaire to determine occurrence of symptoms before and after surgery, which allowed the use of a grading scale for symptom severity. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) biomarkers indicative of central venous hypertension were assessed before and after surgery.

Results Relief of symptoms after surgery was most efficiently obtained by complete microsurgical cyst removal [n = 15; no (0/15), some (1/15) or marked (14/15) improvement], and to a lesser extent by microsurgical cyst fenestration [n = 6; no (2/6), some (4/6) or marked (0/6) improvement]. Shunt surgery was not successful [n = 6; no (5/6), some (1/6) or marked (0/6) improvement]. In all patients, the proposed MRI biomarkers gave evidence of central venous hypertension (PC grades 2–4).

Conclusions Microsurgical cyst removal provided marked symptom relief in symptomatic individuals with non-hydrocephalic PCs and MRI biomarkers of central venous hypertension. The hypothesis that PC-induced crowding of the pineal recess may compromise venous run-off and induce a central venous hypertension syndrome deserves further study.

Magnetic resonance imaging–based measures predictive of short-term surgical outcome in patients with Chiari malformation Type I

J Neurosurg Spine 26:28–38, 2017

This study identifies quantitative imaging-based measures in patients with Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) that are associated with positive outcomes after suboccipital decompression with duraplasty.

Methods Fifteen patients in whom CM-I was newly diagnosed underwent MRI preoperatively and 3 months postoperatively. More than 20 previously described morphological and physiological parameters were derived to assess quantitatively the impact of surgery. Postsurgical clinical outcomes were assessed in 2 ways, based on resolution of the patient’s chief complaint and using a modified Chicago Chiari Outcome Scale (CCOS). Statistical analyses were performed to identify measures that were different between the unfavorable- and favorable-outcome cohorts. Multivariate analysis was used to identify the strongest predictors of outcome.

Results The strongest physiological parameter predictive of outcome was the preoperative maximal cord displacement in the upper cervical region during the cardiac cycle, which was significantly larger in the favorable-outcome subcohorts for both outcome types (p < 0.05). Several hydrodynamic measures revealed significantly larger preoperative-topostoperative changes in the favorable-outcome subcohort. Predictor sets for the chief-complaint classification included the cord displacement, percent venous drainage through the jugular veins, and normalized cerebral blood flow with 93.3% accuracy. Maximal cord displacement combined with intracranial volume change predicted outcome based on the modified CCOS classification with similar accuracy.

Conclusions Tested physiological measures were stronger predictors of outcome than the morphological measures in patients with CM-I. Maximal cord displacement and intracranial volume change during the cardiac cycle together with a measure that reflects the cerebral venous drainage pathway emerged as likely predictors of decompression outcome in patients with CM-I.

Fractal Analysis for the Differentiation of Brain Tumors Using 3-Tesla Magnetic Resonance Susceptibility-Weighted Imaging

Neurosurgery 79:839–846, 2016

Susceptibility-weighted imaging (SWI) of brain tumors provides information about neoplastic vasculature and intratumoral micro- and macrobleedings. Low- and high-grade gliomas can be distinguished by SWI due to their different vascular characteristics. Fractal analysis allows for quantification of these radiological differences by a computer-based morphological assessment of SWI patterns.

OBJECTIVE: To show the feasibility of SWI analysis on 3-T magnetic resonance imaging to distinguish different kinds of brain tumors.

METHODS: Seventy-eight patients affected by brain tumors of different histopathology (low- and high-grade gliomas, metastases, meningiomas, lymphomas) were included. All patients underwent preoperative 3-T magnetic resonance imaging including SWI, on which the lesions were contoured. The images underwent automated computation, extracting 2 quantitative parameters: the volume fraction of SWI signals within the tumors (signal ratio) and the morphological self-similar features (fractal dimension [FD]). The results were then correlated with each histopathological type of tumor.

RESULTS: Signal ratio and FD were able to differentiate low-grade gliomas from grade III and IV gliomas, metastases, and meningiomas (P , .05). FD was statistically different between lymphomas and high-grade gliomas (P , .05). A receiver-operating characteristic analysis showed that the optimal cutoff value for differentiating low- from highgrade gliomas was 1.75 for FD (sensitivity, 81%; specificity, 89%) and 0.03 for signal ratio (sensitivity, 80%; specificity, 86%).

CONCLUSION: FD of SWI on 3-T magnetic resonance imaging is a novel image biomarker for glioma grading and brain tumor characterization. Computational models offer promising results that may improve diagnosis and open perspectives in the radiological assessment of brain tumors.

The Effect of Lumbar Spinal Muscle on Spinal Sagittal Alignment

Neurosurgery 79:847–855, 2016

The majority of earlier studies of the parameters of sagittal balance did not consider the influence of spinal muscles on spinal sagittal alignment.

OBJECTIVE: To analyze the relationship between the paraspinal muscle (quantity and quality) and sagittal alignment in elderly patients.

METHODS: We reviewed 50 full-spine lateral standing radiographs and lumbar magnetic resonance images of elderly patients at a single center. The radiographic parameters examined were thoracic kyphosis, lumbar lordosis (LL), sagittal vertical axis, pelvic tilt, sacral slope, and pelvic incidence (PI). The lumbar muscularity (LM; quantity) and fatty degeneration ratio (FD; quality) in the paraspinal muscle were measured at the L3 level on magnetic resonance images. The relationships between the parameters, LM, and FD were analyzed with the Pearson correlation coefficient and multiple linear regression.

RESULTS: Pearson analysis demonstrated that the FD had significant correlations with age (r = 0.393), thoracic kyphosis (r = 20.559), pelvic tilt (r = 0.430), sagittal vertical axis (r = 0.488), and PI 2 LL (r = 0.479, P , .05), and a close negative correlation was found between the FD and LL (r = 20.505, P , .01). The LM had significant correlations with the LL (r = 0.342) and PI 2 LL (r = 20.283, P , .05). Regression models that controlled for confounding factors such as body mass index confirmed the correlations between the above parameters and FD (P , .05).

CONCLUSION: The quality of the paraspinal muscle could be one of the various factors that influence sagittal balance.

Accurate Delineation of Glioma Infiltration by Advanced PET/MR Neuro-Imaging (FRONTIER Study)

f1-largeNeurosurgery 79:535–540, 2016

Glioma imaging, used for diagnostics, treatment planning, and followup, is currently based on standard magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) modalities (T1 contrast-enhancement for gadolinium-enhancing gliomas and T2 fluid-attenuated inversion recovery hyperintensity for nonenhancing gliomas). The diagnostic accuracy of these techniques for the delineation of gliomas is suboptimal.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the diagnostic accuracy of advanced neuroimaging compared with standard MRI modalities for the detection of diffuse glioma infiltration within the brain.

METHODS: A monocenter, prospective, diagnostic observational study in adult patients with a newly diagnosed, diffuse infiltrative glioma undergoing resective glioma surgery. Forty patients will be recruited in 3 years. Advanced neuroimaging will be added to the standard preoperative MRI. Serial neuronavigated biopsies in and around the glioma boundaries, obtained immediately preceding resective surgery, will provide histopathologic and molecular characteristics of the regions of interest, enabling comparison with quantitative measurements in the imaging modalities at the same biopsy sites.

DISCUSSION: In this clinical study, we determine the diagnostic accuracy of advanced imaging in addition to standard MRI to delineate glioma. The results of our study can be valuable for the development of an improved standard imaging protocol for glioma treatment.

EXPECTED OUTCOME: We hypothesize that a combination of positron emission tomography, MR spectroscopy, and standard MRI will have a superior accuracy for glioma delineation compared with standard MRI alone. In addition, we anticipate that advanced imaging will correlate with the histopathologic and molecular characteristics of glioma.

Cystic meningioma: radiological, histological, and surgical particularities in 43 patients


Acta Neurochir (2016) 158:1955–1964

The presence of cysts is a rare occurrence for intracranial meningiomas in adults. We report our experience in a large consecutive series of cystic meningiomas.

Method: We prospectively collected data for a dedicated database of cystic meningioma cases between January 2004 and December 2011 in two tertiary neurosurgical centers. Studied data included preoperative imaging, surgical records, and pathology reports.

Results: Among 1214 surgeries for intracranial meningioma, we identified 43 cases of cystic meningioma, corresponding to an incidence of 3.5 %. The most common localization was the hemispheric convexity (17/43 cases). Twenty-eight patients had intratumoral cysts, nine peritumoral, and five mixed intra and extratumoral. In 29 patients with available diffusion imaging, ADC coefficients were significantly lower in grade IIIII tumors compared to grade I (p = 0.01). Complete resection of the cystic components was possible in 27/43 patients (63 %); partial resection in 4/43 (9 %); in 6/43 (14 %) cyst resection was not possible but multiple biopsies were performed from the cystic walls; in another 6/43 (14 %) the cystic wall was not identified during surgery. Cells with neoplastic features were identified within the cyst walls at pathology in 26/43 cases (60 %). All patients were followed-up for 24 months; long-term follow-up was available only in 32 patients for an average period of 49 months (range, 36–96 months). No recurrence requiring surgery was observed.

Conclusions Cystic meningiomas are rare. Cells with neoplastic features are often identified within the cyst walls. Complete cyst resection is recommendable when considered technically feasible and safe.

Volumetric CT analysis as a predictor of seizure outcome following temporal lobectomy

Volumetric brain analysis in neurosurgery- Part 3

J Neurosurg Pediatr 15:133–143, 2015

The incidence of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) due to mesial temporal sclerosis (MTS) can be high in developing countries. Current diagnosis of MTS relies on structural MRI, which is generally unavailable in developing world settings. Given widespread effects on temporal lobe structure beyond hippocampal atrophy in TLE, the authors propose that CT volumetric analysis can be used in patient selection to help predict outcomes following resection.

METHODS Ten pediatric patients received preoperative CT scans and temporal resections at the CURE Children’s Hospital of Uganda. Engel classification of seizure control was determined 12 months postoperatively. Temporal lobe volumes were measured from CT and from normative MR images using the Cavalieri method. Whole brain and fluid volumes were measured using particle filter segmentation. Linear discrimination analysis (LDA) was used to classify seizure outcome by temporal lobe volumes and normalized brain volume.

RESULTS Epilepsy patients showed normal to small brain volumes and small temporal lobes bilaterally. A multivariate measure of the volume of each temporal lobe separated patients who were seizure free (Engel Class IA) from those with incomplete seizure control (Engel Class IB/IIB) with LDA (p < 0.01). Temporal lobe volumes also separate normal subjects, patients with Engel Class IA outcomes, and patients with Class IB/IIB outcomes (p < 0.01). Additionally, the authors demonstrated that age-normalized whole brain volume, in combination with temporal lobe volumes, may further improve outcome prediction (p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS This study shows strong evidence that temporal lobe and brain volume can be predictive of seizure outcome following temporal lobe resection, and that volumetric CT analysis of the temporal lobe may be feasible in lieu of structural MRI when the latter is unavailable. Furthermore, since the authors’ methods are modality independent, these findings suggest that temporal lobe and normative brain volumes may further be useful in the selection of patients for temporal lobe resection when structural MRI is available.

Intra-operative correction of brain-shift

Intra-operative correction brain-shift

Acta Neurochir (2014) 156:1301–1310

Brain-shift is a major source of error in neuronavigation systems based on pre-operative images. In this paper, we present intra-operative correction of brain-shift using 3D ultrasound.

Methods The method is based on image registration of vessels extracted from pre-operative MRA and intra-operative power Doppler-based ultrasound and is fully integrated in the neuronavigation software.

Results We have performed correction of brain-shift in the operating room during surgery and provided the surgeon with updated information. Here, we present data from seven clinical cases with qualitative and quantitative error measures.

Conclusion The registration algorithm is fast enough to provide the surgeon with updated information within minutes and accounts for large portions of the experienced shift. Correction of brain-shift can make pre-operative data like fMRI and DTI reliable for a longer period of time and increase the usefulness of the MR data as a supplement to intra-operative 3D ultrasound in terms of overview and interpretation.

Can unilateral-approach minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion attain indirect contralateral decompression?

Can unilateral-approach minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion attain indirect contralateral decompression?

Eur Spine J (2014) 23:1144–1149

Few studies have measured the amount of indirect decompression at the contralateral neural foramen after unilateral-approach minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MITLIF). This study examined the amount of intraoperative indirect decompression at the contralateral neural foramen after a unilateral-approach MITLIF in patients with bilateral foraminal stenosis.

Methods From February 2009 to October 2012, 66 consecutive patients with bilateral foraminal stenosis underwent unilateral-approach MITLIF and postoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Direct decompression was performed at the central canal and approach-side neural foramen, while indirect decompression using cage distraction was pursued at the contralateral neural foramen. Qualitative parameters of the central canal (dural sac morphology) and neural foramen (foramen morphology) were analyzed using pre- and post-operative MRI. Quantitative measurement on the central canal (dural sac crosssectional area) and neural foramen (foramen height and width) were also measured.

Results A total of 69 intervertebral levels in the 66 patients were analyzed. Qualitative parameters of the central canal and contralateral neural foramen improved significantly after unilateral-approach MITLIF (both P<0.001). The mean dural sac cross-sectional area increased from 51.1 ± 28.8 to 84.8 ± 30.2 mm2 (P<0.001). The mean preoperative contralateral foramen height, maximum foramen width, and minimum foramen width were 11.8 ± 2.0, 4.9 ± 1.5, and 1.5 ± 0.7 mm, respectively, and these values increased postoperatively to 14.7 ± 2.5, 6.5 ± 1.8, and 2.4 ± 1.0 mm, respectively (all P<0.001).

Conclusion Quantitative and qualitative parameters of the central canal and contralateral neural foramen increased significantly after unilateral-approach MITLIF.

High-resolution anatomy of the human brain stem using 7-T MRI

High-resolution anatomy of the human brain stem using 7-T MRINeuroradiology (2014) 56:177–186

The purpose of this paper is to assess the value of 7 Tesla (7 T) MRI for the depiction of brain stem and cranial nerve (CN) anatomy.
Methods Six volunteers were examined at 7 T using highresolution SWI, MPRAGE, MP2RAGE, 3D SPACE T2, T2, and PD images to establish scanning parameters targeted at optimizing spatial resolution. Direct comparisons between 3 and 7 T were performed in two additional subjects using the finalized sequences (3 T: T2, PD, MPRAGE, SWAN; 7 T: 3D T2,MPRAGE, SWI, MP2RAGE). Artifacts and the depiction of structures were evaluated by two neuroradiologists using a standardized score sheet.
Results Sequences could be established for high-resolution 7 T imaging even in caudal cranial areas. High in-plane resolution T2, PD, and SWI images provided depiction of inner brain stem structures such as pons fibers, raphe, reticular formation, nerve roots, and periaqueductal gray. MPRAGE and MP2RAGE provided clear depiction of the CNs. 3D T2 images improved depiction of inner brain structure in comparison to T2 images at 3 T. Although the 7-T SWI sequence provided improved contrast to some inner structures, extended areas were influenced by artifacts due to image disturbances from susceptibility differences.
Conclusions Seven-tesla imaging of basal brain areas is feasible and might have significant impact on detection and diagnosis in patients with specific diseases, e.g., trigeminal pain related to affection of the nerve root. Some inner brain stem structures can be depicted at 3 T, but certain sequences at 7 T, in particular 3D SPACE T2, are superior in producing anatomical in vivo images of deep brain stem structures.

The callosal angle measured on MRI as a predictor of outcome in idiopathic normal-pressure hydrocephalus

The callosal angle measured on MRI as a predictor of outcome in idiopathic normal-pressure hydrocephalus

J Neurosurg 120:178–184, 2014

Different neuroimaging biomarkers have been studied to find a tool for prediction of response to CSF shunting in idiopathic normal-pressure hydrocephalus (iNPH). The callosal angle (CA) has been described as useful in discriminating iNPH from ventricular dilation secondary to atrophy. However, the usefulness of the CA as a prognostic tool for the selection of shunt candidates among patients with iNPH is unclear. The aim of this study was to compare the CA in shunt responders with that in nonresponders and clarify whether the CA can serve as a predictor of the outcome.

Methods. Preoperative MRI brain scans were evaluated in 109 patients who had undergone shunt surgery for iNPH during 2006–2010. Multiplanar reconstruction was performed interactively to obtain a coronal image through the posterior commissure, perpendicular to the anterior-posterior commissure plane. The CA was measured as the angle between the lateral ventricles on the coronal image. The patients were examined clinically before surgery and at 12 months postoperatively.

Results. Shunt responders had a significantly smaller mean preoperative CA compared with nonresponders: 59° (95% CI 56°–63°) versus 68° (95% CI 61°–75°) (p < 0.05). A CA cutoff value of 63° showed the best prognostic accuracy.

Conclusions. The preoperative CA is smaller in patients whose condition improves after shunt surgery and may be a useful tool in the selection of shunt candidates among patients with iNPH.

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The Aqueduct of Sylvius: Applied 3-T Magnetic Resonance Imaging Anatomy and Morphometry With Neuroendoscopic Relevance

Aqueduct of Sylvius MRI morphometry

Neurosurgery 73[ONS Suppl 2]:ons132–ons140, 2013

The aqueduct of Sylvius (AqSylv) is a structure of increasing importance in neuroendoscopic procedures. However, there is currently no clear and adequate description of the normal anatomy of the AqSylv.

OBJECTIVE: To study in detail hitherto unavailable normal magnetic resonance imaging morphometry and anatomic variants of the AqSylv.

METHODS: We retrospectively studied normal midsagittal T1-weighted 3-T magnetic resonance images in 100 patients. We measured widths of the AqSylv pars anterior, ampulla, and pars posterior; its narrowest point; and its length. We recorded angulation of the AqSylv relative to the third ventricle as multiple deviations of the long axis of the AqSylv from the Talairach bicommissural line. We statistically determined age- and sexrelated changes in AqSylv morphometry using the Pearson correlation coefficient. We measured angulation of the AqSylv relative to the fourth ventricle and correlated this to the cervicomedullary angle (a surrogate for head position).

RESULTS: Patients were 13 to 83 years of age (45% male, 55% female). Mean morphometrics were as follows: pars anterior width, 1.1 mm; ampulla width, 1.2 mm; pars posterior width, 1.4 mm; length, 14.1 mm; narrowest point, 0.9 mm; and angulation in relation to the third and fourth ventricles, 26 and 18, respectively. Age correlated positively with width and negatively with length of the AqSylv. There was no correlation between AqSylv alignment relative to the foramen magnum and the cervicomedullary angle.

CONCLUSION: Normative dimensions of the AqSylv in vivo are at variance with published cadaveric morphometrics. The AqSylv widens and shortens with cerebral involution. Awareness of these normal morphometrics is highly useful when stent placement is an option during aqueductoplasty. Reported data are valuable in guiding neuroendoscopic management of hydrocephalus and aqueductal stenosis.

Effect of Load Carriage on Lumbar Spine Kinematics

Lumbar Spine Kinematics

Spine 2013 ;38:E783–E791

Feasibility study on the acquisition of lumbar spine kinematic data from upright magnetic resonance images obtained under heavy load carrying conditions.

Objective. To characterize the effect of the load on spinal kinematics of active Marines under typical load carrying conditions from a macroscopic and lumbar-level approach in active-duty US Marines.

Summary of Background Data. Military personnel carry heavy loads of up to 68 kg depending on duty position and nature of the mission or training; these loads are in excess of the recommended assault loads. Performance and injury associated with load carriage have been studied; however, knowledge of lumbar spine kinematic changes is still not incorporated into training. These data would provide guidance for setting load and duration limits and a tool to investigate the potential contribution of heavy load carrying on lumbar spine pathologies.

Methods. Sagittal T2 magnetic resonance images of the lumbar spine were acquired on a 0.6-T upright magnetic resonance imaging scanner for 10 active-duty Marines. Each Marine was scanned without load (UN1), immediately after donning load (LO2), after 45 minutes of standing (LO3) and walking (LO4) with load, and after 45 minutes of side-lying recovery (UN5). Custom-made software was used to measure whole spine angles, intervertebral angles, and regional disc heights (L1–S1). Repeated measurements analysis of variance and post hoc Sidak tests were used to identify significant differences between tasks ( α = 0.05).

Results. The position of the spine was significantly ( P < 0.0001) more horizontal relative to the external reference frame and lordosis was reduced during all tasks with load. Superior levels became more lordotic, whereas inferior levels became more kyphotic. Heavy load induced lumbar spine flexion and only anterior disc and posterior intervertebral disc height changes were observed. All kinematic variables returned to baseline levels after 45 minutes of side-lying recovery.

Conclusion. Superior and inferior lumbar levels showed different kinematic behaviors under heavy load carrying conditions. These fi ndings suggest a postural, lumbar fl exion strategy aimed at centralizing a heavy posterior load over the base of support.

Optimizing Contrast-Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging Characterization of Brain Metastases: Relevance to Stereotactic Radiosurgery


Neurosurgery 72:691–701, 2013

Intracranial metastases are the most common form of intra-axial brain tumor. Management approaches to brain metastases include surgical resection, whole-brain radiotherapy, and stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). The management approach that is selected is based typically on algorithms that incorporate the number, size, and location of lesions.

SRS is the treatment of choice when metastases detected on imaging are few (maximum, 3-5) and/or of small size (#30 mm) and offers the advantages of noninvasiveness and the ability to treat inaccessible lesions compared with surgical resection.

Contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the standard imaging technique for determining the number, size, and location of metastatic lesions. In SRS, the capability of MRI to delineate lesion borders precisely in 3 dimensions helps reduce recurrence rates and minimize radiation necrosis in surrounding tissue.

Optimization of the MRI protocol, including selection of the appropriate gadolinium-based contrast agent (GBCA), is paramount for accurate lesion imaging. GBCAs differ in their safety, tolerability, and efficacy because of their diverse physicochemical properties. Gadobutrol and gadobenate dimeglumine are high-relaxivity GBCAs that demonstrate superior efficacy for imaging metastatic lesions compared with other GBCAs, whereas gadobutrol additionally provides macrocyclic stability.

This article reviews recent comparative trials of GBCAs and discusses their relevance for optimizing MRI protocols in the management of brain metastases, with particular relevance to SRS.

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


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