Neurosurgery Blog


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

Shunting of the over 80s in normal pressure hydrocephalus

Acta Neurochir (2017) 159:987–994

Idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus is predominantly a disease of the elderly. By its nature, many of those who present to clinic are in advanced old age with multiple comorbidities. Majority of patients treated are younger than 80 years old. We present the clinical outcomes and complication rates of patients over the age of 80 years at the time of operation, during the past 11 years at a single institution.

Methods Retrospective analysis of clinical records of all patients over the age of 80 years, who presented to our institution between 2006 and 2016.

Results were analysed for co-morbidities, immediate and delayed complications, change in mobility/cognitive function post shunting of hydrocephalus.

Results 39 patients (24 male, 15 female) met criteria. Mean [SD] age at the time of shunt insertion was 84 years (+/− 3.22) (range 80–94). No patients developed immediate CSF infection or sub-dural collection, or extended length of stay due to surgical or anaesthetic complications. There were no perioperative or anaesthetic complications. 4 patients required a delayed surgical revision to encourage greater CSF drainage. 3 patients went on to develop delayed subdural haematoma, 1 of which was associated with trauma, 2 through overdrainage. 1 patient experienced poor post-operative wound healing and subsequently underwent removal of shunt. Of the 34 patient followed up, 27 patients (79.4%) improved in their mobility. (64.7%) patients/families reported symptomatic improvement in their cognition and memory. 6 (17.7%) patients did not experience an improvement in either mobility or cognitive function.

Conclusions Our data supports the assertion that, with proper patient selection, shunting of the over 80s with iNPH is a safe and effective procedure.

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.


Lateral interbody fusion combined with open posterior surgery for adult spinal deformity

J Neurosurg Spine 25:697–705, 2016

Lateral interbody fusion (LIF) with percutaneous screw fixation can treat adult spinal deformity (ASD) in the coronal plane, but sagittal correction is limited. The authors combined LIF with open posterior (OP) surgery using facet osteotomies and a rod-cantilever technique to enhance lumbar lordosis (LL). It is unclear how this hybrid strategy compares to OP surgery alone. The goal of this study was to evaluate the combination of LIF and OP surgery (LIF+OP) for ASD.

Methods All thoracolumbar ASD cases from 2009 to 2014 were reviewed. Patients with < 6 months follow-up, prior fusion, severe sagittal imbalance (sagittal vertical axis > 200 mm or pelvic incidence-LL > 40°), and those undergoing anterior lumbar interbody fusion were excluded. Deformity correction, complications, and outcomes were compared between LIF+OP and OP-only surgery patients.

Results LIF+OP (n = 32) and OP-only patients (n = 60) had similar baseline features and posterior fusion levels. On average, 3.8 LIFs were performed. Patients who underwent LIF+OP had less blood loss (1129 vs 1833 ml, p = 0.016) and lower durotomy rates (0% vs 23%, p = 0.002). Patients in the LIF+OP group required less ICU care (0.7 vs 2.8 days, p < 0.001) and inpatient rehabilitation (63% vs 87%, p = 0.015). The incidence of new leg pain, numbness, or weakness was similar between groups (28% vs 22%, p = 0.609). All leg symptoms resolved within 6 months, except in 1 OP-only patient. Follow-up duration was similar (28 vs 25 months, p = 0.462). LIF+OP patients had significantly less pseudarthrosis (6% vs 27%, p = 0.026) and greater improvement in visual analog scale back pain (mean decrease 4.0 vs 1.9, p = 0.046) and Oswestry Disability Index (mean decrease 21 vs 12, p = 0.035) scores. Lumbar coronal correction was greater with LIF+OP surgery (mean [± SD] 22° ± 13° vs 14° ± 13°, p = 0.010). LL restoration was 22° ± 13°, intermediately between OP-only with facet osteotomies (11° ± 7°, p < 0.001) and pedicle subtraction osteotomy (29° ± 10°, p = 0.045).

Conclusions LIF+OP is an effective strategy for ASD of moderate severity. Compared with the authors’ OP-only operations, LIF+OP was associated with faster recovery, fewer complications, and greater relief of pain and disability.

Outcomes in craniotomy vs endoscopic craniopharyngioma resection

Neurosurg Focus 41 (6):E6, 2016

Craniopharyngiomas have historically been resected via transcranial microsurgery (TCM). In the last 2 decades, the extended endoscopic endonasal (transtuberculum) approach to these tumors has become more widely accepted, yet there remains controversy over which approach leads to better outcomes. The purpose of this study is to determine whether differences in outcomes were identified between TCM and extended endoscopic endonasal approaches (EEEAs) in adult patients undergoing primary resection of suprasellar craniopharyngiomas at a single institution.

Methods A retrospective review of all patients who underwent resection of their histopathologically confirmed craniopharyngiomas at the authors’ institution between 2005 and 2015 was performed. Pediatric patients, revision cases, and patients with tumors greater than 2 standard deviations above the mean volume were excluded. The patients were divided into 2 groups: those undergoing primary TCM and those undergoing a primary EEEA. Preoperative patient demographics, presenting symptoms, and preoperative tumor volumes were determined. Extent of resection, tumor histological subtype, postoperative complications, and additional outcome data were obtained. Statistical significance between variables was determined utilizing Student t-tests, chi-square tests, and Fisher exact tests when applicable.

Results After exclusions, 21 patients satisfied the aforementioned inclusion criteria, 12 underwent TCM for resection while 9 benefitted from the EEEA. There were no significant differences in patient demographics, presenting symptoms, tumor subtype, or preoperative tumor volumes, no tumors had significant lateral or prechiasmatic extension. The extent of resection was similar between these 2 groups, as was the necessity for additional surgery or adjuvant therapy. CSF leakage was encountered only in the EEEA group (2 patients). Importantly, the rate of postoperative visual improvement was significantly higher in the EEEA group than in the TCM group (88.9% vs 25.0%, p = 0.0075). Postoperative visual deterioration only occurred in the TCM group (3 patients). Recurrence was uncommon, with similar rates between the groups. Other complication rates, overall complication risk, and additional outcome measures were similar between these groups as well.

Conclusions Based on this study, most outcome variables appear to be similar between TCM and EEEA routes for similarly sized tumors in adults. The multidisciplinary EEEA to craniopharyngioma resection represents a safe and compelling alternative to TCM. The authors’ data demonstrate that postoperative visual improvement is statistically more likely in the EEEA despite the increased risk of CSF leakage. These results add to the growing evidence that the EEEA may be considered the approach of choice for resection of select confined primary craniopharyngiomas without significant lateral extension in centers with experienced surgeons. Further prospective, multiinstitutional collaboration is needed to power studies capable of fully evaluating indications and appropriate approaches for craniopharyngiomas.

Back pain improvement after decompression without fusion or stabilization in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis and clinically significant preoperative back pain

lumbar stenosis

J Neurosurg Spine 25:596–601, 2016

The relief of leg symptoms by surgical decompression for lumbar stenosis is well supported by the literature. Less is known about the effect on back pain. Some surgeons believe that the relief of back pain should not be an expected outcome of decompression and that substantial back pain may be a contraindication to decompression only; therefore, stabilization may be recommended for patients with substantial preoperative back pain even in the absence of well-accepted indications for stabilization such as spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, or sagittal malalignment. The purpose of this study is to determine if patients with lumbar stenosis and substantial back pain—in the absence of spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, or sagittal malalignment—can obtain significant improvement after decompression without fusion or stabilization.

Methods Analysis of the National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database (N2QOD) identified 726 patients with lumbar stenosis (without spondylolisthesis or scoliosis) and a baseline back pain score ≥ 5 of 10 who underwent surgical decompression only. No patient was reported to have significant spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, or sagittal malalignment. Standard demographic and surgical variables were collected, as well as patient outcomes including back and leg pain scores, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and EuroQoL 5D (EQ-5D) at baseline and 3 and 12 months postoperatively.

Results The mean age of the cohort was 65.6 years, and 407 (56%) patients were male. The mean body mass index was 30.2 kg/m2, and 40% of patients had 2-level decompression, 29% had 3-level decompression, 24% had 1-level decompression, and 6% had 4-level decompression. The mean estimated blood loss was 130 ml. The mean operative time was 100.85 minutes. The vast majority of discharges (88%) were routine home discharges. At 3 and 12 months postoperatively, there were significant improvements from baseline for back pain (7.62 to 3.19 to 3.66), leg pain (7.23 to 2.85 to 3.07), EQ-5D (0.55 to 0.76 to 0.75), and ODI (49.11 to 27.20 to 26.38).

Conclusions Through the 1st postoperative year, patients with lumbar stenosis—without spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, or sagittal malalignment—and clinically significant back pain improved after decompression-only surgery.

Benefit of Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion vs Posterolateral Spinal Fusion in Lumbar Spine Disorders


Neurosurgery 79:397–405, 2016

Despite increasing use and potential benefits of transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) compared with posterolateral spinal fusion (PSF), previous studies have not documented improved clinical outcomes with TLIF vs PSF.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the outcomes of TLIF with PSF in patients with spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, and adjacent level disease.

METHODS: The National Neurosurgical Quality and Outcomes Database was queried for patients who had a lumbar fusion. Eighty-five percent (1722) of enrolled cases had 12-month follow-up data. There were 306 PSF patients and 1230 TLIF patients. PSF cases within each diagnostic subgroup were propensity-matched to patients who had TLIF. Sufficient propensity-matched controls were available for patients with spondylolisthesis (109), spinal stenosis (63), and adjacent segment disease (47).

RESULTS: Operating room time, estimated blood loss, and length of stay were similar between PSF and TLIF in all 3 propensity-matched groups. In the spondylolisthesis group, there was a greater improvement in Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) with TLIF vs PSF at 3 months (19.4 vs 26.0, P = .009), 12 months (20.8 vs 29.3, P = .001), and in percentage reaching minimal clinically important difference at 12 months (80% vs 62%, P = .007). There were no differences in ODI improvement between PSF and TLIF in the stenosis or adjacent segment disease groups.

CONCLUSION: TLIF generated more favorable ODI outcomes than PSF for patients with spondylolisthesis, but not for patients with spinal stenosis or adjacent segment disease. There was also equivalence in operating room time and estimated blood loss between TLIF and PSF, potentially altering the long-standing assumption that PSF is a simpler procedure.

Long-term outcomes of intradural cervical dorsal root rhizotomy for refractory occipital neuralgia


J Neurosurg 125:102–110, 2016

Occipital neuralgia (ON) causes chronic pain in the cutaneous distribution of the greater and lesser occipital nerves. The long-term efficacy of cervical dorsal root rhizotomy (CDR) in the management of ON has not been well described. The authors reviewed their 14-year experience with CDR to assess pain relief and functional outcomes in patients with medically refractory ON.

Methods A retrospective chart review of 75 ON patients who underwent cervical dorsal root rhizotomy, from 1998 to 2012, was performed. Fifty-five patients were included because they met the International Headache Society’s (IHS) diagnostic criteria for ON, responded to CT-guided nerve blocks at the C-2 dorsal nerve root, and had at least one follow-up visit. Telephone interviews were additionally used to obtain data on patient satisfaction.

Results Forty-two patients (76%) were female, and the average age at surgery was 46 years (range 16–80). Average follow up was 67 months (range 5–150). Etiologies of ON included the following: idiopathic (44%), posttraumatic (27%), postsurgical (22%), post–cerebrovascular accident (4%), postherpetic (2%), and postviral (2%). At last follow-up, 35 patients (64%) reported full pain relief, 11 (20%) partial relief, and 7 (16%) no pain relief. The extent of pain relief after CDR was not significantly associated with ON etiology (p = 0.43). Of 37 patients whose satisfaction-related data were obtained, 25 (68%) reported willingness to undergo repeat surgery for similar pain relief, while 11 (30%) reported no such willingness; a single patient (2%) did not answer this question. Twenty-one individuals (57%) reported that their activity level/functional state improved after surgery, 5 (13%) reported a decline, and 11 (30%) reported no difference. The most common acute postoperative complications were infections in 9% (n = 5) and CSF leaks in 5% (n = 3); chronic complications included neck pain/stiffness in 16% (n = 9) and upper-extremity symptoms in 5% (n = 3) such as trapezius weakness, shoulder pain, and arm paresthesias.

Conclusions Cervical dorsal root rhizotomy provides an efficacious means for pain relief in patients with medically refractory ON. In the appropriately selected patient, it may lead to optimal outcomes with a relatively low risk of complications.

Outcomes of Operative and Nonoperative Treatment for Adult Spinal Deformity

adult lumbar scoliosis

Neurosurgery 78:851–861, 2016

High-quality studies that compare operative and nonoperative treatment for adult spinal deformity (ASD) are needed.

OBJECTIVE: To compare outcomes of operative and nonoperative treatment for ASD.

METHODS: This is a multicenter, prospective analysis of consecutive ASD patients opting for operative or nonoperative care. Inclusion criteria were age .18 years and ASD. Operative and nonoperative patients were propensity matched with the baseline Oswestry Disability Index, Scoliosis Research Society-22r, thoracolumbar/lumbar Cobb angle, pelvic incidence–to–lumbar lordosis mismatch (PI-LL), and leg pain score. Analyses were confined to patients with a minimum of 2 years of follow-up.

RESULTS: Two hundred eighty-six operative and 403 nonoperative patients met the criteria, with mean ages of 53 and 55 years, 2-year follow-up rates of 86% and 55%, and mean follow-up of 24.7 and 24.8 months, respectively. At baseline, operative patients had significantly worse health-related quality of life (HRQOL) based on all measures assessed (P < .001) and had worse deformity based on pelvic tilt, pelvic incidence–to– lumbar lordosis mismatch, and sagittal vertical axis (P ≤ .002). At the minimum 2-year follow-up, all HRQOL measures assessed significantly improved for operative patients (P < .001), but none improved significantly for nonoperative patients except for modest improvements in the Scoliosis Research Society-22r pain (P = .04) and satisfaction (P < .001) domains. On the basis of matched operative-nonoperative cohorts (97 in each group), operative patients had significantly better HRQOL at follow-up for all measures assessed (P < .001), except Short Form-36 mental component score (P = .06). At the minimum 2-year follow-up, 71.5% of operative patients had ≥1 complications.

CONCLUSION: Operative treatment for ASD can provide significant improvement of HRQOL at a minimum 2-year follow-up. In contrast, nonoperative treatment on average maintains presenting levels of pain and disability.

Comparative analysis of outcomes following craniotomy and expanded endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal resection of craniopharyngioma and related tumors

Endoscopic endonasal surgery for craniopharyngiomas

J Neurosurg 124:627–638, 2016

Craniopharyngiomas and similar midline suprasellar tumors have traditionally been resected via transcranial approaches. More recently, expanded endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal approaches have gained interest. Surgeons have advocated for both approaches, and at present there is no consensus whether one approach is superior to the other. The authors therefore compared surgical outcomes between craniotomy and endoscopic endonasal transsphenoidal surgery (EETS) for suprasellar tumors treated at their institution.

Methods: A retrospective review of patients undergoing resection of suprasellar lesions at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center between 2000 and 2013 was performed. Patients harboring suspected craniopharyngioma were selected for extensive review. Other pathologies or predominantly intrasellar masses were excluded. Cases were separated into 2 groups, based on the surgical approach taken. One group underwent EETS and the other cohort underwent craniotomy. Patient demographic data, presenting symptoms, and previous therapies were tabulated. Preoperative and postoperative tumor volume was calculated for each case based on MRI. Student t-test and the chi-square test were used to evaluate differences in patient demographics, tumor characteristics, and outcomes between the 2 cohorts. To assess for selection bias, 3 neurosurgeons who did not perform the surgeries reviewed the preoperative imaging studies and clinical data for each patient in blinded fashion and indicated his/her preferred approach. These data were subject to concordance analysis using Cohen’s kappa test to determine if factors other than surgeon preference influenced the choice of surgical approach.

Results: Complete data were available for 53 surgeries; 19 cases were treated via EETS, and 34 were treated via craniotomy. Patient demographic data, preoperative symptoms, and tumor characteristics were similar between the 2 cohorts, except that fewer operations for recurrent tumor were observed in the craniotomy cohort compared with EETS (17.6% vs 42.1%, p = 0.05). The extent of resection was similar between the 2 groups (85.6% EETS vs 90.7% craniotomy, p = 0.77). An increased rate of cranial nerve injury was noted in the craniotomy group (0% EETS vs 23.5% craniotomy, p = 0.04). Postoperative CSF leak rate was higher in the EETS group (26.3% EETS vs 0% craniotomy, p = 0.004). The progression-free survival curves (log-rank p = 0.99) and recurrence rates (21.1% EETS vs 23.5% craniotomy, p = 1.00) were similar between the 2 groups. Concordance analysis of cases reviewed by 3 neurosurgeons indicated that individual surgeon preference was the only factor that determined surgical approach (kappa coefficient -0.039, p = 0.762)

Conclusions: Surgical outcomes were similar for tumors resected via craniotomy or EETS, except that more CSF leaks occurred in the EETS cohort, whereas more neurological injuries occurred in the craniotomy cohort. Surgical approach appears to mostly reflect surgeon preference rather than specific tumor characteristics. These data support the view that EETS is a viable alternative to craniotomy, providing a similar extent of resection with less neurological injury.

Predictors of Outcome Following Cerebral Aqueductoplasty

Cerebral Aqueductoplasty

Neurosurgery 78:285–296, 2016

The evidence supporting the efficacy and safety of cerebral aqueductoplasty (CA) is limited to small surgical series.

OBJECTIVE: To perform an individual participant data meta-analysis to determine the efficacy and safety of CA and to determine the effect of patient’s age, etiology, surgical approach, and use of stent on success.

METHODS: Electronic databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CINAHL) were searched with no language or date restrictions to identify cohort studies of consecutive participants undergoing CA (without concomitant endoscopic third ventriculostomy or cerebrospinal fluid [CSF] shunt) that reported outcome. Outcome was defined as the time elapsed from the index operation until a second procedure was performed for CSF diversion.

RESULTS: Of 146 citations, 14 articles reporting on 137 participants were eligible. One hundred three participants (75%) did not require a second CSF diversion procedure. The mean duration until repeat CSF diversion procedure was 121.6 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 102.2-141.0). In multivariate analysis, older age at surgery (hazard ratio [HR], 0.43; 95% CI, 0.21-0.88; P = .020), congenital etiology (HR, 0.18; 95% CI, 0.04-0.85; P = .030), and use of stent (HR, 0.30; 95% CI, 0.13-0.70; P = .006) were independent predictors of good outcome. Morbidity, mainly ophthalmoparesis and hemorrhage, was experienced in 22% of participants.

CONCLUSION: Small retrospective cohort studies are inherently prone to biases, some of which are overcome through the use of individual participant data. The best available evidence suggests that CA is an effective procedure with a moderate morbidity profile. Older age at surgery, congenital etiology, and use of stent predict a good outcome with respect to delaying the requirement for a second CSF diversion procedure.

Long-term outcomes after supratotal resection of diffuse low-grade gliomas

Long-term outcomes after supratotal resection of diffuse low-grade gliomas

Acta Neurochir (2016) 158:51–58

Total or subtotal surgical resection ofWHO grade II glioma (diffuse low-grade glioma, DLGG) can significantly increase survival. Moreover, a supratotal resection, i.e., an extended resection with a margin beyondMR imaging abnormalities, could decrease the risk of malignant transformation. Here, the goal is to analyze the long-term functional and oncological outcomes following supratotal resection for DLGG.

Methods Sixteen consecutive patients who underwent supratotal resection for a DLGG with a minimum follow-up of 8 years after surgery were included. The resection was continued up to functional cortical and subcortical structures defined by intrasurgical electrical mapping. The extent of resection was evaluated on postoperative FLAIR-weighted MR imaging. Data regarding clinicoradiological features, therapeutic management, and outcomes were analyzed.

Results Seven men and nine women (mean age, 41.3 years, range, 26–63 years) were included (seizure in 15 cases, one incidental discovery). All patients resumed a normal life after surgery (no neurological deficits, no epilepsy). The volume of postoperative cavity was larger than the preoperative tumor volume in the 16 patients. Neuropathological examination confirmed the diagnosis of WHO grade II glioma in all cases. No adjuvant treatment was administrated after resection. The mean duration of postoperative follow-up was 132 months (range, 97–198 months). There was no relapse in eight cases. Eight patients experienced tumor recurrence, with an average time to relapse of 70.3 months (range, 32–105 months), but without malignant transformation. Five of them have been retreated, with a reoperation (two cases), chemotherapy (three cases) and radiotherapy (two cases). All patients continue to enjoy a normal life.

Conclusions This is the first series demonstrating the prolonged impact of supratotal resection on malignant transformation of DLGG. These original data may suggest to remove a margin around the FLAIR-weighted MR imaging abnormalities in a more systematic manner for DLGG not involving eloquent structures.

Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery in the Elderly: Does It Make Sense?

Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery in the Elderly- Does It Make Sense

Neurosurgery 77:S108–S115, 2015

Lumbar degenerative disease can have varied pathoanatomy, with stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis contributing to significant pain and disability. Among appropriately selected patients, surgical intervention can treat both back pain and leg pain and improve quality of life in a cost-effective manner with an acceptable safety profile. The evolution of minimally invasive surgical (MIS) techniques offers the potential to decrease the physiological impact of surgery and to improve the complication profile while achieving the same spine surgical objectives. The utility of such techniques among elderly patients >65 years of age has not been rigorously evaluated, and this systematic review sought to define the utility and safety of MIS spinal surgery for decompression, interbody fusion, and deformity correction in this population.

Review of 2 studies for MIS lumbar decompression reveals that the majority of elderly patients exhibit significant improvements in pain (change in visual analog score for leg pain, 3.4 points) and disability (change in Oswestry Disability Index, 19 points), with inadvertent durotomy in 3% of patients. Review of 4 studies for MIS lumbar interbody fusion reveals robust improvement in pain (change in visual analog score for leg pain, 3.4 points; change in visual analog score for back pain, 7.2 points), with inadvertent durotomy in 5% of patients.

Narrative review was performed for adult degenerative deformity correction, revealing that MIS techniques are feasible for managing such patients with acceptable rates of osseous union and complication. On the basis of largely low-quality, retrospective evidence, we recommend that elderly patients should not be excluded from MIS interventions for symptomatic lumbar degenerative spinal disease.

High Subarachnoid Hemorrhage Patient Volume Associated With Lower Mortality and Better Outcomes

Cerebral arterial fenestrations- a common phenomenon in unexplained subarachnoid haemorrhage

Neurosurgery 77:462–470, 2015

High-volume centers have better outcomes than low-volume centers when managing complex conditions including subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH).

OBJECTIVE: To quantify SAH volume-outcome association and determine the extent to which this association is influenced by aggressiveness of care.

METHODS: A serial cross-sectional retrospective study using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample for 2002 to 2010 was performed. Included were all adult (older than 18 years of age) discharged patients with a primary diagnosis of SAH admitted from the emergency department or transferred to a discharging hospital; cases of trauma or arteriovenous malformation were excluded. Survey-weighted descriptive statistics estimated temporal trends. Multilevel logistic regression estimated volume-outcome associations for inpatient mortality and discharge home. Models were adjusted for demographic characteristics, year, transfer status, insurance status, all individual Charlson comorbidities, intubation, and all patient-refined, diagnosis-related group mortality. Analyses were repeated, excluding cases in which aggressive care was not pursued.

RESULTS: A total of 32336 discharges were included; 13398 patients underwent clipping (59.1%) or coiling (40.9%). The inpatient mortality rate decreased from 32.2% in 2002 to 22.2% in 2010; discharge home increased from 28.5% to 40.8% during the same period. As SAH volume decreased from 100/year, the mortality rate increased from 18.7% to 19.8% at 80/year, 21.7% at 60/year, 24.5% at 40/year, and 28.4% at 20/ year. As SAH patient volume decreased, the probability of discharge home decreased from 40.3% at 100/year to 38.7% at 60/year, and 35.3% at 20/year. Better outcomes persisted in patients receiving aggressive care and in those not receiving aggressive care.

CONCLUSION: Short-term SAH outcomes have improved. High-volume hospitals have more favorable outcomes than low-volume hospitals. This effect is substantial, even for hospitals conventionally classified as high volume.

Management and outcomes of pituitary apoplexy

pituitary apoplexy

J Neurosurg 122:1450–1457, 2015

This study was undertaken to analyze the predisposing factors, clinical presentation, therapeutic management, and clinical recovery in patients with pituitary apoplexy, with an emphasis on the long-term visual, endocrine, and functional outcomes.

Methods The authors performed a retrospective analysis of consecutive cases involving patients treated at Mayo Clinic between 1992 and 2013. Patients were included in the study only if they had 1) abrupt onset of severe headache or visual disturbance in the presence of a pituitary adenoma and 2) radiological or surgical confirmation of a pituitary mass. The primary endpoints of analysis were the visual (ocular motility, visual fields, and visual acuity), endocrine, and functional outcomes (using the modified Rankin Scale).

Results Eighty-seven patients were identified (57 males and 30 females, mean age 50.9 years, range 15–91 years). Twenty-two patients (25.3%) had a known pituitary adenoma. Hypertension was the most common associated factor (39%). Headache was the most frequent presenting symptom (89.7%), followed by visual abnormalities (47.1%). Cranial nerve palsies were present in 39% and visual field defects in 34.1%. MRI detected hemorrhage in 89% patients, as compared with 42% detected by CT scan. Sixty-one patients (70.1%) underwent surgery during acute hospitalization (median time from apoplexy 5 days, IQR 3–10 days), 8 (9.2%) had delayed surgery, and 18 (20.7%) were treated conservatively. Histopathological examination revealed adenoma with pure necrosis in 18 (30%), pure hemorrhage in 4 (6.7%), and both in 6 (10%) patients. Four patients died during hospitalization. The average duration of follow-up was 44.2 ± 43.8 months. All survivors were independent and had complete resolution or substantial improvement in eye movements and visual fields at the last follow-up. Many patients needed long-term hormonal replacement with levothyroxine (62.7%) and cortisol (60%). Daily desmopressin was needed in 23% of all surgical patients at 3 months (versus none of the medically treated) and this requirement decreased slightly over time. Regrowth of pituitary adenoma was seen in 7 patients (8.6%). There were no statistically significant differences in any of the outcome measures across the treatment groups.

Conclusions The outcome of most patients with pituitary apoplexy is excellent. Selected patients can be managed conservatively, and patients with severe neuro-ophthalmological deficits treated with early surgery can achieve an excellent recovery.

Clinical factors associated with venous thromboembolism risk in patients undergoing craniotomy

Awake craniotomy for gliomas in a high-field intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging suite

J Neurosurg 122:1004–1011, 2015

Patients undergoing craniotomy are at risk for developing venous thromboembolism (VTE). The safety of anticoagulation in these patients is not clear. The authors sought to identify risk factors predictive of VTE in patients undergoing craniotomy.

METHODS The authors reviewed a national surgical quality database, the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program. Craniotomy patients were identified by current procedural terminology code. Clinical factors were analyzed to identify associations with VTE.

RESULTS Four thousand eight hundred forty-four adult patients who underwent craniotomy were identified. The rate of VTE in the cohort was 3.5%, including pulmonary embolism in 1.4% and deep venous thrombosis in 2.6%. A number of factors were found to be statistically significant in multivariate binary logistic regression analysis, including craniotomy for tumor, transfer from acute care hospital, age ≥ 60 years, dependent functional status, tumor involving the CNS, sepsis, emergency surgery, surgery time ≥ 4 hours, postoperative urinary tract infection, postoperative pneumonia, on ventilator ≥ 48 hours postoperatively, and return to the operating room. Patients were assigned a score based on how many of these factors they had (minimum score 0, maximum score 12). Increasing score was predictive of increased VTE incidence, as well as risk of mortality, and time from surgery to discharge.

CONCLUSIONS Patients undergoing craniotomy are at low risk of developing VTE, but this risk is increased by preoperative medical comorbidities and postoperative complications. The presence of more of these clinical factors is associated with progressively increased VTE risk; patients possessing a VTE Risk Score of ≥ 5 had a greater than 20-fold increased risk of VTE compared with patients with a VTE score of 0.

Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy Surgical Trial: Randomized, Controlled Trial Design and Rationale

Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy Surgical Trial- Randomized, Controlled Trial Design and Rationale

Neurosurgery 75:334–346, 2014

Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is the most common cause of spinal cord dysfunction in the world. There are significant practice variation and uncertainty as to the optimal surgical approach for treating CSM.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether ventral surgery is associated with superior Short Form- 36 Physical Component Summary outcome at the 1-year follow-up compared with dorsal (laminectomy/fusion or laminoplasty) surgery for the treatment of CSM, to investigate whether postoperative sagittal balance is an independent predictor of overall outcome, and to compare health resource use for ventral and dorsal procedures.

METHODS: The study is a randomized, controlled trial with a nonrandomized arm for patients who are eligible but decline randomization. Two hundred fifty patients (159 randomized) with CSM from 11 sites will be recruited over 18 months. The primary outcome is the Short Form-36 Physical Component Summary score. Secondary outcomes include disease-specific outcomes, overall health-related quality of life (EuroQOL 5-dimension questionnaire), and health resource use.

EXPECTED OUTCOMES: This will be the first randomized, controlled trial to compare directly the health-related quality-of-life outcomes for ventral vs dorsal surgery for treating CSM.

DISCUSSION: A National Institutes of Health-funded (1R13AR065834-01) investigator meeting was held before the initiation of the trial to bring multiple stakeholders together to finalize the study protocol. Study investigators, coordinators, and major stakeholders were able to attend and discuss strengths of, limitations of, and concerns about the study. The final protocol was approved for funding by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (CE-1304-6173). The trial began enrollment on April 1, 2014.

Minimally invasive spine surgery for adult degenerative lumbar scoliosis

Minimally invasive spine surgery for adult degenerative lumbar scoliosis

Neurosurg Focus 36 (5):E7, 2014

Historically, adult degenerative lumbar scoliosis (DLS) has been treated with multilevel decompression and instrumented fusion to reduce neural compression and stabilize the spinal column. However, due to the profound morbidity associated with complex multilevel surgery, particularly in elderly patients and those with multiple medical comorbidities, minimally invasive surgical approaches have been proposed. The goal of this meta-analysis was to review the differences in patient selection for minimally invasive surgical versus open surgical procedures for adult DLS, and to compare the postoperative outcomes following minimally invasive surgery (MIS) and open surgery.

Methods. In this meta-analysis the authors analyzed the complication rates and the clinical outcomes for patients with adult DLS undergoing complex decompressive procedures with fusion versus minimally invasive surgical approaches. Minimally invasive surgical approaches included decompressive laminectomy, microscopic decompression, lateral and extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF), and percutaneous pedicle screw placement for fusion. Mean patient age, complication rates, reoperation rates, Cobb angle, and measures of sagittal balance were investigated and compared between groups.

Results. Twelve studies were identified for comparison in the MIS group, with 8 studies describing the lateral interbody fusion or XLIF and 4 studies describing decompression without fusion. In the decompression MIS group, the mean preoperative Cobb angle was 16.7° and mean postoperative Cobb angle was 18°. In the XLIF group, mean pre- and postoperative Cobb angles were 22.3° and 9.2°, respectively. The difference in postoperative Cobb angle was statistically significant between groups on 1-way ANOVA (p = 0.014). Mean preoperative Cobb angle, mean patient age, and complication rate did not differ between the XLIF and decompression groups. Thirty-five studies were identified for inclusion in the open surgery group, with 18 studies describing patients with open fusion without osteotomy and 17 papers detailing outcomes after open fusion with osteotomy. Mean preoperative curve in the open fusion without osteotomy and with osteotomy groups was 41.3° and 32°, respectively. Mean reoperation rate was significantly higher in the osteotomy group (p = 0.008). On 1-way ANOVA comparing all groups, there was a statistically significant difference in mean age (p = 0.004) and mean preoperative curve (p = 0.002). There was no statistically significant difference in complication rates between groups (p = 0.28).

Conclusions. The results of this study suggest that surgeons are offering patients open surgery or MIS depending on their age and the severity of their deformity. Greater sagittal and coronal correction was noted in the XLIF versus decompression only MIS groups. Larger Cobb angles, greater sagittal imbalance, and higher reoperation rates were found in studies reporting the use of open fusion with osteotomy. Although complication rates did not significantly differ between groups, these data are difficult to interpret given the heterogeneity in reporting complications between studies.

Fifty Consecutive Hemispherectomies

50 Hemispherectomies

Neurosurgery 74:182–195, 2014

Techniques for achieving hemispheric disconnection in patients with epilepsy continue to evolve.

OBJECTIVE: To review the outcomes of the first 50 hemispherectomy surgeries performed by a single surgeon with an emphasis on outcomes, complications, and how these results led to changes in practice.

METHODS: The first 50 hemispherectomy cases performed by the lead author were identified from a prospectively maintained database. Patient demographics, surgical details, clinical outcomes, and complications were critically reviewed.

RESULTS: From 2004 to 2012, 50 patients underwent hemispherectomy surgery (mean follow-up time, 3.5 years). Modified lateral hemispherotomy became the preferred technique and was performed on 44 patients. Forty patients (80%) achieved complete seizure freedom (Engel I). Presurgical and postsurgical neuropsychological evaluations demonstrated cognitive stability. Two cases were performed for palliation only. Previous hemispherectomy surgery was associated with worsened seizure outcome (2 of 6 seizure free; P .005). The use of Avitene was associated with a higher incidence of postoperative hydrocephalus (56% vs 18%; P = .03). In modified lateral hemispherotomy patients without the use of Avitene, the incidence of hydrocephalus was 13%. Complications included infection (n = 3), incomplete disconnection requiring reoperation (n = 1), reversible ischemic neurological deficit (n = 1), and craniosynostosis (n = 1). There were no (unanticipated) permanent neurological deficits or deaths. Minor technique modifications were made in response to specific complications.

CONCLUSION: The modified lateral hemispherotomy is effective and safe for both initial and revision hemispherectomy surgery. Avitene use appears to result in a greater incidence of postoperative hydrocephalus.

Reoperation for Refractory Epilepsy in Childhood: A Second Chance for Selected Patients


Neurosurgery 73:695–704, 2013

Reoperations account for 10% in pediatric epilepsy surgery cohorts, and they are especially relevant in young children with catastrophic epilepsy. OBJECTIVE: To determine surgical outcomes and their predictive factors in reoperations for refractory epilepsy in childhood.

METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed presurgical findings, resections, and outcomes of 23 consecutive children who underwent reoperations from 2000 to 2011.

RESULTS: Etiology included cortical dysplasia with/without glioneuronal tumor in 19 patients (83%), sole glioneuronal tumor in 2, and tuberous sclerosis and Rasmussen encephalitis in 1 each. The reasons for the failure of the initial surgery were functional considerations in 8 (35%), incorrect delineation of the epileptogenic zone in 8 (35%), and resection not performed as initially planned in 7 (30%) cases. Final procedures included 8 (35%) intralobar, 8 (35%) multilobar resections, and 7 (30%) hemispherotomies. Following reoperations, 14 (61%) patients were seizure free, 6 (26%) showed significant or worthwhile improvement, and 3 (13%) did not respond to surgery. Six of 8 patients who underwent the first resection before the age of 3 years, 6 of 8 whose first resection was limited by functional considerations, and all 7 with hemispherotomy as the final resection achieved seizure freedom after reoperation.

CONCLUSION: Reoperation is particularly beneficial for selected children with refractory epilepsy associated with cortical dysplasia that did not respond to an initial limited and/or early resection but achieved seizure freedom after extensive procedures. When indicated, reoperation should be performed at the youngest possible age to profit from higher functional plasticity in compensating for neurological deficit.

Biopsy of the Superficial Cortex: Predictors of Effectiveness and Outcomes

Biopsy of the Superficial Cortex

Neurosurgery 73:224–232, 2013 

Brain biopsies of superficial cortex are performed for diagnosis of neurological diseases, but preoperative predictors of successful diagnosis and risks are lacking.

OBJECTIVE: We evaluated effectiveness and outcomes of superficial cortical biopsies and determined preoperative predictors of diagnosis, outcomes, morbidities, and mortality.

METHODS: A single-institution retrospective analysis of 170 patients who underwent open brain biopsies of superficial cortex was performed. Clinical predictors of effectiveness and outcomes were determined using univariate/multivariate analyses and a system for risk-benefit stratification was created and tested.

RESULTS: Brain biopsies led to successful diagnosis in 122 of 170 (71.8%) and affected management in 97 of 170 (57.1%) cases. Factors increasing the odds of diagnostic pathology included age older than 45 years (odds ratio [OR]: 2.67, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.34-5.27, P < .01), previous cancer diagnosis (OR: 3.64, 95% CI: 1.69-7.85, P < .001), focal (OR: 3.90, 95% CI: 1.91-8.00, P< .001) and enhancing (OR: 5.03, 95% CI: 2.41-10.52, P< .001) lesions on magnetic resonance imaging, biopsy of specific lesions on magnetic resonance imaging (OR: 9.34, 95% CI: 4.29-20.33, P < .001), and use of intraoperative navigation (OR: 6.59, 95% CI: 3.04-14.28, P < .001). Brain biopsies led to symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage, seizures, other significant morbidities, and perioperative mortality in 12.4%, 16.2%, 37.1%, and 8% of cases, respectively. Risk of postoperative intracranial hemorrhage was increased by a history of aspirin use (OR: 2.51, 95% CI: 1.23-5.28, P < .05) and age older than 60 years (OR: 2.66, 95% CI: 1.36-5.18, P < .01).

CONCLUSION: Effectiveness and risk of morbidity/mortality can be estimated preoperatively for patients undergoing open brain biopsies of the superficial cortex. Older age and specific imaging characteristics increase the odds of diagnostic biopsy. Conversely, older age and aspirin use increases the risk of postoperative complications.

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


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