Neurosurgery Blog


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

Autologous Cranioplasty is Associated with Increased Reoperation Rate: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Consensus regarding selection of synthetic versus autologous flap reimplantation for cranioplasty after decompressive craniectomy has not been reached and the multiple factors considered for each patient make comparative analysis challenging. This study examines the association between choice of material and related complications.

METHODS: A systematic literature review and meta-analysis were performed using PubMed for articles reporting delayed cranioplasty after decompressive craniectomy using a cohort design comparing autologous bone and synthetic implants. Extracted data included implant material and incidence of infection, reoperations related to implant, wound complications, and resorption. –

RESULTS: One randomized controlled trial and 11 cohort studies were included for a total of 1586 implants (950 bone, 636 synthetic). Autologous implants had significantly more reoperations than did synthetic implants (n [1586 implants; odds ratio [OR], 1.91; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.40e2.61). Reoperations were most often because of resorption (54%, n [ 159/295) followed by infection (41%, n [ 121/295). The pooled incidence of resorption in autologous implants was 20% (n [ 159/791). Among the other outcomes, there was no significant difference for infections (n [ 1586; OR, 1.24; CI, 0.82e1.88) or wound complications (n [ 678; OR, 0.56; CI, 0.22e1.45). For the trauma subpopulation, there was no significant difference in infection rate with either material (n [ 197; OR, 1.89; CI; 0.59e6.09).

CONCLUSIONS: Autologous implants had significantly more reoperations primarily because of the intrinsic risk of resorption (level of evidence 3b).

Meningiomas in pregnancy: timing of surgery and clinical outcomes as observed in 104 cases and establishment of a best management strategy

Acta Neurochir (2018) 160:1521–1529

There is a strong correlation between the level of circulating female sex hormones and the parturient growth of meningiomas. As a result, rapid changes in meningioma size occur during pregnancy, putting both the mother and fetus at risk. Large, symptomatic meningiomas require surgical resection, regardless of the status of pregnancy. However, the preferred timing of such complex intervention is a matter of debate. The rarity of this clinical scenario and the absence of prospective trials make it difficult to reach evidence-based conclusions. The aim of this study was to create evidencebased management guidelines for timing of surgery for pregnancy-related intracranial meningiomas.

Method The English literature from 1990 to 2016 was systematically reviewed according to PRISMA guidelines for all surgical cases of pregnancy–related intracranial meningiomas. Cases were divided into two groups: patients who have had surgery during pregnancy and delivered thereafter (group A) and patients who delivered first (group B). Groups were compared for demographic, clinical and radiological features, as well as for neurosurgical, obstetrical and neonatological outcomes. Statistical analysis was performed to assess differences.

Results A total of 104 surgical cases were identified and reviewed, of which 86 were suitable for comparison and statistical analysis. Thirty-five patients (40%) underwent craniotomy for resection during pregnancy or at delivery (group A) and 51 patients (60%) underwent surgery after delivery (group B). Groups showed no significant differences in characteristics such as age at diagnosis, number of gestations, presenting symptoms, tumor site and tumor size. Despite a comparable distribution over the gestational trimesters, group A had significantly more patients diagnosed prior to the 27th gestational week (46 vs 17.5%, p = 0.0075). Group Awas also associated with a significantly higher rate of both emergent craniotomies (40 vs 19.6%, p = 0.0048) and emergent Caesarian deliveries (47 vs 17.8%, p = 0.00481). The time from diagnosis to surgery was significantly longer in group B (11 weeks vs 1 week in group A, p = 0.0013). The rate of premature delivery was high but similar in both groups (∼70%). Risks of maternal mortality or fetal mortality were associated with group A (odds ratio = 14.7), but did not reach statistical significance.

Conclusions While surgical resection of meningioma during pregnancy may be associated with increased maternal and fetal mortalities, the overall neurosurgical, obstetrical and neonatological outcomes, as well as many clinical characteristics, are similar to patients undergoing resection postpartum. We believe that fetal survival chances have a significant impact on decision-making, as patients diagnosed at a later stage in pregnancy (≥27th week of gestation) were more likely to undergo delivery first. This complicated clinical scenario requires the close cooperation of multiple disciplines. While the mother’s health and well-being should always be paramount in guiding management, we hope that the overall good outcomes observed by this systematic review will encourage colleagues to aim for term pregnancies whenever possible in order to reduce prematurity-related problems.

Visual field deficits after epilepsy surgery: a new quantitative scoring method

Acta Neurochirurgica (2018) 160:1325–1336

Anterior temporal lobectomy (ATL) as a treatment for drug-resistant temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) frequently causes visual field deficits (VFDs). Reported VFD encompasses homonymous contralateral upper quadrantanopia. Its reported incidence ranges from 15 to 90%. To date, a quantitative method to evaluate postoperative VFD in static perimetry is not available. A method to quantify postoperative VFD, which allows for comparison between groups of patients, was developed.

Methods Fifty-five patients with drug-resistant TLE, who underwent ATL with pre- and postoperative perimetry, were included. Temporal lobe resection length was measured on postoperative MRI. Percentage VFD was calculated for the total visual field, contralateral upper quadrant, or other three quadrants combined.

Results Patients were divided into groups by resection size (< 45 and ≥ 45 mm) and side of surgery (right and left).We found significant higher VFD in the ≥ 45 vs. < 45 mm group (2.3 ± 4.4 vs. 0.7 ± 2.4%,p = 0.04) for right-sided ATL. Comparing VFD in both eyes, we found more VFD in the right vs. left eye following left-sided ATL (14.5 ± 9.8 vs. 12.9 ± 8.3%, p = 0.03). We also demonstrated significantly more VFD in the < 45mm group for left- vs. right-sided surgery (6.7 ± 6.7 vs. 13.1 ± 7.0%, p = 0.016). A significant quantitative correlation between VFD and resection size for right-sided ATL was shown (r = 0.52, p < 0.01).

Conclusions We developed a new quantitative scoring method for the assessment of postoperative visual field deficits after temporal lobe epilepsy surgery and assessed its feasibility for clinical use. A significant correlation between VFD and resection size for right-sided ATL was confirmed.

Risk Factors for Readmission with Cerebrospinal Fluid Leakage Within 30 Days of Vestibular Schwannoma Surgery

Neurosurgery 82:630–637, 2018

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak is a well-recognized complication after surgical resection of vestibular schwannomas and is associated with a number of secondary complications, including readmission and meningitis. OBJECTIVE: To identify risk factors for and timing of 30-d readmission with CSF leak.

METHODS: Patients who had undergone surgical resection of a vestibular schwannoma from 1995 to 2010 were identified in the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development database. The most common admission diagnoses were identified by International Classification of Disease, ninth Revision, diagnosis codes, and predictors of readmission with CSF leak were determined using logistic regression.

RESULTS: A total of 6820 patients were identified. CSF leak, though a relatively uncommon cause of admission after discharge (3.52% of all patients), was implicated in nearly half of 490 readmissions (48.98%). Significant independent predictors of readmission with CSF leak were male sex (odds ratio [OR] 1.72, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.32-2.25), first admission at a teaching hospital (OR 3.32, 95% CI 1.06-10.39), CSF leak during first admission (OR 1.84, 95% CI 1.33-2.55), obesity during first admission (OR 2.10, 95% CI 1.20-3.66), and case volume of first admission hospital (OR of log case volume 0.82, 95% CI 0.70-0.95). Median time to readmission was 6 d from hospital discharge.

CONCLUSION: This study has quantified CSF leak as an important contributor to nearly half of all readmissions following vestibular schwannoma surgery. We propose that surgeons should focus on technical factors that may reduce CSF leakage and take advantage of potential screening strategies for the detection of CSF leakage prior to first admission discharge.

Is Eighty the New Sixty? Outcomes and Complications after Lumbar Decompression Surgery in Elderly Patients over 80 Years of Age

World Neurosurg. (2018) 112:e555-e560.

An increasing demographic aging of the general population results in a rising incidence of octogenarians and nonagenarians with spine disease. Patients older than 65 years represent the majority of patients with degenerative lumbar spine disease in our daily clinical routine. Surgical treatment is undertaken reluctantly because of an increased rate of comorbidities. We therefore assessed complication rates of lumbar decompression in regard to neurological outcome and medical conditions in patients age 80 years or older in a retrospective singlecenter series.

METHODS: Data for 244 patients (124 female, 120 male; mean age, 83.1  3 years; age range, 80e95 years) who underwent decompressive surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis or disc herniation between April 2007 and February 2016 were assessed retrospectively. Age at surgery, neurologic deficits (preoperative and postoperative), relevant medical comorbidities and previous lumbar decompression, intraoperative and postoperative complications (e.g., surgery-related, medical), duration of surgery, length of hospital stay, and rate of revision surgeries were recorded.

RESULTS: Surgery was performed for lumbar stenosis (184 patients; 75.4%), lumbar disc herniation (13 patients; 5.3%) or both (47 patients; 19.3%). Seventy-six patients (31.3%) patients experienced preoperative neurologic deficits; 48 (63.2%) of these patients improved, 28 (36.8%) of them were unchanged after surgery, and none deteriorated. New transient, postoperative, neurologic deficits occurred in 6 patients (2.5%). All 55 (22.5%) intraoperative complications were mild to moderate, and no severe surgical complications occurred. Two hundred fifteen patients (88%) had relevant medical disorders. Nineteen (7.7%) postoperative medical complications were reported in 17 patients (7%), of which 14 (73.7%) were severe and 5 (26.3%) were mild (4 pulmonary embolisms, 6 pneumonias, 3 myocardial infarctions, 1 postoperative renal failure, 5 urinary tract infections). Medical complications that necessitated intensive care unit treatment and resulted in lethal outcome were seen in 2 patients (0.8%).

CONCLUSION: Despite their age, the vast majority of octogenarians and nonagenarians benefited from lumbar decompression surgery. Mild to moderate intraoperative complications were relatively frequent, whereas severe intraoperative complications did not occur. The majority of medical complications was severe, but the incidence was acceptable, and the postoperative outcome was still favorable in most patients

Risk factors associated with postoperative cerebrospinal fluid leak after endoscopic endonasal skull base surgery

J Neurosurg 128:1066–1071, 2018

The aim in this paper was to determine risk factors for the development of a postoperative CSF leak after an endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) for resection of skull base tumors.

METHODS A retrospective review of patients who underwent EEA for the resection of intradural pathology between January 1997 and June 2012 was performed. Basic demographic data were collected, along with patient body mass index (BMI), tumor pathology, reconstruction technique, lumbar drainage, and outcomes.

RESULTS Of the 615 patients studied, 103 developed a postoperative CSF leak (16.7%). Sex and perioperative lumbar drainage did not affect CSF leakage rates. Posterior fossa tumors had the highest rate of CSF leakage (32.6%), followed by anterior skull base lesions (21.0%) and sellar/suprasellar lesions (9.9%) (p < 0.0001). There was a higher leakage rate for overweight and obese patients (BMI > 25 kg/m2) than for those with a healthy-weight BMI (18.7% vs 11.5%; p = 0.04). Patients in whom a pedicled vascularized flap was used for reconstruction had a lower leakage rate than those in whom a free graft was used (13.5% vs 27.8%; p = 0.0015). In patients with a BMI > 25 kg/m2, the use of a pedicled flap reduced the rate of CSF leakage from 29.5% to 15.0% (p = 0.001); in patients of normal weight, this reduction did not reach statistical significance (21.9% [pedicled flap] vs 9.2% [free graft]; p = 0.09).

CONCLUSIONS Preoperative BMI > 25 kg/m2 and tumor location in the posterior fossa were associated with higher rates of postoperative CSF leak. Use of a pedicled vascularized flap may be associated with reduced risk of a CSF leak, particularly in overweight patients.

Aneurysm wall enhancement on magnetic resonance imaging as a risk factor for progression of unruptured vertebrobasilar dissecting aneurysms after reconstructive endovascular treatment

J Neurosurg 128:747–755, 2018

The recurrence rate of vertebrobasilar dissecting aneurysms (VBDAs) after reconstructive endovascular treatment (EVT) is relatively high. The aneurysm wall enhancement on high-resolution MRI (HRMRI) reportedly predicts an unsteady state of an intracranial aneurysm. The authors used HRMRI to investigate the relationship between wall enhancement on HRMRI and progression of VBDAs after reconstructive EVT.

METHODS From January 2012 to December 2015, patients with an unruptured VBDA who underwent reconstructive EVT were enrolled in this study. Preoperative enhanced HRMRI was performed to evaluate radiological characteristics. The relationships between aneurysm wall enhancement and various potential risk factors were statistically analyzed. Follow-up angiographic examination was performed with digital subtraction angiography and conventional HRMRI. Cox regression analysis was performed to identify predictors of VBDA progression after reconstructive EVT.

RESULTS Eighty-two patients (12 women and 70 men, mean age 53.48 ± 9.23 years) with 83 VBDAs were evaluated in the current study. The average maximum diameter of the VBDAs was 11.30 ± 7.90 mm. Wall enhancement occurred in 43 VBDAs (51.81%). Among all 83 VBDAs, 62 (74.70%) were treated by stent-assisted coil embolization and 21 (25.30%) by stenting alone. The mean duration of imaging follow-up among all 82 patients was 10.55 months (range 6–45 months), and 15 aneurysms (18.07%) exhibited progression. The statistical analysis indicated no significant differences in age, sex, risk factors (high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes mellitus, and a high cholesterol level), VBDA stage, or VBDA size between enhanced and unenhanced VBDAs. Univariate Cox regression analysis showed that both the maximum diameter of the VBDAs and wall enhancement were associated with recurrence (p < 0.05). Multivariate Cox proportional hazard regression analysis showed that the maximum diameter of the VBDAs and wall enhancement on HRMRI were independent risk factors for aneurysm progression (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS Aneurysm size and wall enhancement on HRMRI can predict the progression of VBDAs after reconstructive EVT.

Quantitative study of the correlation between cerebellar retraction factors and hearing loss following microvascular decompression for hemifacial spasm

Acta Neurochir (2018) 160:145–150

This prospective study quantitatively measured the cerebellar retraction factors, including retraction distance, depth and duration, and evaluated their potential relationship to the development of hearing loss after microvascular decompression (MVD) for hemifacial spasm (HFS).

Methods One hundred ten patients with primary HFS who underwent MVD in our department were included into this study. The cerebellar retraction factors were quantitatively measured on preoperative MR and timed during MVD. Associations of cerebellar retraction and other factors to postoperative hearing loss were analyzed.

Results Eleven (10%) patients developed hearing loss after MVD. Compared with the group without hearing loss, the cerebellar retraction distance, depth and duration of the group with hearing loss were significantly greater (p < 0.05). Multivariate regression analysis showed that greater cerebellar retraction depth and longer retraction duration were significantly associated with a higher incidence of postoperative hearing impairment (p < 0.05).

Conclusion This study strongly suggested a correlation between the cerebellar retraction factors, especially retraction depth and duration, and possibility of hearing loss following MVD for HFS.


Ventriculostomy-associated hemorrhage: a risk assessment by radiographic simulation

J Neurosurg 127:532–536, 2017

Ventriculostomy entry sites are commonly selected by freehand estimation of Kocher’s point or approximations from skull landmarks and a trajectory toward the ipsilateral frontal horn of the lateral ventricles. A recognized ventriculostomy complication is intracranial hemorrhage from cortical vessel damage; reported rates range from 1% to 41%. In this report, the authors assess hemorrhagic risk by simulating traditional ventriculostomy trajectories and using CT angiography (CTA) with venography (CTV) data to identify potential complications, specifically from cortical draining veins.

METHODS Radiographic analysis was completed on 50 consecutive dynamic CTA/CTV studies obtained at a tertiarycare academic neurosurgery department. Image sections were 0.5 mm thick, and analysis was performed on a venous phase that demonstrated high-quality opacification of the cortical veins and sagittal sinus. Virtual ventriculostomy trajectories were determined for right and left sides using medical diagnostic imaging software. Entry points were measured along the skull surface, 10 cm posteriorly from the nasion, and 3 cm laterally for both left and right sides. Cannulation was simulated perpendicular to the skull surface. Distances between the software-traced cortical vessels and the virtual catheter were measured. To approximate vessel injury by twist drill and ventricular catheter placement, veins within a 3-mm radius were considered a hemorrhage risk.

RESULTS In 100 virtual lines through Kocher’s point toward the ipsilateral ventricle, 19% were predicted to cause cortical vein injury and suspected hemorrhage (radius ≤ 3 mm). Little difference existed between cerebral hemispheres (right 18%, left 20%). The average (± SD) distance from the trajectory line and a cortical vein was 7.23 ± 4.52 mm. In all 19 images that predicted vessel injury, a site of entry for an avascular zone near Kocher’s point could be achieved by moving the trajectory less than 1.0 cm laterally and less than 1.0 cm along the anterior/posterior axis, suggesting that empirical measures are suboptimal, and that patient-specific coordinates based on preprocedural CTA/CVA imaging may optimize ventriculostomy in the future.

CONCLUSIONS In this institutional radiographic imaging analysis, traditional methods of ventriculostomy site selection predicted significant rates of cortical vein injury, matching described rates in the literature. CTA/CTV imaging potentiates identification of patient-specific cannulation sites and custom trajectories that avoid cortical vessels, which may lessen the risk of intracranial hemorrhage during ventriculostomy placement. Further development of this software is underway to facilitate stereotactic ventriculostomy and improve outcomes.

Early retreatment after surgical clipping of ruptured intracranial aneurysms

Acta Neurochir (2017) 159:1627–1632

Although a rerupture after surgical clipping of ruptured intracranial aneurysms is rare, it is associated with high morbidity and mortality. The causes for retreatment and rupture after surgical clipping are not clearly defined.

Methods From a prospectively maintained database of 244 patients who had undergone surgical clipping of ruptured intracranial aneurysms, we selected patients who experienced retreatment or rerupture within 30 days after surgical clipping. Aneurysm occlusions were examined by microvascular Doppler ultrasonography and indocyanine green video-angiography. Indications for retreatment included rerupture and partial occlusion. We analyzed the characteristics and causes of early retreatment.

Results Six patients (2.5%, 95% CI 0.9 to 5.3%) were retreated within 30 days after surgical clipping, including two patients (0.8%, 95% CI 0.1 to 2.9%) who experienced a rerupture. The retreated aneurysms were found in the anterior communicating artery (AcomA) (n = 5) and basilar artery (n = 1). Retreatment of the AcomA (7.5%) was performed significantly more frequently than that of other arteries (0.56%) (p < 0.01). A laterally projected AcomA aneurysm (17.4%) was more frequently retreated than were other aneurysm types (2.3%). Cases of laterally projecting AcomA aneurysms tended to result from an incomplete clip placed using a pterional approach from the opposite side of the aneurysm projection.

Conclusions Despite developments, the rates of retreatment and rerupture after surgical clipping remain similar to those reported previously. Retreatment of the AcomA was significantly more frequent than was retreatment of other arteries. Patients underwent retreatment more frequently when they were originally treated for lateral type aneurysms using a pterional approach from the opposite side of the aneurysm projection. The treatment method and evaluation modalities should be considered carefully for AcomA aneurysms in particular.

Complications of ventricular entry during craniotomy for brain tumor resection

J Neurosurg 127:426–432, 2017

Recent studies have demonstrated that periventricular tumor location is associated with poorer survival and that tumor location near the ventricle limits the extent of resection. This finding may relate to the perception that ventricular entry leads to further complications and thus surgeons may choose to perform less aggressive resection in these areas. However, there is little support for this view in the literature. This study seeks to determine whether ventricular entry is associated with more complications during craniotomy for brain tumor resection.

METHODS A retrospective analysis of patients who underwent craniotomy for tumor resection at Henry Ford Hospital between January 2010 and November 2012 was conducted. A total of 183 cases were reviewed with attention to operative entry into the ventricular system, postoperative use of an external ventricular drain (EVD), subdural hematoma, hydrocephalus, and symptomatic intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH).

RESULTS Patients in whom the ventricles were entered had significantly higher rates of any complication (46% vs 21%). Complications included development of subdural hygroma, subdural hematoma, intraventricular hemorrhage, subgaleal collection, wound infection, urinary tract infection/deep venous thrombosis, hydrocephalus, and ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt placement. Specifically, these patients had significantly higher rates of EVD placement (23% vs 1%, p < 0.001), hydrocephalus (6% vs 0%, p = 0.03), IVH (14% vs 0%, p < 0.001), infection (15% vs 5%, p = 0.04), and subgaleal collection (20% vs 4%, p < 0.001). It was also observed that VP shunt placement was only seen in cases of ventricular entry (11% vs 0%, p = 0.001) with 3 of 4 of these patients having a large ventricular entry (defined here as entry greater than a pinhole [< 3 mm] entry). Furthermore, in a subset of glioblastoma patients with and without ventricular entry, Kaplan- Meier estimates for survival demonstrated a median survival time of 329 days for ventricular entry compared with 522 days for patients with no ventricular entry (HR 1.13, 95% CI 0.65–1.96; p = 0.67).

CONCLUSIONS There are more complications associated with ventricular entry during brain tumor resection than in nonviolated ventricular systems. Better strategies for management of periventricular tumor resection should be actively sought to improve resection and survival for these patients.


Factors Associated With Pre- and Postoperative Seizures in 1033 Patients Undergoing Supratentorial Meningioma Resection

Neurosurgery 81:297–306, 2017

Risk factors for pre- and postoperative seizures in supratentorial meningiomas are understudied compared to other brain tumors.

OBJECTIVE: To report seizure frequency and identify factors associated with pre- and postoperative seizures in a large single-center population study of patients undergoing resection of supratentorial meningioma.

METHODS: Retrospective chart review of 1033 subjects undergoing resection of supratentorial meningioma at the author’s institution (1991-2014). Multivariate regression was used to identify variables significantly associated with pre- and postoperative seizures.

RESULTS: Preoperative seizures occurred in 234 (22.7%) subjects. At 5 years postoperative, probability of seizure freedom was 89.9% among subjects without preoperative seizures and 62.2% with preoperative seizures. Multivariate analysis identified the following predictors of preoperative seizures: presence of ≥1 cmperitumoral edema (odds ratio [OR]: 4.45, 2.55-8.50), nonskull base tumor location (OR: 2.13, 1.26-3.67), greater age (OR per unit increase: 1.03, 1.01-1.05), while presenting symptom of headache (OR: 0.50, 0.29- 0.84) or cranial nerve deficit (OR: 0.36, 0.17-0.71) decreased odds of preoperative seizures. Postoperative seizures after dischargewere associated with preoperative seizures (OR: 5.70, 2.57-13.13), in-hospital seizure (OR: 4.31, 1.28-13.67), and among patients without preoperative seizure, occurrence ofmedical or surgical complications (OR 3.39, 1.09-9.48). Perioperative anti-epileptic drug use was not associated with decreased incidence of postoperative seizures.

CONCLUSIONS: Nonskull base supratentorial meningiomaswith surrounding edema have the highest risk for preoperative seizure. Long-term follow-up showing persistent seizures in meningioma patients with preoperative seizures raises the possibility that these patients may benefit from electrocorticographic mapping of adjacent cortex and resection of noneloquent, epileptically active cortex.

Contemporary analysis of the intraoperative and perioperative complications of neurosurgical procedures performed in the sitting position

J Neurosurg 127:182–188, 2017

Historically, performing neurosurgery with the patient in the sitting position offered advantages such as improved visualization and gravity-assisted retraction. However, this position fell out of favor at many centers due to the perceived risk of venous air embolism (VAE) and other position-related complications. Some neurosurgical centers continue to perform sitting-position cases in select patients, often using modern monitoring techniques that may improve procedural safety. Therefore, this paper reports the risks associated with neurosurgical procedures performed in the sitting position in a modern series.

METHODS The authors reviewed the anesthesia records for instances of clinically significant VAE and other complications for all neurosurgical procedures performed in the sitting position between January 1, 2000, and October 8, 2013. In addition, a prospectively maintained morbidity and mortality log of these procedures was reviewed for instances of subdural or intracerebral hemorrhage, tension pneumocephalus, and quadriplegia. Both overall and specific complication rates were calculated in relation to the specific type of procedure.

RESULTS In a series of 1792 procedures, the overall complication rate related to the sitting position was 1.45%, which included clinically significant VAE, tension pneumocephalus, and subdural hemorrhage. The rate of any detected VAE was 4.7%, but the rate of VAE requiring clinical intervention was 1.06%. The risk of clinically significant VAE was highest in patients undergoing suboccipital craniotomy/craniectomy with a rate of 2.7% and an odds ratio (OR) of 2.8 relative to deep brain stimulator cases (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2–70, p = 0.04). Sitting cervical spine cases had a comparatively lower complication rate of 0.7% and an OR of 0.28 as compared with all cranial procedures (95% CI 0.12–0.67, p < 0.01). Sitting cervical cases were further subdivided into extradural and intradural procedures. The rate of complications in intradural cases was significantly higher (OR 7.3, 95% CI 1.4–39, p = 0.02) than for extradural cases. The risk of VAE in intradural spine procedures did not differ significantly from sitting suboccipital craniotomy/craniectomy cases (OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.09–5.4, p = 0.7). Two cases (0.1%) had to be aborted intraoperatively due to complications. There were no instances of intraoperative deaths, although there was a single death within 30 days of surgery.

CONCLUSIONS In this large, modern series of cases performed in the sitting position, the complication rate was low. Suboccipital craniotomy/craniectomy was associated with the highest risk of complications. When appropriately used with modern anesthesia techniques, the sitting position provides a safe means of surgical access.

Impact of obesity on complications and outcomes: a comparison of fusion and nonfusion lumbar spine surgery

J Neurosurg Spine 26:158–162, 2017

Prior studies have shown obesity to be associated with higher complication rates but equivalent clinical outcomes following lumbar spine surgery. These findings have been reproducible across lumbar spine surgery in general and for lumbar fusion specifically. Nevertheless, surgeons seem inclined to limit the extent of surgery, perhaps opting for decompression alone rather than decompression plus fusion, in obese patients. The purpose of this study was to ascertain any difference in clinical improvement or complication rates between obese and nonobese patients following decompression alone compared with decompression plus fusion for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS).

Methods: The Quality Outcomes Database (QOD), formerly known as the National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database (N 2 QOD), was queried for patients who had undergone decompression plus fusion (D+F group) versus decompression alone (D+0 group) for LSS and were stratified by a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 30 kg/m 2 (obese) or < 30 kg/m 2 (nonobese). Demographic, surgical, and health-related quality of life data were compared.

Results: In the nonobese cohort, 947 patients underwent decompression alone and 319 underwent decompression plus fusion. In the obese cohort, 844 patients had decompression alone and 337 had decompression plus fusion. There were no significant differences in the Oswestry Disability Index score or in leg pain improvement at 12 months when comparing decompression with fusion to decompression without fusion in either obese or nonobese cohorts. However, absolute improvement in back pain was less in the obese group when decompression alone had been performed. Blood loss and operative time were lowest in the nonobese D+0 cohort and were higher in obese patients with or without fusion. Obese patients had a longer hospital stay (4.1 days) than the nonobese patients (3.3 days) when fusion had been performed. In-hospital stay was similar in both obese and nonobese D+0 cohorts. No significant differences were seen in 30-day readmission rates among the 4 cohorts.

Conclusions: Consistent with the prior literature, equivalent clinical outcomes were found among obese and non-obese patients treated for LSS. In addition, no difference in clinical outcomes as related to the extent of the surgical procedure was observed between obese and nonobese patients. Within the D+0 group, the nonobese patients had slightly better back pain scores at 2 years postoperatively. There may be a higher blood product requirement in obese patients following spine surgery, as well as an extended hospital stay, when fusion is performed. While obesity may influence the decision for or against surgery, the data suggest that obesity should not necessarily alter the appropriate procedure for well-selected surgical candidates.

Venous air embolism in the sitting position in cranial neurosurgery

Acta Neurochir (2017) 159:339–346

There is an ongoing debate about the sitting position (SP) in neurosurgical patients. The SP provides a number of advantages as well as severe complications such as commonly concerning venous air embolism (VAE). The best monitoring system for the detection of VAE is still controversial.

Methods: In this retrospective analysis we compared 208 patients. Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) or transthoracic Doppler (TTD) were used as monitoring devices to detect VAE; 101 cases were monitored with TEE and 107 with TTD.

Results: The overall incidence of VAE was 23% (TTD: 10%; TEE: 37%), but the incidence of clinically relevant VAE (drop in end-tidal carbon dioxide above 3 mmHg) was higher in the TTD group (9 out of 17 VAE, 53%) compared to the TEE group (19 out of 62 VAE, 31%). None of the patients with recorded VAE had clinically significant sequelae.

Conclusions: In this small sample we found more VAE events in the TEE group, but the incidence of clinically relevant VAE was rare and comparable to other data. There is no consensus in the definition of clinically relevant VAE.


Efficacy, complications and cost of surgical interventions for idiopathic intracranial hypertension: a systematic review of the literature

Acta Neurochirurgica 2017 (159) 33–49

To define the efficacy, complication profile and cost of surgical options for treating idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) with respect to the following endpoints: vision and headache improvement, normal CSF pressure restoration, papilloedema resolution, relapse rate, operative complications, cost of intervention and quality of life.


A systematic review of the surgical treatment of IIH was carried out. Cochrane Library, MEDLINE and EMBASE databases were systematically searched from 1985 to 2014 to identify all relevant manuscripts written in English. Additional studies were identified by searching the references of retrieved papers and relative narrative reviews.


Forty-one (41) studies were included (36 case series and 5 case reports), totalling 728 patients. Three hundred forty-one patients were treated with optic nerve sheath fenestration (ONSF), 128 patients with lumboperitoneal shunting (LPS), 72 patients with ventriculoperitoneal shunting (VPS), 155 patients with venous sinus stenting and 32 patients with bariatric surgery. ONSF showed considerable efficacy in vision improvement, while CSF shunting had a superior headache response. Venous sinus stenting demonstrated satisfactory results in both vision and headache improvement along with the best complication profile and low relapse rate, but longer follow-up periods are needed. The complication rate of bariatric surgery was high when compared to other interventions and visual outcomes have not been reported adequately. ONSF had the lowest cost.


No surgical modality proved to be clearly superior to any other in IIH management. However, in certain contexts, a given approach appears more justified. Therefore, a treatment algorithm has been formulated, based on the extracted evidence of this review. The traditional treatment paradigm may need to be re-examined with sinus stenting as a first-line treatment modality.

Contribution of Lordotic Correction on C5 Palsy Following Cervical Laminectomy and Fusion

Neurosurgery 79:816–822, 2016

C5 palsy is a well-reported complication of cervical spine surgery. The implication of sagittal cervical alignment parameters and their changes after surgery on the incidence of C5 palsy remains unclear.

OBJECTIVE: We review cervical alignment changes in our cases of C5 palsy after cervical laminectomy and fusion.

METHODS: Cases of C5 palsy were retrospectively compared with a control group. Preoperative and postoperative upright plain film radiographs were analyzed in blinded fashion.

RESULTS: Spine registry analysis identified 148 patients who underwent cervical laminectomy and fusion by the senior author over 5 years. There were 18 (12%) cases complicated by postoperative C5 palsy. Nine of these 18 patients had prerequisite upright films and were compared with a randomly constructed case control group of 20 patients. There were no statistically significant differences between the 2 groups in age, proportion of males, and preoperative Nurick score. Measures of sagittal alignment did not differ significantly between the 2 groups on preoperative and postoperative imaging. When comparing the amount of alignment change between preoperative and postoperative upright imaging, however, patients with C5 palsy had a statistically higher amount of average C4-C5 Cobb angle change (22.53 vs 0.78; P = .01). Logistic regression analysis demonstrated that lordotic change in both C4-C5 and C2-C7 Cobb angles were associated with development of palsy.

CONCLUSION: Lordotic cervical correction, as measured on upright imaging, was statistically larger in patients who had C5 palsy. The role of deformity correction in C5 palsy deserves further study and may inform intraoperative decision making.

Hydrocephalus: an underrated long-term complication of microvascular decompression for trigeminal neuralgia

External lumbar drain- A pragmatic test for prediction of shunt outcomes in idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus

Acta Neurochir (2016) 158:2203–2206

Hydrocephalus is a common complication of posterior fossa surgery, but its real incidence after microvascular decompression (MVD) for idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia (TN) still remains unclear. The aim of this study was to focus on the potential association between MVD and hydrocephalus as a surgery-related complication.

Methods All patients who underwent MVD procedure for idiopathic TN at our institute between 2009 and 2014 were reviewed to search for early or late postoperative hydrocephalus.

Results There were 259 consecutive patients affected by idiopathic TN who underwent MVD procedure at our institution between 2009 and 2014 (113 men, 146 women; mean age 59 years, range 30–87 years; mean follow-up 40.92 months, range 8–48 months). Nine patients (3.47 %) developed communicating hydrocephalus after hospital discharge and underwent standard ventriculo-peritoneal shunt. No cases of acute hydrocephalus were noticed.

Conclusions Our study suggests that late communicating hydrocephalus may be an underrated potential long-term complication of MVD surgery.


Complication Rates Associated With Adult Cervical Deformity Surgery


Neurosurgery 79:378–388, 2016

Few reports have focused on treatment of adult cervical deformity (ACD).

OBJECTIVE: To present early complication rates associated with ACD surgery.

METHODS: A prospective multicenter database of consecutive operative ACD patients was reviewed for early (#30 days from surgery) complications. Enrollment required at least 1 of the following: cervical kyphosis .10 degrees, cervical scoliosis .10 degrees, C2-7 sagittal vertical axis .4 cm, or chin-brow vertical angle .25 degrees.

RESULTS: Seventy-eight patients underwent surgical treatment for ACD (mean age, 60.8 years). Surgical approaches included anterior-only (14%), posterior-only (49%), anterior-posterior (35%), and posterior-anterior-posterior (3%). Mean numbers of fused anterior and posterior vertebral levels were 4.7 and 9.4, respectively. A total of 52 early complications were reported, including 26 minor and 26 major. Twenty-two (28.2%) patients had at least 1 minor complication, and 19 (24.4%) had at least 1 major complication. Overall, 34 (43.6%) patients had at least 1 complication. The most common complications included dysphagia (11.5%), deep wound infection (6.4%), new C5 motor deficit (6.4%), and respiratory failure (5.1%). One (1.3%) mortality occurred. Early complication rates differed significantly by surgical approach: anterior-only (27.3%), posterior-only (68.4%), and anterior-posterior/posterior-anterior- posterior (79.3%) (P = .007).

CONCLUSION: This report provides benchmark rates for overall and specific ACD surgery complications. Although the surgical approach(es) used were likely driven by the type and complexity of deformity, there were significantly higher complication rates associated with combined and posterior-only approaches compared with anterior-only approaches. These findings may prove useful in treatment planning, patient counseling, and ongoing efforts to improve safety of care.

Fewer complications with bolt-connected than tunneled external ventricular drainage


Acta Neurochir (2016) 158:1491–1494

Ventriculostomy/external ventricular drain (EVD) is a common neurosurgical procedure. Various techniques are used to fixate the drain and the objective of this study was, in a retrospective setting, to compare the incidence of complications when using bolt-connected EVD (BC-EVD) versus tunneled EVD (T-EVD).

Methods All patients subjected to an EVD performed through a new burr hole from 2009 through 2010 at two Depts. of Neurosurgery in Denmark (Odense and Aarhus) were retrospectively identified. Patient files were evaluated for EVD fixation technique (tunneled or bolt-connected EVD) and complications including unintended removal, catheter obstruction, infection, CSF leakage, and mechanical problems.

Results A total of 271 patients with 272 separate EVDs met the inclusion criteria. There was a statistically higher rate of complications leading to reinsertion in the tunneled EVD group (40 %), compared to the bolt-connected EVD group (6.5 %). There was no significant difference in infection rates.

Conclusions Tunneled EVD has a relatively high frequency of complications leading to reinsertion. The use of Bolt-connected EVD technique can lower this frequency significantly. The number needed to treat is three for preventing a complication requiring reinsertion. Infection rates are low for both types of ventriculostomies. Accordingly, we recommend use of Bolt-connected EVDs in neurosurgical practice.

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


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