The auricula as a new surgical landmark for the transverse-sigmoid-sinus-transition

Brain and Spine 4 (2024) 102757

The transverse-sigmoid-sinus-transition constitutes an important landmark during a retrosigmoid craniotomy. Due to anatomical variations, the location is highly variable. Landmarks for identification of the anterior border of the sigmoid sinus have been described extensively, such as the mastoid notch, digastric point, external auditory meatus and crux of the helix curvature. There is a paucity of landmarks for the identification of the posterior border, however.

Research question: We examined the relationship between the transverse-sigmoid-sinus-transition and the mostposterior-part-of-the-auricula.

Material and methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of one-hundred patients (38 males and 62 females) who underwent cerebral MRI examinations at Antwerp University Hospital (Belgium). Using Brainlab®, the transverse-sigmoid-sinus-transition and most-posterior-part-of-the-auricula coordinates were calculated and compared. Left and right sides were compared in both the anteroposterior and craniocaudal axis.

Results: Mean age was 56.4 ± 16.1 years. Mean MPPA-TSST-distance in the anteroposterior direction was − 1.93 mm (right) and − 1.96 mm (left). Mean MPPA-TSST-distance in the craniocaudal direction was − 5.16 mm (right) and − 5.04 mm (left).

Discussion and conclusion: The transverse-sigmoid-sinus-transition seems to be located more anterior and caudal with respect to the most-posterior-part-of-the-auricula, meaning that it can be considered a save landmark. A correction of five mm needs to be applied in order to identify the inferior border of the transverse sinus. Left/ right and gender had no significant influence. The most-posterior-part-of-the-auricula can be considered a fast and practical anatomical landmark for identification of the transverse-sigmoid-sinus-transition, without affecting operative fluency, especially during an emergency craniotomy.

Biomechanical Comparison of Facet Versus Laminar C2 Screws

Neurosurgery 93:910–917, 2023

Transpedicular or transisthmic screws for C2 instrumentation represent the gold standard; however, the anatomy is not always compatible (hypoplastic pedicles, procidentia of the vertebral artery). Laminar screws (LS) have been proposed as a rescue technique and recently, bicortical facet screws (FS). To date, the biomechanical property of FS remains unknown.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the pull-out resistance of bicortical facet (FS) vs laminar (LS) C2 screws.

METHODS: Thirty-two human cadaveric C2 vertebrae were screened by CT scan imaging and dual x-ray absorptiometry before receiving both techniques and were randomized according to side and sequence (FS or LS first). Screw positioning was validated using 2-dimensional x-rays. Sixty-four mechanical tests were performed using pure tensile loading along the axis of the screws until pull-out. Mean pull-out strengths were compared using paired tests, multivariate and survival analysis (Kaplan-Meier curves).

RESULTS: The morphometric data were consistent with previous studies. Over 64 tests, the mean pull-out strength of LS (707 ± 467 N) was significantly higher than that of FS (390 ± 230 N) (P = .0004). Bone mineral density was weakly correlated with pull-out strength (r = 0.42 for FS and r = 0.3 for LS). Both techniques were mechanically equivalent for vertebrae in which intralaminar cortical grip was not achievable for LS. The mean pull-out strength for LS with laminar cortical grip (1071 ± 395 N) was significantly higher than that of LS without (423 ± 291 N) (P < .0001).

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that bicortical FS of C2 offer less mechanical resistance than LS.

Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion in the Ambulatory Surgery Center Versus Inpatient Setting: A 1-Year Comparative Effectiveness Analysis

Neurosurgery 93:867–874, 2023

Ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) have emerged as an alternative setting for surgical care as part of the national effort to lower health care costs. The literature regarding the safety of minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS TLIF) in the ASC setting is limited to few small case series.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the safety and efficacy of MIS TLIF performed in the ASC vs inpatient hospital setting.

METHODS: A total of 775 patients prospectively enrolled in the Quality Outcomes Database undergoing single-level MIS TLIF at a single ASC (100) or the inpatient hospital setting (675) were compared. Propensity matching generated 200 patients for analysis (100 per cohort). Demographic data, resource utilization, patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs), and patient satisfaction were assessed.

RESULTS: There were no significant differences regarding baseline demographic data, clinical history, or comorbidities after propensity matching. Only 1 patient required inpatient transfer from the ASC because of intractable pain. All other patients were discharged home within 23 hours of surgery. The rates of 90-day readmission (2.0%) and reoperation (0%) were equivalent between groups. Both groups experienced significant improvements in all PROMs (Oswestry Disability Index, EuroQol-5D, back pain, and leg pain) at 3 months that were maintained at 1 year. PROMs did not differ between groups at any time point. Patient satisfaction was similar between groups at 3 and 12 months after surgery.

CONCLUSION: In carefully selected patients, MIS TLIF may be performed safely in the ASC setting with no statistically significant difference in safety or efficacy in comparison with the inpatient setting.

Convergence of the arcuate fasciculus and third branch of the superior longitudinal fasciculus with direct cortical stimulation–induced speech arrest area in the anterior ventral precentral gyrus

J Neurosurg 139:1140–1151, 2023

The objective was to identify the correspondence between the anterior terminations of the arcuate fasciculus (AF) and third branch of the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF-III) and the intraoperative direct cortical electrical stimulation (DCS)–induced speech arrest area.

METHODS The authors retrospectively screened 75 glioma patients (group 1) who received intraoperative DCS mapping in the left dominant frontal cortex. To minimize the influence of tumors or edema, we subsequently selected 26 patients (group 2) with glioma or edema not affecting Broca’s area, the ventral precentral gyrus (vPCG), and the subcortical pathways to generate DCS functional maps and to construct the anterior terminations of AF and SLF-III with tractography. Next, a grid-by-grid pairwise comparison was performed between the fiber terminations and the DCS-induced speech arrest sites to calculate Cohen’s kappa coefficient (κ) in both groups 1 and 2. Finally, the authors also demonstrated the distribution of the AF/SLF-III anterior projection maps obtained in 192 healthy participants (group 3) and subsequently correlated these with the speech arrest sites in group 2 to examine their validity in predicting speech output area.

RESULTS The authors found that speech arrest sites were substantially consistent with SLF-III anterior terminations (group 1, κ = 0.64 ± 0.03; group 2, κ = 0.73 ± 0.05) and moderately consistent with AF (group 1, κ = 0.51 ± 0.03; group 2, κ = 0.49 ± 0.05) and AF/SLF-III complex (group 1, κ = 0.54 ± 0.03; group 2, κ = 0.56 ± 0.05) terminations (all p < 0.0001). The DCS speech arrest sites of the group 2 patients mainly (85.1%) emerged at the anterior bank of the vPCG (vPCGa). In group 3, both terminations of AF and SLF-III converged onto the vPCGa, and their terminations well predicted the DCS speech output area of group 2 (AF, area under the curve [AUC] 86.5%; SLF-III, AUC 79.0%; AF/SLF-III complex, AUC 86.7%).

CONCLUSIONS This study supports the key role of the left vPCGa as the speech output node by showing convergence between speech output mapping and anterior AF/SLF-III connectivity in the vPCGa. These findings may contribute to the understanding of speech networks and could have clinical implications in preoperative surgical planning.

Risk for Brain Arteriovenous Malformation Rupture During Pregnancy and Puerperium

Neurosurgery 93:918–923, 2023

The hemorrhage risk of unruptured and untreated cerebral arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) has been shown to be higher for female patients than male patients in their child bearing ages. Although it has been neurosurgical practice to advise female patients in their childbearing ages to postpone pregnancy until proven AVM obliteration, there is no literature consensus regarding this potential hemorrhage risk increase.

OBJECTIVE: To accurately quantify the risk increase for AVM hemorrhage during pregnancy.

METHODS: This study is based on data from previous publications, consisting of known age at the first AVM hemorrhage in 3425 patients. The risk increase during pregnancy could be calculated from the difference in age distribution for the first AVM hemorrhage between male patients and female patients, taking the average pregnancy time per female into account. A comparison was also made with data for all hospital discharges (13751) in Germany 2008 to 2018 with the diagnosis brain AVM.

RESULTS: The average pregnancy and puerperium time was 1.54 years per female in the patient population, which was used to determine the annual AVM hemorrhage risk during pregnancy to be around 9%. The increased risk during pregnancy was further evidenced by analysis of a subgroup of 105 female patients, for which pregnancy status at the time of hemorrhage was known.

CONCLUSION: The quantified annual risk for AVM hemorrhage during pregnancy is about 3 times higher than that of male patients at corresponding age. This provides an important basis for advising female patients with patent AVMs about the increased risk for hemorrhage that a pregnancy would entail.

Clinical and prognostic features of venous hypertensive myelopathy from craniocervical arteriovenous fistulas

J Neurosurg 139:687–697, 2023

Current knowledge about venous hypertensive myelopathy (VHM) is incomplete. This study was performed with the aim of clarifying the clinical features and outcomes of craniocervical VHM.

METHODS This retrospective, single-center cohort study included 65 patients with craniocervical junction arteriovenous fistulas resulting in VHM treated in Xuanwu Hospital from January 1, 2002, to December 30, 2020. All patients underwent microsurgery or endovascular treatment. The primary outcome was neurological function assessment using the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scale, modified Aminoff-Logue Scale (mALS), and Venous Hypertensive Myelopathy Scale (VHMS). The secondary outcomes were recurrences and postoperative adverse events. Pearson linear regression and receiver operating characteristic curves were used to evaluate the relationships among the three scales. Kaplan-Meier and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to predict outcomes.

RESULTS The mean patient age was 57.4 ± 11.4 years, and 88% of patients were male. The 1-year follow-up rate was 83.1%, and the 5-year follow-up rate was 50.8%. The VHMS was correlated with the JOA (R 2 = 0.6722) and mALS (R 2 = 0.7399) and increased the assessment accuracy by approximately 20% when compared with the other two scales. Overall, 25.9% of patients experienced delayed neurological decline beyond the 1-year follow-up. Further logistic regression suggested that age > 65 years was an independent predictor (OR 7.831, 95% CI 1.090–56.266; p = 0.041). Embolic recanalization and new bilateral symmetry feeders were the major reasons for recurrence. Recurrence increased the risk of adverse events after the second surgery (OR 20.455, 95% CI 1.170–357.320; p = 0.039).

CONCLUSIONS CCJ AVFs resulting in VHM are a rare but deadly complication, and providers should be cautious of age-related delayed neurological decline and strive for a one-time anatomical cure.

Surgical outcomes in large vestibular schwannomas: should cerebellopontine edema be considered in the grading systems?

Acta Neurochirurgica (2023) 165:1749–1755

Large (> 3 cm) vestibular schwannomas pose complexity in surgical management because of narrow working corridors and proximity to the cranial nerves, brainstem, and inner ear structures. With current vestibular schwannoma classifications limited in information regarding cerebellopontine edema, our retrospective series examined this radiographic feature relative to clinical outcomes and its possible role in preoperative scoring.

Methods Of 230 patients who underwent surgical resection of vestibular schwannoma (2014–2020), we identified 107 patients with Koos grades 3 or 4 tumors for radiographic assessment of edema in the middle cerebellar peduncle (MCP), brainstem, or both. Radiographic images were graded and patients grouped into Koos grades 3 or 4 or our proposed grade 5 with edema. Tumor volumes, radiographic features, clinical presentations, and clinical outcomes were evaluated.

Results The 107 patients included 22 patients with grade 3 tumors, 39 with grade 4, and 46 with grade 5. No statistical differences were noted among groups for demographic data or complication rates. Unlike grades 3 and 4 patients, grade 5 patients presented with worse hearing (p < 0.001), larger tumors (p < 0.001), lower rates of gross total resection (GTR), longer hospital stays, and higher rates of balance dysfunction.

Conclusion With edema detected in 43% of this cohort, special considerations are warranted for grade 5 vestibular schwannomas given the preoperative findings of worse hearing, lower GTR rates, longer hospital stays, and 96% who pursued postoperative balance therapy. We propose that grade 5 with edema offers a more nuanced interpretation of a radiographic feature that holds relevance to treatment selection and patient outcomes.

Comparison of Single-Session, Neoadjuvant, and Adjuvant Embolization Gamma Knife Radiosurgery for Arteriovenous Malformation

Neurosurgery 92:986–997, 2023

The purpose of intracranial arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) treatment is to prevent bleeding or subsequent hemorrhage with complete obliteration. For large, difficult-to-treat AVMs, multimodal approaches including surgery, endovascular embolization, and gamma knife radiosurgery (GKRS) are frequently used.

OBJECTIVE: To analyze the outcomes of AVMs treated with single-session, neoadjuvant, and adjuvant embolization GKRS.

METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed a database of 453 patients with AVMs who underwent GKRS between January 2007 and December 2017 at our facility. The obliteration rate, incidence of latent period bleeding, cyst formation, and radiation-induced changes were compared among the 3 groups, neoadjuvant-embolized, adjuvant-embolized, nonembolized group. In addition, the variables predicting AVM obliteration and complications were investigated.

RESULTS: A total of 228 patients were enrolled in this study. The neoadjuvant-embolized, adjuvant-embolized, and nonembolized groups comprised 29 (12.7%), 19 (8.3%), and 180 (78.9%) patients, respectively. Significant differences were detected among the 3 groups in the history of previous hemorrhage and the presence of aneurysms (P < .0001). Multivariate Cox regression analyses revealed a significant inverse correlation between neoadjuvant embolization and obliteration occurring 36 months after GKRS (hazard ratio, 0.326; P = .006).

CONCLUSION: GKRS with either neoadjuvant or adjuvant embolization is a beneficial approach for the treatment of AVMs with highly complex angioarchitectures that are at risk for hemorrhage during the latency period. Embolization before GKRS may be a negative predictive factor for late-stage obliteration (>36 months). To confirm our conclusions, further studies involving a larger number of patients and continuous follow-up are necessary.

A Retrospective Analysis of Pedicle Screw Placement Accuracy Using the ExcelsiusGPS Robotic Guidance System

Operative Neurosurgery 24:242–247, 2023

Robotic guidance has become widespread in spine surgery. Although the intent is improved screw placement, further system-specific data are required to substantiate this intention for pedicle screws in spinal stabilization constructs.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the accuracy of pedicle screws placed with the aid of a robot in a cohort of patients immediately after the adoption of the robot-assisted surgery technique.

METHODS: A retrospective, Institutional Review Board–approved study was performed on the first 100 patients at a single facility, who had undergone spinal surgeries with the use of robotic techniques. Pedicle screw accuracy was graded using the Gertzbein– Robbins Scale based on pedicle wall breach, with grade A representing 0 mm breach and successive grades increasing breach thresholds by 2 mm increments. Preoperative and postoperative computed tomography scans were also used to assess offsets between the objective plan and true screw placements.

RESULTS: A total of 326 screws were analyzed among 72 patients with sufficient imaging data. Ages ranged from 21 to 84 years. The total accuracy rate based on the Gertzbein– Robbins Scale was 97.5%, and the rate for each grade is as follows: A, 82%; B, 15.5%; C, 1.5%; D, 1%; and E, 0. The average tip offset was 1.9 mm, the average tail offset was 2.0 mm, and the average angular offset was 2.6°.

CONCLUSION: Robotic-assisted surgery allowed for accurate implantation of pedicle screws on immediate adoption of this technique. There were no complications attributable to the robotic technique, and no hardware revisions were required.

Rod fractures in thoracolumbar fusions to the sacrum/pelvis for adult symptomatic lumbar scoliosis

J Neurosurg Spine 38:217–229, 2023

Previous reports of rod fracture (RF) in adult spinal deformity are limited by heterogeneous cohorts, low follow-up rates, and relatively short follow-up durations. Since the majority of RFs present > 2 years after surgery, true occurrence and revision rates remain unclear. The objectives of this study were to better understand the risk factors for RF and assess its occurrence and revision rates following primary thoracolumbar fusions to the sacrum/pelvis for adult symptomatic lumbar scoliosis (ASLS) in a prospective series with long-term follow-up.

METHODS Patient records were obtained from the Adult Symptomatic Lumbar Scoliosis–1 (ASLS-1) database, an NIH-sponsored multicenter, prospective study. Inclusion criteria were as follows: patients aged 40–80 years undergoing primary surgeries for ASLS (Cobb angle ≥ 30° and Oswestry Disability Index ≥ 20 or Scoliosis Research Society-22r ≤ 4.0 in pain, function, and/or self-image) with instrumented fusion of ≥ 7 levels that included the sacrum/pelvis. Patients with and without RF were compared to assess risk factors for RF and revision surgery.

RESULTS Inclusion criteria were met by 160 patients (median age 62 years, IQR 55.7–67.9 years). At a median followup of 5.1 years (IQR 3.8–6.6 years), there were 92 RFs in 62 patients (38.8%). The median time to RF was 3.0 years (IQR 1.9–4.54 years), and 73% occurred > 2 years following surgery. Based on Kaplan-Meier analyses, estimated RF rates at 2, 4, 5, and 8 years after surgery were 11%, 24%, 35%, and 49%, respectively. Baseline radiographic, clinical, and demographic characteristics were similar between patients with and without RF. In Cox regression models, greater postoperative pelvic tilt (HR 1.895, 95% CI 1.196–3.002, p = 0.0065) and greater estimated blood loss (HR 1.02, 95% CI 1.005–1.036, p = 0.0088) were associated with increased risk of RF. Thirty-eight patients (61% of all RFs) underwent revision surgery. Bilateral RF was predictive of revision surgery (HR 3.52, 95% CI 1.8–6.9, p = 0.0002), while patients with unilateral nondisplaced RFs were less likely to require revision (HR 0.39, 95% CI 0.18–0.84, p = 0.016).

CONCLUSIONS This study provides what is to the authors’ knowledge the highest-quality data to date on RF rates following ASLS surgery. At a median follow-up of 5.1 years, 38.8% of patients had at least one RF. Estimated RF rates at 2, 4, 5, and 8 years after surgery were 11%, 24%, 35%, and 49%, respectively. Greater estimated blood loss and postoperative pelvic tilt were significant risk factors for RF. These findings emphasize the importance of long-term follow-up to realize the true prevalence and cumulative incidence of RF.

Computational fluid dynamic analysis of the initiation of cerebral aneurysms

J Neurosurg 137:335–343, 2022

Relationships between aneurysm initiation and hemodynamic factors remain unclear since de novo aneurysms are rarely observed. Most previous computational fluid dynamics (CFD) studies have used artificially reproduced vessel geometries before aneurysm initiation for analysis. In this study, the authors investigated the hemodynamic factors related to aneurysm initiation by using angiographic images in patients with cerebral aneurysms taken before and after an aneurysm formation.

METHODS The authors identified 10 cases of de novo aneurysms in patients who underwent follow-up examinations for existing cerebral aneurysms located at a different vessel. The authors then reconstructed the vessel geometry from the images that were taken before aneurysm initiation. In addition, 34 arterial locations without aneurysms were selected as control cases. Hemodynamic parameters acting on the arterial walls were calculated by CFD analysis.

RESULTS In all de novo cases, the aneurysmal initiation area corresponded to the highest wall shear stress divergence (WSSD point), which indicated that there was a strong tensile force on the arterial wall at the initiation area. The other previously reported parameters did not show such correlations. Additionally, the pressure loss coefficient (PLc) was statistically significantly higher in the de novo cases (p < 0.01). The blood flow impact on the bifurcation apex, or the secondary flow accompanied by vortices, resulted in high tensile forces and high total pressure loss acting on the vessel wall.

CONCLUSIONS Aneurysm initiation may be more likely in an area where both tensile forces acting on the vessel wall and total pressure loss are large.

Characteristics of Sagittal Spinopelvic Alignment Changes After Symptom Relief After Simple Lumbar Decompression

 Neurosurgery 91:331–338, 2022

Sagittal spinopelvic alignment (SSPA) parameters are essential for the diagnosis of adult spinal deformities (ASDs) and their progression. Certain clinical symptoms that occur in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) and herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP) may distort the SSPA and mimic ASD.

OBJECTIVE: To differentiate SSPA in symptomatic patients from asymptomatic patients within 10 minutes in the standing position.

METHODS: This retrospective cohort study evaluated changes in SSPA after simple lumbar decompression surgery in patients with LSS and HNP. Relative sagittal alignment (RSA), relative pelvic version, relative lumbar lordosis (RLL), Lordosis Distribution Index (LDI), and global alignment and proportion (GAP) values were calculated using the conventional Schwab classification method. First, the preoperative and postoperative SSPA parameters were compared. Second, patients were subgrouped into symptomatic within 10 minutes of standing (SP group) and other symptoms of LSS and HNP as controls. Changes in SSPA parameters after symptom relief after simple lumbar decompression surgery were compared between the two groups.

RESULTS: Overall, all SSPA parameters improved after surgery. However, after subgrouping, patients in the control group did not show significant SSPA alterations, except for LDI, whereas patients in the SP group significantly improved in terms of their RSA, RLL, LDI, and GAP values after symptom relief after surgery.

CONCLUSION: Patients with pain on standing within 10 minutes showed significant correction in RSA, RLL, and GAP values after simple lumbar decompression. Therefore, it is important to observe such clinical symptoms to avoid misdiagnosis of ASD.

Data fusion and 3D visualization for optimized representation of neurovascular relationships in the posterior fossa

Acta Neurochirurgica (2022) 164:2141–2151

Reliable 3D visualization of neurovascular relationships in the posterior fossa at the surface of the brainstem is still critical due to artifacts of imaging. To assess neurovascular compression syndromes more reliably, a new approach of 3D visualization based on registration and fusion of high-resolution MR data is presented.

Methods A total of 80 patients received MRI data with 3D-CISS and 3D-TOF at 3.0 Tesla. After registration and subsequent segmentation, the vascular information of the TOF data was fused into the CISS data. Two 3D visualizations were created for each patient, one before and one after fusion, which were verified with the intraoperative situation during microvascular decompression (MVD). The reproduction quality of vessels was evaluated with a rating system.

Results In all cases, the presented approach compensated for typical limitations in the 3D visualization of neurovascular compression such as the partial or complete suppression of larger vessels, suppression of smaller vessels at the CSF margin, and artifacts from heart pulsation. In more than 95% of the cases of hemifacial spasm and glossopharyngeal neuralgia, accurate assessment of the compression was only possible after registration and fusion. In more than 50% of the cases with trigeminal neuralgia, the presented approach was crucial to finding the actually offending vessel.

Conclusions 3D visualization of fused image data allows for a more complete representation of the vessel-nerve situation. The results from this approach are reproducible and the assessment of neurovascular compression is safer. It is a powerful tool for planning MVD.

Motor skills, cognitive impairment, and quality of life in normal pressure hydrocephalus: early effects of shunt placement

Traditionally, clinical findings of normal pressure hydrocephalus are mainly characterized by the Hakim triad. The aim of this study is to evaluate the performance of patients suffering from idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus (iNPH) in a more holistic manner regarding motor skills, cognitive impairment, and quality of life.

Methods In total, 30 individuals diagnosed with iNPH as well as a reference group with another 30 individuals were included. The iNPH patients and the reference group were age, educational, and morbidity matched. A standardized test battery for psychomotor skills, gait, neuropsychological abilities as well as questionnaires for quality of life was applied. The iNPH group was tested prior to surgery, at 6 weeks, and 3 months postoperatively. The reference group was tested once.

Results Patients showed a significant improved performance in various items of the test battery during the first 3 months postoperatively. This included neuropsychological evaluation, motor skills including gait and upper motor function as well as the quality of life of the patients. Compared to reference individuals, neuropsychological aspects and quality of life of iNPH patients improved in some parts nearly to normal values.

Conclusion Our findings underline that shunt surgery does not only improve the symptoms in iNPH patients but also ameliorates the quality of life to a great extent close to those of age and comorbidity matched reference individuals. This data enables an optimized counseling of iNPH patients regarding the expectable outcome after shunt surgery especially regarding cognitive performance, motor skills as well as life quality.

The meningioma surface factor: a novel approach to quantify shape irregularity on preoperative imaging and its correlation with WHO grade

J Neurosurg 136:1535–1541, 2022

Atypical and anaplastic meningiomas account for 20% of all meningiomas. An irregular tumor shape on preoperative MRI has been associated with WHO grade II–III histology. However, this subjective allocation does not allow quantification or comparison. An objective parameter of irregularity could substantially influence resection strategy toward a more aggressive approach. Therefore, the aim of this study was to objectively quantify the level of irregularity on preoperative MRI and predict histology based on WHO grade using this novel approach.

METHODS A retrospective study on meningiomas resected between January 2010 and December 2018 was conducted at two neurosurgical centers. This novel approach relies on the theory that a regularly shaped tumor has a smaller surface area than an irregularly shaped tumor with the same volume. A factor was generated using the surface area of a corresponding sphere as a reference, because for a given volume a sphere represents the shape with the smallest surface area possible. Consequently, the surface factor (SF) was calculated by dividing the surface area of a sphere with the same volume as the tumor with the surface area of the tumor. The resulting value of the SF ranges from > 0 to 1. Finally, the SF of each meningioma was then correlated with the corresponding histopathological grading.

RESULTS A total of 126 patients were included in this study; 60.3% had a WHO grade I, 34.9% a WHO grade II, and 4.8% a WHO grade III meningioma. Calculation of the SF demonstrated a significant difference in SFs between WHO grade I (SF 0.851) and WHO grade II–III meningiomas (SF 0.788) (p < 0.001). Multivariate analysis identified SF as an independent prognostic factor for WHO grade (OR 0.000009, 95% CI 0.000–0.159; p = 0.020).

CONCLUSIONS The SF is a proposed mathematical model for a quantitative and objective measurement of meningioma shape, instead of the present subjective assessment. This study revealed significant differences between the SFs of WHO grade I and WHO grade II–III meningiomas and demonstrated that SF is an independent prognostic factor for WHO grade.

Gut‑disc axis: A cause of intervertebral disc degeneration and low back pain?

European Spine Journal (2022) 31:917–925

Low back pain (LBP), a widely prevalent and costly disease around the world, is mainly caused by intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration (IDD). Although numerous factors may trigger this degenerative process, microbiome dysbiosis has recently been implicated as one of the likely causes. However, the exact relationship between the microbiome and IDD is not well understood. This review summarizes the potential mechanisms and discusses microbiome dysbiosis’s possible influence on IDD and LBP.

Methods Prospective literature review.

Results Alterations in microbiome composition and host responses to the microbiota causing pathological bone development and involution, led to the concept of gut-bone marrow axis and gut-bone axis. Moreover, the concept of the gut-disc axis was also proposed to explain the microbiome’s role in IDD and LBP. According to the existing evidence, the microbiome could be an important factor for inducing and aggravating IDD through changing or regulating the outside and inside microenvironment of the IVD. Three potential mechanisms by which the gut microbiota can induce IVD and cause LBP are: (1) translocation of the bacteria across the gut epithelial barrier and into the IVD, (2) regulation of the mucosal and systemic immune system, and (3) regulation of nutrient absorption and metabolites formation at the gut epithelium and its diffusion into the IVD. Furthermore, to investigate whether IVD is initiated by pathogenic bacteria and establish the correlation between the presence of certain microbial groups with the disease in question, microbiome diversity analysis based on16S rRNA data can be used to characterise stool/blood microbiota from IVD patients.

Conclusion Future studies on microbiome, fungi and viruses in IDD is necessary to revolutionize our thinking about their possible role in the development of IVD diseases. Furthermore, we believe that inflammation inhibition and interruption of amplification of cascade reaction in IVD by targeting the gut and IVD microbiome is worthwhile for the treatment of IDD and LBP.

Level of Evidence I Diagnostic: individual cross-sectional studies with the consistently applied reference standard and blinding.

The precuneal interhemispheric, trans‑tentorial corridor to the pineal region and brainstem, surgical anatomy, and case illustration

Acta Neurochirurgica (2022) 164:1095–1103

The pineal region and dorsal midbrain are among the most challenging surgical targets. To approach lesions in this region that harbor a superior to inferior long axis, we describe the basic steps of the precuneal, interhemispheric, transtentorial approach and illustrate anatomical landmarks of this established, but not so popular, surgical trajectory.

Method To study the anatomical landmarks and safety of this approach, the neurovascular anatomy was studied on 22 sides of 11 formalin-fixed latex-injected anatomical specimens. A step-by-step dissection of the precuneal interhemispheric trans-tentorial approach and study of the key anatomical landmarks was performed. An illustrative clinical case of a pontomesencephalic cavernous malformation (CM) resected through this approach is also detailed.

Results The mean distance from the transverse sinus to the most posterior cortical vein draining into the superior sagittal sinus was 6.4 cm. The mean distance from the calcarine sulcus to the most posterior cortical vein was 5.3 cm. Key steps of the dissection are as follows: craniotomy exposing the posterior aspect of the superior sagittal sinus (SSS), durotomy and gentle retraction of the SSS edge, dissection of the interhemispheric fissure, linear incision of the tentorium that extends anteriorly to the incisura and lateral reflection of the tentorium, and arachnoidal dissection and exposure of the cerebellomesencephalic fissure.

Conclusion The precuneal, interhemispheric, trans-tentorial approach affords excellent access to the falcotentorial junction, splenium, pineal region, quadrigeminal cistern, and dorsal pons once the cerebellomesencephalic fissure has been dissected.

Cauda equina ependymomas: surgical treatment and long-term outcomes in a series of 125 patients

J Neurosurg Spine 36:452–463, 2022

Cauda equina ependymoma (CEE) is a rare tumor for which little information is available on the oncological and clinical outcomes of patients. In this study the authors aimed to address functional, oncological, and quality-of- life (QOL) outcomes in a large series of consecutive patients operated on at their institution during the past 20 years.
METHODS The records of 125 patients who underwent surgery between January 1998 and September 2018 were reviewed. Analyzed variables included demographic, clinical, radiological, surgical, and histopathological features. Neurological outcomes were graded according to the McCormick and Kesselring scales. The QOL at follow-up was evaluated by administering the EQ-5DL questionnaire.
RESULTS On admission, 84% of patients had a McCormick grade of I and 76.8% had a Kesselring score of 0. At follow-up (clinical 8.13 years; radiological 5.87 years) most scores were unchanged. Sacral level involvement (p = 0.029) and tumor size (p = 0.002) were predictors of poor functional outcome at discharge. Tumor size (p = 0.019) and repeated surgery (p < 0.001) were predictors of poor outcome. A preoperative McCormick grade ≥ III and Kesselring grade ≥ 2 were associated with worse outcomes (p = 0.035 and p = 0.002, respectively). Myxopapillary ependymoma (MPE) was more frequent than grade II ependymoma (EII). The overall rate of gross-total resection (GTR) was 91.2% and rates were significantly higher for patients with EII (98%) than for those with MPE (84%) (p = 0.0074). On multivariate analysis, the only factor associated with GTR was the presence of a capsule (p = 0.011). Seventeen patients (13.7%) had recurrences (13 MPE, 4 EII; 76.4% vs 23.6%; p = 0.032). The extent of resection was the only factor associated with recurrence (p= 0.0023) and number of surgeries (p = 0.006). Differences in progression-free survival (PFS) were seen depending on the extent of resection at first operation (p < 0.001), subarachnoid seeding (p = 0.041), piecemeal resection (p = 0.004), and number of spine levels involved (3 [p = 0.016], 4 [p = 0.011], or ≥ 5 [p = 0.013]). At follow-up a higher proportion of EII than MPE patients were disease free (94.7% vs 77.7%; p = 0.007). The QOL results were inferior in almost all areas compared to a control group of subjects from the Italian general population. A McCormick grade ≥ 3 and repeated surgeries were associated with a worse QOL (p = 0.006 and p = 0.017).
CONCLUSIONS An early diagnosis of CEE is important because larger tumors are associated with recurrences and worse functional neurological outcomes. Surgery should be performed with the aim of achieving an en bloc GTR. The histological subtype was not directly associated with recurrences, but some of the features more commonly encountered in MPEs were. The outcomes are in most cases favorable, but the mean QOL perception is inferior to that of the general population.

The rhinopharyngeal flap for reconstruction of lower clival and craniovertebral junction defects

J Neurosurg 135:1319–1327, 2021

The endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) to the lower clivus and craniovertebral junction (CVJ) has been traditionally performed via resection of the nasopharyngeal soft tissues. Alternatively, an inferiorly based rhinopharyngeal (RP) flap (RPF) can be dissected to help reconstruct the postoperative defect and separate it from the oropharynx. To date, there is no evidence regarding the viability and potential clinical impact of the RPF. The aim of this study was to assess RPF viability and its impact on clinical outcome.

METHODS A retrospective cohort of 60 patients who underwent EEA to the lower clivus and CVJ was studied. The RPF was used in 30 patients (RPF group), and the nasopharyngeal soft tissues were resected in 30 patients (control group).

RESULTS Chordoma was the most common surgical indication in both groups (47% in the RPF group vs 63% in the control group, p = 0.313), followed by odontoid pannus (20% in the RPF group vs 10%, p = 0.313). The two groups did not significantly differ in terms of extent of tumor (p = 0.271), intraoperative CSF leak (p = 0.438), and skull base reconstruction techniques other than the RPF (nasoseptal flap, p = 0.301; fascia lata, p = 0.791; inlay graft, p = 0.793; and prophylactic lumbar drain, p = 0.781). Postoperative soft-tissue enhancement covering the lower clivus and CVJ observed on MRI was significantly higher in the RPF group (100% vs 26%, p < 0.001). The RPF group had a significantly lower rate of nasoseptal flap necrosis (3% vs 20%, p = 0.044) and surgical site infection (3% vs 27%, p = 0.026) while having similar rates of postoperative CSF leakage (17% in the RPF group vs 20%, p = 0.739) and meningitis (7% in the RPF group vs 17%, p = 0.424). Oropharyngeal bacterial flora dominated the infections in the control group but not those in the RPF group, suggesting that the RPF acted as a barrier between the nasopharynx and oropharynx.

CONCLUSIONS The RPF provides viable vascularized tissue coverage to the lower clivus and CVJ. Its use was associated with decreased rates of nasoseptal flap necrosis and local infection, likely due to separation from the oropharynx.

Retrograde ejaculation following anterior lumbar surgery: a systematic review and pooled analysis

J Neurosurg Spine 35:427–436, 2021

The present systematic review and pooled analysis aims to assess the incidence and risk factors for the development of retrograde ejaculation (RE) following first-time open anterior lumbar surgery.

METHODS A systematic MEDLINE review via PubMed was performed, identifying 130 clinical papers relating to the topic. Eighteen publications were selected according to predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria and were used to determine the incidence of RE. Only the publications that provided data on surgical risk factors present specifically in the men in the study were included in the analysis of risk factors.

RESULTS Of the 2503 men included, there were 57 reported events of RE (2.3%). Of the cases for which long-term data were provided, 45.8% had resolved by final follow-up. There was a statistically significant increased risk associated with a transperitoneal as opposed to a retroperitoneal approach (8.6% vs 3.2%), as well as with the use of recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein–2 (rhBMP-2) in anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) as opposed to ALIF with bone graft or arthroplasty in controls (5.0% vs 1.8%). However, when excluding from analysis the patients operated on prior to the FDA’s 2008 warning that commented on the drug’s neuroinflammatory properties, there was no significant difference in rates of RE in patients receiving rhBMP-2 versus the control group (2.4% vs 2.5%). There was no significant difference in risk based on single- versus multilevel procedure or on ALIF versus arthroplasty.

CONCLUSIONS In a pooled analysis of currently published data on men undergoing first-time open anterior lumbar surgery, this study found an overall incidence of RE of 2.3%. Nearly half of these patients recovered, reporting resolution of symptoms anywhere between 3 months and 48 months. Analysis of risk factors was limited by a paucity of published literature segregating data by sex. However, there was an increased risk associated with rhBMP-2 only when including data collected prior to the FDA warning on its detrimental properties. The authors therefore posit that the risk of RE is probably overestimated in the literature, given that the vast majority of the data available were collected prior to this warning and given the subsequent implementation of precautions when handling rhBMP-2.