Modification to the Hartel Route Radiofrequency Technique for the Treatment of Trigeminal Neuralgia: A Technical Note

World Neurosurg. (2023) 178:14-19

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate a modification to the classical Hartel technique for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia.

METHODS: Intraoperative radiographs of 30 patients with trigeminal neuralgia treated with radiofrequency were retrospectively reviewed. The distance between the needle and the anterior edge of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) was measured on strict lateral skull radiographs. Surgical time was reviewed, and clinical outcomes were evaluated.

RESULTS: All patients showed clinical improvement in pain (Visual Analog Scale). In all radiographs, the measurement between the needle and the anterior edge of the TMJ ranged from 10 mm to 22 mm. None of the measurements were below 10 mm or above 22 mm. In most cases, this distance was 18 mm (9 patients), followed by 16 mm in 5 patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Considering the inclusion of the oval foramen in a Cartesian coordinate system with axes X, Y, and Z is useful. Directing the needle to a point located 1 cm from the anterior edge of the TMJ, avoiding the medial aspect of the upper jaw ridge, allows for a safer and faster procedure.

Technical Assessment of Microvascular Decompression for Trigeminal Neuralgia Using a 3-Dimensional Exoscope

Operative Neurosurgery 23:374–381, 2022

Detailed anatomic visualization of the root entry zone of the trigeminal nerve is crucial to successfully perform microvascular decompression surgery (MVD) in patients with trigeminal neuralgia.

OBJECTIVE: To determine advantages and disadvantages using a 3-dimensional (3D) exoscope for MVD surgery.

METHODS: A 4K 3D exoscope (ORBEYE) was used by a single surgical team for MVD in a retrospective case series of 8 patients with trigeminal neuralgia in a tertiary center. Clinical and surgical data were collected, and advantages/disadvantages of using the exoscope for MVD were recorded after each surgery. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the data.

RESULTS: Adequate MVD of the trigeminal nerve root was possible in all patients by exclusively using the exoscope. It offered bright visualization of the cerebellopontine angle and the root entry zone of the trigeminal nerve that was comparable with a binocular operating microscope. The greatest advantages of the exoscope included good optical quality, the pronounced depth of field of the image for all observers, and its superior surgeon ergonomics. Disadvantages were revealed with overexposure at deep surgical sites and the lack of endoscope integration. In 6 patients, facial pain improved significantly after surgery (Barrow Neurological Institute pain intensity score I in 5 and III in 1 patient), whereas it did not in 2 patients (Barrow Neurological Institute score IV and V). No complications occurred.

CONCLUSION: Utilization of a 3D exoscope for MVD is a safe and feasible procedure. Surgeons benefit from better ergonomics, excellent image quality, and an improved experience for observers.

Preoperative planning of hemangioblastoma using 3D imaging


J Neurosurg 127:139–147, 2017

Successful resection of hemangioblastoma depends on preoperative assessment of the precise locations of feeding arteries and draining veins. Simultaneous 3D visualization of feeding arteries, draining veins, and surrounding structures is needed.

The present study evaluated the usefulness of high-resolution 3D multifusion medical imaging (hr-3DMMI) for preoperative planning of hemangioblastoma. The hr-3DMMI combined MRI, MR angiography, thin-slice CT, and 3D rotated angiography. Surface rendering was mainly used for the creation of hr-3DMMI using multiple thresholds to create 3D models, and processing took approximately 3–5 hours. This hr-3DMMI technique was used in 5 patients for preoperative planning and the imaging findings were compared with the operative findings. Hr-3DMMI could simulate the whole 3D tumor as a unique sphere and show the precise penetration points of both feeding arteries and draining veins with the same spatial relationships as the original tumor.

All feeding arteries and draining veins were found intraoperatively at the same position as estimated preoperatively, and were occluded as planned preoperatively. This hr-3DMMI technique could demonstrate the precise locations of feeding arteries and draining veins preoperatively and estimate the appropriate route for resection of the tumor. Hr-3DMMI is expected to be a very useful support tool for surgery of hemangioblastoma.

Current practice of external ventricular drainage: a survey among neurosurgical departments in Germany


Acta Neurochir (2016) 158:847–853

There are various recommendations, but no generally accepted guidelines, to reduce the risk of external ventricular drainage (EVD)-associated infections. The primary objective of the present study was to evaluate the current practice of EVD in a European country and to set the results in perspective to published data.

Method A standardised questionnaire prepared by the Commission of Technical Standards and Norms of the German Society of Neurosurgery was sent to 127 neurosurgical units in Germany.

Results Data were analysed from 99 out of 127 neurosurgical units which had been contacted. Overall, more than 10,000 EVD procedures appear to be performed in Germany annually. There is disagreement about the location where the EVD is inserted, and most EVDs are still inserted in the operation theatre. Most units apply subcutaneous tunnelling. Impregnated EVD catheters are used regularly in only about 20 % of units. Single-shot antibiotic prophylaxis is given in more than half of the units, while continued antibiotic prophylaxis is installed in only 15/99 units at a regular basis. There are discrepancies in the management of prolonged EVD use with regard to replacement policies. Regular cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) sampling is still performed widely. There were no statistical differences in policies with regard to academic versus non-academic units.

Conclusions This survey clearly shows that some newer recommendations drawn from published studies penetrate much slower into clinical routine, such as the use of impregnated catheters, for example. It remains unclear how different policies actually impact quality and outcome in daily routine.

Qualitative analysis of spinal intramedullary lesions using PET/CT

Qualitative analysis of spinal intramedullary lesions using PET-CT.1

J Neurosurg Spine 23:613–619, 2015

Although the usefulness of PET for brain lesions has been established, few reports have examined the use of PET for spinal intramedullary lesions. This study investigated the diagnostic utility of PET/CT for spinal intramedullary lesions.

Methods l-[methyl-11C]-methionine (MET)– or [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)–PET/CT was performed in 26 patients with spinal intramedullary lesions. The region of interest (ROI) within the spinal cord parenchyma was placed manually in the axial plane. Maximum pixel counts in the ROIs were normalized to the maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax) using subject body weight. For FDG-PET the SUVmax was corrected for lean body mass (SULmax) to exclude any influence of the patient’s body shape. Each SUV was analyzed based on histopathological results after surgery. The diagnostic validity of the SUV was further compared with the tumor proliferation index using the MIB-1 monoclonal antibody (MIB-1 index).

Results A total of 16 patients underwent both FDG-PET and MET-PET, and the remaining 10 patients underwent either FDG-PET or MET-PET. Pathological diagnoses included high-grade malignancy such as glioblastoma multiforme, anaplastic astrocytoma, or anaplastic ependymoma in 5 patients; low-grade malignancy such as hemangioblastoma, diffuse astrocytoma, or ependymoma in 12 patients; and nonneoplastic lesion including cavernous malformation in 9 patients. Both FDG and MET accumulated significantly in high-grade malignancy, and the SULmax and SUVmax correlated with the tumor proliferation index. Therapeutic response after chemotherapy or radiation in high-grade malignancy was well monitored. However, a significant difference in SULmax and SUVmax for FDG-PET and MET-PET was not evident between low-grade malignancy and nonneoplastic lesions.

Conclusions Spinal PET/CT using FDG or MET for spinal intramedullary lesions appears useful and practical, particularly for tumors with high-grade malignancy. Differentiation of tumors with low-grade malignancy from nonneoplastic lesions may still prove difficult. Further technological refinement, including the selection of radiotracer or analysis evaluation methods, is needed.

Convection-enhanced delivery to the central nervous system

Convection-enhanced delivery to the central nervous system

J Neurosurg 122:697–706, 2015

Convection-enhanced delivery (CED) is a bulk flow–driven process. Its properties permit direct, homogeneous, targeted perfusion of CNS regions with putative therapeutics while bypassing the blood-brain barrier. Development of surrogate imaging tracers that are co-infused during drug delivery now permit accurate, noninvasive real-time tracking of convective infusate flow in nervous system tissues.

The potential advantages of CED in the CNS over other currently available drug delivery techniques, including systemic delivery, intrathecal and/or intraventricular distribution, and polymer implantation, have led to its application in research studies and clinical trials.

The authors review the biophysical principles of convective flow and the technology, properties, and clinical applications of convective delivery in the CNS.

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

Volumetric brain analysis in neurosurgery- Part 3

J Neurosurg Pediatr 15:133–143, 2015

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

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

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

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

Novel augmented reality–assisted percutaneous vertebroplasty

A novel 3D guidance system using augmented reality for percutaneous vertebroplasty

J Neurosurg Spine 19:492–501, 2013

Augmented reality (AR) is an imaging technology by which virtual objects are overlaid onto images of real objects captured in real time by a tracking camera. This study aimed to introduce a novel AR guidance system called virtual protractor with augmented reality (VIPAR) to visualize a needle trajectory in 3D space during percutaneous vertebroplasty (PVP). The AR system used for this study comprised a head-mount display (HMD) with a tracking camera and a marker sheet. An augmented scene was created by overlaying the preoperatively generated needle trajectory path onto a marker detected on the patient using AR software, thereby providing the surgeon with augmented views in real time through the HMD. The accuracy of the system was evaluated by using a computer-generated simulation model in a spine phantom and also evaluated clinically in 5 patients.

In the 40 spine phantom trials, the error of the insertion angle (EIA), defined as the difference between the attempted angle and the insertion angle, was evaluated using 3D CT scanning. Computed tomography analysis of the 40 spine phantom trials showed that the EIA in the axial plane significantly improved when VIPAR was used compared with when it was not used (0.96° ± 0.61° vs 4.34° ± 2.36°, respectively). The same held true for EIA in the sagittal plane (0.61° ± 0.70° vs 2.55° ± 1.93°, respectively). In the clinical evaluation of the AR system, 5 patients with osteoporotic vertebral fractures underwent VIPARguided PVP from October 2011 to May 2012. The postoperative EIA was evaluated using CT.

The clinical results of the 5 patients showed that the EIA in all 10 needle insertions was 2.09° ± 1.3° in the axial plane and 1.98° ± 1.8° in the sagittal plane. There was no pedicle breach or leakage of polymethylmethacrylate.

VIPAR was successfully used to assist in needle insertion during PVP by providing the surgeon with an ideal insertion point and needle trajectory through the HMD. The findings indicate that AR guidance technology can become a useful assistive device during spine surgeries requiring percutaneous procedures.

Microsurgical management of glomus spinal arteriovenous malformations: pial resection technique

J Neurosurg Spine 16:523–531, 2012 .DOI: 10.3171/2012.3.SPINE11982

Intramedullary, or glomus, spinal arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are rare vascular lesions amenable to resection with or without adjuvant embolization. The authors retrospectively reviewed the senior author’s (R.F.S.’s) surgical series of intramedullary spinal AVMs to evaluate clinical and radiographic outcomes.

Detailed chart and radiographic reviews were performed for all patients with intramedullary spinal AVMs who underwent surgical treatment between 1994 and 2011. Presenting and follow-up neurological examination results were obtained and graded using the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) and McCormick Scale. Surgical technique, outcomes, complications, and long-term angiographic studies were reviewed.

During the study period, 20 patients (10 males and 10 females) underwent resection of glomus spinal AVMs. The mean age at presentation was 30 ± 17 years (range 7–62 years). The location of the AVMs was as follows: cervical spine (n = 10), thoracic spine (n = 9), and cervicothoracic junction (n = 1). The most common presenting signs and symptoms included paresis or paralysis (65%), paresthesias (40%), and myelopathy (40%). Perioperative embolization was performed in the majority (60%) of patients. Pial AVM resection was performed in 17 cases (85%). Angiographically verified AVM obliteration was achieved in 15 patients (75%). At a mean follow-up duration of 45.4 ± 52.4 months (range 2–176 months), 14 patients (70%) remained functionally independent (mRS and McCormick Scale scores ≤ 2). One perioperative complication occurred, yielding a surgical morbidity rate of 5%. Three symptomatic spinal cord tetherings occurred at a mean of 5.7 years after AVM resection. No neurological decline was observed after endovascular and surgical interventions. No deaths occurred. Long-term angiographic follow-up data were available for 9 patients (40%) at a mean of 67.6 ± 60.3 months (range 5–176 months) following AVM resection. Durable AVM obliteration was documented in 5 (83%) of 6 patients.

Intramedullary AVMs may be safely resected with satisfactory clinical and angiographic results. The pial resection technique, which provides subtotal AVM nidus resection, effectively devascularized these lesions, as confirmed on postoperative angiography, without violating the spinal cord parenchyma, thereby potentially reducing iatrogenic injury.

The use of 3D computer graphics in the diagnosis and treatment of spinal vascular malformations

J Neurosurg Spine 15:654–659, 2011. DOI: 10.3171/2011.8.SPINE11155

Digital subtraction (DS) angiography is the gold standard for diagnosing spinal vascular malformations. Recently, multidetector-row spiral CT and contrast-enhanced MR angiography have been introduced as screening examinations before DS angiography. These methods, however, do not always determine the accurate location of an arteriovenous shunt because the resulting images lack information about the spinal cord or the dura mater.

Methods. Between April 2009 and December 2010, 13 patients underwent imaging evaluations for spinal vascular malformations at the authors’ university hospital. This group included 8 patients with spinal dural arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs), 3 with perimedullary AVFs, and 2 with intramedullary arteriovenous malformations. Using data from these patients, the authors attempted to develop 3D computer graphics (CG) based upon the fusion of 3D rotational angiography and postmyelographic CT. They subsequently verified the accuracy of this imaging method. Ten of these 13 patients underwent surgical treatment for their lesions (11 AVFs), and for these 11 lesions the authors compared the diagnoses obtained using 3D CG with those obtained using conventional DS angiography.

Results. In all 13 cases, 3D CG images of the spinal lesions were successfully developed using the patients’ actual data. Four (36%) of 11 AVFs were correctly identified using DS angiography, whereas 10 (91%) were correctly identified using 3D CG. Results from 3D CG of spinal AVFs corresponded well with operative findings, and 3D CG was significantly better than conventional DS angiography at predicting AVF location (p = 0.024, Fisher exact test).

Conclusions. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first reported case series in which 3D CG of spinal vascular malformations was used to provide simultaneous, stereoscopic visualization of the spinal vascular system, spinal cord, dura mater, and bone. The 3D CG method provides precise visual images for the diagnosis and treatment of these lesions.