Journal of Neurosurgery, Aug 2009, Vol. 111, No. 2, Pages 387-392
Assessing academic productivity through simple quantification may overlook key information, and the use of statistical enumeration of academic output is growing. The h index, which incorporates both the total number of publications and the citations of those publications, has been recently proposed as an objective measure of academic productivity. The authors used several tools to calculate the h index for academic neurosurgeons to provide a basis for evaluating publishing by physicians.
The h index of randomly selected academic neurosurgeons from a sample of one-third of the academic programs in the US was calculated using data from Google Scholar and from the Scopus database. The mean h index for each academic rank was determined. The h indices were also correlated with various other factors (such as time spent practicing neurosurgery, authorship position) to identify how these factors influenced the h index. The h indices were then compared with other citation statistics to evaluate the robustness of this metric. Finally, h indices were also calculated for a sampling of physicians in other medical specialties for comparison.
As expected, the h index increased with academic rank and there was a statistically significant difference between each rank. A weighting based on position of authorship did not affect h indices. The h index was positively correlated with time since American Board of Neurological Surgery certification, and it was also correlated with other citation metrics. A comparison among medical specialties supports the assertion that h index values may not be comparable between fields, even closely related specialties.
The h index appears to be a robust statistic for comparing academic output of neurosurgeons. Within the field of academic neurosurgery, clear differences of h indices between academic ranks exist. On average, an increase of the h index by 5 appears to correspond to the next highest academic rank, with the exception of chairperson. The h index can be used as a tool, along with other evaluations, to evaluate an individual’s productivity in the academic advancement process within the field of neurosurgery but should not be used for comparisons across medical specialties.
In elderly patients with brain tumors, the prevention of postoperative systemic complications is extremely important, and identification of the risk factors would be useful for planning therapy. The authors investigated ways to avoid postoperative complications by identifying risk factors.
The study population included 84 patients, 70 years of age or older, who underwent surgical brain tumor removal. The following independent factors were assessed by univariate and multivariate analyses: sex, age, preoperative underlying diseases and complications, histopathological findings, preoperative Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) score, preoperative whole blood hemoglobin (Hb) level, preoperative serum total protein (TP) level, operation time, intraoperative blood loss, change in Hb level (difference between pre- and postoperative values), and change in TP level (difference between pre- and postoperative values). The cutoff values for significant independent factors were also determined.
Overall, 35 (41.7%) of the 84 patients had a total of 56 postoperative systemic complications. Univariate analysis identified the preoperative KPS score, intraoperative blood loss, change in Hb level, and change in TP level as risk factors for postoperative complications, and multivariate analysis extracted the following risk factors: the preoperative KPS score (p = 0.0450, OR 4.020), intraoperative blood loss (p = 0.0104, OR 6.571), and change in Hb levels (p = 0.0023, OR 9.301). The cutoff values were: KPS score < 80%, intraoperative blood loss ≥ 350 ml, and change in Hb level ≥ 2.0 g/dl.
In elderly patients with brain tumors, low preoperative KPS score, high intraoperative blood loss, and a large difference between pre- and postoperative Hb levels are significant risk factors for postoperative systemic complications.
Child’s Nervous System
Purpose Middle fossa arachnoid cysts (MFAC) are a relatively common, benign pathology that pose a therapeutic challenge for both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. The optimal surgical strategy and indication to treat are still debated by neurosurgeons. We reviewed our experience and results in a group of patients treated with endoscopic fenestration with the aim to assess indications to treat and clinical and neuroradiological results.
Methods The data on 40 patients operated with endoscopic fenestration for MFAC in two centres, “Anna Meyer” Children’s Hospital, Florence, Italy, and Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital “Alder Hey”, Liverpool, UK, between 2001 and 2007 were retrospectively reviewed with prospective follow-up. We analysed clinical and neuroradiological presentation, indications to treat, surgical technique, complications, and clinical and neuroradiological follow-up.
Results There were 30 males and ten females: mean age, 7.8 years; mean follow-up, 21 months. The neuronavigation system was used in 12 patients in the English cohort. Thirty-seven patients (92.5%) had a satisfactory clinical outcome. The cyst was reduced in size or completely disappeared in 29 patients (72.5%). There was no death or significant morbidity associated with the procedure. Four patients required further surgical treatment. Four patients experienced a post-traumatic intracystic bleeding after surgery.
Conclusion Compared to microsurgical fenestration and cyst shunting, our experience with endoscopic fenestration was as effective and safe but less invasive. Each case must be assessed with its individual characteristics to define the optimal surgical strategy. Successful treatment may not reduce the risk of post-traumatic head injury haemorrhage.
Surgical Neurology. Volume 72, Issue 3, Pages 223-241 (September 2009)
Controversy still exists about neural basis underlying writing and its relation with the sites subserving oral language. Our objective is to study functional areas involved in writing network, based on the observations of different postoperative writing disorders in a population of patients without preoperative agraphia.
We analyzed the postoperative agraphia profiles in 15 patients who underwent surgery for cerebral LGGs in functional language areas, using electrical mapping under local anesthesia. These profiles were then correlated to the sites of the lesions, shown by preoperative cerebral imaging.
Our findings showed that (1) spoken language and writing functions could be dissociated, and that (2) writing is subserved, at least partially, by a network of 5 areas located in the dominant hemisphere for language: the superior parietal region, the supramarginalis gyrus, the second and third frontal convolutions, the supplementary motor area, and the insula. Each of these areas seems to have a different role in writing, which will be detailed in this article. However, among the patients, only those with lesions of the supplementary motor area did not recover from agraphia in the postoperative period (in 50% of cases).
On the basis of these results, and in the light of the recent literature, we discuss the relevance of each area in this anatomo-functional network as well as the clinical implications of such better knowledge of the neural basis of writing, especially for brain surgery and functional rehabilitation.
J Neurosurg 111:359–364, 2009
Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a disorder of the trigeminal nerve that results in intense episodic pain. Primary treatment with Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) is well established; however, a significant number of patients experience recurrence of TN over time. Repeat GKS can be performed, but the retreatment dose has not been well established. In this study, the authors present their institutional retreatment results and compare them with other series.
Between December 2003 and January 2006, 28 patients were treated at Tufts Medical Center with repeat GKS for recurrence of TN. All patients had been initially treated with GKS at this institution, and only those with significant pain improvement were offered retreatment. The maximum dose was prescribed using a single isocenter; the 4-mm collimator was used. The initial median GKS dose was 80 Gy, the median retreatment dose was 45 Gy, and the median cumulative dose was 125 Gy. The median time between GKS procedures was 18.1 months. Facial pain outcomes were defined using the Marseille scale. Excellent outcome was defined as no pain (with or without medications), and good outcome was defined as > 50% pain relief. Toxicity was categorized as none, mild, or bothersome. The median clinical follow-up after the second GKS was 19.7 months. Our clinical outcomes were compared with 8 previously reported retreatment series (including 1 abstract), both for rate of pain control and for rate of complications.
Outcomes after the second GKS were excellent in 29% (8 patients), good in 32% (9), and poor in 39% (11). Four patients (14%) experienced no improvement after repeat GKS. Eight patients (29%) experienced new trigeminal nerve dysfunction, including numbness (11%), paresthesia (14%), dysesthesia (4%), taste alteration (11%), and bite weakness (4%). None of these were bothersome. No patient developed corneal numbness. Univariate analysis failed to reveal any significant predictors of pain control or complications.
Seven published peer-reviewed retreatment series and the authors’ data (total 215 patients) were analyzed. There was a cumulative dose-response relationship for both pain control (p = 0.04) and new trigeminal dysfunction (p = 0.08). Successful pain control was strongly correlated with development of new dysfunction (p = 0.02). A cumulative dose > 130 Gy was more likely to result in successful (> 50%) pain control, but was also more likely (> 20%) to result in development of new dysfunction.
Successful retreatment of patients in whom the initial GKS treatment fails is feasible. Patients who respond initially may be at a higher risk of retreatment-related complications. There appears to be a dose-response relationship for both pain control and development of new side effects. It is important to counsel and treat patients individually based on this dose-response relationship.
Neuroradiology (2009) 51:563-566
Although Gasserian ganglion block is an established treatment for trigeminal neuralgia, the foramen ovale cannot always be clearly visualized by classical X-ray radiography. We present a new method for percutaneous radio-frequency thermocoagulation of the Gasserian ganglion, in which computed tomography (CT) fluoroscopy is used to guide needle placement.
In the present study, 15 patients with trigeminal neuralgia underwent percutaneous radio-frequency thermocoagulation of the Gasserian ganglion guided by high-speed real-time CT fluoroscopy.
Trigeminal neuralgia was improved in all patients after treatment without any severe complications. Moderate dysesthesia occurred in only one case.
CT fluoroscopy-guided percutaneous radio-frequency thermocoagulation of the Gasserian ganglion was safe, quick, and effective for patients with intractable idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia.