Medical Management of Neurosurgical Patients

Medical Management of Neurosurgical Patients

by Rene Daniel and Catriona M Harrop

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Emerging as a new sub-specialization within the hospitalist community, the neurosurgery hospitalist provides preoperative risk stratification, advises on managing pre- and postoperative complications, and helps doctors make decisions about when to involve specialists other than neurosurgeons. This collaborative approach to the neurosurgery patient has been shown to offer effective care since hospitalists can be better attuned than specialists to multiple medical problems that most patients have.

Medical Management of Neurosurgical Patients is a first of its kind textbook providing a standardized source of information for neurosurgery hospitalists in order to establish a common ground and improve their knowledge and training. The work will focus on the management of CNS infections, management of bleeding in the context of CNS surgery (a potentially catastrophic complication), management of sodium and blood glucose levels including steroid-induced hyperglycemia, perioperative pain control, and management of pressure injuries and rehabilitation in the context of CNS injury.

Medical student

Medical student

For students beginning their medical education, the neuroscience curriculum is frequently seen as the most difficult, and many express an aversion to the topic. A major reason for this aversion amongst learners is the perceived complexity of neuroanatomy 1).

Osler created the first residency program for specialty training of physicians, and he was the first to bring medical students out of the lecture hall for bedside clinical training. Historically, medical student education in neurological surgery has generally limited student involvement to assisting in research projects with minimal formal clinical exposure before starting sub-internships and application for the neurosurgery match. Consequently, students have generally had little opportunity to acquire exposure to clinical neurosurgery and attain minimal proficiency 2).

Neurosurgery seeks to attract the best and brightest medical students; however, there is often a lack of early exposure to the field, among other possible barriers.

United States

Lubelski et al. sought to identify successful practices that can be implemented to improve medical student recruitment to neurosurgery.

United States neurosurgery residency program directors were surveyed to determine the number of medical student rotators and medical students matching into a neurosurgery residency from their programs between 2010 and 2016. Program directors were asked about the ways their respective institutions integrated medical students into departmental clinical and research activities.

Complete responses were received from 30/110 institutions. Fifty-two percent of the institutions had neurosurgery didactic lectures for 1st- and 2nd-year medical students (MS1/2), and 87% had didactics for MS3/4. Seventy-seven percent of departments had a neurosurgery interest group, which was the most common method used to integrate medical students into the department. Other forms of outreach included formal mentorshipprograms (53%), lecture series (57%), and neurosurgery anatomy labs (40%). Seventy-three percent of programs provided research opportunities to medical students, and 57% indicated that the schools had a formal research requirement. On average, 3 medical students did a rotation in each neurosurgery department and 1 matched into neurosurgery each year. However, there was substantial variability among programs. Over the 2010-2016 period, the responding institutions matched as many as 4% of the graduating class into neurosurgery per year, whereas others matched 0%-1%. Departments that matched a greater (≥ 1% per year) number of medical students into neurosurgery were significantly more likely to have a neurosurgery interest group and formal research requirements. A greater percentage of high-matching programs had neurosurgery mentorship programs, lecture series, and cadaver training opportunities compared to the other institutions.

In recent decades, the number of applicants to neurosurgery has decreased. A major deterrent may be the delayed exposure of medical students to neurosurgery. Institutions with early preclinical exposure, active neurosurgery interest groups, research opportunities, and strong mentorship recruit and match more students into neurosurgery. Implementing such initiatives on a national level may increase the number of highly qualified medical students pursuing neurosurgery 3).


A medical student training camp was created to improve the preparation of medical students for the involvement in neurological surgery activities and sub-internships.

A 1-day course was held at Weill Cornell Medicine, which consisted of a series of morning lectures, an interactive resident lunch panel, and afternoon hands-on laboratory sessions. Students completed self-assessment questionnaires regarding their confidence in several areas of clinical neurosurgery before the start of the course and again at its end.

A significant increase in self-assessed confidence was observed in all skill areas surveyed. Overall, rising fourth year students who were starting sub-internships in the subsequent weeks reported a substantial increase in their preparedness for the elective rotations in neurosurgery.

The preparation of medical students for clinical neurosurgery can be improved. Single-day courses such as the described training camp are an effective method for improving knowledge and skill gaps in medical students entering neurosurgical careers. Initiatives should be developed, in addition to this annual program, to increase the clinical and research skills throughout medical student education 4).

Canada

Medical students in Canada must make career choices by their final year of medical school. Selection of students for a career in neurosurgery has traditionally been based on marks, reference letters and personal interviews. Studies have shown that marks alone are not accurate predictors of success in medical practice; personal skills and attributes which can best be assessed by reference letters and interviews may be more important. A study was an attempt to assess the importance of, and ability to teach, personal skills and attitudes necessary for successful completion of a neurosurgical training program.

questionnaire was sent to 185 active members of the Canadian Neurosurgical Society, asking them to give a numerical rating of the importance of 22 personal skills and attributes, and their ability to teach those skills and attributes. They were asked to list any additional skills or attributes considered important, and rate their ability to teach them.

Sixty-six (36%) questionnaires were returned. Honesty, motivation, willingness to learn, ability to problem solve, and ability to handle stress were the five most important characteristics identified. Neurosurgeons thought they could teach problem solving, willingness to consult informed sources, critical thinking, manual dexterity, and communication skills, but honesty, motivation, willingness to learn and ability to handle stress were difficult or impossible to teach.

Honestymotivationwillingness to learnproblem solving and Stress management are important for success in a neurosurgical career. This information should be transmitted to medical students at “Career Day” venues. Structuring letters of reference and interviews to assess personal skills and attributes will be important, as those that can’t be taught should be present before the start of training 5).

References

1)

Larkin MB, Graves E, Rees R, Mears D. A Multimedia Dissection Module for Scalp, Meninges, and Dural Partitions. MedEdPORTAL. 2018 Mar 22;14:10695. doi: 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10695. PubMed PMID: 30800895; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6342347.
2) , 4)

Radwanski RE, Winston G, Younus I, ElJalby M, Yuan M, Oh Y, Gucer SB, Hoffman CE, Stieg PE, Greenfield JP, Pannullo SC. Neurosurgery Training Camp for Sub-Internship Preparation: Lessons From the Inaugural Course. World Neurosurg. 2019 Apr 1. pii: S1878-8750(19)30926-X. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2019.03.246. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 30947014.
3)

Lubelski D, Xiao R, Mukherjee D, Ashley WW, Witham T, Brem H, Huang J, Wolfe SQ. Improving medical student recruitment to neurosurgery. J Neurosurg. 2019 Aug 9:1-7. doi: 10.3171/2019.5.JNS1987. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 31398709.
5)

Myles ST, McAleer S. Selection of neurosurgical trainees. Can J Neurol Sci. 2003 Feb;30(1):26-30. PubMed PMID: 12619780.

Acromegaly medical treatment

Acromegaly medical treatment

Medical treatment

Indications

Patients not cured by surgery.

Who cannot tolerate surgery.

Recurrence after surgery or radiotherapy.

More satisfactory surgical outcomes for noninvasive macroadenomas treated with presurgical SA may be achieved, although controversy of such adjuvant therapy exists. Combination of SA and pegvisomant or cabergoline shows advantages in some specific cases. Thus, an individual treatment program should be established for each patient under a full evaluation of the risks and benefits 1).


First-generation somatostatin receptor ligands (SRL) are the mainstay of acromegaly treatment, however the percentage of patients controlled with these drugs significantly varies in the different studies. Many factors are involved in the resistance to SRL.

In a review, Gadelha et al., updated the physiology of somatostatin and its receptors (sst), the use of SRL in the treatment of acromegaly and the factors involved in the response to these drugs. The SRL act through interaction with the sst, which up to now have been characterized as five subtypes. The first-generation SRL, octreotide and lanreotide, are considered sst2 specific and have biochemical response rates varying from 20 to 70%. Tumor volume reduction can be found in 36-75% of patients. Several factors may determine the response to these drugs, such as sst, aryl hydrocarbon receptor interacting protein (AIP), E-cadherinZAC1filamin A and β-arrestin expression in the somatotropinomas. In patients resistant to first-generation SRL, alternative medical treatment options include: SRL high dose regimens, SRL in combination with cabergoline or pegvisomant, or the use of pasireotide. Pasireotide is a next-generation SRL with a broader pattern of interaction with sst. In the light of the recent increase of treatment options in acromegaly and the deeper knowledge of the determinants of response to the current first-line therapy, a shift from a trial-and-error treatment to a personalized one could be possible 2).


The cost of treatment including medications and the possibility of major side effects represent important limitations of the medical therapy 3) 4).

The most widely used criteria for neurosurgical outcome assessment were combined measurements of IGF-1 and GH levels after oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) 3 months after surgery. Ninety-eight percent of respondents stated that primary treatment with somatostatin receptor ligands (SRLs) was indicated at least sometime during the management of acromegaly patients. In nearly all centers (96%), the use of pegvisomant monotherapy was restricted to patients who had failed to achieve biochemical control with SRL therapy. The observation that most centers followed consensus statement recommendations encourages the future utility of these workshops aimed to create uniform management standards for acromegaly 5)

Current pharmacotherapy includes somatostatin analogs (SAs) and GH receptor antagonist; the former consists of lanreotide Autogel (ATG) and octreotide long-acting release (LAR), and the latter refers to pegvisomant. As primary medical therapy, lanreotide ATG and octreotide LAR can be supplied in a long-lasting formulation to achieve biochemical control of GH and IGF-1 by subcutaneous injection every 4-6 weeks. Lanreotide ATG and octreotide LAR provide an effective medical treatment, whether as a primary or secondary therapy, for the treatment of GH-secreting pituitary adenoma; however, to maximize benefits with the least cost, several points should be emphasized before the application of SAs. A comprehensive assessment, especially of the observation of clinical predictors and preselection of SA treatment, should be completed in advance. A treatment process lasting at least 3 months should be implemented to achieve a long-term stable blood concentration. More satisfactory surgical outcomes for noninvasive macroadenomas treated with presurgical SA may be achieved, although controversy of such adjuvant therapy exists. Combination of SA and pegvisomant or cabergoline shows advantages in some specific cases. Thus, an individual treatment program should be established for each patient under a full evaluation of the risks and benefits 6).

Somatostatin treatment can induce extensive fibrosis in GH secreting pituitary adenoma 7).

References

1)

Wang JW, Li Y, Mao ZG, Hu B, Jiang XB, Song BB, Wang X, Zhu YH, Wang HJ. Clinical applications of somatostatin analogs for growth hormone-secreting pituitary adenomas. Patient Prefer Adherence. 2014 Jan 6;8:43-51. eCollection 2014. Review. PubMed PMID: 24421637; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3888346.
2)

Gadelha MR, Wildemberg LE, Bronstein MD, Gatto F, Ferone D. Somatostatin receptor ligands in the treatment of acromegaly. Pituitary. 2017 Feb;20(1):100-108. doi: 10.1007/s11102-017-0791-0. Review. PubMed PMID: 28176162.
3)

Chanson P, Salenave S, Kamenicky P, Cazabat L, Young J. Pituitary tumours: Acromegaly. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009;23:555–74.
4)

Gondim JA, Ferraz T, Mota I, Studart D, Almeida JP, Gomes E, et al. Outcome of surgical intrasellar growth hormone tumor performed by a pituitary specialist surgeon in a developing country. Surg Neurol. 2009;72:15–9.
5)

Giustina A, Bronstein MD, Casanueva FF, Chanson P, Ghigo E, Ho KK, Klibanski A, Lamberts S, Trainer P, Melmed S. Current management practices for acromegaly: an international survey. Pituitary. 2011 Jun;14(2):125-33. doi: 10.1007/s11102-010-0269-9. PubMed PMID: 21063787.
6)

Wang JW, Li Y, Mao ZG, Hu B, Jiang XB, Song BB, Wang X, Zhu YH, Wang HJ. Clinical applications of somatostatin analogs for growth hormone-secreting pituitary adenomas. Patient Prefer Adherence. 2014 Jan 6;8:43-51. Review. PubMed PMID: 24421637.
7)

Kerschbaumer J, Pinggera D, Moser P, Hofmann A, Thomé C, Freyschlag CF. Somatostatin treatment can induce extensive fibrosis in growth hormone-producing adenoma. Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2016 Mar;158(3):441-3. doi: 10.1007/s00701-016-2714-7. Epub 2016 Jan 23. PubMed PMID: 26801514.
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