From the Editor

In this month’s issue we look at skull base surgery, which is used to treat conditions ranging from brain aneurysm to pituitary tumors to chordomas (slow-growing bone tumors) and growths resulting from infections.

The topic prompted me to muse about the ubiquity of skull imagery in popular culture today. For centuries skulls were used to denote lethal threat and death, but now they’re on everything from baby clothes to shower curtains. What’s up with that? Of course, someone has written a scholarly article on the topic, with many illustrations. If you’re in the mood for a little non-surgical reading this weekend, check it out.

Getting back to surgery, and equally fascinating, is an article in Science News about 13 skulls found in southwestern Russia. A recent study  shows that “Between around 6,000 and 4,000 years ago, skilled surgeons . . . cut holes the size of silver dollars, or larger, out of the backs of people’s skulls” for ritual purposes. And the evidence shows that people went on to live for years after the surgery. Read more…

Our Student in the Spotlight this month is Stacey Salow, RN,BSN,CNOR, of Nashville, TN.

Read on for news, videos, a brand new-crossword puzzle, jobs we’ve created for you, and links to some of NIFA’s favorite RNFA resources.

Happy reading.


Julie Lancaster, Editor



New Method to Restore Skull After Brain Surgery

Johns Hopkins surgeons announced they have devised a better, safer method to replace bone removed from the skull after brain surgery. The technique appears to result in fewer complications than standard restoration.  Read more…

Skull Surgery Offers Perils and Potential

Skull removal to address cerebral swelling for traumatic brain injury and severe stroke can be a difficult decision for surgeons to make, as explored in this New York Times article: Read more…


Pterional Craniotomy: Details of Technique

Surgeons Troy Payner and Aaron Cohen-Gadol discuss pterional craniotomy, including the benefits of the skull base approach.Throughout the procedure each surgeon offers his experience, techniques, and opinions for a successful surgery.  Watch now…

Note: This is just one of several videos in a series called “The Neurosurgical Atlas” by Aaron Cohen-Gadol, M.D., a professor of neurosurgery at Indiana University School of Medicine. Click here to see the entire series.

 Perioperative Puzzle: Skull Base Surgery

Lungs_CrosswordTest your knowledge of skull base anatomy and surgeries with this month’s crossword puzzle.

When you’re ready to check your answers, follow this link to see how well you did. Good luck!


Tap into the most recent developments in otolaryngology with the Journal of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery app. The Journal of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery is a peer-reviewed open-access journal published by BioMed Central.

Student Spotlight: Sheryl Hyman

Stacey_SalowName:  Stacey Salow

Credentials:  OR Circulating Nurse at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Where did you get your RN degree?
Belmont University, Nashville, TN

Why did you choose perioperative nursing? I have always been interested in surgery; I find it very fascinating. When I was in nursing school I had the opportunity to observe a quadruple bypass surgery during one of my clinic’s rotations and I loved it. I knew then that I wanted a career in the perioperative setting.

What is the scariest moment you’ve ever seen at the table? In my practice I deal with a lot of high-risk patients in surgical oncology. It is always scariest for me when we have patients who are hemorrhaging or coding on the table, but it’s in these moments that I see the most efficient teamwork from everyone in order to save the patient.

What is one technique or RNFA trick you’ve learned from NIFA that you will use for life? One trick I learned at my workshop that I have been using repeatedly in my clinicals relates to sewing subcuticular stitches. The instructor taught me that if my incision started rippling it’s usually because of an error in depth of traveling too far with the suture. So now, I really take time to make sure that my stitches are even and it has helped prevent that from happening. It’s really helpful to focus on the details to make your practice better.

How do you feel having your RNFA will impact your life/career?
This next step in my career is just what I have been looking for. Overall it will make me more involved in the entire process of my patients’ care. It will help me expand my knowledge of my patients’ disease process and surgical treatment and expand my skill set. I am really looking forward to the many opportunities this will open for me in the future!


Click here for the RNFA job postings we’ve collected for you this month.

NIFA – Office Hours

Monday-Friday 8:00am – 4:00pm