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Core outcomes in nerve surgery: development of a core outcome set for ulnar neuropathy at the elbow

Thomas J. Wilson, Gavin A. Davis, Nora F. Dengler, Fernando Guedes, Marie-Noëlle Hébert-Blouin, Megan M. Jack, Line G. Jacques, Thomas Kretschmer, Mark A. Mahan, Rajiv Midha, Willem Pondaag, Ross C. Puffer, Lukas Rasulic, Wilson Z. Ray, Elias Rizk, Carlos A. Rodriguez-Aceves, Yuval Shapira, Brandon W. Smith, Mariano Socolovsky, Robert J. Spinner, and Eric L. Zager

OBJECTIVE

Ulnar neuropathy at the elbow (UNE) is common, affecting 1%–6% of the population. Despite this, there remains a lack of consensus regarding optimal treatment. This is primarily due to the difficulty one encounters when trying to assess the literature. Outcomes are inconsistently reported, which makes comparing studies or developing meta-analyses difficult or even impossible. Thus, there is a need for a core outcome set (COS) for UNE (COS-UNE) to help address this problem. The objective of this study was to utilize a modified Delphi method to develop COS-UNE.

METHODS

A 5-stage approach was utilized to develop COS-UNE: stage 1, consortium development; 2, literature review to identify potential outcome measures; 3, Delphi survey to develop consensus on outcomes for inclusion; 4, Delphi survey to develop definitions; and 5, consensus meeting to finalize the COS and definitions. The study followed the Core Outcome Set-STAndards for Development (COS-STAD) recommendations.

RESULTS

The Core Outcomes in Nerve Surgery (COINS) Consortium comprised 21 participants, all neurological surgeons representing 11 countries. The final COS-UNE consisted of 22 data points/outcomes covering the domains of demographic characteristics, diagnostics, patient-reported outcomes, motor/sensory outcomes, and complications. Appropriate instruments, methods of testing, and definitions were set. The consensus minimum duration of follow-up was 6 months, with the consensus optimal timepoints for assessment identified as preoperatively and 3, 6, and 12 months postoperatively.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors identified consensus data points/outcomes and also provided definitions and specific scales to be utilized to help ensure that clinicians are consistent in their reporting across studies on UNE. This COS should serve as a minimum set of data to be collected in all future neurosurgical studies on UNE. The authors hope that clinicians evaluating ulnar neuropathy will incorporate this COS into routine practice and that future studies will consider this COS in the design phase.

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Characterizing peroneal nerve injury clinicoradiological patterns with MRI in patients with sciatic neuropathy and foot drop after total hip replacement

Kitty Y. Wu, Kimberly K. Amrami, Kirsten M. Hayford, and Robert J. Spinner

OBJECTIVE

Sciatic nerve injury following total hip arthroplasty (THA) predominantly affects the peroneal division of the sciatic nerve, often causing a foot drop. This can result from a focal etiology (hardware malposition, prominent screw, or postoperative hematoma) or nonfocal/traction injury. The objective of this study was to compare the clinicoradiological features and define the extent of nerve injury resulting from these two distinct mechanisms.

METHODS

Patients who developed a postoperative foot drop within 1 year after primary or revision THA with a confirmed proximal sciatic neuropathy based on MRI or electrodiagnostic studies were retrospectively reviewed. Patients were divided into two cohorts: group 1 (focal injury), including patients with an identifiable focal structural etiology, and group 2 (nonfocal injury), including patients with a presumed traction injury. Patient demographics, clinical examinations, subsequent surgeries, electrodiagnostic study results, and MRI abnormalities were noted. The Student t-test was used to compare time to onset of foot drop and time to secondary surgery.

RESULTS

Twenty-one patients, treated by one surgeon, met inclusion criteria (8 men and 13 women; 14 primary THAs and 7 revision THAs). Group 1 had a significantly longer time from THA to the onset of foot drop, with a mean of 2 months, compared with an immediate postoperative onset in group 2 (p = 0.02). Group 1 had a consistent pattern of localized focal nerve abnormality on imaging. In contrast, the majority of patients in group 2 (n = 11) had a long, continuous segment of abnormal size and signal intensity of the nerve, while the other 3 patients had a segment of less abnormal nerve in the midthigh on imaging. All patients with a long continuous lesion had Medical Research Council grade 0 dorsiflexion prior to secondary nerve surgeries compared with 1 of 3 patients with a more normal midsegment.

CONCLUSIONS

There are distinct clinicoradiological findings in patients with sciatic injuries resulting from a focal structural etiology versus a traction injury. While there are discrete localized changes in patients with a focal etiology, those with traction injuries demonstrate a diffuse zone of abnormality within the sciatic nerve. A proposed mechanism involves anatomical tether points of the nerve acting as points of origin and propagation for traction injuries, resulting in an immediate postoperative foot drop. In contrast, patients with a focal etiology have localized imaging findings but a highly variable time to the onset of foot drop.

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Neuromuscular choristoma and circumferential nerve territory desmoid-type fibromatosis: imaging findings supporting a nerve-driven mechanism

Andres A. Maldonado, Stephen M. Broski, Jodi M. Carter, Tomas Marek, B. Matthew Howe, and Robert J. Spinner

OBJECTIVE

Neuromuscular choristoma (NMC) is a rare developmental malformation of peripheral nerve that is frequently associated with the development of a desmoid-type fibromatosis (DTF). Both NMC and NMC-DTF typically contain pathogenic CTNNB1 mutations and NMC-DTF develop only within the NMC-affected nerve territory. The authors aimed to determine if there is a nerve-driven mechanism involved in the formation of NMC-DTF from the underlying NMC-affected nerve.

METHODS

Retrospective review was performed for patients evaluated in the authors’ institution with a diagnosis of NMC-DTF in the sciatic nerve (or lumbosacral plexus). MRI and FDG PET/CT studies were reviewed to determine the specific relationship and configuration of NMC and DTF lesions along the sciatic nerve.

RESULTS

Ten patients were identified with sciatic nerve NMC and NMC-DTF involving the lumbosacral plexus, sciatic nerve, or sciatic nerve branches. All primary NMC-DTF lesions were located in the sciatic nerve territory. Eight cases of NMC-DTF demonstrated circumferential encasement of the sciatic nerve, and one abutted the sciatic nerve. One patient had a primary DTF remote from the sciatic nerve, but subsequently developed multifocal DTF within the NMC nerve territory, including 2 satellite DTFs that circumferentially encased the parent nerve. Five patients had a total of 8 satellite DTFs, 4 of which abutted the parent nerve and 3 that circumferentially involved the parent nerve.

CONCLUSIONS

Based on clinical and radiological data, a novel mechanism of NMC-DTF development from soft tissues innervated by NMC-affected nerve segments is proposed, reflecting their shared molecular genetic alteration. The authors believe the DTF develops outward from the NMC in a radial fashion or it arises in the NMC and wraps around it as it grows. In either scenario, NMC-DTF develops directly from the nerve, likely arising from (myo)fibroblasts within the stromal microenvironment of the NMC and grows outward into the surrounding soft tissues. Clinical implications for patient diagnosis and treatment are presented based on the proposed pathogenetic mechanism.

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The spectrum of brachial plexopathy from perineural spread of breast cancer

Megan M. Jack, Brandon W. Smith, Stepan Capek, Tomas Marek, Jodi M. Carter, Stephen M. Broski, Kimberly K. Amrami, and Robert J. Spinner

OBJECTIVE

Perineural spread of breast cancer to the brachial plexus can lead to pain, sensory alterations, and upper-extremity weakness. Although rare, perineural spread is an often-misdiagnosed long-term complication following breast cancer diagnosis. The objective of this study was to critically review the clinical, radiological, and pathological findings of biopsy-proven perineural spread of breast cancer to the brachial plexus.

METHODS

This is a retrospective study from a single institution in which a total of 19 patients with brachial plexus involvement from perineural spread of breast cancer who underwent fascicular biopsy between 1999 and 2021 were identified. Clinical, radiographic, and pathological data were retrospectively collected. Descriptive statistics were calculated for the cohort.

RESULTS

The mean age of patients at the time of diagnosis of breast cancer perineural spread was 60.6 ± 11.5 years. The diagnosis of brachial plexopathy due to perineural spread was on average 12 years after the primary diagnosis of breast cancer. There was also a delay in diagnosis due to the rarity of this disease, with a mean time from initial symptom onset to diagnosis of perineural spread of 25 ± 30 months. All patients at the time of presentation had upper-extremity weakness and pain. Nearly all patients demonstrated T2 signal change and nodular so-called sugar-coating contrast enhancement on brachial plexus MRI. Similarly, all patients who underwent PET/MRI or PET/CT had increased FDG uptake in the involved brachial plexus. Breast cancer perineural spread has an overall poor prognosis, with 16 of 19 patients dying within 5.9 ± 3.0 years after diagnosis of perineural spread.

CONCLUSIONS

Perineural spread should be considered in patients with a history of breast cancer, even 10 years after primary diagnosis, especially in patients who present with arm pain, weakness, and/or sensory changes. Further diagnostic workup with electrodiagnostic studies; brachial plexus MRI, PET/CT, or PET/MRI; and possibly nerve biopsy is warranted to ensure accurate diagnosis.

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Analysis of the effect of intraoperative neuromonitoring during resection of benign nerve sheath tumors on gross-total resection and neurological complications

Thomas J. Wilson, Forrest Hamrick, Saud Alzahrani, Christopher F. Dibble, Sravanthi Koduri, Courtney Pendleton, Sara Saleh, Zarina S. Ali, Mark A. Mahan, Rajiv Midha, Wilson Z. Ray, Lynda J. S. Yang, Eric L. Zager, and Robert J. Spinner

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study was to examine the role of intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM) during resection of benign peripheral nerve sheath tumors in achieving gross-total resection (GTR) and in reducing postoperative neurological complications.

METHODS

Data from consecutive adult patients who underwent resection of a benign peripheral nerve sheath tumor at 7 participating institutions were combined. Propensity score matching was used to balance covariates. The primary outcomes of interest were the association between IONM and GTR and the association of IONM and the development of a permanent postoperative neurological complication. The secondary outcomes of interest were the association between IONM and GTR and the association between IONM and the development of a permanent postoperative neurological complication in the subgroup of patients with tumors involving a motor or mixed nerve. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression were then performed on the propensity score–matched samples to assess the ability of the independent variables to predict the outcomes of interest.

RESULTS

A total of 337 patients who underwent resection of benign nerve sheath tumors were included. In multivariate analysis, the use of IONM (OR 0.460, 95% CI 0.199–0.978; p = 0.047) was a significant negative predictor of GTR, whereas none of the variables, including IONM, were associated with the occurrence of a permanent postoperative neurological complication. Within the subgroup of motor/mixed nerve tumors, in the multivariate analysis, IONM (OR 0.263, 95% CI 0.096–0.723; p = 0.010) was a significant negative predictor of a GTR, whereas IONM (OR 3.800, 95% CI 1.925–7.502; p < 0.001) was a significant positive predictor of a permanent postoperative motor deficit.

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, 12% of the cohort had a permanent neurological complication, with new or worsened paresthesias most common, followed by pain and then weakness. The authors found that formal IONM was associated with a reduced likelihood of GTR and had no association with neurological complications. The authors believe that these data argue against IONM being considered standard of care but do not believe that these data should be used to universally argue against IONM during resection of benign nerve sheath tumors.

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Meralgia paresthetica treated by injection, decompression, and neurectomy: a systematic review and meta-analysis of pain and operative outcomes

Victor M. Lu, S. Shelby Burks, Rainya N. Heath, Tizeta Wolde, Robert J. Spinner, and Allan D. Levi

OBJECTIVE

Meralgia paresthetica is caused by entrapment of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN) and often presents with pain. Multiple treatment options targeting the LFCN can be pursued to treat the pain should conservative measures fail, with the most common options being injection, neurolysis, and neurectomy. However, their efficacy in causing pain relief and their clinical outcomes have yet to be directly compared. The aim of this study was to interrogate the contemporary literature and quantitatively define how these options compare.

METHODS

The electronic databases Ovid Embase, PubMed, SCOPUS, and the Cochrane Library were interrogated from inception to May 2020 following the PRISMA guidelines. Candidate articles were screened against prespecified criteria. Outcome data were abstracted and pooled by random-effects meta-analysis of proportions.

RESULTS

There were 25 articles that satisfied all criteria, reporting outcomes for a total of 670 meralgia paresthetica patients, with 78 (12%) treated by injection, 496 (74%) by neurolysis, and 96 (14%) by neurectomy. The incidence of complete pain relief was 85% (95% CI 71%–96%) after neurectomy, 63% (95% CI 56%–71%) after neurolysis, and 22% (95% CI 13%–33%) after injection, which were all statistically different (p < 0.01). The incidence of revision procedures was 12% (95% CI 4%–22%) after neurolysis and 0% (95% CI 0%–2%) after neurectomy, which were significantly lower than 81% (95% CI 64%–94%) after injection (p < 0.01). The incidences of treatment complications were statistically comparable across all three treatments, ranging from 0% to 5% (p = 0.34).

CONCLUSIONS

There are multiple treatment options to target pain in meralgia paresthetica. The incidence of complete pain relief appears to be the greatest among the 3 interventions after neurectomy, accompanied by the lowest incidence of revision procedures. These findings should help inform patient preference and expectations. Greater exploration of the anatomical rationale for incomplete pain relief after surgical intervention will assist in optimizing further surgical treatment for meralgia paresthetica.

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Strengthening the association of lipomatosis of nerve and nerve-territory overgrowth: a systematic review

Tomas Marek, Robert J. Spinner, Akshay Syal, and Mark A. Mahan

OBJECTIVE

Lipomatosis of nerve (LN) is a massive enlargement of a nerve due to abundant proliferation of adipose and fibrotic tissue within the epineurium—part of the spectrum of adipose lesions of nerves, including intra- and extraneural lipomas. LN has been frequently associated with soft-tissue and/or osseous overgrowth. Unfortunately, much confusion exists since many names have been used for LN (e.g., fibrolipomatous hamartoma, macrodystrophia lipomatosa, and so on). To better understand this condition and to evaluate its association with nerve-territory overgrowth, the authors attempted to compile the world’s literature on published LN cases.

METHODS

PubMed and Google Scholar databases were searched to identify published articles on LN cases, using a variety of terms. Publications in all languages were assessed. All publications with cases determined likely to be LN were read. Cases that provided clear clinicopathological and/or radiological evidence of LN were labeled as “definite” and cases that demonstrated features of LN (e.g., nerve-territory overgrowth) but lacked definite proof of nerve involvement were labeled as “probable.”

RESULTS

Initial screening revealed a total of 2465 papers. After exclusions, 281 publications reported cases with a definite diagnosis of LN and 120 articles reported cases with a probable diagnosis of LN. The authors identified 618 definite and 407 probable cases of LN. Sex distribution was balanced (51% female). Early diagnosis was common, with two-thirds of patients having symptoms in the 1st decade of life. The most commonly affected nerve was the median nerve (n = 391). Nerve-territory overgrowth was common (62% definite LN; 78% combined cases); overgrowth was exclusive to the territory of the affected nerve in all cases but 5.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors present a comprehensive review and analysis of the literature of LN cases. One of the main findings was the nerve-territory overgrowth was associated with LN, especially when present earlier in life. The authors believe that all cases of LN associated with overgrowth can be explained on anatomical grounds, even in the few reported cases in which this is not immediately obvious.

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Ganglion cyst of the temporomandibular joint with intradural extension: case report

Aaron P. Kamer, Jose M. Bonnin, Robert J. Spinner, and Aaron A. Cohen-Gadol

Intracranial extension of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) ganglion cysts is very rare. Two previously reported cases presented clinically due to effects on cranial nerves and had obvious association with the TMJ on imaging. To the authors’ knowledge, intracranial extension of a TMJ ganglion cyst presenting with seizures and mimicking a primary brain tumor has not been previously reported. The patient underwent resection of a presumptive primary cystic temporal lobe tumor, but the lesion had histopathological features of a nonneoplastic cyst with a myxoid content. He was followed with serial imaging for 5 years before regrowth of the lesion caused new episodes of seizures requiring a repeat operation, during which the transdural defect was repaired after the adjacent segment of the TMJ was curetted. A thorough review of all imaging studies and the histopathological findings from the repeat operation led to the correct diagnosis of a TMJ ganglion cyst. This case highlights an unusual presentation of this rare lesion, as well as its potential for recurrence. TMJ ganglion cysts should be included in the differential diagnosis of cystic tumors involving the anterior temporal lobe, presenting with or without seizures. Focused imaging evaluation of the TMJ can be helpful to rule out the possible role of associated TMJ lesions.

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The anatomic location and importance of the tibialis posterior fascicular bundle at the sciatic nerve bifurcation: report of 3 cases

Thomas J. Wilson, Andres A. Maldonado, Kimberly K. Amrami, Katrina N. Glazebrook, Michael R. Moynagh, and Robert J. Spinner

The authors present the cases of 3 patients with severe injuries affecting the peroneal nerve combined with loss of tibialis posterior function (inversion) despite preservation of other tibial nerve function. Loss of tibialis posterior function is problematic, since transfer of the tibialis posterior tendon is arguably the best reconstructive option for foot drop, when available. Analysis of preoperative imaging studies correlated with operative findings and showed that the injuries, while predominantly to the common peroneal nerve, also affected the lateral portion of the tibial nerve/division near the sciatic nerve bifurcation. Sunderland’s fascicular topographic maps demonstrate the localization of the fascicular bundle subserving the tibialis posterior to the area that corresponds to the injury. This has clinical significance in predicting injury patterns and potentially for treatment of these injuries. The lateral fibers of the tibial division/nerve may be vulnerable with long stretch injuries. Due to the importance of tibialis posterior function, it may be important to perform internal neurolysis of the tibial division/nerve in order to facilitate nerve action potential testing of these fascicles, ultimately performing split nerve graft repair when nerve action potentials are absent in this important portion of the tibial nerve.

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Recurrent desmoid-type fibromatosis associated with underlying neuromuscular choristoma

Jonathan J. Stone, Nikhil K. Prasad, Pierre Laumonerie, B. Matthew Howe, Kimberly K. Amrami, Jodi M. Carter, Mark E. Jentoft, and Robert J. Spinner

OBJECTIVE

Desmoid-type fibromatosis (DTF) presents a therapeutic dilemma. While lacking metastatic potential, it is a locally aggressive tumor with a strong propensity for occurrence near nerve(s) and recurrence following resection. In this study, the authors introduce the association of an occult neuromuscular choristoma (NMC) identified in patients with DTF.

METHODS

After experiencing a case of DTF found to have an occult NMC, the authors performed a retrospective database review of all other cases of biopsy-proven DTF involving the extremities or limb girdles in patients with available MRI data. Two musculoskeletal radiologists with expertise in peripheral nerve imaging reviewed the MRI studies of the eligible cases for evidence of previously unrecognized NMC.

RESULTS

The initial case of a patient with an occult sciatic NMC is described. The database review yielded 40 patients with DTF—18 (45%) in the upper limb and 22 (55%) in the lower limb. Two cases (5%) had MRI findings of NMC associated with the DTF, one in the proximal sciatic nerve and the other in the proximal tibial and sural nerves.

CONCLUSIONS

The coexistence of NMC may be under-recognized in a subset of patients with extremity DTF. This finding poses implications for DTF treatment and the likelihood of recurrence after resection or biopsy. Further study may reveal crucial links between the pathogenesis of NMC and DTF and offer novel therapeutic strategies.