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Open access

Atypical cervical radiculopathy presenting with brachioradial pruritus: illustrative cases

Kareem Khalifeh, Janneinne Le, Basel Musmar, Joseph Maroon, Adam S Kanter, and Burak Ozgur

BACKGROUND

Brachioradial pruritus (BRP) is a rare form of chronic dysesthesia characterized by persistent itching, burning, or tingling commonly involving the dorsolateral upper extremities. Although the exact pathophysiology remains unclear, the condition may be a manifestation of atypical cervical radiculopathy.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors describe two patients with BRP, a 44-year-old female and a 51-year-old male, both of whom benefited from surgical intervention for atypical cervical radiculopathy, while also highlighting their presentation, diagnostic testing, treatment, and outcomes.

LESSONS

The cases demonstrate the potential relationship between cervical spondylosis and BRP while examining the role of surgical intervention as a treatment option.

Open access

Minimally invasive resection of a prominent transverse process in neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome: new application for a primarily spinal approach. Illustrative case

Marc Hohenhaus, Johann Lambeck, Nico Kremers, Jürgen Beck, Christoph Scholz, and Ulrich Hubbe

BACKGROUND

The optimal surgical approach to treat neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome (nTOS) depends on the individual patient’s anatomy as well as the surgeon’s experience. The authors present a minimally invasive posterior approach for the resection of a prominent transverse process to reduce local muscular trauma.

OBSERVATIONS

A 19-year-old female presented with painful sensations in the right arm and severe fine-motor skill dysfunction in the right hand, each of which had been present for several years. Further examination confirmed affected C8 and T1 areas, and imaging showed an elongated C7 transverse process displacing the lower trunk of the brachial plexus. Decompression of the plexus structures by resection of the C7 transverse process was indicated, owing to persistent neurological effects. Surgery was performed using a minimally invasive posterior approach in which the nuchal soft tissue was bluntly dissected by dilatators and resection of the transverse process was done microscopically through a tubular retractor. The postoperative course showed a sufficient reduction of pain and paresthesia.

LESSONS

The authors describe a minimally invasive posterior approach for the treatment of nTOS with the aim of providing indirect relief of strain on brachial plexus structures. The advantages of this technique include a small skin incision and minor soft tissue damage.

Open access

“Winged” Eagle’s syndrome: neurophysiological findings in a rare cause of spinal accessory nerve palsy. Illustrative cases

Eric C Mitchell, Kitty Y Wu, Fawaz Siddiqi, John Yoo, Pavlo Ohorodnyk, Douglas Ross, and Thomas A Miller

BACKGROUND

Eagle’s syndrome (ES) classically describes dysphagia, globus sensation, and otalgia from an elongated and calcified styloid process or stylohyoid ligament. Compression of the spinal accessory nerve (SAN) has not been reported as an associated feature of ES or related variants.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors describe two cases of an atypical “winged” variant with SAN palsy resulting from compression by a posteriorly angulated or calcified styloid process. Both patients exhibited lateral scapular winging and atrophy of the trapezius and sternocleidomastoid muscles. Electrophysiological studies demonstrated motor unit preservation; therefore, surgical exploration, styloidectomy, and SAN decompression were performed through a transcervical approach. Postoperatively, both patients had improvements in pain and shoulder mobility, the return of muscle strength, and electrophysiological evidence of trapezius reinnervation.

LESSONS

Compression of the SAN, which can be identified both clinically and on electrodiagnostic testing, is an atypical finding that can result from a posteriorly angulated or calcified styloid process. This winged variant of ES should be included in the differential for SAN palsy, and a multidisciplinary approach is recommended for assessment and management.

Open access

Blood pressure cuff–induced radial nerve palsy following minimally invasive lateral microdiscectomy: illustrative case

Ziad Rifi, Jasmine A Thum, Margaret S Sten, Timothy J Florence, and Michael J Dorsi

BACKGROUND

The authors describe a rare case of transient postoperative wrist and finger drop following a prone position minimally invasive surgery (MIS) lateral microdiscectomy.

OBSERVATIONS

Hand and wrist drop is an unusual complication following spine surgery, especially in prone positioning. The authors’ multidisciplinary team assessed a patient with this complication following MIS lateral microdiscectomy. The broad differential diagnosis included radial nerve palsy, C7 radiculopathy, stroke, and spinal cord injury. Given the patient’s supinator weakness, intact pronation and wrist flexion, and transient recovery within 4 weeks, the most likely diagnosis was radial nerve neuropraxia secondary to ischemic compression. After careful consideration of the operative environment and anatomical constraints, the patient’s blood pressure cuff was found to be the most probable source of compression.

LESSONS

Blood pressure cuff–induced peripheral nerve injury may be a source of postoperative radial nerve neuropraxia in patients undergoing spine surgery. Careful considerations must be given to the blood pressure cuff location, which should not be placed at the distal end of the humerus due to higher susceptibility of peripheral nerve compression. Spine surgeons should be aware of and appropriately localize postoperative deficits along the neuroaxis, including central versus proximal or distal peripheral injuries, in order to guide appropriate postoperative management.

Open access

Brain metastasis and intracranial leptomeningeal metastasis from malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors: illustrative cases

Masasuke Ohno, Shoichi Haimoto, Satoshi Tsukushi, Waki Hosoda, Fumiharu Ohka, and Ryuta Saito

BACKGROUND

Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) are rare soft-tissue tumors. Intracranial metastasis from MPNSTs is quite rare.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors report on a 73-year-old male whose MPNST metastasized to the brain and a 32-year-old male with leptomeningeal metastasis from MPNST and review 41 cases of MPNST that developed intracranial metastasis, as reported in the literature.

LESSONS

Brain metastasis and leptomeningeal metastasis of MPNSTs show different clinical courses and require pathology-specific treatment.

Open access

Etiology of spastic foot drop among 16 patients undergoing electrodiagnostic studies: patient series

Lisa B. E. Shields, Vasudeva G. Iyer, Yi Ping Zhang, and Christopher B. Shields

BACKGROUND

Differentiating foot drop due to upper motor neuron (UMN) lesions from that due to lower motor neuron lesions is crucial to avoid unnecessary surgery or surgery at the wrong location. Electrodiagnostic (EDX) studies are useful in evaluating patients with spastic foot drop (SFD).

OBSERVATIONS

Among 16 patients with SFD, the cause was cervical myelopathy in 5 patients (31%), cerebrovascular accident in 3 (18%), hereditary spastic paraplegia in 2 (12%), multiple sclerosis in 2 (12%), chronic cerebral small vessel disease in 2 (12%), intracranial meningioma in 1 (6%), and diffuse brain injury in 1 (6%). Twelve patients (75%) had weakness of a single leg, whereas 2 others (12%) had bilateral weakness. Eleven patients (69%) had difficulty walking. The deep tendon reflexes of the legs were hyperactive in 15 patients (94%), with an extensor plantar response in 9 patients (56%). Twelve patients (75%) had normal motor and sensory conduction, 11 of whom had no denervation changes of the legs.

LESSONS

This study is intended to raise awareness among surgeons about the clinical features of SFD. EDX studies are valuable in ruling out peripheral causes of foot drop, which encourages diagnostic investigation into a UMN source for the foot drop.

Open access

Iatrogenic contralateral foraminal stenosis following lumbar spine fusion surgery: illustrative cases

Faisal Konbaz, Sahar Aldakhil, Fahad Alhelal, Majed Abalkhail, Anouar Bourghli, Khawlah Ateeq, and Sami Aleissa

BACKGROUND

Lumbar spine fusion is the mainstay treatment for degenerative spine disease. Multiple potential complications of spinal fusion have been found. Acute contralateral radiculopathy postoperatively has been reported in previous literature, with unclear underlying pathology. Few articles reported the incidence of contralateral iatrogenic foraminal stenosis after lumbar fusion surgery. The aim of current article is to explore the possible causes and prevention of this complication.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors present 4 cases in which patients developed acute postoperative contralateral radiculopathy requiring revision surgery. In addition, we present a fourth case in which preventive measures have been applied. The aim of this article was to explore the possible causes and prevention to this complication.

LESSONS

Iatrogenic foraminal stenosis of the lumbar spine is a common complication; preoperative evaluation and middle intervertebral cage positioning are needed to prevent this complication.

Open access

Nerve transfers in a patient with asymmetrical neurological deficit following traumatic cervical spinal cord injury: simultaneous bilateral restoration of pinch grip and elbow extension. Illustrative case

Alexander A. Gatskiy, Ihor B. Tretyak, Vitaliy I. Tsymbaliuk, and Yaroslav V. Tsymbaliuk

BACKGROUND

Cervical spinal cord injury (CSCI) causes severe motor deficit in upper extremities. The mixed segmental CSCI pattern is reflected in the combination of time-sensitive (TS) and non-TS myotomes in the upper extremities. Nerve transfers (NTs) restore upper extremity function yet remain TS procedures. A combination of neurological, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and electromyography (EMG) studies allows the identification of TS and non-TS myotomes in the upper extremities.

OBSERVATIONS

Nineteen months after NTs, flexor pollicis longus (FPL) and deep flexor of the index finger (FDP2) recovered to M4 (right UE), FPL recovered to M3 and FDP2 to M2 (left EU). The long head of the triceps brachii muscle recovered to M4 bilaterally. The Capabilities of Upper Extremity Questionnaire (CUE-Q) score for unilateral arm functionality increased by 44% (right) and 112.5% (left) and for bilateral arm functionality by 400%; the CUE-Q score for unilateral hand and finger function increased by 283% (right) and 166% (left).

LESSONS

The combination of neurological, MRI, and EMG studies before surgery and data obtained during surgery provides reliable information on the CSCI pattern, specifically the availability of motor donor nerves. Simultaneous bilateral restoration is required in the event of CSCI and significantly improves the unilateral and bilateral function of the UEs.

Open access

Iatrogenic neurological injury after radiofrequency ablation and epidural steroid injections: illustrative cases

Lisa B. E. Shields, Vasudeva G. Iyer, Yi Ping Zhang, and Christopher B. Shields

BACKGROUND

Neck pain is often chronic and disabling. Cervical facet joint injections and epidural steroid injections are frequently used to manage chronic neck pain and cervicogenic headaches. While minimal side effects are commonly associated with these treatments, severe complications are exceedingly rare.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors report 4 cases of iatrogenic neurological injury after radiofrequency ablation (RFA) and epidural steroid injections. One patient experienced left shoulder, scapular, and arm pain with left arm and hand weakness that developed immediately after RFA for chronic neck pain. Electromyography/nerve conduction velocity (EMG/NCV) studies confirmed denervation changes in the left C8–T1 distribution. Three patients complained of numbness and weakness of the hands immediately after an interlaminar cervical epidural block. One of these patients underwent EMG/NCV that confirmed denervation changes occurring in the left C8–T1 distribution.

LESSONS

Spine surgeons and pain management specialists should be aware of neurological injuries that may occur after cervical RFA and epidural steroid injections, especially after a multilevel cervical procedure and with severe cervical spinal stenosis. EMG/NCV studies plays an important role in detecting and localizing neurological injury and in differentiating from conditions that mimic cervical root injuries, including brachial plexus trauma due to positioning and Parsonage-Turner syndrome.