The traditional posterior subscapular approach offers excellent exposure of the lower brachial plexus and has been successfully used in patients with recurrent thoracic outlet syndrome after an anterior operation, brachial plexus tumors involving the proximal roots, and postirradiation brachial plexopathy, among others. However, this approach also carries some morbidity, mostly related to the extensive muscle dissection of the trapezius, rhomboids, and levator scapulae. In this article, the authors present the surgical technique and video illustration of a modified, less invasive posterior subscapular approach, using a small, self-retaining retractor and only a partial trapezius and rhomboid minor muscle dissection. This approach is likely to result in decreased postoperative morbidity and a shorter hospital stay.
Clifford L. Crutcher II, David G. Kline and Gabriel C. Tender
David G. Kline
It has been said of Silas Weir Mitchell (1829–1914) that as a young man he was first among the physiologists of his day, in middle age first among physicians, and as an older man, one of the most noted novelists of his country. Mitchell's novels were written in his later life as a means to avoid boredom during lengthy summer vacations that were the norm for that time among the affluent members of Philadelphia society. These novels were criticized by some because of poor plots, which in some instances failed to move along, or for text that offered a stereotyped depiction of genteel society and the effects that war or personal disaster had on the characters' behavior The criticism came despite the fact that all critics agreed that Mitchell's portrayals of psychopathology in his fictional characters was unique and accurate. However, in his 30s, Mitchell had written and by chance had published a fictional short story that not only transcended such criticisms but became immensely popular.
“The Strange Case of George Dedlow” portrays a union officer who was not a physician but who had some medical background and who sustained a series of war wounds leading to severe nerve pain, the author's first description of causalgia, multiple amputations, and the psychological as well as physical symptoms of phantom limb syndrome. The protagonist tells of his torments in the first person in a very engaging fashion. Thus, long before he began writing his, at that time, acclaimed novels in the 1880s, Mitchell wrote a piece of fiction that combines accurate and very important medical observations with fiction of great historical interest. The following rendering of this now classic short story includes selected quotes and some interpretation and is perhaps appropriate for this year, 2 years after the centenary year of his death in 1914.
Sang Hyun Park, Yoshua Esquenazi, David G. Kline and Daniel H. Kim
Iatrogenic injuries to the spinal accessory nerve (SAN) are not uncommon during lymph node biopsy of the posterior cervical triangle (PCT). In this study, the authors review the operative techniques and surgical outcomes of 156 surgical repairs of the SAN following iatrogenic injury during lymph node biopsy procedures.
This retrospective study examines the authors’ clinical and surgical experience with 156 patients with SAN injury between 1980 and 2012. All patients suffered iatrogenic SAN injuries during lymph node biopsy, with the vast majority (154/156, 98.7%) occurring in Zone I of the PCT. Surgery was performed on the basis of anatomical and electro-physiological findings at the time of the operation. The mean follow-up period was 24 months (range 8–44 months).
Of the 123 patients who underwent graft or suture repair, 107 patients (87%) improved to Grade 3 functionality or higher using the Louisiana State University Health Science Center (LSUHSC) grading system. Neurolysis was performed in 29 patients (19%) when the nerve was found in continuity with recordable nerve action potential (NAP) across the lesion. More than 95% of patients treated by neurolysis with positive NAP recordings recovered to LSUHSC Grade 3 or higher. Forty-one patients (26%) underwent end-to-end repair, while 82 patients (53%) underwent graft repair, and Grade 3 or higher recovery was assessed for 90% and 85% of these patients, respectively. The average graft length used was 3.81 cm. Neurotization was performed in 4 patients, 2 of whom recovered to Grade 2 and 3, respectively.
SAN injuries present challenges for surgical exploration and repair because of the nerve’s size and location in the PCT. However, through proper and timely intervention, patients with diminished or absent function achieved favorable functional outcomes. Surgeons performing lymph node biopsy procedures in Zone I of the PCT should be aware of the potential risk of injury to the SAN.
Sangkook Lee, Kriangsak Saetia, Suparna Saha, David G. Kline and Daniel H. Kim
The aim of this retrospective study was to present and investigate axillary nerve injuries associated with sports.
This study retrospectively reviewed 26 axillary nerve injuries associated with sports between the years 1985 and 2010. Preoperative status of the axillary nerve was evaluated by using the Louisiana State University Health Science Center (LSUHSC) grading system published by the senior authors. Intraoperative nerve action potential recordings were performed to check nerve conduction and assess the possibility of resection. Neurolysis, suture, and nerve grafts were used for the surgical repair of the injured nerves. In 9 patients with partial loss of function and 3 with complete loss, neurolysis based on nerve action potential recordings was the primary treatment. Two patients with complete loss of function were treated with resection and suturing and 12 with resection and nerve grafting. The minimum follow-up period was 16 months (mean 20 months).
The injuries were associated with the following sports: skiing (12 cases), football (5), rugby (2), baseball (2), ice hockey (2), soccer (1), weightlifting (1), and wrestling (1). Functional recovery was excellent. Neurolysis was performed in 9 cases, resulting in an average functional recovery of LSUHSC Grade 4.2. Recovery with graft repairs averaged LSUHSC Grade 3 or better in 11 of 12 cases
Surgical repair can restore useful deltoid function in patients with sports-associated axillary nerve injuries, even in cases of severe stretch–contusion injury.
Dosang Cho, Kriangsak Saetia, Sangkook Lee, David G. Kline and Daniel H. Kim
This study analyzes 84 cases of peroneal nerve injuries associated with sports-related knee injuries and their surgical outcome and management.
The authors retrospectively reviewed the cases of peroneal nerve injury associated with sports between the years 1970 and 2010. Each patient was evaluated for injury mechanism, preoperative neurological status, electrophysiological studies, lesion type, and operative technique (neurolysis and graft repair). Preoperative status of injury was evaluated by using a grading system published by the senior authors. All lesions in continuity had intraoperative nerve action potential recordings.
Eighty-four (approximately 18%) of 448 cases of peroneal nerve injury were found to be sports related, which included skiing (42 cases), football (23 cases), soccer (8 cases), basketball (6 cases), ice hockey (2 cases), track (2 cases) and volleyball (1 case). Of these 84 cases, 48 were identified as not having fracture/dislocation and 36 cases were identified with fracture/dislocation for surgical interventions. Good functional outcomes from graft repair of graft length < 6 cm (70%) and neurolysis (85%) in low-intensity peroneal nerve injuries associated with sports were obtained. Recovery from graft repair of graft length between 6 and 12 cm (43%) was good and measured between Grades 3 and 4. However, recovery from graft repair of graft length between 13 and 24 cm was obtained in only 25% of patients.
Traumatic knee-level peroneal nerve injury due to sports is usually associated with stretch/contusion, which more often requires graft repair. Graft length is the factor to be considered for the prognosis of nerve repair.
Peter Gruen and David G. Kline
✓Hypertrophic localized mononeuropathy is a condition that comes to clinical attention as a painless focal swelling of a peripheral nerve in an arm or leg and is associated with a slow but progressive loss of motor and sensory function. Whether the proliferation of perineurial cells is neoplastic or degenerative—an ongoing controversy among nerve pathologists—for some patients resection of the involved portion of a nerve with autologous interposition grafting results in better functional outcome than allowing disease to follow its natural course. Patients with a painless focal enlargement of a nerve associated with progressive weakness and/or sensory loss may benefit from surgery for resection and grafting.
Alice Cherqui, Daniel H. Kim, Se-Hoon Kim, Hyung-Ki Park and David G. Kline
The goal of this study was to analyze the results of surgical treatment of paraspinal nerve sheath tumors (NSTs) and review the surgical approaches to paraspinal NSTs.
A retrospective review of the cases of paraspinal NSTs treated surgically by two senior authors during the period between 1970 and 2006 was undertaken. Surgical approaches that allow minimal disruption of normal anatomy and are aimed at complete resection of paraspinal lesions and preservation of spinal stability are reviewed according to the spinal level.
Eighty-eight paraspinal NSTs were treated surgically during the period: 56 schwannomas, seven solitary neurofibromas, 21 neurofibromas associated with neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1), and four malignant peripheral NSTs. Schwannomas tended to occur in the cervical and thoracic areas. Neurofibromas were usually associated with NF1 and tended to occur in the cervical area. Pain (79 patients, 90%) and paresthesia (81 patients, 92%) were the predominant clinical presenting symptoms; others included weakness (28 patients) and myelopathy (12 patients). Total resection of the tumor was achieved in 50 patients (89.3%) with schwannomas and 22 patients (78.6%) with neurofibromas. There was a large reduction of pain in 70 (88.6%) of 79 patients who had preoperative pain, and weakness improved in 18 (64.3%) of 28. Postoperative transient weakness occurred in 12 (42.9% ) of these patients, but in 85% of this group, the symptom improved over a 12-month period. Myelopathy was reduced in eight (66.7%) of 12 patients. The average follow-up period was 18 months.
Paraspinal NSTs present unique surgical challenges given their anatomical relationships to the spine, spinal cord, nerve roots, and major vasculature. The surgical technique should take into account the location of the lesion and its relationship to paraspinal anatomy, the extent of resection, sparing of normal anatomy, and spinal instability.
Sunit Das, Aruna Ganju, Robert L. Tiel and David G. Kline
✓Tumors of the brachial plexus are relatively rare and present a clinical challenge for the neurosurgeon. The management of these tumors therefore requires not only an understanding of the complex anatomy of the brachial plexus but also an appreciation of the appropriate surgical approach to the various tumors that may be encountered. Over a 30-year period (1969–1999), 226 patients with brachial plexus tumors were evaluated and surgically treated by the senior authors (R.L.T., D.G.K.). In the present paper they review the most common benign and malignant brachial plexus tumors and discuss management and surgical principles established through their experience at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.
Case report and review of the literature
Judith A. Murovic, Daniel H. Kim and David G. Kline
In this paper the authors describe a patient with neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1) who presented with sequelae of this disease. They also review the current literature on NF1 and NF2 published between 2001 and 2005.
The method used to obtain information for the case report consisted of a family member interview and a review of the patient's chart. For the literature review the authors used the search engine Ovid Medline to identify papers published on the topic between 2001 and 2005. Neurofibromatosis Type 1 appears in approximately one in 2500 to 4000 births, is caused by a defect on 17q11.2, and results in neurofibromin inactivation. The authors reviewed the current literature with regard to the following aspects of this disease: 1) diagnostic criteria for NF1; 2) criteria for other NF1-associated manifestations; 3) malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (PNSTs); 4) the examination protocol for a patient with an NF1-related NST; 5) imaging findings in patients with NF1; 6) other diagnostic studies; 7) surgical and adjuvant treatment for NSTs and malignant PNSTs; and 8) hormone receptors in NF1-related tumors. Pertinent illustrations are included.
Neurofibromatosis Type 2 occurs much less frequently than NF1, that is, in one in 33,000 births. Mutations in NF2 occur on 22q12 and result in inactivation of the tumor suppressor merlin. The following data on this disease are presented: 1) diagnostic criteria for NF2; 2) criteria for other NF2 manifestations; 3) malignant PNSTs in patients with NF2; 4) examination protocol for the patient with NF2 who has an NST; and 5) imaging findings in patients with NF2. Relevant illustrations are included.
It is important that neurosurgeons be aware of the sequelae of NF1 and NF2, because they may be called on to treat these conditions.