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Open access

Phantom limb pain, traumatic neuroma, or nerve sheath tumor? Illustrative case

Patrick J Halloran, E. Antonio Chiocca, and Andres Santos

BACKGROUND

Phantom limb pain and traumatic neuromas are not commonly seen in neurosurgical practice. These conditions can present with similar symptoms; however, management of traumatic neuroma is often surgical, whereas phantom limb pain is treated with conservative measures.

OBSERVATIONS

A 77-year-old female patient with a long-standing history of an above-the-knee amputation experienced severe pain in her right posterior buttocks area for several years’ duration, attributed to phantom limb pain, which radiated down the stump of her leg and was treated with a variety of conservative measures. A recent exacerbation of her pain led to a prolonged hospitalization with magnetic resonance imaging of her leg stump, revealing a mass in the sciatic notch, at a relative distance from the stump. The anatomical location of the mass on the sciatic nerve in the notch led to a presumed radiological diagnosis of nerve sheath tumor, for which she underwent excision. At surgery, a neuroma of the proximal portion of the transected sciatic nerve that had retracted from the amputated stump to the notch was diagnosed.

LESSONS

Traumatic neuromas of transected major nerves after limb amputation should be considered in the differential diagnosis of phantom limb pain.

Open access

Intraoperative application of indocyanine green and temporary venous occlusion test to assess collateral flow during microvascular decompression for venous-related trigeminal neuralgia: illustrative case

Kentaro Fujimoto, Yosuke Akamatsu, Yasumasa Nishikawa, and Kuniaki Ogasawara

BACKGROUND

In microvascular decompression (MVD) for vein-related trigeminal neuralgia (TN), determining whether transection of the offending vein is safe can be challenging. Here, the authors present a case of vein-related TN successfully treated by sacrificing the offending vein on the basis of findings from indocyanine green (ICG) video angiography and a temporary venous occlusion test to assess the collateral flow of the offending vessel.

OBSERVATIONS

A 43-year-old man presented with TN, which had failed to respond to previous medical therapy. Gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed that the transverse or superior petrosal vein was the offending vein. The patient underwent MVD. Because the transposition of the offending vein was anatomically challenging, a temporary vein occlusion test was performed using ICG video angiography. During and after temporary occlusion, bidirectional flow in the offending vein was observed, suggesting collateral flow even after vein occlusion. On the basis of these findings, the offending vein was transected, resulting in relief from pain without any complications. Postoperative MRI revealed no new lesions in the brainstem or the cerebellar hemisphere. The patient has been free from neuralgia for 6 months.

LESSONS

The temporary vein occlusion test under ICG video angiography was useful for evaluating collateral flow in the offending vein in TN.

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

Bipolar, high-voltage, long-duration pulsed radiofrequency ablation of the Gasserian ganglion for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia in a patient with a cardiac implantable electronic device: illustrative case

Albert A Sufianov, Nargiza A Garifullina, Andrey G Shapkin, Egor S Markin, Matias Baldoncini, Luis A. B Borba, Manuel J Encarnacion Ramirez, and Rinat A Sufianov

BACKGROUND

One of the common methods of treating trigeminal neuralgia (TN) nowadays is radiofrequency therapy. However, it has serious limitations in patients with a cardiac pacemaker because of electromagnetic interference. Therefore, it is crucial to select optimal radiofrequency ablation parameters to make this procedure safe with favorable outcomes for such patients.

OBSERVATIONS

In this study, the authors present a case of a 70-year-old man with a history of cardiac pacemaker dependency and previous microvascular decompression with complaints of severe, constant facial pain. After reprogramming the cardiac implantable electronic device (CIED), the authors performed bipolar, high-voltage, long-duration pulsed radiofrequency therapy (PRFT) of the Gasserian ganglion under electrocardiography and pulse rate control in the pre-, intra-, and postoperative periods. There were no cardiovascular or neurological complications after PRFT. The patient reported relief of pain after the procedure, and at the 9-month follow-up, he was pain-free.

LESSONS

This clinical case demonstrates that the use of bipolar, high-voltage PRFT for TN treatment in patients with a CIED can be safe and effective, provided that the rules and pacemaker instructions are followed. It is necessary to use ablative treatment with caution and to guide the patient in collaboration with a cardiac surgeon and an anesthesiologist resuscitator.

Open access

Techniques for restoring optimal spinal biomechanics to alleviate symptoms in Bertolotti syndrome: illustrative case

Nolan J Brown, Zach Pennington, Hania Shahin, Oanh T Nguyen, and Martin H Pham

BACKGROUND

Lumbosacral transitional vertebrae (LSTVs) are congenital anomalies that occur in the spinal segments of L5–S1. These vertebrae result from sacralization of the lowermost lumbar segment or lumbarization of the uppermost sacral segment. When the lowest lumbar vertebra fuses or forms a false joint with the sacrum (pseudoarticulation), it can cause pain and manifest clinically as Bertolotti syndrome.

OBSERVATIONS

A 36-year-old female presented with severe right-sided low-back pain. Computed tomography was unremarkable except for a right-sided Castellvi type IIA LSTV. The pain proved refractory to physical therapy and lumbar epidural spinal injections, but targeted steroid and bupivacaine injection of the pseudoarticulation led to 2 weeks of complete pain relief. She subsequently underwent minimally invasive resection of the pseudoarticulation, with immediate improvement in her low-back pain. The patient continued to be pain free at the 3-year follow-up.

LESSONS

LSTVs alter the biomechanics of the lumbosacral spine, which can lead to medically refractory mechanical pain requiring surgical intervention. Select patients with Bertolotti syndrome can benefit from operative management, including resection, fusion, or decompression of the pathologic joint.

Open access

Radiofrequency thermocoagulation for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia associated with a focal pontine lesion: illustrative case

Vadym Biloshytsky, Anna Skorokhoda, Inna Buvailo, and Maryna Biloshytska

BACKGROUND

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) associated with a focal pontine lesion is a rare but challenging condition. The origin of the lesion, which does not fulfill the diagnostic criteria for multiple sclerosis, remains disputable. Pain in such conditions is often refractory to treatment, including microvascular decompression.

OBSERVATIONS

A 36-year-old female presented with a 3.5-year history of shooting pain in the right V2 distribution triggered by talking and chewing. She became less responsive to high-dose carbamazepine over time. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed no neurovascular compression but an elongated lesion hyperintense on T2-weighted imaging and T2- fluid-attenuated inversion recovery and hypointense and nonenhancing on T1-magnetization prepared rapid gradient-echo imaging without restricted diffusion, hemorrhage, or supposed malformation along the right pontine trigeminal pathway (PTP). Two other similar lesions were found in the corpus callosum and left thalamus. All lesions were stable compared to MRI data obtained 2 years before. Cerebrospinal fluid contained no oligoclonal bands. Pain attacks ceased with right-sided gasserian radiofrequency thermocoagulation (RFTC), and at the 6-month follow-up, there was no recurrence.

LESSONS

In patients with TN, preoperative neuroimaging should assess for brainstem lesions along the PTP. RFTC can be considered a treatment option in medication-refractory TN associated with a focal pontine lesion.

Open access

Combined endoscopic and microsurgical approach for the drainage of a multisegmental thoracolumbar epidural abscess: illustrative case

Vincent Hagel, Felix Dymel, Stephan Werle, Vera Barrera, and Mazda Farshad

BACKGROUND

Spinal epidural abscess is a rare but serious infectious disease that can rapidly develop into a life-threatening condition. Therefore, the appropriate treatment is indispensable. Although conservative treatment is justifiable in certain cases, surgical treatment needs to be considered as an alternative early on because of complications such as (progressive) neurological deficits or sepsis. However, traditional surgical techniques usually include destructive approaches up to (multilevel) laminectomies. Such excessive approaches do have biomechanical effects potentially affecting the long-term outcomes. Therefore, minimally invasive approaches have been described as alternative strategies, including endoscopic approaches.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors describe a surgical technique involving a combination of two minimally invasive approaches (endoscopic and microsurgical) to drain a multisegmental (thoracolumbar) abscess using the physical phenomenon of continuous pressure difference to minimize collateral tissue damage.

LESSONS

The combination of minimally invasive approaches, including the endoscopic technique, may be an alternative in draining selected epidural abscesses while achieving a similar amount of abscess removal and causing less collateral approach damage in comparison with more traditional techniques.

Open access

Middle meningeal artery pseudoaneurysm and pterygoid plexus fistula following percutaneous radiofrequency rhizotomy: illustrative case

Rahim Ismail, Derrek Schartz, Timothy Hoang, and Alexander Kessler

BACKGROUND

Percutaneous treatment for trigeminal neuralgia is a safe and effective therapeutic methodology and can be accomplished in the form of balloon compression, glycerol rhizotomy, and radiofrequency thermocoagulation. These procedures are generally well tolerated and demonstrate minimal associated morbidity. Moreover, vascular complications of these procedures are exceedingly rare.

OBSERVATIONS

We present the case of a 64-year-old female with prior microvascular decompression and balloon rhizotomy who presented after symptom recurrence and underwent a second balloon rhizotomy at our institution. Soon thereafter, she presented with pulsatile tinnitus and a right preauricular bruit on physical examination. Subsequent imaging revealed a middle meningeal artery (MMA) to pterygoid plexus fistula and an MMA pseudoaneurysm. Coil and Onxy embolization were used to manage the pseudoaneurysm and fistula.

LESSONS

This case illustrates the potential for MMA pseudoaneurysm formation as a complication of percutaneous trigeminal balloon rhizotomy, which has not been seen in the literature. Concurrent MMA-pterygoid plexus fistula is also a rarity demonstrated in this case.

Open access

Management of rare atlantoaxial synovial cyst case with extension to the cerebellopontine angle: illustrative case

Shawn D’Souza, Vikram Seshadri, Harsh P Shah, Jan T Hachmann, and R. Scott Graham

BACKGROUND

Synovial cysts are a common finding in degenerative spine disease, most frequently involving the facet joints of the lumbar spine. Synovial cysts are less common in the cervical spine and rarely involve the atlantoaxial junction.

OBSERVATIONS

In this case report, the authors detail a unique presentation of a left atlantoaxial synovial cyst with large intracranial extension into the cerebellopontine angle causing progressive cranial nerve palsies resulting in tinnitus, vertigo, diminished hearing, gait imbalance, left trigeminal hypesthesia, left facial weakness, and dysarthria. The patient underwent a retromastoid craniectomy for resection of the synovial cyst, resulting in improvement and resolution of symptoms. Follow-up occurred at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 5 months postoperatively without recurrence on imaging.

LESSONS

The authors describe acute and long-term management of a unique presentation of an atlantoaxial synovial cyst including retromastoid craniectomy, intervals for follow-up for recurrence, and possible treatment options in cases of recurrence. A systematic literature review was also performed to explore all reported cases of craniocervical junction synovial cysts and subsequent surgical management.

Open access

Pterygoid venous plexus anastomosis in trigeminal percutaneous glycerol rhizotomy: illustrative case

Kevin Cordeiro, Jason Kim, Niall Buckley, Mark Kraemer, Conrad Pun, and Daniel Resnick

BACKGROUND

Percutaneous glycerol rhizotomy (PGR) is a common, effective, and relatively safe treatment for trigeminal neuralgia that is refractory to medical management. Anastomotic skull base venous anatomy should be considered when delivering percutaneous agents.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors report an anastomotic connection, not previously described in the literature, between the bilateral pterygoid venous plexuses upon air injection during PGR with computed tomography (CT) guidance for trigeminal neuralgia. Pertinent microsurgical and skull base venous anatomy is reviewed.

LESSONS

Anastomoses between the pterygoid venous plexuses present a potential passage for materials used during PGR to reach unintended contralateral neurovascular structures. The use of CT guidance may identify this anastomotic connection and decrease the likelihood of an aberrant flow of materials used during the PGR.