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Andrew L. Ko, Albert Lee, Ahmed M. Raslan, Alp Ozpinar, Shirley McCartney and Kim J. Burchiel

OBJECT

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) occurs and recurs in the absence of neurovascular compression (NVC). To characterize what may be distinct patient populations, the authors examined age at onset in patients with TN with and without NVC.

METHODS

A retrospective review of patients undergoing posterior fossa surgery for Type I TN at Oregon Health & Science University from 2009 to 2013 was undertaken. Charts were reviewed, and imaging and operative data were collected for patients with and without NVC. Mean, median, and the empirical cumulative distribution of onset age were determined. Statistical analysis was performed using Student t-test, Wilcoxon and Kolmogorov-Smirnoff tests, and Kaplan-Meier analysis. Multivariate analysis was performed using a Cox proportional hazards model.

RESULTS

The charts of 219 patients with TN were reviewed. There were 156 patients who underwent posterior fossa exploration and microvascular decompression or internal neurolysis: 129 patients with NVC and 27 without NVC. Mean age at symptoms onset for patients with and without NVC was 51.1 and 42.6 years, respectively. This difference (8.4 years) was significant (t-test: p = 0.007), with sufficient power to detect an effect size of 8.2 years. Median age between groups with and without NVC was 53.25 and 41.2 years, respectively (p = 0.003). Histogram analysis revealed a bimodal age at onset in patients without NVC, and cumulative distribution of age at onset revealed an earlier presentation of symptoms (p = 0.003) in patients without NVC. Chi-square analysis revealed a trend toward female predominance in patients without NVC, which was not significant (p = 0.08). Multivariate analysis revealed that age at onset was related to NVC but not sex, symptom side or distribution, or patient response to medical treatment.

CONCLUSIONS

NVC is neither sufficient nor necessary for the development of TN. Patients with TN without NVC may represent a distinct population of younger, predominantly female patients. Further research into the pathophysiology underlying this debilitating disease is needed.

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Andrew L. Ko, Alp Ozpinar, Albert Lee, Ahmed M. Raslan, Shirley McCartney and Kim J. Burchiel

OBJECT

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) occurs and recurs in the absence of neurovascular compression (NVC). While microvascular decompression (MVD) is the most effective treatment for TN, it is not possible when NVC is not present. Therefore, the authors sought to evaluate the safety, efficacy, and durability of internal neurolysis (IN), or “nerve combing,” as a treatment for TN without NVC.

METHODS

This was a retrospective review of all cases of Type 1 TN involving all patients 18 years of age or older who underwent evaluation (and surgery when appropriate) at Oregon Health & Science University between July 2006 and February 2013. Chart reviews and telephone interviews were conducted to assess patient outcomes. Pain intensity was evaluated with the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) Pain Intensity scale, and the Brief Pain Inventory–Facial (BPI-Facial) was used to assess general and face-specific activity. Pain-free survival and durability of successful pain relief (BNI pain scores of 1 or 2) were statistically evaluated with Kaplan-Meier analysis. Prognostic factors were identified and analyzed using Cox proportional hazards regression.

RESULTS

A total of 177 patients with Type 1 TN were identified. A subgroup of 27 was found to have no NVC on high-resolution MRI/MR angiography or at surgery. These patients were significantly younger than patients with classic Type 1 TN. Long-term follow-up was available for 26 of 27 patients, and 23 responded to the telephone survey. The median follow-up duration was 43.4 months. Immediate postoperative results were comparable to MVD, with 85% of patients pain free and 96% of patients with successful pain relief. At 1 year and 5 years, the rate of pain-free survival was 58% and 47%, respectively. Successful pain relief at those intervals was maintained in 77% and 72% of patients. Almost all patients experienced some degree of numbness or hypesthesia (96%), but in patients with successful pain relief, this numbness did not significantly impact their quality of life. There was 1 patient with a CSF leak and 1 patient with anesthesia dolorosa. Previous treatment for TN was identified as a poor prognostic factor for successful outcome.

CONCLUSIONS

This is the first report of IN with meaningful outcomes data. This study demonstrated that IN is a safe, effective, and durable treatment for TN in the absence of NVC. Pain-free outcomes with IN appeared to be more durable than radiofrequency gangliolysis, and IN appears to be more effective than stereotactic radiosurgery, 2 alternatives to posterior fossa exploration in cases of TN without NVC. Given the younger age distribution of patients in this group, consideration should be given to performing IN as an initial treatment. Accrual of further outcomes data is warranted.

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Ahmed M. Raslan and Kim J. Burchiel

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Albert Lee, Shirley McCartney, Cole Burbidge, Ahmed M. Raslan and Kim J. Burchiel

Object

Vascular compression of the trigeminal nerve is the most common factor associated with the etiology of trigeminal neuralgia (TN). Microvascular decompression (MVD) has proven to be the most successful and durable surgical approach for this disorder. However, not all patients with TN manifest unequivocal neurovascular compression (NVC). Furthermore, over time patients with an initially successful MVD manifest a relentless rate of TN recurrence.

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective review of cases of TN Type 1 (TN1) or Type 2 (TN2) involving patients 18 years or older who underwent evaluation (and surgery when indicated) at Oregon Health & Science University between July 2006 and February 2013. Surgical and imaging findings were correlated.

Results

The review identified a total of 257 patients with TN (219 with TN1 and 38 with TN2) who underwent high-resolution MRI and MR angiography with 3D reconstruction of combined images using OsiriX. Imaging data revealed that the occurrence of TN1 and TN2 without NVC was 28.8% and 18.4%, respectively. A subgroup of 184 patients underwent surgical exploration. Imaging findings were highly correlated with surgical findings, with a sensitivity of 96% for TN1 and TN2 and a specificity of 90% for TN1 and 66% for TN2.

Conclusions

Magnetic resonance imaging detects NVC with a high degree of sensitivity. However, despite a diagnosis of TN1 or TN2, a significant number of patients have no NVC. Trigeminal neuralgia clearly occurs and recurs in the absence of NVC.

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Shang-Yih Yan, Chia-Lin Tsai and Dueng-Yuan Hueng

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Ashwin Viswanathan and Kim J. Burchiel

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Eric M. Thompson, Kim J. Burchiel and Ahmed M. Raslan

For confirming the correct location of the radiofrequency electrode before creation of a lesion, percutaneous CT-guided trigeminal tractotomy–nucleotomy is most commonly performed with the patient prone and awake. However, for patients whose facial pain and hypersensitivity are so severe that the patients are unable to rest their face on a support (as required with prone positioning), awake CT-guided tractotomy-nucleotomy might not be feasible. The authors describe 2 such patients, for whom percutaneous intraoperative CT-guided tractotomy-nucleotomy under general anesthesia was successful. One patient was a 79-year-old man with profound left facial postherpetic neuralgia, who was unable to tolerate awake CT-guided tractotomy-nucleotomy, and the other was a 45-year-old woman with intractable hemicranial pain that developed after a right frontal lesionectomy for epilepsy. Each patient underwent a percutaneous intraoperative CT-guided tractotomy-nucleotomy under general anesthesia. No complications occurred, and each patient reported excellent pain relief for up to 6 and 3 months after surgery, respectively. Percutaneous intraoperative CT-guided tractotomy-nucleotomy performed on anesthetized patients is effective for facial postherpetic neuralgia and postoperative hemicranial neuralgia.

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Nathan R. Selden, Valerie C. Anderson, Shirley McCartney, Thomas C. Origitano, Kim J. Burchiel and Nicholas M. Barbaro

Object

In July 2010, the Society of Neurological Surgeons (SNS) introduced regional courses to promote patient safety and teach fundamental skills and knowledge to all postgraduate Year 1 (PGY1) trainees entering Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)–accredited US neurosurgery residency programs. Data from these courses demonstrated significant didactic learning and high faculty and resident satisfaction with hands-on training. Here, the authors evaluated the durability of learning from and the relevance of participation in SNS PGY1 courses as measured midway through PGY1 training.

Methods

Resident participants were resurveyed 6 months after boot camp course attendance to assess knowledge retention and course effectiveness. Exposure to relevant hands-on experiences during PGY1 training and the subjective value of pre-residency simulated training in the courses were assessed.

Results

Ninety-four percent of all residents entering US PGY1 neurosurgical training participated in the 2010 SNS boot camp courses. One hundred sixty-four (88%) of these resident participants responded to the survey. Six months after course completion, 99% of respondents believed the boot camp courses benefited beginning neurosurgery residents and imparted skills and knowledge that would improve patient care. The PGY1 residents' knowledge of information taught in the courses was retained 6 months after initial testing (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions

The learning and other benefits of participation in a national curriculum for residents entering PGY1 neurosurgical training were maintained 6 months after the courses, halfway through the initial training year.