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Katherine G. Holste, Frances A. Hardaway, Ahmed M. Raslan and Kim J. Burchiel

OBJECTIVE

Nervus intermedius neuralgia (NIN) or geniculate neuralgia is a rare facial pain condition consisting of sharp, lancinating pain deep in the ear and can occur alongside trigeminal neuralgia (TN). Studies on the clinical presentation, intraoperative findings, and ultimately postoperative outcomes are extremely limited. The aim of this study was to examine the clinical presentation and surgical findings, and determine pain-free survival after sectioning of the nervus intermedius (NI).

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective chart review and survey of patients who were diagnosed with NIN at one institution and who underwent neurosurgical interventions. Pain-free survival was determined through chart review and phone interviews using a modified facial pain and quality of life questionnaire and represented as Kaplan-Meier curves.

RESULTS

The authors found 15 patients with NIN who underwent microsurgical intervention performed by two surgeons from 2002 to 2016 at a single institution. Fourteen of these patients underwent sectioning of the NI, and 8 of 14 had concomitant TN. Five patients had visible neurovascular compression (NVC) of the NI by the anterior inferior cerebellar artery in most cases where NVC was found. The most common postoperative complaints were dizziness and vertigo, diplopia, ear fullness, tinnitus, and temporary facial nerve palsy. Thirteen of the 14 patients reportedly experienced pain relief immediately after surgery. The mean length of follow-up was 6.41 years (range 8 months to 14.5 years). Overall recurrence of any pain was 42% (6 of 14), and 4 patients (isolated NIN that received NI sectioning alone) reported their pain was the same or worse than before surgery at longest follow-up. The median pain-free survival was 4.82 years ± 14.85 months. The median pain-controlled survival was 6.22 years ± 15.78 months.

CONCLUSIONS

In this retrospective review, sectioning of the NI produced no major complications, such as permanent facial weakness or deafness, and was effective for patients when performed in addition to other procedures. After sectioning of the NI, patients experienced 4.8 years pain free and experienced 6.2 years of less pain than before surgery. Alone, sectioning of the NI was not effective. The pathophysiology of NIN is not entirely understood. It appears that neurovascular compression plays only a minor role in the syndrome and there is a high degree of overlap with TN.

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Andrew L. Ko, Alp Ozpinar, Jeffrey S. Raskin, Stephen T. Magill, Ahmed M. Raslan and Kim J. Burchiel

OBJECT

Lesioning of the dorsal root entry zone (DREZotomy) is an effective treatment for brachial plexus avulsion (BPA) pain. The role of preoperative assessment with MRI has been shown to be unreliable for determining affected levels; however, it may have a role in predicting pain outcomes. Here, DREZotomy outcomes are reviewed and preoperative MRI is examined as a possible prognostic factor.

METHODS

A retrospective review was performed of an institutional database of patients who had undergone brachial plexus DREZ procedures since 1995. Preoperative MRI was examined to assess damage to the DREZ or dorsal horn, as evidenced by avulsion of the DREZ or T2 hyperintensity within the spinal cord. Phone interviews were conducted to assess the long-term pain outcomes.

RESULTS

Between 1995 and 2012, 27 patients were found to have undergone cervical DREZ procedures for BPA. Of these, 15 had preoperative MR images of the cervical spine available for review. The outcomes were graded from 1 to 4 as poor (no significant relief), good (more than 50% pain relief), excellent (more than 75% pain relief), or pain free, respectively. Overall, DREZotomy was found to be a safe, efficacious, and durable procedure for relief of pain due to BPA. The initial success rate was 73%, which declined to 66% at a median follow-up time of 62.5 months. Damage to the DREZ or dorsal horn was significantly correlated with poorer outcomes (p = 0.02). The average outcomes in patients without MRI evidence of DREZ or dorsal horn damage was significantly higher than in patients with such damage (3.67 vs 1.75, t-test; p = 0.001). A longer duration of pain prior to operation was also a significant predictor of treatment success (p = 0.004).

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, the DREZotomy procedure has a 66% chance of achieving meaningful pain relief on long-term follow-up. Successful pain relief is associated with the lack of damage to the DREZ and dorsal horn on preoperative MRI.

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R. Lorie Jacob, Jonah Geddes, Shirley McCartney and Kim J. Burchiel

OBJECT

The objective of this study was to compare the cost of deep brain stimulation (DBS) performed awake versus asleep at a single US academic health center and to compare costs across the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) Clinical Database.

METHODS

Inpatient and outpatient demographic and hospital financial data for patients receiving a neurostimulator lead implant (from the first quarter of 2009 to the second quarter of 2014) were collected and analyzed. Inpatient charges included those associated with International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) procedure code 0293 (implantation or replacement of intracranial neurostimulator lead). Outpatient charges included all preoperative charges ≤ 30 days prior to implant and all postoperative charges ≤ 30 days after implant. The cost of care based on reported charges and a cost-to-charge ratio was estimated. The UHC database was queried (January 2011 to March 2014) with the same ICD-9 code. Procedure cost data across like hospitals (27 UHC hospitals) conducting similar DBS procedures were compared.

RESULTS

Two hundred eleven DBS procedures (53 awake and 158 asleep) were performed at a single US academic health center during the study period. The average patient age ( ± SD) was 65 ± 9 years old and 39% of patients were female. The most common primary diagnosis was Parkinson’s disease (61.1%) followed by essential and other forms of tremor (36%). Overall average DBS procedure cost was $39,152 ± $5340. Asleep DBS cost $38,850 ± $4830, which was not significantly different than the awake DBS cost of $40,052 ± $6604. The standard deviation for asleep DBS was significantly lower (p ≤ 0.05). In 2013, the median cost for a neurostimulator implant lead was $34,052 at UHC-affiliated hospitals that performed at least 5 procedures a year. At Oregon Health & Science University, the median cost was $17,150 and the observed single academic health center cost for a neurostimulator lead implant was less than the expected cost (ratio 0.97).

CONCLUSIONS

In this single academic medical center cost analysis, DBS performed asleep was associated with a lower cost variation relative to the awake procedure. Furthermore, costs compared favorably to UHC-affiliated hospitals. While asleep DBS is not yet standard practice, this center exclusively performs asleep DBS at a lower cost than comparable institutions.

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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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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