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Clifford L. Crutcher II, David G. Kline and Gabriel C. Tender

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.

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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.

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Sang Hyun Park, Yoshua Esquenazi, David G. Kline and Daniel H. Kim

OBJECT

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.

METHODS

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).

RESULTS

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.

CONCLUSIONS

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.

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Sangkook Lee, Kriangsak Saetia, Suparna Saha, David G. Kline and Daniel H. Kim

Object

The aim of this retrospective study was to present and investigate axillary nerve injuries associated with sports.

Methods

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).

Results

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

Conclusions

Surgical repair can restore useful deltoid function in patients with sports-associated axillary nerve injuries, even in cases of severe stretch–contusion injury.

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Dosang Cho, Kriangsak Saetia, Sangkook Lee, David G. Kline and Daniel H. Kim

Object

This study analyzes 84 cases of peroneal nerve injuries associated with sports-related knee injuries and their surgical outcome and management.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

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David G. Kline

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David G. Kline and Leo Happel

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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.

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Alice Cherqui, Daniel H. Kim, Se-Hoon Kim, Hyung-Ki Park and David G. Kline

Object

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.