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Wolf Luedemann, Michael Hamm, Ulrike Blömer, Madjid Samii and Marcos Tatagiba

Object. To examine possible side effects of neurotizations in which the phrenic nerve was used, pulmonary function was analyzed pre- and postoperatively in patients with brachial plexus injury and root avulsions.

Methods. Twenty-three patients with complete brachial plexus palsy underwent neurotization of the musculocutaneous nerve, with the phrenic nerve as donor material. Patients who suffered lung contusions as part of the primary injury were excluded from this study. In 12 patients (five left-sided and seven right-sided neurotizations) pre- and postoperative functional parameters were compared and additional body plethysmography was performed more than 12 months postsurgery.

Of the 23, no patient experienced pulmonary problems postoperatively. Nonetheless, pulmonary functional parameters showed a vital capacity in percent of the predicted value of 9.8 ± 6.3% (mean ± standard deviation [SD]) in all patients examined, which was a significant reduction (p = 0.0002).

In right-sided phrenic nerve transfers this reduction was significant, at 14.3 ± 3.3% (mean ± SD), whereas left-sided transfers showed a nonsignificant reduction of 3.6 ± 3.5% (mean ± SD). The observed decrease in vital capacity (VC) correlates with the maximal inspiratory pressure (Pimax) as an indication of clinical significance.

Conclusions. When the right phrenic nerve is used as a donor in neurotization of the musculocutaneous nerve, the patient incurs a higher risk of reduced pulmonary VC. If possible, the left phrenic nerve should be preferred. The Pimax has to be determined preoperatively to avoid any further decrease in the already reduced pulmonary function due to the initial injury.

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Giorgio Iaconetta, Enrico Tessitore and Madjid Samii

Object. The anatomy of the abducent nerve is well known; its duplication (ranging from 5 to 28.6%), however, has rarely been reported in the literature. The authors performed a microanatomical study in 100 cadaveric specimens (50 heads) to evaluate the prevalence of this phenomenon and to provide a clear anatomical description of the course and relationships of the nerve. The surgery-related implications of this rare anatomical variant will be highlighted.

Methods. The 50 human cadaveric heads (100 specimens) were embalmed in a 10% formalin solution for 3 weeks. Fifteen of them were injected with colored neoprene latex. A duplicated abducent nerve was found in eight specimens (8%). In two (25%) of these eight specimens the nerve originated at the pontomedullary sulcus as two independent trunks: in one case the superior trunk was thicker than the inferior and in the other it was thinner. In the other six cases (75%) the nerve originated as a single trunk, splitting in two trunks into the cisternal segment: in two of them the trunks ran below the Gruber ligament, whereas in four specimens one trunk ran below and one above it. In all the specimens, the duplicated nerves fused again into the cavernous sinus, just after the posterior genu of the internal carotid artery.

Conclusions. Although the presence of a duplicated abducent nerve is a rare finding, preoperative magnetic resonance imaging should be performed to rule out this possibility, thus tailoring the operation to avoid postoperative deficits.

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Steffen K. Rosahl, Gerhard Mark, Martin Herzog, Christos Pantazis, Farnaz Gharabaghi, Cordula Matthies, Thomas Brinker and Madjid Samii

Object. A new generation of penetrating electrodes for auditory brainstem implants is on the verge of being introduced into clinical practice. This study was designed to compare electrically evoked auditory brainstem responses (EABRs) to stimulation of the cochlear nucleus (CN) by microsurgically implanted surface electrodes and insertion electrodes (INSELs) with stimulation areas of identical size.

Methods. Via a lateral suboccipital approach, arrays of surface and penetrating microelectrodes with geometric stimulation areas measuring 4417 µm2 (diameter 75 µm) were placed over and inserted into the CN in 10 adult cats. After recording the auditory brainstem response (ABR) at the mastoid process, the CN, and the level of the inferior colliculus, EABRs to stimulation of the CN were recorded using biphasic, charge-balanced stimuli with phase durations of 80 µsec, 160 µsec, and 240 µsec at a repetition rate of 22.3 Hz. Waveform, threshold, maximum amplitude, and the dynamic range of the responses were compared for surface and penetrating electrodes.

The EABR waveforms that appeared for both types of stimulation resembled each other closely. The mean impedance was slightly lower (30 ± 3.4 kΩ compared with 31.7 ± 4.5 kΩ, at 10 kHz), but the mean EABR threshold was significantly higher (51.8 µA compared with 40.5 µA, t = 3.5, p = 0.002) for surface electrode arrays as opposed to penetrating electrode arrays. Due to lower saturation levels of the INSEL array, dynamic ranges were almost identical between the two types of stimulation. Sectioning of the eighth cranial nerve did not abolish EABRs.

Conclusions. Microsurgical insertion of electrodes into the CN complex may be guided and monitored using techniques similar to those applied for implantation of surface electrodes. Lower thresholds and almost equivalent dynamic ranges indicate that a more direct access to secondary auditory neurons is achieved using penetrating electrodes.

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Madjid Samii, Rama Eghbal, Gustavo Adolpho Carvalho and Cordula Matthies

Object. A careful retrospective analysis of 36 cases was performed to evaluate the pre- and postoperative rates of morbidity that occur in patients with brainstem cavernous angiomas.

Methods. The authors evaluated immediate postoperative and follow-up outcomes with regard to clinical findings, the incidence of preoperative hemorrhage(s), location and size of the lesions, and the timing of the surgical procedure after the last hemorrhagic event. Specifically, the following parameters were analyzed: 1) number of hemorrhages; 2) the precise brainstem location (pontomesencephalic, pons, and medulla oblongata); 3) pre- and postoperative cranial nerve status; 4) pre- and postoperative motor and sensory deficits; 5) size (volume) of the lesions; and 6) pre- and postoperative Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) scores. Multiple hemorrhages were observed in 16 patients, particularly in those with pontomesencephalic cavernous angiomas (75%). The mean preoperative KPS score was 70.3 ± 16.3 (± standard deviation). Twenty-six patients (72.2%) presented with cranial nerve impairment, 13 (36.1%) with motor deficits, and 17 (47.2%) with sensory disturbance. Volume of the lesions ranged from 0.18 to 18.18 cm3 (mean 4.75 cm3). Postoperative complications included new cranial nerve deficits in 17 patients, motor deficits in three, and new sensory disturbances in 12 patients. In a mean follow-up period of 21.5 months, KPS scores were 80 to 100 in 22 patients. Timing of surgery (posthemorrhage) and multiple hemorrhages did not influence the long-term results. Higher preoperative KPS scores and smaller-volume lesions, however, were factors associated with a better final outcome (p < 0.05). Major morbidity was related mainly to preoperative status and less to surgical treatment. The incidence of new postoperative cranial nerve deficits was clearly lower than that demonstrated preoperatively because of the brainstem hemorrhages.

Conclusions. Based on these findings, resection of brainstem cavernomas is the treatment of choice in the majority of these cases because of the high incidence of morbidity related to one or often several brainstem hemorrhages.

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Wolf Lüdemann, Lutz Dörner, Marcos Tatagiba and Madjid Samii

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Kathrin König, Eckhard Rickels, Hans E. Heissler, Matthias Zumkeller and Madjid Samii

✓ In recent years the development of secondary brain damage and derangement of neurochemical parameters after severe head injury has been monitored using microdialysis. Provided the blood—brain barrier is intact, glycerol is regarded as a potential marker for membrane phospholipid degradation. The authors report a case in which marked elevation of interstitial glycerol was induced after exogenous administration of a glycerol-containing agent.

A 25-year-old man was injured in a motorcycle accident and was admitted to the authors' institution with a unilateral dilated and fixed pupil and a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 3. Computerized tomography scans revealed a large subdural hematoma on the left side, subsequent midline shift, and generalized edema. Emergency craniotomy was performed for evacuation of the hematoma. The patient was prepared for multisensory monitoring and a microdialysis catheter was inserted into his left frontal lobe. After a routine enema containing 85% glycerol had been administered, the authors measured a marked increase in glycerol in the dialysate. This occurred while the patient was in as stable a condition as could be expected given the circumstances. The increase in interstitial glycerol in the injured tissue was most likely due to an impaired blood—brain barrier. Thus, the interstitial glycerol concentration had been corrupted by exogenous glycerol, and the marker properties of glycerol in this case became questionable. Consequently, administration of glycerol, which is frequently found in various infusions and emulsions, can promote secondary brain damage by adversely shifting osmotic gradients.

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Flavio Leitao Filho, Marcos Tatagiba, Gustavo A. Carvalho, Wiebke Weichhold, Jörg Klekamp and Madjid Samii

✓ Neurenteric cysts of the craniocervical junction (CCJ) are very rare lesions. Their origin is the subject of long-standing controversy, but a failure during the embryogenic phase may be responsible for their formation. Accurate histopathological diagnosis may be difficult due to the similarity they share with other cystic lesions such as colloidal cysts, Rathke cysts, and cystic teratomas. Surgical removal is the treatment of choice for intracranial neurenteric cysts, but in some cases, infiltration of the surrounding structures may hinder complete resection. Three cases of neurenteric cysts located at the CCJ are reported.