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  • By Author: Burchiel, Kim J. x
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Robert J. Coffey, David Cahill, William Steers, T. S. Park, Joe Ordia, Jay Meythaler, Richard Herman, Andrew G. Shetter, Robert Levy, Brian Gill, Richard Smith, Jack Wilberger, John D. Loeser, Charles Chabal, Claudio Feler, James T. Robertson, Richard D. Penn, Aiden Clarke, Kim J. Burchiel and Lyal G. Leibrock

✓ A total of 93 patients with intractable spasticity due to either spinal cord injury (59 cases), multiple sclerosis (31 cases), or other spinal pathology (three cases) were entered into a randomized double-blind placebocontrolled screening protocol of intrathecal baclofen test injections. Of the 88 patients who responded to an intrathecal bolus of 50, 75, or 100 µg of baclofen, 75 underwent implantation of a programmable pump system for chronic therapy. Patients were followed for 5 to 41 months after surgery (mean 19 months). No deaths or new permanent neurological deficits occurred as a result of surgery or chronic intrathecal baclofen administration. Rigidity was reduced from a mean preoperative Ashworth scale score of 3.9 to a mean postoperative score of 1.7. Muscle spasms were reduced from a mean preoperative score of 3.1 (on a fourpoint scale) to a mean postoperative score of 1.0. Although the dose of intrathecal baclofen required to control spasticity increased with time, drug tolerance was not a limiting factor in this study. Only one patient withdrew from the study because of a late surgical complication (pump pocket infection). Another patient received an intrathecal baclofen overdose because of a human error in programming the pump. The results of this study indicate that intrathecal baclofen infusion can be safe and effective for the long-term treatment of intractable spasticity in patients with spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis.

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Kim J. Burchiel, Hadley Clarke, Michael Haglund and John D. Loeser

✓ Forty patients were followed for an average period of 8½ years after 44 consecutive suboccipital craniotomies for trigeminal neuralgia. Among these patients, 36 had microvascular decompression (MVD) of the nerve, four had repeat trigeminal rhizotomy after MVD was not successful in controlling their pain, and four had primary trigeminal rhizotomies. Of the 36 patients undergoing MVD, 17 (47%) experienced recurrent postoperative neuralgic pain: in 11 (31%) pain recurrence was major, and in six (17%) it was minor. Among the eight patients undergoing rhizotomy, four (50%) had major pain recurrences and one (13%) had a minor recurrence, for a 63% total recurrence rate. There was a strong statistical relationship between an operative finding of arterial cross-compression of the nerve and long-term complete pain relief. Patients with other compressive pathology (related to veins or bone structures) did not on the average fare as well. Despite this, there appeared to be no point in time in the postoperative interval when the patient could be considered “cured.” Major recurrences averaged 3.5% annually, and minor recurrences averaged 1.5% annually. The implications of these findings for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia and the current understanding of the mechanism of MVD for this disorder are discussed.