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Maria Peris-Celda, Soliman Oushy, Avital Perry, Christopher S. Graffeo, Lucas P. Carlstrom, Richard S. Zimmerman, Fredric B. Meyer, Bruce E. Pollock and Michael J. Link

OBJECTIVE

Geniculate neuralgia (GN) is an uncommon craniofacial pain syndrome attributable to nervus intermedius (NI) dysfunction. Diagnosis and treatment can be challenging, due to the complex nature of ear sensory innervation, resulting in clinical overlap with trigeminal neuralgia (TN) and glossopharyngeal neuralgia (GPN).

METHODS

A retrospective review of a prospective neurosurgical database at our institution was performed, 2000–2017, with a corresponding systematic literature review. Pain outcomes were dichotomized as unfavorable for unchanged/worsened symptoms versus favorable if improved/resolved. Eight formalin-fixed brains were examined to describe NI at the brainstem.

RESULTS

Eleven patients were surgically treated for GN—9 primary, 2 reoperations. The median age was 48, 7 patients were female, and the median follow-up was 11 months (range 3–143). Seven had ≥ 2 probable cranial neuralgias. NI was sectioned in 9 and treated via microvascular decompression (MVD) in 2. Five patients underwent simultaneous treatment for TN (4 MVD; 1 rhizotomy) and 5 for GPN (3 MVD; 2 rhizotomy). Eleven reported symptomatic improvement (100%); 8 initially reported complete resolution (73%). Pain outcomes at last contact were favorable in 8 (73%)—all among the 9 primary operations (89% vs 0%, p = 0.054). Six prior series reported outcomes in 111 patients.

CONCLUSIONS

GN is rare, and diagnosis is confounded by symptomatic overlap with TN/GPN. Directed treatment of all possible neuralgias improved pain control in almost all primary operations. Repeat surgery seems a risk factor for an unfavorable outcome. NI is adherent to superomedial VIII at the brainstem; the intermediate/cisternal portion is optimal for visualization and sectioning.

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Christopher S. Graffeo, Avital Perry, Lucas P. Carlstrom, Fredric B. Meyer, John L. D. Atkinson, Dana Erickson, Todd B. Nippoldt, William F. Young Jr., Bruce E. Pollock and Jamie J. Van Gompel

OBJECTIVE

Nelson-Salassa syndrome (NSS) is a rare consequence of bilateral adrenalectomy (ADX) for refractory hypercortisolism due to Cushing disease (CD). Although classically defined by rapid growth of a large, invasive, adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH)–secreting pituitary tumor after bilateral ADX that causes cutaneous hyperpigmentation, visual disturbance, and high levels of ACTH, clinical experience suggests more variability.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective chart review of all patients 18 years and older with a history of bilateral ADX for CD, adequate pituitary MRI, and at least 2 years of clinical follow-up. Statistical tests included Student's t-test, chi-square test, Fisher's exact test, multivariate analysis, and derived receiver operating characteristic curves.

RESULTS

Between 1956 and 2015, 302 patients underwent bilateral ADX for the treatment of hypercortisolism caused by CD; 88 had requisite imaging and follow-up (mean 16 years). Forty-seven patients (53%) had radiographic progression of pituitary disease and were diagnosed with NSS. Compared with patients who did not experience progression, those who developed NSS were significantly younger at the time of CD diagnosis (33 vs 44 years, p = 0.007) and at the time of bilateral ADX (35 vs 49 years, p = 0.007), had larger tumors at the time of CD diagnosis (6 mm vs 1 mm, p = 0.03), and were more likely to have undergone external-beam radiation therapy (EBRT, 43% vs 12%, p = 0.005). Among NSS patients, the mean tumor growth was 7 mm/yr (SE 6 mm/yr); the median tumor growth was 3 mm/yr. Prevalence of pathognomonic symptoms was low; the classic triad occurred in 9%, while hyperpigmentation without visual field deficit was observed in 23%, and 68% remained asymptomatic despite radiographic disease progression. NSS required treatment in 14 patients (30%).

CONCLUSIONS

NSS is a prevalent sequela of CD after bilateral ADX and affects more than 50% of patients. However, although radiological evidence of NSS is common, it is most often clinically indolent, with only a small minority of patients developing the more aggressive disease phenotype characterized by clinically meaningful symptoms and indications for treatment. Young age at the time of CD diagnosis or treatment with bilateral ADX, large tumor size at CD diagnosis, and EBRT are associated with progression to NSS and may be markers of aggressiveness.