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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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Steffen K. Rosahl, Alireza Gharabaghi, Peter-Michael Zink and Madjid Samii

Object. Both C-reactive protein (CRP) level and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) were measured prospectively in 51 cases in which uncomplicated cervical anterior fusion was performed. The object of the authors was to quantify the differences in the responses of these parameters recorded in the immediate postoperative period and to determine factors influencing their course.

Methods. Nineteen one-level, 23 two-level, and nine three-level procedures for disc herniation and degenerative disease of the cervical spine were performed in 22 female and 29 male patients (mean age 49.2 years).

Blood samples were obtained 1 day before as well as on 10 consecutive days and 3 months following anterior cervical fusion. Serum CRP level was measured using a fluorescence polarization immunoassay and ESR was determined from the same samples. Operative time, the number of blood transfusions, and drugs administered in the postoperative period were recorded. In addition, hemoglobin, hematocrit, red blood cell count, platelet count, white cell count, and axillary body temperature were checked daily.

Conclusions. Monitoring of CRP level is superior to that of ESR for early detection of infections after cervical spine surgery. Although CRP was not related to any of the factors that have been proposed to explain its peak value variance in previous studies, individual acute-phase protein metabolism response to tissue affection appears to be a more decisive element in this respect.

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Madjid Samii, Steffen K. Rosahl, Gustavo A. Carvalho and Thomas Krzizok

✓ Superior oblique myokymia (SOM) is a rare eye movement disorder presenting as uniocular rotatory microtremor due to intermittent contractions of the superior oblique muscle. Medical treatment usually fails to provide long-term benefit for the patient and has considerable side effects. Surgical alternatives including tenotomy or partial tenectomy of the superior oblique tendon often result in incomplete resolution of the visual symptoms. The authors report a patient who experienced immediate cessation of disabling SOM following microvascular decompression of the fourth nerve at the root exit zone. Temporary double vision at downgaze resolved 5 months after surgery. There was no recurrence of oscillopsia during a follow-up of 22 months to date.

From this single observation it appears likely that vascular compression of the trochlear nerve could be a significant pathophysiological factor contributing to SOM. In the hands of an experienced surgeon, microvascular decompression at the brainstem exit zone of this nerve may evolve as the method of choice for selected cases of disabling SOM.