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Alex J. Koefman, Melissa Licari, Michael Bynevelt and Christopher R. P. Lind

OBJECTIVE

An objective biomarker for pain is yet to be established. Functional MRI (fMRI) is a promising neuroimaging technique that may reveal an objective radiological biomarker. The purpose of this study was to evaluate fMRI technology in the setting of lumbosacral radiculopathy and discuss its application in revealing a biomarker for pain in the future.

METHODS

A prospective, within-participant control study was conducted. Twenty participants with painful lumbosacral radiculopathy from intervertebral disc pathology were recruited. Functional imaging of the brain was performed during a randomly generated series of nonprovocative and provocative straight leg raise maneuvers.

RESULTS

With a statistical threshold set at p < 0.000001, 3 areas showed significant blood oxygen level–dependent (BOLD) signal change: right superior frontal gyrus (x = 2, y = 13, z = 48, k = 29, Brodmann area 6 [BA6]), left supramarginal cortex (x = −37, y = −44, z = 33, k = 1084, BA40), and left parietal cortex (x = −19, y = −41, z = 63, k = 354, BA5). With a statistical threshold set at p < 0.0002, 2 structures showed significant BOLD signal change: right putamen (x = 29, y = −11, z = 6, k = 72) and bilateral thalami (right: x = 23, y = −11, z = 21, k = 29; x = 8, y = −11, z = 9, k = 274; and left: x = −28, y = −32, z = 6, k = 21).

CONCLUSIONS

The results in this study compare with those in previous studies and suggest that fMRI technology can provide an objective assessment of the pain experience.

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Arjun S. Chandran, Michael Bynevelt and Christopher R. P. Lind

The subthalamic nucleus (STN) is one of the most important stereotactic targets in neurosurgery, and its accurate imaging is crucial. With improving MRI sequences there is impetus for direct targeting of the STN. High-quality, distortion-free images are paramount. Image reconstruction techniques appear to show the greatest promise in balancing the issue of geometrical distortion and STN edge detection. Existing spin echo- and susceptibility-based MRI sequences are compared with new image reconstruction methods. Quantitative susceptibility mapping is the most promising technique for stereotactic imaging of the STN.

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Arjun S. Chandran, Stuti Joshi, Megan Thorburn, Rick Stell and Christopher R. P. Lind

OBJECTIVE

The posterior subthalamic area (PSA) is a promising target of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for medication-refractory essential tremor (ET). This case series describes a novel adverse effect manifesting as dystonic tics in patients with ET undergoing DBS of the PSA.

METHODS

Six patients with ET received electrode implants for DBS of the dorsal and caudal zona incerta subregions of the PSA.

RESULTS

Five of the 6 patients developed dystonic tics soon after clinical programming. These tics were of varying severity and required reduction of the electrical stimulation amplitude. This reduction resolved tic occurrence without significantly affecting ET control. Dystonic tics were not observed in 39 additional patients who underwent DBS of the same brain regions for controlling non-ET movement disorders.

CONCLUSIONS

The pathophysiology of tic disorders is poorly understood and may involve the basal ganglia and related cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical circuits. This series is the first report of DBS-induced tics after stimulation of any brain target. Although the PSA has not previously been implicated in tic pathophysiology, it may be a candidate region for future studies.

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Stephen Honeybul, David Anthony Morrison, Kwok M. Ho, Christopher R. P. Lind and Elizabeth Geelhoed

OBJECTIVE

Autologous bone is usually used to reconstruct skull defects following decompressive surgery. However, it is associated with a high failure rate due to infection and resorption. The aim of this study was to see whether it would be cost-effective to use titanium as a primary reconstructive material.

METHODS

Sixty-four patients were enrolled and randomized to receive either their own bone or a primary titanium cranioplasty. All surgical procedures were performed by the senior surgeon. Primary and secondary outcome measures were assessed at 1 year after cranioplasty.

RESULTS

There were no primary infections in either arm of the trial. There was one secondary infection of a titanium cranioplasty that had replaced a resorbed autologous cranioplasty. In the titanium group, no patient was considered to have partial or complete cranioplasty failure at 12 months of follow-up (p = 0.002) and none needed revision (p = 0.053). There were 2 deaths unrelated to the cranioplasty, one in each arm of the trial. Among the 31 patients who had an autologous cranioplasty, 7 patients (22%) had complete resorption of the autologous bone such that it was deemed a complete failure. Partial or complete autologous bone resorption appeared to be more common among young patients than older patients (32 vs 45 years old, p = 0.013). The total cumulative cost between the 2 groups was not significantly different (mean difference A$3281, 95% CI $−9869 to $3308; p = 0.327).

CONCLUSIONS

Primary titanium cranioplasty should be seriously considered for young patients who require reconstruction of the skull vault following decompressive craniectomy.

Clinical trial registration no.: ACTRN12612000353897 (anzctr.org.au)

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Stephen Honeybul, Kwok M. Ho, Christopher R. P. Lind and Grant R. Gillett

Object

The goal in this study was to assess the validity of the corticosteroid randomization after significant head injury (CRASH) collaborators prediction model in predicting mortality and unfavorable outcome at 18 months in patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) requiring decompressive craniectomy. In addition, the authors aimed to assess whether this model was well calibrated in predicting outcome across a wide spectrum of severity of TBI requiring decompressive craniectomy.

Methods

This prospective observational cohort study included all patients who underwent a decompressive craniectomy following severe TBI at the two major trauma hospitals in Western Australia between 2004 and 2012 and for whom 18-month follow-up data were available. Clinical and radiological data on initial presentation were entered into the Web-based model and the predicted outcome was compared with the observed outcome. In validating the CRASH model, the authors used area under the receiver operating characteristic curve to assess the ability of the CRASH model to differentiate between favorable and unfavorable outcomes.

Results

The ability of the CRASH 6-month unfavorable prediction model to differentiate between unfavorable and favorable outcomes at 18 months after decompressive craniectomy was good (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve 0.85, 95% CI 0.80–0.90). However, the model's calibration was not perfect. The slope and the intercept of the calibration curve were 1.66 (SE 0.21) and −1.11 (SE 0.14), respectively, suggesting that the predicted risks of unfavorable outcomes were not sufficiently extreme or different across different risk strata and were systematically too high (or overly pessimistic), respectively.

Conclusions

The CRASH collaborators prediction model can be used as a surrogate index of injury severity to stratify patients according to injury severity. However, clinical decisions should not be based solely on the predicted risks derived from the model, because the number of patients in each predicted risk stratum was still relatively small and hence the results were relatively imprecise. Notwithstanding these limitations, the model may add to a clinician's ability to have better-informed conversations with colleagues and patients' relatives about prognosis.

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Omar K. Bangash, Megan Thorburn, Jimena Garcia-Vega, Susan Walters, Rick Stell, Sergio E. Starkstein and Christopher R. P. Lind

The caudal zona incerta target within the posterior subthalamic area is an investigational site for deep brain stimulation (DBS) in Parkinson disease (PD) and tremor. The authors report on a patient with tremor-predominant PD who, despite excellent tremor control and an otherwise normal neurological examination, exhibited profound difficulty swimming during stimulation. Over the last 20 years, anecdotal reports have been received of 3 other patients with PD who underwent thalamic or pallidal lesioning or DBS surgery performed at the authors’ center and subsequently drowned. It may be that DBS puts patients at risk for drowning by specifically impairing their ability to swim. Until this finding can be further examined in larger cohorts, patients should be warned to swim under close supervision soon after DBS surgery.