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Gregor Antoniadis, Hans-Peter Richter, Stefan Rath, Veit Braun and Gerald Moese

✓ Suprascapular nerve entrapment (SNE) in the suprascapular notch is a rare entity that must be considered in the differential diagnosis of radicular pain, as well as that of shoulder discomfort.

Over a period of 10 years (1985–1995), the authors treated 28 cases of SNE in 27 patients by surgical decompression of the nerve. One patient underwent operation bilaterally within 5 years. Five patients presented with a history of trauma to the shoulder region. In three patients, a ganglion cyst was the origin of the nerve lesion. In 16 patients, the nerve problem was primarily related to athletic activities. Eight of these patients were professional volleyball players. In the remaining three patients, there was no relationship between the nerve lesion and trauma or athletic activities.

Twenty-one patients (22 cases) complained of pain located over the suprascapular notch. Seventeen patients had paresis and atrophy of both the supraspinatus (SS) and infraspinatus (IS) muscles. In 10 patients only the IS muscle was involved. One patient exhibited a sensory deficit over the posterior portion of the shoulder. Electromyography was performed in all cases.

The mean follow-up period in the 25 cases (24 patients) that could be evaluated was 20.8 months (range 3–70 months). Nineteen of 22 cases with preoperative pain could be evaluated. Sixteen of these patients were completely free of pain after surgery and three patients found their pain had improved. Motor function in the SS muscle improved in 86.7% and motor function in the IS muscle in 70.8% of cases. Atrophy of the SS muscle resolved in 80.7% and atrophy of the IS muscle in 50% of cases.

Surgical treatment of SNE is indicated after failed conservative treatment and in cases of atrophy of the SS and IS muscles. The authors recommend the posterior approach, which minimizes risks and complications and produces good postoperative results.

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Julia A. Kandenwein, Thomas Kretschmer, Martin Engelhardt, Hans-Peter Richter and Gregor Antoniadis

Object. Surgical therapy for traumatic brachial plexus lesions is still a great challenge in the field of peripheral nerve surgery. The aim of this study was to present the results of different surgical interventions in patients with this lesion type.

Methods. One hundred thirty-four patients with traumatic brachial plexus lesions underwent surgery between January 1991 and September 1999. In more than 50% of the patients, injury was caused by a motorbike accident. Patients underwent surgery a mean of 6.3 months posttrauma. The following surgical techniques were applied: neurolysis for nerve lesions in continuity (27 cases), grafting for lesions in discontinuity (149 cases), and neurotization for root avulsions (67 cases). Sixty-five patients were evaluated for at least 30 months (mean follow up 42.1 months) after surgery.

Function was graded using the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center classification system. Only 2% of the patients had Grade 3 or better function preoperatively, increasing to 52% postoperatively. The effect of surgical measures on the functional results for different muscles were compared (supra- or infraspinatus, deltoid, biceps, and triceps muscles); the best results were obtained for biceps muscle function (57% of patients with Medical Research Council Grades M3–M5 function). Graft reconstruction yielded a better outcome than neurotization. Surgery within 5 months posttrauma clearly resulted in improved recovery of motor function compared with later interventions. Sural nerve grafts (monofascicular nerves) showed better results.

Conclusions. The results of neurosurgical interventions for brachial plexus lesions are satisfactory, especially when the operation is performed between 3 and 6 months after trauma.

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Thomas Kretschmer, Gregor Antoniadis, Veit Braun, Stefan A. Rath and Hans-Peter Richter

Object. The purpose of this study was to discover the number and types of iatrogenic nerve injuries that were surgically treated during a 9-year period at a relatively busy nerve center. The specific nerves involved, their sites of injury, and the mechanisms of injury were also documented.

Methods. The authors retrospectively evaluated the surgically treated iatrogenic lesions by reviewing case histories, operative reports, and follow-up notes in 722 cases of trauma. These cases were treated between January 1990 and December 1998 because of pain, dysesthesias, and sensory and/or motor deficits.

Iatrogenic injury was a much larger category of trauma than predicted. One hundred twenty-six (17.4%) of the 722 surgically treated cases were iatrogenic in origin. Most of these injuries occurred during a previous operation. To a major extent, nerves of the extremities were affected, and a relatively large number of injuries occurred in the neck and groin. Incidence was highest in the spinal accessory nerve (14 cases), the common peroneal nerve (11 cases), the superficial radial nerve (10 cases), the genitofemoral nerve branches (10 cases), and the median nerve (nine cases). At least two thirds of the patients did not undergo surgery for the iatrogenic injury within an optimal time interval due to delayed referral. Follow-up data were available in 97 of the 126 patients. Surgical outcomes demonstrated improvement in 70% of patients. Operative results were especially favorable in patients suffering from iatrogenic injuries to the accessory and superficial sensory radial nerves.

Conclusions. Iatrogenic injuries should be corrected in a timely fashion just like any other traumatic injury to nerve.

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Ralph W. Koenig, Maria T. Pedro, Christian P. G. Heinen, Thomas Schmidt, Hans-Peter Richter, Gregor Antoniadis and Thomas Kretschmer

High-resolution ultrasonography is a noninvasive, readily applicable imaging modality, capable of depicting real-time static and dynamic morphological information concerning the peripheral nerves and their surrounding tissues. Continuous progress in ultrasonographic technology results in highly improved spatial and contrast resolution. Therefore, nerve imaging is possible to a fascicular level, and most peripheral nerves can now be depicted along their entire anatomical course. An increasing number of publications have evaluated the role of high-resolution ultrasonography in peripheral nerve diseases, especially in peripheral nerve entrapment.

Ultrasonography has been shown to be a precious complementary tool for assessing peripheral nerve lesions with respect to their exact location, course, continuity, and extent in traumatic nerve lesions, and for assessing nerve entrapment and tumors. In this article, the authors discuss the basic technical considerations for using ultrasoniography in peripheral nerve assessment, and some of the clinical applications are illustrated.

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Maria Teresa Pedro, Gregor Antoniadis, Angelika Scheuerle, Mirko Pham, Christian Rainer Wirtz and Ralph W. Koenig

The diagnostic workup and surgical therapy for peripheral nerve tumors and tumorlike lesions are challenging. Magnetic resonance imaging is the standard diagnostic tool in the preoperative workup. However, even with advanced pulse sequences such as diffusion tensor imaging for MR neurography, the ability to differentiate tumor entities based on histological features remains limited. In particular, rare tumor entities different from schwannomas and neurofibromas are difficult to anticipate before surgical exploration and histological confirmation. High-resolution ultrasound (HRU) has become another important tool in the preoperative evaluation of peripheral nerves. Ongoing software and technical developments with transducers of up to 17–18 MHz enable high spatial resolution with tissue-differentiating properties. Unfortunately, high-frequency ultrasound provides low tissue penetration. The authors developed a setting in which intraoperative HRU was used and in which the direct sterile contact between the ultrasound transducer and the surgically exposed nerve pathology was enabled to increase structural resolution and contrast. In a case-guided fashion, the authors report the sonographic characteristics of rare tumor entities shown by intraoperative HRU and contrast-enhanced ultrasound.

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Ralph W. Koenig, Thomas E. Schmidt, Christian P. G. Heinen, Christian R. Wirtz, Thomas Kretschmer, Gregor Antoniadis and Maria T. Pedro

Object

Surgical treatment of nerve lesions in continuity remains difficult, even in the most experienced hands. The regenerative potential of those injuries can be evaluated by intraoperative electrophysiological studies and/or intraneural dissection. The present study examines the value of intraoperative high-frequency ultrasound as an imaging tool for decision making in the management of traumatic nerve lesions in continuity.

Methods

Intraoperative high-frequency ultrasound was applied to 19 traumatic or iatrogenic nerve lesions of differing extents. The information obtained was correlated with intraoperative electrophysiological, microsurgical intraneural dissection, and histopathological findings in resected nerve segments.

Results

The intraoperative application of high-resolution, high-frequency ultrasound enabled morphological examination of nerve lesions in continuity, with good image quality. The assessment of the severity of the underlying nerve injury matched perfectly with the judgment obtained from intraoperative electrophysiological studies. Both intraneural nerve dissection and neuropathological examination of the resected nerve segments confirmed the sonographic findings. In addition, intraoperative ultrasound proved to be very time efficient.

Conclusions

With intraoperative ultrasound, the extent of traumatic peripheral nerve lesions can be examined morphologically for the first time. It is a promising, noninvasive method that seems capable of assessing the type (intraneural/perineural) and grade of nerve fibrosis. Therefore, in combination with intraoperative neurophysiological studies, intraoperative high-resolution ultrasound may represent a major tool for noninvasive assessment of the regenerative potential of a nerve lesion.

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Stefan A. Rath, Slawomir Moszko, Petra M. Schäffner, Giuseppe Cantone, Veit Braun, Hans-Peter Richter and Gregor Antoniadis

Object

Although transpedicular fixation is a biomechanically superior technique, it is not routinely used in the cervical spine. The risk of neurovascular injury in this region is considered high because the diameter of cervical pedicles is very small and their angle of insertion into the vertebral body varies. This study was conducted to analyze the clinical accuracy of stereotactically guided transpedicular screw insertion into the cervical spine.

Methods

Twenty-seven patients underwent posterior stabilization of the cervical spine for degenerative instability resulting from myelopathy, fracture/dislocation, tumor, rheumatoid arthritis, and pyogenic spondylitis. Fixation included 1–6 motion segments (mean 2.2 segments). Transpedicular screws (3.5-mm diameter) were placed using 1 of 2 computer-assisted guidance systems and lateral fluoroscopic control. The intraoperative mean deviation of frameless stereotaxy was < 1.9 mm for all procedures.

Results

No neurovascular complications resulted from screw insertion. Postoperative computed tomography (CT) scans revealed satisfactory positioning in 104 (90%) of 116 cervical pedicles and in all 12 thoracic pedicles. A noncritical lateral or inferior cortical breach was seen with 7 screws (6%). Critical malplacement (4%) was always lateral: 5 screws encroached into the vertebral artery foramen by 40–60% of its diameter; Doppler sonographic controls revealed no vascular compromise. Screw malplacement was mostly due to a small pedicle diameter that required a steep trajectory angle, which could not be achieved because of anatomical limitation in the exposure of the surgical field.

Conclusions

Despite the use of frameless stereotaxy, there remains some risk of critical transpedicular screw malpositioning in the subaxial cervical spine. Results may be improved by the use of intraoperative CT scanning and navigated percutaneous screw insertion, which allow optimization of the transpedicular trajectory.

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Thomas Kretschmer, Gregor Antoniadis, Christian Heinen, Wolfgang Börm, Christian Scheller, Hans-Peter Richter and Ralph W. Koenig

✓In this article the authors attempt to raise awareness of the pitfalls and controversial issues in nerve tumor surgery. In a case-guided format, examples of ambiguous findings, inappropriate tumor removal, repeated surgery, and nerve repairs are provided. The authors also discuss the need to establish a correct diagnosis preoperatively and to avoid the erroneous identification of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs). They emphasize that not all of the principles of soft tissue sarcoma treatment protocols are applicable to MPNST. A situation of repeated surgery for supposedly malignant tumor is described, and an outline of the indications for, and an approach to, repair after lesion removal is given.

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Andreas Knoll, Andrej Pal’a, Maria-Teresa Pedro, Ute Bäzner, Max Schneider, Ralph W. König, Christian Rainer Wirtz, Sarah Friedrich, Markus Pauly and Gregor Antoniadis

OBJECTIVE

Intraneural ganglion cysts are rare and benign mucinous lesions that affect peripheral nerves, most frequently the common peroneal nerve (CPN). The precise pathophysiological mechanisms of intraneural ganglion cyst development remain unclear. A well-established theory suggests the spread of mucinous fluid along the articular branch of the peroneal nerve as the underlying mechanism. Clinical outcome following decompression of intraneural ganglion cysts has been demonstrated to be excellent. The aim of this study was to evaluate the correlation between clinical outcome and ultrasound-detected morphological nerve features following decompression of intraneural ganglion cysts of the CPN.

METHODS

Data were retrospectively analyzed from 20 patients who underwent common peroneal nerve ganglion cyst decompression surgery at the Universität Ulm/Günzburg Neurosurgery Department between October 2003 and October 2017. Postoperative clinical outcome was evaluated by assessment of the muscular strength of the anterior tibial muscle, the extensor hallucis longus muscle, and the peroneus muscle according to the Medical Research Council grading system. Hypesthesia was measured by sensation testing. In all patients, postoperative morphological assessment of the peroneal nerve was conducted between October 2016 and October 2017 using the iU22 Philips Medical ultrasound system at the last routine follow-up appointment. Finally, the correlations between morphological changes in nerve ultrasound and postoperative clinical outcomes were evaluated.

RESULTS

During the postoperative ultrasound scan an intraneural hypoechogenic ring structure located at the medial side of the peroneal nerve was detected in 15 (75%) of 20 patients, 14 of whom demonstrated an improvement in motor function. A regular intraneural fasicular structure was identified in 3 patients (15%), who also reported recovery. In 1 patient, a recurrent cyst was detected, and 1 patient showed intraneural fibrosis for which recovery did not occur in the year following the procedure. Two patients (10%) developed neuropathic pain that could not be explained by nerve ultrasound findings.

CONCLUSIONS

The results of this study demonstrate significant recovery from preoperative weakness after decompression of intraneural ganglion cysts of the CPN. A favorable clinical outcome was highly correlated with an intraneural hypoechogenic ring-shaped structure on the medial side of the CPN identified during a follow-up postoperative ultrasound scan. These study results indicate the potential benefit of ultrasound scanning as a prognostic tool following decompression procedures for intraneural ganglion cysts of the CPN.

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Christian Scheller, Andreas Wienke, Marcos Tatagiba, Alireza Gharabaghi, Kristofer F. Ramina, Oliver Ganslandt, Barbara Bischoff, Cordula Matthies, Thomas Westermaier, Gregor Antoniadis, Maria Teresa Pedro, Veit Rohde, Kajetan von Eckardstein, Thomas Kretschmer, Johannes Zenk and Christian Strauss

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this research was to examine the stability of long-term hearing preservation and the regeneration capacity of the cochlear nerve following vestibular schwannoma (VS) surgery in a prospective study.

METHODS

A total of 112 patients were recruited for a randomized multicenter trial between January 2010 and April 2012 to investigate the efficacy of prophylactic nimodipine treatment versus no prophylactic nimodipine treatment in VS surgery. For the present investigation, both groups were pooled to compare hearing abilities in the early postoperative course and 1 year after the surgery. Hearing was examined using pure-tone audiometry with speech discrimination, which was performed preoperatively, in the early postoperative course, and 12 months after surgery and was subsequently classified by an independent otorhinolaryngologist using the Gardner-Robertson classification system.

RESULTS

Hearing abilities at 2 time points were compared by evaluation in the early postoperative course and 1 year after surgery in 102 patients. The chi-square test showed a very strong association between the 2 measurements in all 102 patients (p < 0.001) and in the subgroup of 66 patients with a preserved cochlear nerve (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

There is no significant change in cochlear nerve function between the early postoperative course and 1 year after VS surgery. The result of hearing performance, as evaluated by early postoperative audiometry after VS surgery, seems to be a reliable prognosticator for future hearing ability.

Clinical trial registration nos.: 2009-012088-32 (clinicaltrialsregister.eu) and DRKS 00000328 (“AkNiPro,” drks-neu.uniklinik-freiburg.de/drks_web/)