Sueleyman Tas, Frank Staub, Thomas Dombert, Gerhard Marquardt, Christian Senft, Volker Seifert and Stephan Duetzmann
Carpal tunnel syndrome causes increased cross-sectional area (CSA) of the median nerve, which can be assessed by high-definition ultrasonography. It is unclear today, however, whether high-definition ultrasonography may play a role in the postoperative period. This prospective study aimed to determine the natural history of the morphology of the median nerve at the carpal tunnel after surgical decompression assessed by high-definition ultrasonography.
Between October and December 2014, patients with suspected carpal tunnel syndrome who were referred to the authors’ center for peripheral neurosurgery were prospectively enrolled and underwent pre- and postoperative (3 months) high-definition ultrasonography, electrophysiology, and clinical testing.
Eighty-one patients were enrolled in the study, and 100% were clinically better at the 3-month follow-up. The mean CSA decreased from 14.7 ± 4.9 mm2 to 12.4 ± 3.4 mm2 (mean ± SD, p < 0.0001). The mean distal motor latency decreased from 6.6 ± 2.4 msec to 4.8 ± 1.0 msec (mean ± SD, p < 0.0001). Ninety-eight percent of patients who were available for electrodiagnostic follow-up showed an improvement of the distal motor latency; only 80% had a reduction in the CSA.
The authors present the second-largest series of patients with sonographic follow-up after surgical decompression of the carpal tunnel reported in the literature so far. This study, which showed a decrease in size of the median nerve after surgical decompression, suggests that the preoperative increase in median nerve CSA at the carpal tunnel may be due to compression and that enlargement of the median nerve is (partially) reversible.
Stephan Duetzmann, Tyler Cole, Christian Senft, Volker Seifert, John Kevin Ratliff and Jon Park
Incisional pain after posterior cervical spine surgery can be severe and very unpleasant to the patient. Ongoing incisional pain is one of the key disadvantages of posterior over anterior surgical approaches to the cervical spine. It prolongs hospital stays and delays return to work. In this study, the hypothesized that incisional pain in the immediate postoperative period is caused partially by tension on the skin as well as on the deep cervical fascia and the fascia overlying the trapezius, which are usually sewn together during closure. Reduction of this tension through retraction of the shoulders should therefore reduce pain as well as the amount of pain medication used in the early postoperative period.
In this prospective randomized controlled study, 30 patients who had undergone posterior cervical spine surgery were randomized into 2 groups who either wore or did not wear a clavicle brace to retract the shoulders. Patients in the brace group began wearing the brace on postoperative day (POD) 4 and wore it continuously throughout the 30-day study period. Outcome was assessed by two measures: 1) the daily level of self reported pain according to the visual analog scale (VAS) and 2) the number of pain pills taken during the 30-day postoperative period.
Wearing a clavicle brace in the immediate postoperative period significantly reduced incisional pain and the amount of pain medication that patients took. Beginning on POD 4 and continuing until day POD 13, the mean daily VAS score for pain was significantly lower in the brace group than in the control group. Furthermore, patients who wore the clavicle brace took less pain medication from POD 4 to POD 12. At this point the difference lost significance until the end of the study period. Four patients were randomized but did not tolerate wearing the brace.
Patients who tolerated wearing the clavicle brace after posterior cervical spine surgery had reduced pain and used less pain medication.
Florian Gessler, Markus Bruder, Stephan Duetzmann, Stephanie Tritt, Joshua D. Bernstock, Volker Seifert and Christian Senft
Neurosurgical intervention may increase the risk of developing cerebral vein and dural sinus thrombosis (CVT). The clinical management of CVT in postoperative patients remains unclear. This retrospective study explores the disease occurrence, associated risk factors, and outcomes in patients with tumors who developed CVT after craniotomy.
A retrospective analysis and review of patient records in those who had undergone cranial tumor removal within the authors' neurosurgical department was performed. In so doing, the authors identified a cohort of patients who developed CVT postoperatively. The study included patients who presented to the department between January 2004 and December 2013.
Of 2286 patients with intracranial lesions who underwent craniotomy, 35 (1.5%) went on to develop CVT. The authors identified the semisitting position (OR 7.55, 95% CI 3.73–15.31, p < 0.001); intraoperative sinus injury (OR 1.5, 95% CI 3.57–15.76, p < 0.001); and known CVT risk factors (OR 7.77, 95% CI 2.28–21.39, p < 0.001) as predictors of CVT development. Of note, 19 patients (54.3%) had good outcomes (modified Rankin Scale Score 0–1), whereas 9 patients (25.7%) had suffered dependency or death (modified Rankin Scale Score 4–6) at last follow-up. Intracerebral hemorrhage (OR 21.27, 95% CI 1.59–285.01, p = 0.02) and delayed delivery of an intermediate dose of low-molecular-weight heparin anticoagulation (OR 24.12, 95% CI 2.08–280.13, p = 0.01) were associated with unfavorable outcomes.
Only a minority of patients undergoing craniotomy for tumor removal develop CVT, and the majority of those who do develop CVT recover well. Early administration of an intermediate dose of low-molecular-weight heparin anticoagulation might be considered once CVT is diagnosed.
Michael Kern, Matthias Setzer, Lutz Weise, Ali Mroe, Holger Frey, Katharina Frey, Volker Seifert and Stephan Duetzmann
The treatment of patients with spinal stenosis and concurrent degenerative spondylolisthesis is controversial. Two large randomized controlled clinical trials reported contradictory results. The authors hypothesized that a substantial number of patients will show evidence of micro-instability after a sole decompression procedure.
This study was a retrospective analysis of all cases of lumbar spinal stenosis treated at the Frankfurt University Clinic (Universitätsklinik Frankfurt) from 2010 through 2013. Patients who had associated spondylolisthesis underwent upright MRI studies in flexion and extension for identification of subtle signs of micro-instability. Clinical outcome was assessed by means of SF-36 bodily pain (BP) and physical functioning (PF) scales.
A total of 21 patients were recruited to undergo upright MRI studies. The mean duration of follow-up was 65 months (SD 16 months). Of these 21 patients, 10 (47%) showed signs of micro-instability as defined by movement of > 4 mm on flexion/extension MRI. Comparison of mean SF-36 BP and PF scores in the group of patients who showed micro-instability versus those who did not showed no statistically significant difference on either scale.
There seems to be a substantial subset of patients who develop morphological micro-instability after sole decompression procedures but do not experience any clinically significant effect of the instability.