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  • Author or Editor: Marc Sindou x
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Marc P. Sindou, Eric Blondet, Evelyne Emery and Patrick Mertens

Object. Most patients with preganglionic lesions after brachial plexus injuries suffer pain that is hard to control through medication or neuromodulation. Lesioning in the dorsal root entry zone (DREZ) is undeniably effective. Fifty-five patients who had undergone the so-called microsurgical DREZotomy (MDT) procedure were studied with the two following objectives: 1) to describe the anatomical lesions observed during MDT in correlation with sensory deficits and pain features; and 2) to analyze the results in the 44 patients who were followed for more than 1 year (mean 6 years).

Methods. The observed lesions were severe: 79.6% of ventral and 78.2% of dorsal roots from C5—T1 were impaired. Damage extended to all five roots in 42% of patients. Strong arachnoiditis was present in 38.2%, pseudomeningoceles in 31%, spinal cord distortion and/or atrophy in 49%, and abundant gliotic tissue and/or microcavitations within the dorsal horn at the avulsed segments in 36.4% of cases. Sensory deficit corresponded to the entire territory of the dorsal root lesions in 52% of patients, but was larger in 30% most certainly due to the associated extrarachidian lesions. At the last evaluation after MDT, 66% of patients showed excellent (total relief without medication) or good (total relief with medication) pain relief and 71% experienced an improvement in activity level.

Conclusions. Apart from other indications not addressed in this article, MDT can be performed to treat refractory pain due to brachial plexus avulsions. The long-term efficacy of this procedure strongly indicates that pain after brachial plexus avulsion originates from the deafferented (and gliotic) dorsal horn.

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Marc Guenot, Jean-Michel Hupe, Patrick Mertens, Alan Ainsworth, Jean Bullier and Marc Sindou

Object. In this paper the authors report on the conception and adjustment of a microelectrode used to obtain unitary recordings in the human spinal cord.

Methods. To overcome the difficulties related to intraoperative pulsations of the spinal cord, the authors opted to use a floating microelectrode. Because the recordings are obtained most often from spontaneous activities, it is difficult, with a single microelectrode, to separate spikes from electrical artifacts that are related to the switching of devices. Consequently, the authors designed a dual microelectrode made of two tungsten-in-glass—attached microelectrodes separated by 300 µm. Because the two electrodes cannot obtain recordings in the same neuron, it is possible to distinguish unambiguously spikes (recorded on one tip) from electrical artifacts (recorded simultaneously on the two tips). The dual microelectrode is 2 cm long, with a 20-µm tip length, and 800 to 1200—Ohms impedance. This microelectrode can be implanted “free hand,” in the dorsal horn, by using a microsurgical forceps under a surgical microscope. The data analysis is performed off-line with spike sorter hardware.

In the dorsal horns in 17 patients who were selected to undergo a dorsal root entry zone (DREZ) rhizotomy to treat various pathological conditions, unitary recordings were obtained using this double microelectrode. The authors recorded 57 neurons in good conditions of stability and isolation.

Conclusions. The microelectrode described in this paper was successfully used to obtain recordings in neurons in more than 85% of the patients. This simplified, floating double microelectrode can therefore be considered for use in microsurgical DREZ rhizotomy to obtain unitary recordings in the human spinal dorsal horn.

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Joseph Maarrawi, Patrick Mertens, Jacques Luaute, Christophe Vial, Nicole Chardonnet, Maryse Cosson and Marc Sindou

Object

To manage refractory upper-limb spasticity, selective peripheral neurotomy (SPN) is proposed when the spastic muscles to be treated are under the control of a single or a few peripheral nerves. The aim of this study was to assess prospectively the long-term effects of SPN.

Methods

Thirty-one patients with disabling upper-limb spasticity were selected by a multidisciplinary team using clinical, analytical, and functional scales as well as nerve block tests for assessment. Sixty-four SPNs were performed at the level of the musculocutaneous (15 SPNs), the median (25 SPNs), and the ulnar (24 SPNs) nerves. Results of a long term follow up (mean 4.5 years) showed statistically significant improvement on 1) analytical assessment (p < 0.01): resting position, active amplitude, and motor strength; 2) Ashworth Scale scoring (p < 0.01); 3) hand function assessment (p < 0.01); and 4) rating of daily activities. Four patients with severe painful spasticity experienced complete pain relief after surgery. On the basis of a Visual Analog Scale ranging from 0 to 100, the mean degree of patient satisfaction was 61.5. Complications occurred in five patients (15%): two postoperative hematomas, one (temporary) hypesthesia, and one transient paresia of the wrist and finger flexors.

Conclusions

Selective peripheral neurotomy leads to long-term satisfactory improvement in function and/or comfort with a low morbidity rate in appropriately selected patients suffering from severe harmful spasticity of the upper limb that has been refractory to conservative therapy. Patients must be selected after complete assessment by a multidisciplinary team.

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Patrick Mertens, Chantal Ghaemmaghami, Lionel Bert, Armand Perret-Liaudet, Marc Guenot, Hussein Naous, Laurent Laganier, Roger Later, Marc Sindou and Bernard Renaud

✓ The aim of this study was to develop, for the first time in the human spinal dorsal horn (DH), an in vivo method for the study of amino acids (AAs).

A microdialysis technique was used to sample AAs in the extracellular fluid of the DH apex in eight patients in whom surgery in the dorsal root entry zone (DREZ) was performed. Before making microsurgical lesions, specific concentric-type microdialysis probes were implanted over a 60-minute period in the DREZ and directed to the DH apex (10 implantations). The AA concentrations in the dialysates were determined using high-performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection. The concentrations of excitatory AAs (glutamate and aspartate) and inhibitory AAs (γ-aminobutyric acid and glycine) decreased and were stabilized by 45 minutes after probe implantation, whereas the levels of nonneurotransmitter AAs (alanine and threonine) were not stabilized at 60 minutes. The ability of the probe to track the changes of extracellular AAs was demonstrated. Neither intra- nor postoperative microdialysis-related complications were observed (with a follow up of 18 months).

The present study demonstrates that microdialysis can be performed safely in the human DH during DREZ lesioning. Despite technical and analytical limitations related to the intraoperative conditions, this technique offers new possibilities for clinical research on neurotransmitters involved in some relevant pathological states, especially in chronic pain and spasticity.