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Andrew L. Ko, Albert Lee, Ahmed M. Raslan, Alp Ozpinar, Shirley McCartney and Kim J. Burchiel

OBJECT

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) occurs and recurs in the absence of neurovascular compression (NVC). To characterize what may be distinct patient populations, the authors examined age at onset in patients with TN with and without NVC.

METHODS

A retrospective review of patients undergoing posterior fossa surgery for Type I TN at Oregon Health & Science University from 2009 to 2013 was undertaken. Charts were reviewed, and imaging and operative data were collected for patients with and without NVC. Mean, median, and the empirical cumulative distribution of onset age were determined. Statistical analysis was performed using Student t-test, Wilcoxon and Kolmogorov-Smirnoff tests, and Kaplan-Meier analysis. Multivariate analysis was performed using a Cox proportional hazards model.

RESULTS

The charts of 219 patients with TN were reviewed. There were 156 patients who underwent posterior fossa exploration and microvascular decompression or internal neurolysis: 129 patients with NVC and 27 without NVC. Mean age at symptoms onset for patients with and without NVC was 51.1 and 42.6 years, respectively. This difference (8.4 years) was significant (t-test: p = 0.007), with sufficient power to detect an effect size of 8.2 years. Median age between groups with and without NVC was 53.25 and 41.2 years, respectively (p = 0.003). Histogram analysis revealed a bimodal age at onset in patients without NVC, and cumulative distribution of age at onset revealed an earlier presentation of symptoms (p = 0.003) in patients without NVC. Chi-square analysis revealed a trend toward female predominance in patients without NVC, which was not significant (p = 0.08). Multivariate analysis revealed that age at onset was related to NVC but not sex, symptom side or distribution, or patient response to medical treatment.

CONCLUSIONS

NVC is neither sufficient nor necessary for the development of TN. Patients with TN without NVC may represent a distinct population of younger, predominantly female patients. Further research into the pathophysiology underlying this debilitating disease is needed.

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Andrew L. Ko, Alp Ozpinar, Albert Lee, Ahmed M. Raslan, Shirley McCartney and Kim J. Burchiel

OBJECT

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) occurs and recurs in the absence of neurovascular compression (NVC). While microvascular decompression (MVD) is the most effective treatment for TN, it is not possible when NVC is not present. Therefore, the authors sought to evaluate the safety, efficacy, and durability of internal neurolysis (IN), or “nerve combing,” as a treatment for TN without NVC.

METHODS

This was a retrospective review of all cases of Type 1 TN involving all patients 18 years of age or older who underwent evaluation (and surgery when appropriate) at Oregon Health & Science University between July 2006 and February 2013. Chart reviews and telephone interviews were conducted to assess patient outcomes. Pain intensity was evaluated with the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) Pain Intensity scale, and the Brief Pain Inventory–Facial (BPI-Facial) was used to assess general and face-specific activity. Pain-free survival and durability of successful pain relief (BNI pain scores of 1 or 2) were statistically evaluated with Kaplan-Meier analysis. Prognostic factors were identified and analyzed using Cox proportional hazards regression.

RESULTS

A total of 177 patients with Type 1 TN were identified. A subgroup of 27 was found to have no NVC on high-resolution MRI/MR angiography or at surgery. These patients were significantly younger than patients with classic Type 1 TN. Long-term follow-up was available for 26 of 27 patients, and 23 responded to the telephone survey. The median follow-up duration was 43.4 months. Immediate postoperative results were comparable to MVD, with 85% of patients pain free and 96% of patients with successful pain relief. At 1 year and 5 years, the rate of pain-free survival was 58% and 47%, respectively. Successful pain relief at those intervals was maintained in 77% and 72% of patients. Almost all patients experienced some degree of numbness or hypesthesia (96%), but in patients with successful pain relief, this numbness did not significantly impact their quality of life. There was 1 patient with a CSF leak and 1 patient with anesthesia dolorosa. Previous treatment for TN was identified as a poor prognostic factor for successful outcome.

CONCLUSIONS

This is the first report of IN with meaningful outcomes data. This study demonstrated that IN is a safe, effective, and durable treatment for TN in the absence of NVC. Pain-free outcomes with IN appeared to be more durable than radiofrequency gangliolysis, and IN appears to be more effective than stereotactic radiosurgery, 2 alternatives to posterior fossa exploration in cases of TN without NVC. Given the younger age distribution of patients in this group, consideration should be given to performing IN as an initial treatment. Accrual of further outcomes data is warranted.

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Laura Rocchi, Patricia Carlson-Kuhta, Lorenzo Chiari, Kim J. Burchiel, Penelope Hogarth and Fay B. Horak

Object

Difficulty with step initiation, called “start hesitation,” is related to gait bradykinesia and is an early hallmark of gait freezing in Parkinson disease (PD). Authors of this study investigated the effects of deep brain stimulation (DBS) and levodopa on step initiation before and 6 months after DBS surgery in 29 patients with PD who were randomized to either the bilateral subthalamic nucleus (STN) or globus pallidus internus (GPi) as the DBS site.

Methods

The authors measured the amplitude and duration of anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs), the feed-forward postural preparation that precedes the onset of voluntary step initiation, based on center-of-pressure displacements on a force plate. They also measured the length and velocity of the first step using a motion analysis system to study kinematics. Some of the patients (22) were from a large, multicenter, double-blind clinical trial, and all patients in the study (29, PD-DBS group) were randomized to DBS in either the bilateral STN (15 patients) or bilateral GPi (14 patients). Differences in step initiation were investigated in 2 conditions before surgery (off/on levodopa) and in 4 conditions after surgery (off/on levodopa combined with off/on DBS). Twenty-eight elderly healthy control volunteers (CTRL group) were also tested, and 9 control volunteers with PD who met the criteria for DBS (PD-C group) were tested at baseline and 6 months later.

Results

Patients in the PD-DBS group had smaller amplitudes and longer durations of APAs compared with those in the 28 healthy control volunteers in all conditions. Before surgery, APAs improved with levodopa. After surgery, the APAs were significantly worse than in the best-treatment state before surgery (DOPA condition), and responsiveness to levodopa decreased. No differences in APAs were detected between the STN and GPi groups. A comparison with PD control volunteers who did not undergo DBS surgery confirmed that a deterioration in step preparation was not related to disease progression.

Step length and velocity were smaller in the PD-DBS group than in controls in all conditions. Before surgery, levodopa improved the length and velocity of the first step. Both step length and velocity were unchanged in the best-treatment state before surgery (DOPA condition) as compared with after surgery (DBS+DOPA), with only step velocity in the STN group getting worse after surgery.

Conclusions

Six months of DBS in the STN or GPi impaired anticipatory postural preparation for step initiation, the opposite effect as with levodopa. Deep brain stimulation disrupted postural preparation more than step execution, suggesting independent motor pathways for preparation and execution of gait. Although turning the stimulators on after surgery combined with levodopa benefited the postural preparation to step, a comparison of pre- and postsurgery conditions suggests that either the surgery itself or 6 months of continuous stimulation may lead to an alteration of circuits or plastic changes that impair step initiation.

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Editorial

Deep brain stimulation and depression

Kim J. Burchiel

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Roberto C. Heros

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Ahmed M. Raslan, Justin S. Cetas, Shirley McCartney and Kim J. Burchiel

Object

Historically, destructive procedures for cancer pain were the main line of treatment therapy. However, the use of high-dose opioids has essentially replaced such procedures. Recognition of the limits of medical therapy to treat cancer pain effectively is growing, while conversely, in regions with limited access to pain medications, the importance of destructive surgical techniques is increasing. A critical evaluation of the evidence for destructive techniques is warranted, and the authors review current evidence underlying these procedures.

Methods

A US National Library of Medicine PubMed search for “ablation,” “DREZ,” “dorsal root entry zone,” “cingulotomy,” “cordotomy,” “ganglionectomy,” “mesencephalotomy,” “myelotomy,” “neurotomy,” “neurectomy,” “rhizotomy,” “sympathectomy,” “thalamotomy,” “tractotomy,” and “pain” was undertaken. The search was then limited to human studies, English-language literature, cancer pain, and reports with more than 1 patient.

Results

One hundred twenty papers were identified and reviewed based on the selection criteria described. According to the Canadian and US task forces, classification of clinical research literature only “sympathectomy” was supported by Class I or II studies, with 2 Class I papers and 1 Class II paper identified for cancer pain. All other procedures were supported by Class III studies of variable quality. Cordotomy in particular was the most extensively studied and reviewed procedure. Given the large number of patients studied, consistent results, multiplicity of reports and, even though evidence quality for individual studies was relatively low, cumulative evidence suggests that cordotomy may play an important role in the treatment of cancer pain.

Conclusions

Destructive procedures for cancer pain may play more than a historic role in the management of cancer pain. Cumulative evidence from even the poorest quality studies suggests that some procedures, such as cordotomy, should be included in the armamentarium available to the neurosurgeon today. To renew appropriate interest in these procedures, evidence and studies that meets today's evidence-based research criteria are warranted.

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Andrew C. Zacest, Stephen T. Magill, Jonathan Miller and Kim J. Burchiel

Object

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a neuropathic pain syndrome that is often associated with neurovascular compression of the trigeminal nerve and may be effectively treated with microvascular decompression (MVD). The authors used high-resolution MR imaging with 3D reconstruction in patients with constant facial pain (Type 2 TN) to determine the presence/absence of neurovascular compression and thus a potential MVD benefit. They retrospectively contacted patients to evaluate outcome.

Methods

All patients who reported spontaneous onset of constant facial pain (Type 2 TN), which occurred at least 50% of the time, who had undergone high-resolution 3-T MR imaging with 3D reconstruction were retrospectively selected for this study. Clinical history, facial pain questionnaire data, physical examination findings, and results from 3-T 3D MR imaging reconstruction were recorded for all patients. Intraoperative findings and clinical pain outcome were recorded for all patients who underwent MVD.

Results

Data obtained in 27 patients were assessed. On the basis of history and 3D MR imaging reconstruction findings, 13 patients were selected for MVD (Group A) and 14 underwent conservative treatment (Group B). Typical or suspected artery- or vein-induced neurovascular compression was predicted preoperatively in 100% of Group A patients and in 0% of Group B patients. At the time of MVD, definitive neurovascular compression was confirmed in 11 (84.6%) of 13 Group A patients. Following MVD, facial pain was completely relieved in 3 (23%), improved in 7 (53.8%), and no better in 3 (23%) of 13 Group A patients. A history of episodic (Type 1 TN) pain at any time was reported in 100 and 50% of Group A and Group B patients, respectively. A Type 1 TN pain component was reportedly improved/relieved in all Group A patients, but the Type 2 TN pain component was improved in only 7 (53.8%) of 13 patients. The mean postoperative follow-up duration was 13 months.

Conclusions

High-resolution 3D MR imaging reconstruction in patients with constant facial pain (Type 2 TN) can help determine the presence/absence of neurovascular compression. Surgical selection based on both clinical and radiological criteria has the potential to improve surgical outcome in patients with Type 2 TN who may potentially benefit from MVD. However, even in such selected patients, pain relief is likely to be incomplete.

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Shang-Yih Yan, Chia-Lin Tsai and Dueng-Yuan Hueng

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Albert Lee, Shirley McCartney, Cole Burbidge, Ahmed M. Raslan and Kim J. Burchiel

Object

Vascular compression of the trigeminal nerve is the most common factor associated with the etiology of trigeminal neuralgia (TN). Microvascular decompression (MVD) has proven to be the most successful and durable surgical approach for this disorder. However, not all patients with TN manifest unequivocal neurovascular compression (NVC). Furthermore, over time patients with an initially successful MVD manifest a relentless rate of TN recurrence.

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective review of cases of TN Type 1 (TN1) or Type 2 (TN2) involving patients 18 years or older who underwent evaluation (and surgery when indicated) at Oregon Health & Science University between July 2006 and February 2013. Surgical and imaging findings were correlated.

Results

The review identified a total of 257 patients with TN (219 with TN1 and 38 with TN2) who underwent high-resolution MRI and MR angiography with 3D reconstruction of combined images using OsiriX. Imaging data revealed that the occurrence of TN1 and TN2 without NVC was 28.8% and 18.4%, respectively. A subgroup of 184 patients underwent surgical exploration. Imaging findings were highly correlated with surgical findings, with a sensitivity of 96% for TN1 and TN2 and a specificity of 90% for TN1 and 66% for TN2.

Conclusions

Magnetic resonance imaging detects NVC with a high degree of sensitivity. However, despite a diagnosis of TN1 or TN2, a significant number of patients have no NVC. Trigeminal neuralgia clearly occurs and recurs in the absence of NVC.