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  • Author or Editor: Mika Niemelä x
  • Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine x
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Juri Kivelev, Mika Niemelä and Juha Hernesniemi


Spinal cavernomas are rare, but can cause significant neurological deficits due to mass effect and extralesional hemorrhage. The authors present their results of microsurgical treatment of 14 consecutive patients with spinal cavernoma, and review the literature.


Of the 376 patients with cavernomas of the CNS treated at Helsinki University Central Hospital (a catchment area close to 2 million inhabitants) between January 1980 and June 2009, 14 (4%) had a spinal cavernoma. The authors reexamined and analyzed the patient files and images retrospectively. Median patient age at presentation was 45 years (range 20–57 years). The female/male ratio was equal. Median duration of symptoms before admission to the department was 12 months (range 0.1–168 months). Patients suffered from sensorimotor paresis, radicular pain, or neurogenic micturition disorders in different combinations or separately. Hemorrhage had occurred in 7 patients (50%) before surgery. In 9 patients (64%) the cavernoma was intramedullary, in 4 (29%) extradural, and in 1 intradural extramedullary. On MR imaging, 6 patients (43%) had a cavernoma in the cervical region, 7 (50%) in the thoracic region, and 1 (7%) in the lumbar region.


Postoperatively, patients were followed up for a median of 3 years (range 1–10 years). At follow-up, 13 patients (93%) experienced significant improvement in motor ability after surgery, and all patients were able to walk with or without aid. Ten of the 11 patients with pain syndrome (91%) showed significant pain relief without recurrence. Micturition disorder was noted in 6 patients (43%) at follow-up, but in 5 the condition had existed before surgery. No patient improved in bladder function after surgery, and 1 patient developed micturition dysfunction postoperatively.


Microsurgical removal of spinal cavernomas alleviates sensorimotor deficits and pain caused by mass effect and hemorrhage. However, bladder dysfunction remains unchanged after surgery.

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Hanna Tervonen, Mika Niemelä, Eija-Riitta Lauri, Leif Bäck, Anja Juvas, Pirjo Räsänen, Risto P. Roine, Harri Sintonen, Tapani Salmi, Erkki Vilkman and Leena-Maija Aaltonen


In this paper, the authors investigate the effects of anterior cervical decompression (ACD) on swallowing and vocal function.


The study comprised 114 patients who underwent ACD. The early group (50 patients) was examined immediately pre- and postoperatively, and the late group (64 patients) was examined at only 3 to 9 months postoperatively. Fifty age- and sex-matched patients from the Department of Otorhinolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery who had not been intubated in the previous 5 years were used as a control group. All patients in the early and control groups were examined by a laryngologist; patients in the late group were examined by a laryngologist and a neurosurgeon. Videolaryngostroboscopy was performed in all members of the patient and control groups, and the function of the ninth through 12th cranial nerves were clinically evaluated. Data were collected concerning swallowing, voice quality, surgery results, and health-related quality of life. Patients with persistent dysphonia were referred for phoniatric evaluation and laryngeal electromyography (EMG). Those with persistent dysphagia underwent transoral endoscopic evaluation of swallowing function and videofluorography.


Sixty percent of patients in the early group reported dysphonia and 69% reported dysphagia at the immediate postoperative visit. Unilateral vocal fold paresis occurred in 12%. The prevalence of both dysphonia and dysphagia decreased in both groups 3 to 9 months postoperatively. All six patients with vocal fold paresis in the early group recovered, and in the late group there were two cases of vocal fold paresis. The results of laryngeal EMG were abnormal in 14 of 16 patients with persistent dysphonia. Neither intraoperative factors nor age or sex had any effect on the occurrence of dysphonia, dysphagia, or vocal fold paresis. Most patients were satisfied with the surgical outcome.


Dysphonia, dysphagia, and vocal fold paresis are common but usually transient complications of ACD. Recurrent laryngeal nerve damage detected by EMG is not rare. Pre-and postoperative laryngeal examination of ACD patients should be considered.