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Vincenzo Levi, Nicola Ernesto Di Laurenzio, Andrea Franzini, Irene Tramacere, Alessandra Erbetta, Luisa Chiapparini, Domenico D’Amico, Angelo Franzini and Giuseppe Messina

OBJECTIVE

Although epidural blood patch (EBP) is considered the gold-standard treatment for drug-resistant orthostatic headache in spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH), no clear evidence exists regarding the best administration method of this technique (blind vs target procedures). The aim of this study was to assess the long-term efficacy of blind lumbar EBP and predictors on preoperative MRI of good outcome.

METHODS

Lumbar EBP was performed by injecting 10 ml of autologous venous blood, fibrin glue, and contrast medium in 101 consecutive patients affected by SIH and orthostatic headache. Visual analog scale (VAS) scores for headache were recorded preoperatively, at 48 hours and 6 months after the procedure, and by telephone interview in July 2017. Patients were defined as good responders if a VAS score reduction of at least 50% was achieved within 48 hours of the procedure and lasted for at least 6 months. Finally, common radiological SIH findings were correlated with clinical outcomes.

RESULTS

The median follow-up was 60 months (range 8–135 months); 140 lumbar EBPs were performed without complications. The baseline VAS score was 8.7 ± 1.3, while the mean VAS score after the first EBP procedure was 3.5 ± 2.2 (p < 0.001). The overall response rate at the 6-month follow-up was 68.3% (mean VAS score 2.5 ± 2.4, p < 0.001). Symptoms recurred in 32 patients (31.7%). These patients underwent a second procedure, with a response rate at the 6-month follow-up of 78.1%. Seven patients (6.9%) did not improve after a third procedure and remained symptomatic. The overall response rate at the last follow-up was 89.1% with a mean VAS score of 2.7 ± 2.3 (p < 0.001). The only MRI predictors of good outcome were location of the iter > 2 mm below the incisural line (p < 0.05) and a pontomesencephalic angle (PMA) < 40° (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

Lumbar EBP may be considered safe and effective in cases of drug-refractory SIH. The presence of a preprocedural PMA < 40° and location of the iter > 2 mm below the incisural line were the most significant predictors of good outcome. Randomized prospective clinical trials comparing lumbar with targeted EBP are warranted to validate these results.

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Andrea Franzini, Giuseppe Messina, Vincenzo Levi, Antonio D’Ammando, Roberto Cordella, Shayan Moosa, Francesco Prada and Angelo Franzini

OBJECTIVE

Central poststroke neuropathic pain is a debilitating syndrome that is often resistant to medical therapies. Surgical measures include motor cortex stimulation and deep brain stimulation (DBS), which have been used to relieve pain. The aim of this study was to retrospectively assess the safety and long-term efficacy of DBS of the posterior limb of the internal capsule for relieving central poststroke neuropathic pain and associated spasticity affecting the lower limb.

METHODS

Clinical and surgical data were retrospectively collected and analyzed in all patients who had undergone DBS of the posterior limb of the internal capsule to address central poststroke neuropathic pain refractory to conservative measures. In addition, long-term pain intensity and level of satisfaction gained from stimulation were assessed. Pain was evaluated using the visual analog scale (VAS). Information on gait improvement was obtained from medical records, neurological examination, and interview.

RESULTS

Four patients have undergone the procedure since 2001. No mortality or morbidity related to the surgery was recorded. In three patients, stimulation of the posterior limb of the internal capsule resulted in long-term pain relief; in a fourth patient, the procedure failed to produce any long-lasting positive effect. Two patients obtained a reduction in spasticity and improved motor capability. Before surgery, the mean VAS score was 9 (range 8–10). In the immediate postoperative period and within 1 week after the DBS system had been turned on, the mean VAS score was significantly lower at a mean of 3 (range 0–6). After a mean follow-up of 5.88 years, the mean VAS score was still reduced at 5.5 (range 3–8). The mean percentage of long-term pain reduction was 38.13%.

CONCLUSIONS

This series suggests that stimulation of the posterior limb of the internal capsule is safe and effective in treating patients with chronic neuropathic pain affecting the lower limb. The procedure may be a more targeted treatment method than motor cortex stimulation or other neuromodulation techniques in the subset of patients whose pain and spasticity are referred to the lower limbs.

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Andrea Franzini, Luca Attuati, Ismail Zaed, Shayan Moosa, Antonella Stravato, Pierina Navarria and Piero Picozzi

OBJECTIVE

The goal of this study was to assess the safety and efficacy of stereotactic central lateral thalamotomy with Gamma Knife radiosurgery in patients with neuropathic pain.

METHODS

Clinical and radiosurgical data were prospectively collected and analyzed in patients with neuropathic pain who underwent Gamma Knife central lateral thalamotomy. The safety and efficacy of the lesioning procedure were evaluated by neurological examination and standardized scales for pain intensity and health-related quality of life. Visual analog scale (VAS) for pain, McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ), EuroQol–5 dimensions (EQ-5D), and the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey, version 2 (SF-36v2) were measured during baseline and postoperative follow-up evaluations at 3, 6, 12, 24, and 36 months.

RESULTS

Eight patients with neuropathic pain underwent Gamma Knife central lateral thalamotomy. Four patients suffered from trigeminal deafferentation pain, 2 from brachial plexus injury, 1 from central poststroke facial neuropathic pain, and 1 from postherpetic neuralgia. No lesioning-related adverse effect was recorded during the follow-up periods. All patients had pain reduction following thalamotomy. The mean follow-up time was 24 months. At the last follow-up visits, 5 patients reported ≥ 50% VAS pain reduction. The overall mean VAS pain score was 9.4 (range 8–10) before radiosurgery. After 1 year, the mean VAS pain score decreased significantly, from 9.4 (range 8–10) to 5.5 (mean −41.33%, p = 0.01). MPQ scores significantly decreased (mean −22.18%, p = 0.014). Statistically significant improvements of the SF-36v2 quality of life survey (mean +48.16%, p = 0.012) and EQ-5D (+45.16%, p = 0.012) were observed. At 2 years after radiosurgery, the VAS pain score remained significantly reduced to a mean value of 5.5 (p = 0.027). Statistically significant improvements were also observed for the MPQ (mean −16.05%, p = 0.034); the EQ-5D (mean +35.48%, p = 0.028); and the SF-36v2 (mean +35.84%, p = 0.043). At the last follow-up visits, pain had recurred in 2 patients, who were suffering from central poststroke neuropathic pain and brachial plexus injury, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

Safe, nonpharmacological therapies are imperative for the management of refectory chronic pain conditions. The present series demonstrates that Gamma Knife central lateral thalamotomy is safe and potentially effective in the long term for relieving chronic neuropathic pain refractory to pharmacotherapy and for restoring quality of life.

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Michele Rizzi, Andrea Trezza, Giuseppe Messina, Alessandro De Benedictis, Angelo Franzini and Carlo Efisio Marras

Neurological surgery offers an opportunity to study brain functions, through either resection or implanted neuromodulation devices. Pathological aggressive behavior in patients with intellectual disability is a frequent condition that is difficult to treat using either supportive care or pharmacological therapy. The bulk of the laboratory studies performed throughout the 19th century enabled the formulation of hypotheses on brain circuits involved in the generation of emotions. Aggressive behavior was also studied extensively. Lesional radiofrequency surgery of the posterior hypothalamus, which peaked in the 1970s, was shown to be an effective therapy in many reported series. As with other surgical procedures for the treatment of psychiatric disorders, however, this therapy was abandoned for many reasons, including the risk of its misuse. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) offers the possibility of treating neurological and psychoaffective disorders through relatively reversible and adaptable therapy. Deep brain stimulation of the posterior hypothalamus was proposed and performed successfully in 2005 as a treatment for aggressive behavior. Other groups reported positive outcomes using target and parameter settings similar to those of the original study. Both the lesional and DBS approaches enabled researchers to explore the role of the posterior hypothalamus (or posterior hypothalamic area) in the autonomic and emotional systems.

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Francesco Prada, Andrea Franzini, Shayan Moosa, Frederic Padilla, David Moore, Luigi Solbiati, Francesco DiMeco and Wynn Legon

OBJECTIVE

The authors evaluated the acoustic properties of an implantable, biocompatible, polyolefin-based cranial prosthesis as a medium to transmit ultrasound energy into the intracranial space with minimal distortion for imaging and therapeutic purposes.

METHODS

The authors performed in vitro and in vivo studies of ultrasound transmission through a cranial prosthesis. In the in vitro phase, they analyzed the transmission of ultrasound energy through the prosthesis in a water tank using various transducers with resonance frequencies corresponding to those of devices used for neurosurgical imaging and therapeutic purposes. Four distinct, single-element, focused transducers were tested at fundamental frequencies of 500 kHz, 1 MHz, 2.5 MHz, and 5 MHz. In addition, the authors tested ultrasound transmission through the prosthesis using a linear diagnostic probe (center frequency 5.3 MHz) with a calibrated needle hydrophone in free water. Each transducer was assessed across a range of input voltages that encompassed their full minimum to maximum range without waveform distortion. They also tested the effect of the prosthesis on beam pressure and geometry. In the in vivo phase, the authors performed ultrasound imaging through the prosthesis implanted in a swine model.

RESULTS

Acoustic power attenuation through the prosthesis was considerably lower than that reported to occur through the native cranial bone. Increasing the frequency of the transducer augmented the degree of acoustic power loss. The degradation/distortion of the ultrasound beams passing through the prosthesis was minimal in all 3 spatial planes (XY, XZ, and YZ) that were examined. The images acquired in vivo demonstrated no spatial distortion from the prosthesis, with spatial relationships that were superimposable to those acquired through the dura.

CONCLUSIONS

The results of the tests performed on the polyolefin-based cranial prosthesis indicated that this is a valid medium for delivering both focused and unfocused ultrasound and obtaining ultrasound images of the intracranial space. The prosthesis may serve for several diagnostic and therapeutic ultrasound-based applications, including bedside imaging of the brain and ultrasound-guided focused ultrasound cerebral procedures.

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