✓ Twenty patients suffering from non-neoplastic symptomatic facial pain underwent percutaneous radiofrequency trigeminal thermo-rhizotomy. Fourteen patients had long-standing severe multiple sclerosis, two patients had intracranial aneurysms, three patients had basilar impression secondary to Paget's disease and developmental malformation of the skull, and one patient was suffering from chronic ocular pain that developed after retinal hemorrhage. Pain paroxysms similar to tic douloureux were present in patients with multiple sclerosis and in those with basilar impression, while continuous aching pain was present in the others. After thermo-rhizotomy, pain disappeared in all patients; however, at 1 to 4 years follow-up examination, a high recurrence rate (40%) was present in the multiple sclerosis group, and the percutaneous procedure was successfully repeated. In the patients with intracranial aneurysm not amenable to direct surgery, and in the other non-neoplastic diseases, complete pain relief was found at 4 years follow-up review.
Giovanni Broggi and Angelo Franzini
Vittoria Nazzi, Angelo Franzini, Giuseppe Messina and Giovanni Broggi
✓In the past few years, several different minimally invasive surgical techniques have been proposed to decompress the median nerve at the wrist. Use of these techniques has become widespread due to fewer local complications, faster functional recovery, and reduced surgical time. In this paper the authors compare 3 different minimally invasive surgical techniques used at their institution in the past 13 years. Between January 1994 and January 2007, 891 patients underwent 1272 surgeries at the authors' institution for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), for which a minimally invasive technique was used. In 473 cases (Group A), the transillumination technique with a single wrist incision and a “carpalotome” (a modified Paine retinaculotome) was used; in 216 cases (Group B), transillumination was abandoned and a single linear wrist incision for access with the carpalotome was performed; and in 583 cases (Group C), the techniques were further modified by making a second incision in the palm using the carpalotome. All 3 groups of patients were homogeneous for age, sex, and duration of the symptomatology. In 90% of the patients in Group A, in 88% of those in Group B, and 99.8% of patients in Group C, complete remission of symptoms was obtained. Due to persistence of symptoms, 44 patients in Group A, 24 in Group B, and only 1 in Group C underwent a repeated operation with the open technique. The only surgical complication requiring repeated operation of the 1272 operations was a lesion of the primitive median artery (1 patient in Group C).
The technique of median nerve decompression at the wrist that was used for patients in Group C represents a valid alternative for treatment of CTS.
Angelo Franzini, Paolo Ferroli, Domenico Servello and Giovanni Broggi
✓ The authors describe a case of complete recovery from the so-called “thalamic hand” syndrome following chronic motor cortex stimulation in a 64-year-old man suffering from poststroke thalamic central pain. As of the 2-year follow-up examination, the patient's dystonia and pain are still controlled by electrical stimulation.
It is speculated that a common mechanism in which the thalamocortical circuit loops are rendered out of balance may sustain hand dystonia and central pain in this case of thalamic syndrome. To the authors' knowledge this is the first reported case of its kind.
Angelo Franzini, Vidmer Scaioli, Filippo Leocata, Elena Palazzini and Giovanni Broggi
✓ The anterior interosseous nerve can become entrapped within the antecubital fossa at its origin from the median nerve, which results in the so-called Kiloh—Nevin syndrome. In this report, the authors describe an atypical anterior interosseous nerve syndrome due to neurovascular relationships with the anterior interosseous artery. The patient complained of unbearable analgesic-resistant pain within the forearm and focal myokymia in muscles innervated by branches of the anterior interosseous and distal median nerves. Pain and myokymia were alleviated by inflated blood pressure cuff compression in the bicipital region when the arterial pulse was abolished distally. Microsurgical correction of the pulsatile arterial compression resulted in relief from pain and myokymia. Neurophysiological considerations of the mechanism underlying “irritative” neuropathy and myokymia are discussed.
Angelo Franzini, Giuseppe Messina, Roberto Cordella, Carlo Marras and Giovanni Broggi
The aim of this study was to review the indications for and results of deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the posterior hypothalamus (pHyp) in the treatment of drug-refractory and severe painful syndromes of the face, disruptive and aggressive behavior associated with epilepsy, and below-average intelligence. The preoperative clinical picture, functional imaging studies, and overall clinical results in the literature are discussed.
All patients underwent stereotactic implantation of deep-brain electrodes within the pHyp. Data from several authors have been collected and reported for each clinical entity, as have clinical results, adverse events, and neurophysiological characteristics of the pHyp.
The percentage of patients with chronic cluster headache who responded to DBS was 50% in the overall reported series. The response rate was 100% for short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache attacks with conjunctival injection and tearing and for chronic paroxysmal hemicrania, although only 2 patients and 1 patient, respectively, have been described as having these conditions.
None of the 4 patients suffering from refractory neuropathic trigeminal pain benefited from the procedure (0% response rate), whereas all 5 patients (100%) affected with refractory trigeminal neuralgia (TN) due to multiple sclerosis (MS) and undergoing pHyp DBS experienced a significant decrease in pain attacks within the first branch of cranial nerve V. Six (75%) of 8 patients presenting with aggressive behavior and mental retardation benefited from pHyp stimulation; 6 patients were part of the authors' series and 2 were reported in the literature.
In carefully selected patients, DBS of the pHyp can be considered an effective procedure for the treatment of refractory trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias, aggressive behavior, and MS-related TN in the first trigeminal branch. Only larger and prospective studies along with multidisciplinary approaches (including, by necessity, neuroimaging studies) can lead us to better patient selection that would reduce the rate of nonresponders.
Vincenzo Levi, Nicola Ernesto Di Laurenzio, Andrea Franzini, Irene Tramacere, Alessandra Erbetta, Luisa Chiapparini, Domenico D’Amico, Angelo Franzini and Giuseppe Messina
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.
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.
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).
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.
Andrea Franzini, Giuseppe Messina, Vincenzo Levi, Antonio D’Ammando, Roberto Cordella, Shayan Moosa, Francesco Prada and Angelo Franzini
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.
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.
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%.
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.
Mario Savoiardo, Ludovico D'Incerti, Angelo Franzini and Elio Maccagnano
Angelo Franzini, Giovanni Broggi, Domenico Servello, Ivano Dones and Maria Grazia Pluchino
✓ An alternative technique for performing minimally invasive release of carpal tunnel syndrome is described. The suggested methodology is based on transillumination of the carpal tunnel during surgery. The advantages of the technique are discussed and compared with other available surgical procedures including endoscopy. The authors also describe preliminary operative results in 50 consecutive patients.