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Ashwin Viswanathan, Viraat Harsh, Erlick A. C. Pereira and Tipu Z. Aziz

Object

Cingulotomy has been reported in the literature as a potential treatment option for refractory cancer-related pain. However, the optimal candidates for this intervention and the outcomes are not well characterized. The goal of this study was to review the available literature on cingulotomy, specifically for cancer-related pain.

Methods

A search of PubMed, PubMed Central, the Cochrane Library, and MEDLINE was performed to identify all articles discussing cingulotomy for cancer pain. The text strings “cingul*” and “pain” were separated by the Boolean AND operator, and used to perform the query on PubMed. Only studies in which a stereotactic technique was used, as opposed to an open technique, and specifically detailing outcomes for cancer pain were included. For centers with multiple publications, care was taken not to double-count individual patients.

Results

The literature review revealed only 8 unique studies describing outcomes of stereotactic cingulotomy for cancer pain. Between 32% and 83% of patients had meaningful pain relief. The location of the lesion was variable, ranging between 1 cm and 4 cm posterior to the tip of the anterior horn. Although serious adverse events are rare, a decline in focused attention can been seen in the early postoperative period, along with apathy and decreased activity.

Conclusions

For patients with cancer pain with diffuse pain syndromes, head and neck malignancies, and significant emotional distress, cingulotomy may be a safe treatment option with minimal cognitive changes.

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Robert J. Coffey

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Jonathan A. Hyam, Nicholas de Pennington, Carole Joint, Alexander L. Green, Sarah L. F. Owen, Erlick A. C. Pereira and Tipu Z. Aziz

Infection in the context of implant surgery is a dreaded complication, usually necessitating the removal of all affected hardware. Severe dystonia is a debilitating condition that can present as an emergency and can occasionally be life threatening. The authors present 2 cases of severe dystonia in which deep brain stimulation was maintained despite the presence of infection, using ongoing stimulation by externalization of electrode wires and an extracorporeal pulse generator. This allowed the infection to clear and wounds to heal while maintaining stimulation. This strategy is similar to that used in the management of infected cardiac pacemakers. The authors suggest that this prolonged extracorporeal stimulation should be considered by neurosurgeons in the face of this difficult clinical situation.

Free access

Erlick A. C. Pereira, Sandra G. Boccard, Paulo Linhares, Clara Chamadoira, Maria José Rosas, Pedro Abreu, Virgínia Rebelo, Rui Vaz and Tipu Z. Aziz

Object

Fifteen hundred patients have received deep brain stimulation (DBS) to treat neuropathic pain refractory to pharmacotherapy over the last half-century, but few during the last decade. Deep brain stimulation for neuropathic pain has shown variable outcomes and gained consensus approval in Europe but not the US. This study prospectively evaluated the efficacy at 1 year of DBS for phantom limb pain after amputation, and deafferentation pain after brachial plexus avulsion (BPA), in a single-center case series.

Methods

Patient-reported outcome measures were collated before and after surgery, using a visual analog scale (VAS) score, 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36), Brief Pain Inventory (BPI), and University of Washington Neuropathic Pain Score (UWNPS).

Results

Twelve patients were treated over 29 months, receiving contralateral, ventroposterolateral sensory thalamic DBS. Five patients were amputees and 7 had BPAs, all from traumas. A postoperative trial of externalized DBS failed in 1 patient with BPA. Eleven patients proceeded to implantation and gained improvement in pain scores at 12 months. No surgical complications or stimulation side effects were noted. In the amputation group, after 12 months the mean VAS score improved by 90.0% ± 10.0% (p = 0.001), SF-36 by 57.5% ± 97.9% (p = 0.127), UWNPS by 80.4% ± 12.7% (p < 0.001), and BPI by 79.9% ± 14.7% (p < 0.001). In the BPA group, after 12 months the mean VAS score improved by 52.7% ± 30.2% (p < 0.001), SF-36 by 15.6% ± 30.5% (p = 1.000), UWNPS by 26.2% ± 40.8% (p = 0.399), and BPI by 38.4% ± 41.7% (p = 0.018). Mean DBS parameters were 2.5 V, 213 microseconds, and 25 Hz.

Conclusions

Deep brain stimulation demonstrated efficacy at 1 year for chronic neuropathic pain after traumatic amputation and BPA. Clinical trials that retain patients in long-term follow-up are desirable to confirm findings from prospectively assessed case series.