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Francesco Motta and Clara Eleonora Antonello

OBJECTIVE

In this single-center study the authors investigated the complications occurring before and after the introduction of the new Ascenda intrathecal catheter (Medtronic Inc.) in pediatric patients treated with intrathecal baclofen therapy (ITB) for spasticity and/or dystonia.

METHODS

This was a retrospective review of 508 children who had received ITB, 416 with silicone catheters in the 13 years between September 1998 and September 2011 and 92 with Ascenda catheters in the 3 years between September 2011 and August 2014. The authors evaluated major complications such as infections, CSF leaks treated, and problems related to the catheter or pump, and they compared the 2 groups of patients who had received either a silicone catheter or an Ascenda catheter implant.

RESULTS

One hundred twenty patients in the silicone group (29%) and 1 patient in the Ascenda group (1.1%; p < 0.001) had a major complication. In the silicone group 23 patients (5.5%) were affected by CSF leakage and 75 patients (18%) experienced 82 catheter-related events, such as occlusion, dislodgment, disconnection, or breakage, which required catheter replacement. In the Ascenda group, only 1 patient (1.1%) was affected by CSF leakage.

CONCLUSIONS

To the authors' knowledge, this study is the first in the literature to compare the performance of the new Ascenda catheter, introduced in 2011, with the traditional silicone catheter for intrathecal drug infusion. In their analysis, the authors found that the Ascenda catheter can reduce major complications related to the catheter after ITB pump implantation. Further investigation is necessary to expand on and confirm their results.

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Francesco Motta and Clara E. Antonello

Object

This single-center study investigated adverse events that occurred in children and adolescent patients treated with intrathecal baclofen (ITB) therapy for spasticity and/or dystonia.

Methods

In a 14-year period, 430 consecutive patients with a mean age of 13.3 ± 5.9 years received ITB over a mean follow-up period of 8.6 ± 3.8 years (range 12 months to 14 years). Eighty-nine percent of these patients had cerebral palsy. Major complications, defined as those that required a surgical intervention, were infections, CSF leaks, and device problems related to the catheter or pump. Assessing infections, the authors compared the 2 groups of patients implanted with an ITB system by either the subcutaneous or subfascial technique. The temporal distribution of events related to the catheter was also considered.

Results

At least 1 complication was present in 25% of the patients: 9.3% experienced an infection, 4.9% a CSF leak, 15.1% a problem with the catheter, and 1% a problem related to the pump. Five percent of the assessed patients suffered more than 1 complication. The rate of infections was significantly lower (p < 0.001) in patients with the pump placed subfascially compared with those with the pump placed subcutaneously. A higher rate of infection was found after pump replacement compared with the first pump implantation (10.6% vs 6%, respectively). Catheter problems were the most common complication and occurred more frequently during the 1st year after the implant.

Conclusions

While ITB is an effective treatment to manage spasticity of different origins, adverse events may occur and need to be managed. The surgical procedure should be meticulous and different techniques may have a diverse impact on the infection rate, which is the most critical complication. Despite the adverse events that occurred in this study, the majority of patients were satisfied with the treatment received.

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Francesco Motta, Vincenzo Buonaguro and Cecilia Stignani

Object

The authors investigated the efficacy of intrathecal baclofen therapy, analyzing the complications and risk factors in 200 consecutive patients who received pump implants.

Methods

The patient population included 200 patients (mean age 13.7 ± 5.68 years). The follow-up duration varied from 13.07 to 87.50 months (mean 50.71 months).

Results

The mean Ashworth Scale, Barry–Albright Dystonia Scale, clonus, and spasm scores decreased postoperatively. Overall, 31% of patients experienced complications as follows: 11% had cerebrospinal fluid leakage, 7% had catheter-related problems, 7.5% suffered infections; 5.5% of patients had more than one complication.

Conclusions

The authors found that the onset of at least one complication is statistically more likely in patients with Ashworth Scale scores higher than 3 and an age of 10 years or younger. A reduction in the incidence of infection from 10 to 4.8% by the end of the study period appears to be correlated with the switch in technique to subfascial instead of subcutaneous pump implantation and the adoption of a new preoperative prophylaxis protocol in the last 51 patients. There were no statistically significant correlations between the onset of complications and patient weight, ambulatory status, or the presence of dystonia or cerebral palsy.

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Giuseppe M. V. Barbagallo, Sabrina Paratore, Rosario Caltabiano, Stefano Palmucci, Hector Soto Parra, Giuseppe Privitera, Fabio Motta, Salvatore Lanzafame, Giorgio Scaglione, Antonio Longo, Vincenzo Albanese and Francesco Certo

Object

The objective of this study was to report the authors' experience with the long-term administration of temozolomide (TMZ; > 6 cycles, up to 101) in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma and to analyze its feasibility and safety as well as its impact on survival. The authors also compared data obtained from the group of patients undergoing long-term TMZ treatment with data from patients treated with a standard TMZ protocol.

Methods

A retrospective analysis was conducted of 37 patients who underwent operations for glioblastoma between 2004 and 2012. Volumetric analysis of postoperative Gd-enhanced MR images, obtained within 48 hours, confirmed tumor gross-total resection (GTR) in all but 2 patients. All patients received the first cycle of TMZ at a dosage of 150 mg/m2 starting on the second or third postsurgical day. Afterward, patients received concomitant radiochemotherapy according to the Stupp protocol. With regard to adjuvant TMZ therapy, the 19 patients in Group A, aged 30–72 years (mean 56.1 years), received 150 mg/m2 for 5 days every 28 days for more than 6 cycles (range 7–101 cycles). The 18 patients in Group B, aged 46–82 years (mean 64.8 years), received the same dose, but for no more than 6 cycles. O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) promoter methylation status was analyzed for both groups and correlated with overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS). The impact of age, sex, Karnofsky Performance Scale score, and Ki 67 staining were also considered.

Results

All patients but 1 in Group A survived at least 18 months (range 18–101 months), and patients in Group B survived no more than 17 months (range 2–17 months). The long-term survivors (Group A), defined as patients who survived at least 12 months after diagnosis, were 51.3% of the total (19/37). Kaplan-Meier curve analysis showed that patients treated with more than 6 TMZ cycles had OS and PFS that was significantly longer than patients receiving standard treatment (median OS 28 months vs 8 months, respectively; p = 0.0001; median PFS 20 months vs 4 months, respectively; p = 0.0002). By univariate and multivariate Cox proportional hazard regression analysis, MGMT methylation status and number of TMZ cycles appeared to be survival prognostic factors in patients with glioblastoma. After controlling for MGMT status, highly significant differences related to OS and PFS between patients with standard and long-term TMZ treatment were still detected. Furthermore, in Group A and B, the statistical correlation of MGMT status to the number of TMZ cycles showed a significant difference only in Group A patients, suggesting that MGMT promoter methylation was predictive of response for long-term TMZ treatment. Prolonged therapy did not confer hematological toxicity or opportunistic infections in either patient group.

Conclusions

This study describes the longest experience so far reported with TMZ in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastomas, with as many as 101 cycles, who were treated using GTR. Statistically significant data confirm that median survival correlates with MGMT promoter methylation status as well as with the number of TMZ cycles administered. Long-term TMZ therapy appears feasible and safe.